Category Archives: History

“When The Ethics Alarms Don’t Sound” Files: Auschwitz

auschwitz-showers

From The Jerusalem Post:

Israeli tourists who arrived at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland on Sunday expressed shock and outrage over what appeared to be the placement of showers near the entrance to the site. Asked about the outcry, a spokesman for the Auschwitz memorial told The Jerusalem Post that “no showers were placed at the parking lot of the museum.” “Because of the heat wave in Poland, sprinklers which cool the air were placed near the entrance to the museum. They are located near the area where – in the open sun and without any possibility of hiding in the shade – a queue of people who collect the entry cards to the memorial site is formed. “Among visitors there are many people who come from countries where such high temperatures as we have this summer in Poland do not occur. We have noticed cases of fainting among people. Therefore we must do everything possible to minimize the risks connected with the heat and high temperatures and take care of the safety of health of our visitors. The sprinklers are installed on the days of highest temperatures and removed with the temperature drops.”

“As a Jew who has lost so many relatives in the Holocaust, they looked like the showers that the Jews were forced to take before entering the gas chambers,” Meir Bulka, 48, told the Post . According to Bulka, he was not the only one deeply disturbed by this unusual scene. “All the Israelis felt this was very distasteful,” he said. “Someone called it a ‘Holocaust gimmick.’” Bulka decided to do something proactive about the situation rather than let it go. He went to the main office and asked the management for an explanation to the strange scene.

“The management decided that it was a good way to cool people off on a very hot day,” Bulka said.

There is something very wrong when those in charge of the Auschwitz historical site decide to erect nozzles misting water downwards at visitors outside the notorious death camp and nobody in involved in the decision detects the obvious problem. Whether the problem is with the administrators, the post-WWII generations, non-Jews, or something else, like Europe and the world, I am not sure. I do know that ethics alarms should have been ringing loudly. Did they malfunction? Or are they not installed?

Clues to what is wrong are suggested by the comments made by Ann Althouse’s readers to this story. I’m still trying to figure them out. Her audience is, I presume, ideologically-mixed, tilting to the left, and on the young side, since she is a law professor and many students read her posts. Is the utter insensitivity bordering on hostility to Jewish sensitivity on the little, insignificant matter of the Holocaust displayed here  attributable to ignorance (an excuse the Polish curators of the museum cannot claim), callousness, distance from the events memorialized, antipathy to Israel or anti-Semitism?

Here are 17 out of the 20 comments so far: Continue reading

21 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History

Ethics Quiz: The Duchess of York’s Website And The Duke of Plazatoro

The category is Celebrity Ethics, Royal Ethics or Marketing Ethics, depending on your point of view. Unfortunately for ethical clarity, how you answer today’s Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz may depend on which category you choose.

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, is embarrassing the Royal Family again, only this time it isn’t by throwing snowballs at photographers or by not being as demure and lovely as the late Princess Diana. This time, the self-exiled and divorced Fergie is trading on her title to make a living as an internet huckster. She has a website that peddles a juicer for weight loss and “The Perfecter Ultra”:

The Perfecter Ultra Heated Styling Brush combines innovative ionic technology with pure black tourmaline heating plates for ultimate convenience in achieving salon quality hairstyles at home. Create silky straight styles or beautiful bouncing curls, reduce frizzies or add volume to thinning hair, the Perfecter Ultra is the remarkable styling tool that does it all.

The Duchess has also been appearing on QVC, the cable shopping network where shopping addicts, lonely recluses and easy marks hang out. Among the Royals, with whom she is already on the outs, this is considered…unseemly. Concludes Tom Sykes at the Daily Beast:

“Her website majors in its attempts to cast her shill as public service, saying, “One of my missions in life now is to help people fight their weight challenges so they can live longer, healthier and happier lives. Take it from me: you can do it!”  But the truth is, Fergie is selling her title, and getting paid a no-doubt healthy fee for her promotional activities.”

There’s little doubt that “selling her title” is a fair description.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

As Duchess of York, does Sarah Ferguson have an ethical obligation to behave like the symbol of the British Commonwealth that she and the rest of the Royal Family is, or can she ethically use her title as she chooses, including to sell junk on the internet?

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Family, History, Humor and Satire, Literature, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet

Why Obama’s Re-Naming Of Mount McKinley Is Unethical, And Why It Matters

McKinley

Probably not one in 20 Americans could tell you three facts about William McKinley, our 25th President. He was thoroughly overshadowed by Teddy Roosevelt, the flamboyant and transformative Chief Executive who succeeded him when he was assassinated—that, by the way, is the one fact that one in 20 probably do know. Probably three-fourths of those ignorant 20 know the name Mount McKinley, however, and that it is the tallest mountain peak in the United States.

That alone was one very good reason to keep the mountain named as it was. A nation and its culture requires continuity, tradition, reverence and respect to its past, and it is important for a nation to have abundant reminders of  important historical figures who would be forgotten over time without landmarks, memorials, monuments, holidays, town names, statues and streets that prompt this kind of exchange with one’s children and grandchildren:

“Who was McKinley, daddy?

…Or Lincoln, or Washington…or Obama. A nation that respects and strengthens these bonds with its own history helps ensure that the public maintains a common understanding of the nation’s character and mission. In the case of the United States, it reinforces the vital concept ours is a nation of one people, not warring tribes and factions. This is especially true of our Presidents, who were and are the leaders of the entire nation, not just specific regions, states and nationalities. Continue reading

115 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media

Ethics Verdict: The New York Daily News WDBJ Shooting Front Page Isn’t “Tasteless” or Unethical; It’s Journalism

Virginia shooting

Honestly, I don’t get it. The horrible photos of the exact moment deranged racist Vester Lee Flanagan opened fire on Alison Parker convey what happened in specificity and clarity that no mere verbal description could. If your issue is gun violence, this shows it. If you want to see and understand what tragedy is “up close and personal” and even if you don’t want to understand it, this is how we learn. The furious criticism being focused on the Daily News is traditional Daily News hate, as far as I can determine. That paper has been criticized for having the guts to show raw images for a century now: one of its first outrages was a surreptitious photo of murderess Ruth Snyder being electrocuted:

Snyder_chair

Now that photo is history. Today’s front page will be history too.

At the journalism ethics site of the Poynter Institute, Kelly McBride, Poynter’s vice president for academic programs and a media ethicist, argues against using the unedited pictures, saying that “the problem with it is that it a deeply intimate image. It is a moment of someone’s death.”

You mean like….. this?

Nagasaki

That’s just thousands of people being incinerated in Nagasaki, but from a distance, so it’s tasteful, is that the idea? Well, what about this award winner… Continue reading

32 Comments

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

Comment of the Day #1: Ethics Quiz: The Looney Tunes Cartoon Disclaimer

coonsongs

The Looney Tunes post was the latest in along line of those that I never anticipated provoking the rich discussions that they have, and this fascinating post by SamePenn really took off into an unexpected direction—ragtime and racist songs—that is  still relevant to the post. Just read, enjoy, ponder and learn; I did.

Here is SamePenn’s Comment of the Day, and there’s a second COTD coming,  on the post, Ethics Quiz: The Looney Tunes Cartoon Disclaimer: Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, History, Popular Culture, Race

Ethics Mystery: What Was So Wrong With Curt Schilling’s Muslim Tweet?

schilling-tweet

ESPN pulled former baseball pitching star Curt Schilling from its Little League broadcast team yesterday after becoming aware of his tweet above, saying in a statement:

“Curt’s tweet was completely unacceptable, and in no way represents our company’s perspective. We made that point very strongly to Curt and have removed him from his current Little League assignment pending further consideration.”

Schilling then tweeted this apology: “I understand and accept my suspension. 100% my fault. Bad choices have bad consequences and this was a bad decision in every way on my part.” This appears to be a #1 on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale...“An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.” 

If I had delivered it, however, it might have been a #7: “A forced or compelled version of 1-4, in which the individual (or organization) apologizing may not sincerely believe that an apology is appropriate, but chooses to show the victim or victims of the act inspiring it that the individual responsible is humbling himself and being forced to admit wrongdoing by the society, the culture, legal authority, or an organization or group that the individual’s actions reflect upon or represent.”

What was it exactly that Schilling’s tweet showed, implied, suggested or stated that was” completely unacceptable,  in no way represent ESPN’s  perspective, and that justified his employer’s action? Curt Schilling is an inquisitive, politically active and opinionated man, and has always annoyed sportswriters because 1) he’s openly conservative 2) he’s a devout Christian, and isn’t shy about talking about it, 3) he can write and speak coherently and was capable, while playing, of challenging their criticism, and 4) he’s a lot smarter than most of them. I am assuming in this inquiry that nothing in Schilling’s contract or agreement with ESPN restricted his right to express non-sports opinions on his own time.

Here are some possibilities: Continue reading

45 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Social Media, Unethical Tweet, War and the Military, Workplace

Unethical Op-Ed Of The Month, Or Maybe All Time: Theodore R. Johnson In The Washington Post

Well, at least that would explain it...

Well, at least that would explain it…

The essay is titled, “We used to count black Americans as 3/5 of a person. For reparations, give them 5/3 of a vote.” Yes, it’s serious. There is so much wrong with it logically, ethically, historically, legally, and Constitutionally, that it would take more words, time and effort to fully rebut all the nonsense in the article than this oddity is worth. Go ahead, read it. If your first reaction is, “Hey! What a brilliant idea!,” it’s time to seek professional help, and I don’t care what color you are.

Rather than give this perverted, anti-democratic fantasy the dignity of a rebuttal, I’ll just offer a few observations: Continue reading

50 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Race, Rights, U.S. Society