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

Unethical Quote Of The Week: The Huffington Post, Which Is Having A Really Unethical Week

KKK assestance

“The photo has gone viral this weekend as netizens praise the officer’s extraordinary show of professionalism and grace under such trying circumstances.”

The Huffington Post, commenting on the photo above, showing black police officer Leroy Smith giving a feeble white supremacist assistance during the Ku Klux Klan rally held at the South Carolina Statehouse over the weekend.

Does the Huffington Post have any idea what professionalism is? Ethical conduct? Increasingly, I have my doubts, and this is just the latest example.

We already know the average “netizen” doesn’t know ethics from shinola, but the Huffington Post is a news and culture commentary site. One would think a basic comprehension of such concepts as duty, fairness, justice, responsibility and ethics would be essential. Well, let me rephrase that: they are obviously essential. One would think the Huffington Post would know that without them, its analysis of pretty much anything is worthless.

Look, you ethics dolts: Smith was doing his job, that’s all. The fact that he personally may have objected to the beliefs and words of the protesters is completely irrelevant to his professional obligations. He must treat all professionals the same. To do otherwise would un-professional, un-ethical, and wrong. Dominique Mosbergen is  apparently  of the opinion that the normal, professional thing to do is to refuse to help people whom you don’t like, agree with, or whose views offend you. Wait—isn’t this what the jerks who refuse to sell cakes to gay couples do? Somehow I don’t think Dominique agrees with those anti-gay marriage zealots or that she feels to just treat such customers as human beings would constitute an “extraordinary show of professionalism and grace.” Why does she think a black cop helping a distressed racist like he would a similarly needy  NAACP member because they are both citizens and as a public servant he is duty-bound to treat them both exactly the same is an “extraordinary show of professionalism and grace,” then?

It is because she is incompetent and ignorant. It is because she doesn’t comprehend what professionalism is. It is because to her, “White Racist Lives Don’t Matter,” so she is just bowled over when an African American acts without employing her biases.

Leroy Smith behaved like any professional would, and should. Nothing more, nothing less. Most cops do their jobs, and do them professionally. There is nothing newsworthy or extraordinary  about the photo, except to people who believe that the primary motivating factor for most people is hate.

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Pointer: Fred

#freebree = Lawlessness, Vigilantism And Hypocrisy

"let's run her up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes!"

“Let’s run her up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes!”

Various anti-gay marriage zealots vowing to defy the Supreme Court and the law of the land are un-American and wrong, but a woman who decides to unilaterally make a decision that only the elected representatives of the citizens of South Carolina are authorized to make is a hero. Such is the muddled state of thought, ethics and civics among America’s progressives. Disobey the laws you don’t like, condemn the character of those who disobey the laws you favor. No integrity, no principles, no responsibility, no coherence, just grandstanding and anarchy, aimed at cheering ideologues incapable of proportion or restraint. This is an ethics vacuum masquerading as virtue.

“Bree,” which is what pole-climbing flag-grabber Brittany Ann Byuarim Newsome calls herself, is under arrest, as she should be, charged with defacing a monument and facing a fine. Good. She deserves one, and no accolades whatsoever. The Confederate flag is already under siege and on the verge of a permanent cultural taboo. Her actions would have constituted genuine civil disobedience and courage had it come before the flag was magically assigned blame for the murder of nine Charleston African Americans, to call attention to its symbolic defiance of civil rights. Coming now, Bree’s stunt is just  self-promoting vigilante theater, seeking and receiving support from the likes of Michael Moore.

There was nothing brave, productive or necessary about the flag stunt. The was a lot wrong about its message: don’t wait for the government process to work, don’t allow democracy and civil discourse to prevail, just unilaterally do what you “know” is right, and let the “ends justify the means” embracing mob celebrate. No doubt, this is the anti-Constitutional attitude the President has encouraged, but it recklessly risks fraying the seams of our democratic government, and erodes the rule of law. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Walmart CEO Doug McMillon

White-Flag“We don’t want any of the merchandise that we sell to be offensive”

—-Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, explaining to FOX Business Network host Maria Bartiromo why the retail chain was pulling all Confederate flag-themed merchandise. In another interview, with CNN Money, McMillon said that “We just don’t want to sell products that make anyone uncomfortable.” The Walmart announcement tarted a stampede of many large retailers to dump the flags and items with the flag design.

