Ethics Dunces: The Operators Of Detroit’s Belle Isle Park

This place should not be in business.

The Giant Slide at Belle Isle Park reopened last week after being closed for two years because of the pandemic (how this ride could possibly be a virus-spreader is beyond me, but that’s The Great Stupid for you). The 50-foot metal slide has been a  Detroit summer tradition since 1967. When it went back into operation last week, however, “the waxing was a little robust,” according to Ron Olson, the chief of parks and recreation for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. It’s nice that he can be so cavalier about people nearly breaking their necks. As a result of that robust waxing, every bump in the slide sent fun-seekers airborne, as you can see from one of the many videos made of the thing above. One woman bumped her head and lost her phone, headphones, glasses, a shoe and even a sock on the way down.

What fun! GMAC Cash, a Detroit rapper, even put the experience to song: “You can break your back, on the Giant Slide,” he raps. “You can even break your neck, on the giant slide. You can even bump your head, on the giant slide.”

Apparently nobody connected with the park bothered to stage a few test runs to see if the slide was safe after being put back into service after two years. No state agency checked it either, though most such amusement park attractions have to be inspected before the public can use them. It gets worse. Even though the ride was obviously dangerous, over 500 sliders risked their necks before the slugs operating the park thought hard about the violence they were seeing and said, “Ya know, maybe we need to fix this.” Then they closed the ride. (It reopened last weekend.)

The ethical values on display here are competence and responsibility, or rather the lack of them. The fact that nobody was seriously injured is pure moral luck. This is how people get killed.

The episode ranks an “Otter”:

A Baseball Integrity And Competence Ethics Train Wreck! [Corrected]

…and, I’m ashamed to say, I got pulled into it myself.

I miss one Red Sox game—I thought yesterday’s contest between the Sox and Astros in Houston was a night game, but it was played in the afternoon—and this was my punishment. Writing about Karine Jean-Pierre’s idiotic statement that the Supreme Court, charged with interpreting the Constitution, issued an “unconstitutional” ruling in Dobbs, I noted in a comment,

[T]hat’s not what unconstitutional means, as SCOTUS uses it, and how SCOTUS uses it is what matters. SCOTUS said that Roe was a misinterpretation of the Constitution, which is not the same as saying the decision was unconstitutional. Unconstitutional would mean that SCOTUS was exceeding Constitutional authority to make the decision.

And this is what makes her statement incompetent and pernicious. She’s not a lawyer, she doesn’t understand those distinctions, and she’s ensuring that much of the public now is confused too.

If an umpire makes a wrong call, out when a player was safe, one can argue that the call was wrong, was inept, was bad. One cannot say the umpire violated the rules, however, because the umpire is empowered to make those decisions.

Little did I know, because I had not seen the game, that it contained an umpire’s call that did violate the rules, and that an umpire is NOT empowered to make.

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: GOP Senate Candidate Herschel Walker [Expanded]

“Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then — now we got we to clean that back up.”

Yes, Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker really said those words, in that order. The gibberish is on a recently released video of an appearance he made last week at a local GOP picnic in Hall County, northeast of Atlanta, when Walker spoke, if you can call it that, about climate change. The Republican Party, desperate to take control of the Senate, actually nominated a candidate to defeat Democratic incumbent Ralph Warnock whose grasp of science, logic and language is that infantile.

Walker’s sole qualifications, if you can call them that, for the Senate are that he is a local and national sports celebrity, and black. He has no other qualifications. In addition to his obvious lack of education and erudition, he has also lied repeatedly for years, presenting himself as someone he is not. He is a neon-bright hypocrite, lecturing about the responsibilities of fatherhood while hiding the existence of his own children conceived without the security of a secure relationship with their mothers. Continue reading

The Victoria’s Secret Smoking Gun: The New York Times Doesn’t Just Use Unethical Reporting To Push Its Political Agenda…It Does It To Push A Social Agenda As Well

The Times article yesterday was headlined, “Victoria’s Secret and What’s Sexy Now: A rebranding and a new documentary have the lingerie company back in the cultural cross hairs.” The piece emits barely-restrained enthusiasm for VS’s controversial rebranding and implies that the effort, while having to overcome much bias and cultural headwinds, is succeeding….and should. The final words written by NYT fashion maven Vanessa Friedman are these:

[P]erhaps the real takeaway from all of this is that no one person or brand or size or shape gets to say what’s sexy — and that should be seen as a good thing.

