Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/17/17: My Ethics Gig For The Boy Scouts, Dallas Heads Down The Slippery Slope (I Told You So!), More Sign Language Follies And Misbehaving Marshalls

GOOD Morning!

1 In an earlier Warm-Up, I criticized the needlessly distracting signers for the deaf who stood by gesticulating and mugging as various officials communicated safety measures for the public as hurricanes approached. Belatedly I ran across a YouTube entry from 2012, in which the poster happily commented that “Interpreter Lydia Callis steals the show during Hurricane Sandy press conference.” Interpreters are not there to “steal the show,” and the fact that so many of them think they should compete with the main speakers for audience attention proves my point.

They should stand off-camera, and in the venue, away from the podium.

Then there’s this guy:

From the Times:

As Hurricane Irma charged toward Florida, officials in a county on the state’s west coast held a news conference to inform residents of mandatory evacuation orders for those most at risk. “We just need you to be safe,” Robin DiSabatino of the Board of County Commissioners in Manatee County said at the Sept. 8 briefing. She urged those in low-lying areas and flood zones to seek higher ground and consider staying at shelters.

But for residents who were deaf or hard of hearing, the message was quite different: “Pizza,” the interpreter appeared to sign. Then, “Bear monster.”…

“It was atrocious,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, the chief executive of the National Association of the Deaf. Mr. Rosenblum, who is deaf, said through an interpreter in a phone interview that the association considered what happened a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. “We believe that Manatee County failed to provide information to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to the same extent that it provided to all others,” he said….

The interpreter, identified by the county as Marshall Greene, could not be reached for comment.

Nicholas Azzara, a spokesman for the county, said in an email that Mr. Greene, who is a lifeguard for a county-run beach, has a brother who is deaf. Mr. Greene was asked to sign because there was little time to find an interpreter before the news conference.

It’s not unusual for family members of the deaf to have only a rudimentary understanding of American Sign Language, said Beth Barnes, a certified sign language interpreter who has several deaf family members, including her parents.

No, but it is unusual for a signer who agrees to translate crucial information for deaf viewers to not know what the hell he is doing. Greene defenders, quoted this morning on HLN, said that he was just trying to help out, and host Robin Meade, not having one of her smart days, muttered that the “poor guy” wasn’t doing a bad job “intentionally.”

Oh! That’s all right, then!

The ethical values being breached are trustworthiness, responsibility and competence. Greene is the passenger who volunteers to fly the airliner with a stricken crew and flies the plane into the ground nose first. Good intentions don’t matter. He volunteered for a job he was incapable of performing competently.

2. I don’t spend a lot of time saying I told you so, but it would be gratifying to receive some “I shouldn’t have doubted you” notes from all those readers who mocked me for suggesting last year that the slippery slope created and smoothed by the historical cultural airbrushing mobs on the Left would eventually lead to Founders like Washington, Jefferson and Madison.

Here is a Facebook post  from Dallas School District member Dustin Marshall, no relation to Marshall Greene (I will be applying to change my last name accordingly, probably to “Lee”…)

At Thursday’s Board Briefing, the Administration recommended that the Board change the name of four schools:

1. Albert Sidney Johnston Elementary School
2. William L. Cabell Elementary School
3. Stonewall Jackson Elementary School
4. Robert E. Lee Elementary School

The Administration also mentioned that they were doing research on several additional schools. Many of you have asked for that list of schools, so I am sharing the list below. The only additional District 2 school on the list is Ben Franklin Middle School. I will not support a name change for Franklin since Benjamin Franklin clearly had many accomplishments that form the basis for why the school was named after him. I don’t believe this school was named after Franklin to send a signal of oppression and control.

1. Roger Q. Mills Elementary School
2. W. H. Gaston Middle School
3. Wilmer-Hutchins High School
4. James Bowie Elementary School
5. James S. Hogg Elementary School
6. John F. Peeler Elementary School
7. John H. Reagan Elementary School
8. Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary School
9. James Madison High School
10. Benjamin Franklin Middle School
11. Thomas Jefferson High School
12. David G. Burnet Elementary School
13. Stephen C. Foster Elementary School
14. Nancy J. Cochran Elementary School
15. Sam Houston Elementary School
16. Sidney Lanier Elementary School
17. John Ireland Elementary School
18. Kleberg Elementary School
19. William B. Travis Elementary/Middle School
20. William Brown Miller Elementary School

Gee, I’m so impressed that Marshall opposes removing Ben Franklin’s name, especially since there is no justification for removing his name whatsoever, even by political correctness wacko standards. He apparently doesn’t recognize the “many accomplishments” that led past generations to name schools in Dallas after James Madison (the primary architect of the Constitution and a President of the United States), Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and a President of the United States, Sam Houston, the first President of the Republic of Texas and the leader principally responsible for the state’s existence, Stephen Foster, perhaps the greatest composer of folk songs the nation ever produced and one of our most brilliant popular song authors ever, William B. Travis, commander at the Alamo, and author of the letter that is the state’s unofficial creed, and Jim Bowie, who, like Travis, gave up his life for Texas.

