Category Archives: Leadership

Ethics Quiz: Ann Rice O’Hanlon’s Fresco


In 1934, under the auspices of the New Deal’s Public Works of Art program, artist Ann Rice O’Hanlon painted a fresco (the largest ever painted by a woman up to that time) in the University of Kentucky’s Memorial Hall. It has become famous and is much admired by art historians, and thousands of Kentucky students have walked past it through the decades. The large, six section artwork depicts many events, industries, traditions and activities that were significant to the state, invented in Kentucky or by Kentuckians, as well as historical events. Among the scenes shown are black slaves picking tobacco and black musicians serenading whites.

Ann Rice O’Hanlon’s masterpiece became the target of choice at Kentucky as the University ‘s black students were seeking to emulate the power plays by their equivalents at the University of Missouri, Yale, Amherst, Harvard Law, Dartmouth and other institutions. The Kentucky students held a meeting with president Eli Capilouto and argued that the fresco was offensive, as it relegated black people to roles as slaves or servants, and did not portray the cruelty of slavery and the later Jim Crow culture that existed in the state.  Capilouto capitulated, agreeing to move the work to “a more appropriate location.” In the meantime, Kentucky will cover up the 45-by-8-foot fresco while adding a sign explaining why the mural is obscured.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:

Should a university remove works of art on campus because particular groups of students or individual members of such groups find the artwork upsetting, offensive, or a negative influence on their experience?

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

Wow! Trump Tries a JUMBO!

Elephants from the Ringling Bro. and Barnum and Bailey Circus perform a nine-trunk salute.

Donald Trump is apparently testing yet another piece of political conventional wisdom. Having already conquered such long standings assumptions as “A Presidential candidate shouldn’t talk and act like a sixth grader” and  “A candidate shouldn’t embarrass his party every time he opens his mouth,” Trump is now setting his sights on the classic, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up,” but with an impressive extra challenge.

He is now trying to cover up the fact that he grotesquely mocked the disability of a New York Times reporter in a public appearance that was videotaped.

Trump actually is denying that he did what he was obviously doing. Very bold, very intrepid. It will be fascinating to see if he can pull it off.

Here’s Trump, after the Times excoriated him for ridiculing reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has arthrogryposis, a malady that  limits flexibility in his arms:

“Serge Kovaleski must think a lot of himself if he thinks I remember him from decades ago – if I ever met him at all, which I doubt I did. He should stop using his disability to grandstand and get back to reporting for a paper that is rapidly going down the tubes.”

Odd that Trump didn’t remember him, since before doing his “man with weird arm movements” bit he said quite clearly, “Now, the poor guy — you’ve got to see this guy…” One doesn’t normally call a reporter “a poor guy” for no reason, nor does one say, “You’ve got to see this guy” if you aren’t going to show the crowd what it is they have to see.”

Never mind, Trump is going for it: the full “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”, or as Jimmy Durante put it, in the show that gave the Ethics Alarms category it’s name, “Elephant? What elephant?” Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Jumbo, Leadership

And Speaking Of Turkeys, Here Are Random Observations On Donald Trump’s Handicapped Times Reporter Impression

1. Stay classy, Donald.

2. Yes, I agree, it is refreshing to have a politician on the scene who does not hide his true self, does not calibrate his words and opinions to what people want to hear or what journalists and pundits will approve, does not suddenly speak in a Southern accent in front of crowds south of the Mason-Dixon line or pose as a lifetime Yankee fan in the Big Apple. Okay, it’s a novelty to have an asshole who has the integrity to openly behave like the asshole he is.


How are people missing this?

3. One theory is that Trump has chosen this week to go all out to see if there is anything he can say or do so beneath the dignity of the office he is seeking and so repugnant to core American values that the idiots supporting him will finally wake up and say, “What was I thinking?”

If so, his experiment is working well.

And yes, it is fair to identify anyone who supports Donald Trump at this point as an idiot.

4. Please ask the Donald Trump fans at  your Thanksgiving dinner whether this is really how they want to see their President behaving in public. If #2 above is correct, I assume that he’ll eventually don a Hillary mask, glue a herring to his forehead, and recite dirty limericks while riding on the Spinning Teacups ride in Disneyland nude.  Hell, why not?

5. Imagine:Democrats decided that they didn’t want Howard Dean to be President based on this…

Donald Trump makes Howard Dean look like Henry Higgins. Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Leadership

From Princeton, Something To Be Thankful For: The Princeton Open Campus Coalition


If the  plague of students ordering administrators to protect them from the stress of contrary views and unwelcome thoughts on campuses is not to reduce the U.S. academic environment to an apartheid, indoctrinating disgrace, it is obviously going to have to be the rational side of the student populations that staves off disaster. Fortunately, the Princeton Ethics Heroes Allie Burton, Evan Draim, Josh Freeman, Sofia Gallo,  Solveig Gold, Andy Loo, Sebastian Marotta,  Devon Naftzger, Beni Snow, Josh Zuckerman and their colleagues at Princeton Open Campus Coalition are equal to the task.

The students covered their institution in glory by delivering this civil and well-reasoned rebuke to the outrageous demands of the Black Justice League, which occupied Princeton administration building earlier this week. Here is their letter:

Dear President Eisgruber,

We write on behalf of the Princeton Open Campus Coalition to request a meeting with you so that we may present our perspectives on the events of recent weeks. We are concerned mainly with the importance of preserving an intellectual culture in which all members of the Princeton community feel free to engage in civil discussion and to express their convictions without fear of being subjected to intimidation or abuse.

Thanks to recent polls, surveys, and petitions, we have reason to believe that our concerns are shared by a majority of our fellow Princeton undergraduates. Academic discourse consists of reasoned arguments. We simply wish to present our own reasoned arguments and engage you and other senior administrators in dialogue. We will not occupy your office, and, though we respectfully request a minimum of an hour of your time, we will only stay for as long as you wish. We will conduct ourselves in the civil manner that is our hope to maintain and reinforce as the norm at Princeton. Continue reading


Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, History, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

Have A Happy Thanksgiving Everyone, And Don’t Forget To Review The Ethics Alarms Complete “It’s A Wonderful Life” Ethics Guide Before The Annual TV Screening!

It’s right here!


Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Family, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Love, Popular Culture, Romance and Relationships

From Duke: Unethical Black College Student Demands Of The Week



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Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Leadership, Race, Rights

Hoping That Future Presidential Candidates Won’t Be Asked About Whether They Would Kill Baby Trump


I refused to weigh in on the brief and silly ethics question being asked of various Presidential candidates regarding whether they would kill Baby Hitler given the chance via DeLorean or Star Trek gateway or something similar. I am beginning to wonder, though, if candidates to lead whatever is left of the U.S. 50 years from now will be asked a similar question about killing Baby Trump.

I have written…

Donald Trump’s revolting candidacy…cannot fairly be called the most unethical presidential candidacy, but it is early yet. It may well prove to be one of the most harmful. As the United States faces some of the most difficult challenges in its history, Trump has chosen to use the nation’s process of deciding on its leader for his own ego gratification and self-promotion, without  preparation for the job, deference to fair campaign rhetoric, or acknowledgment of his own fatal flaws as a candidate. Exploiting his status as a media celebrity in a celebrity-besotted culture, as well as the news media’s lack of discipline or principle, he is opportunistically advancing his candidacy on the lack of credible GOP contenders, using tabloid headline tactics….Donald Trump is perfectly happy to make a mockery of the presidential nomination and election processes while distorting them too. If he manages to convince enough fools to vote for him, hell, sure…he’d have a blast running for President. If his run peters out, it’s still worth lots of publicity, and increases the value of the Trump “brand.” Even the most unethical of the previous candidacies were based on a sincere, if misguided belief that the country’s welfare would be served by it. Does Trump have that belief? I wonder. No, his can’t be called the most unethical candidacy. But it is reckless, and it is intentionally appealing to the worst in 21st Century American character: fear, celebrity worship, ignorance, and materialism. Meanwhile, every second of attention his candidacy distracts from serious consideration of our nation’s leadership reduces the chances of the public doing its hardest and most important job carefully and competently.

I wrote that five years ago. Continue reading


Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership