Tag Archives: ethics alarms

Unethical Quote Of The Month, And A Bonus Kaboom: The New York Times Editors

“But if your man is really innocent, what’s the worry?”

The New York Times in an editorial, “Fox News v. Robert Mueller”

Yes, the New York Times really printed that, under its banner.

Well,

KABOOM!

There goes my head.

As much as I have learned to distrust the objectivity and motives of the New York Times, I did not expect the traditionally liberal paper to make a sinister argument typically associated with totalitarian regimes. This is nothing but a  rephrasing of the traditional “nothing to hide” rationalization for obtrusive state surveillance, as well as illegal police searches and abusive prosecutorial methods.

“If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear” is such a cliché of oppressive state action that it has its own Wikipedia entry. It is often attributed to Joseph Goebbels or “1984,” though there is no documentation for either. It was uttered by villain Pius Thicknesse in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”:

“As your new Minister for Magic, I promise to restore this temple of tolerance to its former glory. Therefore, beginning today, each employee will submit themselves… for evaluation. But know this: you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.”

In the film version of the novel, the actor (Guy Henry) playing Pius was cast to evoke Goebbels. (above).

Progressive writer Upton Sinclair used an inverted version in 1918 in “The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation” (1918):

“Not merely was my own mail opened, but the mail of all my relatives and friends—people residing in places as far apart as California and Florida. I recall the bland smile of a government official to whom I complained about this matter: ‘If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.'”

The statement adopted by the Times editors as well as the attitude behind constitute a rejection of democratic values and an endorsement of state sponsored fear and subjugation of individual rights. “It you are innocent, why worry?” literally stands for the proposition that one is guilty until proven innocent, which is an accurate description of the position of the Times, the mainstream media and “the resistance” regarding the baseless allegation of  “collusion” with Russia to steal the election from Hillary Clinton. In the context of the editorial, which dismisses legitimate questions about the objectivity and conflicts of interest among Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, the argument is especially disingenuous. If one is innocent, one shouldn’t worry if a biased team of lawyers is trying to find a way to make you look guilty? Continue reading

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“The Popeye,” From The Ethics Alarms Ethics Estoppel Files: I Can Say The Republican Party Is Rotting, Democrats, But You Can’t

“That’s all I can stands, ’cause I can’t stands no more!”

—Popeye the Sailor, when he felt like I did while so many of my progressive friends were posting this op-ed by David Brooks.

Democratic posturing and moral outrage over Roy Moore’s support by Republicans is too much to bear. The hypocrisy and historical amnesia their caterwauling requires is truly nauseating. I could not believe that David Brooks of the Times would write about how the REPUBLICAN PARTY is rotting while the Democratic Party was wildly oscillating between defending a Congressman who had apparently harassed multiple staff members while in office because he was an “icon,” to playing the race card against its own Senator because he had been accused of conduct he denied years before he was elected, to dispensing with due process to demand that another Democratic Congressman resign, to forcing the Senator to resign (but probably only because their party controlled that State House), to forcing a vote on a shamefully contrived impeachment resolution, to all but guaranteeing the election of Moore because of revelations of the astounding sexual hypocrisy of their core allies among the news media, their key donors and their mouthpieces in Hollywood, while their bitter, losing Presidential candidate’s claim of a conspiracy to excuse her inexcusable defeat became less and less tenable as the investigation it spawned revealed itself to be incompetent and conflicted.

But the Republican Party is rotting.

Now, Ethics Alarms, unlike Brooks, unlike the Times, unlike MSNBC , unlike Hillary Clinton and unlike the Democratic party and any citizen so devoid of integrity to align with such a crew, can say the Republican Party is rotting. In fact, like Mr. Kimball would say on “Green Acres,” I will say it: the Republican Party is rotting. I can say it now because I said two years ago that it would commence rotting if it could not and would not stop Donald Trump from getting its nomination, something the party leaders had the power to do but neither the will nor the integrity. I said this, in various ways and with assorted provocation, right up to the convention.

