Category Archives: Ethics Heroes

Ethics Heroes: The Sweet Briar Alumnae And Their Supporters

victory

What an inspiring story! I hoped, and I so wanted to believe, but I confess that I really thought that the traitorous, unethical Sweet Briar College board had delivered a fatal blow to this storied all-woman’s college by operating by surprise and stealth, waiting to announce its plan to close the institution so late in the academic year as to render counter-measures futile.

Like that disgraceful crew, I underestimated the determined women of Sweet Briar and their allies.

From the Washington Post:

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring’s office announced Saturday night that an agreement has been reached to keep Sweet Briar College open next year.

The agreement, which requires court approval, involves a $12 million commitment from an alumnae group and permission from the attorney general to release $16 million from the school’s endowment.

The president of the private women’s college in rural Virginia shocked many in March when he abruptly announced that the college, which is more than 100 years old, would close in the summer. Since then, supporters have been working feverishly to save the school, protesting, raising money and filing lawsuits challenging the closure.

On Saturday, Herring’s office announced that — if Bedford County Circuit Court Judge James W. Updike Jr. approves the agreement — Saving Sweet Briar, the alumnae group, would give $12 million for the operation of the college for the 2015-2016 year, with the first $2.5 million installment to be delivered in early July….

Both the alumnae group and other challengers to the closure say the funding would be enough to keep the school operating for the 2015-2016 academic year.

The agreement comes barely a month before the historic school was slated to close — and in advance of court hearings on multiple lawsuits. It does not resolve the ongoing issues that the school’s current leadership cited in making the decision to close, such as concerns about enrollment and revenue. It does not explain where next year’s class will come from, since accepted students were told to apply elsewhere and current students were told to transfer. But it provides a stopgap…

Leadership would change: If the agreement is approved, at least 13 board members would resign, and 18 new ones would be appointed — a majority that would control the board… Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Literature, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

Ethics Hero: Senator Rand Paul

Thanks, Snator, we needed that.

Thanks, Senator, we needed that.

Rand Paul has disqualified himself from being considered for the Presidency by rational voters in many ways. His suggestion to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that he would have waited for market forces to end Jim Crow, and voted against portions of the Civil Rights Act was enough all by itself. Paul’s embrace of isolationism—he often sounds like Michael Moore on foreign policy—is as fanciful as it is dangerous.  He has no executive experience, and based on some of his statements (and positions), I’m convinced he’s just not very smart.

Not only that, but he is the most arrogant candidate in a field that may contain Chris Christie, and that’s incredible.

Nonetheless, his filibuster-like Senate speech against National Security Agency counter-terrorism surveillance, forcing key portions of the Patriot Act to expire, was a brave, principled, and important act. In the end it was also a futile act, and the Senate quickly passed provisions that Paul opposed. The Daily Beast headlined the story, “It’s NSA 1, Rand Paul 0.”

It was still a public service. Yes, Paul alienated most of his party, and he took a huge risk: a single terrorist attack here will automatically turn him into a national pariah, and coming the same week that we discovered conclusively that the TSA is a joke, the chances of such an event occurring seem likelier than ever. (Saying, however, as Paul did, that “people here in town …secretly want there to be an attack on the United States so they can blame it on me” was inexcusably  stupid. Really? People want to see American citizens die to make Rand Paul look bad, when he makes himself look bad on a regular basis?) The point Paul made, however, and it needs to be made again, and again, and again, is that there is no reason to trust the NSA, and no reason to trust the current federal government either. The fact that on security matters we have no real choice is frightening and disheartening, but nevertheless, no American should be comfortable with his or her private communications, activities and other personal matters being tracked by the NSA, which is incompetent (See: Snowden, Edward) and which lies, or the Obama Administration, which doesn’t care if the NSA lies, and has repeatedly shown that it has no qualms about violating the Constitution until a Court stops it. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Science & Technology, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Ethics Hero Sighting At The 7-11

7 eleven

They are out there—just good, kind, ethical people who quietly do what they can to make society a little better whenever they can.

I was just at a 7-11 in Alexandria, Virginia. I was sitting in the car, waiting for Grace to pick up some things, along with Rugby, who loves sticking his head out the window and flirting with people going in and out of the store. He’s shameless and adorable, and almost every time we go there one or more shoppers will come over to the car, pat him and talk with him…and sometimes even me.

As I waited, I noticed a grim, middle-aged African American man standing quietly to the side of the store front, apparently asking people for spare change as they left the 7-11. He wasn’t having much luck. Then an SUV pulled up by my car, and a jolly, pudgy, smiley guy with curly gray hair and wearing  baggy shorts, with a loud, boisterous manner, got out. He immediately greeted Rugby, asking his name, scratching him behind the ears. “Does he have water?” he asked. I explained that we were just minutes from home. “Bye, Rugby!” he shouted, and started to enter the store.

I saw him stop as he opened the door and eye the other man. “Hi, brother!” he said loudly. “How are you doing?”

“Not too good,” was the soft reply.

“Really? Hey, come on in,” the curly haired man beckoned. The sad-looking black man followed him into the store. Grace returned, but I lingered in the parking space a bit. Sure enough, the man who had been asking for change emerged a few minutes later carrying a plastic bag that held a hot dog, a bottle of coke and some other items.

And he didn’t look quite so grim.

