Tag Archives: France

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/29/18: White House Correspondents Dinner Edition (And Other Things…)

 

Good Morning!

1 The RedState purge.  Salem Media, the conservative website RedState’s owner, froze the site and fired many of its most read and respected writers, all of whom were distinguished by one other common feature: they are all NeverTrumpers, conservatives who revile the current POTUS almost as vehemently as the Left’s mainstream media.

I view this decision as a declaration of war of sorts, or perhaps an assertion that a war is already going on. The Democrats, progressives, the news media and “the resistance” have been trying to unseat the President of the United States by “any means necessary,” a strategy that not only every conservative but every responsible citizen ought to oppose as the dangerous and undemocratic strategy it is. The dilemma is that NeverTrumpers’ anti-Trump bias not only makes them less than effective in opposing this unethical plot, it arguably makes them accessories to it.

Salem’s action is depressing but significant. It is one more indication that the news media, new and old, is dividing down rigid ideological lines while embracing political agendas rather than ethical journalism’s traditional mission. There is a place for fighting “the resistance,” but objective journalism shouldn’t have to censor dissent to play its part. Its part is to report the truth. Actions, however, have equal and opposite reactions, and as the media on the Left, which is to say most of the media, openly and  unapologetically indulges its Trump Hate, confident that its market will approve (thus making the abandonment of fairness and responsibility profitable), the polarization of whatever news media remains becomes inevitable.

This is not good for journalism, punditry, the nation or democracy, but I don’t know what can halt it now.

2. Terrible…but kind of funny, you have to admit. More than half the paintings owned by a small art museum in Elne, France, 82 of its 140 works, are fakes.  “It’s a catastrophe,”  said Yves Barniol, the mayor of Elne, near the Spanish border. Ya think? Over $170,000 was paid out by the museum for the phony artworks—not a lot by art museum standards, but when most of your collection are forgeries, there’s an open question why anyone would trust such a museum again.

Dishonesty and incompetence are a destructive combination. Continue reading

62 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, The Internet, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: Harvard And Evangelicals”

Here is another Comment of the Day emerging from the discussion of Harvard’s suspension of a student religious organization.

The topic is a bit tangential, but interesting nonetheless. One of EA’s readers from across the Atlantic—you can tell he’s British because he spell “theater” wrong— clarifies some history regarding England’s unpleasantness with the Colonies, and as you all know, correcting historical misconceptions is always welcome here.

This is P.M. Lawrence’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz: Harvard And Evangelicals”:

“When we look at the Second Amendment, it was written at time when a rag-tag group of colonies resisted the greatest empire the world had seen to date.”

Though I mostly just lurk these days, I have seen that misconception so much that I want to rebut it here, as this is one of the few places where the search for truth might let it be taken seriously. Feel free to check what follows for yourselves.

Britain had only just acquired Canada and Bengal, along with hegemony over some (not all) of the rest of India. At that point, all of its gains were yet to be consolidated, and represented drains rather than sources of strength; the same applies to Gibraltar and Minorca too, of which more below. In military, geographical, and economic terms, Britain was weaker than the Chinese, Russian and Ottoman Empires – though all those fell back in one or more of those respects very soon afterwards, when Britain was surging ahead, which may give people the wrong idea from looking anachronistically at what came later. More to the point, Britain was then behind both France and Spain too in most of those respects, and those countries were allied with the revolting colonists.

Britain had just two advantages over France and Spain: it had a more resilient financial system than France and Spain (though not than Holland, a minor rebel ally), and it had denied France more territory even though it had not yet consolidated that for itself.

Britain was – at the time – equal in naval power to France, though not yet to France and Spain combined, which it only became after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. That was why Britain lost the.Battle of Chesapeake Bay, which in turn made Yorktown into a Dien Bien Phu rather than at worst a Corunna or a Dunkirk, or at best even a Torres Vedras. Continue reading

17 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Comment of the Day, History

Ethics Quote Of The Month: The French Anti-#MeToo Letter

This translated open letter received a lot of publicity last week, in part because the famous French actress Catherine Deneuve signed it (that’s her, above, with Harvey Weinstein) , along with writer/psychoanalyst Sarah Chiche,  author/art critic Catherine Millet, actress/writer Catherine Robbe-Grillet, journalist  Peggy Sastre (author/journalist) and writer/journalist Abnousse Shalmani. It was signed by over a hundred other women.

