Tag Archives: sexual assault

Franken’s Accuser Presents: A Perfect Rationalization #42, The Hillary Inoculation, or “If he/she doesn’t care, why should anyone else?”

I haven’t seen such a perfect example of Rationalization #43 since Bill Clinton was caught with his pants down, a blue dress within range and a good cigar.

In case you haven’t perused the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List lately, and if so, shame on you, Al Franken’s accuser’s interview today on “Good Morning America” (if you don’t watch “Good Morning America,” good for you) laid the foundation for a virtual #43 orgy.

This rationalization description one is fun to read now, written as it was long before Hillary’s two candidacies for President, and the current Washington, D.C. leg of the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck.

42. The Hillary Inoculation, or “If he/she doesn’t care, why should anyone else?”

This is a complex, hybrid rationalization that draws upon the warped and corrupting logic of “Everybody does it,” the Biblical rationalizations, Comparative Virtue (“there are worse things!”) and a few others to reach an absurd argument that nevertheless sometimes carries the day.

One example that will live in infamy, and the inspiration for #42’s title, was Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky scandal, which exposed him beyond all doubt as a liar, a power abuser, a hypocrite and, incidentally, an adulterer, not that anyone was surprised at that. His wife, First Lady Hillary Clinton, prominently defended her husband, somehow keeping her feminist creds at the same time, a neat trick. She knew which side of the bread her butter was on, as the saying goes: her loyalty was going to pay off more than righteous indignation. Thus she obfuscated, spun and lied for Bill, and gave his defenders this jaw-dropping argument, which they used liberally:

“If Hillary is willing to forgive him, why shouldn’t we?”

Let us count the ways. Why?

1. Because her relationship to him is as a wife to a husband, and ours is as citizens to a national leader. The standards are different, the stakes are different, and the consequences of the betrayal of trust are different.

2. Because the seriousness of an ethical or legal violation is not defined by who chooses to tolerate or forgive it.

3. Because her decision to ignore, forgive or tolerate may be the product of bias, self-interest, or other non-ethical considerations that make the decision unreliable, untrustworthy, and a poor template for the response of others, as well as societal standards.

4. Because she may be wrong, mistaken, or a fool.

5. Because we each are responsible for making our own ethical judgments, and to delegate those judgments to a third party, especially to a third party who is not objective or likely to be affected by conflicts of interest, makes neither logical nor ethical sense.

[Hmmmm. Caught two typos there, and also needed to make an edit. I guess I haven’t read the list lately. Shame on me.] Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society, Workplace

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/17/2017: Groping And Griping [Updated]

GOOOOOOD  Morning!

1 Well THAT took an excruciatingly long time! Ethics Alarms finally reached its high water mark in followers this week, and has held the line for a change. Traffic has been disappointing in 2017; this will be the first year in which visits have fallen from the previous one. I blame the anomalous lack of any viral posts, which usually number two or three a year, (and are completely unpredictable), and the Trump-and-Hillary-driven polarization of the web. I have seen a significant net drop in followers every time Ethics Alarms unequivocally criticizes one “side” over the other, no matter how richly the ethics criticism is deserved.

People really do prefer echo chambers. It’s dispiriting.

Update: Right after I posted this, EA lost a follower.

2. Speaking of echo chambers..It is incredible how quickly the Democrats and progressives on Facebook  started defending Sen. Al Franken in the exact same terms, excuses, rationalizations and fallacies used all week by Roy Moore’s unprincipled defenders. The timing is suspicious…it’s only one time…this is politically motivated…we need his vote regardless…I believe him, not her…it was a long time ago…why did she wait so long?…he wasn’t in politics then…What about Trump?...everybody does it. In many cases they  mocked virtually the exact same statements by Republicans spinning for Moore that they are now making themselves.

Those who aren’t quite so hypocritical nonetheless praise Franken’s deceitful and manipulative apology. I guess Al’s supporters and journalists are exactly as dumb as he’s betting they are. The news media has also swallowed that apology whole. If they would just read Ethics Alarms, they wouldn’t embarrass themselves. Well, not so much and so often anyway.

(I’m sorry. The traffic stuff is getting to me…)

3. Read this, and get a surprise! Here’s an interesting website: Your Morals. Org. It has a list of studies you can participate in online—there’s a registration process that isn’t too time consuming— that gather data while purporting to measure your values, political leanings, tolerance for opposing views, and “morality.” I took the political orientation and attitudes survey.

I scored almost exactly in the center, leaning juuust a smidge…Democrat!

4.  NOW they tell us! I’m sorry, but I don’t care to hear Democratic politicians say  that Bill Clinton should have resigned during the Lewinsky scandal. Senator Gillibrand, who brought “Mattress Girl” to the State of the Union, has the immense gall to say that, 20 years after the  issue became moot. Of course he should have resigned. He lied under oath, lied to the American people, directly, calculatedly and intentionally, and obstructed the investigation, legally and illegally. But Democrats and feminists threw their principles into a big bonfire for political expediency, and it is a cheap, transparent and nauseating tactic to reverse themselves after all the damage Clinton’s pass for his “personal conduct” —I remember all the doges and rationalizations–did to the culture.

Paul Mirengoff,  a prominent Maryland-based lawyer who handles labor and employment-law cases, does an excellent job debunking a current Democratic talking point being used to explain why the party’s disgraceful posturing and enabling for Clinton was the result of sexual harassment “not being taken as seriously as it is today.”  He concludes,

Given the history I’ve just described, the argument that feminists and Democrats shrugged off claims of sexual misconduct against Clinton because of “the times” is unsustainable. The argument that, if Bill Clinton were president today, feminists and Democrats would believe Clinton’s accuser, or even just treat them with a modicum of respect, is unpersuasive.

The claims against Clinton were brought at a time of intense consciousness of the problem of sexual harassment. If anything, that consciousness subsided after Clinton’s presidency, thanks to the unwillingness of feminists and liberals to take his sexual misconduct seriously.

That unwillingness cannot be defended on the theory that times were different.

An aside: I saw that Move-On.Org has called for Franken to resign. Hilarious. The organization was created to argue that the nations should “move on” from the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and let Bill off the hook. I invoke the Ethics Alarms principle of Ethical Estoppel. This group, of all groups, may not argue that any politician should resign after allegation of sexual misconduct. Ever.
Continue reading

40 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Social Media, U.S. Society, Unethical Tweet

And The Witch Hunters Come Calling At Al Franken’s Door…Desperately, He Tries To Explain Away The Pointy Hat, The Black Cat, And The Broom He’s Been Riding

Al Franken!

Of course! Why didn’t I see that coming?

Homely guy, gets involved in the theater club as the class clown to meet girls, moves through the sex and party culture of Harvard theater, on to the hedonist crisis culture of Saturday Night Live and Hollywood, where anything goes, where Harvey and Woody are gods, where sexual harassment and assault are a tradition and everybody does it…after all, it’s just sex…

Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles radio news anchor and former Playboy model,  accused Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) of sexual assault and harassment when they were both on a USO tour in 2006. Her story was accompanied by the photograph above, which takes it out of the “he said-she said” category immediately. Within hours, a second woman, a conservative who argued with Franken on an edition of  Bill Maher’s old Comedy Central show, Politically Incorrect, reported that he had harassed her as well, though not sexually, in 2000.

Franken immediately issued a non-apology apology, saying, “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

In other words, ‘I don’t believe you about my pushing myself on you when you were awake, and feeling you up while you were asleep was obviously a joke, but I apologize anyway, because you obviously can’t take a joke, and my apolologing  the easiest way to get out of this.” On the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, this is a hybrid bad apology with elements of Level #7…

“A forced or compelled version of [a legitimate apology] in which the individual (or organization) apologizing may not sincerely believe that an apology is appropriate, but chooses to show the victim or victims of the act inspiring it that the individual responsible is humbling himself and being forced to admit wrongdoing by the society, the culture, legal authority, or an organization or group that the individual’s actions reflect upon or represent .”

and the even worse #9…

“Deceitful apologies, in which the wording of the apology is crafted to appear apologetic when it is not (“if my words offended, I am sorry”). Another variation: apologizing for a tangential matter other than the act or words that warranted an apology.”

This was lousy, and the reviews were immediate and negative. So Franken came back with a second version, this time in a formal statement:

If you examine it closely, the second apology was more unethical than the first one, but a lot more sneaky about it. Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Professions, Quotes, Romance and Relationships, Workplace

Unethical Quote Of The Month: George Takei

That tweet—cynical, desperate, pathetic, ridiculous, hilarious—by the minor “Star Trek” supporting actor turned gay rights warrior turned pop celebrity pitch man turned Kevin Spacey—has been taken down, but it’ s too late. Poor George Takei has set a new mark for complex and creative virtue-signaling as an incompetent crisis management tactic. It’s interesting that this relatively new art form has become so popular for riders on the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, because it has backfired every time.

