Category Archives: Around the World

Don’t Feel Too Bad, Americans: Ethics Alarms Aren’t Ringing In Canada, North Korea Or Japan, Either

It’s an International Ethics Dunce parade!


1. Ontario, Canada

The Windsor-Essex County Humane Society in Ontario thought it would be really clever to use the Donald Trump phrase that many believe disqualify him to be President in an ad to adopt kitty-cats. It featured a photo of Trump and said, “You don’t have to be a star to grab a pussy … cat.”

Amazing. Not one person in the chain of custody of this—I would say obviously, but when so many people miss it, I guess it’s not—offensive ad had an ethics alarm sound.  Nobody had the sense, prudence or guts to say,

“Uh, guys? Hello? You do realize that this is using a phrase describing sexual assault while alluding to the one who used it to describe sexual assault? You do realize that “pussy” alluding to female genitalia is vulgar and uncivil, right? No? Here, let me explain it to you…or hwo about this: there is no way this won’t spark criticism. Is that what you want?”

Sure enough,  the ad promoting cat adoptions this week for $50, was taken down shortly after it appeared this week.

The society offered a pathetic apology. Melanie Coulter, executive director of the humane society, “explained” it was an attempt to make light of the U.S election campaign, though it also “made light” of sexual assault, contemptuous attitudes toward women,  and obscene rhetoric.

“We are obviously sorry if people are offended by the ad — that wasn’t our attempt in the least,” Coulter said. “Our attempt was to find homes for cats that need them.” She also added that the shelter took in more than a hundred cats in the last week.

For the record, the rationalizations here are…

3. Consequentialism, or  “It Worked Out for the Best”

13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.”

It also suggests that I need to add “We meant well” to the list as a sub-rationalization to #13.



2. Kuroishi, Japan

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

KABOOM! Gary Johnson Argues That His Ignorance Is A Virtue

Bite your tongue, Gary!

Bite your tongue, Gary!

I’m not going to include the traditional KABOOM! graphic of a head exploding, since the explosion that has evidently occurred inside Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s head is the issue here. Normally I wouldn’t care about a third party candidate and few others would either, but many voters who recognize how certifiably disgraceful the choices presented to us by the two major parties. They are desperately looking for an alternative. How nice, and timely, and opportune it would have been if the Libertarian Party had come through in the clutch and  nominated someone who presented themselves as competent, honest, and trustworthy! Unfortunately, it nominated Gary Johnson.

Asked on MSNBC to explain his twin failures to show that he ever reads the World News section (showing complete unfamiliarity with the epicenter of the Syrian disaster in one interview and not being able to name a single world leader  in another—he has yet to offer any explanation for his bizarre tongue episode), Johnson took another leap into weirdness. Instead of offering one of the excuses his supporters defended him with on Ethics Alarms and elsewhere (“It was a simple lapse;” “it wasn’t significant;” Trump and Hillary are so bad that he’d be a better choice if he couldn’t remember his own name…), Johnson came up with the head-exploding argument that it’s good for him to be ignorant. He really did., espousing this original theory to Andrea Mitchell

“The fact that somebody can dot the i’s and cross the t’s on a foreign leader or a geographic location then allows them to put our military in harm’s way,”

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Kaboom!, War and the Military

Ethics Quiz: The Boxer Who Bet Against Himself, And Lost His Bet


Three Olympic boxers received “severe reprimands” from an International Olympic Committee last week for betting on fights during last month’s Rio de Janeiro Games in violation of Olympic  anti-betting rules.

The interesting one is Ireland’s welterweight Steve Donnelly, shown above. Donnelly bet against himself in a first-round bout but still won the fight.

The IOC said the three boxers received only reprimands rather than retroactive disqualifications or bans because a disciplinary panel determined “there was no intent to manipulate any event” and the athletes have apologized.

Donnelly, an evident idiot, said that he was in fact not aware of the prohibition against betting, though he had signed the documents agreeing to the restrictions. He hadn’t read them, he said.  He claimed that he bet against himself without intending lose his match to win those bets. He reasoned that if he lost the match, winning the bets ( he made two on his opponent) would be some compensation for his defeat.

