Category Archives: Etiquette and manners

Independence Day Ethics Dunce: Sports Illustrated Illustrates How Too Many Americans Regard The Nation’s Veterans

McCain tweet

Sports Illustrated tweeted out the above image and message that linked to a story by “Extra Mustard.” That masterpiece noted that

Senator John McCain attended Tuesday night’s Dodgers–Diamondbacks game and had a chance to grab a souvenir in the seventh inning.Dodgers’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins fouled a ball over the backstop that went bouncing into the lap of the senior senator from Arizona, but McCain couldn’t get his hands on the ball. But McCain deserves a break from critics: As you can see the ball was approaching from a very awkward angle. Still, this photo from Dodgers photographer Jon SooHoo does not make the former presidential candidate look particularly athletic.

Apparently neither the reporter nor any of his/her/its editors were aware that McCain has extremely limited use of his arms as a result of being tortured as a North Vietnam prisoner of war. Both arms were broken by his captors and left untreated for so long that he was permanently handicapped, as anyone who watched even a little bit of his 2008 campaign for President could hardly fail to notice. McCain is also 78 years old, not that respect for seniors who have spent their lives in public service could be expected to be a factor in SI’s commentary.

Would any of the magazine’s staff attending a game dare to openly mock a disabled serviceman who didn’t catch a foul ball?  Probably not, since the likelihood of some fans of the National Pastime taking offense and throwing a beer in their smug, ignorant faces would be a real risk. Ah, but from the safety of an office  in New York City and hiding behind a pseudonym—of course, Extra Mustard might be the jerk’s real name, I suppose—it’s easy to insult an elderly U.S. Senator, military veteran and war hero for the consequences of the wounds he sustained in the service of his nation.

Eventually SI was tipped off to its error, and it quietly removed the last sentence. No apology, of course. Such is the historical, cultural, political and ethical ignorance of a substantial portion of our national media.

_____________________

Pointer: Newsbusters

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society, War and the Military

“Everyday Feminism,” Trigger Warnings, And The Duty Not To Be Stupid

TRIGGER WARNING!!!

TRIGGER WARNING!!!

I have long posited the idea that we have a duty to be competent in the act of living, since incompetent members of society make the rest of us miserable. This means not rising beyond your own ability to be competent: an idiot who aspires to be Senator and who achieves his goal is not inspiring, but unethical.

Of course, people who don’t know they are stupid should be exempt from an unethical label: ironically, you can’t be an ethics dunce if you are truly a dunce. We also have a duty not to make our children, family members, friends, associates, fellow citizens and the culture dumber by reckless dissemination of idiocy.

Which brings us to this, from the earnest, apparently certifiably insane blog, Everyday Feminism. Trigger warnings, the recent progressive invention designed to shield overly sensitive members of our species from any idea, word, concept, thought, memory or theory that troubles them in any way lies right on the cusp of unethical, as it is at the threshold to censorship and thought control, as well as to stupidity itself. Everyday Feminism, however, charges over that line with hilarious excess. This could have easily been published by The Onion, but Everyday Feminism apparently means it.

The article was about triggering, so it had to have this warning:

This article discusses triggering in detail and mentions common topics of triggering (sexual assault, anxiety, health anxiety, depression, death, non-specific fears and phobias).

But the blog felt warning itself needed a trigger warning, and so it began with this:

Like this phenomenal article, Everyday Feminism definitely believes in giving people a heads up about material that might provoke our reader’s trauma. However, we use the phrase “content warning” instead of “trigger warning,” as the word “trigger” relies on and evokes violent weaponry imagery. This could be re-traumatizing for folks who have suffered military, police, and other forms of violence. So, while warnings are so necessary and the points in this article are right on, we strongly encourage the term “content warning” instead of “trigger warning.”

Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Quotes

Unethical Quote of the Month: Justice Antonin Scalia

Scalia

“If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

——U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia, excoriating his colleague, Justice Kennedy, who was the fifth vote in the majority of SCOTUS’s ruling today,  authored by Kennedy,  that same-sex marriage was a Constitutional right  no state could deny. Scalia filed an angry and intemperate dissent, low-lighted by this comment in a footnote.

