Ethics Dunce: Minnesota’s Cottage Grove United Methodist Church

They’re going to have to update this, I think…

I believe that it’s fair to say that no church should ever make an ethics dunce of itself. This, unfortunately, is an extreme example. [Full disclosure: My father was raised as a Methodist, and my father in law was a Methodist minister and scholar.] The rationalizations and  double talk came fast and furious, and there even was a Jumbo in the mix.

Praise the Lord!

Rev. Dan Wetterstrom, lead pastor at the Woodbury and Cottage Grove branches of the United Methodist Church, sent out letters to parishioners that the Cottage Grove branch would close on June 1, then open, refurbished, in the Fall seeking the membership of young families with children. Current members who don’t fit that description will not be welcome. The letter encouraged the exiles  to worship elsewhere.

The good news is that the old, childless members should be able to come back into the fold  in 15 to18 months.

“The ends justify the means” is not a Christian, moral nor ethical philosophy, but that is the reasoning being applied by Wetterstrom and his church’s administrators to deal with what they see as a demographic crisis. Young people are staying away (perhaps because they have noticed the rank hypocrisy and stupidity in the church, indeed many churches, engage in, but I’m just guessing) and the current flock keeps getting older and older.

Yecchh. Continue reading

“Miracle On 34th Street,”An Ethics Companion, Continued….Chapter 2: The Story Unfolds…

The Introduction is here.

Chapter I is here.

Let’s get this out of the way up front: Kris is not really Santa Clause. The sooner you understand that, the more sense the movie will make.

Now onward:

2. The bad mother and the sneaky lawyer.

While Kris is enjoying his starring role in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, we meet Susan Walker, Doris’s young daughter, and Attorney Fred Gailey,  who lives in the apartment next door. Susan has been raised  to be a joyless little cynic, the victim of an arrogant and misguided single mother who needed to read more Bruno Bettelheim ( except that Bruno didn’t write The Uses of Enchantment  until 1976).  Doris, as we soon surmise, has allowed a bad marriage to make her suspicious of dreams, hope, and wonder, and she is passing her own disappointment in life off to her daughter at the tender age of nine. Nice.

Lots of parents do this, I suppose, but that doesn’t mitigate how cruel and damaging it is. I remember how horrified I was at Susan’s brainwashing when I first saw the film at about the same age as Natalie Wood was in the movie. My parents, particularly my mother, surrounded my sister and I with fantasy and whimsy. They went to elaborate measures to make Santa Claus seem real, and the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. At one point my sister, having read a story about a lollypop tree, planted a lollypop stick in the back yard. My mother pooh-poohed the idea, telling my sister that this was just a fantastic story she was believing, and that she was  going to disappointed.  Then, three days later, my father exclaimed as he looked out the kitchen window,  “I don’t believe it! Look at that!” And there, about four feet height and covered with lolly pops of all  the colors of the rainbow, was the lollypop tree.

My sister and I weren’t idiots; we knew that our parents had made the tree. But we played along, and the lesson was taught.  Life is more fun and bearable if you believe in the unbelievable, and are open to a little magic in the world. Our parents gave my sister and me a gift that made us love music, literature, humor, mystery, and surprises. Doris Walker, out of ignorance, grief or anger, was an incompetent and selfish parent. ” We should be realistic  and completely truthful with our children  and not have them growing up believing in  a lot of legends and myths like Santa Claus, for example,” she says.

And your authority for this proposition is what, Doris? Generations of children have grown to healthy, happy maturity being raised on myths, legends and fairy tales, and you, with your invaluable perspective as a department store employee, are confident in your certitude that their parents were wrong, and you are right. Wow. Continue reading

The Pro-Impeachment Experts, Making the Public Dumber

Prof. Gerhardt, making you dumber.

An ongoing theme of Ethics Alarms, not merely related to politics and the news media, is the unethical conduct of intentionally misinforming the public for partisan or ideological agendas. For professionals and those holding themselves out as experts, this is especially unethical conduct, and damaging. Academics, professionals and experts are obligated to use their knowledge to enlighten the public. Using their authority and credentials to deceive them, thus betraying the public trust, is unconscionable. Particularly since the elites in academia decided to help remove Donald Trump, this has become epidemic.

