Category Archives: Workplace

Ethics Lessons From An Ethical Life: James Garner, 1928-2014

Brett_Maverick_-_James_Garner

To me, James Garner will always be Bret Maverick, his black hat worn girlishly on the back of his head, or “The Scrounger” in “The Great Escape,” a role modeled after Garner’s real-life exploits in the military. For some reason Garner’s aging through the years—his health issues ranged from a heart by-pass to knee replacements and several strokes—bothered me more than that of most stars from my youth. His death bothers me more. James Garner always struck me as a someone who should be perpetually young. Of course, I feel the same way about myself.

By all accounts from contemporaries, fans and colleagues, he was a decent, fair and usually amiable man who never let stardom turn him into a monster, as so many do. He had a single, long-lasting marriage and a stable family; he was not fodder for tabloids with affairs, illegitimate children, drug abuse or DUI arrests. He did apparently have a penchant for punching people in the nose who insulted him to his face, a habit about which he was unapologetic. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Childhood and children, Family, Popular Culture, Professions, Workplace

Emmy’s Transgender Nomination: Important, Inspiring, and a Breach of Integrity

laverne-cox-timeThe Emmys made cultural history yesterday, nominating Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” actress Laverne Cox, who plays Sophia Burset in the prison drama, in the category of outstanding guest actress in a comedy series. It is the first time an openly transgendered actress has been nominated for an Emmy.

She joined several of her colleagues  on the show who were also recognized in various acting categories: stars Taylor Schilling, Kate Mulgrew, Uzo Aduba and Natasha Lyonne.

The problem is that Cox received the nomination for political and social reasons unrelated to her performing skills. This will be denied, of course, and since all awards are subjective, no one will be able to prove this is the case. It is, however. In the large, uniformly superb ensemble cast, Cox’s role is relatively minor, and I have a difficult time believing that anyone would objectively identify her as a standout in the show based on her acting. (In the current season, which I have seen in its entirety, her character is almost invisible). This isn’t intended to diminish Cox in any way, for in the role she plays, I cannot imagine it being played better. Nevertheless, there are many un-nominated actresses in that show—as well as other shows— whose characters are more vivid, who have to show more range, and who are more deserving of a nomination once the process is stripped of irrelevant political baggage. Among them: Taryn Manning, whose transformation into the complex religious fanatic Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett is frightening; Yael Stone, as the heartbreaking stalker Lorna Morello; Samara Wiley, as te alcoholic moralist Poussey Washington, and several others.

Everyone is thrilled for Cox, with Cox, reasonably, leading the way. “I’m on cloud nine. I’m through the roof,” said the actress, whose path to an award was  paved when she was featured on the cover of Time magazine.“What a wonderful, wonderful day for “Orange” and for black trans-women,” she said.

Undoubtedly. It’s not such a great day for the acting profession generally, the Emmys, or the principle that awards based on merit should be decided based on merit, and not social and political agendas. I would say, “But that’s Hollywood,” except that it isn’t just Hollywood. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, U.S. Society, Workplace

If This Chase Survey Is Real, Here Is How Employees Are Ethically Obligated To Respond To It…

Did an intern snap???

Did an intern snap???

I was going to shut down the blog for today, but I’m alone in a hotel room in Lincoln Nebraska, and I just saw this, to which I must respond..

Over at Mirror of Justice, Robert George posts a report which he says is from a close friend: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society, Workplace

More Airport Ethics: The TSA, the Bedonkadonk and the Slobs

Badonk

I’m not sure what to make of this scene, which I witnessed at Washington’s Reagan National airport as I waited to be scanned prior to my flight to Miami. I have some thoughts, though.

The young, zaftig, fascinatingly-shaped African American woman in front of me was wearing one of tightest, most revealing, shape-hugging, leaving-nothing-to-the-imagination knit dresses I or anyone has ever seen, especially in an airport. The garb was obviously chosen to highlight, as in broadcast world-wide, her most prominent and unusual asset: an awe-inspiring derriere, which appeared to be fit, toned, and suitable for showing a drive-in movie. She was attracting side-glances and open-mouths from all around her, male, female, and probably the machinery too, and obviously reveled in the attention.