It’s gratifying that these Hollywood types are beginning to grasp the cognitive dissonance scale, but the damn thing can’t work miracles.

First Harvey announced that he was going to go after the NRA as he sort of apologized for assaulting, abusing, intimidating and raping actresses, because Weinstein gambled that this would make Hollywood say, “Oh,  you’re a good guy then! We’ll ignore the rapes, as long as your enemy is our enemy.” I can see how he may have thought this would work; after all, it had worked with Democratic politicians his whole career. When Kevin Spacey’s protective Wall of Silence  was starting to crumble, he tried the “I’m gay! Love me!” version of this tactic, figuring that he would more than double his support in the show business community. This did not go well.

Takei had come out long ago, so he couldn’t try that, and he hadn’t been giving millions to the Democratic Party, so a pledge to destroy Ted Cruz or Roy Moore or some conservative organization that he thought people hated more than they have problems with gay sexual predators wasn’t likely to work. What do do? Wait…wait! People blame the Russians for electing Trump! I can’t say I’m going to go after Russia, but I can say that Russia’s going after ME! Sure, that can work! I’ll blame the whole Scott Brunton “Sulu molested me” accusation on Russian bots! Then I’ll take a heroic stand, explain the Putin’s out to get me because I called him out on Russia’s anti-gay policies and proclaim that I won’t be silenced! It’s perfect!”

Uh…no. Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Science & Technology

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/12/2017: Prisoners Behaving Badly, The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck Picks Up The Brother Of “The Girl Next Door,” And The Attempted Coup Continues

Good Morning!

On the way to Boston soon for an in-and-out ethics seminar for young Massachusetts lawyers…

1 Why is the New York Times acting as if the 2016 campaign is still going on? Today’s Sunday Times includes a long scold from the Times editors urging the President to “please read the Constitution.” Then it reaches back all the way to 2015 for TrumpTweets that proposed or mused about Constitutionally impossible policy ideas. How does the Times know that the President’s Constitutional acumen hasn’t been enhanced since 2015? It doesn’t, of course. The criticism would be legitimate during a campaign, but a year after an election, it tells us only this: The New York Times is still in the mode it announced during the campaign. The existence of Donald Trump, in its view, justifies the suspension of journalism’s core principles. In the view of many of the Times’ voices on its op-ed page, his existence also justifies the suspension of the Constitution that the paper piously insists the President read. The Times editors have not told those who have claimed in its pages and from the floor of Congress that President Trump should be impeached based on no “high crimes and misdemaeanors” to read the Constitution. It didn’t tell Hillary Clinton to “read the constitution” when she advocated “the Australian approach” to gun control, or grandstanding Democrats in the House to ‘read the Constitution” when they behaved as if the right  of Due Process didn’t exist, so citizens arbitrarily placed on a no-fly list by the FBI could nonetheless be denied the right to own a gun. It didn’t tell “the resistance” to “read the Constitution” when it attempted to distort the operation of the Electoral College to undo the President’s election.

“He has showed disdain for the separation of powers by repeatedly attacking the federal judiciary and individual judges who have ruled against him.” the Times sniffs, but it did not tell Barack Obama to “read the Constitution” when he attacked the U.S. Supreme Court in a State of the Union address. Then the Times goes off into the hyper-partisan stratosphere, suggesting that its editors also need to “read the Constitution”:

He has abused the pardon power by granting his first, and so far only, pardon to a former sheriff who was found in contempt of a federal court for defying an order. And he has failed to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, whether by trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, leaving hundreds of critical executive branch positions vacant or threatening to prosecute his former political opponent.

The Constitution places no limits whatsoever on the pardon power; it is absolute, beyond appeal, and can’t be abused as a matter of Constitutional law. The Times’s definition of the duty to faithfully execute the laws is incomprehensible, since it did not object to Barack Obama circumventing crystal clear laws against illegal immigration by ordering them not to be enforced, or when the Obama administration refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act while it was still a valid law signed by the previous Democratic President. The Constitution does not demand that the Federal government be a bloated, deficit-making bureaucracy; the President, not the Times, gets to decide what positions are “critical” in the Executive Branch. That’s in the Constitution. As for “threatening to prosecute his former political opponent.,” the President’s statements regarding Hillary Clinton can be and should be taken as questioning whether the Justice Department under Barack Obama was placing its thumb on the sales of justice for political purposes.

