Tag Archives: trust

The Personal Injury Lawyer’s Sex Doll Ad: Stupid! Funny! But Unethical?

Nah.

Here it is:

There is a dubious principle of advertising holding that as long as the name and the service come through memorably, an ad is a success. This video challenges that assumption. It tells me that the lawyer who let someone talk him into doing an apparently improvised ad with a smut-mouthed rubber sex doll is an idiot, and it is very risky to take legal advice from idiots. Nonetheless, there is nothing unethical about the ad. Does it hold the profession up to public ridicule? No, it holds this lawyer up to public ridicule.

Once upon a time, lawyer advertising was held to be unethical by all state bars, until courts found the restrictions to violate the First Amendment. This kind of ad was what the profession was worried about. A few states, notably Florida (the last I checked), still apply more stringent standards to lawyer advertising than currently apply to used cars and cheesemakers, but as long as an ad lawyer doesn’t make affirmative misrepresentations, it won’t be found to be in violation of the legal ethics rules.

Besides, ads like this one are extremely informative. They tell a potential client everything they need to know about the judgment, reputation and trustworthiness of the lawyer who stars in it. What could be more ethical than that?

_______________________

Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

Ethics Alarms Awards Update: Let Us Not Forget “The Most Unethical University Of 2014,” and The Most Unethical Ethicist Who Helped Make It That Way

The unethical ethicist.

The unethical ethicist.

I finally completed the 6th Annual Ethics Alarms Awards for the Worst of Ethics yesterday, longer and more nauseating than its five predecessors, and also, as I realized when I awoke with a jolt at dawn this morning, more incomplete.

Somehow, I managed to omit two important and prominent awards that were in my notes but managed to elude me when I was preparing the final version. Here they are: I’ll be adding both to the official awards posts today:

Most Unethical University and Worst Academic Scandal of the Year:

The University of North Carolina and its incredible fake courses scheme that for 18 years between 1993 and 2011 allowed more than 3,100 students, 47.6 percent of them athletes, to enrolled in and receive credit for  classes that did not exist.

Least Ethical Ethicist

Prof. Jeanette M. Boxill, a philosophy professor and senior lecturer on ethics  who ran the University of North Carolina’s Parr Center for Ethics, and who somehow decided it was ethical to steer U.N.C.  into fake classes to help them maintain their eligibility with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and actively worked to cover up the scam. Among other aspect of her participation, Boxill  helped players write papers, which the official university report on the conspiracy characterized as stepping across the line of permissible conduct.

Ya think??

The Chronicle of Education article about Boxill’s participation suggests that she rationalized helping the athletes graduate as “the ethics of care,” and a colleague says that she may have “often let her heart guide her.” Her heart guided her to allow students to acquire a degree that misrepresented their academic work to the world, and to perpetuate and further corrupt the already corrupt system of college athletics? Wow. For an ethics professor, she had a remarkably ignorant and unethical heart. She has,blessedly, been fired, and is appealing the decision.

I wonder on what grounds? I don’t think even The Saint’s Excuse (Rationalization #13 on the Ethics Alarms List) applies to her conduct.

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Filed under Character, Education, Sports

Ethics Observations On Mayor de Blasio’s Refusal To Apologize To His Police Officers

Integrity and leadership are not the same thing, Mayor...

Integrity and leadership are not the same thing, Mayor…

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s relations with his own police force could not be worse, and this is not in the best interest of the citizens both the mayor and the police are duty-bound to serve. Can the rift be repaired?

This week de Blasio ruled out one avenue of peace: he said he would not apologize for his remarks following the Eric Garner grand jury decision not to bring charges against the officer who appeared to precipitate the unarmed black man’s death by using a choke-hold. The mayor said…

“You can’t apologize for your fundamental beliefs. The things that I have said were based on my beliefs, the truth as I know it. Can we do a better job communicating, and listening, and deepening an understanding of what our officers need? Yes.”

Fascinating.

