Category Archives: The Internet

Noted: A Familiar Debate Over At Slate

battle-marvel

Those who participated in the epic, star-studded battle in February here, led by the departed Bruce Bartup, over what are acceptable levels of intensity and personal attack on Ethics Alarms, will experience some nostalgia reading this debate on Slate about the website’s policies. My favorite line: “…if someone is a dick, and we’ve explained that he’s a dick, why shouldn’t we also call him a dick? He’s earned it!”

If you missed Bruce’s Lament and the terrific donnybrook it generated (sadly, Bruce took his bruised feelings and went home to the British Isles, though I urged him to persevere) can read his Comment of the Day and the responses to it here.

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Graphic: kiss my wonder woman

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Filed under Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, The Internet

Pop Ethics Quiz! What’s Wrong With This Picture?

speeding bullet

No, you don’t have to spot the mistake, now.  That’s too easy. The single, embarrassing mistake in this ad created for Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group Everytown For Gun Safety is so obvious I’m pretty sure there are 5th graders who could spot it. A bullet doesn’t come out of the barrel with its casing. There would be no way to propel such a projectile. This ad couldn’t have been created or approved by anyone who ever fired a gun, saw one fired or watched a  Western, war movie or action flick.

The unethical conduct represented by the ad, however, are more numerous, though equally unforgivable:

  • It is incompetent and lazy. No one connected with the ad and its graphics bothered to do the minimum due diligence necessary to find out what a bullet coming out of a muzzle looks like, or how guns work.
  • It is untrue. Actually, anyone is faster than that bullet, which would drop harmlessly to the ground.
  • It negligently misinforms the public, passing along the ignorant misconceptions of the group and its hired artist to people who know as little as they do.

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet

Unethical Website of the Month: Hoax Site “The News Nerd”

Sorry, Aretha. You are just an innocent pawn in a slimy website's quest for links.

Sorry, Aretha. You are just an innocent pawn in a slimy website’s quest for links.

Bonus ethics points are due Mediaite writer Luke O’Neill, who placed the word ‘satire’ in scare quotes while describing the website called “The News Nerd,” which he grouped with, in his words, “The National Report (behind this recent viral hoax about Bill Murray stopping a bank robbery), The Daily Currant, and the rest of the plague of woefully unfunny bottom-feeders who’ve clogged up our newsfeeds of late.” The site in question has been sued by pop icon Aretha Franklin, who argues that its unfunny fake story about her  getting into a fistfight with fellow diva Patti LaBelle is defamatory.  Aretha is going to lose, of course,* and worse, she is bringing more attention, traffic and income to the despicable website, which I will not link to and assist its sordid little game.

Getting links and traffic is the whole point of such sites: write and publish a plausible but strange made-up news story that enough news aggregation sites and bloggers believe, hope the story goes viral, and reap the monetary rewards of notoriety and ethical misconduct. “The News Nerd” had one of its “successes” recently by falsely reporting that George Zimmerman was peddling a new painting, this one of Trayvon Martin. It is a vile, if not especially new, creature on the web, one that makes the internet even less reliable and trustworthy than it was. Such sites’ victims are the trusting, hurried and inattentive. They masquerade as satire sites, but are intentionally poor ones. Their stories are not clever or sufficiently well-made to signal their allegedly humorous nature, and the disclaimers are hidden, perhaps a click away, or at the bottom of a screen, where the site-owners know many readers will never look. Continue reading

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Filed under Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, The Internet, Unethical Websites

Bergen Community College Shows Us Why Justin Carter Is Being Persecuted

Can't have this. Terrifying. Dangerous.

Can’t have this. Terrifying. Dangerous.

Remember Justin Carter? Last I checked, he was being tried for making a joke on Facebook, because of the culture of fear and speech monitoring created by the irresponsible hysteria over guns and terrorism.  He faces prison time. That this is a freedom-suffocating societal illness that threatens any and all of us is chronicled in Ken White account, and accompanying commentary, on the astonishing mistreatment of Bergen Community College Professor Francis Schmidt by the school, which was sent into a frenzy of terror because he posted to Google+ “a cute picture of his young daughter wearing a Game of Thrones t-shirt in a yoga pose next to a cat.”  Inside Higher Ed reports what happened next: Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Popular Culture, The Internet, Workplace

Ethics Dunces: Paula Deen and “Uncle Bubba”

uncle-bubba-s-oyster

Like breaking up via text message and telling your spouse you want a divorce in an e-mail, here’s a crummy use of technology that we should hope doesn’t catch on.

Uncle Bubba’s Seafood & Oyster House, a restaurant owned by Paula Deen and her younger brother, Earl W. “Bubba” Hiers Jr., told all of its employees that the place was going out of business on its Facebook page, and that was all. The message:

“Since its opening in 2004, Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House has been a destination for residents and tourists in Savannah, offering the region’s freshest seafood and oysters. However, the restaurant’s owner and operator, Bubba Heirs, has made the decision to close the restaurant in order to explore development options for the waterfront property on which the restaurant is located. At this point, no specific plans have been announced and a range of uses are under consideration in order realize the highest and best use for the property.The closing is effective today, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Employees will be provided with severance based on position and tenure with the restaurant. All effort will be made to find employees comparable employment with other Savannah restaurant organizations.”

Yechh.

Cruel, rude, impersonal, cowardly. Also callous, lazy and inefficient: how many employees were told by third parties about the announcement?

Well, at least Paula’s not a racist. I wonder if the Food Network fired Paula via Facebook? I’m pretty sure it didn’t.

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Pointer: Evil HR Lady

Facts: CBS

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

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