Morning Ethics Expectoration, 4/15/2021: I’m In A Really Bad Mood (And Ethics Is Just A Part Of It…)

Let’s see what revoltin’ developments we have accumulated, shall we? But first, some positive news…

1. Bernie Madoff has died in prison. Good. If there was ever a case for using capitol punishment for crimes other than murder and treason, Bernie is it. He was convicted of orchestrating the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history and was serving a 150-year sentence that he managed to escape by dying in prison of natural causes at age 82. He was a stone-cold sociopath who destroyed his family, foundations, charities and lives, all out of greed. On the plus side, his exploits did spawn two excellent dramatic portrayals, one by Robert De Niro and the other by Richard Dreyfuss. I liked Richard’s better, but after his disgusting conduct during the Trump years, Robert is permanently unwelcome to my eyeballs.

So much for the good news…

2. Don’t tell me again how poor Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Pete was the second Ethics Dunce of them all, way back in 2004, here. Knowing well that baseball had an iron-clad, one strike and you’re out forever rule forbidding players, coaches and managers from betting on games, he did it anyway (as a manager) because, see, he is Pete Rose, and the rules don’t apply to him, but mostly because he’s an idiot. So he got banned from the game and the Hall of Fame despite being the all-time hit leader, ahead of Ty Cobb. He’s a walking, talking ethics corrupter, prompting fans and writers to resort to rationalizations to explain why he should be forgiven.

Now we have this:

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Daunte Wright Dining Car Specials On The George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck…

1. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Naturally, the New York Times has a ticket…The Timed headline in its print edition: “Minnesota Police Kill Another Man As Tensions Build.” Oh, did the jury rule that the Minnesota police officers killed George Floyd already? They didn’t? Then what the hell is the New York Times saying “Another” for?

The news media decided that Derek Chauvin is a murderer and has been repeating that assertion as fact for almost a year now.

2. Wait, the Chaivin jury hasn’t been sequestered? Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, had argued yesterday that the jurors should be ordered to avoid all media and spend the rest of the trial sequestered, because he feared that rioting in the nearby community where the Wright shooting took place might limit their ability to be fair jurors. The unrest will be at “forefront of the jury’s mind-set,” Nelson argued. He also asked for new interviews with the jurors to determine whether this recent event had already biased them. The judge, Peter Cahill, denied both requests. “This is a totally different case,” the judge held, since the current riots aren’t about a jury verdict but a shooting.

Wow This pretty much convinces me that this is a kangaroo court, and that the judge is trying to do his best to see Chauvin convicted.

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Spring Clean-Up! Some Ethics Stories That Need Disposal Before The Weekend…

  • I have some major projects and stalled efforts percolating (Yes, Michael Ejercito, including that one!) so I need this post to make sure some interesting items don’t get left on the metaphorical rock…That’s my favorite Charles Addams cartoon above, and the only sad one he ever drew, I think. It was published well before this hit song by the Irish Rovers ( a really big hit in Boston), and I’ve often wondered if the cartoon inspired it. What do you think?
  • In the NYT workplace advice column “Work Friend,” Roxane Gay was asked by a reader about an office colleague who took up a collection to give condolence gifts to two fellow staffers who had lost their pets. Is this a common practice “in our pet-obsessed society,” she asked, or “is it, as I think, utterly bananas?”

This is, to begin with, an utterly bananas use of an advice columnist, assuming there is a good use. If that’s what she thinks, why does the writer need the confirmation of a stranger? Who is Roxane Gay, other than someone can’t spell “Roxanne”? The writer believes, obviously, in the “appeal to authority” fallacy, and is the kind of person who will tell you that her opinion is right because Charles Blow agrees with it. For the record, Roxane asked what was going on in the writer’s life that had her feeling so callous. In fact, this is an easy ethics call: the passwords are kindness and consideration. It doesn’t matter why a friend or colleague is emotionally devastated, or whether you would be as upset facing the same loss. The point is that your friend has suffered what he or she feels is a great loss, and the kind thing to do is to say, “I’m sorry. I care.”

It’s never occurred to me to send flowers or a card to someone who has lost an beloved animal companion, but thinking about it because of this column, I would have appreciated such a gesture after sweet Patience, our English Mastiff, had to be put down at 7 when her cancer became untreatable, or brilliant and brave Dickens, our first Jack Russell, who once saved our son from a malling by a larger dog, and whose heart and lungs gave out after 14 years, or Rugby, who for 16 years demonstrated how to love every living thing and who would sit on my desk with his head on my arm as I typed out Ethics Alarms posts. I can get choked up thinking about any of them still. It’s not “bananas” to be kind to someone suffering these kind of traumas. It’s called “being nice.” Continue reading

End Of Day Ethics, 4/7/2021: “Ick,” Ethics, And Law

And as we bid farewell to April 7 and good morning to April 8, I want to wish my wonderful, kind, talented and tolerant wife of 40 years a happy birthday. I owe everything to her.

