Category Archives: Etiquette and manners

Ethics Dunce: Sarah Palin

FU MMoore

Civility, decorum, dignity, role model obligations, leadership, high standards…never mind all that elite stuff.  Just keep catering to the boors, the  clods, and the vulgar jerks. I’ll admit, there are a lot of them

Stay classy, Sarah.

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

Ethics Alarms Mail Call: Mt. Holyoke Ditches “The Vagina Monologues” As “Non-Inclusive,” and the Misuse of Kindness

VaginaI’m an ethicist who often writes on college controversies, and I make no secret about my double life in professional theater, so it figures that my inbox would include more than one query about Mt. Holyoke College’s decision to end its annual student performance of Eve Enlser’s “The Vagina Monologues” on the grounds that it is now admitting women without vaginas—I know, it’s confusing–who would feel excluded from what was supposed to be an inclusive experience and statement for the all-women’s school.

From Campus Reform:

The annual production of the play is part of a country-wide tradition to perform Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues on Valentine’s Day to raise awareness about gender-based violence and usually coincides with the V-Day campaign. The proceeds are donated to sexual assault prevention organizations or women’s rights organizations. This year, however, Mount Holyoke’s Project Theatre Board is defying tradition by permanently retiring the play. In a school-wide email from the Theatre Board, a representative from the group, Erin Murphy, explained the problems with the play and the reasoning behind its discontinuation.

“At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman…Gender is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions, and many of us who have participated in the show have grown increasingly uncomfortable presenting material that is inherently reductionist and exclusive,” the email, obtained by Campus Reform, said.

Replacing the play will be Mount Holyoke’s own version that will be trans-inclusive and fix the “problems” supposedly perpetuated by Ensler. Murphy also claims that there are problems with race, class, and “other identities” within the play. The new production, comprised of students’ monologues, will be performed in a fashion reminiscent of the feminist classic. The program will be performed alongside the College’s Peer Health Educators, an on-campus student-led group that provides education and workshops for students, including a workshop on how to use sex toys properly.

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Literature, Rights, The Internet, U.S. Society

Five Ethics Observations On The US’s Paris March Snub

world-leaders-paris-march

In case you didn’t catch it, more than 40 world leaders joined the start of a Paris march for unity against terrorism and for freedom of speech, linking arms in a demonstration of solidarity. Even Netanyahu and Abbas were there! The Paris march may have included more than 1.6 million marchers before it was done, reportedly the largest demonstration ever. More than three million have now marched across France in response to the deaths of 17 resulting from extremist attacks in Paris last week, beginning with the executions of the staff of the satirical newspaper, “Charlie Hebdo.”

You would expect, and I am sure that the world expected, that the United States of America, reputedly the leader of the free world and the nation that most symbolizes the human right of free speech, would have participated in the event with enthusiasm, conviction, and prominence. But no. President Barack Obama did not come to Paris to join with his fellow world leaders. He did not send Vice President Biden either. Though Attorney General Holder was in Paris, he was not directed to attend the march, and did not.  The United States was only represented by its ambassador, who is not a world leader, and whose job it is to attend routine functions large and small.

Initially the criticism of the obviously intentional snub was muted, with the toadying mainstream news media, as has been its standard operating procedure since 2008, acting and speaking as if there was nothing amiss. Fox News, also as usual, was the exception, but since that network is isolated and pigeon-holed as a reflexive Obama critic “no matter what he does,” this was initially ignored as more right-wing carping. Then, to his great credit, CNN’s Jake Tapper took to Twitter to say  that he was “a little disappointed personally” at the lack of a strong U.S. presence, and in a later statement, escalating to saying that he “was ashamed.” He then wrote in an opinion piece…

“I find it hard to believe that collectively President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Attorney General Eric Holder — who was actually in France that day for a conference on counterterrorism — just had no time in their schedules on Sunday. Holder had time to do the Sunday shows via satellite but not to show the world that he stood with the people of France?

There was higher-level Obama administration representation on this season’s episodes of “The Good Wife” on CBS.”

