The Most Important Question Raised By Another Fake Hate Crime Story: How Much Lousy, Irresponsible, Divisive, Biased Journalism Will The Public Tolerate And The News Media Refuse To Fix?

All over the major newspapers and news media last week was the ugly tale of another “hate crime.” 12-year-old Amari Allen, a black sixth-grader at a Christian, Northern Virginia private school, said that three white boys held her down and  cut off some of her dreadlocks.

The New York Times  and other news sources decided this was national news, just like a white Catholic school boy not having the right expression on his face when he was being harassed by a Native American activist.  More proof of racism in America! “They put me on the ground,” the girl recounted in an emotional phone interview”One of them put my hands behind my back. One put his hands over my mouth. One cut my hair. They were saying that my hair was ugly, that it was nappy.”  Why was this alleged episode of childhood bullying worthy of national attention? It was because Mike Pence’s wife Karen teaches at the school, the Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, about 15 minutes from my home.

This was cognitive dissonance manipulation. Pence’s wife teaches at a school where a black girl was racially harassed, thus the school is racially biased, thus Karen Pence is facilitating racism, thus her husband consorts with a racist, and it all leads back to that racist, President Trump. ( Big Lie #4)

With the same motivation,  the left wing websites enthusiastically promoted the story. Here’s the always shameless Daily Kos:

See the white supremacy hate crimes that Trump, Pence, and Republicans foster? The local NAACP immediately got into the act, talking about lawsuits.

Except that it didn’t happen. The Washington Post reported today that the girl has recanted, and her grandparents, who are raising her, have apologized.  Continue reading

Sex! Denial! Confirmation Bias! Media Obama Protection! Betrayal! Assholes! Hannity! It’s “Spermgate,” The Ethics Controversy That Has Everything!

Is this a stupid story? It is worthy of Ethics Alarms’ time and attention? That’s a legitimate question well down the list of issues raised by “Spermgate”—my name for it, and I hope nobody else’s, because it is intentionally silly—regarding whether President Obama’s official portrait contains an intentional representation of a sperm cell, a trademark of the artist, Kehinde Wiley.

But to prematurely answer that question, yes, story is worthy of Ethics Alarms’ time and attention, because the related issues it cracks open for examination are more important than the specific story itself.

I was going to title this story “Stop making me defend Sean Hannity.” Hannity, whom I regard as a blight on multiple landscapes, including national ethics standards, was among the first to assert that the portrait of Obama included a sperm on his face. I heard about this third hand, and immediately concluded that this was just one more anti-Obama Hannity fantasy. And there we have it: bias, one of the themes of this whole episode. I don’t trust Sean Hannity, I don’t respect him, and I question his integrity and motives. As with all bias, the Cognitive Dissonance Scale immediately took over. Here it is again…

Hannity is down around  -10. For me, if he declared that chocolate wonderful, and chocolate was at +7 on my scale, his endorse ment would yank it down into negative territory. So I didn’t even bother to check out Hannity’s claims—after all, he’ll claim anything to embarrass Democrats.

Then I stumbled across a mocking piece in the Daily Kos, full of mockery regarding Hannity’s crazy claim and launching the (pretty funny) gag, “Oh the #spermhannity.” The article began with the assumption that Hannity’s claim was res ipsa loquitur ridiculous, and signature significance for an right wing idiot. I accepted this analysis, even though I have about tyhe same level of bias reagrding the Daily Kos that I do regarding Hannity. It seemed as if Hannity himself had doubts, because after the barrage of abuse and ridicule, he deleted his tweet and the article on his website about the  “inappropriate sexual innuendo” and the hidden image of sperm in the portrait. I was prepared to leave it at that, but decided to follow up this link on the Kos post:

“If you’re hoping for more explanation than that, you will not find it in the article, which is still available to read via cache. It moves on from there to note that the artist once sardonically used the phrase “kill whitey” in New York magazine profile, which at least has the virtue of being true, unlike the claim that he put sperm in his painting of Barack Obama, which is objectively not true.”

Through that link, I eventually found the close-up section of the portrait pictured above. Here is the portion of it at issue:

Anyone who says that it is objectively untrue that the section doesn’t include what might have been an intentional representation of a sperm is either lying or is in the throes of crippling confirmation bias and denial.  Of course that could be a sperm. Here are sperms…

Here’s that vein in Obama’s head again…

Continue reading

Lawyer Snaps, Criticizes Own Client On Twitter, Daily Kos

Mark S. Zaid is a distinguished lawyer currently active in bolstering anti-President Trump efforts. He actively trolls on Twitter for clients looking to bring laws suits against the administration, and his clients include prominent “resistance” conspiracy theorist and blogger Louise Mensch, whose name I was blissfully unaware of until last week, and now she is turning up in my e-mail, in my story feeds, everywhere.

A couple of days ago, Mensch launched a new Trump rumor, using “anonymous sources” (which makes her just like the New York Times and Washington Post!) that the Daily Kos picked up. You can read it here: good luck. It is so muddled in its “facts” and suppositions that it makes other fake news look good. Naturally, the Daily Kos took the “breaking” scoop at face value, although it was so legally absurd it made my teeth hurt. The Palmer Report, the same wacko site that drove Larry Tribe around the bend, also was in the mix.

My favorite item in the “story” was that a court had handed down an indictment against President Trump, not for criminal purposes but to support his impeachment. When I read stuff like this, I stop reading further. Grand juries don’t work like that. Courts don’t work like that. Indictments don’t work like that. Impeachment doesn’t work  like that. Nothing works like that, except to a mind where complete hatred and fear of Donald Trump and the joy of having so many mutually infected embarrassing themselves in high places has caused the brain to morph, hopefully only temporarily, into a gerbil wheel.

Zaid, who obviously has a high tolerance for this blather being a 24-7 Trump basher himself, apparently couldn’t take it any more, and wrote to his client Louise on Twitter and in the comments to The Daily Kos story,

Respectfully to my client, there is no info available to support this. We need more than just these anonymous source(s).

This is like putting client advice on a billboard. This is like leaving client advice on an answering machine (yes, I’ve encountered that!). This is like putting client advice on your Facebook wall, and it is exactly like posting  client advice on a public website, because that’s essentially what Zaid did. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Wonkette Writer Rebecca Schoenkopf

juanita

I can absolutely see Bill Clinton doing this (then, not now) and not even thinking of it as rape, but thinking of it as dominant, alpha sex. I can see a LOT of men doing that during that time period, before we started telling them in the ’80s, “hey, that is rape, do not do that.” I can see YOUR NICE GRANDPA doing that, back then…I think good men can rape, and be sorry, and not do it again. This is very bad feminism…To sum up, I think Bill Clinton could very well have raped Juanita Broaddrick; that it doesn’t make him an evil man, or irredeemable (I’m Catholic; we’re all forgiven, if we’re sorry, and Broaddrick says Bill Clinton personally called her up to apologize). It doesn’t even necessarily make him a bad feminist — you know, later, once he stops doing that.

  Rebecca Schoenkopf, writing in the progressive blog Wonkette, talking about Juanita Brodderick’s rape accusation against Bill Clinton

Broaddrick’s claims are back in the news, now that it was noticed that the Hillary Clinton website quietly pulled its statement about the victims of sexual assault having “the right to be believed,” Clinton’s jaw-dropping assertion—given her despicable role in silencing and discrediting Bill’s various victims—that Ethics Alarms discussed when it was first made.

I awoke to multiple rightish blogs, and Ann Althouse, who is dead center, going bonkers over this piece, and rightly so. My initial query is, why only right wing and moderate blogs? Is the left this corrupted by Bill and Hillary? (Okay, that’s rhetorical: the answer is “Damn right they are.”) When did it become progressive to argue that “good men can rape”?

I thought that was a misogynist pig position scrawled on the walls of a troglodyte’s cave.

Good men do NOT rape. Ever. Rape—do I really need to say this?—is signature significance. It was in the 80s, it was in the 60s, it has always been. If you rape (and if you defend rape), you’re not good, you’re not ethical, and you’re not trustworthy. And–do I really have to say THIS?–you’re not just a bad feminist, you’re a phony feminist. (By the by way, you gotcha-masters out there: I am not saying that there is anything wrong with a lawyer defending an accused rapist, like Hillary Clinton did. That is not defending rape itself.)

So why aren’t the indignant, politically correct, feminist, war-on-women-deriding left-leaning web sites, commentators and bloggers collectively retching at the Wonkette post? Explain that to me, someone. Explain why it isn’t evidence that integrity hasn’t died in their skulls, and is stinking up their ethics like a dead rat under the floor-boards. Continue reading

Bad News Bernie Fans: Your Hero Is Just As Ethically Clueless As Donald Trump

rose and Bernie

From the transcript of Bernie Sanders’ interview with CBS’s Charlie Rose:

ROSE: But take a listen to this, this is what you’ve said. You said that, “Clinton should apologize for Iraq war deaths.”

SANDERS: This is after I was asked to apologize for the tragedy in Sandy Hook. You know, put these things into context.

ROSE: Tit for tat.

SANDERS: It is tit for tat. But I’m responding to attacks that are being made against me.

ROSE: I’m asking where the tenor of this campaign is going. And is that going too far to say she bears responsibility for Iraqi war deaths?

 SANDERS: Do I bear responsibility for the tragedy and the horrors of Sandy Hook? So, you know, let’s get off of that. Of course she doesn’t bear responsibility. She voted for the war in Iraq. That was a very bad vote, in my view. Do I hold her accountable? No.

ROSE: I just wanna come back to the Iraqi thing one second, and one more question. You have said that she voted for the Iraqi war. Other people did as well. Many other people. Do you hold all of them responsible for the deaths of Americans?

SANDERS: No. 

ROSE: Then why say it, Senator? That’s the question.

SANDERS: I am saying it because I was attacked.

NOTES: Continue reading

An Amazing Case Study On How Bias Makes Us Stupid

when-facepalmnot-enoughBias makes you stupid. It interferes with our objective judgment, makes us unreasonable and unfair, leads to poor decisions and the loss of the respect of others. Seldom will one see a more striking example than the current post on The Daily Kos, the unhinged far left website, by earnest, progressive, biased and struck-stupid commentator Mark E. Anderson.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is a potential Republican presidential contender who is hated by progressives with an unseemly passion for his successful vanquishing of public employee unions in a traditionally liberal state. He never graduated from college: he left the University of Marquette in his senior year to take advantage of a business opportunity, and never looked back. Good for him.

In a recent interview, addressing his lack of bachelors degree, Walker said,

“I’ve got a master’s degree in taking on the big government special interests, and I think that is worth more than anything else that anybody can point to.”

Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Day: Ken White at Popehat

File photo of U.S. Director of Exempt Organizations for the IRS Lerner being sworn in to testify before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington

“Pardon me: if you accept the proposition that the government targets organizations for IRS scrutiny because of their political views, and you still say things like ‘why take the Fifth if you have nothing to hide’, then you’re either an idiot or a dishonest partisan hack.”

—-Attorney-blogger Ken White, discussing former IRS official Lois Lerner’s refusal to testify in front of Rep. Daryl Issa’s House Government Oversight Committee

Good point.

Elaborating on the point before this statement, Ken points out why this is so:

“You take the Fifth because the government can’t be trusted. You take the Fifth because what the truth is, and what the government thinks the truth is, are two very different things. You take the Fifth because even if you didn’t do anything wrong your statements can be used as building blocks in dishonest, or malicious, or politically motivated prosecutions against you. You take the Fifth because if you answer questions truthfully the government may still decide you are lying and prosecute you for lying.”

Got it. Or, you take the Fifth because you really did engage in illegal activity in a coordinated effort to obstruct legal political action for partisan motives, on orders from someone with close ties to the White House, which still may be the case.

In the same post, Ken explains that Lerner may have waived her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, or may not. If she has, then she is in contempt of Congress. If she hasn’t, she isn’t.

My observations on this slow-motion ethics train wreck: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Observations On The “Affluenza” Sentence”

 

I don't think this is the same "Theodoric of York" who authored this excellent "Comment of the Day"...at least I hope it isn't.

I don’t think this is the same “Theodoric of York” who authored this excellent “Comment of the Day”…at least I hope it isn’t.

The heat/ light ratio in the comments to the post about the controversial sentencing of a 16-year-old scofflaw in Texas has been depressing, but among the rational, measured, well-considered and thought-provoking responses by those who actually read the post, this one, by new commenter Theodoric of York,  is a winner. His politeness is especially appreciated among all the posts calling me names that would shock my mother. I hope he comes again, and often.

I’ll have some further comments after he’s had his say. Meanwhile, here is Theodoric of York’s Comment or the Day on the post Ethics Observations on the “Affluenza” Sentence.

Disclaimer the first: I’m not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. Disclaimer the second: I have no knowledge of Texas law regarding juvenile justice, nor do I have any knowledge of Texas state law regarding negligent vehicular homicide, nor do I have any real knowledge of that state’s laws regarding DUI, homicide, manslaughter or murder. And yes, I know the difference between murder and negligent vehicular homicide, and I am also aware that young Mr. Couch is a minor. Disclaimer the third: I have not read Judge Boyd’s actual ruling, nor have I seen actual video of her sentencing. If someone could provide a link to that (if a link exists), it would be appreciated. That being said: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Conspiracy Theories and the Disrespect Follies

One of the problems with the hateful, vicious, hyper-partisan politics that now grips the nation is that its most severe sufferers, inevitably the so-called “bases” of the two political parties and their most vocal advocates, end up making themselves look like fools because of it. Their fervor drives out rationality, and by refusing to assign decent and reasonable levels of  respect to their political opponents, they devalue their own credibility, sometimes to the vanishing point. They may not really be fools (though some of them are), but in a real sense, they have been driven insane…by hate, by lack of proportion, and a respect deficit that banishes both fairness and responsible conduct.

Crazy Accusation A: Republicans/Conservatives… Continue reading