Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 9/10/2019: Fat-Shaming, Race-Baiting, And Terrorist-Tarring [UPDATED]

ARRGH!! Half-way through the day, and not out of my pajamas yet!

1. Here’s the kind of comment that won’t get an aspiring  new commenter approved…From Erik Guettler: “It’s sad that you think you actually know anything about ethical behavior by criticizing Bill Maher, while Donald Trump’s the most unethical, openly racist and corrupt president Americans have ever had.”

The comment fails on many levels. To begin with, it’s stupid (there is a stupidity justification among the Ethics Alarms banning tenets.) Criticizing Maher for his frequent absence of functioning ethics alarms cannot make me think I know anything about ethical behavior. The opposite is true: it is because I am an ethicist that I criticize Maher, though it hardly requires an expert to recognize his unethical conduct.A relatively well-raised 17-year-old could do it.

Second, the comment breaches basic ethical analysis principles, not to mention common sense: President Trump’s conduct is irrelevant to how unethical Maher is, as is my criticism, or not, of the President. Third, his list of Trump failings is—oooh! Let me finally use this!NPC junk. Neither he nor anyone can find me any “openly racist” conduct or statements on the President’s part, for this is one of the Big Lies (#4, to be exact.) I have gone through this dance with many Trump Deranged Facebook friends. Challenged to back up the “openly racist” lie, they babble about how he challenged Obama’s birth certificate, and go downhill from there. The statement that he is the “most unethical” President, personally or professionally,  is proof of historical ignorance and bias. Unethical he is, but whether Trump’s lack of ethics is more or less substantive than that of Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton is a matter of legitimate disagreement. The “corrupt” accusation is also non-substantive, unproven, and based on supposition and bias rather than evidence.

But never mind all that: the claim that Ethics Alarms has somehow ignored Donald Trump’s ethics deficits is so easily disproved that the insulting comment is an example of reckless disregard for the truth.

Bite me, Erik.

And don’t come back.

2. While we’re on the topic of Mr. Maher’s ethics…Here is the professional asshole in his most recent HBO episode:
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Asshole vs. Asshole, And How To Avoid Starring In It

If you are old enough, you may remember the long-running comic  in Mad Magazine called “Spy vs Spy.” It was kind of a wordless Roadrunner cartoon with a Cold War vibe, and not especially funny, but I just thought of it for the first time in decades. (Incredibly, it is apparently still running in Mad, though the magazine itself is sinking fast.) I was considering this ridiculous story…

…It started small, but disputes over a Kansas man’s alleged violations of his homeowner association’s rules has led to a complex legal battle that is now the most expensive of its kind. Owner Jim Hildenbrand, has been locked in conflict with the HOA of Avignon Villa Homes since he moved there in 2012…

What began with a disagreement over the placement of a satellite dish and a decorative wall has escalated into a legal back-and-forth that has cost both parties at least a combined $1 million. It is the most expensive HOA dispute in the country.

It is also yet another example of the increasingly common societal phenomenon of “Asshole vs. Asshole.” These are ethics breakdowns where two parties in disagreement decide that making the other side pay for daring to have an adverse position overwhelms whatever the original objectives of the two parties were. It is reminiscent of the kinds of disputes parents—the good ones, anyway–arbitrate between siblings. “You’re both right,” Mom or Dad will say, “And you’re both wrong. You have reached the point where the escalation of anger and retaliation is the problem, not what you think you are arguing about.. Work it out. Compromise. See it from the other one’s perspective. And if you don’t, we’re going to punish both of you.”

In the case of Mr. Hildebrand and his fascist Home Owner Association, both sides say it’s the principle of the thing. As any reader hear know, I am a believer in and a practitioner of taking stands for principle, but knowing when this is essential (Do NOT apologize for speaking the truth or bucking the mob) and destructive is a critical life skill. The trick is keeping emotion out of it, and engaging in ethics problem solving. Asshole vs Asshole occurs when hate, and anger, and the desire to teach that jerk a lesson blinds both parties to common sense, the Golden Rule, and the human duty to seek peace, not war. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The American Bar Association

Res Ipsa Loquitur: The American Bar Association  Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice will bestow the prestigious Thurgood Marshall Award on former Obama U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago on August 4. It has been obvious for a long time, but if anyone needed any further evidence that the ABA is now a full-fledged partisan left-wing organization masquerading as an objective professional association, this is it. Holder wasn’t just a bad AG, he was a political one in what is supposed to be a non-political office. He was also racialist, and obviously so, regularly coordinating with Al Sharpton and his followers, and constructing a Civil Rights division that adopted the position that only whites could engage in civil rights violations.

Holder should have disqualified himself from any professional awards, not to mention his high office in the Obama Administration, when he gave the green light to President  Clinton’s  infamous pardon of Democratic donor Marc Rich (aka. Clinton’s quid pro quo for his ex-wife’s  fat donation to his Presidential library). In fact, it was a defining moment, and having defined himself as a partisan lackey, Holder was exactly what President Obama wanted at Justice. Holder intervened in the Trayvon Martin case to signal it as a race-related crime in the absence of any evidence, and did likewise in the Michael Brown shooting, lighting the fuse of racial distrust and community anger at police. Then he called the United States a “nation of cowards” regarding race relations. The real coward was Holder, who used his race—he was the first black Attorney General—to shield himself from the accountability and criticism his mishandling of his office deserved.

Holder was held in contempt of Congress—and allowed the captive news media to call the action “racist”—after he withheld documents and key witnesses from oversight committees looking at several scandals in which his Justice Department was complicit. Notable among them was the “Fast and Furious” fiasco in which the government allowed Mexican drug gangs to get high-powered weapons, one of which ended up killing an American. Holder actively misled Congress in testimony under oath.ore than once.  He sought significant reductions in privacy and due process protections for citizens—civil rights? Hello, ABA?— and personally announced and supported Obama’s “kill list” policy, in which the President asserted the right to kill any U.S. citizen on his sole authority without a charge or due process.  Holder let his  department apply the controversial Espionage Act of 1917 to bring twice the number of such prosecutions under the Act that had occurred under all previous Attorneys General.  He led the Obama Administration in a campaign against government whistle-blowers. Holder championed warrantless surveillance (Civil rights? Hello?). Most damning of all given the title of his upcoming award, Holder was personally involved in targeting journalists for surveillance and  was the leader of an Obama administration attack on the news media that was condemned by many public interest and media groups. Holder’s Justice Department seized phone records for reporters and editors  at three Associated Press offices as well as its office in the House of Representatives. Under oath, Holder later claimed to know nothing about any of it.

Writes Prof. Jonathan Turley, who has written many searing articles documenting Holder’s disgraceful tenure at Justice,

“Holder’s “contributions” cost civil liberties dearly in this country. If the ABA is to give him this award, it could at least spare civil libertarians and journalists the reference to civil liberties.”

_______________

Note: You can read the various Ethics Alarms documentation of Holder unethical words and conduct here.

This one is probably my favorite, from 2014.

Mission Accomplished: Political False Narrative Established

From a footnote in Robert Weintraub”s “The Victory Season: The End of World War II and the Birth of Baseball’s Golden Age” (2013, paperback edition 2014):

“Sanford, Florida would return to the civil rights foreground in early 2012, when an unarmed black teenager named Trayvon Martin was shot to death by a neighborhood watchman, mainly because he felt the hooded sweatshirt Martin was wearing looked suspicious.”

Weintraub is an author and baseball historian. I got the book, which is excellent, from my son for Christmas. The original hardback edition was published before George Zimmerman’s July 2013 trial, but the paperback edition could easily have been corrected. People have no reason to doubt Weintraub, or assume that he has a political agenda. Maybe he doesn’t.

When he wrote the above, the “Trayvon Martin was shot by a racist because he was wearing a hoodie and was racially profiled” had been the racially inflammatory narrative pounded into the American public for months by the news media, Democrats, black activists and, of course, the President of the United States. A member of the Congressional Black Caucus even wore a hoodie on the floor of the House. In fact, there was never a shred of evidence that race had anything to do with Zimmerman’s actions or Martin’s death, or that it was a civil rights story at all. George Zimmerman, the “neighborhood watchman”—at least Weintraub didn’t say he was a “white Hispanic”—“mainly” shot Martin because… Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: BLM Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors

The facts, not so much…

“Trayvon Martin was a teenage boy literally walking in his own neighborhood doing what most teenagers do: Wearing a hoodie, buying snacks and talking on his cell phone. His family and Trayvon would not know that his life would end that night because a white vigilante would be empowered by his own racist beliefs and murder a 17-year-old boy in cold blood.”

——Patrisse Cullors, cofounder of Black Lives Matter and founder of Dignity and Power Now, in an op-ed on the NBC News website, via the “THINK” page, ironically enough.

Cullors’ op-ed is, quite simply, a lie on multiple levels. Nevertheless, NBC News allowed it to be published on its website to mislead readers and the public, to be passed along as fact on Facebook, and to further the racist objectives of Black Lives Matter, which is built on a foundation of this lie and other false narratives, like the assertion that Mike Brown was shot by a racist cop as Brown cried “Don’t shoot!” with his hands up.

Black Lives Matter is still officially supported by the Democratic Party, meaning that the party is complicit in advancing the hateful and divisive “alternative facts” that Trayvon Martin was “murdered in cold blood.”

A jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Martin, ruling that based on the evidence,  Zimmerman acted in self-defense. All the evidence supported that conclusion, as even one of the prosecution’s own witnesses admitted. Forensic experts concluded that the larger Martin was bashing Zimmerman’s head into a concrete sidewalk when Zimmerman pulled his gun and shot the 17-year-old. No evidence pointed to Zimmerman instigating the attack on Martin: Martin attacked him, and knocked him to the ground. Zimmerman certainly shared culpability for the episode, but “murder in cold blood” is pure fantasy under any analysis of the facts.

