Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/13/18: The Mob, Bizarro World, Mid-Air Pedicures, And Robert E. Lee [UPDATED!]

1. Things fearmongers say...A Facebook friend, smart, a lawyer, good guy, wrote this: “The confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh will go down as one of the darkest days of the American experiment.” He really wrote that, and an astounding number of the Facebook leftist echo chamber “liked” the statement. Apparently Kavanaugh is going to resuscitate the Dred Scott decision, Korematsu v. United States, child labor and end women’s suffrage. He’s going to engineer from the Supreme Court chambers the equivalent of the American Civil War, or Pearl Harbor. Right. If Kavanaugh turned out to be a stealth combination of Jack the Ripper, the Marquis de Sade and Dr. Fu Manchu his confirmation couldn’t possibly rank in the top hundred “darkest days.”

That kind of rhetoric is hysterical and irresponsible, an abuse of free speech designed to make gullible and intellectually lazy people irrational and ignorant.

2. “Stop  making me defend Donald Trump…AND Robert E. Lee!”  Last night, as President Trump was speaking in front of a rally, NBC News tweeted out,

WATCH: President Trump says “Robert E. Lee was a great general” during Ohio rally, calling the Confederate leader “incredible.”

A few points to note on this: How is that observation and opinion news by any definition of the word? Lee was regarded as a “great general” well before the Civil War: that’s why Lincoln offered him the  command of the Union army when the war started. There are many, many books written by military experts that express and justify that assessment. Ghengis Khan was also a really great general, along with Julius Caesar and Curtis LeMay. This is a rare variety of fake news, joining more common varieties that have become routine of late like potential news, future news and psychic news,called past news, a new oxymoron. As for “incredible,” this, everyone conscious should know by know, is generic Trump-speak like “great,” “tremendous,” and “sad.” Who knows what it means here? It doesn’t mean Lee was an incredible human being, or at least there’s nothing in the context of NBC’s tweet that suggests that. He had an incredibly good beard for that period, at least compared to say, Longstreet, who looked like a member of ZZ Top. He was incredibly conflicted over which side to fight for. He had incredible guts.

Incredibly, though not really, because the mainstream news media has established that there are no depths to which it will not stoop in its unethical bias and incompetence, NBC tweeted that to bolster the long-running false narrative that President Trump is a racist, which he must be to extol Robert E. Lee,  the object of a particularly vile historical airbrushing and statue-toppling movement, a part of the Left’s Orwellian indoctrination and mind control effort as it slowly but surely embraces totalitarianism.

But if one actually knows the context of Trumps’ remarks, he was not praising Lee, though there is no reason why he shouldn’t, but making the point that despite Lee’s credentials and reputation, it was unheralded Ulysses Grant, denigrated as a joke when the war started, who defeated Lee. Trump was, as he usually does, talking about himself, and NBC’s tweet was intentionally misleading, and just more pandering to Trump-haters, attempting to further divide the country.

3. Floss! Floss! One of the very first posts on Ethics Alarms was about the ethics of people flossing their teeth in public. Having read this story, about a woman who began giving herself a pedicure during an airplane flight, I hereby officially proclaim that the conclusion in that post applies:

Manners and public etiquette are always evolving, and society determines what it will and will not endure. The passive, “mind your own business” theory always espoused by the least respectful, rudest and least considerate among us is a prescription for an endless deterioration in the quality of public life, and a greased slide into culturally-endorsed bad conduct. Every citizen has an obligation to his and her community to confront conduct that he or she feels does not belong in public, confront the offender, and support others who do so. Doing otherwise is not “minding one’s business,” but endorsing and entrenching bad conduct, abdicating the public duty of cultural preservation.

On a related note, there’s this.  Continue reading

Observations On The Kanye West Episode

Writes Professor Turley:

“In one of the most bizarre (and frankly demeaning) moments for the White House, President Donald Trump invited Kanye West into the Oval Office for what became an unhinged and profane rave sessions in front of the world’s press. As with the high-level visits with a Kardashian to talk policy, these sessions have a freak show quality more fitting a reality show than the Oval Office. For anyone who reveres that office, West raving about how he is a “crazy motherf***er” is an utter disgrace.”

