Ethics Notes On A Very Strange Day…

Yesterday was a mess, as I was running back and forth to the hospital, trying to keep Spuds calm (he didn’t understand why I kept leaving the house and why Grace was missing), and because when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, detecting ethics dilemmas and issues at every turn. Here are some that stick out…

I was asked to buy two of the Juul vaping delivery sticks, which are sold at 7-11, and which cost about 10 bucks. The vaping system has been a godsend for my wife, who smoked two packs a day for most of her adult life: her lungs, the doctor says, are completely clear, pink and healthy. Nonetheless, the government is trying to send her back to cigarettes, which it refuses to ban ( it certainly could), and threatening to eliminate Juul. When I tried to purchase the sticks, I was informed that 7-11 is prevented by law from selling more than one to a single customer. The law is simply harassment and an abuse of government power. I could come back 20 minutes later and with a different clerk, buy a second one easily.


The emergency room admitting staff consisted of two grossly obese women wearing baggy sweatshirts and slacks. One was chewing gum. Both mumbled and were barely audible. What a confidence- and trust-building introduction to a hospital! How can any business allow employees to present such an unprofessional image to the public? Quizzing my sister, a health care expert (she wrote some of Obamacare), about what’s going on here, I was informed that health care facilities, including doctors’ offices, are experiencing such a staffing emergency that they have to accept sub-par employees. No, they really don’t. Health care facilities can’t allow unprofessional staff, and they need to pay enough to ensure that employees meet acceptable standards.


The masking policies in the hospital are stupid beyond belief. Visitors are required upon entrance to wear masks, but the masks available are paper, and now fully recognized as useless. Once inside, some staff are wearing masks, some aren’t, some are wearing them incorrectly or having them dangle from one ear. A few mask-nazis told me to pull up my mask, which I did until I passed them, and no one complained after that. Some doctors were masked, other weren’t. Patients were not required to wear masks at all. Leaving the hospital, and it was a long walk out, including elevator trips, without a mask on appears to trigger no alarms at all, no matter how many people one encounters on the way. Apparently the lurking Wuhan virus can onlt be carried on the way into the hospital and its various wards.


I needed an ID to get my admission badge, which included my name and my wife’s room number. With the badge, I could just walk past security every time I returned to the hospital. Nothing stopped me from handing the badge to the local terrorist or patient-beheader, who would then be allowed unfettered access. Good security system!


Off-topic a bit: yesterday was the worst day for traffic and comments for over a year. Why would that be? Is President’s Day weekend an ethics holiday?


What, if anything, should I have done about this? My old friend and long-time collaborator Tom Fuller, with whom I am presenting the March 1 Gilbert and Sullivan program to D.C.’s Cosmos Club, was kind enough to ask me to dinner. We went to a terrific local seas food/ Cajun place abut 5 minutes from my house; I have been a regular there for decades. It appeared to be packed, and we had no reservations. A couple ahead of us was apparently told that there were no tables available. But the hostess, whom I didn’t recognize but she might have recognized me, when I asked if we could be seated told me to wait a minute, and we were quickly ushered to a small table for two. Aspiring diners were again being turned away as we sat down.

It occurred to me about three gulps into my gin and tonic—which I needed—that the couple that had been turned away ahead of us was black, as well as about half our age.


Finally, back safely at home and being cuddled by Spuds, I discovered that the Roku streaming channel offered all of the episode of the original “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.” I chose an episode from the first season (1967) before the show really hit its stride (Goldie Hahn wasn’t yet playing super-dumb and star cameos hadn’t become a prestige thing yet). “Laugh-In’s” cast did a musical “salute to censorship.” The show had a liberal satirical orientation, and the number was obviously aimed at tweaking conservatives of the day. Yet almost all of the song’s jibes would apply to the Left’s censorship efforts in 2023.

A memorable line, as the cast pretended to take a pro-censorship stance: “If someone says to you, ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me,’ set them straight. Hit them with a stick or stone.”

18 thoughts on “Ethics Notes On A Very Strange Day…

  1. Speaking only for myself. I have been limiting my comments because I have limited experience or understanding of some recent topics and for some that I have familiarity with I find myself growing tired of lamenting about the same issues.
    I suppose I am looking for ways to affect real positive change. This is not to say that the essays and comments here are not useful because they are critical in shaping my understanding of and thinking about issues that are threatening western civilization and our free society.
    I log in every few hours to check on new comments and essays. Your reach is far greater than your traffic or comments suggest

  2. Re: traffic and comments. The readership and commentariat cannot keep up with our host’s fearful pace. Our host reminds me of the tireless and prolific bodice ripper author Norah Roberts in that she can write books much, much faster than I can read them.

  3. Re: staffing. OB Jr. does PR work for restaurant owners. I asked him last week what’s happening in the industry post Covid. He said, “staffing problems.” I guess people simply got used to not working.

  4. Jack: “Off-topic a bit: yesterday was the worst day for traffic and comments for over a year. Why would that be? Is President’s Day weekend an ethics holiday?”

    I was checking in yesterday like some of the previous commenters.

    You mentioned in your ethics warm-ups that they tend to generate fewer comments. I tend to like the Warm-ups better because they are an “ethics sampler.” There is usually something of interest to find in there. Contrast that with the Fetterman post; it was interesting, but I had nothing to say about it.

    Then, it occurred to me that I did not post on the warm-up for two reasons (incidentally, I thought about posting THIS comment on THAT post): 1) I might have multiple things to say on the various topics); and 2) the multiple topics (which I like) make it more difficult to have a coherent commentary thread between commenters. You get a couple different comments on separate posts with less interaction between the comments.


  5. Like others, I tend to read your site every day. It’s become my regular lunch-time reading list. I admit I rarely comment though. I do appreciate your posts though, and this site, and I also enjoy the ethics warm-ups. It’s a nice balance of things and I find I learn about more happening that I didn’t know about through them then your longer articles (which are generally on topics I’ve heard of already). Thanks for all you’ve done here.

  6. Our local Sunday edition in Hagerstown Maryland felt it of great import to have its front page, above the fold banner headline feature a story about the history behind of lynchings in the local area. Much of what was on the front page just referenced the research of “Ida P Wells” which is the online pseudonym for the discredited author of the 1619 project and the NAACP.

    Extrajudicial lynchings were prevalent in our early history and to suggest that blacks were the only victims of this injustice seems to only stoke the fires of racial animus.

    Almost 10,000 blacks were killed last year by other blacks and hundreds of thousands of black babies were aborted during the same time period.

    Imagine if we began counting the number of whites or non-blacks were unjustly murdered at the hands of blacks during the period from 1930 to 2000 and continually reminded whites of some imaginary threat.

    This is what engenders hostility between peoples.

    • Ida B. Wells was also a real black journalist from the late 19th/early 20th century. Nikole uses the pseudonym to try to associate herself with a real muckraker instead of the hack she really is.

  7. Regarding the restaurant situation, I wouldn’t have even asked if we could be seated if I’d overheard someone ahead of me being told there were no tables available. I would’ve asked if there was any one who seemed to wrapping up, if I was willing to wait. If right away they brought me to a table after telling the previous people there was nothing available, I simply would’ve said, “Wait, you told them there were no tables…”

    • I was really slow to pick up on it. At the time, I wasn’t sure what the couple had asked for—maybe it was a table for four. And I am a very regular and long-time customer. Can a restaurant ethically extend special courtesies to such loyal patrons? I think so.

      • I think so, too, but intent is irrelevant these days. The black couple may have noticed you were seated when they couldn’t be. They may have assumed you had a reservation or they may have assumed you got in because you were white.

        If they confronted the hostess, she might have told them that you were a regular customer but then they might have come back with, “We’re good customers, too”, even if they’d only eaten there once before.

        There’s no way to win here.

  8. Speaking to the lower traffic on the site for yesterday, I spent the day recovering from a food intolerance episode and wasn’t up to my usual activities. Starting to feel a bit more myself now and have a new item to add to my ‘no eating’ list. Hope the traffic picks up again for your site.

  9. Other Bill: “The readership and commentariat cannot keep up with our host’s fearful pace.”

    I’ve often had the same thought as Other Bill; the posts come a little too close together some days and some good posts that might generate many thoughtful comments are pushed back 3 or 4 into the queue. So, I’m not sure if people generally go back through posts if they miss one.

    I’m not a big commenter because, well, generally I don’t like to write, but also, there is usually someone that shares my point of view that articulates the point better than me. I enjoy reading the comments of others more than commenting myself.

  10. I read nearly all of your posts and the comments made about them. I’m not a writer of the caliber of most of the commentariat, and usually someone else has already written something that mirrors my thoughts on whatever topic is being discussed.
    And the pace of the posts exceed my ability to consume them, but I do read nearly all posts. Stories about baseball or Gilbert & Sullivan and theatre are the ones that I typically skip.

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