Category Archives: The Internet

When Do Private Text Messages Between Two Individuals Justify Punishment?

text

I’d like to say “never,” except that when especially offensive private text messages become public, they aren’t private any more. As with e-mails, any time you send a text message that you know will embarrass you if it falls into malign hands or is seen by righteous eyes, you have authored the means of your potential destruction.

That’s not right, but that’s the way of the world.

Thus a Washburn University Phi Delta Theta fraternity member posted a photo of a man with a topless woman in bed as part of a fraternity text exchange following a chain of crude text messages between frat members. These were obtained by The Topeka Capital-Journal on a slow news day—Wow! Stop the presses! College guys are crude!-–and before you could say “thought control,” the national Phi Delta Theta organization suspended the Topeka campus chapter.

“We are very concerned by the messages reviewed thus far. Phi Delta Theta is a values-based organization and any behavior or statement contrary to those values is subject to significant action,” Phi Delta Theta spokesman Sean Wagner said in a statement. Naturally, the chapter president then grovelled an apology. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, The Internet

The Irony Of Wikileaks: Yes, It Is Despicable…But It’s Still Useful To Know That PBS, Ben Affleck And Prof. Henry Lewis Gates Are Despicable Too.

Batman is ashamed of you, Ben...

Batman is ashamed of you, Ben…

Once a secret is out, it isn’t a secret any more. Once privacy is shattered, it’s gone: that egg can’t be put back together again. I wish Sony’s e-mails hadn’t been hacked: everyone who isn’t operating under a policy that mandates that their communications must be archived and available for media and public examination, like, oh, say, Hillary Clinton, has a right to have private business and personal communication.

Julian Assange is a fick, and an uncommonly arrogant one. He encourages, aids and abets the theft of proprietary information in the interests of world anarchy, which is in the interests of nobody. So let’s see now…North Korea hacks Sony to chill our First Amendment rights, and Wikileaks helps magnify the damage by spreading private e-mails and documents far and wide.

Yechhh.

But it’s all out there now, and there is no virtue in averting our eyes and plugging our ears. There is a lot of unethical conduct exposed in those 30,000 documents and 170,000 emails hacked from Sony, and while the means by which it was exposed was illegal and wrong, we should still learn from what is now public information.

The fact that PBS and Harvard prof Henry Louis Gates Jr. can’t be trusted, for example, is good to know. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Jumbo, Race, Rights, The Internet

Quotation Ethics: Maya Angelou and the Stamp of Incompetence

Angelou stamp

Yesterday the Post Office unveiled its new Maya Angelou stamp. The earlier announcement of the stamp had me sighing; Angelou is proof that affirmative action can be applied to the arts, distorting artistic taste, standards and values in the process. I would rank her talent as a poet near that of the recently deceased Rod Mckuen, but he was not black, a civil rights advocate or female, so his work was judged more or less on its merits. Angelou, in contrast, is called “an icon.” The idea of a stamp honoring the much derided McKuen would have been reflexively mocked; ah, well, fame is fickle.

There is no excuse for the stamp itself, however. Fame may be fickle, but the Postal Service is obligated to be professional, diligent and competent like any other government agen—STOP LAUGHING!!!.

The poet’s “quote” on the Angelou stamp is “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

Maya Angelou didn’t say it or write it, at least, not before another author did. The exact quote appears on Page 15 of “A Cup of Sun,” a book by Joan Walsh Anglund, copyright 1967. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Public Service, Quotes, Research and Scholarship, The Internet

Double Standard Chronicles: Why Is Mocking The Rolling Stones For Their Appearance More Ethical Than Fat-Shaming Kelly Clarkson?

Rolling Stones

It isn’t. It is just as wrong.

Fox’s Chris Wallace has apologized for making a gratuitous and unkind crack about pop singer Kelly Clarkson’s weight on a conservative talk radio show (he was suckered into it by the host, Mike Gallagher, who has also apologized to Clarkson.)

Today I have seen the above graphic circulating on Facebook with many “likes” and snarky comments about Mick and Keith’s faces.

My restrained reply is “Shut up, jerks, and show some respect.

Original members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts are over 70 now. Nevertheless, they are embarking on another North America tour. They can still play, in some ways better than ever; Mick can still sing, and can still dance like a chicken. The Stones show passion and professionalism in every performance; those who have seen their concerts leave amazed. The Stones are not like the Beach Boys or the Turtles, croaking out 50-year-old hits to grandparents at county fairs. The Stones can still rock, still have musical integrity, still give their audiences their money’s worth and then some.

I wonder how many of the Facebook trolls writing about how the Stones, who are going to be 73 this year, look old—they are old, and so what? What exactly are they supposed to do about that?—know how hard performing at a professional level is, how exhausting it is, how it impossible to get to sleep for hours after a show because you are soaked with adrenaline, and how much wear and tear it places on the body, emotions and mind.

