Category Archives: Ethics Dunces

Ethics Dunce: Bloomingdale’s


Can you read that?  Bloomingdale’s catalogue, just in time for the holidays, urges young men to drug their dates’ drinks. All the better to rape them later when they are too out of it to consent to sex. Or maybe, for the especially enterprising, sell them into white slavery while they’re in a stupor. Ho Ho Ho!

Here, this is a clearer version:


The feminist blogs and websites were all over this one, so after somebody explained the outrage to the collection of Mad Men throwbacks, pigs and felons who work in Bloomies’ marketing department, they came up with an apology. “In reflection of recent feedback, the copy we used in our recent catalog was inappropriate and in poor taste. Bloomingdale’s sincerely apologizes for this error in judgment,” the retailer told Tech Insider.

Here’s the problem: If you can’t tell that an ad like that is creepy without someone telling, you are creepy, and so are all the people who let the ad get into print.


Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Marketing and Advertising, Romance and Relationships

The Unlikely Ethics Dunce, And Why Nobody Pays Attention To Ethicists And I Don’t Blame Them

Wait, how can the nation's most famous ethicist be an Ethics Dunce? It's not easy...

Wait, how can the nation’s most famous ethicist be an Ethics Dunce? It’s not easy…

Ethicists have managed to make ethics nearly invisible in our cultural debates, and nearly useless as a decision-making tool, when it ought to be the most useful tool of all. They accomplished this over centuries of work, making the discipline of ethics abstruse, elitist, abstract, and worse of all, boring. Nobody should be bored with ethics, hence my statement, “Ethics isn’t boring, ethicists are.” Once ethics was pigeon-holed in the realm of philosophy, however (it belongs with “crucial life skills” and “critical thinking”) and philosophy became associated with scholarship, advanced degrees and academia, the jig was up.

The problem is that academic ethicists teach and write about abstract ethics, and life is not abstract. Their quest is for one formula to determine right from wrong, and life and human beings are more complicated than any one formula can encompass. When I started this blog, I got a lot of grad students writing me who demanded to know whether I was a Utilitarian,  Kantian Deontologist, a follower of Natural Law Ethics,  a Virtue Ethicist or a devotee of Stakeholder theory. My answer was “all of the above and none of them.” All of these and more are useful tools of analysis, but none work all the time, and the amount of words loaded into jargon to explain and debate the nuances of any of them render them all useless except for  writing scholarly papers.

The ethics that the public learns, as a result, are what pop culture and society teach them, and most of that isn’t ethics at all. For example, in the cable series “The Affair,” a well-educated older man was advising a young woman, the mistress in the affair, about how to think about the illicit relationship that broke up he lover’s marriage. Wise and thoughtful, he described his own adulterous affair, and then said, “What you did wasn’t wrong. You didn’t kill anybody. You didn’t break any laws.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.”  There is no ethics in that statement. Itis just employs two popular and facile rationalizations (#4. Marion Barry’s Misdirection, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical,” and #22, the worst of all, #22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”) with another lurking but unspoken one, the Cheater’s Special, #23. Woody’s Excuse: “The heart wants what the heart wants,’ underlying the whole scene.

That’s ethics, I would guess, to about 90% of the population. Scary. This is, however, where ethicists have taken us. They could be so important to the culture, if they would get their heads out of their asinine models and explain ethical principles that are relevant to real lives in a manner that doesn’t make normal people become hostile to the subject.

This brings us to Peter Singer, Princeton’s acclaimed professor of bioethics who has been called the most influential ethicist alive. It is admittedly faint praise, but probably correct. Continue reading


Filed under Bioethics, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Health and Medicine, Professions

But This ISN’T A Spoof, Unfortunately: A PhD Professor Of Gender Studies Writes An Amazing Op-Ed For Gun Control

Hold on to your cranium.

This is a real person. Unfortunately.

This is a real person. Unfortunately.

This morning an esteemed commentator, while discussing Melissa Harris-Perry, fell for one of those “if you fall for it, it’s a hoax and you’re an idiot, if you don’t it’s just satire so mock anyone who did” websites that I have designated Unethical Websites in more than one month. Here’s the reason why he did: to rational people, the things card-carrying members of the extreme progressive/ Democratic axis are prone to assert, say or write with complete sincerity so often consist of content that just a few years ago would be considered proof positive of creeping insanity that it is nigh impossible to tell the difference. For example, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton want to expand Social Security. I was already preparing this post when the hoax site responsible for the quoted Harris-Perry story was reported, and it send me back again to check this one. It really is true, and thus tells us something quite disturbing, as I will specify later. The op-ed by Dr. Barbara Savoy is much more ridiculous than the parody.

The Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle asked Dr. Savoy, who teaches women and gender studies at The College at Brockport, a SUNY institution (Its tuition is $33,235 per year), to write an op-ed on gun control. She did, and here is a shortened version. You really should read the whole thing, though:

I voted for Barack Obama. Twice. During his 2008 presidential campaign, my two daughters, partner, and I ate every meal in our house on Obama placemats. We bought these at our local supermarket, plastic-coated, plate-sized paper rectangles with an image of his face framed by colors of the flag….
Continue reading


Filed under Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Rights

Ethics Dunce: The Traverse City Record-Eagle

Fake Front Page

Bias and incompetence is a terrible combination…especially for a newspaper.

You may have read about the car  that sped through a crowded intersection during Oklahoma State University’s homecoming parade, killing fours and injuring dozens. The driver was charged with four counts of second-degree murder. [ NOTE: The post here originally said that the driver was drunk;her lawyer now says she was not, but is mentally ill.]  According to the Record Eagle, however, that was a shooting, and the car was a gun. That’s the paper’s front page above. How could this happen?

