Unethical Quote of the Week: Daily Beast Editor Justin Miller

“Fuck you…”

—-Daily Beast editor Justin Miller, in a tweet to U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) Miller was irate that Paul blamed media bias on the uproar over his irresponsible and foolish comments regarding mandatory vaccination. The tweet continued: “Today I am getting my booster vaccine. Wonder how the liberal media will misreport this.”

After Paul’s office pronounced the tweet “unacceptable,” Miller deleted the tweet, and apologized, telling Politico, “I replied from my personal account to what I felt was spin after Senator Paul said factually incorrect things about vaccines. It would’ve been better to respond with facts than an obscenity, and I deleted the tweet so it wouldn’t reflect on the Beast. I’m sorry for the insult.”

Observations:

1. Did Miller personally apologize to Paul? There is no indication that he did. This, therefore, is not an apology to the person directly aggrieved. We are seeing more and more of this: “I am sorry, Politico, that I behaved wrongly toward X.” That’s lazy, deceptive and cowardly.

2. A respectable, professional news organization would fire Miller, apology or not. In fact, any organization would fire a high placed executive who delivered a public “fuck you” to an elected official, and should. It is outrageously unprofessional conduct. It reflects badly on the organization. It shows miserable judgment, and makes trust all but impossible. I cannot think of a single job I ever held, in academia, in associations or in the non-profit sector where a tweet like that to a member, donor or customer, never mind a member of Congress (or, heaven forbid, a judge), wouldn’t have gotten me fired so fast the words “I’m sorry” would have been completed after I was locked out of the building, and rightly so. Continue reading

Rand Paul, Anti-Vaxxing and Signature Significance

"Got it, Senator. NEXT!!!"

“Got it, Senator. NEXT!!!”

It would be nice if a genuine, rational libertarian candidate could be part of the national political debate. The problem is that there are no genuine, rational libertarians. To be genuine, a libertarian has to decide on his or her policy positions based on the dictates of the ideology, which is backwards: as a leader, rather than a professor or theorist, one must figure out what is going to work, and what you wish would work or what a pre-determined formula says should work are not germane to the issue. For proof of the flaw in the latter approach, all we have to do is consider the past seven years.

Thus libertarians are prone to saying things like, “The United States should never have entered World War II.” This has been a staple of Rand Paul’s deluded father, Ron Paul, and properly places pure libertarianism with pacifism, also known as Cloud Cuckoo Land. The Berrigans used to say the same thing, you know. I believe it was Philip who said that nobody tried passive resistance to defeat Hitler, so we’ll never know if it would have worked. When you say things like this for public consumption, you forfeit the privilege of being taken seriously. It is signature significance: your judgment can’t be trusted.

For me, Rand Paul’s libertarian moment of signature significance was when he questioned the need for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, essentially saying that the nation would have been just fine allowing people like Lester Maddox to chase African-Americans out of his restaurant with an axe handle, or bus drivers to force Rosa Parks to sit in the back of the bus until change occurred naturally, you know, like after the race war. Such statements are not isolated instances of momentary madness; they are markers of serious ethical and cognitive problems, and it was inevitable that the source of that opinion would have more of the same, and perhaps worse. Continue reading

STUPIDITY SATURDAY Continues: Anti-Vaxxers Resurrect Measles With An Assist From California

jenny_mccarthy

The anti-vaccination crowd, let by such worthies as professional bimbo Jenny McCarthy (above), endangers the public health and undermines child safety by relying on various conspiracy theories and quacks to avoid a proven program of eradicating infectious diseases. Now measles, once considered extinct, has returned with a vengeance, with more reported cases in 2014 than any time since 2000.The reason is that not enough children are being vaccinated against it. Jenny and her pals are why.

Before measles vaccines became routine in 1963, between three and four million Americans a year got the disease, with 400 to 500 dying from it annually. So this isn’t a matter of kids getting the sniffles. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Jenny McCarthy Body Count

Sure, bet your kid’s life on the wisdom of Jenny McCarthy. Makes sense to me!

From The Jenny McCarthy Body Count:

“In June 2007 Jenny McCarthy began promoting anti-vaccination rhetoric. Because of her celebrity status she has appeared on several television shows and has published multiple books advising parents not to vaccinate their children. This has led to an increase in the number of vaccine preventable illnesses as well as an increase in the number of vaccine preventable deaths. Jenny McCarthy has a body count attached to her name. This website will publish the total number of vaccine preventable illnesses and vaccine preventable deaths that have happened in the United States since June 2007 when she began publicly speaking out against vaccines.

