Presenting Rationalization 21A: The Criminal’s Redemption or “It’s Just A Small Part Of What I Am!”

I have to get this one in before I forget.

"See? The bad part is that little light blue section at the top! What are you making a big deal about it for?"

“See? The bad part is that little light blue section at the top! What are you making a big deal about it for?”

In the interest of non-partisanship and fairness, I resisted the temptation to call 21A “The Planned Parenthood Excuse.” It was a close call, for it was a Planned Parenthood debate that made me realize that this rationalization was missing from the list.

Opponents of Planned Parenthood who want to see the organization defunded believe that abortion is morally and ethically wrong. In 2013-2014, Planned Parenthood performed 327,653 abortions. Arguing that this should not cause even abortion opponents to seek to defund the organization, its defenders inevitably argue: “Abortions are just a small part of what Planned Parenthood does.”

The Washington Post’s factchecker examined various claims about what proportion of Planned Parenthood’s activities involve abortions, which misses the ethical point entirely. If abortion is wrong, indeed unnecessary homicide in most cases, then it doesn’t matter what else an organization does in addition to 327,653 abortions, or what proportion of its total activities taking 327,653 innocent human lives is. “Abortions are just a small part of what Planned Parenthood does” is a ridiculous defense, except to those who believe that abortions are nothing to get upset about, and the equivalent of removing a polyp. That is not, however, the perspective of those who oppose abortion, so the argument isn’t an argument at all.

For someone who accepts that abortion is a legal but unnecessary and therefore unethical taking of life, “Abortions are just a small part of what Planned Parenthood does” is a pure rationalization: a lie that makes people feel better about their own wrongdoing, or the wrongdoing of someone else.

In the interests of not getting social policy mixed up with the rationalization, however, we’ll describe the new entry without reference to abortion.

Rationalization 21A. The Criminal’s Redemption, or “It’s Just A Small Part Of What I Am!”

Continue reading


Filed under Character

The Unethical Self-Delusion Of Open-Borders Supporters

She was killed because an illegal immigrant didn't want her to report that he was illegal, but her death had nothing to do with illegal immigration., or the fact that her killer was able to kill her because he was here illegally.

She was killed because an illegal immigrant didn’t want her to report that he was illegal, but her death had nothing to do with illegal immigration or the fact that her murderer was able to kill her because he was here illegally.

The New York Times op-ed headline online is (at least until someone at the Times figures out how damning it is)…

“My Wife’s Killer Was Not an ‘Illegal Immigrant’”

Author Andy Ostroy‘s wife, actress Adrienne Shelley, was murdered by an illegal immigrant, and the fact that the Times thinks this headline is a responsible one speaks volumes to the increasing dishonesty from Democrats and the news media on the issue of illegal immigration.

Ostroy ties himself into logical and ethical pretzels while explaining his kindly open-mindedness over the murder of his wife by “a 19-year-old undocumented Ecuadorean construction worker” who feared she would report him and have him deported. Writes Ostroy:

“Given the anger and grief I still feel, I could easily be seduced by Donald J. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that is the cornerstone of his presidential run. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he said as he began his campaign in 2015. And in these final weeks before the election, rather than tacking to the middle, he seems to be doubling down. “We’ve got some bad hombres,” he said in last week’s debate, referring to immigrants who commit crimes.”

First, Donald Trump’s rhetoric is anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric, not “anti-immigrant.” The intentional blurring of these two very different categories is a strategy of deceit. Any writer who engages in it has marked himself as untrustworthy, and any publication that does the same has also flagged itself as dishonest and biased.  The use of the intentionally vague term “undocumented” immigrant is similarly proof of unethical advocacy. The immigrants at issue are here illegally, hence they are illegal. If they had documentation that they were illegal, they would still be illegal, and if they had documentation that they were legal, that would be additionally illegal, since the documents would necessarily be false. Continue reading


Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

A Brief Follow-Up Note On Pop Culture, “The Walking Dead,” Civility, And Related Matters…

Stay classy, AMC...Chris Hardwick...America...

Stay classy, AMC…Chris Hardwick…America…

Last night, at exactly 11:02 PM EST AMC’s “Talking Dead”  host Chris Hardwick had his live audience scream out in unison “Suck my nuts!,”  a quote from the just completed premier episode of  the seventh season of “The Walking Dead, apparently the most popular TV show right now. This occurred slightly after an animated discussion about an actor having to cope with a tick on his penis, or a “dick tick” according to Hardwick (to BIG laughs).

Boy, that Donald Trump sure is vulgar when he doesn’t know he’s being recorded…

I am reasonably confident that this cheery gutter level discourse would have been deemed unacceptable as recently as last year. This is how fast basic levels of decency, restraint and civility are declining, although I give AMC credit for not having another “Flip another man’s meat”commercial during the breaks: maybe that’s just for baseball games.

I eagerly anticipate the explanations of why this nosedive in public decorum is unrelated to having a Presidential candidate talk at length about his penis size (I didn’t intend to have it come out that way, but hell, I’ll leave it; it’s 2016, man!) during Republican debates (you know, the conservative, family values party).

Heck, why not? Here’s that link again.

You see?

Just the campaign was enough…


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Why The World Doesn’t Work: The Case Of Jackie Kennedy’s Chef

hustebookThe world doesn’t work, and Ethics is always struggling to avoid losing ground. I collect stories that show why this is. Here is one from the obituary page, the saga of  the departed Annemarie Huste, who was Jacqueline Kennedy’s private chef.

In 1966, the former First Lady moved to New York from Washington, D.C., and in need of a private chef—rich person, you know— hired Huste, a young German immigrant whose previous employer, theater impresario Billy Rose (of “Jumbo” fame!), who had just died, rendering her skills superfluous. Huste did the job to Mrs. Kennedy’s satisfaction,  feeding the occasional hoards of family members who came to visit,  accompanying the Jackie, Caroline and John-John to the Kennedy compound Hyannis Port,  in the summers and playing with the children of JFK.

Then, in 1968, Weight Watchers Magazine approached her about cooperating in a feature called “Jackie Kennedy’s Gourmet Chef Presents Her Weight Watchers Recipes.” Huste dished about Jackie’s diets and dress sizes in the article, never asking for her famous employer’s permission or consent. Jackie Kennedy was horrified, and even tried to stop publication, something the Kennedy family was and is very good at. This time, it didn’t work.

A few weeks later,  Huste gave an interview to Maxine Cheshire, then the “beautiful people” gossip columnist for The Washington Post and syndicated nationally. In return for  inside-the-Kennedy-home details, Cheshire made Huste sound like the coming star of gourmet cookery, hinting that a television show, a cookbook, wealth and fame were just around the corner. What was really around the corner was unemployment: Jackie fired Annemarie Huste, who deserved it. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, History, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

Note To The Over-Forty Crowd: The Obligation To Be Culturally Literate Has No Age Limit, And The Duty To Be Aware Is Forever

ignoranceIn the Washington Post’s weekly crank section “Free For All,” a reader chastised the paper for not quoting more extensively from Bob Dylan’s works in its piece about his Nobel Prize, writing:

“It may come as a shock to the young people who now write and edit the paper, but there are many of us who are not familiar with the lyrics of “popular” music.”

Granted, in respect to Dylan, the complaint makes no sense. “Blowin’ in the Wind” was written in 1963; I’d expect “young people” to be more unfamiliar with Dylan than seniors. How old IS this guy? Still, the letter raised a crucial ethics point related to life competence, an ethical obligation for all of us. Being willfully ignorant of current popular culture is as much of an ethical lapse, and as great a threat to societal cohesion, as young people not bothering to learn about “Moby-Dick,” minstrel shows, Will Rogers, Stephen Foster, Babe Ruth, Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire or Lee Harvey Oswald.

In 1987, University of Virginia English professor  E.D. Hirsch wrote “Cultural Literacy,” making the argument that nations require common cultural reference points for generations to communicate with each other. He argued—correctly— that teaching this cultural vocabulary was a primary duty of the schools, in part because cultural literacy is an inextricable element of individual autonomy and power. Since then, the problem of the fracturing of society and the breakdown in communications between segments of the population has worsened considerably, its deterioration propelled by the loss of common information sources and the rise of the internet. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Citizenship, Education, History, Literature, Popular Culture, The Internet, U.S. Society

Along With All The Other Critical Issues Ignored In This Presidential Campaign, What Completely Neglected Crime Robs American Consumers Of An Estimated $25 billion A Year?


Why it’s fish fraud, of course!

Ethics Alarms covered the problem way back in 2011, in a post called “Getting Scrod in Boston: The Ravages of Seafood Fraud. I just checked: almost nobody has read it, and those who have almost certainly have 1) forgotten about it and 2) been ripped off buying seafood since.

Now the guys at “Stuff You Should Know” have done an excellent  podcast about the issue. It really is infuriating that with all the regulations we pay for, and all the attention the government focuses on fads, politically correct crusades (how many Americans are affected by limitations on which public rest rooms can be openly used by transgender citizens?) , and out-and-out trivia, something like this goes not only unaddressed by officials, but ignored as well. The news media, meanwhile, would rather use its limited daily space to tell us how Stephen Colbert just skewered Donald Trump last night than to warn us about our pockets being picked.

Well, not me: I almost never buy seafood unless it’s raw oysters, whole shrimp or crab,  and if I’m in New England, Ipswich clams and lobster, all hard to fake. Continue reading


Filed under Animals, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising

Gee, I Wonder Why Republican Voters Might Worry About The Election Being “Fixed”? It’s A Mystery!


It began with this story: A Wikileaks leaked email, from Donna Brazile to the Clinton campaign, started with the subject line “From time to time I get the questions in advance.” Brazile, then vice chair of the DNC and a CNN and ABC contributor, included a question that was later asked of Hillary Clinton at a subsequent CNN “town hall,” word for word.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper, probably the closest thing to a fair and ethical journalist that exists in the current broadcast media, told an interviewer regarding the episode in part,

It’s a very, very troubling… look, I have tremendous regard for Donna Brazile. She’s a good person and a nice person and I like her a lot but whatever took place here… and I know I had nothing to do with it… and I know CNN, we were so closely guarding our documents… they weren’t emailed around….It’s horrifying.  Journalistically it’s horrifying and I’m sure it will have an impact on partnering with this organization in the future and I’m sure it will have an effect on… Donna Brazile is no longer with CNN because she’s with the DNC right now, but I’m sure it will have some impact on Donna Brazille.,,People at CNN take this very, very seriously and to have somebody who does not take it seriously and to have us partner with that person and then they do something completely unethical and share it with Donna Brazile who then shares it with the Clinton campaign… it’s horrifying and very, very upsetting and I can’t condemn it any more than… I condemn it in no uncertain terms, it’s awful.

Democratic operatives using their chummy, insider relationships with alleged legitimate news organizations to assist their candidates with undisclosed, under the table, tips? Who wouldn’t call that awful? Well, interestingly, most of the rest of the mainstream, Hillary-recruited media, which has mostly left this story to  Fox, the Daily Caller, and “conservative media” while suggesting that the e-mail from Wikileaks was somehow fake.

Enter Megyn Kelly on Fox, who was persistent in trying get Brazile to give an explanation in an interview. What she got instead was incredibly guilty-sounding evasion and Authentic Frontier Gibberish: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump