Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/19/2020: In Which The Conundrum Is Posed, “Can A Warmed-Up Warm-Up Still Be Called A Warm-Up?

Hmmmm…

Well, that was strange. Yesterday’s warm-up turned into the long post about Judge Staton’s disturbing dissent, and by the time I had finished it and the previous “fake news” compendium, my window for getting the Saturday Warm-Up up had slammed shut. Today’s Warm-Up is largely made up of the items that were wiped off the board by the Obama-appointed judge’s “whenever the courts really, really think national policy should be different from what it is, they have the power to change it by edict” opinion.

1. Sausage biscuit ethics. I’m fond of sausage biscuits for breakfast, but the 7-11 variety have a garbage-y taste, and the sole local McDonald’s that I’m not boycotting for ethics transgressions is mobbed in the morning. Of the frozen variety, I will not patronize a company, Jimmy Dean, which uses its dead founder as a TV spokesperson without pointing out that he’s dead. Over the holidays, I tried a lesser and much cheaper brand of frozen sausage biscuit, Tennessee Pride, and they were good enough.

Yesterday I bought another box. When I pulled out a bag of two “sausage biscuits,” I saw that the sausage was sitting between two small buns, unlike the contents of the previous box. Buns are not biscuits, but the label on the box read in large type, “Sausage Biscuits.” I did notice, however, that the photo on the box showed buns.

Would that fact be a complete defense against an accusation of false labeling? I doubt it, but it doesn’t matter. “Fool me once” is once too many.

2. Res Ipsa Loquitur: “an informed public.” Twitter user @Golfergirl2018  shared a post she saw on Facebook, written by someone who sympathizes with antivaxx parents (you know…morons) who don’t want to put “chemicals” in their kids. “I think instead of chemical shots the doctors should give a small piece of the virus, so the body can build immunity,” he wrote.

BRILLIANT! Why didn’t someone think of that long ago?

Yes, it is unethical and irresponsible to publish opinions on topics you haven’t researched, don’t understand, and know nothing about. I wonder how many social media posts would survive if this were recognized as a rule of commentary? Continue reading

Film Cutting Ethics: Three Episodes

 1.  The Canadian Broadcast Company edited Donald Trump’s cameo out of “Home Alone II” when the Christmas-themed family film was aired this week. That sets some kind of record for pettiness, don’t you think? The CBC lamely denies that they meant anything by it, responding to an inquiry,  “As is often the case with features adapted for television, Home Alone 2 was edited to allow for commercial time within the format.” Sure. I believe that! Don’t you believe that? Continue reading

Day Before The Night Before Christmas Ethics Package, 12/23/2019, Now UPDATED With The Meme I Stupidly Didn’t Post Despite Polling On It (Sorry!)

Merry Christmas!

TWICE yesterday store employees returned my “Merry Christmas!” with  a “Happy Holidays!” that was delivered in a tone that to my ear was intended to convey, “No, THIS is what you should say.” Both times, I was tempted to call them on it, but did not. Maybe I was being hypersensitive, maybe that wasn’t their intent…but of course it was. The next clerk or cashier who does that to me might get a “No, Merry Christmas. Do you have a problem with that?” back.  I’m that close…

1. ARGHH! “Baseball” censorship! Here’s another nauseating example of the capitulation to the word-banners. The MLB TV channel, which, like its satellite radio counterpart, is challenged to come up with programming this time of year. (The radio version held a quiz last week in which we were challenged to identify expressions of despair and horror as either coming from Cleveland Indians fan tweets about the trading of ace pitcher Corey Kluber, or from reviews of “Cats.”) Yesterday the channel was showing Ken Burns’ terrific documentary “Baseball.” In the segment on Ty Cobb, we were told about in infamous incident in which Cobb jumped into the stands to beat up an abusive fan, who, it turned out, had no hands. When the crowd shouted this fact at the infuriated player, he reportedly replied that he’d throttle anyone who called him “that” even if he had no legs. What was “that”? Why, it was that Cobb was a “half-BEEEEEEEEP!” Yes, a loud, high-pitched beep was injected into the narration instead of the word itself, which was in Burns’ original work (I own a copy.) Morons. If the word is  discernible from the context, then the beep equals the word, so just use the word. If it isn’t clearly indicated—and while I was pretty sure, knowing the story, but uncertain enough that I had to check—then it is incompetent to leave viewers wondering. Half-crazy? Half-wit? Half-lizard? Half-breed? No, Cobb was called “half nigger,” and the exact word is essential to understand the incident but also a key component of Cobb’s character. Did Burns approve the marring of his soundtrack? I doubt it.

This has got to stop.

2. Great: colleges are now free to bribe students to renege on their promises. In a proposed agreement announced this month in response to Justice Department antitrust accusations, the National Association for College Admission Counseling said it would allow its member college and university counselors to recruit students even after they have committed to another school and would permit members to encourage students to transfer after they have already enrolled. From the Times:

Now, colleges will be free to offer perks, like special scholarships or priority in course selection, to early-decision applicants, students who are less likely to need tuition assistance and use the process to secure a spot at their first-choice schools. …Institutions will also be able to continue recruiting students beyond a widely applied May 1 deadline that is typically imposed for students who have applied through a regular decision process and are considering offers based, at least in part, on financial aid packages.

The promises to commit to a school that gave you an early admission were never legally binding, just ethically binding. And they still are. Any college whose applicant reneges on such an agreement after being seduced by another college should send a letter telling him or her, “Thank you for voluntarily withdrawing your acceptance. Our school wants only students of good character, who are trustworthy, honest, and value integrity. Now that we know that you do not honor commitments, we realize that we erred in accepting you. We’re sure you will fit right in at the school you chose, however, and wish you the best in your years there.” Continue reading

From “The Ethicist”: Revealing The Real Bigots Among Us

, aka “The Ethicist,” apparently received two inquiries last week from what I fear are typical New York Times readers: self-righteous, progressive, and totalitarian at heart. As usually is the case, “The Ethicist’s” answers were competent. I’m not really concerned with his answers, though they were too timid and pandered to people who needed to be metaphorically slapped in the face. It’s the questions that are really ominous.

Inquirer #1 wanted to know what to “do” about her landlady, whom she and her partner “have come to believe that she harbors significant racial and gender biases.” She continued,

When units in our building come up for rent, she often asks  [us] to recommend friends, and over the years a number of our friends have lived here. I value being able to extend what really is an extremely good financial deal to friends who would really benefit from it, but am deeply uncomfortable about the fact that, in doing so, I am enabling her racism and sexism. Is there an ethical solution here? I wish I could report her to some sort of city housing authority (we are in Los Angeles), but I doubt I have any legal recourse as I’m not an aggrieved party and my belief in her biases is based on casual observations and overheard comments. I can’t point to a particular incident. I feel guilty for not wanting to recommend the place, as I know so many friends who could use the financial break, but I also feel like it’s harder and harder to justify “helping” her in any way.

The woman has not observed any incidents of racism or sexism, but she wants to “report” the landlady, who has apparently always treated her well. Inquirer #1 has decided that it’s unethical to “help” such a person because that would be “enabling” her evil ways, whatever they are. Basically, she feels that she is justified in punishing her landlady for not embracing her views, the “right” ones. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Reflections, 12/15/2019: Bad Film Criticism, Bad Journalism, Bad Honors…And Some Really Stupid Stuff Too

The late, great, Jerry Vale..

(Also known as “the mob’s favorite tenor”…)

1. And speaking of Martin Scorcese movies, since Jerry Vale is alluded to in several of them…”The Irishman” has been viewed on Netflix by many of my showbiz friends, and most, while complaining about the film’s length, have declared the performances “brilliant.” This reaction, is, I think, bias at work, the so-called “halo effect.” It’s the same phenomenon I witnessed in the D.C. theater community, where certain actors, directors and big theater companies were routinely called “brilliant” in their efforts, when in truth, the exact same product presented by artists with lesser reputations would be shrugged off or ignored.

The three veteran stars of “The Irishman” are being praised by critics across the board, but in truth, with the exception of Al Pacino, they seem weary and channeling earlier, better performances. This is especially true of Joe Pesci, who shows none of the energy we associate with his best performances, and the script requires him to run the gamut of emotions, as the old joke goes, from A to C. He’s as old as Joe Biden, and looks and acts every inch of it, though his character is supposed to be younger. Scorcese has used tech wizardry to give De Niro a younger face when necessary, but it still sits on top of his  80-year-old body. and there is nothing in De Niro’s act that we haven’t seen over and over again (though not so much lately, as Bob has been collecting checks for bad movies in which he appeared to be “phoning it in”).

