“Is This Funny, Sir?” “No, It Isn’t. It’s Tragic..”

Oh all right, it’s kind of funny…

But it’s also tragic. Tragic, in that any elementary school is run by administrators and teachers who think such facile slogans as “no human is illegal” and “kindness is everything” are anything but evidence of weak minds and lazy logic; tragic, that such people would publicly display what proclaims their incompetence; tragic, in that sentiments that make Hallmark card inscriptions  seem like “Crime and Punishment” are regarded as profound by in this institution, which is charged with the enrichment of young minds.

Mostly, however, the sign is tragic because the parent who posted this photo wasted time taking it, rather than instantly removing her child from the clutches of indoctrination-bent fools who should not be trusted to educate a marmot, since, among other things, they don’t know how to spell “kindness.”

Comment Of The Day: “Wednesday Ethics, 9/2/2020: Faking Here, Faking There, Faking, Faking Everywhere!” (Item #3, Pelosi’s Hair Appt.)

Here is zoebrain’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Wednesday Ethics, 9/2/2020: Faking Here, Faking There, Faking, Faking Everywhere!,” regarding #3, which discussed the Nancy Pelosi hair salon debacle:

Pelosi demonstrates arrogant dishonesty. Again.

I wish she *had* been set up. The more politicians are compelled to be on their best behaviour 100% of the time lest their true colours be shown in public, the better.

Right now, the bar has been set so low the DNC can get away with anything, and still look and be “better” than their opponents. That is unutterably wrong, and the greatest damage caused by this Presidency. The normalising of the unacceptable.

But that’s Trump. This is Pelosi, and she shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it if we are to remedy the damage. When they go low, we have to go high. That is obviously not happening. It’s gotta stop.

***

I jumped zoebrain’s comment over two idling COTD, for several reasons. Yes, it’s short, but zoe is usually admirably concise. I was preparing a longer post about the Pelosi incident, and this comment provides a perfect opening. It also harkens back to my 2015 post, “A Nation of Assholes.” What I did not foresee was that the Trump “lowering of the bar” for the culture’s civility, integrity and ethics generally would be exploited so thoroughly by adults: I assumed that it would be the rising generations that would be corrupted. But no, unfortunately. As the follow-up posts to that one quickly acknowledged,  it was every other part of the culture, in particular Democrats and the “resistance.” Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.)

This is really bad.

Yesterday, Twitter flagged an outrageously  manipulated video clip posted by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise  (R-La.) that deliberately alters the text of a question from activist Ady Barkan to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“No police. Mob rule. Total chaos. That’s the result of the Democrat agenda,” Scalise tweeted. “Ask yourself: Is this what you want in your town next?”

Good question! However, Scalise added what was supposed to be a link to the  Biden interview with Barkan, who uses a computerized artificial voice because he suffers from Lous Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). The interviewer asks Biden if “we agree that we can redirect some of the funding” for police departments toward public safety and mental health services. Biden responds, “Yes.”

Scalise tweeted a version of the clip that inserts the words “for police” into Barkan’s question by duplicating his computer-generated voice.

That’s about as low as you can go. Continue reading

From The “Res Ipsa Loquitur” Fliles: Matt Shirley’s “Worst Attractions” Chart

Who is Matt Shirley? He’s a guy who has hit on the creative social media gimmick of making a daily chart about whatever strikes his fancy. In this case, his chart tells us a lot about—the lack of cultural literacy, biases, and historical ignorance of the people who follow Matt Shirley. The clever thing about a product like this chart is that it relieves its creator of any responsibility for its content. He is responsible for judging the accumulated unstudied opinions of jerks and fools worthy of publication, however.

As the title above suggests, the chart should have obvious implications. However, some of the entries will cause me to strangle on my own disgust unless I mention them. For example, Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/2/2020: Imaginary Fans In New York, Elusive Justice In England, And Utter Cluelessness In Colorado

There’s nothing like a great hymn on a Sunday, and it’s always a good time to hear the rousing Battle Hymn of the Republic. When they sang it at Winston Churchill’s funeral—he chose it for that occasion–the moment was unforgettable. I made sure it was sung at my father’s funeral service at Arlington as well in 2010. Thanks to the largely theatrical mourners in the chapel,  side benefit of directing so many musicals and operettas, the rendition was spectacular. “Wow!” the surprised chaplain exclaimed.

It’s a good thing Dad wasn’t singing. He loved belting out that song, and he was completely tone deaf. His version of the Star Spangled Banner would bring anyone to their knees. It made Rosanne seem like Beverly Sills.

1. A gaffe with signature significance. The governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, was widely conceded to be a shoo-in to take the Senate seat away from Republican incumbent Cory Gardner. Then he said “All lives matter.” The Horror. Worse, he said that George Floyd was shot. He really did.

I can’t imagine a more conclusive sign that a politician is simply exploiting an event rather than bothering to learn what happened or think about it. The entire catalyzing effect of Floyd’s death was the symbolism of the cop’s knee on his throat. This guy even ran for President, and this is the seriousness and diligence with which he approaches political leadership. What were all those “I Can’t Breathe!” signs about, Governor?

