Category Archives: Education

The Loyalty Problem: Fundamental Ethics Confusion at Mount St. Mary’s University

Mt st mary

Loyalty is an ethical virtue; the whole concept of duty often depends on it. Loyalty is also the most dangerous of all ethical principles. Misapplied, misinterpreted, followed blindly or carried to extremes, it can lead to absolute wrong. A current controversy at Maryland’s Mount St. Mary’s University illustrates how.

A reliable source obtained information that the school’s president, Simon Newman had argued that the school needed to be ruthless in maintaining high standards by getting rid of less competitive students, and had done so by telling colleagues opposing him, “This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies…Put a Glock to their heads.”

The student newspaper reported the conversation, which Newman hasn’t denied, and it was duly published in The Mountain Echo, the student newspaper.

Shortly after the “scoop,” The Mountain Echo’s faculty advisor Ed Egan was fired by Newman for violating the “code of conduct and acceptable use policies.” During the same period in which Egan was fired,  Newman did a Michael Corleone on some other “disloyal” lieutenants.” Thane Naberhaus, an associate professor of philosophy, was dismissed after criticizing Newman’s policies, and David Rehm, was stripped of his role as provost after questioning university policies.

The dismissal letter to Naberhaus, signed by Newman, said “As an employee of Mount St. Mary’s University, you owe a duty of loyalty to this university and to act in a manner consistent with the duty. However, your recent actions, in my opinion and that of others, have violated that duty and clearly justify your termination.”  Ed Egan says that he was also told that he had been “disloyal.”

I can’t speak to the dismissals of the other employees, but in the case of Egan, his loyalty was where it should be. President Newman doesn’t understand his own job, or the ethical principles applicable in academia. Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Journalism & Media, Professions

Since You Ask, HERE Is Why I Do Not Believe Public Schools Can Be Trusted To Teach Students About Complex Issues Like Race…

ellaBecause too many teachers and administrators are incapable of reliably rational thought, that’s why.

Take this ridiculous episode, for example:

Ethan Chase Middle School in Menifee, California urged its students to costume themselves as Disney characters for Spirit Day last week. Austin Lacey, 13, being a broad-minded and creative lad who, like an astounding number of his fellow Americans, apparently admires “Frozen,” the Disney animated cult smash soon to be a Broadway musical. He chose to dress as Elsa, the movie’s troubled Snow Queen.

The school principal made him take off the costume, because, as Romoland School District Superintendent Dr. Julie Vitale said in a statement, it was necessary to “stop a general disruption to the school environment.”

See what I mean? Morons. Continue reading

72 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Education, Professions, Race

Unethical High School Assembly Video Of…What? The Month? The Year? Eternity?

This video, purportedly a defense of affirmative action, was mandatory viewing for students at Glen Allen High School in Henrico, Virginia:

This isn’t education. This is anti-American, race-baiting indoctrination, political in intent and orientation, and absolutely irresponsible for use in a high school. This school, of course, has students of both races, so the video also encourages racial distrust, divisions, and hate.

Naturally, many parents object, though I doubt any are objecting more than I would.

The school was unapologetic:

“The students participated in a presentation that involved American history and racial discourse. A segment of the video was one component of a thoughtful discussion in which all viewpoints were encouraged. As always, we are welcoming of feedback from students and their families, and we address concerns directly as they come forward.”

A classic of  double-speak spin from incompetent, power-abusing educators. You don’t teach children about complex issues by reducing them to simple-minded cartoon agitprop, but then, education, however, is not the objective. The clear motives are racial spoils, white guilt, black entitlement, and partisan advantage.

155 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History, Race, U.S. Society

Ethics Alarms’ All-Time Greatest Hits

AllTimeGreatestHits

I am listing these because one of the past posts that keep drawing readers is going nuts today: the 2013 essay about the horrible Wanetta Gibson, who sent Brian Banks, a young man with a bright future to prison by falsely accusing him of rape when she was 15. If anyone has any idea why this would be, let me know; as far as I can find out, there are no new developments in the case.

