Ethics Alarms 2020 Election Update: Nearing A Tipping Point, Part 1

Less than a month ago, I wrote this post, explaining why, despite the near complete ethical bankruptcy of and rejection of democratic values by the Democratic Party and its allies, I would nonetheless refuse to vote for President Donald J. Trump in November. I wrote,

Absent my professional and public assessments as a professional ethicist, I would have no difficulty at all in officially concluding that Donald Trump is the preferable, indeed essential, choice to lead the country in the next four years when the alternative is a party that has revealed the corruption and antagonism toward American ideals as has the Democratic Party. But President Trump, as I pointed out repeatedly in 2015 and 2016, is the antithesis of the kind of leader my knowledge and expertise  indicates should ever be placed in a leadership position of any kind, or in a position of power and trust.

For me to vote for such an individual would render my credibility in my profession, and what is more important, my personal and professional integrity, void.

An ethicist cannot, in my view, support or vote for Donald Trump as President, nor can an ethicist, at least this ethicist, have any position but the rejection of the current iteration of the Democratic party as antithetical to American values.

I have not reached the point of reversing myself on this crucial decision for me personally, professionally, and as an American. Not yet. I feel, however, that the time may be approaching where my case of ethics zugswang cannot be honestly addressed by refusing to take a side. This week, in particular, has forced me to consider that a tipping point may be at hand.

As I have written before, whatever cosmic script-writer came up with the harebrained idea that someone as personally repellent and ethically inert as Donald Trump should be thrust into the position of being this great nation’s crucial last defense against the rising totalitarianism and fascism of the left is a sadist with a sick sense of humor. It is increasingly difficult to deny, however, that this is the ethical conflict that America finds itself in. At the point, fast approaching, when I have to confront the conclusion that defeating the Democrat/”resistance”/ mainstream media collective is the only way to ensure that the United States and its values remain viable and intact, refraining from making a noxious choice will no longer be an option.

Three stories today accelerated the likelihood of my having to face that tipping point:

I. Writing at the Washington Post, staff cultural reporter Alyssa Rosenberg argued that the networks should cancel all the cop shows on television. You can read the thing here; if I have to explain what is frightening about her argument, then you are already too far gone to be cured. This, it is increasingly clear to me, is the agreed-upon modus operandi  of the American Left. Since they cannot advance their agenda by logic, arguments, civic debate and persuasion, they will accomplish it by intimidation, mind control, indoctrination, and censorship. We must like what they like, hate whom the hate, and believe what they believe, and every aspect of the culture, including entertainment, must advance that objective.

This is, of course, how Orwellian cultures operate, and we have witnessed a steady and barely opposed drift toward this as the preferred path to power by the Democratic Party.  Rosenberg believes that citizens should not be allowed to see TV programs that don’t comport with the Left’s now mandatory view that police must be regarded as racist villains and law enforcement be  seen as a malign force. The Post op-ed follows on the heels of the New York Times capitulating to its “woke” staff’s demand that non-conforming (to the Times’ world view) opinion pieces be rejected for publication. The news media’s activist agenda is out of the shadows and indisputable. Continue reading

More On United’s “Ethics Plane Wreck”

Ethics Alarms reader Arthur in Maine correctly declared that yesterdays’ multi-stage fiasco involving United Air Lines, an abused passenger and the police would be the first Ethics Alarms “ethics plane wreck.” He was correct.

Now we learn that the entire mess was based on a lie: this was no boating accid….sorry…the flight was not “overbooked.” United just decided at the last minute to fly a flight crew to Louisville, so it bumped four passengers against their will and lied, saying that the flight was overbooked. In addition to the policy-defying employees, and the brutal police, passengers on the United Flight 3411 Ethics Plane Wreck, which has spare seats aplenty, include

Recent passengers:

1. The United staff responsible for the fiasco added to their ethics foul with this official summary of the incident, cited by the United CEO:

Summary of Flight 3411

. On Sunday, April 9, after United Express Flight 3411 was fully boarded, United’s gate agents were approached by crewmembers that were told they needed to board the flight.

. We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation) and when we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions.

. He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft, and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.

. Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight. He repeatedly declined to leave.

. Chicago Aviation Security Officers were unable to gain his cooperation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist – running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.

