Supplemental Comments On The President’s Ordered Kiss

I’m in NYC for a law firm seminar, and expect to get back to Ethics Alarms late if at all, so I want to make a couple of clarifications lest the comments on yesterday’s Ethics Quiz go astray.

I am not blaming the President for what is a standard, culturally embedded demonstration of male dominance, presumed female submissiveness and abuse of power. He is part of the culture that tolerates this, and while it would be immensely beneficial if he used his influence as a role model to move us away from this conduct that is a major, if under-recognized, way that the glass ceiling is kept intact, I recognize that this is a lot to ask, and that he has other pressing matters to deal with.

Make no mistake, however, that the male power-hug, power-kiss is a stubborn remnant of the patriarchy. I know that astute feminists (and others, like me) know this, and the fact that they don’t have the integrity or the courage to condemn the conduct when it surface’s in  a political ally is disappointing if not surprising.

To those who (absurdly) claim that the woman’s response in the video was consensual, I only ask them to speculate what her alternative to submitting to the POTUS ordered smooch was. She knew the incident was on television. He is the leader of the free world, she is, by comparison and to the public, at least, nobody. Should she have embarrassed him by refusing? Should she reject the President of the United States when he his being “nice,” thus instantly making herself the center of a controversy? Of course not. This is why the position the President placed her in was unfair.

It is, however, incredibly, disturbingly common. From Richard Dawson’s mandatory kisses from female contestants on the original “Family Feud,” to the old lions of the plaintiffs bar trying to cop a feel with my young female staffers at an association convention, men in power, and men generally, feel they have a right to this culturally accepted invasion of a woman’s physical person, and women feel obligated to permit it. Every time they do, they do their little bit to keeping men in a step ahead of them.

That’s the real issue here, not sexual assault.


Ethics Quiz: A Sexual Assault By The President?

"Kiss me, you saucy wench!"

“Kiss me, you saucy wench!”

I owe blogger Ann Althouse big time for this:  What an alert and accomplished troublemaker she is!

This seems like a “gotcha!” and it is certainly that. It is more, however, and raises both illuminating and difficult issues. Here is the video of Obama’s encounter while voting in Chicago today:

Here is Althouse:

“I thought only “yes” means yes: Did Obama get true, verbalized consent from that woman before he kissed her?  No. He did not…Obama orders her to kiss him: “You’re gonna kiss me. Give him something to talk about. Now, he’s really jealous.” As you see in the video, he makes that declarative statement and immediately grabs her and kisses and hugs her. Why is that acceptable? He’s using her in an effort to regain dignity and to humiliate the man who humiliated him. It might all be dismissed as play humiliation and play counter-humiliation. But the woman’s body was used as an object of that play, a means of communication between men.”

When I ran an all-female staff for a mostly rich old guy association, I gave a standing order that no staffer would submit to a kiss from a member, no matter how “playful” and no matter how high-ranking the man was. There can be no consent in such situations, and a man saying “You’re going to kiss me” and doing it a) without free and open consent and 2) under the duress and the compulsion of superior power (Gee, do you think the President of the United States automatically carries that with him? Not sure? Ask Bill Clinton.) has engaged in textbook sexual assault and battery. This conduct, which has been the subject of a major initiative by the Democrat feminist base this year, counts encounters just like the one in the video as the kind of campus sexual assault that gives them the “one in five women are victims” narrative to stoke this skirmish in the “war on women.” So your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz—and I suggest you reflect a while before you answer—is this:

Is what Obama did in the video ethical, in the sense that it was responsible, respectful, fair, acknowledging autonomy, not an abuse of power or position, and most of all, meeting the strict standard of male-female interaction that is being aggressively and pugnaciously advanced by his feminist supporters?

Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: 28 Harvard Law Professors

Campus sex is returning to the '50's....the 1850s.

Campus sex is returning to the ’50’s….the 1850s.