[UPDATE: In a follow-up post, Marshall clarified that he did not mean to suggest that he supported stripping honors from Madison, Houston and the others, and blamed the political climate for the criticism he received for his initial post. He should take responsibility and blame the holes in his head. When someone lists schools facing the removal of their names, and singles out only one of the names as one he will not support for airbrushing “because [he] clearly had many accomplishments.” that reasonably suggest that he does not recognize the accomplishments of the others on the list.]

3.  The presentation for the local Boy Scout Troop that I was preparing for yesterday went very well, and also gave me hope: almost forty uniformed, polite, engaged scouts, and more than 15 parents attended, and there wasmore participation from the boys than I often get from lawyer and government employees. They also had me go beyond the scheduled time, being full of questions.

I did not dumb down the material, and did not try to reference movies likely to have been seen by 10-14-year-old boys. I did mention “Spotlight,” old Westerns, and “Jurassic Park” (one 12-year-old volunteered to explain chaos theory as a supplement to my explanation of “moral luck,”) and the three hypotheticals I gave them were ones that I have used with various adult and professional audiences. Here was the first one:

A friend at your job in a small business comes up to you at work, nearly in tears. He asks you to promise that you will keep what he says confidential, and you do. You had just been assigned the job of reviewing the financial records over the last three months, a task you have never performed before. Your friend tells you he had been asked to make a cash deposit to the company’s bank account last month, and took a thousand dollars out of the deposit for his own use. He says that he was behind on his mortgage, and that the thousand dollars saved his house and prevented his family of four, including an infant, from being  thrown out into the street. He says that he took the money and used it in a poker game, and won big. He admits that his past problems were due to a gambling addiction, but swears that he is “working on it.”

“I’ll be able to pay back all the money in just a week or two,”  he swear. “Please, please don’t flag the discrepancy! I’ll lose my job and go to jail. And remember that time I took you into our home for six months when you were out of work and broke…”

You say you have to think about it. Then you check the records. For whatever reason, the $1000 deficit doesn’t show up.

What do you tell him?

  1. “Sure. I owe you.”
  2. “I can’t cover for you. I’m going to have to tell the boss what you just said.
  3. “I’ll give you a week. If you haven’t paid it back by then, you will have to come clean to the boss.
  4. Something else.

46 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/17/17: My Ethics Gig For The Boy Scouts, Dallas Heads Down The Slippery Slope (I Told You So!), More Sign Language Follies And Misbehaving Marshalls

  1. One example does not make a slippery slope. There are also lots of school boards that still debate bringing prayer back into our public schools or chucking Darwin altogether. “You know …. morons.” Although some school boards go whack-a-doodle-crazy, they are the exception, not the rule.

    • Disingenuous. There are many similar examples, and I have commented on many of them. Citing the creationist junk is just Rationalization 2. Ethics Estoppel, or “They’re Just as Bad”:

      The mongrel offspring of The Golden Rationalization and the Bible-based dodges a bit farther down the list, the “They’re Just as Bad” Excuse is both a rationalization and a distraction. As a rationalization, it posits the absurd argument that because there is other wrongdoing by others that is similar, as bad or worse than the unethical conduct under examination, the wrongdoer’s conduct shouldn’t be criticized or noticed. As a distraction, the excuse is a pathetic attempt to focus a critic’s attention elsewhere, by shouting, “Never mind me! Why aren’t you going after those guys?”

      But at least you’re not hiding, which is better than I can say for other enablers of this crap here.

        • And I’m saying that isn’t cherry-picking. When I raided the threat of knocking down memorials of the Founders and others, the response I got from many was “NEVER! That’s absurd! It will never happen! Nobody will seriously go that far!”

