Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/20/19: Fighting Fake Hate Crimes, Mueller Report Spin, Journalism Incompetence, And Being Mean To Beto

Good morning!

1. Nah, there’s no mainstream media ignorance and stupidity…

Mecca!

These are the people we trust to keep us informed about the world, and explain what we don’t have the time to study.  Great. [Pointer: Instapundit]

2.  Please circulate to your tantrum-throwing Impeach Trump friends...Yet another sharp column by Glenn Greenwald cutting through the fog and wind, and explaining that, as he puts it, “Robert Mueller Did Not Merely Reject the Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theories. He Obliterated Them.”

Unlike the New York Times, which intentionally cherry-picked quotes from the Mueller Report to give solace to its Trump-Deranged readers, Greenwald reproduced the substantive conclusions that put the nails into the collusion fantasy. Like…

  • “The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA’s interference operation”
  • “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Greenwald concludes,

In sum, Democrats and their supporters had the exact prosecutor they all agreed was the embodiment of competence and integrity in Robert Mueller. He assembled a team of prosecutors and investigators that countless media accounts heralded as the most aggressive and adept in the nation. They had subpoena power, the vast surveillance apparatus of the U.S. government at their disposal, a demonstrated willingness to imprison anyone who lied to them, and unlimited time and resources to dig up everything they could.

The result of all of that was that not a single American – whether with the Trump campaign or otherwise – was charged or indicted on the core question of whether there was any conspiracy or coordination with Russia over the election. No Americans were charged or even accused of being controlled by or working at the behest of the Russian government. None of the key White House aides at the center of the controversy who testified for hours and hours – including Donald Trump, Jr. or Jared Kushner – were charged with any crimes of any kind, not even perjury, obstruction of justice or lying to Congress.

These facts are fatal to the conspiracy theorists who have drowned U.S. discourse for almost three years with a dangerous and distracting fixation on a fictitious espionage thriller involved unhinged claims of sexual and financial blackmail, nefarious infiltration of the U.S. Government by familiar foreign villains, and election cheating that empowered an illegitimate President. They got the exact prosecutor and investigation that they wanted, yet he could not establish that any of this happened and, in many cases, established that it did not.

Precisely. Continue reading

Now THIS Is An Unethical Pastor! Also An Idiot. Also…ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

As I go through life, I find myself having increasing difficulty distinguishing organized religions from cults. I know what Ben Franklin would say: “cult” is always used in the third person, as in “their cult.” I also have a difficult time of late distinguishing cults from religions. Isn’t climate change activism a religion now? How about hating President Trump? Socialism has always been a cult. Cults install One Great Truth as a substitute for critical thought and the ongoing process of self-education and accumulated wisdom. They also can drive people mad.

Take, for example, this story….

Jaddeus Dempsey, the associate pastor at Impact City Church in Pataskala, Ohio, asked the kids attending his after-school youth program to spit in his face,  slap him in the face, and finally to cut him on the back with a kitchen knife. He explained that  the exercise was part of a larger lesson on “how much Jesus loved them.”

If Jesus really loved them, He wouldn’t allow them to get trapped in a room with this wacko.

The whole horrible  episode was partially captured on video, as you can see above. Some of Dempsey’s Disciples  shout and laugh as they line up to  spit at the pastor and slap him.  Some of them seem genuinely enthusiastic about abusing him.  (Hitler Youth may have been trained this way.) The video ends after the first cut with the kitchen knife; who knows what happened after that.

The church spokesperson “explained” that Dempsey was just trying  to present the exercise as a lesson of the crucifixion ahead of the Easter holiday.

Oh! Then that’s all right then!

Dempsey appeared in a video on the church’s Facebook page, saying with a knife sticking out of his back—I’m joking!

“It was just not appropriate and it was in bad judgment. I am so sorry for misrepresenting the community, the church, the parents, and the students — anybody that I hurt. This was not my intention. My intention was to just show them how much Jesus loves them and that I love them as a student leader for almost four years now. Tonight was an anomaly and it is not normally what happens. Again, I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused.”