When she stepped into the imager and was told to raise her hands over her head, she giggled and did a spontaneous bump and grind move, threatening the integrity of the structure. That did it. The young African-American male TSA agent was launched into smiles, winks, and a stream of comments on the women’s super-structure, along the lines of, “Damn, girl! Don’t go distracting me like that! How am I supposed to do my job? And man, I am distracted! Why, some big old terrorist could walk right by me while I’m taking you in, and then where would we be?” Laughs all around from the other agents, giggles and more gyrations from the woman, more banter from her admirer. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Professions, U.S. Society, Workplace

Ethics Hero: “Good Day New York” Co-anchor Rosanna Scotto

Screen-Shot-2014-06-27-at-3.52.23-PM

Rosanna Scotto had the professionalism, decency and the courage to step in and reprimand (and embarrass) partner Greg Kelly who engaged in on-air sexual harassment of a young colleague during today’s morning broadcast on the Fox affiliate.

Reporter Anna Gilligan was assigned to New Jersey’s Action Park to try out the new Tarzan rope swing. This required putting on a bathing suit, in Gilligan’s case a relatively conservative two-piece.

. When she completed the water ride,  wet and probably self-conscious (no fair TV exec should make a young woman expose herself like that on TV), Kelly leered, “Nice bathing suit.” He then began teasing her with questions about her temporary breathlessness, tilting into innuendo  Scotto reminded him him to “stay appropriate,”  but to no avail: Kelly was in full frat boy mode. When Gilligan ended her segment by saying she was going to put some clothes on, Kelly protested playfully, saying, “hold on a second, not so fast, Anna!”

When they  cut back to the news desk,  Scotto gave Kelly a disgusted look and asked, “What is wrong with you?”

I wish she had said more, but she was probably right: any more pointed criticism would be airing dirty linen in public. To answer her question though, here is what’s the matter with Kelly:

  • He’s unprofessional, a fool and a pig.
  • He clearly didn’t get the memo, and it came from the culture many years ago, that you don’t treat a female employee, colleague or subordinate like a sex object, a piece of meat or eye candy in the work place. The conduct is rude, it denigrates her as a professional and a human being, it gives a green light to other harassers in the workplace and creates a hostile environment not only for her but for every female employee who sees or learns of the incident. It is also illegal.
  • He is such a boor and a fool that he not only did this, but did it on live TV.

Greg Kelly owes Gilligan, Scotto and every other woman at at the station and in the audience an apology.

Then he should be fired.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Workplace

Warped Values and Perverse Incentives: Banning Employers From Asking Whether A Job Applicant Served Time

Sorry Hedley---it's unfair to ask a potential employees if they were rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers...and don't you dare ask if they are Methodists!

Sorry Hedley—it’s unfair to ask a potential employees if they were rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers…and don’t you dare ask if they are Methodists!

I was unaware that this was a trend: states and cities making it illegal for employers to ask job applicant’s whether they had been convicted of a crime and served jail time.

It is an unethical, foolish and illogical trend, an example of misplaced compassion being used to justify placing risks on law-abiding citizens for the benefit of those who are less trustworthy.

A news article regarding the problems faced by former prisoners re-entering society quotes Zach Hoover, executive director of LA Voice, a multiracial, faith-based organization working to get such a measure passed in Los Angeles:

“Sometimes people think of someone who’s been in prison and they think only of what they did instead of what they’re doing today. They’ve done their time. They served their sentence, and they’re looking for a job.It’s like double jeopardy. You’ve done your time, and now you get a life sentence of joblessness.”

What utter claptrap: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society, Workplace

Ethics Quiz, “Naked Teacher Principle” Division: The Alleged Naked Naval War College Professor

schnitzengrubenA helpful reader submits this Ethics Quiz question based on the following news item:

The AP reported that U.S. Naval War College professor John Schindler was placed on leave after a photo of a penis with the professor ‘s name over it was posted on Twitter.  It was unclear who sent it and who posted it.

After a blogger sent a complaint to the War College’s administration, the college’s president, Rear Adm. Walter E. “Ted” Carter Jr., ordered an investigation. A college spokeswoman said that investigators would look into whether the photo was not really of Schindler.

Now THAT should be an interesting investigation.

Schindler, a professor of national security affairs and a former National Security Agency intelligence analyst, has deleted his Twitter account. He has said his criticism of NSA leaker Edward Snowden and others has caused him to be the object of harassment on various social media.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day  has two parts:

1. Is it fair for the War College to place Schindler on leave before it has even been established that he sent the photo or that the body part in question belonged to him?

and

2. If he didn’t send the photo himself but it is established that the body part in question does belong to him, should the Naked Teacher Principle* apply?

Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Leadership, Professions, The Internet, War and the Military, Workplace

Animal Abuse, Law, Ethics…And More Cognitive Dissonance

Gothic pets

Some animal abuse issues are ethics slam dunks, some should be, and some are more complicated than the wo people posture over them seem to think. Here are three examples from the news:

1. Tattooed Kittens?

A law about to be passed in New York, S.6769, will make it illegal for pet owners to inflict tattoos or piercings on their pets except for medical purposes or when a tattoo is used strictly for identification purposes. Violations would carry fines of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

“I believe that if given the choice, animals would decline to having themselves undergo a painful procedure of being either tattooed or pierced,” said New York State Senator Mark Grisanti, a Republican who is supporting the measure introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Rosentha in 2011.

Ya think? The fact that a law would even be necessary to articulate that tattooing or piercing a pet for the owner’s amusement is horribly wrong and obvious cruelty foretells the approaching apocalypse.  That such a law would take three years to pass also tells us something bad about, oh, New York, politics, partisan warfare, human intelligence…just about everything. The problem, was brought to public attention by the prosecution of this idiot.

2. The Opossum Drop Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, U.S. Society, Workplace

Passenger List On The Deadly General Motors Ethics Train Wreck

"Oops! There goes G.M again!"

“Oops! There goes G.M again!”

That great, big, all-American motor car company that the Obama Administration took bows for saving five years ago has been revealed as a thoroughly corrupt, incompetent and deadly enterprise. As the full extent of the General Motors safety scandal unfolds—and it could get worse—this is a good time to take stock of the ethics lessons and miscreants involved, on the off chance that we are interested in learning something.

Did that sound bitter? It is. There is little in this terrible story of corporate ineptitude and corruption that wasn’t known and understood decades ago. Yet here we are again.

The manifest:

  • G.M. management. It pursued the policy of paying large settlements with confidentiality agreements to those injured by ignition switch defects in their cars, never fixing the defect itself. This is the old Pinto calculation, reasoning that if it is cheaper to pay for the deaths and injuries from a design defect than to fix the defect itself, then it makes good business sense to keep doing that, indefinitely. There are three problems with this logic, of course. First, it kills people. Second, it is stupid: eventually the facts will get out, and the whole company will be endangered. Third, it is wrong.
  • The plaintiffs’ attorneys. The trial lawyers association, way back when I worked for it two decades ago, adopted the unofficial position that the practice of accepting settlements from large corporations in product liability cases that included agreements not to reveal the damages and the defects involved to regulators, the news media, and endangered consumers was unethical. Members were urged to make a rejection of such terms a condition of agreeing to represent injured parties. Speeches were given, pledges were made. All agreed that the practice undermined the mission of the plaintiffs’ bar to make America safer through the civil justice system. What happened? Greed, that’s what. Just as every plaintiff has a price, so do many trial attorneys, who received up to 40% of those secret settlements. Every single one of the lawyers who guided their clients to accepting hush money in exchange for letting unsuspecting owners of G.M. cars risk their lives and those of their families were members of the American Association for Justice, which changed its name from the Association of Trial Lawyers of America because a survey showed the term “trial lawyers” was too negative. This is why the term is negative.

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Workplace

Of The Great Noodle Ordeal, Sweeney Todd, Stressors, and The Importance Of Ethics In Stopping Mass Killings

I have a theory about mass killings, and it is neither original nor exclusive: in fact, it has been proposed in various forms for at least a  century But I think it is worth considering.

I think that the smart, creative, intense, ambitious, restless and entrepreneurial people in this country keep designing an environment, and forcing it on us whether we like or need it or not,  that is increasingly, and ultimately unbearably, hostile to those who are not smart, creative, intense, ambitious, restless and entrepreneurial. I think that as life becomes increasingly stressful and confusing for average people—remember, about half of the public is below average intelligence, and even average intelligence is nothing to jump up and down over—they are more likely to reach what the serial killer profilers on “Criminal Minds” call “stressors”—the final straw, the moment when they see red, and deadly fury takes over. On the TV show, of course, the stressor is the death of a child, or a firing, or the onset of an illness, or financial setbacks. But I can see it simply being the realization that life is hopeless…that it is always going to be a miserable, frustrating struggle, and that powerful, rich, meddling people are at work always finding ways to make sure it gets harder and harder, and ultimately futile, for normal human beings to get through the day.

I entertain delusions that I am smarter than the average bear, and I can barely stand it myself. Yesterday, stuck at La Guardia, I wanted to get some food in the a terminal’s food court. The place I chose had just added computerized self-ordering on iPads. I’m not intimidated by iPads; I use one. The woman in front of me, however, stared at the device—there were no readily available employees to guide her through it—as if it were a space alien. She pushed some buttons, sighed, and gave up. Continue reading

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