Tag Archives: propaganda

From The “It’s No Fun Being An Ethicist” Files: I Offend Some Seminar Attendees…

mao

I facilitated a professional ethics seminar a while ago for a scholarly institution, (The locale, names and client have been changed to protect the guilty.) The discussion came around to rationalizations and my favorite on the list, #22:

22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”

If “Everybody does it” is the Golden Rationalization, this is the bottom of the barrel. Yet amazingly, this excuse is popular in high places: witness the “Abu Ghraib was bad, but our soldiers would never cut off Nick Berg’s head” argument that was common during the height of the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal. It is true that for most ethical misconduct, there are indeed “worse things.” Lying to your boss in order to goof off at the golf course isn’t as bad as stealing a ham, and stealing a ham is nothing compared selling military secrets to North Korea. So what? We judge human conduct against ideals of good behavior that we aspire to, not by the bad behavior of others. One’s objective is to be the best human being that we can be, not to just avoid being the worst rotter anyone has ever met.

Behavior has to be assessed on its own terms, not according to some imaginary comparative scale. The fact that someone’s act is more or less ethical than yours has no effect on the ethical nature of your conduct. “There are worse things” is not an argument; it’s the desperate cry of someone who has run out of rationalizations.

In this case I did a sarcastic riff that is usually well received, about the common example of #22, “It’s not like he killed somebody”:

“Well, you can’t argue with that logic, can you? And if he did kill somebody, it’s not like he killed two people. And even then, that’s not as bad as being, say, a serial killer, like Son of Sam, who, when you think about it, isn’t nearly as bad as a mass murderer like Osama bin Laden. But he’s not as bad as Hitler, and even Adolf isn’t as bad as Mao, who killed about ten times more people than Hitler did. And Mao’s no so bad when you compare him to Darth Vader, who blew up Princess Leia’s whole planet…”

It made the point, and the audience laughed. Then, quite a bit later, I received an e-mail from a participant, complaing about this section. Can you guess what the complaint was?

Think about it a bit…

Time’s up!

Do you have an answer? Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Professions, The Internet

Comment Of The Day: “Law Professor/Blogger Ann Althouse, Because We Have Reached The Point…”

whattheheck

This is a bit of a hybrid Comment of the Day. It wasn’t complete until commenter Isaac, in response to a request, added the references and sources to the media statements he posted in the original comment/

Here is Isaac’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Hero: Law Professor/Blogger Ann Althouse, Because We Have Reached The Point Where Any Blogger, Journalist, Pundit Or Citizen Who Helps Expose The Disgraceful Debasement Of Ethics And Duty By American Journalists For Partisan Goals Is A Hero, And We Need As Many Of Them As It Takes To Stop This Crap…

Let’s assume that there isn’t just some sort of bug that makes hardline Leftists this way only if they take up journalism or blogging. It’s an entire political hive mind of crazy in government, academia, entertainment…any place where too many spoiled products of nepotism hang out. They’re inescapable, and the average person who just wants to be cool can’t help but be caught up in it.

You start by shouting “Amen!” as some late night comedian does an “epic truth takedown” of Trump or Republicans or whatever, and the next thing you know you’re in a vortex of Leftist insanity that you can’t really escape from without going over to the dreaded “Right-wing media” with all of their fake news. It’s the virus taking over the host organism.

It feels like all they do all day is gaslight us, telling us that we can’t believe our own eyes. Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Quotes, Race

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Michelle Obama; Runner-Up: Her Husband

michelle-and-oprah

“We feel the difference now. See, now, we are feeling what not having hope feels like. Hope is necessary. It’s a necessary concept and Barack didn’t just talk about hope because he thought it was just a nice slogan to get votes. He and I and so many believe that — what else do you have if you don’t have hope,What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?”

First Lady Michelle Obama, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey broadcast last week.

I was going to ignore this unforgivable  statement, as there have been so many notable melt-downs from progressives and Democrats that if I commented on all of them it would be all freak-out, all the time on Ethics Alarms. However, the video really bothered me, and the timing of the remarks were so inappropriate—Let’s ask Syrians, who your husband decided to abandon in their desperation when he allowed his promise of a “red line” to  evaporate  as Assad turned his chemical weapons on them, how much hope they have, Mrs. Obama!—that I tried to think of any previous First Lady who so blatantly abused her role as a non-partisan symbol of stability and optimism for all Americans. There hasn’t been one. No First Lady, even the outspoken Barbara Bush or the activist Eleanor Roosevelt, has come close to declaring that hope was dead in America. It is especially irresponsible for a First Lady to talk like this as her husband leaves office. His predecessor was gracious, and the First Family owes its successor the same courtesy and respect. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Observations On A Bad Police Stop

 

The ACLU of Colorado last week posted the above  video of an Aurora, Colorado police encounter with two black citizens last February.

The sequence, drawn from one of the officers’ body camera, shows Darsean Kelley and another man being stopped by police after they had received a call about a man allegedly pointing a gun on a child, but with no description of the man. Kelley and his companion were standing on the sidewalk in the vicinity of the alleged incident. Police asked the men  to sit down, which Kelley said was impossible to do because he had a groin injury. Officers then told both men to put their hands behind their heads and turn around. As his friend remained silent and apparently compliant, Kelley kept his hands raised and asked why he was being detained. Immediately after he said, “I know my rights!” one of the officers shot him in the back with a stun gun. He fell backwards into the street.

The police then arrested Kelley on a charge of disorderly conduct for failing to obey a lawful order. In his report, the officer wrote that he thought he might be reaching for a weapon. The ACLU of Colorado then filed a motion to dismiss the case arguing that Kelley was unlawfully detained and arrested without probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

Observations:

1. Kelley and the other man were unlawfully detained and arrested. Were they unlawfully stopped? No. The police could stop men in the vicinity of a complaint like the one they had received in order to investigate it. When people become belligerent or uncooperative during such legal stops, cops sometimes become suspicious, or decide to use their power to stick it to an individual who shows hostility when the officers feel they are just doing their jobs, or trying to. This is when such situations escalate.