Roy Moore? He’s minor rot, comparatively, and the Democrats don’t even honestly or competently argue what is most rotten about him. They want to concentrate on his “Deliverance,” hillbilly, low-life, dating preferences enabled by ignorant Alabama mothers forty years ago, when the man  today thinks he can defy the Supreme Court and the Constitution, thinks America was at its best under slavery, thinks women should be kept barefoot and pregnant, would love to see gays stoned to death, and wants a Christian theocracy to rule the land.

But that’s quibbling: Moore is certainly rotten, and the GOP doing anything but declaring him a human pathogen for the Senate and democracy is certainly proof of rot. Until, however, Republicans make Moore the keynote speaker in a future convention dedicated to condemning a “war on children,” I’ll handle the rot assessments, thanks, along with any other commentators, academics and citizens who didn’t spend the last, oh, half century or so extolling the likes of Jack Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Teddy Kennedy, and the Clintons.

The Democratic Party has happily celebrated, covered up and profited from rot. As Obi Wan would say, “The Rot is Strong Within Them.” Thus they are estopped from calling out rot anywhere. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “From The Ethics Alarms ‘It’s NOT Okay To Be White?’ Files: The Blacks-Only Opinion Section”

Prolific commenter johnburger2013 issued this epic two days ago, but I confess, I didn’t have a chance to read it until today.Knowing john and his work, I expected to be impressed, and I was.

This is one of my favorite genres of comment: the personal ethics odyssey with fearless self-evaluation. Such comments require bravery, honesty, and objectivity, and the author displays all of these here. This comment is especially helpful to me today, for I am going over a confrontation I had today during a seminar that left me annoyed and questioning my response.

Ethics audits of an episode, a day, a relationship, a crisis, a problem or a life are invaluable tools on the way to building a more ethical approach to human existence. I encourage everyone to do what johnburger2013 does here as frequently as they can. If you are willing to share it with us, I will be grateful.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, From The Ethics Alarms “It’s NOT Okay To Be White?” Files: The Blacks-Only Opinion Section:

Alright, Ethics Alarmers. I must declare that I had one miserable weekend. Apropos of absolutely nothing, and related to nothing on this post, I thought I would relate the weekend’s experiences, simply to show that Ethics Alarms is having a positive impact on your humble correspondent. This is long, so bear with me.

It all began this past Friday evening. Our son is 13, in eighth grade, and is considering high school choices. The top three are Catholic, and the main differences are the cultures within the schools. The top two choices are all-boy schools, one Jesuit and one Basilian. The other is co-ed. Great schools. Friday night’s descent into madness began with a declaration that the Basilian school is his preferable choice to the Jesuit, resulting in a very strange argument, with hurt feelings, confusion, chaos, and shouting (handled very well by little ol’ me, oh yes, indeed! Sheesh.). On an ethics scale, my handling of the situation is still being calculated as it has passed more than -3500 on the Kelvin Scale of Absolute Stupidity, perhaps setting a new world record.

Anger and recriminations festered until the next morning. I took The Boy to his HSPT prep class. Ah, yes. The exalted HSPT. The all-important, all-consuming, all-destructive HSPT upon which the entire fate of humanity rests. Discussions en route to the class included such observations as, “Great! You left your notebook at home. That shows real organization skills and concern for you to do well, son.” Ethics Score: 2.9, or possibly a 3, if you discount the yellow-to-red light I rolled through.

Then, I returned to home to get some stuff done before picking The Boy up from the class. I was already on edge, and discovered that the pooch had decided to enjoy some of my wife’s lovely tree ornaments and left the resulting elation in shreds in the middle of the living room. That lead to a stern pooch reprimand. Considering that his mind is simply a buzz with constant low-level static, he wagged his tail and asked for a treat. Considering the torn apart ornament, he did not get a cookie. Ethics Score: 6, as I realized that he is still a puppy, the red-coated Santa ornament looked an awful lot like his favorite stuffed jalapeño toy, and was hanging in the perfect spot so he couldn’t resist the temptation.

Aggravated by having to fix a door latch, which took longer than I expected, and cleaning up the destroyed ornament, and a host of other nuisances, I was late picking up The Boy, well, by 2 minutes and nobody was annoyed. The trip to get him though, completely fails to register on the Ethics Score Board because of the many cursings and deleted expletives still echoing in my car. Rush’s “Hemispheres” could not fix that problem. Wow.

After leaving school, I had to get new screws for the door latch. That is when things got really ugly. Mind you, all of this happened between 8:30 am and 12;30 pm. A mere four hours. See? Awful.

I intended to go a local hardware store to get larger flat-headed wood screws and sanding paper to fix the mess I made on the door’s frame. A ten minute drive took well over 30 minutes because of traffic (horrendous), bad drivers (way too many), incessant stop lights (why can’t they be synchronized to ensure traffic flow?!), and already frayed nerves. Now, this hardware store is where you go to get things you won’t find in big stores, and is generally a wonderful experience (except for that damn parrot that shrieks when I walk by, but that is a different story), and the employees are wonderful. For some reason, the entire city of Houston, Texas, decided to be in the store and the same time. I needed two screws and two anchors. Is that too much to ask? They remodeled since the last time I was in the store and moved everything around so I couldn’t find the screw section. The aisle markers hadn’t been changed so I was wandering around looking for screws. I give the store a two-point deduction for that.

At this point, I am no longer rational. I asked a fellow who I believed worked at the store where the screws were. He couldn’t tell because he didn’t work there. I hang my ethics head in shame at my response. I was rude, inconsiderate, and terribly unkind to this man, who was as pleasant as a person could be. I was completely in the wrong. He did not deserve my response. But, I was too committed to being a tool to stop. I walked away in disgust, and then found the damn screws and anchors, which I bought. Then, it dawned on me: I insulted a man with no justification. I had to make it right. Ethics Score: Zero. F-.

I searched the store for the man, and upon seeing him, I could tell he was thinking, “Here comes that jerk.” I approached him, and said, “Sir. I need to apologize to you. I was terribly rude to you and you did not deserve it. I sincerely apologize for my behavior. I am having a bad day and I took it out on you without any justification. Hope I haven’t ruined your day. Please accept my apology.” His response: Instead of giving me a much-deserved tongue lashing and possibly a kick in the ethics backside, he said, “Apology accepted. I could tell you were not having a good day. I hope your day gets better.” His Ethics Score: A+. My response: “Sir, you are very kind and I truly appreciate your considerate response.” We shook hands, and smiled, him patting me on the back, reassuring me that “this, too, will pass.” A very nice fellow.

My Ethics Apology: I hope a 1, especially because I resolved to settle down and reevaluate my behavior, which I did. My nerves mended and I was less agitated for the rest of the day. That evening, in the confessional, I confessed my terrible conduct especially to my wife, son, and that poor-unsuspecting hardware fellow. The priest gave me advice, absolution, and penance. Which I did. Continue reading

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This Explains A Lot, I Guess…

Here’s another planned post from those lost notes on a Sunday Times I just found from two weeks ago:

In  the New York Times Magazine,  the Times announced the results of an online poll of 2, 903 subscribers by its research-and-analytics  department. 72% Times loyalists would prefer to have done something horrible that only they knew about than to have everyone think they did a horrible thing that they really didn’t do.

Wait…what?

See, if you did a secret horrible thing, there really was someone hurt by your conduct. If people just think you did a horrible thing, you in fact hurt nobody, and did nothing wrong. This was a sneaky way of asking, “Are you a selfish and unethical human being, or not?”  Well, sneaky assuming that Times subscribers are incapable of thought, or that they let their 12-year-old kids answer Times research questions. About 3/4 answered, “Oh, I’m completely unethical!”

For the sake of clarity, let’s assume that both sides of the question involve the same horrible act, agreed? After all, if the real act is setting an orphanage on fire, and the wrongly believed act is farting loudly during a funeral service, or vice versa, the question is ridiculously easy.

So…72% of Times subscribers would rather have murdered a child than have everyone wrongly think they murdered a child? Molested a child? Broiled and eaten a child? Committed adultery? Spousal abuse? Spousal torture? Buried a spouse alive? Keeping a spouse locked in a dungeon? Locking a spouse in a dungeon with rabid wolverines?

