Tag Archives: cruelty

The Gawker Mess: Is Integrity A Virtue When It Means Continuing An Unethical Policy?

gawker1The website Gawker is reeling in the aftermath of particularly Gawkerish  (that is, slimy) story exposing the efforts of a high-ranking male official at Gawker rival Conde Nast to secure the services of a male prostitute.  Following backlash even from those who usually tolerate  Gawker’s smug invasions into celebrity privacy, Nick Denton, the president of  Gawker Media, had the story taken down. He then wrote a post titled “Taking a Post Down,” defending his executive action.  Gawker Editor-in-Chief Max Read and Gawker Media Executive Editor Tommy Craggs resigned, and the editorial staff has protested the episode, noting that “business executives deleted an editorial post over the objections of the entire executive editorial staff.”

First, regarding Gawker’s plight: good. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving website. Second, and more controversial is this interesting ethics question that we don’t encounter very often outside the realm of “The Godfather” films: Is integrity applied to an inherently unethical culture a virtue?

When the Conde Nast outing story received furious blowback from media critics but also gay activists, who are flying high right now and thus not to be crossed, Craggs proposed that Denton issue a statement that Gawker was founded as a media gossip site and had always “unapologetically and often mercilessly” invaded the private lives  those who work in  the industry. “We stand by the story, which meets our simple, unwavering standard of being both true and interesting,” the statement was to say.

That simple, unwavering standard is and has always been unethical. Gawker hurts people for fun and titillation, and makes a profit out of doing so. Printing what is “true and interesting” without considering whether the often prurient interest factor outweighs the harm to the individuals and their families done by the site’s prying is inherently unfair and irresponsible. The pulled story was not atypical, but then Gawker has been typically immune to shame and decency. What had changed?

Denton’s various explanatory statements are ethically inert—not surprising, since he founded this monstrosity. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Leadership

The Girl Scouts Face Corruption By A Rich, Cruel, Horrible Person

batman_arkham_origins

Fortunately, they knew what to do.

Last May the Girl Scouts made news when they announced a new policy of acceptance for transgender girls.  The policy was reasonable and case-by-case based, but the policy is secondary to the story. What matters is that the organization adopted it as consistent with its mission.

Last month, a $100,000 donor sent the Queen Anne offices of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington a note demanding that the chapter “guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can’t, please return the money.” The $100,000 was about 25% of the group’s yearly fundraising goal, and would have been used to send about a 500 indigent girls to camp.

Council CEO Megan Ferland returned the donation, telling the donor “Girl Scouts is for every girl. And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.” Of course she did. A non-profit organization cannot put a price tag on its mission and its integrity. This would be like St. Jude’s Hospital accepting a huge donation in exchange for allowing a black child to die of cancer. It would be like a a women’s college’s board of directors cutting a profitable deal with an outsider to close the school down, just to pick a wild hypothetical out of the air. It is the equivalent of treason, selling out one’s nation, or taking money to betray a family or a friend who trusts you. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

Ethics Dunce: Actor and Ex-“George” Jason Alexander

susan-ross

The gag on “Seinfeld” was that all four of the main characters (and most everyone else, too) were selfish, neurotic, essentially horrible people. Michael Richards signaled that he might have been channeling his inner creep into “Kramer” when he had a spontaneous racist meltdown during a stand-up gig, effectively destroying his career. Now we have learned what a mean-spirited, gratuitously cruel jerk Jason Alexander is. And I always thought it was just the fact that he was playing mean-spirited, gratuitously cruel jerk Larry David as “George Costanza.”

The “Seinfeld” episode in which George’s rich, odd fiancee Susan Ross died by licking too many cheap wedding invitation envelopes has always been controversial, as many critics and fans felt that it caused the show’s characters to cross over the line from endearingly strange and self-involved to outright despicable—especially George, who received the news of her death with thinly veiled relief.

In an interview with a genuinely despicable individual, Howard Stern, Jason Alexander, previously “George Costanza,” was asked by Stern how Susan’s sudden death became an episode.

“This poor girl,” Alexander said, chuckling.  “The actress is this wonderful girl, Ms. [Heidi] Swedberg… I love her. She’s a terrific girl. I love her. I couldn’t figure out how to play off of her.”

