Pop Ethics Quiz! What’s Wrong With This Picture?

speeding bullet

No, you don’t have to spot the mistake, now.  That’s too easy. The single, embarrassing mistake in this ad created for Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group Everytown For Gun Safety is so obvious I’m pretty sure there are 5th graders who could spot it. A bullet doesn’t come out of the barrel with its casing. There would be no way to propel such a projectile. This ad couldn’t have been created or approved by anyone who ever fired a gun, saw one fired or watched a  Western, war movie or action flick.

The unethical conduct represented by the ad, however, are more numerous, though equally unforgivable:

  • It is incompetent and lazy. No one connected with the ad and its graphics bothered to do the minimum due diligence necessary to find out what a bullet coming out of a muzzle looks like, or how guns work.
  • It is untrue. Actually, anyone is faster than that bullet, which would drop harmlessly to the ground.
  • It negligently misinforms the public, passing along the ignorant misconceptions of the group and its hired artist to people who know as little as they do.

Continue reading

Post Script: Rant Sports And Its “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors of All Time” vs. The Ethics Alarms List

Suprise!

Surprise!

This topic isn’t really worth two posts, I know, but after some commenters mentioned other obvious examples of distinguished athletes turned actors the Rant Sports  incompetent post ignored, I did some additional research myself.

The first thing I discovered was that Renae Juska’s list was about 90% lifted from other similar web lists that had appeared on various sites over the past three years. These lists were almost as incompetent as hers, though one of them included Johnny Weismuller, and another included Esther Williams. For the most part, however, all included the same basic group of athlete-actors, clearly serving as the basis for the next blogger looking for a cheap post.

This is how bad or misleading information gets stuck in the public mind and discourse, and the process occurs regarding topics and issues that matter, not just gratuitous lists.. This is why politicians still talk about women only earning 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and how 50% of marriages end in divorce. This how rumors and mistaken beliefs take hold and spread, changing the results of elections and the course of history…lazy writers cribbing dubious facts, unsubstantiated stats and lazy compilations of data from other lazy writers. The phenomenon feeds itself. Take the current case: someone asking themselves the question, “Gee, I wonder who the most prominent actors who were also accomplished athletes are?” will google the question and check four or five sites, read virtually the same names on all of them, and think the topic has been accurately researched. That will be an illusion, and soon there will be another post, confirming the earlier ones, and further validating informational garbage.

I also checked the biographies of actors whom I knew had athletic backgrounds, and the performing credits of prominent athletes whom I knew worked in TV, stage and films. I also considered some of the candidates, omitted by Juska, that various commenters had suggested. The result is this list of 30 athlete/actors who were ignored by Juska and Rant Sports, every one of whom is beyond question more deserving of a place on an “all-time” list of “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors” than many of the choices on the Rant Sports list, and quite a few of which—Robson, Williams, Henie, Rigby, Weismuller, Crabbe, Norris, Beradino, and others—should rank near the top. Continue reading

Unethical Website and Post Of The Month: Rant Sports And Its “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors of All Time.”

Maybe #1---but that would take some research.

Maybe #1—but that would take some research.

It is true that you cannot trust everything, indeed most things, that you read on the web, and thus should approach all supposedly factual statements with skepticism and ready access to Google. That does not excuse websites that recklessly and irresponsibly spread misinformation however, or that through their own laziness and ignorance spread ignorance among others.

A slick sports website called Rant Sports provided a particularly galling example this week, when it presumed to post a list it called “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors of All Time.” All the sports sites draw traffic with this kind of trivia-mongering, but even trivia-mongering demands a modicum of research, care, and fact. This may be an opinion piece, but it isn’t the opinions that are problematical. Renae Juska, the fraud who created the list, obviously engaged in no research at all, so her”Top 25″ really was “First 25 I was able to jot down on a piece of paper.” As I will now demonstrate, Juska, on a site dedicated to sports, made an assertion that is demonstrably and objectively false, and under color of authority, misleading readers but just as wrongly, unfairly neglecting many athletes who would have to be ranked on any such list that was given the amount of research expected of a seventh-grader’s term paper.

Here are some examples of how misleading and poorly researched the list is:

  • To begin with, all but one of the “top athletes” are male. Wrong. One of the greatest athletes-turned actresses died just last month, the great Esther Williams, a record-setting competitive swimmer who was unable to compete in the Olympics because of World War II. She was an athlete IN her movies, the most famous of which were aquacade spectaculars featuring Williams swimming, diving, doing what was later called synchronized swimming (she is credited with helping to create the sport), all while smiling and looking drop-dead gorgeous in a one-piece bathing suit. Does Williams qualify as a “Top Actor” over Number 16 on Juska’s idiotic list, the immortal Stacy Keibler, the only woman he deems worthy? Here are her credentials, as Juska cites them: “She began acting in 1998 and was a professional wrestler from 1999-2006. Her most well-known appearances have been in WWE Judgement Day, Summerslam and WrestleMania XX. She has also had guest appearances on How I Met Your Mother, Mayne Street and Samurai Girl.”  Esther’s credits are here, and you can see her in action here:

To say there is no contest is not an opinion, it is fact. Of course, Juska probably never heard of Esther Williams, which means that she has no business making this list at all.

Believe it or not, it gets worse… Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX)

“This morning the Senate will vote on the motion to proceed to the firearms bill (S.649). It is expected that the Toomey-Manchin provision announced yesterday will replace the current language regarding background checks. Yet, as of this morning, not a single senator has been provided the legislative language of this provision. Because the background-check measure is the centerpiece of this legislation it is critical that we know what is in the bill before we vote on it. The American people expect more and deserve better. Unfortunately, the effort to push through legislation that no one had read highlights one of the primary reasons we announced our intention to force a 60 vote threshold. We believe the abuse of the process is how the rights of Americans are systematically eroded and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it.”

