Monthly Archives: January 2014

Ethics Alarms MailBox: “Does The Naked Teacher Principle Apply To Bodybuilding Teachers…or Mothers?”

Bodybuilder mom

Since the NTP is back in the news—Kaitlin Pearson, whom Ethics Alarms dubbed the perfect example of the Naked Teacher Principle, was allowed to continue her job as a teacher’s aide—this is a propitious time to address a question I received off-site by an esteemed reader, who sent me a photo similar to the one above (but of another female competitive bodybuilder/mom—who is 50 years old) and commented, “This is a picture of a local soccer mom with a teenage son. Is she setting a good example for her son, and does her conduct trigger the Naked Teacher Principle?”

Let me finish with Kaitlin first. I personally wouldn’t have let her continue, if only because she was not forthcoming about her other pursuits when she interviewed for the job. That doesn’t mean that the resolution of her particular case is in defiance of the NTP. It states, Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Family, Gender and Sex, Professions, Sports, Workplace

Ethics Dunce (Again): Washington Post Columnist Richard Cohen

No danger of an innocent being unjustly executed here...

No danger of an innocent being unjustly executed here, Richard…Now what?

Most Ethics Dunces named on Ethics Alarms are being chided for one, possibly anomalous, instance of ethics cluelessness, but not Richard Cohen. He is a lifetime, career-long ethics dunce. It is noteworthy when he writes something that doesn’t reek of ethics confusion.

Today he is blogging about the death penalty. There are coherent, powerful arguments that have been and can be made against the death penalty, but Cohen doesn’t bother with any of them, which, as a reflex old-school liberal, he should at least know by heart. No, he attacks the decision of Eric Holder to approve his Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s request to seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bomber as “political cowardice using one invalid argument after another, and by the way, curse you, Richard Cohen, for forcing me to defend Attorney General Holder.

Here are Cohen’s “arguments”:

  • The death penalty is a horrible crime on par with Tsarnaev and his brother intentionally killing and maiming innocent spectators of the Boston Marathon. Such an absurd statement carries a high burden of proof, which Cohen doesn’t even attempt to meet.
  • “[The death penalty] is the sine qua non of lack of thought, a medieval tick of the political right, a murder in the name of murder that does absolutely no good, unless it is to validate the killers’ belief in killing.” Ironically, Cohen’s post is the sine qua non of lack of thought. Since the death penalty has been around continuously since well before Medieval times, calling it a medieval tick is about as fair and accurate as calling religion, warfare, and property laws  medieval tics. Of course it does good: the fact that a vicious anti-social murderer is permanently removed from society and no longer uses up resources, space and oxygen that can be better employed in the furtherance of humanity is an absolute good, and that those contemplating similarly heinous acts are on notice that the same fate awaits them is also good. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Bioethics, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Unethical and Unjust Firing of the Week: The MSNBC Cheerios Tweeter

CheeriosWhen reader Scott Jacobs sent me a link to the now infamous MSNBC tweet that presumed that all “right-wingers,” which in MSNBC Universe means anyone who doesn’t want to put Barack Obama on Mount Rushmore, were horrified by the very existence of bi-racial families, I honestly didn’t understand what he was telling me.  MSNBC’s official position is that Republicans are racists, so he couldn’t have been referring to that….everybody knows that. (“But did you know Old McDonald was a really bad speller?”) And what racists approve of bi-racial families? So the tweet wasn’t illogical or dealing in rationalizations. The tweet—oh, here it is:

“Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Family, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Race, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Tweet, Workplace

The State Of The Union Deceptions

Pinocchio_Disney

Washington Post Factchecker Glenn Kessler has become increasingly non-partisan in his assessment of political decsption since the sheen fell off of Barack Obama. He’s not there yet, but increasingly Kessler has refused to pull his punches regarding the President’s habitual dissembling. Although he did not give out any of his trademark “Pinocchios” for the biggest whoppers in Tuesday’s State of the Union message (ah, for the days when a blunt President Ford had the integrity to  say, “The State of the Union is not good!”) because, well, he just doesn’t on the State of the Union, okay?—Kessler did point out six significant examples of deceit, dishonesty, or misrepresentation:

 I.   “The more than eight million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years.” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Research and Scholarship, Workplace

Welcome To My In-Box!

