But What If David Gregory Shot the Pitbull?

Illeagl? Well, it depends. Just WHY are you breaking the law? Is it for GOOD or ILL?

Illegal? Well, it depends. Just WHY are you breaking the law? Is it for GOOD or ILL?

Another hybrid ethics tale has surfaced! Cross pitbulls (or whatever a reporter thinks passes for one) with the gun law debate and the District of Columbia’s refusal to bring charges against David Gregory for breaking its gun laws on national television,  and…bada bing! This (From the Washington Post) :

“The bloody paw prints travel the length of a city block, from a Northwest Washington street corner where police said an 11-year-old was mauled by three pit bulls to the welcome mat at the dogs’ owner’s home. Two days after the attack, in which police said all three dogs were fatally shot, the prints were a reminder of what happened at Eighth and Sheridan streets on Sunday afternoon. Police said a neighbor and an officer shot the pit bulls as they sank their teeth into the boy’s legs, arms, stomach and chest…An uncle of the victim’s said the boy was riding a new Huffy dirt bike with orange rims he had gotten for Christmas. The uncle said his nephew emerged from an alley onto Sheridan Street, where he collided with the pit bulls. D.C. police said the unleashed and unattended dogs attacked the boy before a neighbor who saw it went into his home, got his handgun and fired once, hitting one of the dogs. A D.C. police officer on bicycle patrol heard the shots, and authorities said he shot and killed the other two pit bulls…Of the shooters, the 34-year-old uncle said, “They did the right thing.”

“D.C. police said they are reviewing the incident and have left open the possibility that the neighbor could be charged with violating the District’s gun laws. A police spokesman would not say whether the gun was legally registered. Even if it was, using it on a D.C. street is illegal…”

Some Post readers were appalled that such a heroic action could result in prosecution. Wrote one, indignantly:

“That prosecutors would even consider bringing gun charges against the Northwest D.C. resident who saved an 11-year-old’s life by shooting one of three pit bulls that were brutally mauling the child speaks volumes about the mindless absurdity of the city’s gun laws, to say nothing of the zealous anti-gun sentiment that more broadly permeates officials’ thinking here…If the good Samaritan who acted quickly in this case to save a child possessed his gun unlawfully, police and prosecutors should by all means confiscate it. But contemplating further charges against him is as unconscionable as it is ridiculous.”

No, what’s ridiculous is to have gun laws that are enforced according to the policy that if a citizen does a good thing with his illegal gun, then it’s fine; only bad acts with guns will result in prosecutions. Continue reading

Will Somebody Please Explain To The President That Children Are Not Props, Puppets or Set Dressing?

Finger puppets

“White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced this afternoon that President Obama will unveil a “concrete package” of gun control proposals including assault weapons bans, high capacity ammunition magazine bans, and closing loopholes on background checks. Carney said that the president will be joined by Vice President Joe Biden as well as children who wrote to the president after the Newtown shootings.“They will be joined by children around the country expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety, along with their parents,” Carney confirmed”—News reports.

What, no babies? How about golden retriever puppies?

Jerry’s Kids in wheelchairs?

How about the bodies of recent shooting victims?

As Kant would remind us, children are not props, should not be used as props, and should not be forced to serve as meat puppets and sentimental set dressing for political announcements. This is dehumanizing and disrespectful of their autonomy.

It is even more disrespectful than treating the American public like idiots.


Graphic: Aliexpress

The Newtown Massacre Ethics Train Wreck Picks Up An A-Lister!

I know—I need to settle on a consistent name for this particular train wreck. I’ve used at least three. Luckily, it is clearly going to be rolling along, causing ethics havoc in its wake, long enough for me to be consistent.

Hey, everybody! Bubba's on board!

Hey, everybody! Bubba’s on board!

Wow! They must be all-tingly on the Newtown Massacre Aftermath Express–Bill Clinton! The architect of one of the great ethics train wrecks of American history has deigned to come on board! What other A-listers will follow? Oprah? David Letterman? Even the President himself! Now, anything is possible.

The nation’s grandmaster liar bought his ticket with this Newtown-inspired statement, uttered at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 9, 2013

“Half of all mass killings in the United States have occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005, half of all of them in the history of the country.”

This was classic Bill, false and self-glorifying. After all, that ban that expired had been signed into law by Bubba himself. But as the Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler confirmed, his striking “fact” was a whopper. Continue reading

The Fourth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2012 (Part 1)


Welcome to the Fourth  Annual Ethics Alarms Awards

Recognizing the Best and Worst of Ethics in 2012!

This is the first installment of the Worst. (Part 2 is here, the Best is here.)

2012 inspired over 1000 posts, and Ethics Alarms still missed a lot. And the last week of 2012 was sufficiently ethics packed that the Awards are late this year. My apologies.

In a depressingly unethical year, these were the low points:

Ethics Train Wreck of the Year

Was there ever any doubt? The Trayvon Martin- George Zimmerman fiasco, naturally, which is far from over. This year’s winner may be the worst ethics train wreck since Monica and Bill were dominating the news.  So far it has involved dubious, unprofessional or clearly unethical conduct by, among others, Martin’s parents, their lawyer, Zimmerman, his wife, the police, Zimmerman’s first set of lawyers, the prosecutor, the Congressional Black Caucus, NBC (which repeatedly broadcast an “accidentally” truncated tape of Zimmerman’s 911 call that made him sound racist), the rest of the broadcast media, conservative talk radio and bloggers (who decided their contribution would be to try to show that Martin deserved to be shot), Spike Lee, Rosie O’Donnell, the New Black Panthers, and President Obama, who ratcheted up the hate being focused on Zimmerman by implying that the killing as racially motivated, and by connecting himself to the victim. Runner-up: The 2012 Presidential campaign.

“Incompetent Elected Officials of the Year” Division Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Howard Kurtz

“Gun owners often say they want the government to leave them alone; why then are some clamoring for Gregory to be prosecuted?”

—-CNN Media ethics watchdog Howard Kurtz, in a column defending “Meet the Press” host David Gregory’s on-air violation of a D.C. gun law



This is quite a spectacle, a real time unraveling and self-discrediting of a media ethicist because of biases he either cannot resist or doesn’t detect. Kurtz’s core ethical fallacy in ridiculing calls for Gregory to be held to account for a knowing, intentional, blatant and broadcast breach of a criminal law is so obvious it is stunning that he cannot see it. Kurtz is arguing that the law shouldn’t be enforced against law-breaking journalists “practicing journalism,” because they are special and deserve to be privileged, and because journalism is so important that it trumps the law. This is offensive to fairness, equality and justice, but because Kurtz is himself a journalist, he cannot see how intrinsically unethical his position is. He cannot see the most basic conflict of interest of all, self-interest, in himself. Continue reading

The Media’s Gun Control Ethics Train Wreck Gets Its Engineer: David Gregory

Gregory and clip

The blatant abandonment of journalistic ethics in U.S. mainstream media, well underway during its coverage of the 2012 election, finally exploded into a full-fledged ethics train wreck with television journalists’ astounding and shameless advocacy of tighter gun control laws following the Newtown elementary school massacre. Can anyone recall a previous public policy controversy in which so many telejournalists decided that it was appropriate, rather than to report on a story, to engage in full-throated advocacy for a particular position? I can’t. Rather than communicate relevant facts to their audiences and allow responsible and informed advocates for various positions to have a forum, one supposed professional journalist after another has become an openly anti-firearms scold, as if the need for new gun restrictions was a fact, rather than a contentious, and often partisan point of view.

It isn’t just the hacks, like Piers Morgan.  CNN anchor Don Lemon sounded like a candidate for office, and a rhetorically irresponsible one, when he exclaimed in one outburst, “We need to get guns and bullets and automatic weapons off the streets. They should only be available to police officers and to hunt al-Qaeda and the Taliban and not hunt elementary school children.” The reliably presumptuous Soledad O’Brien decided to reprimand Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott when he refused to commit to seeking tougher gun laws in his state, telling him she hoped the gun conversation would become “meaningful” (that is to say, anti-gun ownership) before she was forced to “cover another tragedy.” In another interview, when a conservative academic argued for making guns more easily available among law-abiding citizens, O’Brien again turned advocate, telling him, “I just have to say, your position completely boggles me, honestly.”

Yes, well the fact that Soledad is “boggled” isn’t news: she’s easily boggled, and her opinion on gun control is no more worthy of broadcast than that of any random citizen on the street. Whether you agree with these amateur anti-gun zealots isn’t the point. Using their high-visibility positions as television reporters to expound on what they think are reasonable legislative initiatives isn’t their job, isn’t their role, is a direct violation of their duty of fair and objective reporting, and undermines effective public discourse. It’s unethical journalism.