Wrote Prof. Stephen Gillers, legal ethicist:

“How after this can Kennedy work with him?  Scalia has himself “descended” from the manner of argument found  in  opinions of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the invective and mockery of the Internet. Lawyers have been chastised for less derisive comments in briefs. Yet here we have it from our Supreme Court.  Scalia sets a bad example that will harm civility in lower courts and at the bar.”

Exactly.

The rest of Scalia’s dissent is hardly more restrained, either.

You can read the opinion and dissents in Obergefell v. Hodges here.

UPDATE: Here’s a screenshot of another selection, courtesy of Slate:

screenshot_99.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlargescreenshot_100.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlargescreenshot_101.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlargescreenshot_102.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge

Arguing with the majority’s wisdom and legal analysis is one thing, mocking a Justice’s writing style is quite another—unprofessional, uncollegial and below-the belt. Yes, Nino is a much better writer than Kennedy, but belittling his efforts shows neither proper judicial temperament nor appropriate respect for the Court itself. Some commenters excuse this because they disagree with the ruling: Irrelevant. Check your rationalizations, especially #2. The “They’re Just as Bad” Excuse, or “They had it coming.”

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Etiquette and manners, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

The Case Of The Trash-Talking Doctors, And The Price Of Trust

So, did you hear the one about why surgeons wear those masks?

So, did you hear the one about why surgeons wear those masks?

When I first heard about this case, I thought the jury award of $500,000 was ridiculous. The more I think about it, the more I begin to think it was appropriate.

Before his colonoscopy, a Vienna, Virginia patient pressed record on his smartphone, not intending to record everything that was said but ending up with the entire proceedings anyway. That was a half-million dollar stroke of luck for him, and the confirmation of dark suspicions for the rest of us. The resulting recording revealed that the surgical team amused itself by insulting and demeaning the semi-conscious anesthetized man throughout the procedure.

The anesthesiologist, Tiffany M. Ingham, was the ringleader and the primary offender.  Among her inspired bon motsContinue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Introducing The Ethics Stooges: Bristol, Geraldo, And Dan

three-stooges

They are the perfect  2015 replacements for Larry, Moe and Curly. So diverse! Bristol Palin, a conservative woman; Geraldo Rivera,a Hispanic liberal who works for a conservative news network, and Dan Savage, a progressive gay scold!

Too bad they aren’t funny.

In fact, they are pathetic, and, of course, ethically inert. They also make “Porcupine” and the Howard Boys look classy by comparison, and they showered in their clothes.

First, yecch, Bristol Palin. She is the epitome of a worthless celebrity. Arguably, she is worse that a Kardashian. Her claim to fame is embarrassing her mother by turning up pregnant and unmarried in the middle of the 2008 Presidential campaign. That’s it. That got her a slot on “Dancing With The Stars” and a reality show where she became the poster girl for unmarried motherhood as a clever career move. Then, mind-blowingly, she became a paid advocate for teenage abstinence before marriage, that is, unlike her. In 2011, Palin was paid more than a typical Hillary Clinton college speaking fee—over a quarter million dollars—to be the abstinence spokesperson for the Candies Foundation.

Naturally, she got pregnant sans wedding ring again.

Soon after her engagement to former Marine and Medal of Honor awardee Dakota Meyer ended, Palin announced on her blog this week that she was once more with child, but without husband. “I wanted you guys to be the first to know that I am pregnant. Honestly, I’ve been trying my hardest to keep my chin up on this one,” wrote Palin. “I know this has been, and will be, a huge disappointment to my family, to my close friends, and to many of you,” she wrote. “But please respect Tripp’s and my privacy during this time. I do not want any lectures and I do not want any sympathy.”

Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck!

