Comment Of The Day: “Now THIS Is A Level 8 Apology!”

In this concise but rich Comment of the Day, Isaac takes on the challenge of re-writing the wildly inadequate and unconvincing apology offered by the Catholic priest who was pressured to recant his negative comments about Islam in a Sunday service.

The apology offered three days later by the chastened priest, Fr.Nick VanDenBroeke:

My homily on immigration contained words that were hurtful to Muslims. I’m sorry for this. I realize now that my comments were not fully reflective of the Catholic Church’s teaching on Islam.

 

Here is Isaac’s alternative, his Comment of the Day on the post, “Now THIS Is A Level 8 Apology!”Continue reading

Now THIS Is A Level 8 Apology!

I’d consider a new head-shot, Father.

On the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, a Level 8 apology, among the worst, is described as “A forced apology for a rightful or legitimate act, in capitulation to bullying, fear, threats, desperation or other coercion.”

Lonsdale, Minnesota priest Nick VanDenBroeke provided one of the finest—well, that’s not the right word since such apologies are insincere and indications of hypocrisy and cowardice, but you know what I mean—examples of such apologies after he was excoriated for saying in a sermon on immigration,

Both as Americans and Christians we do not need to pretend that everyone who seeks entry into America should be treated the same. I believe it’s essential to consider the religion and world view of immigrants or refugees more specifically we should not allow large numbers of Muslims asylum or immigration into our country. Islam is the greatest threat in the world both to Christianity and to America – of course there are peaceful Muslims, absolutely, but the religion as a religion and as an ideology and world view it is contrary to Christ and America.

I am not saying we hate Muslims, I am absolutely not saying that, they are people created out of love by God just as each one of us is. But while we certainly don’t hate them as people we must oppose their religion and world view.  And if we want to protect our great country, not only as a Christian nation but also as the land of the free then we must oppose the immigration of Muslims, that’s an example of keeping bad ideas out of the country that we have the right to do as a sovereign nation.

I’m not a hater for saying this I’m not saying something anti-Christian because the religion is anti-Christian. I’m simply a realist to acknowledge that fact, they are the greatest threat to Christianity and America and we need to recognize that fact and our laws of immigration need to reflect that.

Continue reading

Today’s Weasel Words, Courtesy Of Big Pharma: “Have Happened”

Hi!

Some time in the recent past a memo went out, and as a result virtually all the TV ads for new drugs now include the deliberately awkward and puzzling phrase, “have happened,” or sometimes “have occurred.” First the ad ends with all the possible side effects of the drug and what conditions make it dangerous. Then we hear the list of all the maladies the drug “can cause.” Last of all, we learn that other undesirable things like early onset dementia, a taste for human brains or the dreaded ass-fall-off syndrome “have happened.”

Wait, what? Have happened why? Tornadoes, plagues and firebombings have happened too: why are these things that have happened mentioned in the drug commercial?

Here’s why: the manufacturers are fighting lawsuits alleging that the drugs caused these things to happen, but the companies are arguing in defense that causation is uncertain. By using the vague, passive “have happened,” they aren’t conceding that the drugs caused the problem, but it will still claim in later law suits that the customer was warned, and thus assumed the risk.

It’s double talk, essentially, and deceit. You are warned, but by warning you we aren’t admitting that there is anything to be warned about.

I hate this stuff.

Just thought I’d mention it.

The New York Times Proves Why Journalists Can’t Be Trusted To “Fact-Check” Since They Don’t Know What A Lie Is

jaccuse2

Ugh.

I finally grabbed a barf bag and read the New York Times attack piece from the weekend titled “A Week of Whoppers.” Silly me: Donald Trump lies so often that I simply took it on faith that the Times would have no trouble finding real and substantive lies to expose from The Donald. Instead, what I found were a few genuine lies of no great significance lumpod with statements that were obviously not meant literally, off-the-cuff remarks that any objective listener would assume were just generalizations, self-evident hyperbole, or opinion. None rose to the level of outright attempts to deceive on the magnitude of “I never sent or received classified material,” or “wiped? Like with a cloth?”

Needless to say, but I’ll still say it, none came within a Washington mile of lies like “I did not have sex with that woman,”  which is one Hillary Clinton attempted to facilitate. It is depressing that any reporter, editor or reader would find the analysis that all 31 of these alleged “lies by Trump were “lies” fair, rational or convincing. Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman prove themselves to be partisan hacks with this weak piece of anti-Trump hype. The statements flagged here are so clearly the result of a concerted anti-Trump bias that editors must have assumed that few would actually read them, and just take the headline and sheer size of the feature as proof that the Times had legitimately proven massive dishonesty.

And it had: its own.