Glenn Reynolds often says that we have the worst political class in U.S. history. I am reflexively opposed to “this is the worst it has ever been” pronouncements, but in this case, I am inclined to agree.

2. Yecchh! Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Nick Cannon Meltdown

This is the kind of story that makes me doubt my own cultural literacy. Until the controversy involving Nick Cannon, I had never heard of the guy, and wouldn’t recognize him if he walked into my living room.  Yet he’s been around for 20 years as a juvenile TV star, a rapper, comic, actor, producer, director, the TV host of all sorts of shows I didn’t watch, and since 2012 he’s had his own show on MTV called “Wild and Out.” He also has a podcast.

The news that ViacomCBS had fired Cannon resonated throughout the popular media, and qualifies, apparently, as a Big Deal. In the June 30 installment of Cannon’s podcast, “Cannon’s Class,” he interviewed Professor Griff, a rapper who was a part of the group Public Enemy before being forced out after he said in an interview with The Washington Times, “The Jews are wicked. And we can prove this.” He also said that Jews were responsible for “the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe.”

“I’m hated now because I told the truth,” Griffin told Cannon, who was immediately sympathetic. “You’re speaking facts,!”  Cannon said. “There’s no reason to be scared of anything when you’re speaking the truth.”

After referring to Dr. Griff as a “legend,” Cannon said he wished that Louis Farrakhan, the anti-white demagogue with a long history of anti-Semitic comments, had not been blocked by Facebook.

Then Cannon endorsed Griffin’s contention that six dominant media companies were controlled by Jews, comparing it to the power of the Rothschilds, the banking family at the center  of various  anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. “I find myself wanting to debate this idea and it gets real wishy and washy and unclear for me when we give so much power to the ‘theys,’ and ‘theys’ then turn into illuminati, the Zionists, the Rothschilds,”  Cannon said later in the podcast.

Got it. He’s an anti-Semite. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Great Central Park Dog-Walking Controversy

Oh, fine, another one of these.

Isn’t it fun how, thanks to the toxic combination of cell phone cameras and social media, a few minutes of what once would have been an isolated moment of bad judgment and rude behavior is now able to metastasize into a life and career-destroying catastrophe? Do you like that new reality? Awfully brutal and unforgiving, isn’t it?

The episode at hand involved the woman in the video above, Amy Cooper. She was walking her cocker spaniel off leash when  a bird watcher named Christian Cooper—no relation—told her the unleashed dog  violated park rules. When Amy refused to put her dog on a leash, Christian told her he was going to offer her dog a treat because this typically makes owners want to leash their dogs in response. That wasn’t the other Cooper’s response, however. She threatened to call the police and tell them that “an African American man” was threatening her life. She did too, as Christian recorded it all. Later, Christian’s sister, also named Cooper, posted the video, which got 33 million views on Twitter alone, and is now pushing 200 million views on other platforms.

Then, the deluge. Christian appeared on CNN with Don Lemon, where he accused Amy of trying ” to bring death by cop down on [his] head.” She got death threats, which Christian said was wrong, though his accusation would seem to have helped spark them. Amy Cooper, seeing what was coming,  told CNN she regretted calling the police, saying,

“It was unacceptable, and words are just words, but I can’t undo what I did. I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man and his family, I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way.”

Unfortunately for Amy, apologies don’t make a dent in the fervor of social media mobs. Some members of this one, after somehow tracking down her dog-walker,  contacted the Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. where Amy had obtained “Henry” several years ago, and the organization announced on Facebook that she had “voluntarily surrendered” her pet to the organization. “He is safe and in good health,” the group wrote.

Cooper had been a head of insurance portfolio management at Franklin Templeton, but her employer announced that she had been placed on leave while the incident was being investigated. By yesterday afternoon, she had been fired. “Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton,” the company announced.

Now Christian Cooper is having twinges of regret. “It’s a little bit of a frenzy, and I am uncomfortable with that,” he said. “If our goal is to change the underlying factors, I am not sure that this young woman having her life completely torn apart serves that goal.”

He might have considered that before turning the video over to the mob.

Michael Fischer, president of the Central Park Civic Association, decided to pile on—heck, why not?—and issued a statement calling for Amy to be banned from Central Park:

“This disgusting display of intolerance is unacceptable and should never, ever be accepted in the City’s public domain like Central Park.The Central Park Civic Association condemns this behavior and is calling on Mayor de Blasio to impose a lifetime ban on this lady for her deliberate, racial misleading of law enforcement and violating behavioral guidelines set so that all can enjoy our city’s most famous park.”

Let’s all applaud the impeccable virtue of Mr. Fischer, since that’s obviously what he’s after.  I’m sure, if we think creatively, we can think of more ways to punish Amy Cooper beyond destroying her reputation, ending her career and taking away her dog. Make her change her name, move out of the country, have plastic surgery, end up pushing a grocery cart full of junk…after all, she was really horrible to a  stranger for about two minutes. What else? Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Eye-Opener, 5/18/2020: Shopping Carts, Stupid Cabinet Member Tricks, And More [CORRECTED]

Ready?

