A Smoothie Incident In Connecticut

After the now viral video above made the rounds, James Iannazzo, 48, was arrested and charged with a hate crime following the outburst at Robeks in Fairfield, Conn. over the weekend. The Fairfield Police Department said that Iannazzo returned to the store after a smoothie he purchased caused his son, who is allergic to peanuts, to be rushed to the hospital from his home. Iannazzo apparently ordered the smoothie without peanut butter, but did not explain to employees that his son had an allergy.

The New York Post says he called a staff member a “fucking immigrant.” The Times says he called her an “immigrant loser.”

After the Merrill Lynch office where Iannazzo works was swamped in furious emails, he was fired from his job as an analyst. A spokesman for Bank of America, the parent company of Merrill Lynch, told the New York Times in an email,

“Our company does not tolerate behavior of this kind. We immediately investigated and have taken action. This individual is no longer employed at our firm.”

“When faced with a dire situation for his son, Mr. Iannazzo’s parental instinct kicked in and he acted out of anger and fear,” the father’s lawyer said. “He is not a racist individual and deeply regrets his statements and actions during a moment of extreme emotional stress.”

There are many troubling aspects to the matter.

Ethics Observations:

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Black Like Us

 Confirming my own half-baked research, apparently African-American actors are indeed disproportionately represented in TV commercials now. American Thinker records,

In the United States today, the White population (not including Hispanics) is 57.8%….Blacks comprise 14% of the U.S. population but appear in 50% of commercials. White actors now appear to promote health insurance, gold, loans, and some medicines. Moreover, if a White person appears in a commercial, he/she is usually old, sick, a freak, or at the very least, an appendage to a Black partner. If there’s a doctor on the screen, he’s usually Black, while the patient is usually White. Caucasian young men appear in only 4% of the commercials! If some aliens began to study the population of Planet Earth through our TV commercials they would have a somewhat distorted picture of Americans, to put it mildly.

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: Golden State Warriors Owner Chamath Palihapitiya

“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay. You bring it up because you care and I think it’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care. I’m just telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line.”

—–Golden State Warriors owner Chamath Palihapitiya, in an interview.

This statement, classic signature significance, neatly explains why the National Basketball Association remains metaphorically in bed with the brutal regime in China, why the Biden Administration refuses to hold the country responsible for its role as an international outlaw (and inflicting its virus on our population,economy and the world), and if you change just one word, why the United States allowed Hitler’s Final Solution to proceed as far as it did.

Give credit where it is due: at least Palihapitiya is being honest. As for his fellow owners, we can see that they feel exactly the same way through their conduct, but prefer not to say so out loud. It might cut down on the profits from souvenir NBA jerseys. Continue reading

Elon Musk Is Not A Nice Guy, And A Legal Ethics Controversy Proves It

The legal ethics world is all in a fluster over a recent controversy involving Elon Musk, the world’s richest man. This means that readers at Ethics Alarms should be flustering too.

This is the story: An SEC  attorney had interviewed  Musk during the agency’s investigation of the Tesla CEO’s 2018 tweet claiming to have secured funding to potentially take the electric-vehicle maker private. The claim proved to be false, resulting in a settlement that required Musk to resign and also to pay 20 million dollars in fines. In 2019, Musk’s personal lawyer called the managing partner at Cooley, LLP, and demanded that the firm fire the SEC lawyer, who had left the agency to become as associate at the large firm that handles Tesla’s business. The targeted lawyer had no connection to Tesla’s legal work at the firm; the sole reason for the demand was revenge. Musk wanted him to lose his job because he was angry about their interaction at the SEC. Continue reading

P.M. Ethics Dispatches, 1/11/2022

We have to keep baseball ethics alive even if baseball itself is in a state of suspension: the owner and players are, for the first time in decades, arguing about how to divide up their billions, everything from roster size to minimum salaries are on the table, and as of now, the two sides aren’t even talking with the season just a couple of months away. One of the issues to be settled is whether the National League will finally capitulate and adopt the designated hitter rule, which was accepted in the American League on this date in 1973, a day which many traditionalist fans then and now regard as an unforgivable scar on the integrity of the game. Baseball has always been celebrated for its equity and balance: as it was envisioned, every player on the field had to both hit and play defense. The DH, which is a batter who never uses a glove, also allowed the pitcher to be a defense-only specialist, never picking up a bat which, advocates of the new rule argued, was a result much to be wished, since the vast majority of hurlers are only slightly better at hitting the ball than your fat old uncle Curt who played semi-pro ball in his twenties. All these decades years later, the National League and its fans have stubbornly maintained that the DH was a vile, utilitarian gimmick spurred by non-ethical considerations, mainly greed. When the rule was adopted, American League attendance lagged behind the NL, which also was winning most of the All Star games, in part because that league had embraced black stars far more rapidly than “the junior league.” The DH, the theory went, would make games more exciting, with more offense, while eliminating all the .168 batters in the ninth spot in every line-up.

I had a letter published in Sports Illustrated in 1973 explaining why I opposed the DH as a Boston Red Sox fan. Since then, I have grudgingly come to accept the benefits of the rule: it gave the Sox David Ortiz, allowed Carl Yastrzemski to play a few more years, and let American League fans see such all-time greats as Hank Aaron at the plate after they could no longer play the field. It was a breach of the game’s integrity, but it worked.

1. At least that’s fixed. The Supreme Court issued a corrected transcript of the oral arguments in the Biden vaccine mandate case, and it now accurately records Justice Gorsuch as saying he believes the seasonal flu kills “hundreds…thousands of people every year.” The original version wrongly quoted him as saying hundreds of thousands, which allowed those desperately trying to defend the outrageously wrong assertions by Justice Sotomayor regarding the Wuhan virus to point to Gorsuch and claim, “See? Conservatives are just as bad!” Prime among these was the steadily deteriorating Elie Mystal at “The Nation,” who, typically for him, refused to accept the correction. Sotomayor is one of the all-time worst Supreme Court justices, though she will be valuable as a constant reminder of the perils of affirmative action. Her jurisprudence makes the much maligned Clarence Thomas look like Louis Brandeis by comparison. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Uber Driver DaVante Williams

Virginia’s inexcusable snowbound crisis last week, when motorists were trapped in their vehicles for more than 24 hours while the state’s governor dithered, did have the compensating virtue of revealing some local ethics heroes. Another whose ethical instincts and heroism recently surfaced is DaVante Williams.

The part-time Uber driver didn’t know that the winter storm had created a 50-mile-long backup when he agreed to drive a teenage girl from Washington, DC’s Union Station to Williamsburg, Virginia, a lengthy journey. Her train had been cancelled because of the weather conditions, and it was 2 am. They were about 20 miles into the typically two-and-a-half hour trip when Williams realized the chances of them reaching Williamsburg were slim because of the back-up on I-95. He tried an alternate route but was foiled when police directed him back onto the Interstate because those roads were also closed due to downed trees and power lines.

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Ethics Hero: H&S Bakery Co-Owner Chuck Paterakis

The inexcusable 1-95 mass traffic jam in Northern Virginia this week produced at least one Ethics Hero, and it sure wasn’t Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

Casey Holihan and her husband John Noe, stranded on Interstate 95 along with countless other Virginia motorists, had an inspiration at around hour 16 hours when they spotted a Schmidt Baking Company truck ahead of themon the morning of January 3. The couple were very hungry, for it had been approximately 37 hours since they had any food. So they decided to call Schmidt Baking Company in Baltimore to make a plea for charity and kindness, and to ask if the company would share its bread with the marooned and starving. People had been trapped on I-95 for close to 24 hours, and the couple could hear children crying in other cars. Noe reached the customer service line for the bakery and left their phone number with a representative along with their tale of woe (Fortunately, this was not CVS.)

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Unethical Tweet Of The Week: Pabst Blue Ribbon

Yes, apparently Don Lemon is moonlighting as Pabst Blue Ribbon’s social media flack. This enthusiastically vulgar tweet, an instant classic, appeared this morning because of only one of a few reasons: the low-level schmuck who has the job of tweeting out stuff for the maker of this long-reviled beer couldn’t take it any more and snapped like a dry twig in the wind; he or she picked a highly unethical way to quit after making up and thinking, “Oh god, what am I doing with my life?”; or this was a well planned, brilliant way to get everyone talking about a beer that few thought was still being brewed.