My guess? Very few. And very few of these obnoxious critics will be able to walk upstairs quickly at the age that the Stones are still rocking arenas. I give three hour, interactive ethics seminars, and I’m a lively speaker. After about two seminars in a week with the related travel, I am fried—and the Stones are expending more energy, more often, then I am. They are also a decade older than I am. I can’t be certain I’ll be able to do my Ethics Chicken Dance when I’m 73. They are an inspiration. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Etiquette and manners, Popular Culture, Professions, The Internet

Ethics Dunce: Tucker Carlson (No, I Mean Seriously, This Guy Is Really, REALLY An Ethics Dunce!!!)

Oh NO!!! Tucker Carlson is trapped by a conflict of interest! I'm coming, Tucker...just hold on! I'M COMING!!!!

Oh NO!!! Tucker Carlson is trapped by a conflict of interest! I’m coming, Tucker…just hold on! I’M COMING!!!!

Tucker Carlson is the founder and publisher of the conservative commentary and news site, The Daily Caller. In this post, I recently discussed Carlson’s ethical obtuseness in pulling a column by a Daily Caller contributor because it criticized Fox News, where Carlson has a gig as a weekend host of the network’s embarrassing happy conservative talk morning news show. I wrote,

The conflicts of interest on display here, the insensitivity to them, and the lack of any pretense of journalistic fairness or integrity is staggering. Carlson has placed The Daily Caller in the same, discredited ethics no-man’s land of Media Matters, Move-on.org, the Daily Kos and other sites that blatantly distort the news and their commentary on it for specific, ideological and personal agendas, and a personal agenda is the most unethical and cynical conflict of all. Carlson likes his Fox paycheck, apparently. Well, then, his ethical obligation is to have an independent journalist edit his website. In the alternative, he needs to refuse to work for Fox unless the network agrees to allow him full reign to say and write what he believes on his website, and to allow others to do so as well.

Apparently Carlson doesn’t read Ethics Alarms—I am shocked and disappointed—and moreover, has the imagination and ethics problem-solving skills of a banana slug.  Mediaite reports that he was discussing his ethics problem with RealClearPolitics, and admitted that he was totally flummoxed about what to do, poor dear:

“I have two rules,” Carlson said, “One is you can’t criticize the families of the people who work here, and the other is you can’t go after Fox” because he works there. Sigh. “Yes, it’s a conflict, for sure…but I don’t know what to do about it.” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, The Internet

Well-Earned But Wrong: The Parody Website And The Attack On Memories Pizza

Memoriespizza

It is difficult to work up much sympathy for Memories Pizza, the Indiana pizza place that rushed to be known as the first business to announce that it plans on refusing to serve gay customers under the cover of Indiana’s new and poorly thought-out religious freedom law.  Oh, I agree that it was thoughtful of the owners to help show that the law, regardless of the neutral words used, was intended to be a rallying point for anti-gay advocates who want to fight back against what they see as a frightening cultural shift that they don’t understand and can’t accept, but the owners are still, to be blunt, morons.

Announcing that the law would allow them to refuse to cater a gay wedding, they injected their biases into a debate they were neither legally, ethically, morally or intellectually equipped to participate in. Crystal O’Connor, whose family owns the small-town pizzeria, spouted off  that “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,”  as the national debate over the law was heating up. Well, no, Crystal, you wouldn’t have to, and the law probably wouldn’t protect you if you did. Baking pizza is not the exercise of religion, and nothing in the Bible says “Thou shalt not send pizza to the reception of a wedding you disapprove of.

I just heard one of the law’s supporters from a “family values” group that spends much of its time, words and money attacking homosexuality swear to Chris Cuomo on CNN that the law has nothing whatsoever to do with Indiana embracing anti-gay bigots (and tricking them into thinking that stunts like Crystal’s are acceptable). “It’s about conscience, ” he intoned, without giggling. But the law says nothing about conscience either.It prevents the government from  substantially burdening the exercise of religion. Catering an event, religious or not, is not a religious act, nor is a wedding reception a religious ceremony. It is no more legitimate to say that your conscience forbids you from selling pizza to strangers than it is to say that your conscience forbids you from letting a transsexual into your cab. O’Connor, not surprisingly, doesn’t comprehend the law. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Love, Rights, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites

The Case Of The Too Candid Catholic Teacher

"You can unzip it, Patricia, when you work somewhere else...."

“You can unzip it, Patricia, when you work somewhere else….”

Apparently I missed another “media firestorm,” so allow me to catch up, particularly since the analysis of this story has been muddled beyond comprehension.

Patricia Jannuzzi, a religion teacher at Somerville’s Immaculata High School, posted this on her personal Facebook page:

jannuzzi-fb-post

This being the internet, after all, someone sent it far and wide, with resulting embarrassment to the school. Jannuzzi, a theology teacher with Immaculata for 33 years, was ordered to de-activate her Facebook page after an online petition   demanded that she be punished. Jannuzzi was placed on administrative leave,  and the school administration notified alumni, parents and students, in a letter that said in part,

“This episode has reflected not only on this teacher but, by extension, on Immaculata High SchoolWe regret deeply any hurt this has caused to any individuals and the negative light in which it has cast our school….Although these were posts to a personal social media page, Immaculata High School recognizes the need to ensure that our faculty, staff and students full understand the behaviors expected of them as members of our community and recognize our intolerance of discriminatory behaviors of any kind.”

Points: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Gender and Sex, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, The Internet