Here are all 31 alleged Trump “lies,” with the Ethics Alarms verdicts on each. Continue reading

The Indefensible “Nigger” Double Standard

Andrea Quenette, a University of Kansas communications professor, has been on paid leave for four months after a group of her students filed a complaint that she had used the racial epithet nigger in  response to a question in class. She was asked about  her views on the best way to talk about race with  students, and replied that as a white woman, she found it  difficult to relate to minority groups’ challenges because she has not experienced racial discrimination herself.  She added that unlike other campuses where there had been over racist incidents, she “had not seen “nigger” spray painted on walls at KU.”

For saying this, she was subjected to campus-wide humiliation, an interruption in her teaching career and an investigation, of what I cannot imagine. She was talking about the word, she is a communications professor, words are her business, and it is impossible to talk about the word “nigger” seriously without using it (and no, codes like “N-word”  are either the exact same as using the word itself, or politically correct conventions that show just how silly word-o-phobia really is. Take your pick.) Finding offense with her using “nigger” in this context is simply a “gotcha” by race-baiting students. and as nonsensical as the gag in “The Life Of Brian” where the priest who condemns a Hebrew citizen by committing the blasphemy of speaking the name of God, “Jehovah,” is stoned by the crowd because he speaks the forbidden name in order to utter the condemnation. Nevertheless. Professor Quenette, while keeping her clearly worthless job, was sentenced to mandatory cultural competency training, a.k.a. political correctness indoctrination, and to have a second faculty member work with her to ensure that her curriculum include more diversity.

If she had enough sense, courage and integrity to be qualified to teach at the college level, she would have told the school to take its job, its curriculum, its rejection of academic freedom, its craven capitulation to race-bullying and its disgusting treatment of faculty members and shove them all. But no, she’s a good, submissive  social justice zombie who just made a mistake, and it’s time for her to grovel.

Spurred by this miserable marker of how low higher education has sunk, my indispensable issue scout Fred puckishly sent me this, a Washington Post opinion piece from a year ago. The column, by  African American free-lancer Michael Arceneaux, was sparked by an incident I also commented upon a year ago, when Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison muttered “Fuck that nigga”  behind his hand into a live microphone while answering a post-Final Four game news conference question about Wisconsin player Frank Kaminsky, whose heroics had led to Kentucky’s 71-64 victory.  My position on Harrison, then as now, was this: Continue reading

Further Ethics Observations On The Planned Parenthood Videos

hand

1. The fourth in a series of surreptitiously obtained videos depicting Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal body parts for research has been released. The Center for Medical Progress is the anti-abortion group that has created these videos: it defines itself as a “citizen journalist” project. Since these videos have been made using deception and without the safeguards of established journalism ethics by untrained and non-objective journalists, Ethics Alarms has consistently held that they are the result of unethical conduct, regardless of the motives behind them or what they show.

I am, reluctantly, reversing that verdict. The reason is the now undeniable refusal of the mainstream media and professional journalists to do their duty regarding the abortion issue in general and Planned Parenthood in particular. Despite the significance of these videos, the attack on Planned Parenthood and the fact that abortion is the most contentious and least resolved moral-ethical issue of our time, the news media, broadcast and print, have intentionally and unconscionably avoided covering the Center for Medical Progress videos and the issues they raise. The average American who does not monitor the news over the internet probably isn’t aware of the videos at all, and certainly has no sense of their content.

Journalism ethics codes state that deception and surreptitious means are only justified as investigative methods of reporting when more open and transparent reporting cannot obtain the facts. When professional journalists shrink from their duty to obtain the facts and report the truth, citizen journalists must take over, because democracy requires truth and transparency. Journalists should have made these videos. Because reporters abdicated their duties, those who picked up the dropped banner of probing investigative journalism regarding vital national issues should not be condemned. They should be praised, and by everyone, including journalists. If a fire fighter refuses to enter a burning building to rescue a child, and a citizen knocks down a door to do the job, I don’t want to see that citizen charged for the cost of the door, or criticized for acting. The videos are a public service, and necessary perspective on our society’s war against the unborn. Continue reading

More On The Planned Parenthood “Sting” Video: A Fake Apology, The News Media Embargo, Misdirection, Another Dishonest Defense…And New Rationalization #38 A : “Mercy For Miscreants”

Side issue: Newsbusters used this photo of Petula Dvorak. Is that unethical, as in gratuitously mean? There are nicer ones. (Of course, I'm using the photo to raise the issue. Honest.)

Side issue: Newsbusters used this photo of Petula Dvorak. Is that unethical, as in gratuitously mean? There are nicer ones. (Of course, I’m using the photo to raise the issue. Honest.)

