Tag Archives: assholes

Ethics Dunce: ThinkProgress Editor Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani

A Milo protest at UCLA followed by a bomb threat that shut down his speaking appearance.  You'd think they'd want him to have a book published so they could burn it...

A Milo protest at UCLA followed by a bomb threat that shut down his speaking appearance. I’d think they’d want him to have a book published, so they could burn it…

Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani, an editor at progressive website ThinkProgress, epitomizes a real problem for progressives, and society’s ability to trust them with political power. She, like increasing numbers of others espousing her ideology, believes that citizens expressing opinions she doesn’t agree with should be prevented from doing so.

Her post is titled “We live in a world where white supremacists get lucrative book deals,” and her argument is that the “white supremacist” in question (though he isn’t one), inexplicably popular professional asshole Milo Yiannopoulos, shouldn’t be able to get a book published or be paid for writing it.

Yiannopoulos’s act is that he is forcefully and often obscenely politically incorrect, particularly regarding feminism. If he’s a white supremacist, he’s a very odd one, having a gay partner who is black. Yiannopoulos has been banned from Twitter, which regards his harassment of a black actress ban-worthy but the harassment of white male conservatives just desserts, and he has also sparked several episodes on campus last year where his scheduled speeches were cancelled by cowardly college administrators after students complained that the threat of his likely comments being made to others caused them to feel “unsafe.”

He got a book deal because he is famous in some circles, a culture war combatant, and a sometimes amusingly inflammatory writer. He got a book deal because enough people are likely to buy his book that his publisher expects to make money. He got a book deal because enough people in a free country want to read what he has to say. Varkiani believes this is scandalous, and if she and her fellow censors had their way, he wouldn’t be able to get paid to speak or write. Continue reading

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Unethical Website Of The Month: AWD News

My best guess: "AWD" stands for "Assholes Wanting Destruction."

My best guess: “AWD” stands for “Assholes Wanting Destruction.”

You might think that AWD News gets this coveted Ethics Alarms Honor by having one of its hoax news stories prompted a threat of nuclear retaliation against Israel by Pakistan’s Defense Minister.

You would be wrong. That embarrassing response from a Pakistan official with a penchant for saber rattling is just moral luck. The story that “The former Israeli Defence Minister has threatened to “destroy” Pakistan-after Pakistan said on Thursday it will send Sunni fighters to Syria” was a hoax, and since no other news source was reporting it, the fact that Pakistan’s defense minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, allowed his confirmation bias to take over his brain, and leaped to the assumption that it was accurate just shows that Pakistan has an irresponsible fool in a key government position.

Imagine that. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Late Nominations For 2016 Jerk Of The Year: Lena Dunham And Daniel Goldstein, Ivanka’s Jet Blue Harasser”

 

Bill Maher, role model...

Bill Maher, role model…

Steve-O-in-NJ‘s reaction to the JetBlue flight harassment of Ivanka Trump by a lawyer could just as easily been written as a comment on this Ethics Alarms post, from shortly after the election, which began..

I have to adapt, with acknowledgement, a long-running gag wielded by Prof. Glenn Reynolds on his iconic conservative website Instapundit thus:

“I wrote if Donald Trump was elected President, we’d have a nation of assholes, and I was RIGHT!”

The problem is that the joke isn’t funny in this case. It’s tragic. What I am seeing in the news, watching on social media and reading on the web and in editorial pages shows me that the last eight years have done even more damage to American unity and ethics than I had realized.

Here is Steve-O-in-NJ‘s Comment of the Day on the post, “Late Nominations For 2016 Jerk Of The Year: Lena Dunham And Daniel Goldstein, Ivanka’s Jet Blue Harasser,” and I’ll have a few comments at the end:

The left seems to be perfectly ok with raising jerkiness to a profession – I decline to call it an art form. I’ll be the first to admit sometimes I don’t use my brain and turn to vicious attacks. Jack was absolutely right that I am not helping myself in my lucid moments when I do that, and, in all fairness, he isn’t the first. Actually a judge here in NJ has seen both sides of me, and said to me once, in a rare ex parte discussion (as part of a “breakout” settlement conference) that “there are two of you, apparently, the thinking Steve and the angry Steve. I would request that only the thinking Steve appear here.” I’d also say that some other people here aren’t helping themselves with the same approach, BUT, that’s for Jack to say more about.

