Unethical Quote of the Month: Canadian Judge Joanne Veit

“…While many Canadians undoubtedly view abortion as a less than ideal solution to unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, they generally understand, accept and sympathize with the onerous demands pregnancy and childbirth exact from mothers, especially mothers without support…Naturally, Canadians are grieved by an infant’s death, especially at the hands of the infant’s mother, but Canadians also grieve for the mother.”

—- Canadian Judge Joanne Viet, announcing that Katrina Effert, who strangled her newborn child and threw the body over a fence into the neighbor’s yard when she was 19, will serve a three-year suspended sentence with no jail time for the murder, reflecting a “fair compromise of all the interests involved.”

This is a cautionary ethics tale indeed for those who deny that a callous attitude toward human lives in the womb, giving them no standing against a mother’s desires and convenience, will gradually, inevitably, coarsen and warp a culture’s respect for life and its comprehension of wrong. [Addition: Many commenters have pointed out that Canada had designated infanticide as a relatively minor crime before fully legalizing abortion. That is a strange progression, though once infanticide had been declared “understandable,” abortions days were numbered. In the US, the gradual de-valuing of young life is moving in the more obvious way, from younger to older. The process, however, is the same.] Continue reading

Drudge, Obama’s “$200 Million a Day Trip” and How The U.S. Public Gets Stupid

One of the many themes running through the many teeth-gnashing, garment-rending attempts by angry progressive columnist and bloggers to explain why the Democrats got their heads handed to them on Tuesday is that the voters are just stupid, that’s all. (In doing so, they duplicate the exact same arrogance that helped put all those heads on the block in the first place, but I digress.) The public is not stupid, of course, but it is often wretchedly misinformed by a news media that has lost most of its scruples and a lot of its professionalism. Once a rumor, misconception, distortion or myth gets enough publicity, it can lodge itself in people’s brains like shrapnel. Examples: Obama’s “Muslim faith” and his “foreign birth.” Other examples: the “50% divorce rate” and women only  getting paid “75% of what men are paid for the same jobs.”

We should all thank Matt Drudge for giving us a wonderful lesson on how this happens, both for our future reference and protection. He recently linked to a story in an Indian newspaper that reported, based on anonymous sources, that President Obama’s trip to Mumbai was going to be accompanied by about 10% of the U.S. fleet and cost $200,000,000 a day. Continue reading

Attack Ad Ethics: Rep. Alan Grayson, Sinking to Expectations

Rep. Alan Grayson (D) of Florida has his defenders, which means you can pretty much forget about fair play when you are dealing with any of them, too. The Florida Congressman is infamous for saying and repeating outrageous things about opponents and refusing to acknowledge that he was wrong or inappropriate. As I have written here often, some unethical conduct is so egregious that it precludes the possibility of it being an aberration or a mistake, and Grayson could be the poster boy for that principle. He has little regard for fairness, civility and truth, if defying any of these serves his purposes. Thus it is both unsurprising and comforting that the most unethical attack ad in this early campaign season come from him—comforting, because it proves the point. For Alan Grayson, unfair and dishonest attacks aren’t mistakes. They are a habit.

In a TV spot called “Draft Dodger, Grayson accuses his opponent of evading the Vietnam War draft, because “he doesn’t love this country.” Continue reading

“No Tolerance” For Adversary Free Speech at Obama’s HHS?

According to a press release sent out by the Department of Health and Human Services, “Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national association of health insurers, calling on their members to stop using scare tactics and misinformation to falsely blame premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act.” In her letter, Sibelius wrote…

“It has come to my attention that several health insurer carriers are sending letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act.  I urge you to inform your members that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.”

This is an ethics foul, and one that is both frightening and clumsy. Continue reading

“Birthers”: Unethical, or Merely Deranged?

Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney, a military expert who appears as an analyst on Fox News, has submitted an affidavit in support of Army Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Lakin, who is refusing to deploy to Afghanistan because of his belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Lakin faces a court-martial for his refusal. Thus has General  McInerney officially admitted to being a “birther,” one of the legion of conspiracy theorists who deny Constitutional eligibility for the White House.

From McInerney’s affidavit: Continue reading

Andy’s Unethical Health Care Propaganda

I understand the government’s problem when it passes legislation in a fog of lies, misinformation, spin and deceit so think on both sides that nobody even pretends to know what the consequences will be. And it certainly is embarrassing when claim after claim about the legislation made by the House Speaker and President himself is shown to be untrue or mistaken after the fact: “Oops! The law won’t really be budget-neutral!” “Sorry! Many of you won’t be able to keep your health care plans after all!” “Darn! There really isn’t anything in here that will keep costs from rising!”

Gee, maybe they should have read the thing before voting for it.

Be that as it may, it does not justify the Obama Administration paying $700,000 in taxpayer funds to run TV ads showing avuncular old Andy Griffith, of Mayberry fame (Pssst! Andy used to specialize in playing con-men and scam artists before he and Don Knotts teamed up), telling seniors how peachy the new system will be. Continue reading

The 2009 Ethics Alarms Awards, Part 2: The Best

The Best in Ethics of 2009. May the 2010 list be longer!

Most Important Ethical Act of the Year: President Barack Obama’s executive order banning torture. The Declaration of Independence already did it once, but the President was right: we needed some reminding.

Ethical Leadership: Howard County, MD, which launched a “Choose Civility” campaign based on the book Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct, by Johns Hopkins University Professor Dr. P.M. Forni. The effort attracted national attention, and has sparked similar movements around the country. Continue reading