Posts Tagged ‘EthicsAlarms’

Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr., and on heroism

January 15, 2012

 

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s been a holiday in all fifty states only since 2000, when Utah finally adopted it. MLK was a hero, and the holiday dedicated to him is a good time to reflect on his life and on the meaning—and especially the limits—of being a hero.

If we venerate some of our Presidents for their accomplishments, then we surely should venerate King. He arguably did more to make America a better nation than anyone since Lincoln. He dreamt that “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

America is not that nation yet—not quite—but we’ve progressed awfully close to it since King’s 1963 speech at the Lincoln Memorial. And the progress has been largely inspired by King. His insistence on non-violence sealed the commitment of African-Americans to it, and his description of what justice meant captured the conscience and then the heart of much of white America.

Yet when his birthday was first proposed as a national holiday in 1979—just eleven years after his death—it was so controversial that it failed to win a majority vote in the House of Representatives, and it took another twenty-one years for the fiftieth state to recognize it. Many reasons have been cited for the resistance, but surely a major reason (more…)

America’s shame: our treatment of sex offenders who have served their sentences

September 16, 2011

America’s criminal justice system consists of arrest, indictment, trial, and sentence. After serving out the sentence, the offender goes back to society with another chance. Unless that is, he was convicted of a sex offense, anything from violent rape to “sexting” a nude photo.

Sex offenders can never finish paying their debt to society, in spite of the fact that recidivism rates for sex offenders, especially for child molesters, are far lower than for other convicted felons. After serving their sentence they face crushing restrictions on where they may live–as of 2007, some 27 states and hundreds of municipalities had enacted laws that bar sex offenders from residing within up to a half mile of schools, parks, playgrounds and day care centers. Their homes are listed on the internet, and some even are subjected to humiliating signs like the one shown here. This even though the vast majority of sex offences are against relatives or friends, not strangers.

Besides the residency restrictions, sex offenders find it all but impossible to ever find gainful employment. It’s impossible to get a job with any employer that’s  big enough to have a human relations department, because once they have—easily—checked the national registry of sex offenders the answer is no.

Jack Marshall’s EthicsAlarms.com treats this issue, along with the larger issue of treatment of prisoners in general, in his blog entitled America’s Untouchables. I recommend it.

Morning Joe Scarborough is an unethical coward for letting his friend Mark Halperin take the fall alone

July 1, 2011

It’s always upsetting when one of your heroes turns out to be an unethical creep. I was sick when I learned—for certain—that Bill Clinton had lied to me on national TV, sad when I learned that my Dodger hero, Manny Ramirez, had used banned substances, and devastated when my biggest hero of all. Greg Mortensen (of Three Cups of Tea fame) had not really built girls schools in Taliban country and had in fact stolen millions from his non-profit.

Still, I’m not getting used to my heroes falling. Not even after the latest, Joe Scarborough, conservative ex-congressman (R-FL) and host of the fun morning political conversation, Morning Joe.

I posted yesterday about how Joe and his co-host, Mika Brzezinski, had goaded and cajoled Mark Halperin into expressing his honest opinion of President Obama’s performance at his press conference Wednesday. They assured him that any off-color remark would be bleeped by way of a seven-second delay. When the show’s producer pressed the wrong button, Halperin’s opinion, “I thought he was kind of a dick,” went out into the ether for all to hear. More giggles from Mika and Joe, then a heartbroken apology from Halperin, then Halperin was “suspended indefinitely.”

In urging him on, Scarborough had promised, “You fall down I’m going to catch you.” But he didn’t catch him. Not a word protesting the suspension or owning up to his responsibility. (more…)

Don’t Knock “The Code of the West”! (from EthicsAlarms.com)

March 8, 2011

Jack Marshall writes that Republicans in the Montana State Legislature have proposed “The Code of the West” as  Montana’s State Code . Not a bad idea. See Jack’s Ethics Alarm column here.

An opposing opinion from EthicsAlarms: Republican leaders DON’T have a responsibility to speak out against Glenn Beck and the birthers

February 15, 2011

While I believe that political leaders of all stripes have an ethical obligation to speak out against hate speech, distortions, and lies coming from their own side of the political divide, I have to respect the opposite opinion of Jack Marshall in his excellent blog, EthicsAlarms.com. Jack is often right and has often clarified the ethical issues for me. Just not this time.

Ethics Reality Check: Elizabeth Edwards Was No Hero

December 11, 2010

When Elizabeth Edwards died I thought of a phrase I learned long ago in Latin class, “De mortuis nil nisi bonum,”—Of the dead, nothing unless good. And I read and watched on TV all the paeans to her courage and heroism. And gritted my teeth.

Until I read the piece on EthicsAlarms.com with the above title. Jack Marshall writes about how her fierce ambition led her to cover up her husband’s lying and cheating at the risk of “catastrophe to her country.” If you admire her, read the piece. It’ll remind you, as it reminded me, how easy it is to misjudge a person’s character from her (or his) public appearance.

Ethics Hero and Ethics Quote of the Week: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

July 22, 2010

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was the only Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote for the confirmation of Elena Kagan as Supreme Court Justice. I can’t improve on what Jack Marshall (who I believe to be a Republican) headlined and wrote in his EthicsAlarms.com blog. Anybody who hopes the American government can work again should read it.

“Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) delivered the following remarks as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Obviously Ethics Alarms approves of Graham’s vote and reasoning, as it is consistent with what I believe is the most ethical, fair and responsible course for all Republican senators. His statement, however, is extraordinary in its appeal to the best instincts of ethical public servants, and rather than just a link (the text comes from The Hill), I think proper respect and admiration dictate a full presentation. It embodies fairness, civility, professionalism. respect and dignity, as well as the ideals of collaborative government.”

Here is the entire Marshall posting.

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Lena Horne, battler for civil rights in Hollywood, dead at 92. (Oh, yes, she sang and acted too)

May 17, 2010

Lena Horne died last week at 92. I only knew of two prominent African-Americans when I was growing up in segregated Wilmington, Delaware. One was heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, and the other was singer Lena Horne. I knew she was a good singer, and quite beautiful, but I didn’t know anything else. I’m indebted to Jack Marshall’s EthicsAlarms.com blog for educating me about her groundbreaking role in the civil rights movement.

Marshall called Horne “Ethics Hero Emeritus” for her relentless fight against segregation and her principled refusal to play demeaning roles in the racist Hollywood environment of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Her career suffered, and she finally left Hollywood for Europe, where people didn’t seem to care much about her skin color.

There’s a fascinating PBS Fresh Air program, broadcast on May 14, that replays an interview that host Terry Gross conducted with Horne’s daughter, Gail Lumet Horne, in 1986. Listen to it for an inspiring story of this heroic woman.

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