Tag Archives: diversity

Ethics Quiz: Hillary’s Ghost Cabinet

ghost-cabinet

Former Politico staffer Mike Allen published a leaked list of what he says are the names of individuals who were being considered for Hillary Clinton Cabinet jobs.

Nobody knows if the list is accurate or genuine, but Allen is well connected, and many assume it is. For the purpose of the Ethics Quiz, we will also assume the list is authentic, but whether it is or not doesn’t matter regarding the ethical principles involved. Here is the list:

hillary-cabinet

No, the quiz query does not involve The Horror of John Podesta for Secretary of State. Note rather the 11th bullet point: “EPA: likely an African-American (and/or at Education).”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:

Is it ethical to make race the primary qualification for a Cabinet post?

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Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Quizzes, Race

Award Ethics: Hollywood’s Casey Affleck-Nate Parker Controversy Is Ethically Simple, But Then, Hollywood Doesn’t Have Ethics

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (7734778do) Casey Affleck - Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Manchester By The Sea 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Press Room, Los Angeles, USA - 08 Jan 2017

There were several possible Ethics Alarms posts that could have come out of The Golden Globe Awards last night, the obvious one involving the continuing arts community tantrum in the wake of the election of Donald Trump over Hollywood’s sweetheart, Hillary Clinton. Meryl Streep put herself in the running for “Gratuitous Cheap Shot Of The Year ” with her acceptance speech for something or other, but I decided that in a community where Rosie O’Donnell tweets “Fuck you!” to the Speaker of the House for simply completing his duty to certify the Electoral College vote, and over the weekend tweeted, “HE MUST NEVER BE SWORN IN – DELAY INAGURATION – INVESTIGATE – ARREST HIM” as her considered analysis of the proper workings of our democracy, Streep’s shot seemed like the height of restraint.

The more interesting issue on display at the Golden Globes  involves actor Casey Affleck, Batman’s brother, who won the night’s Best Actor in a Film Drama award for his performance in “Manchester by the Sea.” Last year, it was revealed that the actor had two sexual harassment lawsuits filed against him in 2010 that alleged he had groped women on the set and created a generally hostile work environment while directing the film, “I’m Still Here.” Since during the campaign Hollywood was all-in using misogyny and sexual  harassment as one of the many accusations against Donald Trump, some claim that honoring Affleck undermines the community’s assumed condemnation of the Trump-like conduct he was accused of.

Complicating the matter is the conundrum surrounding Nate Parker, the previously unknown black artist who was the main creative force behind the 2016 slave-revolt film “The Birth of a Nation.”  As Oscar buzz was ramping up for his film—remember that the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences is more or less obligated to find plenty of nominations and awards for African Americans, regardless of objective artistic merit—  new details surfaced concerning a decades old criminal case in which Parker was accused of raping a female student while both were at Penn State.  He was acquitted,  but the facts were ugly, and the alleged victim committed suicide. Once that was known, all of the promise shown by “The Birth of a Nation” evaporated. Although the film was a smash at festivals, it received mixed reviews,bombed at the box office, and has been poison at the various awards so far, receiving no nominations.

The New York Times, among other media sources, has published several articles about the apparent double standard, saying most recently,
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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Major Ethics Alarm: American Journalism Is Crumbling Before Our Eyes [Part 2: Sounding The Alarm]

flag-american-crumbling

The analysis below was preceded by Part I: Signature Significance. I suggest reading it first. After listing and commenting on several recent examples of news media bias and incompetence, the post ends with the Ethics Alarms starting point for ethical analysis:

What’s going on here?

What’s going on is pretty terrifying. There is literally no major news media outlet that isn’t biased and untrustworthy, and the profession does not appear to care. Is it denial? Is it terrible training? Is it a misguided sense of mission? Arrogance? Whatever it is, it is res ipsa loquitur–it speaks for itself.

Don’t argue that the news media isn’t always wrong or constantly allowing partisan bias to skew its reporting: the point is the same as what Ethics Alarms explained in its Snopes post.  Once bias is manifest, the reliable reporting must occuring spite of that pollution, and there is no way for the public to know when it is being informed according to proper journalism ethics, and when it is being manipulated. The examples above are egregious. They would not have been permitted even 20 years ago, and yet now they are.

