“Abducted In Plain Sight”: Maybe People Really Are Too Stupid To Be Trusted With Democracy

Abducted

If that title sounds harsh, by all means watch the Netflix true crime documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight.” Otherwise, I’m not sure the ordeal is worth it, since it may throw you into a depression from which you never recover. That’s where I am now.

With the nation facing what might be—“I do believe in people, I do believe in people,” he says in his best Cowardly Lion imitation—an existential election, I really did not need any more reason to despair of the life competency deficit and declining mental state of the nation’s voters. In fact, I decided to watch “Abducted in Plain Sight” to take my mind off of The Big Stupid, with its ongoing efforts by the news media to keep Americans ignorant of the Biden scandal, the brain-melting tale of the Zoom adventures of He Who Must Not Be Named, and polls that seem to show that most of the American public is incapable of paying attention to matters that will effect their lives, family and nation.

Big mistake. What watching the 2017 award-winning documentary did was vividly remind me that normal, decent, religious middle-class Americans like those you live and work with may well be too moronic and irresponsible to be entrusted with children, never mind make decisions about leadership and public policy that will affect the rest of us.

Continue reading

The American Bar Association Has Lost Faith In Professionalism, It Seems.

For as long as I can remember, lawyers took pride in that fact that they could pound away at each other in the court room, shout, sneer, mock and beat an adversary into a metaphorical pulp, and put it all aside the second the case was finished. The idea that being friends, even close friends, with an opposing advocate compromised a lawyer’s determination and willingness to fight for his or her client was an anathema to the whole concept of professionalism. During the Civil War, West Point classmates on opposite sides sometimes met before a battle, shared a whisky, old memories and a few tears, and the next day did their best to kill each other. That mindset was analogous to how I was taught lawyers were supposed to behave, and, indeed, did.

Now the American Bar Association has apparently decided that it was all a myth. In  Formal Opinion 494, “Conflicts Arising Out of a Lawyer’s Personal Relationship with Opposing Counsel,” the ABA expresses doubts that many lawyers are up to the task.

“A personal interest conflict may arise out of a lawyer’s relationship with opposing counsel, the ABA now says. “Lawyers must examine the nature of the relationship to determine if it creates a …conflict and, if so, whether the lawyer reasonably believes the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client who must then give informed consent, confirmed in writing.”

The opinion breaks possible personal relationships into three categories:

Continue reading

Yes, Fire This Teacher, Make Sure He Never Teaches Again, But That’s Just The Beginning…

Stanton

Tacoma, Washington sixth grade technology teacher Brendan Stanton needs to be fired, but that’s only the beginning. His conduct needs to be widely publicized, and the consensus needs to emerge that the kind of conduct he engaged in…

1. Is unacceptable.

2. Is abusive

3. Is indoctrination rather than education

4. Is all too frequently allowed, enabled, and even surreptitiously encouraged in the educational system

5. Must stop.

Those who are inclined to defend Stanton should also be flushed out, condemned and declared to be what they are, and what they are is not reasonably disputable. They are deliberate enemies of American values and democracy. They should have a metaphorical red E, not on their chests, but their foreheads.

Now that all of that is out of the way, and I’ve had a stiff drink, here’s what Stanton did.

Each day, Stanton asks his remote learning students at Perry G. Keithley Middle School students a daily question, requiring students to write their answers in the online chatroom. According to a screenshot, one boy  wrote:

“I admire Donald J. Trump because he is making America great again. And because he is the best president the United States of America could ever, ever have. And he built the wall so terrorists couldn’t come into in the U.S. Trump is the best person in the world. And that’s why I admire him.”

Can’t have American students professing admiration of the President of the United States now, noy when a virtuous and woke teacher runs the class! Stanton kicked the vile child t out of the chatroom, deleted what he wrote lest it corrupt others whose brains and opinions he was assiduously molding to his personal specifications, and proceeded to attack the President and the student.

Incidentally, according to Gallup’s annual poll, President Trump tied with Barack Obama in 2019 as the most admired man in America. Parenthetically, he wouldn’t make my top hundred (neither would Obama).

