Saturday Ethics Romps, 10/2/21: Slap-downs, Stolen Art, Strokes, Silliness, Stupid Pet Owner Tricks, And More! [Corrected]

What do you think, hoax or not? Conservative blogs are all treating the video above as classic woke-boob self-own, but I am dubious. How did the video get posted, unless the fanatic vegetarian has a self-deprecating sense of humor, and what are the odds of that? If the video is real, it once again raises the ethics issue of dietary fanatics imposing their obsessions on helpless pets, or worse, infants.

1. The stroke of ethics! On this day in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke, launching an epic government ethics breach by his wife Edith and his doctor. They kept the public and government officials in the dark about the President’s true condition: Edith signed official documents, and the doctor was brought into some deliberations. Wilson slowly recovered to some extent, though how capable he was of discharging the duties of his office for the rest of his term, until March of 1921, is a matter of considerable debate and speculation. Despite this debacle, with the nation being led by an invalid figurehead with his inexperienced wife making key decisions, it took the assassination of Jack Kennedy, not long after the previous President, Eisenhower, suffered serious cardiac events during his Presidency decades later to trigger the passage of the 25th Amendment, which lays out the procedure for relieving a disabled POTUS. [Notice of Correction: the original version of this post had the dates wrong. Thanks to valkygrrl for the note!] The 25th, in turn, then spurred an ethics foul of its own, as “the resistance,” Democrats and their allies in the media tried to warp the clear intent of the amendment to justify removing Donald Trump from office, on the grounds that he was “unfit.”

2. When does pundit hysteria cross the line into irresponsible and incompetent journalism? Whatever the line is, Rolling Stone writer Jeff Goodell charged over it with this unhinged screed. When I read something like this, I always wonder how many readers are persuaded by it, and how many are astute enough to conclude, “This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about!” Here is how the article begins: “West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin just cooked the planet. I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sense. I mean that literally. Unless Manchin changes his negotiating position dramatically in the near future, he will be remembered as the man who, when the moment of decision came, chose to condemn virtually every living creature on Earth to a hellish future of suffering, hardship, and death.” Even by the low, low standards of climate change apocolyptia, this is inexcusable. No U.S. bill can have substantial impact on the world’s climate by itself, and all but a few of the most extreme and politicized climatologists don’t claim that even the worst case scenarios would “condemn virtually every living creature on Earth to a hellish future of suffering, hardship, and death.” How can anyone trust a writer who spews out stuff like this? How can readers of Rolling Stone take a publication seriously that green-lights it? Is Twitter pulling down the tweets that link to the article? No, of course not. It’s not “misinformation,” because it’s a good lie, aimed at the Greater Good, I guess.

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Monday Mid-Day Ethics Considerations: Megan Rapinoe, Harvard, Pelosi And Double Standards

Thinker

1. I have some ethics observations on this thing that was sent out to white parents in the Highland Park area of Texas by a Black Lives Matter-affiliated group:

Sacrifice memo

Here they are:

  • As long as white individuals hesitate to push back on BLM’s outrageous assertions and demands, the group will continue to grow more audacious and arrogant
  • The logic of this demand can only make sense to someone who has no concept of right, wrong, and fairness. “We want you to handicap your own children in order to clear the way for our children, who can’t compete and who shouldn’t have to work especially hard to overcome obstacles that you and your children are not responsible for placing in their path.”
  • The screed is an excellent example of how the concept of equal opportunity has been warped into “equity,” meaning not just equality of results, which life never guarantees, but punitive measures to ensure advantages of  favored groups over those that are disfavored, aka whites and males.
  • The extension of the argument in the letter would require athletes fortunate to have advantages of strength, speed, and skill to pledge not to compete against those not so “privileged” as to be born with these advantages, and job applicants of superior talent, intelligence and character to refuse to place themselves in a position where they would be chosen for a job over less fortunate job-seekers.

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In Americans For Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, Supreme Court Conservatives Again Defend The First Amendment As Its Left Approves Of Chilling Speech And Association

08-18-17 Free Speech

How did we get to the point where “liberals” want to chip away at the freedoms of speech and association while conservatives defend it? It’s weird: I’m old enough to remember when those mean old conservatives were always trying to silence dissent, not to mention vulgarity and violent TV shows and movies.

But in the final day of the Supreme Court’s term, the 6-3 conservative majority ruled that California—from which all terrible ideas now seem to flow— may not require charities soliciting contributions in the state to report the identities of their major donors. The law was opposed by very unconservative voices like those of ACLU to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and one would think that the alleged liberals on the court would immediately recognize how the law could and would chill free speech. Or don’t they pay attention to the incidents where CEOs have been run out of their jobs for contributing money to anti-gay marriage organizations, to name just one example? It would seem not. This is also weird, for the cancel culture has made simply stating an opinion that contradicts the Woke Borg perilous to one’s career, personal relationships and safety. Is it overly conspiracy-minded to suggest that progressives want it that way, particularly with their success at making wiggly-spined Americans who would make Patrick Henry retch grovel for forgiveness.