1. Well, you can’t accuse satellite radio of being politically correct…the Comedy Legend Sirius channel is a welcome oasis in the woke era humor desert, with routines old enough to remind one what it was like when comedians only had to worry about being funny to the audience at hand—and yet there are limits. At least, there should be. Today I heard an old Louis C.K. routine about his childhood. You recall how C.K. became a #MeToo arch-villain, costing him his show, bookings, and essentially his career, don’t you? He set a new low for celebrity sexual harassment by masturbating in front of non-consenting female visitors to his hotel room, and on more than one occasion. Ick. Also sick. In the routine featured on Sirius-XM, the comedian was reminiscing, to audience hilarity, how he showed his penis to a girl with Down Syndrome when he was nine. I don’t know that I would have ever found that story funny, but hearing C.K. tell it in light of his later revealed proclivities was an experience I could have lived my whole life without having. Since it is now clear to me that whoever programs that channel can’t be trusted to apply any discretion or common sense at all, I’m not sure it is safe for me to drive with it playing…

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Afternoon Ethics Delights, 4/6/2021:

The U.S. entered The Great War on this date in 1917, surely among the most disastrous decisions the nation has ever made. Unfortunately, almost all of the debate over whether we “should” have gotten involved in the seemingly pointless quarrel among the European powers is polluted by hindsight bias, consequentialism, and a disregard for moral luck. Yes, it’s true that The Great War led to a far worse one, and that Germany winning what became World War I probably would have kept Adolf Hitler painting houses. But that’s cheating: we can only assess the legitimacy of the U.S. entering the war on the basis of what was known at the time.

1. Baseball uniform ethics. Oh yeah, this makes a lot of sense. The Boston Red Sox uniforms have been red, white and blue for almost a century—perfect for the team’s annual Patriot’s Day game, which occurs in the morning so the crowd can watch the end of the Boston Marathon. Only Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut celebrate Patriot’s Day, when Paul Revere (and his two friend) rode to warn the Boston suburbs that the British were coming in 1775.

Well, Nike is now pulling baseball’s strings (there is evidence that the company that employs Colin Kaepernick as a spokesperson helped push MLB into punishing Atlanta for Joe Biden’s made-up racist voting law claims), and part of its deal with the sport is that it will design new uniforms for many of the teams. Here are the uniforms the company thinks the Boston Red Sox should wear to celebrate Patriots Day, since those old colors just reflect the flag of the racist nation founded on the backs of slaves:

They look like eggs.

And of course, no red socks.

2. The rest of the story! Remember this post, about San Francisco’s lunatic school board declaring that one-third of the city’s school names, including those honoring Washington, Jefferson,  Lincoln, James Madison and both Roosevelts , Presidents Monroe, McKinley, Herbert Hoover and James Garfield; John Muir, the naturalist and author; James Russell Lowell, abolitionist poet and editor; Paul Revere,  Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,  Daniel Webster, and current California Senator and former city mayor Diane Feinstein must be replaced so as not to honor individuals who were, in the words of an over-acting character in “The Birds”,

Rendering the equivalent of Tippy Hedren’s slap to these idiots has been, well, just about everybody, from historians, scholars, parents, anyone with an IQ above freezing, and even San Francisco’s reliably woke mayor. Implementing the re-naming was also expected to embroil the city in litigation. So now, the school board, after pausing its grand cancellation project, is expected to overturn its decision after wasting a lot of time and money, and making the city appear even more absurd than it usually does, which is quite an achievement.

You would think that someone on the school board would have been sufficiently smart, competent, responsible grounded in reality to predict the fate of such a mass historical airbrushing. Nope!

This isn’t called The Great Stupid for nothing, you know.

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The Great Stupid Rolls On: Once Again, The News Media Makes Us Play “Wheel Of Fortune”…

Barely three weeks ago, Ethics Alarms offered this post, “The New York Times Refusing To Inform Its Readers What Meyers Leonard Was Suspended For Saying Is Far More Unethical Than Leonard Saying It.” Readers of the Times and many other news sources had revealed that the NBA’s Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard was in big trouble because he had used a word that was an ethnic slur so terrible that we couldn’t be told exactly what it was. This is censorship and journalism incompetence at its worse: without knowing the word, the story makes no sense. It is a central fact that the public must know in order to assess whether the outrage over the utterance and the eventual consequences were just.

