Category Archives: U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/20/2019: MAGA Cap Day Edition

Good Morning!

No, I’m not going to wear a MAGA cap today, though I am sorely tempted. The Second Niggardly Principle inveighs against it: just because some people are offended by something based on ignorance or bias doesn’t mean its right to intentionally trigger them, much as they may deserve it.

“Make America Great Again” had, and has, many legitimate and defensible interpretations, and it could have been adopted by either party at many times in our history. Democrats put a racist spin on Trump’s slogan in 2016 because that was how they had responded to all criticism of the Barack Obama Presidency for 8 years, and the tactic was effective, if divisive and despicable. The current tactic is to attcahe racism to any supporter of the President who wears the hat, thorough narrative-supporting fake news like the “racist smile” of a Catholic teen at the Lincoln Memorial and the recent Jussie Smullett hoax, which led the news media to accept the fantasy that MAGA hat wearing thugs were roaming Chicago looking for minorities to assault.

The idea that electing someone with the personality, qualifications and character of Donald Trump could possibly make America greater seemed ridiculous to me during the campaign, and still does. That still does not mean that Barack Obama and his administration did not make the nation significantly worse: weaker, less financially stable, more divided, and less committed to democracy, individual initiative, free enterprise, the rule of law, and civil rights. Under President Trump, despite himself, many of those trends have begun to reverse themselves. Good. I would not say that this has made America greater, not with an ongoing effort on the Left to overthrow Trump’s Presidency without the inconvenience of an election, and not with racial, ethnic and gender divisions being deliberately widened by Democrats for perceived political gain.

I also wouldn’t wear a MAGA cap because the “again” rankles me, and always has. The United States is great, which does not mean it is perfect, or that it should not constantly strive to meet the dauntingly high ideals of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Gettysburg Address. Ironically, it is those who seek to demonize the slogan who really don’t think America is great, and who want to deconstruct it. They have to be fought, and rebutted, and exposed. Wearing a cap, however, is not the way to do it.

1. Unfortunately, these MAGA cap hate stories aren’t fake. An employee at Van’s, a clothing store in Kansas demanded that a teenage boy take off his MAGA hat, and when the boy refused—good for him— didn’t, the employee said “Fuck you!” according to the boy’s mother, who witnessed the exchange.

“He did nothing to you,” the mother says she told the employee. “What did you say to my son, to my 14-year-old?”

“I’m sure he’s heard it before,” the employee responded. You know: “everybody does it.” And besides, Democrats say its the right thing to do.

She complained, and Van’s fired the jerk.

The episode in Tennessee was scarier: A  man was arrested over the weekend after pulling a gun on a Sam’s Club customer who was wearing a MAGA cap, WBKO 13 News reported.  Eventually the media and Democratic narrative about what the hat means—it’s like KKK hood, you know— is going to get someone killed. Continue reading

31 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, Race, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society, Workplace

Ethics Observations On The Jussie Smollett Hoax

Lookin’ mighty smug there, Jussie…

Or, “How’s that ‘believe all victims’ stuff working for you’?”

Last night, the ugly truth of what many had suspected was confirmed. One of the few benefits of CNN assiduously burying stories that reflect poorly on the Left, “the resistance,” progressives and their allies is that when it does report such a story, you can probably believe it…unlike, say, its speculation about the Mueller investigation. Here is the substance of the CNN report:

Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation tell CNN that Chicago Police believe actor Jussie Smollet paid two men to orchestrate an assault on him that he reported late last month. The men, who are brothers, were arrested Wednesday but released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.”The sources told CNN the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him. The sources told CNN there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a hardware store in Chicago….Smollett identifies as gay and since 2015 has played the gay character of Jamal on the Fox TV drama “Empire.”…According to Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, the actor told detectives he was attacked by two men near the lower entrance of a Loews hotel in Chicago. Police were told the two men yelled “‘Empire’ faggot” and “‘Empire’ nigger'” while striking him.

