Ethics Dunce: Minnesota’s Cottage Grove United Methodist Church

They’re going to have to update this, I think…

I believe that it’s fair to say that no church should ever make an ethics dunce of itself. This, unfortunately, is an extreme example. [Full disclosure: My father was raised as a Methodist, and my father in law was a Methodist minister and scholar.] The rationalizations and  double talk came fast and furious, and there even was a Jumbo in the mix.

Praise the Lord!

Rev. Dan Wetterstrom, lead pastor at the Woodbury and Cottage Grove branches of the United Methodist Church, sent out letters to parishioners that the Cottage Grove branch would close on June 1, then open, refurbished, in the Fall seeking the membership of young families with children. Current members who don’t fit that description will not be welcome. The letter encouraged the exiles  to worship elsewhere.

The good news is that the old, childless members should be able to come back into the fold  in 15 to18 months.

“The ends justify the means” is not a Christian, moral nor ethical philosophy, but that is the reasoning being applied by Wetterstrom and his church’s administrators to deal with what they see as a demographic crisis. Young people are staying away (perhaps because they have noticed the rank hypocrisy and stupidity in the church, indeed many churches, engage in, but I’m just guessing) and the current flock keeps getting older and older.

Yecchh. Continue reading

A Holiday Jumbo! The Non-Racist Confederacy/Nazi Enthusiast

In Billy Rose’s spectacular musical “Jumbo,” Jimmy Durante was confronted by a sheriff as Jimmy tries to tiptoe off with the largest elephant in captivity trailing on a rope behind him. In answer to the officer’s question, “Where are you going with that elephant?”,  the immortal Schnoz answered, innocently, “Elephant? What elephant?”

Sadly, “Jumbo” will never be produced again: too old, too expensive, too politically incorrect (it’s about the traditional circuses that had trained animals, like elephants, in their shows). Nonetheless, Jimmy’s tradition is alive and well, if you can call denying what is obvious to anyone “well.”

In Des Moines, Iowa, William Stark has painted Confederate battle flags and swastikas on pallets around his property, which is next to an elementary school. Nice. Morris Elementary has released a statement denouncing Stark’s display, which the students, who are about 60% black and Hispanic, can see when they come and go from the school, and from the playground.

Stark says he can’t imagine what their problem is. “They don’t know their history, evidently,” he protests. “That’s the only reason I can think of that they can think anything bad about it—they don’t know their history.”

I wonder what history he’s referring to.

Stark denies that there’s anything about his Nazi-Confederacy display that suggests racism, thus entering “Racism? What racism?” into the Ethics Alarms Jumbo log.

“It’s a free country,”  Stark adds. “I’ll put it out there if I want to.”

Verdict: Racist asshole.

Here’s Willy and his “non-racist” artwork:

He does have a Christmas wreath on his door, however….

Unethical Quote Of The Week (And Jumbo!) Washington College (in Md.) President Kurt Landgraf

“Elephant? What elephant?” The thing is, Jimmy was playing a CLOWN when he uttered that line, not a college president.

“Our intent in cancelling the production was to prevent further harm to members of our community who already feel marginalized. However, the decision to cancel the play has been interpreted by some as a form of censorship on the part of the College. Censorship is anathema to the core values of Washington College, and this was never our intent.”

—-Kurt Landgraf, president of Washington College in Maryland, in his letter to the campus regarding the decision to cancel a student production of Larry Shue’s 1980 farce “The Foreigner.”

Got that? “Censorship? What censorship? Oh, you mean that thing when we stopped a play from being performed? You call that censorship?”

Yes, the president of an institution of higher learning is really and truly saying in print that administrators cancelled the production of a play, as in “prevented it from being seen,” because of concerns over the content of said play, and the need to protect some students from seeing it, hearing it, or knowing it was being seen and heard by others, yet did not intend this to constitute censorship, which it was by definition.

I’ll publish the whole weaselly, embarrassing letter at the end of the post, because otherwise you might not believe it.

I have seen “The Foreigner.” It’s not a classic by any means, but there is nothing controversial about it, and nothing that would legitimately “trigger” anyone with the sense God gave a trout.  Deciding that “The Foreigner” needs to be censored makes as much sense as blocking a production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”

The comedy opened Off-Broadway in 1984 and won two Obie Awards and two Outer Critics Circle Awards as Best New American Play and Best Off-Broadway Production. Since then it has been a staple of regional theaters, community theaters, colleges and high schools. A very short version of the plot: Two Englishmen visiting a  fishing lodge in rural Georgia foil the plot of an evil  local Klansman to take over the lodge and use it as a KKK headquarters. The hero, Charlie Baker, pulls this off in part by pretending to be a non-English speaker and talking gibberish, as well as pretend language like ” Klaatu barada nikto” from the classic film “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”  Because people think he can’t understand them, they openly discuss their various plots and schemes in his presence.

