Week-Opening Ethics Warm-Up, 5/20/2019: On Life Competence, Gender Math, Lying Stars, And Civil Rights Legislation That Isn’t As Good As It Pretends To Be

Ah, Monday…

1. Weekend Update: I am going to make a habit of flagging what I consider important issues from the weekends on Monday, since from late Friday to the end of Sunday these days, Ethics Alarms is populated by just a handful of stalwarts and tumbleweeds rolling down the deserted information super-highway. This time, I point your attention to…this.

2. Today’s baseball ethics note: Yesterday, the falling New York Mets lost their second straight game while getting less than three hits (that’s bad, for those sad members of you  who don’t follow baseball) in part because their recently acquired superstar, Robbie Cano, didn’t run hard to first base to try to avoid hitting into a double play. This, in turn, has placed the continued employment of Mets second year manager, Mickey Callaway, in jeopardy, as loafing players on losing teams always will. This is the Star Syndrome (or Rationalization #11, the King’s Pass) in operation: if Cano gets to do what lesser players would be fined, benched or released for doing, then the double standard threatens team unity and respect for the manager.

Cano’s excuse was that he thought there were two outs when there was really only one, because the scoreboard was wrong. A player is supposed to know the number of outs without having to check the scoreboard, but now photo evidence seems to show that the stadium scoreboard was correct, and showed only one out.

Oh-oh. Continue reading

My Involuntary Evolution On “Never Apologize…It’s A Sign Of Weakness!”

“Never apologize…It’s a sign of weakness!” is one of John Wayne’s many famous quotes from the characters he portrayed on film, though no one ever wrote a song about it like Buddy Holly did after he watched “The Searchers” and couldn’t get “That’ll be the day!” out of his head.

The line was given renewed life when NCIS leader Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) repeatedly cited it to his team of investigators on the apparently immortal CBS procedural “NCIS,” as he taught them about life, their duties, and ethics. “Never  say you’re sorry…It’s a sign of weakness!” is #8 (on some lists, #6) among  36 “Gibbs’ Rules” that include “If it seems like someone is out to get you, they are” (#30) and “Never date a co-worker” (#14).

Once, not very long ago, I regularly referenced #8 in ethics seminars as one of Gibbs’ worst rules when I discussed “Dr. Z’s Rules,” social scientist Philip Zimbardo’s tips for girding oneself against corruption in the workplace. One of the points on that list is,

“Be willing to say “I was wrong,” “I made a mistake,” and “I’ve changed my mind.” Don’t fear honesty, or to accept the consequences of what is already done.

I would tell my students that Gibbs and the Duke were wrong, that apologizing for wrongdoing is a sign of strength and integrity, signalling to all that you have the courage and humility to admit when you were wrong, and to move forward.

Then came the advent of social media bullying and Twitter lynch mobs, and I saw how I had underestimated the noodle-content of the  spines of politicians, celebrities, CEOs, and others… Continue reading

The Left Is Going Nuts Over The Alabama, Georgia And Ohio Abortion Bills. It’s Hard To Like Them (Or Respect Them) When They Are Going Nuts

Last week, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who was once a respectable, perceptive commentator  but who has apparently been driven over the edge by Donald Trump,  claimed that the Alabama Human Life Protection Act will end Roe v. Wade. As I have written here, the law is 100% unconstitutional based on existing law. I doubt that it will even reach the Supreme Court. It will be struck down in lower Courts, and SCOTUS will decide that there is no legal controversy. Toobin, however, decided to use his perch to fearmonger, and shamelessly:

Roe v. Wade is gone and every woman in Alabama who gets pregnant is gonna be forced to give birth soon. And that’s gonna be true in Alabama, it’s gonna be true in Missouri, it’s gonna be true, probably, in Georgia. And that’s what the law is because that’s what the Presidential election was about, in part, last time.”

Let’s see: false, highly unlikely, false, false, and false. Nor can anyone seriously argue that the 2016 election was “about” abortion. The Pew Research Center polled voters about their top concerns, and here were the results:

I count abortion as 11th on the list. Toobin’s statement is fake history and fake news. It is simply false. He blathered on…

“This is what this fight has been about, for years. I think the legislators were very smart, they waited until they got five votes on the Supreme Court and now they’re gonna push this thing through. And Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch are gonna be joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, and this is a victory that Rick (Santorum) and others have been fighting for decades and they’ve won and they should celebrate.”

