In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Raffaela Spone anonymously sent the coaches of her high school student daughter’s cheerleading squad “deepfake’ photos and videos that depicted the girl’s competitors nude, drinking, or smoking to get them kicked off the team. She also sent the manipulated images to the girls, and urged them to kill themselves, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub’s office said.
Nice! Of course, the woman is insane. Still, there have been far too many episodes like this. One is too many.
On a utilitarian scale, cheerleading is so deep in negative territory that it couldn’t see the positive side with super-vision. It is, of course, the epitome of presenting girls and women as sex objects while pretending that it is something else. The alleged function, “leading cheers,” is gratuitous and annoying, like those “Cheer!” commands on baseball park electronic scoreboards, or “Charge!” trumpet riff. Home crowds know when to cheer; I’ll cheer when I feel like it, thanks: BACK OFF!
But everyone knows that’s not why cheerleading squads exist. In pro sports, they are blatant eye-candy for middle-aged male fans and sexual prey for the players. Otherwise, why not have male cheerleaders? (Yes, yes, I know some schools have them). As an earlier post here pointed out,
In August, former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty in federal court to making a false statement in the first criminal case arising from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation of the of the irregularities surrounding law enforcement actions regarding allegations of”collusion” between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign, a manufactured charge used to delegitimize and undermine the Trump Presidency. Clinesmith’s guilty plea was to “one count of making a false statement within both the jurisdiction of the executive branch and judicial branch of the U.S. government, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.”
Clinesmith admitted that in June 2017, he had sent a deliberately altered email to an FBI agent falsely indicating that Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, was “not a source” for the Central Intelligence Agency. The email was used by the FBI to apply for a third extension of a FISA warrant justifying surveillance on Page. Paige had, in fact, been a source for the CIA. Clinesmith’s defense was that he had mistakenly thought the altered assertion in the email was correct, and he only altered it to save himself the trouble of getting a another email from the CIA.
If this doesn’t remind you of Dan Rather’s rationalization for using a forged document to accuse President George Bush of going AWOL while he was in the National Guard, it should. But Rather was just a journalist, albeit a one who carried the public trust. What he did was unethical, but what Clinesmith did was unethical and illegal. He knowingly manufactured evidence offered by the U.S. government to violate the Fourth Amendment Rights of a citizen, knowing that the warrant being sought would be used to spy on the Presidential campaign of the party opposing that of the sitting President, Barack Obama. The Trump Presidency was permanently sabotaged from its very start as a result of Clinesmith’s actions along with others in the Justice Department and FBI. Although the Mueller report found no evidence that any American anywhere, not just in the Trump campaign, coordinated with Russians to affect the 2016 election, the lie that Clinesmith facilitated constituted a deliberate effort by law enforcement officials to subvert a Presidential campaign and a President.
Yeasterday, Clinesmith was sentenced. U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia James Boasberg, an Obama appointee, delivered the proverbial “slap on the wrist.” He sentenced him to 12 months probation and 400 hours of community service. He will serve no jail time.
My son, 18 at the time of his offense, was given five years probation and spent six months in jail for a traffic violation, just to provide some basis for comparison.
1. Ay Caramba! Does anyone think that former Playboy model Eva Marie has a legitimate complaint because she was kicked off a Southwest flight along with her seven-year-old son for wearing this outfit on board?
I don’t. She said she was “humiliated and embarrassed” when a Southwest Airlines flight attendant told her she couldn’t board looking like that. I don’t believe it for a second. She was seeking publicity. “When they threatened to remove me off the plane if I didn’t have a change of clothes, I felt completely humiliated, embarrassed and highly offended,” the Instagram influencer said of the incident. “I’m an A list member for SWA and have a credit card with the airline and I have perks that allow any person traveling with me to fly free because of my high status with the airline. So even as being a loyal customer with them, I felt like the other women on the plane were judging me based on my attire and they were saying my breasts are too large,” she added. “Well, that’s something I can’t help.”
No, you shameless jerk, they were judging you because you won’t observe even minimal social conventions, like not going out in public looking like a stripper mid-routine. If she is a “high status” member of the airline, then she is presumably aware that it has a dress code. It is overwhelmingly likely that she pulled this as a stunt to gain Instagram users to “influence,” and exploited Southwest to do so.
The airline would be fair and reasonable to ban her from flying.
With his Comment of the Day, Humble Talent neatly identifies as a rationalization a disingenuous argument that I have been fighting on social media for four years. This is the dodge, and it is a dodge, of moderate progressives and once reasonable Democrats who refuse to accept that the party and ideology they felt good about supporting has taken a hard-left turn to fanaticism.
“Oh, no,” I have been told. “The Green New Deal”/ confiscate guns/ reparations/ Medicare for all/free college tuition/ cancelling student loan debt/late term abortions/punishing “hate speech”/ open borders/ “defunding the police”…even impeaching the President and so on ad nauseam aren’t really Democratic party agenda items. Just a few over-enthusiastic and well-publicized activists are pushing those, and it’s unfair to say that the entire party wants such things. Yes, yes, it’s true that Democratic leaders don’t clearly oppose these ideas, but….”
Some of them might even believe it. However, the over-all effect has been to lie to the American public, which has a right to know just how estranged from practical government and democratic principles one side of the political spectrum has become.HT will have his rationalization added to the list as soon as he settles on a name.
It is the esteemed veteran ethics warrior Michael West who focused on the question from a practical viewpoint, and, after all, this is a practical ethics blog. In a series of comments he wrote,
I voted for the apology route because there’s no choice between apology and appropriate punishment that incorporates aspects of both. His conduct is gross and indicative of his character, but our society is getting to a point where we don’t allow for any rehabilitation ever. And that’s not a good development.
I had posited to another commenter a public official caught on camera terrorizing his family to counter the argument that it was unfair for this conduct to be made public, and Michael countered,
I think psychologically terrorizing family combined with being a public official changes the scope of invested parties and certainly justifies a larger body of people interested in knowing about the behavior. In this case, while not absolving him of being scrutinized and shunned by an appropriate section of society, “it’s just a dog” does guide the level of this man’s infamy as compared to your hypothetical. But yes, once the video is out the video is out. But, if, after appropriate demonstrations of genuine remorse, repentance and change of character and appropriate consequences are leveled against this man and…such as reduction to mere data entry job…I don’t think I would “take my business elsewhere” if I discovered he happened to be the man entering the data I need entered.
I mean at some point the “shunned by society” is clearly disproportionate…should grocery stores refuse his ability to buy food?
Jeffrey Previte is –last I checked—the co-CEO of EBI Consulting in Los Angeles. That’s him on the left, and that’s also him on security footage where he lives, abusing his little dog. There’s a video too. You can view it—if you have the stomach– here.
The Daily Mail broke the story after it obtained the video from the concierge at the Seychelle Condominiums building in Santa Monica, California, where Previte lives. The concierge passed along the film–why to a British tabloid I don’t know (it probably paid him) and asked to remain anonymous in case he wanted to be a source for an Atlantic Monthly hit piece on President Trump. He told the Mail that he heard the dog whimpering from the front desk, saw the video, and filed a report with the police about the incident. “I heard the dog screaming and when I looked on the camera, I saw him beating the dog,” he said. The concierge claims that the building’s management did not take his report seriously.
Previte has only made himself more despicable since the story came out, and revealed himself as an individual without ethics alarms.
“I think this is very unfortunate that this has come across your desk. I don’t even know exactly what to say but I will say this: [The concierge] called me the evening of this interaction with my dog and that was at nine o’ clock at night and he attempted to extort money from me so that he wouldn’t report it to the building,” said Previte in a statement.
All absolutely irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is what we see on the video. How does someone think impugning the character of the person who reports his misconduct mitigates the conduct? Dead ethics alarms. Then he said, “There’s nothing illegal about what I did.”
This might be the best example of Rationalizations #4, Marion Barry’s Misdirection, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical,”and #5, The Compliance Dodge I have ever seen, except that I’ll want to gag every time I think about it.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is..
“What is a fair and proportionate way for society to treat this creep?”
1. Well, THAT’s an easy question! At St Xavier Catholic Church in NYC over the weekend, the priest asked his flock, : “Do you affirm that white privilege is unfair…will you commit to helping transform our church culture” and embrace “racial justice.”?
The answer, of course, is “‘Bye!” No one should accept partisan and racist talking points from the clergy. This is an abuse of power, trust and position.
I think I’ll watch “Spotlight” again…
2. In case you were wondering, Ethics Alarms will have nothing definitive to say about the Kyle Rittenhouse saga, and won’t until I read a trustworthy account of what really happened. There seems no question that the original mainstream news media narrative that this was a white supremacist gun nut hunting peaceful protesters is the MSM misbehaving again. The backlash characterization of Ritterhouse as a brave citizen protecting local businesses from rioters also seems overly convenient. The video available suggests an element of self-defense, but it seems clear to me that the kid irresponsibly placed himself in a perilous position while provoking members of a less-than-rational mob. In the situation he voluntarily placed himself, Ritterhouse was likely to be killed or kill somebody. He was also violating the law by carrying his weapon when he was underage. Of course, the failure of the Kenosha police and the state to keep minimally endurable order also added to the deadly conditions.