The Horror. Continue reading

What A Fine, Fine Role Model This High School Principal Is…If The Idea Is To Graduate Short-Cut And Rationalization Addicted Students Who Try To Tap-Dance Their Way Out Of Trouble!

 

Abby Smith, a graduating student at Parkersburg High School in West Virginia, noticed something vaguely familiar about  the speech given by the school’s principal, Ken DeMoss, at her graduation last week. Later, she went home and looked for a video of a speech actor Ashton  Kutcher (formerly the goof on “The 70s Show,” the goof who succeeded Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men,” and the guy who took over froim Bruce Willis when Demi Moore decided she wanted a husband with hair) gave at the 2013 Kid’s Choice Awards. Then she edited DeMoss’s speech and Kutcher’s together, and posted them on YouTube.

There’s no doubt about it, as you can see above. The principal ripped off the speech.

Some might say that what Smith did was mean and unnecessary. No, it was responsible, essential, and gutsy. Students are taught in school, or are supposed to be,  to do their own work, a lesson especially hard to convey when the internet makes plagiarism  easy to do and hard to detect. The distinction between being inspired by another person’s creative output, using it as a foundation for an original work, borrowing phrases and ideas (with attribution), and, in contrast, stealing intellectual property and presenting it as your own, is a crucial one for students to understand. When a role model, a school administer, flagrantly does what the school must teach students not to do, and worse, does this  in front of students, and even worse than that, does it in the course of a speech about the virtues of hard work, such cynicism, laziness, and cheating must not be allowed to pass unnoticed, and I hope, unpunished.

After he was caught, “Kenny” issued this epicly horrible statement, incorporating rationalizations, unethical apologies, multiple logical fallacies, a Jumbo and, of course, lies: Continue reading

One More Time…Ethics Dunce: California, And Its “Jumbo” Culture

Has any state…heck, has any 10-year-old’s tree house club…had as many terrible ideas as California? No wonder its presidential vote single-handedly gave the popular vote to Hillary. And the United States is supposed to allow itself to be the dog wagged by this Bizarro World ethics culture?

The latest: Under a bill now heading through the California State Legislature, millions of criminal Californians who have misdemeanor or lower-level felony records would have their criminal records officially sealed from public view once they completed prison or jail sentences. I’m shocked to read that the legislation would not apply to people convicted of committing  murder or rape. Well, give the Golden State time.

We are told with a sniff and a tear that in the United States, a record showing a criminal conviction or even an arrest that does not lead to a conviction can make it difficult for someone to find a jobs, rent an apartment or obtain professional license. Well, that’s because conduct has consequences, and in particular breaking trust has consequences. Society is based on mutual trust. Committing criminal acts raises reasonable doubts in society as to whether an individual can be trusted to–let’s see, handle money for an employer, follow rules, meet financial obligations or serve in a professional capacity, the primary requirement of which is trustworthiness.

Simply because someone has been in jail doesn’t mean they have become more trustworthy. Why would it? So under California’s brilliant scheme, a bank could hire a convicted embezzler as a bank teller. A law school could hire a convicted bank-robber as a law pro—oops. Sorry. My alma mater already did that. But at least it had the opportunity to know what it was doing.

This is kindergarten easy: if I am going to trust someone with my business or my property, I have a right to know who that person is, and if he or she has a record of warranting trust. The fact that convicted criminals have a tough time doesn’t mean I should be put at risk. They committed the crime, why are the citizens who haven’t broken any laws being forced to take risks they don’t want to take? Continue reading

A Jumbo! One More Time: If You Trust PolitiFact, You Are As Biased As They Are

“Airplanes? I don’t see any airplanes!”

There are no good political factchecking organizations. Some are more ethical than others. Snopes is terrible, biased, and unreliable unless it is really checking urban legends. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler tries, but he works in the progressive bubble of Democrats who run the place, and he is corrupted. The Annenberg Foundation’s Fact-Check.org claims to be non-partisan and often succeeds, but of late it too has entered political advocacy into a category that is supposed to be only about objective facts.

As a general proposition, it is fair to call the  exercise of “factchecking” inherently misleading and so ripe for abuse that any fact check by a media organization should be viewed with extreme skepticism.

This goes double for PolitiFact; indeed, someone saying that this is their favorite fact checker has triggered signature significance. Nobody who is properly sensitive to partisan bias and committed to objectivity can possibly trust PolitiFact, a feature launched by a Democrat newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, and recently taken over by the Poynter Institute, which I once respected as a voice for ethical journalism. Like its industry, however, it is corrupt. Either that, or Poynter isn’t providing oversight for PolitiFact.

