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

More On The Planned Parenthood “Sting” Video: A Fake Apology, The News Media Embargo, Misdirection, Another Dishonest Defense…And New Rationalization #38 A : “Mercy For Miscreants”

Side issue: Newsbusters used this photo of Petula Dvorak. Is that unethical, as in gratuitously mean? There are nicer ones. (Of course, I'm using the photo to raise the issue. Honest.)

Side issue: Newsbusters used this photo of Petula Dvorak. Is that unethical, as in gratuitously mean? There are nicer ones. (Of course, I’m using the photo to raise the issue. Honest.)

The surreptitiously filmed video of a Planned Parenthood official talking about butchering babies like Ed Gein talking about how to make lampshades out of a human face presented anti-abortion advocates with smoking gun evidence of the callousness and disregard of fetal life the pro-abortion movement has cultivated. One cannot think about fetuses, even advanced fetuses, as living, human beings and blithely encourage their destruction. The recorded comments of Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research, released in the shortened version of a three hour video, should inform a national debate regarding abortion, a debate that the pro-abortion forces desperately want to avoid. The video itself makes it clear why.

Thus the news media is determined to bury the story, just as it barely covered the abortion House of Horrors of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The ugly reality of abortion is not supportive of abortion, just as the reality of slavery was rejected and avoided by slavery proponents until Uncle Tom’s Cabin shocked the culture out of its denial. Abortion advocates focus on the beneficial results of abortion– freedom for women, workforce flexibility, family planning, personal power—and it is the equivalent of slavery advocates pointing to the Old South’s agricultural affluence and pleasant lifestyle to justify keeping hguman beings in chains. The news media shouldn’t be picking winners in this cultural debate. It has a duty to report facts, especially facts that might shock the public out of ignorance and apathy on such a vital issue involving law and ethics.

As activists are wont to do in their passion, the Live Action-affiliated group that released the video over-reached in its interpretation of it, thus giving the news media, Planned Parenthood and the pro-abortion lobby an easy path to deflection. The video doesn’t prove, or even strongly suggest, that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts for research. By making that accusation, the group opened the door to attacks on the legitimacy of the video. Every media report says that it is “heavily edited,” a phrase intended to suggest that it is deceptively edited. The video is heavily edited because the raw video, which is available to view as well, is three hours long and watching it is like watching paint dry while being hit in the face by an occasional rock.

Unless the media defenders of Planned Parenthood think that the unedited video contains moments when Nucatola says, “Oh, by the way, I didn’t mean what I just said, even though I sounded like I did,” the woman displayed a callous, core attitude that killing a human embryo is as ethically significant as stepping on a cockroach. That’s what is so disturbing about the video, why it is important, and why abortion foes should make certain it is viewed by as many U.S. citizens as possible. Political figures, candidates for office and elected officials should also be forced to confront the video, with “well, that’s heavily edited” being immediately called what it is: a dodge.

On the topic of dodges, we have Planned Parenthood’s apology for Nucatola. Cecile Richards, the group’s president, stated in a video:

“Our top priority is the compassionate care that we provide. In the video, one of our staff members speaks in a way that does not reflect that compassion. This is unacceptable, and I personally apologize for the staff member’s tone and statements. As always, if there is any aspect of our work that can be strengthened, we want to know about it, and we take swift action to address it.”

On the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, this is a solid #9,“apologizing for a tangential matter other than the act or words that warranted an apology.” Compassion toward whom? The issue in the video is the disgusting lack of compassion for the unborn who are being reduced to body parts for medical research, not lack of compassion for the mothers of those little bundles of body parts.

As with the Slate’s attempted defense of the indefensible, Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak was propelled by the perceived threat to Planned Parenthood and abortions galore into a near hysterical condemnation of the video, one that, also like the Slate column, nicely illustrated the ethical and logical deficits in the pro-abortion position.

She begins by defining the latest addition to the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List with her very first sentence: “Planned Parenthood has become one of the most attacked groups in America.” The simple rejoinder to that is, “So what?” Either the group deserves a particular criticism, or it doesn’t. The fact that some criticism is unfair or excessive does not invalidate legitimate criticism, or suggest that it is unfair or cruel to offer it.

Nonetheless, we see this rationalization often. It is favorite dodge of Hillary Clinton’s supporters: “There they go, attacking Hillary Clinton again!” they say, as if the frequency of criticism can only be attributable to the unfair zeal of her critics, and her conduct has nothing to do with it. I call this rationalization “Mercy For Miscreants.”

Its theory is that it is only fair to assign a criticism quota to groups and individuals: at a certain point, no more criticism is allowed, because nobody should have to be criticized that much. It is so darn mean to keep heaping abuse on someone, even if they deserve it. This new rationalization  is #38 A,  classified as a sub-rationalization under rationalization number 38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!”  “Mercy For Miscreants,” or “Why don’t they pick on someone else?is arguably more sinister and illogical that its parent, because it is based on the Bizarro World theory that the more someone is criticized, the less they should be criticized. On occasion, this rationalization also appeals to #21. Ethics Accounting, on the batty theory that if someone, or a group like Planned Parenthood, has been unfairly criticized in the past, that should count in their favor and relieve them of being legitimately criticized later.