Jumping into the engineer’s seat as this media ethics train wreck developed was “Meet the Press” host David Gregory. Part of the open agenda of the left-biased media is to demonize the National Rifle Association, which, again, is not their job, and is an unethical objective. Give the public the facts, let them hear the arguments, and allow them to come to an informed decision, not a media-dictated consensu constructed by people who are neither especially bright nor sufficiently informed, and who have no special expertise regarding guns and gun violence. Gregory, in full-anti-gun mode, brandished a gun magazine as a prop last Sunday to make a dramatic debating point against the vice-president of the National Rifle Association. In Washington, D.C., where “Meet the Press” is recorded, the magazine he held is illegal, and anyone apprehended while possessing one faces prosecution and jail time. NBC had been informed by D.C. police that Gregory could not use the magazine on the air, and Gregory went ahead and used it anyway.

He broke the law. Continue reading

Ethics Train Wreck Watch: The Petraeus-Broadwell Affair

There is too much information awaiting disclosure to do a thorough ethical analysis at this point, but it is already clear beyond question that the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell scandal is an ethics train wreck, with many more individuals and perhaps institutions involved than the direct participants. Today’s news reports that the adulterous affair prompting the much-respected CIA Director’s sudden resignation was triggered by Broadwell’s  threatening e-mails to another women she suspected of vying for the General’s affections clinches train wreck status. This thing is still rolling.

Other features of the wreck-in-progress: Continue reading

Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck Update: Yup! It’s Still Rolling

(I hadn’t posted a train wreck photo for a while. It was time.)

The ethics principle that the apparently endless ethics train wreck launched when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin (Zimmerman’s trial is set for June) most clearly delineates is this: criminal trials, including their arguments and evidence, should take place in court, not in public.

From the very beginning, public opinion, and by extension jury biases, have been manipulated by statements to the media by an endless parade of parties and onlookers who should have kept their mouths shut. The array of unethical commentators  include Martin’s family and lawyer, Zimmerman’s lawyers, past and present, the prosecutor, police personnel, potential witnesses, journalists, pundits, elected officials, idiot celebrities, and the President of the United States.

And you’ll be happy to know that it’s still happening. Continue reading

World’s Smallest Ethics Trainwreck: The OIHO ‘Gotcha!’

“You say OIHO, and I say OHIO…Let’s call the whole thing off!”

This is, even now, but a mini-train wreck, not even an H-O size train wreck, but more like a wreck involving those wooden Thomas the Tank Engine models, maybe between Percy and Duncan. Still, it’s depressing, and shows how far our political system and the media have sunk.

President Obama was campaigning in Ohio, and got conned into being part of a cheerleading-style array spelling out OHIO, except that he was in the wrong position, and ended up as the H in “OIHO.” This may have been legitimate fodder for Jon Stewart on a slow day, but otherwise was completely meaningless, and not worth the time it took to write or talk about it. Never mind, though: the conservative blogs and talk show mockers were out in force, pointing out that while the liberal media ridiculed Dan Quayle for misspelling “potato” and Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin for any number of ridiculous statements, they readily excused Mr. Perfect because in their eyes he can do no wrong. Continue reading

Thank You, Mayors Emanuel, Menino, Wright and the Rest, For The Chick-fil-A Ethics Train Wreck!

“…As someone who supported gay marriage long before President Obama did (which is to say, long before a couple of months ago), I’m nonetheless gratified to see people standing up to the bullying that the left-political class has aimed at this honest business simply because its owners failed to change their views in synch with President Obama.“—Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds

Good work, Rahm!

I’m with Professor Reynolds 100%, except that I know that many of the people mobbing Chick-fil-A franchises across the country yesterday, in backlash to Democratic politicians attempting to use the power of elected office to stifle free speech and impose mandatory thought conformity, were also doing so because they saw it as implicit support of the anti-gay marriage position.

And this, my friends, is why the ends do not justify the means.

I have read misguided blog post after misguided blog post and endured self-righteous commenters who are beyond idiotic who endorse the disgraceful comments of Menino, Emanuel, and the other anti-democratic bullying mayors, councilmen and aldermen because “they are standing up for what is right.” Maybe…but in doing so by mounting what amounts to an official attack on a private business and citizen, they are embracing what is undeniably wrong, according to this country’s values: government and its officials telling the public, not what they should do, which is a proper role of the government, but what they must say and believe, which is what the Constitution decrees that government  must never do.

What does this clear abuse of power accomplish? As with any time unethical methods are applied to seek “good” ends, it forces both advocates and opponents to either accept unacceptable conduct, or to ally themselves with those who oppose what they believe is right, in order to reject a wrongful means of accomplishing it.  Continue reading