Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/1/2019: May Day! May Day!

Good morning to you,

me, not so much…

I’m ticked off at myself this morning for being cripplingly anxious. I have a looming appointment with a specialist later today regarding a medical issue that could be minor or, in a worst case scenario, could be “curtains.” My father taught me better than this: my anxiety is completely irrational. If I dropped dead tomorrow, I would have no basis for complaints; as Clarence tells George Bailey, I’ve had a wonderful life. Regrets? I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention….

1. About the cultural literacy test...To be fair, I’m going to put up a second test that requires recognizing the name and significance of various figures rather than identifying photographs. They are indeed two different kinds of knowledge, although some of those in the current test are also iconic images. I tried to include some visual clues when I could: the guy with the cigar was famous for his cigar, and that basketball player is an iconic basketball player. The complaints about the figure holding the gun are fair, but literally every other photo I could find of him gave his identity away. Commenter Zoltar’s scoring method of taking half the points when he knew why the person was famous or important but couldn’t fetch the name was justified.

I checked the score of the photos I felt culturally literate Americans ought to be able to identify, and the total was 40. Let’s check the most recent poll…ah! 21 of the 46 results so far met that benchmark. And someone score a perfect 125! My score was only 118…

I felt a little guilty about including the old movie star, but she was the inspiration for the test. Her Academy Award-winning turn was on TV, and she has always been a favorite of mine, as well as legendary with film buffs for her comic technique. I wondered how many Americans recognize her today, for once she had one of the best known faces in the nation. And what a face it was! Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/30/18: Classless

 

1. Of unethical, and useless, unpaid internships. There is about as a good a summary of what is wrong with unpaid internships at the UConn website as you will find. My only complaint is that the piece, by Henry Zehner, ignores my long-time objection to these positions based on my experiences with various employers who forced me to use out-of-class students in ill-defined roles. (Yes, one of them was the current Secretary of Education.) Zehner mentions that the law requires interns to do substantive work rather than low level office tasks. He doesn’t mention that only the rare intern is able to do tasks “not requiring specialized training.” My experience was that interns usually had negative effects on my time, management and productivity, as I not only had to instruct them, but also often had to re-do whatever work they completed. (Julie and LeeAnn, wherever you are, I don’t mean you.) But as for the young man who was assigned to assemble  my foundation’s annual meeting board books and explained that it took him so long because the “little slips to label the dividers kept falling into the typewriter,” the less said the better.

2. More on the art vs the artist. Last week we discussed the folly of judging art according to the character of the artist, in my post [#3 in a Warm-Up] on the op-ed. “We’ve been too forgiving of unethical artists.”

Here is an example of an artist of disgusting art being found to be disgusting: John Kricfalusi, the creator of the animated “The Ren & Stimpy Show” has been accused by a 37-year old woman of sexually abusing her 20+ years ago, apparently with her consent, but since she was under 18 at the time, such consent is legally meaningless.  So, really, is her late hit, except to gain #MeToo creds. It’s too late to prosecute the cartoonist, and he was remarkably candid about his relationships with teens while he was having them. Kricfalusi had always admitted to his disturbing taste for under-age teenage girls.

Does this old/new information mean that parents should treat “The Ren & Stimpy Show” as taboo, and that channels that feature cartoons should refuse to show it, thus robbing the show’s creator of residuals and income?

No. Kricfalusi’s art has value, if it has value, independent of his own private misconduct. “Lohengrin” is no worse or better because Wagner was a racist and an anti-Semite. The “Alice” books are wonderful, and our culture shouldn’t be robbed of them because Lewis Carroll was creepily obsessed with little girls.

Kricfalusi, for me, is an easy case. I always thought his work was sick and disturbing, and that no parent should allow any child under the age of 13 to watch it. I would feel the same if Kricfalusi was a certified saint. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2018 President’s Day Edition:

Good Morning, George, Tom, Teddy, Abe!

I’m in a bad mood. Maybe it will pass.

