The words they re looking for are “deceitful” and “dishonest.”
11-year-old Seth Parker advertised his roadside root beer stand with the sign above. After concerned neighbors called the police, it was determined that the sign was just a classic bait-and-switch.
See the small print invisible to casual passersby? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! It says “root”! That means the sign is truthful, right?
No, that means the sign is false…a lie, a deceitful marketing ploy designed to deceive, that emulates the dishonest techniques of frauds, scam artists and grifters since the dawn of time. Yet somehow, because the scamster is a kid, the entire mainstream media is falling all over itself extolling conduct that is not only not praiseworthy, it is the first step on the road to predatory conduct.
CBS, CNN, USA Today and others have called the ploy “clever.” Utah Senator Mitt Romney—Seth lives in Utah—, tweeted a picture of Seth with the comment, “A lesson in reading the fine print! The future is bright for this young Utah entrepreneur.”
How to pass along those values Mitt. “Fine print” in a contract is an unethical drafting technique that relies on an ethics loophole: you are supposed to read, and presumed by the law to have read, anything you sign, so lawyers who allow you to assume that your contract partner isn’t trying to cheat or deceive you to ignore that fine print officially can claim their victims have no one to blame to blame but themselves. That doesn’t mean, however, that fine print tricks are ethical, just as the fact that the old “bait and switch” technique—appearing to advertise one product to get the suckers in the door and then revealing that another lesser, more costly, or completely different one is the real item being offered–is as old as Stonehenge means that technique is ethical either.
Of course, the kind of deceit Seth employed has non-economic uses too–ask Bill Clinton or any similar Lothario…
“Now, now…when I said you were “the only woman” for me, I meant at that moment, when you were the only woman around. I didn’t lie to you—you leapt to conclusions.”
“Look, when I said I’d call you, I never said when I’d call you.”
Contrary to the anti-social message he is getting, Seth’s scheme is nothing for him or his family to be proud of. It is irresponsible and ethically ignorant for the media and our culture to praise it. (And Mitt–I’m disgusted, and I officially revoke my 2012 vote). How many budding future liars, swindlers and predators will be inspired by the near universal celebration of Seth’s unethical conduct?