Category Archives: Business & Commercial

Oh Fine, Now Candy TV Commercials Are Getting Smutty

Reeses

At 8:46 AM, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercial popped on TV. “Women want like to make it last,” bold type told us. “Men are done in seconds.”

“Typical.”

Who decided that gratuitous sexual innuendo is inherently hilarious and appropriate in every context, at every moment? Well, no one yet. Again, it is the boors in ad agencies and clods in corporate boardrooms who are pushing us down this uncivil, impolite, needlessly sleazy path.  We can remind them that there are limits dictated by taste and decorum, or we can just shrug it off, part of the irreversible ratchet process called “defining deviancy down.”

Of course, we can’t expect advertisers to display respect to their audiences if their audiences prove they deserve none.

How long do you think it will be before we see a Reese’s ad featuring a kinky couple mid-sexual romp, and the naked male points to his erect penis, crying, “Hey! You got peanut butter on my chocolate sauce!” Then his partner, after, ah, checking it out, cries, “Mmmmm! But it tastes great!”

At this rate, not long at all.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

The Legal Profession’s Failure Of Professionalism Regarding Gay Marriage

blind_justice

Charles Green helpfully sent me the link to today’s New York Times piece documenting how…

“the imbalance in legal firepower in the same-sex marriage cases resulted from a conviction among many lawyers that opposition to such unions is bigotry akin to racism. But there were economic calculations, too. Law firms that defend traditional marriage may lose clients and find themselves at a disadvantage in hiring new lawyers.”

“Am I right that something’s quite amiss here?” he asks. Indeed he is, and I’ve touched on it before.

There are several factors at work here, but the result is deplorable, and indictment of the corrupt values of the legal profession. One of the factors is bias, and it is a bias that the lawyers themselves are either unaware of,  or are unwilling to avoid its effects as their professional codes of ethics require.

The majority of high-powered lawyers hail from urban centers where liberal culture flourishes among the wealthy, the powerful and the influential. These are cosmopolitan lawyers, sophisticated and urbane, who have gay colleagues, gay friends and gay children. They are less likely to be religious, and more likely to have contempt for those who are. Combine with them the legal academics who drive consensus on legal ethics matters—like most academics, they have marinated in the extreme leftist attitudes of U.S. academia—and it becomes clear why, as Michael W. McConnell, a former federal appeals court judge who teaches law at Stanford, tells the Times, “The level of sheer desire to crush dissent is pretty unprecedented.”

I noticed this in 2011, when the legal ethicists I follow, know and debate with decreed virtually en masse that a judge who was not only gay himself but in a long term domestic relationship with his partner had no ethical obligation to recuse himself before he issued the decision on the constitutionality of California’s anti-same sex marriage Proposition 8. Nor did they feel he was ethically obligated to disclose his situation before ruling. I wrote: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: Major League Baseball

RalphieI just learned, via TV ad, that the fantasy sports company DraftKings is endorsed by Major League Baseball.

MLB needs to rethink that. The commercial I watched just concluded with the promise that if you play fantasy baseball using DraftKings, “You could win a ship-load of money!”

Stay classy, MLB. Why in the world would any sport that is trying (not so successfully, I may add) to attract more kids as fans and encourage families to go to the ballpark ally itself with a company that advertises itself during major league baseball games with dumb, gratuitous potty-mouth crudeness like that? It’s not clever. It’s not witty. Anyone who thinks that it’s funny is 12, Adam Sandler, or a moron. It’s rude, that’s all.

Professional and trustworthy operations, including sports, choose partners that are professional too. This advertising equivalent of fart jokes reflects horribly on the sport, and the people who run it.

And, I may add, the advertising industry. The wit who thinks “a ship-load of money” is a real come-on is probably the same slob who gave us Verizon’s “half-fast” internet ads.  At least that one was original: this Noel Coward-worthy play on words is the same low-life effort that K-Mart embarrassed itself with in its“ship my pants” ads in 2013.

We all have to swim in this water we call a culture, and this is the equivalent of pissing in the pool. We should be able to expect better from baseball.

 

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising, Sports, U.S. Society

Planet Ethics To Earth’s Gay Marriage Combatants: “You’re Mean, You’re Disgusting, And You’re Embarrassing The Human Race”

earth-from-space

It is hard to mediate a dispute where both sides feel entitled to use scorched earth tactics that ensure that innocent people get hurt. The gay (or same-sex) marriage wars have quickly escalated to that point, and while it may have been predictable, it was not necessary.

