Tag Archives: assassination

Why Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: The Gloucester PTO’s “Don Trump” Gravestone

In Gloucester, Massachusetts last week, the parent-teacher organization hosted a Halloween themed fundraiser at West Parish Elementary School.   One of the parents was thoughtful enough to bring a bean bag toss game that featured fake tombstones. One of them had the familiar name “Don Trump” on it. Hilarious! And so clever…

Surprisingly, at least to the thoughtful parents and the host who didn’t have the sense to say, “Cute! But you know we can’t display that…”, not everyone present, even in the Bluer than Blue Bay State of my birth, revels in the thought of the President of the United States dying in office.  Several  parents took photos of the fun game, and sent them to Massachusetts Republican Party committeewoman Amanda Orlando Kesterson, who shared one of the them on Facebook along with a searing post, which read in part,

“I find it absolutely despicable that the PTO of one of our local elementary schools would bring this political agenda before our children. The parents or teachers responsible for this disgusting display should claim responsibility publicly and apologize publicly as well. … We should teach our children that the office of the president ALWAYS deserves respect. Our school system is not the place for nasty political agendas.”

One question that puzzles me: did they object to the fundraiser organizers before sending the photos? That would be the ethical course. There’s nothing wrong with ring those ethics alarms by hand if they are stuck.

After the controversy erupted into the news media, the school principal, Dr. Telena Imel, apologized in a letter to parents, saying

“Intentionally or not, it inappropriately brought a political agenda into what was designed to be a fun family affair. Our school, and this includes school events sponsored by related groups, is not the place for politics. In planning future events, it will be made clear to organizers that school is not the place to engage in or to display political agendas or opinions.”

Oh, I think it’s fair to conclude that it was intentional.

The parents responsible for the  game  apologized, as did Gloucester’s mayor, who said in a statement, “The City of Gloucester does not condone political messaging within our schools.”

There is no other way to describe this incident except as a mass ethics alarms malfunction, one that is overwhelmingly afflicting Democrats. (Okay, one more question: Did any Democratic-leaning parents see what was wrong with the Dead Donald reference?) I am old enough to remember the assassination of Jack Kennedy, a Massachusetts native son. I can’t imagine anyone in my state not recoiling at any hint of a casual or satirical reference to another President’s death, even Nixon, and Mass was the only state that voted for George McGovern.

We almost had another assassination  when two crazy women took shots at Gerald Ford, and then one more near miss, when a sick Jodie Foster fan somehow thought killing Ronald Reagan would entrance her. When did this ethics alarm get broken, and how? The gravestone of the current President being presented as an appropriate Halloween decoration in an event with children present? Hosted by a parent-teacher organization? No alarms? Not even faint ringing? In Massachusetts, where everyone once knew “Abraham, Martin and John” by heart?

The alarms didn’t ring in part because teachers began thinking that indoctrinating children in their own political views became accepted practice during the Bush administration, as schools started showing Al Gore’s climate change agitprop in class. The Bush administration wasn’t behind the trend, but the Obama administration encouraged it, especially during the Post Sandy Hook anti-gun freak-out. Teachers were punishing kids for finger guns and biting pizza and pop tarts into pistol shapes even before that.

Still, the “It’s not good citizenship to joke about killing the President” alarm was functioning even if the “Don’t indoctrinate kids in partisan politics” clapper had been covered in bubble-wrap. Then the nation’s voters had the audacity to reject an awful, corrupt and dishonest Democratic Party candidate whose campaign had included calling anyone who opposed her a sexist, and anyone who voted for her opponent as “deplorable,” as well as promising that she carry on the policies of that wonderful President who had so thoroughly divided the nation in eight years that someone like Donald Trump—well, not just like him, but him— had been nominated to run against her. Suddenly the very same people who had lectured Trump and Trump supporters about how in the U.S., after an election, no matter how contentious, good citizens always put down their placards and unite behind the winner, validating and honoring American democracy and the wisdom of the people and our system of selecting leaders, did a back somersault reminiscent of Nadia Comanici her prime, and declared, in demonstrations and boycotts and calls for various means of undoing the election,  that this President didn’t deserve that deference and respect.

