Tag Archives: Facebook

Pop Ethics Quiz: Welcoming Rev. Talbert Swan, Late Passenger On The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck

George Zimmerman memes

Quick:

Name everything ethically and logically wrong with this meme.

While you’re making your list, I’ll explain.

It comes courtesy of Talbert Swan–website here, Facebook page here-– who tweeted it to his many followers, lots of whom then dutifully posted it on Facebook. Swan describes himself as a “public figure.”  He is, we learn, an activist, pastor, author, radio talk show host, NAACP president, National Chaplain, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. Assistant General Secretary of the Church Of God In Christ. He is also, on the evidence of circulating this meme, a divisive race-baiter who is ignorant of the law, ethics and logic.

Swan sent out this graphic offal with all the typical hashtags: #Trayvon…#MikeBrown…#Ferguson, #Blacklivesmatter and the rest. I would normally just ignore it—I see idiotic memes every day—but this one was posted with approval by a Facebook friend of mine who is objectively brilliant and educated, and justly respected by many, including me. His comment ended with “Case closed!”, and immediately dozens of people “liked” it, many of them undoubtedly then spreading the meme further to make others more ignorant and stupid too. This is affirmatively harmful. Since I know my friend is a good person, the ethics breach is that of responsibility, competence, fairness, and citizenship, the latter because I think promoting racial distrust is being a bad American.

Have you tallied up all the things wrong yet? Here’s my list: Continue reading

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KABOOM! ARGHHH! How Can This Happen In The United States? How Can Any University Think This Is Legal, Fair, Ethical Or Rational? How Can A UNiversity That Acts This Way Be Trusted To Teach Anyone Anything, Other Than How To Be A Fascist?

Thank-you, University of Tulsa...

Thank-you, University of Tulsa…

I really didn’t need another KABOOM! so soon after the last one.

From The Foundation For Individual Rights in Education, with my brainless reactions in bold and brackets:

TU suspended student George “Trey” Barnett last October for three Facebook posts [ It’s unethical and probably illegal to punish Barnett for his own Facebook posts…] published by his husband that criticized another student and two TU faculty members. […but it is beyond belief for the school to punish him for what someone else, regardless of who, posts to his page.] None of the Facebook posts came from Barnett’s account; the statements were posted by his husband, who either tagged Barnett or posted them directly to Barnett’s Facebook page. Barnett’s husband later submitted a sworn affidavit attesting to his sole authorship of the posts. Nevertheless, shortly after TU professor Susan Barrett filed a complaint against Barnett arguing that Barnett could not “avoid responsibility” because someone else was responsible for the posts. [This is Kafaesque. Do these even people know how Facebook works? ] TU Senior Vice Provost Winona Tanaka imposed eight restrictive interim measures against Barnett. The sanctions included suspending his participation in certain courses and activities and even barring him from speaking about certain individuals. [University administrators can not bar whom a citizen may speak to; only judges can do things like that, and only rarely.]

Without affording him the hearing he was entitled to under TU’s University Student Conduct Policies & Procedures, and despite his husband’s affidavit, Tanaka found Barnett responsible for “harassment.” Tanaka also found Barnett guilty of retaliation and violating confidentiality requirements for speaking about the disciplinary charges with his husband—who was also his exculpatory witness. [ What??? WHAT??? Due Process? Rights of the accused? Procedures? Policies? ]

Less than two months before Barnett was set to graduate, Tanaka not only suspended him until at least 2016 but also permanently banned him from receiving a degree in his major even upon his re-enrollment. Barnett was forced to wait two months for TU to respond to his appeal, which the university summarily denied on January 9 without explanation—leaving Barnett unable to earn his theater degree as planned. [ All of this for what someone else wrote on the student’s Facebook page! My key question in ethics scenarios is “What’s going on here?” What’s going on here? I have no idea. An illicit relationship between the apparently fat faculty member Barrett and Tanaka? Insanity?]

…TU has also threatened … its independent student newspaper, The Collegian, which this week reported on Barnett’s suspension and criticized his treatment. The Collegian reports that after contacting TU administrators for comment, student reporters were told by TU’s director of marketing and communications that if “anything that the university deems to be confidential” is “published or shared, (that) could violate university policies.” The university refused to explain what might constitute “confidential” information and, come press time, the journalists were unsure what action the university might take against them. [ OK, let’s just stipulate that the University of Tulsa doesn’t accept the principles underlying the First Amendment. I will await its next abuse of power being aimed at impending worship requirements and a ban on assembly.]

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Ethics Quiz: Is It Time For A “Let’s Tweet Insults About Chip McGee Day”?

Meet Chip McGee!

Meet Chip McGee!

