Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/2019: Big Brotherism At The Ballet, And How Hillary Sicced Mueller On Trump

Good morning…

Depressed and discouraged today, about many things…time for Jimmy…

1. Another angle on the the topics here...arrives courtesy of Michael West, who pointed me to this article. about the psychology of unethical behavior. Mostly, it frames in slightly different packages familiar themes on Ethics Alarms, beginning with who people often don’t speak up and actively oppose unethical conduct that they witness or are a part of. Ethics Alarms has examined this phenomenon (and will continue to) many ways. One example was a two part post in 2015 on the duty to confront. (Part II is here) Other posts can be found by clicking on the tags below, such as the duty to lead, the duty to oppose evil, the duty to warn, and the duty to fix the problem.

The wonderfully named author Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg identifies several concepts in her essay, including omnipotence, cultural numbness, justified neglect, and looking out for signs of moral capture.

Ethics Alarms uses different approaches: omnipotence is essentially “The King’s Pass” and “The Saint’s Excuse” in the rationalizations list. Cultural numbness describes how “the Big Yellow Circle’s” gravitational pull influences the Green Circle, encompassing personal values and conscience. Justified neglect isn’t really justified: she is talking about how non-ethical consideration freeze ethics alarms. “Looking out for signs of moral capture” is the topic of Philip Zimbardo’s “rules” to avoid being corrupted by peer groups and organizations. I would assume that the author has studied these, since “Dr. Z” is one of the leading writers and researchers in the area.

Inevitably, the article delves into leadership, concluding,

“The reality is that, for many leaders, there is no true straight-and-narrow path to follow. You beat the path as you go. Therefore, ethical leadership relies a lot on your personal judgment. Because of this, the moral or ethical dilemmas you experience may feel solitary or taboo — struggles you don’t want to let your peers know about. It can sometimes feel shameful to admit that you feel torn or unsure about how to proceed. But you have to recognize that this is part of work life and should be addressed in a direct and open way.”

I disagree with that description of leadership technique, and I’m tempted to say that its the claim as someone who has not done much leading. It does seem typical of so-called “female leadership models,” which emphasize consensus and transparency. Traditional leadership theories hold that a leader’s followers don’t want to know how conflicted a leaders, and learning that a leader is “unsure” is the last thing they want to know. Effective leaders learn to keep their doubts and insecurities to themselves—one more reason leadership isn’t for everyone.

2. Conspiracies do happen. If I posted this article on Facebook, all the people who have been convinced without evidence that President Trump and Russia successfully conspired to steal the Presidency from Hillary Clinton would comment that has bought into a Fox News conspiracy theory.  OK—we had that conspiracy theory investigated. This one, which has far, far more evidence to support it, needs to be investigated too. The evidence points to a deliberate effort by Hillary Clinton to undermine public faith in the 2016 election results, and to employ Clinton-friendly news media (aka. “the news media”) to help:

That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument. 

In Brooklyn, her team coalesced around the idea that Russian hacking was the major unreported story of the campaign, overshadowed by the contents of stolen e-mails and Hillary’s own private- server imbroglio.

3.  Preventing sexual harassment is one thing, mind control is another.  The Times headline calls this “A #MeToo Misstep.” Misstep? The City Ballet fired two male dancers because female dancers complained about images and texts the men sent in messages that were “personal, off-hours and off-site.” Somehow, the Ballet thought that they were within legal boundaries in terminating the dancers based on what content they shared with friends and associates. Apparently one dancer accused the men of sharing nude and sexually provocative images of women connected to the company and its school, though the images had been photographed with the subjects’ consent. After women in the company learned the details of what the men were accused of, they  told management that they would be uncomfortable continuing to dance with them. Management capitulated, and fired the two men—for what they, discussed and looked at, privately, on their own time.

But what they did cannot possibly be workplace sexual harassment.

This is no different from a female employee learning that a male employee watches porn films, and declares that she doesn’t feel safe as a result.

The City Ballet claims that the men violated “the norms of conduct” that the company expects. The Company expects that it has veto power over what its dancers look at, say, and share with friends in their off hours?

After the dancers’ union challenged the firing, an arbitrator ruled that one of the dancers had to be reinstated (the other had found  new employment.) As part of the decision, the arbitrator also ordered that the dancer  undergo counseling “on the standards for his conduct.”

I think the women who complained and the City Ballet managment should have been ordered to take classes on the Declaration of Independence and the ethical limits of employers to dictate private behavior to their employees.

 

 

14 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/2019: Big Brotherism At The Ballet, And How Hillary Sicced Mueller On Trump

  1. 3. But won’t the guys look at the women during rehearsals and performances? Easy solution: Have the women dancers dance in burkas! Problem solved.

    This reminds me of “having impure thoughts” being a sin in Catholic catechism. (The beginning of my undoing as a Catholic.)

    • When I saw this statement I knew HRC was certifiably insane insofar as she is clearly not able to recognize her own delusions.

      • She’snot insane, Chris, she’s just entitled. The election was rightfully hers, as was the one Obama took from her. She’s a sociopath. Which is a sort of mental illness, but she’s not just out of her mind delusional. She’s diligently following the strategy put in place after she lost. The Clintons are like cockroaches. You can’t kill em.

  2. “I disagree with that description of leadership technique…”
    I strongly agree with you, Jack. No one wants to follow an uncertain trumpet. Whatever she is describing, it isn’t leadership.

  3. 1. Effective leaders learn to keep their doubts and insecurities to themselves—one more reason leadership isn’t for everyone.

    This rings true to me. Leaders, generally, are not expected to be perfect, but they are expected to be confident in themselves and their judgment. You can’t lead effectively without leading confidently, and revealing your self-doubts to all and sundry is a sure way to render your leadership ineffective.

    2. Conspiracies

    Here’s what’s interesting to me about this: the Obama administration could’ve completely shut down this angle by simply informing Trump about the Russians targeting his campaign as a means to interfere in the election.

    Trump may have been too stupid or naive to pay attention, but the American government has a duty to protect its citizens, and presidential candidates, from foreign meddling. But Obama did the exact opposite, and Comey (and no doubt the Clinton campaign at some level — Podesta?) were fully appraised of the situation.

    Which makes me wonder further — how much did the Obama administration in general, and the FBI in particular, share with Clinton about the Trump campaign? Was it she who dreamed up the idea of Russian interference or is it possible that Comey gave it to her as a payback for his “missteps” handling her email?

    These conspiracies, they be everywhere!

    3. Mind control

    The City Ballet claims that the men violated “the norms of conduct” that the company expects. The Company expects that it has veto power over what its dancers look at, say, and share with friends in their off hours?

    Seriously, “Norms?” What company can place “norms” as a constraint on their employees on their own time when not representing the company?

    ) As part of the decision, the arbitrator also ordered that the dancer undergo counseling “on the standards for his conduct.”

    I’d challenge the arbitration on this point. He clearly exceeded his authority when it comes to conduct outside the purview of the dance company.

    As far as the women, if karma is a thing the’re going to wake up one day on John Norman’s Gor, in chains at the feet of a burly warrior who will use them for his pleasure, at his pleasure.

    That’ll make Constitutionalists out of them.

  4. “The reality is that, for many leaders, there is no true straight-and-narrow path to follow. You beat the path as you go. Therefore, ethical leadership relies a lot on your personal judgment. Because of this, the moral or ethical dilemmas you experience may feel solitary or taboo — struggles you don’t want to let your peers know about. It can sometimes feel shameful to admit that you feel torn or unsure about how to proceed. But you have to recognize that this is part of work life and should be addressed in a direct and open way.”

    Leadership is something that’s been close to me for a long time. I thought it was time to share this small piece of my past.

    Many, many years ago (back in the 1990’s) my Unit Commander, a Colonel, was tasked with putting together a class for a rather large group of United States Army Reserve officers ranking from First Lieutenant’s thru Colonel’s at an annual weekend assembly on the west coast, the topic being covered that weekend was “Leadership”. This was to be targeted as if the attendees were civilians because most of the attendees were Army Reserve officers with professional civilian jobs. There was to be 20 hours of combined “lecture”, question and answer sessions, and small group discussions.

    Well, like all good full bird Colonel’s trying to make their mark on the upper echelon to get recommended for future promotion, he delegated the task to the backbone soldiers of the Army, the Sergeant. In this unit there were very few Sergeants, it was almost all officers, and within that group of Sergeant’s there was only one that the Colonel trusted to take the bull by the horns and a job like this done. I just happened to be the only Sergeant in the unit that had some years behind me as an instructor and after working with me for a couple of years he knew that I had attended a couple of civilian leadership retreats and knew me well enough to know that I wouldn’t fail. I had about 5 weeks to put it together.

    My target to for preparation completion was around two weeks so I could have a meeting about the weekend instruction when a couple of the Colonel’s superiors would be on Post. I hit my target early and ran the presentation past the Colonel, he approved, the presentation was made to the two visiting superiors and they immediately approved. The weekend was a huge success and I earned an nice blow-sunshine oak leaf cluster for my ARCOM.

    For what it’s worth, the following is the bullet point summary I used for the presentation and every attendee received a copy.

    LEADERSHIP CAN BE LEARNED

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