Chief Justice Roberts neatly summarized the importance of free association, writing,

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Remembering The First Ethics Hero Emeritus, Sir Edmund Hillary, 1919-2008

Hillary_statue

This post was supposed to go up yesterday, May 29, but as has happened too often in recent months, the vicissitudes of existence got in the way of Ethics Alarms. May 29 is the anniversary of the epic moment when, at 11:30 a.m. on May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa of Nepal, become the first explorers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. At 29,035 feet above sea level, the peak of Everest is the highest point on earth. Hillary and his Sherpa guide were part of a British expedition, and the two completed their successful assault after spending a perilous night on the mountain at 27,900 feet.

Hillary’s tribute is included in the The Ethics Alarms Heroes’ Hall Of Honor, but for several years had been unavailable, unbeknownst to me, because I hadn’t connected some dots. The essay about him was a link to my 2008 post on the predecessor of Ethics Alarms, The Ethics Scoreboard, which was offline. I had forgotten that (and if anyone tried to access the article and failed, they never let me know), so the first Ethics Hero to be awarded that Ethics Hero Emeritus title was also the only such hero dishonored by my carelessness.

I apologize, Sir Edmund.

The Ethics Scoreboard is back online (and worth a visit), but I am finally putting the 2008 piece here, on Ethics Alarms, where it should have been long ago.

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Sir Edmund Hillary 1919-2008

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The Speed Museum’s Breonna Taylor Exhibit: When Art Museums Become Propaganda Agents, It’s Time To Stop Supporting Art Museums

Taylor exhibit

The propaganda, of course, is being nurtured by false narratives elsewhere. NPR, for example, begins its story on the Speed Museum (in Louisville) exhibit “Promise, Witness and Remembrance” this way: “It’s been nearly 13 months since Louisville Metro Police officers shot and killed Taylor in her home.” No, it’s been 13 months since Breonna Taylor was accidentally shot in a gunfire exchange initiated by her boyfriend, after a botched raid on her home triggered by Taylor’s illicit drug activities. The news media and BLM narrative has deceived the public into believing that that an ordinary, innocent medical worker was shot by police because she was black and they were white. This, in turn, has justified false and inflammatory demagoguery by the go-to lawyer for such exploitable cases, Ben Crump, and others, like Al Sharpton.

It is beyond question that Taylor did not deserve to die, and that the Louisville police were at fault, much as George Floyd did not deserve to die. But as with Floyd, the victim of this tragedy should not be sanctified and mythologized, nor should the facts of her death distorted to promote a political agenda. For a non-profit art museum to use its funds and influence for that purpose is beyond unethical: it is an abuse of charitable and public funds, as well as its tax status.

Here is the New York Times gushing over the exhibit:

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Ethics Dunce: NYT Columnist David Brooks, Weaving A Web Of Conflicts

Weave-logo

I figured out a long time ago that David Brooks, one of the alleged conservative voices among the New York Times’ swollen gang of knee-jerk Angry Leftists, was a hypocrite and fraud with barely a hint of genuine integrity. Now comes the proof.

In 2019, Brooks introduced Times readers to his vision of “Weavers,” a movement to fight social isolation by “building community and weaving the social fabric” across the nation. In a Times column called “A Nation of Weavers,” Brooks wrote that he had launched Weave at the Aspen Institute, a prominent think tank based in Washington, DC. Brooks went on to author several columns to praise and promote Weave. He also had other columns mentioning, positively, Facebook, its founder Mark Zuckerberg, andFacebook’s products and activities.

Facebook, unreported by Brooks or his paper, had contributed $250,000 to the Aspen Institute to help launch Weave in 2018.

Now, thanks to Buzzfeed, we learn that Brooks has been drawing a second salary for his work on Weave, meaning that he is being paid at least in part through the largess of Facebook. He has not mentioned any of this in his columns. Thus, when David Brooks promoted the good work of Weave, he is using his Times column to do work that he is being paid for by someone else, and secretly advancing the interests of Facebook and the Aspen Institute, not because the columnist objectively has concluded that they warrant it, but because he benefits financially when they benefit.

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Ethics Hero: Ada First United Methodist Church

ADA church

This is the sort of thing we should expect from tax-exempt religious organizations.

In Ada, Oklahoma, First United Methodist Church partnered with RIP Medical Debt to purchase and forgive $3.8 million in medical debt owed by Oklahoma residents. The debt was owed by 1,327 residents in Coal, Garvin, Hughes, Pontotoc, and Seminole counties. Organizers targeted households that were at least 200% below the federal poverty level, insolvent, or going through serious financial hardship.

