Tag Archives: Trayvon Martin

An Ethics Riddle: What Do Starbucks And The University Of Virginia Have In Common?

They both called the cops on someone who was violating a policy. Only one of them, however, was accused of racism.

Bruce Kothmann, a University of Virginia alumnus, read aloud from his Bible on the steps of the school’s Rotunda this week, so university police came make him stop. He did stop, because he didn’t want to be arrested. For such public speech is no longer allowed at the public university. The Rotunda is not one of the places the university has designated for public speech by outsiders. Kothmann was on to campus because his daughter had just finished her sophomore year, but was reading from his  Bible with him to challenge the school’s  policy limiting speech on campus.

A terse reader comment on the story said, “This is basically what happened at Starbucks.” The comment is correct.

Would UVA have sent the police to silence a black parent? My guess: no, and if it had, the school would be grovelling in the dust right now, begging for forgiveness. Unless the school could quickly point to a white transgressor who got the cops called on him, a charge of race bias would be devastating, and, of course, effective.

You recall the Starbucks episode: I covered it here. Two African Americans were informed of a Starbucks policy that required those using the facilities to be customers. The men refused, the manager called the police claiming trespass, and the rest is ugly, race-baiting history. The two men could have left just as Mr. Kothmann agreed to stop reading, but that’s just moral luck. The reader was right: the episodes were the same….except for the race of the violator involved.

The Ethics Alarms position is that both policies, that of the university and the old Starbucks policy, are reasonable, with the Starbucks policy being the more  defensible, since UVA is a public university and has the First Amendment to contend with. Never mind: the news media and the social justice social media mob have little interest in a white man being stopped by police from reading that old rag, The Bible, but if two black men violating a private business’s reasonable policy have that policy enforced against them, that’s intolerable.

We have the birth of a new racial privilege, now extending beyond police shootings (a white cop can safety shoot a threatening white suspect, but not a black one) to other forms of previously justifiable conduct. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Education, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Ugh! Here’s One More Unethical Practice (Of Many) Trump Needs To Eliminate From His Repertoire, And Quickly

trump-tweet-at-union-head-jpg

It’s pretty simple, though President Obama hasn’t figured it out in in eight years:

The President of the United States must not attack or criticize private citizens or negatively characterize their actions, nor should he interfere with local matters, criminal justice, the courts, the news media, or private businesses,  unless it is absolutely necessary, which it almost never is. This applies to his treatment of journalists, celebrities, athletes, local officials, accused criminals, military personnel, lawyers, other professionals…

…and union representatives.

Chuck Jones, the president of the local chapter of the United Steelworkers union that represents Carrier employees in Indianapolis, told The Post on Tuesday that the Trump exaggerated the number of jobs he claims to have saved, since 550 of the union’s members will lose their jobs anyway. Trump immediately sent the tweet above, directly attacking Jones by name. Shortly after the tweet, Jones says, he began getting threatening phone calls. “Nothing that says they’re gonna kill me, but, you know, ‘You better keep your eye on your kids. We know what car you drive.’ Things along those lines,” he told the Post.

I’m not surprised, but Trump’s “punching down” would be just as wrong if there was no response at all. This is an abuse of power. It is an abuse of influence. It is an abuse of office, and once he is President, it will be an abuse of the “bully pulpit.” The conduct is bullying,  as well as irresponsible, dangerous, and stupid.

I did call it, though! My post in April about Gov. Rick Scott attacking a citizen, in his case a coffee shop critic, in a campaign ad ended with this statement:

It is hard to imagine a more petty, needless, demeaning example of “punching down.” Jennings isn’t running against Scott; she is just a citizen critic, if an especially rude and nasty one. For a governor to focus an attack ad on a mere citizen is an abuse of power and position. It is ethically indefensible.

It is exactly what Donald Trump would do, though.