Pacino, as Jimmy Hoffa, is lots of fun as usual, but he doesn’t appear to be trying to be convincing as the mysteriously disappeared labor boss, who was 62 with he vanished. Pacino is 79. How could anyone call Pacino “brilliant” as Hoffa? Jack Nicholson was far more convincing in the film “Hoffa,” and Pacino isn’t significantly different than he was playing a Hollywood agent in “Once Upon A Time In America.”

It must be nice to reach that stage as an actor when you get paid big checks just to show up, like Marlon Brando in “Superman.” Especially if everyone is going to say you were brilliant.

2.  And now for something completely stupid. This is remarkable in the dual category of incompetence in one’s chosen pursuit (theft) and unforgivable ignorance regarding social media.  Arlando Henderson, 29, who worked for a bank  in Charlotte, North Carolina, stole money from his employer’s vault at least 18 times, for a grand total of $88,000.  He was apprehended and arrested after posting about his robbery hobby on Facebook, including posts showing his new Mercedes-Benz, and this one…

You know, if someone is this stupid, ethics alarms hardly matter…

3. Surely we are missing some crucial information here...The New York Giants, in the midst of a horrible season, fired veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins last week. Why? He was engaged in an argument with a fan on social media who objected to Jenkins posting  his personal stats after a game that his team lost, and wrote,

“I only can do my job.. retard. Continue reading

Ethics Catch-Up, 12/12/2019: Special Two-Day Edition!

So far, this pre-Christmas slog has been especially horrible.

This post started out as yesterday’s potpourri, and I was interrupted just as I was about to post it. So now its a two-day edition.

1. The IG’s report embraces Hanlon’s Razor. What the report on the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged “collusion” says is that he Inspector General could find no documentation of a “conspiracy” or bias against the President, but that the FBI’s conduct was remarkably inept throughout. Hanlon Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

When the AG says that the FBI handling of the investigation raises questions about how it conducts itself in more routine matters, isn’t the obvious next step to find out? If the evidence shows that the FBI doesn’t make such “mistakes” normally, only in a situation—the investigation of a Presidential candidate from the party opposite from the one currently represented in the White House—where one would assume special care would be applied, what would that tell us? One of the AG’s revelations is that “an F.B.I. official who had to sign an affidavit attesting to the accuracy and completeness of a court filing had specifically asked about any relationship with the C.I.A. Mr. Clinesmith altered the email so that it stated that Mr. Page was “not a source,” contributing to the Justice Department’s failure to discuss his relationship with the C.I.A. in a renewal application.”

That’s interesting. And why did he lie? Just “sloppiness”? At some point, repeated errors begin suggesting bias and intent.

It is astounding that James Comey is crowing in the media about the report, when the agency he led showed itself to be thoroughly incompetent at the exact moment when trust and care were most essential. He should hide his head in a bag, as Justice Scalia liked to say.

2. Ann Althouse reads Jamelle Bouie so I don’t have to. Thanks, Ann! After making Bouie an Ethics Dunce numerous times and finding him to be biased, anti-white fool who had no business being published in any fair and responsible conversation, I stopped reading him. Fortunately, Ann Althouse has a stronger stomach than I do, and pointed readers to “Two Articles of Impeachment for Trump Are Nowhere Near Enough/The House should take its own sweet time and investigate many more aspects of the president’s perfidious behavior,”  where he openly analyzes the Democratic impeachment follies as tactic to affect the 2020 election, and, ethics-challenged that he is, endorses that clear abuse of the Constitution, writing in part,

Democrats, in other words, can use the power of impeachment to set the terms of the next election — to shape the national political landscape in their favor. In a political culture governed by negative partisanship and hyperpolarization, restraint won’t save the Democratic majority. But a relentless anti-Trump posture — including comprehensive investigations and additional articles of impeachment — might just do the trick.

He’s scum, pure and simple.