At Bedford (New Hampshire) High School, several students were not pleased with Superintendent Chip McGee’s announcement via his Twitter feed that classes would resume the day following the school’s cancellation for snow. They responded with tweets of their own, some that were not especially pleasant. McGee, as one would expect a mature adult to be, especially one overseeing the education of children, was philosophical. saying, “Kids said some very funny, clever things. And some kids stood up and said, ‘Hey, watch your manners.’ That was great. And some kids — a few — said some really inappropriate things.”

Yes, kids will be kids. McGee then suspended those latter students for up to four days.

“It’s been a really good exercise in issues of students’ right to speech, on the one hand, and students’ and teachers’ rights to an educational environment that’s conducive to learning,” McGee explained to the Constitutionally ignorant. “Kids have the right to say whatever they want about me [and] The First Amendment right means you can say what you want, (but) it doesn’t mean that you are free of repercussion. It can’t disrupt what we’re doing in school … If something disrupts school, and it (occurs) outside school, we not only can take action, we have to.”

McGee  hopes that the punished students will learn from this incident about “the line” of decent and appropriate commentary. “You only learn that by checking where it is, and having something happen when you cross it,” he said.

Good ol’, wise ol’ Chip McGee. He has no idea what the hell he’s talking about.

The students are absolutely guaranteed of speech without “repercussion,” if the speech is off school grounds and the repercussion is from a school official who takes offense. The school has no authority to punish students for what they post on Twitter, from their homes, none at all, unless it relates directly to action at school itself, such as organizing a school disruption. A student opinion of the superintendent or his decisions? That’s 100% protected speech. I can find that right to free speech Chip mentions right there in the Constitution, but search as I might, I can’t locate in the Bill of Rights the provision describing the “students’ and teachers’ rights to an educational environment that’s conducive to learning” that extends to what a student says and writes outside of school. Where is that “right,” Chip?

Chip speaks in the measured tones of a caring educator, but he acts like a petty tyrant who is eager to abuse his position and power to punish anyone who dares to displease him in what they say or think.

No merely insulting or uncivil tweet is going to disrupt school, and if that’s Chip’s claim, he has a rather tough burden of proof to demonstrate it. Nor does a public school—that’s the state, you know— have the right to effectively censor speech by punishing content. If the speech isn’t libelous or a credible threat, Chip McGee’s reasonable remedy consists of asking to speak with the Tweeter and express his hurt and disappointment, or perhaps consulting with the student’s parents, who do have a right to limit online speech when their children are the speakers.  As an educator, he might explain to the student that insulting authority figures who you must relate to by flaming them on mass social media is neither wise, civil, nor a good habit. He might even  suggest that an apology is in order. He may not, however, abuse his power and position to constrain the free speech of those students and others by inflicting punishment. Chip McGee, who has the young minds of children within his power to lead or mislead, needs to learn this basic civics lesson, as do other tin god educators, and I’m sure there are many, who similarly itch to punish students for exercising their speech rights in the privacy of their homes.

Thus this somewhat atypical Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz question to ponders:

Should we declare a “Let’s Tweet Insults About Chip McGee Day”?

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Wanetta Gibson, The Limits Of Forgiveness, And The Most Unethical Facebook Friend Request Ever

"Come on. Let's hang out. I'm more mature now."

“Come on. Let’s hang out. I’m more mature now.”

Brian Banks, the once-promising high school athlete whose life was upended by a classmate’s false rape accusation that sent him to prison for five years, is now  back on his feet, working for the National Football League, and, by the evidence of his recent profile in the New York Daily News, impressively beyond anger and bitterness. He does tell a stunning story, however, of a day in 2011 when he received an unexpected Facebook friend request from Wanetta Gibson, the woman who, for no apparent reason, did this terrible thing to him. Banks says that she wrote…

“I was hoping we could let bygones be bygones. I was immature back in the day, but I’m much more mature now. Let’s hang out. I’d love to see you. I’ve seen your picture on Facebook. You look real good. I would love to hook up.”

I’ve been trying to think up a fanciful equivalent for this “I know I tried to wreck your life, now will you please let me back into it?” request. Would it be John Hinckley Jr. asking President Ronald Reagan for a job? Edward Snowden replying to an NSA RFP? Maybe V. Stiviano asking Donald Sterling for a job recommendation? I’m not sure any of them would be as bad. “Let bygones be bygones.” Among other things, what an insult this is. How stupid does Gibson think her victim is?

Then there is this chilling statement: I was immature back in the day, but I’m much more mature now.” Translation:  “Yes, now I’m a fully mature vicious sociopath. Don’t you want to renew our relationship?”

These are the situations where someone inevitably argues that Americans believe in redemption, and when I inevitably respond, “You are out of your friggin’ mind.” Some people, not many, but some, are bad to the bone, and the social pressure to forgive the worst of the worst—Did you read the words “I’m sorry” anywhere in that request?—is a trap, set up by those who won’t have to live with the consequences of another betrayal of trust.

Banks, of course, rejected Gibson’s overtures.

Two years later, she recanted her withdrawal of her rape accusation.