-goonies-photoWhile I’m having colloquies with the mostly rational and open-minded visitors to Ethics Alarms, I am also fending off nut-case invective by, fortunately, the Angry Left, who are generally less frightening than the Angry Right, on my private e-mail account. Their discourse is instructive.

These sad zealots have been cyber-stalking me for several months now, I know not why. Clearly, it was some post that was critical of their One True God, President Obama, and this, in their eyes, labelled me a Tea Party member (since only Tea Party members are capable of identifying a hopelessly inept administration, apparently) and deserving of receipt of links to every news story that reflects poorly on a member of the Republican Party. Most of the time, I have already criticized the conduct involved, but never mind—these Furies seem to think that every example of a Republican’s misconduct is a dagger through my heart.

The most recent of these, copied in to a vast collection of fellow Leftists, plus my wife, just to clutter up her in-box as well, came from someone calling himself “Kenneth Martin”—I say this because I suspect that he uses other accounts and names to harass me. Ken–can I call you Ken?—sent me a link to the story about Rep. Grimm, which I had already posted on, with this typically fair and well-considered commentary, in bold:

“Funny!!!  The idiot’s already under investigation and they caught him on camera with an open microphone threatening a reporter who’d just interviewed him and asked him something he didn’t like.  So the ass walks away… and THEN comes back… didn’t realize the cameras were still running and threatens to throw the reporter off a balcony  and to beat him up. Don’t you lu-uv the Republicans!???!    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!” 

I know, don’t feed the trolls. Still, I couldn’t resist pointing out his logical fallacies to his large, copied-in audience, so I wrote back to all:

Hey, Ken, Thanks! I didn’t know Obama had appointed a Republican as Secretary of the Interior! https://ethicsalarms.com/2012/11/14/a-no-tolerance-rule-for-cabinet-members-dont-threaten-reporters/ Or that my own Congressman, serial thug Jim Moran, was a Republican

Of course, attributing Grimm’s thuggish conduct to all Republicans is not just something like, but exactly like, attributing Anthony Weiner’s conduct to all Democrats. Or Elliot Spitzer’s. Or Rod Blagojevich.

Please keep your hyper-partisan ignorance and bias out of my inbox. I have spam to read, you moron.

Ken, wounded, then proved my point by sending—just to me, this time—the following devastatingly witty retort:

“GO FUCK YOURSELF WITH YOUR INSULKTS!”

Which, you must admit, is as good an example of res ipsa loquitur as you are likely to find. Then, this morning, I hear from one “Kol Altai,” who may or may not be Kenneth Martin, and who also regularly sends unsolicited political rants and links, some of them completely incomprehensible, to my in-box and that of my long-suffering wife. Kol (is that name an anagram?) writes,

  “Wow, Jack!  One really has to admire YOUR “professional ethics”!!! Name calling!!  Insulting people because they don’t like a Republican who threatens to toss somebody off a balcony or break them in half like a boy. Yeah, Jack, you’ve got real “ethics”!!!  You’re really “professional”!!! “

“Hard not admire someone as lowlife as you!!!”

    “GO TO HELL!!!”

 

I mention this because of the ongoing civility debate currently raging on Ethics Alarms. Is there anything unethical about labeling the hostile sender of a moronic, unsolicited e-mailed message a “moron”? I don’t think so. I did not say that his opinion was moronic because he was a moron—that would be an ad hominem attack. There is no question that to conclude from the actions of one Republican congressman that all, most or even any other Republicans behave this way is a something only someone cognitively impaired could do. I pointed out the obvious and foolish flaw in Ken’s reasoning (Jim Moran (D-VA) is my Congressman–talk about thugs), and diagnosed the likely malady of its originator. Any other response would be to give the comment and the commenter more respect and credibility than he deserves.