Verdict: Dishonest, self-serving and misleading: Continue reading

The Costs Of Civic Ignorance: We Now Have A Frontrunning Candidate For President Who Wants To Gut Freedom Of The Press

SullivanYesterday, flushed with the fact that polls said he “won’ this week’s debate despite outrageous lying, posturing, and incoherence, Donald Trump said that if elected, he will muzzle journalists with fear of libel suits:

“One of the things I’m going to do if I win… I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.We’re going to open up those libel laws so when The New York Times writes a hit piece, which is a total disgrace, or when the Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected. We’re going to open up libel laws and we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”

It’s hard to say what is the dumbest or most alarming thing Trump has said this campaign season, but this is close. To begin with, journalism cannot function under the constant threat of libel suits. This device is already used to bully websites, a form of journalism, and blogs like mine, which don’t have the resources to fight censorious and frivolous suits. Second, the statement proves that Trump is ignorant about the Constitution, ignorant about the law, ignorant about American values—Can you make America great again when you don’t comprehend the culture, traditions or history in the first place? Of course not—and ignorant about the powers of the Presidency, which is fairly shocking for someone running for the office. Luckily for Trump, and unluckily for the country, a lot of Americans are even more ignorant than he is.

Third: this can’t be done unless Trump intends to declare himself Emperor, or something similar. The Supreme Court dealt very emphatically with this issue in the 1964 case of New York Times v. Sullivan, which ruled that win a defamation case against a newspaper (and now, by extension, any journalist), a plaintiff must show four things: 1) a false statement purporting to be fact; 2) publication or communication of that statement to a third person; 3) fault; and 4) some tangible harm  to the person or entity who is the subject of the statement. Public officials and public figures–celebrities, people in the news, reality stars, Bozo the Clown— must show that alleged libelous statements were made with actual malice—that is , they were maliciously intended to harm the subjects and the writer and publisher knew they were false, or were reckless is determining if the were false or not-to recover in an action for defamation.

The standard of proof is also high for libel against the press, and this is to protect the press. A plaintiff must show actual malice by “clear and convincing” evidence rather than the lesser burden of proof in most civil cases, preponderance of the evidence.

Sullivan is a bulwark of First Amendment jurisprudence. It isn’t going anywhere. Conservative justices wouldn’t overturn it; liberal justices wouldn’t touch it. Justice Scalia, brought back from the dead, would declare it untouchable. If there is a single legal scholar who has advocated overturning the case in whole or in part, he or she is an outlier or a crackpot. It was a 9-0 decision. Justice Brennan, writing for the Court, wrote… Continue reading

So is THIS The Tipping Point For Trump Fans? Because One Is Coming….

epic-fail-fire-alarm-fail1

I mention this briefly, to illustrate my point that Donald Trump will keep testing the limits of human tolerance, even that of stupid, crude, bigoted, hateful and ignorant humans, until he exceeds it. This is a certainty.

Someone had thrown a tomato at Trump at a previous event, so at his Monday rally in Cedar Rapids, Trump told the crowd,

“So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them. I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.”

So we have now escalated from Trump kicking out protesters while directing that his thugs keep their coats, so they freeze, and thowing out reporters he doesn’t like, to directing the crowd to beat people up. This last would be enough for most decent, fair, civilized people, none of whom attend Trump rallies. What will make these people say, “Oh-oh! I don’t want to be associated with this guy!,” I wonder?

When he has the protester brought up the podium, says, “Stand him up!’ and breaks his jaw, like Captain McCluskey does to Michael Corleone? No? Not bad enough?

How about setting a protester on fire? How’s that?

It is certain, certain, that eventually Trump will go too far, because he has no ethics alarms.

Just wait.

You’ll see.

________________________

Pointer: Fred

 

Ethics Hero: Fox News

How gloriously ironic it will be it if Fox News is the architect of the tipping point that finally causes Donald Trump’s passionate supporters—you know, the ones who don’t mind if he mocks veterans and the disabled, who don’t notice that he is a substance-free blowhard, who he boasts  wouldn’t care if he shot someone dead in cold blood—to realize they have been deluded fools…

Trump, you see, is pulling out of Thursday’s Fox News debate because he is afraid of Megyn Kelly, who properly challenged him on his habitual misogyny in the first one, prompting Trump to aim his ugly sexism at her. Trump has been sending cheap shots and insults Kelly’s way ever since, and has recently been complaining that she has a “conflict of interest” and is biased against him, and thus should not moderate Thursday’s debate. He should know that every American, including journalists, who have the sense God gave an echidna, are exactly as biased in the sense that they don’t want this blathering, posturing narcissist screwing up the political system, the nation and the culture any more than he already has. Who isn’t biased this way? A panel of Ann Coulter, Ted Nugent and David Duke would be great theater, but I don’t think it would serve the interests of the American people.