What does this poll result tell the Times? What were they trying to learns? What does it tell us?

I guess it might explain the continued presence of the likes of Charles Blow, Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman on the Times op-ed pages.

Or maybe their presence explains why Times subscribers reason as they do.

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On The Way To Bali, An Unethical Conduct Cascade

One unethical act often opens the floodgates to many, in in unexpected, and unexpectable ways. An ethics alarm failure triggers another, then another. But who would expect that an extramarital affair would cause a passenger plane to have to make an emergency landing, for example?

All the moe reason to keep those alarms in working order.

The distaff side of a couple on the way to a vacation in Bali on a Qatar Airways flight apparently had reason to be suspicious of her husband, so when he fell asleep, she oh-so-carefully  manipulated his snoozing thumb to unlock his smartphone with its print, and did some snooping.

Ah HA! The bastard had been cheating on her!

So calmly, maturely, she began screaming and beating on her dastardly spouse so violently that the pilot had to divert the flight and land.

Cascade re-cap:

  • Triggering unethical act: Marital infidelity.

1 to 10 Betrayal of Trust Scale score, with 1 being a forgivable lie and 10 being treason, I rate this an 8.

  • Secondary unethical act: Appropriating the body of another while he is incapacitated, and doing so to invade his privacy. (No credit for discovering above triggering unethical act.. That’s consequentialism: the result of an act cannot retroactively justify the act.)

Betrayal of Trust Scale score: 6

  • Culminating unethical act: Physical violence on a plane endangering innocent passengers, forcing the plane to land, inconveniencing many.

I don’t have a scale for that.

But it was the most unethical of all.

What a fun couple!

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Abashed Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/28/17 [Updated]

Good Morning!

1 Following a day in which various exigencies and responsibilities, plus fatigue and distraction, caused me to whiff on getting up at least three posts I thought were worthy of consideration, yesterday I failed to get any up at all. This makes me very unhappy, and I apologize. A fly-in, fly-out assignment in New York City had me up early and back late, whereupon I had my son’s birthday to acknowledge, the World Series to scrutinize and some aching feet to attend to. Priorities can’t be ignored, and being able to recognize when something you want to do and are devoted to doing just cannot be done well in the time allowed is a matter of life competence. Yet I hate failing loyal readers who care about ethics issues and rely on Ethics Alarms to explore them, and feel negligent when this occurs…fortunately, not very often.

Still too often, however.

2. The emergence of Hollywood director James Toback as a serial sexual harasser (at least) had me preparing a post about why theatrical directors are especially prone to this conduct. The gist of it was that in college, where participation in theater is often more social than aesthetic, directors forming romantic relationships with their cast members is neither taboo nor typically exploitative. Similarly, in community theater such relationships are not unusual or unethical, unless they interfere with a director’s artistic duties: casting an inferior performer because she’s your girl friend or because you want her to be is per se unethical. These are the cultures that produce many directors, and they enter professional theater, and later films, with bad habits that cannot be tolerated or continued in a professional context. Similarly, performers also come out of that culture. It may be difficult for some of them to comprehend that what is arguably acceptable in amateur settings is becomes unconscionable in a professional one.

However, this cannot explain Toback’s conduct. An astounding 200 plus women now say they were harassed or assaulted by him, and the list filled up in less than week. Compared to Toback, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby seem restrained.

Actress Selma Blair, for example, says her agent arranged for her to meet Toback for a possible role in one of his films after her career had begun with promise. Blair says the meeting was scheduled at a hotel restaurant, but  when she arrived the hostess told her that Toback wanted to meet in his hotel room. There, Toback asked her to perform a monologue nude, directed her to have sex with him, and said he would not let her leave until he “had release.” Then the actress says, he simulated sexual intercourse on her leg. 