There are plenty of scholars and pundits on both sides politically, and they are of varying quality, from the very erudite to the not much more than trash talkers. Most of us, when we are in our thinking mode, can tell the one from the other, and would place more value on Victor Davis Hanson’s perhaps overly sonorous pronouncements than on Michelle Malkin’s near-rants, and more value on Alan Dershowitz’s legal analysis than on Jonathan Alterman’s self-important poking.

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A “Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men” Ethics Quiz: The Bitter Propane Dealer

A Skowhegan, Maine Trump voter.

A Skowhegan, Maine Trump voter.

The quiz itself has little to do with the fact that Michael Turner is the kind of bad American, bad neighbor, bad community member and  jerk who makes Ebenezer Scrooge seem like a mensch, but ponder on his conduct anyway.  If you are one of the residents in Skowhegan, Maine   and you call Turner LP Gas in Skowhegan, Maine to buy propane to heat your home, you get this message from the owner:

“If you voted for Donald Trump for president, I will no longer be delivering your gas. Please find someone else.”

No, it’s not a hate crime, it’s just hate. It gets cold in Maine, and Skowhegan, like the rest of the state, has a lot of poor people among it’s 8500 or so residents. It also has many who are elderly and poor, for whom having to find another propane supplier may be not just inconvenient, but life-threatening. This is why we have public accommodation laws: To protect us, especially the vulnerable among us, from bigots and bullies like Michael Turner.

He is no different in his lack of decency and the void of ethical values in his soul than the racists who refused to allow black citizens to frequent their establishments before the Civil Rights Act, bridal shop owners who won’t sell wedding dresses to same-sex couples, and the innkeepers who turned away a pregnant woman and her husband long ago, on a night we celebrate soon.

Ethics Alarms has discussed this ugly phenomenon many times. The Bush administration tried to validate it by approving the so called “workers’ right of conscience, ” that permitted a wide variety of health care workers to refuse to administer treatments they found morally repugnant. President Obama, to his credit, restricted that wide-open door to division and bigotry, then allowed the rest of his years in office to exacerbate societal schisms to the point that we have large numbers of a political party trying to overturn a legal election while calling  Americans who dared to vote differently than they did racists, sexists and fascists.

A recent Ethics Alarms post titled, “Americans: End This Slippery Slope Now, Before It’s Too Late,” about a Washington, D.C. restaurant that publicly apologized for letting an alt-right group to eat there, asked,

Are all groups, families and individuals now going to be required to declare their political and ideological positions before being allowed to order a lasagna? What is an acceptable group? If there is a protest over a Black Lives Matter dinner,  will Maggiano’s apologize? If Mike Pence and his family eats there and the “Hamilton” cast protests, does that mean they will refuse to serve cannoli members of the Trump administration? Despite the fact that the protests came from progressives, the attack on the restaurant is totalitarian in substance.  What is being commanded is conformity of thought.

Ah, but the persecutors are the good guys, don’t you understand? They know they are right, so they can rationalize hurting anyone who isn’t like them. Michael Turner is this breed of citizen. I must admit, when I warned that electing Donald Trump would turn the U.S. into a nation of assholes, I didn’t anticipate that it would be assholes like Michael Turner.

There’s no quiz on this topic, for it is settled ethics that his practice of punishing neighbors for their political views stinks. No, the quiz involves the conduct of Turner’s customers:

Today’s Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is this…

If Turner required customers to state that they voted against Donald Trump in order to buy propane from him, would it be unethical for Trump voters to lie?

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Remember California Attorney Mary Frances Prevost, Who Plagiarized Ethics Alarms? Guess What!

Yup, I saw THIS coming...

Yup, I saw THIS coming…

She’s been suspended.

For the third time.

Good.

To recap…Back in 2012, Mary Frances, who  describes herself on her website as “California’s Top Criminal & DUI Attorney,” posted an essay allegedly authored by her called  “The Trayvon Martin Case Trainwreck: George Zimmerman’s Attorneys Need To Shut Up!”

Oddly, it was posted the same day and shortly after my Ethics Alarms post, “Next To Board The Trayvon Martin Ethics Train Wreck? Why, The Lawyers, Of Course!”