A signal of what was to come revealed itself on election night, when CNN produced once respectable historian Douglas Brinkley, now a shameless partisan hack of the worst sort, to explain to America that Hillary Clinton’s loss was really because Americans seldom vote for the same party to be in the White House three elections in a row. As I wrote in one of my posts about this lie, which no CNN talking head had the knowledge or integrity to challenge,

…esteemed Presidential historian Doug Brinkley, for reasons known only to himself, went on the air live on CNN and concocted a new alibi for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. using fake history to do it. He said that there were powerful historical patterns at work in Hillary’s defeat, and that it is always hard for any one party to hold the White House for three consecutive terms. Then, as exceptions to the rule and to show how rare the exceptions were, Brinkley cited Reagan successfully pushing George H.W. Bush on the nation as his “third term,” and then went all the way back to 1836 for his other exception, when popular Democrat President Andrew Jackson got his acolyte Martin Van Buren elected to succeed him.

For days after this, I kept hearing Brinkley’s observation cited by talking heads and my disappointed Democratic friends, yet what he had said was wildly, unforgivably untrue. On election night, I ticked off the instances where one party has held the Presidency for more than two terms on the spot, right after Brinkley’s fiction (much to the annoyance of my wife):

After Van Buren, there were a bunch of one term Whigs and Democrats, but Lincoln’s two terms (the last finished by Andrew Johnson) was followed by Grant for two more, Hayes for one, and Garfield/Arthur for four more years. That 6 straight Republican terms, Doug. Then, three terms later, McKinley was elected to two, Teddy Roosevelt for one on top of the McKinley term he finished out, and Teddy anointed Taft as his successor just as Jackson had with Van Buren. That’s four straight Republican terms, or as we call it around my house, “More than two.”

But wait! There’s more! After Wilson and Mrs, Wilson served out two Democratic terms, we got Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, another three Republicans in a row. Then the Democrats made up for those consecutive runs with five straight of their own, courtesy of FDR’s four and Truman beating Dewey. In short, Brinkley gave the nation fake history, which then became fake news.

And he made Americans ignorant. Spinning for Hillary, for example, Whoopie Goldberg told her audience, “You know, there have been very few eight years of one party and eight years of the same party. It doesn’t generally go back to back. The last time I think was Nixon and whoever came in after him was the last. Ford….That was the last time we had a long stretch. When it wasn’t Democrat, Republican, Democrat Republican. So given all the crap that Obama had to eat from his own party, I don’t think Bernie was going to — I don’t think any Democrat was going to–people were going to vote –”

This was regurgitated Brinkley—Hillary also cited him during her endless “It’s not my fault I lost!” tour–and not even accurately regurgitated.  And it’s dead wrong. Imagine: an “expert” whose specialty is American Presidential history was paid to go on national television and used his authority to give out false information about American Presidential history.

The phenomenon has become frighteningly common as the Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream media collective has tried to trick, bully and incite the public into supporting its undemocratic cause. The academics recruited by the Democrats for the latest impeachment push have continued to assert outright falsehoods, adopting former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s theory that a lie is virtuous if “it works.” Continue reading

Thanksgiving Dinner Ethics Appetizers, 11/28/2019: Boing Boing, Boeing, And Bears In The Woods

Have a gentle, loving Thanksgiving, everyone.

And thanks so much for visiting and participating.

Tangential question: Does anyone watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade any more, with the lip synced musical numbers in the street, the inflatable balloons of anciet cartoon characters, the floats that are virtually identical every year, and the phony blather from the B-level celebrities in the booth? Isn’t this spectacle now something that people watch out habit, like the Miss America pageant, “Peanuts” holiday specials and the Oscars, even though it has the entertainment value of styrofoam?

1. Tucker Carlson endorses the Julie Principle! Last night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson made the shocking statement that President Trump has been less than truthful with the American people.

“We’re not gonna lie to you, that was untrue,” Carlson said. “The crowd at the 2017 inauguration was not the largest ever measured at the National Mall. Sorry, it wasn’t. Why did the president claim that it was? Well, because that’s who he is. Donald Trump is a salesman, he’s a talker, a boaster, a booster, a compulsive self-promoter. At times he’s a full-blown BS artist.”

