Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/22/2019: Five Ugly Ethics Stories (Sorry!) [Corrected]

A pleasant Sunday…

as long as I don’t read the newspaper or watch the Talking Heads…

1. Before I finish a long post about the most recent contrived Brett Kanavaugh smear by the New York Times, ponder this quote from the Times review of “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh”: “[The authors] come to a generous but also damning conclusion, which is that Blasey Ford and Ramirez are believable and were in fact mistreated by Kavanaugh as teenagers, but that over the next 35 years he became a better person.”

Ugh. The conclusion is “damning” because it relies almost entirely on confirmation bias: Blasey Ford’s own lawyer revealed that her motive in using her “recovered memory” against Kavanaugh was to discredit any future anti-abortion opinions he participated in as a member of the court. The accusation by Ramirez isn’t, apparently, even believable to Ramirez herself, since she says she isn’t certain that the Mad Penis-Dangler was Bret Kavanaugh. Why then, do the authors find the claims “believable”? Oh, because they want to believe them, of course; they work for the New York Times, and they certainly weren’t going to get their book promoted by their employer and snatched up by its readers if they concluded, as objective reporters would, that there is no more reason to believe Justice Kavanaugh did these things than there is reason to believe he didn’t.

The real ugh is this, however: if even these biased analysts conclude that the accusations, even if true, do not have any relevance on the grown man who was nominated to the Supreme Court because they relate to a minor who existed 35 years ago—and who has, as most children do, grown up—then the episodes that their book focuses upon literally don’t matter, shouldn’t have been brought into Kavanaugh’s hearing,  and should not be used now to denigrate and discredit him.

2. From “Social Q’s,” a glimpse of what a malfunctioning ethics alarm is like. Prompting the frequently appearing question in my mind, “How does someone get like this?” was the query into Phillip Gallane’s advice column from a woman who threw herself a birthday party, directed guests not to bring gifts but to make a donation to a charity she supports instead, and was annoyed that some brought gifts anyway. She asked if it would be inappropriate to send the gifts back with a disapproving note so they “would listen” to her “next time.”

I know what I would do “next time”…

3. Hey, sounds great, Facebook! Why wouldn’t everyone trust your judgment? Facebook announced  a series of changes last week to squelch hate speech and extremism—meaning what Facebook and its allies consider such— on its platform in a letter to the chairman of a House panel. Facebook said it would prevent links from the fringe sites 8chan and 4chan from being posted on its platform—you, know like it blocks links to Ethics Alarms!  Then it explained how it would develop an oversight board of at least 11 members to review and oversee content decisions—like the decision that a wide-ranging ethics blog that has no political affiliation or agenda, written by a professional ethicist of some note, doesn’t meet the Facebook “community standards.”

In other, unrelated news regarding the obstacles being thrown in my path, the Appeals Court in Massachusetts finally alerted me that it was taking “under advisement” the request for an appeal of the rejected frivolous defamation suit filed about two years ago by a banned commenter here whose boo-boo I wounded.

(I am not concerned.) Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The ABC Democratic Candidates Debate

1, The overwhelming impression one—well, this one—got from last night’s depressing Democratic candidates debate is that the United States of America has somehow painted itself into a corner where one of the worst characters in American political history is nonetheless the shaky human firewall against a calculated overthrow of the American experiment by a sickening conspiracy of power-seeking demagogues, democracy-defacing socialists , individual liberties-rejecting totalitarians, and, of course, and a news media that self-righteously views itself as the propaganda agent for all of these.  In the immortal words of Chester A. Riley,  wing riveter at the fictional Cunningham Aircraft plant in California, “What a revoltin’ development this is!”

But here we are.