Moreover, bestowing a title like “moron” communicates that fact that this e-mail and its author are not welcome in my in-box, and thus I will not treat them with the usual gentility that I would bestow on a guest. I might also call some screaming Eric Holder fan who bursts uninvited into my living room an “asshole” before I call the police, or have my son shoot him. Kenneth/Kol would probably argue that would be unethical of me as well.

But then, they are morons.

I just thought some of you might appreciate a glimpse of what befalls anyone who tries to render objective ethical judgments in hyper-polarized, 21st Century America.

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Filed under Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, The Internet, U.S. Society

Pete Seeger Was No Hero, But That’s OK

“Was Pete political? Of course,” wrote singer Tom Paxton in a featured Washington Post salute to folk legend Pete Seeger, who died this week at the age of 94.“He was political as Walt Whitman was political, as Clarence Darrow and Woody Guthrie were political; as, for that matter, all of us should be political. He felt that ordinary people deserved protection from bullies of all stripes and his was the gift of being able to express this belief in music and in the way he lived his life.”

Reading Paxton’s dewy-eyed remembrance and the formal obituaries and tributes from most of the news media, one would never suspect that Pete’s belief in protection against all bullies didn’t stop him from being a fervent supporter of and an apologist for one of the worst bullies in human history, Josef Stalin, and not just momentarily, but for most of Seeger’s life. The fact that supposed news organizations nearly unanimously decided to gloss over that element of Seeger’s legacy tells us a lot about the Left, our journalists, bias….but not a lot about Pete Seeger.

If I followed my heart and my tapping foot but not my brain (and if all I knew about Pete was what I read in the newspapers and read from my theater colleagues on Facebook—And only in our Orwellian reality would someone of such incomparable achievement, one who displayed such overwhelming humanity, have been held in contempt of congress. An inspiring life,” wrote one, who should know better), I would have made Seeger an Ethics Hero Emeritus. He had some notable heroic moments, as when he stood up to the House Un-American Activities Committee, refusing to take the Fifth Amendment while defying the Committee in defense of the First, and getting himself cited for contempt of Congress and blacklisted as a result. I was thrilled and proud of him in 1968, when fresh off the blacklist he appeared on the Smothers Brothers show and sang his “Big Muddy” song (which you can watch above) with anger and passion, condemning the Vietnam war in metaphor and calling LBJ a fool on national television at a time when such a direct insult against the President was taboo. I didn’t even completely agree with Seeger at the time, but this was brave protest art at its finest and most effective.

If only the hypocrisy of continuing to support a system of government and a regime that tolerated no freedom of speech and that would have squashed a protester like Seeger as if he were a maggot had occurred to the folk singer while he was doing these things. But it did not. Folk singers tend to be like that, and Pete Seeger, one of the greatest folk singers, was more like that than any of them. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Déjà Vu: In D.C., It’s The Brooklyn EMTs All Over Again. How Can This Happen Even Once?

"Hey, I'm ready! Just go through the proper channels, and I'm On it! You can count on me!"

“Hey, I’m ready! Just go through the proper channels, and I’m On it! You can count on me!”

I guess it’s a sign of longevity that some ethics stories are recurring so exactly that I can handle them with previous posts. I never wanted to see this one repeat, however.

In 2004, two EMT’s let a pregnant woman die in front of them without offering aid, because they were on a break and wouldn’t abandon their coffee and bagels to save a mother and her unborn child. (They were suspended and yet kept their jobs.) Over the weekend, in Washington, D.C., a 77-year-old man, Medric Cecil Mills, collapsed across the street from a fire station. The man’s daughter ran across the street to seek help, and the firefighter she spoke to explained that he couldn’t respond until being dispatched and instructed her to call 911. The man died.

[A black humor note: when 911 was called and a rescue vehicle dispatched, it went to the wrong address.] Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Professions, U.S. Society, Workplace