No sympathy? Deal. But here’s the lecture: you owe the Candies Foundation—which, frankly, deserves this embarrassment for hiring a feckless reality star as a role model for impressionable teens–every cent you accepted as part of your con. But then your life is a con. You have no talent, no integrity, and no excuse for your conduct. Get an education, grow up, and go away. You degrade the culture and America’s values by your very existence. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, Romance and Relationships, Social Media

The President Says “Nigger,” And Good For Him!

Wheel of Fortune

On a podcast with comic Marc Maron—because comedians ask such probing questions and have such high journalistic standards—President Barack Obama, while musing on the topic of race, said, among other things:

“The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination — in in almost every institution of our lives — that casts a long shadow, that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on. Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say “nigger” in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.” 

Whatever the pros and cons of that statement—and it really isn’t especially remarkable—, it is Obama’s use of the word “nigger” that has cable news and the internet buzzing, fainting and drooling. To take some media idiots at random…oh, let’s say, the Fox and Friends crew, along with some commentators Fox dug up someplace. you would think that Obama was doing a Samuel L.Jackson imitation.

If a President is going to talk about racism and raise the perfectly relevant issue of racial epithets such as nigger, it is reasonable, competent, civil and appropriate for him to speak the word he is talking about. Of course it is. No, “Fox contributor David Webb,” whoever you are, it is NOT “beneath the office of the president” to say the words that express the idea you intend to express. It would be beneath the office of the Presidency” for the grown man in that office to use juvenile code-words like “N-word,” which is the way my wife and I talk around our dog, since Rugby goes ballistic if we say “walk,” “outside,” “nap.” “treat, “cheese,” “food,” or “The Adventures of Lassie” out loud. Someone tell various news outlets that the undignified, foolish ones are all of them, treating their audiences or readers like children (or Jack Russell Terriers) and playing hangman and “Wheel of Fortune”—“He said n- – – – -!” I’ll buy a vowel, Pat!”—when they should be telling us exactly what the President said.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you! Now maybe if people are talking about the word nigger, they will use the word they are talking about, because that’s how human beings communicate.

Except on Fox news. I swear, sometimes, I don’t know what the hell they are doing.

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Race

Introducing A Third Niggardly Principle, And A Dilemma: Does It Apply To The Confederate Flag?

Scarolina flag

Before unveiling the new Third Niggardly Principle, indulge me some observation  on the emergence of a renewed controversy over the Confederate flag as a response to the Charleston, South Carolina shooting of nine black churchgoers last week:

1. The Confederate battle flag did not cause Dylann Roof to start shooting. If  all the Confederate flag had been retired to museums 100 years ago, it would not have turned him into a civil rights advocate.

2. The effort of anti-flag advocates, who are frequently advocates of censorship and restrictions on free speech as well, to exploit this tragedy to advance their pet grievance is transparent and obnoxious, and is even more attenuated than the furious efforts of anti-gun zealots to do the same thing.

3. The flag, like many symbols, represents different things to different people. Racial hate and bigotry is only one of them. The flag legitimately represents pride in a family legacy (“My great grandfather died bravely in Pickett’s Charge”), the historical record, opposition to federal government overreach,  aesthetic appeal, or defiance of authority generally (“I’m a rebel”). Old Glory also represents different things to different people, and we do not ban it because what it symbolizes to some people is unpleasant for them. (Yes, I know some schools have done exactly that. One hopes they are outliers)

4. Mitt Romney’s much praised tweet—“Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims.” —is simple-minded and irresponsible. (See the previous post.) Is Mitt arguing that any speech, symbol or expression that “many” find offensive should be suppressed? It sounds like it to me. Since Roof’s act had nothing to do with the flag, nor was it related to slavery or the Confederacy, how does taking the flag down “honor” his victims? Sure: Roof liked the flag, because of what it symbolized to him. He also liked Gold’s Gym:

dylann-roof1

Would closing down all the Gold Gyms in South Carolina honor his victims? The fact that the attack was racially motivated and that racists often display Confederate flags does not make a state flying the flag complicit in the shootings. Stop using Twitter to discuss complex issues, Mitt! Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society, Government & Politics, History, Etiquette and manners, Race, Rights, Social Media