Category Archives: Etiquette and manners

There Is No “Debate”: Graffiti Artists Are Vandals, And The First Step To Stopping Them Is To Eliminate The Myth That They Might Be Anything Else

Rattlesnake Canyon "art": Breathtaking!

Rattlesnake Canyon “art”:
Breathtaking!

Since I don’t get out to the ol’ hiking trail that often, being chained to my desk, I was blissfully unaware that a group of lawless and arrogant vandals masquerading as “graffitti artists” are moving their ugly misappropriation of public spaces to the wild.

From the L.A. Times:

Andre Saraiva is an internationally known graffiti artist. He owns nightclubs in Paris and New York, works as a top editor of the men’s fashion magazine L’Officiel Hommes and has appeared in countless glossy magazines as a tastemaker and bon vivant. Two months ago he showed up on the decidedly un-fashionista website Modern Hiker, along with a photo of a boulder he tagged in Joshua Tree National Park. Since then, Saraiva, who lives in France and is known by his fans as Mr. Andre and Mr. A., has been scorned by American nature lovers and thrust into a highly charged debate. Saraiva is of a new generation of graffiti artists who regard nature — not just the built environment — as their canvas. They tag national parks, then post photos of their work on the Internet.

The Times—they are so open-minded in California!—goes on to say that “those acts infuriate outdoor enthusiasts,” as if there is any reason for the acts not to infuriate every thinking and reasoning human being on the planet. This is the awful journalistic device I have flagged in a political context, minimizing clearly unethical conduct by suggesting that only those with an agenda see it as wrong. “GOP critics assail Hillary Clinton for foreign donors,” for example, is a misleading characterization suggesting that one would and should only object to blatantly unethical conduct if one was a Clinton foe. Wrong. There is something ethically rotten about anyone who doesn’t see Clinton’s conduct as seriously unethical, just as everyone, not just “outdoor enthusiasts,” should recognize that defacing rocks, trees and landscapes is indefensible, ethically and legally.

Andre Saraiva is a fick–a person who acts unethically and celebrates it shamelessly. He is an art fick, a sub-species Ethics Alarms has not encountered often.

Jonathan Turley, a hiking enthusiast as well as a Constitutional scholar, makes his conclusion crystal clear, in the embodiment of the Ethics Alarms principle that “where ethics fail, law steps in”: Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, The Internet, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: Grandstanding Kansas City Waitress Chloe Hough

tip the schoolsToday was apparently “Popular Unethical Conduct Day.” This isn’t as bad as a mother having a police officer terrorize her little boy, because governor abuse isn’t as bad as child abuse. It’s still wrong, and in several ways.

Waitress Chloe Hough was in her final shift in her last day as a waitress at a Kansas barbecue restaurant, and found herself serving conservative Kansas governor Sam Brownback. The controversial  Republican  recently pushed to replace Kansas’s education funding system with a  “block grant” program that cuts millions of dollars from  public school budgets.

Hough decided to use the opportunity to make a snarky, meaningless protest comment on his check, and grandstanded by posting a photo of it on Facebook.

“I just knew I had to say something or I would regret it,” she told a TV station.  Of course, she really would have regretted it if she hadn’t already quit her job. She was rude to a customer (wrong), compromised the service of her employer (wrong); embarrassed her employer (wrong);used her job illicitly to make a personal political statement (wrong), and posted the restaurant’s document without permission on Facebook. If the restaurant shares tips among servers, she also gave away money belonging to her colleagues without their permission. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
She did all of this knowing that she wouldn’t suffer any consequences, since she had already quit. It was hit and run unethical conduct, and a cowardly betrayal of trust. The legitimacy of her political critique is irrelevant..

I hope the restaurant withholds her final paycheck, and to any other employers out there, remember that name: Chloe Hough. She’s untrustworthy and disloyal, and if you hire her, you deserve what you get.

12 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Workplace

The End Of Manners: The President of The United States Declares That It’s Cute To Say “Fuck It” In Code

But he didn't exactly say it, see, so it's Presidential.  Me, I prefer...“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. ” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Or..."Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company."  – George Washington.  Or..."Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing." ---Abraham Lincoln. But I'm not cool, I guess...

But he didn’t exactly say it, see, so it’s Presidential.
Me, I prefer…“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. ” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Or…”Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad company.”
– George Washington.
Or…”Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”
–Abraham Lincoln.
But I’m not cool, I guess…

Well, I guess there’s not much point in me trying to blow the ethics whistle on lazy ad-writers substituting vulgarity for wit in prime time TV commercials if our nation’s leader and cultural role model is going to do the same thing. The lack of common sense and responsibility, not to mention sensitivity to his obligations as Chief Executive to raise societal standards rather than debase them, has been stunning from the beginning of Obama’s Presidency, but its depth and persistence continues to amaze, depress and disgust.

Saying he maintains “something that rhymes with ‘bucket list’,” a borderline tasteless and undignified joke, Obama went further. “Executive action on immigration? Bucket,” Obama said to laughs. “New climate regulations? Bucket. It’s the right thing to do.

“The right thing to do” would be not to debase the Presidency by sniggering vulgarity in public (this was broadcast live), and to empower teens to say “Buck off!” to their parents and teachers while citing the President of the United States as authority for why it’s harmless, since he used the same code to say “fuck” in front of a black tie Washington audience.

Sure, why not? Buck dignity, buck honor, buck civility, buck the Presidency, buck Lincoln, Washington,  and the rest. That’s Barack Obama, our President of the United States! Hail to the Chief.

I think you know how I’d love to end this post. But despite everything, I still have respect for his office.

Even if he does not.

16 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Leadership, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Now THAT Was A Rape Culture…”

Blogger and esteemed commenter here Rick Jones shares my passion for theater and is also, like me, a stage director, but seldom has a chance to weigh in on that topic. My post about the troubling lyrics in “Standing on the Corner,” the best known song in Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella” gave Rick a chance to swing at a pitch in his wheelhouse, as the baseball broadcasters like to say, and he didn’t disappoint.

I want to clarify something from the original post. Having noted the lyrics, I was no way  criticizing them or the song, or the musical itself. Older shows are valuable and fascinating in part because they serve as windows on past cultural values and attitudes—that was one of the reasons for the ambitious, important and doomed mission of the theater I have been artistic director of for the last two decades. Such politically incorrect references should never be excised in performance.

“The Most Happy Fella” is a slog, however. Ambitious, sure, but too long, too sentimental, and with too many unavoidable “wince points,” as I call them, to make the show worth the huge investment in talent, money and time that it takes to produce competently. Any time the best songs in a musical are the ones that have nothing to do with the plot (“Standing on the Corner,” “Big D,” and “Abondanza!”, which in in the clip above) it’s ominous. The 1925 Pulitzer Prize-winning hit play this pseudo-opera was based on, “They Knew What They Wanted” by Sydney Howard, is much better.

Here is Rick’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Now That Was A Rape Culture…”: Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Literature, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Now THIS Is Contempt Of Court…

You call that rant fighting back, Al? That's nothing! THIS is fighting back...

You call that rant fighting back, Al? That’s nothing! THIS is fighting back…

It’s always useful to have rock bottom standards against which all other similar incidents can be compared, so we all owe Tamah Jada Clark a debt of gratitude.

Police in Camilla, Georgia, had arrested her after a September 2010 “suspicious vehicle” stop turned up loaded AK-47 rifles and a .45-caliber pistol in her trunk, apparently intended tools for a foiled plot to break her son’s father, Jason Clark, out of prison, where he has been sentenced to stay for the next 30 years. Police had intercepted incriminating phone calls. Along with some other novel defenses, Clark argued that she was unlawfully arrested because she legally owned the weapons and was not in the same city as the jail where Jason Clark was held, although she was stopped in a nearby town.

She submitted a nine page filing to the court titled, “F*ck this court and everything it stands for.”

Catchy! Some highlights…

  • “Look here, old man, when I told you I AM Justice – I meant it. It took me about 1 month to study the history of the world and to learn the history and inner workings American jurisprudence, literally. I was born to do this here. Don’t you know that your FBI and CIA have been trying to recruit me since grade school? Lol. But they’re unscrupulous losers like you, so it won’t be happening.”
  • “I am well aware that the court has not spoken to me because it cannot defeat my legal arguments – so it runs and cowers like a panic-stricken hoe that has stolen money from her back-handing pimp Just for the record: you are a hoe. This court is a hoe. And I will backhand you both, should you continue to waste my time.”
  • “I couldn’t give two f*cks about you or what you have to say. F*ck you, old man. You’re a joke. Your court’s a joke. You take it up the a*s; and you suck nuts. Lol.”

Imagine writing “LOL” in a court filing!

Outrageous. On the good side, it was sensitive of Clark to use the polite, acceptable version of “fuck.”

12 Comments

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

Tsarnaev’s Irrelevant Finger And The End Of Capital Punishment

dzhokhar-tsarnaev finger

I’ve stated here several times that I am in favor of the death penalty when it can be shown beyond any doubt whatsoever that an individual committed a horrific, cruel, unequivocally inexcusable murder or murders, preferably murders. One of the two Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving one, clearly qualifies. Unfortunately, the public, the law and the legal profession are too confused to bring integrity to capital punishment, and I think, because of that, it can never be sufficiently fair and coherent to be ethical. Continue reading

34 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

When Do Private Text Messages Between Two Individuals Justify Punishment?

text

I’d like to say “never,” except that when especially offensive private text messages become public, they aren’t private any more. As with e-mails, any time you send a text message that you know will embarrass you if it falls into malign hands or is seen by righteous eyes, you have authored the means of your potential destruction.

That’s not right, but that’s the way of the world.

Thus a Washburn University Phi Delta Theta fraternity member posted a photo of a man with a topless woman in bed as part of a fraternity text exchange following a chain of crude text messages between frat members. These were obtained by The Topeka Capital-Journal on a slow news day—Wow! Stop the presses! College guys are crude!-–and before you could say “thought control,” the national Phi Delta Theta organization suspended the Topeka campus chapter.

“We are very concerned by the messages reviewed thus far. Phi Delta Theta is a values-based organization and any behavior or statement contrary to those values is subject to significant action,” Phi Delta Theta spokesman Sean Wagner said in a statement. Naturally, the chapter president then grovelled an apology. Continue reading

20 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Education, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, The Internet