Wednesday Ethics Jolts, 6/17/2020: I Think We Have Our Answer To Question 13….

Look out!

It’s Wednesday, Wednesday got me thinking about the Wednesday Addams, which got me thinking about Charles Addams, which reminded me of that Addams cartoon…

Yes, this is how my mind works, as if you didn’t know…

1. “You know: literate morons.” The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC), of all people, decided to give us an example of where the George Floyd Freakout can lead. The president of the NBCC drafted the obligatory institutional pander affirming Black Lives Matter and circulated it to the board for its approval. One contrarian and sane board member, a board president named Carlin Romano, said he disagreed with much of the letter, didn’t want to “distract the great majority of the Board from its mission,” but couldn’t resist explicating his objections, including describing the systemic racism premise as “absolute nonsense.” He did not, he wrote, believe that the publishing business operated with “the full benefits of white supremacy and institutional racism” and that “white gatekeeping had been working to stifle black voices at every level of our industry.” Such claims, he wrote, amounted to “calumnies on multiple generations of white publishers and editors” who had fought to publish authors of color. “I resent the idea that whites in the book publishing and literary world are an oppositional force that needs to be assigned to reeducation camps.”

In her reply,the current president told Romano that she’d always appreciate his perspective. It “shines unlike anyone else’s,” she wrote, adding, “your objections are all valid, of course.”

As a result of her respectful acceptance of a reasoned dissent, more than half of the 24-member board of NBCC  resigned, including, of course, all of its non-white members. The president resigned too. Romano has not. In response to another member’s accusation that his criticism had displayed ” racism and anti-blackness,” he countered, “It did nothing of the sort. I’m not racist and I’m not anti-black. Quite the contrary. I just don’t check my mind at the door when people used to operating in echo chambers make false claims.”

Ethics Hero.

2.  Pandering BLM Groveler of the Year? I’m pretty sure nobody will be able to top NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. After dismissing Colin Kaepernick and his fellow NFL kneelers as a distraction to the game and an annoyance to fans, he is now not only encouraging the players to demonstrate on the field for “racial justice,”—if he thinks such workplace stunts will stop with mere kneeling, he really is a dolt—he is now encouraging NFL teams to sign Kaepernick, who hasn’t played  for three years. He hasn’t been signed because the distractions his political grandstanding carried with him couldn’t begin to be justified by his declining quarterbacking skills, and that’s the case now more than ever. Does Goodell really think capitulating to the mob will keep him and his league safe? Is someone holding his family at gunpoint somewhere, or is he really this ignorant?

3. Wait, why haven’t I read all of this before? On Medium, Gavrillo David argues that there may be enough evidence to insulate Derek Chauvin from a murder conviction. he cites six facts in support of his theory: Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Catch-Up, 5/17/2020: Consequentialism, Graft, Firing the IGs And More Proof Of NFL Rot, As If You Needed Any

Good day!

Lots of ethics flotsam and jetsam hanging around, mostly on my office floor…

1. Speaking of the NFL, the most unethical sports organization extant…Four NFL players were taken into police custody in a span of less than 24 hours from yesterday morning to yesterday evening. First Washington Redskins wide receiver Cody Latimer, was arrested after an incident that started with shots being fired. He was booked on charges of assault in the second degree, menacing, illegal discharge of a firearm, prohibited use of a weapon and reckless endangerment. Later Saturday, Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar and Giants cornerback Deandre Baker  turned themselves in after arrest warrants were issued for the two players. Baker was accused of using a semi-automatic firearm last week to rob multiple people, with Dunbar’s help, of more than $11,000 in cash plus watches and other valuables worth more than $60,000. Then, last night, Bills defensive lineman Ed Oliver was arrested on charges of DWI and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Even for the NFL, which has more players arrested and charged with felonies in any single season as Major League Baseball has had in the last 40 years, this was impressive.  The sport recruits its stars from among fake college students who receive little education while being pampered and idolized, with the predictable result.