That sexy in the end has to do with feeling at ease in your skin, rather than in any single garment. That there are as many definitions of the term as there are people in the world. And that actual empowerment doesn’t come in a bra and panty set. It comes out of it.

Her article begins by saying that when the fantasy female bedroom attire company announced, in a fit of wokeness, that it would “become a champion of female empowerment, replacing its bevy of supermodel angels with the VS Collective, ten women of great accomplishment as well as varying ages and body types — the news was met, generally (and understandably), with raised eyebrows.” Among those virtual eyebrows were those of this blog, which observed at the time in part [Item #3]:

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Oh-Oh! The President’s New Paid Liar Is Incompetent At Lying

When the name Karine Jean-Pierre was first mentioned on Ethics Alarms (here, Item 4), it was after the lead-in, “Biden’s not even trying to be responsible at this point.” Her major qualification to take over the press secretary job—aka “Pofficial paid liar”— from the unbearable Jen Psaki, it seemed, was that Jean-Pierre is a black lesbian, which White House flacks (echoed by the mainstream media of course, boot-licking as usual) hailed as “historic.” (My reaction, then and now: who cares?) She also has a major conflict of interest, being married to CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. Later, after non-bootlicking reporters did some digging, we learned that she has been a habitual race-baiter. The New York Post reported that between 2015 and 2020 the new voice of the White House had accused people, policies, ideas, or words of being “racist” 57 times on Twitter and 43 times in TV appearances on CNN and MSNBC.

To be fair, being a knee-jerk race-baiter is a valid qualification for being a Democratic President’s press secretary in 2022.

However, the main objective in appointing Jean-Pierre, as with any job, has to be that she be able to do it competently. That means lie, which is what people in her position do and have done since the role came into being. The job is easier now that it has been for many past occupants of the position, because, as already noted, most of the reporters likely to toss questions at a Democrat President’s paid liar aren’t seeking the truth, and nearly completely unwilling to make her boss look bad. (That might risk his losing re-election, which, we are told daily, would endanger democracy.)

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Unethical—And Ignorant!—Quote Of The Month: The Washington Post

“The air in humid, hotter environments contains more water, which can condense onto the virus particles, make them bigger and theoretically fall to the ground faster. Wu compares the particles to a rock in this case — the more mass, the faster it falls.”

—-Washington Post Reporter Kasha Patel, forgetting about Galileo and gravity in an alleged science article headlined,  “Covid-19 may have seasons for different temperature zones, study suggests.”

Her editors also seem to have missed 6th grade science. In truth, I believe I learned about Galileo’s experiment with the Leaning Tower of Pisa before the sixth grade, after Santa left a children’s book about “great moments in science” in my sister’s stocking. We shared it, and it ended up with me: it’s around the house somewhere. I think about the book every time I end up on Walter Reed Drive in Arlington, which is often. His story is also in it; I wish I could think of the title.

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Ugh. Donald Trump’s New Social Media Site Is Just As You Would Have Expected

Truth Social

Careless and incoherent.

I keep expecting Donald Trump to surprise me (in a good way) but my anticipation is regularly dashed. The most recent example is Trump’s new “TRUTH Social” platform, his response to the censorship of the Big Tech platforms that have censored him and others based on thinly-veiled partisan motives.

An ethical platform to counter their abuse of open discourse and support of biased journalism is greatly needed, and Trump, one would think, has the resources and connections to create a good one.

One would think.

But, as usual, the former President can’t get out of his own way, and also as usual, has failed to hire “the best people” he once boasted about. For example, The Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) appears to have violated a license agreement by taking the code of the decentralized social network Mastodon and neglecting to abide by its terms. Software Freedom Conservancy, a non-profit that enforces free and open-source software licenses, said even Trump must comply with the Affero General Public License (or AGPLv3). A condition of the APGLv3 is that every user can receive the complete corresponding source for the website based on that code. Truth Social violated that provision by referring to its services as “proprietary.”

