Lunch Time Ethics Appetizer, 7/16/2019: Funny But Wrong, Important But Incompetent, Too Hungry But Still Employed, And Right But Irrelevant


It’s ethical dilemma time for a Red Sox fan. I have an opportunity to get two excellent seats for Sunday’s game in Baltimore. It will be about 99 degrees, and the seats are without any protection from old Sol. Loyalty and dedication demand that I go and support the Sox, whom I have not watched in person for two years. Survival and common sense—non-ethical considerations—argue that this would be nuts.

As Jack Benny said when a robber stuck a gun in his ribs and said, “Your money or your life!,” 

1. Funny! Revealing! But still wrong. Campus Reform utilizes a James O’Keefe- inspired wag named  Cabot Phillips whose signature stunt is to get college students to reveal their ignorance and unthinking social justice warrior ways. He typically does this by lying to them, as when he gives them quotes from Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton and tells them that the speaker was Donald Trump. Outrage and hilarity ensues.

This time, he traveled to the University of Miami and presented students with a fake petition demanding that the college remove its famed mascot and team name, “Hurricanes,” because the name might be  offensive and hurtful to students who’ve been “negatively impacted by hurricanes throughout their lives.” Sure enough, many of the students he spoke with agreed withe the premise. Phillips then posted the video of the students making fools of themselves.

Human beings are wired to trust other human beings, and these stunts take advantage of that. Trust is essential to a healthy and cohesive society, and any exploitation of trust, be it for political purposes, financial gain or amusement, damages society.

It’s not worth it. In this case, the same point could be made by asking, “Would you a support an effort to ban the “Hurricanes” nickname as being potentially hurtful to the victims of tropical storms?”

2. “Spinquark” A helpful reader sent me a link to this website, which purports to expose “big tech companies that don’t respect your privacy..that aren’t transparent and consistent in their algorithms and policies or who use their platforms as a type of privatized online government, a government without recourse or representation.”

It has a lot of alarming assertions on its home page. Here is the  opening salvo:

How is it that Facebook, who refuses to dox any of the violent Antifa terrorists that use its platform, are happy to give up the personal details of the Facebook user who anonymously uploaded a slowed video of Nancy Pelosi, within minutes, to some rando journalist on the phone? (How do you even call Facebook?)

Well what if I told you a Policy Director at Facebook was Nancy Pelosi’s Chief of Staff before taking said job directing policy at Facebook? What if I told you the head of algorithm policy at Facebook worked for Hillary at The State Department? Or that the Head of Content Policy worked for the Hillary presidential campaign? What if I told you the person in charge of privacy policy at Facebook used to work for Al Franken, before he worked for Senator Bonoff, before he worked for Congressman Oberstar? Or that the Director in charge of “countering hate and extremism” at Facebook came from the Clinton Foundation? Did you know that the person at Facebook who currently “oversees programs on countering hate speech and promoting pluralism”, and “develops internal third party education and drives thought leadership on hate speech and content moderation” was one of Obama’s policy advisers at The White House? Do you even know what “pluralism” is?

The problem with this is that the rhetoric is indistinguishable from the typical InfoWars or Cenk Uyger conspiracy theory rant. Don’t ask “what if”: tell me, and cite reliable, non-partisan, verifiable sources. That’s a pretty scary paragraph, and heaven knows I am ready to believe it, since I write an ethics blog that has been banned from Facebook for emphatically questioning the assumptions and official mania of the social media Borg. However, a message can be undermined by the messenger. This is an important area for credible journalism, and the writing and presentation on Spinquark is designed for the choir, not the skeptic.

One of the most damaging forms of incompetence is to unwittingly sabotage an important idea or truth by inept communication of it.

