Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/30/18: Gay Bashing, A Stupid Social Experiment, And The Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck Keeps Rolling Along…

Good Morning!

It’s the last day of the regular season for baseball, or should be: there could be two tie-breakers tomorrow, and they are officially considered part of the season. There were more baseball ethics posts this year than ever before. You can review them here.

1. And now for something completely stupid. I was temped to make this a free-standing post, but it triggered my stupid alarm, and doesn’t deserve it.

In Los Angeles, Boguslaw Matlak  and Laura Quijano decided to stage a “social experiment” to determine whether bystanders would act to protect an  endangered child. As their hidden cameras ran, they stuffed their 3-year-old son Leo into the trunk of their car. In truth, the back of the trunk had been rigged so Leo could climb into the back seat. He was in no danger.

“I was thinking maybe I should do a video to show people that they should do something about it when they see something wrong, to get involved,” Matlak said.  They got involved, all right. Witnesses called the cops, who arrested the couple and took Leo into protective custody.  The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services  placed the child with a relative. For the last three weeks, the couple has been trying to get him back.

“They are hurting my son emotionally at this point,” Quijano told reporters. “He’s not home with his parents who love him very much and what else do they want from us? I just don’t understand at this point.”

The agency recently informed the parents that it would would be returning Leo to their custody. Matlak  now faces one count of misdemeanor child endangerment.

Observations:

  • Ethics lesson #1: Don’t use human beings as props.
  • Ethics lesson #2: Three-year-olds can’t consent to such treatment.
  • Ethics lesson #3: Police have enough to do dealing with real crimes. Staging fake ones to see what will happen should be illegal, if it isn’t already.
  • What’s there to complain about? The social experiment was a success!
  • Is proof that parents of a small child are idiots sufficient to remove him? No, I suppose not.
  • The problem with this episode is that the child, who was innocent of wrong doing, is the primary one being punished.

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Ethics Alarms Presents A New Category: “Trump Of The Month” And Congratulates The First Recipient, Kelly Osbourne

From this day on, “Trump of the Month” will recognize those individuals who are accorded the benefits of celebrity, public attention, trust and credibility despite  demonstrating beyond any shadow of a doubt their lack of  the character, judgment or acumen to justify such status.

With that important announcement, Ethics Alarms now designates its first Trump of the Month, the daughter of elderly British rock star Ozzie Osbourne, Kelly Osbourne. She is described these days as a “television personality,” the rocking-chair career also occupied, at a slightly higher level, by Osbourne’s opinionated wife, Sharon. Both Osbournes owe their millions in dollars and fans to the fact that they are related to Ozzie, and nothing else—and Ozzie was a drug-addled, half-forgotten has-been when some bright TV executive, inspired by his name and the idea of doing a reality show parody of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” the sine qua non of unfunny whitebread Fifties family sitcoms, gave him a second bite at fame.

Kelly’s got nothing, and I am being generous. She is not especially attractive, has no talent, has never uttered a perceptive comment in her life, and should fall down on her knees and thank providence that she is not living in a two room apartment in Gary trying to make ends meet as a temp. Because, however, she acquired that most important of all assets, at least to star-struck Americans, fame, by appearing weekly in a long-past reality show about the dysfunctional family of a mumbling boob with a lot of money (that would be Ozzie), she has been tapped to deliver verdicts on everything from fashion (Kelly herself likes to dye her hair lavender) to the administration of Barack Obama. Why are so many citizens ill-informed and eagerly embracing the dubious leadership abilities of Trump, Clinton or Sanders? Paying attention to “authorities” like Kelly are part of the reason. Compared to Kelly Osbourne, the Kardashians look like the Algonquin Roundtable.

Kelly Osbourne earned the initial Trump of the Month by engaging in the kind of slimy conduct that in a sane culture would ensure permanent obscurity and antipathy. Her parents recently announced that they were getting a divorce because Sharon found incriminating e-mails that proved Ozzie had been fooling around with  Sharon’s hairdresser. In response, pundit Kelly tweeted this classy tweet to her FOUR MILLION followers on Twitter:

kelly-osbourne-tweet-

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Hail Trump, King Of Signature Significance!

Because Senator Lindsey Graham properly said that Donald Trump needed to stop acting like a jackass and should get out of the Presidential race, Trump gave out the Senator’s cell-phone number.

Of course he did.

I almost wrote a post yesterday about how some right-wing pundits apparently have no concept of right and wrong, crippling them in matters like the Donald Trump campaign. I listened in amazement–I actually had to pull off the road, so as not to crash—as Sean Hannity and another right-wing fool (I didn’t catch his name) went on and on about how if only Trump could avoid “mistakes” and “self-inflicted wounds” what a great candidate he would be, and how impugning the courage of a war hero like John McCain was such bad strategy, because it distracted from his message. These people really understand nothing, not ethics, not common sense, not character, and certainly not signature significance, even though Donald Trump is the living embodiment of the term.