Nice.

In fact, perfect.

They are out there, all right.

There is hope.

28 Comments

Filed under Character, Daily Life, Ethics Heroes, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

Memorial Day Ethics Hero Emeritus: Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., 1887–1944

Teddy Jr

The latest inductee into the Ethics Alarms Heroes Hall of Honor has a familiar name that burdened him with exorbitant expectations his entire life. Yet against all odds, he managed to add to its prestige.

With some notable exceptions that you can probably name, being the son of a President of the United States has proven to be a burden and often a curse. Being the oldest son of our most flamboyant President was particularly hard on Teddy Roosevelt’s boy who shared his name, and through young adulthood, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.  experienced migraine headaches and other symptoms of anxiety and stress. The President was even cautioned by a family friend and physician that his constant badgering was ruining his son’s health.

Young Ted still followed his father’s path to fame by enrolling at Harvard, then became a partner in a Philadelphia investment banking firm. With the U.S. entry into the Great War, Roosevelt enlisted in the army, fought in Europe, rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and was gassed and shot in the kneecap in 1918.  Roosevelt received the Distinguished Service Cross. He was renowned for his courage under fire as well as his unusual concern for the men under his command: at one point, he personally purchased new boots for his entire battalion. After the war, Roosevelt was instrumental in the founding the American Legion in 1919. Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Family, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, War and the Military

Ethics Hero: Popehat’s Ken White

sunshine-through-the-clouds

I can’t really say Ken White is a friend. We have never met, though we have spoken on the phone. I sent him a copy of my book. He has cited my posts and I have (often) cited his; we have disagreed and argued. I think he’s still ticked off at me for asserting here that well off, smart, educated professionals (like him) who argue for drug legalization share responsibility for the fates of the poor, uneducated or not so smart people who ruin their lives using the junk because the elite have proclaimed that the laws are foolish. (I still believe that, by the way, more today than ever.)

Ken also advised me wisely when I was being threatened with a lawsuit. I am eternally grateful for his kindness. We share a profession and the avocation of blogging, as well as a professional interest in ethics. We are both fervent believers in the First Amendment, but Ken is a true warrior on the front lines, while I just occasionally submit a dispatch from the battlefield. We both adopted children from overseas, and have some similarly warped strains to our humor. One thing I do not share with Ken is clinical depression, thank goodness. He suffers from it, I don’t. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Health and Medicine, The Internet

Ethics Hero: Todd Smith

Be vigilant, Governor! Next, Obama will be coming after your precious bodily fluids...

Be vigilant, Governor! Next, Obama will be coming after your precious bodily fluids…

I was preparing to comment on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s absurd, embarrassing and recklessly divisive action of calling on the State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise in the state juuuuust in case that sneaky, fake American Commie dictator Barack Obama is getting ready to put the Lone Star State under bayonet and martial law, as some local wackadoodles are claiming from under their ten gallon tin-foil hats. I decided that it was too obviously stupid to criticize before I read the approving comments by unhinged Texans on the governor’s  Facebook post announcing the order.

It received more than 25,000 likes and thousands of comments. Among them (My reactions in bold):

  • “Thank you, Mr. Abbott, but I doubt they listen to you or anyone, Obama will soon demand Marshall law, We need to keep them totally out of Texas. The devil is breathing down our necks right now. Everyone better pray.”  Now Marshall law, I have no problem with…
  • “Here comes Martial law Folks… get ready! ALL Texans need to be armed. It’s our right! I pray our Military will do what’s right! Not want the Commander and chief ( and I use that term loosely) wants them to do! STAND UP AMERICA… IF we don’t GOD HELP US ALL! If you look at the map that was posted.. Texas is listed as a hostile state, along with other repub. states!” THEY’RE HERE! THEY’RE HERE!!!! Oh, wait, I was thinking of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”…
  • Thank you sir I have no trust in our current goverment. Your actions on a day to day basis are giving me hope for our state goverment. If that’s how you’re spelling “government,” I have no hope at all…
  • “Governor Abbott’s got a pair, and he will not let them mess with Texas!” Well, thank God for that! If he let’s his pair mess with Texas, it would be the worst sex crime in history. Also: Ewww.

Luckily, a Republican, a Texan, and former state House member did it for me. Here is Todd Smith’s letter to the Governor. Continue reading

70 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, War and the Military

Ethics Hero: The “Lone Juror,” Adam Sirois

Juror 8

Two lone jurors…

In a remarkable example of life imitating art, a single juror, a 41-year-old health care worker, refused to vote guilty with the rest of the jurors deliberating on the case against the accused murderer of Etan Patz, a little boy whose disappearance in 1979 focused national attention on the child predator problem.  The defendant, Pedro Hernandez, had delivered an elaborate confession to police, then revoked it. For 18 days, Adam Sirois battled the eleven other jurors, who told him that they were convinced by the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Sirois, however, said he had doubts, too many to send a man to prison for life. In the end, the vote was 11-1. Yesterday, the judge in the case pronounced the jury deadlocked—hung— and declared a mistrial.

Sound familiar? If Sirois was made the hero of a cable TV  adaptation, it would be considered a shameless knock-off of “12 Angry Men,” the iconic 1957 jury film that originated as a live TV drama by the late Reginald Rose: Continue reading

28 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights