Nursery schoolers expressing their contempt for the NRA. Or they would, if they could spell it…
This story would be a KABOOM, except for some reason my head didn’t explode, perhaps because at some level I expected something like this, as I know that anti-gun zealots are without shame or common sense.
Students across the nation walked out of school Wednesday in honor of the victims of the Parkland shooting last month, including a group of New London kindergarteners….While people involved in the walkout involving a group of 5-year-olds at Harbor Elementary School said the demonstration was about school safety, student safety and parent permission have been called into question.
…New London Interim Superintendent Dr. Stephen Tracy said he didn’t have a problem with the safety message, but he and the principal didn’t know about the march ahead of time and there was no written permission from parents. “When you’re going to do something like that, in connection with something that, let’s face it, is controversial, you need to seek the approval of the principal and the parents before you involve 5-year-olds in something like that,” Tracy said.
…Harbor Elementary’s crossing guard Joyce Powers said she saw the children escorted in two lines by teachers who were carrying signs that read “enough.” “I thought it was pushing it with that age group,” Powers said. “I don’t think they understood what was actually happening.”
Tracy said he’s talked to the two teachers involved but would not say if any disciplinary measures were taken.
(Wind storms all over Virginia, knocking out power and my e-mail, and blowing over a tree that narrowly missed my son’s car!)
1 Lack of Transparency? What lack of transparency? During a lecture and moderated discussion at U.C.L.A. this week in which he was a a participant and invited guest, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was heckled with hisses, jeers, shouted insults and profanity from students and protesters, some of whom were ushered and even carried out by police officers. A programmed sixth grader in the audience even questioned him about the fairness of passing permanent tax cuts for companies and expiring cuts for individuals, because as we all know, 10-year-olds are well-versed in tax policy theory.
Afterwards, Mnuchin revoked his consent for the official video of the event to be released, perhaps because he was flustered by the harassment and it showed. In response to criticism of this virtual censorship,
The Treasury Department, through a spokesperson, said that what the Secretary did wasn’t what he obviously did—a Jumbo, aka “Elephant? What elephant?”—saying,
“The event was open to the media and a transcript was published. He believes healthy debate is critical to ensuring the right policies that do the most good are advanced.”
He just doesn’t want anyone to see or hear the debate.
A related point: The protests were organized by Lara Stemple, a U.C.L.A. law professor, and students and faculty members participated. Protests are fine; disrupting the event is not. Faculty members who assisted in the heckling should be disciplined, and students who participated should be disciplines as well. It’s an educational institution, and all views sgould be openly explored and heard without interference. No guest of the university should be treated this way. Ever. No matter who it is or what their position. The treatment on Mnuchin was unethical.
2. More Supreme Court fun with ethics! Minnesota’s law banning “political” clothing and buttons from polling places is being challenged as an affront to free speech. The law prohibits people from wearing a “political badge, political button or other political insignia” at a polling place on an election day, and a member of the tea party movement sued after his “Tea Party” message got him in trouble when he came to vote.
“How about a shirt with a rainbow flag?” asked Alito. “Would that be permitted?”
“A shirt with a rainbow flag?” Rogan repeated. “No, it would — yes, it would be — it would be permitted unless there was — unless there was an issue on the ballot that — that related somehow to — to gay rights.”
Justice Alito: Okay. How about an NRA shirt?
Mr. Rogan: An NRA shirt? Today, in Minnesota, no, it would not, Your Honor. I think that that’s a clear indication—and I think what you’re getting at, Your Honor—
A T-shirt bearing the words of the Second Amendment? Alito asked.
Probably banned because of the gun-control issue, Rogan said.
The First Amendment? Alito asked. Probably not, Rogan answered.
Got it. The First Amendment isn’t a political statement, but the Second Amendment is. That led Justice Neil M. Gorsuch to observe: “Under your interpretation of ‘political,’ it would forbid people from wearing certain portions of the Bill of Rights into a polling place but not other portions of the Bill of Rights. And I guess I’m just wondering what compelling interest Minnesota has identified that requires a statute that goes so much further than the vast majority of states?”
In contrast, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asked J. David Breemer, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation, representing the challengers, “Why should there be speech inside the election booth at all, or inside the what you call the election room? You’re there to vote.”