Ann responds, “Does he not hear what he is saying?! He’s telling Democrats to drop the pretense of principle and patriotism and go all out for political advantage.”

3. Benefit of the doubt! That’s rich. The New England Patriots are again implicated in a cheating controversy. I have no read several commentaries, mostly from Boston source, arguing that the team “deserves the benefit of the doubt.”

This is the most unethical, untrustworthy, win-at-all-costs team in a sports league that has no problem crippling young athletes for profit. Sure, it should be proven guilty on facts, not presumption, but a history of being deceptive and breaking rules at very least removes the “How can anyone think we would do such a thing?” factor.

4. Top stories? Below are the results of a poll that tried to determine what the public considered the “top stories” of 2019 according to the proportion of those polled who “heard a lot about” each, by party affiliation.

5.  This is propaganda, not news reporting. Time Magazine, which admittedly is an animated journalistic corpse these days, still makes headlines with its choice of its “Person of the Year,” but that nostalgic notice won’t last much longer with selections like this year’s honoree:  teenage climate change scold Greta Thunberg. The choice is dishonest, manipulative, and absurd. Her impact has been nil; her expertise is imaginary; her cause is futile, and her rhetoric is insulting and hysterical. Few Americans know her name, and the number is still higher than it should be.

Of course, the idiocy of Time’s choice doesn’t excuse President Trump’s gratuitous tweet mocking her and the selection. This is beneath him, or should be. I grasp his logic: since the mainstream media will treat the ridiculous choice with reverence, being all-in on climate change hysteria, so he has to publicize the truth. Sometimes that logic is valid, but not when it comes to punching down at a manipulated and exploited child, which is what Thunberg is. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 11/19/29: Rushing Around Hotel Rooms Edition

Started this post in a DoubleTree this morning, finishing it (I hope) this afternoon in a Hyatt.

1. Nauseating. The ACLU awarded Christine Blasey Ford the Roger Baldwin Courage Award.

There is no excuse for this, and it shows how deeply the once pointedly non-partisan Bill of Rights defense organization has allied itself with the political Left. The attack she fostered on Brett Kavanaugh violated the principle of due process and her unsubstantiated accusation of a dimly recalled sexual assault when the Justice was a teenager is the kind of abuse of justice that the ACLU once opposed. Writes an outraged Nina Bookout on Victory Girls,

What exactly did she do that could be defined as courageous?

  • Was it her allegations of rape that were never verified?
  • Was it her throwing high school friends under the bus?
  • Was it changing her stories in mid-stream, and then changing them again while testifying?
  • How about the fact that she needed Mark Judge to verify the date she was attacked because she can’t remember?
  • How about her beach conversations, the polygraph, and the weirdness about the second door?

If that’s today’s definition of courage by the ACLU, then we have yet another word with its meaning distorted in order to fit a desired narrative.

What Christine Blasey Ford did, with the tacit approval of the Left and encouragement from the likes of Diane Feinstein, is the very opposite of courage. It is spiteful cowardice.

Obviously, I think, Blasey-Fordis being lionized by the ACLU for applying the ends justifies the means approach by being willing to expose herself to deserved ridicule in order to smear a Trump SCOTUS nominee deemed to place the right to abortion at risk.

In this she is reaping the same benefits that came Anita Hill’s way when she ambushed Clarence Thomas with distant accounts of alleged sexual harassment.

2. Speaking of undeserving “heroes,” pundits are saying that it does not seem as if the NFL “trusts” Colin Kaepernick. Well, of course they don’t. The way he has packaged himself as a martyr for “social justice,” there is literally no chance that if signed as a back-up quarterback, he would devote his full attention and energy to playing football.

What I find amazing is the news media’s constant description of his kneeling stunt as “raising public awareness to police violence against African Americans.” How does a football player kneeling during the National Anthem call attention to anything other than a football player kneeling during the National Anthem? It doesn’t. My attention is drawn to police violence against African Americans when I learn about a genuine example of it, like the shooting of Walter Scott in the back as he fled an arrest. When inarticulate publicity-seeking  race-baiters like Kaepernick say their actions are meant to raise public awareness of police violence against African Americans and they cite Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, and other complex episodes, then they only call attention to their ignorance and unethical desire to demonize whites and police. Continue reading