Category Archives: Workplace

Comment of the Day: “What’s Going On Here?” Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails”

praise

Nothing makes me consider  shouting praise to the skies like the situation I just experienced. I find myself in a hotel, away from home, waking up feeling sick, having to prepare for a two hour ethics lecture to young lawyers and knowing that writing a new Ethics Alarms post will either make me frantic or result in a product even more riddled with typos than usual. And there it is! A worthy Comment of the Day, allowing me to present high quality ethics content that I don’t have to write myself, giving me time to work, get back home and think. (Unless I die first, because boy, do I feel lousy.)

The perfectly-timed COTD in question is by the commenter formerly known as  Penn, and involves a topic that I am speaking about this morning, e-mail. I don’t even mind that he doesn’t agree with the statements that sparked his comment: that police should be required under threat of dismissal to report racist -mails from colleagues, and that workplace e-mails have to be monitored by responsible supervisors. Here is SamePenn’s Comment of the Day on the post, “What’s Going On Here? Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails.”

And thank you, thank you, thank you! Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, Science & Technology, The Internet, Workplace

“What’s Going On Here?” Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails

Police games...

Police games…

Fred, my tireless and apparently sleepless issue scout, alerted me to this ugly story out of Florida:

MIAMI (AP) — A handful of Miami Beach police officers sent hundreds of racially offensive and pornographic emails and possibly jeopardized dozens of criminal cases in which they are witnesses, the department’s chief said Thursday. An internal investigation revealed that two of the 16 officers were high-ranking within the Miami Beach Police Department and were the main instigators, Chief Daniel Oates told reporters. One has retired, and the other was fired Thursday.Oates said the probe revealed about 230 emails demeaning to African-Americans and women or pornographic in nature. Many were depictions of crude racial jokes involving President Barack Obama or black celebrities such as golfer Tiger Woods. One shows a woman with a black eye and the caption, “Domestic violence. Because sometimes, you have to tell her more than once.”

One of the racially offensive emails depicted a board game called “Black Monopoly” in which every square says “go to jail.” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said about 540 cases in which the officers were witnesses are being reviewed to determine if they are tainted racially. Some charges could be dropped as a result or prisoners freed from jail

Fred comments, beginning with the favorite Ethics Alarms first step to ethics analysis:”What’s going on here? A widespread failure of leadership and personnel screening.”

That, for sure. Unfortunately, there is even more:

1. Number 2, after leadership, is training. It is mind-blowing that any police officers in the United States of America would not be aware of the degree to which such conduct jeopardizes community relations, trust and the effectiveness of the department, but I read about equally idiotic e-mail behavior from judges, lawyers, elected officials and business executives weekly. The message that this kind of thing is as destructive to the department and everyone in it, and won’t be tolerated even once, must be sent regularly, formally, and emphatically. Obviously, it wasn’t.

2. Do such e-mails prove that the Miami Beach police, or even the police officers involved, perform their jobs in a racist manner? The answers are 1) no, and 2) it doesn’t matter.

Once anything like this becomes public, trust is impossible for two reasons. First, it is more likely than not that someone who thinks e-mails like these are amusing does not sufficiently respect women and minorities, and second, it is beyond argument that their judgment is horrific. People who think it’s amusing to denigrate any group are not certain to be racist in their interactions with such groups, but given a choice, those groups would rather take their chances with someone else, and so would I. Meanwhile, people whose judgement is this horrific shouldn’t carry guns. Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society, Workplace

Ethics Dunce: CNN Morning Anchor John Berman

When to you break out the dick jokes, John?

When to you break out the dick jokes, John?

There is apparently no way to stop the trend of supposed professionals polluting our discourse, and the airwaves by inflicting gratuitous vulgarity on us, apparently in the mistaken belief that doing so is clever and cute. It isn’t. It’s unprofessional, juvenile and embarrassing.

CNN anchor John Berman is the latest to join the smut brigade. Announcing a promotion for CNN’s evening entertainment show, “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” starring Mike Rowe, in which Rowe will be doing something—I really don’t care—involving boulders—Berman smirkingly began, “Mike Rowe shows us big stones!” Nice. And stupid. Kate Bolduan, sitting next to him, seemed visibly annoyed, and when he repeated the “joke” after the break, said, curtly, “Please stop.” Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: Grandstanding Topeka Waitress Chloe Hough

tip the schoolsToday was apparently “Popular Unethical Conduct Day.” This isn’t as bad as a mother having a police officer terrorize her little boy, because governor abuse isn’t as bad as child abuse. It’s still wrong, and in several ways.

