The Democratic National Convention Presents The Most Unethical Use Of Mothers Yet

Mothers

The Republicans exploiting the grief of Patricia Smith, the mother of a young man slain in the 2012 Benghazi attack, by putting her on the party’s convention program was irresponsible and ethically revolting, especially from a party that (correctly) labelled Cindy Sheehan a grief-addled nuisance when she was protesting the Iraq War. Smith’s emotional rant against Hillary Clinton was pure grief porn, and expanded the sensationalist  trend in the news media (and legislative hearings) to use the most conflicted and biased figures imaginable—the loved ones of victims of tragedy—to frame a controversial issue in complex events.

Naturally, the Democratic Party’s allies in the media returned the hypocrisy many-fold. Maureen Dowd of the Times, who had pronounced Sheehan as someone with “absolute moral authority”—because having one’s son killed instantly makes you an authority on foreign affairs, at least when a Republican President is in office—was silent about Smith’s moral authority as she was attacked by critics, including the Washington Post, Chris Matthews, and a GQ writer who wrote that he wanted to “beat her to death.”

Foolishly, I took these attacks as  a hopeful sign that the Democrats and progressives were maturing ethically, and had rendered the proper ethics judgment that by prioritizing emotion over reason, it was unfair, misleading, exploitive and irresponsible to use grieving mothers this way. No, it wasn’t hypocrisy. It was ethical growth. Democrats, unlike Republicans, now knew this was a cheap and tawdry tactic, and they would no longer stoop so low.

Boy, am I gullible.

It was hypocrisy, and the Democrats wouldn’t stoop as low as Republicans, they would stoop much, much, much lower.

Among those who appeared on the Hillary Clinton coronation stage last night were members of Mothers of the Movement, an offshoot of Black Lives Matter. Though the message spoken by these women appeared to be about police brutality, unjustly killed black men and the need to ban guns, their commonality was only this: all of them were mothers of African Americans who died violently, and all of them blame whites, police, guns, the justice system or the United States of America, regardless of evidence, the findings of juries, and investigations. That is a fair description.

Let’s look at the women who appeared on stage: Continue reading

Ethics Exercise: What’s Ethically Wrong With Sybrina Fulton’s Endorsement Of Hillary Clinton?

Author above...

Author above…

Sybrina Fulton is Trayvon Martin’s mother. Here is the entire article, published on CNN’s website:

Today, throughout many communities of color, our young people go about their lives feeling as if they are a target in their country. It’s become a sad fact of life that senseless gun violence can strike with little or no warning, either from neighborhoods that have become flooded with firearms, or police who are too quick to resort to deadly force.

Gun violence is an epidemic that kills 33,000 men, women, boys and girls every year. On top of those needless deaths, law enforcement agencies in America kill more people in a month than many other countries’ police forces kill in years. When those precious lives are taken, it forever tears apart the lives of thousands more — the friends and families who loved them, and who always will.

Losing a child is any parent’s worst fear. As a mother who has had to live that horrible nightmare in a very public spotlight, I hope that by speaking out, it will help focus some of that light onto a path that can help our nation find its way out of this darkness.

Last week, President Barack Obama took some important steps that included strengthening the background check system for purchasing guns without diminishing our Second Amendment rights. I was glad to see these actions put in place, and was moved by the tears of not just our President but of a father who clearly understands my anguish.

But next year we will have a new president. And everything Obama has done — even common-sense reforms that a majority of gun owners agree with — will be overturned if that president is a Republican. In fact, the Republican candidates have vowed to roll back all of these sensible measures. And many of them have shown open contempt for the simple notion that Black Lives Matter.

With so many of our children’s lives on the line or taken, we simply can’t afford to elect a Republican who refuses even to acknowledge the problem of senseless gun violence. The rising generation of our young people need a president who will stand up to inaction from Republicans and indifference from the National Rifle Association.

I believe that person is Hillary Clinton.

I know Clinton is tough enough to wage this fight. I’ve seen her do it for years. As first lady, she advocated for the Brady Bill and convened meetings on school violence. As a senator, she voted to extend the assault weapons ban and against an immunity law that protects irresponsible gun makers and dealers from liability.

In spending some time with her in person, I also found a mother and a grandmother who truly heard me, and understood the depth of my loss.

She knew all the statistics. But like so many, I’ve long since grown numb to the numbers. So instead, we talked about Trayvon and other families who have lost a loved one to gun violence. We talked about all of the wishes and hopes we had for their lives. And knowing we can never get them back, we discussed how to prevent more moms from losing their sons to gun violence.

Clinton will uphold President Obama’s recent executive actions, and then she’ll go even further. Her plan focuses on reforms that would help keep more guns out of the hands of criminals. It would finally close the gun show loophole, and the outrageous provision that allowed someone with an arrest record to buy the gun used to shoot and kill nine parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

I agree with the President: We should only support leaders that fight for common-sense gun reforms. Clinton passes that test.

Just as importantly, Clinton also wants to address the larger, systemic problems. She has a plan to begin to heal the distrust and divide that too often exists between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

She has called for key reforms — from better training for officers to eliminating racial profiling and investing in body cameras for every police department. She sees what I see: a criminal justice system that is not always just. A system that has contributed to creating a reality where just selling cigarettes, playing loud music, looking at a cop the wrong way or walking home from the store are now activities that can get you killed.

If you look at the numbers, America is missing 1.5 million men of color — lost to a system of violence and mass incarceration that seems to have long since forgotten them, but we haven’t.

Not only am I missing my son, but too many other moms like me are missing their sons — Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Laquan McDonald, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Tamir Rice. As their mothers, we must do more than just cry. And all of us must do more than speak out, protest and march.

We must vote!

Ethics fouls: Continue reading

Ethics Train Wrecks Collide, As The Redskins And Trayvon Martin’s Mother Board The Ferguson Express

trains_collision

I just can’t find a photograph of three trains running into each other–in the world of rail transport, that’s impossible.* With Ethics Train Wrecks, however, anything is possible, especially stupid, dishonest, and irresponsible things.

  • The Washington Redskins, one would think, have enough problems guiding their own Ethics Train Wreck, with the team’s owner, who would have been wise, prudent  and responsible to quietly get rid of an archaic name and logo before it became the focus of extreme political correctness bullying, having to battle government censors and opponents of free speech as well as censorious journalists and cynical Native American race-hucksters. But no! Some members of the team apparently feel that if one Ethics Train Wreck is fun, two is twice as nice. Thus it came to pass that during Monday night’s pregame introductions for the televised exhibition game against the Cleveland Browns, several Redskins players ran onto the field with their hands raised as a gesture of support for the slain Ferguson teen, Michael Brown. Brown, writes Yahoo’s Jay Busbee, “was killed by police even after witnesses said he raised his arms and told police he was unarmed. As a result, arms raised in surrender have become a symbol of solidarity and protest in connection with the Ferguson story.” [ Side Note: This is incompetent and biased reporting. Some witnesses say that; others dispute it. No account has been certified as true. Busbee suggests otherwise, and he also can’t write worth a damn: How could Brown have been killed by police after witnesses reported how he was killed?]  The idea originated with Washington safety Brandon Meriweather and cornerback DeAngelo Hall, and several players followed their lead.

Wrong, wrong, wrong: Continue reading

Don Lemon For President

Ethics Hero.

Ethics Hero.

Bear with me: I’ll get to Don Lemon eventually.

In a mature, rational, respectful democracy with an objective and competent news media, difficult and contentious issues would be thoughtfully debated with open minds and fearless honesty, without the toxic influence of rigid ideologies, partisan loyalties, group identification, or biases. The objectives: reach the truth, identify problems, begin solving them.

This process is difficult under the best of circumstances, and in the United States, circa 2013, it is nearly impossible on any issue, and dangerous on the issue of race, with both the media and elected officials actively seeking to exacerbate racial divisions and misconceptions. A recent poll suggests that the perception of racial divisions in America has worsened by 25% since Barack Obama was elected President, following decades of steady improvement. Why is this? There are many reasons, but the cynical pandering to misconceptions in the black community is one major suspect.

President Obama, had he been fair and responsible, might have used his remarks about the George Zimmerman trial to point out that neither the incident itself nor the verdict of the jury were relevant to race issues, or created by a “stand your ground” law that has been a lightning rod for accusations of racism in the justice system. Instead, he talked about how he “understood,” and apparently agreed with, an interpretation of the events based on past African-American experiences with racism. This was irresponsible and wrong. It was as much an endorsement of irrationality, ignorance and bias as it would be to explain that current day racists see blacks through the prism, “those sets of experiences” in Obama’s words, of their region’s history of culturally acceptable slavery, and we have to respect their views as a result. The President has not, as would be a far more justifiable statement, explained that opponents of same-sex marriage are not bigots, but see the issue through the ” sets of experiences” of their religious upbringing. Serial rapists may also see women through the prism of their childhood abuse—those are rather damaging “sets of experiences”— at the hands of their mothers.

There are always powerful reasons why people have hatreds and biases, and reasons why hatreds and biases cripple their ability to interpret reality and act responsibly. We can all understand that, but it doesn’t justify distorting the facts. Blacks are not inferior to any other race, no matter what the “prism” says. Gay marriage poses no harm to society, and gays deserve the same rights as anyone else, and the Bible doesn’t change those facts. Rape victims are not responsible for the misogyny of rapists, no matter how their distorted thinking came to be.

And the acquittal of George Zimmerman was not evidence of rampant white racism, regardless of the African-American experience. The President had a duty to say that. He had a duty to say, “I understand, but you are wrong on the facts.” He did not. Instead, he encouraged and supported a distorted and biased narrative that is harming race relations and respect for the justice system, and far too many in the news media—which is to say, anyone in the media who is stooping to this—are trying to continue the process. For example, Abbe Smith, in the Washington Post this weekend, had an article on a topic I have discussed here more than once: the challenge of a defense attorney representing a guilty and heinous client. It was an excellent piece, but the Post headline writers and editors unconscionably and unethically decided to pander to the city’s  predominantly black population’s bias by publishing it under this:

“What motivates a lawyer to defend

a Tsarnaev, a Castro or a Zimmerman?” Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week, Trayvon Martin Ethics Train Wreck Division: Dr. Boyce Watkins

“Sybrina’s words have opened the door for millions of people to understand when George Zimmerman is let off the hook with either an acquittal or a plea bargain for a lesser charge.”

