From The Ethics Alarms Archives: “Yes, Ethics Dunce Madonna Indeed Engaged in Sexual Assault On Stage In Australia”

Here’s an Ethics Alarms post about a story from 2016 that takes on some new elements when considered in light of #MeToo and the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck. I’m wondering if Madonna would do this today.

Let’s review the players, shall we?

This is Josephine Georgiou, Isn’t she pretty? She was 17 in 2016.

This is Madonna, performing on stage in Australia. during her2016 concert tour.

She was and is over-the -hill and  has to be progressively more outrageous  to try to justify her concert ticket prices. During the 2016 tour, she was repeatedly late, suspected of being drunk on stage, and generally erratic. Her enabling supporters attributed this to a messy divorce. Of course, for a professional, that is no excuse: if you can’t do the job, then don’t charge people for you to do it.

Here is Josephine with a friend before they attended Madonna’s concert in Brisbane. Note Josephine’s outfit.

Note the nipple rings.

Forget the friend, and no, I have no clue as to what Josephine was holding. Maybe they have very small flies in Australia….

Now here is Josephine with her Mom, Toni, who also was at the concert.

More about her later. OK, I think we’re ready now. Fasten your seat belts, it going to be a bumpy trip down memory lane. Here’s “Yes, Ethics Dunce Madonna Indeed Engaged in Sexual Assault On Stage In Australia” from March 19, 2016…
Continue reading

The Kamala Harris-Willie Brown Saga (That The News Media Wants You To Think Doesn’t Matter)-UPDATED

( A missing link to the “Truth or Fiction” site has been added.)

Enter this one under “Tales of Media Double Standards For Hypocritical Democratic Presidential Contenders Aren’t Elizabeth Warren.”

The mainstream news media has anointed Kamala Harris as one of its favorite Democrats, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see much objective or accurate analysis about her unethical relationship with Willie Brown while he was Mayor of San Francisco.  (Harris also appears to be on the road to dinging herself irrespective of this problem.) Watch a progressive “factcheck” site try to spin the Brown connection:try to spin the Brown connection:

Accusations that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) had an affair with a married man have hovered around her since the 2000s, back when Harris first made a run for public office.

These rumors stem from a relationship Harris had with former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, but what it had to do with the beginning of her political career has been largely misrepresented.

Kamala Harris was elected to serve as the district attorney of San Francisco in 2003. In 2010, she was elected to serve as California’s state attorney general. Harris held that role office until she was elected to the United States Senate in November 2016.

Throughout her career, rumors that Harris had an affair with a married man (Willie Brown) and used it to launch her political career, have followed. We’ll take a look at the facts and provide a brief overview of the situation.

The Kamala Harris-Willie Brown connection

Kamala Harris and Willie Brown had a relationship in the mid 1990s. At the time, Harris was working as an attorney in various city offices. Brown, who is nearly 30 years older than Harris, had been elected mayor after serving in the state legislature for more than 30 years.

Willie Brown has led an eccentric, outspoken life, and his exploits with women have been well-documented. In 2001, news broke that Brown had impregnated his top fundraiser, for example. However, the claim that Kamala Harris had “an affair” with Brown, implying not only that they had a relationship but that it was furtive and seedy, doesn’t check out.

It’s true that Brown has technically been married since 1958. However, Brown and his wife separated amicably in 1982 — more than 10 years before his relationship with Harris began — according to a 1984 New York Times profile of Brown.

So again, claims that Kamala Harris had an affair with a married man just don’t check out.

Did Kamala Harris use her relationship with Brown to launch her political career?

Kamala Harris and Willie Brown made no effort to hide their relationship in the early 1990s. When Harris first ran for public office in 2003, long after the relationship ended, her previous relationship with Brown didn’t help her chances — it actually hurt them.

Harris’ opponents, incumbent District Attorney Terence Hallinan and local attorney Bill Fazio, turned her previous relationship with Brown into a campaign issue, arguing that Harris could not be trusted to hold Brown accountable as DA because they had been previously involved.

…Brown himself leapt into the fray in late January 2019 with a brief commentary in the San Francisco Chronicle just after Harris announced that she would be running for president, appearing to take credit for helping start her career:

“Yes, we dated. It was more than 20 years ago. Yes, I may have influenced her career by appointing her to two state commissions when I was Assembly speaker. And I certainly helped with her first race for district attorney in San Francisco. I have also helped the careers of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and a host of other politicians. The difference is that Harris is the only one who, after I helped her, sent word that I would be indicted if I “so much as jaywalked” while she was D.A. That’s politics for ya.”

Is this a masterpiece of obfuscation and spin, or what? Wow. Let’s look at a few details: Continue reading

Now THIS Is Ethics Zugzwang! The Unfixable Catch-22 Of Sexual Harassment Law

A recent question to the New York Times workplace column “The Workologist” perfectly illustrates a permanent flaw in sexual harassment law. Believe it or not, I have no recommendation regarding how to fix it. I don’t think it can be fixed.

Here was the question:

I work at a blue-collar job, and I am one of four women in a crew of 40. The guys never touch or harass me, or any of the women, as far as I know.They do, however, constantly hug and grab and bump each other in a friendly way. It’s not unusual for one of the guys to go through a whole short meeting (a stand-up “huddle”) with an arm around another guy’s shoulder. No one ever touches me, and it’s not that I want them to. That would be weird. But I almost feel left out. Should I let this “bro contact” bother me?

I love it. Perfect. This is what using the law to dictate ethics can result in, and does result in frequently: hypocrisy, confusion, and a double-bind.

Let’s begin with the last sentence: “Should I let this “bro contact” bother me?” The whole point of “hostile work environment” sexual harassment law is to make sure no woman has to ask this question. A boss who responds to a female employee’s complaint of a hostile work environment-creating unwanted sexual attention in the office with “Don’t let it bother you!” has breached his or her duty under the law.

So what’s going on here? The men in the company have adopted the current fad (Yechhh.) of hugging each other to express a range of things—support, congratulation, sympathy, platonic affection—and quite properly do not hug the few women in their midst, lest one of the females, reasonably or not (or perhaps intentionally, to grab some power or cash) be made “uncomfortable,” take the physical contact as unwanted and sexual in intent, complain, and perhaps sue. By not hugging them, however, the men isolate the women, exclude them from the social fabric of the “team,” and, in essence, discriminate against them by signalling that they are “the other,” thus creating a hostile work environment.

Even if some of the women announced their consent to be treated as “one of the guys,” it would not solve the dilemma. One of those bro-hugs could still turn into a copped feel, or be perceived as crossing lines by the female huggee. Then there is the looming  third party harassment problem: a woman who has not consented to being hugged might see her female colleagues being man-handled (but completely innocently, of course) and assume that consenting to unwanted physical contact was a condition of employment, or that they would be adversely affected if they did not agree to participate enthusiastically in the hug-fest. Not treating the women in the company like the men is discrimination; treating them the same is an open invitation to a sexual harassment lawsuit. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Tavis Smiley (Tavis, Please Pay Attention: The Workplace Isn’t Your Dating Bar)

“I’ll consent to your annual raise, if you’ll consent to going out with me…deal?”

(Now this is why companies and organizations that want to avoid sexual harassment problems need effective training sessions, ideally run by me.)

Tavis Smiley, the PBS talk show host suspended from the network and currently in the process of being erased from the culture due to allegations of sexual harassment, was asked by Tucker Carlson on the latter’s Fox News show about the propriety of a supervisor having sexual relationships with subordinates in the workplace. Smiley responded with this jaw dropper:

I certainly understand that there are persons who believe that there is no such thing as a consensual relationship in the workplace. I hear that. I can respect that point of view. But there are other opinions on this. In my employee handbook we do not encourage interoffice relationships but we don’t forbid it either because I don’t know how things are going to turn out in your life and you start hanging out with our company. I don’t know who you’re going to meet. And let’s face it, nobody’s working 40-hour weeks anymore. We are working 40-, 50-, 70-, 80-hour weeks. Where else are you going to meet people in this business?

His answer was self-indicting, deceitful, ignorant, stupid, and redolent of rationalizations.

Carlson didn’t ask about “consensual relationships in the workplace.” He asked about whether relationships between women and the men who have the power to fire them, promote them, give them raises or make their working lives a living hell are appropriate. The answer is no. Of course no. Nor can they possibly be called consensual. Quite apart from that aspect, such relationships, even if they are initiated by the subordinate, constitute per se unethical management. They undermine morale. They undermine respect for and the authority of the manager. They create suspicion and distrust of the staffer. They create a hostile work environment for all the women in that workplace. destroy staffs and organizations. They are the organizational equivalents of incest. They are wrong. Always. This isn’t a new discovery either. It should be obvious.

“Where else are you going to meet people in this business?” Well gee, Tavis, it sounds like you have a choice to make. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/18/2017: Life Is An Unethical Cabaret, My Friends…At Least Lately

Good Morning!

1  Really now: What’s the matter with you? How many of these will it take for everyone to agree that it’s intolerable?

Let’s recap, shall we? Last week, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier confidently cited a “rumor” that that the President was going to fire Special Counsel Mueller imminently. (It would not be undeserved.) The rumor was then treated by the mainstream news media as news, which is, you know, supposed to be fact. This “news” then was considered sufficiently alarming that multiple Democrats and “resistance” members, including former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder (disgracefully) advocated an insurrection, as in “taking the streets.”

Asked about this rumor qua news, President Trump said, no, he wasn’t considering firing Mueller. Did uou know that in the old days, when journalists at least pretended to be ethical, the President would have been asked about a rumor involving his intentions before it was published as news, and before assholes on the Left used it to advocate social unrest?

The episode is beyond unethical. How can anyone support 1) this 2) people who act like this 3) journalists who facilitate this,  4) a party that continues to encourage this, or 5) anyone who supports or enables 1)-4) ?

2. He just doesn’t get it…like a lot of people. Tavis Smiley, whose problems were discussed in the previous post, said this morning that while he did engage in sexual relations with his some subordinates, they were all consensual and therefore did not constitute sexual harassment or an abuse of power. He’s oh so wrong.

Subordinates never have complete freedom to reject the sexual overtures of their boss, so they never can truly consent. It is inherently an abuse of power. Moreover, third party harassment is inevitable, as other female employees are sent the message that they work in a harem. Are they required to submit to the sultan’s desires? If they aren’t asked to submit by their Great Alpha Male, does that mean they have displeased him?

That a hostile work environment, Tavis.

3. ‘If you could see her from my eyes’..Smiley’s attitude conforms to that of a lot of sexual harassers, including, in all likelihood, the President’s. It wasn’t sexual harassment, they believe, because who wouldn’t want to receive their sexual advances?

This made me reflect on this hard-edged number from the film version of “Cabaret,” sung by Joel Grey’s evil MC as sly anti-Semitism for laughs. (I did not know that the number at one point was cut from the stage version because audiences didn’t get the satire until I saw a documentary about Jewish-themed musicals on PBS last night)

If the chilling last line of the song were altered to “It wouldn’t be harassment at all!,” with the “gorilla” representing the way so many women are treated in the workplace, the M.C. would be accurately expressing  Matt’s, Al’s, Harvey’s, Bill’s, Ben’s, Dustin’s, and Tavis’s creed.

4. Is Al Gore next? Not if the New York Times can help it. In a story detailing the rampant sexual abuse and harassment of hotel employees by guests, Al Gore’s name never comes up. The story includes the stunning results of  union survey of hotel workers in Chicago found that 58% of them had been sexually harassed by a guest. Yet in 2010, when three hotel masseuses claimed that Gore sexually harassed him, his denials were sufficient to make the episode quickly discounted and forgotten. What would happen if the same allegations were made today? If Gore had been elected President last years, would Senator Gillibrand be calling for his resignation?

Plan J would seem to demand it.

5. Why sexual harassment allegations are not necessarily credible. From The Hill: Continue reading

Sexual Harassment, Victim Blaming, Toxic Corporate Cultures, President Trump’s Defense and Other Ethics Notes On Bill O’Reilly’s Fall (Part II))

The Ethics Alarms audit of the Bill O’Reilly canning by Fox (okay, technically it wasn’t a firing, but it was) continues…

9. One problem with the Left’s thinly veiled joy at getting O’Reilly is that it encourages the Right’s narrative that O’Reilly’s only crime was being conservative. Also not helping were President Trump’s interview statements about O’Reilly to the New York Times, in which he said in part,

“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person… I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”

Stupid, stupid, stupid; irresponsible. Maybe two stupids and two irresponsibles. Do otherwise good people engage in sexual harassment? Of course: good people do bad things. But when a prominent individual says publicly that a sexual harasser is a good person, it sends a message that sexual harassment, like all abuse, doesn’t create a rebuttable presumption that someone is not a good person. Add to that Trump’s last statement, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong,” and the toxic messaging is complete. Either that statement means that the President is, based on nothing, claiming that the allegations against O’Reilly are untrue, or worse, he is saying that there is nothing wrong with sexual harassment. Based on his infamous exchange with Bill Bush, there is good reason to believe that this is exactly what he means.