“The example that was shared in the chat, which I went ahead and erased for us, was not appropriate right?” Stanton told his class. Especially as that individual has created so much division and hatred between people and specifically spoken hatred to many different individuals, ok? Again, that individual has spoken hate to many individuals and I don’t think is an appropriate example for a role model that we should be admiring.”

Continue reading

Ten Questions About The Lakewood High School Football Game Incident

lakewood

A football game at Lakewood High School in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, was intercepted and run into racial politics and partisan grandstanding territory when a voice over the public address system before the game declares that the school would has designated itself an “agent of change” in the battle against “systemic” racism in “society as a whole.”

After the band played the Lakewood alma mater, it then played “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the so-called “black national anthem,” in imitation of the NFL, which is featuring the song this season as part of its official grovel to Black Lives Matter. The announcer added his commentary about how racist the U.S. is, intoning,

 “Let us pause and reflect on the inequality that our nation has faced since its beginning. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tamir Rice among others remind us of the systemic racism that persists across so many of our nation’s institutions and society as a whole. By acknowledging, discussing, and taking action to address these inequalities, Lakewood City Schools aims to be an agent of change, not only in our community but in the world. We must all take a stand against racism. Let this be the moment when our children someday look back and say, ‘This is when we stood together for change.’”

Sources confirmed that both the school principal and the band director approved the political kick-off.

Despite receiving many complaints from parents and law enforcement over the stunt, the school reportedly will repeat its BLM-themed ritual in  future football games but will remove the names of those killed in encounters with police. Absurdly, the school will read a tribute to first responders at halftime as part of a “compromise” with law enforcement.

The new revised speech will provide context  for “ the black national anthem” explaining  how “Lift Every Voice and Sing” sets “an atmosphere of reverence for the journey of people of color, gratitude for the selfless sacrifices of their ancestors and for the inheritance of indomitability and resilience. The song recognizes these moments as important to moving forward toward hope and faith for a better future and a better America. The song is universally uplifting and speaks to every group that struggles.”

Here are some questions, rhetorical and otherwise:

1. What would you do if your child was involved in a high school sports contest and the school perverted it into a political demonstration? One father who attended the game said afterwards that he would have walked out…if it were not his son’s senior year. Yeah, those are typical priorities all right. It’s an outrage, but not important enough to teach a child that preserving standards and values is more important than a high school football game.

Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Robot Dog

Robot seals work too, apparently…

From a recent New York Times story:

When Linda Spangler asked her mother, in a video chat, what she would like as gift for her 92nd birthday, the response came promptly.

“I’d like a dog,” Charlene Spangler said. “Is Wolfgang dead?” Wolfgang, a family dachshund, had indeed died long ago; so had all his successors. Ms. Spangler, who lives in a dementia care facility in Oakland, Calif., has trouble recalling such history.

So Linda, who is a doctor, got her mother a dog.

Well, Mom thought it was a dog, anyway. It was a robot dog. Sensors allow it to pant, woof, wag its tail, nap and awaken, and users can feel a simulated heartbeat.

Hmmm.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Was this ethical?

Continue reading

More Weird Tales Of The Trump-Deranged

This one has an up-beat and even promising ending, but it still raises the question of what the hell has happened to these people to make them like this.

Leo Guinan learned that his parents  placed a pro-President Trump sign on their lawn, and since he believes that they don’t have the right to have political opinions that differ from his (after all, his self-description on Twitter tells us that he “uses his privilege to raise the voices of others,” so he we know he’s an official arbiter of truth and virtue) he decided to punish them, announcing in a Medium post that he had decreed that either they censor their political expression, or they couldn’t see their grandchildren.

In this he was emulating his favorite party, which as we know, is now threatening to hurt the nation in retribution for the President doing what the Constitution says he is supposed to do—nominate a judge to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. Loyal to a party of thugs, Guinan felt that it was incumbent upon him to behave like a thug.

Toward his parents.

Nice guy.