Gay marriage advocates, who were winning and, it is now clear, will win, could have shown patience and compassion toward the unsuspecting Americans of faith who weren’t paying close attention to the epic cultural shift underway, and who are reacting like most human beings react when the basic traditions, assumptions, and beliefs that they grew up believing were good, fair and immutable suddenly move beneath their feet like unstable tectonic plates—with confusion, anger, fear, impulsive words and actions based on instinct and panic. The gay advocates couldn’t bring themselves to do it, though. They rationalized their aggressive strategy with the Goldwateresque “Extremism in the  defense of liberty is no vice” approach to social change. They insisted on demonizing opponents, without caring about their motives or their lack of understanding of the issues. Even passive acceptance wasn’t enough: the pro-gay marriage warriors had to purge contrary thoughts from the culture. Forget about tangible opposition: anyone who wasn’t thinking friendly thoughts about gays and their unions had to be destroyed. Use the fear of the tradition-bound against them. Crush them…beat them into submission.

It has been ugly, destructive, and wrong. American shouldn’t lose their jobs for signing a petition or voting for a referendum. States, and all their businesses and individual livelihoods, shouldn’t be boycotted because of misguided laws. This week, a family that just want to make and sell good pizza was drawn into a controversy it neither understood nor could be expected to, and was targeted for destruction after the owner made a comment rife with ignorance about, well, everything. Does it really matter that a pizza seller mistakenly thinks that it would be honorable and virtuous not to cater a hypothetical same-sex wedding reception? Does the family really have to be brought to its knees, made an example of, and ruined to teach anyone else what can happen to them if they don’t conform to the new, mandated belief system?

Who respects or likes people who act this way? We call them bullies. We call them cruel. We call them fanatics. ( This hateful CBS reporter tried to derail the GoFundMe effort to raise funds to rescue the pizza place.) Unless we are determined to understand their motives, we are very likely to hate them.

So the advocates of gay marriage really think it advances their cause, and it is a just cause, to make people hate and fear them.

What utter, utter folly.

Naturally, as in any war, the other side has responded in an equally brutal and ugly manner, just worse—dumber, to begin with. It’s Dresden for Coventry all over again.  Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, U.S. Society

KABOOM! The University of Houston Is Paying Matthew McConaughey $135,000 To Give A Commencement Speech

head blowsThis isn’t just your usual, run-of-the-head Kaboom! where my brains go everywhere after a story makes my head explode. This is an angry Kaboom! where I kick my brain chunks around in disgust before the clean-up.

There is no possible excuse for this. The University is taxpayer funded, and if I lived in Houston, I’d be picketing graduation. The University announced in January that the 2013 Academy award-winner was speaking but avoided revealing his fee, until the persistent  the Houston Chronicle got the word on March 31. The paper said that the Celebrity Talent agency tried to block  the Chronicle’s Freedom of Information requests, arguing “that if UH tells the public how much it plans to pay McConaughey, a ‘reporter or someone’ might create ‘unfair negatives online.’ Yes, I think that was a reasonable assumption.

Scattered thoughts as I clean up the mess: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Education, Kaboom!, U.S. Society

Ethics Over Compliance: The Dutch Banker’s Oath

bankers oath

“Professional ethics” is a never-ending battle between compliance and ethics, between rules and penalties on one side, and principles and values on the other. Compliance is easier: all you do is tell people with rules and regulations what they must or can’t do, and promise that there will be consequences if those rules are violated. For ethics to work, people actually have to understand ethical values and be committed to living by them in a professional context.

Compliance has little to do with ethics. Jack the Ripper will follow rules if they are clear, if he knows he’ll get caught if he violates them, and if the punishment when he does will be  harsh enough. That won’t make him ethical. In fact, compliance–rules-based professional conduct control—is often antithetical to ethics. Rules and laws are merely a challenge to the type that Oliver Wendell Holmes called “The Bad Man”-–which includes bad women—to find ways to do things that are wrong but that avoid violating rules sufficiently to justify punishment.  This is why most compliance codes have language in their introductions noting that it’s impossible to make a code that will cover every wrong someone can think of, so ethics are important too.