Good thinking there, Steve.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day

Is a reprimand just and sufficient punishment for an Olympic competitor who bets on himself to lose, as long as he loses the bet and not his competition?

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Quizzes, Sports

Horrified Observations On Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnsons’s Latest Disgrace

As you can see in the video above [Trigger warning: if seeing a former governor who presumed to place himself before the nation as a qualified leader making an epic fool of himself on live television upsets you, as it does me—heck, those sitcom episodes when characters try to do stand-up and bomb horribly, like Cliff did on “Cheers” make me leave the room—don’t watch it. I mean it.], Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, the designated “none of the above” for voters who believe Donald Trump has nothing to offer but chaos and Hillary Clinton is more untrustworthy than Richard Nixon (both correct assessments), went on “Hardball” with Chris Matthews and made Sara Palin look like Henry Kissinger, and Rick Perry seem like Carl Sagan.

During the interview on MSNBC yesterday, Chris Matthews asked Johnson, who sat beside his running mate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld,”Who’s your favorite foreign leader?”  “Name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to,” Matthews asked. “Anybody.” Johnson looked like he had been asked for the dewpoint of feldspar.

“Mine was Shimon Peres,” V.P. Weld offered unhelpfully, picking the former Israeli leader who just died from a stroke. “I’m talking about living,” Matthews shot back, focusing on Johnson.

“Anywhere. Any continent. Canada, Mexico, Europe, over there, Asia, South America, Africa: Name a foreign leader that you respect,” Matthews said as Johnson continued to freeze. “I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment,” Johnson said, pathetically.

“But I’m giving you the whole world!” Matthews said. “Anybody in the world you like. Anybody. Pick any leader!”

“The former president of Mexico,”  was the best Johnson could come up with. Whichever one he meant, by the way, he’s massive crook,  like all Mexican presidents.

“Which one?” Matthews pressed.

“I’m having a brain freeze,” Johnson whined,

as Weld began going through the list  of recent Mexican presidents.

“Fox! Thank you!” Johnson said when he finally heard the name of former Mexican president Vicente Fox, who Johnson probably vaguely recalled from the evident mush he calls a brain because Fox had just made the news by mocking Donald Trump’s debate performance.

Strike Three. Strikes one and two were doubles off the Green Monster by comparison.

Good lord.


  • “How does somebody think there going to run for President and be this ignorant? Completely ignorant?” asked Joe Scarborough on “Morning Joe,” today. “He could not name a leader — living or dead — past or present! My children can answer those questions!”

Good points all. The answer is that Johnson is uninformed. Johnson is lazy. Johnson clutches under pressure. Johnson is not taking his own candidacy seriously. Johnson is a joke, but the proper response to it is weeping. At a time when the two parties have completely failed their responsibility to the American people by presenting unfit, untrustworthy candidates that the majority of the nation dislike, and the need for a viable third party option has never  been greater, does Johnson study like a monk, prepare like a champion, and devote himself to being able to dazzle even the most skeptical voter with his expertise and mastery of issues? No! He apparently decides to boycott newspaper and TV news, and devote himself to Pokemon Go, or something. Surely he’s been doing something?

Diligence, responsibility, competence, respect for the nation and the public: Johnson has flunked all of these, spectacularly and beyond defending. Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership

Ethics Quiz: Disney’s Maui Costume


It’s a bit early for Halloween costume controversies , but the outrage machine is ever vigilant, and has provided a provocative ethics quiz, though not a difficult one if one isn’t the Headless Horseman.

Disney released a Halloween costume for kids that will allow tykes to dress up as the Polynesian demi-god Maui, a character in its new animated movie “Moana.” This is classic Disney cross-marketing, what Wells Fargo would call “cross-selling,” and what Elizabeth Warren would call “evil,” because it makes money for a big corporation. The difference is that Disney allows customers to actually purchase such products intentionally, while Wells Fargo charges customers for products without their knowing it.

Wait, how did I get off on Wells Fargo and Warren? Right: the next post. Sorry.

