Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/4/2019: Mass Shootings, Teddy’s Grace, Skaters’ Peril, California’s Cheat

“Never on a Sunday” just doesn’t apply to the ethics biz.

Historical note: in 1960, the English language version of the title song from the hist Greek comedy “Never on a Sunday” was constantly on the radio. My friends were singing it; the song won the Oscar for Best Song. Nobody seemed to mind, or bothered to tell all the kids singing the cheerful earworm, that the song was about a prostitute who wouldn’t accept payment to be boinked on a Sunday. The translated song’s word “kiss” was a euphemism.

1. That bastion of ethics, California! Senator Kamala Harris has come under fire for pursuing aggressive prosecution policies while California Attorney General, in stark contrast to he campaign rhetoric regarding mass incarceration of minorities.  Now the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has removed many of the more controversial arrest records during her term in office. from the  Washington Free Beacon:

The department removed public access to a number of reports on incarceration in the state, including when presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D.) was California’s attorney general. Twice a year, the CDCR releases information about the number of new individuals incarcerated in the California prison system as part of its “Offender Data Points” series. These reports provide important information on demographics, sentence length, offense type, and other figures relevant to criminal justice and incarceration.Until recently, these reports were publicly available at the CDCR’s websiteA search using archive.org’s Wayback Machine reveals that as of April 25, 2019—the most recent indexed date—ODP reports were available dating back to the spring of 2009. As of August 2019, the same web page now serves only a single ODP report, the one for Spring 2019. The pre-2019 reports have been removed….the reports contain information about Harris’s entire time as state A.G., 2011 to 2017.

As John Travolta memorably says in “Face-Off”: “What a coinky-dink!”

Is this a partisan abuse of power designed to keep information away from the public and the media in support of favored candidate? It is. An ethical recipient of this assistance would condemn it and demand the State records be restored.  In this case, however, it would be more in character for Harris to have requested the purge.

2. Another shooting, another misleading stat. Today’s shooting in Dayton, coming right on top of last week’s El Paso Walmart massacre, has revived the “mass shooting a day” trope that was used repeatedly in 2018. Thus USA Today wrote today that there have been 250 “mass shootings” in 216 days this year. That’s deliberately misleading and deceitful.

The trick seems to be based on the non-partisan Mass Shooting Tracker, which uses the definition of “mass shooting” that includes any time four or more individuals are shot, excluding the shooter. Thus the number is inflated with gang shoot-outs, domestic violence, and incidents like this one, from a high-crime section of President Trump’s favorite city, Baltimore, last month:

“Police responded to a triple shooting in Northwest Baltimore late Saturday that left two males with serious injuries. Shortly before 10:30 p.m., police were dispatched to the 2800 block of Boarman Avenue for a shooting. They found three males with gunshot wounds. One victim was shot in the leg, an injury that was not life-threatening.”

Do you think of the Gunfight at the OK Corral as a mass shooting?  It was by the USA Today standard, though only three men were killed. Two of the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday were shot, so it was a “mass shooting.”

When media outlets and politicians point to a true mass shooting like the one in El Paso, where 20 died and many were wounded by a madman, and say “this is the 250th Mass shooting this year,” that sounds like “we have had 250 shootings like this in 2019.”

And that’s what you are supposed to think. All the better to scare you into giving up your right to personal protection.

3. Teddy Roosevelt and “Mr. Dooley.” In Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “The Bully Pulpit,” she tells the story of how Finley Peter Dunne, the social critic, pundit and humorist who wrote in the voice of the fictional Irish barfly, “Mr. Dooley,” wrote a scathing review of then New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt’s account of his exploits in the Spanish American War, “The Rough Riders.” Dunne mocked Teddy as representing the war as a virtual one-man triumph, and suggested that the book would be better titled, “Alone in Cuba.”

Roosevelt wrote him soon after, saying, “I regret to state that my family and intimate friends are delighted with your review of my book. Now I think you owe me one; and I shall expect that when you next come east you pay me a visit. I have long wanted the chance of making your acquaintance.” They eventually met at the Republican Convention in 1900, and Roosevelt handed him a news scoop:  he would accept the nomination as President McKinley’s running mate.

They remained friends and correspondents even though Dunne, as Dooley, continued to lampoon Teddy. Dunne wrote later, “I never knew a man with a keener humor or one who could take a joke on himself with better grace.”