2. Symbolic of the plight was the sight of long-time Clintonista and Democratic Party operative George Stephanopoulos  sitting in the debate moderator’s chair last night. No one who is aware of the ABC host of the news division’s morning and Sunday  show could possibly view his presence as anything but an overlay of bias and a guarantee of soft-ball questions and general favoritism. The problem is that many, perhaps most, of the target audience of last night’s fiasco are not aware of it. Remember 2015, when the GOP hopefuls subjected themselves to the sneering contempt of such leftist moderators as CNBC’s  panel of Becky Quick, John Harwood, and Carl Quintanilla? Their questions and interjections from the moderators were, as I observed at the time, ” so hostile, so disrespectful, so obviously concocted from a biased perspective,” that there was criticism from all sides of the political spectrum. Nonetheless, at least the Republicans were challenged, and they knew that partisan opponents facing them were not going to countenance flagrant misinformation. This is why the DNC’s cowardly decision to freeze Fox News out of the debates was such a transparent effort to avoid fair vetting of the candidates, fair meaning in this case, something more challenging than boot-licking submissiveness. “It was a great debate. I think we learned a lot tonight,” the lackey enthused after it was all over. Did anyone really think that was a great debate? That kind of self-evident spin is supposed to be reserved for people like Tom Perez. Continue reading

Comment of the Day Trio: “Principled Or Betrayer: Pete Buttigieg’s Brother-In-Law, Pastor Rhyan Glezman”

I won’t make a habit of this, I promise: a Comment of the Day deserves its own post. However, the comments on the question of whether Mayor Buttigieg’s brother-in-law was crossing ethical lines or not by making an inter-family disagreement into media fodder have been uniformly excellent, and bundling the three of moderate length coming up makes sense to me.

Incidentally, the polling shows a real split of opinion, but 59% agree on the basic question: they feel the pastor was ethical. (I’m still not sure about that.)

Here’s the poll so far…

The first of the trio of Comments of the Day on “Principled Or Betrayer: Pete Buttigieg’s Brother-In-Law, Pastor Rhyan Glezman” comes from James M….

As a pastor, Pastor Ryan Glezman has an obligation to attempt to resolve his conflict with his brother-in-law in a way that respects Biblical teachings. (If he doesn’t respect the wisdom of the Bible, he’s probably in the wrong line of work…)

Fortunately, the Book of Matthew, Chapter 18, has some straightforward instruction for dealing with such conflicts. Since both profess to be believing Christians, they are “brothers”, and Matthew’s Gospel gives clear direction:

Verses 15-17:
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Pastor Glezman has expressed his concern that Pete Buttigieg’s frequent forays into Biblical interpretation pose a risk of leading others astray. He didn’t go public over this right away: Mayor Buttigieg has been bloviating about what he thinks Christians should do for quite some time now. Based on that, I’d guess that the pastor has already attempted to privately address the issue with his brother-in-law, and has now moved to treating him as if he were “a pagan or a tax collector”.

Since Chapter 18 gives dire warnings to us all not to cause others to stumble in their faith, Pastor Glezman has ample cause for his concern. Pete Buttigieg’s religious pronouncements do pose a risk of misleading others.

The chapter also emphasizes the vital importance of practicing forgiveness and grace when we deal with others. Now, some people think that means that Christians need to let bad actors continue to cause problems, “turning the other cheek” and “going the extra mile”. That is only part of the truth. Our obligation as Christians includes helping bad actors to understand whatever they’re doing wrong and repent of doing it. We’re not doing a bad actor any favors if our compliance leads him to continue screwing up. We need to approach the problem with love for the bad actor, but we may also cause the bad actor significant heartburn if that’s what it takes to deal with their behavior.

Next is first time commenter Barbara Ravitch. I love when a new commenter enters with such a high-level splash, and with some recent defections and unexplained disappearances, the Ethics Alarms binders full of women could use some replenishment.

Here is her Comment of the Day: Continue reading

Principled Or Betrayer: Pete Buttigieg’s Brother-In-Law, Pastor Rhyan Glezman [Corrected]

 

Pastor, brother, candidate..