Mary Frances’s was almost word for word the same post, plus some original material at the end. She had ripped me off. She hadn’t even tried to disguise it. This is called stealing, and I believe, shows that an individual lacks the honesty and trustworthiness to practice law.

I took three deep breaths, wrote a post about her plagiarism, e-mailed Prevost and required four things. First, an explanation if she had one; then an apology, a retraction, and proper credit. I didn’t demand damages, as I could have.

Mary Frances’s response was astounding. She didn’t have the courtesy to respond to my e-mail, but went on Facebook to accuse me of plagiarizing her, a neat trick, since my post pre-dated hers. Then she insulted me repeatedly, apparently unaware of how hypocritical it is to claim another lawyer is lacking in legal analysis skills and writing ability when you just published his essay as your own. I posted her whole rant here; it is deranged, making it especially funny that she accused me of being “off my meds.”

The Facebook post was defamation per se: malicious, and deliberately false. I contacted a California attorney, who agreed it was defamation, but said that based on her reputation, he felt it would  not be worth the money, the trouble or all the attacks she was capable of to go to war with her. He also dissuaded me from filing an ethics complaint, saying that unlike some states, California frowns on ethics complaints when there are grounds for lawsuits, and also tends to discount complaints from non-California lawyers.

“Just wait,” he said. “She’ll get hers. Lawyers like this almost always do.” Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On The Post-Election Freak-Out, or “A Nation of Assholes” Reconsidered

2016 Election California Protests

I have to adapt, with acknowledgement, a long-running gag wielded by Prof. Glenn Reynolds on his iconic conservative website Instapundit thus:

“I wrote if Donald Trump was elected President, we’d have a nation of assholes, and I was RIGHT!”

The problem is that the joke isn’t funny in this case. It’s tragic. What I am seeing in the news, watching on social media and reading on the web and in editorial pages shows me that the last eight years have done even more damage to American unity and ethics than I had realized.

First, a brief defense of the word “asshole.” It is a vulgar term, and I fully expect President Trump to use it in a press conference or rant some day. I first employed it here in 2010 to describe Julian Assange. I trust nobody will take issue with that decision. ( “Assange’s real priority is Assange, and everything and everyone else is secondary. Luckily, there is a word for such people, a useful label that will help us assess his actions and motives. Asshole.”)

Next was Rev. Terry Jones in 2011. Remember him? He was the self-righteous pastor who announced that he was going to publicly burn the Koran, knowing that the act would incite anti-American riots abroad, and probably get people killed. I wrote,

“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. He is an asshole. There are others running loose right now—Julian Assange, Michael Moore, Charlie Sheen—but none come close to Jones.”

Frankly, I don’t know how Donald Trump escaped that last sentence.

Last year, as part of my plea to get the Republican Party and its primary voters to be civicly responsible Americans and prevent the nomination of Donald Trump—in my most fevered nightmares, like the ones where my son’s head has turned into an eggbeater and he is dating Miley Cyrus, I never conceived that Trump would actually be elected—I explained that having a President, always the nation’s most influential role model, who spoke and acted like Trump did would transform the culture of the U.S. and give us a whole generation of boorish, mean-spirited, impulsive and self-righteous young citizens, of which misogyny would only be the tip of the metaphorical iceberg. I still fear that this will be the effect of the Trump years, even if he proves to be a popular and successful president. Especially, if he is a popular and successful president.

What I did not fully comprehend is how the divisive actions and rhetoric emanating from the White House, prominent progressives and  the complicit popular culture and news media have already turned a substantial segment of the public into assholes. There have now been four days of violent tantrums across the U.S. as “disappointed” progressives, Democrats and illegal aliens “protest” the results of the election.  MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, an old-school Democrat and unabashed lover of the political process, was gobsmacked, despite his network’s official derogation of Donald Trump.

“What kind of a statement is it really there to make?” Matthews asked. “They lost!”

Of course, there is no statement, just self-indictments, like “We think we know what is best, and will scream and set fires until we get it,” “We have no respect for anyone who disagrees with us,” and “We only believe in the institutions of the nation we live in when they do what we want.” Most obvious of all: “If you don’t fall into lockstep with the policies and rhetoric of the last eight years, you’re a racist.”

