Category Archives: The Internet

Selfie Ethics: Yes, Big Papi Exploited The President

Ortiz-Obama-Selfie.jpg

I wrote about this ethical breach when Ellen DeGeneris did it at the Oscars. The short version is this:

“It’s unethical to pretend that a selfie is a spontaneous  gesture of fun and friendship when you have a commercial agreement in place to use the photograph in a way that promotes the cell phone manufacturer.”

This is exploitation for commercial gain, and it’s wrong. It’s wrong when the victims are movie stars, and it’s wrong when the exploited party is President of the United States. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Etiquette and manners, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Tweet

Obamacare Game Plan: The Lies Worked, Now On To Deceit

gameplan

As President Obama was in the midst of his unseemly, unwise and typically unleaderlike victory lap over the Obamacare sign-up figures, Tonight Show comic Jimmy Fallon had the cheek to point out that it’s amazing how many people will sign up for something when the law says they have to. (In a slightly different version of the same point, Daily Standard editor Bill Kristol said on ABC today that this is like  saying, “…you’ve got to give the Soviet Union a lot of credit. 200 million people bought bread in their grocery stores. If it’s the only place you can buy health insurance, they’re going to get people to buy health insurance there.”)

Yes, that would be an example of the near constant spin and deception that the President and Democrats have been relentlessly throwing at the American public regarding the “success” of the Affordable Care Act.

The way I would put it, as indeed I did when I was shouting at the TV screen during the President’s statement in the wake of the final totals on March 31, is that how many people sign up for the Affordable Care Act doesn’t make the law successful. Whether the law accomplishes its goals at an acceptable cost will determine if the law is successful. Whether the government proves to be capable—as all evidence to date suggests it isn’t—of administering such a complex and wide-reaching law will determine if it’s successful. Most of all, the fact that the law almost certainly can’t be repealed now doesn’t make the Affordable Care Act a success, and any politician who thinks that way should be despised and distrusted.

No law should ever be beyond the possibility of rejection or repeal, if it becomes obvious that it was poorly conceived or that another approach would be better. I understand that’s not the way our busted system currently “works,” as horrible, expensive, corrupt, unworkable and wrongful laws routinely become imbedded in bureaucratic cement, and that the last large scale law to be repealed was probably Prohibition. This forward-ratcheting effect is one of the factors that makes our growing debt so frightening, as our leaders lack both the will and the means to stop anything, no matter how ill-considered, once it has a budget and a lobby. But for any national leader, especially the President, to celebrate this dangerous and dysfunctional feature of American lawmaking is profoundly disturbing, and demonstrates a preference for political warfare over governing. (This is perhaps, understandable in Obama’s case, as he is adept at the former and hopelessly inept at the latter.)

The goal, may I remind all participants, is to come up with policies that are good for the nation, not to “win” by inflicting laws that the other side can never remove. “HA! We won! Now you’ll never be able to repeal the lousy law we rammed down the country’s throat!” (of course, I’m paraphrasing) is unseemly, and shows toxic and unethical priorities .

Whether the verdict on the ACA law is ultimately positive or not—and despite what the pols say, the jury is obviously still out—it should never be forgotten or forgiven that its path has been paved with lies. Yet another one came to light this week. Leading up to March 31, press releases, tweets and blog posts from the Administration emphasized that the last day in March was the final opportunity to get health insurance in 2014, as in this White House blog post on the so-called “deadline”:

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, The Internet

Ethical Quote Of The Week: Andrew Sullivan

You are dead to me, Firefox. Tell your mama.

You are dead to me, Firefox. Tell your mama.

“Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us”

—-Blogging pioneer and gay rights advocate Andrew Sullivan, writing yesterday about Mozilla’s craven capitulation to gay rights bullies who demanded the removal of new CEO Brendan Eich “who had the gall to express his First Amendment rights and favor Prop 8 in California by donating $1,000.”

Corporations, as the Duck Dynasty flap depressingly illustrated, tend to be spineless, irresolute and principle-free. This instance of that tendency, however, is more alarming and harmful than most. Capitulating to arrogant, self-righteous, power-hungry forces on the left or right only makes them more voracious: we will know who to thank first when boycotts abound demanding that anyone who questioned Al Gore’s climate change hysteria be sacked.

Thank you, Mozilla.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Quotes, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, The Internet, U.S. Society, Workplace

Unethical Website of the Month: “I Love Dogs”

This isn't the puppy in the post, but I've been looking for an excuse use this photo...

This isn’t the puppy in the post, but I’ve been looking for an excuse use this photo…

I love dogs too, but encouraging people to beat alleged animal abusers to the verge of death just doesn’t seem right to me. I’m funny that way.

Indeed, I wonder about the values and mental stability of those who think this is a rational and ethical response to the perpetrator of any kind of crime, not just animal abuse.

“I Love Dogs” has sent into the web a virtual “Wanted Poster” with a photo of a real human being, ostensibly a canine abuser who “nearly beat this pup”—also pictured—”to death.” The poster suggests that readers should share the poster if they “believe that he deserves the same.”

