Tag Archives: role-models

Holiday Ethics Assigment: Quick! Watch These 25 Great Old Ethics Movies Again Before You Go Bonkers Too!

movie-theater

I am compiling a new list of great ethics movies to help those troubled by the recently completed Presidential campaign, the election and its aftermath. I haven’t decided whether to reveal it piecemeal, or collectively as I have before, but I do need to begin by presenting the previous list of 25, actually the combination of several previous posts. Ethics films I have covered individually since those lists debuted, like Spotlight and Bridge of Spies, will eventually be added.

For now, here’s the top 25. Don’t pay attention to the order.

1Spartacus (196o)

The raw history is inspiring enough: an escaped gladiator led an army of slaves to multiple victories over the Roman legions in one of the greatest underdog triumphs ever recorded. Stanley Kubrick’s sword-and-sandal classic has many inspiring sequences, none more so than the moment when Spartacus’s defeated army chooses death rather than to allow him to identify himself to their Roman captors (“I am Spartacus!”)

Ethical issues highlighted: Liberty, slavery, sacrifice, trust, politics, courage, determination, the duty to resist abusive power, revolution, love, loyalty.

Favorite quote: “When a free man dies, he loses the pleasure of life. A slave loses his pain. Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That’s why he’s not afraid of it. That’s why we’ll win.” [Spartacus (Kirk Douglas)]

2.  Hoosiers (1986)

“Hoosiers” is loosely based on true story, but its strength is the way it combines classic sports movie clichés—the win-at-all-costs coach down on his luck, the remote superstar, over-achieving team—into a powerful lesson: it isn’t the final victory that matters most, but the journey to achieving it.

Ethical issues highlighted: Forgiveness, generosity, leadership, kindness, courage, loyalty, diligence, redemption.

Favorite quote: “If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners.” [ Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman)]

3. Babe (1995)

A wonderful movie about the virtues of being nice, the greatest civility film of all time. Second place: “Harvey.”

Ethical issues highlighted: Civility, kindness, reciprocity, loyalty, courage, love, friendship, bigotry, bias.

Favorite quote: “Fly decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that sheep were stupid, and there was nothing that could convince her otherwise…The sheep decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that wolves were ignorant, and there was nothing that could convince them otherwise”  The Narrator (Roscoe Lee Browne) Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Popular Culture, Professions, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Ethics Observations On The Post-Election Freak-Out, or “A Nation of Assholes” Reconsidered

2016 Election California Protests

I have to adapt, with acknowledgement, a long-running gag wielded by Prof. Glenn Reynolds on his iconic conservative website Instapundit thus:

“I wrote if Donald Trump was elected President, we’d have a nation of assholes, and I was RIGHT!”

The problem is that the joke isn’t funny in this case. It’s tragic. What I am seeing in the news, watching on social media and reading on the web and in editorial pages shows me that the last eight years have done even more damage to American unity and ethics than I had realized.

First, a brief defense of the word “asshole.” It is a vulgar term, and I fully expect President Trump to use it in a press conference or rant some day. I first employed it here in 2010 to describe Julian Assange. I trust nobody will take issue with that decision. ( “Assange’s real priority is Assange, and everything and everyone else is secondary. Luckily, there is a word for such people, a useful label that will help us assess his actions and motives. Asshole.”)

Next was Rev. Terry Jones in 2011. Remember him? He was the self-righteous pastor who announced that he was going to publicly burn the Koran, knowing that the act would incite anti-American riots abroad, and probably get people killed. I wrote,

“What do you call someone who pours gasoline on a brush fire to get attention? Jerk is too mild. What do you call someone who intentionally makes a difficult problem of international perception even more difficult—intentionally? Fool is too kind.  Unethical, my staple, is too abstract. There just is no civil term for someone like Jones. He is an asshole. There are others running loose right now—Julian Assange, Michael Moore, Charlie Sheen—but none come close to Jones.”

Frankly, I don’t know how Donald Trump escaped that last sentence.

Last year, as part of my plea to get the Republican Party and its primary voters to be civicly responsible Americans and prevent the nomination of Donald Trump—in my most fevered nightmares, like the ones where my son’s head has turned into an eggbeater and he is dating Miley Cyrus, I never conceived that Trump would actually be elected—I explained that having a President, always the nation’s most influential role model, who spoke and acted like Trump did would transform the culture of the U.S. and give us a whole generation of boorish, mean-spirited, impulsive and self-righteous young citizens, of which misogyny would only be the tip of the metaphorical iceberg. I still fear that this will be the effect of the Trump years, even if he proves to be a popular and successful president. Especially, if he is a popular and successful president.

What I did not fully comprehend is how the divisive actions and rhetoric emanating from the White House, prominent progressives and  the complicit popular culture and news media have already turned a substantial segment of the public into assholes. There have now been four days of violent tantrums across the U.S. as “disappointed” progressives, Democrats and illegal aliens “protest” the results of the election.  MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, an old-school Democrat and unabashed lover of the political process, was gobsmacked, despite his network’s official derogation of Donald Trump.

“What kind of a statement is it really there to make?” Matthews asked. “They lost!”

Of course, there is no statement, just self-indictments, like “We think we know what is best, and will scream and set fires until we get it,” “We have no respect for anyone who disagrees with us,” and “We only believe in the institutions of the nation we live in when they do what we want.” Most obvious of all: “If you don’t fall into lockstep with the policies and rhetoric of the last eight years, you’re a racist.”

Or perhaps “We’re assholes” is  clear enough.  They are assholes nourished and encouraged by the Obama/ Democratic party culture of arrogant and intolerant progressivism, the demonization of sincere dissent, and the ends justify the means.

OBSERVATIONS: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership, U.S. Society

Donald Trump: A Pre-Election Ethics Alarms Character and Trustworthiness Review: 2005-2016 [UPDATED]

trump-mocks-disabled-reporter-cnn-usa-today

Donald Trump has no character or trustworthiness. Next question?

Oh, all right, in the interests of equity and fairness, I’ll submit The Donald to the same process as I did with Hillary Clinton, though in his case the verdict is res ipsa loquitur. Trump’s lack of ethics and his unfitness to fill the shoes of Washington, Lincoln, Teddy, FDR, or Millard Fillmore is, or should be, self-evident. Those for whom it isn’t self-evident are either ignorant, devoid of values themselves, or intentionally seeking to harm the United States.

I’ve been writing about the awfulness that is Donald Trump since 2005. He was noted for his dishonesty on my Ethics Scoreboard when I called foul on his marketing “various ‘get rich’ products, including tapes, seminars, and “Trump U,” an on-line delivery system for more of the same.” I wrote in part

There are thousands upon thousands of Americans who started with meager resources and made themselves rich through talent, hard work, creativity, inventiveness, and some luck. …Not Trump. The success of his pitch to the desperate wannabes and clueless is based on their erroneous assumption, nurtured by Trump but not explicitly supported by him, that he can teach them to do what they think he did…make himself rich through hard work and a business savvy. But what Trump is best qualified to teach is how to make yourself richer when you inherit an established business and have millions of dollars plunked into your waiting hands after your Dad has sent you to Wharton.

The fact that Trump doesn’t lie outright about his background but simply allows his marks to jump to the wrong conclusions puts his “get rich like me” marketing efforts in the category of deceit…but deceit is still dishonesty. Trump undoubtedly has useful wisdom to impart about building a successful career; it’s not as easy to stay rich as some people think. Ask most state lottery winners. Still, the most vivid lesson of Donald Trump’s successful campaign to sell himself as a self-made billionaire is the lesson that 19th Century con-man Joe Bessimer pronounced more than a century ago: There’s a sucker born every minute.

So we knew, or should have known, that this was a con artist at least back eleven years. In 2006, I posted on Trump’s misogyny and incivility, writing about the first outbreak of his feud with the equally vile Rosie O’Donnell, and their public name-calling…

Rosie set off the exchange by suggesting on ABC’s “The View” that Trump’s recent assumption of the role of moral exemplar by chastising and threatening to fire the reigning Miss USA for being a party-girl was more than a little ridiculous, given his own well-documented penchant for fast women and extra-marital affairs. Sometimes Rosie’s full of beans, and sometimes she gets it right; this time she was right, but spoiled it by concluding her commentary with some unflattering name-calling. Trump, no girly-man he, immediately said he would sue O’Donnell, and then launched into an extended riff on how unattractive and fat she was, including the charming phrase, “pig-face.” Classy as always, Donald…. Yes, anyone who admires either of these two annoying characters already has a problem, but there is no escaping the fact that both are celebrities, and as celebrities they contribute to establishing cultural norms of civility and conduct. This is especially true of Trump, who despite his low-life proclivities is a successful business executive. Resorting to personal attacks on an adversary’s weight or appearance is disrespectful, unfair, cruel and indefensible. Doing so on national media is like firing a shotgun into a crowd. There are a lot of fat or unattractive women out there, Mr. Trump, who are smart, generous, productive, loving, intelligent people… Golden Rule, anyone? How are we to convince our children not to ridicule the personal traits of others, when those they see as rich, famous and successful do the same openly, shamelessly, and even gleefully?

You can imagine my continued amazement that ten years after writing this rather obvious assessment, without Trump having undergone a complete transformation, and indeed with his conduct and public statements becoming worse rather than better, we are on the eve of a day that may live in infamy as the moment democracy  completely failed the United States of America, inflicting on it, and the world,  as unstable and unqualified a leader of a great power as history has ever witnessed. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Scoreboard classics, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, U.S. Society

Asshole Ethics And Jay-Z’s Concert For Hillary: There’s An Ethics Dunce In Here Somewhere… Many, In Fact

hillary-jay-z

Hillary Clinton participated in a star packed concert yesterday with a concert featuring Jay Z, Beyoncé, Chance the Rapper and Big Sean, all to inject enthusiasm for her shaky campaign t among African-Americans and younger voters, because anyone else would rip their ears off and feed them to a shredder rather than listen to this stuff.

“I want my daughter to grow up seeing a women lead our country and knowing that her possibilities are limitless,” said Beyoncé. “And that’s why I am with her.”

Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z have also spent the past year lucratively linking their art and promotion to Black Lives Matter and demonizing police as racist killers. Is Hillary Clinton with them?

Hubby Jay-Z, meanwhile, observed trenchantly,

“If you feelin’ like a pimp nigger, go and brush your shoulders off…Ladies is pimps too, go and brush your shoulders off! N—– is crazy baby, don’t forget that boy told you. Get that dirt off your shoulders.”

Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society

Trending On Ethics Alarms…

trending

….this post, from July, now the all-time most viewed and shared Ethics Alarms post ever, and this post, from May.

Gee, I wonder why?

I only wish this post, from last September, was as well distributed, but I’m going to keep linking to it until it is, or until it’s moot.

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, The Internet

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Hero Emeritus: Edna Gladney (1888-1961)”

edna-gladney

I love when a well-considered comment is entered on an older post. It draws my attention back to topics I may have forgotten about, and as in the case of this Comment of the Day, it reminds me of people and things I really shouldn’t forget.

Rebecca, in her first visit to the comments wars, entered this reaction to the post about Edna Gladney (that’s her on the right above, with Greer Garson, her screen avatar, on the left), an amazing woman who should be better known than she is for her  pioneering work on behalf of orphans and unwed mothers. I suggest that you read the post about Edna first, and then read Rebecca’s Comment of the Day. Here it is:

I just recently saw the TCM movie and was instantly taken by her courage and perseverance, especially since I, too, consider myself a child and family advocate. However, once I read about the historical Gladney, I am saddened that Hollywood thought it necessary to change the storyline to “soften” the blow of Edna’s own illegitimacy. Just goes to show how much was (and still is) wrong with the media. Also goes to show how media perpetuates certain attitudes about our societal issues. For example, even though the movie was retrospect, and even though Gladney may have been successful in removing illegitimate designations on birth certificates, society itself was still hell bent on being judgmental….couldn’t even tell the story like it was for fear it wouldn’t be accepted.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Bioethics, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Heroes, Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Martina Navratilova

"Hey, Kershaw! Martina wants to know why you're afraid to give us your position on fracking!"

“Hey, Kershaw! Martina wants to know why you’re afraid to give us your position on fracking!”

“So many athletes are afraid to use their platform to do the right thing and speak what they feel, and that’s very depressing.”

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova to approving New York Times sports reporter Juliet Macur, as the former tennis great prepared for her keynote speech at a human rights event at the Department of State.

Wrong, Martina. There is no “platform.” You earned credibility and influence regarding social and political issues by intelligently and boldly standing up for your own rights and privileges, on issues that affected you directly and about which you had an important perspective and a legitimate reason to speak out. Female athletes. Discrimination. Gay rights. Feminism. You had credentials and authority in all of those areas, and using your status as a sports star to spark intelligent debate was responsible and fair.

Once you had established your credibility, analytical abilities and skill at articulating issues while taking informed positions on them, then you had earned added legitimacy separate from your athletic prowess and stardom. You’re a smart person: smart people’s informed opinions should be listened to and considered no matter what the topic. Many other athletes have expanded their legitimate authority and influence this way. Muhammad Ali. Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Ted Williams. Billy Jean King. Bill Bradley.

Athletic stardom, however, confers no more assumed expertise regarding issues unrelated to sports than being a paper-hanger or a busboy. The difference is that famous athletes, like famous singers and actors, are admired and idolized by many people, especially among the young, who are incapable of resisting the siren influence of their heroes. There is nothing good about this, and everything wrong about it. Tom Brady supports Donald Trump, and the only reasonable reaction to that is to conclude that Tim Brady is a moron. However, that’s not how blank-slate sports fans react to his endorsement. For too many of them, the sequence is pure cognitive dissonance: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Leadership, Sports, U.S. Society