The “Non-Violent Protest” Lie


The leaders and participants in the protests related to incidents of excessive police force and violence—real, imagined, manufactured or equivocal—are creating an environment of racial distrust, fear and hate that cannot avoid  resulting in violence. Yet astoundingly, they not only deny the natural consequences of their words and rhetoric but feign indignation (and racism, of course) when the effort, long underway with the assistance of such accomplices as Eric Holder, Barack Obama and Bill De Blasio, is properly condemned as the dangerous and reckless attack on society that it is.

I am not sure which amazes me more: that demagogues like Al Sharpton would have the audacity to proclaim that his organized campaign of hate against police, accusing them of being both racist executioners and the embodiment of a racist justice system, or the caliber of pundits who have rushed to Sharpton’s defense. How can this be? African-Americans are told, for years now, that whites with guns are hunting them; that police are determined to kill them, that the justice system is rigged to let the carnage continue. The carriers of this message includes members of Congress, celebrities, civil rights activists, the Attorney General and the President of the United States. False accounts that support this gross characterization of  disparate incidents, each with unique circumstances, are turned into rallying cries, such as “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!”  The left-biased media openly endorses the narrative, which says that black Americans are being hunted coast-to-coastby an armed force, determined to kill their children.

But the protest is “non-violent.” Continue reading

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

Spreading the Word: “The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit”

"Bottoms up!"

“Bottoms up!”

I am moved to re-post the early Ethics Alarms entry from 2010, titled “The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit,” for a few reasons.

It raises an important and shamefully under-reported topic, one that despite my exhortations then has yet to be adequately examined in the media. If one googles various combinations of “mouthwash,””Listerine,”‘alcoholism,” and “alcoholic,” the first result is, sadly, my post. Most people who are not afflicted with the disease of alcoholism have no idea that mouthwash is a popular stand-in for liquor, or that is used to deceive family members who think an addict is no longer using or intoxicated. None of the recommended policy changes I suggest in the post have been implemented, either.

Last week I chanced to mention the use of Listerine by alcoholics to a friend who is a doctor who treats alcoholics. He was shocked, and had no knowledge of this at all. “Eww!” he said. “Isn’t that poison? You can drink it? I had no idea.” And he is a professional who keeps up  with the literature. (But obviously doesn’t read his friend’s blog.)

Despite my frustration that what I regard as a true exposé that should have sparked an equivalent article in a more widely read forum has remained relatively unknown, I am encouraged by the effect it has had. Most posts have their greatest traffic around the time they are posted, but since 2010, the page views of this article have increased steadily every month. More importantly, it has drawn comments like this one, from yesterday:

“Am looking after my twin sister who is a chronic alcoholic. She has been three days sober and then she just walked in and I couldn’t work out what the hell happened. She was in a stupor , but there was no alcohol and I am dispensing the Valium for detox period and she smelt like mint!! Found three bottles of it !!! This is my last big push to help her and she pleaded innocent and no idea it had alcohol in it! Hasn’t had a shower for two days but keeps her month fresh and sweet !! Thanks for the information. Much appreciated XXX”

Most of all, I am revolted that what I increasingly have come to believe is an intentional, profit-motivated deception by manufacturers continues, despite their knowledge that their product is killing alcoholics and destroying families. I know proof would be difficult, but there have been successful class action lawsuits with millions in punitive damage settlements for less despicable conduct. Somewhere, there must be an employee or executive who acknowledges that the makers of mouthwash with alcohol know their product is being swallowed rather than swished, and are happy to profit from it.

Few had discovered Ethics Alarms by April of 201o. I hope that by re-publishing the post now, it might find its way to more social media pages and even be sent to some investigative reporters. As I ended the original post, spread the word. Mouthwash is killing your friends and family members, or if not yours, those of someone not far away.

Thus, for the second time and hoping for more impact than the first, here is “The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit.” Even if you read it the first time, refresh your memory.

People are killing themselves right under our noses, and we are being thrown of by the minty smell of their breath.

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “It’s Time To Play The Exciting New Broadcast Media Ethics Game…”


Steve-O-in NJ, commenting on the post about President Obama’s weak response to the invasion of the Ukraine by an emboldened Russia. raises the broader ethical point of America’s duty to be militarily strong, one of the persistent areas of disagreement between liberals and conservatives, and one area where the right has it right, and the left is out in left field. It should be noted, however, that this problem is a direct consequence of the even greater one hanging over us: the relentlessly expanding National Debt, and the irresponsible lack of political courage and resolve to do anything about it other than let it get worse. This was most recently demonstrated by what we have learned about the President’s new budget proposal, which raised the ethical question, “Did Obama ever mean what he said about entitlement reform and serious debt reduction?”