This is a problem requiring an “all or nothing” solution. Either all forms of political speech must be allowed, or no speech at all. In a sick time where citizens honestly argue that a MAGA cap or a picture of a gun makes them feel threatened and “unsafe,” the ethical option would seem to be Justice Kennedy’s. No speech, messages, no logos, no photos, no American flags. Last fall I voted wearing my Red Sox jacket.
Ames Mayfield is a smart, gutsy 11-year-old, and this episode in his life may work to his eventual advantage. Nonetheless, his treatment by his Cub Scout den was nauseating, cruel and wrong, and contradicts the very values Scouting exists to imbue.
There is another likely villain here as well.
Ames’ Cub Scout den met with a Colorado State Senator, Republican Vicki Marble, last week. Ames came prepared with a long list of typed-up questions. (I wonder where THOSE came from?) He raised his hand to ask his first one , involving gun legislation. “I was shocked that you co-sponsored a bill to allow domestic violence offenders to continue to own a gun,” Ames said, according to a video posted to YouTube by …hmmm, not Ames but his mother. “Why on earth would you want someone who beats their wife to have access to a gun?”
Ames’s questions continued until a den leader suggested that he pause and allow the Senator a chance to answer. I wonder if Marble noted the Supreme Court’s decision n Voisine v. United States, holding that a federal statute banning firearms possession by anyone convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” including individuals who have “misdemeanor assault convictions for reckless (as contrasted to knowing or intentional) conduct.” Maybe Ames, who I’m sure is an avid reader of Ethics Alarms, quoted my post on the issue, which concluded in part,
The real question, from an ethical standpoint, is whether Congress can and should remove a citizen’s Second Amendment right based on a misdemeanor conviction for domestic abuse. Is that fair? Sure it is. It is already settled law that it is constitutional to prevent convicted felons from owning guns, even if it was a non-violent felony. From an ethical public policy standpoint, why would it be overly restrictive to ban gun ownership from those who engage in a violent misdemeanor?
…The majority covers the legal logic of the decision; the ethics logic is simpler. How difficult is it not to physicality abuse a spouse to the extent that one is found guilty of breaking the law? It shouldn’t be hard. Nor do I weep for any degree of spouse-beater who is denied the right to purchase a gun. Good, I say to such a person. I don’t trust you, and I don’t trust your judgment. If having access to a gun was so important to you, you should have thought about that before you started knocking loved ones around. If the threat of losing gun rights makes hot-heads think twice before engaging in domestic violence, that’s good too.
“It’s up to Searyl to decide how they identify, when they are old enough to develop their own gender identity. I am not going to foreclose that choice based on an arbitrary assignment of gender at birth based on an inspection of their genitals.”
—Statement released by Katy Doty, Canadian non-binary transgender activist and mother of Searyl Atli Doty, upon it’s birth.
Let’s stipulate a few things before we get into the muck and mire, as well as the “ick” and “Are you kidding me?”…1. As the mother of Searyl, who I recommend trademark that name quick before a drug company uses it for te latest product that will do something to alleviate some dread disease if a sufferer is willing to risk dozens of equally dread side-effects listed at the end of a TV commercial, Katy has every right to do this
2.Katy’s using her just born child as a political and a political prop. She thus qualifies as a soul-less, radical mother who puts her political obsessions over her obligations to her own child, and a great candidate to be an awful parent.
Good luck, Searyl Atli, but I think you are doomed.
3. That name isn’t going to do the kid—can we agree it’s a kid, Katy?—any good either. Giving a child anything but a name that will allow him or her to go through life without a needless and gratuitous handicap nailed to them by parents amusing themselves, grandstanding or turning their offspring into a billboard is a form of child abuse. Being saddled with a name nobody can pronounce—Seerill? See-Ay-rill? See-Ay-RILE? Wait… is this name really an illiterate spelling of Cyril?— or spell will rob anyone of about a thousand hours before they are 60, if they are lucky.
Why would a mother inflict this on a child? Because the mother is a selfish jerk, that’s why.
For those inexplicably loyal fans of the news media who said to themselves, “Well, CNN is an exception. The other respected news organizations will never let the President push them to completely alienate the public’s trust,” here is the hard, cruel truth: you are dead wrong. Open your eyes.