Meanwhile, back in the land of “nah, there there’s no mainstream media bias,” CNN was being pretty disgraceful itself. Leading up to the visit, Don Lemon hosted a segment on CNN Tonight that declared West to be “mentally ill,” ” the token negro of the Trump administration” and an “attention whore” showing the perils of  “what happens when negroes don’t read.”  Then, after West’s performance, Lemon went on Wolf Blitzer’s show and demonstrated what he considers a good rant:

“What I saw was a minstrel show him in front of all these white people — most white people — embarrassing himself and embarrassing Americans, but mostly African Americans because every one of them is sitting either at home or with their phones, watching this, cringing. I couldn’t even watch it. I had to turn the television off because it was so hard to watch. Him sitting there, being used by the President of the United States. The President of the United States exploiting him and expl — I don’t mean this in a disparaging way — exploiting someone who needs help, who needs to back away from the cameras, who needs to get off stage, who needs to deal with his issues and if anyone around him cares about him, the family that he mentioned today or whomever, his managers, maybe some other people who are in the music business who know him, they need to grab him, snatch him up and get Kanye together because Kanye needs help. And this has nothing to do with being liberal or a conservative. This has to do with honesty and we have to stop pretending, sitting here on these CNN panels or whatever network panels, and pretending like this is normal and let’s have this conversation about Kanye West. Who cares? Why are you sending cameras to the Oval Office for Kanye West? Did you send cameras to the Oval Office and carry it live when Common visited the White House? Common visited the White House and did a beautiful poem, spoken word, talked about how black people are kings and queens, how we need to rise up and do better. He didn’t disparage anybody. He didn’t speak in non-sequiturs. He didn’t do anything awful and, you know, the only people who criticized him, the only people who really covered it were Sean Hannity and his band of hypocrites who are now — who are now applauding Kanye West, the same people that many in that group called the n-word because of Taylor Swift and because of George Bush and now all of a sudden, he is the person who represents the African-American community? He doesn’t. We need to take the cameras away from Kanye and from a lot of this craziness that happens in the White House because it is not normal and we need to stop sitting here pretending that it’s normal. This was an embarrassment. Kanye’s mother is rolling over in her grave. I spoke to one of her friends today or texted with one of her friends today from Chicago. Donda’s friends. I used to live there. I know him. She said Donda would be — would be embarrassed by this. She would be terribly disturbed by this and Kanye has not been the same since his mother died. He kept talking today about oh, “I put the hat on and the hat made me feel strong and wearing a cape.” He needs a father figure. He needs someone to help him and to guide him and he needs a hug more than anything. Kanye, back away from the cameras. Go get some help and then come back and make your case. Nobody — if you want to be conservative, if you want to support Donald Trump, that is your business. But as you’re doing it, have some sense with it. Make sense. Educate yourself.”

Believe it or not, calling West a “token negro” and referring to his appearance as a “minstrel show” was not the lowest that CNN could go. After showing video of West animatedly discussing a variety of issues in the Oval Office (Note”: Fox News played only West’s coherent moments, CNN played exclusively his most bizarre), the CNN anchor went to its reliably unprofessional correspondent April Ryan, who was standing on the White House lawn. She immediately referred to singer Ray J during her analysis, saying, “I talked to someone who is very familiar with the Kardashians, or used to be, text messaging with Ray J. You know who Ray J is, he was once close with Kim Kardashian.”

Nice. The only reason anyone knows Ray J is because he made the infamous sex tape with West’s now-wife, Kim Kardashian, that launched the whole Kardashian phenomenon.

Asks Turley, “Is this seriously what CNN considers responsible journalism?”

Observations: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/4/2018: White Artists, Black Artists, Brain Damage And The Mad Midnight Pooper

Good Morning!

(On the way to lovely Annapolis, MD to present my Clarence Darrow legal ethics program, along with D.C. actor Paul Morella, the real star of the day and the best Clarence Darrow portrayer alive. Paul starred in my 2000 original one-man show about the iconic lawyer-rogue, and has been performing it for lawyer groups and bar associations ever since.)

Déjà vu!  I would write a full post about this, but you can essentially go to all the football head trauma essays, search and replace NFL with NHL, and you’ll pretty much have it. The New York Times reports on a 53 year old ex-pro hockey player whose brain yielded evidence of CTE, and evidence is mounting the the violent sport is doing damage to players similar to what the NFL denied for so long. Right now, the National Hockey League is denying it too:

To the N.H.L. and its commissioner, Gary Bettman, the diagnosis is likely to be the latest piece of evidence to dismiss or combat. Even as links build a chain bridging the sport to C.T.E., the degenerative brain disease associated with repetitive head trauma, and some of the game’s most revered names push the league to take a more open-minded approach, the N.H.L. has denied any connection between long-term brain damage and hits to the head.

The N.F.L. did the same, for many years, until the evidence became too overwhelming, the numbers too much to counter with plausible deniability. Facing a huge class-action lawsuit, the N.F.L. eventually admitted to the connection and agreed to a roughly $1 billion settlement with former players. (That has not kept the sides from continuing to fight over the payouts, amid accusations of fraud and intimidation.) The N.H.L., following the N.F.L.’s strategy of about a decade ago, still contests any role in the burgeoning science of C.T.E., in the courts of law and of public opinion.

