Comment Of The Day: “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/7/2019: Trump’s Obsession, Joe’s Hands, And University Ethics Stumbles” [Item #3]

To refresh memories, #3 in this ethics warm-up of a week ago involved this email, sent to the University of Wisconsin campus yesterday by administrators.

To our campus community, Friday morning, what was intended as a protest to inspire action on environmental climate change had a very different and negative impact on many who witnessed it. Two students displayed nooses tied around their necks outside the Humanities Building.

The students involved have since apologized for their actions and committed to rectifying the impact they caused. We commend the university staff and members of our campus community who immediately intervened with the protesters and helped them understand the impact they were having. The protesters then removed the nooses.

The fact remains that members of our community were harmed. While the First Amendment guarantees the right to free expression, our community best succeeds when we express our views and promote a campus climate that is welcoming and safe to everyone.

We hope this experience can serve as a learning opportunity. Regardless of whether the display of a hateful symbol is based on a lack of cultural understanding or an expressed intent to promote fear, the lingering legacies of what these symbols represent create visceral and painful reactions among many. That harm is especially acute for people of color, for whom this history is very real.

Let’s be clear: ignorance is not an excuse. We can and must do better. For those of us who are members of majority communities, our campus offers many resources through Student Affairs and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement to learn about racism and injustice and about how to be strong allies.

And for those who are impacted by incidents like this, we want you to know that we support you and have resources to help….

I wrote, “The school would not make a similar statement if American flags were burned  or an effigy of President Trump were set on fire, and those gestures are no less offensive to many than the symbolic use of a noose. Nor was anyone “harmed” by the student protesters. Opinions, symbols and gestures do not harm healthy, normal people. Forcing the students to apologize was wrong and a direct affront to their right of expression.”

Mrs. Q then picked up the baton. Here is her Comment of the Day on that issue: Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/7/2019: Trump’s Obsession, Joe’s Hands, And University Ethics Stumbles

Good morning!

September has always been my favorite month at the beach….not that I’m at one. But I can dream…

1. Dumbest Ethics Train Wreck of the Year. Incredibly, people are still arguing over whether the President “lied” about Alabama being at risk from Hurricane Dorian, and the news media is still writing about it as if it mattered. I wish I had the time to make a list of all the real news stories with actual impact on the nation that the mainstream news media has buried or ignored in recent years to contrast with this nonsense. Of course, the President is also at fault, since he is incapable of letting stuff like this go, as, say, a well-adjusted adult and responsible leader would. The latest (from the AP);

…The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a statement from an unidentified spokesman stating that information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to the president had demonstrated that “tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.” The advisories were dated from last Wednesday, Aug. 28, through Monday, the statement read.

Friday’s statement also said the Birmingham NWS tweet Sunday morning “spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

The statement from NOAA contrasts with comments the agency’s spokesman, Chris Vaccaro, made Sunday. “The current forecast path of Dorian does not include Alabama,” Vaccaro said at the time.

Friday’s NOAA statement, released just before 5 p.m., points to a few graphics issued by the National Hurricane Center to support Trump’s claims. The maps show percentage possibility of tropical storm force winds in the United States. Parts of Alabama were covered, usually with 5% to 10% chances, between Aug. 27 and Sept. 3. Maps on Aug. 30 grew to cover far more of Alabama, but for only 12 hours, and the highest percentage hit 20% to 30% before quickly shrinking back down.

Alabama was not mentioned in any of the 75 forecast advisories the hurricane center sent out between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2. From Aug 28 to Aug. 31, a handful of locations in Alabama were mentioned in charts that listed percentage chance of tropical storm force winds or hurricane winds, maxing out at about 7 percent chance for Whiting Field to get tropical storm force winds.

Former National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read blasted NOAA leadership Friday night on his Facebook page calling the situation “so disappointing” and saying he would comment because NOAA employees were ordered to be quiet.

“Either NOAA Leadership truly agrees with what they posted or they were ordered to do it. If it is the former, the statement shows a lack of understanding of how to use probabilistic forecasts in conjunction with other forecast information. Embarrassing. If it is the latter, the statement shows a lack of courage on their part by not supporting the people in the field who are actually doing the work. Heartbreaking,” Read wrote.

Takeaways: This is only news because 1) so many people will grab on to anything if it will allow them to denigrate the President and 2) the President acts the way he does.

2. Least shocking ethics story of the week: Campaigning in Cedar Rapids, Joe Biden grabbed pre-school teacher Jessica Roman’s  hands and held them while he double-talked around her  question about his plans to help unionized teachers deal with Iowa’s collective bargaining laws. She later told the news media that his physical contact was “unwelcome”: Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up: Algorithms, The Beatles, Baseball, Football, And Omarosa

Good morning.

1.  More Scorpion-Frog Ethics. I refuse to do a full post on Omarosa, the latest slimy opportunist the mainstream media is suddenly treating as a trsutworthy source because she claims to have dirt to spill on President Trump. To ist credit, NPR is at least flagging her sliminess, in a post titled “Omarosa Tells NPR She Heard Trump ‘N-Word Tape,’ Contradicting Her Own Tell-All Book.”

As I wrote regarding Manigault Newman previously (and the same applies to Michael Cohen), one can be nauseated by the disloyalty, dishonesty and venality of such scum and still have little sympathy for their victim, Trump, who was a fool to trust such obviously untrustworthy individuals, give them influences, notoriety and power they are unfit to have, and still claim to be hiring and appointing “the best people.”

The same sentiment applies to the biased, obsessed and incompetent news media. If journalists keep presenting present the likes of Omarosa, Cohen, Stormy Daniels, Michael Wolff, and, yes, James Comey, as credible first-hand Trump accusers, how can they expect the public to take any legitimate future accusers seriously, should any appear? Their predecessors will have all been obvious publicity-seekers, shake-down artists, motivated by personal agendas or greed, and obviously so. The news media, meanwhile, undermines its own credibility—what little remains–by so eagerly treating these tarnished sources as if they were not what they so obviously are.

2. They’re baaaack!. The NFL’s pre-season games are underway, and what do you know? The players are kneeling again, protesting during the National Anthem in what they deny is a protest of the National Anthem in what the news media regularly calls the “National Anthem protests.”  Wait, what’s that protest about, exactly? The New York Times has settled on “social inequality and police brutality.” And what do they mean? Here’s the latest interpretation by one of the most prominent Kneelers, Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles:

“Before we enjoy this game lets take some time to ponder that more than 60% of the prison population are people of color. The NFL is made up of 70% African Americans. What you witness on the field does not represent the reality of everyday America. We are the anomalies…”

Anomalies because they aren’t in jail? That sounds rather racist to me. Anomalies because they make millions of dollars? Are the Kneelers saying that all African Americans should be making a lot of money? That prison populations should be representative of the same demographic percentages as the public as a whole? Is he calling for affirmative action in the courts (social justice, I guess) or claiming that the large black prison population is caused by police brutality?  That’s funny: I assume that it is because a disproportionate number of blacks are committing crimes. Is that their fault, or the fault of NFL ticket-holders? This remains the most incoherent, self-indulgent protest ever, and one that prompted one of the President’s more accurate tweets–-two, in fact:

The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love………..Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!

That last part relates to the also incoherent NFL policy on kneeling during the anthem. On this, Jenkins told Philly.com, “Quite frankly, guys in our league don’t like being told what to do, what they can and can’t do. We don’t have this type of policies for the other causes we support, whether it be our ‘Salute to Service,’ or breast cancer awareness, or anything else. It’s just when you start talking about black folks, quite frankly. It’s disheartening, but we’ll continue to be creative.”

Huh? Employers in all professions and occupations tell employees what to do, and on-the-job protests disrupting the workplace are universally forbidden. (I know you guys are “anomalies,” Malcolm, but you still collect a paycheck…) Do these players really not see the distinction between engaging in a league-approved promotion like ‘Salute to Service,’ or breast cancer awareness, and a wildcat protest that annoys and insults paying customers? Is anyone going to fact-check that misleading statement,  as someone like Snopes undoubtedly will, regarding the President’s mistaken claim that “most of that money goes to the players”?

Then, “quite frankly,” we get the race card. Of course! “When all else fails…”

Does anyone seriously believe that if only white football players were protesting during the National Anthem, nobody would object? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/24/2018: Demands, Denial, And Ethics Distortions

Good morning, crew!

1. Say please..…. A group of “Dreamers” blocked an entrance to Disneyland yesterday, as part of a protest demanding a Congressional OK for DACA.  I am willing to accept the will of Congress and the President if somehow the illegal immigrants who were brought here as children and never took the initiative to become compliant with the law get a break via DACA.  However, they are supplicants. The US has no obligation to accommodate their predicament. I don’t want any demands from them, and the more they demand, the less I am inclined to be sympathetic to their plight.