2. Firing the IGs. President Trump’s latest controversy involves firing the State Department’s Inspector General Steve Linick. This is the latest of several such firings: before this, we saw the dumping of then-Inspector General for the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson for his role in the whistleblower complaint that prompted the Ukraine probe, and the firing of Glenn Fine, the inspector general overseeing pandemic relief. Continue reading

Wait…WHAT? The NFL’s Crazy Diversity Proposal

The National Football League’s “Rooney Rule” requires every team to interview one qualified minority candidate for a head-coaching job.  That requirement was introduced by owners in 2003, but it has done little to remedy the perceived problem that spawned it. About 70% of NFL players are black. Today, 17 years after Pittsburgh Steelers owner John Rooney pushed through his diversity-inspired rule, the NFL has two African-American general managers for 32 teams, or 6.3%. The league has three black head coaches for 32 teams. That’s 9.4%.

The contrast with the National Basketball Association, which also has an overwhelmingly black player population, is striking, as the graph above illustrates. Is this evidence of NFL discrimination? It’s certainly a bad look. Fans, of course, literally do not care what color their team’s management is as long as their work results in winning seasons and championships.

So this coming week, in a Zoom meeting necessitated by the pandemic, NFL owners will reportedly consider a new proposal to provide incentives to motivate owners to hire more of those minority candidates rather than just interview them. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/21/2020: Groundhog Day

Hi.

I was talking with a colleague about the most relevant movie to watch these days. As readers here know, the outbreak of elected officials letting power go to their heads led me to designate Woody Allen’s “Bananas” for that honor.  (And yesterday I posited the relevance of “Airplane!” )Still, it’s hard to argue against my friend’s position that the right choice is “Groundhog Day.”

In the interest of sanity, I reject “Contagion” and especially “World War Z” or “Quaranteen.” (All good movies though.)

1. Right now it’s turned face to the wall, but today I’m putting a sheet over it…My college diploma becomes more embarrassing by the day. Harvard University has accepted nearly $9 million from the pandemic relief package. With a 40 billion dollar dollar endowment, Harvard is better off financially than the U.S. government.

[Notice of Correction: I wrote “million” instead of billion in the original post. Really stupid typo. I apologize.]

There is no excuse for the school accepting the money. It is getting widely criticized for taking it, and ought to be.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education said ithat Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “shares the concern that sending millions to schools with significant endowments is a poor use of taxpayer money. In her letter to college and university presidents, Secretary DeVos asked them to determine if their institutions actually need the money and, if not, to send unneeded CARES Act funds to schools in need in their state or region.”

In an episode of Spokesman vs Spokesman, a mouthpiece for the Ivy said, disingenuously,

“By federal formula laid out in the CARES Act, Harvard was allocated $8.6 million, with 50% of those funds to be reserved for grants to students. Harvard is actually allocating 100% of the funds to financial assistance for students to meet their urgent needs in the face of this pandemic. Harvard will allocate the funds based on student financial need. This financial assistance will be on top of the significant support the University has already provided to students — including assistance with travel, providing direct aid for living expenses to those with need, and supporting students’ transition to online education.”

This is an exercise in deflection and rationalization. The only issue is that Harvard has plenty of money to do all of this without any hand-outs from the government, and many other institutions need the money more, which is an easy calculation because no institution needs money less than Harvard does. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/3/2020: Super Bowl Hangover Edition

Well HEL-LO!

1.”A Nation Of Assholes” indeed. Not for the first time, the NFL and the Super Bowl, aided and abetted by the network whose news arm presents almost all of its female on-air talent as bimbos, is excoriated for it, has a movie made about it, and doesn’t care, presented a half-time show that spectacularly violated FCC rules about what could be broadcast when children are likely to be watching. There were stripper poles, crotch grabs, crotch shots and simulated sex. You know: family entertainment.