Many readers have been sending in suggested post ideas, which is especially appreciated since the news media seems to have decided that only pandemic-related matters, Democratic Party-boosting  and Trump-bashing are worthy of prominent coverage. Let’s look at today’s Times front page—one, two—out of six stories, only one, at the bottom of the page, isn’t in one of these three categories.

I’ve also been receiving much appreciated help fixing typos. Thanks. Sometimes I find my own mistake, like noticing this morning that Glenn Logan’s excellent Comment of the Day from the weekend somehow got posted without a headline or a tag mentioning that it was the Comment of the Day.

1. Is State Secretary Mike Pompeo  really as irresponsible, reckless and arrogant as it appears?  The firing of Inspector General Steve Linick is causing “firestorm” #81,753 of the Trump administration because he was reportedly investigating the Secretary of State’ss alleged misuse of taxpayer-funded assets for personal rather than professional purposes. Last summer, members of Congress looked at a whistle-blower complaint accusing Pompeo of asking diplomatic security agents to run errands like picking up restaurant takeout meals and retrieving the family dog from a groomer. In October, a Democratic senator called for a special counsel to investigate his use of State Department aircraft and funds for frequent visits to Kansas, his home.

More than one Trump Cabinet official has had to leave because of this stuff. Anyone working for President Trump has to know that they are under special scrutiny because a whole political party and the news media is searching for any means possible to weaken Trump’s Presidency, throw monkey wrenches into its work, and further undermine public trust. What Pompeo is accused of is petty abuse of power and position, but it is still abuse, and also arrogant rich guy-entitled, “Mad Men” style  self-indulgence. Pompeo knows it’s wrong, and also knows he’s a target. If the allegations are true, it is really stupid for him to do this, and also stupid for the President not to have announced a no-tolerance policy about this kind of conduct months, heck, years, ago.

2. An ethics analysis I had never heard of before: “The Shopping Cart Theory.” [Pointer: valkygrrl] Continue reading

Going Right Into The Signature Significance Files: The President’s Claims His Blather About Light And Disinfectant to Cure The Virus Was “Sarcasm”

Ugh.

President Donald Trump told reporters and the country yesterday that he was only testing the media when he suggested that using disinfectant and light to fight off the coronavirus was worth exploring. “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” he said.

Does anyone believe that? Anyone? It’s not quite a Jumbo—“What? I didn’t say that!”—but it’s almost as outrageous. Now, the “Trump is a liar!” tropes are re-energized (that’s no big lie, but it’s exaggerated and hyped), and the President has nobody to blame but himself. My sister, who actually participates in a Hate Trump neighborhood group, sent me a musical parody, “The  Liar Sleeps Tonight” (it’s not bad) yesterday.

I know what he was thinking: the news media did distort and misrepresent what he said, so “It was a test, and you flunked!” might have seemed like a good gambit. The flaw in that strategy is that the president’s  demeanor when he’s riffing is unmistakable by now.  The sarcasm excuse was desperate, and more importantly, needless.  Trump easily could have said that he was thinking out loud about some possibilities, and that most listeners understood that. What he said instead was stupid (and insulting), and, for what feels like the millionth time, handed a club to his critics.

For the record, the rationalization the President chose in this case is #64, Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is.”

Continue reading

BREAKING (And Astounding): A Smoking Gun Inside A Smoking Gun!

 

The New York Times just published an interview with its editor, Dean Baquet. You, everyone needs to read it. I’m want to minimize commentary, because I think–I think–that the interview  speaks eloquently for itself. What it says, amazingly, is that the New York Times is exactly as biased and partisan as its critics have said it is, and yet is somehow both in denial and incapable of making  coherent statements adequate to the task of fooling anyone who isn’t already on the “team” and committed to its mission. That the paper would subject its own editor to an interview—the interviewer is ex-BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith–that exposes the Times’ unethical manipulation of news and reveals the Times’ own editor as a babbling, rationalizing, spinning and obfuscating fool is incomprehensible.

And the Times published it! How can that be explained? Did the paper want to confess? That can’t be it. Is the Times so completely delusional that they don’t see how awful and incriminating Baquet’s answers are, that they are signature significance for an editor of exactly the kind of newspaper those who resent American journalism turning into partisan propaganda have been saying it is?

Is Baquet, who had to approve this, that certain that his readers have been so corrupted, or are so gullible, that they wouldn’t derive the obvious conclusion from his  double-talk?  Really?

One exchange is sufficient to make the point. Here Smith asks about the fiasco Ethics Alarms covered here, when the Times wrote, of its investigation of Tara Reade’s allegations, “The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.”

Smith: I want to ask about some edits that were made after publication, the deletion of the second half of the sentence: “The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.” Why did you do that?

Baquet: Even though a lot of us, including me, had looked at it before the story went into the paper, I think that the campaign thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct. And that’s not what the sentence was intended to say.

“The campaign thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct.” This was left in the interview! The statement means the New York Times was coordinating its reporting of a serious  charge against against the presumptive challenger to President Trump with that challenger’s campaign, and now sees that kind of—shall we say collusion?—as so routine that the editor doesn’t even think it’s damning. Continue reading