Rueful Observations On The Latest Development In Virginia Governor Northam’s Blackface Scandal

Well, let’s see: my college has embarrassed me, my law school’s professors continue to make me wish I had earned a law degree by drawing “Skippy” from the cover of a matchbook, black students were apparently insulted in my home city’s famous art museum, my baseball team allowed itself to be split by “the resistance,” and my adopted state of Virginia has the most ridiculous governor since Rod Blagojevich was making Illinois residents consider moving to Tierra del Fuego.

To refresh your memory regarding  the Ralph Northam Ethics Trainwreck, since it’s been stashed in the news media memory hole for a while: the same week  that he appeared to casually explain how post-birth abortion works while showing all the passion of someone describing how to replace a carburetor, Northam’s med school yearbook surfaced showing the governor-to-be either dressed as a Klansman or wearing blackface, unless you subscribe to the theory that the photo of two men in such get-ups was just randomly planted on Northam’s page.

In a dizzying sequence, the Governor 1) apologized for the photo and wearing blackface in it, apparently admitting that it was him 2) said that he didn’t think either figure was him, and he could “tell by looking at it” 3) admitted that he did once wear blackface to look like Michael Jackson in a talent show 4) said that he had to have someone explain to him recently that blackface was considered offensive.

The short version: he’s a babbling, untrustworthy idiot. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/15/2019: Of Ficks, Flicks, Fairness, And. Yes, “Fuck”

 

Suffering from low blog traffic hangover…

I know I complain about traffic here too much, but it’s the only place I where can complain about it. Either because of Trump Derangement, ethics apathy in a Nation of Assholes, my exile from NPR (for telling an undeniable truth that was accused of being a defense of Donald Trump), Facebook’s sabotage, or sunspots, Ethics Alarms readership is down significantly since the high point of 2016. Yesterday, the usually lively day of Tuesday did a credible imitation of Saturday, when tumbleweeds roll through here, and I can’t find any reason why. Kept me up much of the night, so now I’m going to be slow, cynical  and cranky all day….

1. Speaking of a nation of assholes…Stephanie Wilkerson, the certifiably awful human being who kicked Sarah Huckabee Sanders out of the Red Hen restaurant, was given a forum (disgracefully) by the Washington Post to boast about her “resistance.” Of course she frames herself as a victim, then celebrates the fact that she received support from many Americans who are as hateful, bigoted, and un-American as she is. Depressingly, many of my Facebook friends “loved” or “liked” her nauseating column, which is nothing more nor less that a hard tug on the loose threads on the seams that hold our nation together. These phony advocates of “inclusion” actually favor discrimination and prejudice based on political affiliation and personal viewpoints, which is no less unethical and destructive than discriminating based on race, gender or creed.

Stephanie Wilkerson’s Post column marks her a fick, an individual who is unethical and proud of it.

But I would still serve her in my restaurant.

2. Here’s another topic I’m sick of writing about: We TV, that august cultural institution that features the beneath the bottom of the barrel reality show, “Mama June, From “Not” to “Hot.” is the latest product to use the hilariously clever device of implying variations of “fuck” in its marketing, because saying but not quite saying “fuck” is inherently witty and memorable. The word being so used by We is “flicks.” Get it?? Continue reading

More Ethics Notes On The New York Times Anti-Semitic Cartoon

  • The main lesson of this episode (which was discussed here in the fourth item) is that the New York Times culture is so ideologically and politically biased and one-sided that even an obvious breach of taste, decency and ethics like this cartoon can slip by the deadened ethics alarms.

The American Jewish Committee said in response to The Times’s editors’ note after pulling the drawing,. “What does this say about your processes or your decision makers? How are you fixing it?”

The Times can’t fix it.

  • One Times columnist, the politically schizophrenic Bret Stephens, wrote that “in another age, might have been published in the pages of Der Stürmer,” the infamous anti-Semitic tabloid published during Germany’s Nazi regime. “The problem with the cartoon isn’t that its publication was a willful act of anti-Semitism. It wasn’t.” Stephens continued.

“The problem is that its publication was an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism …. at a publication that is otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice, from mansplaining to racial microaggressions to transphobia.” Continue reading

Greek Easter Ethics Warm-Up: Authority, Causation, Credibility And Dead Ethics Alarms

Christos Anesti!

