Tag Archives: sexual harassment

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/17/2017: Groping And Griping”

We’re going to need a bigger black list…

It is a measure of how quickly the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck is hurtling down the tracks that this excellent post by JutGory,  an overview of the issues raised by the game-changing sexual misconduct accusations against Senator Al Franken by  a former model, current radio host, almost seems out of date. This was the fourth Comment of the Day that arrived over the weekend, and I apologize to Jut for not getting it up sooner. Nonetheless, his analysis is excellent, and his last point is more germane than ever.

Just today, Senator Franken was hit with a second woman’s accusation, CBS and PBS journalist Charlie Rose was accused by eight women, and subsequently suspended from his morning show duties by CBS. NY Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush was accused by several women, and the Times has suspended him pending an investigation. Best of all, some women came forward with as yet unheard allegations about the Godfather of celebrity sexual harassment, Bill Clinton himself.

In the aftermath of all this, Roy Moore’s plummeting polls are reversing themselves. If everybody seems to be doing it, some are reasoning, especially so many “feminists” and “progressives,” then why punish Moore? Everybody isn’t “doing it,”  but the #MeTooers and the news media have been so incoherent and hypocritical that it has become difficult for the insufficiently attentive to define what “it” is. Right now, nobody seems to care about material distinctions., or context, or time lapse, or even confirmation. This a real witch hunt, with previously ordinary and relatively powerless citizens sensing an opportunity to destroy careers and reputations.

Here is JutGory’s Comment of the Day on the post,Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/17/2017: Groping And Griping:

I am no defender of Al Franken, though I hail from the State that Mondale Won. I think you are right that he should not resign.

But there are excuses that distinguish him from Moore.

The timing is suspicious?

That is stupid. Everyone is coming out of the woodwork now. And, the timing on the accusations regarding Roy Moore is suspicious (with an election coming up); Franken has no similar timing issues.

It’s only one time?

Yes, and no. Franken has always been an obnoxious jerk, and this is one of many variations on that theme. So, yeah, it may have only been one time he did THIS sort of obnoxious thing.

But, in that regard, people are characterizing this as sexual assault, which I think is pretty superficial. Leaving aside the kiss and focusing on the picture, Franken’s behavior is not much more obnoxious than the many, many, many Frat-Boy style photos of a sleeping individual with a mustache drawn on his face with a Sharpie. Those are obnoxious and denigrating (and an assault), and Franken’s photo is more comparable to THAT than to Bush Sr.’s “feel-copping.” Calling what Franken did “groping” is a bit of a stretch, even if technically true. To me, this falls into the “prank” category.

This is politically motivated?

No real evidence of that. Do we know Tweeden’s politics?

We need his vote regardless?

Stupid. Conservatives need a Republican vote in Alabama, but they don’t NEED Roy Moore. Besides, in the State that Mondale Won, it is entirely likely that his vote could be replaced by someone comparable. Hell, with our record, Bob Dylan could be the next Senator from Minnesota. He is just about old enough.

I believe him, not her?

I don’t know about the “kiss.” Accounts can be very subjective. I could believe both of them. But, being as obnoxious as he is, I can fully understand her perception of him as an obnoxious jerk, and his perception that he was just being himself and playing the role as he thought it should go.

It was a long time ago? Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/20/17: Harvard Hypocrisy, Homely Actors, Horrible Apologies, And The Head Of Apple’s Diversity Program Lands On A Pike

Good Morning.

1 And The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck rolls on…The Harvey Express ran over several more notables in various ways last week (like Lena Dunham…). Although Senator Al Franken got most of the publicity. One was actor Jeffrey Tambor, the long-time character actor turned star of the streaming show “Transparent,” about a transgender woman. Tambor’s former assistant, eager to pick up her #MeToo brownie points even at the risk of throwing the entire “Transparent” cast and staff out of work (this is another reason why these matters are more ethically handled privately), accused the actor of lewd comments and in one case “pressing up against her.” Now Tambor, and almost certainly the hit show, are, as Jeff Flake would say. “toast.”

This weekend I crafted the apology Franken should have offered, but as bad as the one he actually offered was, it was arguably better than what Tambor came up with:

“For the past four years, I’ve had the huge privilege — and huge responsibility – of playing Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman, in a show that I know has had an enormous, positive impact on a community that has been too long dismissed and misunderstood.

I know I haven’t always been the easiest person to work with. I can be volatile and ill-tempered, and too often I express my opinions harshly and without tact. But I have never been a predator — ever.

I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone. But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express.”

On the Apology Scale, this combines the worst features of a #9, a “non-apology apology,” with #10, an “insincere and dishonest apology,” with some other obnoxious features thrown in for bad taste.  Tambor begins by patting himself on the back–-I’m the star, and it hasn’t been easy, but look at all the good I’ve done!—then moves on to Rationalization # 19. The Perfection Diversion: “Nobody’s Perfect!” or “Everybody makes mistakes!”

Next, he engages in deceit, stating that he’s never been a predator, which is like saying he’s never been a race car driver or an antelope. He’s accused of sexual harassment and one incident of sexual assault. What his statement amounts to a non-denial denial: “I never did what she’s accused me of doing more than once!”

Yecchh.

2. “Because sometimes they say yes…” It is no coincidence that Tambor, Franken and Weinstein all come from the performing arts world and all are very homely men. I have observed in my own theater experience that the most aggressive violators of the boundaries of restraint and decorum in interactions with women in a theatrical settings are frequently the guys who are unattractive and feel  that it they don’t take chances, they’ll die a virgin. It is astounding how aggressive some of them are, and how resilient they remain after rejection and even physical abuse. If they fail a hundred times and succeed once, that’s positive reinforcement enough. If, through talent, hard work and luck, such individuals reach a level of power in the performing arts profession, sexual harassment is an established behavior pattern that doesn’t set off their ethics alarms at all.

3. It’s NOT OK to be white? Denise Young Smith, Apple’s first vice president of diversity and inclusion and an African-American, was part of a  panel discussion on fighting racial injustice eat the One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia. At one point she said,

“Diversity is the human experience. I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT…there can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.” 

Apple fired her, six months into her new role after 20 years successfully running Apple’s international Human Resources department. Smith did not have the integrity to stand by her words, and instead tried a desperate Pazuzu grovel, apologizing and saying that her words “were not representative of how I think about diversity.”  It didn’t work. Continue reading

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It’s Too Late Now, But Here Is The Apology Senator Franken Should Have Made…

The hypocritical Left is discrediting itself for the foreseeable future by contriving ways to pretend that what Al Franken was credibly accused of doing to a fellow performer during a 2006 USO tour wasn’t so bad, and what about Roy Moore and Donald Trump? As Ed Driscoll wrote today,

The media’s ability to pivot on a dime in the same week from throwing a dissipated Bill Clinton overboard and attacking Roy Moore to granting Franken a very ‘90s-era one free grope rule is amazing to watch. Decades of these sort of power politics by the left (see also: supporters of Kennedy, Ted) explain why many continue to circle the wagons around Moore. Or as Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics tweeted on Tuesday, “I don’t think you can underestimate the degree to which many conservatives have this attitude: (a) we fought a battle over whether character counts, and got our asses handed to us and (b) liberal leaders always circle the wagons around their guys, and ours always cave.”

Franken was in a position to make such embarrassments unnecessary, and to show how responsible elected officials expected to be role models should conduct themselves when accountability knocks. Instead, he made not one but two unethical apologies, the second worse than the first. The fact that his enablers in his party and the media rushed to accept them doesn’t make either less awful. As I explained, in his ultimate apology he 1) never specifically apologized to Ms Tweeden, lumping her into a mass apology to thousands 2) simultaneously said that women should be believed when they accuse men of sexual misconduct, and undermined Tweeden’s account by saying that he didn’t recall it as she described, and 3) said there was no excuse for his conduct while excusing it as just another joke that misfired, an occupational hazard of being a comedian—remember folks, I was a comedian then!