It is gratifying that so many Ethics Alarms posts continue to find new readers. Here are the top ten that have “legs,” and my assessment of why.

1. The Rationalizations List. That’s no surprise, since I link to it so frequently, and it is also frequently updated.

2. Wanetta Gibson Is Even Worse Than We Thought

3.The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit. I am proud of this one. The use of mouthwash by alcoholics is epidemic, yet now, as in 2010 when I wrote this, almost nobody who isn’t a drunk is likely to know it. This makes it easy for closeted alcoholics to hide their illness, and continue to harm themselves by gulping 54 proof liquor out of various convenient containers or their caps, which are coincidentally shaped like shot glasses. Incredibly, the Ethics Alarms post is still one of the few references on this problem on the web. As you will read, I think the makers of mouthwash intentionally keep it this way, because the alcoholic market is huge.

I regularly receive thanks from family members of alcoholics, who tell me that reading this post led to their discovering that a loved oned had relapsed. Continue reading

17 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Education, Family, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Workplace

The Incredible Howard Dean

What does Howard Dean know about Hillary, if he doesn't know it, why is he on TV to talk about it, and if he does know it, why is he lying about it?

What does Howard Dean know about Hillary, if he doesn’t know it, why is he on TV to talk about it, and if he does know it, why is he lying about it?

I admit it: I watched MSNBC earlier this week. I tuned in “Morning Joe,” because the horrible Howard Dean was going to be a guest, and Dean will always say something that puts him in the running for at least an Ethics Dunce post. As far as I can see, he has no scruples or shame at all; he’s like Donald Trump with an MD. Still, I didn’t expect what transpired.

Co-Host Mika Brzezinski raised Hillary Clinton’s speaking fees, and suggested that that high prices she charges colleges undercuts her credibility when she discussed making higher education affordable.  “These kids… will be strapped with $90,000 in debt or $120,000 in debt and she’s making $225,000 in one hour,” she said.

“She’s not getting $225,000 for speeches in front of colleges,” Dean stated.

Mika’s partner, “Morning Joe” Scarborough objected, insisting that she did indeed.

“No, she’s not!” Dean insisted. “Which colleges?” A few minutes later, the Morning Joe executive producer read to Dean two examples, saying, “UNLV in October of 2014, she got $225,000. Then a month later, UCLA, she got $300,000.”

“I stand corrected,” said Dean. That is hardly sufficient, however. Some questions need to be answered. Continue reading

27 Comments

Filed under Character, Education, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

The Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2015, Part 1

Donald and Hillary

Sigh.

Watching the (encouraging) Iowa Caucuses results drip in last night, I was reminded that I hadn’t finished the task of completing the Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards for 2015’s Worst in Ethics. There are two reasons for my tardiness: a lot of other ethics issues have arisen of late, and this job makes me physically ill. It is depressing and discouraging: 2015 was much worse than 2014, which was considerably worse than 2013. What am I doing here? What is the point of spending all of this uncompensated time—it is more profitable bagging groceries—trying to nurture a more ethical culture and a more ethically competent public when all evidence points to utter futility as the result? Well, that way madness lies, I guess. I’m just going to grit my teeth and do my duty.

Last year I began by saying that 2014 was the year of the Ethics Train Wreck. There were far more of them in 2015, and they were more serious and damaging. That should give you sufficient warning of the horrors to come…

