Category Archives: Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Edna Gladney (1888-1961)

Edna Gladney

I am ashamed to admit that I never heard of Edna Gladney before I chanced upon a late night Turner Movie Classics showing of the 1941 biopic “Blossoms in the Dust,” which earned the great Greer Garson one of her many Academy Award nominations for her portrayal of Gladney (that’s Greer as Edna on the left). I was unaware of Gladney’s amazing life, legacy and contributions to society because 1) I’m not from Texas; 2) it is hard to learn about great people that society forgets about, and 3) feminists aren’t doing their job, perhaps because a strong and indomitable woman whose life was devoted to saving unwanted children rather than preventing their existence doesn’t interest them as much as it should.

Yet Gladney is exactly the kind of woman whose life should inspire young girls today, and young men too, for that matter. Still,  I recently asked 18 randomly chosen friends and acquaintances who Edna Gladney was, and not one of them knew.

And most of them didn’t know who Greer Garson was, either.

Sigh. Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Public Service, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, U.S. Society

The Harvard Law Student’s Formula For An Ethical Life

Yes, I hate my job, and yes, my clients are the scum of the Earth, and yes, my life sucks. But think of all the kids I can help get de-wormed!

Yes, I hate my job, and yes, my clients are the scum of the Earth, and yes, my life sucks. But think of all the kids I can help get de-wormed!

When I heard about the Harvard Law Record’s essay by law student Bill Barlow titled “Want To Save The World? Do Biglaw,” I mistakenly  assumed that he had made a persuasive, or at least coherent, utilitarian argument. After all, some fairly distinguished blogs took notice, and set about rebutting him. I was shocked when I actually read the piece. From what I can tell, Barlow understands nothing he was writing about—not the profession of law, not charity, not careers, not values, not law firms, not ethics, not money, not life. Why is someone who thinks like this in law school? What are law schools accepting people capable of writing this? Why is Harvard allowing someone this naive and shallow to display a Harvard degree?

This is literally all there is of substance to the article:

“So there you have it—be a corporate lawyer, donate 25% of your post tax income to charity, and save 150 lives a year, or de-worm 25,000 kids.  Alternatively, go into Public Interest, Government, or Academia, and feel warm and fuzzy about yourself.  Sadly, when people at this school talk about public service, they mean the latter, rather than the former.  If only people applied the same amount of cognitive skill used in just one LSAT logic game to the most critical question of what to do with their law degree, hundreds of lives could be saved.”

Ugh. Where to begin? Continue reading

27 Comments

Filed under Character, Charity, Childhood and children, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, Workplace

Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck Monday Morning Update: Taking Sides

When do competent, rational, fair, responsible, ethical citizens, officials, journalists and organizations take sides in a racially charged controversy involving a law enforcement officer and an individual shot and killed by that officer in an incident where the circumstances and provocation have  yet to be verified?

Simple: they don’t.

So how do we explain and characterize the decisions of so many citizens, officials, journalists and organizations to take sides in the Michael Brown shooting by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson? That’s simple too.

They are neither competent, rational, fair, responsible, nor ethical.

Thus we add to the passenger list of the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck the following, who publicly took sides this weekend and today:

  • The Obama Administration. Three White House representatives will attend Brown’s funeral. This signals an official acceptance of the Brown family narrative, at this point completely unverified, that police misconduct and racism were involved in the death of their son, or if not, and I’m sure the White House will have some spin to dispute this, that is how it will be perceived by activists and how the White House wants it to be perceived. This may be good politics (though I don’t think intentional divisiveness is good, but the White House and I differ on that point), but it is horrible leadership, and a slap in the fact to all law enforcement, which is now being told by those representing the President of the United States that it is presumed to be in the wrong when there is a controversy over the exercise of force involving an African American

Continue reading

52 Comments

Filed under Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, Race

The Ethics Scrooge On The Starbucks Pay-It-Forward Ponzi Scheme

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The Ethics Scrooge here.

If you think I’m going to get all misty eyed about the “random acts of kindness” fun and games Florida Starbucks customers have been amusing themselves with lately,  you are sadly mistaken.

The happy-talk story of the week—and I admit, the nation needed one—concerned a St. Petersburg, Florida Starbucks where an early morning customer at the drive-through window decided to “pay it forward” and buy coffee for the next person in line.That customer emulated the spirit of the Kevin Spacey weepie,  and bought a drink for the next person in line at the drive-through, and so it continued throughout the day, with 378 customers purchasing drinks for the strangers in line behind them, a so-called altruism chain that lasted 11 hours.

Awww. Continue reading

86 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity

Ethics Hero Emeritus (Independence Day Division): John Dickinson (1732-1808)

Villainous, singing version on the left; heroic, real life version on the right.

Villainous, singing version on the left; heroic, real life version on the right.

It is the American patriot John Dickinson’s curse that the very strength of character that caused him to stand out among the other Founders and that led them to respect him as much or more than any other also made him the black sheep in the inspiring tale of American independence. This led to relative obscurity. Although Dickinson is honored (along with his wife) by Dickinson College, Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University, and University of Delaware’s Dickinson Complex, he is largely unknown to most Americans. He would be even less known, had Peter Stone not chosen to make him the villain of his 1969Tony-winning musical “1776,” where he was portrayed as a conservative loyalist who almost single-handedly foils the efforts of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin to declare independence from Great Britain. Whatever that choice’s dramatic virtues, it was unfair to Dickinson in every way.

Raised a Quaker, educated as a lawyer and a farmer by trade, Dickinson began public life in 1760 when he was elected to the Delaware legislature. During the next fifteen years he served both in that body and in the Pennsylvania legislature, a rare dual service made possible because he owned property in both colonies.

When the British Parliament instituted measures in the Colonies to raise revenue and provide for the quartering of British troops, Dickinson was one of the most eloquent and persuasive critics of the Crown, always with the intention of finding a satisfactory negotiated accord that did not involve the threat of armed rebellion. He urged Americans to rely primarily on economic pressure to oppose the hated Stamp Act, and he enlisted the influence of British merchants on the colonists’ behalf. His diplomatic orientation seemed like a prudent antidote to the firebrands calling for revolution in Boston, so the Pennsylvania legislature appointed him to represent that colony at the Stamp Act Congress of 1765. There he advocated the proposition that reconciliation was possible if the King and Parliament would only realize that colonial opposition was in the grand tradition English principles of political liberty. Dickinson set his reasoning to paper in his “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania,” a series of deft essays that brought Dickinson international fame as a man of reason and principle. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, War and the Military

Animal Abuse, Law, Ethics…And More Cognitive Dissonance

Gothic pets

Some animal abuse issues are ethics slam dunks, some should be, and some are more complicated than the wo people posture over them seem to think. Here are three examples from the news:

1. Tattooed Kittens?

A law about to be passed in New York, S.6769, will make it illegal for pet owners to inflict tattoos or piercings on their pets except for medical purposes or when a tattoo is used strictly for identification purposes. Violations would carry fines of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

“I believe that if given the choice, animals would decline to having themselves undergo a painful procedure of being either tattooed or pierced,” said New York State Senator Mark Grisanti, a Republican who is supporting the measure introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Rosentha in 2011.

Ya think? The fact that a law would even be necessary to articulate that tattooing or piercing a pet for the owner’s amusement is horribly wrong and obvious cruelty foretells the approaching apocalypse.  That such a law would take three years to pass also tells us something bad about, oh, New York, politics, partisan warfare, human intelligence…just about everything. The problem, was brought to public attention by the prosecution of this idiot.

2. The Opossum Drop Continue reading

23 Comments

Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, U.S. Society, Workplace

Ethics Quiz: The Sensitive Cop’s Facebook Confession

sensitive cop“If there was any time I despised wearing a police uniform, it was yesterday at the Capitol during the water rally. A girl I know who frequents the Capitol for environmental concerns looked at me and wanted me to participate with her in the event. I told her I have to remain unbiased while on duty at these events. She responded by saying, ‘You’re a person, aren’t you?’ That comment went straight through my heart!”

Thus did Douglas Day, a police officer at the West Virginia Capitol in Charleston, confess to Facebook friends his mixed emotions while doing his duty.

For this he was fired.

The day Day wrote his Facebook post, Capitol Police Lt. T.M. Johnson told him  that the post “shows no respect to the department, the uniform or the law enforcement community which he represents.”  About a week later, Sgt. A.E. Lanham Jr. wrote to Day that he “found the entire [Facebook] posting to be extremely offensive and shocking … This is just another episode of many incidents which show his bad attitude and lack of enthusiasm toward police work in general and toward our department in particular.”

Day was thunderstruck. “If they believed there was some sort of a violation I made, then why wasn’t it addressed? They never brought me in and never said anything to me,” Day said. “In 2½ years working there, I had no disciplinary action taken against me at any time. Nothing was ever written up and I received no reprimands.” So much for the “many incidents.” Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Character, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, Quizzes, Rights, The Internet