3. Hey, Coup Plan E, good to see you! Where have you been?
The 25th Amendment arguments have been relatively scarce lately, although Maxine Waters mentioned it a week ago without referencing any disability. She appears to think that the Cabinet can just remove the elected President with a vote. My God, she’s such an idiot.
If the President had three strokes, he sure recovered quickly. And doesn’t it take astounding gall to try this chestnut again now, when the Democrats are running a candidate who could be legitimately removed by the 25th Amendment ten minutes after he took the oath of office? Continue reading →
The question that spawned this long post [ Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here] was, “What’s your opinion of Trump using the White House as a political prop?”
D. The White House
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Trump will further “destroy” American precedents if given a second term in office. “This is what we can expect in a second Trump administration,” Schumer said. “All the rules, norms, values that have made this country great, Donald Trump will destroy them. He doesn’t care. He only cares about himself. The rules are you shouldn’t sit in the White House and give a speech at a convention. Donald Trump says, ‘I want to do it.’ So they do it.”
There’s no such rule. The President isn’t covered by the Hatch Act, and given all the political uses of The White House by previous Presidents, I’d love to hear the argument that a speech being delivered to a virtual convention during a pandemic using the White House as a backdrop is unconscionable, or even unethical.
Professor Julian Zelizer, whose field is history and public affairs at Princeton University, said that using the White House as a “prop” at a party convention is “unprecedented” in recent times. “There still is a boundary between politics and governing, and the Oval Office and White House are a public site meant for the country that isn’t meant to be a political backdrop,” Zelizer told ABC News. “To just use it as the major site for a convention speech seems like a lot with President Trump — you just take all the guardrails down.”
Cite, please. That something is “unprecedented” doesn’t make it unethical. The White House has been used as a political prop many times, just not at a convention. Nothing has been quite as grubby as Bill Clinton selling nights in the Lincoln bedroom for big money donations, but way back in the Kennedy Administration, the nation gushed over lovely Jackie Kennedy hosting a televised tour of her “home,” bolstering the developing legend of how graceful and refined the young First Couple were. (Jack was probably banging a starlet while Jackie was being filmed.) Go ahead, tell me that “special” wasn’t “unprecedented” or political. Continue reading →
The New York Times Magazine’s Kwame Anthony Appiah, aka “The Ethicist,” chose to respond to a question about the fictional ethical conflict posed by a Black Lives Matter supporter who is sotorn. Should she follow her sense of moral outrage to participate in protests against systemic racism and police brutality (as proven by a single death -by-cop in Minnesota that had nothing to do with race, and a botched no-knock police search with a warrant that had nothing to with police brutality or race), even though it risks spreading the Wuhan virus?
It’s not a tough question in ethics terms. It really isn’t. Even leaving aside the clear (at least to me) verdict that the George Floyd protests themselves are unethical, being contrived, dishonest, destructive, and aimed at substituting one kind of racism for another while unfairly demonizing police, it’s no contest as a utilitarian calculation. The protests are accomplishing nothing positive while harming many and much, and would be unethical to participate in even if they did not contribute to the Wuhan virus resurgence—and if they don’t, then public health officials have been lying to us all along.
This isn’t a difficult balancing problem at all, but sadly, the usually rational Appiah tied himself into rhetorical knota to avoid saying, “Are you kidding me? Stay out of mobs! How could you even ask such a thing?”Continue reading →
Richard Spoor, he tells us, is a public interest lawyer with a special interest in land reform, mines and communities and compensation for occupational diseases, and a “militant non-racialist,” whatever that means. His tweet is addled in so many ways:
The fate of these two lawyers turned terrorists is no more “sad” than any story of previously law-abiding citizens whose ethics alarms stop working as they knowingly break the law.
The fact that they are “young” makes it no more sad than if they were older, like 50. They’re not kids: both are over 30. They cannot claim immaturity or lack of experience. My son nearly ruined his life with a terrible, spur of the moment decision that could have killed him and others, but he was a teenaged male. He was also lucky. Truly young people like he was wreck their lives with bad decisions every day. That’s sad. Adults doing it is something else.
Participating in a riot and throwing a Molotov cocktail is not the act of an “idealistic” person by definition. Breaking the law, engaging in violence, and trying to destroy property for no good reason does not embody “ideals.” They embody the opposite of ideals. If the two lawyers were really idealistic, this wouldn’t have happened.
They didn’t “get wrapped up” in BLM’s racist movement, they joined it. It isn’t something that just happened to them.
“Moment of madness” is another version of Rationalization #19, The Perfection Diversion, or “Nobody’s Perfect!” and “Everybody makes mistakes!” People don’t suddenly throw Molotov cocktails and go “Ooopsie! What was I thinking?” That’s not “a mistake,” it is the culmination of many intentional acts leading up to a serious crime.