And thus did the CEO of a major U.S. corporation wholeheartedly endorse the speech- and thought-suppressing ideology of political correctness bullies, “hate speech” censors, and progressive fascists.

This widespread capitulation to a wildly irrational reaction to a single tragedy authored by a single individual is, for Democrats and race-baiters, a masterpiece of cognitive dissonance manipulation, one that should be a terrific case study in future psychology classes.

Because Dylann Roof was photographed with a Confederate flag, and because his racist church massacre occurred in a state that has obnoxiously and irresponsibly insisted on flying that flag despite its legitimately offensive connotations to many of its citizens, the flag was linked to the murders so viscerally that to defend its display was regarded by the news media, pundits, bloggers and, consequently, public opinion, as tantamount to supporting the killer. Naturally, politicians and businesses ran for cover, and whatever their previous stances on the issue, instantly flip-flopped to declare the Confederate flags the equivalent of Nazi swastikas.

Well-played, speech police. I am in awe. Continue reading

Introducing A Third Niggardly Principle, And A Dilemma: Does It Apply To The Confederate Flag?

Scarolina flag

Before unveiling the new Third Niggardly Principle, indulge me some observation  on the emergence of a renewed controversy over the Confederate flag as a response to the Charleston, South Carolina shooting of nine black churchgoers last week:

1. The Confederate battle flag did not cause Dylann Roof to start shooting. If  all the Confederate flag had been retired to museums 100 years ago, it would not have turned him into a civil rights advocate.

2. The effort of anti-flag advocates, who are frequently advocates of censorship and restrictions on free speech as well, to exploit this tragedy to advance their pet grievance is transparent and obnoxious, and is even more attenuated than the furious efforts of anti-gun zealots to do the same thing.

3. The flag, like many symbols, represents different things to different people. Racial hate and bigotry is only one of them. The flag legitimately represents pride in a family legacy (“My great grandfather died bravely in Pickett’s Charge”), the historical record, opposition to federal government overreach,  aesthetic appeal, or defiance of authority generally (“I’m a rebel”). Old Glory also represents different things to different people, and we do not ban it because what it symbolizes to some people is unpleasant for them. (Yes, I know some schools have done exactly that. One hopes they are outliers)

4. Mitt Romney’s much praised tweet—“Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims.” —is simple-minded and irresponsible. (See the previous post.) Is Mitt arguing that any speech, symbol or expression that “many” find offensive should be suppressed? It sounds like it to me. Since Roof’s act had nothing to do with the flag, nor was it related to slavery or the Confederacy, how does taking the flag down “honor” his victims? Sure: Roof liked the flag, because of what it symbolized to him. He also liked Gold’s Gym:

dylann-roof1

Would closing down all the Gold Gyms in South Carolina honor his victims? The fact that the attack was racially motivated and that racists often display Confederate flags does not make a state flying the flag complicit in the shootings. Stop using Twitter to discuss complex issues, Mitt! Continue reading

Obama’s Remarks On The Charleston Shooting Were Unethical, And Here’s Why:

Because every tragedy is a chance to sell policies on emotion alone...

Because every tragedy is a chance to sell policies on emotion alone…

President Obama’s comments this morning again emphasized his tendency to stoop to reckless, careless and divisive rhetoric when far better is called for.

He said in part:

We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.

Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.

And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it’d be wrong for us not to acknowledge it, and at some point, it’s going to important for the American to come to grips with it and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.

The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked, and we know the hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals….

Observations:

1.  How does Obama know that the shooter had “no trouble getting their hand on a gun”? He doesn’t know that, and it is a misstatement  to say that this assumption of his is a fact. We know that the shooter had a gun when he used it, and that’s all. For all Obama knows, he had a very difficult time getting his hands on a gun. For all Obama knows, it took the killer months, accomplices, money, elaborate maneuvers. Or is he saying that having a gun at all is proof that it was too easy to get one? What does that suggest?

2. Obama waited barely a few hours before politicizing a tragedy, and using it to stump for his gun policies. This was inappropriate, disrespectful, crass and cynical.

