Tag Archives: honesty

Selfie Ethics: Yes, Big Papi Exploited The President

Ortiz-Obama-Selfie.jpg

I wrote about this ethical breach when Ellen DeGeneris did it at the Oscars. The short version is this:

“It’s unethical to pretend that a selfie is a spontaneous  gesture of fun and friendship when you have a commercial agreement in place to use the photograph in a way that promotes the cell phone manufacturer.”

This is exploitation for commercial gain, and it’s wrong. It’s wrong when the victims are movie stars, and it’s wrong when the exploited party is President of the United States. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Etiquette and manners, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Tweet

Autonomy: The Ethics Alarm That Obamacare Should Be Setting Off, But Isn’t

fire_alarm

Autonomy. This is the ethical value, a sub-set of the “respect” section of the Josephson Institute’s Six Pillars of Character, that is suddenly absent from the value set of the New American Left. This is cause for concern to say the least, because autonomy is the very value that was the impetus for the nation’s founding, and that is at the core of the Bill of Rights as well as the “inalienable rights” that introduce Mr. Jefferson’s mission statement for our strange experiment in self-governance. Beginning back in Bill Clinton’s administration, advocates of a nationalized health care system, including President Clinton himself, began floating the historical and logical nonsense that Jefferson and the Founders would have enthusiastically supported national health care. This is, of course, a cynical lie if one is educated (as it was in Clinton’s case) or proof positive of complete unfamiliarity with, oh, everything about the Founders, their political philosophy, and political philosophy generally. Whatever the value of a national health care program, the idea that the government would presume to dictate how one managed something so personal and intimate as one’s own health would have horrified  every signer of the Declaration, from its author to Button Gwinett.

That Mr. Jefferson’s supposed followers—he is the Original Democrat, by most lights, would reach the point of maintaining that the public’s beliefs, opinions and attitudes must be bent to their will is a development that threatens the existence of United States society and culture as we know it. The recent flare in this emergency arrived via the mugging of Brandon Eich, ex-CEO of Mozilla, who was deemed by the liberal elite as unworthy of keeping his job (though Mozilla is an internet company and he is an innovator in the field) because he was not convinced of the rightness of same-sex marriage by the elite’s newly determined, and well past,  deadline—a deadline that such progressive icons as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton also missed, but never mind. Conformity to Progressive Truth has become the order of the day, and woe be to any good citizen who dares to oppose it. Does this sound like freedom to you? “Choice,” to use a popular rallying cry in the protest against the “War against Women?” It doesn’t sound like freedom to me. Continue reading

53 Comments

Filed under U.S. Society, Bioethics, Law & Law Enforcement, Government & Politics, Around the World, Health and Medicine, Citizenship, Rights

The Abysmal Quality of Ethical Reasoning in Baseball: A Depressing Case Study

"Dirt."

“Dirt.”

The first bona fide ethics controversy of the 2014 baseball season has erupted, and it involves the team of my youth, the Boston Red Sox. It is not the controversy itself that is so noteworthy, for it is an old, old one: pitchers using foreign substances to doctor the balls so they dip, curve, and sing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” What is noteworthy is the reaction to the incident by players and the sports media, which has me feeling that as an ethicist, I need to think about following another sport. The ethics reasoning, or lack of it, is truly depressing.

What happened was this: During last night’s Red Sox-Yankee game in Yankee Stadium, the Boston broadcasting team of Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy noticed a glossy brown substance on New York starting pitcher Michael Pineda’s pitching hand. It was very obvious, especially once the NESN cameras started zooming in on it.   “There’s that substance, that absolutely looks like pine tar,” play-by-play man Don Orsillo said. “Yeah, that’s not legal,” color commentator and former player Jerry Remy replied.

Indeed it isn’t.  According to rule 8.02(a)(2), (4) and (5), the pitcher shall not expectorate on the ball, either hand or his glove; apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball; [or]  deface the ball in any manner.

