Tag Archives: African Americans

From Ethics Alarms “The Truth Hurts” Files: Target’s Fathers Day Card

Target came under fire for putting out the Father’s Day card above, and apologized, especially for having only a black couple version.

Interesting: what exactly is wrong about the card? It depicts the state of black fatherhood as it is: about 72% of black births are to unmarried couples, while about 32% is the white figure. Is the perceived problem that the card shames African Americans, or that it appears to give couples having children without bothering with marriage a societal pass by celebrating their lack of responsibility? Not being married to a child’s mother vastly increases the likelihood of absentee fathers, and being raised by single mothers is statistically linked to many social pathologies that disproportionately plague black communities.

Maybe Target isn’t the one who should be apologizing. One incensed critic wrote on Twitter, “This is an insult to black fathers and a slap in the face to the African-American community as a whole.” No, that would be true if the card’s implication wasn’t true. It is true. Now what? Getting angry at Target is a deflection.

Of course, the likelihood is that Target wasn’t thinking deeply about this at all. It just thought the “baby daddy” card opened up a new Fathers Day market.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Gender and Sex, Marketing and Advertising, Race, U.S. Society

An Ethics Riddle: What Do Starbucks And The University Of Virginia Have In Common?

They both called the cops on someone who was violating a policy. Only one of them, however, was accused of racism.

Bruce Kothmann, a University of Virginia alumnus, read aloud from his Bible on the steps of the school’s Rotunda this week, so university police came make him stop. He did stop, because he didn’t want to be arrested. For such public speech is no longer allowed at the public university. The Rotunda is not one of the places the university has designated for public speech by outsiders. Kothmann was on to campus because his daughter had just finished her sophomore year, but was reading from his  Bible with him to challenge the school’s  policy limiting speech on campus.

A terse reader comment on the story said, “This is basically what happened at Starbucks.” The comment is correct.

Would UVA have sent the police to silence a black parent? My guess: no, and if it had, the school would be grovelling in the dust right now, begging for forgiveness. Unless the school could quickly point to a white transgressor who got the cops called on him, a charge of race bias would be devastating, and, of course, effective.

You recall the Starbucks episode: I covered it here. Two African Americans were informed of a Starbucks policy that required those using the facilities to be customers. The men refused, the manager called the police claiming trespass, and the rest is ugly, race-baiting history. The two men could have left just as Mr. Kothmann agreed to stop reading, but that’s just moral luck. The reader was right: the episodes were the same….except for the race of the violator involved.

The Ethics Alarms position is that both policies, that of the university and the old Starbucks policy, are reasonable, with the Starbucks policy being the more  defensible, since UVA is a public university and has the First Amendment to contend with. Never mind: the news media and the social justice social media mob have little interest in a white man being stopped by police from reading that old rag, The Bible, but if two black men violating a private business’s reasonable policy have that policy enforced against them, that’s intolerable.

We have the birth of a new racial privilege, now extending beyond police shootings (a white cop can safety shoot a threatening white suspect, but not a black one) to other forms of previously justifiable conduct. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Education, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/11/2018: The Yankees Get Nasty, The Times Keeps Distorting, Rudy Is Sacked, And Dangerous Advice From An HR Expert

A lovely May morn to all!

1 As I have always said, the Yankees are evil. Most serious baseball fans,  and presumably all Baltimore Orioles fans, remember how in the 1996 ALCS play-offs,  a young New York Yankees fan named Jeffrey Maier turned what should have been a crucial out for his team into a game-tying home run by Derek Jeter in the 8th inning of Game 1, by reaching over the fence and catching the ball before it could fall into O’s rightfielder Tony Tarasco’s glove. This was interference, but it was before the challenge and replay rule, and the umpires, as is too often the case, missed the play. The Yankees won the game, the series and the World Series, and the Yankees and their city celebrated Maier as a hero—for, in essence, cheating on their behalf. The rules announced at the beginning of each game dictate that such conduct will result in an offending fan being thrown out of the stadium, but never mind: the ends justify the means, consequentialism, moral luck, double standards, hypocrisy…readers here know the litany. Misconduct was rewarded and extolled because everyone loved the result. New York, New York!

