Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/16/17

1. It looks like Bill Cosby is going to be acquitted, and probably rightly so, though probably for the wrong reason: bias. The jury is deadlocked, and I’d bet my head that one or more hold-outs just can’t accept the fact that that nice Cliff Huxtable would do those horrible things unless the victim consented somehow. Cheat on his wife. maybe. But not that.

Celebrity defendants whose public images are benign begin criminal trials with automatic unreasonable doubt built-in; this is part of the reason O.J. and Robert Blake (“Baretta”) avoided murder convictions. Celebrities with less sterling reputations are not so fortunate: had Bill Cosby been the one who shot a woman he barely knew at his home under strange circumstances, he would have probably been acquitted. Unfortunately for Phil Spector, the pop record producer had a well-established reputation for being nuts. The reasons Cosby can be acquitted for just reasons is that the victim is on record calling and chatting with him dozens of times after she was drugged and sexually assaulted, and because only one of the 50 or so Cosby victims was allowed to testify to show a pattern of behavior. The standard of  proven  guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is intentionally difficult to meet. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Cosby is guilty, and his eventual acquittal won’t change my certainty. Nonetheless, those attacking the verdict and the jurors will be wrong, just as they were with O.J. and Casey Anthony.

2. One more thing regarding Cosby: yesterday I heard a CNN anchor who was about to interview another Cosby victim describe the woman as someone who has accused Bill Cosby of “inappropriate conduct.” The host caught herself, sort of, by adding, after a pause, “to say the least.” The woman claimed she had been raped. Even the anchor couldn’t bring herself to attach to dear, funny, sweet Cos such a heinous crime, so she engaged in craven equivocation. “Inappropriate conduct”?  Belching at the dinner table is inappropriate conduct. Drugging trusting young women and raping them is entirely different.

This is CNN.

 I regard a broadcast news journalist stating that Bill Cosby has been accused of “inappropriate conduct” misleading, incompetent, and fake news. Continue reading

Ted Nugent Ethics, Part 2: Nugent vs Bump


If asked, I would have said that it would be impossible for even the most ethically muddled blogger to discuss Ted Nugent’s revolting “sub-human mongrel” denigration of the President and make Ted look relatively astute by comparison. And I would have been wrong.

I wouldn’t even have answered in the affirmative if I had been warned that the parody of a progressive, Phillip Bump, was on the case. Bump was last featured here when I dissected his inept attack  on criticism of the Obama children’s unusually lavish vacations. In a post on Wire, however, Bump does the impossible, and in the process, actually proves the diagnosis that has been offered in many forums regarding the warped ethical values and priorities in the progressive camp. To too many of them, race really does trump everything. Moreover, the obsession with race and racism can make one look foolish even compared to Ted Nugent, who looks foolish compared to Barney the Dinosaur, Justin Beiber, Flavor Fav, Valeria Lukyanova, a.k.a. “Real Life Barbie,” Michele Bachman, or “Jackass II.”

Over the weekend, Nugent issued 44 fatuous tweets asserting that various conduct and policies of the President or his administration were “more offensive” than his  racist slur to describe President Obama. This is, as any regular reader here will note, an example of my least favorite of all the rationalizations on the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list, the dreaded #22, “The Comparative Virtue Excuse,” or “There are worse things.” Attempting this argument, in my view, is proof positive that one is an idiot or a scoundrel, and usually both. Wrongful conduct is never excusable or mitigated because other conduct is somehow more wrong. An individual who reasons in this rudimentary way can rationalize literally every kind of unethical conduct, from cheating on a spouse to serial murder (“Well, at least I’m not a mass murderer!”) I call it the “bottom of the barrel,” and so it is. That Ted Nugent sought to defend his racist and ugly slur this way is signature significance that he is an irredeemable, indefensible jerk.