The entire letter is important, and should be read by anyone interested in this issue—and everyone should be interested. All of the letter is ethically dead on, except one crucial element: workplace harassment is not trivial, as the letter mistakenly suggests. The letter states near the beginning:

“This summary justice has already had its victims: men who’ve been disciplined in the workplace, forced to resign, and so on., when their only crime was to touch a woman’s knee, try to steal a kiss, talk about “intimate” things during a work meal, or send sexually-charged messages to women who did not return their interest.”

The French just do not get this. I have seen it, fought it, and trained companies about it: supervisors using the workplace as a dating bar harms women, even when the particular target is receptive. It is a crucial component of the glass ceiling and fuels sexual discrimination, every one of those behaviors mentioned above can create a hostile workplace. Men who engage in such conduct, if the conduct can be proven, should be disciplined, as a matter of policy and ethics.

The rest of the letter is excellent.

Rape is a crime. But trying to pick up someone, however persistently or clumsily, is not — nor is gallantry an attack of machismo.

The Harvey Weinstein scandal sparked a legitimate awakening about the sexual violence that women are subjected to, particularly in their professional lives, where some men abuse their power. This was necessary. But what was supposed to liberate voices has now been turned on its head: We are being told what is proper to say and what we must stay silent about — and the women who refuse to fall into line are considered traitors, accomplices!

Just like in the good old witch-hunt days, what we are once again witnessing here is puritanism in the name of a so-called greater good, claiming to promote the liberation and protection of women, only to enslave them to a status of eternal victim and reduce them to the defenseless prey of male chauvinist demons.

Ratting out and calling out Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Romance and Relationships, Workplace

Comment Of The Day (5!): “An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay…”

The  Comment Of The Day Weekend continues into the long weekend with yet another one on the Holiday Challenge, wherein readers were asked to metaphorically defenestrate Noah Berlatsky’s essay calling for a hsarp edit to the First amendment.

This sharp comment is by long-time Ethics Alarms regular Glenn Logan. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay Advocating Limits On Speech…

I read this a few days ago, at least as much as I could stomach. It’s pretty irrational. I thought this was funny:

Delgado and Stefanic, though, argue the price for freedom in this case may be higher than we think. For example, a John Hopkins study published in 2013 concluded that being exposed to racism can lead to high blood pressure and stress among African Americans.

Being exposed to racism isn’t funny, but the idea that the stress of racism is different from other stresses is medically and logically bankrupt. Being called a racist can just as easily be shown to produce the same negative physiological effects, but the author is so incredibly purblind that this would never occur to him.

So are we to place progressives who allege racism at the drop of a hat into the “You can’t say that, it’s hate speech!” column along with the n-word? I’m betting no.

More hilarity:

Currently the federal government is prosecuting 200 people for being present at the protests during Donald Trump’s inauguration, including journalists and street medics.

Heh. I guess he’s unaware that those so-called protesters were rioting, a felony in every state in the union. Protests are peaceful demonstrations, but destroying property and participating in a riot is not free speech. Also, just because a person is a “street medic” or “journalist” does not make them automatically exempt from consequences if they participate in a riot.

Police officer to journalist: “Did you just break that window?”
Journalist: “Yes, but I’m a journalist.”
Officer: “Oh, I guess it’s okay, then.”

In what universe? Berlatsky’s, I suppose. Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Introducing Rationalizations #25B, and #25C: “I’m Just Doing My Job,” and “It’s Policy!”

Here are two  more rationalizations for the list, bringing the grand total to 89.

#25B  The Nuremberg Rationalization, or “I’m Just Doing My Job!”

Amazing: 87 previous rationalizations described, and the word “Nuremberg” did not appear once.