…as my Greek-American mother used to greet us every Greek Easter morn. You were supposed to respond in kind, but my father’s Greek pronunciation was always so  hilarious that I don’t recall that he ever did.

1. Anthony Napolitano and the appeal to authority. Fox analyst “Judge” Napolitano (you’re not supposed to call yourself “judge” after you stop being a judge, but never mind) is suddenly being hailed as a definitive legal authority because he has “broken ranks” (as the liberal websites put it) to argue that President Trump obstructed justice based on the Mueller report. Virtually nothing Napolitano said or opined on prior to this was ever treated by these same sudden fans as anything but the meanderings of a crank, but “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” as someone once said in Sanskrit.

I would never appeal to Napolitano’s authority, though he is far from a crank. He was indeed a lower court judge in New Jersey, he has taught at a law school, and he has written many books. He is not a conservative or a Republican but a libertarian. Like Ron Paul and his son Senator Rand, Napolitano’s ideology is such that he arrives at positions that make it impossible for me to trust his reasoning processes. Notably, he doesn’t think Abraham Lincoln should have fought the Civil War or abolished slavery, saying that it would have been better to allow slavery to peter out peacefully without government intervention. I wonder how the slaves would have felt about that?

He also believes that human life should have full legal rights at conception, and that abortion ought to be outlawed completely. Well, both of those positions—he has others equally extreme—mean to me that as smart as he may be, I don’t know what kind of extremist bats are flying around in the man’s belfry, so while I believe his arguments  on obstruction should be judged on their objective merits, that fact that he’s the one making them do not and should not enhance their persuasiveness.

2. Trump Tweets segue...in a tweet, the President claimed that Napolitano asked him to appoint the “Judge” to the Supreme Court, and that his much-publicized obstruction claim is Napolitano’s revenge for the President refusing. Continue reading

Now THIS Is An Unethical Pastor! Also An Idiot. Also…ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

As I go through life, I find myself having increasing difficulty distinguishing organized religions from cults. I know what Ben Franklin would say: “cult” is always used in the third person, as in “their cult.” I also have a difficult time of late distinguishing cults from religions. Isn’t climate change activism a religion now? How about hating President Trump? Socialism has always been a cult. Cults install One Great Truth as a substitute for critical thought and the ongoing process of self-education and accumulated wisdom. They also can drive people mad.

Take, for example, this story….

Jaddeus Dempsey, the associate pastor at Impact City Church in Pataskala, Ohio, asked the kids attending his after-school youth program to spit in his face,  slap him in the face, and finally to cut him on the back with a kitchen knife. He explained that  the exercise was part of a larger lesson on “how much Jesus loved them.”

If Jesus really loved them, He wouldn’t allow them to get trapped in a room with this wacko.

The whole horrible  episode was partially captured on video, as you can see above. Some of Dempsey’s Disciples  shout and laugh as they line up to  spit at the pastor and slap him.  Some of them seem genuinely enthusiastic about abusing him.  (Hitler Youth may have been trained this way.) The video ends after the first cut with the kitchen knife; who knows what happened after that.

The church spokesperson “explained” that Dempsey was just trying  to present the exercise as a lesson of the crucifixion ahead of the Easter holiday.

Oh! Then that’s all right then!

Dempsey appeared in a video on the church’s Facebook page, saying with a knife sticking out of his back—I’m joking!

“It was just not appropriate and it was in bad judgment. I am so sorry for misrepresenting the community, the church, the parents, and the students — anybody that I hurt. This was not my intention. My intention was to just show them how much Jesus loves them and that I love them as a student leader for almost four years now. Tonight was an anomaly and it is not normally what happens. Again, I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused.”

Got it! You’re an irresponsible moron, and unfit to be left alone with children! Now check yourself into a mental ward, that’s a good pastor…

The church’s lead Pastor Justin Ross elaborated on the intended lesson. “Jaddeus got up in front of the students and he says, ‘I’m going to ask you to do something that might seem a little crazy, but if there’s anyone here that would like to spit in my face, you can do so without any repercussions,” Ross said.

“He had the opportunity to share a message about Easter,” Ross added, “and he chose to use an illustration to explain a very important topic about the crucifixion, but the illustration went too far.”

Ya think?????

In another statement, Ross told WBNS-TV,

“We exist to create an environment that is safe and predictable for students to come, connect with their friends and grow closer to God. Today we failed at creating that safe, predictable environment. We want to do better.”

