Category Archives: U.S. Society

Sorry To Be A Pest, But Yes, It Matters: There Was And Is Nothing Wrong With Casting Charlton Heston As A Mexican D.A.

Quiz: which is obviously unethical? Casting a Scotch-English actor as a Mexican, or casting a Cuban-American as a Sicilian-American?

Pop Quiz: which is obviously unethical? Casting a Scotch-English actor as a Mexican, or casting a Cuban-American as a Sicilian-American?

I was watching Turner Movie Classics over the weekend, and guest Louis Gossett Jr, best known for playing the drill sergeant who makes An Officer And A Gentleman out of jerk Richard Gere, had chosen the Orson Welles cult film “Touch of Evil” for the evening’s viewing. Host Ben Mankiewicz noted that the film, which he agreed was a classic, now causes politically correct eyes—like his and Gossett’s— to roll because Charlton Heston had the role of a Mexican district attorney. Without saying why, both Ben and Lou tut-tutted and agreed that this would never be tolerated today, and the role would obviously be cast with someone like Antonio Bandaras. It was too obvious to decent viewers to explain, I guess.

We have gone over this issue before here, and more than once, but what was special and disturbing about this conversation was that it assumed a new cultural ethics standard as if everyone agrees with it; the previous standard, we now know in our wisdom, was wrong; and now it’s clear what is the right path going forward. This is how mass media, which is pervasive, powerful, and overwhelmingly controlled by none-too-bright and none-too-ethical knee-jerk leftists, accelerates the natural evolution of societal and cultural ethics. When the media sends a united message that an issue is decided, those of slug-like alertness and apathetic mind—and there are a lot of them— will simply absorb the edict without applying critical thought.

Oh…the right thing is to just let anyone who wants to come to this country jump the border. Got it. Oh…guns should be confiscated and banned by the government if it can save one life. Of course. Oh…the minimum wage should be a living wage. How true…

The fact that there is not and should not be cultural consensus on such conclusions because they make no sense logically or ethically will be buried  by sheer repetition and certitude, unless sufficient numbers of people who are paying attention and do not surrender to false authority protest loudly and repeatedly. In a previous post on this topic, I wrote…

“Through the fog of such distortions, the idea of rigid ethnic casting doesn’t seem so crazy, though it is crazy indeed. I regard it my duty as someone who has both professional expertise in ethics and casting to slap down this rotten and indefensible idea every time it raises its repulsive head.”

Thus I am keeping my promise. The principle that Ben and Lou are assuming our society accepts is nonsense. It is also bad ethics. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Race, U.S. Society

As The Fourth Officer Charged In Freddie Gray’s Death Is Correctly Acquitted, What Do African Americans Mean By “Accountable”? [ Partially Restored ]

Lt__Brian_Rice

In Baltimore, Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams acquitted Lt. Brian Rice of all charges  related to Freddie Gray’s arrest and death. As he had with two other officers charged in the case (the trial of the third ended in a hung jury), Judge Williams cleared Rice, ruling that the prosecution hadn’t proved its case. This was the result widely predicted by legal ethics, because it was apparent that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby had rushed the decision to prosecute and proceeded without sufficient investigation or evidence.

Williams said prosecutors failed to meet their burden of proving the charges against Rice beyond a reasonable doubt, and instead had asked  the court to rely on “presumptions or assumptions.” He said that the court “cannot be swayed by sympathy, prejudice or public opinion.”

The result spurred a predictable response from activists.”So far, nobody’s been guilty for this man’s death,” said protester Dornell Brown. “Nobody’s been held accountable. Verdict after verdict after verdict, they’ve been getting off. Who’s gonna be held accountable for that man’s death?”  “This is a man who had chain of command responsibility for Freddie Gray and so he should be held responsible and accountable for what happened to Freddie Gray,” Brian Dolge, another protester said. Protester Arthur Johnson, who has held a sign outside of each of the four trials of the officers  connected with Gray’s death, said,

“It’s just what I and the community expected. You’ve got an individual that interacts with six other individuals over something trivial and that individual ends up dead and we can’t even get reckless endangerment.”

[ NOTICE: This is all I could recover from the original post, which was up, then disappeared when some glitch crashed it with the last Melania post. More than a thousand words followed, and it was, I think, an important post, but I have neither the time nor the heart to try to reconstruct it. So, with apologies, I will summarize the main points

. I also apologize for the comments to that post, which somehow ended up with Melania, where they now make no sense. I had to delete them. Ugh. This has never happened before. I hope it doesn’t happen again., though because I don’t know why it happened at all, that is just a hope.]

In summation:

1. These statements represent a false definition of accountability and justice. The concept appears to be that any time a black citizen dies at the hands of a police officer without incontrovertible  proof that the citizen was threatening the life of the officer with a deadly weapon, accountability mandates criminal charges, a trial, and a conviction. Anything less is not justice or accountability.