Observations:

  • NOW Carlson is enlightening us about this? Every sentient being knew this about Donald Trump ten years ago, before the Presidency was a twinkle in his eye.
  • Has there ever been an irrelevant fabrication by any U.S. President as harped upon incessantly by critics and the media as Trump’s silly claims about his inauguration crowd?
  •  The Washington Post, aping the New York Times, manufactured another one of those compilations of Trump “lies.” As of last month, the Post says, Trump had told over 13,000 false or misleading statements since taking office, including, of course, including the Inauguration boast. If I didn’t have a sock drawer crisis to deal with, I’m sure I would find that at least a third of those “lies” are in fact nothing of the sort, but mistakes, off-the-cuff exaggerations, and obvious puffery, as in, “Trump said X was ‘the —-est,’ but Y is actually  —-er.”
  • Here is what I wrote almost exactly three years ago, before that Inauguration, in a post called, “Trump, His Critics, and The Julie Principle”:

Yesterday, many, not several but many, of my Angry Left Facebook friends posted links to stories attacking Trump’s silly tweet about him really winning the popular vote and there being millions of fraudulent votes for Hillary Clinton. “Is he going to do this sort of thing his entire administration?” one friend asked.

YES! YES HE IS! OF COURSE HE IS! DON’T YOU KNOW THIS ALREADY? ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO FLIP OUT AT EVERY SINGLE  INSTANCE WHEN TRUMP SAYS OR TWEETS SOMETHING STUPID LIKE THIS?

If so, then you are going to go nuts, and you will just become irrelevant and annoying.

Which, of course, they have. Including the Post and Tucker Carlson. Continue reading

The Houston Astros May Be Trailing In The World Series, But With Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman They Have A World Champion Ethics Dunce…[UPDATED]

‘Why am I smiling! Because I love our closer! He’s got a great fastball, and a great left cross! Aw, lighten up!’

What an idiot.

What an ethically clueless idiot.

The prelude: Last season, the Houston Astros, now embroiled in a World Series with the underdog Washington Nationals, embarrassed themselves by violating the team’s own stated domestic abuse policy by trading for closer Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays. The 23-year-old Osuna had just completed a 75-game suspension from MLB for allegedly beating up his wife. The Blue Jays had announced that he would not be a member of their team going forward, despite the fact that he was regarded as one of the best late-inning relievers in the game. Even though the Astros had previously announced a “no-tolerance” policy toward domestic abusers, the team enthusiastically proclaimed their acquisition of Osuna, saying, among other hypocritical  and self-contradictory blather, that the team was “confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind.” At the time, I partially translated the ridiculous double-talk thusly:

…In the interest of winning and because the ends justify the means, we are suspending our “zero-tolerance” policy regarding “abuse of any kind” to tolerate a player whom Major League Baseball has determined to be a very serious abuser. I don’t know how we’re going to tell another player who is credibly accused of less serious abuse that we won’t tolerate his presence on the team when we just voluntarily brought an abuser onto the team, but never mind: there’s a pennant to win. I’m pretending that Roberto has complied with all consequences related to his past behavior when he is currently pleading not guilty in his pending Canadian trial on battery charges, in the hope that most fans aren’t paying attention.Thank you.”

The Astros are NOT the favorite team of feminists, #MeToo advocates, or anyone who does not appreciate the King’s Pass being given to men who slap women around.

The latest episode:  From Sports Illustrated: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/4/19: Fake News, Twin Ethics, Bonnie And Clyde, And A Deadly Date

Good morning!

I would give you all a big hug, a squeeze, and maybe a sniff, but that’s not me...

1. This is fake news, you know. Today’s headline on the Times front page: “Barr Understated Mueller Findings, Some on Team Say.” Naturally, “some” are never identified. All this headline means is that some involved with the Mueller investigation wouldn’t have summarized the report as the AG did,  and some had a different opinion, and, presumably, some disagreed with them. Who didn’t assume this? This isn’t news. This is just pot-stirring and innuendo in service of a political agenda. Now if the Times’ sources went on the record and explained what findings they are referring to and why, that would be news. This isn’t.

2. Maybe just Ick, not ethics, but still, ICK! Kendall Jenner, who is famous exclusively because her half-sister sister bared all in a sex video that launched the Kardashian reality show empire, made $26.5 million for just 53 sponsored Instagram posts, according to Captiv8, a marketing firm that connects brands to “social media influencers.” Let’s see: is there anything wrong with Jenner letting companies pay her to send out social media hype? As long as she isn’t lying in her posts, I guess not...but if she becomes part of a fraud without doing her due diligence,  its not just unethical, it’s illegal. Is there anything unethical about paying a narcissistic waste of space who would lose a game of Scrabble to a sea sponge millions to promote a company’s product or event? No, if it works. Is there anything unethical about trusting a barely-educated celebrity because of her looks? Unethical, no…stupid, but not unethical.

