Category Archives: Ethics

I’ve Had It With Berkeley, California

I have had it with Berkeley, California, that anti-American bastion of disloyalty to the values and existence of the United States of America.

In February, 2008, the Berkeley City Council approved a measure calling for Marine recruiters to leave Berkeley, because they “are not welcome in our city.” If recruiters chose to stay, they would do so as “uninvited and unwelcome intruders.”

The Council also applauded any residents or organizations that “volunteer to impede, passively or actively, by non-violent means, the work of any military recruiting office located in the City of Berkeley.”  And a handful of folks did just that – some held up signs which said “No Military Predators in Our Town,” or “Join the Marines.  Travel to Exotic Lands.  Meet Exciting and Unusual People – and Kill Them.”

Closing down military recruiting stations actually disallows freedom – the freedom of choice of young men and women to volunteer for military service if they’re so inclined – without having to go out of town to do it.

And now it comes to the point where I’ve had it, and I am calling for Berkeley, to secede from California and the United States and go form their own pathetic country:

The Berkeley City Council is entertaining a resolution to declare than an Army private accused of leaking some classified information to Wikileaks is….(brace yourselves)…a HERO.  City “Peace and Justice” Commissioner Bob Meola, who authored the resolution told the San Francisco Chronicle that PFC Bradley Manning, 22, is a patriot who deserves (brace yourselves again) a MEDAL!

Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of secret cables to Wikileaks.  He compromised American interests across the globe, and put the very lives of Afghan allies at risk of torture and death by the Taliban and comprised America’s relationships with its allies around the world.

My research into Manning suggested a kind of unhappy misfit with a huge ego about being smarter than his superiors.  I don’t believe for a moment that his motives were benevolent to any cause but his own self-aggrandizement.  But that just my opinion.

Nonetheless, what he did is treasonous.

From my perspective, Berkeley has a long history of anti-American sentiments and acts such as attempting to keep its own citizens from having access to volunteer for military service, providing a refuge for illegal immigrants, and ignoring the sovereignty of this nation.  It has been a sanctuary for military who are AWOL, and a haven for potheads.

I believe in freedom of speech – not freedom to break laws which put Americans and others at risk for their lives. To call for a medal for a private who betrayed everything he committed to is beyond disgusting. 

My contempt for the city of Berkeley knows no bounds.  My feet won’t touch their soil again.  Besides, I’m certain that if I publicly made it known that I was planning a trip to Berkeley, they would be sure to put together a quick resolution to ban relatively short, sorta blonde, outspoken, conservative mothers of military sons.

Do Away With “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Volunteering for the military means a number of important things:

  • It’s a noble act of patriotism
  • It means accepting authority over every aspect of your life
  • It’s a seriously dangerous job
  • It’s not exactly a high-paying job
  • You get benefits during and after service
  • You have a community of support
  • It involves structure and discipline
  • It’s a heroic endeavor
  • It is an honorable, self-sacrificing career
  • It is worthy of great respect

So, when someone wishes to volunteer for relatively low pay and high danger to protect you and me, I say “THANK YOU” and “huzzah!”

This business of being concerned over whether or not a person is gay is utterly ridiculous, in my opinion.  Homosexuals have served in the military since we had our ragtag guys in the forest dealing with Indians and British.  Straight men and women have fought next to gays eaten in the chow hall next to gays, PT’d next to gays, bunked next to gays, and even died next to gays, whether they knew it or not.

Neither color nor sexual orientation should bar anyone from fighting for their country, nor should it eliminate them from being part of the band of brothers.

Being homosexual does not mean that every man is a turn-on; even straight men in the showers compare…”notes.”  The rules against fraternization are there for everyone – men and women – whether they are straight or not.

Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military no longer asks a person’s sexual orientation upon enlistment (it used to be a question on enlistment forms).  The military no longer investigates claims that a person is homosexual.  They can, and do, investigate allegations of homosexual conduct, which is still grounds for an honorable discharge.  “Conduct” includes not only sex acts while on active duty, but also includes telling others you are homosexual (the “don’t tell” part of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”).

