The “Ordinary People Who Are Struggling Within Gaza” Are Not Innocent

President Obama continued a pattern of declaring deceitful formal support of Israel while throwing coded support for Palestinians to the Democratic base, which is, disgracefully, largely siding with the anti-Israel forces in Europe. His reluctance to commit the moral weight of his office against the conduct of Hamas and behind Israel was embarrassingly clear when he said, “I also think it is important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly when it is deliberately siting rocket launchers in population centers, putting populations at risk because of that particular military strategy.” Intentionally placing its own citizens, including children, in harm’s way to maximize photo-ready casualties that can turn world opinion against Israel is not “irresponsible.” The President trying to play both ends against the middle in the Gaza crisis is irresponsible. Using Gazans as human shields when Hamas forces Israel to respond militarily to missiles and tunnels is indistinguishable from evil, and the President, were he responsible, would say so unequivocally. Instead, he resorts to weasel words, equivocations. Surely, this President extolled for his eloquence knows the meaning of the words he uses.

Then, this week, Obama gave us this:

“I have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza.”

Godwin’s Law be damned: a Nazi Germany analogy is instructive here. Continue reading

Ethical Quote Of The Week: Andrew Sullivan

You are dead to me, Firefox. Tell your mama.

You are dead to me, Firefox. Tell your mama.

“Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us”

—-Blogging pioneer and gay rights advocate Andrew Sullivan, writing yesterday about Mozilla’s craven capitulation to gay rights bullies who demanded the removal of new CEO Brendan Eich “who had the gall to express his First Amendment rights and favor Prop 8 in California by donating $1,000.”

Corporations, as the Duck Dynasty flap depressingly illustrated, tend to be spineless, irresolute and principle-free. This instance of that tendency, however, is more alarming and harmful than most. Capitulating to arrogant, self-righteous, power-hungry forces on the left or right only makes them more voracious: we will know who to thank first when boycotts abound demanding that anyone who questioned Al Gore’s climate change hysteria be sacked.

Thank you, Mozilla.

Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Month: OkCupid

Not OK...

Not OK…

“Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid. Politics is normally not the business of a website, and we all know there’s a lot more wrong with the world than misguided CEOs. So you might wonder why we’re asserting ourselves today. This is why: we’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together. If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.”

—Dating website OkCupid, calling for a boycott of Mozilla, including Firefox, its webserving software, because of the past political/social/religious views of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich

Full disclosure: 1) I use Firefox. 2) I detest boycotts,and 3) I am biased against them by nature, because they are almost always coercive, extortive, and unfair.

This statement, however, has more wrong with it than just its advocacy of a boycott.

Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: The Videogame Burners of Southington, Conn.

book burning

On January 12, they are burning “violent videogames” in Southington, a Connecticut town not far from Newtown, scene of the Sandy Hook massacre.

Is there a more irresponsible, historically ignorant, un-American, First Amendment-offending, foolish, ignorant and ugly act than burning speech and art because you object to their content? They burned rock and roll records  in the Bible Belt during the 1950s—that was stupid, disgusting and frightening. Hitler, you may recall, burned books; the USSR too. In 2013, consigning electronic media like videogames to the flames is indistinguishable from burning books. I would expect American citizens of normal intelligence to immediately realize that.

I guess I would be wrong.

The local group organizing the bonfire has put out some rationalization for it. I could not care less what sad reasoning and warped values motivate their book-burning. It is a symbolic insult to freedom of thought.

No question: book burnings are legal and protected speech. It is also conduct redolant of mob rule, ignorance, intolerance, fear, hate, and Ray Bradbury novels. Some activities have earned permanent revulsion, legal or not, in American culture because they are the traditional tools not of democracies, but of totalitarian governments,  the enemies of democracy and free thought. Book burning is one of them.

And burning videogames is exactly the same thing.

Update: The news accounts eventually make it clear that the group will collect the various forms of violent entertainment in a dumpster, which will also include movies and recordings, and that the actual incineration will be performed by city workers, as part of their rubbish disposal duties. Is this better? Worse, because now the town government is participating? I don’t think it is useful or enlightening to play parsing games. I see this event as indistinguishable from a book-burning, and while The Guardian’s description of it as such could be called misleading (or inflammatory?), I salute them for correctly diagnosing what this is in its essence.

Ethics Dunce Déjà Vu: Drew Curtis’s Fark

"Ma'am, your teenage son was raped by this woman, Isn't that great?"

“Ma’am, your teenage son was raped by this woman, Isn’t that great?”

Once again, one of my favorite news aggregation websites, the prolific and often hilarious Fark, is laughing at child rape. Its comment on the story from Nehalem, Oragon about the arrest of a 31-year-old model for sex crimes involving at least three under-age boys—15 and 16 years old—was this…


Not funny. An adult woman using—that’s the correct word, using—teenage boys as her personal sexual aids isn’t niiice—it’s criiiiminal. In October, I gave Fark an ethics dunce cap for an earlier wink-wink-nudge-nudge comment about a teacher who added statutory rape to her duties, and that was surely worse; after all, she was a teacher, and violating the trust of the school, the parents, the students and the community to get herself laid. Nonetheless, the conduct of model Anna Walsh was neither harmless nor trivial. I know: Fark’s official stance is sophomoric; I get that. I also get that sophomores, and other morons, have staked out the position that any male child who has obtained a sufficient level of sexual maturity to be used as a human dildo by a “hot” woman is a lucky dog. Well, that spectacularly stupid and unethical position does a great deal to help sexual predators like Walsh victimize children, who are misled into feeling that something must be wrong with them if they really don’t want be used.

