Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/1/2019: Ethics Is Busting Out All Over! Mostly BAD Ethics…

Happy June!

1. Boycott/extortion update! Let’s see if Georgia has as much guts and principle as Alabama, and tells Disney to go fly a kite.

Hugh Culverhouse, Jr., the University of Alabama’s largest donor,  called for a boycott of Alabama , both the University and the state , because of Alabama’s defiant, anti-Roe  abortion ban, recently signed into law. The university’s law school was renamed Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law last September 2018 after the Florida businessman pledged  $26.5 million to the university. In response to Culverhouse’s boycott call, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John recommended to the Board of Trustees that it return the $21.5 million  the law school it has actually received from Culverhouse, and restore the name to “The University of Alabama School of Law.”

Good. That’s exactly how states should respond to attempted extortion by individuals and corporations to control their lawmaking and bend the state to their wills rather than the decisions of voters. The whole story is at TaxProf Blog.

2. Nah! A reverend like, say, Martin Luther King would never engage in the kinds of sordid acts his biographer claims! They are men of God!

Bobby J. Blackburn, the pastor of Elevate Church in Prestonsburg, Kentucky,  was arrested this week and  charged with the prohibited use of an electronic communication system to procure a minor to commit a sex act. Blackburn is also the owner of Giovanni’s, a pizza restaurant in Prestonsburg. A girl who worked there showed a police sergeant images of an iMessage conversation she had with Blackburn in which he asked the minor to engage in a “threesome” with him and another girl, also a minor. He also made other sexually explicit requests.

Rev. Bobby tried to weasel out of his mess by bringing a third young woman to the police station and having her claim that she sent the incriminating messages from his phone. It didn’t work: under questioning, she admitted that she was lying and that Blackburn ordered  her to make the false claim under threat of losing her job.

I hear he’s one heck of a pastor, though! Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/29/2019: “It Depends On What The Meaning Of _____ Is” Edition

And as May sinks slowly into the west, we wave farewell…

(All in all, it’s been a discouraging month on the ethics front, and I will not be sorry to see it go.)

1. I just unfriended someone for political reasons, which I never have done before. Not because of what the guy’s stated beliefs are, because I emphatically and unalterably hold that ethical adults should be able to resist cognitive dissonance and maintain good relationships with those whom they believe are obviously, tragically, dangerous wrong about anything from baseball to abortion, but because he demands one-way dialogues.

He wrote me requesting that I not challenge his posts or the assertions of his seal-like followers, yet routinely comments on my page, and his many dubious positions pop up on my feed routinely. Essentially he wants me to be complicit in his enabling the largely Leftist bubble that Facebook has evolved into, and to allow people to cheer on illogical and biased posts without having to defend their barely-thought out screeds.

To hell with that.

2.  What a surprise! From Jezebel:

“…Biden still seems unable to keep his hands to himself.Indeed, at an American Federation of Teachers town hall in Houston on Tuesday night (where he unrolled a pretty decent education plan, to be fair) Biden pulled out another Classic Biden Move, per Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez .“In a somewhat odd moment at tonight’s AFT town hall, Biden tells a 10-year-old girl, ‘I’ll bet you’re as bright as you are good-looking,’” she tweeted. “He takes her over to the assembled reporters, then stands behind her and puts his hands on her shoulders while he’s talking.”

To anyone who believed that Biden had instantly reformed from a career- and life-long addiction to touching, hugging, sniffing, and otherwise behaving disrespectfully, presumptuously and assaultively to women and, ick, young girls, a) I told you so, and b) you’re too gullible to go through life without a keeper.

Is the feminist-dominated Democratic Party really going to let this creep represent it in the 2020 elections? I find that impossible to believe, polls notwithstanding, but maybe I’m giving Democrats credit for integrity that they long ago proved the party no longer values or possesses. Continue reading

KABOOM! Al Sharpton Just Blew Up My Head!

(Did you know that Ethic Alarms has the web’s most complete archive of head-exploding graphics?)

This is amazing. I’m pretty sure Al Sharpton has won the award for outrageous gall for all eternity. How could anyone top this?

And yes, he blew up my head.

