Columbus Day Ethics Voyage, 10/12/2020: Portland And Washington, Which, Had Chris Known His Discovery Would Lead To Such Dens Of Madness, Might Have Caused Him To Turn Back

When you see me a day off like this, please understand that it is a direct result of the new, mandated, stupid WordPress system making it literally impossible to complete a post on my laptop. (Having a newly rescued, affection starved  large dog desperately needing to climb onto your lap doesn’t help either.) Once the office is closed for the night, getting back up there to complete a post is nigh impossible, not to mention domestically perilous, if you get my drift.

1. In Ethics, we call now this kind of problem “Portland”… Portland software company New Relic is roiled with a controversy over CEO Lew Cirne’s donations to a private Christian school that excludes gay students and opposes gay rights and to a controversial evangelist Cirne’s wife is a contributor to President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. Can’t have that!

The aggrieved employees say Cirne’s personal values are not consistent with the “message of inclusion”n the company claims to represent. They see his wife’s donations to the President of the United States as also antithetical to the company’s stated values.

One New Relic employee told the media, “That is deeply concerning to me, especially to someone who is queer. I don’t feel like those diversity and inclusion initiatives are real or will be protective of me,” and says the company lured her into a false sense of security with its diversity pledges, pulling a bait and switch.

I advise Cirne to make this statement as soon as possible. No charge for my advice, and I recommend it, as an ethicist, to any company executive who encounters similar criticism:

“Our company does not mandate particular political opinions or social views among its employees. In the United States, we are blessed with freedom of expression, association, speech and religion. It is literally none of our business. As long as employees confine their conduct to company policies and values while doing their job, they have met all of their obligations to the company.

Similarly, executives of this company have those same rights, and will exercise them as they see fit. It is none of anyone’s business in this company how the company’s leadership or their family members choose to direct their charitable donations or devote their private time. Employees who cannot meet these fair and essential requirements are invited to seek employment elsewhere.

In addition, any employee, at any level of the corporation, who presumed to criticize another employee’s family members for their personal political or charitable activities is subject to firing for cause.”

[Pointer: Matthew B]

2. Not so much an ethics movie as an ethics test. “The Lie” is the first installment of “Welcome to Blumhouse” a Netflix horror anthology series in four parts. The story begins with a horrific family event in an already dysfunctional home. A couple’s troubled daughter announces that she just murdered her best friend on a whim. (The situation is reminiscent of the big reveal in “A Separate Peace.”) The daughter is a juvenile, but an aggressive DA could make the case that she was guilty of premeditated murder, and try her as an adult. She is also prone to hysterics, though, and the available evidence might easily support a claim that the death was accidental. Maybe it was. There were no witnesses. The death occurred in a secluded place, and the victim has a history of running away from home.

What should the parents do? What would you do? It doesn’t help that the estranged parents are constantly at each other’s throats, or that they can’t control their daughter even a little bit.

Of course, the textbook legal/ethics answer is simple: contact the police, don’t let the daughter speak to anyone without a lawyer, and tell authorities what you know. Obviously the parents don’t do that, or there would be no movie.

I love “ordinary people thrust into extraordinary situations” movies, like “A Simple Plan,” “War of the Worlds,” and “The Desperate Hours.” This is one, and like many of the others in the genre, I found myself shouting at the TV as the protagonists made one stupid and disastrous decision after another.

3. The news media is not reporting some of the worst of Joe Biden’s recent gaffes, brain farts, and head-scratchers. We know why this is, but it is still a consequential betrayal of professional ethics and the media’s public duty. These moments are directly relevant to the decision looming on November 3, and the public has a need to know and a right to know, given well-founded doubts about his mental decline.

Recent examples:

  • “We have to come together, that’s what I’m running,” Biden said during a Toledo drive-in rally today, Columbus Day. “I’m running as a proud Democrat for the Senate.”
  • “You may remember,” Biden said in the same rally, “I got in trouble when we were running against that senator who was a Mormon, the governor.” (You know, that guy.)
  • During a September 20 campaign speech in Philadelphia, Biden said that 200 million had succumbed to the Wuhan virus.
  • Biden has claimed both to have been a member of a Black church as a teen and to have attended a black college, neither of which appear to have any basis in reality.
  • Last week, asked directly if the voting public had a right to know if he planned to support announced plans by his party to “pack the Supreme Court,” Biden answered,  “No, they don’t.”

I’d say that last is more serious than the others, which are themselves at least arguably serious considered en masse.

4. Mainstream media integrity test! Has anyone seen this reported by the Times, the Post, NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN or MSNBC? Of course Fox News reported the embarrassment, and the conservative radio and online media is having a ball with it. Is this news? Gee, do you think it would be reported if a Trump campaign event attracted nobody? In Biden’s case, doesn’t such an incident raise questions about the media narrative that Biden is cruising to victory?

5. I would have fired him too. The conservative media tried to spark indignation over an incident in Washington, the state.  Deputy Attorney General Todd Bowers fired senior criminal investigator Cloyd Steiger, a 61-year-old former Seattle police homicide detective, after he visited a restaurant, ran up a $46.74 bill and refused to tip the waitress because she was wearing a Black Lives Matter pin. On his tip-less receipt, Steiger wrote, “BLM button = no tip. That’s how socialism works.”

Two days later, the attorney general’s office suspended Steiger pending an investigation. According to witnesses, Steiger confronted another young employee he thought was a manager and angrily confronted him about the BLM buttons. That conversation ended with Steiger swearing and giving a middle finger salute. Steiger shared a photo of the receipt on his Facebook page. (This alone proves he’s an idiot.)

There is more, but that’s plenty. I feel very strongly that establishments should prohibit political messaging in the workplace, but the remedy for that, if Steiger feels strongly about it, is to complain, and not patronize the restaurant. His conduct was unjustifiable and unprofessional.

The attorney general’s office determined that he showed “extremely poor judgment” when he visited the Tacoma restaurant, “failed to meet the integrity standards of the office,” and with his behavior, “had undermined the trust of the public and his fellow workers.”

The Seattle Times reported that Bowers also said Steiger “irreparably compromised [his] credibility and brought significant disruption and embarrassment to the office.” Okay, that’s excessive, but this is Washington, which is, as we know, nuts. Loudly and publicly attacking Black Lives Matter while doing something so petty as to stiff a young waitress for wearing support when she is probably under social pressure to conform to the mob is going to cause political problems, and if a government employee doesn’t have the self-control and judgment to avoid that, he’s untrustworthy.

8 thoughts on “Columbus Day Ethics Voyage, 10/12/2020: Portland And Washington, Which, Had Chris Known His Discovery Would Lead To Such Dens Of Madness, Might Have Caused Him To Turn Back

  1. I understand the problem of trying to compose and type when a large animal decides it is time to pay attention to him. Often as I sit thinking about how to organize my ideas one of my cats decides to act as my typist as he paces back and forth across the keyboard. After deleting 4 paragraphs of my text he adds his editorial ideas which is usually a long list of z’s.

    With all the craziness in the world I don’t think I would trade Stan’s editorial assistance for the ability to get my thoughts down faster.

    • My youngest (20 months old) likes to pound on my desktop’s keyboard. She keeps resetting the Windows 10 color scheme, which drives me crazy. And there is NO work that can get done when she wants to be on Daddy’s lap and playing with Daddy’s cool clicky-thingy. This was quite a struggle when I had strep and a cold a couple weeks back and had to quarantine until my COVID-19 test came back (negative, dang it, I want to catch this and get it over with). Working from home when my daughters all want to claim my attention is rough.

      I wouldn’t trade it for the world, either.

  2. Last week, asked directly if the voting public had a right to know if he planned to support announced plans by his party to “pack the Supreme Court,” Biden answered, “No, they don’t.”

    the reporter who questioned him was Ross DiMattei, for the Las Vegas TV station KTNV.

    Whatever political biases he may have is not apparent from his Twitter nor InstaGram feeds. In both his Twitter and InstaGram,

    In fact, reading his feeds, he was excited for the upcoming one-on=-one interview with Joe Biden.

    He had asked viewers what questions they wanted to ask. Presumably, he did some research, and chose his three questions, including the court-packing questions.

  3. Just so there’s no doubt which side I am on.

    1. May I suggest a few additions?

    “Our company does not mandate particular political opinions or social views among its employees. In the United States, we are blessed with freedom of expression, association, speech and religion. It is literally none of our business. As long as employees confine their conduct to company policies and values while doing their job [and follow all state laws at all times, like any good citizen], they have met all of their obligations to the company.

    Similarly, executives of this company have those same rights, and [may] exercise them as they see fit. It is none of anyone’s business in this company how the company’s leadership or their family members choose to direct their charitable donations or devote their private time. Employees who cannot meet these fair and essential requirements, [or take such issue with the charitable donations or private actions of others that it becomes a distraction from the performance of their duties,] are invited to seek employment elsewhere.

    In addition, any employee, at any level of the corporation, who presumes to [publicly or privately] criticize another employee’s family members for their personal political or charitable activities is subject to firing for cause. [It is necessary to maintain discipline in the workplace, and discipline cannot be maintained in the face of this type of personal conflict. It is necessary to maintain respect for authority in the workplace, and personal conflict that undermines that cannot be permitted. It is necessary to keep the company’s image from being tarnished over conflicts that have no basis in company business or conduct. That is not possible if this type of issue is made public without consequences.]”

    Of course, those additions would be under normal circumstances. You release that statement, your version or mine, in THIS political climate, especially in Portland, and you might as well close up shop that afternoon, because you will be out of business by close of business. Instead, most would suggest the following statement:

    It has been brought to Relic’s attention that certain of our employees feel unsafe due to certain actions taken by Lew Cirne, unconnected to his duties as CEO, but which have nonetheless come to light. These actions have cast doubt on whether Relic is living up to its pledge of diversity, inclusion, and a safe workplace for all employees, no matter race, gender, orientation, or any other characteristic.

    On behalf of all leadership and management, we apologize to those employees, and pledge that we will do better to prevent this situation going forward. To implement that pledge, Mr. Cirne will be stepping down as CEO, effective immediately. He also pledges to make a sizable donation both to the Biden campaign and to an LGBTQ charity to be determined.

    All staff will be retrained immediately in sensitivity, diversity, and inclusion, and instructed as to what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate use of their personal time and resources, and that any inappropriate use of either is punishable by discipline, up to and including termination.

    In other words, employees would be told “Your responsibilities to this company don’t end when you walk out that door at the end of the day. One wrong word or mistake can bring Antifa or BLM to our door, with destruction on their minds. If you’re not a Democrat, or someone in your life is in law enforcement, or someone in your life is an outspoken or even not-so-outspoken conservative, you need to keep that quiet. Talk to your significant other, your parents, siblings, etc., and let them know they need to keep all that stuff on the down low. This isn’t the time to wear that PBA sweatshirt in public, or work that Knights of Columbus spaghetti dinner, or write that check to your preferred candidate if he’s the wrong candidate. Wear another sweatshirt, even if it isn’t as warm or you don’t like it. Tell the Knights sorry, but your schedule’s getting pretty busy and you can’t help them out any time soon, or any time not so soon either. If you aren’t a Democrat, sit this election out. There will be other times to speak out, but right now, the goal is to keep this company running and all of us employed. We can’t do that if the place gets burned down.”

    2. In writing parlance, that’s called carrying the idiot ball, without which many tv shows and movies would be over very quickly.

    3. This is the same media that said Reagan was never fit to be president based on two (2) gaffes, one mistake during a meet-and-greet soon after the assassination attempt and major surgery, the other an interview six years in where he lost his focus. It’s also the same media pushing the idea that Trump is insane. Yet it never said boo about Obama’s smoking or Clinton’s constant eating of junk which ultimately led to a quadruple bypass. This comes as no surprise.

    4. I’ve seen the usual excuses, chief among them that Biden supporters are smart enough NOT to come out to a rally where they would be exposed to the coronavirus.

    5. He should have been fired just for stupidity. If you want to ding someone on a tip you just say their service sucked. I for one wouldn’t patronize a restaurant with the staff wearing all kinds of political crap on their uniforms, that just means they are undisciplined. However, if this place also had a “smash the patriarchy” sign in the window, then he should have know what he was getting into, same as if it was flying the thin blue line flag.

  4. #2: Tell your dog it’s “A Separate Peace“>

    3: Lots of Bidenist geography this year. Addressed the “people of Arizona” while in Nevada recently. Apparently doesn’t recognize New Hampshire at all…thought it was Vermont, and had also previously noted it as Nevada. Asked people in Iowa about bridges in Ohio.

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