Tag Archives: cruelty

Unethical App: Yik Yak

The cute Yik Yak mascot, hanging out at a fraternity, where ethics go to die.

The cute Yik Yak mascot, hanging out at a fraternity, where ethics go to die.

Yik Yak is a suddenly surging social media app that is running viral on college campuses. The app allows users to post anonymous messages (“yaks”) that only appear to users within a 1.5-mile radius. The New York Times called it “ a virtual community bulletin boardor maybe a virtual bathroom wall at the student union.”

Yik Yak is unethical.

There.

Yik Yak was created in late 2013 by Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, fraternity brothers (and based on their names, escapees from a Dickens novel) who came up with the idea after seeing that there were only a handful of popular Twitter accounts at Furman College, where they were frat brothers, almost all belonging to campus big shots and athletes. With Yik Yak, they say, they hoped to create a more “democratic social media network” where users didn’t need a large number of followers or friends to have one’s thoughts read widely. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Popular Culture, Rights, The Internet

“Ethics Dunce” Doesn’t Do This Judge Justice: Ferguson Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer

When "judge not lest you be judged" is really good advice...

When “judge not lest you be judged” is really good advice…

Meet Ferguson Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer. He  has been Ferguson’s municipal court judge for 12 years and serves simultaneously as a prosecutor in two nearby cities, as well as a private attorney. This is not as unusual a situation as you might think in rural areas, but it is certainly a fertile one for conflicts of interest, unless the busy individual is trustworthy and ethical.

This description would not seem to apply to this judge. While the Justice Department is alleging that his court in Ferguson, Mo. has reinstated the deplorable tradition of debtor’s prison, sending poor citizens of the city to jail for not paying fines they have no money to pay, Brockmeyer personally owes the US government $172,646 in taxes.

Federal tax liens filed against Brockmeyer by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) state that he has tens of thousands of dollars in overdue personal income taxes from joint filings with his wife, Amy, and owes tens of thousands in employer taxes for his law firm.

Justice? Compassion? Empathy? Fairness? Integrity? Trustworthiness? Don’t look for any of those from the judiciary in Ferguson. How amused  Judge Brockmeyer must have been to see Darren Wilson vilified, while his villainy passed unnoticed.

“Hands up, Don’t shoot,” being a lie, is no longer even an arguably legitimate rallying cry for the kind of systemic wrong the people of Ferguson have endured. Surely this despicable and cruel hypocrite can inspire a better one.

______________________

Pointer: Lucian Pera

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Q: Why Is CNBC Posting Anti-Vaccination Propaganda?

A: Because its staff is lazy, inattentive and irresponsible.

Weston Price (1870-1948), Quack. His work goes on...

Weston Price (1870-1948), Quack. His work goes on…

The cable business news network posted this press release from the natural foods and nutrition huckster group, The Weston A. Price Foundation.

It isn’t news. It is poison.  The press release makes the false claim that vaccinations spread measles, as well as other diseases. This is standard anti-vaxx hysteria, and it gets children killed.  It is false. “Measles live vaccine doesn’t transmit easily at all,” said Dr. Jane Seward of the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases told NBC, which apparently doesn’t communicate with its subsidiaries. “I don’t think there has ever been a secondary transmission,” she added. “There is no evidence of any transmission of measles virus from a child to household contacts.” As for the Foundation itself:

“The Weston A. Price Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of isolated nonindustrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets. Dr. Price’s research demonstrated that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats….

Yes, it is strange, like Dr. Price’s theories, and not in a benign way. Among the foundation’s other objectives is to show that vaccinations are unnecessary if you eat right, or something: when a  home page prominently displays a link that reads, COD LIVER OIL: Our Most Important Superfood, my eyes tend to gloss over, I file the group under “Nut Balls” and move on.