Ow.

Al actually said this during his MSNBC show about the Jussie Smollett hoax:

“I, among many others when hearing of the report, said that the reports were horrific and that we should come with all that we can come with in law enforcement to find out what happened and the guilty should suffer the maximum. I still maintain that. And if it is that Smollett and these gentlemen did in some way perpetuate something that is not true, they ought to face accountability to the maximum.”

Accountability to the maximum for a divisive hate crime hoax? Hmmmm…I’m sure I have a memory of a prominent African American race-baiter who converted a race crime hoax of his own into national celebrity, political power, influence with the first black President, and long-term job as host of a news punditry program. Who could that be? It’s right on the tip of my tongue, but now I see that my tongue is stuck on the ceiling. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/31/18: Labor Day Weekend Edition

Good Morning.

This was in some respects the worst month in Ethics Alarms history, and I won’t be sorry to see it go. This weekend I will be spending more hours trying to cover ethics issues and developments while  knowing that an even smaller group of readers will bother to consider them, as they will off at beaches and mountain retreats, or sweltering at backyard barbecues. I have to admit it’s discouraging, and makes what needs to feel important and stimulating feel like an unsatisfying slog instead. Well, if you’re reading this, it’s not your fault.

1. Ethics estoppel. I couldn’t believe I read more than one local account of last night’s Detroit-Yankee game, a crushing loss for New York, complaining that Tigers DH Victor Martinez’s game-tying homer in the 9th “wouldn’t have been a home run in any of the other 29 Major League stadiums.”  Wow. The unmatched dominance of the New York Yankees over all of baseball has been significantly aided by its uniquely short right field fence ever since the original Yankee Stadium was built to provide cheap right field home runs to Babe Ruth, who hardly needed any help. Even though the shot to right isn’t as easy as it used to be (those old Yankee Stadium dimensions are illegal now), the Yankees still build their offense around that fence, and it is substantially responsible for the fact that the team leads all of baseball in home runs, and games won by cheap home runs.

Yankee fans and media are estopped from complaining when an opposing player benefits for a change. What utter gall!

2. Worst management ethics ever. President Trump is again tweeting about what a lousy job Attorney General Jeff Sessions is doing. Is he trying to make Sessions resign? Why? Why doesn’t he just fire him? This is a guy who became famous using “You’re fired!” as a trademark. Undermining a subordinate in public can’t possible make him or her perform better. It also signifies a dysfunctional organization and chain of command. In Sessions’ case, it makes the target look like a pathetic weenie devoid of self- respect. If my boss complained in public about me, I would resign that very day, with a brief statement that no professional should have to endure such gratuitous abuse from a superior, and that I would not. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Eric Schneiderman Scandal

I probably shouldn’t say this, but the guy always looked a little scary to me….I sure would never get in bed with him.

The New Yorker revealed yesterday that four women who had relationships with Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, accused him of violent abuse. In response, he  issued the kind of explanation that is usually as damaging as the allegations it responds to : Schneiderman, 63, denied abusing the women, and said, “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”

Ah! As long as it’s not rape, he’s OK with it then.

This did not help. Demands that Schneiderman resign flooded the internet and airwaves, including one from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. By the end of the day, Schneiderman, who had been a champion of both the #MeToo movement and the anti-Trump “resistance,” had resigned. His statement:

“In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me. While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”

The irony and hypocrisy are strong with this one. In 2010, as a state senator, he introduced a bill to make intentional choking to the point of unconsciousness a violent felony. Coincidentally, one of his accusers quoted in the New Yorker revealed

“It just came out of nowhere. My ear was ringing. I lost my balance and fell backward onto the bed. I sprang up, but at this point there was very little room between the bed and him. I got up to try to shove him back, or take a swing, and he pushed me back down. He then used his body weight to hold me down, and he began to choke me. The choking was very hard. It was really bad. I kicked. In every fiber, I felt I was being beaten by a man.”