In 2011, the Obama Administration threatened universities with a loss of funding if they did not adopt a new “preponderance of the evidence” standard in evaluating alleged student sexual assault and sexual harassment. This was, few doubt, a sop thrown to the combative feminists among the Democratic base, those who detect a culture-wide “war on women” and who seek to cast co-eds as imperiled naifs even as the proclaim themselves the equals of men. Within three years this really bad idea has metastasized into the Campus Sexual Assault Witch Hunt Ethics Train Wreck, which would be getting more media attention but for the fact that the world is falling apart in chunks. Among its weirder effects is the proliferation of new “yes means yes” regulations, effectively taking all spontaneity, romance and fun out of sex, all in the service of dubious and cynically employed campus rape statistics. Take this, for example:

“Consider the sexual consent policy of California’s Claremont McKenna College, shared almost verbatim with other schools such as Occidental College in Los Angeles. Paragraphs long, consisting of multiple sections and subsections, and embedded within an even wordier 44-page document on harassment and sexual misconduct, Claremont’s sexual consent rules resemble nothing so much as a multilawyer-drafted contract for the sale and delivery of widgets, complete with definitions, the obligations of “all” (as opposed to “both”) parties, and the preconditions for default. “Effective consent consists of an affirmative, conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed upon (and the conditions of) sexual activity,” the authorities declare awkwardly. The policy goes on to elaborate at great length upon each of the “essential elements of Consent”—“Informed and reciprocal,” “Freely and actively given,” “Mutually understandable,” “Not indefinite,” “Not unlimited.” “All parties must demonstrate a clear and mutual understanding of the nature and scope of the act to which they are consenting”—think: signing a mortgage—“and a willingness to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way,” declare Claremont’s sex bureaucrats.”

Cheers, then, are due to 28 Harvard Law professors, who authored and signed a letter protesting Harvard University’s capitulation to the Obama Administration’s blackmail and urging the University to reject the new standards:

Some highlights: Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Liz Sloan, Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School Principal (San Diego)

“This morning we told the students that there will be no romance in 5th grade.”

Principal Liz Sloan, in a letter to the parents of fifth graders at the Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School in San Diego.

"You're a bully, Charlie Brown..."

“You’re a bully, Charlie Brown…”

When exactly was it that the public schools began believing that they had unlimited power over the private lives of students? That they could encroach upon the authority of parents, as well as the natural autonomy of children themselves? is this a byproduct of the increasingly arrogant micromanagement of our lives by the government, and those who believe that liberty, even as it is expressed in the once sacrosanct realms of the family home or the recreation of children, should be subordinate to what government “experts,” bureaucrats and autocrats believe is “best” for us? I don’t know when, but I do know that I thank the fates every time I reflect on our choice to home school my son, not merely because of its effect on him, but because I fear that it would have taken just a couple of encounters with people like Liz Sloan to give me a police record that would have been a serious occupational handicap.

Here is the rest of her letter: Continue reading

The Lovers’ Complimentary Meal: An Ethics Tale

The couple

The couple

On his blog, Virgin Airlines tycoon Richard Branson told a story, reputedly true, that show vividly how kindness and ethical conduct can have far-reaching consequences.

Three years ago, a young couple was dining  in a Boston restaurant about . Their affection for each other was obvious, and it attracted the attention of a friend of Branson’s named Pankaj Shah. He was eating at a nearby table, and is apparently a lovable eccentric who likes to anonymously pay for the meals of strangers when he is dining out. He had asked the restaurant staff that night to let him pay the bill for “the couple who looked most in love.”

It was done. The couple learned that a mysterious benefactor had paid for their romantic rendezvous, and Shah received his usual pleasure from the random act of kindness.

Three years later, Pankaj Shah returned to have dinner at the same establishment.  The manager recognized and approached him, and said that he night be interested to learn that the same couple he had treated  three years before were also in the restaurant. Not only that: the manager revealed that
the “dude just got down on one knee and proposed.” He asked the aspiring groom why they he had chosen his restaurant for this life-changing ritual, and was told  that three years ago, at the same table, some stranger had paid for their meal right out of the blue. The gesture made the couple ponder on the importance of kindness, selflessness and love, and had talked about the incident many times since. He said both he and his girlfriend had been inspired to be better, more caring, ethical people as a result, and he felt that the place where this epiphanal event occurred would be the perfect place to propose.

The manager introduced them to Shah, who attended their wedding.

It seems that the couple has preferred to stay anonymous, and hell, I don’t know if the story is really true. That couple in the photo on Branson’s blog may be friends of Manti Te’o, if you get my meaning.

But I hope it is true. It should be.

It could be.

And its lesson is true, regardless.


Pointer and Source: Cafe Mom

Facts and Graphic: Richard Branson

Facts: Richard Branson