Signature significance, which is used often here, means that a single instance of conduct can be so remarkable that it allows an accurate assessment of the character of the individual engaging in it. It comes from the world of baseball statistical analysis, and the example is a starting pitcher allowing no runs, striking out 15, not walking a batter and giving up less than five hits in a complete game, 9 inning performance. Doing this just once is enough evidence to conclude, decisively and validly, that the pitcher involved is a superior one. Why? The reason is that the history of baseball shows that literally no pitcher who isn’t great can pitch even one game that good.

In ethics, signature significance refers to an act so blatantly wrong and yet intentional that no ethical individual would ever do it, even once, or a statement showing such complete ethics ignorance that it alone justifies withholding trust from anyone who would say it, even once. Ethics dolts like Sean Hannity really think that public figures who have shown beyond all doubt that they don’t know what ethical behavior is will suddenly be able to act ethical if they just try a little harder.  Donald Trump is the perfect example of why that is ridiculous, yet here Hannity was, yesterday, applying that logic to Donald Trump.

Trump is the epitome of signature significance. Again and again he has done and said things that if they were the only thing we had ever heard about the man, it would be sufficient to conclude with near 100% confidence that this guy is 1) untrustworthy and/or 2) dumb as a brick. Continue reading

Ethical Quote Of The Week: GOP Senator And Presidential Candidate Lindsey Graham

lindsey_graham

You know what, I’m not your candidate. I don’t want you to vote for me. I couldn’t disagree with you more.”

-South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham during an election event in Des Moines, Iowa, after an Iowan Republican in the crowd.suggested banning Islam.

Later Graham said, “He’s got a right to say whatever he wants to say, but I have an obligation to the Republican Party, to the people of Iowa and the country as a whole to be firm on this. I’m not buying into that construct. That’s not the America that I want to lead.”

I will await the first Democratic Party candidate who demonstrates similar integrity with an equivalent reply to a supporter who advocates banning hate speech.

I suspect I will wait until the stars turn cold.

Dear Republican Presidential Candidates Trying To Cast The Charleston Shooting As An Attack On Religious Freedom: Shut Up, Please. You’re Embarrassing Yourselves.

PLEASE-SHUT-UP!

PLEASE-SHUT-UP!

I really thought that nothing could be as cynical and divisive as the President’s attempt to exploit the Charleston massacre for political objectives.

Why do I always underestimate the crass stupidity of Republicans?

“You just can’t think that things like this can happen in America. It’s obviously a crime of hate,” GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum told radio host Joe Piscopo yesterday—yes, that’s what Joe is doing now. Rick waxed on…

“Again, we don’t know the rationale, but what other rationale could there be? You’re sort of lost that somebody could walk into a Bible study in a church and indiscriminately kill people. It’s something that, again, you think we’re beyond that in America and it’s sad to see. All you can do is pray for those and pray for our country This is one of those situations where you just have to take a step back and say we — you know, you talk about the importance of prayer in this time and we’re now seeing assaults on our religious liberty we’ve never seen before. It’s a time for deeper reflection beyond this horrible situation.”

Now here is Lindsey Graham, also running for President: “It’s 2015. There are people out there looking for Christians to kill them.” Sen. Rand Paul, a reliable dolt, also weighed in with the same theme:

“What kind of person goes into church and shoots nine people? There’s a sickness in our country, there’s something terribly wrong, but it isn’t going to be fixed by your government. It’s people straying away, it’s people not understanding where salvation comes from.”

This is shameless, shameful, and stupid beyond all understanding. Gee, guys, did you notice any other common characteristics of the people attacked? Does that seem like just a coincidence to you? Did you detect any special feature about the killer that might suggest another motivation other than infringing on freedom of worship? Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: Sen. Lindsey Graham

“If you can give nothing but bad information, isn’t it better to give no information?”

—- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), during a press conference on Nov. 27th, during which he reiterated his position that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice had knowingly and intentionally misled the American public regarding the fatal attack on the Benghazi compound on 9/11, in her appearances on multiple news shows five days later repeating “talking points” to the effect that the attacks had been spontaneous and sparked by an anti-Muslim video.

Apparently.

Even many liberal commentators are now conceding that Rice was being a “good soldier” on September 16, carrying a technically accurate but intentionally misleading message that seems to have been designed by Obama campaign strategists to make sure the death of an American ambassador in Libya wasn’t seen as a refutation of Obama’s claims to a successful handling of that nation’s struggles or a contradiction of the argument that “his” killing of Bin Laden had Al Qida on life support. After all the attacks on Republicans Senators McCain, Graham and Kelly Ayotte for their condemnation of Rice for her part in the Obama campaign’s spinning, including accusations of racism from Congressional Black Caucus members and the affirmatively weird complaint by President Obama (which seems to be that as long as Rice was repeating what she had been programmed to say by others she shouldn’t be held personally responsible for the content of her own public statements),Graham in particular has refused to back off his criticism, and cheers to him for that. Continue reading