Category Archives: Etiquette and manners

Keep It Up, Vulgarians

This morning I was listening to a CNN reporter in New Hampshire interviewing an ordinary, middle aged woman who is a Trump supporter, and she dropped a word inappropriate for TV live. The interviewer said, “You just said a cuss word!” and she just ignored him. In Phoenix, Don Harris, the head of Arizona’s largest NAACP chapter, was discussing the somehow national scandal over six white teenage Desert Vista High School students posting a photo of themselves aligned so the letters on their T-shirts spelled N-I-*-* E-R when he just couldn’t resist saying that a TV reporter who had just interviewed him had “nice tits”as he was speaking to another TV interviewer.

The recording was posted, and Harris had to resign as Chapter president. Called about the incident by another reporter, Harris said, among other things, “I’m really fucking sorry. I’m going to slash my wrists . . . Better yet, I’m going to throw myself out of a fucking window, except I’m on the first floor . . . I’m one of the best goddamned people in the state. They’ve seen me now, they’ve seen what I’ve done. I’ve given up my law practice. I’m down here six, seven days a week. That’s what my commitment is. I support NOW, the women’s organization — goddamn! — are you shitting me? Are you going to write this up?”

Why yes, Don, you vulgar fool, they are.

Harris and the dumb New Hampshire woman (I did say she was a Donald Trump supporter, right?) are victims of the crude and ugly culture of rudeness and incivility being imposed on the culture. If you don’t fight back, you will be sucked in: your civility and decency ethics alarms will become rusted and useless. At the 2016 Golden Globes awards, knowing they were on live TV and in front of an audience of adults, various presenters and award winners used the words cunt, sugar tits, fuck and fucking (twice). Speaking like this in private or controlled workplace surroundings is as old as the hills, but somewhere the principle has been lost in which such gutter discourse was understood to be ugly, lazy and the mark of an unmannerly lout when it leaks into more formal, or public settings. Who thinks this is a positive development? Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Month: MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Whose Ethics Alarm Is Obviously Busted

Matthews

“Who is going to watch a debate between the two Cuban guys?”

MSNBC host Chris Matthews, reacting on the air to the news that wittle Donald Twump will be avoiding Thursday’s Republican candidates’ debate on Fox because he’s afwaid that mean, old Megyn Kelly will wag on him and make him cwy.

The “Cuban guys” are two  U.S. citizens and public servants named Mark Rubio and Ted Cruz. “Who is going to watch a debate between Rubio, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz?” Chris went on. (Yes, Chris, we know who you meant). “Who cares?””

I just got back from a New York day trip to do an ethics training seminar for a large law firm. I read about Matthews’ hateful, ugly, bigoted statement just as I was getting ready to leave this morning, and it  bothered me the rest of the day. I haven’t checked—has Matthews apologized? Has he been sacked? Have Hispanics and Latinos rallied to support the Republicans he attacked?

There is no spin, no excuse, no rationalization that removes Matthews’ comment from the realm of hateful, gratuitous partisan bile. This is also the guy, remember, who sees racism in the use of the word “Chicago.” Let’s see if we can find any equivalent statement that wouldn’t be legitimately and immediately  identified as the calling card of a bigot:

“Who is going to watch a debate between the two black guys?”

“Who is going to watch a debate between the two Jewish  guys?”

“Who is going to watch a debate between the two gay guys?”

“Who is going to watch a debate between the two Muslim guys?”

“Who is going to watch a debate between the two women?”

Yet this just vomited out of Liberal Chris’s mouth like it was perfectly reasonable and fair, just like you hear other bigots default to “nigger” without blinking. The statement radiates contempt for a nationality, assumed superiority by a comfortably white hack , and absolute disrespect—because the two men are Republicans, and thus don’t deserve decency or fairness at his hands. That’s how Chris thinks. That’s the culture of MSNBC. That’s the attitude of a shocking number of U.S. “progressives.” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race

How To Get Banned From Ethics Alarms: A Case Study

get-out

I just spammed nine attempted comments from a would-be participant here calling himself by the confidence-inspiring name of “Muh.” As sometimes happens, he discovered us and began posting comments everywhere. Here is a representative sample:

1. On the “Frontrunners” post: “The funniest part about Ted Cruz is that he pretends he’s an outsider and the rubes fall for it. But one look at his resume and you can see this guy is as well connected as anyone. If only everyone who ever met him didn’t hate him, he’d probably already be President!”

Why it was rejected: This is a pure political comment, with no ethics content whatsoever. That’s not what this blog is here for. Go to Mediaite, the Daily Kos, or Politico for gratuitous, cynical, fact-free candidate-bashing.

2. Comment on the same post: “This article, well you can see where the author seems to be. You want to talk about these three, and you leave off Ted Cruz who’s basically talked about nuking the Middle East? Give me a break.”

Why it was rejected: Accusing me of pro-Cruz bias, or pro-anyone bias, based on this or any post is unjustified. I chose those three because they are far and away the front-runners, and for no other reason. I have not shied away from ctiticizing Ted Cruz. If a commenter is going to accuse me of bias, he or she had better check the blog archive first. And Cruz said no such thing.

“Give me a break” is in the class of other disapproved rhetoric such as “LOL!” and arguments beginning with “Uh…” Continue reading

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Filed under Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics

Ethics Dunces: Professor Robert Donald Weide, And Any University That Employs Him

crushing dissentThe results of the Curmie Award vote are up at Curmudgeon Central, where blogger Rick Jones tracks episodes of supreme embarrassment for his profession, education. I think next year’s winner may have already arrived. It’s not that I can’t imagine worse conduct by an educator—I have a lively imagination—it’s just that the conduct California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) professor Robert Donald Weide is an apt symbol of why U.S. higher education is no longer a solution to anything, but a tragic problem in itself. There is no reason, none, why any school shouldn’t immediately sack a faculty member who behaves like this. If the issue is tenure, then tenure needs to be abolished. Tenure should not shield campus fascists.

