Tag Archives: ” it’s not the worst thing”

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/21/17: Dead Ethics Alarms All Over, And This Just In…Ana Navarro Is Still Stupid

Good Morning, all!

1 Dead Ethics Alarms on the Hill. Just as I cannot conceive of what kind of ethics alarm malfunction allows any man to think that parading his reproductive organs before unconsenting women in a work-related setting is anything but gross and wrong (Charlie Rose???), I cannot comprehend by what tortured logic an elected member of Congress reaches the conclusion that I should pay for his sexual harassment hobby. The latter is the height of arrogance and abuse of the public trust. Yet the Washington Post reported that Congress’s Office of Compliance paid out $17 million for 264 settlements with federal employees over the past 20 years for various violations, including sexual harassment, and now we have at least one name and specifics: John Conyers, the ranking member of the House Committee on the Judiciary. Perfect.

From Buzzfeed:

Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”

Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sex acts, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic….The woman who settled with Conyers launched the complaint with the Office of Compliance in 2014, alleging she was fired for refusing his sexual advances, and ended up facing a daunting process that ended with a confidentiality agreement in exchange for a settlement of more than $27,000. Her settlement, however, came from Conyers’ office budget rather than the designated fund for settlements.

Well, this section of the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck is doing some good, by throwing some light on this unethical practice. Congressional sexual harassers need to pay their hush money out of their own pockets. That’s the least they can do.

2.  Live from New York! It’s Double Standards Live! Although Saturday Night Live did have the integrity to mock alum Al Franken following the Senator’s sexual harassment accusations regarding his conduct when he was just an obnoxious comic, 36 SNL staffers, including original cast members Lorraine  Newman and Jane Curtin, felt it was appropriate to release this letter:

SNL Women Offer Solidarity in Support of Al Franken

We feel compelled to stand up for Al Franken, whom we have all had the pleasure of working with over the years on Saturday Night Live (SNL). What Al did was stupid and foolish, and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms Tweeden, and to the public. In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant. That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard.

We send our support and gratitude to Al and his family this Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Ugh. This is blatant Ethics Accounting, as if the fact that Al was fun to work with has anything to do with his misconduct, or mitigates it in any way:

21. Ethics Accounting, or “I’ve earned this”/ “I made up for that”. You cannot earn the right to act unethically by depositing a lot of ethical deeds in the imaginary ethics bank, nor can unethical conduct be erased by doing good for someone else. The illusion that one can balance the ethics books this way is referred to on the Ethics Alarms blog as “the Ruddigore Fallacy.”  Nobody earns the right to be unethical, not even once, no matter how exemplary their conduct. An unethical act is just as unethical, whether it is performed by a saint, a hero, or a villain.

Even more ridiculous is the “he never harassed me!” bit. This is reminiscent of Greta Van Susterin’s embarrassing defense of Roger Ailes, where she “stood up for” her boss and cast skepticism on his accusers because Greta had never been abused. The SNL letter drips with similar skepticism and bias. It is “appropriate” for Al to have apologized—never mind that the apology itself stunk on ice—and Al’s conduct may have been “stupid and foolish,” but come on, it wasn’t the worst thing.

What does standing up “in solidarity” mean, when it is in support of an accused harasser? It means “we don’t believe the victim, and anyway, we like the accused sufficiently that we will give him a pass.” I’m just guessing here, but I bet there are many, many women Harvey Weinstein worked with that he never molested, and that Louis C.K. hasn’t masturbated in front of every women he ever encountered. Those lucky women should sign a letter.

3. ” Gee, you mean I really have to pay it back?” In 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts, while South Dakota suspends driver’s licenses for the same provocation.  The tone of the New York Times article on the topic is disapproving, even though seven of the 19 states don’t use the laws that allow such suspensions, and the others mostly employ them as threats to get deadbeats to take their responsibilities seriously. Nobody in any of the states loses a license who sets up a payment schedule. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Character, Education, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Workplace

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/4/17: Labor Day, Google Being Evil, Antifa, And Hollywood

Good Morning!

1.Happy Labor Day! My dry cleaner has a sign out that reads, “Happy Labor Day! Support Our Troops!” Now, any day is a good day to support our troops, but I strongly suspect that this is an unfortunate example of our increasing cultural and historical ignorance (ignorance that the war on statues and memorials will exacerbate, and that’s the intention). No holiday is more misunderstood than Labor Day, and the news media barely makes an effort to remedy the problem.

Ethics Alarms explained the history behind the holiday in a 2012 post that began,

Labor Day commemorates one of the great ethical victories of American society, and not one in a hundred Americans know it. Labor Day marks the end of summer, and a time for retail store sales, and the last chance to get away to Disney World, but few of us think about the real meaning of the word “labor” in the name, and how it is meant to honor brave, dedicated men and women who fought, sometimes literally, the forces of greed, political influence, wealth and privilege in this country to ensure a measure of safety, consideration, fairness and justice for the hardest working among us.

The post is here.

2. This is traditionally a big movie weekend, but it has already been declared a dud. Hollywood is having its worse summer in more than two decades.  Conservative commentators have speculated that one reason is that Hollywood’s loudly and obnoxiously proclaimed contempt for about half of its potential audience—you know, The Deplorables–has alienated a significant segment of the market. That would be nice, since Hollywood has traditionally been a unifying cultural force rather than a divisive one, and this might shock Tinsel Town into getting off its high, blind horse and doing its job. I doubt it, though.

Astoundingly, the public is not yet sick of super hero movies, one of the few genres that continues to do well at the domestic box office.  I wonder when the public will figure out this is partially political indoctrination by the Hollywood Left too: super heroes don’t use those evil guns. They just kill people with their innate powers, or, as in the not-bad NetFlix/Marvel series “The Defenders,” in ridiculously long, drawn-out martial arts combat sequences that resemble ugly dancing more than real fighting. Some of the heroes are bullet proof, however.

The flaw in this anti-Second Amendment propaganda is that real people do not have super powers, and there aren’t any super heroes running around protecting them. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

Giant Chicken Ethics

An amazing number of readers sent me links to the story about the giant inflatable chicken with Trump hair stationed near the White House.

Is this an ethics matter? Well, let’s think about that.

As stupid protests go, this one is more entertaining than most. The chicken is intrinsically amusing.

Yet it is still just an ad hominem insult. Any group putting up an inflatable animal sporting Obama ears in a similar position would be immediately condemned as racist. Like the naked Trump statues that were put up over night in some cities, the chicken is nothing but another “I hate the President” primal scream. It’s not productive. It’s not constructive. It’s not polite. It is a less offensive gesture than hanging or burning an effigy, but just barely. It’s better than “Fuck Trump” and “Not My President!”, but this is just the “it’s not the worst thing rationalization.”

Then there is the “Back to the Future” problem. You will recall, I hope,  that in the greatest film trilogy of all time, protagonist Marty McFly’s fatal flaw was that he could not stop himself from accepting a challenge, however foolish, once he was called “chicken.” Until Marty finally overcomes this flaw, he is is doomed.

Is this really a prudent time to call President Trump a chicken?

I think not.

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics

Well, Waddya Know! Both President Trump And Barack Obama Are Interfering With The French Election!

See. when we do it, it’s ethical.

It’s small wonder that the rest of the world sees the United States as the most arrogant nation imaginable. Hot on the heals of  elected officials from both parties declaiming the outrageous conduct of Russia to “interfere in an American election,” with Democrats, depending on which excuse has been chalked on the blackboard as Hillary’s excuse du jour, even claiming that Vladamir Putin’s e-machinations stole the election, President Trump endorsed far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. Oh, as usual with this President, it was a confusing endorsement with a touch of deceit: in an interview with The Associated Press, Trump said although he was not offering an endorsement,  Le Pen is “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.” In other words, he endorsed her by saying she was the best candidate. The translation of Trump’s statement: “I won’t endorse her, but I’m endorsing her.”

Typical. Unfortunately.

Two weeks later, ex-President Obama directly and formally endorsed Le Pen’s opponent, Emmanuel Macron, saying  a video announcing his support..

“I know that you face many challenges, and I want all of my friends in France to know how much I am rooting for your success.Because of how important this election is, I also want you to know I am supporting Emmanuel Macron to lead you forward. En March! Vive la France!”

Also typical, also unfortunate.

Obama’s latest exploits should be called his Hypocrisy Tour: first the man who led the party that condemned the corruption of big money in politics immediately cashes in witb a staggering post-presidency book deal and two $400,000 speaking fees, and now the icon of the party that has been shaking its fist at the skies about foreign interference in U.S. elections openly interferes in the election of an American ally. …because, you see, when we do it, it’s a good thing.

This shouldn’t be hard to grasp. Any efforts by a foreign country, government, official, leaders, former leaders, corporations, organizations or media organs to influence the results of another nation’s elections are wrong, per se and always, no exceptions.

Some forms of outside and illicit influence are worse than others, but they all are wrong: endorsements, contributions, fake news, hacking…all of it. This should be obvious, and it is not a partisan observation. The refusal to admit it, however, IS partisan. The United States cannot protest credibly when its elections are messed with as long as its leaders and others persist in interfering with the democracy of other nations themselves. It doesn’t matter if the meddler is a former President who has been anointed with an unearned, permanent presumption of virtue regardless of reality, or a current President whose conduct is automatically assumed to be sinister by those unalterably biased against him. It is wrong in either case, or any other.