Sure enough, many do. The post has gleaned many thousands of likes, about 5000 shares, and a wave of comments like those that follow here. I’ve included the names of the posters, who obviously didn’t think their comments were anything to be ashamed of. I wish I could include the thousands more like them, but there is too much anonymity in crowds. Posting the commenters’ names that appear below is a public service. I suggest avoiding them. Also proofreading their work, as they all appear to have dropped out of the third grade…

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Filed under Animals, Character, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites

Further Thoughts On “The Vampire Candidate”

dracula for congress

I don’t want to make this Vampire Day, but after reading the comments so far on today’s Ethics Quiz involving Florida Congressional candidate/ fantasy vampire role-play enthusiast Jake Rush, I realize that the original post omitted some important points and queries. Here, in no particular order, are my further thoughts:

  • The Ick Factor? Both conservative and liberal commentators are ridiculing Rush, essentially concluding that his hobby disqualifies him as a serious candidate. The most quoted source referred to the images embraced by Rush’s role-playing group as “disturbing,” “bizarre,” and “unsettling.” Do these reactions signal a rejection of Rush’s values, or is this a clear-cut example of the “Ick Factor,” which is often mistaken for unethical conduct? Strange does not mean wrong or unethical.
  • Trust. When we elect leaders, we must trust them. “Strange” by definition suggests unpredictability; if we don’t understand why people do what they do, it is hard for us to know how they will behave, and if we don’t know how they will behave, we can’t rationally trust them.
  • Integrity. I should have raised the issue of integrity, for it is critical to the problem. Integrity is essential to trust, and a candidate like Rush raises the question: “Who, or what, is this guy?” Is he a “straight-shooting” conservative who likes to play vampire in his spare time, just like some politicians like to play poker or watch synchronized swimming (now that’s what I call weird), or is he a wannabe creature of the night who is just playing a conservative Republican in the daytime to conform to the expectations of conventional society? If there is doubt about that, then his integrity is in question.

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Filed under U.S. Society, Arts & Entertainment, Government & Politics, The Internet, Leadership, Character

Unethical Quote of the Month: OkCupid

Not OK...

Not OK…

“Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid. Politics is normally not the business of a website, and we all know there’s a lot more wrong with the world than misguided CEOs. So you might wonder why we’re asserting ourselves today. This is why: we’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together. If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.”

-—Dating website OkCupid, calling for a boycott of Mozilla, including Firefox, its webserving software, because of the past political/social/religious views of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich

Full disclosure: 1) I use Firefox. 2) I detest boycotts,and 3) I am biased against them by nature, because they are almost always coercive, extortive, and unfair.

This statement, however, has more wrong with it than just its advocacy of a boycott.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Quotes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Love, Religion and Philosophy, Romance and Relationships, The Internet, U.S. Society

I Repeat: April Fools Day Is Not For Ethical Professionals

april-fools-day-banner

In a much attacked post here way back in 2010, I offered some ethical guidelines for April Fool’s Day, which was just beginning to get out of hand. I was right, my critics were wrong, and maybe some of the mockers who are now trying to figure out when their favorite news organization is lying to them today for fun, as opposed to the rest of the year when it lies to them out of bias or incompetence, are beginning to appreciate my position.

I just watched three different morning news shows that contained fake news or commentary that the reporters and anchors, at least, seemed to think was hilarious. In one case, on Fox, conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham dead-panned a remarkably even-handed and fair explanation for HHS Secretary Sibelius’s much-maligned TV silence when asked about the Affordable Care Act’s unpopularity.  April Fool! Laura wasn’t being fair or objective, she was just tricking Fox’s audience into being angry at her for being fair and objective, or, in my case, admiring her integrity for pointing out that the incident had more than one plausible interpretation. Got me, Laura. I just heard an NPR host plead with the audience not to regard the upcoming segment as a hoax because of the date, an especially difficult plea since NPR springs virtual hoaxes on its audience all year.

The first and most important of my April Fools guidelines was this:

1. April Fools’ Day tricks are not for professionals to play on those who depend on them, trust them, or otherwise rely on them for information or services, unless there is a special relationship as well. The risks of harm and abuse are too great.

The succeeding four years have validated my position. Journalism, government and politics are the prime examples. CNN played a video that showed Jay Carney crowing yesterday about the Affordable Care Act’s success even as the Healthcare.gov website had crashed. Wait..is this a joke? Did the Obama White House film this for fun and games? They wouldn’t do this, you say? Government officials don’t use their high office for jokes and hoaxes? Really?

Sen. Ted Cruz, also on Fox, showed his new tattoo, apparently an April Fools’ joke, but also said he was certain that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed. Which is more likely, that the AFA will be repealed, or that wacky Ted Cruz would get a tattoo? Slate has a post up by someone called Rehan Salan, which is, clearly, a clever anagram for “En Anal Rash” or something, arguing that adults without children should be forced to pay extra taxes to support parents. Hah! Good one, Slate! That should turn the “pro choice” crowd on its head: lets; punish the choice not to have children via a penalty—I’m sorry, Chief Justice Roberts, a tax, wink-wink. Wait…that isn’t a joke? Ok, well, I’m sure about this, then: that fake video showing famous tough guy Don Baylor, a record holder for being hit by pitches when he played and now a coach for the Los Angeles Angels, “breaking his leg” catching the ceremonial first pitch of the baseball season. April Fools, right ESPN? No????

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Professions, The Internet, U.S. Society

The “Too Handsome To Rape” Defense

Sharper, Mathis, Ted Bundy.

Sharper, Mathis, Ted Bundy.

For whatever reason, there have been a lot of attacks on the legal profession lately—and some from within the legal profession—because of so-called “disgusting” and “frivolous” arguments by lawyers who are zealously representing their clients. These range from outrage over the so-called “affluenza” defense (which, it apparently does no good to point out, was explicitly rejected by the judge in that case), to the law suit against the Glendale, California memorial to women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese in World War II, to the argument that Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy was complicit in his son’s allegedly murdering his girlfriend because Remy hired a lawyer who mounted a vigorous defense in the son’s earlier domestic abuse arrests.

Lawyers are ethically obligated to advance whatever non-frivolous arguments and theories that are most likely to achieve their clients’ objectives, whether it is avoiding prison or rationalizing the crimes of the Japanese army. That is their job and societal function, and it is essential to our avoiding a jack-boot system where any of us could be thrown in jail by popular opinion or government edict. The laws are there to be used by every citizen, even when the citizen’s objectives are unethical, or when the citizen is a cur.

Our rights are all protected well by this principle, and it’s high time we stopped bitching about it.

Undeterred by this, however, yet another defense attorney is being savaged in the news media and blogosphere, as well as by women’s rights advocates, for making an argument in defense of his client that they find offensive. In Georgia, Darriuos Mathis and his legal team are making the argument, among their efforts to show that the evidence against him is not sufficiently conclusive, that Mathis is too attractive--fit, handsome, sexy– to have to resort to kidnapping and raping a 24-year-old woman two years ago, which is what he charged with.

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet

Almost An Ethics Quiz: The Comment In The Queue

temptation

I awoke this morning to a polite, well-written, credible comment—to an older post—that immediately sparked an ethical dilemma. Maybe you can help me out.

The comment reveals unpleasant personal details about the commenter’s past encounters with a blogger who has prompted some controversy on Ethics Alarms, episodes that mark the blogger as a jerk of the highest order. Indeed, I had already diagnosed Blogger X as a jerk, and written about it. This is difficult to explain without revealing the identity of the blogger—let’s just say that his writings that attracted my attention complained about a phenomenon that was far better explained, at least in his case, by his character than the causes his many posts attributed to it.

Normally, this would be an easy call. I have frequently removed similar ad hominem attacks on some of you (you didn’t know that, I bet!). Settling old scores is not what this site is for, and the comment in question would usually fail for being off-topic. There are two reasons I am considering approving the comment.

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Filed under Character, Quizzes, The Internet

Ethics Diagnosis: #SueyParkisanirresponsiblepowerhungrypoliticalcorrectnessbully

Colbert gag

Suey Park has declared war on Stephen Colbert over a promotional tweet made in his name by some Comedy Central PR employee. Not that there was anything wrong with the tweet*, unless you chose to willfully misconstrue it. The line was a quote from Colbert during a comic riff on his show mocking Redskins owner Daniel Snyder’s lame effort to deflect criticism of his team’s name as being ‘racist.’ (Reminder: It isn’t—not in the context in which is being used. Tasteless? Perhaps…) Anyone who is familiar with Colbert’s schtick—it is all tongue in cheek, exaggeration, irony, sarcasm and satire—understands that the Twitter quote is mocking the idea that one can continue being “racially insensitive” as long as you set up a foundation to show sensitivity to the group you have been accused of being racially insensitive about. Here is an explanation of how Park saw an opening for some cheap social media muscle-flexing, from Slate:

“On Wednesday night Stephen Colbert made sport of Washington football team owner Dan Snyder and his plan to undercut criticism of the team name by founding an organization for the uplift of “original Americans.” Colbert ran though all the reasons why this was funny, then called back to a skit from one of the show’s first episodes, way back from the fall of 2005—a joke about the host being caught on a “live feed” playing a racist Asian stereotype (Ching Chong Ding Dong, from Guanduong), then not understanding why it was racist. Colbert would make amends with his new “Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” He’d played versions of the game since then, dressing up in a sombrero for “Hispanic heritage month.” It’s one of the Colbert character’s oldest gags—he “doesn’t see color,” so he can’t ever be blamed if he accidentally does something horribly racist.”

The rest of the story: Suey Park pounced, first telling Colbert “Fuck you” and then sending her many followers a directive to flood the twitterverse with   …. and so they did, and have. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Race, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Tweet