Wrote Washington Post editorial chief Fred Hiatt—a liberal Democrat, like virtually all of his colleagues— last week:

It’s a relatively small thing, really, a fix to the calculation of cost-of-living benefits that would have helped save Social Security. But President Obama’s decision to drop the reform from his proposed budget hints at a bigger question: What does he believe in enough to really fight for?

To hear him in 2009, you would have thought that safeguarding Social Security was one such goal. “To preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security,” he said. In 2010, he was even more determined: “Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we’ll still face the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. . . . I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans.” Now the winds have shifted — his party wants to woo older voters by promising richer benefits, not reform — and Obama has moved on, too. Someone else will have to fix Social Security.

His turnabout on foreign policy has been even more dizzying. Three years ago, he was promising to support democracy movements throughout the Middle East and protect their advocates from government violence.

Hiatt, whom I generally respect, seems to be uncharacteristically slow on the uptake here. Many of us figured out way back in 2008 that Obama was a politician who would use whatever soaring rhetoric he thought would please the maximum number of voters, and that he had no idea how or whether to make his words reality….and does not yet.  Meanwhile, the Post’s fairest and most astute conservative pundit, Robert Samuelson, explained why Obama’s inaction on entitlements guarantees weakness in the world:

We are spending more and getting less, and — unless present trends are reversed — this will continue for years. It threatens the end of government as we know it.

The cause is no mystery. An aging population and higher health spending automatically increase budget outlays, which induce the president and Congress to curb spending on almost everything else, from defense to food stamps. Over the next decade, all the government’s projected program growth stems from Social Security and health care, including the Affordable Care Act. By 2024, everything else will represent only 7.4 percent of national income (gross domestic product), the lowest share since at least 1940, says Douglas Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Office.

This is the central budget story, and it’s largely missed — or ignored — by political leaders, the media, political scientists and the public. The welfare state is taking over government. It’s strangling government’s ability to respond to other national problems and priorities, because the constituencies for welfare benefits, led by Social Security’s 57 million, are more numerous and powerful than their competitors for federal support. Politicians of both parties are loath to challenge these large, expectant and generally sympathetic groups.

With this as the depressing backdrop, here is Steve O’s excellent Comment of the Day on the post, It’s Time To Play The Exciting New Broadcast Media Ethics Game, “Biased, Lazy, or Incompetent!”: Continue reading

It’s Time To Play The Exciting New Broadcast Media Ethics Game, “Biased, Lazy, or Incompetent!”

Time to play

Ready to play, contestants?

All right! For your first test, consider President Obama’s recent statement in response to signs that Russia is preparing to invade Crimea in the Ukraine as an opportunistic territory grab made possible by the collapse of the Ukrainian government. He said in part…

” …we are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of the Ukraine. Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interests of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe… The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

For background in answering this question, President Obama has often made sweeping threats regarding foreign oppression and military adventurism, but has established a pattern of doing little or nothing when the actions he warned other governments against taking occurred anyway. His “red line” warning about Syria was the most egregious example, but there have been others. Reporting on the most recent “warning” by the President, CBS stated that his credibility in such situations was “somewhat shaken” by the Syria debacle. [LAUGH SIGN FLASHES] I know, that’s a good one, isn’t it? “Somewhat” shaken! Elsewhere, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer pronounced Obama’s statement as flagrantly weak: Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: CNN’s Jake Tapper

“Even if you side with this president over those of us in the media who challenge him in his administration, it is important to remember the precedent these actions set going forward, perhaps when it’s not your guy in the White House.”

Jake Tapper, former ABC reporter turned CNN headliner, warning knee-jerk Obama defenders that there are rather significant risks in supporting leaders and their governments when they obstruct basic rights, just because you like their policies and don’t like the citizens who are being mistreated.

Martin Niemöller said it better, but some people need the reminder...

Martin Niemöller said it better, but some people need the reminder…

I’m not especially enamored of  Tapper’s quote, and the fact that such a statement is noteworthy coming from a major news media figure is depressing. Tapper introduced his warning by admitting that he was biased himself, “but.”  I suppose admitting a presumably leftward bias is worthy of praise for transparency’s sake—and Tapper has copped to being biased before—yet it also reminds us how truly untrustworthy our supposed bulwark against tyranny (that is, the news media)  is, siding as it does with the party currently in charge with such consistency.

His is also not truly an ethical statement, as it relies on a non-ethical argument, the equivalent of “Hey, we probably shouldn’t kill that guy, because then his gang will be coming after us.” There’s no ethics at all in Tapper’s argument, except that the conduct he’s attempting to encourage, responsible citizenship and the refusal to tolerate the abuse of power, is more ethical than the alternative, which is what we’ve been seeing for almost five years. The Golden Rule, in other words, in not “Do unto others because if you don’t it’s very possible that the soon the others may be doing the same thing to you.” Continue reading

“Excuse Me, Sir? You’re About To Die” Ethics

I had a strange experience as I was leaving a plane a couple of weeks ago.

A distinguished-looking man, older than I, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “I apologize for the intrusion, but I have been sitting behind you, and I noticed that your earlobes have clear creases in them. This is a sure sign that you either have heart disease or will have it, and are at risk of a heart attack. I just thought you should know.”

Now, as it happens, I know about the supposed link between heart attacks and earlobe creases, and even asked my cardiac specialist about it. He said that 1) some studies had found a statistical link; 2) no study had proposed any good reasons for the link, if there was one; 3) it wasn’t worth worrying about; and 4. one can only address the cardiac risk factors that can be changed, and one can’t change the creases in one’s earlobes. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Look Out! There’s a Speed Trap Ahead!”

Veteran commenter Tim LeVier updates an older Ethics Alarms post about the ethics and law regarding the practice of flashing headlights at oncoming cars on the highway to warn them of speed traps. Police had been ticketing the flashers; I said that this was wrong, there being no law against the practice, but that warning law-breakers of a police presence was poor citizenship and unethical nonetheless.

I still feel that way, but insufficiently considered other reasons, ethical ones, that might prompt the same conduct. Tim, while pointing us to a more recent story on the topic, remedies my failure….as he has before. As usual, I am grateful.

Here is his Comment of the Day on Look Out! There’s a Speed Trap Ahead!:

“…A couple of points: Continue reading

“Look Out! There’s a Speed Trap Ahead!”

Who is your ally, the speeding motorist, or the traffic cop?

A lawsuit filed this week claims that 2,900 motorists were illegally ticketed in Florida between 2005 to 2010 for flashing their lights at oncoming, and speeding, cars to warn of speed traps ahead.  Apparently the police have been giving tickets to drivers sending a friendly “Cheese it! The cops!” message to scofflaws, in solidarity against the hated men and women in blue without benefit of an applicable statute.  The matter came to light when a college student on her way to school  spotted two  police officers on the side of the road and flashed her headlights to warn other drivers about the speed trap ahead. A police car pulled her over and the officer wrote her a ticket, saying she’d just broken the law by flashing her lights. She challenged the ticket and won, giving an enterprising lawyer an idea for class action lawsuit.

There is no Florida law that prohibits light-flashing, says Oviedo, Florida attorney J. Marcus Jones. He claims officers are simply misapplying a law that was designed to prohibit drivers from adding after-market emergency lights to their vehicles. He also claims that  officers writing those tickets are violating a driver’s constitutional right to free speech. If motorists want to flash their lights to warn about a speed trap ahead, they are free to do so, according to his suit.

Hmmmm. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Should Shannon Stone’s Family Sue the Texas Rangers?

One Thursday, a 39-year-old firefighter named Shannon Stone leaned over a stadium railing at a Texas Rangers game to catch a ball flipped into the stands by Ranger outfielder Josh Hamilton.  Stone’s son, 6-year old Cooper, was a big Hamilton fan, and the devoted father made an extra effort, catching the ball but falling over the railing down to the concrete 20 feet below. He went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital, and died.

The railing where Stone fell is 33 inches, seven inches more that the legally required 26 inches. Why is it that short? So people sitting in the front row can see the game without having to look through the railing. Is it dangerous? Well, it was dangerous this time.

Everyone, naturally, is horrified by the tragedy. The Rangers held a moment of silence for the firefighter at the game last night. Hamilton, who like all major league players has been instructed to toss inning-ending balls and retrieved fouls into the stands for fans to catch as souvenirs, is understandably distraught.

Your Ethics Quiz: Should the Stone family sue the Rangers? Continue reading