This is the mark of both a secure and a wise leader, as well as one with a sense of humor and proportion. We have had few such leaders, and fewer such Presidents. Imagine how much better off President Trump would be if he had treated critics like Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee the way Teddy treated Dunne.  Imagine how much better off we all would be.

4. What? Young female athletes handed off by their parents to adult coaches and into unsupervised interaction with older male athletes are often sexually abused? How could that be?  Three-time United States skating champion and Olympic meal winner Ashley Wagner said  this week  John Coughlin, a male figure skater who commited suicide in January,  had sexually assaulted her when she was 17. (Wagner is  28 now.) Writes the Times, “The accusations have further raised concerns that the dynamics of figure skating feed a culture in which young women are all too vulnerable.”

Gee, ya think? It is, has been and will always be irresponsible parenting to send young athletes out of parental oversight into the clutches of strangers because the parents lust for vicarious fame and direct fortune.  At best, even if they avoid the molestation that is too common to ignore, they have been deposited into an unhealthy life path. Today’s Times recounts the story of how young Natalie Wood, being showcased to Hollywood studios by her aggressive stage-mother, was raped twice at an audition when she was 16. Her mother never reported it, lest Natalie be blackballed by the many Harvey Weinsteins in the industry. Women’s sports are no different.

As child star activist Paul Petersen wrote in the only guest post ever to appear here,

“In the Common Law, children are the property of their parents who, in law, “are entitled to the custody, income and services” of the child. The presumption is that parents will not willfully take advantage of their child’s vulnerability, and their inability to disobey. Sadly, the reality faced by children in today’s world is at odds with this presumption.”

This is a much a child endangerment problem as a sexual predator problem.

 

And Championing Racial Double Standards Can Be Expensive As Well As Wrong: Ask Oberlin

Oberlin College deliberately set out to  destroy a local bakery for insisting that laws apply to black college students.  Now, in the case of Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College, a jury has awarded 11 million dollars in damages to the bakery owners, and punitive damages might up the award to over 30 million.

Good. Very good. Spectacularly good.

Ethics Alarms first wrote about this awful story here. A precis:

On November 9, 2016—probably not coincidentally the day after Donald Trump was elected, throwing ultra-liberal schools like Oberlin into a ludicrously extended period of irrational fear and loathing—Jonathan Aladin, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone were caught stealing bottles of wine from Gibson’s Bakery, a small family-owned establishment with a contract with Oberlin . As they have been duly trained by our culture, the students played the race card, initially claiming the shop had racially profiled them, and that their only misdeed was presenting  fake IDs. When that wasn’t working, the three admitted their guilt and also signed statements that the store was innocent of any race-related bias. It also appears that the students punched and kicked the shopkeeper. … (Here is the police incident report.) 

The day after the arrests, hundreds of students protested outside the bakery, and Oberlin’s student senate published a resolution saying Gibson’s had “a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment.” The Oberlin police conducted an investigation into the arrests and found “a complete lack of evidence of racism.” Over a five-year period, the bakery had pursued charges against 40 shoplifters, and only six were African-American.

…The owner met with then-Oberlin President Marvin Krislov and Tita Reed, assistant to the president, and they  pressured him to drop criminal charges against the three students and any future student-thieves who were first time offenders. When he did not agree, the complaint alleges, the school made good on its threat and dropped its decade’s long contract with the bakery. …  Meredith Raimondo, vice president and dean of students, joined students and members of the school faculty in campus demonstrations against the bakery, distributing a flyer that accused Gibson’s Bakery of being a “RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”  A boycott of the business was organized, and according to the complaint, facilitated by the school. College tour guides reportedly informed prospective students that Gibson’s is racist. …

The Ethics Alarms post listed the probable factors at work: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Drill, 5/7/19: Unethical Headlines, A Missing Coffee Cup, And A Comment Of The Day

A morning that begins with a trip to the dentist and a referral to an oral surgeon can’t be good. Sorry.

And now I see that without warning or explanation, WordPress has removed its spellcheck feature. I’m sure those of you who are sick of my typos will appreciate THAT…

1. Stop making me defend Anderson Cooper, sort of! Here’s a cheap shot Fox News headline:

Anderson Cooper denies he’s ‘on the left,’ then rips Trump for tweeting about Kentucky Derby

Well, I’m also not on “the left” (Cooper is, of course), and I’m going to rip the President for tweeting his opinion on the Kentucky Derby, without even getting into the fact that his opinion was ill-informed and stupid.

As I wrote more than once during the Obama administration, the President is not the national arbiter of everything, and should keep his opinion to himself unless it directly and clearly involves the national interest. President Obama had a proclivity for injecting himself into controversies large and small, from the Trayvon Martin shooting to picking brackets for the NCAA college basketball tournament.  I wrote in this post,

This can no longer be called a rookie mistake, like the Prof. Gates arrest affair. President Obama has now had plenty of time to absorb the fact that the President does not have a blank check to insert himself into every local controversy and use his office to sway public opinion and the conduct of others regarding matters outside his responsibilities. Still, he continues to do it. It may seem trivial at first: the President gave an interview on TNT in which he pointedly suggested that NBA superstar LeBron James consider the Chicago Bulls as he faces free agency.  After weighing in on the most important things for James to seek from his current team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, if he was going to stay there, the President said, “You know, like I said, I don’t want to meddle. I will say this: (Derrick) Rose, Joakim Noah it’s a pretty good core. You know, you could see LeBron fitting in pretty well there.”

Now, I don’t care what Cooper thinks of Trump’s meddling in matters that don’t concern him if the CNN anchor didn’t have the integrity to knock Obama for doing the same thing, and repeatedly. Still, Anderson was on the right track—finally—to say, as he did,

“The president of the United States seems to have a lot of time on his hands And he can’t even stand some horses getting uninterrupted airtime. He’s got to be a part of every frickin news cycle. He can’t help himself!”

(I guess “frickin” is now considered professional lexicon at CNN. Stay classy, Anderson!)

Less defensible was this comment: Continue reading

No, Ann, The Fact That The Accusation Against Joe Biden Was a “Hit” Doesn’t Mean It Wasn’t Necessary And Right.

Ann Althouse has fallen into the Biden harassment rationalization trap.

How disappointing.

She writes,

“I’m not a Joe Biden fan. I thought he was loathsome in the 2012 VP debate with Paul Ryan (live-blogged here (“Ryan is speaking earnestly about preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and Biden is chuckling toothily, his body shaking like Santa Claus”)). And I’m a longtime opponent of sexual harassment (and kept true to the position even when Bill Clinton, the first person I ever voted for for President who won, got accused of it). But this hit job has made me sympathetic to Joe. I’m surprised how distinct and strong my emotional reaction is.”

So am I.

As regular readers here know, Althouse is one of my most quoted commentators here, because she is objective and usually perceptive.  Her mistake in sympathizing with Biden, however, betrays some kind of ethical blind spot. This is the common confusion of motive with conduct.  If the conduct is objectively ethical, then the fact that there may be less than ethical motives behind it doesn’t change anything about the ethics verdict. No doubt about it, the first of the accusations against Biden for sexual harassment and misconduct (There have been more since ) came from a Bernie devotee, and was, as Ann says, a political hit. Continue reading

On Biden And Sexual Harassment, The Left, As Always, Is Hypocritical, But The Right, As Usual, Is Stupid

Ah, the good old days, when men were men and in charge, and women knew they were there to hug…

The question of the ages is, which is worse?

It’s a close call, but I vote for the conservative side.

It is true, transparent and pretty embarrassing (I hope) that so many progressives, the Walking Woke, and even feminists are tying their own brains and ours into knots by trying to defend Obama’s long-time happy-go-lucky serial toucher/ hugger/ kisser/ sniffer, nuzzler and groper. We’ve seen this integrity vacuum from them before, as when Gloria Steinem, after successfully selling the undeniable concept that when a man has superior power over a woman, that woman cannot meaningfully consent to being mauled (with love, of course) in the workplace or even boinked after-hours, changed her position so Bill Clinton could escape the consequences of his own sleazy and illegal behavior.

The hypocrisy,is especially egregious now, as I already discussed, because sexual harassment law has been around for over 30 years, because we are two decades past Monica Madness, because Al Franken is watching old Saturday Night Live videos somewhere in Minnesota, and because #MeToo was supposed to have made sure that America “got it.” How is the world can Biden pretend that this doesn’t apply to him? In a 2017 appearance at George Mason University, he defended the Obama “guilty until proven innocent” approach to campus sexual assault allegations, saying: “Guys, a woman who is dead drunk cannot consent — you are raping her! We’ve got to talk about this. Consent requires affirmative consent! . . . If you can’t get her to say ‘yes’ because she wants to, you ain’t much.” And Joe, a woman who is within feel-up distance of a Senator or Vice-President can’t give affirmative consent to touching, hugging, kissing, sniffing, nuzzling and groping, either. This isn’t hard. Continue reading

The Absurd Media, Feminist And Progressive Hypocrisy Regarding Joe Biden’s Sexual Misconduct, PART II: “The View” Weighs In

(Part I is here.)

