Government Horror Story: What Happens When We Expect Bureaucrats To Protect Us

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Indignant and self-righteous activists  argued that the real problem underlying the shootings at Virginia Tech, the D.C. Naval Yard, Newtown, Tucson and elsewhere—other than the Second Amendment, of course– was the failure of the health care system and the government to apprehend and stop emotional disturbed citizens before they start shooting.

This might have some validity, if it were not for a fact that Big Brother worshipers know but refuse to acknowledge. The health care system and the government are operated by people, many of them dedicated and competent, but a lot of them fearful, lazy, irresponsible and stupid. When we place power over the lives and liberty of others in the hands of such people, bad things happen.

They just happened to my family, and I am furious—both at the immediate fools who have abused us, but also the smug social architects who always think a new law and more government control over our lives is the solution to every problem.

At this moment, be warned:

I hate you people.

Stay out of my way. Continue reading

And The Winner Of The Curmie Is….

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….Just whom I thought it should be…and a previous winner on Ethics Alarms.

Writes Rick Jones, announcing that his annual poll to pick the worst example of misconduct by education professionals that highlights the deep, deep problems in the field wisely selected Principal Greer Phillips of PS 79 (the Horan School) in East Harlem, who, you may recall, decided to terrify special needs students and her staff by running a surprise “a school massacre is happening right here at our school! ARGHHH!” drill shortly after the Newtown shooting…

“…it’s difficult to argue with the collective wisdom of Curmiphiles. Principal Phillips managed to do something not merely colossally stupid, but arrogant, cruel, smug, unethical, insensitive, reckless, boorish, and—oh, yeah—illegal, as well. Plus, in the kneejerk world of post-Newtown, it also succeeded in being an emblem of everything that makes me crazy about the world of public education and self-righteous liberal do-gooding.I may not have had preference among the finalists at the beginning of the voting, but you have convinced me that the right person won. I’ll send the Curmie along to her, but perhaps first I should call her up and tell her that there’s a serial killer waiting for her in her apartment and that he’s amusing himself by setting her cat on fire. She won’t really appreciate the Curmie until she gets out of therapy, anyway, right?”

Read his whole post here, and I urge you, again, to follow Rick’s blog.

Public School Ethics: The Assassin Game

"All right, class, Answer this: in the term 'assassin game.' which word describes the actual nature of what is being described? No seriously, help me here, because I can't figure it out..."

“All right, class, Answer this: in the term ‘assassin game.’ which word describes the actual nature of what is being described? No seriously, help me here, because I can’t figure it out…”

Montgomery  County Maryland’s Blair High School is embroiled in a controversy over the popularity of a student game known as “Assassin,” a role playing elimination game where players “kill” competitors using fake weapons, or, as in the Blair version of the game, their fingers. The game in various forms—it is also known as Gotcha, KAOS (Killing as organized sport), Juggernaut, Battle Royal, Paranoia, Killer, Elimination, or Circle of Death—has been around for decades. Proof: I played it in college, and had a blast. If you like that sort of thing, the game is fun, and whether you like it or not, it is harmless.

Ah, but some kinds of fun are no longer acceptable in large swathes of post-Newtown, thought-controlling, anti-gun, hysteric-dominated America, especially liberal enclaves like the Maryland suburbs. As a result, you get sentiments  like these:

  •   “I don’t think a game called Assassin is appropriate in schools. I want kids to be social with each other, but not in a ‘Gotcha’ . . . sort of way. It’s just inappropriate in our society.”—Blair Principal Renay Johnson

What’s “inappropriate?” Fantasy? Role playing games? Games that evoke entertainment and fiction portraying conflict and violence? Fun? Thoughts and attitudes that you don’t agree with or approve of? Continue reading

How Fake Statistics Become “True”: A Case Study From The Newtown Massacre Ethics Train Wreck

As predicted, this ethics train wreck keep getting bigger.

As predicted, this ethics train wreck keep getting bigger.

There was a lot to wince about in Diane Sawyer’s “exclusive” interview two weeks ago with former Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly. The Arizona couple announced their intention to launch a non-profit organization dedicated to more effective anti-gun violence measures, concentrating, predictably, on the prominent features of the maniac’s rampage in Tucson that left Giffords with brain injuries that will impede her for a lifetime. Nothing to wince about regarding the effort, but Giffords’ diminished state—she can speak in only short burst of words, cannot see well out of one eye, and has difficulty walking—is tragic. It reminded me how unconscionable it was that she held her post in the Congress for more than a year when it should have been clear that her disabilities precluded her functioning as a Representative. The disturbing feeling also arose that Giffords, in her current pathetic condition, is now like the children President Obama used as window dressing for his gun-related Executive Orders announcement at the White House, an exploited figure of sentiment and public manipulation being used in the anti-gun wars. Her name was listed as the author of a first person op-ed in USA Today that contained sentences and perhaps thoughts that she cannot possibly compose. Diane Sawyer told us that she will be dragged into Congressional offices with her husband to seek support from her former colleagues, who will be forced, as Sawyer said, to say no “to her face.”

