My Involuntary Evolution On “Never Apologize…It’s A Sign Of Weakness!”

“Never apologize…It’s a sign of weakness!” is one of John Wayne’s many famous quotes from the characters he portrayed on film, though no one ever wrote a song about it like Buddy Holly did after he watched “The Searchers” and couldn’t get “That’ll be the day!” out of his head.

The line was given renewed life when NCIS leader Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) repeatedly cited it to his team of investigators on the apparently immortal CBS procedural “NCIS,” as he taught them about life, their duties, and ethics. “Never  say you’re sorry…It’s a sign of weakness!” is #8 (on some lists, #6) among  36 “Gibbs’ Rules” that include “If it seems like someone is out to get you, they are” (#30) and “Never date a co-worker” (#14).

Once, not very long ago, I regularly referenced #8 in ethics seminars as one of Gibbs’ worst rules when I discussed “Dr. Z’s Rules,” social scientist Philip Zimbardo’s tips for girding oneself against corruption in the workplace. One of the points on that list is,

“Be willing to say “I was wrong,” “I made a mistake,” and “I’ve changed my mind.” Don’t fear honesty, or to accept the consequences of what is already done.

I would tell my students that Gibbs and the Duke were wrong, that apologizing for wrongdoing is a sign of strength and integrity, signalling to all that you have the courage and humility to admit when you were wrong, and to move forward.

Then came the advent of social media bullying and Twitter lynch mobs, and I saw how I had underestimated the noodle-content of the  spines of politicians, celebrities, CEOs, and others… Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/4/2019: No Trump, No “Resistance.” Enjoy!

Good Morning!

This song, the only “hit” (kind of) by “The Carpenters” sung by Karen’s brother Richard, matches my conflicted mood today. Richard’s teasing and criticism played a part in killing his sister, who possessed one of the most wonderful voices of any popular female vocalist in U.S. history, but who was doomed by anorexia. I am also both perplexed and amused that someone with a lisp would choose a song that repeats “Saturday” as his break-out solo. I wonder if Karen teased him about that?

1.  More on high-testosterone competitors in women’s sports. As I recently wrote here, I am floating in an uncharted sea of uncertainty on this issue, especially regarding Caster Semenya, the intersex South African track star. I do know, however, that I applaud her defiance of the recent court order dictating that she will have to take testosterone-lowing medication if she wants to compete. After a race this week, which she won, as usual, Semenya was asked if she would take the drug. Her answer:  “Hell no.”

Athletic organizations are treading through a mine field here. If they regard taking performance enhancing drugs as cheating, as they should, demanding that certain competitors with natural physical and genetic advantages should take performance-handicapping drugs seems like a double standard.

2. Stop making me defend Woody Allen! I have been unable to watch an Allen movie, even old favorites like “Bananas,” “What’s Up. Tiger Lilly?,” and “Annie Hall,” without gagging since the comic/director cheated on Mia Farrow with her adopted teen-aged daughter, to whom he was a virtual father, and then married her. Thus I have watched none of his films at all. I didn’t need to make a judgment about his daughter’s claims that he sexually molested her, which Allen denies, and since I have no more evidence than the she said/he said (and my certainty that Allen is a certifiable creep), I can’t. However, once Dylan Farrow and her vengeful mother Mia renewed their accusations against Allen while #MeToo was raging,  virtually all of Hollywood turned on Woody, even actors who had worked with him well after Dylan first made her claims. What changed? Nothing, really, except that now they are afraid of social media retribution, so they are pretending to be horrified at what didn’t bother them previously and assuming Woody’s guilt because “believe all women” is the “woke” place to be.

Well, Woody is a creature of Hollywood: this is unethical and unfair, but as Hymen Roth would tell him, “This is the life you have chosen.” Translation: if you voluntarily spend your career in (and benefiting from, and contributing too) an ethically warped culture, don’t expect a lot of sympathy when it turns on you.

This is more troubling: apparently Woody has a completed manuscript of his memoirs, which would have once sparked a publishers auction and an eventual multi-million dollar advance. Now, however, no publisher will pay a cent for it, because “while he remains a significant cultural figure, the commercial risks of releasing a memoir by him were too daunting.”

That means that the publishers are afraid of boycotts. How courageous. Allen is a significant cultural figure as well as a talented humorist. His memoirs have cultural importance, and they belong in the historical record, loathsome as find the man. Easily as loathsome are William Jefferson Clinton and his wife, yet both of them managed to score 7 figure book advances for memoirs they didn’t even write themselves.