What did Weide do? CSULA’s branch of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative political organization, dared to invite Ben Shapiro to give a lecture called “When Diversity Becomes a Problem” about such emerging issues as Black Lives Matter, “microaggressions,” “safe spaces,”  trigger warnings and other assaults on free speech on campuses and elsewhere. Naturally, since the topic is an important and legitimate one, many at CSULA are attacking the event and arguing it should be blocked by the university, citing trigger warnings, safe spaces,  microaggressions, and, of course, the ever-useful censorship concept of “hate speech.”

Perhaps here is as good a place as any to note that I wouldn’t cross the street to listen to Ben Shapiro, and wouldn’t do so even before his website, Breitbart, decided to shill for Donald Trump. That, however, doesn’t alter the fact that he is every bit as worthy of a campus speaking gig as Lena Dunham, Bernie Sanders, Sean Penn, or the Pope. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Race

Ethics Hero: Ice Cube…Adult

Ice Cube

The Academy Awards nominations flap has been gradually acquiring Ethics Train Wreck Status. Naturally, since it involves race (black artists didn’t get their quota this year, whatever that quota is–it’s a secret quota, but clearly zero isn’t it) and thus an opportunity for him to get some publicity, Al Sharpton weighed in with sputtering outrage, calling for a boycott of the Oscars. Then Spike Lee announced a personal boycott, making no sense in the process, rapidlly followed by Jada Pinkett Smith, who really made no sense, writing,

“Begging for acknowledgment or even asking diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people. And we are powerful. Let’s not forget it. So let’s let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let’s do us.”

Gibberish. What is throwing a tantrum and boycotting your industry and profession as it honors itself and your colleagues’ art because  the people you really care about—those of the right color, you know— didn’t get a nomination, if it isn’t demanding recognition, which is as pathetic as asking or begging for it, just more obnoxious?

Next her husband, Will Smith, who looks like a poor sport by doing so, followed her lead, muttering inappropriate platitudes. He said, “There is a position that we hold in this community, and if we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem.” If you say so, Will. Causing racial division in your profession and sabotaging its big self-promotion night is part of what solution, now?

In ethics train wrecks, all passengers live to regret it. Over at Fox News, panelist and former “Clueless” actress Stacey Dash suggested that black actors had nothing to complain about as long as they participated in blacks-only honors, like the BET Awards, and the NAACP Image awards. What was that supposed to mean? That Oscar should be all-white, since there are all-black awards? Is this a plug for separate but equal? Her argument was incoherent, so naturally Donald Trump endorsed it, saying, and I quote, “Blah, blah, blah, blah…” Among the blahs, he noted,

“So over there — the whites don’t get any nominations, or don’t get — and I thought it was an amazing interview, actually. I never even thought of it from that standpoint. But with all of that being said, it would certainly be nice if everybody could be represented properly…”

Trenchant analysis, you moronContinue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Popular Culture, Race

Ethics Musings While Sitting In Line At The Gas Station

My future, if I don't figure this out...

My future, if I don’t figure this out…

In the middle of a 20 minute errand that became a 90 minute ordeal today, I found myself sitting in an unexpected long line at the gas station I usually patronize.  Maybe it was because people wanted to top off tanks before the blizzard hits tomorrow, but I was really almost out of gas, and the second I moved into the “tank on the right” line, I was socked in. Finally I had only  one car ahead of me, and an absurdly long line of automobiles behind.

The lady in the car ahead, however, was unbelievable. She wasn’t elderly, but she was obese, had something wrong with one leg, and apparently had never filled a gas tank before in her life. She dithered, she paused, she disappeared and returned. She punched in so many characters at the pump that her Debit card password must have been a chapter of “Martin Chuzzlewit.”

Finally she replaced the pump, after pausing and contemplating it like it was Yorick’s skull, walked around to the driver-side door, then decided to walk back—S-L-O-W-L-Y— and make sure she had replaced the gas tank cap, then again s-l-o-w-l-y  limped and waddled back to the door. She opened the it, stared, then decided to unzip her coat, started to take it off, changed her mind, paused again. The line of cars behind me now reached to Falls Church.

I was just a smidgen of impulse control away from getting out of my car, which was turned off, and walking up to her, whereupon I would have said, not especially nicely: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, U.S. Society

Craig Mazin, FICK

Craig Mazin, terrible human being and proud of it...

Craig Mazin, terrible human being and proud of it…

The short description of a fick would be “public asshole, and proud of it.” That’s a fair description of the indecent Craig Mazin, a Hollywood writer and producer who has decided to ostentatiously violate the Kantian, Golden Rule, common sense-based ethics of being a college roommate to embarrass Senator Ted Cruz as he runs for President.

I write about a lot of awful people, and often have to explain what’s awful about them. If you don’t immediately see what’s awful about what Mazin is doing, I’m not sure there is much hope for you. There is no hope for him.

Mazin roomed with Cruz during their freshman years at Princeton University, from 1988-1989. Cruz was 18 at the time. This week, apparently spurred by Twitter followers, Mazin began spewing contempt and insults about Cruz, using his “inside” experiences as material and justification.  This, of course, attracted media attention, magnifying the harm to Cruz, although anyone who thinks that conduct by an 18-year-old is a fair or meaningful  way to attack the 46-year-old U.S. Senator he grows into is a per se dim wit. Continue reading

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