10. That interview, in turn, led inevitably to this fatuous and offensive article by conservative blogger Roger Simon. Sure, Roger, you dummy, O’Reilly did nothing wrong except support Donald Trump. Count the rationalizations in this piece of offal by one of the shimmering stars in the Pajama Media firmament of conservative thought-leaders.

The sad truth is the many conservatives—most?—really don’t think sexual harassment is a big deal. It is one of many ethics blind spots.

11. One conservative who lacks that blind spot—though she has lots of others—is Sarah Palin, who had this exchange yesterday with CNN’s Jake Tapper: Continue reading

Sexual Harassment, Victim Blaming, Toxic Corporate Cultures, President Trump’s Defense and Other Ethics Notes On Bill O’Reilly’s Fall (Part I)

As you probably know by now, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc ended its relationship with Bill O’Reilly at Fox News following what are being called allegations of sexual harassment, the revelation of them in the news media despite Fox’s pay-out of over $13,000,000 to the women who were involved, and a subsequent wide-spread boycott of his high-rated show “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Ethics Observations:

1. Good. Long, long overdue, but good. Fox News should have fired O’Reilly after the first sexual harassment episode which was years ago; it is a firing offense in ethical organizations for most employees, and the fact that Fox allowed its most influential and most profitable star to skirt accountability and survive to harass again was a classic example of the rationalization known as The King’s Pass, or The Star Syndrome.

2. The fact that Fox News creator, leader, and boss Roger Ailes was also jettisoned after a sexual harassment scandal showed at the time that the organization had developed an unethical culture that was hostile to women….as Ethics Alarms pointed out last July. (“There seems to be a culture of sexual harassment at Fox, coming down from the rotting fish head in charge, Roger Ailes.”)  This was the other shoe dropping.

3. O’Reilly issued a carefully crafted statement composed with the assistance of a “crisis consultant”:

“Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television,” O’Reilly said in a statement. “It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.”

I would say the Bill is lying through his teeth with the “unfounded” part, but sexual harassers often don’t think they have done anything wrong. They think they were just being “nice,” or they think their advances were misunderstood, or they believe that the harassment accusations are a cover for something else. Ailes also denies that he did anything wrong. This is typical. It would have been a wonderful thing if O’Reilly could admit that his conduct was wrong and apologize to the victims while sincerely promising to change, but like most harassers, he couldn’t mount the character and the acknowledgement of hard reality to do it.

4. What is more damaging, perhaps, is that so many of O’Reilly’s fans and followers will believe his self-delusion because they also don’t “get” sexual harassment, and think the whole issue is manufactured feminist nonsense and political correctness. Boys will be boys! Everybody does it! 

5. If there is anyone who is informed and intelligent and still followed Bill O’Reilly without constant cognitive dissonance, they should be ashamed of themselves. If one was alert, Bill constantly revealed himself as a blowhard who was convinced he was smarter than he was, or perhaps more accurately, knew he was faking it and adopted a assertive, intimidating and self-righteous persona as cover for his own insecurities.  Continue reading

It’s Sexual Harassment Day!

biden-harassment

Unfortunately, it will be a while before I get to the next ethics topic. Accompanied by the ProEthics acting troupe, The Ethical Arts Players, I’ll be running not just one but two harassment awareness and avoidance trainings today. Avoiding harassing conduct is only applied ethics after all; it should be easy, but it isn’t.

I’ll be talking about some high profile cases that have been discussed here: the Trump-Billy Bush video, naturally; Ellen Degeneris’s cute sexual harassment of Jake Gyllenhaal on television that nobody complained about because…she’s Ellen! ; and the most relevant of all for the group I’ll be talking to, made up of scientists and academics, this story.

