Category Archives: Comment of the Day

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

2 Comments

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

Comment of the Day: “What’s Going On Here?” Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails”

praise

Nothing makes me consider  shouting praise to the skies like the situation I just experienced. I find myself in a hotel, away from home, waking up feeling sick, having to prepare for a two hour ethics lecture to young lawyers and knowing that writing a new Ethics Alarms post will either make me frantic or result in a product even more riddled with typos than usual. And there it is! A worthy Comment of the Day, allowing me to present high quality ethics content that I don’t have to write myself, giving me time to work, get back home and think. (Unless I die first, because boy, do I feel lousy.)

The perfectly-timed COTD in question is by the commenter formerly known as  Penn, and involves a topic that I am speaking about this morning, e-mail. I don’t even mind that he doesn’t agree with the statements that sparked his comment: that police should be required under threat of dismissal to report racist -mails from colleagues, and that workplace e-mails have to be monitored by responsible supervisors. Here is SamePenn’s Comment of the Day on the post, “What’s Going On Here? Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails.”

And thank you, thank you, thank you! Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, Science & Technology, The Internet, Workplace

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Week: Bill Clinton”

cartoon

Rich (in CT) delivered a masterpiece yesterday, and a remarkably bold one: I have never seen anyone, pundit, logician, jurist or linguist, attempt to plum the machinations of Bill Clinton’s deceitful arts when he is in top form. Yet astoundingly Rich dissected yesterday’s classic Unethical Quote of the Week from Bubba professing, well, something regarding the Clintons’ various maneuvers  through the devise of the Clinton Foundation, and all I can do is radiate awe.

For the record, that quote was, “There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy. That just hasn’t happened.” 

Here is Rich (in CT)’s Comment of the Day, my early favorite for COTD of the Year (but I am biased: the Clintons’ flagrant and joyous celebration of their ethics vacuum fascinates me almost as much as the fact that so many otherwise intelligent people don’t recognize it, though it is as obvious, and almost as long-standing, as the Grand Canyon), on the post, Unethical Quote of the Week : Bill Clinton:

Let’s try a flow chart!

>> “There is no doubt in my mind that”:
>>>> “we have never done”:
>>>>>> “anything knowingly inappropriate”:
>>>>>>>> “in terms of taking money”:
>>>>>>>>>> “to influence”:
>>>>>>>>>>>> “any kind of American government policy”.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>> “That just hasn’t happened”.

Parsing the logic: Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Hero: Toya Graham, The Baltimore Riot’s ‘Mom of the Year’”

Baltimore mom

I don’t know if a 24 hour period has ever produced as many provocative, passionate and well-argued comments on Ethics Alarms before. This, commenter Holly’s reaction to my designation of the viral  Baltimore mom Toya Graham clobbering her rioter son during the Freddie Gray disruptions in Charm City, is just one of several. I’ll address some of the issues she raises after the post; in the meantime, here is Holly’s Comment of the Day, in a day that will probably have more than one, on the post, “Ethics Hero: The Baltimore Riot’s ‘Mom of the Year’”:

I am surprised at this response. For a number of reasons. In any other circumstance, this woman probably would be going to jail. But if we watch the video more closely, the following observations can be made:

1. This child was leaving with his mother and she was so angry that she chases him to pull him back towards her to continue the beating. He appeared to be complying and in her anger continued to the assault the kid during the walk away.

2. The child was not in imminent danger. There are bystanders all around I saw no rocks being thrown in this video nor police for that matter. It does not appear the threat of losing his life was immediately in front of them.

3. The assault starts with a few close-fisted strikes as well as continuing with open-fisted strikes or what people are calling “smacks”.

Exemplary action on the part of this mother would not have been beating her son as he walked away from the riot, however.  It would have included not allowing a 16 year out of her supervision to wander in the riot in the first place. Continue reading

33 Comments

Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Love, Race

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Dunces: Ten Prominent Doctors, Surgeons and Med School Professors Who Want Columbia To Kick Dr. Oz Off Its Faculty”

The late Prof. George Wald, the best teacher I ever had. In biology, not political science. George did not acknowledge the distinction.

The late Prof. George Wald, the best teacher I ever had. In biology, not political science. George did not acknowledge the distinction.

Commenter Alexander Cheezem, who has quite a bit of expertise (also passion) on such matters, weighed in on the current controversy over the “quackery” of daytime TV star “Dr. Oz.” This time I’ll hold my comments until the end; here is Alex’s excellent Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Dunces: Ten Prominent Doctors, Surgeons and Med School Professors Who Want Columbia To Kick “Dr. Oz” Off Its Faculty:

I’m going to have to both agree and disagree with you here. First off, I applaud Columbia University’s response and agree that the principle of academic freedom is applicable here… to a point.

Secondly, however, I’m going to have to disagree with you regarding the parallels. Linus Pauling was an embarrassment to medicine, not chemistry. Wald was overly passionate about politics, not biology. Nagel’s views on biology are an embarrassment, not his views on what he’s supposed to be actually teaching. Chomsky’s forays into political science may be an embarrassment (personally, I regard them as something of a mixed bag), but that’s not what he was the professor of, is it?

Kass, McKinnon, Harper, and Singer are closer parallels, of course, but there’s still one rather huge difference: Dr. Oz is a doctor… and runs his show as one. It is, as the comedian John Oliver put it, the Dr. Oz Show, not “Check This Shit Out With Some Guy Named Mehmet”. This is quite relevant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that offering medical advice is within the scope of what doctors do. Offering that advice while invoking his medical license as a relevant qualification, simply put, can be considered part of the actual practice of medicine. Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Professions

Comment of the Day: “Now THAT Was A Rape Culture…”

Blogger and esteemed commenter here Rick Jones shares my passion for theater and is also, like me, a stage director, but seldom has a chance to weigh in on that topic. My post about the troubling lyrics in “Standing on the Corner,” the best known song in Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella” gave Rick a chance to swing at a pitch in his wheelhouse, as the baseball broadcasters like to say, and he didn’t disappoint.

I want to clarify something from the original post. Having noted the lyrics, I was no way  criticizing them or the song, or the musical itself. Older shows are valuable and fascinating in part because they serve as windows on past cultural values and attitudes—that was one of the reasons for the ambitious, important and doomed mission of the theater I have been artistic director of for the last two decades. Such politically incorrect references should never be excised in performance.

“The Most Happy Fella” is a slog, however. Ambitious, sure, but too long, too sentimental, and with too many unavoidable “wince points,” as I call them, to make the show worth the huge investment in talent, money and time that it takes to produce competently. Any time the best songs in a musical are the ones that have nothing to do with the plot (“Standing on the Corner,” “Big D,” and “Abondanza!”, which in in the clip above) it’s ominous. The 1925 Pulitzer Prize-winning hit play this pseudo-opera was based on, “They Knew What They Wanted” by Sydney Howard, is much better.

Here is Rick’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Now That Was A Rape Culture…”: Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Literature, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “KABOOM! Head Exploded, Can’t Write, Don’t Need To: The FBI Forensic Scandal”

FBI 1

Long-time Ethics Alarms commenter Michael R. delivers another of his provocative and informative Comments of the Day, this time on the festering scandal that is prosecutor misconduct and abuses of due process in our criminal justice system. This kind of commentary justifies the existence of Ethics Alarms, in my view, regardless of what I may write here. It is a virtual template for what makes a Comment of the Day.

Here is Michael R’s COTD on the post, “KABOOM! Head Exploded, Can’t Write, Don’t Need To: The FBI Forensic Scandal”… Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Science & Technology