Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/1/2019: Mania In Pennsylvania

Hello from Cannonsburg, PA.

Mr. Adams, but Mr. Adams
The things I write are only light extemporania
I won’t put politics on paper, it’s a mania
So I refuse to use the pen in Pennsylvania

—-Ben Franklin, in “Mr. Adams,” 1776

(But Ben didn’t have a computer…)

1. Like watching a zombie outbreak. Predictable, embarrassing, scary, disgusting, and hilarious. The comments on my Facebook feed by Trump Deranged friends and friends of friends really does begin to make me wonder if protected Trump Hate is mental illness. Multiple people were willing to go on record as saying that they believed Michael Cohen, and—get this—that they found him to be a sympathetic character! Now it’s true that these same people believed Jussie Smollett, Nathan Phillips, Bill Clinton and Christine Blasey-Ford based on nothing more than ideological bias and anti-Trump animus, but even these four are paragons of honesty and trustworthiness compared to Cohen. It is also amazing that these Coehn fans are so confident of the Facebook echo chamber that they don’t hesitate to write something so mind-numbingly stupid.

2. Petty perjury. The Republicans who are trying to prompt an investigation of Cohen for alleged perjury before Congress are abusing process, and worse, they are  imitating the bitter Democrats who argued that Bret Kavanaugh committed perjury by giving his recollection of an innocent definition of “boofing.” Among Cohen’s alleged “lies” is that he said he never wanted to work at the White House in the hearing, but said elsewhere that he did want to work there. The man is inately unbelievable (but sympathetic!) He’s a criminal. He has violated too many legal ethics rules to count. He betrayed his client’s confidences. He has lied under oath. He’s been disbarred. It is literally impossible to have less credibility than Michael Cohen. There is no point in proving petty perjury, except to be vindictive.

3. Testing the tolerance, determination and gag reflex of those who believe in innocence until proven guilty. Michael Jackson’s family is out in force to condemn “Finding Neverland,”is out in force to condemn “Finding Neverland,” a documentary debuting on HBO this weekend.  It purports to chronicle the King of Pop’s alleged serial child abusing, featuring two former kiddy pals who slept in Michael’s bed, all in good fun, according to the Jacksons. No jury ever found Michael guilty, though one has to wonder if the result would have been the same if he looked and sounded like Vin Rhames. On the other hand, Jackson was so, so strange that virtually anything is believable, including the theory that he really was just a big, famous, harmless, case of arrested childhood whose motives were pure as the driven snow. The Jacksons say his now grown playmates are just seeking money and book deals. That’s certainly plausible. What isn’t plausible is that the Jacksons say they never thought Michael’s obsession with young children was suspicious or troubling, and that they see no reason why anyone would have expected them to advise their brother not to act like a pedophile, whether he was one or not.

4. Selma Blair. Selma Blair never became a big star; I remember her best in “Hellboy.” She was talented, though, and now we know she’s gutsy, appearing on the Oscars red carpet using a cane. Blair has multiple sclerosis, which has disabled a career already shot by another crippling malady for movie ingenues–getting older. Blair announced her illness on Instagram, saying, “I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken gps. But we are doing it. And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best.” Now she is defying typical Hollywood vanity to appear in public, giving invaluable support to the million-plus Americans who suffer from MS. Wrote Ed Tobias on the MS support website, MS News TodayMS News Today:

“If a photo is worth a thousand words, then the video of Blair and her cane, as she slowly made her way along the red carpet at the Oscars, is worth a million. It shows pain and persistence. Caution and class. It shows what many of us have to handle each day. And Selma Blair showed an audience of millions how to do it. Bravo!”

Agreed.

5.  Now let’s see how many acting jobs David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel get after this. An arbitrator awarded $179 million,awarded $179 million, much of it in punitive damages, to the two and one of their partners in the long-running hit TV show “Bones,” holding that Fox executives lied, cheated and committed fraud at the expense of the show’s stars and executive producer Barry Josephson. That creative Hollywood accounting robs stars is the third worst-kept and longest running secret in show business, #1 being that directors and producers use their power and star-makimg ability to force actresses to have sex with them, and #2 being that an awful lot of actresses take advantage of that illicit entree. James Garner was one of the few big stars to challenge the swindle in court, and he did so more than once. He won, too, but he also paid a price in lost roles. Most stars just put up with the cheating and take their paychecks, which are pretty big anyway.

Maybe Boreanaz, a latter day Garner who may have sensed that he has maxed  out his career as he enters his fifties (surely you remember him as Angel, Buffy the Vampire Killer’s tragic true, un-dead love?) and Deschanel, who has always been oveer-shadowed her younger, cuter, funnier sister Zooey, may have decided that there was no downside in fighting for their fair share. Or maybe—just maybe—they are making a courageous stand for their profession. Either way, it is good ethics news any time the Hollywood moguls get foiled in this game.

The Dumbest Casting Ethics Controversy Yet

Sometimes the line between confused ethics and plain old stupidity is razor thin. This controversy is one of those times.

Actor Bryan Cranston, best known for “Breaking Bad,”  is being criticized for playing a a quadriplegic billionaire in “The Upside,” his new film  released Friday, because he is not actually handicapped.

He’s also not a billionaire, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue for some reason.

Jay Ruderman of the Ruderman Family Foundation complained, “While we don’t know the auditioning history of ‘The Upside,” casting a non-disabled actor to play a character with a disability is highly problematic and deprives performers with disabilities the chance to work and gain exposure.”

No, Jay, it isn’t problematic, because the primary objective of the performing arts is not, and has never been, to provide “the chance to work and gain exposure.” This is the affirmative action mentality that as it gets stretched further and further from reality and common sense by the woke and the wokeness-addled, increasingly ensures that society eventually  rejects the whole tortured concept. The objective of the performing arts is to entertain, engage and enlighten the audience. That requires casting the best actors available, and in film, frequently the best know actors, in the judgment of the director and the producer. Bryan Cranston is one of the most skilled actors in the world. I am extremely confident that there isn’t a single quadriplegic actor that can equal him, if indeed there are any at all. Audrey Hepburn could also play a blind woman better than any of the few available blind actresses, when she starred in “Wait Until Dark.” Tom Hanks and cliff Roberrtson could play  mentally-challenged caharcters in “Forrest Gump” and “Charlie” better than any mentally-challenged actors.

I can’t believe we even have to have this conversation. Continue reading

Now THIS Is An Unethical Stickler For Policy…

I love this story! It’s a classic example of the unethical bureaucratic mindset. It shows that it isn’t only American brain-on-autopilot officials who embarrass the human race this way. Best of all, it’s from France, as far away from the ridiculous NFL protest than isn’t a protest and the President’s obsession with it as possible.

Frenchman Philippe Croizon gained international fame in 2010 when he swam the English Channel without the use of his arms or legs, because he has no arms or legs. He is almost certainly the most famous quadruple amputee in the world, and definitely the best armless and legless long-distance swimmer, if you don’t count fish. Yet when he recently tried to board a train, he was blocked by a railway employee who asked for proof that he was disabled. (Disabled passengers get a discount on train tickets in France). Here is Croizon…

The controller insisted on seeing his state issued disability card.  Croizon was in a wheelchair. He has no legs or arms. Never mind: if you can’t prove you’re disabled by producing the proper documentation, the controller insisted, then you aren’t disabled.

Eventually other passengers made such a commotion that the controller gave up and took Croizon at his word. When I first started reading about this, I thought that the guy was arguing that if Cruizon could swim the channel, he wasn’t disabled. Of course, this would mean that French porpoises couldn’t get their discounts either. Or the Little Mermaid.

Croizon is apparently an amazingly nice guy. He tweeted about the incident, but unlike everyone who has read about it and responded on social media, he refuses to condemn his tormenter, and wrote the controller was just doing his job.

“I wanted to take things with a sense of humor and do not get to insults,” he wrote. “This gentleman may have had a bad day, he may be tired, I don’t know.”

It was generous and kind for Croizon to try to give this officious fool a hand,  but he really doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

(I’m sorry.)

A Thought Sparked By Another Incredible Revelation: Could It Be Ethical To Just Accept Outrageous Government Incompetence?

idea-spark

A persistent election cycle joke is the candidate who swears the deficit can be brought into line without cutting any sacred cow programs or entitlements, or raising taxes. All that has to be done, the candidate explains, is to eliminate the billions of dollars lost to “waste, fraud, and abuse.”

The theory is either dishonest or proof of disqualifying naiveté. Massive systems create massive inefficiencies, and massive systems that confer power and influence attract the inept, the foolish and the corrupt like the Clintons attract cynics. Not only is it impossible to significantly eliminate waste, fraud and abuse from the government, as long as the government keeps growing, their incidence will only increase.

Every time I see evidence of flagrant waste of taxpayer money, or absurd programs that encourage irresponsible behavior and public assistance dependence on a crack-brained theory based on misplaced compassion, I wonder if it’s even worth flagging any more for the unethical betrayal of public trust that it is. Nothing changes, or is likely to change. The waste and unconscionable lack of responsible government has persisted my whole life, though administrations of both parties.

It is true that this administration seems to be the first that doesn’t even try to be competent or responsible, or perhaps that places such negligible value on those qualities that their absence isn’t even viewed by its supporters as a flaw. Good intentions are all that matter. To me, this is insanity, as well as deadly arrogance and obvious incompetence, but it is the theme of the Obama Administration. The attitude appears to be reaching its apotheosis in the rhetoric surrounding the Iran nuclear deal, with the President’s recent comments suggesting that it is a good deal because the alternative is facing a reality we don’t want to face. Even though John Kerry claimed that the operating negotiation philosophy would be that no deal was preferable to a bad deal, he was clearly either lying or off mentally wind-surfing somewhere, because that is not the way his own administration reasons. A bad health care law is better than no health care law, so bad is really good. A bad illegal immigration policy is better than no illegal immigration policy, so the bad policy is good. A terrible recovery from the recession is better than no recovery at all, so the administration is crowing about depressing job numbers and more citizens on public assistance than ever before. This entire administration and its political culture is based on the rationalization I have termed the worst of them all, #22, Comparative Virtue, or “It’s not the  worst thing.”

Nearly seven years of this have  turned the brains of many Americans and especially Democrats to Swiss cheese, and that may have terrible consequences down the road. For example, a recent poll showed that 59% of Americans favor the pending deal with Iran, and 59% also don’t think it will work. Hmmmm. Now, I’m going to be kind and assume that the 41% of my countrymen who don’t like the deal are in that second 59%, but even then, this leaves a significant 18% who like a deal they don’t think will work. Why? Because it’s well-meaning.  Because the President is doing “the best he can.” Because they really think that hoping and wanting and avoiding unpleasant truths is a good way to live. Anyone who is in both 59%  groups is brain-washed or brain dead, and a victim of this President’s acceptance of incompetence without accountability as a management model.

My most recent thoughts on this topic were prompted by this incredible item: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Lettering Of Michael Kelley

Michael-Kelley-Down-Syndrome

Controversy in Kansas:

Michael Kelley is a high school student who has Down Syndrome and autism. He plays extra-curricular special needs basketball, so his family bought him a varsity letter and had it sewed to a school jacket to resemble the jacket the school’s athletes wear. The school’s special needs teams are not regarded as  varsity sports.

The school asked Michael to remove the jacket or the letter, since East High’s policies dictate that only varsity teams can wear the letter.

Now Michael’s mother is petitioning the school board to ensure that special needs team members get letters. Public reaction in Wichita is running against the school, which is being painted as cruel and lacking compassion by not letting Michael wear his letter jacket.

Your Ethics Alarm Ethics Quiz this almost spring weekend (March is back to being a lion here in the D.C. area) is this:

Should the school have let the special needs athlete wear his counterfeit letter jacket?

Continue reading

The Tangled Ethics of the Down Syndrome Cheerleader

There’s a lot going on here, and I may lack the ethics dexterity, or perhaps the courage, to figure it out.

I learned about the story on CNN this morning, as the newscasters were getting misty-eyed and “Awwing” all over the place. With a lot of fairly disturbing ethics issues rotting on my plate, I was looking for something uplifting to write about. I’m not sure whether this is it or not.

Here is the most recent on-line story about Kory Mitchell, a sophomore on the varsity cheerleading squad for Manitou Springs (Colorado) High School, who was born with Down Syndrome:

DENVER, Colo. – A Colorado teen with Down syndrome has made her dream of competing in a cheerleading competition come true.

Colorado’s 3-A cheerleading champions hail from Manitou Springs. At the top of their pyramid is a teenager who has overcome serious challenges in her life. The countdown is on as thirteen girls get one last practice in at the Colorado School of Mines. In minutes, the Manitou Springs Mustangs huddle will compete against other top teams.

Cheerleaders take center stage showcasing their spirit and synchronicity. The Manitou Springs Mustangs huddle one last time. And for the first time, joining them in competition is 16-year-old Kory Mitchell.

“She is full of life and full of energy and always wants to be a part of everything,” says her mom, Bonnie King, as she watches with pride.

Her daughter has dreamt about being a cheerleader since elementary school. Her mom is emotional.

But learning these already complicated routines is harder for Kory. “It`s just a tough road when you have a differently-abled child. And to see them have a sense of belonging and acceptance is what she wants, of course, is just so beautiful to see it,” mom says.

Kory’s teammates see what’s under the surface. Things like courage, patience and unconditional acceptance.

“She`s pretty spunky. And she`s got some sass. She loves being out there. It`s nice to see her smile and part of the team,” says one of her teammates. Sometimes competitions aren’t about who wins, but a little hardware doesn’t hurt.

Kory accepted the trophy and a hand from her teammates.

“It`s my dream come true. I love my girls a lot. I`m a big fan of cheerleaders,” Kory said.And Kory’s teammates are big fans of her. This was Kory`s first competition, but she has cheered with the team since last year at football and basketball games.

Observations (some of them reluctant): Continue reading

Offense By Proxy: “Laugh At The Crippled Girl!”

The Offender and his friend,the Unoffended Offended.

Forest Thomer II  says he was conducting  “guerrilla marketing” when he went to a May 23 “Party in the Park”  hosted by the local Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. Pointing to Ally Bruener, wheelchair-bound because of Muscular Dystrophy, he quizzed various groups in the crowd, asking, “Do you want to laugh at the crippled girl?” Then Bruener, who is an aspiring comic, wheeled up, told a joke and announced the location and time of  her next performance.

Surprise! Someone was offended—so offended that the police were called. They threatened to shock Thomer with a taser and then arrested him, charging disorderly conduct by virtue of “grossly abusive language.” This could have sent Thomer to jail for a month. When Thomer’s attorney made it clear that he was going to argue censorship, the city changed the charge to “Turbulent behavior,” whatever that is. Amazingly, this ridiculous case actually went to trial, and after four days that could have been better spent making napkin holders out of popsicle sticks, a jury found Thomer “not guilty.” Continue reading