Did you know Donald Trump is a crude vulgarian?

Here’s some of Megan Fox’s critique:

…The camerawork was outrageously gross, zooming in on Lopez’s barely covered crotch, so close that the viewer could see some sort of silver maxi pad sticking out from either side of her way-too-small fraud of a garment. If that thing wasn’t riding up between her front-hole lips, then my 6o-inch HDTV television was lying to me, and HD never lies… The only thing separating her anus from the camera is a pair of sheer stockings and a black thong. This is not okay. What the hell is wrong with the NFL? … Also, the cameramen were focused on JLo’s crotch for most of the performance….If you want to see it go find it. But it’s indecent and totally inappropriate for the Super Bowl halftime show. Shakira was not as offensive, although the cameramen also could not stay away from her crotch. But at least she was wearing an imitation of a skirt and she wasn’t on a stripper pole. Yep. JLo did a striptease pole dance while barely-dressed backup dancers simulated an orgy underneath her. It was disgusting.

What is the message here for young women exactly? You are not a sexual object and can demand men be fired for looking at you or complimenting you in the #MeToo era. You can also dress up like a whore and gyrate around on stage half-naked for the pleasure of men, but if they take pleasure in it, you can accuse them of being harassers. Get it?

Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/2/2020: The “Let’s Not Watch The CTE Bowl And Think About Ethics Instead” Edition

Good Afternoon!

I almost managed to ignore football completely this season, and I’m proud of it.  There were few rogue kneelers in the NFL this year, and the New England Patriots, my hometown role models for the Houston Astros, finally bit the dust. Meanwhile, there was little new on the CTE front, not any more is needed to prove that cheering young men in the process of destroying their brains for a handful of well-compensated seasons as football heroes is immoral and unethical.  I did recently watch the Netflix documentary, “The Killer Inside,” about Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots star who murdered a friend and perhaps two others. I didn’t know that after his suicide in prison, it was found that Hernandez suffered from CTE, and that  his brain was one of the most damaged scientists have ever seen.  The documentary also says that the New England Patriots coaching staff saw signs that he was deteriorating and becoming unstable, as well as using drugs, and they made no effort to intervene. After all, he was playing well, and the team was winning.

That’s pro football. To hell with it.

1. “The Chop.” I have written about this perpetually silly issue a lot, and recently, but the New York Times, being the Official Paper of the Woke, has felt it necessary to publish three pieces this week on the the so called “Kansas City Chop,” the tomahawk motion used by Kansas City Chiefs fans (The Chiefs are in the Super Bowl, you know) when cheering on their team. The chop is most identified with the Atlanta Braves (How satisfying it was to watch Jane Fonda dutifully chopping along with then husband Ted Turner when the  Braves finally made the world Series in 1991!), but Chiefs fans started copying Braves fans. It is, of course, intended to rally the team, has nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of commentary on Native Americans, those who pretend to be seriously unsettled by what fans of an NFL team do to show their affection for their team are either faking or need psychiatric care. But here’s CNN:
Continue reading

End of A Horrible Week Ethics Warm-Up, 12/6/2019…

Ho Ho Ho Crap!

1. “Radical? What radical?” Stanford law professor Pam Karlan, who stood out as a neon beacon highlighting 2019 Democratic Party extremism when she turned her House testimony on impeachment into an unhinged, Trump-hate rant including a cheeap shot at Barron Trump’s name, was apparently too radical for Barack Obama, says Legal Insurrection. He appointed far more moderate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, despite Democrats then being in control of both Houses.

“Fast forward to 2019, and this radical Obama SCOTUS reject is a star witness for the Democrat impeachment circus,” the blog notes. “It’s surreal how completely the Democrats have removed themselves from any semblance of rational thought when it comes to their impeachment obsession.”