Regardless, its not the kind of thing any company should inflict on social media users, even those who favor Twitter, the bottom of the barrel.

Alas, the that remains on Twitter is this sad remnant of what was…

RETRACTED! “The Guardian’s “Person Of The Year” Poll Disaster” [Updated]

Well, once again, I was lied to, fooled, and made an unwitting accomplice in a fake conservative news scam. Worse, I was led to the fake story by three sites I already have had bad experiences with, and thus should have been wary. ( Though memeorandum also pointed me to the story, and that is a reliably non-partisan aggregator.) As is usually the case in such situations, confirmation bias, mine, was at the heart of the mistake.  In the end, this is my responsibility, and thus my fault. I know better.

If I were Al Sharpton or Dan Rather, I might argue that what I wrote about the Guardian could have happened this way, so the article is accurate, though not true. I’m not, though. Here’s what really happened: the Guardian closed down not a poll on “The Person of the Year,” but reader nominations. It is true (maybe) that J.K. Rowling received the most nominations, but the nominations were closed because it was time to close them. She’s still on the slate of candidates.

I apologize to Ethics Alarms readers, commenters, the Guardian, J.K. Rowling, oh, everyone. And if I ever trust those sources again, hit me over the head with a brick when I’m not looking.

Thanks to Phlinn for catching this when I did not.

UPDATE: None of the sites that have run this botch have clarified or retracted it, except this one, as of 7:30 am the next day.

And there it is, right at the bottom in tiny print. The British paper “The Guardian” ran an online poll to determine readers’ 2021 “Person of the Year,” and then suddenly pulled the plug. Why would they do that?

They did it because J.K. Rowling, the author of the “Harry Potter” books, was winning the poll handily.  Rowling is currently a pariah with transgender activists for her quite reasonable assertions like insisting that human beings with penises cannot accurately be called “women” just because they want to be, and that the movement to recast what have been called women as “persons with uteruses” is ridiculous. She has refused to grovel an apology like most public figures threatened with “cancelling” because of views that differ from Leftist cant, and instead has doubled down repeatedly. Earlier this month she mocked Scotland’s law enforcement policy that allows accused rapists to self-identify as female, tweeting, “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman.” Continue reading

The Ethics Alarms 2021 Christmas Eve Edition Of The Complete “It’s A Wonderful Life” Ethics Guide,

Wonderful Life2

2021 Introduction

I haven’t seen the film yet this holiday season, but I did listen to the radio version, also starring James Stewart and Donna Reed last night. It’s not much of a substitute. As it was with last year, this movie’s intended message needs to be considered and taken to heart in 2021. Frank Capra, the movie’s director ,designed the film to explain why it’s a wonderful country we live in. It may be that more, and more vocal and powerful people want to send the opposite message today than ever before.

The fascinating and moving documentary “Five Came Back” (on Netflix) has been shown several times in the Marshall house this year. It tells the story of how five of Hollywood’s greatest directors, William Wyler, George Stevens, John Ford, John Huston and Frank Capra were recruited by the Pentagon to document World War II, some of their efforts to be used as propaganda, some as a record of remarkable time. All five directors were profoundly changed by what they saw, and Capra was no exception. He went into the war as perhaps America’s most popular film director, creator of upbeat movies celebrating common Americans doing extraordinary things, the nation’s families, the power of love and American exceptionalism. They called his movies “Capra Corn,” and the description fit such classics as “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington,” “Meet John Doe,” and other critical and box office hits. Following World War II and his experience overseas, Capra no longer felt as upbeat about life and human nature, though he remained a passionate patriot. Like the returning soldiers found the culture changed and his emotions raw. Families whose loved one had died or returned with disabling wounds struggled to believe that their sacrifices were justified. The atom bombs that ended the war also opened up a dangerous new era of paranoia and fear.

Capra and his director compatriots in the war effort decided to start a new production company, driven by directors rather than soulless studio moguls.  “It’s A Wonderful Life,” a far more complex and often dark story than the pre-war Capra creations, was chosen to be the first project of the new Liberty Pictures. Based on an idea by author Philip Van Doren Stern, it was the story of a good man who becomes bitter and disillusioned when his plans and aspirations become derailed by the random surprises of life.  Unable to get his short story published, Stern had sent it to friends as a 21-page Christmas card. Film producer David Hempstead read it, and bought the movie rights for Capra’s company. The story was just what America needed, Capra reasoned, to restore its belief that what the nation had accomplished was worth the pain, loss and sacrifice, and that the nation itself had led a “wonderful life” despite many mistakes and missteps. The new film could restore the nation’s flagging optimism, pride and hope.

Capra immediately thought of actor and now war hero James Stewart to play protagonist George Bailey. Three years of flying bombing raids against the Nazis in the US Air Force had left the the 37-year-old suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, and like his non-celebrity comrades in arms, Stewart returned home in 1945 to find that everything had changed: his contract with MGM had run out, his agent had retired, and other stars had taken his place. Stewart signed on with the ambitious project, hoping neither of them lost their  touch.

As production proceeded in 1946, the cast and crew felt they were making an important movie. Bedford Falls became one of the largest American film sets ever created to that point at four acres, with 75 fake stores and buildings, a three-block main street, and 20 full-grown oak trees. To avoid the traditional problem of fake-looking snow, the special effects department invented a new and more realistic process. (I wish it was used more often: fake snow drives me crazy in movies.)

 Stewart, who was still suffering from the effects of the war and at times was close to quitting. In the scene where George, in a roadside bar, desperate and defeated, is praying to a God he doesn’t believe in. He rubs a trembling hand against his mouth, and starts to cry. The gesture wasn’t in the script, or requested by Capra. It was real.

Stewart explained years later,

“I felt the loneliness, the hopelessness of people who had nowhere to turn, and my eyes filled with tears. I broke down sobbing. That was not planned at all.”

Stewart felt George Bailey was his career’s best performance (it is) and Capra believed he had made his best film. “I thought it was the greatest film I ever made,” he said later. “Better yet, I thought it was the greatest film anybody ever made.”

It may be, but it started out as  a catastrophic flop. The movie lost money and its failure killed Capra’s production company. His directing career never recovered, and what he believed was his greatest work was forgotten for decades. Republic Pictures, which owned the film’s copyright, didn’t bother to renew the rights in 1974. It was essentially free to local television channels, and they began showing it constantly.

Quality and genius have a way of defeating critics. Capra was right, Stewart was right, the cast and crew were right. It is a classic; more than that, it is a movie that can change lives. The story accomplishes just what Cara intended it to accomplish. In a Times piece about the movie by a self-professed cynic, Wendell Jamieson wrote about seeing the movie for the first time as teen in a classroom showing, and confessed,

It’s something I felt while watching the film all those years ago, but was too embarrassed to reveal….That last scene, when Harry comes back from the war and says, “To my big brother, George, the richest man in town”? Well, as I sat in that classroom, despite the dreary view of the parking lot; despite the moronic Uncle Billy; despite the too-perfect wife, Mary; and all of George’s lost opportunities, I felt a tingling chill around my neck and behind my ears. Fifteen years old and imagining myself an angry young man, I got all choked up. And I still do.

Yeah, me too. But the reason isn’t that its a manipulative, sentimental ending, though that was what contemporary critics complained about. The reason is that Harry’s toast states a life truth that too many of us go through our own lives missing. What makes our lives successful (or not), and what makes makes our existence meaningful is not how much money we accumulate, or how much power we wield, or how famous we are. What matters is how we affect the lives of those who share our lives, and whether we leave our neighborhood, communities, associations and nation better or worse than it would have been “if we had never been born.”

It’s a tough lesson, and some of us, perhaps most, never learn it. “It’s A Wonderful Life,” though it shows how one man finally got  the message using Heaven, alternate reality, angels and fantasy to do articulate it, can be a powerful ethics tool.

1. “If It’s About Ethics, God Must Be Involved”

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