If Bump had any sense himself, and he does not, he would have dismissed Nugent’s offensive idiocy by citing the rationalization at work. Instead, he commenced upon the fool’s errand of comparing each of the 44 “worse” things cited by Nugent (several of them barely coherent) to racism, which in Nugent’s case means only the vilest variety of name-calling. Here is some of the conduct that Bump argues are definitely not “worse” than Nugent’s words:

“a biased lying media”
“bribing & rewarding bloodsuckers & con artists”
“buying votes”
“Fast & Furious”
“government out of control”
“government spying on Americans”
“hating America”
“Presidential lies”
“racial preferences”
“the racist knockout game”
” runaway fraud, deceit, and government corruption”
“violating your oath of office”

We are talking in the abstract here, remember. Bump isn’t arguing with Nugent about his interpretation of whether the President or his administration really engaged in these things; he is truly arguing that an addled rock singer uttering offensive words is more objectionable than all of the above, each of which has tangible, in some cases devastating negative consequences affecting lives, and in some case millions of lives. Bump’s priorities are stunning in their Bizarro World detachment from reality. He writes,

“Some of these are obvious. “Presidential lies” would be less offensive than racist words because racism is worse than lies.”

Racism, even the essentially victimless variety displayed by Nugent—these are just words, after all, directed at the most powerful man in America, who can, will and does brush such attacks off like gnats— is certainly worse than many kinds of lies, like those on Judge Kozinski’s list. It is assuredly not worse than substantive Presidential lies, which affect elections, policy, finances and lives. Ted Nugent’s pathetic, nasty, self-mutilating name-calling? Insignificant. “If you like your current health care plan, you can keep it—period”? Not just offensive, but catastrophic and a mass national betrayal. To Bump, however, that Nugent’s is a greater offense is beyond debate. To whom?

Yes, Phillip Bump is more offended by the silly blatherings of a has-been singer than he is Obama lying to the electorate. Or violating his oath of office, an impeachable offense. Or politicians engaging in voter fraud. Or news media bias, which makes competent democracy unworkable. In his own ideology-poisoned way, he’s every bit as crazy as Nugent.

Is Bump typical of progressives in his conviction that so much misconduct is less harmful than racial slurs? I find that difficult, and too frightening, to believe. Any group that believes mere words are so dangerous is on the verge of advocating censorship.  Ted Nugent may be a racist and a fool, but his priorities, with all their many gag-inducing flaws, are more rational and ethical than those of Phillip Bump.

And they’re not as offensive, either.


Graphic: Cinedork

Ted Nugent Ethics, Part I: The Ted Nugent Rule


This is really simple. From this point on, any one who intentionally gives Ted Nugent a public forum  is to be considered irresponsible regardless of what Nugent says, and accountable for whatever offensive garbage he does say.

Nugent’s uncivilized and hateful description of the President of the United States as a “sub-human mongrel” set this rule in stone. Anyone who wants to argue   that the Ted Nugent Rule should apply retroactively to Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who foolishly allowed Nugent, with  his already wretched record of making uncivil, vicious, and obnoxious statements unfit for civilized public discourse, to represent his campaign for Governor  will get no argument from me.

The rule also applies to talk show hosts or interviewers seeking to goad Nugent into making inflammatory statements that they can use to generate controversy and discredit those who agree with any of Nugent’s political positions, based on the flawed theory that all  opinions held by an idiot must be idiotic.  Sorry: if you let Ted Nugent speak under circumstance where his words will be broadcast, reported or put into print, you are as responsible for the resulting carnage as he is, an accessory to outrageous and destructive incivility.

A good argument could be made for Nugent-like rules for some other prominent flame-throwers, like Bill Maher, Donald Trump and Ann Coulter, but that is for another day. As for Nugent, he is like the party guest who repeatedly arrives drunk, molests your teenage daughter and throws up on the couch. He’s persona non grata, and has forfeited the privilege of being invited to any more parties, because he can’t be trusted not to ruin them for everybody else.