A long-awaited report from the Pentagon on this issue was released last week, and the conclusion was “repealing the policy would have some limited and isolated disruption to unit cohesion and retention, but the effects would not be long-lasting or widespread.”  That was probably the same result when blacks and Hispanics were integrated into the military ranks also, and that has evolved positively.  It will take some time.  Meanwhile, we will be expanding our ranks of the brave and resolved to fight for our country.

Of course, it isn’t all that simple.  There are issues of benefits for domestic partnerships, and whether they will be recognized as married men and women.  I assume that will eventually be worked out.

My main point is, in spite of the White House’s absence of an Executive Order to immediately allow gays to serve openly in the military, it is time to recognize the desires of all people competent to serve in our military, and afford them the opportunity to contribute to this noble, sometimes thankless, necessary profession.

The Misguided Standards of YouTube

In the election last week, Missy Reilly Smith ran for Washington DC delegate to the United States House of Representatives (she lost to Eleanor Holmes Norton).  Smith ran largely as an anti-abortion candidate.

She ran 30 second ads which aired 24 times on local broadcast network affiliates across the greater Washington, DC metropolitan area, preceded by a 15 second warning (added by the station management) due to the shocking content.

What was the ad?
It was 30 seconds of still photos of aborted babies.  Dead babies ripped apart and sucked out of a mother’s womb aren’t very pretty, but they are real and should be shocking to a civilized society.  We can have daily abortions by the thousands, but we can’t look at exactly what is happening?
If you can’t look at it, perhaps you shouldn’t do it.

Ms. Smith’s 30 second ad was pulled from YouTube, which posted a notice that the video amounted to “a violation of YouTube’s policy on shocking and disgusting content.”

Ahhh.  Well, you should know what, for years, YouTube has not found shocking and/or disgusting content.

YouTube has been the long-term home for videos featuring calls to jihad by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born, Yemen-based cleric, who has played an increasingly public role in inspiring violence directly at….YOU.
 He has literally hundreds of videos preaching and urging Muslims everywhere to join in a worldwide holy war against…YOU.  And his videos have had millions of views.

So, let’s get this right.  Actually seeing the results of an abortion are unacceptable on YouTube, but years of videos calling for the deliberate murder of Westerners is….what, free speech?  Terrorist recruitment videos featuring Islamic fighters with guns and rockets is free speech?

A YouTube spokesperson said they are trying to distinguish videos that are merely offensive from those that cross the line of their rules prohibiting “dangerous or illegal activities such as bomb-making, hate speech and incitement to commit violent acts” or that come from accounts “registered by a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization” or used to promote such a group’s interest.  That rule seems clear enough.  So why did it take years and years of international begging for YouTube to remove last week some – some – of the hundreds of videos featuring calls to jihad by a creep playing an increasingly public role in inspiring violence directed toward….YOU?

I wish I knew the answer.  I wish I understood why a video of aborted babies got axed immediately, while several governments and individuals have struggled for years to get these jihad videos off YouTube.  I wish I knew why there is so much tolerance for this jihadist hate and violence, and so little for the fate of aborted babies.
I wish I knew.

The Cheerleader and the Athlete Who Raped Her

When I first heard this story, I had to think about it for a bit:

A one-time high school cheerleader who was sexually assaulted – raped – by two star athletes was kicked off her cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer for her attacker.
They were all at a party, drinking.  The two star athletes took her into a room alone and locked the door; they fondled and then raped her.  When she screamed louder and louder, other kids finally pounded on the door and when they got it open, discovered the high school cheerleader naked from the waist down on a pool table, and the boys escaping through an open window.

The third attempt at an indictment was the charm, but this case was pleaded down to misdemeanor assault, sentencing the rapist to a one year suspended  sentence, community service, two years probation, and a $2500 fine.  After the sentencing, the young male rapist was quoted as saying: “I have no hard feelings towards the girl.  It was a misunderstanding.”
If I had been the judge, after hearing this obnoxious and self-serving statement, he would have seen hard jail time.  But….he is a star athlete and, as we know, they have special rules.

The other kids at that party who came through the door to find a sobbing, ravaged, half-naked cheerleader, one of their friends, knew what had gone down.  Nonetheless, when the first indictment attempt failed, he came back to school to play in important basketball games.  Cheerleaders cheer each player as they come on the floor.  When he came out, she stepped back and crossed her arms.  The principal allegedly took her into a hall and read her out.  The principal, assistant principal, cheerleading team official and superintendent gave her an ultimatum:  cheer for him or go home.  She was kicked off the squad days later and banned for the duration of her high school career.

Now, that’s the story.  Legally, he hadn’t been indicted yet (that did eventually happen), but everyone knew that she had been sexually assaulted.  They knew he was guilty, because they were there to see the aftermath.

She and her family are in court, losing a lot, trying to make a statement for her First Amendment rights of free speech by her silence.  I don’t know how all that will eventually pan out.  If she couldn’t do the job she was selected for (i.e., cheer the team and its members), perhaps she should have stayed home.  After all, that was her responsibility – to present her school’s team with support.

However, I will tell you what shouldn’t have happened.  The entire cheering squad and every student in their school should have been silent when he came out on the floor.  Everyone should have shunned him.  Everyone should have made a statement that he gets no free pass to rape because he is a big-time basketball player.  This is where the lesson starts.

Do you hear that, NBA?

Doing the Right Thing Comes With A Price

I recently read about a woman who won approximately $70 million after an 8 year battle with a major pharmaceutical company.  She was a “whistle blower” who reported the major drug company to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for atrocious violations which risked lives, and she got fired. Now, that company is paying the major part of a billion dollars to the government and has issued an apology and expressed the intent to remedy the situation at the manufacturing plant.

It’s too obvious for me to suggest that this reads like a “Law and Order” episode.  One wonders why the company didn’t reward her with her own LearJet, and fire lotsa folks at the stated plant as well as in the management ranks who were warned and did nothing to fix the problem. If they’d done that, their stock would have gone up.  Instead, all we’ve got is lawsuits that were lost, terrible public relations, a tarnished reputation, and people who were hurt.
Go figure.

An interesting part of the whistleblower issue is how many people turn against the whistleblower because doing the right thing is not their priority.  They are more concerned with less meaningful things.

I took a call from a woman not long ago about her sister who is in the hospital giving birth to her second child.  The caller was “house sitting” and called to tell me the home was ferociously filthy:  dogs routinely relieved themselves in the house (they weren’t housebroken) and there was other filth everywhere.  She was calling to ask me if she should tell the parents.  I asked her whether or not the parents had ever visited.  She said “yes,” and I replied that since they already know, they intend to do nothing.  They probably don’t want to tick off the daughter, so they wouldn’t be able to visit the grandkids, or else they’re equally filhy in their habits.

I said that the right thing is to protect the health of the children.  That’s why she needs to immediately call Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Health Department.  I offered that she could call the parents and tell them this is what was happening in order to give them a “head’s up,” but I also had to warn her that she’d be attacked by most of the family who are ashamed that they’ve done nothing.  The moment my caller blows the whistle, she will be outcast and berated and maligned and hated.

Too many people do not focus in on the right thing to do, and think of lesser issues instead, such as guilt for not having acted themselves, embarrassment for being part of a family that treats children this way, or denial that a family member might have a mental problem.
No one in this whole situation outside of my caller gave a damn about the children.  I applaud and support her.  She’ll need it.  Doing the right thing usually comes with a price.  Maybe that’s why so many people avoid it.  

More Than A Hate Crime at Rutgers University

I am unbelievably furious!  I have a new book coming out in January, entitled “Surviving Shark Attacks on Land.”  It has to do with betrayal and revenge.  18 year old Tyler Clementi didn’t survive his recent shark attack on land.  He killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in New York.  He posted a goodbye on his Facebook page just eight minutes before he ended his life.