It is far worse for a President-Elect to punch down, of course; it’s even unethical for a Presidential candidate nobody thinks can win to do it. Trump’s pre-emptively calling Bowe Bergdahl a traitor is now a fair trial problem in the ex-prisoner of war’s court-martial. This is a terrible habit to indulge, and it opens the door to far more harmful misuses of Presidential power.  Continue reading

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The Democratic National Convention Presents The Most Unethical Use Of Mothers Yet

Mothers

The Republicans exploiting the grief of Patricia Smith, the mother of a young man slain in the 2012 Benghazi attack, by putting her on the party’s convention program was irresponsible and ethically revolting, especially from a party that (correctly) labelled Cindy Sheehan a grief-addled nuisance when she was protesting the Iraq War. Smith’s emotional rant against Hillary Clinton was pure grief porn, and expanded the sensationalist  trend in the news media (and legislative hearings) to use the most conflicted and biased figures imaginable—the loved ones of victims of tragedy—to frame a controversial issue in complex events.

Naturally, the Democratic Party’s allies in the media returned the hypocrisy many-fold. Maureen Dowd of the Times, who had pronounced Sheehan as someone with “absolute moral authority”—because having one’s son killed instantly makes you an authority on foreign affairs, at least when a Republican President is in office—was silent about Smith’s moral authority as she was attacked by critics, including the Washington Post, Chris Matthews, and a GQ writer who wrote that he wanted to “beat her to death.”

Foolishly, I took these attacks as  a hopeful sign that the Democrats and progressives were maturing ethically, and had rendered the proper ethics judgment that by prioritizing emotion over reason, it was unfair, misleading, exploitive and irresponsible to use grieving mothers this way. No, it wasn’t hypocrisy. It was ethical growth. Democrats, unlike Republicans, now knew this was a cheap and tawdry tactic, and they would no longer stoop so low.

Boy, am I gullible.

It was hypocrisy, and the Democrats wouldn’t stoop as low as Republicans, they would stoop much, much, much lower.

Among those who appeared on the Hillary Clinton coronation stage last night were members of Mothers of the Movement, an offshoot of Black Lives Matter. Though the message spoken by these women appeared to be about police brutality, unjustly killed black men and the need to ban guns, their commonality was only this: all of them were mothers of African Americans who died violently, and all of them blame whites, police, guns, the justice system or the United States of America, regardless of evidence, the findings of juries, and investigations. That is a fair description.

Let’s look at the women who appeared on stage: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Race, Rights, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society

The Flat Learning Curve Again: Obama Signals His Desires In A Law Enforcement Matter Of Some Considerable Consequence

curve-flat…and not just any law enforcement matter, but an investigation of a former Secretary of State and presumptive Presidential nominee.

Nice. You see, Barack Obama just doesn’t care. That’s the only possible explanation for this pattern which goes way back to 2009, when he opined on whether his old friend from Harvard, Henry Louis Gates, was the party at fault in an altercation with a Cambridge, Mass, police officer. That was his first year as President, so maybe it’s plausible that this “Constitutional scholar” and allegedly brilliant man didn’t know that the President of the United States warps the justice system and law enforcement when he declares how he thinks they should handle a particular matter, since he is at the tippity top of our rule of law. Obama has done this again and again, however—with Trayvon Martin… in the Big Branch Mine disaster…as Obamacare approached a key challenge in the Supreme Court…in the military sex abuse scandal…regarding Arizona’s illegal immigration laws, and regarding other matters. He has to know by now that it biases the process, but his supporters cheer, the news media makes excuses, only Republicans, the “conservative media”  and Ethics Alarms complain, so he keeps doing it anyway. He can get away with it, so he just doesn’t care.

Nice.

This, however, was special. The same day that the White House admitted that the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s intentional mishandling of official e-mails for her own personal needs–she didn’t want citizens to be able to see her business and political machinations using the Freedom of Information Act—was a criminal investigation, he endorsed Clinton for President in glowing terms.

Fox News’ Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen asked White House Paid Liar Josh Earnest about the appropriateness of this—heaven forfend that any non-conservative-biased news outlet would ask such an obvious and necessary  question, queried “You have other employees of the executive branch, career prosecutors, FBI agents, working this case who have now just heard how the president wants to see this case resolved, in essence. Isn’t there some conflict there?”
Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

New Hampshire Reflections: Let’s Leave Aside The E-Mail And The Lies For Now: Hillary’s Reaction To Adversity Shows She Is Unfit To Lead

I freely admit that it is unfair to use unflattering photos like this, which Drudge is featuring today. But it made me laugh, and maybe it will brighten someone else's day.

I freely admit that it is unfair to use unflattering photos like this, which Drudge is featuring today. But it made me laugh, and maybe it will brighten someone else’s day.

