Category Archives: Daily Life

Ethics Hero: The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

Meet the Press sisters.

Meet the Press sisters!

About a week ago, The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)  issued an unexpectedly tough report calling for Russia to be banned from international athletics at all levels for flagrant doping violations and a “deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels” within Russian athletics. WADA also urged the International Association of Athletics Federations to ban five Russian athletes and five coaches for life. Why the Draconian measures?

The verdict was doubtless bolstered by considering the repeated examples of Russian cheating going back to the bad old Soviet Union days, when the gargantuan Press sisters were winning gold medals over female athletes half their size and East German female swimmers had shoulders as wide as Volkswagon buses, often because they had been dosed with testosterone without their knowledge. More recently, WADA found that Russia “intentionally and maliciously” destroyed 1,400 urine and blood samples of its athletes and, WADA says, the Russian government was directly involved.

WADA President Dick Pound’s report conceded that “corruption and bribery practices at the highest levels of international athletics” were rampant, but that Russia was in a league of its own. “For the 2016 Olympics our recommendation is that the Russian Federation is suspended. One of our hopes is that they will volunteer that so they can undertake the remedial work needed.”

Then he told another funny joke about a horse, a rabbi and an octopus walking into a bar. Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Character, Daily Life, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Sports

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Week: My Progressive, Rational, Educated and Gay Facebook Friend”


Unlike most Comments of the Day, this one by Penn/Same Penn, who has two aliases here due to WordPress’s inexplicable habit of eating his posts, requires some back-reading to fully appreciate…but it is worth the effort.

The original post is about a Facebook friend’s mass condemnation of the Lone star State as a frightening, bigoted and  violent place where he would never set foot, in part because of his anger over Houston’s rejection last week of a bill that would expand LGBT civil rights in the city. My post noted that painting Texas with such a broad and harsh brush is itself bigotry—a position that cannot be rebutted, I believe—and reader Neil protested that the anti-Texas and Texans sentiment was just.

This inspired P/SP to one of the most eloquent and thoughtful posts Ethics Alarms has ever received, on any topic, and his is complex here, far ranging from its inspiration.

Here is Penn’s Comment of the Day on the post, Unethical Quote Of The Week: My Progressive, Rational, Educated and Gay Facebook Friend: Continue reading


Filed under Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

Ethics Alarms Reminder: Don’t Forget About The Links…

Homemade-Sausage-Recipes jpg

Those links to other websites on the left are seldom accessed, I suppose because most blogs accumulate them on a quid pro quo basis: link to me, and I’ll link to you. Ethics Alarms doesn’t do that. If the link is there, it’s because I use the site to identify ethics issues or as an information resource. I don’t remove links because a site has removed mine or refuses to link to this one; I don’t take revenge on bloggers who write nasty things about me, either.

This isn’t personal, it’s just ethics.

I’ve been meaning to highlight some of the links for a long time, so readers might be moved to check them out. I assume you are familiar with the news aggregation sites, right, left and center, that I use the most: Mediaite, Politico, Drudge, The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Google News, Think Progress, memeorandum, and Fark (great for teacher scandals!), as well as the ones that I don’t use, because they are either too biased to trust or have proved untrustworthy, like Breitbart, Buzzfeed, Gawker and The Daily Kos. (I am close to abandoning the Daily Caller as well.) Here are eleven links you should explore; I’ll have other lists of links for you now and then: Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Reflections On The Sudden Death Of Wonderful Human Being


I returned from a legal ethics teaching tour to the horrible news that a friend of mine had died in a freak accident at his home. I had just seen him for the first time in many months when he showed up unexpectedly on the final weekend of my theater company, and the production I directed for it as a final bow. When I spotted him in the theater lobby that day two months ago, I shouted his name and gave him a long hug. He was one of those amazing people who just made you feel better about the world knowing that people like him were still in it.

Now, just like that, he’s gone. An e-mail from him that arrived right before my trip sits unanswered in my in-box. I didn’t rush to return it—what was the rush? Life, of course, is the rush, and this has happened to me before. Why don’t I learn? Continue reading


Filed under Character, Daily Life, Facebook, Love, Rights

Possible Tools Of Ethical Analysis: Strange Emotions


I’m always on the lookout for concepts and tools that can help us negotiate the difficulties humans have determining right from wrong without pollution from emotions, non-ethical considerations, logical fallacies and rationalizations. Somewhere in this list of strange emotions there may be some.

I’m thinking about them while I recuperate from my last week of exhausting travel and daily seminars—I feel like I’ve been run over by water buffalo—and invite you to think about them along with me. I’m interested in your reactions.

Strange emotions

UPDATE: I was just schooled that the origin of this list, not mentioned where I say it, is “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows,” the invention of artist and blogger John Koenig.


Filed under Daily Life

Welcome To My World

Suicide jokes, however, are fine...

Suicide jokes, however, are fine

In the ethics CLE (Continuing Legal Education) world, seminar attendees rank presenters. Ethics is a much-detested topic; if you can crack 3 (out of 5, the best), you are doing well. My scores are usually between 4.6 and 4.9.

Attendees are also invited to write comments. I recently received the survey summaries from an out-of-state seminar I taught to a section of that state’s bar. The response during an immediately after the seminar was terrific, so I expected my usual ratings. The coordinator sent me an e-mail stating that my scores were “very good overall” (4.7, in fact) but that there were “concerns about a rape joke in my presentation.”

There was no rape joke in the session. I don’t make rape jokes.

I had been talking about Donald Trump’s lawyer, in an incident I posted about here, incompetently saying that “you can’t rape your spouse.” “You can rape your spouse,” I said. “I have this image of hopeful spousal abusers reading this idiot’s comments and saying, “This is great!”

I wrote back to the coordinator and said that I wanted my objection to this characterization in my files and on the record. I know how it works. All that is remembered later is the complaint, and groups, even bars, are controversy averse. Next year, when they are deciding whether to have me speak, all that has to happen is for someone to say, “Wasn’t there some rape joke he made that we got flack for?” That would be enough; nobody would check, nobody would investigate. I would be eliminated as a potential speaker, probably for all time. They might even tell another bar association about the episode when they are called about whether to use me. “Well, his seminar was popular, but there was some problem about a rape joke he told.”

I asked to see all the surveys. The “concern” about my “rape joke” consisted of exactly one anonymous comment out of a hundred attendees.

I would estimate political correctness hyper-sensitivity by single attendees cost me about a client a year. The other members of their groups have to be saddled with boring ethics seminars because one lawyer had to prove how vigilant he or she was in being properly offended.

(Now THIS is a rape joke...and I would never tell it.)


Filed under Daily Life, Education, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement

The “Now I’ll Make You Feel Bad For Insisting On Getting What You Paid For” Ploy

My hotel room TV, post Fred.

My hotel room TV, post Fred.

I’m in the midst of a legal ethics tour of Virginia, moving from one hotel to another. Last night I arrived at a Richmond Hilton at 11 pm, after fighting the usual traffic jams from late night construction on Rt.95 in my two hour car trip to get there. Oh, I had all the usual fun: the room that I had been told was pre-paid by my hosts wasn’t; later, the Wi-Fi in the room didn’t work. First, however, I immediately noticed that room 527 featured a TV that was hanging limply from its pedestal, forward and to the left. I guess I could have watched it sort of comfortably if I sat cross-legged on the floor with my head tilted to one side like President Buchanan.

I decided to call the desk instead.

The chirpy clerk answered my call brightly. “Yes, Mr. Marshall, what can I do for you?” she said.

“Well, my TV is broken. The screen is crooked, and it’s tipping off its pedestal.” Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners