Our national news media, which is as biased as ever, more untrustworthy than ever, and less professional than ever, is also more self-righteous than ever, which, I suppose, figures. The most recent display of self-righteousness, along with gratuitous recklessness and arrogance, is the Los Angeles Times’ decision to publish photos of American soldiers posing happily next to the bloody mess that had been the bodies of Afghan suicide bombers. The Pentagon asked the Times not to run the photos, for obvious reasons. The mission in Afghanistan is hanging by a thread as it is, our relationship with the government and the populace serially wounded by a series of unnecessary events that placed the U.S. in a terrible light: in January, a video of Marines urinating on dead Taliban soldiers; in February, the botched disposal of copies of the Quaran, and shortly thereafter, the rampage of a deranged U.S. soldier, who went door to door killing Afghan civilians. Such episodes, and the publicity they receive, jeopardize American interests and cost lives, as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta explained while condemning the Times’ irresponsible decision. Continue reading
Comment of the Day: “The Darkness of the Right, Pissing Away American Values”
This is a treat. I was hoping that my post about the most ethically-challenged of the Right’s uber-patriots cheering corpse desecration would flush out a full-throated cheerleader, and here he is!
In his indignant reply to Bill ( a Marine himself), first time commenter Haddit (who, I gather, has “haddit” with all this ethics talk) gives a bravura performance of exactly what ethics-free thinking will get you in this and other war-related issues. It turns people into clones of the ridiculous general (played by the late, great Rod Steiger) in Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks,” whose nuanced response to every dilemma is “Kill! Kill! KILL!” ( I know, I know…in the movie it turns out that the general was right after all. It is a satire.)
Here is Rod’s, er, Haddit’s Comment of the Day (to Bill) on my post about the infamous pissing Marines, The Darkness of the Right, Pissing Away American Values. You’re welcome for the editing, Haddit. I’ll have some final comments after the featured rant:
“Are you kidding me? They should be punished?????? We train these guys and gals to be heart-breakers and life-takers, but “oh no don’t piss on the enemy”? I say we put all the bodies of our enemies in a giant blender and dump their remains on the cities where they lived and let’s see how long they screw with us. Desecrating bodies……….What does a bullet or a bomb do, man? War is being insane, doing insane things. Sane folks don’t KILL other folks. So, we teach em to be insane but with rules? THERE ARE NO STINKING RULES. KILL, KILL, KILL come the cries of our military men and women while in training. “WHAT MAKES THE GRASS GROW”???? “We don’t go to war to die for our country, we make the other poor bastard die for his country.” Continue reading
The Darkness of the Right, Pissing Away American Values
I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming, but indeed I did not. After all, when photographs surfaced showed American servicemen and women abusing, tormenting and torturing helpless (and untried) Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the hard right, led by conservative radio talkshow hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, attempted to minimize America’s disgrace and the catastrophic failure of the military chain of command by wielding the worst of rationalizations.
“They do worse things to us!”
“We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys!”
“They had it coming!”
“At least the soldiers didn’t saw their heads off, like the Arabs did to Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg!”
The fact that the atrocities in the prison violated the core values of the Declaration of Independence and the very foundation of America’s reason for existence—human dignity and inalienable human rights—never occurred to these warped culture warriors, who did not have the decency to be ashamed that the United States military would present itself to the world as bullies, thugs and sadists.
Now we, and the world, have seen a video taken by one U.S. Marine in Afghanistan of four of his colleagues gleefully urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban combatants. The Obama administration, hopefully having learned its lesson from the Bush Administration’s botching of its response to Abu Ghraib, immediately and unequivocally condemned the conduct of the marines and vowed that it will not go unpunished. (Whether there will be proper consequences for the brass responsible for such a catastrophic collapse of military discipline remains to be seen.) Of course this is the correct response, and the only responsible response,
Yet last night I heard talk show rant-master Mark Levin, dubbed “The Great One” by his talk show host colleagues (Jackie Gleason’s estate should sue for defamation), furiously denounce the Obama administration and praise the Marines. Continue reading
The ACLU Gives Us a Lesson in Principles
“What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?…And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide…the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down…do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”—- Sir Thomas More [Played by Paul Scofield, scripted by Robert Bolt (in a speech adapted from More’s writings) in the film of “A Man for All Seasons” (1966)]
My opinion of Rev. Terry Jones is a matter of record; to summarize, I think he is well beneath Charlie Sheen, Donald Trump, Tom DeLay, Goldman Sachs, Nancy Pelosi, Eliot Spitzer, AIG, Charlie Rangel , Mark Sanford, Barry Bonds, “Ronbo” and most of the other members in bad standing on the Ethics Alarms Bottom 100. Determined as he is to sully the First Amendment with his disgraceful and hate-soaked use of it, however, he is an American, and he has rights. A Dearborn, Michigan jury, prompted by the city, has taken away those rights by preventing him and another fool from protesting outside a local mosque. Continue reading
Terry Jones’ Next Irresponsible Protest: Legal? Sure. Stupid? Yes. Ethical? Of Course Not.
The latest drama surrounding irresponsible publicity addict, Quran-burner and gonzo Islam-hater Rev. Terry Jones is his attempt to get a permit to demonstrate outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan because, well, because it’s there, I guess. Wayne County and Dearborn officials insist that he pay security costs that they estimate at about $46,000 before he will be allowed to incite more violence and riots overseas. These are a near certainty because a lot of people in other countries can’t understand why the United States lets its citizens say and demonstrate about any fool thing they want to. Continue reading
Are Citizens of Warring Nations “Innocent”?
“Innocent” and “civilians” apparently go together like a horse and carriage, if one is to believe the cliché used with increasing regularity by journalists, bloggers and even elected officials. The instance that finally provoked me to write about the irresponsible acceptance of this falsehood was the gratuitous appropriation of it by a sportswriter, who, if I understand him correctly, feels the United States has no standing to object to baseball star Barry Bonds’ lying and cheating because it dropped atom bombs on “innocent civilians” in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (The sportswriter neglects to mention that these act occurred during wartime; perhaps he doesn’t know.) The exoneration of civilian citizens for the acts of their governments is a relatively new phenomenon, one happily endorsed by the habitually politically correct. It is untrue, and it is time to blow the whistle. Ethics foul. Continue reading
Unethical Quote of the Month: #1 American Asshole, Rev. Terry Jones
“If you want to be technical, I guess we broke our word. We thought twice about it.”
—-Rev. Terry Jones, agreeing with criticism that he had promised last September not to burn the Quran, but did so anyway last month when he felt that his anti-Islam campaign was not getting enough headlines.
If you want to be technical, Rev. Jones is probably the biggest asshole in the United States right now. I know, I know—civility. But there are rare situations in which only our crudest, most insulting words can fairly describe individuals and acts. Rev. Jones richly deserves the asshole label, indeed the U.S. Champion, Gold Plated, #1 Asshole label, because nothing else adequately describes his reckless, self-promoting, hateful, irresponsible, deadly, virtually treasonous conduct—all completely legal, of course.
What do you call someone who pours gasoline on a brush fire to get attention? Jerk is too mild. What do you call someone who intentionally makes a difficult problem of international perception even more difficult—intentionally? Fool is too kind. Unethical, my staple, is too abstract. There just is no civil term for someone like Jones. Continue reading
Ethics Dunce: Geraldo Rivera
Geraldo Rivera has declared that Rolling Stone Magazine is a journalistic miscreant for not treating comments that weren’t expressly “on the record” as “off the record,” and reporting the derogatory comments of now-deposed Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff regarding President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and others. The upcoming article’s contents, he reasons, do no good and much bad, and are irresponsible…”a terrible thing.”
Some news media reporting in times of war are indeed irresponsible and unethical, as when the New York Times has published the details of intelligence operations. This is not such a case. Continue reading
Easy Ethics Call: Gen. McCrystal Must Go
Ignore, for the time being, the fact that several other high-ranking Obama officials richly deserve to be fired for egregious failings of honesty and competence. Gen. McChrystal, the commander in charge of U.S. combat in Afghanistan, has followed in the unfortunate footsteps of General Douglas McArthur, who openly criticized President Harry Truman and lost his command as a result. McChrystal has to go too. Continue reading
“Raving Private Gump”: Tom Hanks Lets Political Correctness Eat His Brains, and Gets Called On It
I am a big fan of Tom Hanks’ work as an a comic, a dramatic actor, a producer, and in drag, but he has been reliably attached to what may end up being the most infuriating quote of the year. If not the most infuriating, then at least the most ignorant and irresponsible. In an interview with historian Douglas Brinkley in a Time magazine feature about his upcoming HBO series on World War II in the Pacific, Hanks said this:
“Back in World War II, we viewed the Japanese as ‘yellow, slant-eyed dogs’ that believed in different gods. They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different. Does that sound familiar, by any chance, to what’s going on today?”
If you are not now running in circles, wide-eyed and screaming, you should be. Continue reading