Never mind: Cullors is engaging in an example of the unethical device of repeating the same false narrative until people believe it. (Martin was not “walking through his own neighborhood,” either; he was walking through a gated community where he did not normally reside.  Compared to the rest of Cullers’ lies, however, that description is relatively accurate.) Continue reading

The New York Times’ “Lessons From A Year Talking Race”: Not Fake News, Just Divisive And Misleading Propaganda

“Over the past year, we have hosted weekly live conversations about race and ethnicity on Facebook, tackling topics that ranged from black royalty to Latino baseball players to Asian-American slurs. RaceNYT, as we call the segment, is an extension of the crucial coverage on race — in America and beyond — that appears in The New York Times. We see it as a chance not only to explore important stories of race and what they mean to society, but also to give you, our readers and viewers, a chance to join the conversation.

These subjects are not always easy to talk about. Why, for instance, is affordable housing built mostly in poor, heavily minority areas? What are the terms about race that make us uncomfortable? And what do the United States and major institutions like universities owe the descendants of the enslaved people they profited from?

We explored these issues and more with a wide range of guests, including political strategists, filmmakers, academics and Times viewers. Here are five takeaways from the show…”

Thus spake the New York Times, online a couple of days ago, and in today’s print edition. What are stated as “takeaways” are, however, the product of confirmation bias, dubious assumptions, and efforts at political manipulation. For example…

Like racial minorities in the United States, Indigenous Australians are often relegated to the fringe of society, Craig Quartermaine, an Aboriginal television reporter and comedian, told us. “We’re window dressing,” he said.

Why this is unethical: Comparing the problems of Indigenous Australians to “racial minorities in the United States” is unsupportable. A comparison with indigenous North American populations would arguably be valid.

Madeline Vann reached out to us, wondering how she should handle the racially offensive remarks she was hearing in her community. She is a white freelance writer in Virginia.

Why this is unethical: Uh-uh. Ethics foul. You can’t tar a community like that without giving concrete examples. I live in Virginia: I almost never hear any “racially offensive remarks.” The New York Times core audience is the same group that believes it is “racially offensive” to object to NFL players using stadium time to issue half-baked protests they can’t articulate during the national anthem. The Times’ supposedly open inquiry on race begins with the assumption that the nation is racist. That’s called a bias. What kind of remarks are you talking about Madeline? How many, how often and from how many people?

“The first year of the Trump presidency has been marked by a vast racial chasm where perspectives often exist in different worlds.”

Why this is unethical: Wow, all that division in such a short time! This statement is deceitful. The reason there is a vast racial chasm is because the previous administration had eight years to put it there, and the because the news media fully committed to the project. The Congressional Black Caucus boycotted the Trump Inauguration, because part of the campaign strategy against him was to declare he was a racist, and that anyone who voted for him was a racist. That was a strategy developed into an art form to protect Barack Obama from legitimate criticism, and keep his loyal African American base angry and afraid.

Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of a “white Hispanic” was politicized by Obama and the CDC to widen that “chasm,” and it occurred midway through the Obama years. In 2012, Joe Biden said that the Republicans wanted to put blacks “back in chains.” Black Lives Matter wasn’t a creature of the Trump administration. Black college students didn’t start demanding “safe spaces” without whites and special privileges after Trump’s election: they did it before. The historical airbrushing madness to use slavery to justify erasing any references to the confederacy was an Obama era phenomenon that has extended into Trump’s administration. The Oscars were bullied into making race a criteria for artistic honors during Obama’s administration.

The more I read that quote, the more misleading and intentionally dishonest it seems.

The Muslim-American activists Aber Kawas and Dalia Mogahed told us how they felt last month when the authorities quickly described an attack by a Muslim man in Manhattan as terrorism, while that term was never officially applied to a white man who fatally shot more than 50 people in Las Vegas weeks earlier.

“Pretty much we define terror attacks as something that’s done by a Muslim,” Ms. Kawas said. Continue reading

A Popeye And An Unethical Quote Of The Month For The Times’ Lindy West

Popeye’s Quote:

“That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands no more!”

Lindy’s Quote:

“[Megyn] Kelly happily trafficked in racist tropes for profit…asking repeatedly whether the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown were necessarily related to race..

Nope. I can’t let this pass, and will never let this pass again. The context doesn’t matter: Lindy West’s statement above is a lie, and deliberately perpetuate a falsehood to mislead Times readers, or perhaps to encourage them to mislead others. The New York Times editors should not allow lies the paper’s pages, not in news stories, and not from pundits. West can, if she chooses, state the factually untenable opinion that she believes the deaths of Garner and Brown were based on race. She cannot state that the position that their deaths were not based on race is a “racist trope,” which requires facts and evidence showing that either or both deaths were race-related.

There is no such evidence in either case. None, Not a shred, not an iota. Lindy West is calling Megyn Kelly a racist based on an assumption she holds because it is cant within her circles despite no evidence whatsoever. That is unethical punditry, and no responsible newspaper should allow such falsity in print. Continue reading