Syracuse University Professor Boyce Watkins, in a blog post complaining that the comments of Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother stating that she thought the shooting of her son was “an accident” were devastating to the chances of convicting George Zimmerman of second degree murder.

Unmasked at last!

I must confess, I love this quote and the post that generated it. I love it because a race-baiting scholar who later defenders cannot credibly claim didn’t write what he meant, has confirmed what I have argued in multiple posts, in the course of also validating my assessment that Fulton’s comment was itself unethical, though not for the reasons Dr. Watkins objects to it.

In the rest of his post, Watkins confirms my assessment of Fulton’s irresponsible and despicable willingness to stir up hate toward Zimmerman. Continue reading

Clarifications, Retractions, Excuses and Lies: The Low Art of Pretending You Didn’t Mean What You Said

A figure in the public eye says something that appears sincere but that leads to negative conclusions about the speaker? Well. there are many options:

1. The speaker can stand by his or her words, and take the consequences.

2. The speaker can regret the words, express remorse, apologize, and ask forgiveness.

3. The speaker can accept the criticism and agree that he or she meant what he said, but state that, upon listening to the criticism, state that he or she no longer feels that way, and would not say the same thing today.

4. The speaker can try to say that the original statement wasn’t intended to mean what anyone hearing the words would naturally think they meant, making a plausible claim that the original statement was mis-worded.

5. The speaker can deny that he or she said the words, even, in some cases, though it was on tape.

6. The speaker can say that the words were taken “out of context,” as they sometimes are, as in Shirley Sherrod’s case, when subsequent comments at the same event changed the meaning of the quote, but were edited out.

7. The speaker can say he was joking, as Senator John Kerry tried to do after he suggested that if you don’t study hard and end up ignorant, you’ll be in the military fighting with all the other dummies, or as Professor Charles Ogletree has claimed regarding his statement that a video of President Obama hugging a radical law school professor when he was a student was hidden during the 2008 campaign.

8.The speaker can say that the statement is “no longer operative”, as Newt Gingrich did after a televised interview earlier this year. Continue reading

Trayvon Martin’s Mother Says That The Killing of Her Son Was An Accident. Well, That’s Certainly A Generous and Reasonable Thing For Her To—Wait, WHAT???

Great. Thanks for that statement, Sybrina. Now look what you've done to my head!

You think the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck is almost done? Ha! I would love for you to be right, but the signs are not promising:

  • Yesterday, the special prosecutor ended the suspense and announced that Zimmerman would be charged, putting a sock in the collective mouths of activists who claimed that the case was already closed. That was nice, but it also allowed Al Sharpton to claim that it was the demonstrations, the threats and the public outcry that forced that outcome. This is bad in three ways:

1.) It suggests that the U.S. justice system can be manipulated by mob rule;

2.) It tells the public that any citizen might be arrested, not because law enforcement believes it has a legitimate case, but because his rights have been balanced against other political and popular factors and found to be dispensable; and

3.) He may be right. Angela Corey, who made the decision to charge Zimmerman without a grand jury, strongly denied Sharpton’s point, and we should all hope she was being truthful.

  • But she almost certainly over-charged. Again, with a second degree murder charge, she is saying that there was no self-defense and that Zimmerman shot Trayvon out of spontaneous anger, animus or other cause that does not include any excuse or legally recognized mitigating factor. Here’s hope again: I hope she has sufficient evidence to support this. Otherwise, she has set everyone up for another round of mob fury and even violence, when Zimmerman is released by the judge who must rule on the “Stand Your Ground” law’s application to Zimmerman before trial, or when a jury finds that the evidence doesn’t support the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Unethical: if Corey took this path  intentionally to take the city and state off the hook, guaranteeing that a judge would take the heat, and everyone could attack the judiciary for following the law, since that is the current fad. Unethical: if she overcharged to give the jury the unenviable job of freeing Zimmerman, since people are used to blaming Florida juries. (See: Anthony, Casey) Requiring less suspicion is the theory, advanced by some defense lawyers, that Corey is over-charging to put leverage on Zimmerman (he will be facing life imprisonment) and squeeze him to agree to a lesser charge, like manslaughter. Prosecutors are not supposed to charge citizens with crimes they know they can’t prove in trial; it is professional misconduct. I know, Jack McCoy used to do it all the time on Law and Order. So do too many prosecutors. It’s still unethical.
  • Zimmerman promptly turned himself in, which means that his blabber-mouth lawyers were even more unethical than I thought they were, suggesting that Zimmerman was on the run and out of state when, obviously, he wasn’t. George is well rid of these two.

If this wasn’t enough to prove that the Trayvon train wreck was still rolling, Sybrina Fulton, the dead teen’s mother, weighed in with this jaw-dropper: Continue reading