Category Archives: Animals

The President Says “Nigger,” And Good For Him!

Wheel of Fortune

On a podcast with comic Marc Maron—because comedians ask such probing questions and have such high journalistic standards—President Barack Obama, while musing on the topic of race, said, among other things:

“The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination — in in almost every institution of our lives — that casts a long shadow, that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on. Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say “nigger” in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.” 

Whatever the pros and cons of that statement—and it really isn’t especially remarkable—, it is Obama’s use of the word “nigger” that has cable news and the internet buzzing, fainting and drooling. To take some media idiots at random…oh, let’s say, the Fox and Friends crew, along with some commentators Fox dug up someplace. you would think that Obama was doing a Samuel L.Jackson imitation.

If a President is going to talk about racism and raise the perfectly relevant issue of racial epithets such as nigger, it is reasonable, competent, civil and appropriate for him to speak the word he is talking about. Of course it is. No, “Fox contributor David Webb,” whoever you are, it is NOT “beneath the office of the president” to say the words that express the idea you intend to express. It would be beneath the office of the Presidency” for the grown man in that office to use juvenile code-words like “N-word,” which is the way my wife and I talk around our dog, since Rugby goes ballistic if we say “walk,” “outside,” “nap.” “treat, “cheese,” “food,” or “The Adventures of Lassie” out loud. Someone tell various news outlets that the undignified, foolish ones are all of them, treating their audiences or readers like children (or Jack Russell Terriers) and playing hangman and “Wheel of Fortune”—“He said n- – – – -!” I’ll buy a vowel, Pat!”—when they should be telling us exactly what the President said.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you! Now maybe if people are talking about the word nigger, they will use the word they are talking about, because that’s how human beings communicate.

Except on Fox news. I swear, sometimes, I don’t know what the hell they are doing.

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Race

Unethical Dog Ownership: Citronella Spray Bark-Control Collars

dog collar

My sister just called me to recount a disturbing story. She is a dog lover, and knows all of the many dogs in her neighborhood. Passing by the yard belonging to another dog-owning friend, she was greeted by the animal, who obviously recognized her, and was attempting to welcome her with what anyone familiar with dogs would immediately recognize as a happy bark. Every time the dog barked, however, his “bark-control” collar sprayed citronella in his face. My sister said it was obviously frustrating for the dog, who kept barking and wincing. Eventually the owner came out and took the collar off so it could interact with his two-legged friend.

I had never heard of this kind of bark-control collar. The Humane Society disapproves of them as ineffective, but that’s a non-ethical consideration. The devices are cruel, not to mention proof-positive, if you use one, that you should get one of those Japanese robotic dogs instead of the real thing. Never mind that the barking of other dogs can set them off—“Heh, heh! Watch this, Bruno, every time I bark, Lassie’s collar sprays her right in her smug Collie puss!”—it’s frustrating to a canine’s natural desire to communicate, and dogs communicate a lot, and well.

Our Jack Russell Terrier Rugby has  more than twenty distinct barks and even more grunts, whimpers, sighs, and quacks to signify everything from “I want a biscuit!” to “What the hell is that? to “Take me with you!” to “It’s my dog-pal Elphie!” to ” I hate you, you stupid Belgian Shepherds!“and much, much more. Rugby would do very well with one of those dog-translator collars from “Up.” (The Japanese have also invented a dog translator, but your dog has to speak Japanese.)

Learning what your dog is saying with his or her various barks is part of the experience of sharing your life with these amazing animals, and rigging up a device to punish a dog for barking is pet owner malpractice, irresponsible, and wrong.

36 Comments

Filed under Animals, U.S. Society

Search Engine Ethics Bulletin: Google’s Not Perfect, And That’s Not Unethical

Adam and Eve being thrown out of Eden hit the dinosaurs HARD...

