The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 4 of 4)

mamoru-samuragochi2

Outrageous Hoax Of The Year

Mamoru Samuragochi, the composer sometimes known as “The Japanese Beethoven” because he composed critically acclaimed works despite being deaf, was exposed as double fraud: he didn’t compose the works that made him Japan’s most popular classical composer, and he isn’t even really deaf!  Samuragochi hired a musical ghostwriter named Takashi Niigaki to compose more than twenty compositions for Samuragochi since 1996.

Funniest Outrageous Hoax

Fake Panda

This.

Unethical Artist Of The Year

Performance artist Maximo Caminero, who  walked into the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, entered a special exhibit of sixteen ancient Chinese vases painted over in bright colors by celebrated Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, picked up one of them, and immediately after a security guard instructed him not to touch the exhibit, allowed the vase to fall from his hands, shattering into bits. Caminero admitted that smashing the pottery, which was valued at a million dollars,  was intentional, and was his protest against in support of local artists like himself whose work is not exhibited at the museum while the art of international artists like Weiwei is.

Unethical Veterinarian Of The Year

Fort Worth, Texas veterinarian Lou Tierce lost his license for five years as a result of, among other transgressions, his telling the owners of a Leonburger (it’s a very big dog) that their pet was terminally ill and had to be euthanized, then secretly keeping the dog alive in a small cage so he could use Sid’s blood for transfusions to Dr. Tierce’s other canine patients. Eventually an assistant at the clinic blew the whistle and alerted Sid’s owners, who rescued their dog and sicced the law on the worst veterinarian since Dean Jones menaced Beethoven.

Unethical Doctor Of The Year

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s medical expert, endangered the public by defying a voluntary quarantine for possible Ebola exposure,  because she just couldn’t bear to be without her favorite soup.

Scam of the Year

Jonathan-Gruber-1

The Affordable Care Act.

 Unethical Federal Agency Of The Year

The Secret Service. Lots of competition in this category: the Veterans Administration, the I.R.S., the CDC, the Justice Department, NSA…but when you essentially have one job to do and do it badly, sloppily carelessly and dangerously, there’s really not much more to say Continue reading

A Donald Sterling Ethics Train Wreck Surprise: Something GOOD May Come Out Of This Mess!

French_Revolution_GuillotineBut I doubt that it will feel very good.

Even more than usual, I was physically nauseated by the Sunday morning network news shows this weekend, which all blurred together in a nightmarish display of how lazy and biased the news media is, and how aggressively it now seeks to make Americans complacent, ignorant, and ethically stunted. I’m not sure which of these journalistic disgraces it was—I think it was “Meet the Press”—where the host, briefly attempting to inject some content into his panel’s obligatory Donald Sterling bashing, asked if it mattered that his comments were intended as private. “There is no privacy any more!” a female panelist exclaimed, not as protest or complaint, but as a dismissive rebuttal. Oh. Well, that settles it then! We should now assume that any of us can be publicly pilloried and humiliated for what we say in our homes, bedroom, automobiles, and safe rooms.  Next issue! Boy, the President killed at the White House Correspondents dinner, didn’t he?

Over at ABC, the token conservative this week in that “roundtable,” Laura Ingraham—the allegedly smart, ultra-right wing, acerbic former Supreme Court clerk for Justice Thomas turned radio host—couldn’t manage the presence of mind or the wit to point out that fellow panelist Van Jones had just compared NBA players—you know, the African Americans who make more money in a week than you make all year?—-to black slaves, and twice at that. What good are you, Laura, if you can be intimidated like that, and allow a shimmering opportunity to illustrate the racial double standard being used today for cynical political ends, so the public might start paying attention? No, Laura had her own agenda, so she wasn’t paying attention. She was there to use the Oklahoma “botched” execution as a platform to inveigh against—abortion. I would call her performance pundit malpractice, but how one can be judged incompetent on a Sunday public issues show, when the shows themselves are journalistic abortions?

Retribution is coming for all, however. Eventually, thanks to the excessive and imprudently unrestrained abuse being heaped on Donald Sterling, these knaves, bumblers and hypocrites are going to have to face the reality of the dilemma they have created for themselves, because the standard they so happily apply to Sterling—deceptively safe and easy because he’s objectively repulsive–is now going to be applied to everyone including their champions and heroes, , and the carnage will be unrelenting. And it will be good for the culture, I think, because like the French Revolution, the force unleashed by the politically correctness bullies, race-hucksters and Bigotry Furies will prove unmanageable, and consume its creators. Continue reading

Jim Ardis, Mayor of Peoria, Uses The Police To Crush A Social Media Critic, But Never Mind, It’s Not Important Because He’s Not Racist

"OK, we know you have tweets in there! We're coming in..."