It’s probably just a mistake, but this platform can’t afford mistakes, because it has no good will, no wiggle room, no ability to be given the benefit of the doubt by the hoard of critics waiting to pounce. Trump’s platform is like Jackie Robinson: it has to be perfect, because the knives are already out. No, it’s not fair, but that’s reality, and Trump, of all people, must know it. It is stunningly incompetent to make unforced errors….except that’s what Trump does.

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Competence Check: Learn To Communicate, You Inarticulate Boobs.

I’ll make this quick.

Sullivan and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne, spoke with ABC News’ Ian Pannell yesterday at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport about the evacuations taking place there. As the Taliban is taking control of the country, Sullivan said that his Marines are managing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, saying, “I think whether you’re in a combat situation or a humanitarian operation, the human element is always there. But this event is an unprecedented event. I have my years of deploy[ment] into combat and to other crisis areas… I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Then the two Ethics Dunce Congressmen, Seth Moulton, a Bay State Democrat, and Republican Peter Meijer of Michigan, both Iraq War veterans as the news media keeps reminding us (as if that excuses them), made a secret, unapproved visit to the Hamid Karzai International Airport on Tuesday “to conduct oversight” on the evacuation. They also said it wasn’t grandstanding. Of course it was grandstanding. The Administration’s anger at the two as well as Speaker Pelosi’s criticism was 100% appropriate.

But I digress. Moulton, who tweeted his reactions, wrote at one point, “I visited Kabul airport to conduct oversight on the evacuation. Witnessing our young Marines and soldiers at the gates, navigating a confluence of humanity as raw and visceral as the world has ever seen, was indescribable.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it before.”


This is not sufficient or acceptable. It is incompetent and lazy communication of information that the generals and the congressmen have a duty to communicate. Those descriptions could mean anything, and they deliberately or negligently leave their meaning to the imaginations of listeners and readers, when they didn’t see a thing. If officials can’t do better than that explaining a situation to the public through the news media, then they shouldn’t be talking to the news media, and they shouldn’t be officials.

Meanwhile, adding to the incompetence, reporters in a position to do so must not take such useless generalities as answers.

“What did you see that you have never seen before, General?”

“Please describe what you mean by indescribable, Congressman!”

Or go back to grade school and learn to talk. I’m sick of this.

Ethics And Leadership Failure On Afghanistan, Part I: In And Out

I’m not a foreign policy expert. (Is anyone a foreign policy expert?) so Ethics Alarms will go light on what “should” have been done by the U.S. in Afghanistan. The one thing I am unalterably convinced of now, as I was in 2001, is that the U.S. had to take strong military action against the Taliban after it aided and abetted Osama bin Laden. No nation can just shrug off a fatal, ambush attack on its citizens with a finger wag and a stern, “Now don’t do that again, or you’ll be sorry!”

Obviously staying twenty years in the pseudo-nation was way, way too long, expensive and costly in American lives, but dreaded mission creep set in. My approach after 9/11—and I think that of several past Presidents, including Eisenhower and Truman—would have been to strike hard, make sure as many military and government officials as possible were among the dead, accept the civilian casualties as unavoidable, and make sure that a properly frightening death toll—ten times what we lost on 9/11, perhaps, 30,000?—made the necessary point: “Don’t mess with the United States of America.” Once that message was delivered, get out. Colin Powell’s too often quoted nostrum that if you broke a country you were obligated to fix it should not have applied. Afghanistan was already broken; it was and remains a chaotic mess of warlords and medieval thinking supported by the heroin trade. Nobody can “fix” it. However, the Taliban was bad, and worst of all it oppressed women, so all of a sudden our objective became an ethical one, not retaliation but reform.

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Unethical Tweet Of The Month And Ethics Dunce: ACLU National Legal Director And Georgetown Law Prof. David Cole


David Cole, ACLU National Legal Director and Professor at Georgetown University Law Center, tweeted in response to the SCOTUS ruling striking down California’s law making it mandatory for non-profits to disclose the names of their biggest donors,

Cole tweet

Gee, that’s funny! The ACLU filed an amicus brief supporting the majority’s decision in AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY FOUNDATION v. BONTA, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CALIFORNIA.

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