From Idaho, Common Sense Measures Regarding Transgender Competitors In Women’s Sports

Naturally, the common sense measures are being condemned as bigoted and unethical.

Idaho is now Ground Zero in the controversy over the ethical and equitable treatment of transgender individuals. In addition to the newly passed and signed Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which bans biologically male transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports events,  Idaho Governor Brad Little (a Republican, of course) signed a bill making it more difficult to change the sex designation on a birth certificate.

Ethics Alarms has discussed the transgender/women’s sports controversy in many posts. It’s admittedly a difficult ethics conflict that has played out in many strange ways across the country, including a female high school wrestler transitioning to male being forced to compete against females, and many instances of formerly male athletes competing as women crushing their double-X opposition while giving us photographs like this:

Female athletes who have protested the unfairness of this development, like Martina Navratalova, have been attacked as bigots, while some feminists have predicted that allowing trans athletes to continue to take advantage of their passing through puberty as males will destroy women’s sports, negating the salutary effects of Title IX, the law that made gender discrimination in sports illegal.  Idaho state Rep. Barbara Ehardt , who played basketball at Idaho State University and later coached Division I women’s teams, led the way in pushing the legislation through to law. “If I had had to compete against biological boys and men, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to play,” she told reporters. “Honestly, I know firsthand that we simply can’t compete against the inherent physiological and scientifically proven advantages that boys and men possess. We simply can’t do it, regardless of any hormone usage.”

Intersex competitors, like Caster Semenya, pose a different ethical problem. Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics, 3/30/2020: As Another Fun Week Looms…

Yes, I’ve been thinking about this episode (“The Shinning”) of “The Simpsons” a lot lately…

Of course, in my case, I’m writing on the walls, “No baseball, no seminars make Jack Go Crazy!”

1. And speaking of people going crazy: the various anti-gun mayors and governors who are arguing that gun stores are “non-essential” are displaying their irrational Second Amendment phobia, much like Ohio and Texas attempting to prohibit abortions as “non-essential” surgery. The ability to self-arm is more essential at times of social disruption than usual. Looting and attacks on homes are just around the corner as resources dwindle and people become desperate, and we already have plenty of evidence that irresponsible, anti-social and unstable members of the public are not as rare as we might wish. The comparisons of the Wuhan virus crisis to zombie scenarios (as in “World War Z”) are invitations to hysteria, but in one respect the analogy is apt. Guns are useful tools to have around in both situations.

2. Good. From CNN:

The Justice Department has started to probe a series of stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of the sharp market downturn stemming from the spread of coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the matter. The inquiry, which is still in its early stages and being done in coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission, has so far included outreach from the FBI to at least one lawmaker, Sen. Richard Burr, seeking information about the trades, according to one of the sources. Public scrutiny of the lawmakers’ market activity has centered on whether members of Congress sought to profit from the information they obtained in non-public briefings about the virus epidemic.

And if this causes the Republicans to lose control of the Senate, they deserve it. Burr, in particular, should resign now. He should not be allowed to run for re-election.

3. I would think that this is a slippery slope we don’t want to get on… Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Joe Biden

I’m being generous; the original headline was “Joe Biden Makes Sense!” which I decided was too arch.

I stopped watching the Sunday talking head shows once all of them defaulted to “resistance” narrative-pushing-all-the-time, but every now and then I drop in for a few minutes of nausea. Today I caught “Meet the Press,” once my favorite of all such shows (when Tim Russert was practicing real journalism there), but now, with the embarrassingly dim Chuck Todd at the helm, a rotting symbol of how far the professional has fallen in ethics and quality, I avoid the program like an Alec Baldwin movie.

Joe Biden was being interviewed (I have excised here a good, fair but tasteless joke about what Todd interviewing Biden resembles) and Todd asked this despicable question:

“Do you think there’s already blood on the President’s hands considering the slow response?”

Hack. Asshole. Todd breached one ethics rule by stating as fact what has not been shown to be true and cannot be shown, that the President’s “response” was “slow.” Todd’s colleagues called Trump’s response of shutting down travel to China racist and precipitous. There is not a single death due to the Wuhan virus that can be attributed to the President; China, perhaps, but not President Trump. It’s hard to imagine a more inflammatory and unjustified, not to mention irresponsible, question. Continue reading

From The “Stop Making Me Sort Of Defend Joe Biden!” Files: Oh, Look..As Soon As Democrats Finally Conclude That Joe Will Be A Disastrous Candidate, A Woman Accuses Him Of Sexually Assaulting Her 27 Years Ago. How Unexpected!

Seriously, how long will it take women and feminists to realize that repeatedly and transparently using sexual assault and sexual harassment accusations as suspiciously timed political weapons undermines the credibility of legitimate victims and their cause generally?

In fact, why has it taken this long?

We have now seen this scenario so many times: accusers haul out old and unsubstantiated alleged episodes of sexual misconduct conveniently timed to do maximum damage to an individual who has become a problem for the Left. Chris Matthews. Brett Kavanaugh, the most obvious example. Now, the same week in which President trump’s ratings rise, Joe Biden’s bunker broadcasts have even the most dedicated deniers wondering about his acuity, and New York governor Andrew Cuomo is being whispered about as a promising last ditch replacement for Joe if only there were some way to pull it off, and this happens (From Reason):

Despite his public pronunciations on the subject of never touching women without their explicit verbal consent, Biden has previously faced accusations that he was too handsy with people. But now the former vice president is facing a much more serious accusation of sexual assault, from an alleged former staffer named Tara Reade…Reade says she worked for Biden in the early 1990s and asserts that she was unambiguously assaulted by him in 1993. According to Reade, he began kissing her without her permission, pushed her against a wall, reached under her skirt, and penetrated her with his fingers.

“He said ‘come on man, I heard you liked me,'” Reade recalled to Halper in the interview. “For me, it was like, everything shattered. I looked up to him, he was like my father’s age, he was this champion of women’s rights, in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it was happening. It was surreal.”

…She said she once tried to talk to a supervisor about what had happened, but this person shut her down before she could tell the whole story. She also said she filled out an official form detailing her assault, but does not know what became of it.

A year ago, Reade—who supported the campaigns of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.)—attempted to come forward with stories of sexual harassment in Biden’s offices. As detailed in an Intercept piece, she reached out to Time’s Up, a project of the National Women’s Law Center that provides support to alleged #MeToo victims. Time’s Up declined to assist Reade; the organization’s official excuse was that a feud with a national political candidate could jeopardize their status as a 501(c)(3) non-partisan group. But as The Intercept also notes:

“The public relations firm that works on behalf of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is SKDKnickerbocker, whose managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign. A spokesperson for Biden declined to comment. The SKDK spokesperson assigned to Time’s Up referred questions back to the NWLC.”

Hey, nothing to see here, move along! Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/22/2020: Fighting The Good Fight Against The Virus That Ate Ethics

Gmph!

(That’s what “Good morning!” sounds like when you’re wearing a mask. At least when you’re wearing my mask: we couldn’t find any of the regular kind, so the best I can do is my “Zombie Werewolf” mask (the above picture is the closest I could find). My wife swears she’ll divorce me if i wear it outside…)

1. Undermine the leader, at all costs. Despite growing evidence that non-deranged Americans are, as they usually do, rallying behind their elected leader in a national crisis (because it is only sensible and patriotic to do so), the mainstream media, all-in as it has been since November 2016 in its effort to damage faith and trust in the President and assist the Democratic party in regaining power, continues to follow the game plan.

For example, in today’s Sunday Times, we have the headline “In This Crisis, U.S. Sheds Its Role As Global Leader,” complaining that even as it promises billions of dollars in aid to Americans as they are trapped at home and locked out of their jobs, businesses, and income, the U.S. should be financing the response to the Wuhan virus around the world. (The next critical piece will be about how the President allowed the debt to explode.) On the front page, we have the mocking headline (over an article by perpetual anti-Trump reporter Maggie Haberman, “Trump Is Faced With Crisis Too Big for Big Talk.” The news in  page 11 story is apparently Republican hypocrisy: “GOP, Once United Against Social Programs, Mobilizes to Push for Cash Relief,” as if urgent, once in a century emergency measures constitute a change in philosophy rather than responsible and responsive leadership. On the op-ed pages we get this despicable headline: “America, Not Trump, Will Save America,” continuing the theme of Democratic rejection and denial of the fact that the President is America, and they work together, or they don’t work. This is, of course, necessary preparation for the mews media’s future narrative that if (when) the United States emerges from the current crisis strong and vital, it will be in spite of the President’s efforts, not because of them. These people are willing to weaken our community when it i most important that we be united, because they believe that destroying the Trump Presidency is the prime directive.

These are terrible, unethical people, not because of what they believe, but because of what they are doing, and have been doing. Continue reading

Ethics Train Wreck Analysis: The Richard Jewell Case

“Richard Jewell,” Clint Eastwood’s excellent but much maligned film about a historical episode with many ethics twists and turns, is extremely accurate and fair in all respects, except for the glaring exception of the screenwriter  Billy Ray’s representation that reporter Kathy Scruggs obtained the information that Jewell was under suspicion by the FBI in exchange for one night stand with the agency’s lead investigator. This was the point where the Richard Jewell Ethics Train Wreck of 1996 acquired a car containing the 2019 movie “Richard Jewell.”