Petula is just getting started, however. Here next two paragraphs are about how unfairly Planned Parenthood has been attacked in the past, and what wonderful things it does, neither of which are even faintly germane to the current controversy, which involves a high-ranking executive saying things like…

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver. . . . So I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact…”

…about unborn children. That’s what she is crushing. And she is crushing the life out of them, beyond question. Continue reading

California Government Ethics: Water Sprinklers During A Drought…In The Rain

The catastrophic shortage of water in California has prompted rationing and the looming prospect of permanent changes to the state’s economy and lifestyle. Yet this week a citizen with a cellphone captured video of California Department of Transportation sprinklers sewing the precious fluid along a freeway…as a light rain fell following a night of showers. Meanwhile, along the freeways, message boards are warning motorists of the importance of responsible water use in the drought, stating “Severe Drought. Limit Outdoor Watering.”

In my business and corporate ethics programs, I often use a hypothetical based on a true incident at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in which the staff was told that there would have to be a freeze on raises and new hiring because of financial challenges facing the association. They were told that everyone would have to sacrifice for the vital mission of the Chamber. That same week, the General Counsel’s office received a long-delayed remodeling, with expensive new furniture, artwork and carpeting. Morale plummeted, and the absence of trust in management was palpable. I use the incident to demonstrate the consequences of leadership hypocrisy and absence of integrity, when those in power hold themselves to different, and lower, standards than they claim to champion.

What California did was far, far worse. Continue reading

Leadership Trust: Is This Finally The Public’s Tipping Point On President Obama?

giant-jengaTipping points are events that establish major shifts in public attitudes and the culture, and what determines a tipping point varies from circumstance to circumstance. When the switch is flipped on public trust, a leader is done for, at least in a democracy. This is why, in a parliamentary system,  prime ministers call for elections at such times, or even resign. It’s a tradition the U.S. might do well to consider.

The tipping point on the George W. Bush presidency was glaringly obvious: it was the botched handling of Hurricane Katrina, even though that particular fiasco was mostly an example of effective  blame-shifting by New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin. Bush had already accumulated many legitimate reasons to doubt him, but the traditional American eagerness to like and trust whoever holds the same job as Washington, Lincoln and FDR had kept his presidency afloat…until it drowned in Katrina. All was downhill from there.

Interestingly, nobody at the time argued that Americans should support the lousy response to Katrina because not doing so would cripple the Bush presidency going forward. But I digress..

Now it appears that the Obama proposal/decision/ argument—who knows what it really is?—to engage in a limited missile attack on Syria may be the public tipping point on Obama’s leadership, the moment when the veils fall and the nation reluctantly but decisively admits that the man it elected—twice—as its leader cannot be trusted. If so, it is remarkable this took so long, testimony to how much we all wanted our first African-American President to succeed. The tipping point for me was years ago. Following the Bush experience, I thought that the bungled government handling of the Gulf oil spill would clinch it, but no. Then came the Benghazi mess, with an ambassador and other Americans murdered without any decisive response other than deceptive spin and obfuscation to avoid electoral consequences—the I.R.S. tea party harassment (still being investigated, and looking worse all the time)—the NSA revelations, and the growing evidence that while the Affordable Care Act may not be the cataclysmic socialist disaster conservatives claim it is, it is also far from what the President promised. No tipping point though, until Syria, and the consequences flowing directly from the President’s undisciplined off-the-cuff rhetoric—a constantly repeated flaw in his leadership style.

Now, as tipping points do, this current controversy is resuscitating all of the past incidents, and serving as the catalyst for a reappraisal of Obama’s leadership. The looming conclusion is that he cannot be trusted.

Occasionally am beaten to the punch by a pundit or blogger who delivers an essay that says exactly what I was preparing to write, even as I was almost finished writing it. Such a pundit is Forbes contributor Merrill Mathews, who delivered an article on that publication’s website over the weekend, titled “What Happens When You Can’t Believe A Thing The President Says?” (My title was going to be “When Trust Is Gone”).

Some key quotes from the article: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Facebook Wars II”

Though not strictly an ethics comment, Mary’s theory about why school administrators are engaging in so much ethically dubious conduct is provocative and has the ring of truth. Here is her Comment of the Day, on the post “Facebook Wars II: More School Abuse of Power and Privacy“:

“A number of years ago, while extracting myself from a bad relationship, a therapist friend told me that the more healed and “normal” I became, the more outrageous and pathological my ex-partner’s behavior would be, in a psychological attempt to pull me back into the relationship.

“I sometimes think the same thing applies to social relationships and organizations. As they lose their relevancy and people withdraw and move on to new social structures, those invested in the old organizations thrash wildly to maintain an ever crumbling status quo. Continue reading