Then various voices in the party made vague and not so vague references to how nice it would be if someone “took out” the President. (That’s Maxine Waters’ term.) After the Charlottesville riots, Missouri state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal—I wonder what party she belongs to?–went on her personal Facebook and said to a commenter, “I hope Trump is assassinated!”

The main pro-Trump death chorus, however, came from that saintly community that is always doing yeoman service as the culture’s moral exemplar, the entertainment business—you know, where Harvey Weinstein and the cool, beautiful, progressive people hang out. Madonna told an audience, “Yes, I’m angry. Yes, I am outraged. Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House. But I know this won’t change anything. We cannot fall into despair.” Johnny Depp told another throng, “This is going to be in the press and it’ll be horrible. But I like that you are all a part of it. When was the last time an actor assassinated a President?” Rapper Snoop Dogg remixed  “Lavender” by Canadian band BadBadNotGood adding a clown-clad version of President Trump called Ronald Klump, and showed him being  shot with a toy gun.

Last summer, New York’s acclaimed Public Theater staged a version of William Shakespeare’s ” Julius Caesar” in  Central Park with the crowd-pleasing gimmick of portraying Julius Caesar as a Trump clone. The audience cheered as he was assassinated in an on-stage blood bath. And, lest we forget, there was this:

All in good fun, of course!

Thus are once functioning ethics alarms silenced.

Now read the comments to Ms Kesterson’s Facebook post.

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Professor Volokh’s Ethics Dissent On The Vicious, Pazuzu-Blaming Professor’s Firing

‘Yes, I know he’s an idiot, but we should support idiots as highly paid teachers of our children, for the protection of the non-idiots…

Eugene Volokh is one of the best and most objective legal minds in the country. If he finds himself on the Supreme Court when Kennedy retires or Ginsberg shuffles off this mortal coil, we will not have suffered through the ugliness of the Trump years in vain. When he opines, I listen, as we all should, and he has now opined regarding the now fired idiot that I wrote about this morning, ex-University of Tampa visiting sociology professor Ken Storey.

Storey used Twitter, in the middle of the still-unfolding human disaster in Houston and soon New Orleans, to announce that flooding victims who were Trump supporters or Republicans deserved to die. He did this twice, so his later claim that his words did not intentionally convey what his words were obviously intended to convey was a desperate and obvious lie.

I wrote:

The university or college that fires an employee like Storey is protecting its reputation as a responsible institution, by stating in clear terms that people with terrible judgment and cruel and unethical instincts who are motivated by hate and intolerance are not qualified to teach….because they aren’t. That professors increasingly have no ethics alarms beeping when the prepare to publish sentiments like Storey’s (or worse) shows how thoroughly the leftist echo chambers of most campus faculties turn academics into Pat Robertson, which is to say, rigid, mean, and dumb. Once upon a time, liberals giggled themselves silly over the evangelical huckster’s periodic pronouncement about how a disaster was God’s way of punishing the U.S. for not abusing gays sufficiently, or similar bile, Now they do the same thing, and expect their colleagues and students to applaud.

Today, in the Washington Post, Professor Volokh advocates a different position:

Storey’s comments were nasty and mean-spirited; and I should note that the University of Tampa is a private university, in a state that doesn’t limit private employers’ ability to fire employees for their speech. The university’s actions thus seem legal (assuming they didn’t breach any contract). And Storey’s comments also weren’t academic or likely to be part of a serious political debate.

But the university’s action strikes me as further undermining the freedom of expression and debate at American universities, including the freedom to say things that are much more thoughtful. If you were an untenured faculty member at the University of Tampa, would you feel free to express your views on controversial subjects, when you saw how the university reacted to this tweet? Even if your views were very different politically, what do you think the University would do if people started pressuring for your dismissal, pointing to the Storey incident as precedent?