Stern: “You’re being kind.”

“No,” said Alexander, meaning “Yes.”  “Her instincts for doing a scene — where the comedy was — and mine were always misfiring.”

Alexander went on to say that his castmates told him he was being unfair until they had to play scenes with Swedberg. “Finally, they do an episode where Elaine and Jerry have a lot of material with her,” Alexander said. According to Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Seinfeld concurred afterward that it was ” fucking impossible” to play off of her.

Alexander then fingered the actor who sealed “Susan’s” doom.  “Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Elaine”) actually said, ‘I know — don’t you just wanna kill her?’” “Seinfeld” co-creator and writer Larry David then agreed to execution by envelope.

“Every time I tell this story I cringe,” Alexander said, “because Heidi is the sweetest.”

In a career turn that sounds like a  punchline, Swedberg now lives by teaching the ukulele and leading her own ukulele band.

Alexander, not to be excessively harsh, is scum. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture

P.S. 120’s Pay-To-Play Carnival: How Can We Entrust Our Children’s Education To People Like This?

150521_  Carnival at PS 120, 58-01 136th St, Queens, NY, for Sunday, J.C.Rice

I don’t know why my head didn’t blow up with this one. Maybe I’m building up resistance. (Is that good or bad?)

PS 120 in Flushing, Queens, held a carnival for its students last week during school hours, with nearly 900 kids, pre-K to fifth-grade, taking turns in 45 minutes shifts.  There were inflatable slides, a space-bounce, rides,popcorn, ices, music and more. It also cost parents $10, and if they didn’t pay, their kids were forced to sit in the auditorium and listen to their richer classmates having fun.

Now the carnival operator is offering to hold a repeat for the excluded children. “If I had known that there were kids not allowed to attend the carnival, I would have paid for them,” he now says.   That’s nice (and smart PR), but the damage is done.

All the teachers, administrators, the PTA and the principal involved in planning this event, and not one had the functioning ethics alarm to say, “WHAT? We can’t exclude kids who can’t pay. That’s unfair and cruel.”  Wow.

Find another way to fund the event. Find a sponsor. Tell the parents who can pay that they will also be paying for poorer families that cannot. Cancel the event, but whatever you do, you can’t punish kids because their parents can’t or won’t pay ten dollars.

Oh—the school made a nice profit on the carnival!

People this incompetent and lacking in compassion and common sense shouldn’t be allowed alone with children, much trusted to teach them.

___________________________

Pointer: Fred

Facts: NY Post 1, 2

 

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Worst Grandmother of the Year”

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, every kitten looks like a nail..."

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, every kitten looks like a nail…”

The Ethics Quiz concerning the grandmother who disciplined the children under her charge by killing a cat and her kittens with a hammer prompted a superb thread with many able participants. It also explored many rich ethics topics—child abuse, animal abuse,  property, child-rearing, discipline, punishment, law vs. ethics, and more. The entire thread is well worth reading, and it also generated a Comment of the Day that summarized and expanded on the themes and issues discussed. texagg04 has provided several COTD, but I don’t know if any have been better than this one. As a bonus, tex’s comment has persuaded me that I need to add another rationalization to the list. That should be up later today.

Congratulations and thanks to all the Ethics Alarms readers who weighed in so thoughtfully on this story. Tex’s honor here is in part yours as well.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz: The Worst Grandmother of the Year:

Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Quizzes, Rights, U.S. Society

The Humiliation of Alexus Miller-Wigfall

Prom Dress

Some stories of the malfunctioning of  ethics alarms in school administrators make me want to weep, go postal, or begin a national movement to bring down the public school system for good, so untrustworthy are its stewards.

This one made me want to do all three.

The incompetent and cruel administrators at Harrisburg’s Sci-Tech High School told student Alexus Miller Wigfall that she would be suspended because the prom dress she wore was “too revealing.” The school’s dress code, like most dress codes, is so badly worded that it defies reasonable construction: this one requires “all body parts” to be covered, suggesting that the only acceptable prom dress would be something like this…

woman in Burka

Cute! Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Professions, U.S. Society

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

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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