CNBC posted this promotional piece uncritically and without context, leaving the impression that it was actual news, thus allowing fake news to go to the top of Google searches for gullible readers.  At the bottom of the screen it says “More from CNBC” and not “More from health food hyping anti-science fanatics.Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Health and Medicine, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, Science & Technology

Downton Abbey Ethics: Evil Barrow’s Ethics Lesson

Downton-abbey-season-5

If some of your PBS watching friends are unclear on those essential ethics analysis tools, the concepts of moral luck and consequentialism, the season finale of “Downton Abbey”( which you can view here) provided a wonderful example of both in action.

Now, settle down, because this takes some table-setting: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Etiquette and manners, Family, Popular Culture

Finalizing The Sadly Useful School Anti-Violence No-Tolerance Insanity Scale

Alas, the deadly pizza gun is only a #5 now...

Alas, the deadly pizza gun is only a #5 now…

In January 2013, I realized I had used “Now this is the worst example of insane no-tolerance school conduct that there can ever be!” multiple times, and that it was time to make some close calls. I asked readers to rank the following real examples of child abuse by schools, in which children of various ages were punished cruelly and excessively for harmless conduct that violated a poorly envisioned no-tolerance rule. This was the list:

1. Biting pizza into the shape of a gun.

2. Pointing a finger in the shape of a gun and saying “Bang!”

3. Threatening to shoot a student with a bubble gun.

4. A deaf child who makes the obvious sign-language symbol for gun,  to “say” his own name, because his first name is “Hunter”

5. Expelling a student and bringing charges of criminal assault for shooting another student with a spitball through a straw

6. Accidentally bringing a paring knife to school in a lunch box

7. Drawing a picture of your father holding a gun

8. Playing with a LEGO figure carrying a LEGO automatic weapon

9. Drawing a picture of a gun

10. Writing a poem about the Newtown shooting.

I  received a lot of responses on the blog, more off-site. I never published the final results, however, which also takes into consideration my own positions. Here, from most defensible to most insane, is the current order, and why each entry landed where it did: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Government & Politics, Rights, U.S. Society

Best Ethics Movie Of The Year: “Whiplash”

I doubt that it will win “Best Picture” at the Oscar (though the consensus seems to be that J.K. Simmons, who dominates the film, has “Best Supporting Actor” in the bag), but “Whiplash” is the best film of the year that explores an ethics conundrum of long standing.

Without spoiling the film for those of you—the odds say a majority—who haven’t seen it, let me explain why.

“Whiplash” is ostensibly about a gifted music student’s quest to become not merely a good but a great jazz drummer. On the way, he encounters a fanatic, merciless, manipulative and demanding teacher (Simmons) who sees the young man’s passion and potential and is determined to either make his greatness bloom or break him trying. The movie raises the eternal question of the ethical obligation of the gifted to use their gifts to enrich society, culture and mankind. Arturo Toscanini once berated Bing Crosby for “wasting” his once-in-a-lifetime voice on popular music rather than opera. Is possession of a remarkable ability or talent something that forces the possessor to live an altruistic existence, subordinating his or her own desires to what will most benefit others? Is it unethical to refuse, to choose another path, one that is less daunting, easier, more relaxing, surer, without the stress, without the burden of chasing perfection and extraordinary success? Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Popular Culture, Sports, U.S. Society

Note To Dr. Vesna Roi: Homophobes Can’t Be Doctors….Ethical Ones, Anyway

First, do no harm. Second, don't be a gratuitously cruel asshole.

First, do no harm. Second, don’t be a gratuitously cruel asshole.

Jami and Krista Contreras waited in the exam room for their newborn child’s first checkup. Then they were informed that the doctor they had asked to see had decided, after “much prayer,” that she could not treat the baby because its parents are lesbians.

Presumably the doctor,Vesna Roi, does not habitually require her patients’ parents to fill out a questionnaire to prove the are sufficiently morally worthy to have their infant receive medical care. Nonetheless, so vile does she consider this couple that she feels it is the Lord’s will that she withhold her services from the innocent child they have undertaken to love and raise.

I probably do not need to tell you, and I certainly should not have to remind “Dr”–and I use the title advisedly–Roi that this cruel and hateful conduct is a flaming breach of medical ethics, though no rules should be necessary to persuade a medical professional to have a heart and a soul. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Family, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Professions, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society