Ethics Hero, Covington Catholic Students Fake News: Dusty Smith

Who is Dusty Smith? That’s him above. He’s a pundit, activist and atheist who runs the “Humanist Society of Mississippi, ” is a self-proclaimed progressive, and detests Donald Trump. Unlike so many progressives and Trump-Haters however, truth and integrity still mean something to him. Thus it is that after initially reacting in knee-jerk, Pavlovian fashion to a false news story that seemed to bolster all sorts of mainstream news media, 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, “resistance” narratives—Catholics are bad, white males are toxic, whites are racists, Trump supporters are racists, pro-life advocates are fools, “The Age of Trump” has energized racism, just to name a few—-he actually reviewed the evidence, and realized that the story was, in his words, “bullshit.” He was disgusted, and made this video…

Nice job, Dusty.

His is one of many examinations of this fiasco emerging on the web now, not that it has discouraged many on social media from still citing the original story so they can signal to their “Orange Man Bad” friends that the posteris right-thinking and virtuous and deserves  a tsunami of “likes” and  “loves.” I bear an ugly truth:  there is no excuse for this. It is irresponsible, incompetent, and destructive. You don’t denigrate a kid and paint a target on his back…

Reza Aslan

@rezaaslan

Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s?

…without being damn certain of your facts. (Actually, you never paint a target on a kid’s back, but let’s start with baby steps, since Trump-Hate has eaten so many consciences and ethics alarms.) Oh, but these kids were wearing MAGA hats, so they deserve it, right? That was the instant approach of the biased journalists and their inexcusably credulous readers, who then joined the social media mobs. It is not just because I was suspicious of the story from the beginning that I state now that everyone should have smelled a rat. After all, just the day before, the mainstream media whipped itself into an impeachment orgy based on a fake “bombshell” from the internet equivalent of the National Enquirer, BuzzFeed. Nor was that the first clue (or the hundredth)  that the media can’t be trusted, particularly when it comes to conservatives and MAGA hats. Journalists have disgraced themselves progressively (in both definitions of the word)  since at least the 2008 Presidential campaign; they cannot be trusted, and their abdication of ethical journalism now poses a direct threat to democracy. The members of the public who eagerly accepted the attack on the Covington school kids as fact aided and abetted divisive propaganda that they want to be true.

Writes Marta Hernandez about this incident in part at Victory Girls (which I am adding today to the Ethics Alarms links): Continue reading

The Brelo Acquittal: Once Again, No Just Cause For Protest

Brelo car

Nobody should doubt that there are too many instances of excessive police force, that racism must playsa factor in many of these episodes, and that prosecutors and juries give police special, and perhaps excessively generous,  consideration when cases of alleged abuse come to trial. The sheer numbers compel that concludion. However, the now routine presumption on the part of civil rights activists, much of the news media and Obama racially-biased Justice Department that every instance where an unarmed African American is killed by a police officer warrants indictment and conviction is as pernicious as racism itself, and threatens the rule of law as well as any semblance of peaceful race relations.

Every incident is not like the Walter Scott shooting in South Carolina, where the police officer’s actions were unequivocally homicidal, but the news media seems to blur the lines as much as it can. In the current controversy out of Cleveland, police officer Michael Brelo’s acquittal of murder charges was announced with headlines resembling  Slate’s “Cleveland Police Officer Acquitted for Firing 15 Shots That Killed Unarmed Black Couple,” which makes it sound as if Brelo personally executed the Huxtables while they were taking a Sunday drive. “Cleveland Police Officer Acquitted for Firing 15 Shots out of 137 That Killed Two Mentally-Ill, Homeless Addicts Under The Influence of Drugs Who Fled A Lawful Police Stop And Were Credibly Believed to Have Discharged A Firearm” would have been lengthy, but also would have been fair rather than deceitful.

The acquittal came because there was no way to determine for certain that Brelo’s shots were the ones that killed the couple.  Nor were the Cleveland officers’ presumption that deadly force was necessary unreasonable. Police had been informed that shots had been fired from the car (they turned out to be backfires from the auto), and the driver  had certainly exhibited reckless conduct. Was it necessary for Brelo to jump up on the hood of the car after multiple shots had been fired into it by other officers (the chase involved over 60 police cars)?  Were more shots fired by all concerned than necessary? Maybe and almost certainly, but neither of those facts add up to guilt for the officer, or justification for another “Hand up, Don’t shoot!” protest. Officers didn’t know the occupants of the fleeing car were unarmed, and had reason to think they were armed. They didn’t know they were a “couple,” or African American, or mentally ill.

Never mind; African American protesters are demonstrating, protesting and getting arrested in Cleveland anyway. Continue reading

The AWOL Walter Fauntroy, Flawed Black Martyrs And The Duty Of Outrage

Walter Fauntroy, D.C. icon, civil rights hero, fugitive, coward, crook...but still a hero. Somehow.

Walter Fauntroy, D.C. icon, civil rights hero, fugitive, coward, crook…but still a hero. Somehow.