Ethics Train Wreck of the Year

trainwreck

The Illegal Immigration Ethics Train Wreck

One reason 2015 was a train wreck fest was that last year’s winners, the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, which begat the Freddie Gray Ethics Train Wreck, both begat by the 2012 winner, The Trayvon Martin- George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck, and The Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck, were still running amuck this year as well. The latter managed to run head-on into the immigration mess, with the President over-stepping his Constitutional limits to decide unilaterally not to enforce the law, and the Middle East foreign policy fiasco, causing Democrats to bury their heads in the sand and deny that admitting unvetted Syrian refugees into the country was unacceptably dangerous, and Republicans to start talking like 1930s Germans. Then everyone was demonizing the issue, including the President and all of the Presidential candidates. Runners-up: The Donald Trump Presidential Campaign Ethics Train Wreck and the Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign Ethics Train Wreck

Fraud of the Year

Rachel Dolezal, the militant, angry, anti-white NAACP official who, we discovered, was lily white and had magically become black by “identifying” so.  This ridiculous episode neatly encapsulated the entire year, which included sexual predator-enabler Hillary Clinton becoming a feminist champion by identifying as one, Bruce Jenner turning himself into herself by just saying so (and cashing in as a result), and President Obama making failed policies successful by repeating over and over that they were. RUNNER-UP: The Illinois Lottery, which first lures poor citizens into paying millions they can’t afford for a distnat chance at a jackpot, and then doesn’t pay up when one of them wins.

Incompetent Elected Officials of the Year

Every elected official involved in the Flint, Michigan water disaster. Plenty of unelected officials were accountable too, but I don’t have a category for them.

Sexual Predator Of The Year

 Bill Cosby. He won this category handily in 2014, and added about 20 more alleged victims to his total this year. Who know how long he will hold the title? Meanwhile, his own Ethics Train Wreck sucked in Walt Disney World, the Smithsonian, and Claire Huxtable, among others.

Runner-up: Bill Clinton. Karma’s a bitch. Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials

Comment of the Day: “KABOOM! The School System ‘Applauds The Efforts Of Students Who Act In Good Faith…'”

This is an appropriate illustration for this Comment of the Day.  You'll see...

This is an appropriate illustration for this Comment of the Day. You’ll see…

The post about the middle-schooler suspended for rushing to the aid of a stricken classmate inspired a wide range of fascinating commentary, and also generated a tangential thread, as essays here often do. This one involved some commenters challenging my assertion that the ungrammatical quote from the young hero spoke to a school system that was better at no-tolerance discipline than it was at education, and that students not conditioned to view double negatives as poor communication were being handicapped by incompetent teaching. Into the fray jumped the always provocative Extradimensional Cephalopod, who walloped the debate with one of his trademark, long-form expositions on linguistic matters.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “KABOOM! The School System “Applauds The Efforts Of Students Who Act In Good Faith To Assist Others In Times Of Need” And Is Therefore Exacting Punishment So They Know Never To Do It Again.”

I agree that not all languages are created equal. Effective communication requires a few subordinate skills based on semantics (navigating within a paradigm) and empathy (shifting between paradigms). One such skill is translation, the ability to convey a set of ideas to someone who has an unfamiliar paradigm and to understand ideas they express in that paradigm. Another is background, the ability to recognize semantic cues (e.g. grammar and etiquette) and use them to create a desired impression on someone else, which is necessary to smoothly blend in with one’s surroundings, putting others at ease by appearing to be similar to them. People need to develop the power of communication in order to interact with others, and therefore regardless of how they prefer to speak, they need to be able to shift to different methods of speaking depending on the context in which they find themselves. That is the virtue of linguistic descriptivism: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Or, as my grandfather likes to say, “…as the Romanians do.”

That said, linguistic prescriptivism has virtues of its own, when correctly employed, which is rare. Language is important because it is based on semantics, which is the simplification of interactions and which usually brings with it the concept of designating anything as “proper”. Labels and names are not hard limits for thought, but they shape it by making some thoughts easier than others. Any concept for which we have a word becomes easier to think of, because we can call that concept and associated ones readily to mind instead of retrieving each concept individually. It’s the difference between using the word “bird” and describing the animal’s characteristics anew each time you want to talk about it. The latter is possible, but people might have trouble thinking about birds and what they are like.

Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee