Business Ethics: Tales Of Two Partisan Dunces

grocery Discount

1. The Trump Supporter: Jose Colon, owner of the Fresh Food Supermarket in Oakdale, New York,

Mr. Colon, a legal immigrant  from the Dominican Republic and a naturalized citizen, advertised a discount for supporters of President Trump on the store’s Facebook page last week.

“Trump supporters get 20% off.  Mention at the cash register you are a Trump supporter to get discount. (Excludes beer),” it read, as you can see above.

The store was immediately inundated with threats and social media posts advocating a boycott. Colon says he’s puzzled. .“We’re supposed to live in a free country,” Colon told Fox News. “This is weird. It’s crazy…We live in a free country where we support democracy, where we can go both ways, we can support left, right — whatever you want. I decided to vote and support the best interest, I believe, for this country.”

He has responded by offering the same discount to Biden supporters, and is claiming that this was his intent all along, though he is a vocal supporter of the President.

Let me try to explain what this particular citizen doesn’t seem to understand about his free country. It’s not going to remain free if people and businesses withhold goods and services from citizens based on their political beliefs, just as it is destructive to discriminate based on other criteria. If you want to break the nation into armed camps, having special restaurants, bars, grocery stores and movie theaters restricted to those of certain political persuasions is an excellent way to do it. What Colon did was well-intentioned, but un-American. He deserved the blowback, though the social media messages quotes don’t demonstrate any more civic comprehension than the grocery store owner seems to posess: what’s wrong with the discount isn’t that “Orange Man Bad,” but that it is unethical  for businesses to reward customers for their political views, which is the same as penalizing other customers for their political views. What does Colon think he’s doing? Buying votes with his discount?

I wouldn’t organize a boycott against a store that did this, but I wouldn’t buy groceries there again.

Then Colon’s solution to this dilemma of his own making was to offer the same discount to Biden supporters, discriminating against those who want to vote for the Libertarian or Green Party candidates, or Kanye West. Or me. Wrong. This flunks the Golden Rule test, Kant’s Universality test, and simple utilitarianism. In short, it’s unethical, and there is no ethical or civic defense for what he did. To be fair, the conservative news sources I’ve checked on this story, like Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, don’t seem to comprehend the problem any more than Colon does.

Meanwhile, does anyone believe that Colon always intended to offer a 20% discount to both Trump and Biden supporters as he now says? This is another reason for amateurs to stay out of politics: the pros lie better.

Well, usually.

2. The Biden Supporter: David Barrett, CEO of the software company Expensify.

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“Systemic,” A Four Part Ethics Alarms Depression, Part III: Higher Education’s Systemic Rot

Not excused.

I promised not to pile on to ridicule the CNN legal analyst who for some reason only known by him and Priapus decided to—you know—while in the middle of a well-attended Zoom meeting, on camera. This presumably rendered the lawyer a permanent laughingstock whose career as a respected—well, not by me, but by progressive ideologues—commentator on law-related current events is probably kaput. It certainly should be kaput, but many have marveled that he has not been fired, just suspended, and some even are betting that after a “cooling off period,” he may be welcomed on CNN again.

I’ll take that bet.

Progressives and pundits are working so hard to spin his outrageous conduct that you would think he’s Bill Clinton or Joe Biden, worthy of the King’s Pass because of some unique value to the public, or at least to left-biased news coverage. He’s not; if there is one kind of expert that is as fungible as jellybeans, it’s legal pundits like…the guy whose name I promised not to mention again. But never mind that: any high placed employee of a company requiring public trust would be fired after an incident like this….including, I presume, a university professor.

Yet here comes University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education professor Jonathan Zimmerman to argue that masturbating on camera in a Zoom meeting is a “pseudo-scandal” rooted in Americans’ “collective unease with masturbation.”

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Another Morning Ethics Warm-Up Delayed Until Afternoon By Exigent Circumstances, 10/22/2020: Three Weird Stories That May Indicate That Everything Is Spinning Out Of Control

I would have mentioned tonight’s debate in the headline, but I’m not fond of thinking about the future of American democracy resting on the ability of Donald Trump to speak coherently and to control himself. Who came up with this script anyway?

Then again, God works in mysterious ways…

1. In Alaska ethics news…Here’s an ugly ethics train wreck, and one of the best examples I could imagine of the old adage, “Don’t sleep with anyone crazier than you are,” except it doesn’t seem like there was sleeping involved.  

The mayor of Anchorage, Ethan Berkowitz, resigned last week after admitting that he had engaged in an “inappropriate” “consensual messaging relationship”— I’m not even sure what that is”—with an Anchorage news anchor.  

Berkowitz’s resignation followed an unsubstantiated claim in a video posted to social media by the news anchor, Maria Athens, promising viewers an “exclusive” story showing that the mayor engaged in sex act with underage children. When the mayor responded by calling the allegations “slanderous” and false, Athens posted what she said was an image of the mayor’s bare backside, and added a laughing emoji.