Adam and Eve being thrown out of Eden hit the dinosaurs HARD…

Late last month, someone discovered, probably in the wake of all the pre-release publicity for “Jurassic World,” that the search “What happened to the dinosaurs?” turned up this site as its top result. This is a fundamentalist Christian site that is hilarious in its misinformation and ignorance, along with the inevitable smugness that routinely accompanies this kind of stubborn immunity to fact and logic. Here’s my favorite passage:

Representatives of all the kinds of air-breathing land animals, including the dinosaur kinds, went aboard Noah’s Ark. All those left outside the Ark died in the cataclysmic circumstances of the Flood, and many of their remains became fossils.

Boy, that must have been some boat. Today there was news of a controversy over whether the recently discovered “heaviest dinosaur” was only 40 tons rather than the earlier estimate of 65 tons. Since the beasts boarded the Ark two by two, this is  about 80 tons for just one species of dinosaur, Dreadnoutus, to go with 84 tons of Futalognkasaurus, 78 tons of Brachiosaurus, and 32 tons of Diplodocus, and that’s without the other 700 or so dinosaur species, which are estimated to be about a tenth of the actual total. Then Noah had to fit all the other animals on the ship…green alligators and long-necked geese, some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees, some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you’re born, he didn’t take along no unicorns.

But I digress. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, History, Literature, Religion and Philosophy, Science & Technology, The Internet

The Trooper,The Law Clerk, And The Deer

This was all YOUR fault...

This was all YOUR fault…

Prof. Jonathan Turley would make this an ethics quiz, but not me.

He is troubled that a law clerk ended up an ex-law clerk after publishing a gratuitously nasty post on Facebook expressing her unseemly lack of sympathy for a New Jersey state trooper who died when his car collided with a deer. (Another trooper traveling with him was injured.) Turley shares my concern regarding the trend of employers punishing employees for their comments on social media, but in this case, I don’t have any sympathy for the clerk at all.

Responding to other Facebook commenters who expressed sorrow for the dead trooper and called him a hero, Leslie Anderson, who clerked for a News Jersey judge, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Travis L. Francis, expressed strenuous dissent, writing,

“Not that sad, and certainly not ‘tragic,’ Troopers were probably traveling at a dangerously high speed as per usual. Totally preventable. At least they didn’t take any of the citizens they were sworn to serve and protect with them…The ‘victim’s’ employment as a state trooper is irrelevant to the circumstances, other than the fact that he injured a fellow trooper and destroyed state property as a result of his recklessness. He wasn’t running into a burning building or otherwise acting within the course of his employment at the time of the accident. The outcry and ‘thank yous’ are absurd, nonsensical, and completely unwarranted. There are people in this country and around the world dying for much less. There is nothing ‘tragic’ about this. Get over yourselves and your sense of entitlement, people . . .

Nonetheless, I agree that it is sad and heart wrenching for the family members left to suffer the consequences of the Trooper’s recklessness — especially for the deer family who lost a mommy or daddy or baby deer.”

Jerk. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Character, Facebook, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights, Social Media, Workplace

Creative Cruelty To Animals: Thomas Neil Rodriguez And The Dog’s “Bucket List”

Like all dogs, Poh has several amusement parks on his bucket list...

Like all dogs, Poh has several amusement parks on his bucket list…

I don’t know about you, but this story ticks me off.

Thomas Neil Rodriguez’s got a terminal diagnosis of his 15-year-old  dog Poh when he had his pet examined by the vet.. His response was to embark with Poh on a 12,000 mile automobile odyssey to 35 cities, taking seven weeks, which he described to ABC News as  fulfilling “their” bucket list.  “It was a great trip,” Rodriguez told ABC.  “I got to spend seven weeks with Poh. At first, I did not think he’d make it two weeks, but he did.”

Dogs don’t have bucket lists. They are always happy to be with their loved ones, but traveling is stressful, and what an old dog, a dying dog, or any dog wants most is rest, love, familiar routines and surroundings. If Rodriguez had no choice but to travel, taking poor Poh along was arguably kinder than leaving him in a kennel or with a stranger (or putting him down), but to proudly proclaim that this journey was in any way for the dog’s pleasure is outrageous. Rodriguez is irresponsible, and celebrating it. Po was made to suffer for his master’s enjoyment and convenience, and the rest is nothing but spin, or perhaps a guilty fantasy.

( Best comment on Althouse’s blog: “Same reason a man would buy his wife a power tool set for her birthday. He wants it.” Right. Except that buying her the power tools isn’t as likely to kill her.)

_______________

Spark and Pointer: Ann Althouse

Source: ABC

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Filed under Animals, Character

Ethics Dunce: Pope Francis

The Pope and "the Angel of Peace"...

The Pope and “the Angel of Peace”…

Sigh.

I apologize in advance to all the Catholics and others who will be offended by this post. I wish I didn’t have to write it. But I just read one too many “nyah, nyah, nyah conservatives and Republicans, you’re so big on waving God at us and now the Pope says you’re full of crap” Facebook posts from someone who would no more set foot in a church than Damien in “The Omen.”  The Pope is as fair game for criticism when he abuses his influence and power as Kylie Jenner, who was the subject of the previous post, and for similar reasons. To those who say that it is disrespectful for me to compare the Pope’s ethics to those of an ignorant 18-year-old minor celebrity drunk on her own fame, my answer is that the Pope needs to stop acting like one.

I’m going to try to avoid the mocking tone I used with Kylie, I really am.

With great power, the saying goes, comes great responsibility. What I see in this Pope is a very, very nice and well-meaning man who suddenly was given the power to have his every opinion on any subject immediately plastered all over newspapers across the world and recited by news readers as significant, and literally can’t stop himself. He told an Argentinian journalist last week that he just wants to be remembered as “good guy.”  Mission accomplished: I believe he is a good guy. He’s also an irresponsible guy, who knows or should know that his pronouncements will be exploited for political advantage by people and parties that could not care less about his Church, God and religion generally, but who will use his words  to persuade voters who feel the need to know no more about a subject that what the “Vicar of Christ” tells them.

It may be “good to be Pope,” to paraphrase Mel Brooks, and it’s also not “easy being Pope,” to paraphrase Kermit the Frog. I don’t care: he accepted the job, and with it the duty to do it responsibly. Being a responsible Pope means not shooting off your mouth about every topic that occurs to you. In that same interview, Pope Francis opined that humans care too much about pets. I get it: poverty is, by his own assessment, the single most important aspect of the Church’s mission, so it’s natural for the Pope to believe that the money spent on movies, cable TV, make-up, CDs, and Jack Russell terriers should all be given to the Clinton Foundation or his Church instead. That’s a facile opinion from someone who has a staff catering to his every whim, and who sits on billions in the Vatican Bank. Does the Pope understand loneliness? Does he have any compassion for those suffering from it? Does he understand the needs of my sister, divorced and with both children gone, and her desire to have some unconditional love in the house when she returns to an otherwise empty home,  love that  takes the form of a happy, loyal, Havanese? “Care for pets is like programmed love,” the Pope told the interviewer. “I can program the loving response of a dog or a cat, and I don’t need the experience of a human, reciprocal love.”

My response: “Shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about, and millions of people will assume you got this point of view straight from God.” Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, History, Leadership, Love, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Worst Grandmother of the Year”

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, every kitten looks like a nail..."

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, every kitten looks like a nail…”

The Ethics Quiz concerning the grandmother who disciplined the children under her charge by killing a cat and her kittens with a hammer prompted a superb thread with many able participants. It also explored many rich ethics topics—child abuse, animal abuse,  property, child-rearing, discipline, punishment, law vs. ethics, and more. The entire thread is well worth reading, and it also generated a Comment of the Day that summarized and expanded on the themes and issues discussed. texagg04 has provided several COTD, but I don’t know if any have been better than this one. As a bonus, tex’s comment has persuaded me that I need to add another rationalization to the list. That should be up later today.

Congratulations and thanks to all the Ethics Alarms readers who weighed in so thoughtfully on this story. Tex’s honor here is in part yours as well.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz: The Worst Grandmother of the Year:

Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Quizzes, Rights, U.S. Society