Category Archives: U.S. Society

And The Obamacare Ethics Train Wreck Rolls On…

Barack Obama’s legacy is a series of ethics train wrecks of remarkable and depressing longevity. The oldest of them, the Obamacare Ethics Train Wreck. may never stop rolling, leaving destruction in its wake forever..

Observations:

1.   It is clear that the Republicans will not be able to repeal, undo, repair or reinvent Obamacare, aka The Affordable Care Act, consistently with their rhetoric and the wishes of the thoroughly messed-up law’s abundant critics. The many bills passed by the GOP-controlled House to that end during the Obama Administration were grandstanding only: they passed because there was 100% certainty they would be vetoed. Now that such bills actually risk becoming law, Republicans are, reasonably enough, not willing to take the leap into the void.

2. The President has told Congress that if they are not prepared to deal with the repeal and replacement of the ACA now, he will move on to other priorities.  This is entirely responsible, both politically and pragmatically. Passing a sweeping law in haste that will affect millions of Americans would be irresponsible.

3. This means, of course, that the President’s campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something “great” “on Day One” was nonsense. On one hand, it was reasonable for him, or anyone, to assume that after seven years of complaining the party’s legislators had a viable plan ready to replace the affordable Care Act. On the other, it was dishonest to make such a pledge without ascertaining with certainty that what Candidate Trump was promising was within the realm of possibility. “Day One” is obvious hyperbole, but anyone making such a statement must assume that it will  be widely interpreted as “before the next Ice Age,” and thus should not be uttered unless the pledge can be fulfilled eventually. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “The Destruction Of Doug Adler : Guerillas, Gorillas, ESPN And The First Niggardly Principle”

 

I am not in the business of jeremiads, being an optimistic sort, but now and then a post here triggers an articulate and persuasive allegation of existential ethics rot. Such is the latest Comment of the Day, courtesy of reader slickwilly, his first. It was prompted by another commenter’s rueful observations on slickwilly’s earlier musings (sparked by the ESPN reporter whose use of the term “guerilla” was mistakenly attacked as a racial slur, losing him his job) on the public school system, in which he wrote in part,

I pity the teachers (and I live with one) who are afraid to offend a parent by reporting the “perfect little angel’s” latest misdeed, upon pain of possible job and pension loss. (I know of a school district that does not allow a student to flunk… writing a name on an assignment guarantees a passing grade. Butts in seats are how districts are paid, here) I agree with the ‘confronted and taught’ idea in principle, but how do you put that into practice, when doing so can destroy your ability to put food on the table for your family?

To which Zoltar Speaks! replied:

“Have we become a society of wimps unwilling to stand up for our convictions? At some point responsible adults must unite and take a stand regardless of the possibility of negative consequences. Even ignorant people know that there is power in numbers; so choose your battle, gain numerical support, focus on right and wrong, be on the side of right, and stand up for your convictions.”

Here is slickwilly’s Comment of the Day in response, on the post, The Destruction Of Doug Adler : Guerillas, Gorillas, ESPN And The First Niggardly Principle:

Have we become a society of wimps unwilling to stand up for our convictions?

Short answer: yes.

In many cases, there are no convictions to stand up for.

We are seeing the Republic die of apathy. There was some awakening when Trump was elected, but the majority of ‘normal’ folks I interact with each day (work and socially) just cannot be bothered to understand the issues, much less get engaged enough to have an opinion at all. If they DO have an opinion, it was usually delivered to them via meme or the MSM, and they cannot defend it.

Americans as a society have had things good for too many generations now for people to believe in an existential threat unless and until it directly impacts their lives. We live atop a thin veneer of civil behavior and mistakenly believe this crust is miles deep and the natural order of things. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, U.S. Society

Ethics Hero: Notre Dame Political Science Professor Vincent Phillip Muñoz

Vincent Phillip Muñoz is the Tocqueville Associate Professor of Political Science and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at The University of Notre Dame. Following the violent protest that prevented his announced lecture at Middlebury College earlier this month, Prof. Muñoz invited Murray to speak at the University of Notre Dame next week. This occasioned some protests and objections from students and faculty at his own college, and he responded with an essay at RealClearPolitics, writing in part…

Charles Murray is speaking at Notre Dame because I and another Political Science professor assigned his book “Coming Apart” in our classes. His visit is one of several outside lectures that are part of this semester’s Constitutional Studies offerings. My class, “Constitutional Government & Public Policy,” addresses some of the most important and divisive issues in American politics: abortion, gay marriage, religious freedom, inequality, freedom of speech, death penalty, race and the meaning of constitutional equality, immigration, euthanasia, and pornography.

 The class is designed to prompt students to think more deeply and thoughtfully about contemporary moral and political issues. I don’t assign a textbook or “neutral” readings that summarize the issues; I require students to read principled thinkers who advocate vigorously for their respective position. I want my conservative students to read smart, persuasive liberal thinkers, and I want my liberal students to read thoughtful conservatives. Educated citizens can give reasons for their beliefs and can defend intellectually the positions they hold. That requires that we understand and articulate the positions with which we disagree.