1 No Presidents Day post this year.  I usually do a special Presidents Day post. I never thought I would ever feel this way, but I’m thoroughly sick of writing about the Presidents after the last year. I blame “the resistance” for this along with the news media, both of whom have created a related but separate ethics issue by relentlessly attacking, disrespecting, mocking and undermining President Trump. [Of course, for those who are interested, this epic post, from 2015, was about four years’ worth of Presidents Day material, and this one, also from that year, is my personal favorite of all the entries here about my favorite 45 Americans. Does President Trump have a Julia Sand out there somewhere? We can only hope…]

Yesterday Ann Althouse, strafing the news media’s obsession with the ridiculous publicity-mad porn star whom Trump either did or did not have an affair with and to whom his to slimy lawyer Michael Cohen paid hush money, was attacked on her own blog by commenters who accused her of  defending the indefensible—you know, the President of the United States, who was never allowed a single second when the entire country unified behind the winner of a hard-fought election, and as one wished him good fortune and success. Not a second.

Ann usually doesn’t get involved in her blog’s comment threads., but she responded this time:

You Trump haters made it so boring to hate Trump. I don’t even like Trump, but you people annoy me.

Above all, I believe Trump won the election, and he deserves support as he attempts to carry out the responsibilities America entrusted to him. We need to help him, not try to screw him up at every turn. I think it’s outrageous what has been done to him, and I regard it as an attack on democracy.

I have always found that once the President is elected, we should accept the result and support him when we can and look to the next election if we can’t. I think the “resistance” is a rejection of democracy…

That is about as perfect an expression of my feelings as anyone could compose, including me. It has been this blog’s position from November 9, 2017 on, and I have never wavered from it. I knew this was basically Althouse’s stance as well, since so many of her posts reflect it, but it is gratifying to have another serious blogger I respect express it so clearly. Continue reading

Most Encouraging Statement Suggesting That There May Be Justice After All: Former U.S. Attorney General Joe DiGenova

Hope-Dove-Flying

Former U.S. Attorney Joe DiGenova had this to say on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, speaking  about the FBI’s investigation into Hillary’s intentional mishandling of confidential State Department e-mails—you know, those “stupid e-mails” that nobody cares about:

“They have reached a critical mass in their investigation of the Secretary and all of her senior staff. And, it’s going to come to a head, I would suggest, in the next 60 days…It’s going to be a very complex matter for the Department of Justice, but they’re not going to be able to walk away from it. They are now at over 1,200 classified emails. And, that’s just for the ones we know about from the State Department. That does not include the ones that the FBI is, in fact, recovering from her hard drives. …I believe that the evidence that the FBI is compiling will be so compelling that, unless [Attorney General Loretta Lynch] agrees to the charges, there will be a massive revolt inside the FBI, which she will not be able to survive as an Attorney General.  It will be like Watergate. It will be unbelievable.”

Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?  Yet DiGenova is far from a being a loon, a partisan hitman, or one to spin wild theories. He also should know a bit about how the internal workings of the various competing agencies under Justice work. [Full disclosure: I’ve met Joe, and chatted with him a bit, though this was quite a while back. Did you know he is a trained singer? A good one, too.]

I cannot begin to describe how marvelous it will be for the integrity of our government and justice system if Joe’s analysis is proven correct. I don’t even have to consider how much I would enjoy the screams of indignation of the Clinton Corrupted. This scenario is what the Clintons, the Democrats, the DNC, Clintons’ disgraceful mews media defenders and Hillary’s see-no-evil supporters sooooo richly deserve that if it ever comes to pass, Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus might just spontaneously echo from the cosmos, or at least John Kiley’s organ version that he played that immortal night, the best of my life, when Carlton Fisk hit that Game #6 winning home run off the Fenway foulpole, so many years ago.

Let us hope.