Sexual harassers come in many varieties, and this reminds me that I need to write more about the topic. Here are 15 types that have been identified in the wild so far, but hybrids and mutants are also out there:

  1. The Power Player: A “quid pro quo” harasser: the boss.
  2. The Counselor: Exploiting mentor relationships, abusing tryst
  3. The Leader of the Pack: Leading group embarrassment or marginalization
  4. The Serial Harasser: The Intentional and shameless abuser. With all that has gone on in the law and public eye, they are still out there in force.
  5. The Groper: Hands and Eyes. Yes, that’s Joe Biden…
  6. The Opportunist: Awaiting their chances, and ready to pounce on the trusting, vulnerable and needy
  7. The Bully : Sexual harassment as punishment, manipulation or just for sadistic fun
  8. The Confidante: Building trust to abuse it, that Platonic friend who’s not really platonic.
  9. The Pest: Polite, but not taking “no” for an answer
  10. The Sympathetic Harasser – Exploiting a crisis
  11. The Gallant: Misusing compliment and manners to marginalize, the kind of harassment women often don’t notice. (Barack Obama is one.)
  12. The Nerd: Socially inept individuals who desire the attentions of their targets, and who often don’t see that they do not reciprocate these feelings.
  13. The Stalker: Watching, trailing, bothering, tracking. The most dangerous harasser.
  14. The Blunderer : An accidental or clueless harasser
  15. The Star: The open harasser who’s status prevents him from being called one, or called to account.

 

From The Double Standard Files: I Just Watched Ellen Degeneris Sexually Harass Jake Gyllenhaal On TV…Why Is That OK?

jake-gyllenhaal-ellen

That was a rhetorical question. It isn’t okay. It’s sexual harassment. It’s a double standard. And it’s wrong.

I must admit, I’m kind of ticked off about it.

Jake Gyllenhaal is a marvelous and attractive young actor, currently starring on Broadway in the revival of Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park With George.” He’s also a favorite guest of Ellen Degeneris, America’s favorite openly gay TV talk show host. I don’t usually watch “Ellen,” but I was in a dentist’s chair getting SIX cavities filled (Remember Dudley Moore in “10”? Like that.) and that was on the telly while I was suffering.

Ellen spent easily five minutes nagging Jake to take off his shirt. Well, it’s possible it was less: time seems to pass slowly when you are watching a famous and beloved Hillary Clinton supporter engage in unethical sexual conduct that is far, far more substantive than anything Billy Bush did when he was caught on tape with Donald Trump, and there are drills, rubber devices, cotton and random finger in your mouth.

Try it some time. You’ll see. Continue reading

Further Observations On The Gretchen Carlson Sexual Harassment Retaliation Lawsuit

Fox News

1. I see that six more Fox News employees have come forward in the wake of fired Fox Blonde Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit alleging sexually harrassing conduct from Fox News head Roger Ailes. New York Magazine’s Gabe Sherman published six accounts from women who say they were also harassed by Ailes, and two of them identified themselves by name.

This doesn’t prove Carlson’s case, but it is typical of harassers that they do not engage in such conduct just once, and typically not with only one employee. That ethics alarm doesn’t ring, and thus this is normal conduct for them that their power and control over employees’ lives allow them to engage in without consequences, until something breaks the dam. Familiar examples are Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Joe Biden, Herman Cain, and Senator Bob Packwood. The fact that no other women came out with public accusations that Clarence Thomas had harassed them was strong evidence that Anita Hill’s last-second accusations were a panned political hit.

2. The fact that so many conservative pundits and websites are defending Ailes is revealing regarding both their integrity and attitudes regarding women… and not in a good way. This is one reason the Democratic Party’s “war on women” smear is effective.  The whole sexist vibe of Fox News under Ailes is another reason: I keep expecting Fox to have its female anchors dressed in bikinis and sarongs.

It isn’t just Ailes; it’s Fox. Here are some Fox Sports anchors:

fox-blondes-feature

Don’t get me wrong now: I’m certain all of them got their jobs because of their sterling commentary and analysis, just like Gretchen did.

3. Deluded Ethics Dunce: Greta Van Susteren. Greta, who owes her career to Ailes, pronounced Carlson’s allegations unbelievable, saying, “I deal with Roger Ailes often. I’ve often been alone with Roger Ailes in his office over the course of 15 years and I’ve never seen anything like what I’m reading about in the papers and the magazine.” Ah. So the fact that Ailes didn’t hit on Greta once is evidence that he wouldn’t hit on Carlson. Keen analysis, there, Greta!

It’s  funny: Madeleine Albright and Carly Fiorina said the same thing. Continue reading