…“But Murray is controversial and will make students feel uncomfortable,” my faculty colleagues say. Don’t I know that he has been accused of being racist, anti-gay, and a white nationalist? I’m told that bringing him to campus is not fair to Notre Dame’s marginalized students.

I have no desire to inflict unwanted stress or anxiety on any member of the Notre Dame community, especially our minority students. I appreciate the concern for student well being that motivates some of the opposition to Murray’s visit. But I believe what is most harmful to students—and, to speak candidly, most patronizing—is to “protect” our students from hearing arguments and ideas they supposedly cannot handle.To study politics today requires handling controversial, difficult, and divisive topics…

The price of a real education is hearing powerful arguments that make us realize our opinions are based on untested assumptions. Only then, when we realize that we do not know as much as we think we know, can genuine learning occur.

I invited Dr. Murray to Notre Dame months ago…Given what happened at Middlebury, it would be cowardly to disinvite Murray now. Rescinding his invitation would communicate that violence works; that if you want to influence academia, sharpen your elbows, not your mind. It would tell those who engaged in violence—and those who might engage in or threaten violence—that universities will cower if you just appear intimidating. Rescinding Murray’s invitation would teach exactly the wrong lesson…

Notre Dame faculty critical of Murray have implored me to think about the larger context of what his visit means. I am. That is why I will not rescind his invitation. As a professor and program director, my job is to do what we are supposed to do at universities: pursue the truth through reasoned dialogue and discussion. Whether you find Charles Murray’s scholarship persuasive or objectionable, his visit offers an opportunity to learn. That is why I invited him to speak at Notre Dame. After Middlebury, it’s all the more important that he do so.

It is almost an insult to academia to call Prof. Muñoz ‘s statement heroic. It should be obvious. Dissenters from the position he articulates should be instantly recognizable as regrettable outliers, the opponents of academic freedom and freedom of thought, the advocates of censorship and ideological indoctrination. Yet increasingly it is this traditional view of higher education that Muñoz advocates that is under attack. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Quotes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Professions, Race, Research and Scholarship, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: The Maryland State Bar Association

Do you know what legal ethics opinions are? Many lawyers don’t know, or barely pay attention to them, but the opinions are important. They are written when bar associations have to decide how to handle the gray areas of professional ethics, and believe me, there are more gray areas in legal ethics than the profession likes to admit. Some jurisdictions churn out lots of important and useful legal ethics opinions all year long; others barely bother with them. (Idaho simply stopped issuing such opinions decades ago.) Still, the LEOs, as they are called, are essential when one of the many legal ethics issues crop up that a jurisdiction’s rules themselves don’t cover.

Although bar associations do a terrible job making their legal ethics opinions’ availability known to the general public, LEOs have invaluable information to convey about how lawyers are ethically obligated to serve their clients. They are also essential if people like me are going to be able to remind Maryland’s lawyers about their ethical duties as part of continuing legal education seminars and expert opinions.

So why is it that Maryland, alone among the 51 U.S. jurisdictions, refuses to allow the public access to their legal ethics opinions? All right, neither does Arkansas, but nobody can read in ArkansasKIDDING!!! I’M KIDDING!

In order to find out what the Bar Association has decided regarding specific legal ethics conundrums, or whether the state has any position at all, one has to be a dues-paying member of the Maryland Bar. Never mind that Maryland lawyers, who, like most lawyers, often are subject to the ethics rules of other jurisdictions, can access neighboring bar association LEO’s with a couple of clicks on their computers. Never mind fairness or reciprocity.

Here’s how the question “Why do we hide our ethics opinions?” was answered by one Maryland lawyer online:

“Ethics opinions are MSBA work product: a benefit to members who pay their dues…An ethics opinion is a legal opinion about what it or is not permissible under the rules. If you want legal advice, pay for it. The “rules”, by the way, are published and are available to the public. As are the elements of negligence. Do you tell your clients for free how to prove their negligence cases?”

How’s that for a venal, snotty answer? In fact, there are no “hidden” laws or principles related to negligence, nor are the standards for what constitutes negligence and how it is proven in court only available for a fee. The legal ethics opinions, on the other hand, may be crucial to allowing non-lawyers  know when they are being victimized by unethical members of the Maryland bar. How convenient that the Bar hides these from the view of the group of citizens that have the most urgent need to know about them.

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, U.S. Society, Workplace

From The Ethics Alarms Cultural Illiteracy Files: “A Streetcar Naked Desire”

On Wheel of Fortune, an unfortunate contestant named Kevin was confronted with the board above, and had only to name the missing letter to collect his prize.

He guessed “K.”

1.  It is fair to say that he had never heard of the Tennessee Williams drama, easily one of the top ten plays in the classic American theatrical canon.

2. Does this amazing gap in Kevin’s basic education prove that American schools are failing our children and society? No. It shouldn’t fill us with confidence, either.

3. What else does this mean Kevin has never heard of? “Stella!!!”?  Brando? Elia Kazan? The House Un-American Activities Committee? Naming names? Guilt by association? “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”? “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’?

4. What does it say about U.S. society that someone this ignorant of basic culture feels confident going on a nationally televised game show? I think it suggests that not only are too many people ignorant and uneducated, they don’t even know how ignorant and uneducated they are.  Worse yet, it may mean that such people don’t think that there is anything wrong with being ignorant and uneducated.

5. Though Kevin is being widely mocked on social media, I bet there are more adults who wouldn’t be able to solve the puzzle that we would like to think.

6. This is why I started a professional theater company dedicated to producing great American plays that theater companies didn’t produce any more. “A Streetcar Named Desire,” however, was on the list of plays so common, so frequently taught in schools and so well-known that we would never mount them.

Oops.

[I’m still sick, by the way, and have been sleeping most of the day. This story made me sicker.]

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History, U.S. Society

The Neo-Nazi Music Festival

The Southern Poverty Law Center says this is a photo of music loving neo-Nazis. Terrifying.

White nationalists were planning on having a music festival meet-and-greet at the Joppatowne, Maryland Memorial VFW Post 5838 on St Patrick’s Day.  The 11th annual event (yes, there are Nazi music festivals…) was announced on Stormfront.org, and coordinated by Baltimore area far-right record label Label 56, which distributes  skinhead music, CDs, videos, and other white supremacy merchandise.  More about the record label:

Label 56 is the music outlet for a violent neo-Nazi gang called Maryland State “Skinheads” (MDS). MDS head Jason Tankersley, while more involved with their Mixed Martial Arts arm has some organizational input over Label 56 as well. A link for Label 56 appears on the homepages of several other Northeastern racist skinhead groups, including the Keystone State Skinheads, American Thule Society, and the Vinlanders Social Club. Maryland State Skinheads, Keystone United and Supreme White Alliance members are regular attendees.

It’s Going Down ( or IGD) describes itself  as

a media platform for revolutionary anarchist, anti-fascist, and autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. We publish original content alongside anonymous submissions and repost articles from other websites which share our perspectives. We do not and have not called for events. Our news network is made up of friends and comrades across so-called North America whose mission is to uplift and build capacity for a wide range of social struggles by providing news and analysis of when it goes down: riots, strikes, sabotage, occupations, expropriations, rebellion, revolt, insurrection. Whether together or alone – we support liberatory revolt.”

(Liberatory?)

It sent out an alert titled “Shut Down Neo-Nazi Music Fest at VFW Hall”:

This event is indicative of the rise of white supremacism and the growing organizational capacity of the far-Right nationally. The Ku Klux Klan, and specifically the East Coast Knights of the True Invisible Empire, have been distributing flyers locally in Ellicott City, Towson, and Bel Air, and as far away as North Carolina. It is important to oppose the increasing Neo-Nazi presence together. Time is of the essence. The Mid-Atlantic General Defense Committee (GDC) is monitoring developments in Maryland and working with at-risk communities to respond as they emerge. The GDC encourages everyone to get involved in taking an active stance now.

The complaints and threats from IGD and other allied groups were successful in getting the VFW to cancel the event. Continue reading

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The Destruction Of Doug Adler : Guerillas, Gorillas, ESPN And The First Niggardly Principle

The Niggardly Principles apply to situations where a hyper-sensitive and ignorant individual takes an innocent statement as a slur because the individual doesn’t understand its meaning or context.  These are all unforgivable scenarios that reward the foolish and punish the innocent (and articulate). They include the infamous episode in the District of Columbia government when a white executive was disciplined for using the word “niggardly,” ; the time the Los Angeles NAACP attacked Hallmark for an outer space themed “talking greeting card”  that mentioned “black holes,” which the hair-trigger offended (and science education-deprived) heard as “black ‘ho’s.”

Then there were the students at  at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania,  who demanded that the college rename “Lynch Memorial Hall,” named for Dr. Clyde A. Lynch, the LVC’s president during the Depression, because his name evoked lynchings to their tender ears. And who can forget, as much as one would like to, when ESPN suspended sportscaster Max Bretos after an Asian-American activist group complained that he had used the term “a chink in his armor” while talking about an NBA player of Chinese heritage ?

This story is worse than any of them.

ESPN sports announcer Doug Adler was calling an Australian Open tennis match last month between Venus Williams  and Stefanie Voegele when he said,”You see Venus move in and put the guerilla effect on. Charging.” “Guerilla tennis” is a recognized phrase that refers to aggressive tennis. It has nothing to do with Great Apes.

New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg, however, cued by some Twitter social justice warriors, attacked Adler, tweeting himself,

“This is some appalling stuff. Horrifying that the Williams sisters remain subjected to it still in 2017.”

Continue reading

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