Essentially what is happening to Woody is human statue-toppling. He is being erased from the culture despite never having been charged with or tried for a crime (unlike Bill Cosby and O.J. Simpson) because it is a sign of virtue among sufficient numbers of people with social media access to assume he is guilty. The boycott and progressive bully culture is a direct threat to basic freedoms. I’d regain some respect for Woody Allen if he would say so. Continue reading

Unethical, Damning And Revealing: “Can Peer Pressure Defeat Trump?”

That was the title of an essay in the New York Times Review section a couple of weeks ago. I took a while to get around to reading it, because it was authored by Amy Chozick, the Times journalist who wrote “Chasing Hillary,” an extended mea culpa for contributing to Hillary Clinton’s ‘s defeat by actually reporting the news. I don’t really care what someone capable of writing that thinks, but in this case, she is revealing the frightening, fascist, ends-justify-the means and power-at-any-cost mind-set of her colleagues, her party, the “resistance,” and those Facebook friends of mine who gang-attack me any time I point out that their Trump hate has eaten their brains, ethics, and respect for democracy.

“We are intensely social creatures and need to situate ourselves inside the collective,”she quotes  a professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University as telling her. From that Amy—can I call you Amy?—endorses the use of “peer pressure” —gentle, of course!—to make sure the President she and all decent people detest is defeated. Her title is itself a form of peer pressure, since she assumes that defeating Trump is what “everybody” wants, “everybody” meaning the Good People, like her. And Hillary.

I’m sorry, I threw up in my mouth there and had a giggling fit. I’m OK now.

I taught my son to ignore peer pressure, conventional wisdom, going along with the crowd, going along to get along, and caring so much about who likes you that you surrender your mind and soul. I was taught the same lessons by my relentlessly contrary, idealistic father, who drove my mother to distraction by quitting one job after another when he felt he was being asked to take part in activities he believed were wrong. He suffered for this proclivity, as have I on occasion, and as has my son already at the tender age of 24. But none of us were or are inclined to do what someone else wants us to do because of threats, shaming, mobs of advocates, mass news media propaganda, or social media bullying.

For that is what Chozick is advocating, the strategy we have been seeing since that fateful day in November of 2016 when sufficient voters decided electing a true outsider and an obnoxious one at that was the perfect way to send an indelible message to the arrogant Leftist Elite who just assumed that their dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and contempt for democracy and American values didn’t matter to the public any more.

As I wrote at the time, it was a defiant gesture akin to the decision of Delta House to destroy the homecoming parade of the college that had expelled them. Otter says,” I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!” Sometimes the bad guys just can’t be allowed to win, and Americans. thank God, are still ready to say “Fuck you!” to people who think they can order them around. Yes, electing Trump was a surprising, but much deserved, “Fuck you!”

Of the many, many unexpected benefits of Trump’s election (along with many expected deficits) , perhaps the most important has been the crazed Left’s open revelation that it has no principles whatsoever, closely followed by the completely corrupt news media’s self-impeachment. The opposition to the President—how dare he defeat Hillary, when it was time to elect a female President?—has been an escalating series of anti-democratic, indeed totalitarian tactics. The “resistance’s” violent ally, the antifa, began attacking Trump supporters during the inauguration, a fair imitation of Brown Shirts even as the “resistance” was calling the President a Nazi. That Big Lie has persisted, as have many others, most of which are false projections on Trump.of conduct that Democrats and progressives have, shockingly, adopted as their own.

They have made it clear that they do not believe men should have the rights of due process and presumed innocence, but Trump is the gender bigot . (He is, but just personally, not in his policies) With barely a wisp of proof, they state as fact that Trump is a racist, while aggressively promoting anti-white bias in their schools, colleges, and the news media. Their house historians and scholars assemble slanted and deceitful arguments to accuse the President of “breaching Democratic norms” while Democrats and their leaders have trashed one essential system-bolstering tradition and norm after another. They refused to accept the verdict of the election. They have sought to manufacture justifications for impeachment in the absence of any conduct that meets the Constitutional standard. They have, in fact, called for impeachment purely because they don’t think Trump is “fit to be President,” ignoring, and trying to alter the fact that our system makes the people the arbiter of that issue, not the election’s bitter losers.

They used high school conduct and an unsubstantiated accusation to try to defeat the President’s SCOTUS nominee; they have used obscene language and vile insults that were previously taboo to diminish him; they have attacked the President while he was representing the nation on foreign soil; they have even made it impossible for him to fulfill the unifying symbolic functions of the office, like presiding over the Kennedy Center Honors, appearing at the White House Correspondent’s dinner,  or throwing out the first pitch in a baseball game. They have weaponized the news media as a partisan force, as demonstrated by the one-way focus of CNN and other news sources.

But it’s the President who is dangerously breaching “norms.” Amazingly, many people believe this, because their peer group is saying it’s so loudly and meanacingly, or because they are not especially attentive, knowledgeable, or bright.

