Morning Ethics Spring Cleaning, 3/28/23: What A Mess! [Corrected]

Ugh. It’s been a long time between multiple issue posts, and I apologize for that. When I neglect the inventory, important stories, issues and lessons get lost. It’s just been unusually chaotic around here, but that’s my problem, and it shouldn’t be yours.

I do have a satisfying follow-up to relate. This post, about my customer service experience at Staples, attracted some useful critical comments making the case that I was unreasonable. A few days ago I had to go back to the Staples I had sworn never to enter again, because it was the only convenient source for the specific ink cartridge the office required for the crummy HP printer we have (it was supposed tohave been replaced by now with a better model, but I’m behind in everything), and I had a deadline to meet. The manager whose responses to my complaints I had found so unsatisfactory (“We have no customer service”) made a point of chasing me down in the store and asking if he could be of any help. I replied that I was fine, and he said, “I wanted to tell you that I was sorry about our conversation last week. You should be able to expect better customer service than that, and I was being defensive rather than responsive. I promise we’ll do better if you give us the chance.” I told him that I really appreciated his apology, and that I had also been at fault for being so confrontational. Then he offered me his hand, I I took it, and went on to buy my ink. The fact that the ultimate outcome of my “showdown” was a good one doesn’t prove that I handled it correctly (consequentialism alert!), but it was gratifying nonetheless.

1. The Apocalypse is upon us…a few days after listening to a stand-up comic’s very funny riff on the excessive and inappropriate use of “awesome” as a superlative, DC’s Fox affiliate had a graphic on the screen telling viewers that the next day’s weather would be “awesome.” Apparently teenagers are now doing the weather segments. To me, awesome weather would mean cyclones, hurricanes and literal showers of cats and dogs.

I’m waiting for the next stage, which will be when the graphic says that the weather will be “Like, awesome.”

2. Speaking of Fox…the one news network that does not reflexively echo woke and progressive propaganda would benefit the nation and culture more if it at least tried to play its news reporting straight and not pander disgracefully to niche markets. The topic at hand was a poll released yesterday. From Axios:

NORC at the University of Chicago polled 1,019 adults this month by web and phone (margin of error: ±4%).

  • Asked to describe the state of the nation’s economy, 1% (not a typo) chose “excellent.”
  • 56% said a four-year college degree is “not worth the cost because people often graduate without specific job skills and with a large amount of debt.”
  • 33% said they have very little or no confidence in public schools.

Look at the tectonic shifts from a Journal/NBC poll 25 years ago, in 1998:

  • Patriotism is very important: Dropped from 70% to 38%.
  • Religion is very important: Dropped from 62% to 39%.
  • Having children is very important: Dropped from 59% to 30%.
  • Community involvement is very important: Dropped from 47% to 27%.
  • Money is very important: Rose from 31% to 43%.

The bottom line: The poll quantifies a generational and political divide that shows a rot at the very soul of our nation.

There is a great deal to discuss and analyze there, obviously. So who did the Fox News morning anchor bring on to discuss and analyze? A historian? A theologian? A psychologist? A sociologist? A pollster? An ethicist, even? No! The commentator Fox News felt was best able to place the disturbing poll results into perspective was Fox Blonde Shannon Breem [I originally wrote “Sharon”: Sorry, Shannon], a former Miss USA contestant and lapsed lawyer turned newscaster who is plugging her new book, “The Love Stories of the Bible Speak: Biblical Lessons on Romance, Friendship, and Faith.”

3. The mind-control shackles tighten:

First they came for Roald Dahl
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Willie Wonka fan
Then they came for James Bond
And I did not speak out
Because spy novels are beneath me
Then they came for Agatha Christie….

Yes. the iconic mystery writer is the latest to have her works censored and bowdlerized to suit the relentless agenda of the censorious, history-airbrushing Left. Harper Collins’ new editions of Christie’s books have been “rewritten for modern sensitivities.”

4. Alvin Bragg has a lot of explaining to do. It is now a week since we were warned to expect the Manhattan D.A.’s grand jury (headed up by a giggling, unserious publicity hound) to hand down a historic indictment against former President Donald Trump. Since then, all meetings of the panel have been cancelled, and the suspicion is that Bragg has been told by his Dark Democratic Masters that such an indictment would be a political boomerang for the party, causing him to have second thoughts.

The ethics of this fiasco are quite simple: if Bragg has a legitimate case to bring against Trump and believes he can be convicted in a fair trial before an objective jury, the D.A. should continue on the previous path. If he does not, then he should announce that in the end the grand jury determined that there was not sufficient evidence to issue an indictment. Political considerations should play no part in either decision, for to allow them to do so is a bright line legal ethics breach.

Now MSNBC’s legal analyst Glenn Kirshner, a left-wing hack, but I repeat myself, is arguing that Trump’s typically uncivil and irresponsible social media posts regarding the supposedly impending charges are attempts “to intimidate the district attorney and constituted a violation of a New York state laws,” in particular, Section 195.05, “obstructing governmental administration in the second degree.”

Oh good, now Bragg can indict Trump for that. One problem is that Trump isn’t trying to bluff Bragg out of indicting him, he’s clearly trying to goad him into an indictment.

5. Meanwhile, in the other state that doesn’t believe in the criminal justice system… Keith Chastain, 38, was arrested 18 times in Fresno County, California between Feb. 19 and March 21. The tally includes  15 misdemeanors and 18 felonies, including:

  • six stolen cars
  • fraud
  • DUI
  • drugs
  • vandalism

There were also three additional arrests for DUI, trespassing, and auto theft that had to be dropped when police failed to file the charges in time.