Pure compliance-based systems don’t improve ethical conduct. The financial collapse in 2008 was largely caused by financial manipulators operating in the grey areas of the rules and laws—that’s why so few of them could be prosecuted. In politics, The compliance mindset is extremely convenient for clever liars and cheats like the Clintons, which is why Hillary could try to explain her e-mail shenanigans by saying that “I fully complied with every rule I was governed by (heh-heh-heh!).” Unethical people will always find ways to get around rules. Ethical people, in contrast, barely need rules at all.

Another benefit of ethics over compliance is that ethics rules–compliance codes—have to be long and detailed, otherwise it’s too easy for Clinton-types to find loopholes, though they usually will find some anyway. Ethical values, on the other hand, can be stated very simply. An ethical employer thinks, “Hmm, that intern is cute, but I am married and have duties of loyalty and honesty to my wife and family, and it would be an abuse of power and influence as well as irresponsible for me as a leader to have an affair with someone under my supervision in the organization.” The Bad Man thinks, “Wow, she’s hot; my wife won’t care as long as I’m not caught; getting a hummer isn’t considered sex where I come from, and there’s nothing that says a President can’t fool around!” For the former, “A leader should not have sex with subordinates” is clear as a bell; his values tell him why. The latter, though, is thinking, “Hmmm. How can I get around this? That rule says “should” but not “shall”— that’s good. No punishment is specified. Sounds like more of a guideline than a rule. “Sex”—that must mean sexual intercourse: great! Lots of wiggle room there. And “subordinate”—is an intern really a subordinate? And I bet I could argue that this is personal, not official conduct. All good…now where’s that cigar?

Invoking ethics rather than compliance is a new oath required by the Dutch Bankers Association. It could be printed on a postcard, and if a banker is ethical, it is all he or she needs:

I swear within the boundaries of the position that I hold in the banking sector…

…that I will perform my duties with integrity and care;

…that I will carefully balance all the interests involved in the enterprise, namely those of customers, shareholders, employees and the society in which the bank operates;

…that in this balancing, I will put the interests of the customer first;

…that I will behave in accordance with the laws, regulations and codes of conduct that apply to me;

…that I will keep the secrets entrusted to me;

…that I will make no misuse of my banking knowledge;

…that I will be open and transparent, and am aware of my responsibility to society;

…that I will endeavor to maintain and promote confidence in the banking system.

So truly help me God.

And if a banker isn’t ethical,

it won’t matter anyway.

__________________________

Pointer: Legal Ethics Forum

Sources: Bloomberg, The Conglomerate

Graphic: Bloomberg

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Ethics Dunce: Tucker Carlson (No, I Mean Seriously, This Guy Is Really, REALLY An Ethics Dunce!!!)

Oh NO!!! Tucker Carlson is trapped by a conflict of interest! I'm coming, Tucker...just hold on! I'M COMING!!!!

Oh NO!!! Tucker Carlson is trapped by a conflict of interest! I’m coming, Tucker…just hold on! I’M COMING!!!!

Tucker Carlson is the founder and publisher of the conservative commentary and news site, The Daily Caller. In this post, I recently discussed Carlson’s ethical obtuseness in pulling a column by a Daily Caller contributor because it criticized Fox News, where Carlson has a gig as a weekend host of the network’s embarrassing happy conservative talk morning news show. I wrote,

The conflicts of interest on display here, the insensitivity to them, and the lack of any pretense of journalistic fairness or integrity is staggering. Carlson has placed The Daily Caller in the same, discredited ethics no-man’s land of Media Matters, Move-on.org, the Daily Kos and other sites that blatantly distort the news and their commentary on it for specific, ideological and personal agendas, and a personal agenda is the most unethical and cynical conflict of all. Carlson likes his Fox paycheck, apparently. Well, then, his ethical obligation is to have an independent journalist edit his website. In the alternative, he needs to refuse to work for Fox unless the network agrees to allow him full reign to say and write what he believes on his website, and to allow others to do so as well.

Apparently Carlson doesn’t read Ethics Alarms—I am shocked and disappointed—and moreover, has the imagination and ethics problem-solving skills of a banana slug.  Mediaite reports that he was discussing his ethics problem with RealClearPolitics, and admitted that he was totally flummoxed about what to do, poor dear:

“I have two rules,” Carlson said, “One is you can’t criticize the families of the people who work here, and the other is you can’t go after Fox” because he works there. Sigh. “Yes, it’s a conflict, for sure…but I don’t know what to do about it.” Continue reading

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