3. Reasonable and enforced gun regulations are necessary and rational, but it is intellectually dishonest —and politically inept—to use this kind of an incident (or Newtown) to promote them. Nothing short of outright gun banning will stop people like the Charleston shooter from acquiring guns, and gun banning is not going to happen, ever, nor should it. The anti-gun zealots who would love to see guns banned just respond to the Pavlovian stimulus of this kind of rhetoric, and the pro-gun nuts will see this as an outright effort to repeal the Second Amendment. This kind of statement accomplishes nothing but to gin up “the base,” and, frankly, I think that’s all it’s intended to do. Continue reading

CNN Brings Us The Anti-American Cheap Shot Of The Year In Response to The South Carolina Massacre

Roof

Seconds ago, I just heard a guest on CNN—I didn’t notice his name, and I don’t want to know his name—tell Carol Costello that not only was church shooter Dylann Roof (above, and now in custody) sick, but that there was a great “sickness in a country that could produce a Dylann Roof,” who could pray with a congregation and then slaughter the people he just prayed with.

Carol Costello, true to her shameless, unthinking, knee-jerk jerkish soul, just nodded in agreement. Heaven forbid that she might contradict a solemn African-American race-baiting hack who had just impugned an entire nation based on the conduct of a single deranged man among 319 million.

Why stop with judging the nation by this act? Surely it proves the vile attitudes of the white race, the toxic values of males, and the inherent evil of gun owners. It proves that churchgoers are hypocrites, and that 21 year-old males are the violent, potential rapists that college campuses are now being urged to so treat them.

This CNN guest was succeeded by Costello favorite Michaela Angela Davis, daughter of the infamous Berkeley Sixties radical (and criminal) Angela Davis, who proclaimed that Roof was typical, that before this administration such crimes went unnoticed—gee, I wonder how many church massacres were covered up by those racists in the Bush Administration?— and that the attack was definitely racist terrorism, particularly because this Charleston church was important in civil rights history, and the oldest African American church still standing in the South.

Again, Costello uncritically went along with these ideological leaps.

How did Davis know that Roof chose that church for its historical significance, or was even aware of its significance? She didn’t; nobody did. Do we know that he was only interested in shooting blacks, or that when he reportedly stated that he wanted to kill blacks, he wasn’t planning on visiting other churches to announce, “I want to kill Hispanics/Asians/Catholics/Jews/ Whites”? No, we don’t.

Airing such inflammatory, premature, evidence-free assumptions is incompetent and irresponsible journalism. Endorsing an unconscionable anti-U.S. culture, history and values cheap shot like that of Costello’s previous guest is a breach of citizenship as well.

To be fair, though, CNN is getting faster at inflaming public opinion following race-related tragedies.

Practice makes perfect.

 UPDATE: CNN’s John Berman just interviewed an African-American pastor in Charleston who said, “If you can’t be safe being black in a church, where can anyone be black in the country?”

What the hell does that mean? Berman’s awkward response:

“Good point.”

No, John, it is an emotional, incoherent, inflammatory, fear-mongering point.

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Website Of The Month: Michael T. Slager Support Fund”

Now, let's not jump to conclusions...

Now, let’s not jump to conclusions…

UPDATE (MAY 3): I have been convinced that the original post that generated this Comment of the Day went too far. Asking for support for Slager’s defense cannot be unethical: Slager has a right to a defense, and the best one available. My thoughts on that issue, in relation to the Freddie Gray cops, are here. I still think it is obvious that the individual who posted the appeal is doing so for unethical reasons, and is likely a racist, an apologist for a bad cop, and an idiot. But the appeal itself is not unethical, hence the website was not unethical to post it.

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How can a website dedicated to paying for the defense of fired police officer Michael T. Slager be unethical, when every citizen is guaranteed the right to a defense before a jury of his peers? I thought I made my ethical objections to the site clear when I wrote:

Slager deserves a fair trial and will get one, but anyone whose immediate reaction to seeing the horrific video is sympathy for this killer cop needs psychiatric treatment, and quickly.

I also made it clear—I thought–that the text of the appeal betrayed a strange and ugly urge to shield Slager from the consequences of his conduct, which was per se, on its face, undeniably illegal under the laws of every state in the land, including South Carolina. He shot a fleeing man in the back; he cannot claim self-defense. Deadly force is forbidden in such situations. Unless Slager noticed that victim Walter Scott had death-ray shooting eyes in the back of his head, Scott’s death is a homicide, and it’s an open and shut case. The only remaining question is what level of homicide.

The appeal said that the poster supported Slager. Wrong. We should not support police officers who shoot citizens in the back. It attempted to minimize Slager’s offense by calling it a “mis-step.” Intentionally shooting someone illegally is not a mis-step. It’s murder. Then the appeal reminded us that Slager has a family, and didn’t do anything bad before he shot a man to death. Well, “first offense” is not a big mitigating factor when it comes to executing people.

However, I appreciate Ethics Alarms newcomer Gustav Bjornstrand‘s comment, though I don’t think this is the best context for it. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post “Unethical Website Of The Month: Michael T. Slager Support Fund.” I’ll be back at the end.

I venture to say that to offer support to Slager is certainly ethical, in and of itself. That is, if one believed that he or anyone deserves monetary support in order to raise a defence. It is conceivable that even someone who was certain he had committed a crime would choose still to aid him in getting good representation. It is unethical, I suggest, for anyone to assume that Slager is guilty of murder before a court decides the issue. It is possible, even if improbable, that there were circumstances prior to Slager firing that may shed light on his decision to fire. Additionally, there are a few other factors that need to be taken into consideration: Continue reading

Slager’s Lawyer Unethically Throws Him Under The Bus (Not That He Doesn’t Belong There)

Professional Tip: Lawyers, it's unethical to do this to your clients!

Professional Tip: Lawyers, it’s unethical to do this to your clients!

When a lawyer believes that representing a client is something that he or she cannot do effectively, either because of a deep personal bias against the client, another conflict of interest, a reasonable belief that the client is untrustworthy or unmanageable, or some other good reason, his duty is to withdraw from the representation. Believing or even knowing that the client is guilty is not a good reason. Guilty clients have rights, the system demands a competent defense, and sometimes—rarely, but it happens—a lawyer can be surprised to find out that his “guilty” client isn’t guilty after all.

Withdrawal from a representation is appropriate and allowed in the circumstances defined by ABA Rule 1.16: Continue reading

Unethical Website Of The Month: Michael T. Slager Support Fund

Or maybe the century.

I guess it might be a parody.

I hope it’s a parody.

UPDATE (MAY 3): I have been convinced that this post went too far. Asking for support for Slager’s defense cannot be unethical: Slager has a right to a defense, and the best one available. My thoughts on that issue, in relation to the Freddie Gray cops, are here. I still think it is obvious that the individual who posted the appeal is doing so for unethical reasons, and is likely a racist, an apologist for a bad cop, and an idiot. But the appeal itself is not unethical, hence the website was not unethical to post it.

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On Indiegogo, a competitor of GoFundMe, some deranged individuals have actually—can I be really writing this?put up a website seeking funds to defend Michael T. Slager, who is, on the video above, shooting Walter Scott in the back as he fled, apparently executing him with multiple shots, handcuffing his motionless body, and then planting a stun gun beside him. Slager deserves a fair trial and will get one, but anyone whose immediate reaction to seeing the horrific video is sympathy for this killer cop needs psychiatric treatment, and quickly.

The text of the appeal is similarly jaw-dropping:

We’re campaigning to show our Support for Officer Michael T. Slager!

Why in the world would anyone want to support a man who has committed a murder and fanned the flames of distrust and racial discord in the process?

We believe in all of our LEOs and want to publicly support them!

Do you believe in video technology? Do you even support murderous law enforcement officers?Apparently so.

Although he may have made mis-steps in judgement he was protecting the community.

Calling shooting an unarmed fleeing man a misstep in judgement is like calling Jeffrey Daumer a bad chef. A white officer hooting a defenseless and fleeing black man endangers the community, by straining the bonds of trust that hold it together.

Michael is a former Coast Guardsman with two stepchildren and a wife who is expecting a child, served for more than five years with the department without being disciplined.

So what? Does this any of this earn him special immunity from the requirements of decency, justice, and respect for human life?

Please help in any way you can.

Why? Why should anyone want anything other than for this disgrace of a cop to be tried, convicted, and locked up for the rest of his life?

He has served five years with the department without being disciplined.

Oh. Well, that changes everything! He should be able to shoot anyone he decides to shoot, then.

Eight people have contributed to this nauseating appeal.