Krystina Phillips, who coordinated the mission for Ada FUMC, said,

“Medical debt doesn’t discriminate—anyone can get sick or be involved in a serious accident. I hope our church and others in the community can revisit this mission in the future, particularly when it provides such tangible benefits to our neighbors.”

An Ethics Alarms Reader Challenge: Is Time’s Up A Scam, Or Is It Doing What It Is Supposed To Be Doing?

times-up

This is really a journalism ethics matter. On November 28, The New York Post announced that Time’s Up, the #MeToo inspired Hollywood organization, had misused and wasted its funds. Yesterday there was a follow-up piece, headlined, “The Sad tale of Time’s Up and Hollywood’s failed activism.”

Taken together, the two articles are contradictory, confusing and raise as many questions about the reporters’ competence as they do about Time’s Up. If there is anyone who can decipher this mess, please do. I have a headache.

Following the fall of Harvey Weinstein and the vigor of the resulting #MeToo movement, the Time’s Up organization was formally launched on January 1, 2018. At that year’s Golden Globes a few days later, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Emma Watson, Michelle Williams and others arrived on the red carpet with women’s rights activists in tow. Oprah Winfrey gave an impassioned speech on the broadcast, saying, “I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! . . . The time when nobody ever has to say ‘me too’ again!” Her speech sparked talk of her running for President.

#MeToo has become a rueful joke with the blind endorsement of Joe Biden, sexual harasser and accused workplace sexual assault purveyor, by most of its most prominent advocates. Time’s Up, however, includes a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and has formal and legal obligations, not just ethical ones. The Time’s Up organization consists of the Time’s Up Foundation and Time’s Up Now Inc., a 501(c)6. There is also a Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.

I defy anyone to make sense out of the two Post articles. To begin with, why does it only discuss the figures for 2018? 2020 is almost over; surely 2019 figures are available. Were they better? Aren’t the most recent years the most important ones? The articles say that in its first year of operation, Time’s Up spent just $312,000 of the more than $3 million it raised on sexual misconduct victims’ legal bills. It then points out that Charity watchdog groups such as Charity Navigator recommend that non-profits spend 75% of their revenues on their mission and no more than 25% on administration. “Time’s Up spent 38% on salaries alone,” it says. But Charity Navigator only “watches” charities, and those guidelines only apply to 501(c)3 organizations like the Times Up Foundation.

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No, Pete Davidson Is NOT Starring As George Bailey In A Remake Of “It’s A Wonderful Life”

toy train derailment

Here we have a fine example of that annoying American pop culture phenomenon, the teensie-weensie ethics train wreck. From beginning to end, everything about this episode evinces some lack of ethical values, but in the final analysis, the consequences are negligible.

Let’s examine the trivial Pete Davidson Casting Ethics Train Wreck:

1. Clickbait. Numerous friends and Ethics Alarms readers emailed me with the horrifying news that Pete Davidson, the slimy, possibly mentally-ill Saturday Night Live  cast member and stand-up comic, would be playing George Bailey in a “remake” of the beloved Frank Capra classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The reason for their alarm were headlines like this one, from Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller: “Pete Davidson To Take On Role Of George Bailey In ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’” The conclusion reached by those who contacted me was completely reasonable, but the headline was deliberately misleading.

2. Casting a creep like Davidson as George Bailey in any version of that movie including a Cub Scouts skit  is a slur on the film, the beloved character, James Stewart, the holidays, Capra, what the film stands for to many Americans, oh, pretty much everything. Davidson infamously mocked Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s eye-patch when he was running for Congress in 2018, and has generally proven himself to be a smug, shallow jerk of the sort that has flourished during the Trump years. Crenshaw lost his eye in combat, and Davidson has made it clear, despite various insincere mea culpas, that this warrants no respect in his world view.  For Davidson to stand in the shoes of James Stewart, a World War II veteran and hero, is nauseating, and an insult to all veterans. Continue reading

Ethics Cool Down, 8/27/2020, From A Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Day…

(I told you there would be more)

1. Kudos to luckyesteeyoreman, the venerable EA commenter who exactly predicted what Joe Biden’s ventriloquists would have him say about the riots, aka “the angry genie the progressives will never get back in the bottle”: The violence is “Donald Trump’s America.”  Lucky bested me: I never thought even the Democrats could be that incompetent. By claiming that the riots are the President’s fault, he sends exactly the opposite message from the one he needs to send,which is that the riots are not being blamed on Trump, but on the Democrats. Biden’s argument, “he made me riot” is one that the campus Left has been justly mocked for, and nobody but cowering college administrators and indoctrinated students regard it as anything but risible.

2. Speaking of things the Democrats and media are having no luck blaming on Donald Trump, Issues and Insights published five charts that nicely debunk the “The pandemic in the US is worse than anywhere!” talking point.  These are the best:

Of course, nobody in their right mind or who isn’t a Times reporter or  works for CNN believes the figures from China, Iran, or Russia.

Then there is this. Continue reading