“OK, we know you have tweets in there! We’re coming in…”

This story is obviously trivial, because the news media doesn’t think it’s worth getting upset about. After all, it doesn’t involve race:

PEORIA — Police searched a West Bluff house Tuesday and seized phones and computers in an effort to unmask the author of a parody Twitter account that purported to be Mayor Jim Ardis. The account — known as @Peoriamayor on the popular social media service that limits entries to 140 characters — already had been suspended for several weeks when up to seven plainclothes police officers executed a search warrant about 5:20 p.m. at 1220 N. University St. Three people at the home were taken to the Peoria Police Department for questioning. Two other residents were picked up at their places of employment and taken to the station, as well. One resident — 36-year-old Jacob L. Elliott — was booked into the Peoria County Jail on charges of possessing 30 to 500 grams of marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia, but no arrests were made in connection with the Twitter account.”

The Twitter account was obviously a parody, if not an especially deft or clever one. After all, one would have to be a hopeless doofus, and an unusually dim one at that, to believe that the mayor of any city, even Toronto’s ridiculous Rob Ford, would happily tweet about his own drug use, crimes and corruption like the Twitter avatar of the Peoria mayor did.

Yet here was Mayor Ardis’s justification to reporters for his jaw-dropping abuse of power:

“I still maintain my right to protect my identity is my right. Are there no boundaries on what you can say, when you can say it, who you can say it to? You can’t say (those tweets) on behalf of me. That’s my problem. This guy took away my freedom of speech.”

Uh-huh. Show me a how “this guy” broke any law that justifies a police raid, you unbelievably arrogant, incompetent fascist.

Some observations: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Justice Sonia Sotamayor

We shouldn't need one of these at the Supreme Court.

We shouldn’t need one of these at the Supreme Court.

Supporters of Justice Sotamayor’s embarrassingly anti-judicial dissent in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative, Integration and Immigration and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary betray their ignorance of law and worse, their endorsement of double-talk from the one place in our government where it should never be tolerated, the Supreme Court.

It’s not even debatable.

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race,” she wrote,  “and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”  “Speak openly and candidly…”

How does Sotamayor speak openly and candidly?  Like this, from footnote 2 of her dissent…

“Although the term “affirmative action” is commonly used to describe colleges’ and universities’ use of race in crafting admissions policies, I instead use the term “race-sensitive admissions policies.” Some comprehend the term “affirmative action” as connoting intentional preferential treatment based on race alone—for example, the use of a quota system, whereby a certain proportion of seats in an institution’s incoming class must be set aside for racial minorities; the use of a “points” system, whereby an institution accords a fixed numerical advantage to an applicant because of her race; or the admission of otherwise unqualified students to an institution solely on account of their race. None of this is an accurate description of the practices that public universities are permitted to adopt after this Court’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U. S. 306 (2003) . There, we instructed that institutions of higher education could consider race in admissions in only a very limited way in an effort to create a diverse student body. To comport with Grutter, colleges and universities must use race flexibly, id., at 334, and must not maintain a quota, ibid. And even this limited sensitivity to race must be limited in time, id., at 341–343, and must be employed only after “serious, good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives,” id., at 339. Grutter-compliant admissions plans, like the ones in place at Michigan’s institutions, are thus a far cry from affirmative action plans that confer preferential treatment intentionally and solely on the basis of race.”

Oh, look! A new euphemism, which is how partisans, activists, advocates and pols muddy public policy discussions by using carefully crafted words and phrases designed to mislead the public and hide what is going on!

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Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quote of the Week: Justice Sonia Sotamayor”

Here is Chris Marchener’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quote of the Week: Justice Sonia Sotamayor”: and the ongoing debate it has sparked here:

I am not a lawyer. do not play one on TV, nor did I spend the night in a Holiday Inn Express last night. BUT, my understanding of the decision was that the SCOTUS would not overrule the will of the electorate, who, after reasoned debate on the issue, voted to amend its state constitution to state unequivocally that no person shall be granted a preference based on some genetic characteristic, belief, religion, etc. Isn’t that what we are striving toward? They did not strike down nor address the merits of affirmative action.

I get Jack’s point that Justice Sotamayor’s dissent was not based on Constitutional law and was reflecting her own biases regarding race and gender.

Outside of this decision, there is no doubt that some people in this country have a cultural aversion to people of other races, nationalities, genders, lifestyles, Such aversions apply equally to all genders, races, nationalities etc. on a global scale. In the US. such personal aversions must not be a criterion for employment decisions, educational, or other economic opportunities.

To Mr. Green’s assertion, “You mean racists are the ones who talk about racism? How is that not like blaming the victim? This is a pernicious, evil lie – that the victims of racism are in fact the cause of racism because they have this nasty habit of pointing out the unpleasant fact of racism’s existence” : The evil lie is that racism and gender discrimination remains an institution perpetrated by white males such that all benefits inure to them within the economy of the US. Therefore, such institutional racism must continue to be addressed through the very means that created unequal opportunities in the first place. I have stated in earlier posts that any group that demands perpetual preferential treatment by virtue of race, ethnicity, gender or some other factor is guilty of the same institutional bias that we seek to overcome.

In Justice Sotamayor’s words  “Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society…” What does this mean? Does it mean that every race be identical in population size? Does it mean that income distribution within the racial sub-segment reflect the income distribution in the majority demographic? Or, does it mean that everyone has an equal chance based on persistence, education and intellect?

This is same Justice that said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,”

Blatant racism if we switched the nouns, And why just white men?

Later she said, “Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences,” she said, for jurists who are women and non white, “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.” To this I do not disagree. However, the difference does not mean that better decisions will be made just different decisions. If we accept the premise that physiological or cultural differences are acceptable biases in judicial rulings then no culture, race, or national origin is inherently racist. She cannot say that white European physiology or culture is inferior for is she does then the logical conclusion is that all others are cultures and genders are superior to the white European culture which is a racist statement.

She continues, “And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up.”

To that I say, Why can’t they be discussed in any other way? I cannot wish away what others think, I can only think for myself. Why do you feel the need to tell me how I think and feel? Why does the young man sense the tension of others when he walks by? Are the passerby’s truly in a state of tension or has such hypersensitivity been planted within him through the rhetoric of those “leaders” who amass great wealth and power rationalizing every perceived slight as evidence of racism. We need to tell children that they can be anything they want provided they work hard in school and apply themselves. If we continually tell them the majority is against them and they have no chance without government protections then they will simply fail to strive for greatness, reinforcing within them the sense that majority society is against them. This is exactly what the self-described champions of racially equality seem to want. If it is not then I challenge them to try alternative tactics to get my support.

However, because there has been past injustice and we feel that we must compensate those affected by such injustice, we must ask who should pay the price for past injustice and for how long. Is evidence of economic disparity the only means to determine evidence of racism; I think not. It takes individual effort and if that effort is not forthcoming then failure to achieve is not evidence of racism. For those that advocate for affirmative action, should only the sons of whites who had the misfortune of being born into lower and middle-income American families bear the burden of reparations? I don’t think that the sons of well-connected whites suffer from being denied employment in favor of a greater, equally, or lesser qualified women or minority candidate as a result of ensuring affirmative action plan goals. Nor do I think that the daughters of many well to do citizens have ever faced any form of discrimination in their lives.

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Ethics Quote of the Week: Justice Sonia Sotamayor

Sonia_Sotomayor

“Race matters. Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities’ being denied access to the political process…Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society…And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.” In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable.”

—-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor, dissenting in the case of Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative, Integration and Immigration and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary, in which a 6-2 majority ruled that Michigan voters could ban race-based preferences at universities without violating the Constitution.

This screed was remarkably unprofessional for a Supreme Court Justice, an emotional recitation of unsupported assertions, perceptions and complaints with no constitutional relevance. Sotamayor, you may recall, was nominated by the President in the midst of a public debate regarding the importance of “empathy” on the bench, code for “we need more women.” But the Constitution is supposed to be interpreted by principles of law and legal reasoning, not from “the heart.” Well, we clearly got the empathetic Justice he wanted, for better or worse. Continue reading

The Supreme Court Delivers An Ethical Opinion On Democracy, Affirmative Action, and Fairness

Good work, SCOTUS!

Good work, SCOTUS!

In SCHUETTE, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MICHIGAN v COALITION TO DEFEND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, INTEGRATION AND IMMIGRATION RIGHTS AND FIGHT FOR EQUALITY BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, the U.S. Supreme Court just affirmed, 6-2, Michigan’s right to ban state affirmative action programs. The decision was narrow, not taking up the issue of affirmative action itself, but rather affirming the right of the citizens of the state to ban it at the ballot box.

You should read the decision  here, and not let journalists distort it for you.  My favorite quotes: Continue reading