Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/11/2019: No Laughing Matters

You know, Saturdays  were a lot more fun when I watched cartoons in the morning …

1. More on the divisive Red Sox visit to the White House, as all the blacks and Hispanic-Americans—but one—boycotted the honor.  Kyle Smith at the National Review has some spot-on observations. Some samples:

Naturally the media blamed the target of this calculated mass protest. “Did Donald Trump honor the Red Sox or the ‘White’ Sox?” asks columnist Edward Montini in the Arizona Republic, adding, “Trying to pretend that President Donald Trump has not caused a widening racial and ethnic divide means not believing what you can hear with your own ears and see — clearly — with your own eyes.” MSNBC guest and former Joe Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said, “I bet [Trump] was happy today that he was able to say that the white players were here and players of color weren’t. That’s the kind of division he fosters deliberately.”

Isn’t Klein’s statement obviously the blathering of an asshole? How far gone do you have to be to buy that? More from Kyle…

[L] et’s call this what it is: Top athletes, especially top athletes of color, are insulting the President of the United States. They have every right to do this, but let’s at least get the direction of the animosity right. Trump doesn’t invite just white athletes to the White House. The racial resentment in these ceremonies is being flung at him, not by him. The athletes, not the president, are racializing these ceremonies….These feel-good photo-ops for jocks are nonpartisan. Everyone used to understand this. Participating in a White House ceremony does not constitute an endorsement of a president, much less agreement with all of his policies. Before the Trump era, only a handful of athletes had ever been conspicuous no-shows at White House events to honor them, and most of them hastened to clarify that they had non-political reasons for missing the events. These days everything must be scrutinized for political content. Dave Zirin of The Nation is assailing Tiger Woods for accepting a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump, saying it amounted to “to kiss[ing] Trump’s ring.

Read it all, but really: who’s being an asshole here? It isn’t Trump.

2. Let’s give credit to conservative pundit Ben Shapiro for openly admitting that he behaved like jerk, but he really did behave like a jerk. Shapiro was a guest on  the BBC to discuss his new book, New York Times best-seller “The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great,.” Apparently he was expecting the kind of soft-ball, pandering interview from host Andrew Neil that he criticizes U.S. journalists for serving up to progressives and Democrats. Uh, no.

After greeting one another (the interview was conducted from London via satellite) Neil asked Shapiro whether he believed Georgia’s new abortion law was a return to the “dark ages.”

Rather than answering the question, Shapiro attacked the  questioner, saying, “OK, a couple of things. Are you [an] objective journalist or an opinion journalist?”

Neil’s response: “I’m a journalist who asks questions.” Continue reading

TGIF Ethics Celebration, 1/10/19: Plenty Of People Who Need Firing or Something Close…

I don’t know why I’m celebrating a weekend: in a home business, there are no weekends…Maybe I’ll just celebrate the flowers that bloom in the Spring!

1. Poll: The firing of Mary Bubala. As you may know, the mayor of Baltimore got caught red-handed in a self-dealing scheme, tried  to take a leave of absence instead of resigning (thus preserving her salary), and finally had to resign anyway. Discussing the events on the air on Baltimore TV channel WJZ, news anchor Bubala asked  Loyola University Maryland Professor Karsonya Wise Whitehead,

“We’ve had three female, African-American mayors in a row.They were all passionate public servants. Two resigned, though. Is this a signal that a different kind of leadership is needed to move Baltimore City forward?”

Bubula is white. The station was bombarded with complaints that her question was racist, and the station quickly fired her, saying in a brief statement,

“Mary Bubala is no longer a WJZ-TV employee. The station apologizes to its viewers for her remarks.”

Well-respected conservative pundit Mark Tapscott called this “newsroom fascism,” writing, “I’ve never met now-former Baltimore TV local news anchor Mary Bubala, but I am outraged as an American and a journalist over her firing for a question that clearly wasn’t remotely related to the fact the city’s two most recent (corrupt) mayors were both Black and women.”

I would have fired her. There are two good reasons. First,  the question sure sounds  like “After three female black mayors who have either been corrupt or unsuccessful, do you think a white man might be worth a try?” to me. What else could it mean? Do you think it might be time to elect a GOOD mayor? Why mention their race and gender at all if it isn’t part of the question? Second, if the question wasn’t racist, she should be fired because she’s too inarticulate to have that job.

Tapscott concludes, “Either this …ends or liberty isn’t long for anybody in this country except those with approved opinions.”

Let me ask you, then…

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/2019: Big Brotherism At The Ballet, And How Hillary Sicced Mueller On Trump

Good morning…

Depressed and discouraged today, about many things…time for Jimmy…

1. Another angle on the the topics here...arrives courtesy of Michael West, who pointed me to this article. about the psychology of unethical behavior. Mostly, it frames in slightly different packages familiar themes on Ethics Alarms, beginning with who people often don’t speak up and actively oppose unethical conduct that they witness or are a part of. Ethics Alarms has examined this phenomenon (and will continue to) many ways. One example was a two part post in 2015 on the duty to confront. (Part II is here) Other posts can be found by clicking on the tags below, such as the duty to lead, the duty to oppose evil, the duty to warn, and the duty to fix the problem.

The wonderfully named author Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg identifies several concepts in her essay, including omnipotence, cultural numbness, justified neglect, and looking out for signs of moral capture.

Ethics Alarms uses different approaches: omnipotence is essentially “The King’s Pass” and “The Saint’s Excuse” in the rationalizations list. Cultural numbness describes how “the Big Yellow Circle’s” gravitational pull influences the Green Circle, encompassing personal values and conscience. Justified neglect isn’t really justified: she is talking about how non-ethical consideration freeze ethics alarms. “Looking out for signs of moral capture” is the topic of Philip Zimbardo’s “rules” to avoid being corrupted by peer groups and organizations. I would assume that the author has studied these, since “Dr. Z” is one of the leading writers and researchers in the area.