The surreptitiously filmed video of a Planned Parenthood official talking about butchering babies like Ed Gein talking about how to make lampshades out of a human face presented anti-abortion advocates with smoking gun evidence of the callousness and disregard of fetal life the pro-abortion movement has cultivated. One cannot think about fetuses, even advanced fetuses, as living, human beings and blithely encourage their destruction. The recorded comments of Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research, released in the shortened version of a three hour video, should inform a national debate regarding abortion, a debate that the pro-abortion forces desperately want to avoid. The video itself makes it clear why.

Thus the news media is determined to bury the story, just as it barely covered the abortion House of Horrors of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The ugly reality of abortion is not supportive of abortion, just as the reality of slavery was rejected and avoided by slavery proponents until Uncle Tom’s Cabin shocked the culture out of its denial. Abortion advocates focus on the beneficial results of abortion– freedom for women, workforce flexibility, family planning, personal power—and it is the equivalent of slavery advocates pointing to the Old South’s agricultural affluence and pleasant lifestyle to justify keeping hguman beings in chains. The news media shouldn’t be picking winners in this cultural debate. It has a duty to report facts, especially facts that might shock the public out of ignorance and apathy on such a vital issue involving law and ethics.

As activists are wont to do in their passion, the Live Action-affiliated group that released the video over-reached in its interpretation of it, thus giving the news media, Planned Parenthood and the pro-abortion lobby an easy path to deflection. The video doesn’t prove, or even strongly suggest, that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts for research. By making that accusation, the group opened the door to attacks on the legitimacy of the video. Every media report says that it is “heavily edited,” a phrase intended to suggest that it is deceptively edited. The video is heavily edited because the raw video, which is available to view as well, is three hours long and watching it is like watching paint dry while being hit in the face by an occasional rock.

Unless the media defenders of Planned Parenthood think that the unedited video contains moments when Nucatola says, “Oh, by the way, I didn’t mean what I just said, even though I sounded like I did,” the woman displayed a callous, core attitude that killing a human embryo is as ethically significant as stepping on a cockroach. That’s what is so disturbing about the video, why it is important, and why abortion foes should make certain it is viewed by as many U.S. citizens as possible. Political figures, candidates for office and elected officials should also be forced to confront the video, with “well, that’s heavily edited” being immediately called what it is: a dodge.

On the topic of dodges, we have Planned Parenthood’s apology for Nucatola. Cecile Richards, the group’s president, stated in a video:

“Our top priority is the compassionate care that we provide. In the video, one of our staff members speaks in a way that does not reflect that compassion. This is unacceptable, and I personally apologize for the staff member’s tone and statements. As always, if there is any aspect of our work that can be strengthened, we want to know about it, and we take swift action to address it.”

On the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, this is a solid #9,“apologizing for a tangential matter other than the act or words that warranted an apology.” Compassion toward whom? The issue in the video is the disgusting lack of compassion for the unborn who are being reduced to body parts for medical research, not lack of compassion for the mothers of those little bundles of body parts.

As with the Slate’s attempted defense of the indefensible, Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak was propelled by the perceived threat to Planned Parenthood and abortions galore into a near hysterical condemnation of the video, one that, also like the Slate column, nicely illustrated the ethical and logical deficits in the pro-abortion position.

She begins by defining the latest addition to the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List with her very first sentence: “Planned Parenthood has become one of the most attacked groups in America.” The simple rejoinder to that is, “So what?” Either the group deserves a particular criticism, or it doesn’t. The fact that some criticism is unfair or excessive does not invalidate legitimate criticism, or suggest that it is unfair or cruel to offer it.

Nonetheless, we see this rationalization often. It is favorite dodge of Hillary Clinton’s supporters: “There they go, attacking Hillary Clinton again!” they say, as if the frequency of criticism can only be attributable to the unfair zeal of her critics, and her conduct has nothing to do with it. I call this rationalization “Mercy For Miscreants.”

Its theory is that it is only fair to assign a criticism quota to groups and individuals: at a certain point, no more criticism is allowed, because nobody should have to be criticized that much. It is so darn mean to keep heaping abuse on someone, even if they deserve it. This new rationalization  is #38 A,  classified as a sub-rationalization under rationalization number 38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!”  “Mercy For Miscreants,” or “Why don’t they pick on someone else?is arguably more sinister and illogical that its parent, because it is based on the Bizarro World theory that the more someone is criticized, the less they should be criticized. On occasion, this rationalization also appeals to #21. Ethics Accounting, on the batty theory that if someone, or a group like Planned Parenthood, has been unfairly criticized in the past, that should count in their favor and relieve them of being legitimately criticized later.