This is res ipsa loquitur. PolitiFact, like many other media hacks from the Left, meaning almost all of them, is trying to provide cover for the “Green New Deal” that the Democratic Party has foolishly embraced, by throwing up dust, word-salads and lies. The current approach is pure Jumbo, the Ethics Alarms category for a lie in the style and scale of Jimmy Durante’s classic, trying to steal an elephant and upon being stopped by a constable and asked what he was doing with a pachyderm on a rope, exclaiming, “Elephant? WHAT elephant?”

Here’s Politifact, lying: Continue reading

Signature Significance For “The Enemies Of The People,” Part II

Thinking about this since posting Part I yesterday, I have realized that the denial of toxic mainstream media bias, and particularly the media’s efforts to bring down President Trump, is the ultimate Jumbo-–“Elephant? What elephant?” on a grand and unforgivable scale. Want some more elephants? There were oh-so-many of them in 2018, like…

and…

and…

and, in a slightly different context,

The unethical methods used by the anti-Trump mainstream news media to ensure public fear and hostility and to minimize support for the President are familiar by now. They include…

  • Framing facts and events, whenever possible, in ongoing anti-Trump narratives rather than just reporting them.
  • Outright fake news, including misleading headlines, negative spin that distorts understanding, innuendo without evidence, and giving prominence to minor or insignificant stories to imply that they are significant.
  • Using unethical leaks and hearsay without verification to embarrass or impugn the President.
  • Deliberately under-reporting positive developments.
  • Hyping developments by speculating on worst case scenarios for the President.
  • Publishing “future news,” suggesting dire events that might happen.
  • Applying hyper-critical standards to all Presidential words and actions, and actively seeking “gotcha!” fodder.
  • Applying news standards for Trump that have never been applied to past Presidents.

It isn’t necessary to review the whole ugly year of unethical journalism. The steady state of hostility was spectacularly demonstrated over Christmas when CNN and many other news sources reported that President Trump had broken a tradition among recent Presidents by not visiting the troops. Indeed, this embarrassing fiasco could stand as the ugly monument to what our journalism has become.  Wrote NBC:

On Christmas Day, President Donald Trump took part in a long-running practice of presidents who called troops stationed around the country and the world.But he broke from a recent tradition of actually visiting troops and wounded warriors….By staying home on Tuesday, Trump became the first president since 2002 who didn’t visit military personnel around Christmastime.

This was the epitome of fake news, because the President and First Lady were deplaning in Iraq as the false story was published. Only the eagerness of the news media for a negative “gotcha!” can explain such shoddy and nasty journalism. Nobody checked with the White House. The Trump-hating journalists couldn’t wait until after Christmas to report on what the President didn’t do on Christmas, which is as incompetent as it is unethical. Incredibly, some sources have still not removed the original false story.

Once that mode of attack failed, the news media seamlessly and apparently without any self-awareness slipped into attacking the President for making the visit and manufacturing outrage over how the visit was handled.

Both CBS and NBC framed the troop visit in negative terms. CBS Evening News fill-in anchor and NFL Today host James Brown announced,  “But we begin with a historic trip today for President Trump. His first-ever to a combat zone. The President and First Lady paid a surprise visit today to U.S. troops in Iraq. The Commander-in-Chief had been criticized for not visiting a war zone sooner.”

Let me state right now that I think it is certifiably nuts to send Presidents into war zones, ever. Nobody criticized FDR, Truman, or the multiple Presidents who presided over Vietnam for not visiting the troops to boost their morale. That was Bob Hope’s job. Send Bill Maher.

Then CBS chief White House correspondent Chip Reid found a way to compare Trump’s visit unfavorably to President Obama’s time in office, saying,  “It’s the first time the President has traveled overseas to visit U.S. troops in a war zone. Critics say it took far too long, especially compared to President Obama, who visited troops in Iraq in his first three months in office.”

Note the standard “critics say” trope in both instances, which is pure deceit. You’re the critics whose saying it, you hacks.

Next CNN decided, having been among the first to attack the President for not visiting the troops, to bash the President for going! Don Lemon, who no longer even makes a pretense of objectivity, said that he and his family “turned on CNN and we saw the President politicizing a Christmas message, it was like– we kept saying, ‘he’s like the Grinch.’ I’m being honest.”

Every Presidential troop visit is political, of course. It isn’t necessary, it is costly and dangerous, and it is political theater. Only in Trump’s case, however, is this considered a legitimate target of criticism.

Then Lemon attacked the President’s words and demeanor during the visit: Continue reading