Rationalization # 25. The Coercion Myth, covers the excuse for unethical conduct that the actor “had no choice,” and # 25A. Frederick’s Compulsion or “It’s My Duty!” posits that duty excuses wrongdoing. #25 B follows the theme of denying free will by using the fact of employment to justify or excuse unethical conduct. It embodies the defense of the Nazi officers at the Nuremberg Trials that because they followed the orders of others, they were simply agents, and their horrible crimes against humanity should not bring them punishment…after all, they had no choice. It was their duty to follow orders, because that was their job.

We all need jobs, but we all have a choice whether to remain in a job or not. Sometimes it’s not a very attractive choice, and even a frightening one, in which choosing the ethical course requires personal sacrifice. Nonetheless, when a job requires one to commit unethical acts, the choice is this: quit the job and refuse to perform the unethical act, or commit the unethical act, following orders but accepting the responsibility, accountability and consequences of doing so.

For inspiration, we need look no further than the first admittee to the Ethics Alarms Heroes Hall of Honor, the amazing Henri Salmide.

From the Ethics Alarms post:

In 1944, Salmide was a German officer in the 159th Infantry Division of the German army occupying the French city of Bordeaux, the largest seaport on the west coast. It was August 19, and Allied Forces were spreading out from the beaches at Normandy and taking control of the war. An order came from Berlin calling on the Division to destroy the entire seven miles of port infrastructure before abandoning the city. The port’s destruction was scheduled to occur within a week.

“It fell to me,” Salmide recounted in an interview, because, as head of the bomb disposal unity, he had expertise with explosives. “I couldn’t do it. I knew the war was lost. What was the point of this, I asked myself. People would die and suffer, and the war would still be lost by Germany.”

On  August 22, he filled a bunker at the docks with detonators, plungers, timers and other hardware needed for the planned demolition. But instead of using them to destroy Bordeaux, Salmide blew them up with dynamite, in a terrifying explosion. “It was all I could do,” he said later.

French historians estimate he saved 3,500 lives by refusing to carry out his orders. About fifty Nazi soldiers died in the blast instead. “I could not accept that the port of Bordeaux be wantonly destroyed when the war was clearly lost,” he explained in an interview. “I acted according to my Christian conscience.”

Salmide deserted, and was hunted by both the Gestapo and the French authorities. He hid with the French Resistance for the remainder of the war. Then Salmide adopted a French name, married a local woman, became citizen of France, and raised his family in the very city his conscience had rescued. The Germans regarded him as a traitor, and even the French were reluctant to give him the recognition he deserved, according to his wife.

“No one wanted to admit that he had done it,” Mrs. Salmide told the New York Times. “If he had been French, it would have been easier for him.”  It was not until 2000 that the French government finally awarded him the French Legion of Honor,* and the Bordeaux City Hall said this week that it wants to erect a memorial to Salmide.

His best and most lasting memorial, however, would be for his story to be known around the world, and taught in every school, of every nation. For when any of us finds ourselves being required to act under authority to accomplish unjust and cruel ends—to blindly do our job, knowing that the results would harm others unjustly, and we wonder if it is fair for us to be accountable for our actions when, in reality, we seem to have no choice, we should recall Henri Salmide. His moment of courage should remind us that we are always accountable, and we always have a choice, provided we also have the ethics and courage to take it.

Continue reading

56 Comments

Filed under History

Now THIS Is An Unethical Stickler For Policy…

I love this story! It’s a classic example of the unethical bureaucratic mindset. It shows that it isn’t only American brain-on-autopilot officials who embarrass the human race this way. Best of all, it’s from France, as far away from the ridiculous NFL protest than isn’t a protest and the President’s obsession with it as possible.

Frenchman Philippe Croizon gained international fame in 2010 when he swam the English Channel without the use of his arms or legs, because he has no arms or legs. He is almost certainly the most famous quadruple amputee in the world, and definitely the best armless and legless long-distance swimmer, if you don’t count fish. Yet when he recently tried to board a train, he was blocked by a railway employee who asked for proof that he was disabled. (Disabled passengers get a discount on train tickets in France). Here is Croizon…

The controller insisted on seeing his state issued disability card.  Croizon was in a wheelchair. He has no legs or arms. Never mind: if you can’t prove you’re disabled by producing the proper documentation, the controller insisted, then you aren’t disabled.