 The state chapter of the National Organization for Women, Bill Clinton’s fan club, endorsed Schneiderman in his successful bid for attorney general, citing his “unmatched work” in “protecting women who are victims of domestic abuse.” Once elected, his office published a “Know Your Rights”  brochure for victims of domestic violence…you know, when you get beat up by the man you are sleeping with.  Schneiderman had rushed to the front of the #MeToo movement, filing a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein’s company and seeking to re-open a prosecution against the harraser/abuser/rapist mogul.

“We have never seen anything as despicable as what we’ve seen right here,” Schneiderman said of Weinstein’s conduct.

Weeeell, that may depend on one’s point of view. For example, one of the ex-AG’s bed-mates told The New Yorker, “We could rarely have sex without him beating me….He started calling me his ‘brown slave’ and demanding that I repeat that I was ‘his property.’”

Nice. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 1/12/2018: Sigh. It Never Ends. (Part II) [UPDATED]

A Nigerian locale, and not an atypical one.

From the Washington Post:

President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to several people briefed on the meeting.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to countries mentioned by the lawmakers.

Trump then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday. The president, according to a White House official, also suggested he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt that they help the United States economically.

In addition, the president singled out Haiti, telling lawmakers that immigrants from that country must be left out of any deal, these people said.

“Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump said, according to people familiar with the meeting. “Take them out.” 

Ethics Observations:

I. “According to several people briefed on the meeting”? What? Not even according to people AT the meeting?

Based on this, without any attributions, the news media is stating that Trump making those alleged comments are fact. Here’s the Times version,

“…according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation.

No, they don’t have “direct knowledge.” What someone tells you about what someone else said at a meeting you were not attending is indirect knowledge. It is, in fact, hearsay. If the Times and the Post did not get confirmation on the record from someone who heard what he said, then this is not fact, but rumor, inadmissible in court because of extreme prejudice and lack of reliability.

Never mind. The Times headline is Trump Alarms Lawmakers With Disparaging Words for Haiti and Africa, as if the second-hand accounts were  confirmed fact. This is unethical journalism. Outrageously so, in fact. Meanwhile, all of the news channels, including Fox, were basing hours of reporting on it.

This is not acceptable. It is not professional, and it is not justifiable. It is a disgrace, and if you accept it, you should be ashamed of yourself.

II. Trump denies that he uttered those words, on Twitter, of course:

“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!…Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”

The denials mean nothing, I know. The President has such a bizarre view of reality and such a record of misstatements and reversals that he has no credibility and deserves none. However, that doesn’t mean that he did make the alleged statements either. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. I certainly wouldn’t be “shocked.” It sounds like something he would say, because nuances of language and tone, not to mention civility ande diplomacy, are alien concepts to him. In other words, it rings true. That doesn’t mean it’s ethical to report it as fact. Continue reading

Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Tweet: Is This The Most Perfect Example Of Ethics Estoppel Ever?

To recap from past posts and comment threads. ethics estoppel attaches when a public figure makes an ethics-related assertion or levels criticism of conduct that he or she is uniquely unable to make without inducing near fatal laughter in all who read or hear it, since the position is so obviously and audaciously at odds with the individual’s own past behavior or statements. The current statements may be wise, true or have validity, but their speakers’ past so undermines their credibility on the topic under discussion that they actually weaken the otherwise legitimate position by the identity of its advocate. Thus such advocates should shut up.

It is not the same as hypocrisy. An individual can change his or her beliefs: a former drug user is not being hypocritical when he says one should not use drugs. Even a current drug user may not be hypocritical to make the same statement. However sincere they may be, however, those who were prominent violators of the principles they are currently espousing are terrible advocates.

The late Senator Ted Kennedy apparently understood ethics estoppel long before Ethics Alarms defined it. As a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Anita Hill ambushed Clarence Thomas, Kennedy was unusually silent, especially for a Senator who had been the designated attack dog against other Republican Supreme Court nominees, notably Robert Bork. However, the idea of Ted “Chappaquiddick” Kennedy—or any Kennedy, really—criticizing someone else for alleged sexual misconduct was too ridiculous. Ted knew he was ethically estopped from weighing in.

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders got in a twitter war with Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Cal)—the reason is irrelevant—and Sanders tweeted in part,

“You should spend less time tweeting, more time doing your job.”

Well. Continue reading