In what appears to be a case of the Popeyes (“It’s all I can stand, ’cause I canst stands no more!”), the evangelist minister brother-in-law of cult candidate for the Democratic Party nomination Pete Buttigieg found it necessary  to publicly rebuke the young mayor of South Bend.

Buttigieg, who has hardly been an unqualified success in his only elected executive office so far, has also distinguished himself, if that’s the right word, by embracing Ocasio-Corte- level climate change fear-mongering, has suggested that the nation should not honor Thomas Jefferson, and is all-in on with his party’s determination to remake our system to make it easier to dictate progressive policies to the public, as he has endorsed abolishing the Electoral College, packing the Supreme Court, and eliminating the Senate filibuster. He has called for a National Service, forcing or enticing teens to participate in government-dictated social programs.

Most significantly, Buttigieg has been at his most arrogant and obnoxious when he uses Christianity and God as crude weapons against conservatives.

For example, he has accused Christians who don’t support the $15 an hour minimum wage of being poor Christians and hypocrites. Paul Miragoff nicely explains the intellectual bankruptcy in that claim, writing, ” Why isn’t Buttigieg a hypocrite for not supporting a $20 an hour minimum wage? For the same reason that other Christians aren’t hypocrites for opposing $15 an hour. The Bible doesn’t address the minimum wage rate and there are public policy arguments against raising it.”

Ah, but God is on this candidate’s side, you see.

Now he is arguing that the Bible can be read to favor late-term abortions, meaning that if one opposes killing the unborn, one is a bad Christian. In an interview this morning on “The Breakfast Club” radio show, Pete Buttigieg said, Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/14/2019: The “Yikes!” Edition.

Good morning!

1. Yikes. The New Republic is routinely irresponsible and disgusting these days, but may have set a new low—I can’t say for sure, because I only intermittently read the rag—with an ugly, homophobic rant by Dale Peck about Pete Buttigieg. So great was the outcry that the far left magazine pulled the piece, something it would not do and has not done when it has savaged a conservative or Republican, though not over sexual orientation, just horrible things like being male, white, or wanting to enforce laws. Here’s an excerpt from what remains on the web…Peck is himself gay, interestingly:

The only thing that distinguishes the mayor of South Bend from all those other well-educated reasonably intelligent white dudes who wanna be president is what he does with his dick (and possibly his ass, although I get a definite top-by-default vibe from him, which is to say that I bet he thinks about getting fucked but he’s too uptight to do it). So let’s dish the dish, homos….He’s been out for, what, all of four years, and if I understand the narrative, he married the first guy he dated. And we all know what happens when gay people don’t get a real adolescence because they spent theirs in the closet: they go through it after they come out. And because they’re adults with their own incomes and no parents to rein them in they do it on steroids (often literally)….the last thing I want in the White House is a gay man staring down 40 who suddenly realizes he didn’t get to have all the fun his straight peers did when they were teenagers.

I’m not saying I don’t want him to shave his chest or do Molly or try being the lucky Pierre (the timing’s trickier than it looks, but it can be fun when you work it out). These are rites of passage for a lot of gay men, and it fuels many aspects of gay culture. But like I said, I don’t want it in the White House.

I want a man whose mind is on his job, not what could have been–or what he thinks he can still get away with.

I know I keep asking this, but how could an editor not have ethics alarms ringing like a seven alarm fire when examining vile material like that?

2. Yikes! I didn’t see this coming...I posted what I thought was a nice, innocuous acknowledgement of the Boston Red Sox management doing something kind for the family of a forgotten walk-on during the team’s legendary 1967 pennant winning season who was inexplicably snubbed over the years. They gave the late Ken Poulsen’s son a 1967 World Series ring in an on-field ceremony before a game last week.

Then I received this in the comments:

I am Kendra Poulsen, Ken’s daughter and first born. I was not informed of this honor and presentation of the pennant ring they gave my brother yesterday. Obviously, I am devastated that me and my son were left out! And Ken had 2 grandsons. My child and my brother’s. The other children were step children from a recent marriage. It all makes me sick! The Sox should be ashamed of themselves. I could care less about the money.

