Occupy Wall Street: Unethical Demonstration, Unethical Supporters

If this is the level of your comprehension, I really don’t care what you think.

“Ethics Bob” Stone recently posted about the ethics of mass demonstrations like “Occupy Wall Street,” noting that long-term, open-ended demonstrations begin crossing ethical lines once they accomplish the goal of sending a message and hang around anyway, creating fertile ground for violence, and, though Bob doesn’t mention this, inconveniencing the public, wasting scarce municipal funds, and tempting pundits to make fools out of themselves.

Even with this, Bob is giving the Occupiers more credit than they deserve. A group that imposes its presence on the public, law enforcement, and local governments is entitled to express a minority and even a crackpot viewpoint. There is an ethical obligation, however, not to abuse the right of assembly and the precious time of everyone else by creating a big disturbance that means nothing, conveying a message that is irresponsible because it is based on ignorance.

New York Magazine quizzed the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, and discovered that: Continue reading

What America Has Learned From Sarah Palin

Thanks for the enlightenment, Sarah!

When Ethics Alarms last left Sarah Palin, she had delivered a description of Paul Revere’s famous ride on the evening of the 18th of April in 1775 that would have earned her an F in speech class and, at best, an Incomplete in American History.  Incredibly, however, Palin and her indomitable supporters have tried to turn the tables on her critics, aided by several history pedants, by claiming that her collage of words and thoughts was really a sophisticated account of Paul’s evening that her historically ignorant critics failed to appreciate.

Uh huh. Let’s revisit her statement, shall we? She said:

“[Revere] warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and making sure as he was riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”

This was, by any standard, an eccentric representation of Paul Revere’s ride, and a spectacularly inarticulate one. In assessing whether Palin’s statement can, by any stretch of the imagination, be said to indicate that she either said what she meant to say or has the vaguest idea of what Revere’s ride was all about, we answer these questions: Continue reading

False Leaders, GOP Division, Part I : Sarah Palin on Paul Revere’s Ride

"What the HELL did she just say about me?"

“He who warned, uh, the … the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringin’ those bells and, um, by makin’ sure that as he’s ridin’ his horse through town to send those warnin’ shots and bells that, uh, we were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free … and we were gonna be armed.”

—-Sarah Palin, recounting the famous ride of Paul Revere during her bus tour.

I can’t criticize Herman Cain for mixing up the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, as well as score Michele Bachman for putting the “Shot Heard Round the World” in New Hampshire, and neglect to express my disgust at Sarah Palin’s inability to tell a story that every grade schooler should be able to recite by heart. Yes, I admit to being something of a Paul Revere fan, but I also am not touring the country on the pretense that I am reminding Americans of their legacy and values.

This is classic Palin, repeating her slovenly modus operandi on display from the moment she was thrust into the national spotlight. She fakes almost everything she does. She is glib and charismatic, and no dummy (though she does some stunningly dumb things). She has many of the most important traits of successful leadership, except indispensable basics like diligence, integrity, and respect for her constituents’ intelligence. Being a leader also takes dedication, hard work and attention to details: you can’t fake and jive your way through on charm and passion alone. Continue reading

Would It Be Ethical To Prohibit Civicly Ignorant Citizens From Voting?

CNN columnist L.Z. Granderson made the argument in a recent website post that it would be reasonable to deny the right to vote to ignorant Americans who cannot name the three branches of government and who have nary a clue about the issues facing the country .

Granderson could have saved some time by simply writing the undoubted truth that American policies, progress and choices of leaders and are greatly handicapped by the fact that lazy, uninformed, blissfully ignorant boobs warp our democratic process….and have almost from the beginning. But so what? What can be done about it? There is one thing for certain: taking away the right to vote based on someone’s subjective formula for measuring “ignorance” isn’t among the realistic—or ethical—solutions. Continue reading

America’s Ignorant Public: What’s Worth Reporting?

John Avlon’s dubious conversion from the author of a best-selling book labeling politicians who disagreed with John Avlon as “wingnuts” to a “No Labels” champion reminded me that he was one of many commentators to draw great significance from a Harris poll last spring that revealed what he called “scary” beliefs held by Republicans. There were several such polls this year about Republicans, conservatives and Tea Partiers; expressing alarm at how ignorant right-leaning Americans are became something of a media fad. For a news media largely dominated by reporters, producers and editors desperate to stave off the erosion of support for Barack Obama, the polls were perfect ammunition: they were genuinely newsworthy; reporting them undermined the credibility of those “scary” Tea Party rallies; they created an opportunity for the news media to bolster its own credibility by explaining why, for instance, the President was not the Anti-Christ, and perhaps best of all, it reinforced the conviction of the majority of newsmedia reporters who self-identify as liberals that they belong to the smart side.

Perhaps it isn’t so strange, then, that only a few news outlets and even fewer commentators chose to feature the results of a recent Harris poll showing that 40% of the U.S. public thinks that Karl Marx’s signature phrase “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” originates  from one of the America’s founding documents. Continue reading