Mutual Destruction At Applebee’s: An Uncharitable Pastor and a Vengeful Waitress Do Each Other In


The Combatants!

  • Alois Bell, a pastor at Truth in the World Deliverance Ministries Church. Uncharitable, vengeful, arrogant and cheap, she complained about an autotip of 18% added to her Applebee’s check that was triggered by the size of her group. The bill was small, but the group was large. Crossing out the tip amount and replacing it with nada, she scrawled, insufferably, on the bill, “I give 10% to God, why do you get 18?”, thus stiffing the waiter whom the party later said had rendered impeccable service. She also scrawled “pastor” by the bill amount, thus presuming a clergy discount that didn’t (and shouldn’t) exist. After a waitress colleague of the un-tipped waiter posted the bill on Reddit to inspire some well-earned web-shaming, Bell complained to Applebee’s management, successfully getting the waitress fired.

Verdict: Contemptible jerk. She abused her position to claim a discount that she wasn’t entitled to, and punished an innocent server by withholding a fair tip. [This may not be so; see UPDATE at the end] Then she set out to take vengeance on the young woman for exposing her despicable conduct. So much for showing the other cheek. Bell’s conduct was as far from the teachings of Christianity as one can get, at least at an Applebee’s.

  • Chelsea Welch, the now ex-Applebee’s waitress. She posted the obnoxious bill and scrawled comments online, whereupon the pastor was identified by her handwriting, and perhaps her jerkish personality.

Verdict:  Unethical conduct, though provoked. Her colleague was wronged by the cheap pastor, but she forgot she wasn’t free to do as an Applebee’s employee what she might choose to do as a private individual. Applebee’s can’t have its customers worrying about whether real or perceived slights to restaurant staff will land them on various websites to be mocked and vilified. Her actions were irresponsible and a violation of her duties as an employee, even though her anger was certainly justified. And her method of retribution was excessive and unethical too. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: An Angry Young Man at Yale Law School

flame faceA third year law student decided it was appropriate to send an obscene, ranting letter to the entire student body of Yale Law School announcing that he hated “like 90%” of them, and also, in his words (after announcing that he is going to be a writer):

“…fuck you guys, you judgmental, uninformed pricks, patting yourselves on the back on top of your goddamn moral high horses. I realize I am killing my future political career. GOOD. If you’ve read The Republic, you know exactly what my opinion of politicians are. I realize I am burning bridges. EXCELLENT. If I succeed in my passions, I want to make damn sure it is without the help of any of you phony-ass shitdicks. I’ve ALREADY gotten compliments about how inspirational I am, and I haven’t even fucking started yet. That’s the biggest compliment I’ve ever received in my life. It’ll probably take you guys 10-20 years to get that even once, so good luck and keep up the good work!”

His name was included on his post, just to make certain that it keeps him from finding gainful employment with any potential supervisor who doesn’t have a death wish.

A few observations: Continue reading

Today is Jackie Robinson’s birthday. He would be 94, but he lived only slightly more than half that long. He was one of our greatest ethics heroes, and I’d like to honor Mr. Robinson by reblogging a post from April 16 of last year.

Ethics Alarms

Yesterday, the media, history buffs and Kate Winslet fans were obsessed with remembering the Titanic, sometimes even with proper reverence to the 1500 men, women and children who lost their lives in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912. A strong argument could be made, however, that the most significant event that occurred on April 15 took place in 1947, in Brooklyn, New York. For that was the day that Jackie Robinson ran out to his position at first base as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and became the first African- American to play baseball in the Major Leagues since the earliest years of the game.

With that act, and his epic heroism for the rest of the season, Robinson changed baseball, sports, American society and history. It was a cultural watershed in a nation that had been virtually apartheid since the end of the Civil War, a catalytic…

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Embarassing Democracy: Gabrielle Giffords and Government by Fallacy

Giffords Notes

The estimable website Fallacy Files contains much wisdom and many tools, most aimed at helping human beings avoid stupidity and the poor decisions it generates. Among the logical fallacies it documents are the flawed appeals, arguments for a proposition based on the supposed authority of an argument of a person based on factors that should have no bearing on the debate at all. A familiar example is the appeal to ignorance, in which an advocate argues that there is no evidence that X is true, ergo X must be false.

Yesterday, gunshot victim and former Representative Gabriella Giffords made what was called “a surprise appearance” at the U.S. Senate (don’t get me started on how much of a “surprise” it was—just try showing up to testify before the U.S. Senate as a “surprise” and see how far you get.) and made what was widely called “powerful testimony” advocating gun control legislation. It wasn’t powerful testimony; it was pathetic testimony. It contributed neither information nor reasoning to the debate. Giffords said, carefully, in labored speech, “Speaking is difficult. I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something.  It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold, be courageous, Americans are counting on you.” Despicably, some Left-wing blogs even managed to use her appearance to further the MSNBC lie that a Sandy Hook’s victim’s father had been “heckled” during his testimony before the Connecticut legislature. “You’ll notice that NOBODY dared to heckle Gabby as she was speaking,” commented one.

Giffords’ testimony wasn’t “powerful.” It was pathetic. It was, in fact, a classic example of another logical fallacy documented by the Fallacy File, the appeal to pity, where emotion is used as a substitute for facts, logic and argument. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Clark Gable, Loretta Young, and the Betrayal of Judy Lewis”


Ethics Alarms has had an influx of new readers lately (Thanks, “O’Reilly Factor”!) and many have been visiting and commenting on older posts that I hadn’t thought about for a long time. “Evangeline” found one of the saddest and strangest, my post in December of 2011 about the death of Judy Lewis, who was the love child of Hollywood legends Loretta Young and Clark Gable. Gable, the “King of Hollywood,” never acknowledged her as his daughter, and Young, who like Gable was married and afraid of harming her reputation, pretended to adopt the girl, never revealing to her that she was her real mother, and the top leading man in movies was her father. (Judy was a dead ringer for him, too, as you can see in the photo above.) You should read the original post, here.

Evangeline apparently knows her Golden Age of Hollywood history, and makes a case that I was too hard on “Rhett Butler.” I’ll be back at the end for a rebuttal. Here is her Comment of the Day on the post, “Clark Gable, Loretta Young, and the Betrayal of Judy Lewis.” Continue reading

But What If David Gregory Shot the Pitbull?

Illeagl? Well, it depends. Just WHY are you breaking the law? Is it for GOOD or ILL?

Illegal? Well, it depends. Just WHY are you breaking the law? Is it for GOOD or ILL?

Another hybrid ethics tale has surfaced! Cross pitbulls (or whatever a reporter thinks passes for one) with the gun law debate and the District of Columbia’s refusal to bring charges against David Gregory for breaking its gun laws on national television,  and…bada bing! This (From the Washington Post) :

“The bloody paw prints travel the length of a city block, from a Northwest Washington street corner where police said an 11-year-old was mauled by three pit bulls to the welcome mat at the dogs’ owner’s home. Two days after the attack, in which police said all three dogs were fatally shot, the prints were a reminder of what happened at Eighth and Sheridan streets on Sunday afternoon. Police said a neighbor and an officer shot the pit bulls as they sank their teeth into the boy’s legs, arms, stomach and chest…An uncle of the victim’s said the boy was riding a new Huffy dirt bike with orange rims he had gotten for Christmas. The uncle said his nephew emerged from an alley onto Sheridan Street, where he collided with the pit bulls. D.C. police said the unleashed and unattended dogs attacked the boy before a neighbor who saw it went into his home, got his handgun and fired once, hitting one of the dogs. A D.C. police officer on bicycle patrol heard the shots, and authorities said he shot and killed the other two pit bulls…Of the shooters, the 34-year-old uncle said, “They did the right thing.”

“D.C. police said they are reviewing the incident and have left open the possibility that the neighbor could be charged with violating the District’s gun laws. A police spokesman would not say whether the gun was legally registered. Even if it was, using it on a D.C. street is illegal…”

Some Post readers were appalled that such a heroic action could result in prosecution. Wrote one, indignantly:

“That prosecutors would even consider bringing gun charges against the Northwest D.C. resident who saved an 11-year-old’s life by shooting one of three pit bulls that were brutally mauling the child speaks volumes about the mindless absurdity of the city’s gun laws, to say nothing of the zealous anti-gun sentiment that more broadly permeates officials’ thinking here…If the good Samaritan who acted quickly in this case to save a child possessed his gun unlawfully, police and prosecutors should by all means confiscate it. But contemplating further charges against him is as unconscionable as it is ridiculous.”