Now let’s go forward 22 years to last night’s tense game between the Yankees and their eternal rivals, the Boston Red Sox, also in Yankee Stadium (the new version.) The Yankees, as they had the previous two nights, rallied late against the hapless Boston bullpen and tied the game, 4-4, in the 7th inning. In the Sox 8th, J.D. Martinez hit a lazy fly that just got over the short right field fence and leaping gargantuan Yankees rightfielder Aaron Judge’s glove, into the outreached glove of another young fan, except that this one did not reach over the fence, and did not, as the replay showed clearly, interfere with Judge in any way.

Ah, but the home run he caught was hit by a Red Sox player, and put the Yankees behind in the game, after the fans’ hopes had been raised.

Yankee Stadium security hauled the fan out of the stadium.

The Red Sox won the game.

Good.

2. The Good Illegal Immigrant on stage…just to remind us of how pervasive false narratives are..I have kept an April 10 New York Times feature around just to raise my blood pressure in case I need a jolt. The article hails “Miss You Like Hell,” a new musical produced at Manhattan’s Public Theater. The show is about the pain and suffering endured by people who are in the United States illegally, having presumed to take what they want in defiance of our laws and policy, but no sense of wrongdoing is even hinted at in the story. The Times uses the deceitful cover-phrase “undocumented immigrant,” which was devised deliberately to blur the illegal immigration issue.

Today, as has been increasingly the case throughout the news media, a front page Times article uses “immigration” interchangeably with “illegal immigration.” This, of course, advances the lie that the those who oppose illegal immigration—that is, those who oppose law-breaking without consequence as national policy–are anti-immigrant.

This same story was headlined by the Washington Post, “Trump unloads on Homeland Security secretary in lengthy immigration tirade.” Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/3/2018: Katie’s Rationalization, Teachers’ Extortion, Rudy’s Zugswang, And Kanye’s Influence

Goooood morning!

(I thought it was time for “Singin’ in the Rain” again. Of course, it is always time for “Singin’ in the Rain”…)

1. And that’s when you know…When alleged sexual harassers are accused, the way you know whether they are guilty or not often depends on whether the floodgates open, and large numbers of other women step forward. This was Bill Cosby’s downfall. Now we learn that 27 more victims of Charlie Rose have raised their metaphorical hands. Sorry, Charlie!

The mystery to me is why  current and former colleagues of outed abusers and harassers so often rush to defend them, even post #MeToo, and even women. I suppose is cognitive dissonance again: the defenders have high regard for the harasser, and simply can’t process the fact that they may have been engaged in awful conduct. Katie Couric’s defense of Matt Lauer, however, is especially damning.

Variety reported that Lauer’s office had a button that allowed him to remotely lock his office door when he had female prey within his grasp…

“His office was in a secluded space, and he had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up. This afforded him the assurance of privacy. It allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him, according to two women who were sexually harassed by Lauer.”

Yet on “The Wendy Williams Show” this week, Couric “explained”…

“I think the whole button thing, you know? I think — NBC — a lot of stuff gets misreported and blown out of proportion. A lot of NBC executives, they make it sound like some kind of den of inequity. I don’t know what was happening. A lot of NBC executives have those buttons that opened and closed doors… They did. I mean, it was really just a privacy thing. It wasn’t..Honestly I think it was an executive perk that some people opted to have and I don’t think it was a nefarious thing. I really don’t. And I think that is misconstrued….”

Wowsers. First, Couric is intentionally blurring the facts, using “open and close” as a euphemism for “unlock and lock.” I guarantee that no button would cause the office door to swing open or swing closed, as Couric suggested. I’ve searched for such a device: all I can find are remote office door locking mechanisms. Second, while it is true that other NBC execs once had that feature, it appears that Lauer was “was one of the few, if not the only, NBC News employee to have one,”a senior NBC News employee told the Washington Post.

Second, Couric is engaging in The Golden Rationalization: “Everybody does it.”

