Welcome To The Weirdest Ethics Quiz Ever: Biden’s New Deputy Assistant Secretary At The Department of Energy

No, I am not making this up, it is not a hoax, and I have verified the facts.

The latest Biden Administration hire is one Sam Brinton, the new Deputy Assistant Secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy for the Department of Energy. Brinton announced his hiring on LinkedIn, writing that “In this role I’ll be doing what I always dreamed of doing, leading the effort to solve the nation’s nuclear waste challenges” and would “even be (to my knowledge) the first gender fluid person in federal government leadership.” Here’s Sam:

This is also Sam, in his drag queen persona “Sister Ray Dee O’Active.”

Sam says describing “her”: “I am the slutty one. And the nerdy one.” But Sam is more versatile still. That’s him on the left in the photo under the headline acting as a “handler” in the leather culture sub-set called “Puppy Play.” Handlers help human “puppies” like this good boy…

… behave like dogs while being treated as dogs, including, as far as I can determine, having sex while “being” a dog.

“For me, headspace is letting go of the human condition, everything that’s going on,” one “pup” says. “You know, ‘Did I leave the stove on?’ Letting go of all that and adopting this other mindset. For me, it’s a puppy. I get down on all fours, I bark, I act like a dog. You adopt that mindset. ‘Ooh, squirrel!’ And suddenly you’re chasing a squirrel for no reason at all. It’s a lot of fun. It’s good stress relief.”

The same article quotes “Sam,” a “handler,” who is almost certainly Biden’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy for the Department of Energy since he appears in the photo “handling” a “pup.” Sam says,

“I tell people that if you’re going to be a good handler, you have to listen well. I can hear when Pup needs something faster, because of the difference in the grunts or the moans….A pup should never get so dry that he has to ask for water. A handler should know that even if he’s not whimpering for water, you know this is the time for something that he needs…My headspace is equivalent to the mom who sees her kid in danger, or the dad who wants to teach his son how to play football. It’s the concept of the teacher and nurturer…. My job is to make sure that while he’s in headspace, I’m keeping him safe.

“Pup and I have what I feel is one of the most ideally perfect connections between our personal and kink life. Both of us have other partners, so we come into this space, and then we come out of it, knowing the boundaries of where your kink and non-kink relationships begin and end.

“…I actually have trouble when we transition from pup play to having sex. Like, ‘No, I can’t have you whimper like that when we’re having sex,’ because I don’t want to mix that world. It’s interesting, because he doesn’t have to come out of pup mode to have me fuck him. I personally have to bring him out of pup perception for me. But then I’m still treating him as a submissive to me.”

Good to know!

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is it competent and responsible for someone like Sam to hold an executive  position of trust in a Cabinet Department?

Within this quiz are several other questions, like “Should an individual representing the administration, the Energy Department and the U.S. government be publicizing his kinky ways?” and “Is the judgment of an official who behaves in pubic like Sam inherently questionable?” and “Is there a Simulated Sex with Puppies Deputy Assistant Secretary Principle?” (See: “the Naked Teacher Principle“)

I think I’ll hold my fire on this one until readers weigh in.


44 thoughts on “Welcome To The Weirdest Ethics Quiz Ever: Biden’s New Deputy Assistant Secretary At The Department of Energy

  1. Diversity and inclusion bolster and improve each and every organization. Sam will bring a fresh, unique and valuable perspective to the nuclear waste removal effort. Let’s all welcome Sam.

  2. It’s like they’re deliberately mocking those who hold to any kind of traditional values and saying “Yes, we nominated someone who you consider a pervert, we did it just to spite you, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”

  3. First and foremost…

    Second, “Is it competent and responsible for someone like Sam to hold an executive position of trust in a Cabinet Department?”


    “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I gave up childish ways.”

    It is 100% clear to me that Sam Brinton is very immature and that child hasn’t given up childish ways. I wouldn’t put him in charge of anything for the same reasons I wouldn’t put my 6 year old grandson in charge of anything, their actions prove to me that they are incapable of making rational decisions.

  4. Well, the interviews happened before Sam was hired, otherwise I’d say it’s not appropriate to give interviews on one’s sex life as a public official. I’m hoping he no longer refers to himself as “slutty” in public.

    I have had enough unusual friends in college (no, my college didn’t have any liberal arts majors; only STEM) to be unperturbed by Sam’s private life. My “ick” factor is somewhat diminished and easily overcome for the purposes of understanding people’s character. If anything, having read the excerpt, I’m more reassured of his qualifications for the job than I would be if I knew nothing about him. It establishes he’s thoughtful and understands nuance and responsibility. That’s more than I can say for a lot of bureaucrats. I would be disappointed if he didn’t bring those character traits to the job.

    That said, I am curious as to how he came by the position. If it really was his “dream” then I’m hoping he just applied for it and was evaluated like anyone else and turned out to be the best available candidate.

    If Sam (and the rest of the Department of Energy) doesn’t try to help make it so people are less afraid of nuclear power, though, then I will count that against him, the DOE, and the administration in general.

    • I look at this and see issues with impulse control. I assume someone in charge of nuclear policy is going to be privy to top secret information. You don’t want to give someone with impulse control issues access to top secret information.

      I to have had friends with…interesting proclivities. They all suffered from anxiety, had self-esteem issues, and were extremely suggestible. It wasn’t a combination you wanted to see making decisions about nuclear power or holding top secret information. Many of these individuals were extremely intelligent, but I would not have put them in high pressure situations. They wouldn’t have been able to handle it.

    • Did this little anecdote in the linked article tickle your “ick factor at all, or just add to the bizarre? (It’s not Brinton speaking) :
      “I have three separate tails. I have my show tail, which attaches to my belt, and I have two other tails, which are insertables,” Gryphn says. “This is something I feel very strongly about. I have been in the center of a bar, elbow-to-elbow, and someone has grabbed my tail — and it was my show tail — and yanked on it….“I said, ‘Look, I know you don’t know what you just did…., what I have on now is a show tail. It’s on my belt. Typically, it’s inserted. If you were to grab and yank, you would cause damage.’ ….”

      • I didn’t read the article, but when I read that article, I do get a sense of “ick” from two things: 1) people in bars shouldn’t go around grabbing other people without consent, and 2) is the person quoted saying that they are in the habit of sometimes walking around in bars with a snag hazard that could cause internal damage? That’s dangerous. And if they remove it to sit down, it’s also unsanitary. I hope they’re not implying that they sometimes hang around in bars with insertable tails. If there’s a space where that’s done, it’s got to be one where everyone knows the rules.

  5. “Is there a Simulated Sex with Puppies Deputy Assistant Secretary Principle?”

    Glad you came up with the name. I was struggling to come up with the right name.

    It is kind of difficult to answer your primary question, as we do not have much information about his qualifications, just his disqualifying factors.

    And, as far as that goes, what would be the more disqualifying: the dog-play fetish, or the lack of discretion about such fetish?

    It HAS to be the lack of discretion. You want the “best” candidate in the position. The lack of discretion does not necessarily affect that.

    However, assuming he is the most qualified person for this Deputy Assistant Secretary, you would think the White House would suggest that he privatize his profile, as it undermines his credibility.

    Unless, of course, as some have suggested, your goal is to show how enlightened you are by being indiscreet.


  6. I understand that children may see teachers as role models and thus we have the “Naked Teacher Principle”, but surely no one (child or otherwise) is looking to the “Deputy Assistant Secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition” as any kind of guide to behaviour.

    Sam has degrees from Kansas State and MIT in nuclear engineering with a particular interest in “nuclear waste storage and disposal analysis”. Assuming he* can avoid discussing the details of his unusual inclinations at work, I don’t see that his private life is at all relevant.

    * pronouns are specified as they/them, but I can’t bring myself to actually mangle the English language in that fashion — there must be some other solution.

      • How do you figure that? What does mocking accomplish? What is a person disqualified from for refusing to use a gendered pronoun?

        Language was made for people, not people for language. Good thing, too, because people on this planet really screwed up language. There’s a reason I don’t use “sir” or “ma’am.”

        Did you know in multiple Asian countries the style of speech and grammatical rules are formally different depending on the age and/or authority level of the person you’re speaking to? What a waste of lexical space. If I remember correctly (I think I read it in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers) Asian airline pilots had to start speaking English on the job because otherwise the junior pilot had trouble second-guessing the senior pilot, which defeats the purpose of having two people in the cockpit.

        My point is that languages can make certain concepts unnecessarily difficult to express or even think about, such as “this person of unknown, undefined, or irrelevant gender” or “immediate correction of a superior without indicating disrespect.”

        If we want singular gender-nonspecific pronouns (for subject and object), we can make up new words, or we can repurpose the words we have. I don’t much care which; pronouns are supposed to be used in context with an actual name or reference anyway. If you forget whether a particular “them” is singular or plural, that’s the fault of the speaker. “You” can be singular or plural, so why can’t “they”?

        I consider pronouns to be similar to a person’s name. I remember and abide by the proper noun they introduce themselves with, and I do the same for their pronouns.

        • EC,

          Your response proves my point. Language is meant to convey information and that information should be understandable to those hearing it. Introduction of pronoun and gender preferences confuse and confound people, and will lead to the stifling of expression, which is really the goal of these exercises, right?

          • “Language is meant to convey information and that information should be understandable to those hearing it.”

            I agree.

            “Introduction of pronoun and gender preferences confuse and confound people, and will lead to the stifling of expression, which is really the goal of these exercises, right?”

            No, not really. You meet someone, you learn their name, face, voice, and what gender labels to identify them with. That’s the way humans have done it for millennia. It would actually be less complicated if we defaulted to using a gender-nonspecific third person pronoun. That’s one less piece of information we have to remember and check for consistency with everything else.

    • Shows how much I know, then. I had assumed that to have a drag queen persona implied a person was male by default, and otherwise the persona would be called something else. Now that I think of it, there’s more to being a drag queen than just dressing in drag, so I guess a gender fluid person could be a drag queen. But could a woman be a drag queen? There’s a question that I imagine many humans could waste considerable time arguing over…

  7. Brinton has dual masters degrees from MIT, one in nuclear waste and one in nuclear policy. Obviously, Brinton is intelligent. That, though, doesn’t automatically grant leadership skills or ensure competence.

    As a leader Brinton needs to lead, and such background will not ensure leadership. I guarantee that Alphabet Soup Activism has nothing to do with nuclear waste policy. I suspect Brinton is incapable of separating activism, kink, and workplace obligations. In that respect, nominating/selecting Brinton for the position is unethical and insupportable. Such a choice also shows that the Biden Administration is not to be taken seriously. Biden appointed Buttegieg for Transportation Secretary and has been completely ineffective. DIE appointments have shown themselves to be cynical and stupid.


  8. Well he DOES have another desirable quality for a public servant, he is blackmail-proof.

    Blackmail requires that the intended “victim” find certain information, if revealed, to be personally humiliating What Sam would find “humiliating”, I can’t fathom..

  9. I’d be in favor of ignoring that guy’s kinks if he had any perceptible sense of discretion. If this inflation had only been unearthed after some reporter tracked down a disgruntled ex intent on embarrassing him, that guy would have my complete sympathy. As it is, I wouldn’t hire him as a dog catcher. (I REALLY, REALLY wouldn’t hire him as a dog catcher…)

  10. OK, here’s my quiz answer: if he’s qualified and good at his job, I don’t care what legal freakery he engages in when he’s not working. It’s none of my concern or business. However, his lack of discretion is a giant red flag, as is what cure looks like out-of-control narcissism that appears to be at warning light levels. The public needs to trust the government, which means the judgment and self-control of the officials who run it on all levels.The photos and the interview for public consumption, whether it was before or after his job offer, is reason enough to distrust him….as well as those who allowed him to be advanced.

    • What got me about this is that Sam is almost definitionally not the best candidate for the job. He’s 33 with two master’s degrees. Don’t get me wrong, he’s certainly educated enough. But just running the math he might have all of five years of actual work experience. I don’t get to say this often, but I think there’s actually someone in my friend group more qualified for a cabinet position than the guy who just got nominated. How do you look at a pool of potential nominees and pick this guy out of the hat, even before taking his negatives into account? Did they literally pull names out of a hat?

      • No, I think it’s a very deliberate sop to the fringes of the LGBTQ etc. community, a Democratic stronghold. I don’t think they thought anyone else would notice. And I’m sure to Joe he was just a name on a piece of paper.

          • “I suppose there can’t be many gay nuclear engineers out there…”
            Well, there could be, I guess, but how would we, or those filling the position, necessarily know?

            Just about all human groupings, have members whose words or actions many of the rest observe and say (or at least think) “You’re not helping”. Usually the offenders are the most attention-seeking and/or outrageous examples of the tribe. This could be the situation here, and might actually bolster the suspicion that this guy was chosen because they knew for sure that he would check off some boxes, it would be noticed, and they would get credit without being seen to have obviously hyped the story themselves.

            • So what you’re saying is, I should change “What was I supposed to do, dye my hair green and lisp?” to “What was I supposed to do, wear a dress and walk around a half naked man in a dog costume?”

    • But that’s just it, people in power in the past with perversions kept their perversions secret *because* society inherently disapproved of the perversion. But we live in a society where none of this stuff is supposed to be disapproved. It’s all supposed to be acceptable and normal. So why would any “leader” be expected to keep that quiet?

  11. “Should an individual representing the administration, the Energy Department and the U.S. government be publicizing his kinky ways?”

    My answer is no, but then I don’t think anyone should be publicizing their kinky interests. I don’t expect people to be interested in my sex life, and I certainly don’t want to hear about theirs. I realize this is mostly my over-calibrated “ick” sensor at work, and I’m okay with that.

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