Well that’s a relief. It would be pretty hard to do worse.

Another disturbing aspect of the episode was that none of the adults, including Ross, who were in the room  witnessing Dempsey’s deranged lesson—that was child abuse, you know— had the integrity, courage or independence to stop it.

Cults are like that.

The mother of one of the male children who handled the knife told a TV station that  her son won’t be returning to the church, and that she reported the incident to the sheriff’s office. Good. That’s one responsible parent. Unfortunately, I assume most will echo the sentiment of Kelsey Collier, who  told the BBC,

“Jaddeus and people in that church were always there for us.They’re the most understanding, least judgmental people you will ever meet.”

Well they certainly have the least judgment of anyone you are likely to meet…

 “I don’t think someone should be judged just based on one mistake, that one mistake doesn’t define who he is.”

Sorry, Kelsey, but someone in a better youth group needs to introduce you to the concept of signature significance.

Normal, trustworthy, rational and responsible people don’t tell kids to slap them and cut them with knives—ever. That’s not a mistake, that’s fanaticism, and it absolutely defines what the pastor is, at least in a professional context.

Dangerous, and nuts.

Ethics Quote Of The Month (And Signature Significance): CNN Contributor Van Jones [Updated]

“There’s an honest level of sadness and disappointment and disorientation among progressives and Democrats and I think it goes deeper than just what’s in the report.”

—CNN contributor and former Obama aide Van Jones, explaining how Democrats needed “a chance to be sad”  and to “grieve” about the Mueller investigation’s findings.

And there it is. Progressives and Democrats are inconsolable that the 2106 election was clean, that an American President didn’t betray his country by conspiring with a hostile power to steal his office, and that our elected leader, and that we do not have a looming constitutional crisis.

I hope readers will excuse my posting a perhaps disproportionate amount on the post-Mueller Report reactions, but understand: early in 2017 I marked the Democratic/progressive effort to undermine this President, his ability to govern, and the legitimacy of his election at a terrible cost to the nation as perhaps the most serious national ethics breach in recent history, certainly since I have been writing Ethics Alarms. It cannot be over-emphasized how crucial it is that as much of the public as possible that is still capable of rational thought understands what was attempted here, and indeed to some extent achieved, to the nation’s—one hopes not permanent–detriment. We need to be grateful for corrupted and ethics alarms-lacking progressive messengers like Jones, who don’t understand how repulsive this confession sounds to normal people. They are showing us the truth. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/21/19: Planes, Tribe and McCain

Good morning!

I’m pretty groggy after one intense early morning seminar, five delayed flights,  the long trip home from San Diego, and a midnight arrival back in Virginia, but my ethics alarms seem to be functioning…

1. Today’s air travel ethics saga: I travel as light as possible for trips of two nights or fewer, carrying only my stuffed soft briefcase and a garment bag the is almost empty. I will not become part of the selfish flying hoards who lug ridiculous roller-boards onto the plane, slowing the loading process and hogging the limited storage space. (The airlines should charge passengers for bringing the luggage on board, not for checking it. Morons.) The barely filled garment bag (I wear my suit on the plane) always fits somewhere,  and even when they announce that all bags must be checked at the gate because there is no more space in the bins, I have always been allowed to bring my bag on board…until last night. Two rude and officious American gate monitors ordered me to surrender my bag or, they threatened, be forced to take a later flight. (“Hmmm..what does “later flight” mean to American since this flight is late taking off and the other four flights I’ve been booked on this trip were also late?” I queried. They just didn’t listen to what I was saying, and kept reciting the policy that I had to store one bag overhead and another under my seat.

I have always believed that you can’t take bureaucratic bullying passively, so I asked if there was a supervisor I could talk to. There was: a harried middle-aged guy with a bad toupe. He did listen, as I explained that I knew my own travel supplies, and that unless every compartment was filled with cement, I could easily find a place for my bag, because in nearly a hundred flights, I always have. Furthermore, I pointed out that it was unfair to treat me , one of the few passengers who carries minimal baggage as a matter of consideration and ethics, this way when other passengers were abusing the privilege of carry-on luggage. The guy said that he agreed with me, but since he hadn’t seen my confiscated bag, he couldn’t assess whether I was right or his subordinate Gate Nazis were. Having made my stand, I thanked him, and made my way down the jetway. Continue reading