The Fourth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2012 (Part 2)


The 2012 Ethics Alarms Awards for the Worst in Ethics continues (you can catch up with Part I here , and the Best is here), and yes, it gets worse…

Worst Friend and Relative

Lori Stilley, who faked cancer to get sympathy, favors, parties and money from those who cared about her.

Most Unethical Advice

Emily Yoffe, Slate’s “Dear Prudence,” wins for a year of bad advice in kinky situations, the bottom of the barrel being when she advised a daughter who observed her mother illegally filling out her invalid grandparents’ 2012 absentee ballots to reflect the mother’s electoral preferences to do nothing about this combination of elder abuse and voter fraud.

Shameless Bad Character Division

Biggest Jerk (defined as an individual who habitually places his personal benefit and ego gratification above the welfare of everyone and everything else): Donald Trump, for doing the same stuff he does every year. His low point in 2012 was offering to give $5 million to charity if President Obama would produce his birth and college records. Or maybe it was when he called for a revolution after Obama won. Or perhaps…well, it doesn’t matter. He’s not just a bog jerk, but a professional jerk, and he’s likely to wrap up this prize for years to come.

Asshole (defined as an individual who intentionally and maliciously causes pain and harm to others because he can) : Ryan Thompson.  I couldn’t find anyone who fit the bill this year better than the guy who thought it would be clever and hilarious to make his girlfriend think the plane he was piloting with her as a passenger was about to crash, so he could trick the terrified woman to read from what she thought was the emergency manual only to discover she was reading his proposal of marriage. He also videotaped the whole thing, and put it on YouTube. (She accepted. She likes assholes.)

Fick (defined as an individual who blatantly violates societal ethical norms conduct without appropriate shame or contrition, and continues to engage in it after it has been discovered and condemned): Amanda Clayton. Similar to the original Fick, Leroy, she is exploiting a Michigan loop-hole that allows her to collect  food stamps despite having two homes and a million dollar lottery prize that will leave her with $500,000 in the bank.

Celebrity Fick Family: The Lohans

Unethical Puppet


Unethical Non Profit

The Boy Scouts of America. What a year. Given a chance to enter the 21st Century and to welcome gays into Scouting, the BSA dug in their heels and insisted that only heterosexuals need apply, thus guaranteeing the continuing marginalization of what once was a respected and classic American institution. Then documents were made public that revealed a long-term, Catholic Church-like failure on the part of the organization to monitor and remove suspected child predators among its scoutmasters, with some moving from troop to troop without appropriate controls being applied for the protection of the children.

Hypocrites of the Year

Hollywood, naturally, which piously jumped on the bandwagon for ending gun violence while profiting from promoting gun violence as fun, entertaining, and the solution to problems.

Liar of the Year

Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) In a banner year for lies and liars, Senate Leader Harry Reid’s public insinuation, based on no evidence whatsoever, that Mitt Romney had not paid his taxes for ten years was an epic low, even for politicians, even for Reid. When Romney released his tax records, showing that he had, in fact, paid more than he was required to for the years covered, Reid didn’t even have the decency to issue an apology.

Unethical Apology of the Year

First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Miss. First the Church refused to host the marriage of two of  devoted members because the idea of a mixed race union made its congregation and leadership uncomfortable. Then, after being roundly condemned for its bigotry across the country, the church posted a supposedly sincere apology—without apologizing to the couple it had humiliated and insulted.

Most Unethical Profession

Journalism. Even while politicians were disgracing themselves in an election year, journalism hit new lows—in the incompetent coverage of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman train wreck, with its biased and trivia-obsessed presidential campaign coverage, and with its tardy, gullible and passive reporting on Fast and Furious and the Benghazi murders.

Unethical Talk Show Host of the Year

Mark Levine. Levine, a smart and educated man who is capable of better, nightly stoked the flames of hate and paranoia like a latter day Father Coughlin, painting a fevered picture of a government of sinister socialists plotting to take away American liberties.

Unethical Cable TV Channel

TLC.  What was once, laughably, launched as “The Learning Channel” TLC  now benefits from soft child abuse and borderline kiddie porn with its toddler pageant reality shows, and urges its viewers to “learn” about “real life” psychics.

Unethical Column or Blog Post

“Don’t be nosy about Fast and Furious,” a jaw-dropping column on the CNN website by L.C. Granderson, actually argued that the public and the media shouldn’t “open Pandora’s box” about the corrupt, illegal or incompetent things our government does, because we really don’t want to know.

The  Pazuzu Award

(Named for the demon that possessed Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” and made her say the nastiest things, the Pazuzu Award is bestowed on the prominent individual who denies responsibility for his or her actual words, claiming that they did not express what he or she really believes )

Eva Longoria. The Obama campaign’s triple pandering threat (Hispanic, woman, Hollywood cheesecake)  “co-chair”  tweeted rather unequivocally that she had “no idea why any woman/minority can vote for Romney. You have to be stupid to vote for such a racist/misogynistic twat.”  Since this was rather impolitic for a campaign official, she then issued an apology  explaining that this was neither “her words nor her personal view.”

Most Outrageously Unethical Behavior By Someone Not Fitting A Clear Category

Angela Buchanan, who faked cancer, a cancer operation, and posed as her own physician on-line to trick a trusting and celibate friend to agree to a lesbian sexual relationship with her, and ultimately to marry her, because her doctor (really Angela) told the friend that such a relationship would cause the release of hormones that would save Angela’s life. (I know, I know.)

Unethical Trend of the Year

Shameless incivility and vulgarity

(Cheer up! The Best in Ethics 2012 is on its way!)


22 thoughts on “The Fourth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2012 (Part 2)

      • Yes but. I’m pretty sure only one year’s return was released, along with a “summary” of his returns over many years. I’d put more faith in the returns than in the “summary,” especially in light of Romney’s many lies during the campaign–and previous ones. I think Reid’s statement was reprehensible, but not so sure it was wrong.

        • Even if only one year was released showing Romney paying over a million dollars in taxes, Reid couldn’t possibly not be wrong that he paid “no taxes” over the previous 10 years, right? What am I missing?

          • You are missing that there are folks out there who have such a blind spot about political opponents (on both sides) that they edit out anything good that the person may have done in their life. Or spin it so that it becomes a “bad” instead of a “good”.

              • Bob’s right. Reid’s statement was about the years prior to the released one. It was an irresponsible statement, but your factually incorrect comment about it makes it look even worse than it is. This also doesn’t really fit the “Liar of the Year” category. It’s really an unethical accusation.

                • I don’t see what difference it makes. The assertion—it was an assertion…was baseless and classic “Big Lie” strategy. Who believes Mitt Romney, or anyone of his prominence, could be a tax evader for a decade, which was the way Reid framed it, and not be prosecuted? Who believes he would do such a thing, or would have a motivation to? How can you seriously say that quote wasn’t an intentional smear without any supporting facts, for tyhe purpose of damaging Romney’s reputation? The quote, you’ll recall: “He didn’t pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain.But obviously he can’t release those tax returns. How would it look?You guys have said his wealth is $250 million. Not a chance in the world. It’s a lot more than that. I mean, you do pretty well if you don’t pay taxes for 10 years when you’re making millions and millions of dollars.” Where does he specify the 10 years he’s referring to? So if Romney released five years of Taxes, Reid could say, “well, I guess those weren’t the ten years!” Nor did he leave it to the issue of paying no taxes when he in fact lost money on investments, or had no income. Reid says that Romney made more money BECAUSE he paid no taxes. That implies stealing from the US Treasury, and taxpaying Americans.It’s slimy, its hearsay, its based on an anonymous source (if there was a source), it’s a completely groundless accusation with unfair implications of wrongdoing, and you guys are seriously defending that?

  1. Boy Scouts of America has a problem. They have many troops in Morman and Roman Catholic churches. If they allow gay scouts, they will lose a majority of their troops.

    • Not that this mattered ethically, but the LDS Church is not going anywhere. It may not be the most warmly received decision, but Scouting is in the DNA of the LDS community. The Church would lose an investment of capital, human and financial, just as damaging as the BSA’s if a split occurred.

    • Which raises another question: Since the Catholics and Mormons provide most of the troops, and thus most of the units serving the Scouts, why shouldn’t they have the greater voice in how the organization is run?

      Or are we going to allow much smaller groups, like atheists and the gay community, to dictate to largely Mormon and Catholic institutions how they should run things, especially when they are hostile to the views of Mormons and Catholics? Or is it okay to push around Mormons and Catholics because it’s being done in the name of a “progressive” cause?

      If that is the rationale, then Mark Levin is not being unethical to warn of “sinister socialists” taking away liberty, he is just describing the situation and calling on citizens to act in order to halt the wrongful taking of liberty.

      • I believe the legal conclusion has been that the Boy Scouts have the right to choose to exclude gays. No one is suggesting – well, let me modify that, Jack is not suggesting and I am not suggesting, I’m sure someone is somewhere, as most things can be found when one looks for them – that the “atheists and the gay community” can or should force them to change.

        Like any other group, the Boy Scouts have the right to choose who can be a member (as long as they do not discriminate in ways prohibited by law). Clearly, the religious influences on the BSA do have a strong influence on the exercise of that choice, and there is nothing illegal or inherently unethical about that, either. That doesn’t mean that any choice they make is automatically an ethical one – the choice itself has ethical implications, and in this case as in most cases, the exclusionary choice is the wrong one. They have the right to do it, but that does not make it ethical – a concept Jack touches on regularly.

        • That’s right. They have a right to keep gays out. As a national institution designed to be support for young men, doing so just adds to the isolation and alienation of gay boys, and it is wrong.

      • The height of non-ethics is to expose growing children to the influence and authority of sexual deviants. The purpose of the Boy Scouts is to promote character, not gross obscenity- no matter what label it may travel under. To do otherwise would not only violate the BSA charter, but would also involve inherently criminal negligence… at best.

        BTW: I like Mark Levin. He knows the nature of the opposition and isn’t shy about pointing it out.

  2. I’m almost surprised that Autism Speaks didn’t win “most unethical nonprofit”. Then again, their repeated ethical violations tend to get whitewashed these days… even if they’re IMHO substantially worse than what the Boy Scouts got up to.

    And, of course, their unethical behavior isn’t exactly anything *new* — they’ve been up to it from the beginning.

  3. And, going back over this… Kerri Rivera probably deserves a slot. I mean, a lady who freely admits that she has no real medical credentials (other than having an autistic child) and who spent a good bit of the year touring the country to convince people that they can make their neurologically-atypical children normal via a course of “treatment” that involves making said kids drink bleach, take baths in bleach, and take bleach enemas (yes — bleach enemas!)… well, that’s just… spectacular.

    Or maybe Heidi Scheer, her accomplice-of-sorts who *actually did that to her own kid*, won a major beauty pageant on what I can best summarize as the bleach enema platform (seriously — I’m not kidding), and has spent time touring the country offering testimonials to the glories of bleach enemas while wearing her sash and crown… yeah. I mean, she seems to be a “true believer”, meaning that she actually believes it helped her son… but *still*. I don’t know where to even *begin* on the ethics (or lack thereof) of her behavior.

    I honestly wish I was making this stuff up. Sadly, however, I’m barely scratching the surface on them.

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