Eventually other passengers made such a commotion that the controller gave up and took Croizon at his word. When I first started reading about this, I thought that the guy was arguing that if Cruizon could swim the channel, he wasn’t disabled. Of course, this would mean that French porpoises couldn’t get their discounts either. Or the Little Mermaid.

Croizon is apparently an amazingly nice guy. He tweeted about the incident, but unlike everyone who has read about it and responded on social media, he refuses to condemn his tormenter, and wrote the controller was just doing his job.

“I wanted to take things with a sense of humor and do not get to insults,” he wrote. “This gentleman may have had a bad day, he may be tired, I don’t know.”

It was generous and kind for Croizon to try to give this officious fool a hand,  but he really doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

(I’m sorry.)

22 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics

Casting Ethics: A Black Joan Of Arc?

Sure, why not?

From Playbill:

Manhattan Theatre Club has announced a Broadway revival of “Saint Joan” by Nobel Prize and Oscar winner George Bernard Shaw with direction by Tony winner Daniel Sullivan. Heading the cast as the famous heroine will be Condola Rashad, fresh off her Tony-nominated performance in “A Doll’s House, Part 2.”

Superficially, at least, the casting of Rashad, an African American actress, as the famous “Maid of Orléans,” the French teenager who gained political and military power as a self-proclaimed messenger of God and who was burned at the stake, would seem like precisely the kind of stunt non-traditional casting that I have condemned by subjugating the intent and art of a playwright to affirmative action and virtue-signaling. However, this is not a legitimate objection to this casting choice, and in fact the upcoming Broadway production is as close to a perfect example of how creative casting can enliven a production and deepen its ability to make an audience think.

Joan of Arc, of course, was not black. Nor was she Swedish, though Ingrid Bergman played her memorably enough in the most famous Hollywood version of  Shaw’s play, She also didn’t speak English, and certainly not Shavian English. She spoke French. Ethnicity, race and color are not part of Shaw’s drama, however, nor are they relevant to what Joan of Arc did in life, and what she meant to her nation, its history and our shared Western culture.

How many public schools teach anything about Joan of Arc? How many U.S. students graduate completely ignorant of the historical Joan, not to mention Shaw’s version? Yet hers is one of the most remarkable stories in recorded history.

Joan of Arc was born around 1412, the daughter of a tenant farmer, Jacques d’Arc, from the village of Domrémy, in northeastern France. She was illiterate, as were most  of her class and gender, but also was indoctrinated into the teachings of the Catholic Church by her mother.  France was engaged in what we now call the Hundred Years’ War with England, and England had France by the throat.  A forced  treaty in 1420 disinherited  Charles, French crown prince, and England’s King Henry V—there’s a famous play about him, too– was made ruler of both England and France. Upon his father’s death, Henry VI succeeded him as king in 1422. At this point England occupied much of northern France, and many in Joan’s village, Domrémy, were forced to abandon their homes under threat of invasion.

Thirteen year-old  Joan began to hear voices in her head. Today we think the cause was tinnitus, but she was certain God was assigning her the mission of  saving France by defeating the English, and installing Charles as its the rightful king. Joan took a vow of chastity, as part of her bargain with God; this allowed her to reject a marriage her father arranged for her when she was 16.

Around this time, Joan traveled by herself to  Vaucouleurs, a nearby stronghold of those loyal to Charles. With her faith and her persuasive claim of being a holy messenger, she attracted a small band of followers who were convinced her sudden appearance was the the result of a popular prophecy coming true, and that she was destined to save France. Joan cut her hair short and dressed in men’s clothes to make an 11-day journey across enemy territory to Chinon, where the crown prince’s palace stood. She met with the young man, and convinced him that she was the Real McCoy (they didn’t use that phrase in France, of course)  by allegedly telling him things only God would know. She also  promised Charles that she would see him crowned king at Reims, the traditional site of French royal investiture, and asked him to give her an army to lead to Orléans, then under siege from the English.

Charles granted her request. Think about this for a bit. A strange teenage girl, dressed like a boy and claiming to hear voices, meets with the leader of a nation at war and convinces him to put her in charge of an army.

Amazing. Continue reading

23 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, Race, Religion and Philosophy