Category Archives: U.S. Society

The Michael Sam Botch: Back To Square One…Or Worse.

You must remember this: A kiss can be a miss...

You must remember this: A kiss can be a miss…

Sportswriters are gamely putting a positive spin on it, but they are lying or deluded: Michael Sam’s failure to make the St. Louis Rams squad and the subsequent decision of every other team (there are 32 of them) to pass on his services as well means that Sam’s quest to become the first openly gay player to be drafted by and make the roster of a pro football team was not just a failure, but may have even set his cause back a year or ten.

Or maybe that wasn’t his cause at all. Maybe a gay player whose skills left him a borderline draftee at best made a calculated decision that his best chance was to shame the NFL into drafting him by announcing his sexual orientation, and gamble that he could shine enough in camp to make the team. The genius of this strategy, if that’s what it was, is that even if he didn’t make the team, Sam would become a celebrity, and in some circles, an icon.

Well, that part worked. What doomed the rest of the plan were, in order of importance,

  • Sam isn’t good enough to be a trailblazer.
  • The media made certain that such a big deal was made over Sam’s sex life that no NFL team could avoid wondering, “How much will having this guy around get in the way of winning football games?” From Ethics Alarms in February:

The irony is that it is the mostly positive media obsession with Sam’s status as a potential trailblazer, rather than the anti-gay hate-mongers, who diminish Sam’s chances of success with their every word. This is obvious, or should be, yet the articles and rants keep on coming. I have to believe that it is a case of sports journalists engaging in the ultimate hypocrisy, making themselves look fair, unbigoted and devoted to the cause of full gay inclusion in American life (all while making their deadlines) while simultaneously and knowingly undermining the athlete they claim to be supporting. They have to shut up, or Sam is doomed.

They couldn’t help themselves, of course, and sure enough, Sam was doomed. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Sports, U.S. Society

The Nine-Year-Old and the Uzi: A Case Study In News Media Public Opinion Manipulation

no-guns-banner

In White Hills, Arizona, a nine-year-old girl accidentally shot a firing range instructor when he handed her an Uzi on full automatic setting and she lost control of the weapon. That was a tragedy, but there have been thousands of newsworthy tragedies in the six days since that story first appeared, and yet the media is still bombarding us with stories about it. Why?

The episode itself is not very complicated. A foolish parent allowed his daughter to use a dangerous instrumentality that was beyond her maturity level to handle, and a negligent instructor paid with his life for a moment of hideous judgment and negligence. That’s it. It’s a one day story. Today, in the category of horrible accidents involving children, we should be reading about the little girl—same age–who died on a beach yesterday when a sand hole someone had dug collapsed on her. And the most recent infant left in a car to broil to death. Yet the Sunday morning TV shows all managed to mention the shooting range incident, and today I am still seeing articles like this one. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Senator Landrieu’s Corrupting Lie

Moon and Mary. If home is where the heart is, she's probably OK.

Moon and Mary. If home is where the heart is, she’s probably OK.

This is a fact: Mary Landrieu, the Democratic senator from  Louisiana, doesn’t live in that state, hasn’t for years, and nobody believes she does.

She and her husband, who, unlike the Senator, doesn’t even pretend to live in the Bayou State, live in what the Washington Post calls “a stately, $2.5 million brick manse she and her husband built on Capitol Hill.”  The problem, or what should be a problem, is that Louisiana, by law, requires its U.S. Senators to really and truly live there. Louisiana’s Election Code states that a U.S. senator must be “an inhabitant of Louisiana when elected,” and Landrieu is hoping to be elected, which in her case means re-elected in November.

They are clever in Louisiana, so Landrieu, wink-wink-nudge-nudge, claims that she resides in the New Orleans neighborhood of Broadmoor in the home where her  parents, Moon (yes, Moon) and Verna live.  The Post explains that Verna Landrieu jointly owns the house with Nineland Partnership, a limited liability corporation the family set up for the estate planning purposes. Senator Landrieu and her eight siblings, who all grew up in the house, have equal stakes in the partnership.