At the risk of repeating myself, I designated Franken Apology Take Two as a #10 on the Apology Scale, and I am convinced that was fair. (The final straw? Asking for a Senate ethics investigation that could only prove Tweeden’s account unsupported, or simply confirm what we were already told. Why couldn’t Franken just accept the account of his accuser? The reason is that he wants to discredit her without appearing “not to believe the victim of sexual misconduct.” Yechhh.) This is the description of a #10, the bottom of the barrel:

10. An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.

It didn’t have to be this way. Senator Franken could and should have delivered a Level 1 apology, and would have been better served by it, as would our culture, political system and all of us:

1. An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.

Here is the statement he should have issued. Continue reading

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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

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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

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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

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Morning Ethics Round-Up, 11/14/2017: Welcome To The I Hate The President Hotel! Appearing In Our Lounge, George H.W. Bush’s Favorite Magician!

Good morning!

(I miss you. Jimmy!)

1 What a revolting development THIS is!

Liberals traveling to Washington, D.C., may soon have a place to stay that’s catered to them – an anti-Trump hotel scheduled to open in spring 2018. The Eaton Workshop hotel is billed as “the world’s first politically motivated hotel,” according to Bloomberg.  Its founder, Katherine Lo, told the news outlet that the 209-room hotel will open near the National Mall, mere blocks from the Trump International Hotel.

Lo said the hotel isn’t meant “to bring together left and right,” but to attract liberal guests and those who consider themselves “woke.” “Self-selection is definitely one of our strategies,” she said. “We wanted to emphasize that it’s a place for people who are thinking outside the box and want to effect a change in the world.”

The hotel will prioritize community outreach, Bloomberg reported, hosting a series of progressive lectures and fireside chats and partnering with local artists and museums to provide art installations and exhibitions. An anti-Trump video installation in the lobby will also show footage of the 2012 and 2016 elections…Locations are also planned in Hong Kong, Seattle and San Francisco in the coming years that would have spaces for radio stations, multimedia studios and venues for musicians and artists to express their activism.

“We plan to have new ideas in the minibar — an activist toolkit, for example, that includes sheets with information to help you call your congresspeople,” Lo told Bloomberg. “And if we’d been open during this year’s Women’s March, I could have seen us putting poster boards and markers in the rooms.”

I have been reading essays from various quarters concluding that Trump-Hate is fast becoming a clinical condition. This would support that; the question is how many travelers are this far gone into hyper-partisan madness. That aside, we have yet another example of the irresponsible and unAmerican push to shatter American society, make everything political, and to encourage partisan isolation, apartheid, and warfare.

The hotel is cultural poison.

2. Ah, this couple was made for each other! Kayla Moore, wife of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore,posted a letter on Facebook over the weekend indicating that more than 50 Alabama pastors still supporter her husband. The letter with their endorsement originated before the GOP primary, however. Mrs. Moore deceptively made these pastors appear to endorse Moore despite the subsequent llegations of his molesting one young teen, assaulting a second, plying another with liquor, and generally being too creepy for normal people to think about without getting ill. Already some of the pastors listed have asked to be removed from the list.

The pastors did endorse Moore in the first place, though, so I wouldn’t want to speculate on how many of them would echo the brain-exploding excuse by Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, who said,

“Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

[Warm-Up Open Book Quiz! Name the rationalizations!]

When I see wives standing up for politicians like Moore, I often wonder, “How can they do that? ” Here’s how: they are sleazy and unethical too.

3. Ugh. Now another woman has accused Bush 41 of groping her during a photo shoot, this one in 2003, and when she was only 16. I believe her, in part because of the ex-President’s spokesperson describing the “joke” he liked to tell female admirers about how his—I still can’t believe I have to write this—favorite magician was “David Cop-A-Feel.”

There is strong evidence that the federal government is Sexual Harassment And Assault East, perhaps not as bad as Hollywood, but just as hypocritical and inexcusable. George H. W. Bush was part of that privileged and abusive old boys culture. The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck is just now arriving at the Capitol, which is ironic, since Bill Clinton and his unprincipled defenders started it rolling way back in 1998. Continue reading

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