I’ve talked before about “censorship envy,” one mechanism through which these sorts of speech restrictions can grow: “If my neighbor — and especially my political adversary — gets to ban speech he reviles,” the thinking goes, “why shouldn’t I get to do the same?”

If a university has a strong policy of protecting speech, including offensive speech, administrators can point to that policy as a means of resisting calls for firing a controversial faculty member, and they can appeal to people’s desire to see speakers on their own side protected, and use that desire to help protect speakers on all sides. But once the university starts firing some people for speech “that do[es] not reflect [the university’s] community views or values,” that makes it much harder to resist calls for more suppression. Indeed, at that point tolerating speech starts implicitly conveying the message that the speech does reflect the university’s community views or values — and to avoid that implication, the university would have to fire any speaker who offended some sufficiently influential constituency.

I am very confident that in this rare case, Prof. Volokh is dead wrong. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/30/17: A Vicious Professor, Pazuzu, And Kathy Griffin Revokes Her Apology

[ Just to remind you how good Debbie, Gene and Donald were. Note that these dancers skipped the staircase..]

GOOD Morning…

I’m changing the Warm-Up headlines to reflect the topics covered. I may even go back and revise the old headlines. It took a while, but I realized that having dozens of essentially identical post titles with only a date as the distinction made archive research harder than it had to be.

1.I would have headlined the story of now fired visiting University of Tampa professor Ken Storey “Vicious, bigoted and possessed by the Demon Pazuzu is no way to go through academia, son,” but so many professors have used social media to make outrageous and offensive statements that the ethics issue is getting repetitious. (I think Jonathan Turley has done a post on each one of them, and will continue to on his blog.)

The question is whether a college or university is breaching its commitment to free expression and academic freedom when it fires a professor who says that all men are rapists, or that whites should be exterminated, or, in Storey’s case,

When asked later if this theory also applied to Florida,  and Trump supporters there deserved a similar fate.the Florida college professor replied,

“Yep, those who voted for him here deserve it as well.”

The answer is no. The university or college that fires an employee like Storey is protecting its reputation as a responsible institution, by stating in clear terms that people with terrible judgment and cruel and unethical instincts who are motivated by hate and intolerance are not qualified to teach….because they aren’t. That professors increasingly have no ethics alarms beeping when the prepare to publish sentiments like Storey’s (or worse) shows how thoroughly the leftist echo chambers of most campus faculties turn academics into Pat Robertson, which is to say, rigid, mean, and dumb. Once upon a time, liberals giggled themselves silly over the evangelical huckster’s periodic pronouncement about how a disaster was God’s way of punishing the U.S. for not abusing gays sufficiently, or similar bile, Now they do the same thing, and expect their colleagues and students to applaud.

Ken compounded his ethical offense by the standards of Ethics Alarms by issuing a terrible apology that evoked the Pazuzu excuse. Realizing that he had gone too far, he tweeted,

“I deeply regret a statement I posted yesterday. I never meant to wish ill will upon any group. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly.”

Translation: “Oops. My hateful expression of glee over the tragedy afflicting Texans seems to have put my job in jeopardy. I regret that, so I have pulled down my tweet and am pretending to be sorry. I never meant to wish ill will upon any group, even though somehow my tweet wished ill on a group in the clearest terms, and I doubled down on it. Someone or something else must have been responsible. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly. (Saying that will let me keep my job, right?)”

This is a #10 apology on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, the worst there is:

An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.

Storey was fired.

Good.

2. Speaking of phony apologies, Kathy Griffin, she of the Bloody Head, went all the way to Australia to reveal that she really isn’t sorry about representing that the beheading of a U.S. President is hilarious: Continue reading

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On Misandry, Keith Olbermann, “Mansplaining,” And The Bloody Head

Heads, we lose…

What a day. First I have to defend Bill Maher, and now I have to defend Keith Olbermann.