3. Now THAT’s an unethical delivery woman! Chris Payton of York County ordered food from  Dickey’s Barbecue using DoorDash, one of several food delivery services that send  drivers to pick up orders from restaurants and deliver it  to your door. Chris says he opened up the box after receiving it from the DoorDash employee and discovered that half of his food had been eaten: a third of the ribs he had ordered  were missing  and he observed what looked like bite marks.

Payton assumes  the DoorDash delivery driver is the culprit, saying, “I guess she just pulls over to the side of the road and just decides to have herself a little snack before she delivers.”

When contacted by the news media,  Dickey’s Barbecue confirmed Payton’s story by noting they have had similar incidents with the same DoorDash driver.

Wait: she’s done this before and she still has a job?

4. Trump’s double-down tweets: Regarding the distorted outrage over Trump’s “go back to where you came from” (then after you’ve cleaned up the messes there, come back and show us how you did it) tweets, and especially the House Democrats seeking t formally condemn the President’s “racist” comments, POTUS tweets,

“The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party. Horrible anti-Israel, anti-USA, pro-terrorist & public[ly] shouting of the F-word, among many other terrible things, and the petrified Dems run for the hills. Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!”

Not that I would ever expect President Trump to recognize the crucial difference between a defense and rationalizations, but this tweet series is based on several of the latter on the list, including, Ethics Estoppel, or “They’re Just as Bad,” Sicilian Ethics, or “They had it coming,” The “Tit for Tat” Excuse, The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things,” The Scooby Doo Deflection, or “I should have gotten away with it!,” The Golden Rule Mutation, or “Do unto others according to how you feel about what they did unto you” and John Lyly’s Rationalization, Or “All’s fair in love and war.”

None of these excuse his self-immolation tweets.Nonetheless, regarding the Democrats selective outrage, he is absolutely correct.



28 thoughts on “Lunch Time Ethics Appetizer, 7/16/2019: Funny But Wrong, Important But Incompetent, Too Hungry But Still Employed, And Right But Irrelevant

  1. 4. Still thinking about responding to HT’s adamantly insisting Trump’s tweet is racist. Here’s what popped into my head this morning, as things are wont to do: Trump is describing a peculiarly American phenomenon, which may not have an equivalent in The North. People come here from other countries, usually fleeing prosecution. They thrive here pretty quickly and their children go to college, usually on scholarship, and proceed to make a career of bitching about the United States. It’s particularly (and almost inexplicably) common among Ashkenazhi Jews from Eastern Europe and Russia or the former Soviet Union and its countries. The examples include Noam Chomsky, Katrina Van den Huevel and Stephen Cohen, among other intellectuals of various degrees. But of course, the leader in the clubhouse is … drum roll please … Bernie Sanders. What is it about second generation Jews who don’t know what “pogram” means? The Soviets murdered Jews but Bernie wants to turn the United States (where he has a great job and already has a dacha on a lake) into the country that tried to kill his parents and grand parents and forced them to flee to Brooklyn? THINK! Bernie. If Trump were to say, “Bernie, you want socialism? Go back to Mother Russia and give it a try. Or go to Cuba or Venezuela. Or maybe take a trip to Cambodia, or Vietnam.” Would that be racist? Would it even be anti-Semitic? The honest answer on both counts would be “no.” I think Trump’s complaint about the squad is precisely the same and can only be colored as being racist because the people being spoken to are, or have elected to be deemed, people of color. The tweets are about what these people are saying, not who they are as opposed to anyone else’s skin color.

    Maybe in Canada, people from Hong Kong or other present and former Commonwealth nations or elsewhere don’t immediately want to start re-arranging the Canadian furniture. But boy, for some reason, in the U.S., new arrivals want to redecorate the place ASAP. And U.S. taxpayers and voters (like me) don’t really like it.

    • And cheers. By the way, speaking of The North, what is it with “We the North?” What ever happened to the verb to be north of the border? Did it succumb to frostbite?