Good for Jake Tapper, one of the few relatively objective broadcast journalists who is worthy of public attention and trust. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership

The Wall Street Journal Steals From A Blogging Lawyer…Luckily For Them, A Nice One

A lawyer asks: Will Google Cars put me out of business? The Wall Street Journal  asks: Why shouldn't we make money off your answer?

A lawyer asks: Will Google Cars put me out of business? The Wall Street Journal asks: Why shouldn’t we make money off your answer?

I always do a double-take when I see that someone has “re-blogged” a piece from Ethics Alarms. Unless there is something in my WordPress agreement that allows other bloggers to lift my work and publish it as their content without my permission—oh, who knows, there probably is—this is a copyright violation, but worse than that, it’s wrong. Apparently they think that if they give attribution, that makes everything fine. Why would they think that? I’m writing for my blog, not anyone else’s. If a blogger wants to reprint all, most or some of my commentary in order to critique it, that’s fine ( WindyPundit is doing this right now). But lifting all or most of my work to fill space on your website, without my permission? Not fair, and not ethical.

This just happened to personal injury lawyer and estimable blogger Eric Turkewitz, but the culprit wasn’t a blogger, it was the Wall Street Journal. It took his post about Google Cars and just slapped it into the print and online editions of the paper. “Lawyer Eric Turkewitz writes that self-driving cars will hurt the business of many personal-injury attorneys,” said the sub-head under “Notable and Quotable.” Hmmm. Usually a writer gets paid to write features for a newspaper. I guess just lifting copy without permission is “Fair Use.”

No, First Amendment expert Marc Randazza points out in his typically irreverent way, it isn’t:

In this case, the Wall Street Journal used 44% of Turkewitz’ post, with no additional commentary, criticism, or discussion.  The WSJ could have called Turkewitz a moron for his views, and quoted the whole thing (theoretically).  Or, the WSJ could have given approval, more discussion, or turned the article into piece of art, with spray painted Che Guevaras and stencils of Paris Hilton, as a commentary on Turkewitz, tomato soup, and golf, or whatever.  But, they didn’t do any of that.  

So lets look at the §107 [Fair Use]factors

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The purpose and character of the use is certainly commercial and for profit. The WSJ sold its newspaper with Turkewitz’ work in it, and even put it behind its paywall online. Same exact use, except WSJ took what Turkewitz distributes for free, gathered it, and sold it.

The nature of the copyrighted work was Turkewitz’ original opinions and thoughts.

The amount and substantiality of the portion used? 44%. Pretty substantial. Remember, this is not dispositive, but if you used almost half of an original work, you better have a good reason.

The effect of the use on the potential market for the value of the copyrighted work? That’s sorta iffy. It isn’t as if Turkewitz sells his work. But, that is not a requirement. Turkewitz’ blog currency is readership. If you do some quick online searches for some of the content, sometimes the WSJ version comes up above Turkewtiz’ version. Not cool. Ultimately, the WSJ blew it here because they didn’t add anything to the original — they just lifted it and reposted it….

So the verdict? The Wall Street Journal is definitely guilty of copyright infringement for lifting a bloggers’ work without any justification.

It’s worse than that, however. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet

Ethics Quote Of The Day (Christmas Confusion File): Jonathan Turley

“Best wishes to everyone celebrating Christmas.”

—- Law Professor and blogger Jonathan Turley, wishing at least some of his readers a merry Christmas.

Get ready to duck, Fred!

Get ready to duck, Fred!

Prof. Turley is a lawyer, of course, and trained to express himself with precision. Thus I have to ask: what the heck is he trying to say here?

Is he wishing good tidings only those who, like his family, are celebrating Christmas, and rotten times to the rest? Is he editing the humanist message of Christmas to “Peace on Earth, and good will to those who are putting up Christmas trees and giving gifts, other wise you’re on your own”?