          See, Beth, a single example disproves “never” and I have pointed out many more than a single example. Democrats dumped Jefferson and Jackson from the Jefferson and Jackson dinner. Students at the University of Virginia called for Jefferson’s writings not to be taught. I have linked to journalists and elected officials suggesting that Jefferson and Washington memorials should be reconsidered.

          If you say “Man will never set foot on the moon” and I cite Neil Armstrong, you can’s say, “You’re cherrypicking.”

          • My mind can’t even grasp that you think this would be comparable.

            You know, there’s also a flat earther movement — and I can cite ton of examples of this — but I have little fear that the globes are going to be eliminated from my kids’ classrooms.

            As for your slippiest of slippery slopes, I’ll tell you how right you are once a Benjamin Franklin school is renamed because some idiot associates him with slavery.

          • And I’m saying that isn’t cherry-picking. When I raided the threat of knocking down memorials of the Founders and others, the response I got from many was “NEVER! That’s absurd! It will never happen! Nobody will seriously go that far!”

            I…don’t recall seeing that response from anyone, but my bias could be causing me to misremember.

            My response was that we need to be able to draw distinctions rationally to decide who has no business being honored (such as traitors who fought a war to preserve slavery [and states’ rights!]) and who clearly does (such as literally any president, including Nixon and Trump). I don’t think I ever said that no one will ever fall short of being able to draw such distinctions.

            Those calling for the removal of tributes to people like Jefferson and Madison are morons. But part of the reason I don’t see this as a slippery slope is that “Let’s remove tributes to Confederate generals” does not logically lead to “Let’s remove tributes to past presidents as well as anyone who ever owned slaves.” Those jumping from the former to the latter are operating on some process other than logic.

      • It is part of a trend, of course. It would be nice if those generally politically sympathetic with the airbrushing political correctness bullying self-righteous virtue-signaling assholes pushing this would have the integrity to say, “STOP!” Instead, as with other clear as a bell incursions on common sense and ethics using the Saint’s Excuse, like left- media bias and voter fraud by non-citizens, they deny that the problem exists, and impugn those who say otherwise.

        Can you tell that I’m getting sick and tired of this? Because I am.

  2. #3. At some point, the piper has to be paid. Deceit begets deceit, and schemes have a nasty habit of collapsing. To have taken the $1000 to cover food and mortgage is one thing; to then risk it on gambling makes the issue much worse. Even if one can argue that the $1000 involuntary loan was justifiable given the tough life circumstances, the risking of the money on gambling is unconscionable. It is just moral luck that the money didn’t evaporate in a series of bad hands of cards. But worse, the friend knew he had a debt to call upon, namely me, and that he didn’t approach me first is also problematic.

    What is best for this friend is for him to face the consequences of his actions. He’s in debt from gambling, and he stole money to keep gambling, with the excuse that he was using the money to cover his debt. He needs the fall. He needs to have reality slap him in the face, because otherwise the enabling is only going to encourage him to keep doing what he is doing. But while I will report him to the boss, I’ll also help his family financially while the fallout occurs, even if it means his family has to leave their home and move into mine.

    • I have proposed that type of problem to our son. He gets it. I have heard the “no-harm, no-foul” rationalization from many people. But, when posed with a different question (e.g., does the fact that the money was returned negate that money was stolen?), I get a different answer, that being, “Well, yeah. He stole the money and should pay the consequences”.

      • I don’t know if Jack will dock me points for this, but part of my answer was dependent upon the fact that the friend not only stole the money, but gambled with it. I would have been much more strongly tempted to cover for him if he just stole the money and used it immediately to pay utilities, buy food, and cover a portion of his mortgage.

        The problem with the theft isn’t so much that money was stolen, but that the friend decided that was a better recourse than asking for help. Yes, there is shame in the fact that the debt was accrued through a gambling addiction, and yes, taking the $1000 was, in theory, a move that could be handled quietly without anyone knowing. Presuming the gamble worked. Presuming no one noticed before it was paid back. But, deciding that doing something illegal like this opens the door wide for it happening again, most especially if the friend is successful the first time. What happens the next time debtors come knocking, and he has the opportunity to take a deposit to the bank?

        But if the money had not be used for gambling, I might have decided that covering his theft by repaying the $1000 out of my own pocket was the better thing to do. I think I would then take that to upper management and ask that the friend be granted some amount of clemency, either simply fired without bringing charges against him, or perhaps retaining him in a probationary role, and without any opportunity to handle money. Perhaps the shame of being so disciplined would be a sufficient deterrent from doing so again.

        • I don’t know about Jack but I’d dock you points for one thing. The setup says you gave your word. That’s the real sticky part. Since no discrepancy shows, you can’t report it to the boss without breaking said word.

          You can’t report it till you have independent evidence lest you become an oathbreaker.

          • Several kids were all over that issue, but the parent who was a lawyer correctly pointed out that the ethical breach is making a promise you have to know you might not be able to keep. The question, however, is also unethical: to be fair, the question should be, “Can I trust you to keep my secret no matter how horrible it is?” To which the correct answer is, “Well, it depends on what it is.” If you say you’ll keep the promise no matter what, knowing it might be terrible, and really mean that if its too terrible, you’ll tell the secret anyway.

            Once you know what the secret is, the breach of breaking the promise is worse than the breach of keeping it. Ethics zugswang!

          • valkygrrl wrote, “…I’d dock you points for one thing. The setup says you gave your word. That’s the real sticky part.”

            That’s only a sticky point for those that don’t understand that the original request to promise to keep it confidential was a unethical trap from a person abusing a friendship and the request was completely unreasonable due to the nature of what was expected to remain confidential.

            Here is the question that people need to ask honestly themselves: Why would anyone think that being asked to keep a secret that you just learned about from an criminal coworker (friend or not) that has stolen money from the company should override you being trustworthy employee to your employer (which is an unspoken oath) and possibly put yourself in legal jeopardy? The thief is intentionally abusing whatever friendship they once had by making a completely unethical request that the person jeopardize their job and possibly get into legal trouble by keeping their secret.

            There is absolutely nothing unethical about violating a personal oath with what turns out to be a faux friend that was taken under conditions of not knowing what the oath was covering up. Real friends don’t ask friends to potentially destroy their lives in such ways.

  3. #4 Interesting scenario for the Boy Scouts to talk about.

    For me there would have been nothing to think about.

    Without hesitation, I would have said to the employee, “You are asking me to risk loosing my job and put myself in legal jeopardy because you chose to steal money from the company? That’s not going to happen. You’re request is unreasonable and your request is denied. Come clean with the boss/company, now; it’s their choice what to do after that.”

    I was actually in a similar’ish situation many, many years ago with an apartment roommate that wanted me to cover for him in regards to an after hours robbery at our place of employment that he knew I was quite positive he was directly involved with. He went to prison for the robbery and was really pissed off at me; of course it was my fault that he went to prison.

  4. I would like for CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post to provide continuing, non-stop coverage of the controversy over the name of currently serving Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Given that she has two of the most racist and insulting names in American history in her name, the congresswoman must either change her name immediately, or resign. Neither her constituents, nor fellow members of Congress and their constituents, nor the Trump administration, nor any American or person of color or person on American soil (or about to set foot on American soil) deserve to be subjected to the threatening presence or utterance of such names. Perhaps she will get more woke and re-name herself Sheila Shammgoddess, or something similarly sensitive and minority-American.

    Also, Reverend Jesse, I implore you: Unite people to save humanity.
    You know, like that organization you created, P.U.S.H.?

    • Amusing. The Good Representative from Texas’ Fightin’ 18th Congressional District will tell you that she was not named after any racist in American history. The Congresswoman will declare that she is originally from Queens, New York, which we all know is devoid of any racists or slave owners. If, however, it is determined that her names are related (however distant) it is because those were the names she was given when she was brought over on slave ships in the early 1950s. (See, Speaking on the House floor, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee claimed she was once a slave: ‘I stand here as a freed slave because this Congress came together.'” Sheila Jackson Lee, February 13, 2013. Yes, the Congresswoman is an inspiration to all.


  5. #2 This is yet another example of deeply rooted FEAR of the increasing power social justice warriors (SJW). This is exactly the kind of things the SJW want to see, it shows them that their justification of using ANTIFA to infected society with their irrational SJW virus is succeeding! Social justice warriors are being empowered by these fearful reactions to their increasing social power; this is going to get much, much worse!

  6. 4. It seems like you have a few options ethical or non-ethical.

    First I would say that the man has to examine the two relationships. The one between him and his employer and the one between him and the man who stole.

    1. Is tit-for-tat but with a twist. You may owe him and the golden rule implies that you help out even when it’s not owned but in this case the what is owed is not equal to what is being asked. Housework is not the same as an accessory to the crime. I believe Kant would say, helping out would be the unethical thing to do because it would cause harm to your employer (and quite possibly harm to you).

    2. This would be my first option if it wasn’t for your last statement. Most professionals have to report major crimes to the police even if it means a breach and confidentially. I’m not sure I would call this a “major crime,” but it falls within the obligation of what you previously agreed to. This was foolish of the man who did not steal the money. I assume in this scenario, he thought, like most of us would think, the man would say something that would not put him in jeopardy. However, since this is mostly his word against yours, you have no way to prove the crime (at least to your ability).

    3. It would seem like the best option is to encourage the man to come clean. I am mostly fine with this because you are not given the man a pass, and appears you are doing your due diligence. However, this still leaves the problem of the missing $1000. Just because you were not able to calculate it, does not mean it is or isn’t there.

    (side note: my wife is an accountant and talks about this stuff all the time. She is constantly finding credits and debits for companies that assumed they either had it or lost it. She knows people have been fired for the work she has done, but that does not mean she should stop doing her job).

    Then there is the problem of what happens if someone discovers it was missing other than you. You may have told the man to come clean, but if it comes out later or someone traces it to him, or maybe a review of the office security shows him frankly talking to you or telling you whats going on. It makes you look like an accomplice. Now you’re losing your job and quite possibly being charged with a crime. Since you didn’t report it, you are just as much at fault.

    This is what I would do.

    Encourage him to come clean. Then triple check my work. If I can still not find the error, then I go to my boss. I tell him of some office hearsay of money being taken from the account, but I can not verify it. It seems likely that he will have someone double check my work or he will say not to worry about it. Either way, I have done my job of reporting just in case it comes back on me. Though I initially did not think the gambling part of the story should matter, if he was my friend and I did owe him (or if I didn’t), I would do my best to make sure he got help with the gambling and maybe the rent. Often what we need, is not what we want. The guy needs help, but he wants it by covering up the problem.

    • Also, I don’t know if you have watched The Good Place. You can find the first season on Netflix. A girl gets into a heaven when it is very clear she should have gone to hell. She is partnered with the person who should be her soulmate (who was an ethics professor) who she tells she is not sposta be there. Now the professor has to decide if he should say something or nothing. He ends up teaching her ethics. I’m surprised I didn’t think of this yesterday, I just binged watch the first season Friday.

        • It’s a horrible ethics show, but I rather enjoyed it. My wife (a long time Cleveland Browns fan) laughed so hard that being a fan was like 1000 points (I found your review and read it. It was pretty accurate it. Most of the reviews of show have been very positive though I doubt most of them could tell the difference between can’t and Kant).

          • Is it anti-ethics? I think the show is strongly implying that the “points system” is inherently flawed, and the idea that all the main characters ended up where they did in the afterlife is something we’re certainly meant to question. But we’ll see where they go with that in Season 2.

            (And man, that was a good twist.)

  7. This is where ethics clashes with common sense. The “friend” has put you in jeopardy of losing your job by divulging this information to you. You could well be fired by your boss for waiting a week to take this guy’s word that he made good his theft of company funds. I’d blow the whistle on him immediately and possibly help out his family if they didn’t know anything about the crime committed by your “friend”.

  8. Regarding topic #1 – Don’t we already have closed captioning? I believe any TV less than 20 years old has to have the capability to display closed captioning. Isn’t’ that enough? Another benefit if closed captioning is any literate person can read, which would make getting away with shenanigans while captioning far more difficult than shenanigans while signing.

  9. In regards to the signing and the accuracy. Without knowing what Greene told his employer I am hesitant to lay this on him. If it was a matter of trying as there were no other options at the time then I can’t fault him, when lives are at risk if it comes down to communicating poorly or not at all you do the best you can. The station certainly doesn’t get a pass, they should have someone or some way to communicate this information to hearing impaired.

    If Greene in anyway played up his ability he is an asshole and unethical for doing it, if he was honest but was the only choice it is solely on the station.

    • Huh? He did it. If he can’t do it properly and knows he can’t, then he’s accountable. Look at the rationalization list. Maybe I need to add, “It was the only option left” as a supplement to 25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!” The choice is “Don’t do anything.” Besides, a sign could be printed out, A crawl on the TV, as I said before. That’s obviously better than, “Please, don’t make any pizzas! If a bear is slumming, get bent. We won’t be able to have sex with you if you buy a shrub.”

    • Gonna be interesting to see what happens when somebody notices that a major award in science fiction is named after an author and editor who wrote extensively about the “yellow peril”, John W. Campbell. Of course, that was BEFORE Pearl Harbor.

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