    • I thought a lot about HT’s comments too. I decided I didn’t want to comment on that thread. There are smarter people than I that are better suited for that particular situation. But here, I think might be a good place to speculate and ramble on a bit.
      There was a lot of back and forth about what Trump intended meaning. I saw at least 3 suggestions on the intended meaning, and I thought about 2-3 more. However, all of that is useless. There is no point in guessing his intended meaning. It’s too late to clarify, the damage is done, and those that agree or disagree most likely are not going to change his mind. Even if Trump was truthful about the meaning or got someone to clarify, a significant amount of people wouldn’t believe him. Mostly because he hasn’t given them a reason to trust him, but also because of confirmation bias.
      Confirmation bias is the real motivator here. I have seen many people comment on it and most of them focus specifically on the “go back to their home countries.” To be this seems mitigated by the fact he tells them to come back as well, but I’ll admit this is part of my own confirmation bias. I want the President to succeed, I think he is often unfairly attacked, and the fact that most of what I have observed being said lacks context, I believe I’m justified. But this could be my confirmation bias talking.
      So what other options do I have to explore here? Let’s consider Occum’s razor. What is the simplest explanation? If Trump is a racist, no one would be surprised by a comment like this. Sure out of all the things he has said, this might be the closest thing to racism (Unless I’m missing something other than what was in the Newsweek article posted here a while back), but if he is a racist those other things are just par for the course. Racism would certainly explain away a lot of his behavior. Therefore, to those who believe it is racism, racism becomes the simplest answer.
      However, Trump is also a sexist, bully, narcissist, a**hole, and an idiot. His tweets, relationships, and behavior and prove all of these things. I’m willing to bet that even those who think he is a racist agrees with that. To those people, the “racist tweets” are easily explained by someone with the articulation and intelligence of a 10-year-old, not a sitting president. Therefore the simplest explanation is he’s an idiot.
      So what do we do when we don’t agree on an answer or even the simplest explanation?
      It is here I believe we could consider Halon’s razor. Racism is by definition malicious. Trump by example is an idiot. Halon’s razor would support the second belief over the first.

      This is as far as I have thought about this. Unfortunately, while there might be other things to consider, I am either not smart enough to consider it, don’t know it, or haven’t found the argument compelling enough.

  2. There’s a tv show version of that Benny skit that’s even funnier than the radio version. It ends with Jack saying, almost frantic, “I’m thinking! I’M THINKING!” But I can’t find it.

  3. That Dickey’s driver story sounds like the premise for a wacky commercial.
    Customer (looking in bag) “Hey, did you eat my Dickey’s?”
    Driver (shrugs) “I saved some for you!”
    Narrator: “Dickey’s— so good you’d probably better go pick it up yourself.”

    (By the way, I think you should get one of those hats with little umbrellas on them, and mount one of those little fans that spray mist into it. Then you’re ready for the game!)

  4. 1. Funny story. We had to do projects on frame theory (confirmation bias). Our teacher gave us an example of it: I was driving down the road at night and saw an eclipse (moon/car) and wanted us to give a speech related to it. Around this time there was a video circulating about ending woman’s sufferage. This classmate must have seen the idea because he around asking people the same thing, except he asked people to end woman’s suffering. He never asked me, but he did ask several people in the class. He went up and said he spent the week asking people to end women’s right to veto and everyone he asked agreed. At this another classmate said, that isn’t what you asked me, you asked me to end women’s suffering… apparently he fell into his own trap.

    Somewhat related: I was with a friend and his wife driving down the road. I saw a sign going up in this new area and I said out loud: “that’s a terrible name for a cemetery.” My friend’s wife looked over and said: “That’s Creamery. Though I suppose Coldstone Cemetery would be a pretty terrible name too.” That was about 15 years ago and they still give me grief for that.

  5. 1. Students

    Human beings are wired to trust other human beings, and these stunts take advantage of that. Trust is essential to a healthy and cohesive society, and any exploitation of trust, be it for political purposes, financial gain or amusement, damages society.

    Well, not to mention he was exploiting the inexperience of callow young men and women who are used to following the leader and are socially expected to agree with positions that appear to be sensitive to others. That’s what they’ve been taught all their lives, and exposing/embarrassing these young people is not an appropriate way to demonstrate their lack of worldliness.

    2. Facebook

    This is an important area for credible journalism, and the writing and presentation on Spinquark is designed for the choir, not the skeptic.

    If only we had credible journalism in this country, alas.

    3. Delivery woman

    Holy Health Department, Batman!

    4. Trump

    What is sad, Mr. President, is that punching down and rationalizing your naked jaunt through the Democrat Party Civil War battlefield is not leadership. Who are we to look to for an example? Not you, that’s for sure. Not them either. Children, avert your eyes.

    No wonder “A pox on both their houses” is such a popular sentiment.

  6. Jack
    When does the claim of a 14th amendment violation fall into the rationalization that no one prosecutes the others for the same offense..

    Let me expound. We have hate crime laws on the books that add penalties if it can be proved that hate was a motivating factor. I cannot recall an instance where a person in a protected class was charged with a hate crime offense. Is it that persons in protected classes harbor no hate when committing crimes against the non protected classes or is it that we assume only whites harbor hate when they commit acts of violence against a protected person? Is it a rationalization to claim unfairness or can it be a defense?

  7. Curious Jack; that grill platter pictured above looks right tasty, and good for you, too. That something they offer at Fenway Park? If so, how much; my guess would be $24.99.

    Other ball parks’ cuisine have veered away from traditional fare, but I reckon you can still get Dodger Dogs-n-Fenway Franks, am I right?

    For the cardiovascularly undaunted, a double sawbuck’ll get you a 18 Inch/Piled High “Down Wisconsin Avenue” Brat at Miller Park; just the thing to make you forget the Brewer’s July swoon.

    • I can’t imagine that platter being sold at any ballpark I can imagine. Of course, I haven’t been to Fenway since our daughter was six months and we snuck two bottles of beer into the bleachers by burying them deep inside our daughter’s diaper bag. Our daughter is now 45. Can’t remember whether to Sox or the Twins won the afternoon game. Just a roof, no upper deck, no seats on the monster. Just a ballpark. Couldn’t have cost much. Yuppies hadn’t even been invented. No women wearing pink ball caps. The Sox weren’t trending. Just a ball club.

      • ”I can’t imagine that platter being sold at any ballpark I can imagine.”

        Then I can’t imagine you-n-yours, or me-n-mine for that matter, at Oracle Park, which I take to be on the culinary cutting edge of the post-modern Neo-Fan.

        Last time I was to a game was a little 21 years ago when my wife/nee girl-friend and I just started seeing each other, the Brewers still played in county Stadium, and you could sneak all the beer in you could hide.

        I knew she was the one when she said: “you know, Paul, I can fit 5 of those in my purse.”


        • You got THAT right, d_d!

          And I’ve changed my mind on the Price Is Right entree above; if you can get the “Down WESconsin Avenue” 18 inch/45.72 cm brat for $20 in small market Milwaukee, that Upscale/Hoity-Toity/Haute Cuisine Sampler has to be more like $64.99.

          And for that price, they can keep it!

  8. #4 – I’m not ready to consider this self immolation by Trump. I’ve heard it here before, one of Trump’s biggest tools is making his opponents appear like the bigger fool. It started with “If Trump is elected, we’ll become a nation of assholes.” Who figured that the biggest assholes of all would be his opponents? He’s never stopped, always getting the democrats to respond in an even worse.

    Consider that Trump’s actions are keeping the four house freshman in the forefront of the news. He’s turning them into the Democrat party spokespersons. He’s running against them. He’s whipping the progressives into a crazy frenzy and making sure that the most nuts of the 20 primary presidential candidates win because the whackos of the left are going to flood the primary.

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