Got it! You’re an irresponsible moron, and unfit to be left alone with children! Now check yourself into a mental ward, that’s a good pastor…

The church’s lead Pastor Justin Ross elaborated on the intended lesson. “Jaddeus got up in front of the students and he says, ‘I’m going to ask you to do something that might seem a little crazy, but if there’s anyone here that would like to spit in my face, you can do so without any repercussions,” Ross said.

“He had the opportunity to share a message about Easter,” Ross added, “and he chose to use an illustration to explain a very important topic about the crucifixion, but the illustration went too far.”

Ya think?????

In another statement, Ross told WBNS-TV,

“We exist to create an environment that is safe and predictable for students to come, connect with their friends and grow closer to God. Today we failed at creating that safe, predictable environment. We want to do better.”

Well that’s a relief. It would be pretty hard to do worse.

Another disturbing aspect of the episode was that none of the adults, including Ross, who were in the room  witnessing Dempsey’s deranged lesson—that was child abuse, you know— had the integrity, courage or independence to stop it.

Cults are like that.

The mother of one of the male children who handled the knife told a TV station that  her son won’t be returning to the church, and that she reported the incident to the sheriff’s office. Good. That’s one responsible parent. Unfortunately, I assume most will echo the sentiment of Kelsey Collier, who  told the BBC,

“Jaddeus and people in that church were always there for us.They’re the most understanding, least judgmental people you will ever meet.”

Well they certainly have the least judgment of anyone you are likely to meet…

 “I don’t think someone should be judged just based on one mistake, that one mistake doesn’t define who he is.”

Sorry, Kelsey, but someone in a better youth group needs to introduce you to the concept of signature significance.

Normal, trustworthy, rational and responsible people don’t tell kids to slap them and cut them with knives—ever. That’s not a mistake, that’s fanaticism, and it absolutely defines what the pastor is, at least in a professional context.

Dangerous, and nuts.

Ethics Dunce AGAIN By A Man In A Position That Should Never Include An Ethics Dunce: Pope Francis

Let’s see now. You are the titular head of a religious organization that talks a good game about virtue, morality and the dangers of sin, and it has been shaken to its core by an ongoing scandal involving thousands of officials sexually molesting hundreds of thousands of children while your organization not only covered up the crimes, but facilitated them. After the latest outbreak of this decades—centuries?—long scandal, you declared that your organization would regain the trust of its members by reversing its previous corrupt practices, and send clear messages that the conduct that endangered and damaged children would not be tolerated.

Then, when one of the highest officials in your organization offers his resignation after being convicted in a court of law for failing to stop one of the ongoing molesters despite knowledge of his vile  activities, you refuse to accept that resignation.

What sense does this make? This is a fair summary of Pope Francis’s recent decision to reject the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin despite his conviction this month for covering up decades-old allegations of sexual abuse by a priest in his diocese. The only way it makes sense is if the Pope doesn’t comprehend the seriousness of the sex abuse scandal, and still places loyalty to the church and his colleagues above the welfare of victims past, present and future. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/18/2019: Paranoia, Pettiness, Pirro, Provoked Applicants, Piqued Students, Posturing And Progressives

Good Morning, Pacific Time Zone!

I’m heading to San Diego tomorrow to talk about “Five Looming Ethics Issues for Lawyers  and  Their  Corporate Clients”  to a group of over 600 lawyers. THEY don’t think my analyses of ethics issues violate community standards…okay. I admit it, I’m getting paranoid. Despite a lot of, I humbly believe, useful, timely and well-presented content, the weekend traffic was terrible, and comments were sparse, if excellent. This year, so far, is lagging behind last year, which seriously trailed the year before. What’s going on here? Has Google secretly joined Facebook in its efforts to keep the posts here from reaching an audience? Of could it be that I just suck? Maybe Donald Trump really has killed all belief in ethics…that’s the ticket! Blame the President!