Ethics Alarms had to inform readers that the word was “kike.” That’s not my job. Nonetheless, I have respect for the public, language, the duty of communication and free speech that the majority of American journalists do not.

Now, in an example of bad ethics deja vu, it’s happened again. Rather than do their job and tell the story, most of the news media is requiring the public to play “Wheel of Fortune,” and complete a phrase by guessing what a word is in order to understand why its utterance by a professional athlete is newsworthy.

Here was how USA Today reported the episode:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis apologized for a tweet he sent Sunday night that contained an anti-Asian slur.  Davis said he confused the term for one he was intending to mean “lame” while trying to blame the media for the traction the tweet received.”I would never offend any group of people,” Davis, 24, wrote. “You reporters can look for another story to blow up. The term was directed towards a producer claiming he ‘ran Miami’ With that being said I’ll retire that word from my vocabulary giving the hard times our Asian family are enduring. According to ESPN, Davis wrote “Gotta stop letting (expletive) in Miami” in the tweet that has since been deleted. Anti-Asian attacks have increased recently as the COVID-19 pandemic continues into its second year.In response to the tweet, the Asian American Journalists Association Sports Task Force said in a statement that it “is disappointed by his sentiment, especially at a time when Asians in the United States are experiencing a sharp increase in anti-Asian hate which has resulted in harassment and attacks.”

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Ethics Potpourri, 4/5/2021, Including, I Blush To Say, An Easter Weekend Lap-Dance for God

I hate potpourri.

1. Amateur poetry ethics. This has annoyed me for a long, long time. Althouse posted a notice from a local restaurant requiring patrons to wear masks. The thing suddenly devolves into verse, and in writing that, I am being generous. Here’s a sample:

I’ve been listening to and reading crap like that since I was ten, and when I was ten, I wrote better light verse by far. Since then, I’ve written song parodies and light verse for fun and profit, and still do. It’s a skill. It takes practice, and it requires care and detail, like most tasks. OK, I know that today’s nearly useless schools don’t teach little things like rhyme, meter and the basics of verse, but if you don’t know how to do something competently, don’t do it. Is this supposed to be a Dr. Seuss parody? I can’t tell, and the first rule of parodies is that they must clearly be parodies. Dr. Seuss has famous style and meter, and this whatever it is doesn’t match it. The problem is that people who author embarrassing junk like this don’t know they are incompetent. They think everyone will think they are clever, but anyone who regard something like this—that presents “forget” and “respect”as rhymes, for example— is clever is illiterate.

2. It takes one to know one. On ABC’s “This Week,” yesterday, former NJ Governor and once-rising GOP star Chris Christie correctly characterized the Democratic attacks on the Georgia voting reform law. “It expands early voting, George, and the president said it ended it. Listen, here’s what Joe Biden’s got to live with when he wakes up this morning on Easter morning. He is doing exactly what he sat around in the campaign and the transition and accused Donald Trump of doing,” Christie said. “He is lying to cause racial divisions in this country. That’s what he accused Donald Trump of doing, and he’s a liar and a hypocrite.”

Yes he is, but who cares what Chris Christie thinks? He’s also a liar and a hypocrite; he has no followers outside of his family, and he sold his integrity to grease Donald Trump’s route to the Republican nomination. This is another example of the unethical media practice of choosing a revolting advocate for the position a news organization wants to discredit. It’s Cognitive Dissonance Scale manipulation 101: make sure the “authority” opposing the dishonest Democratic talking point is widely regarded as toxic jerk.

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“Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias”: Roll Over, Ed Murrow!

CBS News, once symbolized by iconic journalists like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Fred Friendly, is now more appropriately defined by disgraced partisan hack Dan Rather. The past week has demonstrated how far the ethics rot has progressed, or, perhaps, how illusory CBS’s reputation for integrity really was.

In truth, CBS has had a bad month, marked by the Sharon Osbourne debacle on “The Talk.” In that mess, the network allowed the reality show figure turned pundit to be tarred as a racist for not agreeing that Piers Morgan was one when he dared to doubt the sincerity of Princess Meghan, a pretty obvious self-promoting celebrity sociopath. But she’s “of color,” so criticizing her is per se racism according to Woke Law.