Perhaps the most relentless and despicable of the Big Lies emanating from the hate-filled Left is the constant fear-mongering. Since everything did not go to hell under President Trump as “the resistance” was telling us it would (an otherwise smart Massachusetts lawyer, a single mother, told me in December 2016 that she was “terrified” that her toddler son was doomed.) Every day, every single day, I hear interviews by celebrities and read everything from movie reviews to cooking features in which someone casually throws in a reference to how anxious everyone is and how we are in a crisis of existential proportions.

This week, Nick Kristof, always a hard-left scold but now apparently completely infected by the fact-free anti-Trump madness of New York Times colleagues like David Leonardt, Paul Krugman and Charles M. Blow, actually wrote a disgraceful op-ed headlined, We Will Survive. Probably.: American democracy is too resilient for Trump to destroy.”

This is propaganda, not opinion. The only threats to Democracy posed during the first three years of the Trump administration have been the loss of fair, objective and honest news reporting, and the Democratic Party’s ongoing effort to overthrow the President.

Such unconscionable distortions of reality are the catalyst for the “peer pressure” that Chozick endorses. Almost every day, there is a story of one of Chozick’s compatriots attacking someone, sometimes a child , for wearing a MAGA cap. Here’s a recent sampling:

  • “Martin County bus aide offended by MAGA hat grabs it off head of 14-year-old boy”
  • MAGA-hat wearing teen claims California high school wouldn’t permit her to wear hat

  • High school student charged with assaulting classmate wearing MAGA hat, Trump banner

That’s the kind of “peer pressure” that Chozick is endorsing, the gentle examples in her essay notwithstanding, because she knows that that’s what her fellow progressives are doing and have been doing, and it’s not “gentle”: using threats, fear, shaming, and majority pressure to make people do what the mobs–the “peers”—want them to do, or else. Or else we won’t like you, or else we won’t include you, or else we’ll conclude you’re a racist/sexist/ homophobic person who likes seeing children shot/ mean bastard who doesn’t think starving children in South America should have a better life who’s taking marching orders fro Fox New and Sean Hannity.

The peer pressure she is extolling is intimidation. It is a totalitarian strategy, not a democratic one. The Trump-hating hysterics can’t persuade because their position is built on Big Lies, fear, emotion, bias, and historical ignorance. If they can’t persuade us to agree with them, and we are independent enough to see through the lies, then they will try to force us. Hurt us, if necessary.

You know. “Peer pressure.”

 

“Signature Significance For A Very Sick Culture” Redux: Great, Now We Have A Blackface SHOE Scandal…

I thought Nike pulling an all-white shoe because some race-baiting lunatics on social media said it was racist to offer such merchandise on Black History Month was as bad as race victim-mongering hysteria could get in 2019. Boy, was I wrong.

“In order to be respectful and sensitive the team is in the process of pulling the shoes,” a spokesperson for Perry’s shoe line said, according to The Guardian.

Ethics observations: Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/10/2019: Icky, Creepy, And Wrong

Good Afternoon!

Working today to train a Clarence Darrow understudy for my Darrow legal ethics seminars that my original Clarence, the estimable Paul Morella, can’t fit into his schedule. I’ll be doing one such seminar in New Jersey this month. You can never have enough Clarence Darrows!

1. On the matter of corporations caving to social media mobs..here’s something completely stupid. Earlier this winter, Delta Air Lines distributed cocktail napkins with message, “Be a little old school,” in small print on the napkin, advertising Diet Coke. “Write down your number & give it to your plane crush. You never know …” There was a space on the napkin where a passenger could write down his or her name and another space for their number. The larger print said, “because you’re on a plane full of interesting people and hey,” again, “… you never know.”

The harmless stunt was condemned by some flyers on social media as “creepy,” and that was enough to spark a dual company grovel.  “We rotate Coke products regularly as part of our brand partnership, but missed the mark with this one. We are sorry for that and began removing the napkins from our aircraft in January,” Delta told USA Today in a statement. Coca-Cola added: “We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended. We worked with our partners at Delta to begin removing the napkins last month and are replacing them with other designs.”

I think it’s creepy that I often find myself sitting next to someone on a plane who is so close I can count his or her moles, and that neither of us will say a word to each other  for hours. I can’t fault Delta and Coke for trying to break the ice and encourage a more social atmosphere on planes, especially since the air travel experience has become increasingly grim and uncomfortable. I know more than one couple who owe their long marriage to a number scrawled on an airplane napkin. (Full disclosure: I once wrote a message to an attractive young  flight attendant who was especially effervescent. She smiled, and I never heard a word from her.)

All attempts at human contact with strangers aren’t harassment.