I don’t know why Toobin just didn’t scream, “ARRRRRGH! WE’RE DOOMED! DOOMED!” and leave it at that. He has no idea how the justices will vote, and since he has proven himself of late to have become an hysterical, partisan hack, there is no reason to take his analysis seriously.

More seriously, however, than model Emily Ratajkowski, whose protest of the Alabama law involved  posting a nude photo of herself on social media, which she has done before when there wasn’t an abortion bill to protest. I think she just likes posting nude and near-nude photos of herself, not that I can blame her. This isn’t quite nude, but you get the idea…

Boy, THAT will punish those men who don’t respect female autonomy!

Emily wrote this to accompany her “punishment”:

“This week, 25 old white men voted to ban abortion in Alabama even in cases of incest and rape. These men in power are imposing their wills onto the bodies of women in order to uphold the patriarchy and perpetuate the industrial prison complex by preventing women of low economic opportunity the right to choose to not reproduce. The states trying to ban abortion are the states that have the highest proportions of black women living there. This is about class and race and is a direct attack on the fundamental human rights women in the US deserve and are protected by under Roe vs. Wade.”

Our bodies, our choice.

Well, you just have to do better than that, and if you can’t, then  shut up. (And remember, I do not advocate overturning Roe at this point.)

  • Attacking legislators for their age and gender marks the model as a hypocrite and a bigot, though a common variety within the current American Left.
  • I’ve discussed the “incest and rape” fallacy here many times. If the issue is human life and when it begins, incest and rape are irrelevant to the discussion. A life is a life, and how or why it begins doesn’t change the value of the life. When someone signals that they don’t comprehend this, that tells me, and should tell everyone, that they haven’t thought very hard about what they are protesting, or that they aren’t very bright. Either way, if an advocate on either side of the debate goes in that dumb direction, I’m disregarding them. It’s static and ethics pollution.
  • “Uphold the patriarchy” is another bit of nonsense cant, about as serious or persuasive as the lyrics of “Imagine.” It is a buzz phrase for anti-male bigotry, nothing more, nothing less.
  • These men are asserting the government’s duty to protect the lives of citizens. Their position is that when women use their bodily autonomy to kill an unborn child, that should be considered a crime, just as when they use their autonomy to shoot someone. The only way someone like Ratajkowski can claim that the objective of such laws is to oppress women is to completely ignore the other life involved in this ethical conflict. Doing so  is intellectually dishonest or stunningly ignorant.
  • If these laws are rooted in racism, why would they seek  to protect the disproportional number of black fetuses aborted in those states?
  • Women can choose not to reproduce, completely effectively, right now. Nobody is telling any woman she has to reproduce. See, Emily, “The Handmaiden’s Tale” is fiction, just like “The Walking Dead.” The idea is that if you have created a living human being, you can’t then kill it or delegate killing it to someone else, no matter how much hardship avoiding the murder option might mean. Starting that prohibition from conception is unworkable, but later? That’s a utilitarian necessity.
  • The fundamental human right that must take precedence over all others is the right to live.

 

Saturday Ethics Notables. 5/18/2019: More Social Media Partisan Censorship, A-Rod’s Potty And Ian’s Potty Mouth…

Why, I asked, on such a beautiful May day, am I inside writing about ethics? And my wife turned into Hymen Roth…

1. PLEASE stop making me defend Alex Rodriguez, who is one of my least favorite human beings, never mind former athletes, on the planet, and yet…this is a strict Golden Rule issue. The ex-Yankees (also Texas and Seattle) slugger  was photographed sitting on his toilet in his luxury apartment’s bathroom. The shot was apparently taken by a rogue photographer in a high rise office building next to the apartment building where A-Rod shares a  $17.5 million apartment with Jennifer Lopez, whose movies are now beneath those of Adam Sandler and Tom Arnold on my playlist.

Legal precedent in New York suggests than  Rodriquez has no case, because in 2015, an appeals court ruled that a gallery show of images snapped through less famous New Yorkers’ windows by an “artist” was not a privacy violation. (I wrote about that photographer here; perhaps the title gives you a sense of where I came out on my analysis: “Why Photographer Arne Svensen Is An Unethical Creep”]

Fine, I see the legal point. If you don’t want people taking photos of you, then keep your window blinds down. However,just because you can do something crappy to another human being doesn’t make it right.

Even if it’s a crappy human being. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/17/2019: Georgia On Various Minds, Carson’s Deficiencies, Harris’s Pandering

Good morning, Ethics Lovers!

