If you did not live in the D.C. area in the Eighties, you probably never heard of Ken Beatrice, who just died in a hospice at the age of 72. There was a time when Beatrice was the radio sports authority in pro football crazy Washington D.C., and star of the most popular and talked about call-in show of any kind on the local radio. He deserved his popularity, for Beatrice was smart, hard-working, knowledgeable, professional, and nice. His career, its rise and fall, was also a hard ethics lesson, for anyone paying attention, on why it is that good people do unethical things that hurt themselves more than anyone else.
Beatrice’s acclaim arose out of his astounding knowledge of football at all levels, from the pros to high school. I’ve never cared about football, but I listened to Ken’s show just because he was amazing. From his Washington Post obituary:
“His knowledge of pro football players, current and potential, was nonpareil. Call in to ask about the third-string quarterback at a second-tier college, and Mr. Beatrice could tell you the player’s height, weight and 40-yard dash time.He was so attentive to the game, a sportscaster once told The Washington Post, that he was able to recite a team’s depth chart off the top of his head, naming both the starters and the second- and third-stringers who would eventually replace them.”
This doesn’t even do Beatrice justice: you had to hear him. It was like a Las Vegas magic act. A caller would say, “I graduated from Madison High in Rexburg, Idaho, and I hear they have a running back on the football team that may have pro potential…I can’t think of his name..” Continue reading
You have probably seen this map; it went viral on the internet almost immediately after it was first published on Twitter last week by and editor at The Huffington Post. It purports to show the locales of the “1.37 deadly school shootings per week,” 74 in all, that have occurred since the December, 2012 Sandy Hook massacre according to Everytown for Gun Safety. That is an anti-gun activist organization founded by Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts, and its release that “there have been at least 74 school shootings in America” since Newtown was just what the doctor ordered for the languishing gun control forces.
It’s an intentionally misleading number. Journalist Charles Johnson checked the facts, and these are not all “school shootings” in the sense that the public now understands the term and how honest journalists use it—episodes where someone brings a gun to a school and starts shooting teachers and kids. At least 33 of the “school shootings” just fit the conveniently broad definition used by Everytown for Gun Safety so as to make the strongest impression, fairness and truth be damned. They include not just Columbine and Newtown-type episodes, but also assaults, homicides, suicides, gang fights, and accidents involving guns that happened “inside a school building or on school or campus grounds.” Continue reading
Emily Dickinson, he's not.
It is unusual to encounter a situation where there is no course that doesn’t violate some legitimate ethical principle. The dilemma involving rapper Common’s controversial invitation to the White House is one of them. None of the options are strictly ethical, and this has led advocates both for and against his inclusion in Michelle Obama’s poetry event, “An Evening of Poetry at the White House,” to behave unethically themselves. Let’s see: what comes closest to being ethical conduct of the possible outcomes?
Option A: Michelle has her poetry event, but doesn’t invite any mainstream rapper. Ethical breaches: Incompetence, bias, censorship, dishonesty.
Rap is the most dynamic and popular form of poetry in America today. Having an event to “showcase the impact of poetry on American culture” at the White House that excludes popular rappers is absurd on its face; it would be like the White House celebrating the influence of sports in American culture and omitting football. Continue reading
Muslim women, in ethical garb
During last week’s hearings on the alleged radicalization of Muslim-Americans, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, protesting that the hearings were an example of prosecution and bigotry, said:
“Islam is a religion based upon peace, goodwill and the ethical treatment of all people on this planet.”
Politics involves advocacy, and zealous advocacy sometimes metastasizes into exaggerations, overstatements, and lies. Determined governors are called dictators and criminals; those questioning global warming models are compared to Holocaust deniers. Believing that an attack on an enemy nation is in the best interests of America, leaders who should be saying, “We have good reason to believe that this nation has weapons of mass destruction and is inclined to use them,” say instead, “We know where the weapons are and the threat is imminent.” Other leaders who are trying to get important health care reforms passed say, “Don’t worry—if you like your current plan, you’ll be able to keep it!”, neglecting to add the caveat that that plan you like may be forced out of existence if the bill is passed.
These excesses range from deceitful to outright lying, but they are all unethical, all disrespectful of the truth and the public that has a right to it, all aimed at manipulating public opinion with falsity.
I find Kucinich’s statement especially indefensible, because the degree of his presumably misstatement of the truth was completely unnecessary if his motives were good. Continue reading
First, the quote:
“I said Goebbels lied about the Jews, and that led to the Holocaust. Not in any way whatsoever was I comparing Republicans to Nazis. I was saying lies are wrong…I don’t know who got everybody’s panties in a wad over this statement.”
—–Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), in his initial dismissal of criticism over his rant on the House floor regarding Republican characterizations of the health care bill.
This quote is really remarkable, for it is hard to pack so many kinds of dishonesty into so few words.It’s hard to know where to begin. Continue reading
PolitiFact, the political fact-checking website, has once again announced its “Lie of the Year”:
“PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen “government takeover of health care” as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats’ shellacking in the November elections. Readers of PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times’ independent fact-checking website, also chose it as the year’s most significant falsehood by an overwhelming margin. (Their second-place choice was Rep. Michele Bachmann’s claim that Obama was going to spend $200 million a day on a trip to India, a falsity that still sprouts.)”
This tells us a lot about PolitiFact. Continue reading
Kitty Kelley’s unauthorized, rip-the-mask-off-the-icon bio is out, and now Oprah Winfrey must weather the inevitable de-construction of some of her meticulously self-created image. Oprah is pretty much untouchable now; I was a guest at her “O” Magazine Expo last Fall in Kansas City, and it was clear that her status with he legion of followers is somewhere between a guru and a goddess. There aren’t many revelations, short of proving that she is secretly Dick Cheney in an elaborate disguise, that could do much to reduce her cultural influence or undo her popularity.
Still, it used to be that heroes, celebrities and cultural icons could count on the whole truth about their personal and career embellishments to surface only late in life, or more often, long after death. Thus it has been a standard tool of rising figures in America to carefully craft an inspiring story and an appealing persona that excite and engage the public, and the truth has had little to do with it. It’s worked, too. Continue reading
From Bucks Count Pennsylvania comes a cautionary tale with an important lesson for drama queens, hypochondriacs, and people who just have a tendency toward hyperbole:
Exaggerating is the same as lying. Continue reading