Waitress Chloe Hough was in her final shift in her last day as a waitress at a Kansas barbecue restaurant, and found herself serving conservative Kansas governor Sam Brownback. The controversial  Republican  recently pushed to replace Kansas’s education funding system with a  “block grant” program that cuts millions of dollars from  public school budgets.

Hough decided to use the opportunity to make a snarky, meaningless protest comment on his check, and grandstanded by posting a photo of it on Facebook.

“I just knew I had to say something or I would regret it,” she told a TV station.  Of course, she really would have regretted it if she hadn’t already quit her job. She was rude to a customer (wrong), compromised the service of her employer (wrong); embarrassed her employer (wrong);used her job illicitly to make a personal political statement (wrong), and posted the restaurant’s document without permission on Facebook. If the restaurant shares tips among servers, she also gave away money belonging to her colleagues without their permission. Wrong, wrong, wrong.  She did all of this knowing that she wouldn’t suffer any consequences, since she had already quit. It was hit and run unethical conduct, and a cowardly betrayal of trust. The legitimacy of her political critique is irrelevant.

I hope the restaurant withholds her final paycheck, and to any other employers out there, remember that name: Chloe Hough. She’s untrustworthy and disloyal, and if you hire her, you deserve what you get.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Workplace

Emoji Ethics…Oh, All Right, I Won’t Be Coy: The Unethical Firing Of Chad Franks

Screen-Shot-2015-04-28-at-10.50.42-PM

Would you fire someone based on that tweet? Is it so horrible to you, so seering to your senses, that it warrants harming a human being’s career and welfare? Can you even detect what it was that got its author fired? Could the person doing the firing believe that he or she would deserve firing for such a tweet, as in, say, The Golden Rule?

Has the world gone mad?

First the basics: What the hell is an emoji? From Wikipedia:

“Emoji (絵文字(えもじ)are the ideograms or smileys used in Japanese electronic messages and Web pages, the use of which is spreading outside Japan. Originally meaning pictograph, the word emoji literally means “picture” (e) + “character” (moji). The characters are used much like ASCII emoticons or kaomoji, but a wider range is provided, and the icons are standardized and built into the handsets. Some emoji are very specific to Japanese culture, such as a bowing businessman, a face wearing a face mask, a white flower used to denote “brilliant homework,” or a group of emoji representing popular foods: ramen noodles, dango, onigiri, Japanese curry, and sushi. The three main Japanese mobile operators, NTT DoCoMo, au, and SoftBank Mobile (formerly Vodafone), have each defined their own variants of emoji. Although originally only available in Japan, some emoji character sets have been incorporated into Unicode, allowing them to be used elsewhere as well. As a result, emoji have become increasingly popular after their international inclusion in Apple’s iOS in 2011 as the Apple Color Emoji typeface,which was followed by similar adoption by Android and other mobile operating systems. Apple’s OS X operating system supports emoji as of version 10.7 (Lion).Microsoft added monochrome Unicode emoji coverage to the Segoe UI Symbol system font in Windows 8 and added color emoji in Windows 8.1 via the Segoe UI Emoji font.”

In short, they are tiny pictures increasingly used by Twitter freaks to jazz up their tweets. If you don’t look for them, you may miss them. They are, essentially, cartoons.

Chad Shanks, who ran the NBA Houston Rockets’  Twitter account as the team’s digital communications manager, posted the above tweet to celebrate the impending end of the first-round NBA play-off series with the Dallas Mavericks. The emoji of a pistol pointed at a an emoji of a horse’s head—the Mavericks’ mascot is some kind of a horse-human hybrid monster—in the upper left-hand corner was deemed by management so vile that Shanks’ head had to metaphorically roll. The shocking, PTSD triggering tweet with its reference to cartoon violence was deleted and sent to cyber Hell, and Shanks grovelled an apology, writing, via Twitter, of course, that he was no longer with the organization:

“I did my best to make the account the best in the NBA by pushing the envelope, but pushed too far for some and for that I apologize….Sometimes you can go too far. I will no longer run @HoustonRockets  but am grateful to the organization that let me develop an online voice.” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Sports, The Internet, U.S. Society, Workplace

KABOOM! ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ Mind-Blowing Hypocrisy

Why this didn't happen to George this morning, I'll never know....

Why this didn’t happen to George this morning, I’ll never know….

I honestly don’t know why this one didn’t make  GEORGE’S head explode. For most people, there is only so much hypocrisy one can engage in without breaking down and screaming, “All right! ALL RIGHT! I admit it! I’m accusing someone of doing exactly what I’m doing THE VERY SECOND I’M ACCUSING HIM!!”