Or, as I fear greatly, given the fact that he is part of the U.S. education establishment and thus prone to have a spine of cream cheese, just observing the trendy political correctness that infects our times, and bowing to those who contrive to take offense when anyone smiles at them and offers a greeting that only says, at minimum, “We’re all in this together, so let’s try to be as good to each other as we can, OK?” Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Quotes, Etiquette and manners, Literature, Love, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

I’m Dreaming Of A Zombie Christmas

Zombie Nativity

I didn’t say it was a pleasant dream.

Hmmm, how should I describe this? I would say that a law is being used to violate the First Amendment rights of an unethical jerk who is intent on abusing them.

Or, in the alternative, Jasen Dixon may just be an idiot.

Sycamore Township, which is just outside Cincinnati, has responded to complaints by neighbors by applying various ordinances against Dixon’s unusual Nativity scene that he constructed in his front yard. It features life-size figures portraying Joseph and Mary as the walking dead, and a zombie baby Jesus, who has pale skin and pure white eyes. Here, here’s a close-up of Zombie Baby Jesus:

Zombie-nativity-scene

Awwwww!

Dixon suspects that the township laws, which prohibit structures in the front or the side yard of a residence that occupy more than 35 percent of its total area, and require that the primary structure must be 3 feet from the street and 6 feet from the dwelling, are really being selectively enforced against him because his holiday display offends some people….well, almost everyone. I suspect this as well.

Poor Jason says he doesn’t mean any harm: he’s just doing the best he can to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. “I wanted a Nativity and I worked with what I had,”  says Dixon, who manages a nearby haunted house called “The 13 Rooms of Doom.” He says his First Amendment rights are being infringed.

“I’ve lived here for 15 years and I’ve never had a violation of any kind,” Dixon said. “It’s a holiday decoration. I know if it was a real pretty Nativity scene they wouldn’t be saying anything.”

I’ll agree with that too. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

Just In Time For Christmas, Here Are All The Bad Arguments And Rationalizations Against Tipping So You Can Feel Self-Righteous About Being A Scrooge

See? The rest of the world knows how to deal with you sexist, racist, aristocratic poverty perpetuating, self-esteem destroying bastards!

See? The rest of the world knows how to deal with you sexist, racist, aristocratic poverty perpetuating, self-esteem destroying bastards!

Vox has published an entertaining screed against tipping, massing all the contradictory, facile rationalizations and faulty arguments against demonstrating one’s gratitude when someone serves you well. This is Vox, remember—Ezra Klein’s uber-progressive website with an agenda. Think about what the alternative to tipping is, and where the critics of tipping are going with these claims. Hint 1: It has nothing to do with democracy or individualism. Hint 2: The piece argues that tipping is classist, racist, sexist, “lookist”…the works.

The full illogical, ethically confused character of this junk has to be read to be fully appreciated, but here is a quick overview:

1. Hoary old quotes. There are these, for example:

English author Lynne Truss on visiting New York: “In this great financial capital … tips are not niceties: give a ‘thank you’ that isn’t green and foldable and you are actively starving someone’s children.” No, Lynne, you’re being cheap, that’s all.

The Village Voice’s Foster Kamer: “It reinforces an economically and socially dangerous status quo, while buttressing a functional aristocracy.”   Ah. You see, if lower paid service professions are treated like robots and underpaid, they will rise up and overturn this monstrosity called capitalism.

 Michael Lewis: “I feel we are creeping slowly toward a kind of baksheesh economy in which everyone expects to be showered with coins simply for doing what they’ve already been paid to do.” Who is being “showered with coins?”

2. “Tipping lets employers off the hook.” Translation: It gets in the way of the progressive “living wage” campaign. Mandatory salary levels drive businesses out of business and reduce jobs. Want to see all restaurants go to the iPad, self-ordering, system running rampant at airport restaurants—and no, I don’t tip a runner who just carried my food to the table—by all means, force restaurants to pay “a living wage.”

3.  “Tipping is undemocratic.” This is the George Orwell, “Peace is War” argument. The government should stop me from giving my money to whoever I want in the name of democracy. Continue reading

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