What’s going on here? Violent pro sports are popular and profitable, so they will continue maiming players and devastating their families until the public finally refuses to have blood on its hands. It will take a while, and many lives will be destroyed, but in the end, football and hockey are going to have to be responsible, and also held responsible for the carnage their greed has caused.

2. Yeah, I’m being unfair and partisan when I accuse progressives of being hostile to free speech and diversity of views… A hip-hop and R&B radio station in Detroit has announced that it won’t play Kanye West’s music. The alleged justification was the rapper’s dumb remarks about slavery. On “TMZ Live,” West said,

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of you all? You know, it’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word prison ’cause slavery goes too — too direct to the idea of blacks.”

That’s pretty stupid for sure, but hardly any more stupid than the kinds of things West has been saying his whole career as his fans cheered him on. He’s welcome to hijack a telethons to say, for example, that President Bush intentionally let blacks die after Katrina, but this goes too far. (Someone please explain to me exactly what he thought he was saying, if you have time.) Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/3/2018: Katie’s Rationalization, Teachers’ Extortion, Rudy’s Zugswang, And Kanye’s Influence

Goooood morning!

(I thought it was time for “Singin’ in the Rain” again. Of course, it is always time for “Singin’ in the Rain”…)

1. And that’s when you know…When alleged sexual harassers are accused, the way you know whether they are guilty or not often depends on whether the floodgates open, and large numbers of other women step forward. This was Bill Cosby’s downfall. Now we learn that 27 more victims of Charlie Rose have raised their metaphorical hands. Sorry, Charlie!

The mystery to me is why  current and former colleagues of outed abusers and harassers so often rush to defend them, even post #MeToo, and even women. I suppose is cognitive dissonance again: the defenders have high regard for the harasser, and simply can’t process the fact that they may have been engaged in awful conduct. Katie Couric’s defense of Matt Lauer, however, is especially damning.

Variety reported that Lauer’s office had a button that allowed him to remotely lock his office door when he had female prey within his grasp…

“His office was in a secluded space, and he had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up. This afforded him the assurance of privacy. It allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him, according to two women who were sexually harassed by Lauer.”

Yet on “The Wendy Williams Show” this week, Couric “explained”…

“I think the whole button thing, you know? I think — NBC — a lot of stuff gets misreported and blown out of proportion. A lot of NBC executives, they make it sound like some kind of den of inequity. I don’t know what was happening. A lot of NBC executives have those buttons that opened and closed doors… They did. I mean, it was really just a privacy thing. It wasn’t..Honestly I think it was an executive perk that some people opted to have and I don’t think it was a nefarious thing. I really don’t. And I think that is misconstrued….”

Wowsers. First, Couric is intentionally blurring the facts, using “open and close” as a euphemism for “unlock and lock.” I guarantee that no button would cause the office door to swing open or swing closed, as Couric suggested. I’ve searched for such a device: all I can find are remote office door locking mechanisms. Second, while it is true that other NBC execs once had that feature, it appears that Lauer was “was one of the few, if not the only, NBC News employee to have one,”a senior NBC News employee told the Washington Post.

Second, Couric is engaging in The Golden Rationalization: “Everybody does it.”

2.  Extortion works! Arizona’s governor signed a 9% pay increase for the state’s teachers, because the teachers engaged in a wildcat strike, kids were missing school, and parents couldn’t go to work without their state funded child-sitters. I’m not going to analyze whether the teachers demands were right or wrong, because it doesn’t matter. The teachers’ tactic was unethical, just like the Boston police strike in 1919 was unethical, just like  the air traffic controllers strike in  1981. In the former, Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge (what happened to that guy?) famously fired all the striking cops, saying in part that  “The right of the police of Boston to affiliate has always been questioned, never granted, is now prohibited…There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.” President Reagan quoted Cal when he fired the air traffic controllers and eliminated its union.

Striking against children and their education is also a strike against the public safety. What now stops the teachers, in Arizona or anywhere else, from using similar extortion tactics for more raise, policies they favor, or any other objective?  What was lacking here was political leadership possessing the integrity and courage to tell the teachers to do their jobs during negotiations, or be fired.

This precedent will rapidly demonstrate why public unions are a menace to democracy Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/27/18: Everything Is Spinning Out Of Control!!!

Good MORNING, everyone!!!

(And good morning, little Louie..)

1. The state of American journalism, CNN’s Headline News quadrant: A recent poll claims that 50% of Republicans regard the news media as “enemies of the people.” Just because it is actively manipulating the news to try to topple the President of the United States? How unreasonable! No, I am beginning to believe that the 21st Century U.S. news media is really the Enemy of the Cerebral Cortex. On HLN this morning, James Comey’s disastrous interview on Fox News yesterday (among about 400 other stories of more relevance to Americans) was deemed newsworthy, but not one but two royal family stories were: the wedding dress for the American woman whose name I can’t remember who is going to marry the British prince who doesn’t matter on a date I don’t give a damn about, and, again, what the new royal great-grandchild’s name will be. The breathless reporting on these two world-altering events took over 10 out of the 40 minutes the network devotes to news rather than pharmaceutical commercials, a full 25%.

But that’s not all. HLN newsbabe Robin Meade emulated “Best in Show’s” Fred Willard’s cruelly hilarious send-up of Joe Garagiola’s embarrassingly lunk-headed turns as a “color man” at the Westminster Dog Show by asking the dumbest question, I think, I have ever heard on the air. If you haven’t seen “Best in Show” a) What’s the matter with you? and b) here are typical questions asked by Willard during the fictional dog show’s broadcast as “Buck Laughlin,” an ex-pro athlete, to his British dog expert  (“Trevor Beckwith”) co-host and others:

“Now tell me, which one of these dogs would you want to have as your wide receiver on your football team?”

“Doctor, question that’s always bothered me and a lot of people: Mayflower, combined with Philadelphia – a no-brainer, right? Cause this is where the Mayflower landed. Not so. It turns out Columbus actually set foot somewhere down in the West Indies. Little known fact.”

“Now that looks like a fast dog. Is that faster than a greyhound? If you put them in a race, who would come in first? You know if you had a little jockey on them…”

Robin, however, against all odds, topped Buck, asking the British reporter, after learning that the new total would be named, “Louis,”

“Now in American, when we hear that name we immediately think, “Louie Louie, oh no, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, baby.” Is that the way it is in England too? “

Continue reading

I’m Not Exactly Saying Shut Up And Sing, Shania, But If You Are Going To Talk About U.S. Politics, A) Know What You Are Talking About, And B) Don’t Back Down When The Thought Police Arrive

Canadian Country music superstar Shania Twain told  The Guardian that she “would have voted for” President Trump if she was an American citizen  “because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest.” She added,  Do you want straight or polite? Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bullshit. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?”

This off the cuff answer roused the social media anti-Trump Furies, and a hashtag, #ShaniaTwainCancelled, was born. Fearing that allowing a non-conforming opinion that the thought-policing Trump-hating Left had decreed was impermissible would harm her income stream, Twain instantly collapsed like the filling station in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”

As Ann Althouse amusingly put it, “By evening poor Shania — the erstwhile lover of no bullshit — had apologized.” She tweeted,

“I would like to apologise to anybody I have offended in a recent interview with the Guardian relating to the American President. The question caught me off guard. As a Canadian, I regret answering this unexpected question without giving my response more context I am passionately against discrimination of any kind and hope it’s clear from the choices I have made, and the people I stand with, that I do not hold any common moral beliefs with the current President. I was trying to explain, in response to a question about the election, that my limited understanding was that the President talked to a portion of America like an accessible person they could relate to, as he was NOT a politician ”

Observations:
Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Kanye West

kanye-west-meadows-2016

I need a new designation for people like Kanye West, and am open to suggestions. Noting that in any specific episode that West is an ethics dunce is entirely superfluous and stating what was undeniable and generally known long ago. This is a man who accused George W. Bush of wanting to see black citizens suffer in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and did so on national TV. This is a man who interrupted a fellow entertainer’s acceptance speech for an industry award to announce to the world that she didn’t deserve it. This is a man who has inflicted the names “North” and “Saint” on his helpless children. He, like Donald Trump (whom I would vote for as President over Kanye West, so don’t say I’m #NeverTrump), belongs to that rare but growing class of celebrities for whom  civil descriptions are inadequate. Only labels like “asshole” come close to describing them. In the West’s extreme case, even that is an insult to assholes.

West gave us another view of his near total ethics vacuum when he abruptly ended his October 2 performance at the Meadows Festival in Queens, New York City. He had just learned that his wife, Kim Kardashian, was robbed at gunpoint in her Paris hotel room. West, who was headlining the festival, went onstage (late, as usual) at a little after 8:45 p.m. He was scheduled to perform until 10 p.m., but walked off the stage at 9:40, halfway through the song “Heartless,” announcing, “I’m sorry, family emergency, I have to stop the show.” Continue reading