__________________

Pointer and Source: Don Surber

 

Ethics Observations On Tim Geithner’s Ethics Quote Of The Month

Stress Test

“I remember during one Roosevelt Room prep session before I appeared on the Sunday shows, I objected when Dan Pfeiffer wanted me to say Social Security didn’t contribute to the deficit. It wasn’t a main driver of our future deficits, but it did contribute. Pfeiffer said the line was a ‘dog whistle’ to the left, a phrase I had never heard before. He had to explain that the phrase was code to the Democratic base, signaling that we intended to protect Social Security.”

—- Former Obama Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, revealing that the White House wanted him to mislead the public on the deficit, debt and Social Security, in his newly published memoir, “Stress Test.”

Some ethics observations:

  • Sadly and predictably, the conservative news organizations are going bananas over this passage, while the liberal organizations—that is to say, all of the rest—are scrupulously ignoring it or trying to. Why sadly? Because in an ethical, objective journalistic culture, every reporter would be examining this admission, and critically.
  • Any journalist who is not bothered by this account has implicitly adopted the position that it is acceptable for the President of the United Sates and U.S. officials to mislead the public regarding crucial matters they have a right to know and understand. This is an unethical position for anyone, but especially for a journalist.
  • Of course, this is not the position of most left-oriented journalists. The position of these journalists is, apparently, that it is acceptable for Democratic Presidents of the United Sates and officials in Democratic administrations to mislead the public regarding crucial matters they have a right to know and understand, since they have exhibited no such tolerance when Republicans have occupied the White House.

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

I Repeat: April Fools Day Is Not For Ethical Professionals

april-fools-day-banner

In a much attacked post here way back in 2010, I offered some ethical guidelines for April Fool’s Day, which was just beginning to get out of hand. I was right, my critics were wrong, and maybe some of the mockers who are now trying to figure out when their favorite news organization is lying to them today for fun, as opposed to the rest of the year when it lies to them out of bias or incompetence, are beginning to appreciate my position.

I just watched three different morning news shows that contained fake news or commentary that the reporters and anchors, at least, seemed to think was hilarious. In one case, on Fox, conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham dead-panned a remarkably even-handed and fair explanation for HHS Secretary Sibelius’s much-maligned TV silence when asked about the Affordable Care Act’s unpopularity.  April Fool! Laura wasn’t being fair or objective, she was just tricking Fox’s audience into being angry at her for being fair and objective, or, in my case, admiring her integrity for pointing out that the incident had more than one plausible interpretation. Got me, Laura. I just heard an NPR host plead with the audience not to regard the upcoming segment as a hoax because of the date, an especially difficult plea since NPR springs virtual hoaxes on its audience all year.

The first and most important of my April Fools guidelines was this:

1. April Fools’ Day tricks are not for professionals to play on those who depend on them, trust them, or otherwise rely on them for information or services, unless there is a special relationship as well. The risks of harm and abuse are too great.

The succeeding four years have validated my position. Journalism, government and politics are the prime examples. CNN played a video that showed Jay Carney crowing yesterday about the Affordable Care Act’s success even as the Healthcare.gov website had crashed. Wait..is this a joke? Did the Obama White House film this for fun and games? They wouldn’t do this, you say? Government officials don’t use their high office for jokes and hoaxes? Really?

Sen. Ted Cruz, also on Fox, showed his new tattoo, apparently an April Fools’ joke, but also said he was certain that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed. Which is more likely, that the AFA will be repealed, or that wacky Ted Cruz would get a tattoo? Slate has a post up by someone called Rehan Salan, which is, clearly, a clever anagram for “En Anal Rash” or something, arguing that adults without children should be forced to pay extra taxes to support parents. Hah! Good one, Slate! That should turn the “pro choice” crowd on its head: lets; punish the choice not to have children via a penalty—I’m sorry, Chief Justice Roberts, a tax, wink-wink. Wait…that isn’t a joke? Ok, well, I’m sure about this, then: that fake video showing famous tough guy Don Baylor, a record holder for being hit by pitches when he played and now a coach for the Los Angeles Angels, “breaking his leg” catching the ceremonial first pitch of the baseball season. April Fools, right ESPN? No????

Continue reading