As I was composing this post in my head, I stumbled upon—and I mean that, because I normally avoid her columns like cheap Chinese food—Kathleen Parker’s latest column. Parker is the sort-of conservative, sort-of op-ed pundit who has mastered the art of compassionate equivocation, meaning that her opinions on public affairs usually consist of one long sigh. She was at it again here, except that the topic she was sighing about confounds me, he who does not shrink from assigning blame, almost as much as it does she who usually spreads blame so evenly that its ethical impact is nil.

Parker wrote…

At the same time that people avoid too-sensitive subjects, they seem to fear stating the obvious lest their thoughts be interpreted as an act of betrayal to “the group.” Politicians are the most risk-averse of all. Few are the Democratic women who will find (or express) fault with Clinton. It is the rare African American who finds fault with Obama. When Rawlings-Blake also said that she “gave those who wished to destroy space to do that,” her Democratic colleagues spoke only of her “poor choice of words.” Not poor thinking? Not lousy leadership? Republicans don’t get a pass. Heaven forbid they should call out someone who wants to inject biblical end-times into political debate.”

Ah, how it makes my chest fill with pride that I have flagged all three of the ethical breaches Parker mentions within the few daysHillary Clinton’s brazenly suspicious conduct and the disgraceful refusal of her cheering section to either acknowledge or question it…Rawlings-Blake’s “lousy leadership”… and Republicans who use religiosity as a prop. Parker being Parker, she had earlier used an example of missing outrage that sets my teeth on edge because, while correct, it calls to mind another area of missing outrage and societally-damaging martyrdom that I can’t quite figure out how to talk about.

Where is the outrage beyond the African American community about police brutality and the deaths of young black males? Where are members of Congress other than those belonging to the black caucus? My God, the list of those killed is staggering,” she writes, “yet this is not a new phenomenon. Baltimore’s Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who suffered spinal injuries while in police custody and died, is but the most recent. Yet you see only the usual black activists speaking up.”

True. The missing paragraph, however,  is this: “Where are the African-American activists asking why so many young black men are constantly in positions that place them in conflict with the police? When protesters chant the names and carry photos of police victims like Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, yes, and Mike Brown, they are presenting in honored terms African-Americans who weren’t credits to their communities or examples for the next generation to emulate. Indeed this ritual sanctifies lives and backgrounds that are part of the same urban pathology as the police attitudes that killed them.”

Freddie Gray was only 25-years-old, and yet he already had a staggering 18 previous arrests since he turned 18-years-old. His mother was a heroin addict; he had no father in his life. Why was someone like this even out of jail, in a position to become yet another victim of police anger and contempt against the endless wave of young, irresponsible, law-defying young men who undermine the vitality of their own communities and the nation?

The fact that Gray’s death was undeniably the greater outrage shouldn’t allow the outrage of lives like his to be ignored. Black crime and police dysfunction are part of the same pathology. If only the Bill O’Reillys are going to ask the hard questions about black communities policing their young and changing their deadly culture—and are they really hard for O’Reilly, whose audience is inclined to look for ways to side with the police even when they commit murder?—then those questions and their equally hard answers, involving, among other things, avoidance of responsibility and accountability, can be and will be largely ignored.

This is part of the loyalty to “the group” phenomenon that cripples the African-American community and warps its values. It is especially powerful when prominent leaders, those African-Americans who should be leading the way away from self-destructive conduct and who have the power, visibility, and credibility to do so, demonstrate an atrocious lack of ethics themselves. Where are the black voices—those not belonging to black women he sexually assaulted, that is—condemning Bill Cosby? Or Al Sharpton? Charles Rangel?

Washington, D.C.’s overwhelmingly black population was conditioned to accept black leadership outrages by the late Marion Barry. I was not quite aware of the extent of this cultural purging of the ability to hold prominent African-Americans to ethical standards until I read a jaw-dropping Washington Post feature about the wife of local civil rights legend Walter E. Fauntroy, who helped Martin Luther King plan the 1963 March on Washington, and who served as the District’s congressional delegate for two decades. The tone of the article is enough to make a reader think he or she is going mad. The loving 80-year-old wife, Dorothy Fauntroy, speaks about her husband in glowing terms that nothing in the article suggests is inappropriate. 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

When Telling The Truth Is An Outrage

"Imagine, Jay...the Republicans want to defeat me!"

President Obama visited the Tonight Show last night, and Jay Leno, as is traditional and proper on such occasions, sucked up to him with gusto. In one exchange, the President and Jay tut-tutted about Sen. Mitch McConnell’s infamous statement that the Republican Party’s objective would be to make Obama a one-term president. “How is that a goal?” Jay asked.

Is he serious? Well, okay, I know he’s a comedian and all, so maybe he’s not serious, but all the pundits and journalists and Democrats who have been squealing to the skies for two years about how McConnell’s remark proves that his party is unpatriotic, evil or racist are presumably serious, and it is disingenuous. Continue reading