…One of the men has appeared on “Empire,” Guglielmi said. A police source also told CNN on Friday night that the men had a previous affiliation with Smollett, but did not provide additional details.

Following the alleged attack, Smollett’s colleagues and fans rallied around him, expressing shock and sadness. “We have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are because it shows that we are united on a united front,” Lee Daniels, the creator of “Empire,” said in a video posted to his Instagram page on January 29. “And no racist fuck can come in and do the things that they did to you. Hold your head up, Jussie. I’m with you.” Smollett gave his first detailed account of what he says was a hate crime against him, and the aftermath, in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” that aired Thursday. During the interview he expressed frustration at not being believed.
“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more,” Smollett said. “And that says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now.”

Got that last part? That’s the coded and not so subtle “this is all because Donald Trump is a racist and bigot” message, making it a catalyst for the Big Lie.

Observations: Continue reading

66 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

More Blackface Ethics From The Ethics Alarms Double Standards Files: The Zulu Club Parade

In other threads around the blog, I have argued that the politically correct position against black make-up on a non-black individual, which is that it is the equivalent of “blackface” and thus racist per se regardless of the intent or purpose of the wearer or how it is reasonable perceived by others, is the declaration of a taboo rather than a logical argument. We have reached a similar taboo state with the use of the term “nigger” (and I have just violated that taboo by printing the word.) Teachers and professors have been punished for expressly employing the word to discuss racist uses of the word in other contexts. This is obviously bats—such instructors are not engaging in racist speech or intending to do so—but that is how taboos work. It’s like saying “Niagara Falls” in the old vaudeville skit.

Amusingly—hypocritical searches for secret exits when one is hoisted on one’s own petard amuses me—the fact that two Democrats in Virginia were found to have once worn black make-up has set off new safaris on the Left to find  a way to define blackface so the taboo approach doesn’t hurt the good people—you know, anyone who isn’t a conservative or a Republican. Now harsh focus has fallen on a black group that has used blackface for over a century.

The Zulu parade is staged on Mardi Gras by the New Orleans African-American philanthropic and social club. The Zulu Club’s paraders, both black and white, wear blackface and grass skirts, a tradition that began in 1909. How is the Zulu Club’s fun and games different from Gov. Ralph Northam wearing blackface to imitate Michael Jackson—in a nice way, of course?

As far back as 1956, when an NAACP officer criticized the parade’s dress-up,  the Zulu tradition has been controversial.  “It’s always made me cringe,” wrote Jarvis DeBerry, a columnist with the Times-Picayune newspaper on Twitter. “That said, they swear it’s satire.” What? How is THAT a defense? The original blackface was satire, and it was satirizing blacks. Kim Coleman, an African-American woman who is curator of the city’s McKenna Museum of African-American Art, was interviewed by the New York Times and told the paper that she was  offended by “the sight of white people in blackface.” Does that mean black people wearing blackface is OK, because it satirizes white racists satirizing blacks? I presume she knows that black performers during Jim Crow sometimes had to wear blackface to be allowed on stage. That image isn’t disgusting? Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Race, U.S. Society

The Edison Contradiction, Or Why Great Achievers Are So Often Unethical People, And Civilization Is Still Better Off For It

When I noted Thomas Edison’s birthday recently, and pointed readers to the two classic old movies about Tom as a man and boy, reader Chris Marschner wrote,

Re Edison I have seen the films with Tracy and Rooney. Tracy’s portrayal was historically one sided depicting Edison as merely a slave to his inventiveness. I dont recall it showing him as an egotistical tyrant who put real meaning into unbridled competition with Nikolai Tesla. I believe the director conveniently left out the part when Edison electrocuted an elephant to show alternating current was dangerous.

Edison’s inventions are ubiquitous and spawned the growth of the American economy but I would suggest his understanding of ethics would be on par with Harry Reid.

After my response noted that Edison, “like most who reach the absolute top of a field or profession…was absolutely obsessed with one single mission, and was an indifferent father, husband, friend. That’s the sacrifice such people make; yes, ethics is not on their agendas. Nonetheless, they are essential to the advance of civilization. He was a great inventor, not a great man….and he would have never claimed otherwise.”

Reader Steve-O added,

It doesn’t stop with the great scientists and inventors. A lot of the great leaders, political, military, business, arts, and otherwise, were TERRIBLE at human relations and dreadful even as colleagues. A random sampling might include:

Political:

1. FDR – a sociopath and an adulterer.
2. Churchill – a heavy-handed functional alcoholic.
3. Clemenceau – anti-clerical bully who married one of his students.
4. Ataturk – Brute, racist, alcoholic, looked the other way on genocide.
5. Bismarck – “blood and iron.”

Business:

1. Rockefeller – intentionally drove competitors out of business, monopolist.
2. Henry Ford – anti-Semite, conspiracy theorist, Nazi sympathizer.
3. Andrew Carnegie – anti-religious bully, deliberate indifference to poor conditions on his watch.
4. George Pullman – tried to set himself up as king as well as boss of his workers.
5. James “Diamond Jim” Brady – glutton, playboy.
6. Howard Hughes – one word: Yikes!

Military:

1. Douglas MacArthur – the only difference between him and God was that God didn’t think he was MacArthur.
2. George Patton – a warrior who couldn’t live in peacetime, his own staff despised him.
3. Joseph Joffre – indifferent, borderline incompetent, very little regard for the lives of his men.
4. Horatio Nelson – extremely poor treatment of his wife, who never did him wrong.
5. Joe Stilwell – “Vinegar Joe.”

Music:

1. Richard Wagner – tenth-rate human being all around.
2. W.A. Mozart- tortured genius who sometimes tortured others.
3. Johannes Brahms – dark genius who was more at home with music than relationships.
4. Anton Bruckner – macabre, possible pedophile.
5. Rimsky-Korsakov – nasty drunk.

I nearly answered, “Don’t get me started on actors, singers, artists and directors!”

Or, for that matter, Presidents of the United States.

However, this is a serious and confounding problem in ethics. History teaches us that our greatest achievers often not only give very little priority to ethics, but that a strong argument could be mounted that a concern for ethics would have seriously curtailed their positive effect on human progress and society. Is this, in some ways, a direct challenge to the position, my position, that it is every human being’s duty to strive to live by ethical values and decision-making. It is indeed. Continue reading

45 Comments

Filed under Character, Family, Leadership, Public Service, U.S. Society

One More Time, The Second Accuser Scenario, And Fairness For Justin Fairfax

From the Washington Post today:

“A Maryland woman said Friday she was raped by Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) in a “premeditated and aggressive” assault in 2000, while they both were undergraduate students at Duke University. She is the second woman this week to make an accusation of sexual assault.

The woman, Meredith Watson, said Friday in a written statement through her attorney that she shared her account immediately after it happened with several classmates and friends. Watson did not speak publicly Friday and her lawyer did not make her available for an interview.

Watson was friends with Fairfax at Duke but they never dated or had any romantic relationship, the lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith, said.

“At this time, Ms. Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character,” Smith said in the statement . “She has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma that has greatly affected her life. Similarly, she is not seeking any financial damages.”

Now what?

An unrelated accusation of conduct X does not mean that a previous unsubstantiated accusation of the same conduct is true. However…