Trump claims he thrives on conflict, but for some reason Kelly terrifies him, and Fox, to its credit, has not merely refused to cater to his phobia, but mocked it. Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes told The Post today that “Megyn Kelly is an excellent journalist, and the entire network stands behind her. She will absolutely be on the debate stage on Thursday night.” Later, the network deliciously called out Trump for the hypocrite and coward that he is, saying,

“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president. A nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”

Oh, snap! That’s a bit tough, but this is Trump. He’s supposed to be able to take it. What was his devastating response? Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “In Search Of A Tipping Point: Trump, The Microphone, And Thomas Dewey’s Ghost”

Trump mic

Ed Moser, a sound designer, technical director and all-around theater pro (he produced and designed sound for my recent staging of “Twelve Angry Men”…he’s also a friend), enlightens us with some insider observation relevant to Donald Trump’s recent denigration of a sound tech. It also reveals an unattractive side of an earlier GOP presidential candidate. Here is Ed’s Comment of the Day on the post, In Search Of A Tipping Point: Trump, The Microphone, And Thomas Dewey’s Ghost:

I have a friend who engineered the sound for a large church back when McCain was a candidate. He visited the church for a “town meeting”.

My friend locked all the unused gear away, and for the event distributed only freshly batteried hand held wireless mics for the event with screw on caps on the bottom. Such caps are specifically designed to prevent clumsy performers from accidentally touching the controls on the bottom of the mic– where one could turn the mic off, change the battery, or worst of all, change the frequency. Then color coded the mics with bright spike tape, so that while he was at the sound board he could instantly tell which mic/channel he was dealing with.

The plan was for McCain to give a speech, then take questions from the floor. Runners would carry one of three hand helds to the person with the query, so the question could be heard throughout the house. There was a fourth back up.

If all of this sounds pretty standard for people who know what they’re doing and have done many such events before: well, it is.

That evening, during the event, the question and answer session occurs. The first mic, it develops, is dead. A quick check reveals that ALL FOUR are dead. Irked at having to come the the edge of the stage and get close to an actual person to hear an actual question, or perhaps just trying to infuse humor at an awkward moment, McCain points to the back of the house, right at my friend, and says to the crowd, “Fire that guy!”

He gets a laugh. Except from my friend, of course.

Continue reading

In Search Of A Tipping Point: Trump, The Microphone, And Thomas Dewey’s Ghost

Tom Dewey

The question is what will be the tipping point with Donald Trump, the incident, large or small, that suddenly causes the scales to fall from the eyes of his so far endlessly tolerant supporters, and cause them to suddenly realize what they are doing, exclaim, “My God! This man is a jerk!” and end this sick romance. The human being behind the ugly mask is uglier still, after all. Sooner or later, a tipping point will be reached.

In 1948, Republican Tom Dewey, who already had given FDR his best battle in an election, was poised to defeat the unpopular President Harry Truman and become President of the United States. It was less than a month from election day when, in Beaucoup, Illinois,  Dewey was speaking on the rear platform of a train as a tactic to counter Truman’s 30,000-mile whistle-stop campaign. The engineer accidentally backed the train up a short distance and stopped with a jolt, frightening both the candidate and the crowd. Dewey, flustered, snapped, “This is the first lunatic I’ve had as an engineer. He probably ought to be shot at sunrise, but I guess we can let him off because nobody was hurt!”

Nobody laughed. This was a petulant, privileged, arrogant side of Dewey that the public had never seen before, and was played up by papers as emblematic of a contempt  for working Americans. It didn’t help that he wore a fussy, anachronistic  mustache mocked by Alice Roosevelt Longworth as making her visualize Dewey as “the bridegroom on the wedding cake,” but whatever his other flaws, the train incident and his unguarded moment of impatience may have cost Thomas Dewey the election.

Yesterday, during an overflowing rally in Pensacola, Florida, the Republican poll-leader for the party’s Presidential nomination became annoyed by a balky microphone and attacked an anonymous sound engineer.

Continue reading

Desperately Seeking A Justification For The Unjustifiable Mizzou Meltdown, And Failing

protest-mizzou

Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Janelle Moss, an African American issues columnist, presented an aggressive, dishonest and insulting justification for the destructive black student protests at the University of Missouri. In an earlier essay, I described them as an “I’m mad at the world and somebody has to pay for it” tantrum. I’m sticking by that description, despite the ennobling spin being put on it by apologists, many of whom are trying to blunt the damage being done to civil rights advocacy by the events of the last several days.