Inevitably, the article delves into leadership, concluding,

“The reality is that, for many leaders, there is no true straight-and-narrow path to follow. You beat the path as you go. Therefore, ethical leadership relies a lot on your personal judgment. Because of this, the moral or ethical dilemmas you experience may feel solitary or taboo — struggles you don’t want to let your peers know about. It can sometimes feel shameful to admit that you feel torn or unsure about how to proceed. But you have to recognize that this is part of work life and should be addressed in a direct and open way.”

I disagree with that description of leadership technique, and I’m tempted to say that its the claim as someone who has not done much leading. It does seem typical of so-called “female leadership models,” which emphasize consensus and transparency. Traditional leadership theories hold that a leader’s followers don’t want to know how conflicted a leaders, and learning that a leader is “unsure” is the last thing they want to know. Effective leaders learn to keep their doubts and insecurities to themselves—one more reason leadership isn’t for everyone. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/17/19: March Ethics Madness!

Good morning!

Any week that starts off with John Belushi’s immortal reflections on March just has to be a good week.

1. Connecticut: Judicial ethics and guns. Anti-gun fanatics are cheering this week’s ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court  reversing  a lower court judge dismissing a lawsuit by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting against Remington Arms Company, allowing the case to proceed. In the 4-3 decision the court  possibly created a path that other mass shooting victims can follow to get around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, known as PLCAA, which has protected the manufacturers of the AR-15 assault rifle from lawsuits, thus setting the stage for a sensational “Runaway Jury”-type trial. The court’s reasoning is that the Sandy Hook families should have the opportunity to prove that Remington violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) by marketing what it knew was a weapon designed for military use to civilians. The problem is that the ruling ignores the law, as John Hinderaker explains (but he’s not the only analyst trashing the decision):

“Firearms of all kinds have been ‘designed for military use.’,” he writes. “The 1911, designed by John Browning, was the standard U.S. military pistol for many years and remains one of the most popular pistol designs today. So what? There is no such exception in the Second Amendment…Under the Supremacy Clause, federal law will govern over state law. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is intended to avoid precisely the result reached by the Connecticut Supreme Court. The PLCAA puts firearms manufacturers on the same plane with all others. If their products are not defective–if they do not malfunction–they are not liable. If someone stabs a victim to death with a knife, the victim’s heirs can’t sue the knife manufacturer. It is the same with firearms.”

Hinderaker correctly concludes that significance of the ruling is not that it opens a road for the Second Amendment to be constrained, or for ruinous liability to applied to gun-makers, but that it shows how courts will deliberately ignore the law to reach political goals. Continue reading

Dear CNN: Fire Don Lemon. Or Fire Yourself, PART II: Signature Significance

Many readers were able to guess the impetus for this post; indeed, several readers brought it to my attention yesterday.

Monday, as part of the embarrassing faux speculation by the Trump-Haters in the news media about whether networks were obligated to treat this President’s Oval Office address differently than similar addresses by all other Presidents, CNN host Don Lemon opined that perhaps President Trump’s immigration speech should be withheld, censored and edited before the stupid, gullible, vulnerable American people have their minds poisoned by its lies:

“Do you think it should be, I don’t know, a delay of some sort and then you can — because people will believe it,” the Orwellian CNN host said. “People — the president will say what he has to say. People will believe it whether the facts are true or not… I guess that’s a chance you take with any President. But this one is different, and then, by the time the rebuttals come on, we’ve already promoted propaganda — possibly — unless he gets up there and tells the truth.”

Observations: Continue reading

Dear CNN: Fire Don Lemon. Or Fire Yourself, PART I: The Ethics Alarms Firing List

Before I discuss why CNN host Don Lemon has to be fired, and he does, I decided to check to see how many times Ethics Alarms had endorsed, recommended or demanded that a particularly unethical employee be fired. There are more than I thought. It’s a fascinating group, though:

  • 18 journalists, almost half
  • 9 political appointees
  • 7 educators: teachers, professors, and administrators
  • 3 performers/ celebrities
  • 2 prosecutors
  • and a mix of others.

Reviewing them, I don’t think any deserved to be fired any more than Don Lemon does after his statements this week.

Here’s the list: Continue reading

Fairness Conundrum In Rochester: What Do You Do With The Racist-Sounding Gaffe? [UPDATED]

Keep smiling, Jeremy: you’re probably ruined, and may have done nothing wrong, but it’s all for the greater good…

Go to this link, and listen (the video won’t embed).

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Falan.majors%2Fvideos%2F10212107639637618%2F&show_text=0&width=560

While reporting on the air  Friday about an ice rink at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, WHEC (in Rochester, New York) meteorologist Jeremy Kappell fumbled King’s name and uttered something that sounds like “coon” in the course of trying to get it out. Viewers, convinced that he had uttered a racial slur on the air, demanded that Kappell be fired, and, astoundingly,  the mayor of Rochester issued a demand of her own.

Mayor Lovely Warren, blatantly abusing her power and position,  issued press release  saying…

“It is wrong, hurtful and infuriating that WHEC Channel 10 broadcast a racial slur in reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its Friday News broadcast. It is beyond unacceptable that this occurred. There must be real consequences for the news personality involved and also for the management team that failed to immediately apologize and address the slur.”

Piling on, the Rochester Association of Black Journalists issued a statement condemning the “clearly racist language” and asking for a “complete explanation” from WHEC.

Although Kappell tweeted Monday that he has “never uttered those words,” he was indeed fired.

Is that fair? Continue reading