Morning Ethics Warm-Up, June 4, 2019: The All-Jerk Edition

You may notice that it’s no longer morning. This was begun at 7 am. Can it ever be a good morning that begins with a dentist appointment a likely root canal? Never mind that: my car broke down—transmission failure, and had just had the thing repaired—right in front of the dentist’s office, and after the appointment, I had to wait another hour to be towed home.

1. The end of the spelling bee. It seems clear that sick parental obsession with success has killed the spelling,  or should, as soon as possible. Just after midnight last week, the Scripps National Spelling Bee crowned eight contestants  co-champions after the competition ran out of challenging words. Why did these kids successfully spell auslaut, erysipelas, bougainvillea, and aiguillette, while previous winners had triumphed by spelling word like  croissant in 1970, incisor in 1975, and luge in 1984 ?

The primary reason is SpellPundit, a coaching company started last year by two former competitive spellers. For an annual subscription of $600, SpellPundit sends a huge list of words ,  sorted by difficulty level, for potential spelling champions to study. The company guarantees that it includes all words used in the spelling competitions.

Thirty-eight  of  this year’s top fifty spellers were provided the service by their proud parents. One of the this years champions, Sohum Sukhatankar, 13, of Dallas said he had spent about 30 hours a week studying the 120,000 words SpellPundit had selected from the 472,000 words in the dictionary.

Yechh. What a wonderful use of a 13-year-old’s time. When he’s on his deathbed, he’ll wihs he had those hours back.

So now the spelling bee stands for a combination of child abuse, unhealthy obsession, parental interference and rich, hyper-competitive  families buying an edge that normal families either can’t or have the sense not to. Such fun. In case you are in doubt, the jerks here are the parents.

As for the once fun and innocent national spelling bee: Kill it.

2. Soviet-style society creeps ever closer, thanks to political correctness. Dr Sandra Thomas, an associate medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in Decatur, was moved to make a spontaneous joke while performing an autopsy. Thomas asked another doctor at the GBI’s morgue if she knew how to do a ‘Muslim autopsy’, and then lifted the neck of the dead woman and made the unique sound known as an ululation, which is commonly used in Islamic cultures at weddings and funerals.

 

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jonathan Eisenstat reported the incident to internal affairs, and Thomas was suspended for two weeks. Of course, she apologized profusely. The deceased person was not a Muslim. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/31/19: Confirmation, Computers, Clinton, Cruz, And Comments

Good morning.

Trying to get used to my new computer, Microsoft 10, files I can’t find and many other things. Everything is going sloooooowly. Be merciful.

1. More on the Martin Luther King revelations. Yesterday I wrote about King biographer David Garrow’s article revealing the some disturbing and previously unrevealed results of the  FBI’s (illegal) surveillance of Martin Luther King. Predictably, Garrow is under fire for daring to sully an icon’s reputation, and because the source of the material is Hoover’s attempt to undermine King, that is the mode of attack. Garrow won a Pulitzer Prize for “Bearing the Cross,” his 1986 biography of King, and has said in the past  that FBI files should be treated with skepticism. However, he is obviously so disturbed at the new revelations that were inadvertently released that he is performing what he sees as his duty as a historian. He told the Washington Post that the summaries made by FBI agents who were spying on King are accurate, noting that different types of records warrant different levels of trust in their accuracy. The files claiming King was communist, he said,  “are coming literally third- or fourth-hand from a human informant,”so their accuracy is “highly dubious…But with the electronic surveillance records, those are very highly reliable, other than when the FBI can’t understand who’s talking.”

Confirmation bias is the key here. Garrow has none that I can see: his reputation is at risk if he is wrong, and he was an admirer of King, though not blind to his previously known flaws, like his epic infidelity. So far, the reflex deniers of Garrow’s conclusion all appear to be “keepers of the flame,” or at least invested in keeping King’s reputation intact.

It is encouraging to see the Post, which apparently refused to publish Garrow’s article,  covering the story. Most media sources are not, and that is signature significance. Many of the same sources have assumed that Donald Trump engaged in wilful sexual assault based solely on his recorded hyperbolic boasts to Billy Bush. The integrity of journalism in the U.S. could not be at lower tide.

In my case, I know enough about history and the important figures who stroll, dash and charge through it not to be surprised when any of them are revealed to have engaged in objectively horrible conduct at various points in their lives. Given King’s documented sexual appetites and epic infidelities, the likelihood that he was a sexual predator is strong. Again, my position is that King’s personal, even criminal conduct shouldn’t affect the assessment of or national gratitude for his public achievements at all. This isn’t the “personal conduct” dodge that Bill Clinton’s enablers used: his conduct with Lewinski and others was related to his job, his position, and in fact occurred in his office. That’s professional, workplace conduct, not personal.

