Ethics Quote of the Week: Salon Columnist Joan Walsh

Apparently I'm the pigeon in the lower left box.

“No one can be given credit for speaking from genuine moral or political conviction anymore; everyone can be dismissed or derided with a nod to their personal background. This may be the logical end of identity politics, where ultimately we’re each locked inside whatever little box we check, tiny caucuses of one, and common ground is impossible.”

—-Joan Walsh in Salon, bemoaning the accelerating tendency in public debate to discredit all beliefs, assertions and opinions, no matter how sincere or well-supported, as the product of bias and narrow self-interest.

Her comment could not be better timed, from my point of view. How tired I am of having readers demonstrate the trend Walsh describes by reflexively attributing every post I write as being proof of bias and a pre-existing agenda. If I criticize an atheist, I am a religious zealot; if I find fault with Obama, I must be a racist; if I point out that a production of “The Mikado” doesn’t really call for Sarah Palin to be beheaded, I’m a Left-winger. The problem is, unfortunately, that many prominent positions in the public square and blogosphere are driven by agendas and biases. It is so common that the concepts of independent judgement, an open mind and objectivity seem quaint and unrealistic.

I don’t know how to combat the problem, which is as serious as Walsh suggests. Recognizing it is a start.

Ethics Dunce: Daily Kos Blogger “bal”

Did Past Paul Ryan make Future Paul Ryan a hypocrite, or vice-versa? Is that even possible?

I sometimes comfort myself with the fantasy that the extreme left websites like The Daily Kos are written and read solely by 15-year-olds. While this adds to my anxieties about the public schools’ incompetence at teaching basic skills like logic, analysis and argument, it soothes my fears that our nation’s policies and political discourse are being dangerously warped by millions of addled adults whose passion is untempered by even a modicum of fairness and common sense. In this spirit, I am hoping that bal is a teenager, which would explain, though not justify, his absurd post on Kos. I fear he is not.

He writes, “I guess it’s only when social programs help other people that they’re bad, because I haven’t seen Paul Ryan acknowledging how Social Security benefits helped him and his family in trying times. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Barefoot Contessa…” (Again)

Thank you for your comment, Sharon!

A classic. A commenter named Sharon Jones became outraged over an apparent counting error I made in one of the replies to a comment on the “Barefoot Contessa” post, but refused to be specific about what “seven words” I mistakenly called six. This sparked the abusive rant below, which contains so many of the standard sputterings of those who object to what I do for a  living—the fans of ethical relativism, and the “let he that is without sin” crowd, who often have no use for the Bible except when it can provide rationalizations for ignoring bad conduct—that it begged to be honored as a  Comment of the Day.

If you’re interested in my reply to this, it can be found in the comments to The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies, which for the third time has generated a COTD, by Sharon Jones. Sadly, we won’t be seeing any more of Sharon around these parts…

“Apparently a Harvard degree gives you the right to be a self pretentious jerk with no accountability.

“Anybody who assumes the title of “ethics police” truly deserves to have his testicle hairs plucked one by one, followed by a hot sauce after-shave. Self righteous jerks, with an overinflated sense of self worth that gives them the feeling of entitlement to force feed the foul slop of “ethics” in a public forum. A self-worth, consequently, that is directly proportional to the balance of their checkbooks and IRAs.

“That being said, I fully grant the spineless bastard his first amendment right to say whatever feeble-minded drivel he can manage to scrape out of his Syphilitic skull and slap onto a blank canvas. More power to him. May he have a long and erectile dis-functioned life.”

Glenn Beck vs. George Soros: Beck Cheats, Soros Wins

It is easy, and even enjoyable, to call foul when Fox News side-show barker Glenn Beck slanders a great American and personal hero like Theodore Roosevelt. It is less enjoyable when his target of abuse is someone I am far less fond of, George Soros. I don’t like to see billionaires use their checkbook to prop up juvenile Angry Left slime-artists like Move-On. Org, or to foist another family and  character-wrecking drug on society by pushing us toward the legalization of marijuana. But fair is fair, and lies are lies, and never the twain shall meet. The fact that Glenn Beck doesn’t agree with George Soros’s political activities can’t justify or excuse Beck’s use of falsehoods to paint him as something he is not.  Continue reading

Handshake Ethics, Professionalism, and Rand Paul

Democrat Jack Conway, attempting to take down his opponent for the U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky, Rand Paul, decided to go low. He employed a number of personal attacks including questions about Paul’s participation in a harmless, if bizarre college prank that had been the subject of a blatantly unfair article in Gentleman’s Quarterly. It was a desperate, mean, and unprofessional performance by Conway. Paul was obviously and understandably furious.

At the end of the debate, Paul rushed by Conway, ignoring his outstretched hand. I sympathize with him. I empathize with him. In the heat of the moment, having just had my opponent smear me on television with tales out of school—literally—I might have even done the same thing, though I hope not. Nevertheless, Paul rejected a vital ritual as well as a cardinal rule of civility in the political arena, where, as in the sporting arena, the handshake after the contest sends a symbolic message of reconciliation, forgiveness, respect, and most of all, professionalism. Continue reading