Category Archives: The Internet

Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck Catch-Up: The Shots, the Hashtag, the Huckster and the Snub

steam train wreck

The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck is slowing down now, though passengers keep getting on board and it will surely pick up steam again.

Here are some recent ethics outrages, as Ethics Alarms tries to keep up:

1. The Shots:

CNN buys another seat on the train wreck

What’s wrong with this sentence? Don Lemon, CNN host, played a recording that was alleged to be of Officer Wilson shooting Michael Brown and preceded it by saying the tape had not been authenticated.

A burst of six shots can be heard, followed by a pause, and then several more shots, at least four. “He was in his apartment, he was talking to a friend on a video chat, he heard loud noises and at the moment — at the time he didn’t realize the import of what he was hearing until afterwards,” the lawyer for the unidentified man who made the recording told Lemon. “It just happened to capture 12 seconds of what transpired outside of his building.”

Almost immediately, speculation was rife that this called into question Wilson’s account, though we don’t know yet what that account is. IF the tape is accurate, this doesn’t look good for Wilson, opined one web reporter. Wait a minute! Why is CNN releasing anything that is not verified as authentic? Why not an unverified photo that purports to show a shadowy second shooter? Why not an unverified tape of Brown and a friend plotting to attack a police officer for fun? This isn’t evidence, and it isn’t news. It’s just chum in the water for a news media feeding frenzy, or more simply, crummy, irresponsible unethical journalism. Continue reading

26 Comments

Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, The Internet

Turning In Your Own Teen For Sexting?

sexting

I don’t understand this. I don’t understand the parents’ thinking at all.

I can understand reporting a child to the police who is a danger to others, who has committed a serious crime, who is a burgeoning sociopath or psychopath who needs to be stopped before something terrible occurs. I can understand when not doing so amounts to being an accessory and an accomplice. It has to be the most wrenching of parental decisions, but I understand these things.

This, however, I don’t understand.

In Dinwiddie County, Virginia, parents became suspicious, and checked their 13-year-old daughter’s cell phone and tablet. They discovered their daughter, soon to enter the eighth-grade, had been sending and receiving naked pictures of other teens, including those who were much older, 17 and 18.

CBS reports that the parents called in the sheriff’s office, even though it means that she might be charged with a crime.   “We did this now to protect her for now and in the future, because this could get worse. She could be taken,” she said.

She could also become the victim of an overzealous prosecutor, and end up in the criminal justice system for what is essentially pre-crime, become cynical and hardened before her time, and be permanently scarred, never to trust her parents again.

The story is sketchy, so there may be facts we don’t know. Before I would call the cops on my child at 13 for what is essentially high-tech flirting, I would consider..

  • Grounding her.
  • Taking away her electronic devices.
  • Getting her counseling.
  • Moving.

Wouldn’t you?

32 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Family, Gender and Sex, Romance and Relationships, The Internet

Why The Winooski Bacon Controversy Matters

bacon signLast week, Sneakers Bistro and Cafe in Winooski, Vermont removed a sign reading “Yield for Sneakers Bacon” from a garden at the Winooski Rotary after a woman who described herself as “a vegan and a member of a Muslim household” called the sign offensive in an online post.

“Given the large number of Muslim families in Winooski, as well as many others who do not eat pork for a variety of reasons, it seems unnecessary for this insensitive business sign to be at the city’s main crosswalk,” she wrote. Sneakers, obeying the growing U.S. cultural mandate that any individual has a veto over words and conduct that he or she finds offensive regardless of 1) whether it is offensive to anyone else and 2) whether the alleged offense is certifiably bats, apologized, and took the sign down.

I am happy to support that this decision did not play well, even in ultra-liberal Vermont, and under a barrage of criticism on the web and elsewhere, the Sneakers’ management posted the following message on its Facebook page, thus making their situation worse:

“We are here to serve people BREAKFAST, not politics. We removed the sign that was located on public property as a gesture of respect for our diverse community. There were also concerns raised about safety. Removing it was not a difficult decision. We still love bacon. We still love eggs. Please have the political conversation elsewhere.”

That idiotic statement was the disaster anyone conscious should have been able to predict it would be. And let’s be thankful this is still true. Tomorrow, Sneakers’ response may be standard operation procedure, even if ISIS doesn’t take over the country while the President is breaking par. Continue reading

30 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, The Internet, U.S. Society

Ice Bucket Challenge Ethics

Ice Bucket Challenge

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” is a silly, brilliant fund-raising device that has simultaneously increased public awareness of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, brought over 14 million more dollars of donated funds into the ALS Association than last year for research, and provided some priceless YouTube fare, ranging from celebrity drenchings to this…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4qADFNsDxE

Entertainment! Celebrities! Medical research! Charity! Public Education! How could there be anything unethical about such a phenomenon? Well, ethics often throw cold water on all manner of activities human beings crave, so it should not be too great a surprise that the “Ice Bucket Challenge” has generated quite a few ethics-based objections. Let’s examine the potential, alleged and actual ethical flaws of the current fad, and rate them on an Ethics Foul Scale from zero (No ethical concerns at all) to ten ( Very Unethical).

1. It’s dangerous.

Anything can be dangerous if you are not sufficiently careful, and the Ice Bucket Challenge had its consequentialist moment when four firefighters were injured, one very seriously, trying to help the marching band at Campbellsville University get dumped with ice water this week. Two firefighters were in the bucket of their truck’s ladder preparing to douse the students using a firehose when a surge of electricity jumped from nearby power lines and electrucuted them and two colleagues. This was just a freak accident, however. Unlike the so-called Facebook Fire Challenge, the ALS fundraisng stunt shouldn’t be perilous to anyone, as long as practitioners don’t get too grandiose or creative.

Ethics Foul Score:

0

2. It wastes water.

Continue reading

19 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Bioethics, Charity, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Philanthropy, Popular Culture, Public Service, Research and Scholarship, The Internet, Uncategorized

Is There An “Almost Naked Lovely Lawyer Principle”?

cathy-mccarthy

Not really.

But it’s complicated.

Cathy McCarthy (above) is a 2013 graduate of Loyola Law School-Los Angeles, and she is sounding the clarion call for the right of bikini model-lawyers to be taken seriously. She wrote…

I graduated law school a year ago after receiving an academic scholarship and passed the California Bar last November on my first try. I am also a model and have had moderate success, building fan base of over 26,000 people where I do mostly bikini promotions. Does this make me better or worse at my job? According to some people, it makes me unable to be taken “seriously” in the business community. In fact, two weeks ago, I was reprimanded by a coworker for my online presence and was told to “handle the situation.”I fought back and was ultimately let off the hook, but this is not the first time that I have faced backlash from colleagues who think that a lawyer should not also get the privilege of “looking hot in a bikini.”

Unlike the case with primary and secondary school teachers, where a published presence on the web that is sexually provocative can interfere with a healthy student-teacher relationship, there is no automatic impediment to a lawyer client relationship posed by the lawyer moonlighting as a bikini model, a fold-out, or even a porn star. The profession acknowledges this in several legal ethics opinions affirming lawyers’ First Amendment rights. Lawyers can express themselves any way they choose, provided that it does not undermine their ability to represent their clients in any way. Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, The Internet, Workplace

Ethics Dunce: Chris Blasko (Whoever He Is)

Chris's photo goes in the lower right...

Chris’s photo goes in the lower right…

A Chris Blasko proudly posts the following on Google Plus:

Today is a good day. I just had a call from a telemarketer. Did I yell and scream at them, you ask? Certainly not. Like a good IT administrator I put my skills to use for their benefit. Here’s how the conversation went:

Computer: “Press 9 to not be contacted in the future. Press 4 to speak to someone about your mortgage issues”
<presses 4>
TM: “Hello, are you having problems paying your mortgage?”
Me: “Hi, this is the IT department. We intercepted your call as we detected a problem with you phone and need to fix it.”
TM: “Oh… ok, well what do we need to do?”
Me: “We’re going to need to fix the settings by pressing 4-6-8 and * at the same time”
TM: “Ok, nothing happened.”
<alright, so he’s not using a Polycom>
Me: “Are you using the new Polycom phones that we deployed?”
TM: “No, it’s a Yealink”
Me: “Ok, I see. You haven’t had the new Polycom phone deployed to your desk yet. Let me check our technical documentations for the Yealink.”
<did a quick Google search, “yealink phone factory reset”>
Me: “Alright, do you see an “OK” button on your phone?”
TM: “Yes I do”
Me: “Alright, you’re going to press and hold that button for 10 seconds.”
TM: “OK, pressing it now”
Me: “Perfect, let me know if you get a password request”
TM: “OK, nothing has popped up ye-
<click>

That’s right. I made a telemarketer unwittingly factory reset his phone which means he will be unable to make anymore calls until someone is able to reconfigure his phone and that will take at least an hour or longer if they can’t do it right away!

I’m sure all of Chris’s fans think this is just the coolest thing in the world, but it’s really not. It’s just gratuitously mean. His victim’s employer is actually pretty ethical, since Chris could have pushed 9 to end the call and not be bothered in the future. Instead, he decided to make life miserable for some poor minimum wage earner in one of the most boring jobs on earth, who is probably trying to eke out a living and support his family during tough economic times. Continue reading

37 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet, Workplace

Unethical Website of the Month: Kio’s Asian Stir, Newport, Rhode Island

kios-asian-stir-I hate to pick on a small Chinese restaurant, but this kind of casual incompetence in an electronic age is ridiculous. Besides, I’m tired, hungry, and not in the mood to be tolerant.

I’m in Newport, you see, where I have  presented three-hour legal ethics seminars to two large and responsive groups of lawyers, courtesy of AON and the Rhode Island bar. My wife was kind enough to accompany me, and thus instead of returning from a seminar to a lonely hotel room and endless hours surfing cable TV, I am actually enjoying my surroundings for a change, driving around, checking out galleries, walking along the shore. The only persistent problem is meals. By the time I finish the seminar, talk with participants, get back to our bed-and-breakfast in scenic Newport and walk Rugby (he’s here too), it’s invariably 2:30 0r later; by the time we drive to Iggy’s or Flo’s (double yum) for clams, it’s 4:00, meaning that dinner is up against the hard, generally 9 PM deadline most kitchens observe around here, and the fact that I’m as fried as the clams we ate and barely able to move. This makes carry-out mandatory, but time is tight.

By this time we’re sick of pizza and sandwiches, so after perusing the options, and there goes another 20 minutes, we arrive at the perfect solution: the well-regarded Asian restaurant Kio’s, which is close by (everything is close-by; this is Rhode Island), delivers, and, it announces on it’s website, I can order on-line! See…

We are adding Online service to Kio’s Chinese Cuisine in Newport, RI. You can now online order your favorite chinese dishes such as Chicken Chow Mein, Shrimp with Cashew Nuts and Sauteed Mixed Vegetables. Order online is easy and fun. We provide fast Delivery too (minimum order $10). Order Now!

For the special experience of ordering online at Kio’s, try the link. There’s the tantalizing menu, but oddly, clicking on the various options accomplishes nothing. You will search in vain for a form or anything else that suggests “on-line order,” much less “easy and fun” on-line order. Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet, Unethical Websites