Category Archives: Ethics Heroes

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Dunces: Not Only Anybody Who Actually Thinks Donald Trump Would Be Anything But An Existential Disaster As President, But Anyone Who Isn’t Disgusted By His Existence”

Circus

I was looking for an enthusiastic Trump defending comment to post as a comment of the day, and my former math partner from Mrs. Penwarden’s 6th grade class at Crosby School in Arlington, Massachusetts, Peter Canaday, was kind enough to supply a doozy all the way from New Zealand, to which, as a physician of note and significant success, he retired with his latest bride a while ago. Peter’s a smart guy; he also questions Obama’s birth certificate and is a fan of both Pauls, so he is also…complex.

His opening volley is a bit obscure: that college he’s referring to is Peter’s alma mater, Amherst, where I was wait-listed. Actually, it’s a funny story: the letter, which arrived after I had accepted early admission to another school, began. “This is a difficult letter for us to write, for we must inform you that you have been placed on the waiting list and you don’t deserve to be there…” I was shocked—it was bad enough that I wasn’t deemed worthy of admission, and here they were rubbing it in by saying that I didn’t even deserve to be on the waiting list?  Bolstered by the fact that I had an admission in hand, I wrote Amherst a tongue-in-cheek wounded letter of complaint, bemoaning their callousness, lack of professionalism and mockery. I got an immediate letter of apology swearing that they didn’t mean that I didn’t deserve the wait list, only that I deserved better. “It’s too late to retract the insult now,” I wrote back. “My heart was set on your college, but my faith in the institution has been shattered. Please remove my name from your list. I don’t care to attend a school this insensitive and cruel. I’m not sure I want to go to cllege at all any more. I think I will join the Merchant Marines.”

Amherst didn’t get me. It did admit my nephew Ross, however, and he graduated with honors.

I’ll have a rather lengthy response to my friend Peter at the end. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Dunces: Not Only Anybody Who Actually Thinks Donald Trump Would Be Anything But An Existential Disaster As President, But Anyone Who Isn’t Disgusted By His Existence: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Leadership

Ethics Hero, Maybe For The Ages: The Center for Medical Progress

As I said with the release of the first surreptitious “sting video” of Planned Parenthood released under auspices of the anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, such videos are, in principle, unethical. However, while the unethical should be used in pursuit of a greater good only with great reluctance, moral certainty and a minimum of harm, there are instances when utilitarianism must apply.

This is one of them.

In the case of abortion, the prospect of saving the lives of millions of unborn is certainly worth the incursion on the ethical values of honesty and respect for privacy implicated by these videos. Indeed, it is worth a great deal more. With the seventh video, released yesterday, the conclusion is unavoidable that we, the public, the nation, and humanity, owe a debt of gratitude to the Center for taking radical action to force  confrontation with the reality of abortion so that there can be a real, open and honest debate  that doesn’t duck the central issue. That issue  is not women’s control over their lives, but the ethics of killing innocent human beings to achieve it.

The latest video, like the earlier ones, compels any fair, emotionally functioning and rational observer to accept the brutality and near complete callousness towards human life that the abortion machine creates and requires. In this respect the seven videos—with more to come— are abortion’s equivalent of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” forcing genteel, moral, good people by their own confident assessment to confront the horrors that have been occurring under their noses with their passive approval. Because they chose not to think about what abortion really involved, just as so many Americans had no idea what  slavery was like until Harriet Beecher Stowe forced them to consider it as more than an abstraction, abortion advocates, passive and active, have an ethical obligation to watch these videos. Those who refuse are admitting that they are incapable of letting facts disturb their ideologies. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Hero: F.I.R.E…Again.

FIREOnce again, the indispensable Foundation for Individual Rights in Education stopped a private university from crushing a student for the imaginary offense of expressing opinions on-line that others find offensive.