Petula is just getting started, however. Here next two paragraphs are about how unfairly Planned Parenthood has been attacked in the past, and what wonderful things it does, neither of which are even faintly germane to the current controversy, which involves a high-ranking executive saying things like…

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver. . . . So I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact…”

…about unborn children. That’s what she is crushing. And she is crushing the life out of them, beyond question. Continue reading

On The NFL Player’s Slur, The MSNBC Journalist’s Lie, Words, Conduct, Reason And Proportion

If Riley Cooper were black, of course, then he would be "cool."

If Riley Cooper were black, of course, then he would be “cool.”

There are words, there are thoughts, and there is conduct. Thoughts are not unethical.  Conduct can be unethical. Words can be considered conduct when they are intended to have, or do have, material and measurable direct effects. Verbal abuse is conduct. Using a rude, vulgar or hateful word may not be verbal abuse.

Although the NFL and his team, the Philadelphia Eagles have every right, and some good reasons, to punish, suspend or even terminate Riley Cooper because a video reveals the Eagles player as saying, “I will jump that fence and fight every nigger here!” at a Kenny Chesney concert, I don’t see any conduct there, just words. He did not direct the racial slur at any individual, and there is no evidence that it was intended to harm or intimidate any African-Americans. He did not intend for the outburst to be publicized of communicated to anyone but the friends he said it to. On a pure  just punishment for harm intended or achieved basis, it is ridiculous for Cooper to be facing the loss of millions and his athletic career because he uttered a single racial slur that was captured on a video. It cannot be defended logically or as a reasonable position. Using one racial slur in that setting doesn’t prove that Cooper is a racist. It doesn’t prove hate. Even if it did, hate is not illegal or even unethical until the hater acts on it in an unethical way. And a word is just a word. We don’t, or shouldn’t, fear mere words in a rational American society. We shouldn’t have taboos, or people who “cannnot be named,” like in the Harry Potter books. The ease and certitude with which otherwise intelligent people capable of making judgments involving proportion and common sense blithely go along with the batty idea that uttering a word, only uttering it and nothing more, should result in devastating consequences, is frightening. It is a per se unethical position, because it is unfair, and incompetent, because it is essentially crazy.

Having said that, I can understand why, since so many people are irrational about words, why the NFL or the Philadelphia Eagles, as a business decision, may decide that they don’t want Cooper associated with them any more. That is a rational choice, and may even be the best choice. That is not the same as saying that he deserves that result. If the bulk of NFL fans are fanatically politically correct, then the NFL and its teams cannot afford to ignore that. Sorry Riley. Continue reading

Proposing “The Bachmann-Plouffe Rule”

My new rule could stop this from happening to me in the very near future, and perhaps you as well!

I am ready to bestow my ever-lasting loyalty and admiration, not to mention a lifetime Ethics Hero award and maybe even a monthly stipend upon the first broadcast journalist who pledges to employ henceforward what I will call “The Bachmann-Plouffe Rule.”  ABC’s George Stephanopoulos emphatically did NOT employ the rule this morning in his back-to-back interviews of White House advisor David Plouffe and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, inspiring me 1) to name the rule and 2) throw my newspaper at the TV screen. Twice.

I don’t have the transcript, but I can fairly describe the exchanges. Plouffe was routinely mouthing Obama re-election talking points, when Stephanopoulos pressed him on the issue of gay marriage, specifically regarding the fact that the Democrats are talking about having a national campaign platform plank that explicitly endorses it, while the President has notably declined to give a clear endorsement of same-sex marriage. George asked why Obama doesn’t just declare that he supports it, and, if he does not do so, whether his ambivalence will place him at odds with his party’s position.

Plouffe didn’t answer the question. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Rep. Dennis Kucinich

Muslim women, in ethical garb

During last week’s hearings on the alleged radicalization of Muslim-Americans, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, protesting that the hearings were an example of prosecution and bigotry, said:

“Islam is a religion based upon peace, goodwill and the ethical treatment of all people on this planet.”

Politics involves advocacy, and zealous advocacy sometimes metastasizes into exaggerations, overstatements, and lies. Determined governors are called dictators and criminals; those questioning global warming models are compared to Holocaust deniers. Believing that an attack on an enemy nation is in the best interests of America, leaders who should be saying, “We have good reason to believe that this nation has weapons of mass destruction and is inclined to use them,” say instead, “We know where the weapons are and the threat is imminent.” Other leaders who are trying to get important health care reforms passed say, “Don’t worry—if you like your current plan, you’ll be able to keep it!”, neglecting to add the caveat that that plan you like may be forced out of existence if the bill is passed.

These excesses range from deceitful to outright lying, but they are all unethical, all disrespectful of the truth and the public that has a right to it, all aimed at manipulating public opinion with falsity.

I find Kucinich’s statement especially indefensible, because the degree of his presumably misstatement of the truth was completely unnecessary if his motives were good. Continue reading