Ethics Alarms also flagged the current level of CBS’s trustworthiness in news reporting yesterday, noting,

“…CBS News recently ran a report titled “Asian Americans Battling Bias: Continuing Crisis” in which it stated,  “Nearly 4000 crimes against Asian-Americans have been reported since the start of the pandemic, an increase of about 150 percent in major U.S. cities.” Then it showed  videos of former President Trump calling coronavirus the “Kung Flu.”….In order to inflate the numbers, ratchet up hysteria and attack Trump, [CBS] used numbers from Stop AAPI Hate, led by Arizona State University Professor Aggie Yellow Horse and San Francisco State University Professor Russell Jeung, an “incident” tracker launched in March 2020….The “tracker” counted anonymously reported  incidents, which of course could not be checked or verified. The latest report showed nearly 4,000 of them, most consisting of “verbal harassment” and “shunning.” Those are not “hate crimes.”

But CBS was just getting started. On last night’s “60 Minutes” deceptively edited an exchange that reporter Sharyn Alfonsi had with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) two weeks ago about how Florida was handling its vaccination program. Here is how the exchange was presented:

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Easter Ethics Revelations: Media Lies About Asian Hate Crimes And Daniel Webster

Here’s a revelation: that melody, my favorite of the Easter hymns, is the work of Sir Arthur Sullivan. Yes, that Sullivan.

1. Oh, no! Not the National Review too! We are indeed surrounded by idiots…in this story about how Hispanic activists are pushing to keep former President Barack Obama’s name off a school building in Waukegan, Illinois because, you see, he enforced the law by deporting illegal immigrants—can’t have THAT!—the National Review writes, “The Waukegan Board of Education looks to rename two of its schools, Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Daniel Webster Middle School. The board formed renaming committees for the schools named after Jefferson, who owned slaves, and Webster, who supported slavery.”

This is how the American public gets stupid. Of course it’s beyond idiotic not to name a school after the man whose vision of a new nation and whose brilliant mission statement made our existence possible, not to mention the fact that his words planted the seeds that resulted in slavery’s eventual end in North America. Letting that pass for the nonce, however, Daniel Webster, the New England lawyer, U.S. Senator and member of multiple cabinets in the 19th Century did not “support slavery,” and saying he did is historical libel.

To the contrary, Webster was a lifetime opponent of slavery. In an 1837 speech he called slavery a “great moral, social, and political evil,” adding that he would vote against “any thing that shall extend the slavery of the African race on this continent, or add other slaveholding states to the Union.”

Webster, however, also did not want to see a civil war, or to have the Southern states leave the union over the slavery question. His most famous quote, “Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!” expressed his priorities. Webster was one of many patriots and brilliant figures of the time desperately seeking a way to keep the nation together while slavery was stressing its bonds. He supported several compromises to that end, including the much-criticized Compromise of 1850, which included the reviled Fugitive Slave Act. Those who condemn Webster now for his best efforts to avert war and mass secession are engaging in the worst kind of hindsight bias. What would be their brilliant solution to the situation faced by Senators in the 30 years before the Civil War?

My analysis has always been that Webster, Henry Clay and others successfully delayed the inevitable schism over slavery until, by good fortune or, as Abe liked to say, “providence,” got a President in office who had the guts and the skill to deal with the dilemma boldly and successfully. If the South had seceded under any of the Presidents after Jackson and before Lincoln, we would have two Americas on this continent today—or maybe just one, enslaved by Nazi Germany.

Daniel Webster did NOT “support slavery.” Show some damn respect.

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Ethics Observations About “How Trump Steered Supporters Into Unwitting Donations”

To imply that I am not exactly shocked is not to suggest that what the story—that headline is from the New York Times—described isn’t just as wrong as it would be if the news sent me to a cardiac ward.

But read on…

What the story describes is this…

….Facing a cash crunch and getting badly outspent by the Democrats, the [Trump] campaign had begun last September to set up recurring donations by default for online donors, for every week until the election.

Contributors had to wade through a fine-print disclaimer and manually uncheck a box to opt out.

As the election neared, the Trump team made that disclaimer increasingly opaque, an investigation by The New York Times showed. It introduced a second prechecked box, known internally as a “money bomb,” that doubled a person’s contribution. Eventually its solicitations featured lines of text in bold and capital letters that overwhelmed the opt-out language.

The tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists — retirees, military veterans, nurses and even experienced political operatives. Soon, banks and credit card companies were inundated with fraud complaints from the president’s own supporters about donations they had not intended to make, sometimes for thousands of dollars.

….In the final two and a half months of 2020, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and their shared accounts issued more than 530,000 refunds worth $64.3 million to online donors. 

Observations :

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