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.”
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.
Pointer: Evil HR Lady
Kamryn Renfro with her friend: obviously a troublemaker.
In Grand Junction, Colorado, Caprock Academy student Kamryn Renfro was banned from attending her school after shaving her head in support of a friend undergoing chemotherapy to treat neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer. Academy administrators told Renfro’s family that they would not permit the little girl to return to class after spring break because her shaved head violated a school dress code requiring that female students’ hair to be “neatly combed or styled. No shaved heads.”
This is obviously the kind of anomalous situation that calls for, indeed screams out for, a compassionate exception. Any school administrator who couldn’t see that is not just unqualified for his or her post, but not sufficiently intelligent or rational to be trusted with the welfare of children, or, I would say, to take tolls in the Lincoln Tunnel. If there really were a competition to see which enforcement of a “no-tolerance policy” would stand as the most outrageous of all time, I would suspect that this was an entree. (It still wouldn’t win, though.)
Several readers sent me this case, which is as odd as it is horrible. In 1998, Don Willburn Collins allegedly attacked, possibly raped, and set on fire an 8 year-old boy named Robby Middleton when Collins was 13, and Middleton was only 8. Collins spent several months in juvenile detention but was released when prosecutors decided they did not have enough evidence to convict him. Middleton survived, permanently scarred and maimed, his health ruined. In 2011 he died of skin cancer, which doctors attributed to his burns. Shortly before he perished, he gave a video deposition accusing Collins of the crime.
Now a judge has ruled that Collins can be prosecuted for Middleton’s murder, since he died as a direct consequence of the attack 13 years earlier. Moreover, the judge said, he can be charged as an adult, though he was a juvenile when the attack took place.
The case raises many legal issues, and I am neither prepared nor interested in exploring those. I suspect that the task facing prosecutors is insuperable, given the time that has passed, issues of proof and law, and the gut feeling many jurors will harbor that such a conviction would be unfair.
I will render this ethics verdict, however: If Collins was the attacker, I believe it would be fair, just and ethical for him to be punished for it now as an adult, for that is what he is. Continue reading
“Let’s have a moment of silence for Ira, our troubled friend, partner and colleague, a fine lawyer who left this world too soon….OK, now that’s over, how can we keep his fee from his family?”
Ira Bordow, a partner in the Wisconsin law firm of Styles & Pumpian, had been handling a family’s dispute with an insurance company. Successfully too: he negotiated a $250,000 settlement, and the company sent him the check for that amount, to be divided among the plaintiffs and Bordow’s firm. Bordow, as a partner, was going to get a $41,666 share.
The 54-year-old lawyer, however, had problems of his own that money could not solve, and committed suicide. His brother found the quarter of a million dollar check on the seat of Bordow’s Lexus coupe, and properly and correctly sent it on to Styles & Pumpian. Bordow had already earned his cut of the settlement at before he took his own life, for he, and the firm, were working on a contingent fee basis. The representation was at an end. Apparently, however, once the firm had the check in hand, the brilliant legal minds at Styles & Pumpian applied their craft to thinking of ways they could avoid paying the grieving family of their tragically demised partner any of the loot. They thought of one too, at least one they felt was worth a shot. The firm is refusing to pay the Bordow estate the late lawyer’s $41,666 cut, arguing that Bordow’s suicide in his River Hills home negated his partnership agreement with the firm. It was a breach of contract, they say, and thus, even though he would have received the money if he had lived, the firm can keep it now.
In “Ricky’s Hawaii Vacation.” a famous episode of “I Love Lucy,” the Riotous Redhead was so desperate to win tickets for her neighbors (Fred and Ethel, or course) to accompany her and husband Ricky to Hawaii that she agreed to appear on a sadistic radio quiz show, in which the host, Freddie Freeman—played by the immortal Frank Nelson of Jack Benny skit fame (“Yyyyeeeeeeessssssss???”)—tortured his contestants with various indignities before awarding prizes. This was funny at the time, because it was a wild exaggeration of current TV quiz show programming. It was also funny, as with all slapstick, because the mayhem being inflicted was, the audience knew, part of a comedy skit and not real. A real Freddie using a contestant’s desperation for a prize as an excuse to degrade and humiliate her would have been unacceptably cruel…in the 1950′s.
Now, however, we have True TV’s new reality/game show, “Killer Karaoke.” It is a reality/game/ comedy show of shocking sadistic glee, the result of more than a half century of incremental slippage in standards of decency and public tolerance for cruelty. Take that episode of “I Love Lucy” and take it through a journey that includes stops at “Beat the Clock,” “Truth or Consequences,” “Let’s Make a Deal,” “Scare Tactics,” “Wipe Out,” “Fear Factor,” “Survivor,” the worst of the “let’s watch a human train wreck as desperate ex-celebrities beg for exposure and pay-checks” reality shows, and nightmare futuristic sci-fi movies like “The Hunger Games” and “The Running Man,” and “Killer Karaoke” is what you get. The show has been hailed by TV critics as “brilliant.” I admit: it is difficult to watch it without laughing. So why are those ethics alarms going off in my head? Continue reading
That mad wag, Jimmy Kimmel, is doing another victory lap. This time, the biggest jerk on late night TV managed to fool news services, panic families of Olympian athletes and insult Russia (not that that bothers me very much) by his latest internet gag—convincing American luge athlete Kate Hanson to relay, via Twitter, his fake video of what appeared to be a wolf roaming the halls of the Olympic Village accommodations. Any collateral damage is irrelevant to Kimmel, because his objective is to cause trouble, then mock everyone who was fooled for allowing the trouble to be caused, since if they weren’t so dumb, trusting and gullible—it’s all their fault, not his, you see—nothing would have happened. (Yes, Kate Hansen is a jerk too.)
Here is what this relatively harmless (as opposed to harmless, which no web hoax is) misrepresentation accomplished:
- It took up thousands of valuable minutes of news broadcasts throughout yesterday which could have been used productively to educate the public about all manner of things they actually need to know about—what’s happening to Justin Carter, for example—remember him? Maybe a well-produced segment on why a teen shouldn’t be facing terrorism charges for an obvious joke he made on Facebook could spark some much-needed public outrage. Instead, serious news broadcast time, a finite resource, was used to further a prank.
- It made the media a party to a lie. It doesn’t matter about what. It’s a lie.
- It wasted the time, thought and energy of every person who talked about the wolf, expressed concern about it or thought about it.
- It further increased cynicism and doubt about news reports, feeding the tendency to adopt conspiracy theories and fear of sinister manipulation. How do we know the moon landing wasn’t a Jimmy Kimmel hoax?
Most of all, this will encourage other, bigger, more reckless asses than even Kimmel to go further and further with their web hoaxes, because such pranks mean viral videos and fame, no matter what harm they cause. Continue reading
“The government should know that if it crosses the line, there will be consequences.”
—President Obama, in Mexico, in the course of extemporaneous remarks condemning the Ukrianian government’s harsh and violent response to protesters.
I am embarrassed; our country is embarrassed; I hope you’re embarrassed—why isn’t the President embarrassed to use this rhetoric, which has been proven again and again to be absolutely meaningless when it issues from his lips? This sham is worse than “the check is in the mail” or “I’ll still love you in the morning,” as Syrian casualties rise and the United States’ credibility as a nation that really gives a damn about anything but its own entitlements has crumbled into dust. Remember the Syrian “red line”? Here are two recent columns from the right and the left on how well Obama’s empty threats of “consequences” have worked in Syria, but nobody needs persuading at this point, do they? President Obama is willing to give insincere lip service to the tradition of the United States still being the champion of democracy and the foe of oppression, but people under attack from their own governments can’t defend themselves with his lips. In Afghanistan, in Iran, in Egypt, in Syria, President Obama has made it abundantly clear that he is under the mistaken impression that Teddy Roosevelt said “Speak incessantly but never actually do what your words imply you’re going to do.”
That’s not exactly what Roosevelt said. Continue reading