Or perhaps “We’re assholes” is  clear enough.  They are assholes nourished and encouraged by the Obama/ Democratic party culture of arrogant and intolerant progressivism, the demonization of sincere dissent, and the ends justify the means.

OBSERVATIONS: Continue reading

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Donald Trump: A Pre-Election Ethics Alarms Character and Trustworthiness Review: 2005-2016 [UPDATED]

trump-mocks-disabled-reporter-cnn-usa-today

Donald Trump has no character or trustworthiness. Next question?

Oh, all right, in the interests of equity and fairness, I’ll submit The Donald to the same process as I did with Hillary Clinton, though in his case the verdict is res ipsa loquitur. Trump’s lack of ethics and his unfitness to fill the shoes of Washington, Lincoln, Teddy, FDR, or Millard Fillmore is, or should be, self-evident. Those for whom it isn’t self-evident are either ignorant, devoid of values themselves, or intentionally seeking to harm the United States.

I’ve been writing about the awfulness that is Donald Trump since 2005. He was noted for his dishonesty on my Ethics Scoreboard when I called foul on his marketing “various ‘get rich’ products, including tapes, seminars, and “Trump U,” an on-line delivery system for more of the same.” I wrote in part

There are thousands upon thousands of Americans who started with meager resources and made themselves rich through talent, hard work, creativity, inventiveness, and some luck. …Not Trump. The success of his pitch to the desperate wannabes and clueless is based on their erroneous assumption, nurtured by Trump but not explicitly supported by him, that he can teach them to do what they think he did…make himself rich through hard work and a business savvy. But what Trump is best qualified to teach is how to make yourself richer when you inherit an established business and have millions of dollars plunked into your waiting hands after your Dad has sent you to Wharton.

The fact that Trump doesn’t lie outright about his background but simply allows his marks to jump to the wrong conclusions puts his “get rich like me” marketing efforts in the category of deceit…but deceit is still dishonesty. Trump undoubtedly has useful wisdom to impart about building a successful career; it’s not as easy to stay rich as some people think. Ask most state lottery winners. Still, the most vivid lesson of Donald Trump’s successful campaign to sell himself as a self-made billionaire is the lesson that 19th Century con-man Joe Bessimer pronounced more than a century ago: There’s a sucker born every minute.

So we knew, or should have known, that this was a con artist at least back eleven years. In 2006, I posted on Trump’s misogyny and incivility, writing about the first outbreak of his feud with the equally vile Rosie O’Donnell, and their public name-calling…

Rosie set off the exchange by suggesting on ABC’s “The View” that Trump’s recent assumption of the role of moral exemplar by chastising and threatening to fire the reigning Miss USA for being a party-girl was more than a little ridiculous, given his own well-documented penchant for fast women and extra-marital affairs. Sometimes Rosie’s full of beans, and sometimes she gets it right; this time she was right, but spoiled it by concluding her commentary with some unflattering name-calling. Trump, no girly-man he, immediately said he would sue O’Donnell, and then launched into an extended riff on how unattractive and fat she was, including the charming phrase, “pig-face.” Classy as always, Donald…. Yes, anyone who admires either of these two annoying characters already has a problem, but there is no escaping the fact that both are celebrities, and as celebrities they contribute to establishing cultural norms of civility and conduct. This is especially true of Trump, who despite his low-life proclivities is a successful business executive. Resorting to personal attacks on an adversary’s weight or appearance is disrespectful, unfair, cruel and indefensible. Doing so on national media is like firing a shotgun into a crowd. There are a lot of fat or unattractive women out there, Mr. Trump, who are smart, generous, productive, loving, intelligent people… Golden Rule, anyone? How are we to convince our children not to ridicule the personal traits of others, when those they see as rich, famous and successful do the same openly, shamelessly, and even gleefully?

You can imagine my continued amazement that ten years after writing this rather obvious assessment, without Trump having undergone a complete transformation, and indeed with his conduct and public statements becoming worse rather than better, we are on the eve of a day that may live in infamy as the moment democracy  completely failed the United States of America, inflicting on it, and the world,  as unstable and unqualified a leader of a great power as history has ever witnessed. Continue reading

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