Preface: I’m not going to bother pointing out the obvious about Trump and his supporters, nor harp on the fact that the man used both “fuck” and “pussy” in recent speeches. Nothing has changed regarding the national embarrassment of his ugly candidacy, nor the utter idiocy of anyone who would be willing to have him by the face of the United States of America. If there are any readers here who support him, they have the good sense to sit silently in the Ethics Alarms cellar with Justice Scalia’s metaphorical bag over their heads. This post remains the verdict on Trump here. It’s five months old, and nothing has changed. Please circulate it to your dumbest friends.

Most of the Ethics Alarms posts about Hillary Clinton’s atrocious ethics and untrustworthy character have focused on her influence peddling, her conflicts of interest, her hypocrisy and her dishonesty. I keep hearing and reading desperate Democrats nonetheless rationalizing their supporting Clinton because of her alleged competence. We are seeing, right now, how she responds to adversity, stress, competition and crisis. What we are seeing isn’t competence by any definition.  Hillary is showing the nation  that under pressure and in crisis, she becomes angry, stonewalls, jettisons principle and ethics, and makes panicky, ill-considered statements and decisions, and defaults to “the ends justify the means.”

Exhibit #1: The Wall Street Speeches Defense.

We won’t know unless they turn up, but it’s pretty clear to everyone—isn’t it?— why Clinton’s $600,000 speeches to Go9ldman Sachs are a problem, and why she hasn’t turned over the transcripts. Companies don’t pay that kind of money to have their employees told that they are evil and their business is a blight on humanity. They do pay money to curry favor with a woman then assumed to be on an unstoppable path to the White House. The Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza connected the dots…

“My guess is that in the speeches, Clinton acknowledges her various friends and acquaintances at Goldman Sachs (and other Wall Street firms) and praises them for the work they are doing. “You guys get a bad rap but . . .” Yes, it’s standard-issue small talk. But it could look really, really bad in the context of the campaign. Imagine a transcript of Clinton speaking to some big bank or investment firm, thanking a litany of people she’s “been friends with forever” and praising the broader enterprise for “all you do.”

Of course. Cilizza minimizes it, saying that it “would look bad,” but in fact it is bad. Hillary can’t make the sweeping statements she has (in order to imitate Sanders) about how she will be tough on Wall Street villains, when she not only accepted huge speaking fees from the same people she says she will fight, but also fawned all over them when they were face to face. Already one attendee of a Goldman Sachs speech has supported Cilizza’s thesis. Maybe he’s wrong, and there’s exactly one way to find out. A confident, honest, competent and transparent leader would release the speeches, and explain the discrepancy between what she told the Wall Streeters then and what she says now, being ready and to answer the obvious question, “If you’ll lie to them, why wouldn’t you lie to us?”

Instead, Clinton sent her #1 surrogate,Bill, to make the hilarious accusation that Sanders was hypocritical to attack her Wall Street speaking fees. After all, Bill told one New Hampshire audience this week, Sanders, has given paid speeches too! This is the level of respect with which President Clinton, the female one, would treat the public. In 2013, Sanders received speaking fees totaling  $1,500, which he donated to charity as required by federal law. In 2014, he got $1,850 for paid speeches. Hillary Clinton made and kept over $21 million during the same time period.

A competent President has to be able to spin better than this. That aside, this shows us that a Clinton Administration would be, if possible, even less transparent than the current one.

Exhibit #2: Race-baiting and Division Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Leadership, Race

Just A Reminder: I Warned About This From The Start, Almost Three Years Ago

Poor Cassandra. I know how she felt.

Poor Cassandra. I know how she felt.

The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, which encompasses the shooting of two police officers in New York City, is just the second section of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck. The coordinated effort to represent the American justice system as hostile to blacks, and white society as determined to harm them, was launched in Florida in early 2012, nearly three years ago.  It might have failed then, as it deserved to since there was no genuine racial element in the actual Martin-Zimmerman episode, had not the President of the United States used his bully pulpit, credibility with black Americans and the power and influence of his office to declare the local incident as emblematic of societal hostility to African-Americans, and Obama personally. This, as I wrote earlier this week, lit the fuse that exploded into racial violence against police this past week.

I saw it then. I have seldom seen anything more clearly.  So I wrote:

What does {Obama] think he’s doing? Teens, children and adults are murdered every day, many of them right where Obama lives, in Washington, D.C. Aren’t all of the violent deaths “tragedies”? Why is this one, and only this one, worthy of specific presidential attention? Is it because black leaders called for the President to overstep his proper role? Who cares what activists call on the President to do—certainly he shouldn’t. Does this now justify their calls for retribution and violence, or validate high school students who are staging walk-outs to protest law enforcement officials investigating a case before they make any arrest? (Are high school students now empowered to dictate law enforcement policy? Suspend every single one of them.)

What earthly difference does it make what Trayvon looked like, who his death makes the President think about, or whether he looked like the son Obama never had? So what? What if he looked like my son? Not good enough? When a white, Hispanic or Asian kid in a hoodie is shot by some gun-wielding hysteric, can those parents also count on a statement of concern by Obama? What if they are just run down by a drunk driver, or killed by being left in an over-heated car? Not tragic enough? Doesn’t strike the same chord of of “seriousness”? Or will these tragic deaths not be viewed as sufficiently important to the President’s “base” in an election year? Do you think these questions are unfair? Who laid the groundwork for them?

Misusing his office and prestige in such matters simultaneously diminishes the presidency and warps its function. The position has always included the role of Mourner-in-Chief, at times of genuine national tragedies, such as the Twin Tower bombings, the Challenger disaster, and Pearl Harbor. Cheapening this solemn function by intervening in local crimes and contentious race-charged controversies accomplishes nothing positive: it is divisive, intrusive, and dangerous.

Got that? Dangerous. I chose that word deliberately. March 12, 2012.

Reading the comments again now is fascinating: readers conservative and liberal denounced my criticism as unfair, after the usual “Bush did it too” spin from the reflex Obama defenders.

Arthur in Maine wrote: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

Comment Of The Day: “After The Brooklyn Cop Murders, The Sound Of Spinning: WindyPundit Takes On My ‘Smear'”

Neil Dorr is among my favorite regular Ethics Alarms commenters, because he is passionate, articulate and fearless, and because he disagrees with me about 85% of the time. I’m also fond of Neil because he is part of an esteemed father-son team here: Karl Penny, his dad, had registered his commentary at Ethics Alarms since its launch. Neil informed me this month that his father had died, suddenly and unexpectedly. It is strange: I had never met Karl face-to-face, but I feel like I have lost a friend, so vivid and good-natured were his periodic communications here. Neil, of course, has lost far more, and my heart and good wishes go out to him and his family.

Someone had to register this response to my conclusions regarding the assassinations of two police officers in New York. I assumed that this would be the reaction of many and perhaps the majority, which is why I almost didn’t post my position. I know it walks into the spinning propeller of predictable resistance to truth-telling on this issue.

The media is already doing a bang-up job confusing the public and muddying the water, primarily by misrepresenting the situation as a) a dispute over “police abuse,”when the issue is the presumed racism of the system; b) focusing on NYC Mayor De Blasio, who is a minor player at best, and c) making it seem like the consequences of the despicable “Hands up!” propaganda are a local New York issue only. In this they have been ably assisted by clumsy blow-hards like Rudy Giuliani, who virtually made a straw man and handed it to his critics. “Is Giuliani correct in saying that President Obama started a propaganda campaign four months ago that “everybody should hate the police”? asked Washington Post “Fact Checker” on the way to giving Rudy four “Pinnochios.” Of course he wasn’t correct. I, however, am correct when I conclude that Obama and others have created an environment where African Americans fear and distrust the police, the justice system, and their fellow citizens who happen to be white more than any period since the Civil Rights movement. I know that Obama supporters  disheartened Democrats hate to hear this, and will resist accepting it like the approach of grim death. They can take solace, perhaps, in the fact that my influence on and ability to enlighten public perception is negligible, so with the help of the news media, accountability can be ducked once again, at least for a while. Maybe after the death toll rises sufficiently, people will be ready to listen….to someone else with a bigger megaphone, presumably.

Here is Neil Dorr’s Comment of the Day on the post “After The Brooklyn Cop Murders, The Sound Of Spinning: WindyPundit Takes On My ‘Smear,'” and yes, I will have a rebuttal at the end: Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race