The solo performer is the immortal Doodles Weaver, Sigourney’s uncle.

1.  This is indefensible, and—I hate to keep using this word, but don’t blame me, blame prevailing political winds—totalitarian. Carl Malamud believes that there should be open access to government records, and he has a group that has been  putting them online for years. When his group  posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, however, the state sued for copyright infringement claiming that giving the public access to the state’s laws and related legal materials without the state’s authorization is the “strategy of terrorism.”

No, having laws that the public has no way to see or understand without paying for them is the strategy of dictators. A federal appeals court has ruled against the state, and now Georgia wants the Supreme Court to step in. So does Public.Resource.Org, Malamud’s group, which also wants SCOTUS to resolve the issue,  since the question of who owns the law is  current in  20 other states that have copyrighted their  annotated codes. The issue is whether citizens can have access to “the raw materials of our democracy.”

I think Georgia is going to lose and lose ugly, though I have given up prediction 9-0 Supreme Court rulings. That’s what this one should be, though.

2. More on “the best people” front. One awful aspect of the Trump Administration that cannot be defended is the President’s irresponsible appointments, which are too numerous to list. In the case of Dr. Ben Carson, whom Ethics Alarms assessed as some kind of idiot savant based on his embarrassing performance in the debates, we knew, or should have known, that Trump appointing him Secretary of HUD was a guaranteed fiasco in the making. Continue reading

This Is Sexual Harassment, And Until Hollywood, The Media, And the Public Realize It, The Harvey Weinsteins (And Joe Bidens) Will Roam The Workplace Like The Buffalo Once Roamed The Plains

Frasier now and then. Psst! Brendan! You can’t ambush actresses with kisses any more! At least not unless you’re running for President as a Democrat…it’s complicated. Give me a call.

This drives me crazy. I’m preparing a sexual harassment training seminar for an association, and this story just went into the introduction.

A nice cheery puff piece is up at E!On-line. about reminiscences by actress Leslie Mann (make that feminist, woke, #Me too-supporting actress Leslie Mann)   about the time she shot a movie with actor and one-time stud-muffin Brendan Frasier. A sample:

“Every morning before work we were in the hair and makeup trailer getting ready. And he would come in and kiss me on the lips,” she tells host Busy Philippswith an ear-to-ear grin. “Just like, ‘Good morning!’ And kiss. You know, like he’s European or something.”

Leslie got used to those morning smooches—earlier in the clip, the actor cheekily notes that since her character was supposed to fall for Brendan’s onscreen, she just went ahead and “fell in love with him in real life”—so it was pretty jarring for her when the kisses stopped suddenly one day.

Frasier didn’t ask permission for these spontaneous kisses, which #MeToo emphatically calls sexual assault in principle, just not when they like the assaulter. It is sexual assault, just like this is… Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: When You Are Tempted To Beat Your Head In With A Claw Hammer As You Read These Items, Think Of Buddy Mercury

GOOD MORNING!

Honestly now, how can anyone get depressed about ethical the state of a world with Buddy Mercury in it?

1. Yes, I know that this is just a has-been ex-child star with an inflated concept of her own wisdom and authority, but it’s significant anyway. Alyssa Milano, 46, late of “Who’s the Boss” and “Charmed,” tried to promote a female sex strike against men to protest recent anti-abortion bills  in several states. This stunningly stupid idea–but classical!—was rightly attacked from both the Left and Right, but it is worthy of note for one reason: it illustrates how progressives are increasingly favoring boycotts, force, intimidation, violence and bullying as the mean of achieving their policy objectives, and abandoning reasoning, elections and law. This attitude suggests a growing hostility to democracy, and that is worrysome.

When the Lysistrata-inspired #SexStrike that she declared would deny men sex “until we get bodily autonomy back” (think about that for a minute) protest fell flat, Milano threw a self-reported tantrum on Twitter and pivoted to an appeal to emotion that omitted the legal and ethical realities. The new object of her outrage was a CBS report about an 11-year-old rape victim who couldn’t get an abortion under Ohio’s yet-to-be-signed fetal heartbeat bill. Milano, like all abortion rights absolutists but especially loudly, appears to be incapable of perceiving or admitting that anti-abortion legislation is not an expression of hostility to women at all.  Right or wrong, it is based on a sincere and ethically defensible (under reciprocity and Kantian ethics) argument that a human life, even a nascent one, must have priority in the utilitarian balancing involved when a pregnancy is unwanted by the mother. Continue reading