I will be discussing some of the more blatant efforts by the Hillary Clinton Shameless Rationalizers Brigade to spin away the fact of her unethical creation of a serious conflict of interests and appearance of impropriety once I have put my brains back into my skull. Meanwhile, I must briefly point out one of the most shocking examples of hypocrisy I have ever witnessed from a journalist, or anyone, for that matter.

On This Week With George Stephanopoulos this morning (that was Sunday, 4/27) the opening interview was with Peter Schweizer, a conservative reporter and author of the soon to be published book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story Of How And Why Foreign Governments And Businesses Helped Make Bill And Hillary Rich.”  He is in the news because the New York Times and the Washington Post will be using his book, notes and sources to bolster their own investigative reporting, and one of its revelations regarding donations to the Clinton Foundation from foreign interests is already making waves for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Stephanopoulos executed what I would call an adversarial interview, fair, but skeptical and hostile. It was also misleading, though not necessarily intentionally. George, like most journalists, isn’t too conversant in government ethics, or ethics generally. He kept hammering at the fact that no evidence of a crime had surfaced, as if that made everything fine and the story trivial. This is a classic Compliance Dodge: sneaky, dishonest, corrupt people are often expert at doing bad things without breaking the law. In fact, I just described the Clintons, and, sadly, a lot of lawyers. The fact that they didn’t break laws, or covered their tracks sufficiently not to leave evidence of law-breaking, does not mean that what they did wasn’t unethical, and seriously so. This is the case with the foreign contributions that just happen to have arrived in conjunction with matters where Clinton’ State Department had a decisive say that could benefit the donors. Accepting undisclosed contributions from such interests, in violation of a signed agreement that was a condition precedent to her confirmation as Secretary of State, is seriously unethical whether it was illegal or not. Because of this, it creates the appearance of impropriety, which officials in the Executive Branch, like Clinton, are prohibited by law from creating. This is a fact. Nothing more needs to be proved.

Stephanopoulos may not understand this, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he does not. If so, however, he is incompetent to perform the interview with Schweizer, who does understand it, because George should be trying to enlighten his audience, not confuse them. Harping on whether a law was broken does confuse his audience, and also abets the Clintons’ denial and confound efforts.

Schweizer was prepared; he anticipated all of the questions and the attempts to undermine his findings. He was patient and clear. Then Stephanopoulos suggested that his research was unreliable because he had worked for the Bush Administration and had ties to Republicans in the past.

Kaboom!

George Stephanopoulos was a long-time, close political aide and confidante of Bill and Hillary Clinton! Continue reading

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No, Craig, Barry Bonds Wasn’t A “Great” Baseball Player. Bernie Madoff Wasn’t A “Great” Investment Manager, Either

Christy Mathewson, a genuine hero. Barry Bonds would have made him want to throw up.

Christy Mathewson, a genuine hero. Barry Bonds would have made him want to throw up.

I like and admire Craig Calcaterra, who blogs entertainingly and perceptively about baseball on the NBC Sports website. I suppose I’m a bit jealous of him too: he’s a lawyer who now earns his living blogging about something he loves.

But Craig has always been a bit confused about how to regard baseball’s steroid cheats (they are cheats, which should answer any questions, but somehow doesn’t for a lot of people), and predictably, I suppose, he couldn’t resist reacting to the early results of Major League Baseball’s “Franchise Four” promotion, in which fans vote (until mid-May) for “the most impactful players who best represent each Major League franchise” as well as some other categories, including “Four Greatest Living Players.” The early results have Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver leading in the “Greatest Living Players” category, so Craig snarked that this is sad, because “it must mean Barry Bonds has died in a tragic cycling and/or Google Glass accident and no one thought to tell me.”

No, Craig, this is what someone failed to tell you: cheaters in any profession are not “great” by definition. Great baseball players, like great lawyers, writers, doctors, scientists and Presidents, bring honor on their profession, don’t corrupt everyone around them, don’t force people who admire them to embrace unethical conduct and turn them into aiders and abetters, and accomplish their great achievements while obeying the law, following the rules, and serving as role models for everyone who follows them. Barry Bonds was not a great baseball player. He had the ability to be one, but not the character.

Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver never once disgraced their game while they wore a uniform, and indeed made baseball stronger and better while they played. Good choices all.

The disgrace is that San Francisco fans voted Bonds as one of that team’s “Franchise Four,” and dishonoring great Giants of the past like Juan Marichal, as well as New York Giants greats like Christy Mathewson, Bill Terry, Carl Hubbell, and Mel Ott, Hall of Famers  and lifetime Giants who played with honesty and sportsmanship. But Giants’ fans warped values are among the casualties of Bonds’ career…and one more reason he can’t be rated anything but a great villain.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Sports, Unethical Blog Post, Workplace