This doesn’t require much acumen to spot the problem, or elaborate measures to address. Look at the examples in Part I. How hard is it to figure out that once a reporter has been shown to be colluding with one party over another, it’s “Bye-bye and welcome to the baby zoo animal beat!” If it is so impossible for a Sunday news show to find four expert commentators who aren’t in Trump-freak-out mode, it’s time to upgrade the potential guest pundit list. When an anchor wildly mistates a fact like the McConnell quote that has been repeatedly debunked, 1) correct it, 2) apologize, and 3) give her a few days off without pay. How hard is that? It’s not hard, unless the entire profession is so devoid of ethical training and habits that it literally doesn’t know how to be honest, objective, fair, competent and responsible…you know, as in trustworthy.

Professions are obligated to police themselves. It shouldn’t be a conservative media watchdog site like Newsbusters that reveals Camerota’s unconscionable repetition of the long-debunked claim that Republicans vowed to obstruct Obama “from Day One”, it should be CNN’s competitors, or CNN. Brian Stelter, CNN’s own media watchdog, didn’t report on any of these episodes, because he has been dedicated to playing defense for his network, denying that news media bias exists. On October 16, just before another Wikileaks dump showed how many mainstream media journalists were regarded by the Clinton campaign as allies, Stelter engaged in a long sneerfest mocking the idea, which he attributed to Trump, that the news media was biased against Trump and trying to elect Clinton, beginning with… Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, U.S. Society, Workplace

Tales Of The Insidious Double Standard: SNL’s New Latina’s Tweets

You better be hilarious, kid...

You better be hilarious, kid…

 Saturday Night Live recently announced that it was hiring its first Latina cast member, as the show has finally capitulated to placing diversity over humor as a priority. Mexican-American comedian Melissa Villaseñor, 28,  the designated quota-filler, barely had time to take a victory lap before that mean internet thingy tracked down some embarrassing baggage, especially for a performer recruited to buff SNL’s progressive credentials. Aura Bogado, a writer for Grist,  tweeted that Villaseñor had deleted more than 2,000 tweets from her archives over the course of a week.

Why, you ask? Well, because there were tweets like this…

snl-tweet5

aaaand THIS…
snl-tweet4…this:
snl-tweet-1
…THIS…

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture, Professions, Race, Rights, Social Media, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump

Ethical Quote Of The Month, And Ethical Acceptance Letter Of The Decade: The University of Chicago

acceptance_letter

This is all over the web, but as an ethics site, Ethics Alarms can hardly not join the throng.

The tragedy is that we have to regard anything in this letter as the least bit remarkable. I now eagerly await the wave criticism of the message, condemning it  as insensitive and racist.They have already started. Grand View University professor Kevin Gannon argued in a blog post,

Students ought to be challenged, even made uncomfortable, in order to learn in deep and meaningful ways. And, of course, collegiate education is where students must encounter perspectives different from their own… and that’s what this Dean and the anti-trigger-warnings, no-safe-spaces crowd are counting on-that the surface veneer of reasonableness in these admonitions to the Class of 2020 will obscure the rotten pedagogy and logical fallacies that infest this entire screed…Displaying empathy for the different experiences our students bring to the classroom is not a threat to our academic freedom. Allowing for a diversity of perspectives to flourish, even when that diversity might challenge the very structure of our course and its material, is not a threat but an opportunity.

Slate calls the letter “strange” and notes..

[T]he letter’s author, John Ellison, betrays a common misunderstanding of “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”—both of which exist for the exact purpose of “building a campus that welcomes people of all backgrounds.” Trigger warnings are not intended to shield students from controversial material; they’re intended to warn students about disturbing content so that they won’t be shocked by it.

You know, like what happens in real life: we get an early warning before anything happens that might upset or “shock” us. Ellison understands perfectly: trigger warnings and safe spaces are part of a strategy to marginzlize individuals, groups and ideas by stigmatizing them as “controversial,” “disturbing,” and “shocking.”

I’ll also be watching to see if the university administrators will stand behind their bold words.

Maybe this will serve as a splash of ice water in the faces of Dean Ellison’s spineless and feckless colleagues around the country, like those in the University of Missouri, whose capitulation to campus race-baiters and grievance bullies has cost the school over 2,000 students. It may also be the final gasp of truly liberal higher education in the U.S.

We shall see….

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Leadership, U.S. Society

Beauty Contest Ethics, Diversity Ethics, Bizarro Word Ethics: The Miss Teen America Pageant

Teen USA finalists

Bizarro World Ethics is a useful if mind-melting concept. Since Superman Comics’ Bizarro World contains a backwards—literally—civilization in which everything is the opposite of the way it is on Earth, the ethics are necessarily backwards too. What is right, in a culture where the populace not only says hello for good-bye, but also eats the plates while throwing away the food? Can wrong be right in such a weird place? Does right become wrong? Or is the whole idea of ethics impossible in Bizarro World?