I assume this will be another story inconvenient to the news media’s favorite causes,  that journalists and editors will attempt to bury, muddy, and minimize. Yes, and anyone who attempts to raise it, analyze it and verify it will be tarred as a racist. Perhaps I am naive and optimistic, but I don’t think that will work here. Just as eventually we had to face the truth about Thomas Jefferson and Bill Cosby, even those who want to deify King will have to deal with his private character, and decide whether they really want his statues and memorials, street signs and holiday, to come down.

Of course, there will be some good people on both sides of the argument. Continue reading

Poll: What—The Hell—Did CNN’s Chris Cuomo Mean By This Tweet? [Updated]

Kimberly Corban was suffocated and raped in her dorm room at age 20. She has become a prominent gun rights advocate, saying that she protects herself and her family with a firearm and believes that it is her duty as a parent to do so.

The  National Rifle Association tweeted out a video of Corban sharing her story. “Only in America,” Cuomo tweeted in response to the tweet, which featured Corban’s quote, “I’m a mother of two, and if a predator or anyone else tries to harm me or my family, they have to come through my firearm first.”

What was that supposed to mean? We know—there is no doubt about this, and Ethics Alarms has documented the fact—that Cuomo is really, truly, a dolt. He is the poster child for affirmative action for celebrity and politician offspring. An alleged lawyer, his every other reference to the law is incorrect. He has said that hate speech isn’t protected by the First Amendment. He is the perfect example of that horrible species, the stupid person who thinks he’s smart. CNN keeps him employed because 1) he’s cute, 2) he seems to be a nice guy, and 3) he’s a typical knee-jerk progressive. Reading his twitter feed is profoundly depressing. He is at once glib, earnest, and incoherent. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/29/2019: “It Depends On What The Meaning Of _____ Is” Edition

And as May sinks slowly into the west, we wave farewell…

(All in all, it’s been a discouraging month on the ethics front, and I will not be sorry to see it go.)

1. I just unfriended someone for political reasons, which I never have done before. Not because of what the guy’s stated beliefs are, because I emphatically and unalterably hold that ethical adults should be able to resist cognitive dissonance and maintain good relationships with those whom they believe are obviously, tragically, dangerous wrong about anything from baseball to abortion, but because he demands one-way dialogues.

He wrote me requesting that I not challenge his posts or the assertions of his seal-like followers, yet routinely comments on my page, and his many dubious positions pop up on my feed routinely. Essentially he wants me to be complicit in his enabling the largely Leftist bubble that Facebook has evolved into, and to allow people to cheer on illogical and biased posts without having to defend their barely-thought out screeds.

To hell with that.

2.  What a surprise! From Jezebel:

“…Biden still seems unable to keep his hands to himself.Indeed, at an American Federation of Teachers town hall in Houston on Tuesday night (where he unrolled a pretty decent education plan, to be fair) Biden pulled out another Classic Biden Move, per Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez .“In a somewhat odd moment at tonight’s AFT town hall, Biden tells a 10-year-old girl, ‘I’ll bet you’re as bright as you are good-looking,’” she tweeted. “He takes her over to the assembled reporters, then stands behind her and puts his hands on her shoulders while he’s talking.”

To anyone who believed that Biden had instantly reformed from a career- and life-long addiction to touching, hugging, sniffing, and otherwise behaving disrespectfully, presumptuously and assaultively to women and, ick, young girls, a) I told you so, and b) you’re too gullible to go through life without a keeper.

Is the feminist-dominated Democratic Party really going to let this creep represent it in the 2020 elections? I find that impossible to believe, polls notwithstanding, but maybe I’m giving Democrats credit for integrity that they long ago proved the party no longer values or possesses. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Respite, 5/22/2019: The Stupid Edition, With A Poll

Good afternoon, Music Lovers!

[Unrelated to the Stupid theme, but of interest: my mostly Democratic audience for today’s sexual harassment training  had no sympathy whatsoever with Joe Biden’s shameless groping, nor with his party’s hypocrisy in supporting him (so far.) Another interesting exchange—I was ready for the question—was when an attendee asked about “the current occupant in the White House” and his sexual harassing ways. “Has he harassed anyone while President?” I asked. She said, “Not that we know of.” Then I put up one of Uncle Joe’s groping photos. “How can a party that nominated someone who openly harasses women on camera challenge same but speculative conduct by the President?” I asked.

It’s also interesting that the un-American and unfair concept of presumed misconduct has so infected progressive thought where Donald Trump is involved. This was the answer I got repeatedly from one of our Self-Exiled Warriors of the Left before his exit: he knew that the President had colluded with the Russians and stolen the election because that’s just the kind of person he is.

What kind of governments oppress, accuse and punish people based on the kind of person they are?]

Stupid #1. In my back yard of  Richmond, Virginia, a woman left instructions in her will that Emma, a healthy Shih Tzu mix, be put down. The Chesterfield County Animal Services , where Emma was residing, appealed to the executor of the dead woman’s estate. “We did suggest they could sign the dog over on numerous occasions — because it’s a dog we could easily find a home for and re-home,” said Carrie Jones, manager of Chesterfield County Animal Services. Nope. Representatives took Emma in custody to be euthanized. The dog’s remains were cremated, and her ashes were placed in an urn to be returned to the “authorized representative of the estate.

There’s no excuse for this screaming example of human arrogance, narcissism, cruelty and idiocy. As a matter of public policy, testamentary wishes involving the killing of anything  should be declared unenforceable by law.

Trust the humans, Emma: they have decided that you’ll be happier dead.

Stupid #2: Boy, I don’t know if Kamala Harris is beatable in the Ethics Alarms contest to be the worst candidate for the Democratic nomination.

To begin the week,, Harris announced  her plan to close “the gender wage gap in the United States,” which is largely a fake talking point the Democrats have been flogging for decades. Her proposal would require that businesses submit  their payroll to the federal government, and if employees in the same position are not paid the same (absent legitimate reasons like seniority or merit, the company would face fines, including a fine of 1% of the company’s profits for every 1% of a “wage gap” that exists.—after expensive appeals, of course. Good plan!!!

But I digress. After Harris’s announcement,the Washington Free Beacon  investigated her own staff’s salaries and found the the median male salary disbursement was $34,999 and the median female salary was $32,999, a 6% gap.

How smart, responsible and competent would a candidate have to be to make certain that her own staff salaries showed nothing that could even be claimed to be a “gender gap”by grandstanding a proposal like hers?

Not very, but apparently Harris can’t even clear that low bar. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/19/2019: Conflicts, Hypocrisy, Censorship, And Creeping Totalitarianism…Praise The Lord.

1. I love headlines like this. The Times tells us (in its print edition) , “Party Hosted By Drug Company Raises Thorny Issues.” Really? A group of top cosmetic surgeons had all their expenses paid to attend a promotional event in Cancun for a new competing drug for Botox. The doctors were fed, feted, invited to parties and given gifts, then they went on social media and gushed about the product. The “thorny issue”: Should they have informed their followers that they had just received all sorts of benefits and goodies from the drug manufacturer to encourage their good will? (Because none of them did mention this little detail.)

Wow! What a thorny issue! I’m stumped!

Of COURSE it was unethical not to point out that their sudden enthusiasm for the product had been bought and paid for. This is the epitome of the appearance of impropriety, and an obvious conflict of interest. The Times article chronicles the doctors’ facile, self-serving and disingenuous arguments that they didn’t have such an ethical obligation, but the fact that these are unethical professionals in thrall to an infamously unethical industry doesn’t make the ethics issue “thorny.”

2. The Assholes of Taylor University. Vice-President Mike Pence was the commencement speaker at Taylor University, and when he moved  to the podium, thirty or so students rose and walked out on him, in a smug and indefensible demonstration of assholery. The University should withhold the diplomas of every single one of these arrogant slobs until they each author a sincere letter of apology to the Vice-President, who was the school’s invited guest. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Notables. 5/18/2019: More Social Media Partisan Censorship, A-Rod’s Potty And Ian’s Potty Mouth…

Why, I asked, on such a beautiful May day, am I inside writing about ethics? And my wife turned into Hymen Roth…

1. PLEASE stop making me defend Alex Rodriguez, who is one of my least favorite human beings, never mind former athletes, on the planet, and yet…this is a strict Golden Rule issue. The ex-Yankees (also Texas and Seattle) slugger  was photographed sitting on his toilet in his luxury apartment’s bathroom. The shot was apparently taken by a rogue photographer in a high rise office building next to the apartment building where A-Rod shares a  $17.5 million apartment with Jennifer Lopez, whose movies are now beneath those of Adam Sandler and Tom Arnold on my playlist.

Legal precedent in New York suggests than  Rodriquez has no case, because in 2015, an appeals court ruled that a gallery show of images snapped through less famous New Yorkers’ windows by an “artist” was not a privacy violation. (I wrote about that photographer here; perhaps the title gives you a sense of where I came out on my analysis: “Why Photographer Arne Svensen Is An Unethical Creep”]

Fine, I see the legal point. If you don’t want people taking photos of you, then keep your window blinds down. However,just because you can do something crappy to another human being doesn’t make it right.

Even if it’s a crappy human being. Continue reading