From The Ethics Alarms Double Standard Files: So Apparently A Black Professor Can Be As Racist As She Wants Without Consequences, Correct?

Don't racist professors teach students racism? Just curious...

Don’t racist professors teach students racism? Just curious…

Unqualified GOP Presidential hopeful Ben Carson made one of his most reasonable statements when he defended the right of NASCAR fans to fly Confederate flags during races. Well of course he did, since this is the United States and we have a First Amendment. Except to the most ignorant members of the censorious left, this is literally a no-brainer: even brainless Americans should know better than to argue that flying any flag on private property should be prevented by law.

Ah, but special dispensation is due to racist African American progressive bullies. Thus is is that University of Pennsylvania religious studies professor Anthea Butler, wrote “If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award …” when responding to a Daily Beast editor’s  tweet containing a link to a Sports Illustrated article on the issue.

Nice. This is per se denigrating Carson based on race, an ad hominem attack and beyond ugly and irresponsible. Sure, Butler has the same right to say what she wants as anyone, except when it reflects on her employer and suggests, as this tweet does, that she cannot be trusted to teach. Is any African American student who dares to question her political correctness orthodoxy risking being called a “coon” by this woman? I’d say so. She is validating racist rhetoric and modelling intimidation for her students and more importantly, the University of Pennsylvania’s students. Is it competent and responsible to employ such a woman? No. Is this within the acceptable range of “academic freedom”? Denigration on the basis of color? I want to hear a university spokesperson admit that, and then to stand up for the first white student who calls the professor a “coon.” Continue reading


Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Professions, Race, Rights, Social Media, Unethical Tweet

Ethical Quote Of The Month: Yankees Pitcher C.C. Sabathia

CC Sabathia

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.”

New York Yankees starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia, in a statement announcing that he would not be helping his team prevail in the upcoming playoffs and World Series because he was checking into an alcohol rehabilitation center to treat his alcoholism.

Nobody outside of the Yankees organization and Sabathia’s family was aware that he was suffering from this malady until the announcement. Here is his whole statement, which speaks for itself: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Quotes, Health and Medicine, Sports, Workplace

A Lesson In The Dangers of Wise-assery, Hindsight Bias, And Moral Luck


Once upon a time, a fat, spectacled, pleasant amateur song parodist sold millions of records with what middle-aged college grads thought were witty musical critiques of Sixties life and culture. His name was Allan Sherman, and one of those witty songs was this:

Therein lies some useful lessons which we all should absorb:

1. What seems like a valid opinion today might well seem incredibly stupid to virtually everybody later.

2. Venturing outside your expertise is always risky.

3.  Everything seems obvious in hindsight. In most cases, it was anything but.

4. Yesterday’s wit is tomorrow’s ignorance.

5. Whether your opinion is going to make you look like a prophet or a fool is often nothing but moral luck.

6. Criticizing someone for views proven invalid by subsequent developments no one could have foreseen is consequentialism, and unfair.

7. People will do it anyway.

8. We are all Allan Sherman. We just don’t know how.

It’s hard to imagine now that John, Paul, George and Ringo are icons and deserving ones, but back in 1964 it was considered wise and clever to make fun of their hair, their fans and pronounce them untalented hacks. At the beginning of the British invasion, many sophisticates regarded the Beatles as indistinguishable from the legendary Dave Clark Five, and a passing fancy no more significant that the hula hoop.

Mock them now at your peril. Your time will come…in fact, it probably already has.



Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Popular Culture

“Who Are You Calling A Nut?” And Other Ethics Issues In The Community College Shooting Aftermath (Continued))

I apologize for the length of this two-part entry, but the preponderance of fact- and reasoning-free anti-gun hysteria in the wake of the Oregon shooting has even exceeded Sandy Hook levels, a development I didn’t think was possible. An emotional national reaction to such a tragedy is fine, and natural, as long as it doesn’t stampede policy-makers and make the public dumber and more ignorant than they already are regarding basic rights, the reasons for them, and the limits of law and government. This post and its earlier installment are offered to catalogue, in part, the ethics carnage, and perhaps to save some readers time when they are confronted with a usually sane friend or family member who begins ranting about how “ridiculous” it is that this “problem” hasn’t been “solved” and how it’s all the fault of the NRA and bribed politicians, because if Australia can do it, why can’t we? In my experience, however, the angry anti-gun zealots—yes, you can still be a zealot and talk about “common sense solutions” if they are either not sensible or not solutions—don’t want to hear facts or reason. People have died, guns are bad, and why can’t we stop it? The same people also tend to think we can stop prejudice, poverty, risk, inequality, war, and the effects of mankind living on the planet. They also rank “Imagine” among the most profound songs ever written.


Here are the rest of the points:

V. Another Facebook friend published this chart…


…and said that it showed that “states with fewer gun regulations had frequent gun related murders than those with more regulations. It doesn’t show that. It shows, for example, that Vermont, Maine and North Dakota have few regulations and low gun murder rates. I know him well–he’s an honest man. But he saw what he wanted to see, not what was actually on the chart. Meanwhile, everyone “liked” his post.

VI. I know I’ve made this observation before, but it still drives me crazy. I just had another argument over it with my sister, and she hung up on me. Obama and the hoard leaps on this shooting to once again lobby for “common sense” gun controls that most agree wouldn’t have stopped this shooting. There is , I would say, an obvious, ethical and logical disconnect there. If the measures being sought would not have stopped this shooting, why all the angry, “blood on your hands,” “how long will this go on” rhetoric? The clear and misleading message is that the shooting would have or might have been stopped if only, if only, but when the substantive recommendations are listed they have little or nothing to do with the incident itself. Why do smart people tolerate this? The shooter’s father–who, by the way, shares at least as much culpability for the Oregon shooting as anyone, and a lot more than the NRA, gave an interview in which he blamed the shooting on the fact that the law allowed his son to acquire 13 guns: Continue reading


Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Popular Culture, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: Al Roker’s Unethical Selfie And Malfunctioning Ethics Alarm


The question here is a simple one.

On the scene of the devastating flooding in South Carolina, Today Show weather man Al Roker tweeted a selfie of him and  NBC colleagues beaming happily in front of a collapsed highway and a trapped car, with the caption “My crew and I getting ready to report on East Coast flooding from S. Carolina on @NBCNightlyNews with Kate Snow.”

Yes, after many complained on social media about the discordant juxtaposition of cheerful self-promotion and tragedy, Roker apologized, but not before.  The basic question is “What the hell is the matter with these people?“, or as today’s Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz asks,

Is Roker’s insensitivity signature significance of a malfunctioning ethics alarm, or just an excusable one-time mistake?

Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet, Unethical Tweet

“Who Are You Calling A Nut?” And Other Ethics Issues In The Community College Shooting Aftermath (Parts I-VI)

mr__peanut_s_cane_gun_I. A good friend, who is a nice man so I chose not to upset him by explaining why he sounds like an idiot, announced on Facebook that he wasn’t reading any more “gun nut” posts. Hmmmm. I wonder what he thinks a “gun nut” is? Is a gun nut a teacher who punishes a student for pointing his finger like a gun, or who prevents a deaf child from signing his name, Gunner? Or is it someone who believes that the Second Amendment, which wasn’t second by accident, should be followed? Is it someone who keeps saying that laws need to be passed that will stop shootings like the one in Oregon, but who either has no realistic proposals to suggest or who suggest measures that wouldn’t have affected that shooting at all? Isn’t it nutty to engage in magical thinking? I think so.

II. I also think it’s nutty, not to mention hypocritical, to decry the lack of “civil debate” regarding gun policy and then call anyone who doesn’t want guns melted down by government order “nuts.”  Actually it’s worse than that: pundits, politicians and anti-gun advocates are increasingly equating  opposition to gun regulations advanced using false arguments, dubious logic, ad hominem attacks and deceitful statistics with insanity and intractable evil. Frankly, I resent it. I’m not opposed to sensible gun regulations, but my job is to oppose false arguments, dubious logic, ad hominem attacks and deceitful statistics, as well as to make sure that they don’t succeed lest “the ends justify the means” become a social norm.

III. Speaking of hypocritical, Mike Huckabee and others have been quite properly criticized (by me, for example) by claiming that since the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage is “wrong,” it shouldn’t be followed. Yet the most vociferous defenders of that SCOTUS decision simultaneously advocate anti-gun measures that are forbidden by the Court’s decisions interpreting the Second Amendment….because, you see, “it’s wrong.” Continue reading


Filed under Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society

AMAZING TALES Of The Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck: The Whistleblower Protection Agency That Punished Its Own Whistleblower

whistleblower_From the Ethics Alarms mail bag: A commenter asks, “Is there any department, agency or bureau of the executive branch that hasn’t become thoroughly corrupted during the regime of Obama?”

I don’t know, but I suspect not, and this AMAZING TALE supports that conclusion.

The Merit Systems Protection Board is a personnel court of last resort for federal employees who claim that they were unjustly fired, demoted, discriminated against or punished for bucking cultures of corruption in government departments and agencies and revealing, reporting or addressing misconduct by administrators and managers. It’s an agency that exists to bolster courage, integrity, transparency fairness and justice in government, so one would assume that the MSPB would either be as popular in this administration as a toothache, or, in the alternative, so corrupted by the culture emanating from this White House that it cannot be trusted any more than any other agency comfortably seated on board the Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck.

Here is a clue as to which: Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Workplace