Beauty contests today are like Bizarro World. They are inherently anachronistic, embodying the correctly discredited concept that beauty equals virtue. They also are based on the fiction that beauty can be objectively qualified and compared with sufficient precision that a decision holing that  gorgeous Contestant D, who is Asian and brunette, is objectively more beautiful than gorgeous black Contestant C, gorgeous Hispanic Contestant B, or gorgeous white Contestant A isn’t arbitrary and completely subjective. Bodybuilding competitions and dog shows have the same problem, as do the Academy Awards. For pure, obvious stupidity and dishonesty, however beauty contests beat them all. This is why the topic has inspired some terrific film satires, like “Smile,” “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” and even “Little Miss Sunshine.”

We all know—don’t we?—that beauty contests are really just excuses to give guys a chance to gawk at scantily dressed pulchritudinous women. This is what makes Miss Teen America the most icky of the breed: the contestants are scantily dressed women who consent to being lust-objects for men the age of the their fathers and grandfathers. What is ethics in such a spectacle? The whole enterprise is constructed of unethical components.

The Miss Teen USA pageant was pronounced ethical, for example, after announcing they would discontinue the swimsuit segment of the competition, replacing it with a parade of the contestants in athletic gear, because the swimsuits made the young women look like sex objects and eye candy.  You know…not like this:

missteen outfit

Muuuuch better. No dirty old man is going to be salivating at that.

But over the weekend all that good publicity for pretending to be about something other than rewarding lovely teens for being walking pin-ups on national television collapsed when this diverse. multi-color, multi-ethnic  group of beauties..

2016 Miss Teen

…was narrowed down to these five finalists, the best of the best, the fairest of them all, after all the numerical scores were tallied and checked and double-checked:

Miss-Teen-USA-2016 five

This caused some unhappiness among the diversity police, as you might imagine. Tweeted super-model Chrissy Teigen, who looks like this..

Chrissy-Teigen---SI-Swimsuit-2015--15-662x968

“Wow how can we choose from such a diverse bunch”

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Four Supreme Court Decisions: Abortion, Guns, Affirmative Action, Corruption…And Ethics. Part I: Fisher v. University of Texas

Abigail Fisher: Not dark enough to get "an equal shot"

Abigail Fisher: Not dark enough to get “an equal shot”

The under-populated U.S. Supreme Court recently made four decisions on issues with ethical principles involved. This is the first of four posts reviewing the ethics implications of the decisions.

I. Affirmative Action: Fisher v. University of Texas

The University of Texas’ admissions program guarantees admission to top students in every high school in the state. It is dubbed the  Top 10 Percent program, though the percentage cutoff is flexible. A second part of the admissions program admits other students from Texas and elsewhere using standards that take into account academic achievement and other factors, including race and ethnicity. Many colleges and universities base all of their admissions decisions on such grounds. The case before the Court challenged that part of the program, and presented an opportunity for the Supremes to finally declare affirmative action unconstitutional, as previous opinions hinted they might do some day.

This was not the day, however. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, said courts must give universities significant but not total autonomy in designing their admissions programs, writing:

“A university is in large part defined by those intangible ‘qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness.’ Considerable deference is owed to a university in defining those intangible characteristics, like student body diversity, that are central to its identity and educational mission.But still, it remains an enduring challenge to our nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity.”

This defines either an ethical dilemma, which the Court’s majority is punting, or an ethical conflict…which the Court majority is punting. Is diversity an ethical objective, or a practical one, that is, a powerful non-ethical consideration? It is hard to argue that diversity in a student body isn’t desirable—to enhance the educational experiences of students, to avoid having a permanent, under-credentialed underclass, to “look like America.” However, fairness and common sense argue that admitting one candidate over another who is better qualified simply because of ethnicity or race is per se wrong. I don’t blame the Court at all for not making a clean call.

As usual, President Obama described the result in simplistic terms. “I’m pleased that the Supreme Court upheld the basic notion that diversity is an important value in our society,” he told reporters at the White House. “We are not a country that guarantees equal outcomes, but we do strive to provide an equal shot to everybody.”

Thank you, President Obvious. The crux of the case, however, was what should be done when using race as a standard for admission to attain that diversity denies an “equal shot” to someone who has the misfortune to be white, like Abigail Fisher, or Asian-American. Continue reading

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