Texas Christian University disciplined Harry Vincent, a 19-year-old sophomore, after he posted harsh comments on Twitter about ISIS, illegal immigrants and the Freddie Gray rioting in Baltimore. After a complaint from a Maryland Twitter user named Kelsey, who, having failed to win her online argument with Vincent decided to get him kicked out of school for daring to disagree with her, TCU declared that Vincent had violated the Student Code of Conduct prohibiting the ‘infliction of bodily or emotional harm’ and ‘disorderly conduct,’ neither of which fairly described  his intemperate but entirely personal social media declarations.

The student was suspended from all extracurricular activities for one year, and could no longer live on campus or use non-academic facilities, such as the cafeteria and recreational center.  First, however, the school compelled him to apologize for daring to cast aspersions on terrorists, rioters and illegal immigrants. He was also told to see a psychiatrist, because if you are politically incorrect in 21st Century America, you must be mad.
Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Rights, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post

The Perplexing Ethics Of Shorts In Courts

Interestingly, the words aren't necessary. The tee shirt is enough.

Interestingly, the words aren’t necessary. The tee shirt is enough.

The New York Daily News thought it was newsworthy that a North Carolina judge objected to a man appearing in court for a hearing dressed in a tee shirt and shorts. “Why are you going to show up to court dressed like that based on these charges?” the judge asked. Not getting what she felt was an appropriate response, she postponed the hearing. The offense involved was a particularly horrific one:Matthew Deans, 28, of Wilmington, N.C.,was charged with two misdemeanor counts of death by vehicle and two other charges in connection with the crash. He is free on $10,000 bail while awaiting trial.

On May 23, Deans’ commercial box truck allegedly ploughed into the back of the car belonging to Hadley and Gentry Eddings,, who were stopped at a traffic light. The Eddings’ 2-year-old son was killed in the crash, and an infant delivered by emergency ceasarian section in the hours after the wreck died as well.

For reasons that are not germane to this post, I’ve been in court a lot lately. When I was taking criminal defense cases, I carefully monitored the in-court attire of my clients, emphasizing that it was crucial for them to display respect for the judge and the system, as well as appropriate appreciation of the seriousness of the offenses charged. Almost without exception, defendants appearing in court today are in casual, often sloppy attire. This shows the stupidity of those appearing, the incompetence of their attorneys, and irresponsible upbringing, schooling and socialization. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Heroes, Etiquette and manners, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

Ethics Hero: CBS’ Major Garrett

major_garrettDuring President Obama‘s Iran deal press conference,  CBS’ Major Garrett broke ranks with his softball lobbing colleagues  by asking, “Why you are content with all the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of this nation, the strength of this nation unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?”

President Obama flared, reprimanding the reporter by snarling, “That’s nonsense, and you should know better.”

Garret was immediately criticized for being disrespectful. CNN’s Dana Bash criticized her colleague,  opining that “There’s a fine line between asking a tough question and maybe crossing that line a little bit and being disrespectful, and I think that happened here.” Bill Maher ran to fetch the typical weapon of last (first?) resort employed by Obama apologists since January, 2009: the race card. “Major Garrett is a huge asshole,” he tweeted.  “If U wanna “strike a nerve” with POTUS, why not just scream the N word? That should get his attention.” Garrett has been unapologetic.

No doubt: it was a hostile question. A decade or more ago, I might have thought it crossed a line. But the issue Garrett raised was an important and obvious one in the context of the President once again cockily taking a victory lap over a dubious achievement, and for this citizen, at least, it gave me hope that the mainstream media’s days of serving as a virtual Pravda to a leader’s every move might be slowly coming to an end. The media’s deference to this President has been disgraceful and has undermined our democracy, public discourse, trust in the press  and the right to know what our government is doing. CBS’s Steve Kroft actually admiited—proudly!—that his “60 Minutes” was a favored venue for Obama because he knew that he would be treated with kid gloves. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Leadership

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Sir Nicholas Winton (1909 – 2015)

winton and child

Another hero of the Holocaust has died. Nicholas Winton organized and substantially financed the last-minute escape of 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II, but never sought the fame and public accolades that Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg received. He got the accolades anyway, especially in his native Great Britain and Czechoslovakia, once his heroics were publicized long after they occurred.

I had never heard of him or his exploits until the news reports of his death. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, History, War and the Military

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

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