My Involuntary Evolution On “Never Apologize…It’s A Sign Of Weakness!”

“Never apologize…It’s a sign of weakness!” is one of John Wayne’s many famous quotes from the characters he portrayed on film, though no one ever wrote a song about it like Buddy Holly did after he watched “The Searchers” and couldn’t get “That’ll be the day!” out of his head.

The line was given renewed life when NCIS leader Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) repeatedly cited it to his team of investigators on the apparently immortal CBS procedural “NCIS,” as he taught them about life, their duties, and ethics. “Never  say you’re sorry…It’s a sign of weakness!” is #8 (on some lists, #6) among  36 “Gibbs’ Rules” that include “If it seems like someone is out to get you, they are” (#30) and “Never date a co-worker” (#14).

Once, not very long ago, I regularly referenced #8 in ethics seminars as one of Gibbs’ worst rules when I discussed “Dr. Z’s Rules,” social scientist Philip Zimbardo’s tips for girding oneself against corruption in the workplace. One of the points on that list is,

“Be willing to say “I was wrong,” “I made a mistake,” and “I’ve changed my mind.” Don’t fear honesty, or to accept the consequences of what is already done.

I would tell my students that Gibbs and the Duke were wrong, that apologizing for wrongdoing is a sign of strength and integrity, signalling to all that you have the courage and humility to admit when you were wrong, and to move forward.

Then came the advent of social media bullying and Twitter lynch mobs, and I saw how I had underestimated the noodle-content of the  spines of politicians, celebrities, CEOs, and others… Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up: On Bans, Taboos, And Dreams

 

Good afternoon!

1. Answer: I’m thinking about it. A kind commenter asks when I am going to put up a full post about Facebook’s censorship of Ethics Alarms, which had harmed the blog’s traffic and, what is worse, made it increasingly difficult to carry the message of ethics over bias and rationalizations to the greater public.  One reason I haven’t made a bigger deal about this is that I am still unsure what’s going on, and why. Another is that this  all came down on me at the same time as this lingering cold/flu thing  that has required more rest and sapped more energy than is convenient, and in the grand triage of life, fighting with Facebook has had to yield to other priorities. I’m considering putting up a supplemental site to share Ethics Alarms essays. I’m thinking about launching an Ethics Alarms Facebook site. As I have said before, suggestions are welcome.

2.Happy Birthday, Tom! This is Thomas Edison’s (1847-1931) birthday, and celebrating it in the wake of the deranged “Green New Deal’s” plan to take us back to the Stone Age while financing the needs of those “unwilling” to work would be prudent. Edison personified the kind of creativity, industry, and risk-taking that America’s core values are designed to foster. He derided the label of scientist, insisting that he was “only” an inventor, meaning that his mission was to develop commercially viable advances in technology that made human lives better, richer, and more productive. Do they teach kids about inventors any more? My father made sure that I watched both “Edison the Man,” Hollywood’s biopic starring Spencer Tracy, and “Young Tom Edison,” starring Mickey Rooney, before I was twelve. I found the films inspirational then, and I find them inspirational now.

3. Another canary dies in the mine. Columbia University, long ago one of the cauldrons of student protest and defiant expression, followed the rest of academia by taking another alarming step toward constraining non-conforming student speech. It has substantially defunded the student band for defying the administration’s ban on “Orgo Night,”a Sixties tradition in which the students disrupted the sanctity of the library to lampoon the school’s oppressively serious culture. By itself, this is trivial. As part of a trend in American colleges, it is not. Many feel, I would say with justification, that the sudden squashing of the band’s irreverence  was sparked because it was “a liability in an age of heightened political sensibilities.” In other words, thoughts and ideas that the Left can’t control threaten the cause of enforced consensus. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: Why That “We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor” Sign Is Unethical (As Well As Obnoxious)

Mrs. Q, who is keeping Ethics Alarms current on the oppressive politically correct environment slowly poisoning Portland, Oragon, was moved to issue another report in reponse to the Ethics Alarms post about a virtue-signalling sign popping up live wild-flowers on yards across America here is her Comment of the Day on the post, “Why That “We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor” Sign Is Unethical (As Well As Obnoxious)”…(I’ll be back at the end.)

This yard sign is just about everywhere in the city including businesses, churches, schools, and city offices.

 

This one is also popular. I love how the “Science is real” part is in green.

Black Lives Matters signs often accompany the 2 above. Also on businesses, schools, etc.

This one is mostly on businesses/community centers but some residents have this sign taped to their living room windows.

What’s most interesting is that all the problems this town suddenly has with “hate” came after the anti-Trumpers started putting these signs up. I told a (former) friend that I thought these signs were virtue signaling and devisive and smug I didn’t appreciate that every day everywhere an average citizen can’t take a walk or go to the gym without knowing the political opinions of the home/business/agency owners.

She promptly quoted Eleanor Roosevelt’s “No one can make you feel inferior” mantra. Funny enough she’s white, I’m not, and instead of actually listening to me, you know as a special downtrodden minority, she dismissed my concerns altogether about how such signs may negatively affect a community (and then she cut me out of her life. Yep, so tolerant). Continue reading

Why That “We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor” Sign Is Unethical (As Well As Obnoxious)

NPR claims that people get teary-eyed viewing this supposedly viral sign in front of houses across the country. I’ve only seen two in my neighborhood, thank goodness, and they irritate me no end. Why? The sign is dishonest, unfair and divisive. It is also political, while pretending not to be.

First, the sign is not what it represents itself as being. It is not written for an actual neighbor. If it were, the sign would be remote and rude. I welcome new neighbors personally, not by putting garish signs on my lawn.  The sign is blatant virtue-signalling, telling the neighborhood that this household is in favor of diversity, love, and immigration…as if lots of other people are not. If it is not a public sign designed to rebuke those people, whoever they are, then why the sign? If everyone in the neighborhood welcomes Americans of all colors and origins—and I know of no Klan chapter in Northern Virginia—then the sign is a straw man. I’m sure, however, that Hispanic-Americans or Muslim-Americans who see these signs on lawns might be moved to think: Wait, does this mean that many people in this community DON’T welcome us as neighbors? How are we to recognize them?

That’s not a healthy or welcoming message, but hey, if it makes the homeowner seem enlightened and virtuous, it’s a net win. Continue reading

Incompetent Candidate For High Political Office—I Hope Of The Year, But Somehow, I Fear Not: Harley Brown

Harley BrownThe incompetence of  people like Harley Brown, a GOP candidate for Governor of Idaho, running in the primary, makes me angry and sad.

Some will protest that candidates for office have no ethical obligation to be competent. After all, running a bad campaign is its own punishment: you lose. That is not necessarily true, however, particularly in the states, but even if it is true, you can do a lot of damage while losing.

Like any other role, task, or job, running for a high elected office like governor of a state comes with responsibilities. For one thing, other people would like to run, work hard at it, and in the process, help democracy work better by giving voters a choice. Incompetent candidates like Brown not only block someone from running who might be good at it, they also give voters less choice, and sometimes, no choice at all. Those who complain about President Obama should review the pathetic campaign performance of John McCain. All these years to prepare, and he couldn’t master the skill of reading from a teleprompter without looking like he had been zapped by Dr. Strange and sounding like a Rotary Club awardee who begins his speech with “Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking…”?

There is more to resent about inept candidates, but let us focus on what makes Brown so awful. Many Idahoans were introduced to him during the recent Republican candidates debate, in which he began the night dressed like a superannuated biker, which is apparently what he is, or maybe Santa Claus in the throes of a mid-life crisis. Then he launched into what is obviously going to be his real schtick: blue collar, redneck sensibilities as imagined in the stereotyped  dreams of Bill Maher, delivered in wince-inducing bumper-sticker slogans and bad jokes that would be the low-lights of the worst stag party routine of all time.

Harley, as his website warns you, has declared war on “political correctness,” and he intends to campaign with what he egotistically calls “Harleyisms”:

“This is a unique compilation of American blue-collar attitudes, political philosophy and non-politically correct humor to both edify and entertain you.I am an opinionated grandfather trying to do what I can to help America become a better place for my grandchildren. To tell the truth, political correctness is in fact, “bondage to fear. “I am making a major political issue of FREEDOM from political correctness. I intend to walk the walk, not just talk the talk…I want to present myself as a much different “Candid Candidate” from the politically correct lawyers now dominating political circles. Perhaps then multitudes of righteous citizens ( particularly the hoards of my currently unregistered blue-collar brothers) will become politically active and help me fight for the futures of our grandchildren with tremendous passion motivated by love…I believe Harleyisms to be a splendid weapon against the vile bondage of political correctness…”

“Harleyisms,” however, really means “moldy and mostly unfunny jokes someone else made up that are only funny to bigots, fools and kids, and are certifiably embarrassing coming from anyone over the age of 12 who is claiming to be worthy of representing, leading, and looking out for the welfare of an entire state.” Continue reading