Category Archives: language

Inauguration Day Ethics Dunces

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Three of many…

Ethics Dunce: ABC’s Byron Pitts

Wow.

Earlier today I wrote,

A friend posted on Facebook yesterday that she was “disgusted” by all the white people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats around the Capitol yesterday. This struck me as akin to the joke about the boy who murdered his parents seeking mercy from the court because he was an orphan. African Americans, especially around D.C., have been urged and in many cases bullied to boycott everything having to do with Trump, and now people like my friend are suggesting that blacks are being excluded, proving the racism of the new President.

I actually deleted a section that said: “Just watch: some inveterate news media race-baiter will cite the abundance of whites to impugn Trump and Republicans. Which will it be?” The answer, we now know, is Byron Pitts. Virtually the entire Congressional Black Caucus boycotted the event, blacks who expressed support for Trump or even hinted that the supported the Inauguration faced shunning and threats, and this guy had the gall to say, during the ABC coverage today,

“Think about this crowd and think about the divided America. We talked about the noise of the racial divide, this is the whisper of the racial divide in America. Think back to when President Obama took office for the first time. How diverse the crowd was. You saw the rainbow of America. Today this looks like the ice cream of America. Right? It is an overwhelmingly white audience.”

What does that tell Pitts? It tells me that one segment in society is willing to put color and politics aside and support a duly elected leader, and one is not.

Ethics Dunce: George Will

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Filed under Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, language

The Ethics Alarms “Fake News” Project: Seeking Ethics Distinctions Among Web Hoaxes, False Narratives,”Fake News” And Negligent, Incompetent or Biased Reporting (PART I: The New York Times School Voucher Headline)

I LOVE this story! I wish it WERE true!!!

I LOVE this story! I wish it WERE true!!!

Yesterday’s New York Times included a story headlined  Free Market For Education: Economists Generally Don’t Buy It, and it stated,

The odds are good that privatizing education will be part of the agenda for President-elect Donald J. Trump’s administration. […] You might think that most economists agree with this overall approach, because economists generally like free markets. For example, over 90 percent of the members of the University of Chicago’s panel of leading economists thought that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft made consumers better off by providing competition for the highly regulated taxi industry.But economists are far less optimistic about what an unfettered market can achieve in education. Only a third of economists on the Chicago panel agreed that students would be better off if they all had access to vouchers to use at any private (or public) school of their choice.

While economists are trained about the value of free markets, they are also trained to spot when markets can’t work alone and government intervention is required.

That summation, however, was misleading to the point of falsehood. As the Scott Alexander points out at his blog Slate Star Codex,  the source for the story indicated something quite different—materially different:

economists_views

Got that? Scott Alexander writes:

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media, language, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: Trump’s Tweet On Fidel’s Demise

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We are taught to speak only good of the dead in the immediate aftermath of one’s demise, and especially in the world of international diplomacy, restraint, respect and the Golden Rule are the accepted standards of ethical conduct on such occasions

This being the case, what is the right ethical diagnosis of President Elect Donald Trump’s tweet above about the announcement of Fidel Castro’s death, which includes an explanation point widely interpreted to suggest “GOOD!” of “Yippee!” ? Trump’s subsequent statement removed all doubt that he was not sorry to see Fidel go to that big sugar cane plantation in the sky, or better yet, well, you know:

“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades,’ Mr Trump’s statement reads. “Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights. “While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve. Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty. I join the many Cuban-Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.”

Contrast that with President Obama’s equivocal statement, which said in part,

“We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”

Then there was former President Jimmy Carter, who said,

“Rosalynn and I share our sympathies with the Castro family and the Cuban people on the death of Fidel Castro. We remember fondly our visits with him in Cuba and his love of his country. We wish the Cuban citizens peace and prosperity in the years ahead.”

Hmmmm!

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for this Thanksgiving Day weekend:

Were Trump’s tweet and statement about Castro responsible, prudent and ethical?

I think so, and I’m surprised at my own response. I suppose I am tired of seeing and hearing public figures lie when everyone knows they are lying, and if Carter and Obama really don’t think Castro was a brutal, murderous dictator whose departure is a blessing to all, then the Democratic Party is in even worse shape than I thought it was.

I have a hard Left friend who actually expressed praise for Castro’s legacy today on Facebook. When a figure who is objectively and factually as bad as Castro was, our leaders should not hesitate to be frank and direct. Obama’s non-commital History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him” is cowardly and evasive. Yes, and if history judges that Fidel’s ends justified his means, then civilization is doomed. Carter’s statement is even worse. “His love of his country”—that’s mitigation for oppression and murder, eh, Jimmy? If love of country your standard, you and Rosalyne must love Hitler.

Trump’s excessive candor and rogue mouth obviously are going to do a lot of damage in the next four years, just as they did during the campaign. Nonetheless, I don’t see anything unethical about calling a murderous dictator when he was, whether it’s on the day of his death or ten years later. This is one time when Trump’s refusal to be politically correct cuts through crap that should be cut through. As Edgar says at the end of “King Lear,”

“We should speak what we feel, not what we ought to say,”

…at least when bastards like Castro die.

Rather than using the occasion to find another excuse to attack Trump, Democrats should think about why it is that so many Castro admirers are in their ranks.

 

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When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring Dept: Planet Fitness

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There’s nothing substantively wrong with the fitness chain Planet Fitness’s new philanthropic program to combat bullying. However, one has to question the ethics alarms and basic English comprehension of a company that sees nothing wrong with naming a campaign “The Judgement Free Generation.” I just saw a TV ad that was a teaser for the program. The announcer ended by saying “Now Planet Fitness is creating a Judgement Free Generation.”

Judgement is not a bad thing. Judgement is a good thing. So is making judgements. Society without constant judgements of all kinds cannot possibly have or maintain standards. Without standards, there can be no ethical guidelines and boundaries.Nobody with any concept of what ethics are and why they are essential to civilization would every want to eliminate judgement. Judgement and bullying are not synonymous, not even close.

What some copywriter at Planet Fitness has done is to launch a national campaign that frames “judgement” as something to be avoided. Nobody in the hierarchy there perceived anything wrong with that. This isn’t being “judgement free,” this is just bad judgement, as in incompetent.. To the extent that it advances the culture’s increasing tendency to discourage negative judgements against any conduct, even objectively destructive conduct, leading to purely subjective ethics (that is, no ethics at all), the campaign’s message is irresponsible.

Besides, based on what I’ve seen of late on college campuses, Bernie rallies and anti-Trump freakouts, we may already have a judgement-free generation.

At least one.

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Ethics Quiz: The Harvard Soccer Team’s “Locker Room Talk”

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A week ago I wrote about Donald Trump’s rebound at the polls, and noted, among the factors, this…

B. This just in, from  The Harvard Crimson: Female soccer recruits at Harvard were rated for their attractiveness by their male counterparts – and a sleazy document speculated on their favorite sexual positions. A ‘scouting report’ from 2012, has emerged, containing sexually explicit comments about women, alongside photographs of them. One soccer recruit was described as looking “like the kind of girl who likes to dominate, and likes to be dominated.” The nine-page document assigned each woman a hypothetical sexual position. This document was shared between members of the Harvard 2012 men’s soccer team, and scouting report appears to be a yearly tradition.

Wait…how can this be? When Donald Trump tried to explain away his vulgar conversation with Billy Bush as “locker room talk,” the news media sprinted to prove this was just another lie. Why, athletes in all-male settings never denigrate women or objectify them among team mates! Absolutely not!

Now we learn that Harvard has cancelled the men’s soccer season as punishment for “the widespread practice of the team’s players rating the school’s female players in sexually explicit terms,” reports the New York Times.

The university commenced an  investigation the men’s team after The Harvard Crimson reported last week, in the piece that prompted the Ethics Alarms note, that a player created a nine-page document in 2012 with numeric ratings, photos and lengthy evaluations of the freshman recruits of the Harvard women’s team based on their physical appearance. Apparently the practice had become a tradition.This was the response from the women’s team:

“Locker room talk” is not an excuse because this is not limited to athletic teams. The whole world is the locker room…. We are hopeful that the release of this report will lead to productive conversation and action on Harvard’s campus, within collegiate athletic teams across the country, and into the locker room that is our world….”

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, language, Sports, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society

Half Ethics Hero: Wisconsin Talk Radio Host John Murphy

angry-caller

Longtime Eau Claire, Wisconsin radio talk show John Murphy walked out of of his WAYY studio midway through his morning show this week.

He had just finished telling his listeners that he would not be chased out of the industry he loves but that, “I’m through doing this show as it is.” The sports talk show scheduled to follow Murphy started early to cover for his absence after a commercial break. The frustrated talk show host had been on Eau Claire radio for 34 years, for the past 14 years as a host of the “WAYY Morning Show,” a typical local call-in program where the  callers discussed and debated local, state and national news. Murphy quit, he said, because the discourse this year gradually stopped being civil, and had degenerated into a partisan and ugly exchange of nastiness and hate.

“It started with a lot of Trump and Clinton stuff, but now that same kind of vitriol is starting to permeate our local races and local issues,” Murphy explained.  “After a while, day after day and week after week, that starts to wear on you.”  Murphy said he knows that many of the callers hurling insults “are educated, wonderful people who have become caught up in this hurricane of hate.” He says the frustration had been building up inside him for months, and that he was beginning to engage in some of the same behavior he deplored. Continue reading

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Comments of the Day (2): “Donald Trump ‘When You’re A Star, They Let You Do It’ Apology, Take Two!”

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I am putting up these two Comments of the Day by johnberger2013 and Steve-O-in NJ together, not because the aren’t each worthy of a separate post, but because they both involve the flap over the Donald Trump-Billy Bush video, which has become a sub-ethics train wreck to the already out-of-control Donald Trump Candidacy Ethics Train Wreck, and I want to put it in my rear view mirror as soon as I can. Its noise is drowning out a virtual tidal wave of new information about how horrifying corrupt the Democrats have been (and are), and the public should know the utter ethical depravity of both the administration that is leaving and the one that is on the way. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, after all. If the news media keeps trying to hide it, at least Ethics Alarms can do its part to counter their efforts. It’s just a few thousand people a day, but if they tell two friends, and they tell two friends…well, it’s something.

First, though, let’s try to finish “Pussygate.” First, the Comment of the Day, on this post and the others on the topic,  from Steve-O-in NJ:

I know Bill [Clinton] did a lot worse. He started a process of ethical rot in the White House that continues today and is best known for getting hummers in the oval office. He wasn’t the first either, with JFK having affairs, FDR being wheeled to a girl friend, and Harding getting action in a White House closet. At least these earlier guys had the sense to keep it quiet, not boast openly about it, and not advocate not just frat boy attitudes, but criminal activity. I heard this kind of bluster and worse when I was high school age (one of my contemporaries boasted that he’d like to cut off a woman’s breast and suck on it). I haven’t heard anything like it since I was 22, and I haven’t openly or otherwise used a vulgar term for a woman’s genitals since I graduated college, not in conversation, not in joke, no way. Full disclosure, I find feminists tiresome at best, angering at worst, and I still think Hillary is a lying, conniving, power hungry grifter who will be a failure as president. That doesn’t mean I hold ALL women in contempt, nor do I see them as toys to be used and discarded. I’ve never been on so much as a first date, but I have worked with and known too many women (some good, some meh, and some pretty bad) to hold half the human race in the contempt Trump holds them.

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