Back to Maui: The costume features a body-suit with thin brown material covered by traditional Polynesian tattoos, as well as a grass skirt and a plastic bone necklace. As soon as it was released on the web, the costume was attacked as racist (it’s the equivalent of blackface, critics say) and an example of cultural appropriation. Marama Fox, co-leader of New Zealand’s Maori Party, said that selling the costume is “no different to putting the image of one of our ancestors on a shower curtain or a beer bottle” while Pasifika news site Samoa Planet described the release as “cultural appropriation at its most offensive worst”.  The New Zealand Human Rights Commission issued a statement calling on Disney to “listen to the views of the communities and people whose cultures their movie is based upon.“ Translation: “Bend to our will, or else.”

Activist Chelsie Haunani Fairchild argued on Facebook that Disney was encouraging a children to wear “the skin of another race.”

“Polyface is Disney’s new version of blackface. Let’s call it like it is, people,” Fairchild argued in a video.

Oh, let’s!

Your Ethics Alarms (Ridiculously Early Halloween) Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:

Is there anything genuinely unethical about making, advertising, selling or wearing the Maui costume?

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Marketing and Advertising, Race, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society

A Thoughtful, Rational Entry In The “Give Me An Ethical Reason To Vote For Donald Trump” Contest

Would Bobby Kennedy have been a Trump supporter?

Would Bobby Kennedy have been a Trump supporter?

As regular readers here know, I have been on a fruitless quest to find a single articulate, informed, unemotional and substantive argument for Donald Trump’s Presidency. Not only have no such arguments surfaced, nothing has come even close. This entry is different. It does not blather on about “elites,” or “tearing it down,” or use rationalizations like “we’re all doomed anyway.” It does not default to reasons why Hillary Clinton is worse, an increasingly plausible theory, but still not a case for Trump. The argument that Trump is a better risk than Hillary because she would get away with her excesses while a biased news media will keep Trump under the scrutiny that they should subject every President  to but reserve only for Republicans  is too pretzelian to be taken seriously, but otherwise intelligent analysts keep proposing it. They are that desperate.

The article by former Robert Kennedy speechwriter Adam Walinsky is different in kind, and deserves attention. His perspective is interesting, and his gauzy perspective on Jack and Bobby is what I would expect from an ancient True Believer. Call me cynical, but those who extol the commitment to peace of a President who set the fuse for the Vietnam War and whose projction of weakness to the Soviet Union nearly sparked a nuclear war are not credible nor respectable advocates. Still, his argument is novel and his position is sincere, with many valid observations leading to what I judge as an absurd and reckless conclusion.

It is worth reading, though: I Was RFK’s Speechwriter. Now I’m Voting for Trump. Here’s Why….The Democratic Party has become something both JFK and RFK would deplore—the party of war.


Filed under Around the World, Character, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, War and the Military

A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.


An 18-year-old Austrian woman is suing her parents for continually posting embarrassing childhood photos of her on Facebook without her consent. Since 2009, she alleges, they have willfully humiliated her by constantly posting intimate images from her childhood—about 500 to date. Among them are potty training photos and pictures of her having her diapers changed.

The abused daughter told reporters, “They knew no shame and no limit – and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot – every stage was photographed and then made public.” Her parents have  700 Facebook friends.

The technical term for them is “cruel and merciless assholes.”

They have refused to delete the photos, with her father arguing that since he took the photos he has the right to publish them to the world.

Oh, what does the law have to do with this? If the parents had any decency, and sense of fairness, respect and caring, the law wouldn’t have to be involved in any way.  Their daughter feels humiliated, as most of us would be, by having such photos published. There is no ethical principle under which publishing photographs (or videos) of anyone that were taken without consent when the subject objects or one knows or should know that he or should would object can be justified. This controversy, if ethical parents were involved, would be settled with a simple exchange:

Her: “Please don’t put anymore of those photos on Facebook, and take down the ones that are up now. They are embarrassing.”

Them: “OK!”

How hard is that? I know it’s hard for parents to resist posting photos of their adorable infants and toddlers while they are too young to protest, but the protest should be presumed. The Golden Rule rules, and I go further: this is an absolute. Children should not have their lifetime privacy scarred by parents selfishly indulging themselves by treating their children like pets. Children should be able to trust their parents to respect their sensibilities and vulnerabilities, and not to sacrifice them for cheap Facebook “likes.”  Obviously, many of them can’t.

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Family, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights