Ethics Observations On The Great Central Park Dog-Walking Controversy

Oh, fine, another one of these.

Isn’t it fun how, thanks to the toxic combination of cell phone cameras and social media, a few minutes of what once would have been an isolated moment of bad judgment and rude behavior is now able to metastasize into a life and career-destroying catastrophe? Do you like that new reality? Awfully brutal and unforgiving, isn’t it?

The episode at hand involved the woman in the video above, Amy Cooper. She was walking her cocker spaniel off leash when  a bird watcher named Christian Cooper—no relation—told her the unleashed dog  violated park rules. When Amy refused to put her dog on a leash, Christian told her he was going to offer her dog a treat because this typically makes owners want to leash their dogs in response. That wasn’t the other Cooper’s response, however. She threatened to call the police and tell them that “an African American man” was threatening her life. She did too, as Christian recorded it all. Later, Christian’s sister, also named Cooper, posted the video, which got 33 million views on Twitter alone, and is now pushing 200 million views on other platforms.

Then, the deluge. Christian appeared on CNN with Don Lemon, where he accused Amy of trying ” to bring death by cop down on [his] head.” She got death threats, which Christian said was wrong, though his accusation would seem to have helped spark them. Amy Cooper, seeing what was coming,  told CNN she regretted calling the police, saying,

“It was unacceptable, and words are just words, but I can’t undo what I did. I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man and his family, I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way.”

Unfortunately for Amy, apologies don’t make a dent in the fervor of social media mobs. Some members of this one, after somehow tracking down her dog-walker,  contacted the Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. where Amy had obtained “Henry” several years ago, and the organization announced on Facebook that she had “voluntarily surrendered” her pet to the organization. “He is safe and in good health,” the group wrote.

Cooper had been a head of insurance portfolio management at Franklin Templeton, but her employer announced that she had been placed on leave while the incident was being investigated. By yesterday afternoon, she had been fired. “Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton,” the company announced.

Now Christian Cooper is having twinges of regret. “It’s a little bit of a frenzy, and I am uncomfortable with that,” he said. “If our goal is to change the underlying factors, I am not sure that this young woman having her life completely torn apart serves that goal.”

He might have considered that before turning the video over to the mob.

Michael Fischer, president of the Central Park Civic Association, decided to pile on—heck, why not?—and issued a statement calling for Amy to be banned from Central Park:

“This disgusting display of intolerance is unacceptable and should never, ever be accepted in the City’s public domain like Central Park.The Central Park Civic Association condemns this behavior and is calling on Mayor de Blasio to impose a lifetime ban on this lady for her deliberate, racial misleading of law enforcement and violating behavioral guidelines set so that all can enjoy our city’s most famous park.”

Let’s all applaud the impeccable virtue of Mr. Fischer, since that’s obviously what he’s after.  I’m sure, if we think creatively, we can think of more ways to punish Amy Cooper beyond destroying her reputation, ending her career and taking away her dog. Make her change her name, move out of the country, have plastic surgery, end up pushing a grocery cart full of junk…after all, she was really horrible to a  stranger for about two minutes. What else? Continue reading

Ethics Dispatches From The Sick Ward, 5/26/2020: Arg! Yechh!

Ugh.

I was supposed to be all better yesterday, and instead I took  a step back.

Sorry.

That photo above is from the last scene in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” after all of the comedians and Spencer Tracy have ended up in the hospital with horrible injuries following  their self-created disaster on an out-of-control fire truck ladder at the supposedly hilarious climax of the Sixties epic chase comedy. The film-makers were very creative in their uses of bandages, casts and traction, but even as a kid, I was struck by how it just isn’t possible to make injuries seem very funny.

1. Since everyone is watching as much TV now as I usually watch routinely, I’ll mention this: have you noticed that several commercials show parents playing pirates with their kids? Did you ever play pirates with your parents? Have you ever seen anyone play at being pirates?

The reason this is being forced on the culture as a thing is that political correctness has robbed kids of almost all fantasy outlets, so someone decided that pirates were safe and inoffensive–especially since Disney had to remove the rapey stuff from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” rides. (Pirates are actually murderous thieves, today as always; what a weird safe haven to choose!)

In “Parasite,” Oscar’s Best Picture last year, the little South Korean son of the wealthy family was obsessed with playing “Indians,” complete with feathered headdress and arrows. I wonder if this feature would have disqualified an American film for cultural insensitivity. American kids can’t be cowboys anymore, since they were genocidal; soldiers are taboo, as are cops and robbers; even space invaders are verboten, since they involve guns. As my friends and I discovered long ago, you can try to play superheroes but they don’t leave you much to work with. Sword and sorcery games, like acting out fairy tales, trip on too many anti-feminist stereotypes.

I wonder what the next generation will turn out to be like, absent any symbolic fantasy villains and conflict to instruct their play. Pirates are not the answer, and again, I doubt any kids are playing pirates like the imaginary families in Bounty commercials. The iconic pirate novel “Treasure Island,” once a standard assignment in grade school, has been purged from the canon—too male, or something.  (It’s still a terrific book.) The other classic with pirates is “Peter Pan,” and that one is in the process of being scrubbed and gender-twisted beyond recognition. There still are Johnny Depp’s weird pirate movies, I guess, though his drunken, bumbling pirate slob anti-hero seems unlikely to inspire normal kids into flights of fantasy.

Our culture just is not in competent hands, and what the end result will be, nobody knows.

2. I’m not sure if this is unethical, exactly, but something’s definitely wrong… Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/22/2020: Well, It’s Morning To ME!

Got out of bed at 2:30 pm.

And going back as soon as I get this post up.

1. For God’s sake Amy, the narrative! Read your talking points!  The sudden front-runner to be Joe Biden’s VP had an opportunity to display some character, but whiffed. During an April 7 interview with CNN’s Michael Smerconish on SiriusXM, Senator Klobuchar was questioned about the controversy surrounding hydroxychloroquine. Klobuchar Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) admitted her husband went from  COVID-related pneumonia that had him  coughing up blood to “one day, he just got better,” after he was treated with hydroxychloroquine. Did the Senator come to the Presidents’ defense thisweek when he was being accused of everything from stupidity to recklessness for taking an FDA approved drug? Of course not.

Too bad. That would make her a real asset to a Biden ticket: a shred of integrity.

2.  Attacking the messenger… Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s response to allegations that he had sought to have an Inspector General fired for investigating Pompeo’s various abuses of his position was to  attack Sen. Bob Menendez.

Pompeo said  that the allegations had been “leaked” to the media by staff members of Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I don’t get my ethics guidance from a man who was criminally prosecuted, a man for whom his Senate colleagues, bipartisan, basically said that he was taking bribes. That’s not someone I look to for ethics guidance,” Pompeo said.

Wow, Talk about a lame deflection. Pompeo should address the allegations against him rather than relying on ad hominem attacks on his critics.

3. From the junk science, hindsight bias files: The New York Times published the results of a study, and reported, “Lockdown Delays Cost at Least 36,000 Lives, Data Show…Even small differences in timing would have prevented the worst exponential growth, which by April had subsumed New York City, New Orleans and other major cities, researchers found.”

[Oops. Couldn’t make it through. Back to bed. I’ll be up after the jump…] Continue reading

OK, “Jane Doe” Was A Lying, Venal, Fick. It Doesn’t Make Abortion Any More Or Less Ethical

In the final 20 minutes of the documentary “AKA Jane Roe,” “Roe,” whose real name was Norma McCorvey, reveals that when she converted to an anti-abortion, born-again ex-gay Christian with the help of leaders of the evangelical Christian right, she was scamming them, us, everybody. Before that stunning reversal, she had been at the center the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, in which the U.S. Supreme court declared that the right to have an abortion was protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“This is my deathbed confession,” she says in the film, sitting in a chair, on oxygen, in her nursing home room , quite evidently pleased with herself. She is asked , “Did [the evangelicals] use you as a trophy?” “Of course,” she replies. “I was the Big Fish.”

“Do you think you would say that you used them?” “Well,” says McCorvey, “I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say. That’s what I’d say.” She even gives an example of her scripted anti-abortion lines. “I’m a good actress,” she points out. “Of course, I’m not acting now.”

Of course.