Yes, she is apparently insane. The Anchorage Police Department said it had worked with the F.B.I. to investigate the allegations about the mayor and “found no evidence of criminal conduct.”

Before Athens posted her video online, she had left a voice message for him in which she engaged in an emotional rant, made  anti-Semitic references and promised that she would be exposing the mayor as “a pedophile.” “I’m going to get an Emmy, so you either turn yourself in, kill yourself, or do what you need to do,” Ms. Athens said, according to the audio clip. She then said she would personally kill him and his wife.

That must have been some messaging relationship.

Athens, 41, is—well, was– the main news anchor for two outlets, KTBY and KYUR. The station owner said the video she posted had not been approved. After her video went up, Athens was arrested following a physical altercation with her boss at the station, and was charged with misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

So remember, kids, never engage in an inappropriate messaging relationship with someone crazier than you are.

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High Noon Ethics Shoot-Out, 10/21/2020: Religious Bigotry Vs Anti-Gay Bigotry! “Whitewashing” Vs Anti-Semitism! Google Vs Trust!

As you may (and should) know, the classic Western “High Noon” was and is regarded by some conservatives as anti-American. I think it is, as excellent as it is. The ending, where the heroic law man (played by Gary Cooper in an Academy Award-winning performance) throws his star in the dirt in disgust (imitated by “Dirty Harry” for very different reasons in that conservative film years later), is widely seen as a rejection of American society as hypocritical. (The fact that the screenwriter, Carl Foreman, was a Communist doesn’t help.)

My favorite scene in the movie, where Cooper begs the church congregation to help, plays like a “Twilight Zone” episode, with the whole town rationalizing furiously to avoid helping the desperate law man minutes away from having to face, alone, vengeful thugs determined to kill him. (The whole scene is not on YouTube; I searched.) “Rio Bravo,” one of the best John Wayne Westerns and a personal favorite, was devised by director Howard Hawks as a direct rebuke of the selfish and craven America “High Noon” posits. In the Duke’s movie, the lawman, Wayne, constantly rejects the offers of help he receives, though he knows hired killers are massing to free his prisoner. Yet people go out of their way, at great personal risk, to help him anyway, time after time. “High Noon” is a better movie (maybe), but “Rio Bravo” is a fairer depiction of American values and history.

1. This is why I tell lawyers and government employees that it’s unethical to use Google for professional communication and client matters. Mac programmer Jeff Johnson has discovered that if you set Google Chrome to eliminate all website cookies and site data when you close the browser, the data remains un-erased for YouTube and Google itself.

What a coinkydink!

“Perhaps this is just a Google Chrome bug, not intentional behavior, but the question is why it only affects Google sites, not non-Google sites,” Johnson says. “I’ve tested using the latest Google Chrome version 86.0.4240.75 for macOS, but this behavior was also happening in the previous version of Chrome. I don’t know when it started.”

Bottom line: Don’t trust Google. Like I’ve been saying….

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Gotcha! Ethics: Senate Democrats’ Obnoxious “Preference” For Political Correctness Over Substance, As Miriam-Webster Reveals Its Integrity Deficit

And they’re coming around the turn in the 2020 Asshole of the Year Derby! Senator Hirono is making her move! Here she comes out of the pack! It’s going to be a photo finish!

At Tuesday’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.) asked Barrett if she would roll back protections for LGBT citizens. Barrett responded that she “never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.” Hawaii’s Senator Mazie Hirono then accused Barrett of using “outdated and offensive” terminology. (Later, so did Senator Cory Booker, who said Barrett was implying by the term that being gay was a choice and not an immutable characteristic.)

“Sexual preference … is used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice,” the Democratic scold intoned.  “It is not. Sexual orientation is a key part of a person’s identity. If it is your view that sexual orientation is merely a preference, as you noted, then the LGTBQ should be rightly concerned whether you would uphold their constitutional right to marry.”

Barrett was forced into apologizing, insisting  that this was not her intention. I say “forced,” because when you are in a confirmation hearing and the vote is going to be a squeaker, you can’t say, as she justifiably could have, “Really Senator? You’re dictating politically correct words and language now? It was quite clear what I meant, and that kind of phrase policing is a cheap shot. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

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Facebook, Meet The Slippery Slope. Slippery Slope, Facebook. Public, PAY ATTENTION!

censorship

This issue doesn’t need a lot of exposition—I hope, at least not among this enlightened and educated readership— but it is important.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday that his platform will now block posts and inks that argue that the Holocaust didn’t happen or has been exaggerated. , Facebook  is increasingly a taking action to undermine what it considers  conspiracy theories and misinformation, using the approaching U.S. presidential election as justification.

It isn’t. Facebook is too powerful a platform for public discourse and communication to engage in picking and choosing which opinions and assertions are worthy of being read and heard. In addition, Facebook is not objective, unbiased or trustworthy…or competent. I know this for a fact.

It bans Ethics Alarms. Case closed.