2. This is not American justice, and should not be. No charges should be brought without probable cause and sufficient evidence to convict. No conviction should occur unless a fair trial finds an officer guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

3. The version of justice and accountability that black activists are promoting is ancient tribal justice, primitive justice based on “an eye for an eye” and vengeance. Unless blood pays for blood, there has been no accountability.

4.  Disgracefully, States Attorney Marilyn Mosby pandered to this dangerous and retrograde version of  accountability and justice, further entrenching it and validating it in Baltimore and the black community nationally.

5. In fact, there has been accountability for the death of  Gray. Baltimore paid a multi-million dollar settlement to Gray’s family for the acts of the city’s employees resulting in Gray’s demise. It is likely that some of the police officers, perhaps all, will face administrative discipline.

6. Why does the African-American community so widely reject the evolved justice system of modern America? Sociologists can argue about that. I believe it is a result of frustration, history, the problem of living in high crime areas, and confirmation bias. There is also great and dangerous ignorance across all segments of the public regarding how the justice system works, and why. Tribal justice, like gang justice, is simple: one of us has dies, so the killer must be punished. The details don’t matter. It takes no knowledge or understanding of jurisprudence to conclude that if “one of us” is hurt or killed, the responsible party has to suffer.

7. There will be no resolution to the current societal divide  and racial distrust until there is a threshold consensus on what accountability and justice means in this society. What has occurred in the Gray trials is justice. The prosecution failed its burden of proof. African Americans benefit from that standards of justice too.

8. Unless some eminent, trusted, respected, persuasive, and influential black leaders have the courage to confront black activists and make them understand that the versions of accountability and justice they are demonstrating for are destructive, divisive and wrong, the police/black and black/white conflicts will become more bitter.

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

For The Donald Trump Files: Now THIS Is Signature Significance!

trumpence 60 minutes

I confess that I started to watch the Leslie Stahl “60 Minutes” interview with Donald Trump and his newly-named running mate Mike Pence, but I abandoned ship almost immediately. It was too horrible. Watching Trump (I have a similar reaction to watching Hillary) just makes me depressed, furious, and confused. As John Adams sings at the musical climax of 1776, does  anybody see what I see?

Well, I know millions do, but not nearly enough, soon enough. This Republican National Convention is a part of a national tragedy. The only question is how great the tragedy will be.

Now that I have read the transcript, I realize that I bailed shortly before the smokiest smoking gun of the many in the whole interview. This exchange, more than any other in the segment, compels the question to any Trump supporter: How can you possibly want to hire a guy like this to be your leader?  Perhaps it is more appropriate  to pose a different question, to pose it to the staggering party gathering in Cleveland to nominate this fool: How could you allow this to happen?

I wouldn’t hire someone who speaks and reasons like this to work for me in any capacity, however lowly, requiring trust, judgment or intelligence. It is signature significance as a whole, and in its parts. An intelligent, trustworthy, ethical person could never give such an interview, not in private, not in public, certainly not on national TV.

Here is the jaw-dropping exchange; I’ll mark the important sections A-K for exposition: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

The 69th Rationalization: The Patsy’s Rebuke, or “It’s Not My Fault That You’re Stupid!”

Ethics Alarms Rationalization 36 B, The Patsy’s Rebuke, or “It’s not my fault that you’re stupid!”closes a yawning loophole in the Victim Blindness rationalization set on the Ethics Alarms list.

Rationalization #36, Victim Blindness,  holds that a purveyor of unethical conduct should be exonerated if his victim “asked for” mistreatment or should have taken affirmative steps to avoid it, and #36 A, The Extortionist’s Absolution, holds that when there were sufficient warnings that a victim was at risk, that victim can’t complain about results he could have and should have avoided.  The newly minted rationalization, the 69th  on the list overall,  covers the related but distinct situation where deception, fraud or misrepresentation would be “obvious” to a perceptive, intelligent, educated individual, so nobody but the victim of that deception is blameworthy.

This was brought to my attention by a reader who raised the situation where statistics that may be technically accurate are used by activists to confuse, deceive, or mislead people who are either not sufficiently well-trained in math and statistics, or not adept at critical thinking. In this, The Patsy’s Rebuke has a kinship with #29 (a), The Gruber Variation, or “They are too stupid to know what’s good for them.’

Politicians, policy advocates, scientists, academics, lawyers and doctors, among others, all are prone to using 36 B to justify their adoption of deceit and obfuscation to accomplish their ends. Lawyers use jargon to sound authoritative and obscure meaning from laymen. Policy advocates quote statistics to “prove” what the numbers really don’t prove, counting on the inability of the trusting, inattentive, ignorant and gullible to see the flaws as insulation against rebuttal. By the lights of  The Patsy’s Rebuke, for example, making the false assertion that Hillary Clinton is the most experienced Presidential candidate ever can be rationalized by arguing, “Hey, that’s my opinion. I personally think being First Lady counts more than any other experience, and was counting it double. It’s not my fault that you are ignorant of Presidential history and too dumb to know how to google the experience of other candidates. I’m not trying to deceive anyone; I assume my readers are educated and informed.”

That’s a lie, of course. Advocates use statistics, falsity, jargon and ambiguity with the assumption, sadly justified, that most listeners and readers are both overly trusting and lacking in the training and acumen to know when they are being manipulated. If anyone is misled—and the intent is to mislead them— it’s their own fault for being stupid, lazy and ignorant.

It is not, however. Politicians, policy advocates, scientists, academics, lawyers and the rest have an ethical obligation to recognize the abilities of their likely audience (including those who will relay or interpret it, like the news media), and make their meaning as clear, direct and unambiguous as possible.

___________
Pointer: Zoltar Speaks!

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Filed under U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: “Hot As Hell” Bikinis For Toddlers

We haven’t had a good “Icky or Unethical?”  issue for a while. Here is one to start off your week…strangely.

Last weekend, as I’m sure you all know, commenced Miami Swim Week 2016, which runs though July 19. During the  swimwear fashion and trade show (now in its 12th year!), designers, buyers and models from around the world come to Miami Beach to promote the latest in swim wear.

This year, the brand Hot As Hell featured adult-style bathing suits for little girls. Tiny models walked down the runway, strutting their stuff. Often they were accompanied by full grown models wearing similar out fits, like this…

Hot as Hell2

or this…

NINTCHDBPICT000252438834

Many observers were horrified, and  pronounced the bikinis, the line, and the runway display disturbing, child porn, titillation for pederasts, child abuse, and another dangerous step into the societal abyss of sexualizing childhood. Others have responded with “Aw, they’re so cute!”, “Oh, get over it” and “You’re the one with the dirty mind!”

Hmmmm.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz to begin this Republican National Convention Week of Shame is…

Are the kiddie bikinis unethical, or just icky?

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Marketing and Advertising, U.S. Society

Ethics Alarm: In Memphis, Facts Are Now Racist

Infamy. I hope.

Infamy. I hope.

This truly upsetting story is in part about headlines, and I had a hard time deciding on one for the post. It makes my head explode—I am trying out a new Swiffer now—but it really shouldn’t have exploded, considering recent developments. I could name Commercial Appeal’s editor Louis Graham (left) an Ethics Dunce, which he certainly is (in addition to being a fool, a coward, and a disgrace to journalism), but that doesn’t do him justice. I thought about making his editorial apologizing for stating facts in a headline as an Unethical Quote of the Month, but this was worse than a bad quote. This was surrender.

The Memphis, Tennessee newspaper the Commercial Appeal, a Gannett publication, headlined its front page story about the attack on police in Dallas “Gunman targeted whites.” Here it is:

memphiscom headline

Indeed, African-American gunman Micah Xavier Johnson specifically said that his objective was to  kill white police officers. Nonetheless, protestors attacking the paper for publishing a “racist’ headline gathered outside the paper’s office in downtown Memphis last week. Black Lives Matter signs were in evidence.

Commercial Appeal editor Louis Graham met with protesters, and apologized with a front page editorial titled “We got it wrong.” He wrote in part… Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, Race, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society, Workplace

Two Critical Integrity Questions For African-Americans, University Administrators, Democrats, Civil Rights Advocates, Progressives And Social Justice Warriors

Seperate-but-Equal

First question: 

Are you prepared to rationalize this?

From the Wisconsin State Journal:

UW-Madison’s Multicultural Student Center separated attendees by race to discuss a violent week of news that stirred debates about racism and law enforcement, prompting criticism from conservative news outlets that the arrangement amounted to segregation.

Campus officials said the decision to hold separate meetings Monday for white and minority students, faculty and staff was made to ensure people of color had a place to discuss their concerns, and said the rules were not meant to exclude participants.

“No one was turned away from any session,” UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said in a statement.

A post that has since been deleted from the Multicultural Student Center’s Facebook page described the meetings as a place where students and UW employees could emotionally process the prior week, which included fatal police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana, followed by the targeted killing of five police officers in Dallas.

Two of the meetings were for white students and UW employees, according to the post, while two meetings were for people of color.

The Daily Caller, a national conservative news site, wrote about the meetings Monday night, posting a story that included a historic photo of a segregated waiting room sign. The site Right Wisconsin also wrote about the meetings.

McGlone said participants wanted “a space to express feelings without the fear of being judged.”

“Our students of color often find such spaces hard to come by,” McGlone said. “It is a best practice in student affairs to allow quiet and reflective space for those who request it.”

Still, McGlone said, the intent behind the different meetings “could have been communicated more clearly to avoid any impression of exclusion.”

McGlone did not respond to a followup question asking whether the Multicultural Student Center would use a similar structure for meetings in the future…

Here is a handy link to the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List, so those of you choosing to try to justify this have all the necessary arguments in one convenient place..

The second question:

If you are not prepared to rationalize it, do you have the courage and integrity to condemn it?

Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Race, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society