Category Archives: Humor and Satire

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Prof. Glenn Reynolds

 

Obama float

“To even investigate something like that is itself a civil rights violation.”

—-Prof. Glenn Reynolds, the “Instapundit, commenting on the news that the Department of Justice is investigating as a possible civil rights violation the anti-Obama float that appeared in a Nebraska Independence Day parade.

He is correct. This is government intimidation and an attempt to chill political speech. The float was crude and its sentiment was misplaced, but sending government agents to investigate it is indistinguishable from sending the FBI to knock on your door after your letter to the editor  critical of the President appears in the paper.

Where are the liberals who will have the integrity to call this what it is?

I can’t wait to find out.

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights

On Mockery, The Streisand Effect, Incompetent Lawyers And The Sleeping Yankee Fan

ESPN cameras caught Andrew Rector sleeping in his seat in the fourth inning of  the April 13 Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees game. In the time-honored tradition of TV play-by-play when something funny, weird or, most especially, sexy is spied in the stands, ESPN commentators Dan Shulman and John Kruk  began making fun of him. The clip ended up on YouTube, naturally, and thus on various sports websites, followed by the various idiotic, cruel, gratuitously mean-spirited insults, usually composed by brave anonymous commenters.

This is a familiar pattern of unethical public mockery, and we have become inured to it. Though the ESPN team’s jibes were rather mild in nature, and Rector’s legitimate embarrassment quota would be far, far less than, say, that of George Costanza when this happened at the U.S. Open, let me say for the record that picking fans out of the crowd at sporting events and making fun of them, whatever they are doing, is generally a rotten thing to do. I know: it’s public, you know you might be on camera, and the fine print on the ticket stub puts you on notice. Unless, however, the conduct involved is actually newsworthy or despicable (as in instances where an adult has snatched a baseball from a child), the Golden Rule applies. Who knows why Rector was sleeping? Maybe he was up all night with a dying relative or a grievously ill child—Shulman and Kruk don’t know. And if he chooses to pay for a ticket and nap during the game—and it wasn’t exactly a scintillating game, I should add—so what? Continue reading

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Filed under Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Sports, The Internet

Ten Movies For Independence Day Weekend

fireworks

I wasn’t going to do this until I ran across a few lists of “Most Patriotic  Films” that made me fear for the taste and the values of my fellow citizens. “Independence Day” ? “Armageddon”? “Rocky IV”?  When did “patriotic” start meaning “crappy”? “Born on the Fourth of July”? If Oliver Stone is your idea of patriotic fare, you and I are going to have a problem.

Here is my very personal list of ten favorite films that bring a patriotic lump to my throat and a remind me of how lucky I am to be born and raised in the U.S.A. Don’t mind the order: it was hard enough narrowing the list down to ten.

1. Apollo 13  (1995)

The only one of the movies on my list that I saw on the others today. Like many of the films here, it makes me wistful for American boldness and confidence that seem to be in retreat today. When the  Apollo re-emerges from radio silence, and Tom Hanks says, with perfect inflection, “Hello, Houston. This is Odyssey. It’s good to see you again,” I lose it, every time.

2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Yes, this is Capra-corn at its corniest, but from Harry Carey Sr.’s sage and heroic Vice -President, to the power of the people triumphing, to the press trying to expose corruption rather than abet it,  this film reminds us of the best ideals of our government. When we get too cynical to enjoy Jefferson Smith’s struggle to make Washington work the way its supposed to, it will be time to pack it in.

3. The Longest Day (1962)

Longest Helm

Yes, it’s not just about Americans, but it is a great film about one of our country’s  finest achievements, all true, and inspiring without a lot of flag waving and sentiment. Best war movie ever—and my Dad’s favorite. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Citizenship, History, Humor and Satire, Literature, Popular Culture, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Ethics Quiz (Inadvertent Offense Division): The Transsexual Vote

dancing-with-the-stars-paddlesIn a one of my ethics seminars last week before a large audience, my usual practice of polling participants using hand-held numbered ballots, was unwieldy. The client group did not color code them, and there were over 400 present, as opposed to the Dancing With The Stars panel, which is three. I got around the problem by segmenting the crowd and picking different groups to represent the whole. Sometimes just men voted; sometimes women, sometimes one of the four sections of the hall. In other cases, I asked groups that were involved in the case being discussed: family law attorneys. Government attorneys. Mothers.

One of the cases involved a transsexual individual, and I suggested that the transsexuals in the audience vote. Nobody volunteered. The group laughed.

Today I received a very nice note from one of participants, praising my session but criticizing my judgment in that incident:

“You asked the transsexuals to vote, and said you were sure there were some attending [I don't recall doing this, and I suspect she is thinking of my comment about another potential group] , which produced laughter. Were I a transsexual, I would have felt ostracized and deeply offended. These are people with congenital/hormonal conditions that clash with our social constructs of gender identity. But most importantly, they are people. You are, of course, statistically right to guess that in a group of lawyers of that size, probably there were not many, probably not any, That does not make it OK to perpetuate their ostracism. This is not about political correctness, it is about acknowledging shared humanity.”

Your Ethics Alarm Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is this a fair complaint?

Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire

When Ethics Alarms Fail: The (Almost Deadly) Return Of “Johnny”

justkidding

In “Airplane!,” the late Stephen Stucker created an iconic comic character as the chaotic “Johnny,” a deranged but relentlessly cheery air traffic control employee who treated the life-and death emergency of an endangered airliner as an opportunity to pull practical jokes, like pulling a plug to shut off all the runway lights just as the plane was making its desperate approach with a volunteer pilot at the helm. “Just kidding!” he says. This week, we learned that Johnny, or at least his copycat, was alive and well. An air traffic controller at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport instructed the pilot of Delta Flight 630, just over 1,000 feet off the ground and preparing to land, to abort the landing and circle the airport. Seconds later, Johnny II said, “I’m kidding, Delta 630. After you land, I’ve got no one behind you. Expect to exit right.” Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture, Professions, Workplace

Funny! But Wrong…

"Hey! It works!"

“Hey! It works!”

Yes, I would say this was an unethical business transaction.

According to a complaint filed with Malaysia’s Public Service and Complaint Bureau, a man paid the equivalent of  $139.00 to a scamster promising to send him a device that would dramatically enlarge his penis.

When the alleged package-enhancing package arrived, it contained only…a magnifying glass.

The directions said only “Do not use in sunlight.”

Ethics observations:

  • It was very wrong to fool an idiot like that and take his money.
  • Rubbing it in with the directions was gratuitously cruel, if inspired.
  • The reporter who wrote the story undoubtedly will say that the name of the local lawyer he consulted about the case—Mr. Kok—was a coincidence, and not a cheap joke.
  • Sure it was.

________________________

Pointer: Above the Law

Source: The Star On-line

 

 

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising

The Blatant Plagiarism Conundrum: If You Make It Obvious That You Lifted Someone Else’s Work, Is That More Ethical Than Covering Your Tracks?

plagiarized essay

This episode reminds me of the Jerry Seinfeld riff–I’ve mentioned it before—on how hairpieces inherently insult the intelligence of the people the bald imposter is trying to fool, and thus the toup’-wearer should just leave the price tag on, danging in front of his face.

A student apparently submitted an essay regarding her experiences as a black woman, not bothering about the fact that she is white.

Here is the incriminating passage, unblurred:

law-essay2

 

I’m fascinated by the implications of this. Could the white student plausibly claim she was writing the essay in the voice of a black woman? Could she take the Jumbo route, and express shock that she is white, and argue that nobody ever told her that before? (Fans of “The Jerk,” raise your hands!) That might be a terrific Jumbo: “I’m white??? Oh, my God!!!” If it was plagiarism, does she deserve Seinfeld ethics points for not trying to hide it? Or perhaps she was attempting to prove that her teacher didn’t read essays, and setting a trap, risking her own academic reputation to expose a fraudulent teacher!

Then again, she might just be an idiot.

I’d bet on the latter.

________________________

Pointer: Above the Law

Facts: Legal Check

Graphics: Legal Check

 

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Filed under Character, Education, Humor and Satire, Race

Child Care Ethics And Leashes For Toddlers: CNN and Its Viewers Flunk An Ethics Alarm Test

Kids on leashes

It is constantly amazing to me that journalists so seldom identify obvious and critical ethics issues in the topics and events they cover. The rest is mixed emotions: this absence of ethics awareness is a serious culture-wide problem; then again, were this not so, I’d probably be in a different, and less stimulating profession.

Today I sat down to lunch as CNN engaged in a breathless discussion of whether using leashes on toddlers and even older children was a good idea, as it is either a growing trend among parents, or CNN was having a slow news day. The phone lines were open, and many viewers weighed in, with the primary camps expressing the following positions:

1. “If it makes children safer, then there is no reason not to do it. Safety is everything. Kids have been killed running into the street.  A leash will prevent that.”

2. “This shows the decline of child-rearing skills in the United States. If you can’t control your kid better than this, you are the problem.”

