Category Archives: Comment of the Day

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

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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

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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

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

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Whistle On The Post’s Dana Milbank…So Blood Won’t Shoot Out My Nose”

neurons

On a Saturday morning when my mind is foggy and my reflexes are slow after a harrowing  ordeal of prepping for and MC-ing a legal ethics game show for the D.C. bar the day before, the sighting on a worthy Comment of the Day is a cause for relief and joy. Rich (in CT) offers yet another superb post, illuminating the complex issues behind a statement in my essay about the estate tax. Rich has an impressive record for COTDs in his relatively short time commenting on Ethics Alarms, but none of his masterpieces were more welcome than this, which allows me to go back to bed. You would not believe how long it took me to type this brief paragraph. (Thanks, Rich!)

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Whistle On The Post’s Dana Milbank…So Blood Won’t Shoot Out My Nose.

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Health and Medicine, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Rationalization #30 (“It’s a bad law/stupid rule”) Chronicles: Vijay Chokalingam’s Affirmative Action Fraud”

On the bright side, Dr. Nick improves the diversity of the medical profession...

On the bright side, Dr. Nick improves the diversity of the medical profession…

Joed68 comes through with his second Comment of the Day, this one in reaction to the post here on Mindy Kaling’s brother and his proud confession that he gamed an affirmative action program to gain admission to medical school years ago.

Allowing skin color to enable a less deserving applicant to vault over a more deserving one in college is one thing—still ethically dubious, but defensible in the abstract—and letting low-lights into elite training for professions with life and death responsibilities is another. The only explanations I can mount for those who indignantly defend affirmative action in the latter (such as CNN’s Jeff Young, quoted in the post) is that they are in thrall of the ends justifies the means mentality currently infecting much of Progressive World, or they don’t know how difficult it is to become a doctor. The first malady is beyond remedy; joed68’s submission addresses the second.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post “Rationalization #30 (“It’s a bad law/stupid rule”) Chronicles: Vijay Chokalingam’s Affirmative Action Fraud”:

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17 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, Education, Professions, Race

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Website Of The Month: Michael T. Slager Support Fund”

Now, let's not jump to conclusions...

Now, let’s not jump to conclusions…

How can a website dedicated to paying for the defense of fired police officer Michael T. Slager be unethical, when every citizen is guaranteed the right to a defense before a jury of his peers? I thought I made my ethical objections to the site clear when I wrote:

Slager deserves a fair trial and will get one, but anyone whose immediate reaction to seeing the horrific video is sympathy for this killer cop needs psychiatric treatment, and quickly.

I also made it clear—I thought–that the text of the appeal betrayed a strange and ugly urge to shield Slager from the consequences of his conduct, which was per se, on its face, undeniably illegal under the laws of every state in the land, including South Carolina. He shot a fleeing man in the back; he cannot claim self-defense. Deadly force is forbidden in such situations. Unless Slager noticed that victim Walter Scott had death-ray shooting eyes in the back of his head, Scott’s death is a homicide, and it’s an open and shut case. The only remaining question is what level of homicide.

The appeal said that the poster supported Slager. Wrong. We should not support police officers who shoot citizens in the back. It attempted to minimize Slager’s offense by calling it a “mis-step.” Intentionally shooting someone illegally is not a mis-step. It’s murder. Then the appeal reminded us that Slager has a family, and didn’t do anything bad before he shot a man to death. Well, “first offense” is not a big mitigating factor when it comes to executing people.

However, I appreciate Ethics Alarms newcomer Gustav Bjornstrand‘s comment, though I don’t think this is the best context for it. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post “Unethical Website Of The Month: Michael T. Slager Support Fund.” I’ll be back at the end.

I venture to say that to offer support to Slager is certainly ethical, in and of itself. That is, if one believed that he or anyone deserves monetary support in order to raise a defence. It is conceivable that even someone who was certain he had committed a crime would choose still to aid him in getting good representation. It is unethical, I suggest, for anyone to assume that Slager is guilty of murder before a court decides the issue. It is possible, even if improbable, that there were circumstances prior to Slager firing that may shed light on his decision to fire. Additionally, there are a few other factors that need to be taken into consideration: Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Unethical Websites

Statue Ethics: “Hey Lucy, I’m Ho…OH GOD NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Lucy statueIconic comic actress Lucille Ball was born in Celoron, New York, and in 2009 the town’s residents commissioned a statue to honor her. It was designed to show the comedienne performing one of the most famous of her routines on “I Love Lucy,” the “Vitameatavegimin” bit.  For some reason, however, the sculptor either decided to portray Lucy as a creature from Hell, or had never actually seen a picture of Ball and just guessed, badly, at what she looked like. The result, which a sighted “Let’s Honor Lucy” committee member should have rejected at first glance, now stands in the town park, an eyesore and an insult to Ball’s memory.

Now some of the residents are trying to get the town to junk the statue, and rallying Lucy fans to put pressure on the town leadership to act. My question is, what took them so long? Six years of this incompetent abomination is six years too long. A memorial is ethically obligated to honor its subject, not insult and defile her memory. Would the public tolerate a Lincoln Memorial where Abe was sculpted to look like an ape? Would it have stood by at the unveiling and said, “Well, okaaay, I guess we can live with that…I guess. I mean, its paid for and all”?  What’s the matter with the populace of Celeron?
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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Popular Culture