Since the site is a repeat offender, I’m sure Fark’s wags intend to keep doing this. So I guess Ethics Alarms will have to keep reminding everyone what irresponsible ethics dunces their warped sense of appropriate treatment of young boys shows them to be.



Spark: Fark

Facts, Graphic: KATU

Now THAT’S An Unethical Excuse!

“My dog ate my brother.”

There is misconduct that suggests that an individual’s normal ethics alarms malfunctioned. There is misconduct that indicates that an individual has no ethics alarms. (An aside: I have just about concluded that model/vicious tweeter Melissa Stetten is in this category. She’s really proud of herself for humiliating a doofus actor who was trying to impress her, judging from her narcissistic website, and accepting accolades from fans who appear to be just as ethically warped as she is. This makes her a fick.) Finally there is misconduct so irresponsible and completely devoid of its impact on others that it is convincing proof that nothing exists between the individual’s ears at all—a conscience, common sense, gray matter.

This is a tale of that last variety of misconduct. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Eric Wemple

Talk about ethics blindness.

Find that loose screw, Eric, and then tell Spike where it is...

On his Washington Post blog, Eric Wemple gushes like Old Faithful about sweet, contrite, courageous Spike Lee, who appropriately apologized (and paid an undisclosed sum) to the Florida couple whose address he had accidentally tweeted to help get George Zimmerman harassed, attacked or killed—that being his clear intent by trying to send Zimmerman’s address to the world, or more specifically, the New Black Panthers’ vigilantes. Wemple was blown away by Spike’s willingness to accept responsibility for his boneheadedness and admit he was wrong:

“Yet his reaction to the mishap rehabilitates the good name of an honest apology. Lee used no qualifiers, no minimizers, no excuses — and no ‘I am sorry if anyone took offense to my actions.’ Just plain regret and shame. Score a victory for the apology.”

So “I’m sorry I nearly got you killed; honest, I was trying to get that other guy killed!” is an impressive apology, is it? Continue reading

Ethics Quiz (Trayvon Martin Ethics Train Wreck Edition): Spike Lee’s Incompetent Vigilantism

"Doh the Right Thing"??

When we left film director Spike Lee, he had entered Ethics Dunce Valhalla on board the Trayvon Martin Ethics Train Wreck Express for assisting vigilante efforts against Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman by tweeting the man’s address to his 240,000+ Twitter followers.

Now we learn that Lee tweeted the wrong address!

The residence is actually the home of David McClain, 72, and his wife Elaine, 70.  The couple has reportedly fled their home for the safety of a hotel room after being harassed by reporters, threatening mail and menacing  posts by Twitter and Facebook users. The woman has another son named William George Zimmerman, who lived with her in 1995 and still lives in Central Florida. He is no relation to the George Zimmerman involved in the shooting. Lee has removed the tweet the erroneous address, but it continues to be sent around by others, including the California man who sent the address to Lee in the first place.

This isn’t an especially difficult quiz, but I can’t resist the ironic conundrum of the bungled unethical act. So your Ethics Quiz for today is this:

Does the fact that Spike Lee tweeted the wrong address for George Zimmerman to assist those who planned vigilante action against him make his conduct more ethical, less ethical, or no difference at all? Continue reading

“Do The Vicious And Stupid Thing”—A Spike Lee Production

Ethics Dunce Extraordinaire: Director Spike Lee

The film director, writer, social critic, sports fan and incurable hot-head has apparently tweeted—twice— the home address of George Zimmerman, who is the man who shot Trayvon Martin.

Meanwhile, the New Black Panthers have placed a cash bounty on “capturing” Zimmerman, and he is also receiving death threats.

If someone uses the Lee-tweeted address to go and kill Zimmerman—certainly within the realm of possibility given the over-heated, emotional and irresponsible rhetoric over Martin’s death—Lee  won’t be prosecuted. But his conduct is vicious and criminal in spirit.

Well, Twitter has wrecked plenty of lives; it’s just a matter of time before it ends one. Spike Lee is just the man to make it happen.

There is no excuse for this.


Unethical Questions, Anti-Semitism, and Greenberg’s Chase

I first encountered the device of the unfounded accusatory rhetorical when, as a teenager, I became fascinated by the Lincoln assassination conspiracy. A best-seller at the time was Web of Conspiracy, an over-heated brief for the theory that Lincoln’s War Secretary, Edwin Stanton, and others were in league with John Wilkes Booth. The author, a mystery writer named Theodore Roscoe, was constantly suggesting sinister motives by asking questions like “The sealed records of the official assassination investigation were destroyed in a mysterious fire. Was the War Department afraid of what the documents would prove? Would they have implicated Stanton? We will never know.”  This tactic is on view regularly today, used generously by the purveyors of modern conspiracies, but it is also a regrettably common tool of journalists and historians. Now the eclectic sports journalist Howard Megdal (who also edits a terrific website, The Perpetual Posthas found a new use for it. His question: “When Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers made a run at Babe Ruth’s season home run record, falling two short with 58 in 1938, was he pitched around because he was Jewish?” Continue reading