Ethics is hell.

Yesterday, the former winner of the Ethics Alarms “Asshole of the Year” tweeted to Kathy Griffin and her lawyer…

To @kathygriffin and @lisabloom: you could not be doing more to help Donald Trump if you were Putin. Please stop this selfish nonsense.

I love this tweet! For one thing, it confirms what I have been saying regarding the “resistance’s” supposedly principled objection to Griffin holding up a fake bloody head of the President of the United States. It isn’t because she “crossed the line,” or because, in their insatiable hate for the President, they didn’t enjoy the implications of the gruesome image. Democrats, progressives, “never Trump” conservatives and “the resistance” recognized that the backlash harms their mission, by making its supporters look exactly as vicious and ugly as so many of them are. Olbermann is a prime example, in fact, as this typical Trump-related tweet from the MSNBC jerk-in exile illustrates…

Classy guy, that Keith! Continue reading

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Bloody Head Update: The Kathy Griffin Press Conference

 

I just watched the Kathy Griffin press conference. The justification for the mdia event that Griffin is “fighting back” against “bullying” from President Trump and his family over her bloody head bit.

Ethics Observations:

1. Presidents shouldn’t “punch down” against civilians, even celebrities, even ridiculous celebrities like Griffin. It is  indeed a form of bullying. I have written about this before. It is an abuse of power and position no matter what the provocation. The public would have been more sympathetic to him and his family if he had just kept quiet. He can’t help himself, and he will not learn.

2. Anyone who doesn’t think Griffin was counting on, praying for, a twitter war to break out between her and POTUS over her visual attack on him (and the office, and the country) by holding up an effigy of his severed head really is too innocent and naiive to talk about this issue. Thus her protests—tearful protests!—over her stunt backfiring have to be seen for the sham that they are. She didn’t just ask for this, she was counting on it. What she didn’t foresee was having no defenders except Jim Carey and a few others.

Did you have any doubt that the photo would prompt a tweet from Trump? Did anyone? Continue reading

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The Resistance Thinks This Is Appropriate Political Humor. This Tells Us All We Need To Know About The Resistance [UPDATED]

After the shooting of  Rep. Giffords in Tucson, Democrats and the news media attempted to blame the tragedy on the “eliminationist rhetoric” used by Republicans, citing Sarah Palin’s use of cross-hairs on an electoral map to point to Democrats being targeted for defeat. At one point, CNN’s John King even chastised a guest for using the term ‘”in the crosshairs” in talking about the candidates. “We’re trying, we’re trying to get away from that language,” King solemnly inveighed.  “Andy is a good friend, he’s covered politics for a long time, but we’re trying to get away from that kind of language.”

Eighteen months later, the producers of “Game of Thrones” thought it was a hilarious inside joke to place a model of George W. Bush’s head  on a pike in one scene showing multiple severed heads.. Alluding to his beheading was wonderful, at least to Hollywood liberals. Putting Obama’s head on a pike would have been, of course, unthinkable, and proof of racism.

I wrote at the time,

“Criticism, satire and humor regarding any U.S. President, living or dead, is fair, ethical and within the realm of the freedom of expression that makes America great. Incivility, disrespect, denigration, hate and incitements to violence directed against any President, living or dead, is wrong. However any of these men performed in office, whether their policies were popular or not and whatever the consequences, good or bad, of their decisions were, every one of them was a patriot and a public servant who made significant sacrifices to attempt to meet the challenges of the most difficult job in the nation, and to do what he thought was in the best interests of the nation. Eight of the 44—that’s 18%—were shot at. Five of the 44—-11%—were shot, and four of them died.  The acceptance of the responsibility of the President is itself an act of courage. Evoking the intentional killing of a U.S. President in any context is irresponsible, and to mock a former and living President in the manner of barbarians and terrorists of other lands, to treat him as the terrorists treated Nick Berg, is as offensive an act of disrespect as I can imagine.”

Now Kathy Griffin, who hosts New Year’s Eve for CNN, has posed for the photograph above. I’m sure the “resistance”—you know, like Hillary—thinks it’s just hilarious, and that Griffin is getting high-fives from her pals at the network and Hollywood.

These are objectively hateful, ugly, irresponsible people, and their depravity becomes deeper and sicker almost daily. They really think behaving this way toward the nation’s elected leader will return them to power. In that belief, they are insulting all of us.

UPDATE: I almost forgot: this is the second controversy over beheaded Trump art. In half of one year in one term, Trump has been graphically murdered twice, while no other President since Lincoln had been beheaded in any high profile forum once.

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Observations Regarding Donald Trump’s Most Recent Idiotic Ad Lib

Just more of the same...

Just more of the same…

The statement, which has dominated social media and news commentary since burped out by Trump during what he calls “a speech” yesterday:

“Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know…”

Observations:

1. Trump’s juvenile and inarticulate habit of expressing half-formed thoughts as they occur to him requires him to figure out what he has said after the fact, as he is now with his latest blather. This is no different from his infamous “rapist” remark, his complaint about the “Mexican” judge, and so many, many others. When a competent adult makes a mistake with dire consequences, he or she typically adjusts future conduct accordingly. Not this idiot. This kind of thing will happen over and over again, almost daily, until the election. This was obvious too, years ago. Good job, Republicans. You disgust me.

2. Even knowing that Trump says things extemporaneously with no more thought than a frog gives to catching a fly, the news media (and of course the Clinton campaign) intentionally are treating it was if it were a solemn scripted statement developed over days of careful consideration. The Clinton campaign can be forgiven: any political campaign would do this when an adversary makes a fool of himself. The news media, however, is intentionally reporting the comment as something it’s not. It was not a call to assassinate Hillary. It was just an ad-lib that popped into Trump’s alleged brain. Was it a bad joke? A “speako”? Who knows? Trump definitely doesn’t know. Whatever it was, the comment was not a serious, substantive statement, though certainly not something a responsible or trustworthy individual would utter in public. And, of course, Trump is 100% accountable for it, and all the disruption it causes, as he will be for the hundreds of similar irresponsible ad libs he makes between now and November.

3. Much more substantive news could and should be covered by the news media, including newly released Hillary Clinton e-mails that show the extent to which she used her position and her staff in the State Department to enrich the Clinton Foundation. This is pure corruption, a true outrage, and a smoking gun. But we know that the news media is rooting for Hillary, so Trump’s comment–did I mention that he’s an idiot?—give journalists an excuse to allow Clinton’s actual misconduct slip under the radar, while they obsess about The Donald’s addled musings. Although the fact that Trump is an irresponsible fool is something the public needs to know, they also have a right to know that the woman they have to elect to protect the nation from Trump is perhaps the most corrupt and dishonest individual ever to be this close to the White House.

4. Trump’s latest self-created controversy is signature significance. No trustworthy, competent, intelligent candidate for high office would or could be so undisciplined, inarticulate, and impulsive to allow something like this to issue from his mouth, in public, on video. Those who are defending him in this instance are proving themselves to be untrustworthy, or incompetent, or both.

________________________

Sources:  Daily Kos, Mother Jones, Politicus USA, Washington Post, Raw Story, Taylor Marsh, Common Dreams, Boing Boing, Occupy Democrats, The American Spectator, The Atlantic, Business Insider, BuzzFeed, The New Civil Rights Movement, Vox, Mashable, Media Matters for America, Mediaite, Washington Free Beacon, MichelleMalkin.com,  Althouse, Esquire, BizPac Review, The Times of Israel, Occupy Democratstwitchy.com, NBC News, KTLA, Politicus USA, ABC News, The Week, The Democratic Daily, Politico, DeadlineCBS Pittsburgh, CBS Los Angeles

 

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