I begin my sexual harassment seminars by stating that the problem is one of ethics. If you have respect for human beings regardless of gender, if you are fair to people you interact with, if you are caring toward them and obey the Golden Rule, if you apply the three basic ethics alarms checks (“Does this seem right? Could I tell my mother about this? Would I want this on the front page of my local newspaper?”), then you won’t be a harasser. But I can’t begin to explain how someone reaches the point of depravity and utter contempt for women that he would behave the way Blair describes Toback behaving. This is, to understate it, uncivilized. Was he raised by wolves? I suspect even wolves would be horrified by his behavior. My father never had to sit me down at 13 and say, “Jack, it’s time for a talk. It’s never right to simulate sexual intercourse on a woman’s leg when she has come to interview for a job.” I didn’t need to be told this. Who needs to be told this who isn’t already a dangerous sociopath?

Somehow, the culture of Hollywood devolved to such a state that abuse of power and women became a social norm, and even conventionally acculturated adults had their values erased and replaced. That is the only way the Tobacks and Weinsteins could come to exist. That culture is now too sick and entrenched to be wiped clean by a few scandals. It is going to take a long time to change it, if indeed it can be changed. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/7/2017: A Salute, A Disgrace, An Idiot, And An Asshole

Good Morning!

1  I want to take a moment to salute the commenters here for a remarkable performance the past week regarding the re-emergence of the gun control debate following the Vegas Strip massacre. There have been a staggering 664 comments (so far) on the topic in various threads, two Comments of the Day (and another couple soon to be published), and a rare guest post. The level of discourse has been overwhelmingly high, and the sophistication and variety of opinion has been exemplary. Through all of this, there has been little of equal quality from the mainstream media and its pundits, while the quality of opinion and debate on television and from elected officials has been only slightly above the “Do something!” level still flourishing on Facebook. (I’m going to my Facebook feed now to pick a recent example. Let’s see…here’s one! This is a representative segment of the comments on this story on Mediaite, admittedly an especially dumb one, about MSNBC political analyst Steve Schmidt telling Bill Maher , among other simple-minded observations, that only seem relevant to the anti-gun hysterics, that  it is “harder to buy cough medicine than it is to buy an AK-47 or 50 of them”…

This guy is an idiot. Tell him to go buy cough syrup, then go buy an AK and come back in an hour and see what he has. I bet it would only be cough syrup.

is it in a liberal’s nature to murder unborn babies? just askin

It’s a birth control device for them.

Awww, you need attention

And you gave it

I live in your head

Why so many?

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Heroin is against the law, and yet we have a heroin epidemic. Automatic weapons, like the AK-47, are against the law and yet Steve Schmidt says they easier to get then cough syrup with codeine. He doesn’t even see his idiocy.

False equivalencies to justify your need to compensate, boring.

Well, you can get a semi-automatic one, but it’s a far cry from a military-grade automatic.

The left has issues with their vision. The unicorns that roam the landscape crapping skittles and pissing perfume block their view, I guess.

Damn you really are a mental nut case

Ugh.

Thank you, everybody.

You do Ethics Alarms proud..

2. In the category of “This is so obviously incompetent that I should have to write about it  The IRS awarded a sole source $7.25 million contract to Equifax to verify taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud. This was after the credit company negligently allowed the personal data of millions of Americans to be hacked. The excuses being offered by the agency are hilarious. IRS officials claim they were forced by circumstances to issue the no-bid multi-million dollar contract to Equifax. The GAO calls this baloney. The IRS argued, in a letter to Congress, that the IRS  it was unaware of any fraud related to the company’s data breach.  No, it’s just that Equifax was incompetent and negligent to an inexcusable extent that ought to be criminal. Another defense offered by the IRS:  most of the data hacked by Equifax had already been revealed in previous corporate breaches, such as those at Target and Anthem.  WHAT? That’s like saying you are a trustworthy nanny because the child you let get run over by a car was already dying of cancer.

From Politico:

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle blasted the IRS decision.

“In the wake of one of the most massive data breaches in a decade, it’s irresponsible for the IRS to turn over millions in taxpayer dollars to a company that has yet to offer a succinct answer on how at least 145 million Americans had personally identifiable information exposed,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told POLITICO in a statement.

Ya think?

A. Cancel the contract.

B. Fire the head of the IRS and anyone in the chain responsible for this decision. Continue reading

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