Four Unethical Dispatches From The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck: #4

kill-trump-tweets

The last of our four unethical missives (the previous ones are here, here, and here) comes from the CEO of Grubhub. But first, consider the election night Facebook discourse above, by the chief executive of San Diego cybersecurity start-up PacketSled, Matt Harrigan. The key tweets are a bit hard to read. The top left one says he’s going to kill the President-Elect. The bottom left says he’s getting a sniper rifle.

He has been placed on leave by his board.

Good move.

GrubHub Inc. CEO Matt Maloney was a bit more genteel, writing to his employees The Day After:

SUBJECT: So… that happened… what’s next?

I’m still trying to reconcile my own worldview with the overwhelming message that was delivered last night. Clearly there are a lot of people angry and scared as the antithesis of every modern presidential candidate won and will be our next president.  While demeaning, insulting and ridiculing minorities, immigrants and the physically/mentally disabled worked for Mr. Trump, I want to be clear that this behavior – and these views, have no place at Grubhub. Had he worked here, many of his comments would have resulted in his immediate termination. 

We have worked for years cultivating a culture of support and inclusiveness. I firmly believe that we must bring together different perspectives to continue innovating – including all genders, races, ethnicities and sexual, cultural or ideological preferences. We are better, faster and stronger together.  Further I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can.As we all try to understand what this vote means to us, I want to affirm to anyone on our team that is scared or feels personally exposed, that I and everyone else here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and your right to make a better life for yourself and your family here in the United States. 

If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team.I want to repeat what Hillary said this morning, that the new administration deserves our open minds and a chance to lead, but never stop believing that the fight for what’s right is worth it. 

Stay strong, Matt

The key text was this…

“I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can….If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here.”

There’s nothing wrong with nationalism, in moderation. Trump isn’t anti-immigrant, he’s anti-illegal immigrant. What constitutes the politics of Donald Trump and whether or not it is hateful is open to interpretation. Nonetheless, Maloney is clearly saying that his employees must agree with his partisan views (and selective sense of diversity or inclusion), or they forfeit their jobs.

After it was pointed out to Maloney that the e-mail demanded ideological conformity, was probably illegal under some state laws (like California) and was gallactically stupid, he tried to explain with a deceitful apology, writing in part,

“Some of the statements in my email (please see full text below) have been misconstrued. I want to clarify that I did not ask for anyone to resign if they voted for Trump. I would never make such a demand. To the contrary, the message of the email is that we do not tolerate discriminatory activity or hateful commentary in the workplace, and that we will stand up for our employees.”

This is a perfect Category 9 on the Apology scale:

Deceitful apologies, in which the wording of the apology is crafted to appear apologetic when it is not (“if my words offended, I am sorry”). Another variation: apologizing for a tangential matter other than the act or words that warranted an apology.

Nobody said you demanded that Trump voters resign, Matt. You also didn’t demand that everyone eat turnips. You DID demand that everyone must agree with your views and reject “the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump,” as you interpret them, or resign. That’s an abuse of power, position and decency. It is bullying and totalitarian.  Then you compound the offense by apologizing for something that wasn’t in the e-mail.

I think Matt needs to keep the other Matt company on Elba, or wherever he is.

POP ETHICS QUIZ!

Which Matt is worse?

25 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Workplace

25 responses to “Four Unethical Dispatches From The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck: #4

  1. “I’m still trying to reconcile my own worldview with the overwhelming message that was delivered last night. “

    Here’s one of the key lies the Left is peddling this go around. That somehow America delivered some devastating message for evil or something.

    They would require an overwhelming turnout of voters specifically for the purposes and only the purposes the Left has also lied about Republicans turning out for.

    Yet republicans turned out in less numbers than before.

    The only *overwhelming* number I notice is the volume of reliably blue voters that said “not doing this”.

    The real overwhelming message came FROM blue voters to blue handlers:

    “Don’t run corrupt and horrifying soft-totalitarians. Just friggin don’t. She’s HORRIBLE.”

  2. Well Matt #1 is just insane. Insanity by definition is neither ethical nor unethical, it is a pathology. By elimination, that would make Matt #2, the most unethical.

    • I like your analysis. Compassionate, too!

    • Aletheia K

      There’s no evidence that Harrigan is either insane (which is a legal term, not a medical one, so not “by definition a pathology”) or mentally ill. He’s clearly motivated by disappointment and hatred. His reaction is inappropriate, but not out of touch with reality. “Bring it secret service” demonstrates that he understands the possible consequences of his behavior, and that he knows that assassination threats are illegal and making them is generally understood to be wrong. I have no doubt that he could explain coherently enough why it would be wrong to say the exact same things about Obama or Hillary Clinton. Furthermore, I don’t believe for a second that he is actually a danger to Trump or anyone else. He’s hotheaded and nasty, but he understands very well what he’s doing. I would consider it ethically abhorrent to waste on this man one drop of the compassion that properly belongs to people with brain disorders.

  3. wyogranny

    Matt #2 is using his position of power to demand compliance, so I think his remarks are worse in the long run. But, a threat like Matt #1 put out there is something that needs to be acted upon because a threat to shoot someone is not all that far fetched these days. However, people have been threatening to kill politicians since the beginning of politics. Matt #2 is worse because his threats contribute to current ethics rot. A progressive taking down or rolling back of the things I learned, back in the 50’s are civil and decent. Respect for the system, respect for the rights and ideas of other people and civil discourse.

  4. Aletheia K

    I think they’re about even – both unethical, but not for the reasons they might seem to be at first.