The most substantive wince, however, came from a statement of “fact” by Mark Kelly, who told Sawyer this:

“You know, how do we get to the point where 85 percent of the children in the world that are killed with guns are killed in the United States. That is a sobering statistic.”

Sobering, and obviously nonsense. Continue reading

Dangerous Messages: Excusing Aaron Swartz, and the Unethical Non-Prosecution of David Gregory

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To  no one’s surprise, District of Columbia attorney general Irving Nathan announced that he will not be prosecuting NBC’s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory for a clear, intentional and unequivocal violation of a D.C. law on national television. In so doing, Nathan sent the District, the nation and the public a package of unethical and damaging messages, perhaps the least significant of which is that the District of Columbia’s chief lawyer is just as ethically flawed as the rest of its government.

In his letter to Gregory’s attorney, which you can read in its entirety here, Nathan said:

  • “The device in the host’s possession on that broadcast was a magazine capable of holding up to 30 rounds of ammunition. The host also possessed and displayed another ammunition magazine capable of holding five to ten rounds of ammunition…It is unlawful under D.C. Code Section 7-2506.01(b) for any person while in the District of Columbia to “possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm” or loaded. Under the Subsection, the term “large capacity ammunition feeding device” means a “magazine, belt, drum, feed strip or similar device that has the capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept more than ten rounds of ammunition.” Under D.C. Code Section 7-2507.06, any person convicted of a violation of this Subsection may be imprisoned for not more than one year, fined not more than $1,000.”
  • “The larger of the two ammunition feeding devices in question here meets the definition under the statute. OAG has responsibility for prosecuting such offenses and takes that responsibility very seriously.”
  • ” OAG has determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on the events associated with the December 23, 2012 broadcast. OAG has made this determination, despite the clarity of the violation of this important law, because under all of the circumstances here a prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia nor serve the best interests of the people of the District to whom this office owes its trust.”
  • “Influencing our judgment in this case, among other things, is our recognition that the intent of the temporary possession and short display of the magazine was to promote the First Amendment purpose of informing an ongoing public debate about firearms policy in the United States,especially while this subject was foremost in the minds of the public following the previously mentioned events in Connecticut and the President’s speech to the nation about them.”
  • “There were, however, other legal means available to demonstrate the point and to pursue this line of questioning with the guest that were suggested to NBC and that could have and should have been pursued.”
  • “No specific intent is required for this violation, and ignorance of the law or even confusion about it is no defense. We therefore did not rely in making our judgment on the feeble and unsatisfactory efforts that NBC made to determine whether or not it was lawful to possess, display and broadcast this large capacity magazine as a means of fostering the public policy debate. Although there appears to have been some misinformation provided initially, NBC was clearly and timely advised by an MPD employee that its plans to exhibit on the broadcast a high capacity-magazine would violate D.C. law, and there was no contrary advice from any federal official. While you argue that some NBC employees subjectively felt uncertain as to whether its planned actions were lawful or not, we do not believe such uncertainty was justified and we note that NBC has now acknowledged that its interpretation of the information it received was incorrect.” Continue reading

The Newtown Massacre Ethics Train Wreck Picks Up An A-Lister!

I know—I need to settle on a consistent name for this particular train wreck. I’ve used at least three. Luckily, it is clearly going to be rolling along, causing ethics havoc in its wake, long enough for me to be consistent.

Hey, everybody! Bubba's on board!

Hey, everybody! Bubba’s on board!

Wow! They must be all-tingly on the Newtown Massacre Aftermath Express–Bill Clinton! The architect of one of the great ethics train wrecks of American history has deigned to come on board! What other A-listers will follow? Oprah? David Letterman? Even the President himself! Now, anything is possible.

The nation’s grandmaster liar bought his ticket with this Newtown-inspired statement, uttered at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 9, 2013

“Half of all mass killings in the United States have occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005, half of all of them in the history of the country.”

This was classic Bill, false and self-glorifying. After all, that ban that expired had been signed into law by Bubba himself. But as the Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler confirmed, his striking “fact” was a whopper. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week (Newtown Massacre Ethics Train Wreck Division): Ed Rendell

“The good thing about Newtown is, it was so horrific that I think it galvanized Americans to a point where the intensity on our side is going to match the intensity on their side.”

former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, enthusiastically becoming the latest passenger of the Newtown Massacre Ethics Train Wreck

discouraged

“Phooey! If only a few more kids had been shot, we’d really have the NRA on the run!”

The shocking thing about this is that unlike Piers Morgan, Alex Jones, Andrew Cuomo, and most of the other public figures who have boarded lately, Ed Rendell is usually a responsible individual in word and deed. His statement, however, is as indefensible as it is cynical.

  • Needless to say (I thought), there can be nothing good about a gunman killing twenty small children.
  • Following Ed’s logic, another school massacre, preferably of even more kids, is just what the anti-gun movement needs. Ha! Now we’ve got you, NRA! Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Howard Kurtz

“Gun owners often say they want the government to leave them alone; why then are some clamoring for Gregory to be prosecuted?”

—-CNN Media ethics watchdog Howard Kurtz, in a column defending “Meet the Press” host David Gregory’s on-air violation of a D.C. gun law

Wait...WHAT???

Wait…WHAT???

This is quite a spectacle, a real time unraveling and self-discrediting of a media ethicist because of biases he either cannot resist or doesn’t detect. Kurtz’s core ethical fallacy in ridiculing calls for Gregory to be held to account for a knowing, intentional, blatant and broadcast breach of a criminal law is so obvious it is stunning that he cannot see it. Kurtz is arguing that the law shouldn’t be enforced against law-breaking journalists “practicing journalism,” because they are special and deserve to be privileged, and because journalism is so important that it trumps the law. This is offensive to fairness, equality and justice, but because Kurtz is himself a journalist, he cannot see how intrinsically unethical his position is. He cannot see the most basic conflict of interest of all, self-interest, in himself. Continue reading

And An Irrational Perspective On Gun Control In The Unethical Cartoon of the Month: “America Reacts”

America_Reacts

Since most of the news media have been making fools of themselves with their over-heated, slanted and often hysterical reaction to the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, it was predictable that the odd corner of the commentariat occupied by political cartoonists would go even farther off the rails. For one thing, exaggeration is a tool of their trade; for another, they traffic in irony, satire and humor, giving them leave to jettison fairness and balance for a good laugh. Nonetheless, political cartoons appear on editorial pages. They express opinions that should be responsible opinions, and to the extent that they purport to represent facts, they are obligated to represent them with at least a minimal level of accuracy.

“America Reacts,” the work of Chattanooga Times-Free Press cartoonist Clay Bennett, appeared on December 18. I missed it; a letter to the Washington Post today complained about the Post re-printing it, which is how it finally came to my attention. I have admired Bennett’s work for a long time— I am critical of editorial cartoonists, but I respect and enjoy the good ones—-but this particular cartoon crosses ethical lines right, left and center:

1. As the Post’s critic pointed out, it unfairly deals in gross stereotypes. “Bennett makes assumptions that guns are more important than kids to men while only women care about children. My husband has guns and loves to go shooting, but no way would he choose guns over his children,” Marie Miller wrote. The cartoon also suggests that only men appreciate guns, and that all men are irrational gun nuts. Adding gender bigotry to the gun debate is not a constructive contribution.

2. The cartoon dishonestly frames the issue at hand as a culture having to choose between children or guns. Plenty of talking heads have made the same false representation, and it is intentional distortion for the purpose of appealing to emotions over rational thought. Or it is evidence of brain damage or progressive dementia.

3. The cartoon is incompetent. What is the point that the cartoonist is trying to make? That women are ruled by maternal-instinct and men are gun happy, rendering both stupid and useless? That women’s values are spot on, and men are mad fools? That every family’s children are really at risk because of guns? Is he advocating gun bans? The message is completely incoherent. It’s just a bad cartoon….on a serious and complex subject that could benefit from a good one.

If all a political cartoonist can contribute to an important national debate is the equivalent of a stink bomb tossed into a room, he should resist the urge.

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Pointer: Marie Miller

Source: Times-Free Press

Comment of the Day: “Lisa Long’s Unethical, Despicable Bargain: Betrayal For A Blog Post”

turn-the-tablesOffering a pointed response to Lisa Long’s blog post about her emotionally-ill son and the suffering Long has endured, is new commenter Fixitsurprise. When I first read the post, I actually thought that she might be Lisa Long’s daughter, so to those like me whose faculties are still addled from too much eggnog and viewings of “A Christmas Story,” remember that Long’s post was titled, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” Fixitsurprise is table-turning.

Here is Fixitsurprise’s Comment of the Day on “Lisa Long’s Unethical, Despicable Bargain: Betrayal For A Blog Post”:

“I am Lisa Long’s Daughter.”

“My mother labeled me as mentally ill when I was 12 to avoid taking on any responsibility for my issues. I was sent to mental hospitals. I was sent to a behavior modification facility. Countless doctors and lots of meds with horrible side effects. I was forced to sign a contract admitting I was mentally ill and promising to be on medication the rest of my life to get out of reform school. She wouldn’t rest until I had a diagnosis that absolved her. I yelled and screamed and acted out. I did so because I had no voice, no respect, and was not allowed to make any boundaries whatsoever. She gave me poetry that spoke of how she was a victim of my illness. She was public about her struggles. How hard it was to have me. I burned it but the words still haunt me to this day. I am an adult now with the perspective of 18 years of parenting my own child. We do need to change the conversation about mental illness in this country, but what Long ironically, and unintentionally points out, is that a big part of the conversation needs to be about the family dynamic. That parents contribute, that society contributes, and that no psychiatric professional and no prescription can heal the child of a mother with a victim complex.”

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Graphic: Cascadesmurf