2. Ew. Did the National Enquirer try to blackmail Jeff Bezos? It sure sounds like it. Bezos says that the tabloid threatened to publish “dick pics” from his social media output if he didn’t get his paper, the Washington Post, to back off from its accusation that the Enquirer’s coverage of the nasty Bezos divorce was based on political animus rather than good ol’ old-fashioned tabloid sleeziness. You can read the Bezos blog post here.

The theory seems to be that the Enquirer is doing the bidding of President Trump, Saudi Arabia, or someone or something equally nefarious. And yes, the head of the Enquirer’s publishing outfit really is named “Pecker,” and it has nothing to do with the Bezos junk shot. Bezos is apparently releasing the Weiner-like photos someone hacked from his account to foil the extortion attempt. Let’s see: a) Nothing could lower my opinion of the National Enquirer. b) Ethics Alarms subscribes to the Naked VIP Principle, which is that if you are a public figure and send pictures of Mr. Wiggly to ANYONE over the internet, you deserve no sympathy for anything unpleasant that happens to you as a result.

I don’t care if “everybody does it’ (and if everybody really is taking crotch selfies and mailing them to friends and strangers, I don’t belong on this planet any more), if you do this, I don’t want to have anything to do with you.

3. This is useful for things like the Green New Deal. From the National Review, Williamson’s First Law. “Everything is simple if you don’t know a fucking thing about it.”

Perfect.

4.Now THIS is rejecting the presumption of innocence. Again: the position here is that Justin Fiarfax cannot do his job while under suspicion of serial rape allegations from named accusers willing to testify under oath, and should voluntarily step down. Duke, however, is asking him to leave a board using the false principle of guilty until proven innocent and “believe all accusers” standards.

“I am writing to let you know that Justin Fairfax will be asked to step down from the Sanford School Board of Visitors pending the resolution of the serious and deeply distressing allegations that have been made against him,” Dean Judith Kelley wrote in an email  to Sanford staff and students. “Sexual assault is abhorrent and unfortunately can occur right around us. I urge everyone to take survivors of sexual assault seriously, and to help build an environment that is safe and supportive for everyone,” she added.

Wrong. His presence does not make anyone “unsafe” because an unproven accusation has been made. Nor is it not taking sexual assault seriously to refuse to use a mere accusation to strip an accused man of his positions and honors. The board membership is mostly honorific. Duke is taking sides where it should be neutral. Continue reading

Ethics Hero, Covington Catholic Students Fake News: Dusty Smith

Who is Dusty Smith? That’s him above. He’s a pundit, activist and atheist who runs the “Humanist Society of Mississippi, ” is a self-proclaimed progressive, and detests Donald Trump. Unlike so many progressives and Trump-Haters however, truth and integrity still mean something to him. Thus it is that after initially reacting in knee-jerk, Pavlovian fashion to a false news story that seemed to bolster all sorts of mainstream news media, 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, “resistance” narratives—Catholics are bad, white males are toxic, whites are racists, Trump supporters are racists, pro-life advocates are fools, “The Age of Trump” has energized racism, just to name a few—-he actually reviewed the evidence, and realized that the story was, in his words, “bullshit.” He was disgusted, and made this video…

Nice job, Dusty.

His is one of many examinations of this fiasco emerging on the web now, not that it has discouraged many on social media from still citing the original story so they can signal to their “Orange Man Bad” friends that the posteris right-thinking and virtuous and deserves  a tsunami of “likes” and  “loves.” I bear an ugly truth:  there is no excuse for this. It is irresponsible, incompetent, and destructive. You don’t denigrate a kid and paint a target on his back…

Reza Aslan

@rezaaslan

Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s?

…without being damn certain of your facts. (Actually, you never paint a target on a kid’s back, but let’s start with baby steps, since Trump-Hate has eaten so many consciences and ethics alarms.) Oh, but these kids were wearing MAGA hats, so they deserve it, right? That was the instant approach of the biased journalists and their inexcusably credulous readers, who then joined the social media mobs. It is not just because I was suspicious of the story from the beginning that I state now that everyone should have smelled a rat. After all, just the day before, the mainstream media whipped itself into an impeachment orgy based on a fake “bombshell” from the internet equivalent of the National Enquirer, BuzzFeed. Nor was that the first clue (or the hundredth)  that the media can’t be trusted, particularly when it comes to conservatives and MAGA hats. Journalists have disgraced themselves progressively (in both definitions of the word)  since at least the 2008 Presidential campaign; they cannot be trusted, and their abdication of ethical journalism now poses a direct threat to democracy. The members of the public who eagerly accepted the attack on the Covington school kids as fact aided and abetted divisive propaganda that they want to be true.

Writes Marta Hernandez about this incident in part at Victory Girls (which I am adding today to the Ethics Alarms links): Continue reading