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.
- “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.