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Ethics

A Right – and Duty – of Protection

One does not have to be a member of the Southern Baptist tradition (as I am not) to agree with Dr. Russell Moore’s description of the obligation to care for the elderly. Moore, the president of that denomination’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, writes that God Doesn’t Want Us to Sacrifice the Old to Coronavirus:…

Netflix Documentary Series: Dirty Money (Season Two Now Online)

?? The overwhelming majority of people in America (and abroad) earn their money through honest means. A few, however, profit through fraud, self-dealing, outright theft, or selfish manipulation of laws and institutions. These few corrupt the public and private spheres they touch. Academy Award winning documentarian Alex Gibney’s second season of Dirty Money, now online…

He Already Has

It is difficult for reasonable and civilized people to understand the persistent of corruption and disorder in a man like Trump. The rational man or woman – guided by intellect and tradition – assumes that someone of Trump’s ilk is only in the grip of an ephemeral disorder, a passing derangement. Surely, they think, Trump…

At UW-Whitewater, Beverly Kopper’s Tenure Was about More than Beverly Kopper

Former UW-Whitewater chancellor Beverly Kopper was on leave – apparently for part of that time under federal or state medical leave act provisions – before her resignation from UW-Whitewater. I’ll not speculate about the circumstances under which she claimed leave under the law. There’s another matter that requires attention. There’s talk at UW-Whitewater these days…

Perspectives Narrow or Wide

One of the hopes for small-town living is that, among the residents of such a place, one will commonly find plain speaking and humility. Perhaps there are places like this, but sadly small towns, by themselves, are not enough to overcome unworthy pride. On the contrary, within such places, sometimes a tiny faction – confusing…

‘Keeping Harvey Weinstein’s Secrets’

Harvey Weinstein is responsible – directly and personally – for his actions. Others, however, assisted him in concealing his violent coercion. Astonishingly, as the New York Times reports, some of those who aided Weinstein were – of all people – attorneys who made public careers as victims’ rights advocates. The two podcasts embedded below detail…

The Whitewater, WI Conflict of Interest Gallery™

Ours is an era of conflicts of interest and self-dealing. Conflicts of interest sometimes begin with ignorance but they persist through arrogance. Simple principles of separation between roles that were once understood and respected (in the main) are now commonly rationalized away. If one bemoans degraded national ethics, one should be clear that local officials…

For UW-Whitewater’s Administration, Talking Points Won’t Be Enough

Yesterday, I posted on The Marketing of Misinformation: UW-Whitewater’s Use of a Counterfeit ‘Campus Safety’ Study. Today, here is a look at some of the university administration’s talking points in response to long-standing acts of sexual harassment and assault on campus.  (They’re from the new university chancellor’s recorded interview with a local newspaper.) From the video…

About Those Bone Spurs…

Steve Eder asks Did a Queens Podiatrist Help Donald Trump Avoid Vietnam?: In the fall of 1968, Donald J. Trump received a timely diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels that led to his medical exemption from the military during Vietnam. For 50 years, the details of how the exemption came about, and who made the…

Another ‘Advisory Council’ Isn’t What Whitewater Needs

Whitewater has a same-ten-people problem, derived from a few people living behind (metaphorically) a narrow and high perimeter fence, with those few often producing mediocre work, while the city’s economy stagnates. And yet, and yet – one reads that even during the third investigation for sexual harassment & assault concerning the relative she appointed, supervised,…

Act Utilitarianism Isn’t Merely a National Scourge

Trump justifies his treatment of Christine Blasey Ford by the outcome of the Kavanaugh hearings: “It doesn’t matter. We won.”

One wouldn’t have to go to Washington, or wait for Trump to speak, to find this sort of act utilitarianism. Long before Trump’s 2016 campaign, officials and self-described community leaders in small towns across America shared a similar calculus. For the sake of some imagined overall gain, individual injuries and injustices have been swept aside.

And so, and so — officials justify financial and personal injuries to individuals on behalf of the supposed greater good of being ‘community-minded,’ of defending the ‘university family,’ or some such collective claim.

Trump’s act utilitarianism did not begin with Trump: it grew in cities and towns in which factions decided they’d take what they want, and conveniently sweep aside others by use of nebulous ‘community’ principles. (In the video above, Trump betrays his amorality early on, as he shrugs his shoulders when part of Christine Blasey Ford’s injury is recounted to him.)

In most of these cases of supposed collective gain, of course, it turns out to be a particular politician, particular businessman, or particular university official who reaps the most at the expense of ordinary individuals, but these community leaders would prefer one didn’t look too closely into that selfish benefit, thank you kindly.

Whether a highly-placed person’s selfish gain, or community’s supposed overall gain, the disregard for individual rights reveals a dark, calculating amorality.