Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/1/2019: “30 Days Hath September” Appreciation Edition

Welcome October!

 I knew the date without having to check..for once.

Time to express my gratitude to the anonymous composer of the days of the month mnemonic, which I still literally have to sing in my head several times a year.

The earliest English version of the  verse has been traced to approximately 1425. It seems that the initial rhyme began with “Thirty days hath November,” not September, but by the time the little verse was first published in English, in  1562, September had taken over the top spot, and there it has remained. Wikipedia’s entry notes that “it is probably the only sixteenth-century poem most ordinary citizens know by heart.”

1. But by all means, it’s irresponsible to have Rudy Giuliani as a guest on a news program…CNN’s fake media ethics watchdog thought it was appropriate to have Robert De Niro as a guest on his CNN show over the weekend. Why is an uneducated, loud mouth, vulgar actor an appropriate guest? It is because he is guaranteed to delight the Trump Deranged with sophisticated commentary like he treated America with when he appeared at the 2018 Tony Awards, shouting, “I’m just going to say one thing. Fuck Trump! It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump.’ It’s ‘fuck Trump!’”

De Niro never graduated from high school, and has fewer credentials to expound on public policy matters than the average American you could identify by throwing a rock into a crowd blindfolded,. He has repeatedly shattered basic standards of public decorum by going into angry, vulgar, non-substantive rants against the President when invited to stand behind a podium or in front of a microphone. So, naturally, he was a perfect guest for Stelter’s show, and, also naturally, he said, in the course of opining that the President and his supporters were “gangsters” and “crazy” and that “This guy should not be president, period, ““F​uck ‘em. Fuck ‘em!”

A voice from off-set could be heard yelling “Woahhhh!”After all, who could have possibly predicted that the actor would behave on CNN when discussing the President exactly as he has been behaving for years? “This is cable, so it’s not an FCC violation, but it still is a Sunday morning,”  Stelter commented, weasel-like as usual.

Yes, it’s Sunday morning, and you invited a guest who habitually shouts versions of “Fuck Trump!’ in public places while being televised, because you know your audience wants to hear someone say “Fuck Trump.” Continue reading

Observations On A Cruel—But Funny!—Political Joke

“Humorists have been scared out of the business by the touchiness now prevailing in every section of the community. Wherever you look, on every shoulder there is a chip, in every eye a cold glitter warning you, if you know what is good for you, not to start anything.”

—P.G. Wodehouse, 1956

I just saw this Wodehouse quote today (Pointer: Jay Nordlinger on Instapundit), and sure enough, a joke controversy came in through the bathroom window.

The Texas Tribune Festival, an annual gathering of political and media figures in Austin,  included a panel on urban activism. Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt complained that the Republicans running the state government opposed any measure on the environment—even, she said, local tree ordinances. Then springing the punch-line following her own set-up, she said, “Governor Abbott hates trees because one fell on him.”

The overwhelmingly Democratic crowd laughed. I did not know, but apparently Texans do, that at 24 Abbot was paralyzed from the waist down , when  a tree blew over on him while he was jogging on a windy day in Houston in 1984.

Predictably, however, there was at least one person who witnessed this who was not amused. John Daniel Davidson, the Political Editor at The Federalist, was on hand, and tweeted the line and the identity of its creator out to his followers. Some Texas legislators and publications picked up on it, Judge Eckhardt was contacted and asked about its appropriateness, and soon she was issuing an apology,…

As usual in such episodes, the apology was not enough.  The Texas Tribune piled on, writing about the comment and adding details about Abbott’s accident. Its conservative readers unanimous condemned the judge, variously calling her apology insincere, vicious, cruel, and mandating her resignation. The attendees who laughed were pronounced equally detestable. The Tribune quoted Travis County Republican Chairman Matt Mackowiak , who went full “How dare you?”:

“Judge Eckhardt apparently believes that his disability is open to ridicule if it helps her make a political argument. This joke represents a profound lack of compassion from Judge Eckhardt. There is no place for insulting Americans with disabilities and Judge Eckhardt should know better.”

Davidson closed his article by pronouncing the incident as a  telling one… Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Tea, 9/26/2019: A Drunk Lawyer, A Disgraceful Congressman, Uncivil Peanut Butter And The Dolls America Needs [UPDATED!]

These trustworthy scones are divine!

1. First, the important stuff: peanut butter ethics. Now Jif, the peanut butter, has joined the detestable ranks of consumer products that deliberately evoke the vulgarity “fuckin'” in its advertising. Booking.com was the first company chided here for this particular offense against minimal civility, when I wrote,

Ethics dictates that one communicates with respect for anyone within hearing distance, and unless ugly words serve a material purpose, using them is not the mark of a good citizen, a good neighbor, or a trustworthy human being. Nor is spouting vulgarity witty, and unless you are 11, and employing obvious code words that sound like curses, epithets and obscenities isn’t especially funny either, since we pretty much exhausted the possibilities at summer camp. I have no idea why anyone would want to recast the culture as a place where professionals curse like sailors and the words “fuck” and “cocksucker” are as likely to issue from a debutante’s lips as those of a hip hop artist, but that seems to be the objective now. … TV stations happily accept money from advertisers using code words for “ass” (Verizon), alluding to sexual intercourse (Reese’s), and evoking the word “shit” (K-Mart and DraftKings).

Booking.com no longer uses this device, but Jif now pronounces itself “Jif’n good!” Fortunately, this peanut butter aficionado regards Jiff as the least of the  national brands and varieties (1. Skippy Natural 2. Skippy regular, 3. Peter Pan crunchy 4. Peter Pan smooth…and Jif, bringing up the rear.

Now I won’t even buy this peanut smutter when it’s on sale.

2. Apparently the mainstream media AND the Democrats are determined to dash what’s left of their rotting credibility to smithereens with this last ditch impeachment push:

  • Today’s “Japanese Bombs Pearl Harbor” size headline across the New York Times print edition: TRUMP ASKED FOR ‘FAVOR’ IN CALL, MEMO SHOWS.” Again, this would be really funny if it wasn’t so destructive.
  • Showing unprecedented lack of respect for the office of President (and proving beyond any doubt that no American who wants fair and objective reporting on politics should tune into MSNBC), the network’s Nicole Wallace cut off the  audio at President’s   first news conference since House Democrats opened a formal impeachment inquiry,, saying,  “We hate to do this, really, but the president isn’t telling the truth.”
  • In Congress, on TV, Rep. Adam Schiff read into the record his “paraphrase” of the transcript of the President’s phone call to the Ukraine President. Sample:

“I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good, I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand, lots of it, on this and on that, I’m going to put you in touch with people.”

“Is he just making this up?” Committee member Mile Turner (R-Ohio) asked. Indeed he was. Althouse’s commenters are having a field day on this. Ann’s readership is ideologically mixed, but you couldn’t tell that from the utter contempt Schiff’s stunt inspired. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/7/2019: Trump’s Obsession, Joe’s Hands, And University Ethics Stumbles” [Item #3]

To refresh memories, #3 in this ethics warm-up of a week ago involved this email, sent to the University of Wisconsin campus yesterday by administrators.

To our campus community, Friday morning, what was intended as a protest to inspire action on environmental climate change had a very different and negative impact on many who witnessed it. Two students displayed nooses tied around their necks outside the Humanities Building.

The students involved have since apologized for their actions and committed to rectifying the impact they caused. We commend the university staff and members of our campus community who immediately intervened with the protesters and helped them understand the impact they were having. The protesters then removed the nooses.

The fact remains that members of our community were harmed. While the First Amendment guarantees the right to free expression, our community best succeeds when we express our views and promote a campus climate that is welcoming and safe to everyone.

We hope this experience can serve as a learning opportunity. Regardless of whether the display of a hateful symbol is based on a lack of cultural understanding or an expressed intent to promote fear, the lingering legacies of what these symbols represent create visceral and painful reactions among many. That harm is especially acute for people of color, for whom this history is very real.

Let’s be clear: ignorance is not an excuse. We can and must do better. For those of us who are members of majority communities, our campus offers many resources through Student Affairs and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement to learn about racism and injustice and about how to be strong allies.

And for those who are impacted by incidents like this, we want you to know that we support you and have resources to help….

I wrote, “The school would not make a similar statement if American flags were burned  or an effigy of President Trump were set on fire, and those gestures are no less offensive to many than the symbolic use of a noose. Nor was anyone “harmed” by the student protesters. Opinions, symbols and gestures do not harm healthy, normal people. Forcing the students to apologize was wrong and a direct affront to their right of expression.”

Mrs. Q then picked up the baton. Here is her Comment of the Day on that issue: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/27/2019: Desperation

Good morning.

1. Here is why the breast-beating about “doing something” about climate change is dishonest, disingenuous, futile and pointless. Brazil is telling the rest of the world, especially nations that developed their own economies with reckless impunity on the way to wealth and power, to back off its demands that Brazil stop burning its own rain forest. Of course it is taking this stance, and Brazil isn’t the only developing nation that will take that position and has every right to take that position.

Brazil’s defiance is also a definitive rebuttal to the argument that the United States should spend billions—trillions?—in virtue-signaling climate change policies that under the most optimistic scenarios won’t “fix” anything without mass cooperation by nations in Brazil’s position—and that’s not going to happen.

2.  The theory: somebody has to pay. A judge in Oklahoma yesterday ruled that Johnson & Johnson  intentionally hid the risks and hyped the benefits of opioids, ordering the company to pay the state $572 million in damages. This is the first trial of a drug manufacturer for the destruction wrought by prescription painkillers.

I don’t know if the verdict is fair, having not seen the evidence and heard the arguments. I don’t know that the verdict will hold up on appeal. The theory used by the state was questionable: the judge found that Johnson & Johnson perpetuated a “public nuisance” by  contributing to an ongoing public health crisis that could take decades to address successfully. Yet there was no proof offered that doctors who prescribed the drugs were misled, or that Johnson & Johnson violated federal drug regulations.

Public nuisance laws typically apply in cases where something interferes with a right common to the general public and results in danger on roads, parks,and other public areas, and not usually public health, which is what the state argued in this case. Johnson & Johnson’s lawyers contended that the state was contorting public nuisance law to the point of being unrecognizable. Of course, the same argument was made when product liability laws started moving beyond the “buyer beware” stage.

Not reading and hearing all the evidence, I can only wonder if this is case of deep pockets being held responsible for a tragedy that had no single, obvious villain. Doctors prescribed drugs approved by federal regulators, and the drug manufacturers supplied them, legally. Then citizens took the drugs, voluntarily, in a political and social culture that increasingly shrugs off drug use and abuse. Continue reading

An Ethics Mystery: How Can Progressives And The Resistance Continue To Accuse The President, Conservatives, And Republicans Of “Spreading Hate” And “Seeding Violence” When So Much Hate Is Coming From Them?

This phenomenon touches on many themes we have explored on Ethics Alarms: double standards, hypocrisy, Big Lies, mainstream media complicity in disinformation, the increasingly unavoidable conclusion that a large mass of progressive activists, pundits and public figures are just plain terrible people—our culture’s “bad guys.”

Item One: Bill Maher on David Koch

In his monologue  on this week’s Real Time on HBO, the former comedian-turned-permanent-Leftist-asshole commented on the death of billionaire Republican donor and philanthropist David Koch  from  cancer at age 79 by saying (to the usual hoots of approval from his usual seal-clapping audience),

“Fuck him… I’m glad he’s dead…I guess I’m going to have to re-evaluate my low opinion of prostate cancer…As for his remains, he has asked to be cremated and have his ashes be blown into a child’s lungs. He and his brother have done more than anybody to fund climate science deniers for decades. So fuck him, the Amazon is burning up, I’m glad he’s dead, and I hope the end was painful.”

Of course, this was on a comedy show as part of a stand-up routine, so it’s all OK; it was just a joke, right?

I am reading similar sentiments from the Deranged Facebook Borg, but Maher is on television, and a major entertainment company employs him. I don’t understand how an ethical, responsible American and human being can continue to pay premium prices to a company that allows itself to be associated with pure hate like that, no matter how much they like “Westworld.”  Have some responsibility for the culture. Write HBO and tell them that you are cancelling your subscription until it publicly rejects that kind of rhetoric in the public square. I wish I had a subscription so I could cancel it.  I wish I didn’t oppose organized boycotts so I could  launch a Facebook page and organize one.

Rick Moran wrote, quite correctly,

Forget ideology. Forget politics. How does a civilized human being get to the point where voicing such sentiments is believed to be acceptable by anyone in society — even political allies? Thinking such thoughts is bad enough. Most of us would be ashamed of ourselves for celebrating anyone’s demise and hoping “the end was painful.” It’s barbaric. The words are disconnected from conscience in a way that makes Maher less human.

Celebrating the death of a political adversary suggests that the deaths of adversaries are to be desired, and thus sought and facilitated. I am not aware of any similarly ugly  sentiments coming from the other side of the political spectrum, while the projection of violent ends and painful beatings has been a continuing theme from the “resistance” for years.

In contrast, President Trump and those who support enforcing our laws were accused of inspiring the El Paso killer because the shooter adopted the term “invaders” for all immigrants. This dishonest effort to blame the shooting on Trump’s language required all sorts of deceit, as well as withholding the shooter’s manifesto so the public couldn’t connect the dots that proved what a grand lie the accusation was. The shooter regarded all immigrants, including legal ones, as “invaders.” Neither the President nor anyone else outside of the lunatic Right has ever used the term for anyone but illegal immigrants, who are, in fact, invaders by definition. The shooter did not advocate killing immigrants, but frightening them into self-deporting with mad acts such as his: he explicitly rejected genocide in his largely unseen manifesto. Never mind; those are just facts, and what matters to Democrats, as their Presidential front-runner so sagely reminded us,  isn’t facts, but truth.

The real truth is that in Left-Land, double-standards reign.Thus the news media and Democrats howled that a single word—invaders—neither implying nor suggesting violence, prompted mass murder in El Paso. When one of their own acolytes directly extols death and painful death as a desirable means of eliminating adversaries and prevailing in policy debates, it is shrugged off as amusing.

Item Two: Marcie Blanco on men. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/15/2019: Starring Two Of My Favorite Unethical Websites!

WAKE UP!

Oh, great: started this post at 7 am, hell broke lose at ProEthics, and now it’s after noon. Well, the hell with it: I’m not going back to change the headline or the intro, and I like Lenny’s version of the Stars and Stripes at any time of day.

So there.

1. Unprofessional and dangerous stuff from  Above the Law….as usual. The legal gossip and snark online tabloid is run and written by lawyers who are not practicing law, so they feel free to engage in conduct that lawyers are forbidden from engaging in, like misrepresentation.  Lately the cyber rag has been cyber-ragging on Jones Day, a long-time, distinguished D.C. mega firm. Why are they doing that? Come on, it should be obvious.

ATL takes the position—and it has company— that Jones Day is eeeevil and must be shunned because it represents the Trump campaign. Hence you get headlines like “IF YOU HAD TO GUESS WHICH FIRM WOULD DO THIS:New allegations claim Jones Day lightened the skin and narrowed the nose on the picture of one of their lawyers.” Continue reading