I’m sure the officers regarded the “I can’t sit down” claim as suspicious and provocative. I would. Note that no harm befell the other man, who remained quiet and followed the officers’ instructions. This is the correct way to respond.

2. I’m sure Kelley felt that he was being “stopped for being black.” I would if I were him. How are police officers today supposed to allay this suspicion at the outset of a legitimate stop? (Or maybe they WERE stopped for being black…)

3. What is the policy for tasing? The typical hierarchy for the use of force in police departments used to be this:

Table 1: Use-of-Force Continuum
Suspect resistance Officer use of force
1. No resistance 1. Officer presence
2. Verbal noncompliance 2. Verbal commands
3. Passive resistance 3. Hands-on tactics, chemical spray
4. Active resistance 4. Intermediate weapons: baton, Taser, strikes, nondeadly force
5. Aggressive resistance 5. Intermediate weapons, intensified techniques, nondeadly force
6. Deadly-force resistance 6. Deadly force
(Adapted from the Orlando, Florida Police Department’s Resistance and Response Continuum)

 

 

 

 

 

After the introduction of more powerful electronic control devices, many departments changed  their use-of-force directives  for handling suspects who were only passively resisting the lawful orders of the officer, and increased the required level of resistance by suspects to warrant use of stun guns or tasers from passive resistance to active, physical resistance.

Table 2: Levels of Resistance Defined

Passive Resistance The subject fails to obey verbal direction, preventing the officer from taking lawful action.
Active Resistance The subject’s actions are intended to facilitate an escape or prevent an arrest. The action is not likely to cause injury.
Aggressive Resistance The subject has battered or is about to batter an officer, and the subject’s action is likely to cause injury.
Deadly-Force Resistance The subject’s actions are likely to cause death or significant bodily harm to the officer or another person.
Adapted from the Orlando, Florida, Police Department’s Resistance and Response Continuum

I don’t know what the Aurora police policy is, but certainly under the kinder, gentler, saner revised standards above, stunning Kelley was excessive. Police brutality is not an unfair description of what he experienced. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Pundit Malpractice: NBC Sports Defends Colin Kaepernick By Misrepresenting Jackie Robinson

What does Jackie Robinson's autobiography have to do with Colin Kaepernick, you ask? Well...nothing at all, really.

What does Jackie Robinson’s autobiography have to do with Colin Kaepernick, you ask? Well…nothing at all, really.

It also represents a rationalization for unethical conduct that is not currently represented on the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List.

Someone sent Craig this quote, from Jackie Robinson’s  autobiography,  as baseball’s color-line breaker thought back to the first game of the 1947 World Series:

“There I was, the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps, it was, but then again, perhaps, the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today, as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey’s drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.”

This naturally made Craig, whose mind sometimes cannot help itself from shifting into progressive cant autopilot, think about Colin Kaepernick’s incoherent grandsitting as he refuses to stand on the field with his team for the National Anthem. He wrote,

“Colin Kaepernick is not Jackie Robinson and America in 2016 is not the same as America in 1919, 1947 or 1972. But it does not take one of Jackie Robinson’s stature or experience to see and take issue with injustice and inequality which manifestly still exists…the First Amendment gives us just as much right to criticize Kaepernick as it gives him a right to protest in the manner in which he chooses. But if and when we do, we should not consider his case in a vacuum or criticize him as some singular or radical actor. Because some other people — people who have been elevated to a level which has largely immunized them from criticism — felt and feel the same way he does. It’s worth asking yourself, if you take issue, whether you take issue with the message or the messenger and why. Such inquiries might complicate one’s feelings on the matter, but they’re quite illuminative as well.”

Let’s begin with the fact that there is nothing similar about Jackie Robinson and the 49ers quarterback, except their race and the broad occupation of “sports” that they shared. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Race, Rights, Sports, U.S. Society, Workplace

Observations On S.F. 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s Anti-America Protest

Colin-Kaepernick-24

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem before Friday night’s 49ers-Green Packers exhibition game as a protest against the United States. He has apparently been doing all NFL preseason, but it wasn’t noticed until the most recent game.

Questioned about his certain to be controversial gesture, the mixed race athlete—he had one white parent, and was raised by a white adoptive parent—explained thusly:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Observations:

1. Give him credit for one thing: he isn’t trying to take advantage of the King’s Pass. His star immunity is at low ebb, since Kaepernick’s status with his team is shaky and his job as a first string quarterback is in doubt, not because of his political views, but because he has been injured too much and not all that great when healthy. What he did was not in his own best interests. It took guts.

So does leaping naked into a zoo’s tiger exhibit.

2. His action wasn’t a protest. It was grandstanding. It generated publicity for a message that was incoherent. All his gesture said was “Colin Kaepernick is upset and has an irrationally inflated concept of how much anyone cares, or should care.”

3. Kaepernick could have salvaged his act by being ready with a well-reasoned, well-stated, articulate and persuasive explanation. Based on what he said, which was ignorant, counter-factual and foolish, we must assume that he actually gave thought to his response, and that this pathetic statement was the best he could come up with. That shows him to be incompetent, ill-informed, and not very bright. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Race, Sports

Obama’s Iran-Contra Moment

fake-ransom-note1

As you should know by now, the Wall Street Journal reported

“The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.

The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi….Senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange. They say the way the various strands came together simultaneously was coincidental, not the result of any quid pro quo….But U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible….Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment. 

Isn’t this, then, the equivalent of paying ransom for hostages? Continue reading

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