No, what’s ridiculous is to have gun laws that are enforced according to the policy that if a citizen does a good thing with his illegal gun, then it’s fine; only bad acts with guns will result in prosecutions. Continue reading

Sandy Hook Massacre Ethics Train Wreck Special: Distortions From The Media, Excuses From The Biased, And A Call For Accountability

The Daily Beast, through the words of columnist David Frum. calls the latest disgraceful example of the news media bending the truth to manipulate public opinion regarding gun control, “The Newtown Heckling Controversy,.” This places that website on this train wreck as a Big Lie player. The classic formula for a Big Lie smear, for those of you who have read your Goebbels followers, is to make a blatantly false assertion, make the target of the unfair accusation deny it, and then treat it as a legitimate “controversy.” There is no controversy here, only liars and those who want to benefit from the lie, because there was no “heckling.” The real news story here is that the United States has not only developed an arrogant and ethics-free media establishment that no longer can tell true from false, it is getting more brazen by the day. There must be accountability.

The incident—or, as journalists who have decided that their jobs are not to report the news but to drive public policy in their favored direction would call it, the opportunity—occurred during the testimony before the Connecticut legislature by a parent of one of the Sandy Hook victims. [Note: I believe strongly that such testimony is itself unethical. Sorry. Legislation should be based on research, analysis, balancing, and objective analysis of what is in the best interests of the the public. There is literally nothing these parents contribute to this process, other than confusion, emotion, and dramatic video footage. They are not experts on guns, violence, the culture, the Constitution or the law. Their position is the epitome of bias. Their opinions are accorded undeserved weight by the media and mush-headed lawmakesr because they have suffered a personal , as if suffering confers sudden wisdom and balanced perspective. I know the practice is virtually routine, but it does no good, a lot of harm, and should be opposed by anyone interested in competent government.] Tearful and distraught, the grief-stricken father, Neil Heslin, said,

” I don’t know how many people have young children or children. But just try putting yourself in the place that I’m in or these other parents that are here. Having a child that you lost. It’s not a good feeling; not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket or looking at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead. I ask if there’s anybody in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question: Why anybody in this room needs to have an, one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips.”

He waited, and glanced around the room. Then he said, “Not one person can answer that question!” Whereupon one clear voice with a several  others behind it call out,“The Second Amendment shall not be infringed!”

A moderator then says, “Please no comments while Mr. Heslin is speaking. Or we’ll clear the room. Mr. Heslin, please continue.”

This is what happened..this is what obviously happened. Heslin asked the occupants of the room a question posed as a challenge. Pro-gun advocates did not answer, assuming that despite the ambiguous form of the query—Heslin is not a skilled public speaker—it was a rhetorical question. Apparently Heslin didn’t think it was rhetorical, however, because he waited, as if for a response, and then made a statement that concluded unfairly, inaccurately and misleadingly that nobody in the room “can answer the question.” Predictably, a few then did answer his question, only to get slapped down by the moderator.

The headline writer at the Connecticut Post described this scene—falsely—as “Father of Newtown victim heckled at hearing.” That is a lie. Anyone who watches the video and equivocates in calling it a lie is allowing their judgment to be completely liquified by confirmation bias, or trying to facilitate a deception. Continue reading

What Al Should Have Said

I have no illusions about Al Gore, but he will always occupy a warm place in my heart.


My first run-in with Al Gore was long ago. I had taken over the president’s job at a struggling national health promotion organization, and Sen. Gore was our angel in Congress. Health care screening was his mission back then, and he opened doors to sponsors, allies and funding around the country. Then, one day, he stopped answering our phone calls. We were curtly told that Sen. Gore was no longer the Herald of Preventive Health Care. Now he was the guru of something called “the information super-highway,” and we would have to fend for ourselves. (The organization went belly-up a year later). Thus I learned that Gore was nothing if not opportunistic, and perhaps not the guy you would want to be in a World War II foxhole with if he spoke fluent German.

