Tag Archives: accountability

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/27/18: On Bullies, Dogs, Signs, Cheats, And The Worst WWII Movie Ever

Good morning.

1. BOY, is that a lazy and inaccurate movie! As usual, they are playing every war movie they can dig up on Memorial Day weekend. I just watched the tail end of  “The Battle of the Bulge,” the 1965 Cinerama Hollywood portrayal of the decisive 1944 WWII battle in the Ardennes that reminds me of my dad, buried in Arlington National Cemetery, more than any other war film, and not because it was in that battle that my father earned his Silver Star. No, the film reminds me of Dad because he hated it so much. He regarded it as an insult to the veterans who fought the battle, and  a cretinous distortion of history in every way. His name for the movie was “How Henry Fonda Won the Second World War.”

The most striking of the endless misrepresentations in the movie is the absence of snow. The battle’s major feature was that it was fought in freezing, winter conditions, on snow covered terrain sometimes up to two feet deep. Some battle scenes are shown being fought on flat and bare plain, about as distinct from the mountainous, thickly forested territory where the actual battle took place as one could imagine. My father also started complaining during the film, loudly, about the use of modern American tanks to portray the German Tiger tanks.

Former President (and, of course, former Allied Commander) Eisenhower came out of retirement to hold a press conference to denouncing “The Battle of the Bulge” for  its gross  inaccuracies. THAT made my father happy.

2. Funny! But…no, it’s just funny. Scott Campbell, the owner of the Pell City Fitness gym in Pell City, Alabama,  put up a sign that says “tired of being fat and ugly? Just be ugly!” City officials told him to take down the sign or be fined, saying it is too big and needs a permit, but other business owners told the local news media that they have never heard of the ordinance the city is citing being enforced. The suspicion is that Campbell is being singled out because some have complained that the sign is “insensitive.” No, it’s just funny…

This is the ethical problem with excessively restrictive laws, rules and regulations that are not consistently enforced. Prosecution can be used for ideological and partisan discrimination. Not only is the sign benign, it is not even original: that same language is on fitness company ads all over the country. So far, it looks like the community is supporting Pell and that the city will back down, but this is Alabama. Call me pessimistic, but I doubt the sign would be allowed to stand for long in Washington State or California if an ordinance could be found to justify pulling it down.

The First Amendment dies in increments. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, War and the Military, Workplace

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/21/18: Comments, Clarkson, Bitter Hillary, And Weiner Dogs Amuck

Good morning, all.

1. Housekeeping note: Some commenters are expressing displeasure that I suspended a regular participant here following what I consider to be excessively disrespectful discourse toward me. Well. when they try moderating an ethics blog read by educated, passionate and verbally adept people for nine years, I’ll pay more attention to that displeaure. The task is much like that of a lion-tamer in the circus: as I learned when I read the autobiography of one who survived until retirement, the big cats growling is fine, and even the occasional swipe for show is tolerable, but when they start being disrespectful, you either show who’s boss quick or you get gang-mauled and eaten.

In about two weeks, I have to fly to Boston—on my own dime, of course— to ask a judge to dismiss a $100,000 defamation lawsuit from a banned commenter here. Am I bit inclined to be less than charitable to rude commenter outbursts aimed at me right now? Yes. The matter at issue right now involved flat-out, unambiguous personal mockery and derision, and the Comment Policies, accessible for years on the link above, specifically designate “6) Mockery without substance”  as commentary conduct that is not appreciated, , and also notes that a commenter risks be discipline for “…Insulting me, in particular by questioning my integrity, honesty, objectivity, intentions, motives, qualifications, or credentials.”

The commenter who was suspended can return to the wars at any time he chooses, after offering an acceptable apology.

2. Breaking my vow already…to eschew writing about the aftermath of the latest school shooting, I have to mention that Lelly Clarkson’s emotional speech at last night’s Billborad awards was played this morning on CNN and Headline News—and I assume elsewhere—as if she actually was saying something of substance. She wasn’t:

Is the news media going to keep on trying to steer a policy debate with complex social, legal, constitutional, cultural and practical factors into this emotion-flooded, intellectually useless dead end? Apparently so. I’m sure Kelly is sincere, but “moment of action” is nothing but another way of saying “do something,” which itself is just another form of screaming at the sky. What action, Kelly? Unless you make a relevant proposal that addresses the event you are crying about, your statement is worse than useless.

We should not keep pandering to this invitation to turn off our brains regarding guns, yet that is what the news media is actively campaigning for us to do.  They are irresponsible to do this.

But we knew that. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Quotes, Rights

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/21/2018, Part I: More On The Parkland Bullies

Good Morning!

1 Doubling down on the Parkland thugs. I was chided yesterday when I wrote of this posed picture of the puppet Parkland student anti-gun hysterics…

...”They look like potential home invaders: if I see kids with those expressions hanging around my property, I’m getting a gun.”   The commenter, who usually is more circumspect, deliberately misconstrued my clear implication that I would buy said gun to protect home and hearth from the threatened home invaders and invaders, should it ever come to that, not these specific children, obnoxious as they are. But this is the current MO of anti-gun, pro-citizen disarming activist: they create distortion and confusion while simultaneously demonizing their opponents. Those five, sullen, vaguely threatening teens above are especially good at it.

The photo itself is visual bullying. It mimics the bad-boy thug-vibes of various hip-hop and punk rock groups who use promotional photos to show they defy authority, hate people with real jobs and would stomp on your face if they had a chance. Photos like this, for example…

…of the band Limp Bizkit, and no, I don’t want to anyone looking like them lurking in my neighborhood either. These expressions and postures are menacing and intended to be, as is most of the rhetoric from David Hogg (the one with the “I’m about to kill you” glare in the center of the Time photo) and his fellowship. Notwithstanding the cynical and transparent packaging of the Parkland students, it is way past time for adults and those interested in serious policy debate to pronounce these over-their-heads baby demogogues for what they are now: media created monsters, funded and trained to carry a calculated anti-Second Amendment message in uncivil and dishonest terms that no adult could get away with.

It isn’t surprising that they are embracing their celebrity–most people embrace sudden celebrity, kids most of all—even though they are both being exploited, and exploiting themselves, in their case, the tragic deaths of their classmates. They have been led to believe that they are consequence-proof, like the bespectacled kid who harasses and annoys bigger children is “punch-in-the face” proof, because it’s taboo to  hit someone with glasses. The Hogg Bullies can call elected officials corrupt, and murderers, and fools, proclaiming fake statistics and fearmongering at Defcon 5 levels, but if someone responds with the sharp rebukes such irresponsible discourse usually requires, he or she is told, in shock, ‘How dare you! These are grieving children!’

No, they are not. Not any more. They are full-fledged monsters engineered by the Left to distort civic discourse and policy debate regarding gun policy, allowing anti-gun zealots to bypass facts and law to go straight to mainlining fear and emotion into public consciousness. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Childhood and children, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Preface: On The Comments Of The Day Regarding “Unethical Website Of The Month, “March For Our Lives” Edition: Change.Org”

The recent post on the incredibly annoying Change.Org petition backing the “March For Our Lives’ sparked two epic Comments of the Day. I am gratified. That idiotic petition was signed by one of my favorite people alive, and this both inspired the post and made me depressed even before my left-wing Facebook friends started making one terrible argument after another in defense of the thing. (Not  a word from the signee. I have a feeling she was so moved by her two teenagers, even though she knows better. I hope that is the excuse. Creeping dementia would be the only other explanation.)

This is a strange issue: the ethics really orbit around tangential matters rather than the alleged controversy itself. The Second Amendment isn’t going anywhere, no matter how loud the screams are or how many demonstrations there are. As is often noted on Ethics Alarms, I am not interested in abstract ethics without real life consequences; indeed, ethical formulas that only work in theory aren’t ethical. To me, the ethics issues following the Parkland shooting are,

  • The cynical exploitation of the children by the Left
  • The equally cynical, and unwise, hesitation to hold them accountable for their worse excesses in rhetoric
  • The recycling of bad statistics and demonstrably (and demonstrated) bad arguments that have been used before to mislead and frighten the public, and
  • The unethical cheerleading  for the anti-gun position by the news media and pundits.
  • The unusually vivid disconnect between the actual facts of the Parkland shooting and the measures being “demanded” in its wake.

The fake controversy—Should the United States allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves with reasonably state-of-the-art firearms for whatever lawful purposes they decide are necessary and to the extent those citizens feel necessary?—isn’t on the table. This is the United States of America, and that question was answered long, long ago. As long as it is the United States of America, the answer will be the same. Those sufficiently unwilling to accept that fact really are well-advised to consider Australia. I don’t say this as a “Love it or Leave it” rebuke. I’m sorry such people don’t like the basic values and culture of the country, but I would have a similar suggestion for a friend who is determined to keep protesting that the U.S. should make its national language Danish, except, of course, then I would recommend repatriation to Denmark.

The two comments will follow now in successive posts without further musings by me…

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/16/2018: First They Came For Wonder Woman….[CORRECTED and UPDATED]

Good Morning

… to end a frantic ethics week…

(An unusual number of the items this morning deserve a free-standing post. I’m not sure what to do about that; it’s been happening a lot lately.)

1 Not fake news, just a false news story that everyone ran with...Oops. All the angry condemnations of new CIA director designate Gina Haspel and President Trump (for nominating her, along with existing) were based on a mistake. From ProPublica:

On Feb. 22, 2017, ProPublica published a story that inaccurately described Gina Haspel’s role in the treatment of Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaida leader who was imprisoned by the CIA at a secret “black site” in Thailand in 2002. The story said that Haspel, a career CIA officer who President Trump has nominated to be the next director of central intelligence, oversaw the clandestine base where Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding and other coercive interrogation methods that are widely seen as torture. The story also said she mocked the prisoner’s suffering in a private conversation. Neither of these assertions is correct and we retract them. It is now clear that Haspel did not take charge of the base until after the interrogation of Zubaydah ended.

ProPublica, unlike, say, CNN, knows how to accept responsibility for a bad journalism botch. Stephen Engelberg, editor-in-chief, sums up the episode after explaining how the story was misreported:

A few reflections on what went wrong in our reporting and editing process.

The awkward communications between officials barred from disclosing classified information and reporters trying to reveal secrets in which there is legitimate public interest can sometimes end in miscommunication. In this instance, we failed to understand the message the CIA’s press office was trying to convey in its statement.

None of this in any way excuses our mistakes. We at ProPublica hold government officials responsible for their missteps, and we must be equally accountable. This error was particularly unfortunate because it muddied an important national debate about Haspel and the CIA’s recent history. To her, and to our readers, we can only apologize, correct the record and make certain that we do better in the future.

Perfect. This is a news source we can trust.

2. That was ProPublica. This is CNN (The Chris Cuomo post was here originally, but it got so long I posted it separately.) Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Rights, Social Media

At CNN, Bias, Incompetence And Unethical Journalism Earns A Promotion.

You have to understand that CNN’s Chris Cuomo is an irresponsible, reckless and not very bright left-wing hack. Let’s just review the Ethics Alarms Chris Cuomo files from most recent back. Remember, he’s just one small part of what we follow here. If I watched Cuomo regularly, which I won’t, or read his social media blather, which I wouldn’t, this list would doubtlessly be much longer:

  • Here, he breezily asserted that Americans with mental illness should lose their rights.
  • Here, he falsely claimed that the President used “shithole” so children were exposed to the word, as Cuomo wrote it on a whiteboard, exposing children to the word.
  • Here, he told the public that “hate speech” wasn’t protected under the First Amendment, and ordered everyone to read the Constitution, which he obviously doesn’t comprehend.
  • Here, he advocated harassing, intimidating and threatening a private citizen for exercising his right to publicize his views on the internet if the views don’t meet with liberal approval.
  • Here, he cackled over a Simpsons clip that was run on his show solely because it attacked President Trump.
  • Here, he tried to spin an accurate story as false because it reflected badly on the Obama Administration.
  • Here, he promoted a documentary that pushed the false narrative that Michael Brown had his hands up and was crying “Don’t shoot!”
  • Here, he intentionally misresprested a Trump tweet condemning Berkeley’s student riots aimed at shutting down free speech as support for the extremist speaker.
  • Here, and my personal favorite, signature significance for an idiot, Cuomo told viewers that they couldn’t download the Wikileaks leaks, saying—and this guy’s a lawyer!— ”Also interesting is, remember, it’s illegal to possess these stolen documents. It’s different for the media, so everything you’re learning about this, you’re learning from us.”
  • Here, and there are dozens, maybe hundreds of other examples, Cuomo unethically took the role of a partisan advocate to debate a Trump surrogate.
  • Here, despite being a lawyer, Cuomo allowed the term “homicide” and “murder” to be conflated by non-lawyer protesters, who at least have an excuse for their ignorance.
  • Here, he stood by as a guest declared Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Constitution, not only failing to correct the gaffe, but endorsing it.
  • Here, a pattern, he encouraged an advocate of preventing “crazy people” from have gun ownership rights.
  • Here, he pandered to Jorge Ramos, saying that he “respected as a journalist” the  openly activist Mexican broadcaster who was properly ejected from a Trump campaign event.
  • Here, he led an embarrassing, partisan, live laugh-fest mocking the fact that the GOP was “stuck” with Donald Trump as its nominee.
  • Here, he showed his complete ethics ignorance by saying that rules determine whether conduct is wrong. I wrote, as my brains dripped down on me from the ceiling,

Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions

Ethics Hero: Ken White Of Popehat

I haven’t featured Ken White lately, in part because Popehat’s posts are sporadic, unlike those of mad bloggers who habitually post multiple essays a day. However, Ken’s most recent post is the epitome of  ethical blogging at its best. It is long, but absolutely worth the time to read. His subject is the internet pile-on against a mentally ill writer named Kenneth Eng, who, Ken points out, was obviously not well, and yet was mercilessly attacked and mocked. Fox News even exploited his illness for some sensational cable moments—shades of Sam Nunberg!  Ken, who has written frankly and courageously about his own battles with clinical depression, takes a hard ethics inventory, finds himself and the internet community lacking, and does a superb job—as usual—of clarifying a difficult issue.  I have had my differences with Ken, but at his best, White is as ethically astute and clear a writer as there is online, with an almost unfailing ability to point us in the right direction.

He writes in part, Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Health and Medicine, Race, U.S. Society