The Red Sox, who probably knew about the gunk on Pineda’s hand, didn’t complain to the umpires, and just went about their merry way, losing the game. Asked about the stuff on his hand, Pineda demonstrated the full range of body language indicating that he was lying his head off. “It was dirt,’ he said. Later, when the ick appeared to be gone,  Pineda explained, he had just sweated his hand clean. Right. Whatever was on his hand—beef gravy, crankcase oil, chocolate syrup…the majority of pundits think pine tar—it wasn’t “dirt.” Pineda’s manager, Joe Girardi, was brazenly evasive.

The Yankee pitcher was cheating. This isn’t a major scandal, but cheating is cheating: sports shouldn’t allow cheating of any kind, because if a sport allows some cheating, however minor, it will encourage cynical, unscrupulous and unethical individuals on the field, in the stands, and behind keyboard to excuse all other forms of cheating, from corked bats to performance enhancing drugs. Cheating is wrong. Cheating unfairly warps the results of games, and rewards dishonesty rather than skill. Cheating undermines the enjoyment of any game among serious fans who devote energy and passion to it. Any cheating is a form of rigging, a variety of lying.

And yet, this clear instance of cheating, caught on video, primarily sparked the sports commentariat, including most fans, to cite one rationalization and logical fallacy after another to justify doing nothing, and not just doing nothing, but accepting the form of cheating as “part of the game.” I’ve been reading columns and listening to the MLB channel on Sirius-XM and watch the MLB channel on Direct TV since this episode occurred. Here are the reactions, my comments in bold:

  • This isn’t a new phenomenon. Show me the statute of limitations on ongoing misconduct, please. Also not new: torture, rape, adultery, incest, bribery and embezzlement. So what? That makes these things all right? Excuses society from trying to reduce their occurrence?

Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Character, Journalism & Media, Sports, U.S. Society

I Repeat: April Fools Day Is Not For Ethical Professionals

april-fools-day-banner

In a much attacked post here way back in 2010, I offered some ethical guidelines for April Fool’s Day, which was just beginning to get out of hand. I was right, my critics were wrong, and maybe some of the mockers who are now trying to figure out when their favorite news organization is lying to them today for fun, as opposed to the rest of the year when it lies to them out of bias or incompetence, are beginning to appreciate my position.

I just watched three different morning news shows that contained fake news or commentary that the reporters and anchors, at least, seemed to think was hilarious. In one case, on Fox, conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham dead-panned a remarkably even-handed and fair explanation for HHS Secretary Sibelius’s much-maligned TV silence when asked about the Affordable Care Act’s unpopularity.  April Fool! Laura wasn’t being fair or objective, she was just tricking Fox’s audience into being angry at her for being fair and objective, or, in my case, admiring her integrity for pointing out that the incident had more than one plausible interpretation. Got me, Laura. I just heard an NPR host plead with the audience not to regard the upcoming segment as a hoax because of the date, an especially difficult plea since NPR springs virtual hoaxes on its audience all year.

The first and most important of my April Fools guidelines was this:

1. April Fools’ Day tricks are not for professionals to play on those who depend on them, trust them, or otherwise rely on them for information or services, unless there is a special relationship as well. The risks of harm and abuse are too great.

The succeeding four years have validated my position. Journalism, government and politics are the prime examples. CNN played a video that showed Jay Carney crowing yesterday about the Affordable Care Act’s success even as the Healthcare.gov website had crashed. Wait..is this a joke? Did the Obama White House film this for fun and games? They wouldn’t do this, you say? Government officials don’t use their high office for jokes and hoaxes? Really?

Sen. Ted Cruz, also on Fox, showed his new tattoo, apparently an April Fools’ joke, but also said he was certain that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed. Which is more likely, that the AFA will be repealed, or that wacky Ted Cruz would get a tattoo? Slate has a post up by someone called Rehan Salan, which is, clearly, a clever anagram for “En Anal Rash” or something, arguing that adults without children should be forced to pay extra taxes to support parents. Hah! Good one, Slate! That should turn the “pro choice” crowd on its head: lets; punish the choice not to have children via a penalty—I’m sorry, Chief Justice Roberts, a tax, wink-wink. Wait…that isn’t a joke? Ok, well, I’m sure about this, then: that fake video showing famous tough guy Don Baylor, a record holder for being hit by pitches when he played and now a coach for the Los Angeles Angels, “breaking his leg” catching the ceremonial first pitch of the baseball season. April Fools, right ESPN? No????

Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Professions, The Internet, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz (Movie Division): “The Impossible,” Whitewashing, and Betrayal

"Bennett" and Belón

“Bennett” and Belón

I suppose some of you may have thought about this two years ago, when the Spanish film “The Impossible” was first released. I, however, take a while to catch up with my movie-viewing, and though the film was much praised by critics and got Naomi Watts an Academy Award nomination, I had not seen the film until recently. “The Impossible,” about as accurately as a motion picture can, tells the amazing story of how Spanish physician María Belón, her husband Enrique Álvarezs, and her three young sons miraculously  survived the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami when the family was on vacation in Thailand.

It is an engrossing, harrowing movie. I was surprised to find out, however that the family’s name wasn’t “Bennett,” and that they weren’t British, as the movie presented them. Apparently to maximize box office receipts, the film makers decided to take the heroic story of a real family and make the characters “more relatable” by recasting them as English-speaking Brits. There was a minor controversy about the film “whitewashing” the story*, but not much of that made it into the mainstream media. Belón, after all, is white. She was an active participant in the appropriation of story and that of her husband and sons, and they all profited from it, at least financially. Still, the movie’s point of view left a bad taste in the mouths of some international critics. Here is Australian critic Ruby Hamad:

“Based on the true story of a dark haired and darkish-skinned Spanish family, the filmmakers admitted to changing their nationality and casting lily-white actors in order to make the story ‘universal’. In other words, only white people can stand in for the human race as whole. For this reason, Thailand and its people are mere backdrops for the story of a Caucasian family who learn the hard way that even western privilege is no match for the brute force of mother nature.”

Your (two-year late) Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz, therefore, is:

Is “The Impossible” unethical”?

Continue reading

28 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Marketing and Advertising

Ethics Hero: HBO Comic Bill Maher

at_the_end_of_the_world

Yes, you read that right.

Soon dogs and cats will be sleeping together, the world will stop spinning on its axis, and there will be snowball fights in Hell. It is the end of the world.

On the latest installment “Real Time with Bill Maher, “HBO’s weekly conservative/ Republican bash-fest, Maher, whom his progressive guests trust  implicitly to be of a like mind, read a quote that the posted graphic  identified as issuing from Rep. Paul Ryan. The 2012 GOP Vice-Presidential candidate had been slammed earlier in the week for “racially coded” comments about the need to change the culture in the inner city. Here is the quote:

“When it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can’t be bothered. They’re sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.”

Then Bill let his guests take turns criticizing Ryan for blaming black Americans for problems over whichthey had no control, while sole conservative guest (Bill only allows one token punching bag from the right per show) Rick Lazio was mocked and laughed at by the studio audience for defending Ryan’s point. Finally, after letting everyone hang themselves, Maher revealed that the real speaker was…. Michelle Obama.

As Ralph Cramden…that is, the Great One, Jackie Gleason, used to say,

Thank you, Bill!

He was the perfect one to pull this revealing and damning stunt, being a reliable race-baiter himself (on an earlier show, Maher countered Bill Kristol’s challenge to the liberal cant that Republican opposition to President Obama is based on racial bias by asserting that he “absolutely” believed that.) But Bill isn’t above tricking and embarrassing his loyal allies and toadying audience for publicity and to pose as a truth-teller so his future deceptions, slanders and lies have more credibility. One can do the right thing, and a very beneficial thing, for unethical reasons, and I am absolutely certain that the despicable, amoral, cynical and vicious “comic” had nothing but base motives for this stunt. In fact, tricking invited guests who trust him into exposing their own bias was despicable, terrible host etiquette, and dishonest, but then Bill’s show is something of an ethics-free zone anyway. Anyone, right or left, who enables Maher by appearing on his show has waived the right to have my sympathy. In another case, I might argue that the end doesn’t justify the means, but anyone who voluntarily agrees to keep Maher’s show on the air deserves what he or she gets. This is the Scorpion and the Frog at its clearest.

Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Race

The Loathsome Ed Schultz

Ed-schultz-MSNBC

It is not the first time, but MSNBC’s ugliest Angry Left spokesman just completed a cycle of conduct demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is deceptive, dishonest, cowardly, and incompetent—in short, loathsome. This is Ed Schultz, the most unethical of the stable of unethical anchors and commentators intentionally assembled by MSNBC—you could not possible get such an awful group by accident—for reasons best known to its chief, Phil Griffin. Having left-leaning views doesn’t make one loathsome by itself (no matter what Mark Levin says), but I do wonder what to make of fans of the likes of Martin Bashir, Keith Olbermann, Alec Baldwin  (all of whom became so openly loathsome that even MSNBC had to jettison them), Melissa Harris-Perry, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell, Al Sharpton and especially Schultz. A viewer admiring an unambiguous jerk on the level of Ed Schultz because he applies his jerk-ness in support of the viewer’s favorite ideology is itself a strong indication of flawed character. In the matter of unethical pundits, it doesn’t take one to know one, but it takes one to tolerate one. If a job applicant tells me she’s never misses the Ed Show, I’m not trusting her with the combination to the safe, I’ll promise you that.

Ed’s moment of self-revelation came as a result of some nakedly partisan Obamacare cheerleading in December. Ed then crowed,

“I’m going to make a prediction tonight. It`s going to hit 5 million by March 1st. That’s right. Five million people signed up by March 1st. Get your tapes rolling at home, folks, because it’s going to be a big “I told you so.”

Well, Ed was wrong, and did not get his “big ‘I told you so.’” But because the man has the maturity of an 11-year-old and the integrity of Newt Gingrich, he couldn’t level with his audience about the fact that his prognostication didn’t pan out. When his March 1st deadline came and went, Ed got into Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine and changed the past, saying on March 12 as the sign-ups languished well short of his prediction:

“Well, I predicted five million people are going to sign up by the end of this month. We`re closing on it on that number.”

Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media

KABOOM! There’s nothing else to say, really…My head is all over the room…

Voter fraud

Melowese Richardson, a poll worker who was convicted of multiple counts of voter fraud and just released on probation from a five year prison sentence, was brought up on stage  to rousing applause as Rev. Al Sharpton joined State Representative Alicia Reece at a rally to kick off the drive for an Ohio “Voter’s Bill of Rights” amendment.

My head is scattered all over my hotel room, so I am struggling to be articulate, restrained and calm.

The cynicism of Democrats on the voter fraud issue approaches…oh, hell, I can’t do it!

HOW DARE THEY? Continue reading

62 Comments

Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Embracing Orwell

big-brother

Nancy Pelosi epitomizes the ethics illness that has been gradually infecting our public discourse for decades now. She suffers from, and indeed wants to spread, the George Orwell Disease, epitomized in his classic “1984,” which causes political leaders to seek to control the public and hold power by controlling what the population is capable of thinking and saying. Such cynical and sinister use of language to hide the truth and then keep it hidden by insisting on vernacular that throws the brain off the track was once primarily the realm of the military, but in recent decades the American liberal establishment has found the approach—“War is Peace,” as George would have put it—extremely useful, indeed, indispensable. Pelosi’s tactics—it isn’t just her, of course, but the Democrats are accountable for their leadership—include many of those that Big Brother was adept at in Orwell’s book—repetition, for example.

Yesterday, Pelosi explained how the Affordable Care Act was a “winner” for Democrats going into the 2014 elections—or, as Big Brother would say, “Losers are Winners”—and instructed the public and the media that the law isn’t “Obamacare.”  “It’s called the Affordable Care Act. It’s called the Affordable Care Act, ” she insisted. “Affordable. Affordable. There’s a reason. Affordable. Affordable. Affordable. Affordable. Affordable.” Continue reading

214 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Literature, U.S. Society

Self-Promotion Alert: Army Magazine on Candor and Honesty

COVER_March2014Rick Maze, a reporter for Army Magazine, was kind enough to quote me extensively in his article, “Candor: Can the Army Handle the Truth?” which is available here. He also includes an extensive reference to the Rationalizations List.

8 Comments

Filed under Character, Journalism & Media, Leadership, War and the Military, Workplace