Ethics Dunce, Halloween Division: South Carolina U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford

As we all know, do we not, Mark Sanford is weird. He is the former rising star in the GOP firmament who seemingly threw away his career and reputation to unite with his South American “soul mate,” going AWOL while governor as he went south of the border for an adulterous  tryst (using state funds) while his aides told the news media, “Governor? Governor? I’m sure he’s around here somewhere!” He had to leave office, of course, but the forgiving (comatose?) South Carolina voters actually trusted him again and elected him to Congress, only to turn on him in the recent primary for being an outspoken NeverTrumper.

Now we learn that for Halloween, he left a basket of yummy holiday Constitutions outside his office, complete with a witch’s hat, tweeting,

Happy Halloween. Accordingly, Pocket Constitutions are at the ready for today’s trick-or-treaters.

Ugh.

1. The U.S. Constitution is not a Hershey Bar.

2. People who co-opt the tradition of Halloween to exploit their own interests and hobbyhorses, be it dentists who give out dental floss to the kids at their door, religious zealots who hand out Bibles, or  those who guilt children into ringing bells for UNICEF or other charities instead of letting them have fun, really have an ethics screw loose somewhere. It’s the kind of thing Ebenezer Scrooge would have done, and maybe he did, except that Chuck never got around to writing, “A Halloween Carol.”

A special ethics demerit goes to every member of the lame duck’s staff, none of whom were able to talk their boss out of this stunt.

Appreciation is due to Jonathan Turley, who flagged this crime against little goblins.

No, It Isn’t Hypocrisy When A Gun Control Advocate Shoots Someone

In 2017, Kellie Collins (above, left) ran as a Democrat against incumbent Rep. Jody Hice, a Republican, to represent Georgia’s 10th District. She ultimately dropped out of the race, but while she was running, her major theme was gun control and responsible gun ownership.

Now her former campaign treasurer, Curtis Cain (above, right, in better days), has been found dead inside her apartment, apparently the victim of a gunshot wound. Collins turned herself into the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office just as authorities in Aiken County, South Carolina found Collins, who had been dead for at least four days.

She must have noticed him.

The conservative news media is implying that this constitutes hypocrisy on Collins’ part. It isn’t. If she had shot him while she was campaigning for responsible gun ownership, then it might have been hypocritical. She might have changed her mind about guns in the intervening months, however. Hypocrisy is when you advocate a principle while you are violating it in a manner that proves you don’t believe in the principle at all. That’s not what happened here.

Even if she had shot him in 2017 in Georgia, though, it wouldn’t necessarily have been hypocrisy. She could still have been a responsible gun owner. Maybe she was acting in self-defense. She did not argue in 2017 that it was irresponsible for gun owners to ever fire their weapons; that would be ridiculous, not that gun control zealots don’t often say ridiculous things.  It isn’t even correct to call this ironic. Responsible gun owners kill people.

It may well be that the evidence will show that Kellie is a murderer.  Base on what we know, however, its is unfair to call her a hypocrite.

I just wanted to clear that up.

The Michael Slager Trial: When The Ethical Course Is To Not Exercise a Right

shooting_of_walter_scott

Michael Slager is the white North Charleston police officer who stopped African American Walter Scott for a taillight violation on April 4, 2015, and in the ensuing events, ended up fatally shooting Scott as he fled the scene, in the back, as recorded on a cell phone video. Of all the many police-involved shootings, this is the least equivocal. Slager is guilty of murder of one kind or another: in South Carolina, there is only one kind, and  mitigating circumstances are reflected in the sentence. He could receive life in prison, or much less time.

But every criminal defendant has the right to be tried by a jury of his peers before the law finds him guilty, and Slager is taking full advantage of the right. In doing so, he is forgoing his last clear chance at redemption. The former officer—he has already been fired for the episode and not just put on paid leave, as is usually the case—is understandably trying to avoid a conviction and jail time, even though, should he be acquitted by some miracle or act of mass hypnosis, it would be certain to provoke even more anger and distrust in the black community, and, I would hope, among non-African Americans as well. A justice system that finds, no matter how it reaches such a conclusion, that an officer who shoots a fleeing man dead like Slager did is not guilty needs to be blown up and seeded with salt. When Slager’s first lawyer saw the video, he quit.

Do you think an acquittal is impossible? Don’t. All that is needed is a jury full of people who “think,” and I use the word generously, like the signers of this petition. I’m pretty sure that there are more than twelve of them available. Continue reading

Do We Really Want To Live In A Society Where Tow-Truck Drivers Refuse To Tow The Cars Of Bernie Sanders Supporters?

Bernie Sticker

In Ashville, North Carolina,  tow truck driver Ken Shupe arrived on the scene to find motorist Cassy McWade standing by her accident-disabled vehicle  on Interstate 26. “He goes around back and comes back and says ‘I can’t tow you,” Wade told a reporter. “My first instinct was there must be something wrong with the car. And he says, ‘No, you’re a Bernie supporter.’ And I was like wait, really? And he says, ‘Yes ma’am,’ and just walks away.”

Here’s Shupe’s version:

“Something came over me, I think the Lord came to me, and he just said get in the truck and leave. And when I got in my truck, you know, I was so proud, because I felt like I finally drew a line in the sand and stood up for what I believed.”

A few quick points and then I’ll get to the real issue:

1. Shupe is an utter, virulent, IQ-deficient jerk whose conduct and attitude makes a mockery of whatever faith it is cursed to have him belonging to it, and constitute a blight on the society, community,culture and nation so unfortunate as to be stuck with him.

2. News reports make a big deal out of the fact that McWade is confined to a wheelchair. Ah: the theory is that we are only obligated to help our handicapped neighbors in need, is it? It shouldn’t matter if she was an Olympic medalist in the 50 yard dash. You don’t treat other human beings like that in any society that values human rights and common decency.

3. Shupe’s company is Shupee Max Towing in Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina. Nobody in their right mind should patronize this unAmerican creep, including his own family. This was anti-social,  cruel and objectively horrible behavior toward someone in need, and Shupe needs to be shunned, hard. If he can’t co-exist with others any better than this, he needs to live in a cave somewhere, because he’s not fit for human association.

4. To anticipate an objection: you may ask how it is that I can argue that friendship should outweigh political differences and advocacy of unethical conduct, and yet designate Ken for ignominy and rejection. If Ken were a friend of mine, I can see myself standing by him even after this miserable behavior. But, as Samuel L. Jackson tells John Travolta in “Pulp Fiction,” “We’d have to be talkin’ about one charming motherfucking pig.”

In a way, however, we should be grateful to Ken Shupe, who has provided in short order and timely fashion a near perfect example of the society-wrecking virus being actively spread by irresponsible zealots on both ends of the political spectrum who are determined to divide the nation and the culture as never before. Yes, never before. During the American Civil War, generals on opposite sides of some of the most bloody battles ever fought arranged to meet and exchange pleasantries, because they had been, and remained, friends. They understood what the self-righteous tow-truck operator, and, increasingly, our entire society, doesn’t. Continue reading

The Case Of The Involuntary Naked Teacher

This isn't a picture of Leigh Anne Arthur; this is 2014 Naked Teacher Principle victim Kaitlin Pearson. But even if this had been the picture on Arthur's cell phone, she wouldn't have deserve to be fired...

This isn’t a picture of Leigh Anne Arthur; this is 2014 Naked Teacher Principle victim Kaitlin Pearson. But even if this had been the picture on Arthur’s cell phone, she wouldn’t have deserved to be fired…

The Ethics Alarms Naked Teacher Principle (NTP) states:

A secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result. The first formulation of the NTP can be found here.

I suppose I need to circulate this more widely, because some schools apparently are confused, such as Union County High School in South Carolina. In a completely warped and unfair application of the NTP, school district officials in Union County demanded and received the resignation of engineering teacher Leigh Anne Arthur after a student stole her phone, examined its contents and found a semi-nude selfie (intended for her husband’s enjoyment only), which he shared with his classmates.

 The district’s David Eubanks said that the district’s position was that the 13-year teaching veteran was at fault for leaving her phone unlocked on her desk when she went out of the room, and that she had, in effect made the pictures available to her students. He also said that the engineering teacher’s actions may have contributed to the delinquency of a minor.

The technical terms for Eubanks are unethical, unjust and illogical. The kid stole the phone before he knew what was on it. He would have stolen it even if it had been locked. Arthur didn’t make him a delinquent; he was already a delinquent. How far would the school board take their absurd logic? If the kid stole her purse, found a key in an envelope with a bank account number on it, and the student took it to a bank and got into her locked storage box, and in there was the combination to a warehouse storage locker that contained a nude oil painting of her that was painted when she was an artist’s model, and he stole the painting and held an exhibit of it in his garage, charging admission, would the school system fire the teacher, or expel the student for an outrageous invasion of privacy, as well as theft? Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Week (And Worst Christmas Card Of 2015): South Carolina Rep. Christopher Corley

xmas card

South Carolina lawmaker Rep. Christopher Corley (R- Aiken) decided to take on the daunting challenge of topping Las Vegas Assemblywoman Michele Fiore’s entry in the “Most Tasteless Christmas Card That Proves Its Republican Politician Author Is An Idiot” competition. You saw that one, right? It  features Fiore, her husband, her adult daughters, their husbands and one of her grandchildren…

michele-fiore-christmas-cards-guns

…holding guns, with a useful note in the corner denoting which models the are each planning on using to bag a reindeer and Santa too, I suppose, since there are ten Fiores.

There is a lot wrong with the card, beginning with the fact that, as the Bible says, there is a time for every season, and regardless of one’s faith or lack of it, this season is and has always been about peace and love, not shooting things. Fiore uses children as props for political grandstanding, which is ugly and an abuse of power.

The card also says “I am an idiot,” but that arguably is a good thing, since as many people should know as possible. (Either her constituents are idiots, or they like them for some reason.) Still, the silly card is relatively harmless, except that Fiore embarrasses her party and gives anti-gun hysterics another excuse to portray all those who resist the obvious progressive goal of banning guns entirely as lunatics.

Corley’s card, however, is much, much worse. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Al Roker’s Unethical Selfie And Malfunctioning Ethics Alarm

Roker-selfie

The question here is a simple one.

On the scene of the devastating flooding in South Carolina, Today Show weather man Al Roker tweeted a selfie of him and  NBC colleagues beaming happily in front of a collapsed highway and a trapped car, with the caption “My crew and I getting ready to report on East Coast flooding from S. Carolina on @NBCNightlyNews with Kate Snow.”

Yes, after many complained on social media about the discordant juxtaposition of cheerful self-promotion and tragedy, Roker apologized, but not before.  The basic question is “What the hell is the matter with these people?“, or as today’s Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz asks,

Is Roker’s insensitivity signature significance of a malfunctioning ethics alarm, or just an excusable one-time mistake?

Continue reading