If we regard the public as the jury and the House Democrats as prosecutors, how can one explain putting such an angry, ugly, biased and partisan fanatic on the metaphorical stand as an “expert witness”? Isn’t that gross incompetence? What’s going on here? In fact, let’s poll it. Who knows, maybe it will draw almost as much interest as the Peloton commercial poll, the second most active in Ethics Alarms history (so far). (But then there were more Google searches on “Peleton” than “impeachment” last week, so we know what American priorities are…)

2. Polls suggest that public opposition to abortion is rising again. Gee, I wonder why?

“Can you believe this?” wrote one on Facebook. “Knights of Columbus Belleville  (all men) organized this absolutely shameful act ….and also posted it on their facebook page.” Erecting a the memorial is shameful. Got it.

Well, they were just warts and parasites, so she has a point.

The National Post reported that the coordinator of a protest over the memorial stone, Elissa Robertson, accused the Catholic charity of “attacking a women’s right to choose,” saying,

“It was designed to shame people. I think it was absolutely uncalled for and that money they put into this anti-abortion monument could have done a lot of good somewhere else. It ties into patriarchal values and this idea that women’s bodies are meant to be controlled by men. It’s a broader issue that ties into violence against women, it ties into health care, it ties into safety.”

It ties into climate change! It ties into racism! It ties into tooth decay!

If one has no regrets or shame about snuffing out nascent human lives, then how does the monument shame you? The abortion argument is very difficult to win on a factual or ethical basis, but advocates have learned that “How dare you!” and “Shut up!” are very effective.

Actress Jameela Jamil certainly isn’t ashamed. She’s refreshingly honest…and scary. In a November Harper’s Bazaar interview with Gloria Steinem, she said,

“I’m very outspoken about the fact that I, similarly to you, feel very passionately about a woman’s right to choose I’m someone who’s had an abortion, and I feel like I need to make sure that we prove it’s not always just emergencies. People have abortions, sometimes a woman just wants her liberty, and we have to normalize that it’s okay just to make that choice for yourself, because your life is as important as a newborn life that doesn’t even exist yet.”

Wait, if it’s not living, then why do you have to kill it? Is it really a fair  to compare your avoiding an inconvenient responsibility or life disruption with another human being losing its life? Challenged on this, the actress responded on social media, “I SAID WHAT I FUCKING SAID and you’re clueless if you think I’m going to take it back. My life is more important to me than an unborn fetus’s one. Suck on THAT!”

Wait: I thought you said no life was involved.

This is the approximate level of thought, sensitivity and ethical analysis we hear from almost all pro-abortion activists. Basic competence and responsibility rules: if you can’t discuss a topic more articulately and thoughtfully than this, leave the issue to others. Here’s another one of Jamil’s clever arguments:

Or better yet, why not just kill them too? Continue reading

Post Road Trip Ethics De-Brief, 11/20/2019, AND Morning Warm-Up, 11/21/2019

Bvuh.

Thinking is a chore right now, never mind typing.

We returned from a triumphant two-Darrow ethics program New Jersey tour, highlighted by the intense Darrow oratory performed by actor/legal instructor Paul Morella. This does a cynical ethics CLE presenter’s heart good: finding myself short of time, I asked the assembled NJ Bar members to vote on whether Paul should omit Darrow’s famous Leopold and Loeb closing argument, or Darrow’s own desperate plea for an acquittal when he faced a jury considering his own guilt of jury tampering in the 1911 MacNamara case. The group almost unanimously voted that we complete both closings, with my ethics commentary as well, bringing the program to an end almost a half hour later than scheduled. Nobody left, and believe me, in most CLE seminars, the lawyers seldom stay one second longer than they have to.

Brought a tear to my eye…

No rest in sight, though: tomorrow, I take an early flight to team up with rock guitar whiz and singer Mike Messer in Las Vegas for Ethics Rock Extreme. And I’m punchy now...