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Facebook’s Unconstitutional News Hoax Policy

I've got your backs, you contemptible jerks...

I’ve got your backs, you contemptible jerks…

Boy, there’s a lot of pro-censorship sentiment going around these days. I wonder why?

The latest comes from Facebook, which now is going to attempt to shield us from “hoaxes.” I don’t trust the government to decide what I should read and I don’t trust Facebook to do it either. Nobody should.

Back in the sixties, Economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote papers and books asserting that large corporations were becoming the new nations and states, and that it was their power, not elected governments, that would decide how we lived. Galbraith wasn’t the best professor I aver had (he was the tallest), and his assertions in this realm were certainly exaggerated, but a lot of what he foresaw has come to pass. It is true that the First Amendment prohibition against government censorship of expressive speech doesn’t apply to private entities, but it is also true that huge corporations like Facebook weren’t even a twinkle in the eye of the Founders when that core American value was articulated. Any corporate entity that has the power to decide what millions of Americans get to post on the web is ethically obligated to embrace the same balance of rights over expediency that the Constitution demands of the state, specifically free speech over expediency, period, exclamation point, no exceptions. Embodying Clarence Darrow’s statement that in order for us to have enough freedom, it is necessary to have too much, the Supreme Court has even pronounced outright lies to be protected speech.

For this reason, Facebook’s well-intentioned anti-hoax policies—boy, there’s also a lot of well-intentioned lousy policies going around these days, being applauded for their goals whether they work or not. I wonder why?—add one more offense to core American ideals.

You can read Facebook’s new policy here. The key section: Continue reading

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The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 4 of 4)

mamoru-samuragochi2

Outrageous Hoax Of The Year

Mamoru Samuragochi, the composer sometimes known as “The Japanese Beethoven” because he composed critically acclaimed works despite being deaf, was exposed as double fraud: he didn’t compose the works that made him Japan’s most popular classical composer, and he isn’t even really deaf!  Samuragochi hired a musical ghostwriter named Takashi Niigaki to compose more than twenty compositions for Samuragochi since 1996.

Funniest Outrageous Hoax

Fake Panda

This.

Unethical Artist Of The Year

Performance artist Maximo Caminero, who  walked into the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, entered a special exhibit of sixteen ancient Chinese vases painted over in bright colors by celebrated Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, picked up one of them, and immediately after a security guard instructed him not to touch the exhibit, allowed the vase to fall from his hands, shattering into bits. Caminero admitted that smashing the pottery, which was valued at a million dollars,  was intentional, and was his protest against in support of local artists like himself whose work is not exhibited at the museum while the art of international artists like Weiwei is.

Unethical Veterinarian Of The Year

Fort Worth, Texas veterinarian Lou Tierce lost his license for five years as a result of, among other transgressions, his telling the owners of a Leonburger (it’s a very big dog) that their pet was terminally ill and had to be euthanized, then secretly keeping the dog alive in a small cage so he could use Sid’s blood for transfusions to Dr. Tierce’s other canine patients. Eventually an assistant at the clinic blew the whistle and alerted Sid’s owners, who rescued their dog and sicced the law on the worst veterinarian since Dean Jones menaced Beethoven.

Unethical Doctor Of The Year

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s medical expert, endangered the public by defying a voluntary quarantine for possible Ebola exposure,  because she just couldn’t bear to be without her favorite soup.

Scam of the Year

Jonathan-Gruber-1

The Affordable Care Act.

 Unethical Federal Agency Of The Year

The Secret Service. Lots of competition in this category: the Veterans Administration, the I.R.S., the CDC, the Justice Department, NSA…but when you essentially have one job to do and do it badly, sloppily carelessly and dangerously, there’s really not much more to say Continue reading

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Can’t Win, Can’t Break Even: If You Need To Apologize For Saying “All Lives Matter,” Why Not Apologize For Resolving To Challenge Racism?

We have a reverse Smith in Pittsburgh.

You will recall that Smith College president Kathleen McCartney attempted to  show support for her students  protesting racism and police brutality by sending a campus-wide email titled, “All Lives Matter, ” and came under fire by campus activists because the protest slogan was “black lives matter.” She quickly apologized,  saying that she didn’t intend for “all lives matter” to be interpreted as rebuttal to “black lives matter.”

Now, in Pittsburgh, the Chief of Police is being attacked by his own officers who say that this photograph, posted on Facebook…

mclaybanner

…accuses them of being racists.

Touchy, touchy….?

The problem is that the Chief is endorsing a slogan of a group called Fight Back Pittsburgh, which has engaged in anti-police rhetoric in the past and carried signs saying “End White Silence” in protest marches.  It describes itself as a Pittsburgh-based collective (I would call it a Marxist group) with the mission of creating a world that is free of destructive white privilege and oppression. OK, Fight Back Pittsburgh sounds like a group of racists to me. But the message of the sign is hard to take offense at. Who isn’t obligated to challenge racism at work? Continue reading

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