I can’t think of a better example of a dilemma where the most ethical conduct is still irresponsible leadership, and thus, from the perspective of a leader’s obligations, unethical.

From an isolated perspective, de Blasio is asserting his integrity. “I could apologize and help smooth over my toxic relationship with the police, but that would require me to be insincere, and I’m not going to do that,” he is saying. He is saying that his constituents can trust him to be straight and honest, and if that means that he must pay a political price, he will pay it. This is admirable, on a human level. Praiseworthy…in a vacuum.

De Blasio, however, doesn’t have the luxury of being ethical in a vacuum. He is the mayor of a city with a lot of problems, controversies, obstacles to effective governance and people in need. The context of all of his words and actions must be his duties to address those issues, and his integrity, in this case, must be subordinate to getting the job he was elected to do done. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race

No, There’s No Comparison Between Bill Cosby And Woody Allen And No “Double Standard”

One of these things is not like the other....

One of these things is not like the other….

Newspapers should make us more informed and smarter, not less informed and dumber. Thus a Washington Post feature this morning qualifies as journalism malpractice, incompetence exemplified. Its theme: “Gee, why is Woody Allen signing a new deal to do a streaming comedy series for Amazon, while Bill Cosby lost his deal with NBC?” The print edition sub-heads: “Crisis responses may explain…”

No, they don’t. This is a false comparison based on superficial similarities: two comics who initially peaked in the same era, both in their seventies, shadowed now by sex scandals. The effort to use one to question the treatment of the other is either intellectually dishonest or so analytically unsound that it should forfeit the authors’ privileges of being assigned to write anything for mass consumption (the Post piece is by Stephanie Merry and Amy Argetsinger, and shame on them). The question of why Allen and Cosby are being treated differently in the court of public opinion isn’t worth asking, but since they asked, here are the obvious answers:

1. Woody Allen’s art, comedy, and persona have never had anything to do with virtue, stable families or being any kind of a role model. As a performer, he has presented himself as perpetually horny, neurotic, obsessed with sex and masturbation, prone to lying, and open to adultery, betrayal, stealing friends’ lovers; in “Manhattan,” he happily romanced a virtual child. In real life, he says things like “The heart wants what the heart wants,” which is a  rationalization for any act unethical or illegal, involving sexual or romantic desire. If you were ever a fan of Woody Allen after the age of 13, you were so because he was funny, accepting the fact that he is at best a sexually obsessed, maladjusted creep.

None of this is true of Cosby, who has always aimed his comedy at innocence, functional families and traditional virtues, and represented his own values as consistent with these when speaking for himself. Sex was not any part of Cosby’s art or image. He was an iconic good guy. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Childhood and children, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 1)

Cosby3

2014 was the year of the Ethics Train Wreck. They were coming so fast that they were getting tangled up with each other, and old wrecks from past years started rolling again, or the damage that was triggered a year ago or more started kicking in. I don’t know if every year really is more ethics free than the year before, or that it just feels that way because I’m getting better at sniffing it out. By any standards, it was a wretched year, with epic ethical misconduct across the culture. But I can’t stall any more: let’s wade into it. There will be more installments this year, so the misery is coming in smaller bites. You’re welcome.

Ethics Train Wreck of the Year

trainwreck

It’s a tie!

The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck and The Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck

The obvious winner is the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, which has managed to hook up with the 2012 winner, The Trayvon Martin- George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck, as well as a the sub-EthicsTrain Wreck attached to the death of Eric Garner, to further degrade U.S. race relations, undermine the stability of numerous cities, get several people, including the recently assassinated NYC police officers killed, revive race riots, give vile demagogue Al Sharpton unprecedented power and influence, and pick up such distinguished riders as President Obama,  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, New York Mayor de Blasio. It is also still barreling along at top speed after many months, and is a good bet to continue its carnage well into 2015. 

Yet, it became clear to me this summer with this post that the entire Obama Administration has become an Ethics Train Wreck, and one that is neck-and-neck with the one spawned in Ferguson in threatening short and long-term damage. Incompetence, dishonestly, lack of transparency and arrogance have hardened cynicism in the public, corrupted the ethical values of defenders, let journalists to disgrace themselves, and fertilized festering potential disasters internationally and domestically. This is also, I now see, a wreck of long duration that started in 2009, and had gathered momentum with every year. It also has sparked other wrecks, including the one that now keeps it from being the sole 2014 winner. How much damage will The Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck do in 2015? Which agency or department will prove itself to be corrupt, incompetent and mismanaged, which official will continue in a post after proving himself unfit to serve, which inept pronouncement or abuse of power will further degrade American trust and freedom?

I’m not looking forward to learning the answers.

Fraud of the Year

The U.S. Justice Department, which allegedly participated in a plot to force  Sierra Pacific Industries and other defendants  to pay $55 million to the United States over a period of five years and transfer 22,500 acres of land as settlement of charges brought against the company by DOJ for causing a 2007 wildfire that destroyed 65,000 acres of land in California. Naturally, the national news media has barely covered this scandal, which is still in litigation. Runner Up: The Victoria Wilcher scam, which made KFC pay for plastic surgery for a little girl when there was no evidence that the company was in any way involved with her injuries. After the fraud was discovered, it didn’t dare ask for its money back. Well played, fraudsters! Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Professions, Rights, Workplace

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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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

Is It Ethical For Professors To Date Students?

teacher-student datingProfsBlog asks the question regarding law professors and law students, but the question doesn’t change by narrowing the definition. The question is really, and only, “Is it ethical for teachers to have romantic relationships with students?” The answer is, has been, and forever shall be, “No.”

The answer to an ethics question sometimes becomes obvious when it is apparent that every argument on one side is either a logical fallacy, an unethical rationalization, or the application of an invalid ethics principle. Such is the case here, and thus I somewhat question the motives of the author of the post, Kelly Anders. Wishful thinking, perhaps? Asking the question creates the illusion that there is a real controversy. In this case, there isn’t.

I addressed this question a long time ago, in an early post here barely seen at the time but among the most frequently visited since. I wrote:

[P]rofessors [are] obligated to maintain a position of authority, objectivity and judgment as mentors and teachers of the whole student body, and [have] a duty to their schools not to allow their trustworthiness to be undermined by having intimate relationships among the same group that they [are] supposed to be supervising and advising. Dating a student is a professional breach of trust, and one that adversely effects the integrity of the entire educational institution…. The appearance created when a supervisor/manager/leader indulges in intimate relations with someone over whom they have authority, status and power—and every professor has authority over every student, in class or out— undermines the institution and the profession, by sending the false message that such relationships are standard, approved, and implicitly desirable in the culture where they occur…A professor has a potential teacher-student relationship with all students at a university, not just those in his or her classes.

Dating a student who happens not to be in one of those classes is what lawyers call “a distinction without a difference.” Many students and professors will reasonably assume that the pairing arose out of the student-teacher relationship, and in some ways it almost certainly did. A teacher always has superior power over any student by virtue of his or her position of authority, and it is an abuse of that power to use it to entice students into dates or bed…

[It] is naive to ignore the extended conflicts such relationships create. Might the professor’s best friends on the faculty be more generous when grading their friend’s significant other if he or she is one of their students? Will the professor consciously or subconsciously be easier on the friends of his student lover if they are in his class? The fact that the question can be asked shows that the situation should not occur where it can be asked.

Students, all students, must be off-limits as romantic partners for professors and administrators in universities, regardless of what rules are in place.Professors who date students risk their jobs because a student body is not their sexual smorgasbord, and it is a breach of trust and duty to treat it like one.

I wouldn’t change a word, except that typo I just noticed, and just fixed in the original. Nor is anything I wrote then revolutionary or new. These are the realities of authority, professionalism, leadership and power. It’s just that sometimes people really, really wish they were not. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Environment, Gender and Sex, Professions, Workplace