The media has made a fuss over this story because he was gay.  That is not the story. The story is that he was betrayed in the most disgusting and egregious way by his own roommate and the roommate’s girlfriend.  They sneaked a camera into the dorm room and secretly taped Tyler Clementi having sex.  They callously “shared” (as it’s lovingly called) this tape with the Internet universe on the roommate’s network of “friends” (as they’re lovingly called).

The roommate bragged about his spying in a Twitter post.

The piece of garbage known as his roommate and his piece of garbage of a girlfriend have been arrested for invasion of privacy.  They intentionally betrayed the friendship between roommates and intentionally humiliated this young man in public.  There ought to be (and there may be) a more serious charge.

For those of you old enough to remember the original movie “M*A*S*H,” an audio version of this humiliation was perpetrated on “Hotlips” Houlihan as a “joke.”  She was devastated, and the audience and actors laughed.  Mainstreaming cruelty.

One 16 year old junior at Rutgers (the same school) defended the perpetrators:  “I’m really shocked.”  About what? “I wouldn’t expect Molly to do something like that.  Dharan was very friendly, open and social.”  And here it comes:  “They’re not like that.  It was probably a practical joke gone wrong.”

Bull.  They are exactly like that.  They intended to humiliate Tyler.  They intended to have a laugh at his expense.  They intended to gain notoriety by having produced this film for all to see for their “entertainment.”  They intended  to be cruel.  They were sharks, attacking by betraying a friend on the Internet.

Could Tyler have survived this attack?  Was suicide his only out? 

The problem is that if he reported them to the school (whether or not they got in trouble for it), it’s on the Internet, seen and downloaded again and again and again for all eternity. 

I know something about this sort of betrayal.  Made up, as well as real, photos of me are on the Internet for all eternity also.  I know personally the feeling of wanting to die…vanish…evaporate.  The pain of that humiliation was extraordinary.  Why did I survive and Tyler not?  Tyler was just 18 years old and did not have decades of adult life experiences, accomplishments, a network of support or perhaps just pure grit.  When someone so vulnerable is betrayed (and the word is betrayed), then life seems totally hopeless.  When people you expect to have some kindness use you to further their fun-loving reputation by humiliating you for all time, and you’re only a teenager, you feel you will never be able to show your face or trust anybody again.  Everything is magnified, including pain, when you’re a teenager.

Tyler would have survived had he believed he could live through this humiliation and hold up his head again.  That he was gay is not the issue.  Had he been straight, we’d be having the same conversation.  This is not about sexual orientation.  This is about the awful inhumanity that is mainstreamed most horrendously via the Internet.

My heart goes out to this boy…I know what he felt, and I wish I had been there to tell him so.

Envy is the Root of Some Evil

The issue of envy is so important it made it into the Ten Commandments, worded as “thou shalt not covet…”

Unfortunately, it is probably the most abused of the Commandments and a major human vice, leading to a heck of a lot of misery for those who simply have worked hard to attain whatever they have and whoever they’ve become.
I get irritated when people either “luck” into good fortune or abuse values and slip into good fortune anyway.  I never have a problem, however, with someone (whether I like them or not) who has worked hard and is earning whatever it is they have.  I admire and respect hard work.  It’s as simple as that.

What pains me down to my gut is hearing, watching and often experiencing the viciousness that erupts from envy:  1) feeling entitled without making the effort;  2) begrudging the hard-earned success of others and doing something to hurt them.

Starting rumors about the person you envy just to besmirch their reputation, actively undermining their progress, nastily talking “smack” about them, being mean to them….all that energy should be put into making more of yourself.  Your value in the world is not predicated on them going under.  Your value to others is based on the light you shine, not the effort you make to dim the light of others.
It is a waste of your life and energy and potential to be mean about someone else’s success and happiness.  Use all of that energy to face your own fears or laziness and do it yourself.