McCorvey isn’t the first litigant in ground-breaking jurisprudence to change her mind. William J. Murray, the atheist son of activist Madeline Murray O’Hair, who used his complaint about being forced to pray in school to launch the litigation that eventually  got all school prayer in public schools banned as unconstitutional, later became an ardent Christian. This always leads opponents of the decision to respond with “See? SEE?” Continue reading

“What”s Going On Here?” The Polls

Now there’s a poll that you won’t find highlighted in many mainstream media reports. From the Washington Examiner, part of the conservative media:

Despite a wave of critical news coverage and Democratic catcalls, President Trump sits at his “highest” approval in the latest Gallup survey, and above where four of the last six presidents, including Barack Obama and George W. Bush, were at this point of the first term.

…After two weeks of bad news on the coronavirus and economic front, Trump maintained his 49% approval rating, and his disapproval crept up just 1 point, to 48% in the Gallup survey of adults, a broad test.

Gallup said that Trump’s approval is “tied for the best of his presidency.”

…At 49%, Trump is a hair away from the generally accepted 50%-51% approval political experts consider a lock to win reelection. Both Obama and Bush were at 50% approval on their reelection days.

The paper adds that some pollsters attribute Trump’s positive number to “backlash against the media’s coverage of Trump and the coronavirus and the economy.”

Wow! That’s some theory. So they theorize that a lot of Americans not appreciating a cabal of Democrats, members of Congress, the news media and popular culture figures relentlessly attacking, insulting, impugning and accusing the President of the United States and the head and symbol of their nation on any pretext might cause them to rally to the support of their elected leader, whom they recognize is trying to perform a near impossible job when attempted under the best of conditions, never mind when power forces in society are determined to sabotage you. Huh. I never would have thought of that.

Observations: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Friday PM Ethics Discoveries, 5/15/2020: … Reasonable Discrimination Opposed [Item #5]” [Corrected]

The 5th item in yesterday’s Warm-Up sparked a lot of debate, and a number of Comment of the Day candidates (another is on the way.) That was the post about the white police officer suing on the basis of employment discrimination because his superior told him that the community controversy over the police-involved shooting of a black man had made it essential to hire a black police chief.

Here is Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day on Item #5 in “Friday PM Ethics Discoveries, 5/15/2020: A Coup Option On The Way Out, A Narrative Reappears, Trump Tweets, Reasonable Discrimination Opposed, And More}:

You said: The community has a potentially explosive race problem, and hiring O’Toole would exacerbate it. They need a qualified black officer in the job. If that violates the Missouri Human Rights Act as O’Toole’s lawsuit claims, the Act needs to be fixed.

Tools of ethical decision-making: Continue reading

Cemetery Ethics: The German POW Gravestones.

If you encountered that gravestone in a cemetery, would it move you to file a protest? Or to start an advocacy group dedicated to having the marker removed or taken down?

There are two such  gravestones marking the resting places of German prisoners of war in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, and another one is in Fort Douglas Post Cemetery in Salt Lake City. They are located among the graves of American veterans, some of whom fought against Germany in World War II. A retired colonel visiting his Jewish grandfather’s grave at the Texas cemetery saw one of the markers with the swastika symbol,  and his complaint moved  the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which obviously does not have enough on its plate, to demand that the Veterans Administration “do something.”

Apparently in the throes of a strong attack of common sense and possessing functioning ethics alarms, the VA’s National Cemetery Administration has responded to the protest  by stating that it “will continue to preserve these headstones, like every past administration has. All of the headstones date back to the 1940s, when the Army approved the inscriptions in question.”

Mike Weinstein, the founder of the MRFF and a former Air Force officer, deeply feels the pain of having to allow buried soldiers have the emblems of the nations they fought for on their headstones, and is apoplectic about the decision.  “It’s intolerable,”  he said. “This should not require explaining why this is wrong.”

Baseball writer Bill James once wrote that when someone says that that their proposition shouldn’t require explaining, it usually means that they have no valid arguments.

“But..but…” Wienstein sputters, if you translate the German phrase on the the headstones, they read, “HE DIED FAR FROM HOME FOR FUHRER, PEOPLE AND FATHERLAND”! I know I always enjoy translating the foreign languages on headstones over the graves of strangers just in case I can find them offensive. Continue reading