    I don’t believe Matt Harrigan is truly a danger to the President-Elect. He’s disappointed and angry, and he’s venting. That’s fine. His venting is hot-headed and nasty; there’s a good chance this is because he’s habitually hot-headed and nasty, although I’ve seen enough people swept up in election hysteria this week acting out of character that I wouldn’t be *too* shocked to learn he’s normally a really nice guy. Where he really goes wrong is in choosing to do his venting on Facebook. That was *deliberately* nasty, and ill-considered to the point of stupidity. I doubt the Secret Service really is going to come after him – they have more important duties right now than tracking down every one of the thousands of idiots who engaged in this sort of venting last week – but they *could*. This man is a CEO. I certainly wouldn’t trust someone to run a company who exhibited this paucity of civility and self-control. Heck, I don’t know that I would trust him to mop the boardroom floor. “Definitely not on any Secret Service watchlist” really isn’t too much to ask of a person, is it?

    Maloney’s ethical failure was unprofessionalism, more than anything else. I’d read about him before on another site, and when I read his message, I remember thinking, “I know what you’re trying to say, I really do … but a lot of people aren’t going to get it and I don’t blame them.” I don’t believe he intended to imply that all Trump supporters should resign. The actual antecedent of the phrase “this statement” in “If you do not agree with this statement” was not “I reject the hateful politics of Donald Trump” but “everyone here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and rights.” However, it was written in such a way that a reasonable person could easily gloss over that nuance. A man in Maloney’s position of responsibility should know how to communicate more clearly than that. But the problem is not so much that wrote this message badly as that he wrote it at all. It’s little more than a rant. If he wanted to address his employees on the subject of the election, it would have been professional and appropriate to acknowledge that it’s been a tense, exciting election season; that a lot of people are coming into work today feeling powerfully vindicated while others are disheartened and fearful; that we may all need to make a special effort today to be gracious and kind, but failing that, disrespectful or belligerent behavior will not be tolerated. His own feelings and opinions had no place in the message to start with, and to launch into this vitriolic diatribe was inexcusably unprofessional and actually counterproductive to the goal of maintaining a safe and comfortable workplace for all. I can’t believe that a competent business executive could or would write such a thing. I guess I’d trust Maloney with the mop, though.

    • fattymoon

      “I doubt the Secret Service really is going to come after him…”

      Homeland Security came after me at one in the morning because some lady in Boston tipped them to a tweet I made just prior to Obama’s visit to that city. Interviewed me for two hours. I lied only once hahaha!

      • Aletheia K

        They almost certainly will talk to him, especially because someone from his company made a point of reporting it to them. However, I suspect they’ll recognize this for the petty tantrum it was and let him go with a strongly worded warning before moving on to another name on the long, long list of indiscreet hotheads who said criminally stupid things in a public forum last week.

    • dragin_dragon

      Hotheaded and nasty it may be but it is definitely illegal. If he hasn’t had a visit yet, he will.

    • Chris

      If he wanted to address his employees on the subject of the election, it would have been professional and appropriate to acknowledge that it’s been a tense, exciting election season; that a lot of people are coming into work today feeling powerfully vindicated while others are disheartened and fearful; that we may all need to make a special effort today to be gracious and kind, but failing that, disrespectful or belligerent behavior will not be tolerated.

      This is about how I handled the issue with my students–although I also included an apology on behalf of America’s adults for failing to set an example for them throughout this entire campaign–and that’s exactly how it should be handled in the business world as well.

  5. JimHodgson

    As has been pointed out, Harrigan doesn’t seem likely to act upon his threats, but he will certainly acquire a Secret Service file, and be subject to some additional scrutiny in his movements vis a vis the President-Elect for some period of time. In the field of threat assessment, it used to be said that “assassins don’t threaten, and ‘threateners’ don’t assassinate.” This notion was discredited quite a while ago, and nowadays no protective agency can afford to ignore assassination threats, even unlikely ones, and no such agency worth its salt would do so. He gets no sympathy from me.
    I do feel that Maloney’s actions are the more unethical of the two, adding to the decay in political civility which has already slid off the track and into the ditch. If I worked there and had other prospects, I probably would resign rather than work for such a bullying jerk.

  6. Jack: Isn’t your question a Catch-22 dilemma in itself? I mean, in terms of ethics, isn’t any answer to the question a rationalization, i.e., #22?

  7. Other Bill

    Grubhub is in the restaurant business. They deliver food from restaurants to people who want to eat restaurant food at home. I bet all their employees are “independent contractors” wink wink. As we are told by social justice warriors, the restaurant business would crater if there weren’t any illegal aliens available to wash dishes. So this guy has a vested interest in appearing to be in favor of illegal immigrants and their employers. I suspect many of Grubhub’s “associates” wink wink are illegals.

  8. Chris Marschner

    GrubHub Matt is worse because he tries to disguise his own bigotry as righteous enlightened management. The other Matt was probably just momentarily angry.

  9. Isaac

    Matt #1 is Sonny, and Matt #2 is Fredo. You wouldn’t want to work for either of them.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    You’d have probably upgraded this whole post to a kaboom if you saw the “apology ” Matt gave after this.

    http://m.slashdot.org/story/318825

    “Harrigan apologized for his remarks and said the threats were meant to be a joke: “My recent Facebook comment was intended to be a joke, in the context of a larger conversation, and only privately shared as such. Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not engage in this form of rhetoric with any level of seriousness and the comment most certainly does not represent my real personal views in any regard. I apologize if anything that I said was either taken seriously, was offensive, or caused any legitimate concern.””

  11. Captain Obvious

    For the record, the CEO of Packetsled has resigned,

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