Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/31/17

Good Morning!

1. If you want an instant reading on someone’s ethics alarms, or a quick diagnosis of whether he or she is a jerk, ask their opinion on yesterday’s episode in which New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got in the face of a Cubs fan who was harassing him during the Brewers-Cubs game. Instead of ignoring the fan, who was shouting insults at him, Christie walked over to him and said, among other things, “You’re a big shot!”

“Appreciate that,” the fan gulped.

It’s rude, uncivil and cowardly to shout insults at anyone who just happens to be attending an event as a private citizen. It doesn’t matter who the target is. The fan, Brad Joseph, assumed that he was insulated  by the crowd and the setting from any consequences of being a jackass by setting out to make Christie’s visit to the ball park unpleasant. Bravo to Christie for behaving exactly as any other non-weenie would when subjected to such abuse. Brad was adopting the same false  entitlement the “Hamilton” cast assumed when it harassed Mike Pence, though in lower case. Elected officials have an obligation to listen to the public’s complaints and positions. They do not have an obligation to accept outright abuse, and shouldn’t.

Joseph, heretofore to be referred to as “The Jerk,” or TJ, told a radio station, “I called him a hypocrite because I thought it needed to be said.” Then walk up to the Governor like a man, look him in the eyes, and say it, you chicken. Shouting from a crowd is a hit-and-run tactic, and you know it. You depended on it.


“This is America and I think we have the right to say what you believe as long as it’s not crude or profane,” Joseph then said. Wrong, Hot Dog Breath. You do have a right to be crude and profane, but as with those abuses of free speech, harassing someone, anyone, at a ball game is still unfair and unethical.

2. Then there were the ad hominem attacks on the Governor in the comments to the story. Did you know Christie was fat? Did you know that being fat proves his unfitness for public service or removes his human right to be treated decently when he goes to a ball game? These were the conclusions of easily 75% of all commenters, proving informally that 75% of internet commenters have the ethical instincts of 10-year-olds.

The news media was hardly better: check which sources make a big deal about the fact that Christie was holding a plate of nachos when he stared down TJ. This non-essential detail was even in some headlines. Newsweek, which is really just a left-wing supermarket tabloid now, actually headlined the story “Chris Christie confronts fan who wouldn’t let him eat nachos in peace.”

That’s not just fat-shaming, that’s an endorsement of fat-shaming. The problem with Chris Christie isn’t that he’s fat; the problem with him is that he is corrupt and sold out his principles and his country to help make Donald Trump President, none of which justifies abusing him when he’s at a baseball game.

Or watching “Hamilton. Continue reading

Condign Justice For An Ethics Dunce

Chris Christie

The only contemporary writer who regularly uses the term “condign justice” is George Will, who uses it frequently. “Condign” is usually paired with “justice” or “punishment,” and means “well-earned,” “appropriate,” or “deserved.”

Donald Trump screwed over New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who foolishly believed that his cynical endorsement of Trump could buy him a Vice-Presidential slot on a Trump ticket. Christie probably didn’t have a direct quid pro quo deal with Trump; he’s a good enough lawyer to know that this would have been illegal. He probably thought he had an “understanding.” How he could not have had an understanding that he was re-enacting the fable of the frog and the scorpion with him playing the role of the amphibian is a mystery. Trump is untrustworthy. Trump is a con man. Doesn’t everyone know that? We know Christie knows that, because he has said so.

Make no mistake: if and when Donald Trump takes the Oath of Office at the Capitol, Chris Christie will be one of the primary figures accountable for that national disaster. (I am beginning to think #1 will be the Democratic Party and its followers, who could not do a better job of making Trump look like the safer of two risky alternatives if they tried.) When the governor made his endorsement, Ethics Alarms awarded him its rarely given Ethics Villain designation. As the one candidate who could match Trump’s bluntness and audacity without the overwhelming stench of ignorance, Christie was the  Republican challenger with the skills and credentials to take Trump out. Instead, he avoided direct confrontation with Trump in the debates and instead symbolically disemboweled Trump’s other most dangerous opponent, Marco Rubio. Then Christie dropped out, and conferred legitimacy on the blowhard by becoming the first non-wacko holding an important elected position to endorse him.

Uck, yechh, blech, gag. Continue reading