3. On the suspension of ethics during wartime. Freddie Oversteegen, who died September in her native Netherlands, was just 14 when she joined the Dutch resistanceTogether with her older sister Truus and their friend Hannie Schaft, she murdered as many Nazis as she could, using a firearm hidden in the basket of her bike. The women had a  method: first approach a Naz in bars, seduce them, ask if they wanted to “go for a stroll” in the forest (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) and then, shoot the bastards, or as Freddie  put it, “liquidate” them.

 “It was a necessary evil, killing those who betrayed the good people,” she told one interviewer. When she was asked how many people she had killed or helped kill, she demurred: “One should not ask a soldier any of that.”

Freddie also blew up bridges and smuggled Jews out of concentration camps, so she was more than a black widow assassin. Is she justly regarded as a hero?

4. “The Highwaymen” My wife and I watched this new Netflix release starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson as the real life aging Texas Rangers who were handed the assignment of “stopping” Bonnie and Clyde’s deadly rampage through Texas in 1934. We liked it a lot, but then it’s an ethics movie, raising and debating the question—see #3 above—of how far one can ethically go to fight evil. Bonnie  and Clyde were evil despite their folk hero status at the time, and despite the sick glamorizing they received in the 1967 film starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, which made them the romantic rebels fighting a corrupt establishment—you know, like the arrogant creeps who shut down my college a year later.

The Highwaymen barely shows the two psychotic love-birds until they are being riddled with bullets, focusing on the real heroes of the saga, the law enforcement officials who hunted them down.

The two ex-Rangers break quite a few laws in the pursuit of the greater good, and it is odd that there seems to be a resurgence in sympathy in the entertainment media for brutal police methods. In Dick Wolf’s “Chicago PD,” for example, Sergeant Hank Voigt (Jason Beghe) regularly threatens, extorts and beats people up to solve crimes–and he’s the moral center of the show. Is law enforcement more like war than we like to admit, where the ethical rules can be, are, and maybe need to be suspended?

Best line in “The Highwaymen”: Kathy Bates, as Texas Governor “Ma” Ferguson—I’ll tell her weird ethics story tomorrow—tells reporters that she is making sure that Bonny and Clyde are hunted down, and one of them references their image as Robin Hood figures. “Did Robin Hood ever shoot a gas station attendant in the head for four dollars and a tank of gas?” she asks.

5. Now THIS is weird…Twin ethics! In Brazil, when identical male twins  refused to say which one of them had fathered the child (DNA test proved inconclusive because they their were identical twins)  assuming they would then be able to escape having to pay, a judge ordered that they both had to pay child support. Each twin was ordered to pay 230 reais; ($60; £45) a month, or 30% of the minimum salary in Brazil. Judge Filipe Luís Perucaalso ruled that the names of both men would be on the girl’s birth certificate.

The twins had used their resemblance to impersonate each other and date as many women as possible, and then defend themselves from allegations they were cheating on girlfriends. Ah, memories! I see a reboot coming!

But they’re irresponsible illegitimate fathers!

Identical illegitimate fathers, and you’ll find

The look alike, deny alike, they go in court and lie alike!

You could lose your mind

When irresponsible illegitimate fathers

Are two of a kind!

Seeking An Ethics Verdict On Rafi Eitan [Updated]

“In principle, when there is a war on terror you conduct it without principles. You simply fight it.”

So said Rafi Eitan, the legendary Israeli spymaster and Mossad operative in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz in 2010. Is that the credo of a hero or a villain?  When he died last week at the age of 92, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Mr. Eitan “among the heroes of the intelligence services of the State of Israel.” Is “hero of intelligence services” an oxymoron? Eitan’s credo certainly justifies murder, torture and extra-legal activities; indeed, it justifies almost anything. That’s not ethics, it’s the opposite: the ends justify the means, tit for tat, vengeance, and  scorched earth warfare without the inconvenience of a formal declaration of war. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert eulogized Eitan as “a smart, cunning and sharp person, who remained capable until his last day”, and praised him as one of “the most intelligent, competent, responsible and creative ministers in the government.” Boy, he sounds like a great guy, if you forget about all the killing.

Eitan, his various obituaries tell us, counted among his more spectacular exploits in support of his nation such operations as  the surgical strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, the systematic assassinations of the Palestinians responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972, and the theft of at least 100 pounds of  enriched uranium from a nuclear fuel plant in the Pittsburgh area to assist Israel in its atomic bomb program. Eitan was the handler of Jonathan Pollard, the traitorous American Navy intelligence analyst who turned  over thousands of classified documents to Israel as its spy, and architect of  the operation that has been most celebrated in the various articles in the wake of his death, the capturing of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1960. Continue reading