1. Pettiness and vindictiveness vanquished. Good. The Judicial Council of the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals  has affirmed its December decision to reject 83 ethics complaints against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, all filed by bitter partisans who are determined to hurt the newest Justice because the Democrats’ slimy and unethical ambush tactics failed, as they should have. In a 6-1 decision, the judicial council affirmed its earlier finding that the federal law governing misconduct complaints against federal judges does not apply to justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Many of the complaints filed against Kavanaugh argued he had made false statements under oath during hearings on his nominations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2004 and 2006 and to the U.S. Supreme Court last year—you know, like having an innocent recollection of what “boof” meant in his completely irrelevant high school year book.  Other complaints accused Kavanaugh of making inappropriate partisan statements in his inappropriately partisan hearings, or claimed he treated members of the Senate Judiciary Committee with disrespect, or as I would put it, the disrespect they deserved for attempting to smear his good name and reputation through demagoguery and calls to reject the presumption of innocence.

Let me remind everyone that Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in her confirmation hearings, stated under oath that she had no pre-formed opinions that would affect her objectivity in abortion cases. Nobody filed any ethics complaints. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/15/2019: Fevered Ethics Musings, and More” [Item #2]

Cultural literacy pop quiz: who’s the quote from?

This Comment of the Day by Benjamin, a relatively recent recruit to the discussions here, typifies the thoughtfulness and seriousness that distinguishes the commentariat at Ethics Alarms. Ann Althouse, a blogger (whose work  Facebook doesn’t block) with a much larger readership whose topics often mirror mine, just announced that she is considering changing “the commenting experience”:

I’ll regard the comments submitted to moderation as private messages to me, and I’ll only publish comments I think readers would generally enjoy reading — comments that are interesting, original, well-written, and responsive to the post.

I consider most of the comments here interesting, original, well-written, and responsive to the posts. The kind of comment that Benjamin registered is rare on Althouse, or any blog, really, though not rare here. (The exceptions would be PopeHat, whose progenitor has, at least for now, apparently abandoned for greener pastures, and the original Volokh Conspiracy, before it moved to the Washington Post, and then Reason). Why is that? One reason is the subject matter; another is that commenters who can’t express themselves, issue uninformed opinions or who just aren’t too bright don’t do well on Ethics Alarms. Another reason is that, as I have probably complained about too much, the mass exodus here of the Trump Deranged and knee-jerk progressives has eliminated most of the “You’re an idiot!” “No, you’re an idiot!” exchanges that pollute most blogs, as well as comment sections everywhere.

Here is Benjamin’s Comment of the Day on Item #2 in the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/15/2019: Fevered Ethics Musings, and More:

My efforts at suppressing the sin of schadenfreude are becoming futile. The things festering behind fiercely-reinforced masks are starting to spill putrid materials out of the eye and nose holes nearly everywhere and all at once. I believe I’m addicted to two “drugs”: watching good men hoisting the black flag and destroying evil with relish in the name of a good end, e.g. Liam Neeson’s Taken is dangerous for me to watch – I start getting ideas – so I’ve placed an embargo for myself on such plotlines; and watching evil destroy itself. I don’t think I’ll need to embargo the latter, though. There’s nothing more instructive of the fact that difficult-but-correct choices ought to always be chosen over immediately convenient wrong ones than watching the effects of a century or so of those wrong choices. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up: I Wish I Were Surprised, But I’m Not

NOW what?

Quite a bit, actually…

1. Res Ipsa Loquitur #1 The Democratic National Committee has barred Fox News from hosting its Presidential primary debates. I guess the Democrats don’t want any tough questions interfering with their efforts to rig the nomination this time around.

If there was ever better proof that the Democratic Party considers the mainstream media their captive allies, I don’t know what it would be. In 2016, Republicans subjected their candidates to outright hostile questioning from CBS and CNBC journalists, and Fox treated Donald Trump as roughly as a candidate can be treated in the Republican debates. I watched all the pre-nomination debates: Fox’s Neil Cavuto was among the very fairest of all panelists, and as Fox News has correctly said in its protest about the Democratic slur, Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, the proposed Fox News debate questioners, are at least as objective and professional as any Left-media journalists.

DNC Chair Tom Perez’s excuse for this blackball move is self-evidently dishonest: “Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates. Therefore, Fox News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates.” Oh, the New Yorker says so! That settles it then!