1. Well, maybe the NFL is learning…News item: The Miami Dolphins released already suspended running back Mark Walton on Tuesday, hours after he was arrested on charges of punching his pregnant girlfriend multiple times in the head. Walton had been serving a four-game suspension because of  three arrests before the season started. He was sentenced in August to six months’ probation after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor weapons charge.

Now let’s see if the Patriots sign him…

2. Just a quick impeachment hearings note: It is astounding to me that witnesses are being called by the Democrats to testify regarding their opinions on a President’s phone call to a foreign leader. Big black headlines shout that witnesses called a phone call “inappropriate.” Who cares? The President has the authority to decide what is “appropriate,” and there are no impeachment articles in the Constitution designating “acting inappropriately” according to someone else’s opinion as a “high crime and misdemeanor.”  Leaders become leaders because they do thinks that others think are “inappropriate.”

Don’t get get me  started on presidential actions through the centuries that experts, government veterans and other critics at the time thought were “inappropriate,” or worse.

I started compiling a list of what I would consider genuinely impeachable actions by past Presidents The list makes the current impeachment push look even more contrived than it already is.

3. I see that the group that surreptitiously filmed Planned Parenthood staff discussing abortions was hit with over 2 million dollars in damages. Good. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Excursion, 11/17/2019: This Crazy, Unpredictable, Untrustworthy World

Greetings!

1.  So we can’t trust Intel, either. Good to know. Last May, Intel released a patch for a group of security vulnerabilities researchers had found in the company’s computer processors.  Intel implied that all the problems were solved. The official public message from Intel was “everything is fixed,” said Cristiano Giuffrida, a professor of computer science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and one of the researchers who first reported the vulnerabilities. “And we knew that was not accurate.”

Indeed, the software patch meant to fix the processor problem addressed only some of the issues the researchers had identified.  A second patch, publicly disclosed by the company last week, finally fixed all of the vulnerabilities Intel had said were fixed in May…six months after the company said that all was well.

2. So they finally bullied the NFL into re-considering Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, the mediocre NFL quarterback whose political grandstanding before games made him an albatross for the league and any team foolish enough to employ him, has had woke “fans,” who couldn’t care less about football but who loved his race-bating and police-bashing protests, claiming that he was “blackballed” from pro football for exercising his right of free speech.

This was never true—let a grocery store clerk try that argument when he’s fired for making political demonstrations during store hours—but never mind: Kaepernick was styled as a martyr anyway.  Why the NFL capitulated to bogus complaints and gave the player a showcase for NFL scouts, I cannot fathom. He’s 36, hasn’t played for three years, and wasn’t that good in 2016. If no team signs him, the NFL will be told again that it is racist and oppressive. If a team does sign him, the message will be that enough agitation can force an organization to elevate politics above its legitimate priorities.

3. This is why our politician aren’t civil, collaborative, respectful and ethical: the public doesn’t want them to be.  Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Minority Leader,praised Representative Peter King, the long time Long Island Republican House member who announced his retirement this week, by tweeting  warm words on Twitter.  “I will miss him in Congress & value his friendship,” the effusive message concluded.

For this once-standard professional reaction to a fellow Congress member’s retirement, Schumer was roundly attacked by Democrats and progressives on social media. To his credit, despite more than 10,000 mostly negative replies and even calls for his resignation, Schumer neither apologized for his tribute to a colleague nor took down the tweet. Continue reading

The Garrett-Rudolph Attack: Yes, It’s Unethical For Even NFL Players To Try To Kill Each Other….

As if the game itself, legally played, weren’t enough to cause its players brain damage, in a Thursday Night televised pro football game this week Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and clubbed him in the head with it. The league acted swiftly, suspending Garrett for the rest of this season, including the playoffs should the Browns make them, and reinstatement is by no means assured.

Good.

This is the longest suspension for an on-field incident in NFL history. I can find no fault with Garrett’s apology, Level One on the Apology Scale, issued before the sentence came down. He said, Continue reading