“Is Jenny McCarthy directly responsible for every vaccine preventable illness and every vaccine preventable death listed here? No. However, as the unofficial spokesperson for the United States anti-vaccination movement she may be indirectly responsible for at least some of these illnesses and deaths and even one vaccine preventable illness or vaccine preventable death is too many.”

You can visit the Jenny McCarthy Body Count, which stands at 888 preventable deaths as of May 31, 2012, here.

Your Ethics Quiz is simple: Is the website fair?

My answer: sure.

McCarthy is an engaging, attractive, well-meaning woman and semi-talented comic actress who has misused her celebrity, as many celebrities do and have, to exert more influence over the public and media than her experience, education, intelligence, wisdom and expertise justify. Are the various television programs, media outlets and hysteria-peddlers also accountable for giving someone with McCarthy’s thin credentials and outsize influence a platform to frighten and mislead the many members of the public who are even more ignorant than she is? Absolutely. Does that reduce McCarthy’s culpability for spreading misinformation that leads to potentially deadly neglect of the health needs of children? Not one bit.

Using the Jenny McCarthy Body Count to call attention to the foolishness of anti- vaccine hysteria is a clever idea, and if it keeps even one parent from being misled by the medical nonsense pushed McCarthy and her allies. it is performing a public service.

_____________________________________

Pointer: Instapundit

Facts: Jenny McCarthy Body Count

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

The “Your Right To Engage in Ignorant and Dangerous Speech Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Unethical For Me To Help It Be As Loud As Possible” Dept.: ABC Full Circle and WordPress

Defending free speech doesn't mean you have to put dangerous speech where it will do the most damage...like 100 feet tall in Times Square.

As the New Year dawns, we see two companies in the communications business, and two situations raising the question, is it ethical or unethical to allow someone to use your product or service to broadcast harmful speech?

They took different paths, and both are being criticized. One company is ethical, the other is not.

The ethical company is WordPress.

A few days ago it took down one of its sites, Bare Naked Islam, after The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) complained that the site promoted violence against Muslims, which it surely did. When Muslims placed comments on the site, Bare Naked Islam published the IP and e-mail addresses of the commenters and suggested reprisals. Nonetheless, because it was CAIR’s complaint that triggered the removal, WordPress was criticized mightily in the conservative blogosphere for doing a Comedy Central—censoring legitimate free speech out of fear of Muslim violence. There is a very large distinction, however, between abandoning free speech in response to threats, as Comedy Central did in the infamous “South Park” incident, and responding responsibly to a legitimate complaint. Continue reading

NOW Do You Get It, Bachmann Fans?

Bachmann finally jumped it, as we knew she would!

When I called Rep. Michele Bachmann unethical for her repeated uses of erroneous information in her speeches—announcing that the Battle of Concord occurred in New Hampshire, declaring the Founders spent their lives fighting slavery (and later justifying this whopper by saying that Founding Father’s Son John Quincy Adams qualified as a Founding Father himself), the Bachmanites were furious. “Anyone can make a mistake!” they argued.

Not these kinds of mistakes. As I wrote in July: Continue reading

Texas Gov. Rick Perry: Ethics Hero REVOKED, Integrity Missing

Wow, that was fast.

Rick Perry has Jenny McCarthy's vote back...and that's worth a little more cervical cancer, right Governor?

It didn’t take long for newly-minted GOP presidential contender Rick Perry, now leading in the polls, to tell us what we needed to know about his values and integrity.

He doesn’t have them.

Back in 2007, I awarded Perry an Ethics Hero designation for leading Texas to become the first state in the nation to mandate vaccination of young girls for the human papilloma virus, or HPV, which is sexually transmitted and can cause cervical cancer. “Requiring young girls to get vaccinated before they come into contact with HPV is responsible health and fiscal policy that has the potential to significantly reduce cases of cervical cancer and mitigate future medical costs,” Perry said then in a news release explaining his executive order. Now, however, Perry is declaring what I thought was a courageous decision four years ago “a mistake.”

I hereby revoke his Ethics Hero award. Continue reading