The GOP didn’t pull out of the Vice-Presidential debates in 2008 even though the NPR’s debate moderator, Gwen Ifill, had her pro-Obama book sitting at her publisher  waiting for he candidate to win. CBS wasn’t barred from hosting debates, event though David Rhodes, then president of CBS News, is the brother of Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser. Meanwhile, Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News, is the brother of Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, an Obama  special assistant.  Claire Shipman, a national correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” was married to Jay Carney when he was President Obama’s press secretary. These were real, hard, conflicts of interest. The bias of the Fox News journalists is apparently based on the fact that they may run into Trump pal Sean Hannity in the lunch room.

The Democratic Party is prepared to do everything in its power to make sure the American public does not get properly informed regarding the character, skills and beliefs of its 2020 Presidential candidate, and is confident that every network but Fox can be depended upon to assist them in achieving that goal.

2. Almost certainly untrustworthy study of the week, but great for confirmation bias purposes:  According to an article in “The Atlantic,”  a survey conducted by the polling firm PredictWise that assembled a county-by-county index of American political intolerance  based on poll results determined that ” the most politically intolerant Americans… tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves.”

That would explain the posts by my Facebook friends… Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/5/2019: Knaves, Idiots, And Fools” [Item #6]

The Horror! It’s an outrage! Send it to Hell! Well, not Hell, exactly, because that would be acknowledging religion. OK, let me start again…

Ethics Alarms used to have its own in-house atheist activist, and this is one of the times that I miss him: he would undoubtedly have a fascinating rebuttal to this Comment of the Day. I’m old enough to remember when Madalyn Murray O’Hair was the most hated woman in America for challenging the Constitutionality of school prayer, and winning.  (Remind me to tell the story of the time I spoke to O’Hair on a call-in TV talk show, posing as God.) Although I have come to agree that she was right (she later said she wished she hadn’t raised the issue), it still seems to me that atheists are more obsessed with religion than most religious people are, and their passionate antipathy borders on the pathological. The SCOTUS case that sparked this COTD is a good example: is it really necessary to attack a nearly one hundred year old war memorial because the design is a cross?

Here is Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day on item #6 in the post, “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/5/2019: Knaves, Idiots, And Fools”:

This isn’t the first one of these cross lawsuits, as has been discussed here a few times, and it sure as the devil won’t be the last. The problem isn’t really even with atheism, at least as the title for those who never have believed or choose not to believe in any god or gods. The First Amendment’s about as clear as any law can be that no one here can be forced to believe or disbelieve anything. America is still over 70% religious, and those religious Americans are overwhelmingly Christian, though how strongly so is up for discussion. Those who belong to no particular religion vary almost as much as those who do, from people raised in whatever faith who just drifted away at some point in life and never went back, to those raised without any faith who just never bothered with it, to agnostics, who think the presence of God is beyond knowing, to those who think religion’s all a bunch of hooey and choose to have nothing to do with it. It’s a minority of non-believers who are actively hostile to religion, but, unfortunately, those are the ones that get all the press.

As someone who is at least nominally a Catholic, and as someone who strongly dislikes one particular faith (Islam) I will venture a guess that those who dislike religion generally feel and think about it the way I do about that one particular faith I dislike. We can also both marshal some arguments that sound compelling. I can say that Islamic thought is incompatible with the Western way of doing things, that their history is checkered and shows an unhealthy propensity to impose itself by violence, and that a lot of their holy scriptures are downright scary. However, those opposed to religion generally can also say that ancient religion generally isn’t compatible with a world of the internet and surgery and science, that religion doesn’t have the greatest history generally, and that most holy scriptures are problematic, including the Bible, which, at least in the Old Testament, got the most basic moral question, slavery, wrong. Of course all these arguments are simplistic as phrased, and aren’t so absolute when you look at them in more detail, but that takes time and thought. The difference is, though, if I speak out against Islam, (which I have) I have to tread carefully lest I be deemed a hater, while those who speak out against all religion are not deemed haters. Continue reading