Category Archives: Family

Bias Makes The News Media Stupid, But It Makes Politicians Untrustworthy Jerks

Dad warned me about people like you, Al...

Dad warned me about people like you, Al…

The Stupid: Journalists

Let me begin by saying how happy I am that the mainstream news medias “fake news” gambit, where it attempted to blame President Trump’s election on ridiculous hoax stories spread on social media to distract from its own biased, dishonest and incompetent reporting, has blown up in its metaphorical face like those Acme booby traps do to Wile E. Coyote.

Here’s a new and especially stupid example of the biased, dishonest and incompetent reporting, although “dishonest” wasn’t in play.

The website Pop Suger posted an extremely inept and confusing story concerning U.S. Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who made history in the 2016 Olympics as the first female Muslim American to medal for the United States and the first American to compete in the Games wearing a hijab. The site and the reporter signal their untrustworthiness and Bias Makes You Stupid (BMYS) credentials by writing of the controversial immigration halt Executive Order,

“The executive order blocked thousands of refugees, immigrants, and visitors from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States before it was struck down by a judge many days later.”

No, you ignorant dolts, the order was not and has not been “struck down.” It has been subject to a temporary restraining order, which is absolutely not the same as being struck down, as any second year law student intern could have told you if you cared more about accurate reporting  than bashing the President.

The story described Muhammad’s statements when she took the stage at a conference last week  and answered a question about the “travel ban” by saying that she had been personally “held at Customs for two hours just a few weeks ago.”  The athlete is not as adept at time sense as she is at her sport, because she eventually had to clarify that “just a few weeks ago” meant “in December.”   The website followed  with an update, but never mind. TIME saw her statement, didn’t check the time frame or notice the update, and tweeted yesterday (remember, the story was clarified two days before, and was wrong to begin with) the headline in TIME’s “Motto.”

“Olympic athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad was detained because of President Trump’s travel ban”

The U.K.’s Independent went with a story titled, “US Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad says she was detained by Customs after Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’

The Hill published an article whose opening paragraph read, “A Muslim-American Olympic medalist says she was detained by Customs for nearly two hours without explanation after President Trump’s travel ban was instituted a few weeks ago.”

Sports Illustrated and ESPN also published stories implying that Muhammad’s Customs detention was triggered by Trump’s immigration order,  and other journalists and pundits expressed indignation on social media.

Remember,  Muhammad was detained in December of 2016. Barack Obama was President. Trump’s Executive Order was just a twinkle in his eye. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

Ethics Quiz: Italy’s New Strategy To Fight The Mafia

corleone-family

Anyone who has seen “The Godfather” I or II has a sense of the mafia culture in Italy. That wasn’t fiction; indeed, it was probably understated, and is strong as ever. Now legislators are experimenting with a radical new approach to fighting organized crime in the country, a deep-rooted pathology that has persisted for centuries.The strategy is draconian: separating children from their mob families and moving them to a different part of Italy to end a generational cycle of crime. Families are the heart of organized crime: the “Godfather” films’ portrayal was absolutely accurate on that score.

Italian magistrate Roberto Di Bella began taking children away from their criminal families after seeing children as young as 11 or 12 serving as lookouts during murders, participating in drug deals and mob strategy sessions, and learning how to shoot an assault rifle. “Sons follow their fathers,” he told New York Times reporter Gaia Piani Giani. “The state can’t allow that children are educated to be criminals.”

Di Bella began taking children away from parents convicted of mob ties five years ago,  separating about 40 boys and girls, ages 12 to 16, from their families. Sometimes the children’s mothers accompany them to the new locales. The rest of the embryonic mafiosi  go into foster care.Di Bella says that none of the children he has taken away from their families have committed a crime since, and impressed with his results,  Italy recently passed statutes that legalize the strategy as a way to destroy crime families.

Of course the program is controversial.  Di Bella, however, believes that it is a utilitarian necessity. He told the Times that mafia fathers have written to him to thank him for for giving their children a chance at a normal life, their children have told him they feel liberated, and mothers ask if he will do it for their children.

Your Ethics Alarms Italian Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is the policy of removing children from organized crime families ethical?

Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Family, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Unethical Website Of The Month: #GrabYour Wallet

trump-boycott

Boycotts are almost always unethical, but the vicious partisan tactic of boycotting businesses because they or their owners  support or contributed to the duly elected President of the United States make usual boycotts seem saintly in comparison. Spite, vengeance, an attack on political speech and individual autonomy, call it what you will, there is no other side to this tactic. It is wrong. It undermines democracy. It punishes speech. It is the heating oil seller who tells Trump voters to freeze, and the yarn shop owner who tells Democrats to feed their knitting elsewhere, but on a grand, self-righteous, societally destructive scale.

#GrabYourWallet is a website whose operators  aim to hurt, injure and punish not only business owners who dare to have a different political view than they, but also their businesses employees, families and customers. This is the invidious outfit that bullied Nordstrom into dropping Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, because we must punish a young woman for supporting her father, who half the country chose to be President. This in turn led Kelly Ann Conway, the President’s spokesperson who is as much in over her head as a he is, to fall into the trap of violating the law by using her position to promote a product, because she chose an inartful way of telling decent Americans to reject the boycott.

Let me be as clear as Ethics Alarms can be. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Government & Politics, Rights, The Internet, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites

When Ignorance, Unethical Character And Abuse of Power Converge: The Persecution Of Ann King and Susan Hines

woman_being_handcuffed

Anne King of Washington County, Georgia, was furious at her former husband and called him out on Facebook.

Susan Hines, a friend of King’s, responded..

“POS — give me an hour and check your mailbox. I’ll be GLAD to pick up the slack.”

Unfortunately, King’s crummy father of an ex-husband is also an ignorant jerk with a badge. He is Captain Corey King of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, and used his power in this small town to have both Anne her supportive friend arrested and tossed in jail for absolutely protected free speech on social media. First the captain filed a police report with his colleague, Washington County Sheriff’s Investigator Trey Burgamy. Then Washington County magistrate Ralph O. Todd  issued a warrant requiring the two women to appear at a hearing.  Officer King was the only witness, and afterwards Magistrate Todd issued warrant  charging Anne King with criminal defamation:

“SUBJECT DID, WITHOUT A PRIVILEGE TO DO SO AND WITH INTENT TO DEFAME ANOTHER, COMMUNICATE FALSE MATTER WHICH TENDS TO EXPOSE ONE WHO IS ALIVE TO HATRED, CONTEMPT, OR RIDICULE, AND WHICH TENDS TO PROVOKE A BREACH OF THE PEACE, SPECIFICALLY, SUBJECT DID MAKE DEROGATORY AND DEGRADING COMMENTS DIRECTLY AT AND ABOUT COREY KING, FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING A BREACH OF THE PEACE.”

The Georgia law she was charged with was ruled unconstitutional decades ago, and is no longer on the books.

Details, details. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Family, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights

A Presidential “Othering” Ethics Puzzle: What IS This Statement? Misleading? Ignorant? Biased?

jfk-oval-office

In a column today, Washington Post political columnist Chris Cillizza writes,

“The simple fact is that Trump has never had real friends in the sense you or I think of the term. The relationship world of Trump has long been split into two groups: (1) his family and (2) people who work for him. And people who work for you are rarely your actual friends.”

This was written in the context of an article titled “The very peculiar isolation of Donald Trump.”

What’s going on here? It is definitely one more “othering” exercise from the news media, part of a concerted effort to avoid “normalizing” this President so that tactics previously regarded as unthinkable, undemocratic and unAmerican will be accepted by the public when they are used against him. The message is that this President is strange, weird. He’s not like us. He’s a monster. Today, for example,  MSNBC’s Katy Tur insinuated that the President might be planning to start murdering journalists, asking a guest.

“As we know, there’s, since 2000, been a couple dozen suspicious deaths of journalists in Russia who came out against the government there.Donald Trump has made no secret about going after journalists and his distaste for any news that doesn’t agree with him here. Do you find that this is a dangerous path he is heading down?”

I was struck by Cillizza’s column  because the topic is one of several upon which I wrote my honors thesis in American government. (If you are in Cambridge, Mass., you can find a copy in Widener Library.)  Cillizza’s statement made me realize, for the first time, really: Ah! There’s at least one aspect of his personality that is typical of American Presidents!” I studied exactly that aspect of Presidential biographies to test my thesis that the U.S. Presidency attracted a specific character type, and the type was not “normal” by the public standards. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Ethics Quiz: Punishing The 12-Year-Old Killer

debrow

Texas Monthly this month has a troubling profile of Edwin Debrow, who is 37 years old,  has been behind bars since he was 12, and may have to stay there until he is 52. On September 21, 1991, Debrow shot a San Antonio school teacher named Curtis Edwards in the back of the head. Edwards’ body was found sprawled across the front seat of a taxi that he drove part-time at night. Edwin, police determined, had shot Edwards during an attempted robbery. Above is the photo of the 12-year-old in custody.

Texas law, you will not be surprised to learn, allows very harsh punishment for  juvenile offenders.Other states will sometimes try 12-year-olds as adults. Last year’s documentary “Beware the Slenderman” tells the strange story of Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls who attempted to stab another 12-year old girl to death in 2014. Under Wisconsin law, Weier and Geyser will be tried as adults for attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and if convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 65 years in state prison.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:

Is it ethical for society to punish children with such long prison sentences, no matter how serious the crime?

Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Family, History, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Presenting The First New Rationalization Of 2017: #32A Imaginary Consent, or “He/She Would Have Wanted It This Way”

roxieThe addition of  New Rationalization #32A Imaginary Consent, or “He/She Would Have Wanted It This Way” to the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List became obligatory after it got a work-out over the holidays. Disney turning long dead character actor Peter Cushing into a zombie performer for the new “Star Wars” film was defended with the claim, which was almost surely also used by his heirs who were paid handsomely for the use of Cushing’s CGI avatar.

And that’s always the way this rationalization arrives. Someone wants to profit through some dubious scheme or transaction, and uses the argument that a revered and quite dead family member, personage of importance or icon “would have approved,” or “would have wanted it.” Like its progenitor 32. The Unethical Role Model: “He/She would have done the same thing,” which employs misdeeds of presumably admirable figures of the past as precedent for misdeed in the future, this is an appeal to irrelevant authority. Worse, Imaginary Consent presumes what cannot possibly be determined without prior express statements from the deceased.

This is one reason why DNR (“Do not resuscitate”) orders are essential. Using a fictional consent to absolve a decision-maker from actual responsibility is both a dodge and cowardly, as well as dishonest. I remember the horrible day that my sister and I were called upon to decide whether to terminate my mother, who was unconscious, on life support and beyond recovery. We made the decision quickly, and what my mother “would have wanted” was never a factor. (She had delegated the decision on her own DNR to my sister.) What my mother wanted, we both agreed, was to live forever. She would have been willing to have her comatose body waiting for a miracle or a cure until the hospital crumbled around her….in fact, that’s why she delegated the decision without instructions. Sure, it would have been easier to fool ourselves with #32A. But it would have been a lie.

The other true story this rationalization makes be think of is the time the elderly parents of a friend decided to euthanize their wonderful, bounding, big and joyful dog Roxie, some kind of a felicitous hybrid between a boxer and a freight train. They were moving into a resort where dogs were not allowed.  I was aghast, but they insisted, “We just know Roxie wouldn’t be happy living with anyone else.”

I argued(they did not appreciate it), “You know what? I bet if she could talk, Roxie would say, ‘You know, I really like you guys, really, and I’ll miss you a lot, but on balance I think I’d rather keep living, thanks. I’ll miss you, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get over it. Have a great time in Florida.'”

They killed her anyway.

#32A is a way to pass off responsibility for an ethically  dubious decision on someone who is beyond participation in that decision, and sometimes even the victim of it. It is cowardly, unaccountable, and based on an assertion that may not be true.

___________________

Special Thanks to Reader/Commenter Zoltar Speaks!, who suggested the new entry.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Family, Health and Medicine