Let’s look at those other cars.

I. Jewell

Jewell was a socially awkward, lonely, obese man who lived with his mother. He was in many ways a stereotypical misfit with low  self-esteem, who developed ambitions about becoming a law enforcement officer, a job that would would provide him with the respect and power that he lacked and wanted. The film begins with Jewell’s stint as an office supply clerk in a small public law firm, where he becomes friends with attorney Watson Bryant. Jewell quits to pursue his dream of becoming a law enforcement officer, and Bryant, in saying good-bye, asks his friend to promise that if he ever acquires the authority he seeks, he won’t become a jerk, and abuse it.

This was a real life conversation. Bryant recognized that Jewell was a border-line Asperger’s sufferer, whether or not he knew the name or the clinical condition, and exactly the kind of personality who should never be given a shield and a gun.

Jewell took a job as a campus security officer at Piedmont College, and rapidly realized Watson Bryant’s worst fears by reacting to his authority by abusing it, being over-zealous and generating an unusual number of complaints from students. Jewell was fired, but the need for security personnel at the upcoming Atlanta Olympics gave Jewell another chance at some authority at least. He probably shouldn’t have had such a chance. Jewell was not a man who should have been in the security field or the law enforcement field; his judgment was poor, and his emotional problems made him a bad risk.

Thus the conditions for the ethics train wreck were put in place. It was up to moral luck whether hiring Richard Jewell would turn out to be a disaster, or a  fortunate near miss. Instead, it turned out to be something else entirely, a classic example of a bad decision having a good result—at least for a while.

2. The Bomb

In the early morning of July 27, 1996, Jewell, now working in Atlanta’s Centennial Park as part of the Summer Olympics security force, noticed an abandoned backpack by a bench. Over-zealous, officious and a fanatic about following procedure, Jewell insisted on reporting the pack as a “suspicious package,” despite the chiding of his colleagues, who wanted to take it to Lost and Found. If, as was overwhelmingly likely, the backpack had been just a backpack, Jewell probably would have been mocked. But again moral luck took a hand. He was right. It was a bomb. Jewell and other officers began clearing the area, and the bomb went off, killing one victim, Alice Hawthorne, and wounding many, still  far less serious damage than what might have occurred had Jewell not been so scrupulous in his discharge of his duties.

3. The Hero, the Scapegoats, and the Tip
Continue reading

How I Boarded The “Richard Jewell” Ethics Train Wreck

It is unusual to see an ethics train wreck continue to  roll along to the extent that it affects the movie about the ethics train wreck, but that was what happened with the Richard Jewell saga. Remember the definition of an ethics train wreck: an episode in which virtually everyone who becomes involved in it, however tangentially, becomes entangled in ethics mistakes and misconduct. The  “Richard Jewell” Ethics Train Wreck (or the Richard Jewell Ethics Train Wreck) even yanked me on board.

I’ve already written about the film, directed by Clint Eastwood and a 2019 holiday bomb (no pun intended). My focus then was on the single unethical feature of the screenplay, its unfair portrayal of the real-life Atlanta-Constitution reporter, the late Kathy Scruggs, who broke the FBI leak that the security guard who had become a national celebrity by detecting the deadly pipe bomb that had exploded at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics  was suspected of making the bomb himself. Though film reviewers usually register few rejections when films smear the deceased in pursuit of a more compelling narrative, “Richard Jewell’s” claim that Scruggs traded sex for the leak walked into the #MeToo buzzsaw, and on that basis alone, Clint’s movie was trashed  by reviewers and pundits alike.

Me Too, and I hadn’t seen it. I wrote in part,

I strongly doubt the average viewer passed on the film because it may have been unfair to a dead reporter. Who had the genius idea that releasing a film about the press’s abuse of a strange, sad, fat man played by an unknown actor would be a Christmas season hit? I had no interest in seeing the movie, and I’m an admirer of Eastwood and will cheer on any further proof of how rotten our journalism has become, but why pay to see the news media falsely try to destroy a security guard in 1996 when the same institution has been trying to destroy the President of the United States for three years?… So the news media was incompetent and vicious to Richard Jewell? That’s supposed to get me to the movie theater?

Nevertheless, let me be clear: I hate what the movie did to Kathy Scruggs, just as I detest it every time an individuals can’t defend themselves are lied about in a movie, misleading audiences and scarring their reputations….

Unless Eastwood had strong evidence that the reporter was trading sex for information, he should not have used her name. He owes the Scruggs family an apology, and I’m glad his movie is tanking.

Gee, the seats on the “Richard Jewell” Ethics Train Wreck are so comfy, and the fare on the snack car is excellent! Continue reading