It happens because journalists are so obsessed with convincing the public that the United States is in the grasp of unprecedented gun violence that the desperately want to see as many shooting as possible. It happens because the news media is so used to warping facts to assist progressive indoctrination that they increasingly don’t pay attention to facts. It happens because journalism is no longer a profession, because it has no standards, just agendas. It happens because bias is not only not discouraged, it’s celebrated.

How many news organizations highlighted the recent Pew study showing that U.S. gun deaths had declined 30% since 1993? Were you aware of it? The media largely ignored that news item, because it does not support the predominant, media-driven hysteria aimed at eventual gun confiscation.

The editors explained the fantasy headline with a correction that said… Continue reading


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

As Ethics Corrupters Run Amuck, Ethics Alarms Presents “Ethics Corrupter Weekend”! Part I: “Truth” Is False


“Truth” is in theaters now, and reportedly bombing. As soon as I learned about the source of the film (disgraced ex-CBC producer Mary Mapes’ memoir, “Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power”) and its plot, I resolved not to watch it, as I would just end up walking out of it. Nonetheless, the fact that Robert Redford is connected with the project is profoundly disappointing. Redford is the ultimate Hollywood liberal, but his films have often been about ethics, and I regard him, or perhaps past tense is more appropriate, as having principles and integrity. True: actors need not agree with or endorse their roles or the projects of others, but Redford is unusual: he lends credibility to any project he allows to carry his name.

Connecting his name to “Truth” is a betrayal. The film makes martyrs of Mapes and Dan Rather, who attempted to tilt the 2004 election by smearing George Bush, without evidence, on “60 Minutes.” Not only was this a political hit job by biased journalists, it was one tainted by intentionally manufactured evidence. Mapes and Rather presented a forged document alleging that Bush went AWOL during his Texas Air National Guard service in the early 1970s. It was all the pair had that went beyond hearsay to make the allegation, and after the document was decisively shown to be a forgery (its font wasn’t available on the typewriter that had to have been used to make the original document.) Once the forgery was discovered by an enterprising blogger and confirmed by multiple document specialists. Rather and Mapes embarked on a rationalization orgy. Rather, to his undying shame, repeated his defenders’ argument that the forgery as “fake but accurate,” and does to this day, in essence rejecting journalism ethics wholesale. So determined was he to prove what he believed to be true but couldn’t prove fairly or ethically that he cheated, playing dishonest political operative to achieve worthy partisan goals “by any means necessary.”

Bias makes us stupid, and in this case, bias made Dan Rather corrupt.

AND stupid. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Professions

University of California at Berkeley Law’s “Critical Mass” Policy: Segregating Classes In Order To Integrate Them

OK, that's enough of you in THIS section...

OK, that’s enough of you in THIS section…

This is an example of how diversity and affirmative action ideology brings devotees to madness.

In an effort to create a more positive experience for underrepresented-minority students,

The University of California Berkeley School of Law has instituted what it calls  a new “critical mass” policy. As in many law schools, first year students are divided into smaller sections, or “mods,” in which first-year law students take their classes. This year, the administration juggled the composition of the mods to have  more underrepresented-minority students in all but one, in order to create a “critical mass.” To reach critical mass in the other mods,  one mod had to be stripped all of black students. Berkeley Law Dean Sujit Choudhry sent an email to the law school community explaining that the policy is intended to create a more positive experience for underrepresented minorities by grouping them together to create that critical mass.

In setting political districts, this technique is called gerrymandering, and is widely considered racist. Removing all the black students from one section and placing them all in another, super-comfy, all-black section would be called apartheid. Yet this ultra-liberal university has convinced itself that manipulating class composition by race is a benign policy.


What else have they convinced themselves of? Let’s see: Continue reading


Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Race

Your “Hillary Clinton Is Too Unethical To Be President” Update


Because of foreign policy catastrophes, Republican idiocy, natural disasters and more, many of Hillary Clinton’s short attention span supporters have returned to the fold. even though, polls say, 65% of Americans don’t trust her. The astounding stat is that 35% do trust her, which raises the question of what politician could do or say to make such walking, talking Nigerian Prince targets not trust them. They know Hillary lies; they know she is dishonest; they know she is greedy for wealth and power, as well as constantly conflicted and a hypocrite,but never mind, it’s ideas that matter with Hillary. She can, her cheering section insists, be the best choice for President even if you can’t trust her.

OK, if honesty, candor, and independence don’t matter, how about the integrity of those all-important “ideas”? One of those ideas was the Trans Pacific Partnership. The Washington Free Beacon gathered 24 Times Hillary Clinton Championed the Trans-Pacific Partnership While Secretary of State. This week, however, Clinton announced that she now opposes the  Trans-Pacific Trade agreement that she had previously taken bows for negotiating in  2012, and virtually nobody thinks she is doing this for any reason other than the fact that Bernie Sanders, like Jack Frost, is nipping at her nose, and she wants to keep her leftest supporters from flocking to him. Tell me, you “Ideas mean more than character” rationalizers, what good are those great ideas when a cynical, values-free manipulator will abandon them like kittens or change them like socks to win votes? This is Clinton’s integrity deficit, and hardly on display for the first time. Her “ideas” aren’t devised because they are “good” or even really her ideas; they exist because they help her gain power at the moment. You don’t like an idea? Well, be patient. Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Leadership, U.S. Society