“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

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/31/2018: “Goodbye 2018, And Good Riddance!” Edition

Happy dying gasps of 2018!

1. Double standards inquiry: Will someone please explain to me why this magazine cover, which made O.J. Simpson blacker than he really is…

 

was universally condemned as racist, and this current cover of New York Times Magazine, making the late Aretha Franklin look like a ravenous rotting zombie from Hell..

…is just an artistic choice? (ARRGHHHHH!!!)

2. And speaking of looks…It is impossible not to notice that TV commercials are increasingly featuring overweight, ordinary-looking actors instead of the impossibly beautiful people who once were the automatic choices to sell products. This is an ethical development for the culture generally, and should help children develop more realistic aspirations regarding their own appearance. Now if only TV dramas would adopt the same inclusive casting policies—a particularly egregious candidate for reform is “law and Order” creator Dick Wolf.  His old series cast one eye-popping beauty after another as the male ADA’s sidekick, and now he is stocking his current NBC line-up of Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD, with police women, female firefighters and distaff doctors who would be right at home in the pages of Vogue.

3.  More on “Enemies of the People”: Novelist and conservative gadfly Sarah Hoyt has issued a spirited defense—okay, it’s a screed, a rant even— of President Trump’s characterization of the news media, going over ground I have covered (most recently here and here), but with special brio. Read the whole thing— she is mostly right, if a bit hyperbolic and inflammatory—but here are some highlights: Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/30/2018: A Petition, A Career-Killing Joke, And Priestley’s Play [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1. One more time...I’m really going to try to get a year-end ethics review up for 2018. In both of the last two years, I failed miserably, and The Ethics Alarms Best and Worst of Ethics Awards never posted. It is a very time-intensive exercise, and the traffic for the posts have never been substantially more than an average entry that is a tenth as long.

We shall see.

2. The Bad Guys, Redux. It’s a problem: one wants to curb the trend of demonizing political adversaries, and yet we keep seeing escalating examples of unequivocally despicable behavior that deserves to be demonized, because it is constant, self-righteous, and indefensible.

Over at GoFundMe, someone named Brian Kolfage, has posted a petition and a crowd-funding effort to pay for “the wall” if Congress won’t. He writes, “I have a verified blue check Facebook page as a public figure and I’m a Purple Heart Recipient triple amputee veteran.”

This is not encouraging. [Correction notice: I originally wrote “Facebook does not use a “blue check,” though Twitter and Instagram do, (and abuse it.)” I checked this, but my source was wrong. Facebook does give public figures “blue checks.”] I guess Kolfage is sort of a public figure. He is also a controversial one who has pushed extreme right-wing conspiracy theories. When asked why he doesn’t mention any of his controversial crusades and advocacy in promoting his crowdfunding effort, he has responded, “My personal issues have nothing to do with building the wall.” Fine: what do his war wounds have to do with building a wall?

Never mind: the appeal has raised over 18 million dollars to date, although the contributions have slowed considerably. It’s a futile effort; I suppose it has some value to show public support for enforcing immigration laws. If people want to donate their money to such a cause, it’s their money to give, though they might as well be making little green paper airplanes out of hundred dollar bills and sailing them into the wind.

Megan Fox reports, however, that someone who wants to punish anyone who doesn’t support open borders is taking names and doxxing contributors. She writes,

Did you donate money to the GoFundMe page to build the border wall? If you did, there’s a good chance this guy/gal or otherkin has doxxed your Facebook profile to millions of other nasty trolls who will now make it their business to harass and punish you with anonymous online mobs. Get ready, because your life is about to get more interesting. Based on my personal experience, once these monsters get your information and the directive to destroy you, the death threats, vandalism, obscene pornography, and harassment at work are not far behind. And the worst part is, no one will help you — not the police or the FBI or anyone else whose job it should be to stop intimidation and harassment.

Nice. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/8/2018: Weenies, Dummies, Hypocrites And Creeps.

Good Morning!

1. But before we get into the ugly part..I want to recommend an article called “Rationalizations for Unethical Behavior in Tech” over at Medium. The writer, April Wensel, is the proprietor of the Compassionate Coding site.

Her article specifically employs several of the rationalizations on the Ethics Alarms list, quotes me with attribution, and does a terrific job demonstrating what the list is there for, and how it can and should be used. Thanks, April!

2. And here is another reason you can’t trust the media: journalists often aren’t very bright or well-educated.  NBC reporter Ken Dilanian opined on Twitter after Kavanaugh was confirmed that…

It may not happen in our lifetimes, but the idea that North Dakota and New York get the same representation in the Senate has to change. “Senators representing less than half the U.S. are about to confirm a nominee opposed by most Americans” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/06/senators-representing-less-than-half-us-are-about-confirm-nominee-opposed-by-most-americans/ 

To begin with, quoting that Post piece is signature significance for a partisan media hack.  “Most Americans” have insufficient information to oppose or support Kavanaugh on a substantive basis, and uninformed opinions are worthless at best. If “most Americans” opposed him, it was because they were misled, propagandized and fear-mongered into ignorance and bias. This is why we don’t elect Supreme Court justices. The complaint about the Senate that Dilanian glommed onto can be translated as “The Senate is the Senate.” It was designed not to represent the population as a whole, but the states, their interests and their cultures. “It may not happen in our lifetimes” is a statement of ignorance of what it would take to fundamentally change one of the three branches of government from its original form. I’d suggest to Ken that he try reading the Constitution, especially the formula for amending it. The chances that two-thirds of the states will accede to a new Senate construction that lets the big states dictate to the small ones are exactly zero, or essentially the same as the chances that the Electoral College will be abolished.

Dilanian is NBC’s intelligence and national security reporter and frequently appears on MSNBC, and now we know that the network’s intelligence reporter doesn’t understand his own country.

3. Be proud, Democrats! A Democratic Senator I had been blissfully unaware of  until the Kavanaugh nomination stepped up during the  hearings to reveal herself as exemplifying the ugly side of the partisan divide. Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono said that the fact that Kavanaugh was conservative was all she needed to determine that he was lying, for example. She’s a virulent bigot. Yesterday, she was asked twice by CNN’s Dana Bash about whether she thought harassing Republican senators in restaurants was inappropriate. She wouldn’t say “Yes,” sending a clear message that her real position is “No.”

Here’s the exchange: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: “The Handmaiden’s Tale” Halloween Costume

It’s never too early to have a stupid Halloween costume controversy.

Online retailer Yandy revealed a “Brave Red Maiden” Halloween costume for sale, evoking the garb women forced into sexual surrogacy wear in Hulu’s series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” “An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no longer have a say,” the description reads. “However, we say be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume.”

Predictably, the social media mobs attacked, so Yandy pulled the merchandise and grovelled,

“Over the last few hours, it has become obvious that our “Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume” is being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment. This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level. Given the sincere, heartfelt response, supported by numerous personal stories we’ve received, we are removing the costume from our site.”

In other words, “We, like almost every other company, will restrict the right of other Americans to express themselves if enough people complain loudly enough that those expressions from others don’t matter as much as who is offended by them.”

Of course, the original hype that the outfit would be “inspiring” was ridiculous, as is the contention that this science fiction show has any real relevance to anything in current United States culture. Women no longer have a say? That’s rich.

However, there is a dystopian future looming if the fascist of the Left are able to censor ideas, art, recreation and any other activities they find objectionable. Aiding them greatly are craven companies like Yandy. “Is being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression” by whom, exactly? It’s a Halloween costume! If you don’t like a costume, don’t wear it. The CNBC article says,

“The iconic red cloak from Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” has become a feminist symbol of protest against women’s oppression around the world. Recently, demonstrators donned the costume outside Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination hearing.”

Now THAT was offensive. I can see the costume as satire, then, of the brain-addled delusions and delusions of such protesters. Maybe I want to dress up as one of the maidens. I guarantee that won’t look sexy. Would that be offensive? A sexy Handmaiden’s Tale costume is silly, but so is a sexy Hester Prynne costume, and sexy witch costumes (Is this disrespectful to the women unjustly hanged in Salem?) Is a sexy Little Red Riding Hood costume…

…offensive? Why not? I think it makes light of pedophilia. Red was a little girl. You shouldn’t be allowed to sell such a costume. You shouldn’t be allowed to wear one. You shouldn’t be allowed to smile at one. You shouldn’t be allowed to think such a get-up is funny.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day While I Struggle With A Legal Ethics Opinion That Is Driving Me Nuts:

Should Yandy have removed the Handmaiden’s Tale costume from its site?