It is increasingly beyond argument that the mainstream news media, led by the Times, is trying to abuse its Constitutionally enshrined immunity from responsibility to engineer a virtual or actual coup. That is dangerous and unforgivable, as well as directly contrary to how the Founders wanted our democracy to operate.

2. I checked the news early this morning to learn the identity of the latest celebrity to have a finger pointed his way as a chorus shouts “HARASSER!” To my surprise and alarm, I discovered that the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck had entered my world: jet-set hotelier André Balazs was accused by actor Jason Bateman’s wife of groping her crotch in 2014. André Balazs grew up across the street from my childhood home in Arlington, Massachusetts. His sister, Marianne, was a good friend and classmate all the way through high school. I knew André as Marianne’s annoying little brother.

It appears that the idea in Hollywood now is to accuse someone else before you or your significant other gets accused. This is because sexual harassment and misconduct has been an accepted part of power-player culture in Hollywood forever, even while the Left’s component of that culture proclaimed that the Right was wielding a “war on women.” The country should not forget how dishonest and hypocritical this was.

I never liked that kid…. Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/13/17: All Aboard The Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck!

Good Morning, Hollywood!

I’m sorry to bombard you with this ugly topic again first thing, but I’d like to stop having to think about it as soon as possible.

1 My sister, a committed Democrat who naturally prefers that damning stories about her favorite politicians go down the memory hole as soon as possible, complained yesterday that she didn’t understand why Harvey’s demise was such a long-running story. He’s a pig, we’ve seen it before, he’s fired, big deal, she protested. There are more important things going on.

There are undoubtedly more important things going on, but from an ethics perspective, the importance of the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck and who boards it (and who has been riding it for decades) is as significant and chock full of lessons as a story can get. The Penn State-Jerry Sandusky-Joe Paterno scandal was important for some of the same reasons. It exposed the tendency of organizations to become corrupted when non-ethical considerations, usually money, freeze the clappers on multiple ethics alarms. It showed how “virtuous” people with power and influence can betray their values, admirers and supporters in the pursuit of personal or organizational goals. It showed how even usually complacent and biased journalists will suddenly become responsible when the details are juicy enough…and how some won’t. The Sandusky saga also was one more clue to how inherently warped an entire industry’s culture—in that case, big time college football—was (and is).

The Weinstein Train Wreck is worse, however, and also more significant. Weinstein is typical—extreme, perhaps, but typical—of  a popular and glamorous industry that has abused power to debase and exploit women for a century. The trade-offs and incentives turned many of the abused women into accessories of future crimes against other women, while some women, too powerful to have to fear the consequences of doing the obviously right thing, chose to protect the community and the industry rather than human beings. That they, and complicit men in the industry as well, did this while spending the past six years making angry public speeches about the sexist and misogynist attitude of Republicans flagged the kind of hypocrisy that demands substantive consequences.

It also demands reform. Anyone who  thinks Hollywood is going to retire the casting couch because of one especially disgusting and prolific predator is kidding themselves. Sexual harassment and gender discrimination is rampant at every level of the performing arts, from high school theater up through Broadway, and on to Hollywood. I question whether that culture will ever change significantly. At least this episode might educate the public that if they take moral grandstanding from the likes of John Legend, Meryl Streep and Jimmy Kimmel seriously, they are asking to be betrayed and disillusioned.

And that doesn’t even reach the political hypocrisy exhibited by the Democratic Party and progressives, which embraced and celebrated a sexual predator from Hollywood because he gave them money, just as they have been giving a sexual predator from Arkansas the King’s Pass on similar conduct because he gave them power. As long as the only voices calling attention to this are from the Right,  count on progressives to ignore or minimize the issue. After all, conservatives and Republicans accepted the devil’s bargain in allying themselves with Roger Ailes. Still, the criticism of the party and predator enablers like Hillary Clinton needs to come from the Left to do any lasting good. So far there has been some criticism from that direction, but not nearly enough.

2. Weinstein’s contract with The Weinstein Company  included a clause that allowed  his sexual harassment as long as he paid the costs of settlements out of his own pocket, TMZ reported yesterday. So much for the sham posture that the company was shocked and disgusted at his conduct. Poor Donna Brazile, desperately trying to join the futile virtue signalling by hypocrites who have been cheering on Hillary and her husband for decades, tweeted her admiration for the TWC board thusly

…only to have to delete the tweet later. Did Donna really believe that the TWC board, including Harvey’s brother, didn’t know what Weinstein was doing? Is she that stupid?

3. A lot of contentious debate on this topic at Ethics Alarms has arisen regarding the complicity and obligations of various Hollywood actresses. There are different categories, and conflating them only leads to confusion. Here are the categories and subcategories:

A. The powerless victims of harassment These are the young, aspiring actresses who were propositioned or assaulted by Weinstein, and convinced, rightly or not, that they would never have a chance if they complained

These are the equivalents of Bill Cosby’s victims, who only came forward after their abuser was wounded and vulnerable.

A 1. Powerless victims who accepted cash settlements. This means that since other remedies were unavailable to them, they at least triggered some kind of punishment and compensation. This required, however, allowing future victims to go unwarned, since the pay-offs were accompanied by confidentiality agreements.

B. Victims who were not powerless, due to connections in the industry. I place actresses like Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow in this category.

C. Victims who, over time, became powerful, wealthy, popular and influential enough that they could have exposed Weinstein, if they chose, but didn’t.

C 1 Victims who received cash settlements when powerless but whose careers  progressed to the point that they could forfeit the cash and accept any legal consequences of breaking the contractual agreements.

D. Rape victims. Sexual harassment is a civil offense; rape is a crime. Many rapes can be substantiated by medical examinations, and rapists are dangerous. Accepting a cash settlement for not reporting one’s rape when the rape could have been substantiated—this is what Rose McGowan did—is a breach of multiple civic duties.

E. Women in the industry who became aware of Weinstein’s conduct and did nothing about it.

F. Women in the industry who became aware of Weinstein’s conduct,  did nothing about it, and continued to praise him in public.

G. Actresses who accepted Weinstein’s proffered bargain, and exchanged sexual favors for roles and contracts, turning what is laughably regarded a a meritocracy into sexual commerce. We don’t know who these women are, but it strains credulity to think there were none.

Of course, many male Hollywood figures also fall into categories E and F.

Categories C, EF and G are the most unethical categories. D is problematic as well.

4. Jane Fonda revealed to Christiane Amanpour that she is in category E. She “found out about Harvey about a year ago,” said the certified Hollywood royalty, outspoken feminist and progressive champion.  “I’m ashamed that I didn’t say anything right then,” Fonda said. 

Well, that’s nice. As long as she is ashamed.

We can proclaim our principles and values all our lives, but if we don’t act according to them when the lives of others are at stake, all of what went before is meaningless. How many women suffered at Weinstein’s hands after Jane knew? Continue reading

56 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Professions, Social Media

Foundation For Individual Rights In Education (The FIRE) Report: America’s Top Universities Deny Students Fair Hearings

(If you don’t know what this photo has to do with the FIRE report, you haven’t been paying attention…)

The FIRE, the heroic non-partisan non-profit that is dedicated to fighting restrictions on student speech, expression and other civil rights, has issued an important report showing how badly respect for Constitutionally guaranteed rights eroded during the Obama Administration’s embrace of the “war on women” narrative and radical feminist propaganda regarding the “rape culture” at American universities. From the press release:

“Spotlight on Due Process 2017” surveyed 53 of America’s top universities and found that a shocking 85 percent of schools receive a D or F grade for not ensuring due process rights. The schools were judged based on whether they guarantee those accused of campus misconduct 10 core elements of fair procedure, including adequate written notice of the allegations, the presumption of innocence, and the right to cross-examine all witnesses and accusers. FIRE awarded each institutional policy a grade based on how many of those elements it guaranteed.

“Most people will probably be surprised to learn that students are routinely expelled from college without so much as a hearing,” said Samantha Harris, FIRE’s vice president of policy research. “This report should be a huge red flag to students, parents, legislators, and the general public that an accused student’s academic and professional future often hinges on little more than the whim of college administrators.”

FIRE’s report found that 74 percent of top universities do not even guarantee accused students the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Making matters still more unjust, fewer than half of schools reviewed (47 percent) require that fact-finders — the institution’s version of judge and/or jury — be impartial.

Additionally, 68 percent of institutions fail to consistently provide students a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine their accusers or the witnesses against them — despite the fact that the Supreme Court has called cross-examination the “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.”

Most universities try students under one set of procedures for sexual misconduct, and an entirely different set of procedures for all other offenses. Of the 49 institutions in the report that maintain separate policies for sexual and non-sexual misconduct, 57 percent grant students fewer procedural protections in sexual misconduct cases — even when those cases allege criminal behavior. Troublingly, 79 percent of top universities receive a D or F for failing to protect the due process rights of students accused of sexual misconduct….

The report later says that not one institution covered by the study received the top grade. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Rights