Showdown At Staples: A Duty To Confront Saga [Corrected]

This morning, my wife sent me on a mission to buy a new portable calculator. At the nearby strip-mall, there are three retail options right in a row: Target, Staples, and Best Buy. Target looked crowded, and the Best Buy is huge and bewildering, so I chose the more modest-sized Staples, where ProEthics has an account.

When I entered, none of the aisle and section signs—there were about two dozen— indicated that the store even offers calculators, though I knew that couldn’t be the case in an office supply store. There was a 15 foot banner proclaiming “CUSTOMER SERVICE,” however, with one female clerk beneath it, processing the purchase of an ancient man who was moving in slow motion. After waiting a few minutes and realizing that the transaction might take until Arbor Day, I asked the Staples employee where I could find the calculators, assuming it was an easily and quickly answered query and that I could get the information before the aged customer finished searching through his wallet.

The employee obviously had no idea. She said, “I think it’s down there somewhere,” pointing to the other side of the store. “Is there an aisle sign that I should look for?” I asked. “You know, let me check with somebody; just wait a minute,” she replied, and went back to Methuselah.

“Bye!” I said sharply, and left the store. [ Update: I was wrong to write that, because I did NOT say anything, sharply or otherwise as I left Staples. A sharp “bye” would have perfectly expressed by state of mind, however. Still, that was a false account.] I then went to Best Buy; its customer service staffer gave me directions, pointed out a sign and a section, and I had picked out the item in less than five minutes.

After completing the purchase, I went back to the young man at the service desk and thanked him for his competence. I also told him how his counterpart at Staples had blown it, and that Best Buy had my business from now on.

I wasn’t done yet, however.

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Stop Making Me Defend Ticketmaster (And Louis Farrakhan)!


Next to the totalitarian, censorship-obsessed, indoctrination-pushing ideology of current American progressives, the inability of American conservatives to observe basic intellectual integrity and avoid disqualifying themselves as trustworthy defenders of democratic principles may be the greatest threat to the U.S.’s existence as a free republic.

The Washington Free Beacon, often a helpful source of conservative analysis, apparently thinks that everyone, especially members of Congress should be condemning Ticketmaster because it sold tickets to a Louis Farrakhan event:

The ticketing giant hated by Taylor Swift fans and everyone else who has ever tried to buy concert tickets is now under fire from Jewish activists for selling tickets to a Louis Farrakhan event in which the minister defended Adolf Hitler and predicted another Holocaust against Jews. But many of Ticketmaster’s biggest critics on Capitol Hill don’t seem to care.

Ticketmaster, which charges service fees on each ticket it sells, raked in money selling tickets to Farrakhan’s annual Saviours’ Day conference in Chicago last weekend. During his speech at the event, Farrakhan assailed the “stranglehold that Jews have on this government” and claimed “Jewish power is what has all of our people of knowledge and wisdom and talent afraid.”

The event was met with crickets on Capitol Hill, with almost no one in Congress speaking out against Ticketmaster for making money off of the Farrakhan event. The reaction is a stark contrast to lawmakers’ response when Ticketmaster bungled sales last year for Taylor Swift’s much-anticipated concert tour. That fiasco was in the news cycle for weeks and led to a Department of Justice investigation as well as a Senate hearing. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say Ticketmaster and its parent company, LiveNation, have a monopoly over the ticket industry, leading to price-gouging and a failure to crack down on automated scalping.

“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in [sic],” wrote Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) in a Twitter post in November. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) and Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) called on the Department of Justice to investigate. None of their offices responded to a request for comment on Ticketmaster’s Farrakhan sales.

Only Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.)—who also spoke out about the Taylor Swift debacle—weighed in on the Farrakhan controversy when contacted by the Washington Free Beacon.

“It is extremely concerning that Ticketmaster is choosing to use its platform to elevate and promote a well-known anti-Semite. The targeting of the Jewish people has gone on far too long and must stop,” she said.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), a Ticketmaster critic who serves as the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also sent a  comment after this story was published.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in America,” said McMorris Rodgers. “Ticketmaster should be completely transparent on why it chose to profit off of Farrakhan’s abhorrent history of hatred and violent threats of genocide against the Jewish people.”

The author is Alana Goodman. Naturally, Republicans (and conservative websites and pundits) took the bait. Democrats don’t like democracy, Republicans are dumb as eels. Morons. Ethics dunces. Hypocrites.

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Comment Of The Day: “‘Ick Or Ethics’ Ethics Quiz: The Self-Repossessing Car”

There were many enlightening responses to the ethics quiz involving Ford’s patent application for devices that would allow a deadbeat car purchaser’s automobile to progressively punish its owner and eventually repossess itself.

This one is through the auspices of Ethics Alarms vet Neil Dorr, whose Comment of the Day followed the post, “‘Ick Or Ethics’ Ethics Quiz: The Self-Repossessing Car”….