—-Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), in a jointly released statement regarding the pending vote on the motion to proceed to new gun control legislation.

This is where Harry Reid wants laws to be made.

This is where Harry Reid wants laws to be made.

The Senators are exactly, inarguably correct. Under Harry Reid, pushing legislation through the Senate without permitting either proponents or opponents to perform their jobs and read the bill so that understand what they are voting for or against his become standard procedure, exemplified by the massive, unreadable and mostly unread affordable care act. This is sham democracy at work, a perversion of process, incompetent, dishonest and corrupt to the core, and supporting such a despicable (and dangerous) tactic because you think you like the particular bill involved (but, of course, you haven’t read it either) is as stupid as it is irresponsible. Continue reading

Now THIS Is An Unethical High School Coach…

Troy Hennum, "genius"

Troy Hennum, “genius”

Juicy ethics topics are stacking up, but this story that just arrived in my email was too jaw-dropping to resist. A spectacularly clueless young man set a new record for open and blatant abuse of authority and irresponsible, unprofessional conduct, though in a novel way.

At  Roosevelt High School in Seattle, the new women’s softball coach, Troy Hennum, ordered members of his team to use their practice time to spread out around the city, take photos of “cute girls,” get their telephone numbers, and bring them back to him. This is colloquially known as “pimping.” He would follow up with date requests via text message, naturally. “Genius, great way to meet a girl, use my girls lol,” he wrote one of the candidates his team flagged as suitable date-fodder.

Come on! What’s the matter with that? Lighten up!

The Seattle Public School District had hired the 25-year-old even though it knew he had been investigated by his former school district for sending inappropriate texts to an athlete in 2012. Well, at least the district did its due diligence. Then it shrugged its metaphorical shoulders and hired this guy anyway. I see the argument: he wasn’t using his team as his own personal dating pool any more, he was using it to recruit other girls. That’s progress!

Hennum was suspended once his human Easter Egg hunt was revealed, and resigned his position, after being on the job for only six days. So sad. Imagine what this genius would have come up with if he had a chance to settle in.

_____________________________________

Pointer: Legal Blog Watch

Facts: Seattle Times

Graphic: Z101.1

 

Did Any Journalists Actually READ Obama’s Autobiography?

Today Rush Limbaugh was fuming over a Politico report that the President had admitted to biographer David Maranis that “Genevieve Cook,” the New York girlfriend depicted in his 1995 autobiography “Dreams From My Father,” was not a real person but a composite of several girlfriends. Rush’s point: the book was widely represented, by the President as well as others, as true. What else in the book is a lie?

Politico, however, did something novel: its reporters went to the book itself. They found that Obama had written, right up front, that some characters were composites, though he didn’t say which. Limbaugh’s larger point is still valid: if it contained fiction, and composite characters are that, the book is not reliable, and is not truly a work of non-fiction that can or should be trusted. Obama did not hide that fact, however…if anyone had been paying attention. Continue reading

Unethical Headline of the Day: KABC-TV, Los Angeles

The headline: “Are insurance companies spying on your Facebook page?”

Why it’s unethical:

1.     The device of asking a question that raises suspicion of wrongdoing when there is none and no indication that it is occurring is inherently unfair and unethical.

2.     The story never discusses “spying” at all. Examining the public area of a Facebook page—and that is all that is described in the article—is no more spying than reading this blog is spying. Continue reading

The Conflict of Interest That Isn’t, But Looks Terrible Anyway

David Becker, the top lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission, is suddenly an embarrassment to his employers. He and his two brothers inherited more than $1.5 million in phony profits from their mother’s investment in $65 billion Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Since the S.E.C. was famously asleep at its post regarding Madoff, its negligence and incompetence allowing him to destroy individual lives, charities and more, having a key lawyer at the regulatory agency profit from Madoff’s scheme, even by inheritance, looks corrupt and unconscionable.  Continue reading

Ethics Train Wreck Report: Lessons, Ethical and Otherwise, of the Missoula “Mikado” Mess

Much of my weekend was occupied by reading, writing, thinking, and talking about the bizarre controversy over a community theater production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado,” which, by a series of misunderstandings, misdeeds, hypocrisies and journalistic malpractice, has created much anger and unhappiness for no legitimate reason at all. If you are late to the story and want to catch up, you can do so here, here, here, and here.

For the first and perhaps only time I can honestly say that Ethics Alarms is the most reliable source on a story. There may be plenty of ethicists who are more knowledgeable, scholarly, prudent and experienced than I am regarding ethics theory, but none of them knows this topic—Gilbert and Sullivan and “The Mikado”, like I do. I have 50 years experience performing, directing, studying, parodying and laughing at the works of these Victorian geniuses. The second I read the astoundingly wrong-headed interpretation being attached to the Missoula Community Theatre’s inclusion of Sarah Palin in Ko-Ko’s famous song “I’ve Got a Little List,” I surmised exactly what was going on, and my assessment has been confirmed by everything that has come to light since.

I will summarize what we now know in brief (well, briefer than reading all the posts) form:

Continue reading

Unethical Journalist of the Week: Aaron Flint, of The Northern Broadcasting Network

Well, why not…before all-Mikado Saturday comes to an end, I might as well highlight this astounding example of spectacularly incompetent journalism by the Northern Broadcasting Network’s Aaron Flint, who actually posted this hilarious idiocy on his “Flint Report” (I will have to comment on the text as it goes, since there is too much nonsense to take in all at once.)

His headline: “Palin Beheaded in Missoula Play” Continue reading