If the question of whether it was fair, kind, respectful or right to treat  your child like a cocker spaniel occurred to anybody in this discussion (I know the CNN staff never considered it), I saw and heard no evidence of this. Yet that is the central question, and it is an interesting one to consider. The fact that matters of human dignity, responsibility, respect, fairness, autonomy, kindness, proportion and prudence need to be balanced to answer the question at hand never came into the discussion, and those debating the issue demonstrated neither awareness of the competing ethical values, nor the ability to know how to employ them. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Dunces, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

No, NPR, The Ice Cream Truck Isn’t “Racist,” But I Know Why You Want Us To Think So

ice cream truck

“Racism! Come and get your delicious racism!”

I will not be surprised to see a formal course of study emerge in the near future in our institutions of higher learning, teaching the skills necessary to become a certified race-grievance manufacturer. One would be trained in such classes as Advanced Race-baiting, Historical Distortions, The Uses of Paranoia, and The  Permanent Victim Mindset, and a typical honors thesis would be exactly like the essay featured on NPR’s website, by Theodore Johnson III, but with footnotes. Come to think of it, maybe that’s where Johnson’s article did come from. If so, I’m sure he got an A.

And, as was the objective, other race-baiting lackeys, like RYOT’s Viola Knowles, picked up the baton by taking Johnson’s thesis to the next level, with her opus, “So It Turns Out Your Beloved Ice Cream Truck Is Actually Super Racist.” Like its origin, the piece is a lesson in confirmation bias and intellectually dishonest research. Also like the NPR piece—and tell me again why my tax dollars support an institution that encourages racial distrust—it is sinister in intent. “If you’d rather I not crush all of your beautiful childhood memories with ugly racism then you may want to leave now,” she begins ominously. For NPR has discovered that the jingle traditionally played by the friendly neighborhood ice cream truck—”or the racist truck,” she says, is “one of the most racist songs in America.”

Here, in brief is Johnson’s thesis— Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Race, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society

Incompetent Candidate For High Political Office—I Hope Of The Year, But Somehow, I Fear Not: Harley Brown

Harley BrownThe incompetence of  people like Harley Brown, a GOP candidate for Governor of Idaho, running in the primary, makes me angry and sad.

Some will protest that candidates for office have no ethical obligation to be competent. After all, running a bad campaign is its own punishment: you lose. That is not necessarily true, however, particularly in the states, but even if it is true, you can do a lot of damage while losing.

Like any other role, task, or job, running for a high elected office like governor of a state comes with responsibilities. For one thing, other people would like to run, work hard at it, and in the process, help democracy work better by giving voters a choice. Incompetent candidates like Brown not only block someone from running who might be good at it, they also give voters less choice, and sometimes, no choice at all. Those who complain about President Obama should review the pathetic campaign performance of John McCain. All these years to prepare, and he couldn’t master the skill of reading from a teleprompter without looking like he had been zapped by Dr. Strange and sounding like a Rotary Club awardee who begins his speech with “Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking…”?

There is more to resent about inept candidates, but let us focus on what makes Brown so awful. Many Idahoans were introduced to him during the recent Republican candidates debate, in which he began the night dressed like a superannuated biker, which is apparently what he is, or maybe Santa Claus in the throes of a mid-life crisis. Then he launched into what is obviously going to be his real schtick: blue collar, redneck sensibilities as imagined in the stereotyped  dreams of Bill Maher, delivered in wince-inducing bumper-sticker slogans and bad jokes that would be the low-lights of the worst stag party routine of all time.

Harley, as his website warns you, has declared war on “political correctness,” and he intends to campaign with what he egotistically calls “Harleyisms”:

“This is a unique compilation of American blue-collar attitudes, political philosophy and non-politically correct humor to both edify and entertain you.I am an opinionated grandfather trying to do what I can to help America become a better place for my grandchildren. To tell the truth, political correctness is in fact, “bondage to fear. “I am making a major political issue of FREEDOM from political correctness. I intend to walk the walk, not just talk the talk…I want to present myself as a much different “Candid Candidate” from the politically correct lawyers now dominating political circles. Perhaps then multitudes of righteous citizens ( particularly the hoards of my currently unregistered blue-collar brothers) will become politically active and help me fight for the futures of our grandchildren with tremendous passion motivated by love…I believe Harleyisms to be a splendid weapon against the vile bondage of political correctness…”

“Harleyisms,” however, really means “moldy and mostly unfunny jokes someone else made up that are only funny to bigots, fools and kids, and are certifiably embarrassing coming from anyone over the age of 12 who is claiming to be worthy of representing, leading, and looking out for the welfare of an entire state.” Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, U.S. Society