Before lowering the boom on Mom and Dad, Guinan had posted an earlier Medium masterpiece (BOY there’s a lot of crap on Medium!), an “open letter” to his folks explaining why they were abandoning Christian principles by supporting the Republican Party. The letter, to be kind, is pathological. The degree of blindness to one’s own biases required to write such garbage—and proudly publish it!—is staggering. When they study Trump Derangement and the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck in history and psychiatry classes—and they will, I promise you—this letter should be on the reading list. Despite the extravagant claims Guinan makes, there is no substantive argument in the thing at all—and that’s is typical. The Trump Deranged are heralds of wisdom and The Right Way because they just are, that’s all.

“I have done more research into these matters than you would believe,” he claims. I certainly don’t believe it, because if he really researched “these matters”  he would do more than parrot back social media bubble cant. “I have seen some shit, and I mean that very seriously.” That’s the closest Guinan comes to a factual assertion.  “If you would like to actually discuss any of the topics that Fox has been feeding you with an open mind, I will be happy to do so. And I will bring sources to back up my thoughts.” Talk is cheap, you fraud. I’ll discuss those topics with you, and also what MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post  and CNN have been feeding you, buddy. Bring it on. But it’s so much easier to bully your parents.

“Let’s say you decide to believe me, and we can go from there. I can help you find a selection of reasonable news sources,” he continued. I bet. Any guesses what those might be?  “Right now, the Republican party is something I have never seen. The level of corruption and simply evil people in some very powerful positions is something that quite literally resembles pre-WWII Germany,” he stated.

“Quite literally!” I’ll never forget Hitler how was  brokering peace deals for the Jews. And have you noticed how Trump’s brownshirts attack and intimidate…no, wait, that’s Black Lives Matter, endorsed by the Democratic Party

Guinan’s party is supporting riots and arson, and attempting to elevate one race over others. It is, as I mentioned, using threats to intimidate those who want to legally fill a SCOTUS seat; it has refused to accept the results of a Presidential election; it has employed Hitler’s Big Lie tactic as a primary tool, and Guinan concludes  Republicans are acting like Nazis! “I can help you find the historians who are quite clearly making these arguments.” Yes, so can I. You’re appealing to authority because you have no independent thoughts, and those historians have disgraced themselves.

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “There’s Nothing Wrong With “Dwarf Pride,” But When It Means Making Sure Your Kids Don’t Grow, It’s Unethical”

The Kohn Family.

Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day, an interesting perspective on the issue of parents opposing their children being treated for dwarfism when the parents are afflicted with the same disability, taking off from the post, “There’s Nothing Wrong With “Dwarf Pride,” But When It Means Making Sure Your Kids Don’t Grow, It’s Unethical”:

I think this is true of most things.

One of the (many) reasons I refer to Sally Kohn as “The Dumbest Lesbian on The Internet” is her op-ed opining that she would like her daughter to also be gay:“I’m gay. And I want my kid to be gay, too.”

Many of my straight friends, even the most liberal, see this logic as warped. It’s one thing for them to admit that they would prefer their kids to be straight, something they’ll only begrudgingly confess. But wanting my daughter to be a lesbian? I might as well say I want her to grow up to be lactose intolerant.

“Don’t you want her to be happy?” one friend asked. Perhaps he just meant that it’s easier to be straight in a homophobic culture. But this attitude complies with, even reinforces, that culture in the first place. A less-charitable interpretation is that he thinks being straight is superior.” Continue reading

My Head Can’t Explode Any More Over Trump Derangement Stories—Like This One [CORRECTED]

Six professors at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School signed a letter demanding that Penn President Amy Gutmann investigate allegations that President Donald Trump fraudulently gained admission to the university 50 years ago.

“Failing to investigate an allegation of fraud at such a level broadcasts to prospective students and the world at large that the playing field is not equal,” wrote the professors in part.  The allegation? It was made by Trump-family feud exploiter Mary Trump, the President’s niece, in her book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.” She wrote that someone named Joe Shapiro, whom she described as a “smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker,” was paid “well” to take the SAT for the President, thus helping Trump get into the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate.

Now, she has clarified that this was a different Joe Shapiro than the one married to Maria Shriver, though that Joe has known the President for years. (That Joe Shapiro could sue her.) No, it’s another Joe Shapiro…one who can’t be found. Mary says she is certain  Trump cheated on his SATs, though she has no proof at all (and obviously wasn’t on hand for the test), because she trusts the people who told her, whom she does not name. “I’m counting on people I trust who told me this story. So, in terms of documentation, no, I can’t prove it. But I can certainly say with 100% certainty that I was told this story by a source very close to Donald,” she told George Stephanopoulas on ABC.

Mary later said  she got the idea from the President’s 83-year-old sister, whom Mary—this is a real class act we’re talking about here—surreptitiously taped trashing her brother. At one point in the hours of tapes made in 2018 and 2019, the President’s older sister said she “believed” her brother cheated on the “SATs or whatever.”  So apparently Mary is 100% sure that she “was told the story” by her aunt, who, since she said she “believed” her brother cheated on his, well, some test, apparently had no first hand information on the matter herself. Why nobody has asked the retired judge to explain why she “believes” her brother cheated, I don’t know. But she, being a lawyer, could tell them that the tape would be inadmissible as evidence of what she thought, if she was still around to testify directly.

[Notice of correction: I initially wrote that Trump’s sister was dead. Stupid mistake. Thanks to Michael for the heads up.]

That makes Mary’s claim double hearsay. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/28/2020: A Bad Couple Of Months For Museums And Sexual Predators

Good morning!

1. Related to absolutely nothing anyone is currently thinking about...I was re-watching “Spotlight” to remind myself that the news media sometimes does its job, and again was reminded how Hollywood constantly makes Americans more ignorant by its sheer arrogance and laziness. The film, which reasonably accurately recounts how the Boston Globe’s investigative “Spotlight” team broke the story of the extensive Catholic Church cover-up of pedophile priests, a scandal still unfolding now, 20 years later, has a scene in which a lawyer who represents the victims of such priests tells a reporter that he’s effective because he’s an “outsider.” “I’m Armenian,” he says. “How many Armenians do you know in Boston?” Having been brought up in Boston, I know that the answer to this question is “A LOT.” Boston was a center of Armenian immigration at the turn of the 20th Century, and its Armenian community, in the city and especially the suburbs, is huge and influential. There are many Armenian organizations as well. In Arlington, Mass., where my family lived, Armenian-Americans were prominent in business and government. The little side street where we lived, Brunswick Road, had ten families living on it: the Marshalls, the Gares, and the Moreland,  the Zeffs (who were Jewish, then two Sakoians, the Nazarians, the Catherians, the Berbarians, and the Masmanians. Just Googling “Boston Armenian conmmunity” would have let the film-makers know the scene was nonsense, and they couldn’t be bothered.

2. And speaking of  sexual predators…the cover-up of sexual predators in the coaching ranks for Olympic sports is being exposed slowly but surely.  Last month a lawsuit was filed against Richard Callaghan, an elite American figure skating coach best known for coaching Tara Lipinski to an Olympic gold medal in 1998 and coaching Todd Eldredge to a world title and six national championships. The suit alleges ongoing sexual abuse of one skater that endured over two decades. Callaghan’s victims were male, not female, but the story is familiar: parents guilelessly entrust their talented athletic children to mentor/coaches in swimming, skating, and gymnastics, without considering for a moment what attracts many of these people to working with children and teens.

Another sport that is coming to terms with a sexual predator is equestrian competition.  George Morris, an Olympics equestrian coach known as  a “kingmaker” for his success with riders,  was barred for life from the sport by the United States Equestrian Federation  based on an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct He is now facing lawsuits filed this month by two people claiming that he raped them as teenagers. Jimmy Williams, another  riding coach who guided many Olympians and  was also named in a lawsuit by a woman who said Williams had sexually assaulted her from the ages of 12 to 17.  Though Williams died in 1993, he was recorded as barred for life from the federation in 2018—yes, a dead man was banned for life— after an investigation by The New York Times revealed accusations by nearly a dozen women, including the Olympian Anne Kursinski, that he had preyed upon them as girls.

Parents are so desperate to live vicariously through their offspring that they willingly hand their kids over to the care of predators. I’m sorry to say this, but absent thorough, thorough investigation, it is irresponsible to trust these coaches. The history and what we know of human nature presents too much of a risk.

The same applies to allowing children to work in professional theater, TV, and movies. Continue reading

The Daughter Of KellyAnne Conway And George Conway Is A Monster, And Of Course It’s Their Fault

The rebellion of 15-yeqr-old Claudia Conway against her politically prominent parents, Trump Counsellor KellyAnne Conway and NeverTrump jerk George Conway (when one devotes one’s time to publicly attacking one’s spouse’s employer, one is, by the Ethics Alarm definition, a jerk. Also an asshole.) qualifies for the famous George Kaufmann reaction, which has been quoted here frequently, when crooner Eddie Fisher (husband of Debbie Reynold and Elizabeth Taylor, father of Princess Leia) visited  ’50s TV panel show and complained about his  love life:

Mr. Fisher, on Mount Wilson there is a telescope that can magnify the most distant stars to twenty-four times the magnification of any previous telescope. This remarkable instrument was unsurpassed in the world of astronomy until the development and construction of the Mount Palomar telescope.The Mount Palomar telescope is an even more remarkable instrument of magnification. Owing to advances and improvements in optical technology, it is capable of magnifying the stars to four times the magnification and resolution of the Mount Wilson telescope.Mr. Fisher, if you could somehow put the Mount Wilson telescope inside the Mount Palomar telescope, you still wouldn’t be able to see my interest in your problem.

Why am I writing about it, then? Claudia is an unusually spoiled teen, but a teenager rebelling against her parents is neither news nor intrinsically interesting. However, her rebellion is publicly embarrassing her parents while turning her into a celebrity,  That shouldn’t happen, and it is the result of multiple  instances of unethical conduct that it has happened.

Claudia has been assailing her parents on social media all summer, and her insulting  attacks, notably on Tik Tok where one of her videos referred to her mother as “Smelly Kelly,” have “gone viral’ much to the joy of Trump Haters everywhere. (Nobody cares  about George Conway, except as a resistance tool.)  Now she has announced that she’s seeking emancipation from her parents because co-existing with two conservatives who love her and who have provided the very essence of privilege is  just too, too horrible to bear.

Observations:

  • Two career-focused and neglectful parents weren’t sufficiently attentive to the basic duties of parenthood to convey to their daughter minimal ethical values, including one’s obligations to  family.

KellyAnne Conway has publicly encouraged her daughter to have “independent” views. That’s self-serving cover. Her daughter has watched her father attack her mother’s job and employer in public, and has seen her mother shrug it off as if her husband was a just another Trum- deranged stranger. That is the respect for family, love and loyalty that has been modeled for her. Claudia’s conduct is the natural and predictable result.

  • I don’t know what kind of ideological indoctrination Claudia has undergone in the high-priced private schools she attended, but it’s an easy wager that she has been subjected to constant progressive brain-washing away from home, and limited influence by her parents in it. My wife and I briefly sent our son to one of those schools, and Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” was presented as part of the science curriculum. For decades, parents have naively and negligently trusted our education system, because it saved them time and anxiety to do so.  The United States is now reaping the whirlwind as a consequence.

It is clear, or should be, that parents must not trust teachers, public schools, private schools, colleges, universities,or the administration of those schools, to keep politics out of education. That is the revelation that the riots around the nation  engineered by anti-American revolutionaries should be bringing home.

  • Social media has the capacity to make our children monsters. It gives them power they are neither mature, responsible, experienced nor wise enough to handle. Claudia could be the poster girl for this phenomenon.

She is the victim here.

In one of her whiny tweets, Claudia writes that her parents have ruined her life. I think she’s right, but not for the reason she thinks.