Ask nicely. Say please. Their sense of entitlement is redolent of the attitudes of the advocates of the usual, everyday, garden variety illegal immigrants. How dare the country we entered illegally enforce the law? If the “Dreamers” want to ask for a compassionate exception, I’ll listen, just as I’ll consider the pleas of panhandlers and homeless veterans. But don’t you dare tell me I have to give you a handout.  And as non-citizens, “the “Dreamers” have no basis to protest anything.

2. Is it news yet? If you had no inkling that the FBI somehow “lost” thousands of text messages sent between those lovebirds, FBI counterintelligence expert Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page,  at the exact point where their conversations and expressed desire to “stop” President Trump may have been especially interesting, you are not alone. There is an internal Justice Department investigation about the communications that went on during the extramarital affair, in part because both were involved in the Mueller investigation into whether there is some way that Democrats can find a legitimate reason to impeach President Trump. Strzok also helped lead the FBI’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s private email server—also now under renewed scrutiny, since more evidence suggests that it might have been rigged; did you know that?— and was initially involved in Special Counsel Mueller’s inquiry into Russia’s 2016 election meddling. Strzok was kicked off the task force after Mueller learned that there was smoking text message evidence that he detested the President, and Strzok and Page had texted about the need for an “insurance policy” against Trump being elected, creating a prima facie case that the investigation included supposed objective seekers of truth who had a political agenda. Page, Strzok’s secret squeeze, was also on Mueller’s team before returning to the FBI. That makes two potential anti-Trump moles. Continue reading

Unethical Protest, Unethical Protesters, Just Desserts

protest-immigrant

Last week’s “A Day Without Immigrants” protest could be the example in the dictionary to illustrate “unethical protest,” or perhaps “stupid protest.”  The stunt of immigrants not coming to work to protest policies aimed at illegal immigrants and terrorists was a non sequitur, proving nothing, saying nothing. Nobody wants to stop immigration, nobody has an objection to legal immigrants, and the danger of the U.S. not having sufficient legal immigrants is precisely none. According to the Ethics Alarms Protest Check List, “A Day Without Immigrants”  was an epic, embarrassing, dud. If my immigrant employees used this jaw-droppingly dumb protest  to justify not coming to work, I would do exactly what Bradley Coatings, Incorporated  in Nolensville, Tennessee did.

I’d fire them all. Continue reading

The Protest Ethics Check List And The Ferguson Demonstrations

APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri

Protests are an American tradition, with protective rights enshrined in the Constitution, and a distinguished legacy that includes the Boston Tea Party and Martin Luther King’s civil rights marches and rallies. They are also perhaps the most misused and abused device in national politics. Most of them are useless, many of them are stupid, and too many of them do tangible harm.

The Obama Administration’s crisis of the hour is the Ethics Trainwreck in Ferguson, Missouri, where a perfect storm arose when an an inept, distrusted and untrustworthy police force and a poor and frustrated African-American population clashed over the Rashomon shooting of an unarmed black teen. Now there are demonstrations every day in Ferguson; several people have been killed, and the demonstrations have spawned rioting and looting.

What is the purpose of all of this? It better be a good one, given its cost, and the protesters better be right. The problem is that the protesters can’t possibly be right at this point, because the facts aren’t known. We are told that the reason for the demonstrations is larger than mere anger over the shooting of Michael Brown; that it’s about police harassment, abuse and violence against African-Americans and their lack of accountability for it. That would only be a sustainable justification if in fact the death of Brown was an unequivocal, clear-cut example of the phenomenon being protested. It is not, not yet, and it may never be. So again the question has to be asked: is it ethical to be protesting in Ferguson at all? Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: Ann Althouse

racist-proud-plant

“It’s entirely fitting that her name should be forever linked to the motto “Racist and Proud,” because that isn’t a lie. It’s true. It is racist to press the racism template onto the Zimmerman story, and it is done with full intent to stimulate feelings of race-based anxiety in vulnerable minds. That is heartless and evil.”

—-Law professor/blogger Ann Althouse on the recent Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck passenger, progressive environmental activist Michele Renee. Renee attended a George Zimmerman support rally in Texas and held a sign reading “We’re Racist & Proud!” to falsely tar the group as racist

Althouse also writes of Renee,

“It’s a harsh consequence to become — for all time, on the web — Renee “Racist and Proud” Vaughan. She’s apologized — sorry she got busted. You know how apologies are. But I doubt that she’d be sorry if her trick had worked and amplified the legend of the racism of Zimmerman and his defenders.”

Michele Renee has written two extravagant apologies, but Althouse is right: they are unbelievable. This is signature significance: no honest, fair, decent and ethical person sets out to brand others as racist with a false flag stunt, not one, not as a mistake, not ever, because ethical people don’t have horrible ideas like that, or if they do, they certainly don’t act on them. Am I unfair to guess that her MSNBC-cheering colleagues and friends are giving her high fives and telling her “nice try”? I don’t think so. Althouse is correct: Renee’s actions smack of evil, and she arises out of an increasingly hateful and divisive culture on the left that seeks to demonize innocent people for the crime of not seeing the world their way.

Having said that, I find the whole idea of pro-Zimmerman rallies disturbing, offensive, and misguided. Rally for the jury system; rally against race-baiting; rally against the calculated and cynical racial politics of Obama and Holder. But Zimmerman, though he does not deserve to be a hunted man and the face of racial profiling, also doesn’t deserve any rallies. His reckless conduct got a young man killed. What is there to  support?

________________________________

Sources: Althouse, Gateway Pundit (and Graphic)

For Those Willing To See It, The Justice Department’s Conduct Regarding George Zimmerman Is Definitive Proof Of Corruption

When John Mitchell starts looking good, you know we have an Attorney General problem...

When John Mitchell starts looking good, you know we have an Attorney General problem…

President Obama and Eric Holder are feeling great pressure, says the Washington Post, to bring federal charges against George Zimmerman. All of the President’s most vocal supporters want a federal prosecution to address the “injustice” of the Florida jury’s acquittal of the man who shot Trayvon Martin. Yet informed observers, analysts, academics and attorneys both in and out of the Justice Department say that the likelihood of a conviction would be small or non-existent. A civil rights prosecution would have to prove racial animus and hatred on Zimmerman’s part, and there is just no evidence of that, as the trial just concluded shows.

There is no evidence of a civil rights violation. Since there is no evidence, there is no genuine issue or controversy. Unscrupulous organizations, self-interested activists and ignorant citizens, all apparently firmly in the political camp headed by President Obama and Attorney General Holder, his loyal lieutenant, are calling for a prosecution that will continue a vendetta-based persecution predicated on false assumptions and bias. And my question is… Continue reading

A Question For The Zimmerman Verdict Protesters: What Do You Think You’re Protesting?

justice-for-trayvon-martinThe protests of the George Zimmerman acquittal taking place around the country on campuses and cities has been largely peaceful, which is something, I guess.  Nonetheless, pointless and misguided protests are, in my view, unethical, as those of you who recall my posts about the Occupy movement will recall. They waste public resources, inconvenience bystanders, and risk violence, not to mention trivializing a key tool of democracy. If you are going to demonstrate, you are ethically obligated to have your facts and grievances straight and clear, and a practical objective in mind. By this measure, the post-verdict “Justice for Trayvon” protests fail.

What do protesters mean when they chant, “Justice for Trayvon,” now? What do they want, and why do they think it is reasonable to want it? I have listened to and read so many radio hosts, talking heads, experts, lawyers, activists, callers, friends and relatives on this story, and the truth is this: those who are angry about the verdict and want to sign petitions and carry placards about it cannot articulate a single legitimate reason that is supportable by fact or law. Not one.

I say this not because I am a “Zimmerman supporter.” I am not a Zimmerman supporter. Nor am I a  Trayvon Martin supporter, though I am sorrowful that his young life was cut short. This isn’t a team sport, and it certainly isn’t a game. Those who have used this sad tragedy to divide, polarize and demonize belong on a splintered spit in Hell. I have pleaded for an honest, rational, fair justification, other than raw emotion, for the indignation over this case, requiring only that the facts cited actually apply to what happened in Sanford, and not a litany of racism through the centurues. I haven’t received them, and that is because they don’t exist.

So I ask the protesters, both on the streets and campuses and the pundits, activists, columnists and elected officials:

What is it that you want, and why do you think this episode is the fair and rational place to make your stand? Continue reading

Three Terrible Tales From the Busted Ethics Alarms Files…

An unfortunate side-effect of writing Ethics Alarms is becoming aware of such stunningly unethical conduct in all reaches of American society that it risks sending me into despair. I have no illusions about my level of influence over the problem—virtually nil—and the mounting evidence, often bolstered by the tenor of the comments to some posts, that our society does a poor job installing functioning ethical reflexes is both frightening and intriguing. What percentage of the American public go through their lives without functioning ethics alarms, and how do we tell who they are in time to protect ourselves?

As to the first question, I have no idea, but I suspect it is disturbingly high. The second question is even more difficult. Fear of consequences keeps most unethical people from revealing themselves until they face a crisis or an opportunity too tempting to resist. Then they do things like this: Continue reading