Holocaust survivors around the world have pushed Zuckerberg this summer to remove Holocaust denial posts from the social media site. The effort was coordinated by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which used Facebook itself to promote its suppression efforts, posting one video per day urging him to remove Holocaust-denying groups, pages and posts as “hate speech.”

Once again, and this also is a fact, what is labelled “hate speech” is too often a matter of bias on the part of the hate speech accusers.

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Columbus Day Ethics Voyage, 10/12/2020: Portland And Washington, Which, Had Chris Known His Discovery Would Lead To Such Dens Of Madness, Might Have Caused Him To Turn Back

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]

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Ethics Observations On Kayla Eubanks, The Southwest Airlines Flying Slob

southwest-dress-code-64

Chicago’s Kayla Eubanks is indignant because Southwest Airlines staff refused to allow her to board her flight, saying her attire was not fit for travel. low-cut top was “lewd, obscene, and offensive.”  Eventually a pilot gave her a cover-up T-shirt so she could get on the plane. Once in the air, she took it off.

Eubanks complained via Twitter, writing, “Y’all I was KICKED OFF my @SouthwestAir flight because my boobs are ‘lewd, obscene, and offensive.’ I was told that passengers may look at me in my attire and be offended.” In her following tweets, Kayla wrote,

“I really wanna know why @SouthwestAir is policing my clothes like this. How will my shirt impact my flight, for myself, the other passengers, or even the pilot?…Y’all have a dress code for CUSTOMERS who pay to get on a plane?…It’s the constant policing of women’s bodies for me.”

Posting a  video of one of Southwest’s female gate employees fumbling to answer Eubanks’ questions about a dress code, Kayla added. “[she] practically did cartwheels to ensure that I wouldn’t get on this plane y’all. I was held at the gate for 30 minutes because of my shirt.”  On the video, Kayla can be heard telling the sympathetic pilot who eventually loaned her the shirt, “I have to leave my tits at home? Obviously not.”

Stay classy, Kayla.

Following the flap, in which the mainstream media sympathizes with Eubanks, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines told the New York Post that the company reached out to Eubanks directly to issue an apology, and refunded Eubanks’ fare

“Regarding our policies, each situation is very different, and our employees are responsible for following our Contract of Carriage, available on our website,” the spokesperson explained. “According to the material posted online, the company ‘may, in its sole discretion, refuse to transport, or may remove from an aircraft at any point,’ a passenger who engages ‘in lewd, obscene, or patently offensive behavior, including wearing clothes that are lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.”

Observations:

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Ethics Dunce: Yelp

yelp-black-slant-1920

Oh yes, this will work out well.

Yelp,  the online review company, has announced its plan for a submissive grovel to Black Lives Matter and an atack on “systemic racism”: it will post alerts that a business has been accused of racism. The key word is “accused.” The company claims that following the “alert,” it will investigate the claims, but that is absurd: Yelp has neither the staff, expertise nor credibility, and definitely not the authority or access, to investigate such accusations.

Yelp has had well-documented problems with reviews from angry employees, fake customers, and real customers with dubious complaints or sinister agendas. However, in the corporate rush to show alliance with the mostly-peaceful protesters savaging so many cities, Yelp has decided to go all in and buy a ticket on the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck. From the announcement of the new race-baiting initiative:

 “Over the summer, Yelp rolled out a number of initiatives to help users find and support Black-owned businesses. We partnered with My Black Receipt on the launch of a Black-owned business attribute and joined the 15 Percent Pledge to further amplify Black-owned businesses. While searches for Black-owned businesses surged on Yelp, so did the volume of reviews warning users of racist behavior at businesses. Today, in response to this, we will now place a distinct Consumer Alert on business pages to caution people about businesses that may be associated with overtly racist actions.”

Here is the “alert”:

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Ethics Alarms Translation: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Explains It All

NBA I cant breath

In a recent interview, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gave a useful and predictable, if disheartening, response to a question about the National Basketball Association’s crashing ratings, and the widespread (and surely accurate) belief that many fans have been alienated by the league’s endorsement of aggressive Black Lives Matter propaganda in the arenas, on the courts, on players’ uniforms, and in other aspects of the sport.

Rachel Nichols on NBA Countdown asked the businessman, and I use that term pointedly,

The NBA has certainly been the most visible billion-dollar organization championing social justice and civil rights. As you noted in your press conference the other day, though, that has not been universally popular. How committed are you to being that going forward?

I have to interject here: “not universally popular” is craven equivocation by the interviewer, echoing several Ethics Alarms rationalizations like, 19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.” I hate that crap; as I get older, I hate it more: “It wasn’t everything we hoped for” used to mean, “It was a complete disaster,” and similar weasel words to avoid being direct and honest. The NBA’s Black Lives Matter boot-licking wasn’t “not universally popular,” it was unambiguously unpopular. Such deliberate avoidance of the truth is deceit, and is a variety of fake news.

Silver responded,

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