She does not, in fact, live there. The other families ion the neighborhood all admit that they have never seen her.  Yet when she signed papers, under oath, establishing that she was running again for U.S. Senator, though Senator Landrieu’s  statement of candidacy filed with the Federal Election Commission  listed her Capitol Hill home as her address,  she listed her parents home as her residence to qualify for the ballot in Louisiana last week. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Family, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

Ethics Hero: Judge Richard Posner

Sure, you have a right to think there's something wrong with that, but the state has no business acting as if it thinks so too.

Sure, you have a right to think there’s something wrong with that, but the state has no business acting as if it thinks so too.

Because Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court was appointed by Ronald Reagan, he is usually describes as a conservative judge. He’s better described as an unusually smart, articulate, thoughtful and courageous judge, and in responding to oral arguments  lawyers for Wisconsin and Indiana defending their state’s marriage bans, he proved it.

I have frequently attempted to draw a distinction between those guided by archaic religious morality that causes them to regard same-sex marriage as sinful, and the attempt to use the government, which must not be guided by religion to make such marriages illegal. Morality doesn’t have to be defended by logic—God works in mysterious ways, you know—but laws do. A complete evisceration emanating from a place of authority of the specious and often absent reasoning behind gay marriage bans was much needed, and knowing that he risked criticism as a “judicial bully” for doing so with gusto, Judge Posner came through.

Here is a sampling of the barrage he placed on Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher and Wisconsin’s assistant attorney general Timothy Samuelson: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

“Knee Defender” Ethics

There are no Knee Defender ethics.

Invented for entitled jerks, by one. Is this a great country or what?

Invented for entitled jerks, by one. Is this a great country or what?

The Knee Defender is unethical,  those who advocate them are unethical, its inventor, a slickly rationalizing  ethics corrupter named Ira Goldman is unethical, anyone who uses it is unethical, and anyone who defends it is unethical.

There. Next question?

What gives anyone in the seat behind me the right to appropriate space in the plane I have paid for? I have paid for it, you know: the space that my seat can recline into is within my control, my dominion. If I choose not to avail myself of it, then the person behind me is certainly free to make use of it—until I change my mind. There is no other legitimate, logical or fair interpretation of the rights and privileges involved. Using the Knee Defender, a sinister device designed to unilaterally claim my space, is taking what is mine by force. There’s no other side to the issue.

Oh, the obnoxious, smug marketing for the thing claims otherwise:

“It helps you defend the space you need when confronted by a faceless, determined seat recliner who doesn’t care how long your legs are or about anything else that might be “back there”…

First of all, you can’t defend space you have no right to, and never owned in the first place. And don’t insult me: I have a face, and no, I really don’t care how long your legs are. Mine are pretty long too, You have to be awfully tall not to be able to extend your legs under my seat. Oh—you have baggage under there, because you stowed some obscenely large roller-board in the over-head bins? Tough. I check my large luggage so I can keep the area clear under the seat in front of me, so I can stretch out my legs, so I don’t feel I have to whine about the seat in front of me reclining, and use vigilante devices invented by a trouble-maker to stop me from doing what the airlines say I purchased the privilege of doing, do he can pick up a lousy $29.95. You can check your luggage too, you know. You can also  seat yourself behind the seats that don’t recline. But no, rather than make the effort to deal with your physical limitations by planning ahead, you think it’s acceptable to solve your problem by waging war against the unlucky traveler who happens to get the seat in front of you. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Marketing and Advertising, Rights, U.S. Society

Law vs. Ethics: A Cautionary Tale From Texas

You fucked up

“You can’t worry forever about your mistakes. You fucked up. You trusted us. Make the best of it. ” —Otter (DuPont) to Flounder (Its former employees) in “Animal House”

Law and ethics are two different things, and courts are frequently forced to embrace unethical results in order to uphold a bad law or to deal with a messy fact pattern. It is seldom, however, that one sees as blatant an example of atrociously unethical behavior being ruled legal as in a recent case in Texas, decided this month. It is the kind of case that promotes distrust all around, as you will see. When that is the result, the ruling itself is unethical.

In the case of Sawyer, Kempf, et al. v DuPont and Company, an employer’s false promise not to exercise a legal right in order to induce its employees to forgo their negotiated rights was deemed unenforceable. The legal reasoning is solid. The ethics stinks, and is as good an example as you will ever find for the inspiration behind Charles Dickens’ (speaking through his creation Mr. Bumble, in “Oliver Twist”) statement, “The law is a ass.” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

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

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