Witness the Washington Post, which somehow thought that it would enhance its reputation as a fair, independent, responsible and objective news source by recruiting a group of children to mock President Trump by singing his tweets. This was a Washington Post promotion, now. The Post believes that its readers want to get their news from a newspaper that gratuitously ridicules the President of the United States. Maybe they are right. Such readers, however, are not looking for facts, or objective analysis. Those readers are looking to feed their confirmation bias.
At “The Hill,” reporter Jonathan Easley tweeted:“WaPo getting kids to mockingly sing Trump’s tweets seems needlessly antagonistic and a dumb move right now.”
Gee, ya think?
I’m trying to imagine the long list of broken ethics alarms that had to malfunction for the Post to let this get all the way through conception, to production, to publication. Nobody in the chain of command said, “Yeah, that’s hilarious, but let’s leave this kind of thing to Jimmy Kimmel, okay? We’re a newspaper.” Nobody. Nobody thought that this would simply confirm what media critics have been saying about toxic anti-Trump bias. Nobody thought about how a graphic demonstration of this mindset at the paper would undercut any claim that the Post is capable of fair reporting on an elected leader it would show such disrespect to just to make a promotional pitch. Nobody. Continue reading →
Exploiting kids is wrong to begin with and in all respects; it can’t “go wrong.” The culture doesn’t just get it. This ethics alarm has been sounding at ear-breaking pitch for a long time. Too many adults and media opinion-makers have not just tolerated cruel and abusive uses of children by the very people who are obligated to protect them—their own parents– but encouraged it. In such a child-focused culture,where “Think of the children!” is an all-purpose emotion-bomb employed with regularity to obliterate rational policy arguments, this ugly realm of ethics blindness still thrives.
Maybe the exposure, shaming and punishment of Heather and Mike Martin, of Ijamsville, Maryland will finally have some impact, but at this point I am dubious. Yesterday these horrible people appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to weep, lie, grovel and try to make the public feel sorry for them, as their torture videos threaten to cost them custody of some or all of their children. Anyone who does feel sorry for the Martins is a fool, and perhaps one of the complicit millions of internet viewers who rewarded the couple for using their children as props, dupes and victims. When you make money by torturing your children to attract YouTube hits, that is signature significance. You are a vile human being, with your values and ethics rotting somewhere in your brain like a dead rat in the attic. The Martins are indefensibly ethics-free human beings, though just two of many. How much can the culture condemn them, when an even worse human being is paid millions by ABC—the hypocrisy of the network is staggering—to encourage the same conduct they are now being, finally, attacked for?
The YouTube video that finally served as a tipping point was the one where the Martins poured ink on the bedroom floor of one of their five young children. The Washington Post describes it:
Heather Martin, a.k.a. “MommyOFive,” is screaming. “Get your f—— a — up here!” she yells at Cody, her young son. Mike Martin — DaddyOFive to his family YouTube channel’s 750,000 subscribers — follows along behind with the camera as Cody runs upstairs. Soon, he is yelling, too: “What the hell is that?” There is ink all over the floor of Cody’s room. The boy begins to cry. “I didn’t do that,” he says, his face turning red. “I swear to God I didn’t do that.” For three minutes, the parents scream and swear at Cody and his brother Alex, accusing them of spilling the ink. Suddenly, MommyOFive reveals a small bottle in her hand. She smiles and laughs. The ink was trick ink, she says, it will disappear from the floor. “You just got owned!” DaddyOFive says, pointing the camera in the faces of his children, who appear to be elementary school-aged. “It’s just a prank, bruh!” As the Martin parents laugh, their children remain sitting on the bed, faces still red from crying.
HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! This is hilarious!
Withover 760,000 subscribers, DaddyOFive earned between$200,000-350,000 each year from YouTube advertising revenue. The ink prank wasn’t the worst of the videos either, not at all. In addition to the emotional abuse being inflicted on the Martin kids, there was often physical abuse. Some videos showed them being pushed into furniture or walls by their father, or being struck by siblings. Here is a sampling of the videos, as they were promoted on DaddyOFive:
Nice. Although these have all been removed by the Martins or by YouTube for violations of their policies—which YouTube apparently only enforces vigorously when sufficient bad publicity is stirred up—they have been archived here. Continue reading →
At a Hillary Clinton town hall yesterday in Haverford, Pennsylvania, a 15 year old girl was supposedly chosen at random to ask a question of her own devising. She delivered a carefully worded query that she read from a script:
“Hi Madam Secretary. I’m Brennan and I’m 15 years old. At my school, body image is a really big issue for girls my age. I see with my own eyes the damage Donald Trump does when he talks about women and how they look. As the first female president how would you undo some of that damage and help girls understand that they’re so much more than just what they look like?”
“I’m so proud of you for asking that question. You are right — my opponent has just taken this concern to a new level of difficulty and meanness. And, it’s shocking when women are called names and judged solely on the basis of physical attributes.* My opponent insulted Miss Universe. I mean, how do you get more acclaimed than that? But, it wasn’t good enough. So we can’t take any of this seriously any more. We need to laugh at it. We need to refute it. We need to ignore it. And we need to stand up to it.”
Investigation yielded the fact that that the “random” participant was child actress Brennan Leach Her father is Pennsylvania democratic State Senator Daylin Leach, a Hillary Clinton ally. Brennan has performed in her father’s campaign ads, and also in a commercial release: she has an entry in the Internet movie data base. Thus it was a lie to present the girl as a randomly chosen questioner, and it was a lie to create the illusion that Clinton was answering a spontaneous question.
Then the news media took the falsely presented episode and spread the lie far and wide as truth.
Using children as props for adults to make their own political or commercial statements is unfair, demeaning and an abuse of power. Oh, maybe putting kids in T-shirts with messages they neither understand nor have consented to convey is not as bad as this exploitation of children for publicity value, perhaps, or this exploitation of kids by their parents, a website and a shameless comedian. And I know that politicians using his own children as their clueless and unconsenting mouthpieces has a long and shameful history, with such landmarks as President Jimmy Carter trying to use his young daughter Amy as the agent of his own position during a Presidential debate with Ronald Reagan, to Ted Cruz’s employment of his daughters in a campaign video that inspired Washington Post political cartoonist Ann Telnaes to portray the little Cruz girls as monkeys.
Nevertheless, I do hate this stuff, and I’m calling for a cultural consensus that using children as billboards, mouthpeices or props for advocacy purposes, no matter what the cause or context, is wrong. I would like to see politicians, advocates, organizations and movements that use children in this manner pay a steep price in lost contributions and support, until the message is learned that the tactic will not be tolerated. I would like to see any parents who volunteer their kids for this demeaning duty to be properly and decisively shamed.
The photo above is an easy place to start; after all, this was at a Donald Trump appearance in Westfield, Indiana, and a substantial percentage of the public hates Trump already.
It’s not like the kids are wearing shirts spelling out “GIVE PEACE A CHANCE,” though that would be equally unethical.
Keith St. Onge and his wife are professional barefoot water skiers and co-owners of the World Barefoot Center in Winter Haven, Florida. Last week, they had their six-month old daughter Zyla strap on little tiny skis and finally attempt what her parents had spent weeks training her for–water-skiing. She did it, too, for 686 feet across Lake Silver. The proud parents filmed her feat and posted the video on YouTube (of course).
The Washington Post notes that many are criticizing the St. Onges for the stunt, claiming child endangerment. Papa St. Onge defended the unusual pre-toddler (the girl can’t walk yet) activity, saying, “People don’t realize that it was done properly. It was planned and she was ready for it.”
Your strange Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…
[This is Paul Petersen’s second guest blogger appearance on Ethics Alarms. Based on his own experiences as a child actor on “The Donna Reed Show” and what he observed in the treatment of his less fortunate colleagues in the field, Paul created the profession of child performer advocate and activist, educating the public and assisting individual performers. (His Facebook friend list is a Who’s Who of former child actors.) Although Paul is officially retired, he continues to speak out about conditions, legal and otherwise, that place child performers in financial, physical, and social peril. The number of child stars, current or grown, who are indebted to him and his organization A Minor Consideration are beyond counting. A true Ethics Hero, his work and statements have been referenced here many times.–Jack]
Can we at least agree on this? Children are a special class of humankind. They are uniquely unformed, utterly dependent, and slaves to the adults who brought them into this world and the society into which they were born.
We all know how children are created, right? They did not ask for this. They are, in a word, innocent. Biologically mature adults are responsible. Of that there is no doubt. Children are a special charge. The rules, for kids, are different…or at least they used to be.
When did they become sexual objects? Since when are they merely background players, mere props? Who decreed that a child immersed in a working environment in which all the contributory adults are compensated for their labor, could somehow NOT be themselves working? Continue reading →