I can’t quite make an ethics call because I can’t answer the threshold “What’s going on here?” query. So far, I’ve alerted a Boston Red Sox sportswriter friend, and that’s all. Was it the team’s obligation to track down the entire Poulsen family for its gesture of contrition? Did the son fail his duty to his sister? Continue reading

We Probably Had A Gay President, But Not For The Reason Pete Buttigieg Says [UPDATED]

Democratic Party Presidential contender Pete Buttigieg is supposed to be brilliant, but when people who are supposed to be brilliant say dumb things in public, I suspect two things: either they aren’t as smart as  we thought, or they are deliberately trying to make the public more stupid than it is.

Buttigieg, who is trying to become the first openly gay Presidential nominee of a major party, told “Axios on HBO” over the weekend, arguing that his characteristics were not electoral handicaps,

“People will elect the person who will make the best president. And we have had excellent presidents who have been young. We have had excellent presidents who have been liberal. I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay — we just didn’t know which ones. Statistically, it’s almost certain.”

Ugh.

1. Buttigieg’s party has spent three years arguing that the people elected a President who is unfit for office, mostly because those who voted fro him are racist, sexist idiots. Will someone ask him during the debates how he reconciles his party’s position with his statement?

2. We’ve had excellent Presidents who were “young,” but none nearly as young as Buttigieg. JFK was the youngest elected President, at 43. Pete is a full six years younger than that. This is deliberate obfuscation for the historically challenged.

3. Even if Buttigeig were correct about some of the Presidents being gay, it doesn’t have any relevance to whether an openly gay candidate can get elected. Doesn’t Buttigieg know this (See above: he’s either making a stupid argument or a dishonest one.) A similar situation exists regarding Presidential faith. Officially, all Presidents believed in God; it is highly doubtful that this was true in reality, however. Nonetheless, even today a professed atheist would have a difficult time getting elected. Continue reading

Martin Luther King Was A Depraved Sexual Predator. Now What, Statue-Topplers? [UPDATED]

I’m glad—thrilled may be a better word—that we now have strong evidence that Martin Luther King was not merely an unfaithful husband and compulsive dog (we already knew that, and so did J. Edgar Hoover), but that he was far, far worse. Of course, this doesn’t change in any way my assessment of King’s important contributions to civil rights, human rights, the culture and the nation. I just love to see people who have adopted an impossible and unethical standard for other important historical figures in order to preen, grandstand and mold history to their liking and purpose, to be hoisted—HARD–by their own petard.

King biographer David Garrow  unearthed previously classified FBI documents showing that King was a bad guy in private by any measure, even using a Donald Trump or a Bill Clinton standard.

For those whose view of candidate Trump was permanently lowered by his being caught on video crudely boosting about “grabbing women by the pussy,” William Sullivan, assistant director of the FBI, wrote in a 1964 memo among many recently released that King joked to his friends that “he had started the ‘International Association for the Advancement of Pussy-Eaters’.” There is  an incident recorded by FBI agents and held in a vault under court seal at the US National Archives showing that King  “looked on, laughed and offered advice” while a friend who was also a Baptist minister raped a woman described as one of his “parishioners”.

Believe it or not, that story gets worse. The FBI reported that King joined Logan Kearse, the pastor of Baltimore’s Cornerstone Baptist church, who had arrived in Washington with what the FBI summary describes as “several women ‘parishioners’ of his church” in an orgy in Kearse’s hotel room at the Willard Hotel. The FBI, having neen tipped off about the visit and that King would be involved, bugged the room.

The civil rights icon and his reverend friend  “discussed which women among the parishioners would be suitable for natural and unnatural sex acts.” One of the women protested, so Kearse  raped her as King watched. Continue reading