2.  Extortion works! Arizona’s governor signed a 9% pay increase for the state’s teachers, because the teachers engaged in a wildcat strike, kids were missing school, and parents couldn’t go to work without their state funded child-sitters. I’m not going to analyze whether the teachers demands were right or wrong, because it doesn’t matter. The teachers’ tactic was unethical, just like the Boston police strike in 1919 was unethical, just like  the air traffic controllers strike in  1981. In the former, Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge (what happened to that guy?) famously fired all the striking cops, saying in part that  “The right of the police of Boston to affiliate has always been questioned, never granted, is now prohibited…There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.” President Reagan quoted Cal when he fired the air traffic controllers and eliminated its union.

Striking against children and their education is also a strike against the public safety. What now stops the teachers, in Arizona or anywhere else, from using similar extortion tactics for more raise, policies they favor, or any other objective?  What was lacking here was political leadership possessing the integrity and courage to tell the teachers to do their jobs during negotiations, or be fired.

This precedent will rapidly demonstrate why public unions are a menace to democracy Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

From The Ethics Alarms “Outrageous Double Standards” File: The Washington Post Gives A Vocal Anti-Semitic Politician A Pass

Ward 8 in the District of Columbia, where corrupt former mayor Marion Barry set up shot after getting out of prison, now has a Representative on the D.C. City Counsel who makes Barry look like Barack Obama as a statesman and Stephen Hawking as an intellect. This is Trayon White, who recently made the news after opining that “the Rothschilds” as in, “the Jews “control the weather to own the cities.”  After an apology, he took a tour of the Holocaust Museum, and embarrassed himself further, asking some bizarre questions before leaving the tour early.

So what was the Washington Post editorial page’s reaction to this? Amazing…some high (low?)lights…

Many people were inclined to believe that D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) spoke from ignorance, not malice, when he talked about Jewish financiers controlling the weather. That was, and continues to be, our view….

So an elected city official is more ignorant than a stick of gum. The “Jews control the weather” line was scientifically ignorant, societally ignorant and historically ignorant, plus being so cretinous it hurts to read. At that point, does the distinction between malice and ignorance matter?

Mr. White, who joined the council last year, has attracted national attention because of his controversial remarks earlier this year suggesting Jewish control of climate and government. The furor had died down when The Post detailed an awkward visit to the Holocaust Museum by Mr. White and his staff. That Mr. White initiated the visit is to his credit, and a pass should be given to questions asked in earnest good faith but out of ignorance. Sadly, as shown by a recent survey, a lack of knowledge about the Holocaust is not uncommon in young Americans.

What? The man is an elected  government leader! Government leaders have to know something. White’s questions (for example..shown a photo taken in 1935,  that depicts a woman in a dark dress shuffling down a street in Norden, Germany wearing a large sign around her neck reading, “I am a German girl and allowed myself to be defiled by a Jew” as she is surrounded by Nazi stormtroopers, White asked his guide, “Are they protecting her?”) reveal a deep lack of knowledge or minimal historical education. He’s unqualified for office. What kind of defense is it that “young Americans” are ignorant of the Holocaust? This isn’t even an effective “Everybody does it” rationalization. He’s not a “young American,” he’s a City Council member. He’s supposes to lead “young Americans.”

And how many young Americans think that the Jews are controlling the weather?

For contrast and good laugh, read this defense of White, which is essentially identical to White’s own “I try to help the downtrodden, so it shouldn’t matter if I’m dumb as a brick” excuse. Back to the Post…

Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/18/2018: The Bad, The Beautiful, And The Stupid

Good morning, everyone…

1. Tales of the King’s Pass. Fox News put out a statement saying that Sean Hannity had its “full support.” We can assume that means no punishment, no sanctions, not even any public regrets, despite the fact, and it is a fact, that the right-wing talk-show host-turned-Trump propagandist went on the air and defended Trump’s fixer, Michael Cohen, without mentioning the fact that Hannity was Cohen’s client. Thus Fox is announcing, in effect, that undisclosed conflicts of interest are just fine and dandy if your ratings are good enough. This also means that Fox News is admitting that it really doesn’t care about candor, honesty, and objectivity, since it will ignore blatant violations of all three if the profit is sufficient.

In fairness to Fox, Hannity’s blatant biases toward all things Trump are no more egregious than the open Obama bias displayed across the mainstream media’s full spectrum of journalists and pundits; it just stands out more because he has less company. However, this is a specific conflict of interest, with Hannity having undisclosed connections to a newsmaker that could reasonably affect his commentary. The closest parallel would be ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reporting on the Clinton Foundation’s dubious activities without telling viewers that he was a $75,000 donor. ABC didn’t discipline him, either, but at least he made a public apology on the air.

To make the King’s Pass case even stronger, after Politico reported this week that dinnertime news anchor Bret Baier played nine holes of golf with President Trump over the weekend, Fox News acknowledged that Baier was admonished by the president of the network.  I don’t agree with the reprimand at all. The opportunity to spend that kind of time with a President is invaluable, a rare opportunity to acquire insight and access over an extended period of time. The idea, I assume, is that it creates the illusion of chumminess. It’s a dumb illusion. If I were a journalist,  I would play golf with anyone if it allowed me to learn something. If I were president of a network, I’d reprimand a reporter for turning down such an opportunity.

2. The Virtue-Signaling Hall Of Fame. Starbucks is reacting to the PR nightmare arising out of the arrest of two black men for refusing to order anything while waiting for a companion in a Philadelphia Starbucks by a grand gesture: it will close all U.S. stores and corporate offices on the afternoon of May 29 for “employee racial bias training.” I suppose this is good crisis management, though cynical and non-substantive. It also permanently tars as a racist the Starbucks ex-manager, who says she was following a locale-specific company policy in an area that had experienced problems with loitering. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2018: Blacklisting, Boycotts, And A Fox News Ethics Breach

Good Morning, all.

1 The blacklisting of R. Lee Ermey. Ermey, the ex-Marine turned actor who gained fame playing a Marine drill sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket,” died this week. I had thought he might already be dead, since I hadn’t seen him show up in movies or TV shows for quite a while. No, it appears that he was blackballed by Hollywood after he criticized President Obama in 2010, while he was being hired with some regularity. Speaking at a Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots rally, he said it was difficult to raise money for the charity because “the economy sucks” and went on to blame the Obama Administration, saying,

“We should all rise up, and we should stop this administration from what they’re doing because they’re destroying this country. They’re driving us into bankruptcy so that they can impose socialism on us, and that’s exactly what they’re doing, and I’m sick and damn tired of it and I know you are too.”

Ermey’s agent and the sudden reduction in his offers persuaded the tough Marine to beg for forgiveness with an abject apology for daring to critique Obama so harshly. Never mind:  His contract as a GEICO character was terminated, and the company removed Ermey’s commercial from their official YouTube channel. He later told interviewers that he had been blacklisted by Hollywood, and that he never had major film offer after he criticized Obama.

Observations:

a) I wonder when fair, decent, ethical Americans who believe in freedom of thought and expression will become sufficiently alarmed about progressives and Democrats using blacklists and boycotts  to enforce ideological conformity. This increasingly totalitarian end of the political spectrum needs to be informed that its ethics alarms are seriously malfunctioning.

b) Actors identified with products and companies cannot complain when they lose those jobs after making divisive political comments. If Ermey wanted to do commercials for anyone other than the NRA, his comments about Obama were just plain stupid.

c) As an actor in films, however, Ermey played villains and parodies of military characters.  His political views in those contexts should have been irrelevant, and certainly wouldn’t harm receipts for movies he was in. If he really was blacklisted, it was an act of punishment for refusing to accept the Hollywood community’s lockstep worship of a weak and divisive President.

d) In contrast, recall this public rant from actor Robert DeNiro in January regarding the current President of the United States:

“This fucking idiot is the President. It’s The Emperor’s New Clothes – the guy is a fucking fool. The publication of the Pentagon Papers was a proud moment for American journalism. The Times and the Post challenged the government over critical First Amendment issues. And the press prevailed. Our government today, with the propping-up of our baby-in-chief – the jerkoff-in-chief I call him – has put the press under siege, trying to discredit it through outrageous attacks and lies.’

I don’t think Bobby has lost any roles over this. To be fair, if there is a place where The King’s Pass, aka “The Star Syndrome,” rules supreme, it’s Hollywood. A major star like DeNiro obviously has more leeway than a narrow-range character actor like Ermey, and Ermey had to know that. Still, the double standard is striking. Continue reading

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