To my eyes, this extends far beyond normal penalties for a non-payment or breach of contract, especially since they get increasingly punitive and paternalistic. In most cases, if you stop making payments on a car they send you increasingly-nasty letters before finally hauling it away in the middle of the night. None of it includes the “tsk tsk” finger-wagging demonstrated here. Limiting you to “emergency use only” (whose emergency?) “Geofencing”? That’s what we do to dogs and cattle by way electronic collars (which often prove ineffective). “Annoying sounds”? Like the ones they play outside of convenience stores here to discourage vagrancy? Then, a final “lockout” where your allowed the privilege of looking at your car, shading some driveway, and providing them free storage (at least until they call it home) without use. Talk about cruel and unusual.

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‘Ick Or Ethics’ Ethics Quiz: The Self-Repossessing Car

This one has my ethics alarms ringing, but I can’t seem to find anything unethical about it.

A recently published patent application from Ford describes a system that would lock drivers out of their vehicles for nonpayment and allow the vehicle to repossess itself.

The patent document was formally published on February 23. Titled “Systems and Methods to Repossess a Vehicle,” it outlines different methods that could be taken if the vehicle’s owner misses payments. This would trigger a”repossession system computer,” which would be capable of disabling “a functionality of one or more components of the vehicle,” including the air conditioning, and radio.” “Incessant and unpleasant sound” could be turned on “every time the owner is present in the vehicle.” Finally, the car could be placed in a “lockout condition,” unable to be driven except in the case of an emergency.

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Why Punish Dilbert For His Creator’s Rant?

Ethics Alarms discussed the weirdly illogical, emotional and intentionally inflammatory reaction of cartoonist/pundit Scott Adams based on, of all things to freak-out over, a poll by Rasmussen that was even more unreliable than most polls, which is saying something. The fact that I assumed something like the resulting backlash would occur and that Adams should have expected it doesn’t make the reaction any less unethical.

Hundreds of newspapers have now stopped printing the popular workplace satire comic strip. The statements of the San Antonio Express-News, which is part of Hearst Newspapers, and the USA Today Network were typical. The Express-News said that it will drop the Dilbert comic strip “because of hateful and discriminatory public comments by its creator.” USA Today tweeted that it will stop publishing Dilbert “due to recent discriminatory comments by its creator.”

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“The Great Stupid” Across The Pond: We Helped Save Roald Dahl’s Children’s Books From The Censors; Now They’re Coming For OO7

…who might soon be called “008” to soothe readers offended by the number seven. Seven deadly sins, seven dwarves, that creepy Morgan Freeman movie with Gwinneth Paltrow’s head in a box…it’s a touchy number, you have to admit.

I’d like to think in some tiny way Ethics Alarms helped spread the news of the despicable bowdlerizing of Dahl’s classics that resulted in his publisher backing down and adopting the New Coke solution to a fiasco: the anti-authors’ rights business announced over the weekend that it will henceforth offer “Dahl Classic” along with the vandalized “New Dahl.” Yeah, let’s see which sells more copies. There was hardly time to pop the champagne, however: we then learned that Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels are being re-written for “modern readers“to omit alleged “racist language” and “racial references.” The censored novels will be published in April to mark the 70 years since “Casino Royale,” the first in the series, was published.

There’s nothing quite like honoring an author by defacing his most famous works. At least they’re leaving “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” alone. I think.

The indefensible conduct comes after Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, which owns the rights to Fleming’s work, commissioned a review by “sensitivity readers.” The British really don’t get that freedom of speech and expression thingy, do they? Neither does the rest of the world beyond our shores and porous borders. Now watch: U.S. progressives will argue that once again, the United States is out of step with its betters by not censoring literature and movies with the same wild abandon that it pulls down statues.

The disclaimer accompanying Fleming’s reissued novels, echoing Dahl’s publisher Puffin, will read: “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace. A number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set.”

If Ian Fleming “might be considered offensive” to the political correctness police, imagine what’s going to happen to Mark Twain.

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The Rest Of The Story: Manny’s Opt-Out (Corrected)

After a post and a Comment of the Day on San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado’s announcement that he would be opting out of his 10 year, 300 million dollar contract after next season to seek more money that he won’t even notice, it has been reported that Machado has agreed to a contract upgrade that will now pay him $35 million a year for eleven years.

Whew! Now he’ll finally be able to afford those custom-built, nuclear powered, gold-plated android models of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame’s 342 members that he covets, and still have enough pin money to buy the Bolshoi Ballet.

So Manny’s announcement that he would opt out—he wasn’t ambiguous about it, he said that was a fact—was just a bargaining ploy. A lie. I said I detested this guy. I should have known.

When someone has tried such tactics on me, they learned that my response always is, “Fine, it’s settled then. Bye!” Eventually the word gets around, and nobody tries it any more. That’s what the Padres should have done. People keep using unethical tactics because their victims let them, and so they work.

Congratulations, Manny! You have your extra 5 million a year. May you choke on it.

Oh, What The Hell: I’m Designating This Pizza Shop’s Owners Ethics Heroes

I view this as similar to the “It’s OK to be white” controversy. It’s a veritable Rorschach test that provokes thought, consideration and discussion, and any business that does that without being pompous and annoying (Like, say, Starbuck’s) is making a positive contribution to public discourse.

Santino’s Pizzeria hung the banner outside its Columbus, Ohio, store a few months ago, partially in frustration over new staff not taking their jobs seriously. “A lot of the people we’ve hired just don’t want to work,” Jayden Dunigan, whose familiy owns the restaurant, told reporters.“There is no work ethic behind them, so that’s the meaning behind the ‘non-stupid.”

“I had a high school student who thought it was okay to bring a Nerf gun in with another employee here,” the shop’s manager added. The other motivation for the sign was humor. Yet some critics on social media are “offended.” Is the sign a subtle shot at DEI? Is the shop saying people are stupid?

On balance, I’ve decided it’s a constructive and courageous message, especially in the Age of The Great Stupid.

“Good Censorship”: Regarding Ethics Villain Puffin Books And Its Defender, Seth Abramson

Yes, that’s a dead and rotting puffin above. It should be the new logo for Puffin Books, a division of Penguin. According to Wikipedia, “it has been among the largest publishers of children’s books in the UK and much of the English-speaking world” since the 1960s. According to the Penguin website, Puffin Books is “prestigious.”

According to Ethics Alarms, the children’s book publisher has no regard for authors’ rights, integrity, fairness, literature or language, all rather crucial to its trade, wouldn’t you say? What’s happened at Puffin? Well, what’s happened to Disney, elementary schools and toy makers? ( Clue: Mattel has a gender-fluid line of Barbies).

Puffin has decided that the demands of wokism, political correctness and child indoctrination justify rewriting the works of iconic British author Roald Dahl. Since Dahl’s death, Puffin has made hundreds of changes to his childen’s classics, removing words and passages that The Wonderfully Woke might consider offensive or harmful, even to the extent of adding passages that Dahl never wrote.

What?? I’m assuming that Puffin owns the rights to the books somehow and can do this legally. You want to know why authors like Samuel Beckett made sure his estate had iron-clad control over his works? THIS is why. Please note: it doesn’t matter one whit that Puffin can allow some anonymous censor to rewrite “Charlie and the Choaolate Factory,” it is throbbingly unethical for it to do so.

In the original edition of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” Grandma Josephine speaks of a “crazy Indian prince.” The 2022 edition describes the character as a “ridiculously rich Indian prince.” Augustus Gloop, one of the horrible children in the novel, is no longer described as “enormously fat” as Dahl wrote; he is now   described as “enormous”(whatever that means). Puffin apparently has a fetish about “fat.” Aunt Sponge, in the 2022 edition of “James and the Giant Peach,” is now “quite large” instead of “enormously fat,” leaving the possibility that she could be the size of  The Rock or even a T-Rex. Other passages where Aunt Sponge is described as “fat” have been excised.

Meanwhile, “two ghastly hags” has been changed to “two ghastly aunts.” “Queer” is apparently no longer acceptable to describe a house—just in case its a gay house, I suppose—and was replaced with  “strange.” In “The Witches,”  edits by Puffin made character descriptors gender-neutral, so “chambermaid” became “cleaner.” Though Dahl wrote that a character said, “You must be mad, woman!,” the line is now, “You must be out of your mind!” The line describing a, “Great flock of ladies” was changed to a “Great group of ladies.”

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Ethics Quiz: Alec And The Philharmonic [Corrected]

I did not know that Alec “Quick-Draw” Baldwin, currently criminal charges in New Mexico as a consequence of his fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins while filming the film “Rust,” is and has been the New York Philharmonic’s radio host. In writing this,  I am admitting that I haven’t listened to live broadcasts of the orchestra in a long time, probably since Leonard Bernstein was waving the baton. On the other hand, if I knew I had to listen to Baldwin to hear “Peter and the Wolf” again (Lenny’s rendition was big hit when I was 10), I wouldn’t have listened anyway. I can tolerate Baldwin in older films (like “The Hunt for the Red October”) before he became a public asshole, and in more recent movies (like “The Departed,” “Pearl Harbor” and the “Mission Impossible” films) where he is only in a small supporting role: he is, after all, a competent actor (like many assholes). In any other setting, however, if Alec is connected with it, count me out; the cognitive dissonance is too great.

The New York Post reports that despite the actor facing homicide murder charges (two counts of involuntary manslaughter) , the Philharmonic will allow Baldwin to keep his role as the famed orchestra’s  radio host and will remain a member of its board of directors. “He has been an incredibly strong person on the board, and very, very helpful and I think that will probably carry us today,” Charles F. Neimeth, a fellow board member, said in explaining the organization’s decision. “He’s been a strong contributor, both financially and otherwise.” Continue reading