  • In the case of habitual or characteristic misconduct—like being a sexual predator or a sexual harasser—the likelihood that there have been more, undisclosed episodes involving the individual accused is high.
  • Thus the absence of a credible second (or third, fourth, and onward) accuser in a matter like this is legitimate evidence arguing for the innocence of the accused. An example would be Clarence Thomas.
  • When subsequent allegations are substantially similar to the original accusation, they are especially damning. Bill Cosby is the poster case for this variation. Another exampole: Kevin Spacey.
  • When the second and additional allegations are suspiciously timed, as during an election or a political controversy, when they involve general misconduct only, lack named accusers or when they are sketchy in their facts and proof, they should be regarded with extreme skepticism. The add-on Kavanaugh accusations fit this description.
  • The fact that a court decision or an official investigation has not definitively determined that misconduct has taken place does not require individuals, groups and the public to discard commons sense, if they can eliminate bias from their decision-making. O.J. Simpson, it is fair to say,  is guilty of murder, and it is completely fair to regard him in that light. Barry Bonds used banned and illegal drugs to enhance his major league baseball career. Harvey Weinstein is a sexual predator who traded professional advancement for sex. We don’t need admissions here to come to informed decisions.

Now what does all of this mean for Justin Fairfax, next in line to be Governor of Virginia if Governor Northam decides, as an honorable public servant should, that he has made such an irredeemable ass of himself by his obfuscations, double-back flips, and tap-dancing around the question of whether he had a photo of himself in blackface in his yearbook that no Virginian in his or her right mind could possibly feel secure trusting such a boob to handle the affairs of the Commonwealth? What is fair? Continue reading

31 Comments

Filed under Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, U.S. Society

Ethics Run-Down, 2/5/2019: Neeson And Nipples

I’m calling it a run-down because I’m run down.

1. THANK YOU…Ethics Alarms readers who contributed—by tuning in to the Puppy Bowl or something, anything— to the NFL’s worst ratings for a Super Bowl in a decade, and by some metrics (percentage of homes) the worst ratings ever. True, nobody knows exactly what kept viewers away—the looming Kaepernick controversy, the blah game, LA being sick of getting beaten by Boston, the prospect of being preached to by virtue-signaling corporations, the uninspiring half-time show, families being smart enough to try to steer their kids away from football—but progress is progress. Someone will have to explain to me the “boring game” theory: who does someone know the game is going to be boring without watching it?

2. Oh, Great—thanks to Liam Neeson, we are one step closer to punishing thought crimes. What possessed the often thoughtful actor to expound on a period in his life when he hated blacks?

In an interview, published by The Independent,  Neeson, who specializes in revenge fantasy action movies, that 40 years ago he walked the streets with a weapon looking for black men to attack because friend of his had been raped by a man she identified as African American. The actor said he “went out deliberately into black areas in the city looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence”.

Now he is being attacked as a racist. And he’s surprised? The governor of Virginia is being attacked as a racist for dressing up as Michael Jackson when he was a student, and he wasn’t even trying to hurt anybody. Liam, Liam, Liam. Asked what he wanted people to learn from his experience, he told ABC’s Robin Roberts today, “To talk. To open up…We all pretend we’re all politically correct in this country…in mine, too. You sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry and it’s there. ”

Fine. Everyone has unethical, even evil thoughts and impulses on occasion. If we are normal, ethical, rational and reasonable, we deal with them in a healthy way. There is nothing unethical about thoughts. Unfortunately, we are plagued in the culture right now with those who want to dictate our thoughts and punish those who do not conform in order to control our liberties, expression and conduct. Neeson just gave those people, and Hollywood, where he works, is crawling with them, an opening to punish thoughts, specifically his.

Next time, Liam, talk to a priest, a psychiatrist, a spouse, a trusted friend, anyone but a journalist. If there is a next time: I fully expect Neeson to be effectively blackballed in his profession.

3. KABOOM! The stupidest Super Bowl ethics controversy ever! Actress Abigail Breslin—you may recall her fondly  in “Little Miss Sunshine,” not so fondly as “Baby” in the beyond horrible live TV version of “Dirty Dancing”— doesn’t understand why why Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine was allowed to go topless during his Super Bowl performance when Janet Jackson was so heavily criticized for her contrived nipple flashing during the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show. “Nipplegate” got CBS a $550,000 fine.

Levine removed his shirt to show off his heavily tattooed body as he performed, and a number of social media users, including celebrities, questioned why it was OK to see his top half and not Janet’s. You know. Morons.

“I have nothing against Adam Levine whatsoever and actually am a huge fan but it’s messed up that society seems it acceptable for him to be shirtless during the halftime show and Janet Jackson was chastised because her top half was accidentally exposed at the same event. #doublestandards,” Breslin tweeted. “It’s unfair that she was ridiculed for an accident that wasn’t even her fault but a man can take his shirt off on stage and it’s no problem….I’m saying neither should be fined. Or both should be fined. It’s not fair an accidental slip is cause for a fine but a man ripping his shirt off on stage is chill. It should be a fine for both or a fine for none.”

Actress Rosie Perez—is she more or less of a hasbeen than Breslin?— tweeted “Okay. Hold up. Are they going to go in and penalize # AdamLevine for showing his t*ts like they did @JanetJackson ? Just asking.”

Ugh. As Ethics Alarms has explained before, there was nothing accidental about Jackson’s flashing, and the risible claim that poor Janet had a “costume malfunction” (wink-wink) has entered the realm of fake history, less annoying but equally as false as “Hands Up! Don’t shoot!” But never mind that: have these actresses never been to a beach? A volleyball tournament? Do they live in nudist colony? Civilized society permits some parts of the male anatomy to be exposed in public, while some parts of the female anatomy are not considered appropriate for public display. The system has worked pretty well. Are feminists really going to try to label this a form of sexism?

On multiple fronts, it is beginning to appear that progressive cant is spinning into self-parody.

Here’s Adam, by the way:

 

I don’t know about you, but I had a hard time finding his nipples.

 

63 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, Professions, Race, Social Media, Sports, U.S. Society

Oh, No! Ebonics Again!

A court reporter in Philadelphia heard a witness say, “He don’t be in that neighborhood,” but transcribed it as, “We going to be in this neighborhood.” Yes, that’s the opposite the opposite of what the speaker meant, and  a soon-to-be published study finds that Philadelphia court reporters often make errors transcribing sentences that are spoken in what the New York Times and some linguists call “African-American English.” I call it bad English, and once again the claim is being made that it’s everyone else’s fault when people can’t talk.

Here’s a jaw-dropping statement from the Times article: “Decades of research has shown that the way some black people talk could play a role in their ability to secure things like employment or housing. The new study, scheduled for publication in June in the linguistic journal Language, provides insight on how using black dialect could also impact African-Americans in courtrooms.” Ya think? I confess when I hear anyone, black or white, express themselves with a sentence like “He don’t be in that neighborhood,” I tend to think that

  • Such an individual is not well-educated
  • Such an individual is not well-read
  • Such an individual is unlikely to think very clearly
  • Such individuals may not be very bright, not necessarily because he or she speaks in such a manner, but that because they lack the common sense to know that doing so will not leave a positive impression.

In short, it is not my fault if someone else can’t speak clearly, and claiming that a grammatical and syntactical dogs breakfast like “He don’t be in that neighborhood” is acceptable because a lot of people talk that way is a rationalization. More Bizarro World reasoning from scholars,

“People who speak African-American English are stigmatized for so doing,” said Taylor Jones, a doctoral student in linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the study’s authors. Mr. Jones added that there was nothing improper or broken about the dialect that some African-Americans inherited over generations, but negative stereotypes have influenced the way people hear or perceive it.

“If you’re taught that these people speak incorrectly, then it’s very easy to say, ‘Well, they don’t make any sense; what they’re saying is wrong,’” Mr. Jones said.

Those who argue that “He don’t be in that neighborhood” isn’t incorrect are essentially pointing us toward a cultural Babel where anyone can make up and adopt whatever dialect they choose, and insist that everyone else acceptand decypher it. That’s no way to run a business, a nation, or society. Clarity in language is essential, and must not be shrugged off as one more matter of personal choice. We have to communicate, after all. Continue reading

53 Comments

Filed under Education, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society