Still, I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be the unlucky loser of the highest office in the land in one the nation’s rare popular vote/electoral vote splits, and I admire the fact that Al’s not in a rubber room by now. I thought his concession speech in 2000 was one of the high-points of political nobility during my lifetime, and the  Saturday Night Live appearance that was Gore’s farewell to politics will always stand as one of the bravest, quirkiest, saddest, funniest, most fascinating public breast-barings in media history. Al is a phony, and an opportunist, and I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him, but he’s lived out a roller-coaster life in the hot lights of center stage, and I’m not certain I could do it any better. Continue reading

Ethics Catch-Up: The Revolting Hillary Clinton Testimony

No wonder she's laughing.

No wonder she’s laughing.

I know I neglected my duty to highlight a truly nauseating example of American political shams at their worst with last week’s dual appearances by outgoing Sec. of State Hillary Clinton on the Hill, where she was ostensibly going to inform Americans what really happened in Benghazi, and why. I apologize. I was preoccupied with the earth-shattering matter of  Beyonce’s lip-syncing, and also, I admit, was having a hard time enduring both Lance Armstrong’s act and a Clinton performance in such close proximity. I’m only human, after all. Still, I need to go back a week and examine, if briefly, the ethics stinker that was Hillary on the Hill:

1. Members of this administration keep using the word “responsibility,” but to paraphrase Inigo Montoya, I don’t think the word means what they think it does. Clinton had stated unequivocally that she “accepted full responsibility” for the Benghazi tragedy in October, reiterated that statement last week, and then repeatedly shifted the blame to others or otherwise denied responsibility. She wasn’t responsible for the decisions regarding security, she said. It wasn’t her fault that she didn’t know about cables from Ambassador Stevens’ a month earlier requesting more protection, because “1.43 million cables come to my office. They’re all addressed to me.” Well, who’s “responsible” for a system in which urgent, perhaps life and death messages not addressed to the Secretary of State never reach her desk? She blamed a lack of funding ( a claim that appears to be untrue) was also responsible for the tragedy, and naturally, she can’t be held responsible for that. Clinton’s definition of “responsibility” reveals itself during her testimony as meaning responsible for fixing the problems and systemic failures that led to the deaths of the four Americans, but not really accepting responsibility for what happened–responsibility, in other words, without accountability. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Ink Tank

“27. No matter how bad your day is going, somewhere in the world a fat man just dropped his ice cream.”

—- The website Ink Tank, in the process of listing “60 of the world’s happiest facts.”


dropped coneInk Tank’s list of “happiest facts” is a trivia-fest of cute, charming, or otherwise amusing factoids, some of dubious reliability ( 25. Rats giggle when you tickle them…), some of historic interest ( “7. On the day of his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. had a pillow-fight in his motel room”), some with “Awwww!” value (“15. Otters hold hands when sleeping so they don’t drift away from each other”), some with really dubious reliability (“47. Cows produce the most milk when listening to the song “Everybody Hurts” by REM”), some that are older than Methuselah (“31. It takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown”), some snarky (“30. The next Star Wars will not be directed by George Lucas.”), and some that are just plain stupid (“46. At the time of your birth, you were, for a few seconds, the youngest person on the planet”).  That’s all par for the course in these kinds of ubiquitous web lists.

#27., however, comes out of the blue like a drive-by shooting. What kind of person gets joy from the thought that somewhere in the world a stranger is suffering through one of life’s stinging tragedies, just as he is about to partake in one of life’s inimitable innocent pleasures? An ice cream cone! An iconic symbol of summer days, childhood, family excursions and fun! Taking the delicate, waffled cone in an eager hand, admiring the substance and swirl of the lovely confection, anticipating the bracing cold on the tongue and lips, the sweet creamy taste and then…plop!—all is ruined. I hate that! Who doesn’t hate that? When I worked for Baskin-Robins, we were told to always replace a fallen scoop of ice cream or a dropped cone gratis, whether the victim was 4 or 40. Since my ice cream shop days, I have bought replacement cones for other people’s children, because that stricken face of shock, hurt and disappointment the second the scoop hits the ground will haunt my nightmares if I don’t. Continue reading