Some additional observations:

  • Jazz Shaw and other conservative pundits are writing that Joe’s handsy act “isn’t sexual harassment.” Wrong. If it was unwelcome, it was sexual harassment, and even if it wasn’t and made others in Joe’s workplace proximity uncomfortable, that was “third party” sexual harassment. To his credit, CNN’s Jake Tapper reached down deep and accessed his recently slumbering common sense and integrity to correctly point out that  other men who behave in the same way would get “reprimanded” or “potentially even fired” from their jobs.
  • Shaw and others are also harping on the timing of the harassment allegations. Are they politically motivated? Sure they are, just as Anita Hill’s sudden realization that she had been harassed after more than a decade was politically motivated; just as the sudden appearance of women claiming Donald Trump harassed them coincidentally occurred while he was running for President. In a word—well, two—so what? Biden belongs to a party that has taken a strict liability, no-tolerance, “believe all women” stance following the #Me Too eruption. He knew it, and progressives with eyes knew that Biden was a serial toucher/hugger/groper/nuzzler/sniffer/fondler. Given their professed position, it was hypocritical that Joe got away with his Dirty Uncle bit for so long, and arrogant (or stupid—it’s Biden, remember) that he thought he could get away with it forever.
  • My head had a  serious aftershock when the enabler and apologists for Joe settled on the “that’s just the way he is”; “he doesn’t mean anything by it”, and “he’s a decent man” talking points.

KABOOM!

See, there’s another one; even writing about this is dangerous.

If “that’s just the way he is,” then what he is is a serial sexual harasser. “He didn’t mean anything by it” has been a lamer than  lame rationalization for misconduct and criminal activity since the Madison administration, usually to excuse the mentally challenged. Finally, if he keeps fondling/touching/sniffing/nuzzling/ and kissing when all of his political kith are shouting to the skies about men being sexual predators, he’s not decent. Like the late George H.W. Bush, who told young women with his grasp that his favorite magician was “David Cop-a-Feel,” he’s willing to use his position and status to abuse women. Continue reading

The Absurd Media, Feminist And Progressive Hypocrisy Regarding Joe Biden’s Sexual Misconduct, PART I: Why My Head Exploded

 

 

 

And by the way, KABOOM! This made my head explode.

Fans and supporters of Joe Biden were shocked–SHOCKED!–that anyone would accuse nice old Joe of non-consensual sexual touching and sexual harassment. Conservatives aren’t any better: so eager are they to discredit the whole concept of “believe all women” and sexual harassment  —ah, for those good old days when bosses could chase their comely secretaries around the desk, secure in the knowledge that Miss Buxley would regard it as good clean fun and part of her job!—that they are making idiotic comparisons between the unethical Democratic smearing of Brett Kavanaugh and what has befallen Biden. There is no comparison. The accusations against Kavanaugh was based on uncorroborated, decades old alleged conduct while he was a high school student; the two accusations (so far) against Biden are workplace-related, took place not only when he was an adult but when he was Vice-President.

How can anyone be shocked, or even surprised, much less indignant? Biden has been engaging in unconsented to touching, kissing, and groping of women repeatedly, for decades, in front of cameras. Who knows what Biden has done when no photographers were around? He has corroborated the accusations against him all by himself.

There is no excuse for this. Biden isn’t deaf, dumb and blind; he knows about sexual harassment, and how it works. He’s been given a pass by his party, its supposedly victim-sensitive supporters, and the news media, just like Bill Clinton was for so long, but that doesn’t mean he can’t read. Nor is there any excuse for the Democrats and progressives who are lining up to defend Biden for what is, at this point, indefensible.

The utter idiocy of the Left exclaiming “Sexual harassment? What sexual harassment?” after Weinstein, Lauer, Keiller, Lasseter, Kozinski, Levine, O’Reilly, Ailes, Franken, Singer, Moonves, Farenthold, Conyers, Rose, and so, so many others is hard to overstate. Some of these individuals engaged in far worse conduct than Biden, but some engaged in very similar conduct. We have been talking about #MeToo for more than a year; sexual harassment law has been out there for decades, and what Biden did, and does, was a textbook no-no then. Continue reading