[N]owhere in this still-young week has there been a better example of the tension between the conservative and liberal views of race and the politics around it than behind the podium where University of Missouri President Timothy M. Wolfe stood and resigned Monday,” she wrote.  This is setting up Wolfe’s speech as a straw man. He was forced to resign, and ordered to do it without making matters worse. He was also protecting himself, and, I believe, was a weak and inept leader. How nice to be able to take a hastily written statement by such a dubious representative of any group and declare it the exemplar of “conservative views on race.”

Moss’s introduction was smoking gun proof that this was an example of an advocate picking out evidence to support what she already was committed to supporting, and atrocious evidence at that.

“The Fix is aware that some Americans are inclined to reject, outright, the idea that some words — those that we choose to express our ideas, what we say at critical moments and that which we do not mention — have deeper, often multi-layered meaning, ” she writes.  I don’t know what she thinks she is saying. “Many Americans” reject the idea that words have meaning? “Multi-layered” meanings? Who? Who believes that? What she is trying to do is to justify her next “proof,” which is junk science.

She consulted two minority social scientists, who have clear biases of their own (but coincidentally aligned with hers)  to psychoanalyze what Wolfe said in resigning, and allowing her to use their self-serving diagnosis (one has a book out about “dog-whistle” racism; the other makes his living writing and teaching about how racist the U.S. is) of a short and quickly composed speech to read not just Wolfe’s thoughts but to attribute them to all “conservatives.” The result is, or should be embarrassing. Continue reading

Ethics Hero, Maybe For The Ages: The Center for Medical Progress

As I said with the release of the first surreptitious “sting video” of Planned Parenthood released under auspices of the anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, such videos are, in principle, unethical. However, while the unethical should be used in pursuit of a greater good only with great reluctance, moral certainty and a minimum of harm, there are instances when utilitarianism must apply.

This is one of them.

In the case of abortion, the prospect of saving the lives of millions of unborn is certainly worth the incursion on the ethical values of honesty and respect for privacy implicated by these videos. Indeed, it is worth a great deal more. With the seventh video, released yesterday, the conclusion is unavoidable that we, the public, the nation, and humanity, owe a debt of gratitude to the Center for taking radical action to force  confrontation with the reality of abortion so that there can be a real, open and honest debate  that doesn’t duck the central issue. That issue  is not women’s control over their lives, but the ethics of killing innocent human beings to achieve it.

The latest video, like the earlier ones, compels any fair, emotionally functioning and rational observer to accept the brutality and near complete callousness towards human life that the abortion machine creates and requires. In this respect the seven videos—with more to come— are abortion’s equivalent of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” forcing genteel, moral, good people by their own confident assessment to confront the horrors that have been occurring under their noses with their passive approval. Because they chose not to think about what abortion really involved, just as so many Americans had no idea what  slavery was like until Harriet Beecher Stowe forced them to consider it as more than an abstraction, abortion advocates, passive and active, have an ethical obligation to watch these videos. Those who refuse are admitting that they are incapable of letting facts disturb their ideologies. Continue reading

Planned Parenthood’s Callousness Toward Life On Video, ACT II

In her op-ed for  USA TODAY, Kirsten Powers, one of the token liberals (she’s a moderate conservative, really) on Fox News, does an excellent job of compiling the inadequate and indeed damning responses of Planned Parenthood and the pro-abortion establishment to the video evidence of its executives’ stunning lack of respect for  unborn human life. (I covered much of the same territory here and here.) There is now a second video, and that means that the “this is just an aberration and one woman’s mistake” rationalization for Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research, Deborah Nucatola casually talking about crushing the heads of living human beings to preserve their organs for medical research. Powers quotes her “friend and former Obama White House staffer Michael Wear” as tweeting “It should bother us as a society that we have use for aborted human organs, but not the baby that provides them.”

Well said. Does it bother us? It certainly doesn’t bother Democratic presidential candidates, none of whom have breathed a word about the videos. Neither have they been asked about them, because with the exception of the evil Fox News, none of the news organizations have treated the first video as anything but a one day story. Writes Powers, accurately,

It’s a measure of how damning the video is that Planned Parenthood’s usual defenders were nowhere to be found. There was total silence from The New York Times editorial board and their 10 (out of 11) pro-abortion rights columnists. Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi — both recipients of Planned Parenthood’s highest honor, the Margaret Sanger Award — have been mum.

They want the story to go away, and the reason is that the ethics of abortion is extremely vulnerable to facts and honest discussion. Shouldn’t the news media be promoting both? Let me rephrase that: wouldn’t objective, unbiased, ethical journalists have a duty to examine the issue in the light of the videos, and not shrink from them?

Of course. Continue reading