My view, in case you couldn’t guess, is that if enough people want to buy the stupid thing, they should be able to. Doing far more societal harm than any Halloween costume in dubious taste is the complicity of the private sector in political correctness bullying and restrictions on freedom of expression.

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/18/18: The Persecution Of Josh Hader And Impeachment Plan N [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

It’s 4:40 am. I can’t get to sleep because I’m nauseous and my stomach’s upset, probably because of Fox’s miserable coverage of the baseball All-Star game as if it was a slow day on the boardwalk. At points when the game would normally be suspenseful, the awful Joe Buck was having inane conversations about facial hair and other trivia with players in the field. Such utter disrespect for the sport it was covering in what is supposed to be a showcase!

1. Speaking of the All-Star game...Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader,  who has been a break-out relief pitching star this season, gave up four hits and a three-run homer, his worst performance of the year, on his biggest stage to date, the All-Star game in Washington, D.C. That was the least of his rotten day, however. Earlier in the evening, some  sleuth dived into Hader’s Twitter history and found some high school tweets with racist, anti-gay and sexist words and sentiments in them. The dirt was slurped up by reporters while the game was going on, and they confronted Hader immediately after the game, which Hader’s team, the National League All-Stars, lost by two runs, or one less than he had given up.

To his credit, Hader didn’t deny that he had written the tweets. “No excuses. I was dumb and stupid,”he said. He was 17-year-old when he published them.

Let’s say that again: he was 17. This shouldn’t be news, and it shouldn’t have been reported. Yet some are speculating that Major League Baseball will fine or otherwise punish Hader, and worse, that they should. If they try, I hope the players’ union makes them sorry. Hader was legally a minor; he hadn’t been drafted by a MLB team yet when those tweets were made, and  MLB didn’t even have a social media policy then. If Hader is punished, it will be one more example of craven organizational misconduct and abuse in response to, or fear of, the speech police and the political correctness mob.

2. Per se negligent homicide. In another situation in which I reject the “he’s been punished enough” defense, six-year-old Makayla S. Bowling  was shot in the head and killed by her father last week when his gun accidentally discharged while he was cleaning it. He didn’t know the gun was loaded. He did know his daughter was within shooting range, however. The authorities won’t prosecute unless they find evidence of foul play, but there is already sufficient evidence of fatal negligence. He should be charged with manslaughter.

3. Plan N! Some Democrats and journalists who have real jobs and don’t live in a padded room really are saying in public that Donald Trump should be impeached for what he said in a press conference in Helsinki. Astounding. Astounding, and unethical, because a lot of Americans—you know, like the ones on Facebook who are passing around a meme showing Obama with the legend “Share if he’s your favorite President!” (Why not just a label that says “I have never read an American history book”?)—are so ignorant about law, politics, diplomacy, and just about everything else, that they can be convinced by ravings.

If you are keeping track, and it is hard, be sure to add Plan N (Calling comments at a press conference treason) to the list of “resistance” impeachment and removal plots. Oh, heck, I need to update the list anyway: Continue reading

Of Nicki Menaj, Punching Down, Social Media Mobs, And The Burgeoning Culture Of Intimidation

Let’s hear it for Nicki Minaj, everyone! Such a profound insight on the nature of character!  And what an idiot!

Somewhere, somehow, even before Maxine Waters decided to sic every frustrated progressive on Trump officials who just want to enjoy every citizen’s right to the pursuit of happiness, the unethical concept that it is acceptable, indeed virtuous, to harass, harm and and attempt to destroy people because you don’t agree with them took root. Social media has been a prime carrier of this uncivilized and undemocratic plague, and this was a recent, and frightening, example.

Wanna Thompson is a freelance writer based in Toronto whose personal website and social media accounts give her a platform as a cultural critic. Last month  she posted a tweet  about recording and concert artist Nicki Minaj, whose nasal voice is among the most irritating sounds in all of hip-hop. Thompson was trying to prompt a discussion–you know, like I do on Ethics Alarms.

“You know how dope it would be if Nicki put out mature content?” she wrote to her then 14,000 or so Twitter followers. “No silly” stuff, she added, “Just reflecting on past relationships, being a boss, hardships, etc. She’s touching 40 soon, a new direction is needed.”

In an epic instance of punching down and abusing celebrity power, the thin-skinned Minaj attacked the woman on social media, and triggered her many fans to do the same. Continue reading