This embodies an international application of the Golden Rule. Democratic elections are nobody’s business but the citizens of the nation holding them. The United States resents outside interference with our elections—some Democrats called the Russian involvement with letting us know just how corrupt the Clinton campaign was the equivalent of an act of war—so we should understand why for us to do the same is similarly wrong.

I admit it: I trolled my Angry Left Facebook friends with this post a couple of days ago:

Barack Obama just endorsed Macron in the French election. Boy, don’t you just hate it when foreign governments and officials try to influence elections?

Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Facebook, Government & Politics, Leadership

Introducing Rationalization #63. Irrelevant Civility and #64 A. Bluto’s Mistake

The most infuriating comment threads on Ethics Alarms are those in which one or more intelligent readers are desperately tying to dispute the indisputable ethics breach, and finding no substantive ethical argument because there are none, desperately throw one rationalization after another against the metaphorical wall to see if they’ll stick. They don’t of, course.

Occasionally, however, there is a benefit to the exercise: in their furious effort to find an legitimate argument while hunting through the rationalization dumpster, one of the protesters uncovers one that the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List had thus far missed. So it is with one of the most rationalization-choked exchanges ever to break-out on this site, the debate over the cast of “Hamilton” crossing multiple ethics lines, thick red ones, to exploit the  opportunity for political grandstanding occasioned by Vice-President Elect Mike Peck engaging in the benign and supportive act of attending their show. (The posts on this episode are here and here.) Not only was a new rationalization revealed#63, Irrelevant Civility or “But I was nice about it!”—but my thinking about that one revealed that I had also missed another one, distinct but related, #63A, Bluto’s Mistake or “I said I was sorry!”

The total number of rationalizations on the list now stands at 80.

Rationalization 63. Irrelevant Civility or “But I was nice about it!” Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Etiquette and manners

Ethics Quote of the Week: Popehat’s Ken White

ionesco-rhinoceros

“[L]ying about Trump’s legal affairs doesn’t help. It helps promote lying, not Clinton (or anyone else.) This week social media is full of a narrative that the mainstream media is “ignoring” that Trump is on trial for rape and racketeering in December. That’s dishonest…Trump is historically awful. That’s not a reason to promote narratives that damage us as a nation. Lying about the nature of allegations, and treating allegations as presumptively true, damage us as a nation. “

—-Attorney/blogger Ken White, explaining the “rape trial” and “racketeering charges” against Donald Trump that Clinton supporters have been citing on-line and off as an “It’s not the worst thing!” rationalization (#22) to deflect criticism of Hillary Clinton

On Popehat, where he reigns supreme, former prosecutor and current lawyer Ken White has posted an essay called  “The Facts About A Couple of Pending Lawsuits Against Donald Trump,”  a blessed service to all of us who want to make the social media defenders of Hillary Clinton stop trying to corrupt everyone else with spin, lies and rationalizations.

Three main talking points of distraction and disinformation have been issued to followers by the panicked Clinton campaign to spread hither and yon. (Like Ken, I know that Trump must lose, but I want Clinton’s victory to be as unpleasant and marginal as possible.) The first and most insulting is the tried and true “vast conspiracy” against little ol’ Hillary, mostly because she’s a woman. The second is the lie that she’s no more dishonest than other politicians. (This one infuriates me, as it is demonstrably false, and attempts to set the standard for acceptable, institutionalized trustworthiness for U.S. public servants to Hillary’s miserable level for all time. This is, perhaps, the greatest long-term danger she poses to the nation.)

The third is the “how can anyone care about those stupid e-mails when Trump has a rape trial in December?” smear. I’ve been bouncing around Facebook trying to explain why this argument makes my friends look like idiots, but they, like the townspeople in Ionesco’s allegorical comedy “Rhinoceros” who start sprouting horns, pawing the ground and grunting, seem to have collectively given in to mindless conformity.

Ken explains why the third talking point is irresponsible: at this point, there are only allegations. “The fact that I hate Donald Trump does not mean that the allegation is or is not true,” he says.

The “rape trial” is a particularly misleading situation. Ken: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Social Media

Doesn’t Islam Endorse Sportsmanship? Even In The Olympics?

At the Rio de Janeiro Olympics today, Egyptian Olympic judo fighter Islam El Shehaby refused to shake the hand of his Israeli opponent Or Sasson.

After Sasson defeated El Shehaby he put out his hand, which is customary in judo. Competitors are expected to either shake hands or bow at the beginning and end of matches. El Shehaby, however, insulted his opponent by rejecting the gesture and backing away, shaking his head. The referee called him to returnto the mat to bow, and he gave a perfunctory nod. Then he walked off.

Ah, that glorious Olympic spirit! Continue reading

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