6. Pro-trans bullying update. In this post, the Mid Vermont Christian School girls basketball team was designated an Ethics Hero for pulling out of a tournament and forfeiting a game when it learned it would have to compete against a large trans-female playing for an opposing team. The Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) took its revenge by banning all Mid Vermont Christian School teams and athletes from participating in future tournaments. The organization justified its decision by resorting to DEI blather rather than deal with the real issues, which are integrity and fairness.

“The VPA again reiterates its ongoing support of transgender student-athletes as not only a part of building an inclusive community for each student to grow and thrive, but also as a clear expectation by Vermont state law(s) in the Agency of Education Best Practices, and in VPA Policy regarding transgender student athletes,” the governing body said in a statement. Topping even that disingenuous rhetoric was Democratic State Senator Rebecca White of Vermont, who represents the district MVCS is in and who told CNN:

“I don’t think it’s a bridge too far. The athletes that we’re talking about are unlikely to go on to elite professional athletics, but that concept of discriminating against another person, it causes long-term outcomes for trans youth because they’re hearing rhetoric that tells them they are not valuable, that they’re dangerous.  We’re an inclusive state, a welcoming state. It doesn’t surprise me that we’ve had a situation where folks are pushing back against some of that inclusive work we’ve done because it is innovative, it is bold and it’s important.”

Who votes to be represented by someone this vapid, illogical and governed by knee-jerk cant? The fairness of a sports competition isn’t governed by whether or not the participants go on to professional careers. It isn’t illegal or unethical discrimination when legitimate distinctions are made to ensure fair and safe competition. Trans individuals aren’t being told they are intrinsically dangerous: individuals with biological advantages in height, muscle mass and strength are being told, correctly so, that it is dangerous to have them competing in a contact sport with young women. In fact, they are being told that they are valuable—too valuable in high school girls’ basketball, just like a 27-year-old WBA star playing on a high school team would be “valuable.”

7. In related ethics news, Riley Gaines, who competed against Lia Thomas in the 2022 NCAA swimming championships, was moved to tweet that the Penn swimmer was not a “brave, courageous woman who EARNED a national title,” but instead an “arrogant cheat who STOLE a national title from a hardworking, deserving woman.” Gaines placed blame squarely on the NCAA, where it belongs, once one get past Thomas, who decided that being a dominant female swimmer would be more satisfying than being a middling male collegiate swimmer.

The impetus for Gaines’ words was ESPN (which is Disney, remember) honoring Thomas as part of Women’s History Month. To be fair (this is all about fairness, after all) ESPN was in a Catch 22. As long as Thomas was recognized as a swimming champ in women’s collegiate swimming, ESPN had no choice but to recognize her as such, or else make what would be seen as a controversial political statement that trans women are not women. Getting into the metaphorical high weeds of the “they aren’t women for the purposes of women’s sports though society should honor their decision to change genders in other respects” wasn’t a realistic option, and the sports network isn’t qualified to address it.

8 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Spring Cleaning, 3/28/23: What A Mess! [Corrected]

  1. re 6
    To put this issue to rest. Women’s sports teams should recruit a number of male athletes to be on the bench. When the starting lineup is made send out the biggest male basketball, volleyball or other player and watch the fireworks begin. All they have to do is claim that these players wanted to play on this team and under the rules of inclusion the team had no choice. Reminds me of Bill check and his very short stop. ( I don’t know what position he played but it worked out so I did not say midget)
    Fight fire with fire.

  2. Regarding #4: I had the misfortune to be in the presence of someone watching This Week last Sunday, where I was treated to the musings of Martha Radditz and Donna Brazile.

    Someone made the keen observation that Donald Trump “falsely claimed” that he would be arrested this past week.

    A more accurate statement would be that he “incorrectly predicted” he would be arrested.

    Their brains are so stuck in a rut about “false claims” they do not seem to be able to think when it comes to Trump.


  3. Jack: “The fact that the ultimate outcome of my “showdown” was a good one doesn’t prove that I handled it correctly (consequentialism alert!), but it was gratifying nonetheless.”

    Not so fast.

    I am not one to agree with your Duty to Confront Mentality. I think I get your purpose. I come from a different perspective on that issue.

    But, in this case, your purpose was accomplished, even if you ignore consequentialism.

    Even if both you and the manager behaved poorly, both of you realized that.

    Ideally, both of you would have recognized that at your first meeting.

    But, you didn’t.

    Had both of you acted in an ideal fashion, we would not be talking about consequentialism.

    In other words, you accomplished your goals, in spite of yourselves.

    Not a bad result, if you ask me.


  4. Jack, give yourself a break on the multiple issue posts. As far as I know, you’re not doing Ethics Alarms for compensation. I’m really happy to have found your blog, but I’m not into paying for subscriptions, and would not have benefitted from your insights if there was a paywall.
    As I see it, you’re under no obligation to post to your blog; every post is a gift to your readers. If more important matters are facing you in life, take a well earned break.
    Lastly, I noticed a couple of typos: “Alvin Gregg has a lot of explaining to do” and “there was no insufficient evidence”.
    Thanks for keeping me thinking. I take your point about Fox News; I record four hours, starting with America Reports & end with Neil Cavuto. I don’t record them for posterity; I record them so I can skip through things like the “shocking reduction in patriotism” bits. It takes about 60 minutes to watch the four-hour recording.

    • 1. No financial compensation; plenty of intellectual, informational and psychic compensation. Plus a buch of you gave me a generous GoFundMe bonus a few years ago, and many have sent along gifts, most recently Other Bill’s delicious Get Well ham for Grace, which she and I just finished off a few days ago.

      2. For some reason I wrote that whole post calling Bragg “Gregg,” and thought I had corrected all of the Greggs. Fixed. Thanks.

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