Bad Day Ethics

Here I am, getting the first Ethics Alarms post up after 2:00 am, and feeling guilty. There are about ten important ethics issues and stories to be covered, and I feel I am obligated to get them covered.

But it’s going to be more difficult than usual. We just learned that two members of our household have tested positive for the Wuhan virus. I am sick with some other damn thing, basic flu symptoms plus traveling, intermittent pain in the muscles of my back and legs (no fever, no dry cough, really no Wuhan symptoms at all other than being tired). I also have a sudden backlog of paying consultant work, which takes me twice as long as it should when I’m drugged and run-down, and I am really drugged and run down.

My father and the various cultural and historical models that formed my own values, caused me to place soldiering through these kinds of  obstacles high among my life’s priorities. My dad went though his post-military life walking, hiking, playing with his children and other activities with a roughly reconstructed foot—the result of a W.W. II hand grenade’s carnage—that looked like some kind of demonic potato. He never complained or used it as an excuse to beg out of what he considered his duties; I remember saying to my mother, “It’s amazing that Dad does everything he does with a foot that looks like that. I would think it would hurt him.” She said, “Are you kidding? His foot hurts him terribly all the time.” My father’s attitude was that tough times, seemingly overwhelming challenges  and misfortunes were inevitable and were such intrinsic aspects of life that to overreact to them or allow yourself to be paralyzed in their wake was foolish.  One of his favorite quotes was Joan Howard Maurer’s tale,

“One day as I sat musing, sad and lonely without a friend, a voice came to me from out of the gloom saying, ‘Cheer up. Things could be worse.’ So I cheered up and sure enough—things got worse.”

 

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Sunday Ethics Catch-Up, 5/17/2020: Consequentialism, Graft, Firing the IGs And More Proof Of NFL Rot, As If You Needed Any

Good day!

Lots of ethics flotsam and jetsam hanging around, mostly on my office floor…

1. Speaking of the NFL, the most unethical sports organization extant…Four NFL players were taken into police custody in a span of less than 24 hours from yesterday morning to yesterday evening. First Washington Redskins wide receiver Cody Latimer, was arrested after an incident that started with shots being fired. He was booked on charges of assault in the second degree, menacing, illegal discharge of a firearm, prohibited use of a weapon and reckless endangerment. Later Saturday, Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar and Giants cornerback Deandre Baker  turned themselves in after arrest warrants were issued for the two players. Baker was accused of using a semi-automatic firearm last week to rob multiple people, with Dunbar’s help, of more than $11,000 in cash plus watches and other valuables worth more than $60,000. Then, last night, Bills defensive lineman Ed Oliver was arrested on charges of DWI and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Even for the NFL, which has more players arrested and charged with felonies in any single season as Major League Baseball has had in the last 40 years, this was impressive.  The sport recruits its stars from among fake college students who receive little education while being pampered and idolized, with the predictable result.

2. Firing the IGs. President Trump’s latest controversy involves firing the State Department’s Inspector General Steve Linick. This is the latest of several such firings: before this, we saw the dumping of then-Inspector General for the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson for his role in the whistleblower complaint that prompted the Ukraine probe, and the firing of Glenn Fine, the inspector general overseeing pandemic relief. Continue reading

On Line Ethics (Not To Be Confused With Online Ethics) [Corrected]

This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed this situation—I think the first time was in junior high school—but it may be the first time I have thought about it beyond the immediate flash of irritation.

I decided to give Trader Joe’s another chance, as they have better pre-prepared meals, frozen or otherwise, than anyone else, and perhaps because a storm was looming, the line to get into the store was tolerable, and appeared to be moving quckly. By the time I got close to the Promised Land, however, the line was growing behind me rapidly.

An apparently elderly woman approached the entrance from the parking lot. The woman who was first in line waved her to the front of the line,  and the senior was able to grab a cart immediately. She thanked the younger woman profusely, over and over.

There were more than ten hopeful shoppers behind me in line at that point. including at least one who looked no younger than the lady who got a pass.

What the hell? Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Exactly How Much Are We ‘All In This Together’? The Golden Rule Vs. ‘Look Out For #1’”

The above image is for “Fallout Shelter-The Board Game”

Last night’s pre-dawn post inspired this one (it’s just after 5 am here) , another thoughtful reflection on the ethics process from enigmatic commenter Extradimensional Cephalopod.

Here’s his (it’s?) Comment of the Day on the post, “Exactly How Much Are We ‘All In This Together’? The Golden Rule Vs. ‘Look Out For #1’”:

Whenever we encounter an ethical conflict, we need to take a look at the bigger picture, figure out what the most ethically effective way to deal with the relevant liabilities is, and then scale that principle back down to the current situation.

If we ever encounter a situation where people really do need to seek shelter, each family should ask itself, who do I most want to offer shelter if they need it? Those people get first choice. If they pass, then the family reaches out to the next group they care about. And so on. People can’t just wait for situations to happen to them; they need to ask themselves the hard questions about who they prioritize and why.

Having done that, everyone should prepare themselves to help in other ways, to offset the help they can’t offer through the space of their home. These ethical situations don’t take place in a vacuum. There are plenty of options for people to help in various ways and coordinate to make sure people get what they need even if it’s from someone they didn’t know. Benefactors can go shopping, donate money or food, organize, offer listening ears, et cetera. It’s amazing what people can do for each other when they put their minds to it. Continue reading

Remembering Thommie Walsh

Ethical human beings who pass through your life deserve to be remembered, and it is in your interest to  give them that lasting gift. Sometimes they are like strings tied around your finger (does anyone still do that?) reminding you to do the right thing.

Thommie Walsh was like that for me today.

March 15 is his birthday, you see—I only knew that because the man who introduced us almost 20 years ago tagged me on a Facebook post.  Maybe you remember Thommie, who died in 2007, too. Here’s part of that post, by my friend and Thommie’s, playwright, author, and theater historian Chip Defaa:

He was an original member of the cast of “A Chorus Line”–which was THE musical of that era. That show was created, in unique fashion, from taped comments about their lives by actual performers. Thommie was one of that original group. And the character he originated in “A Chorus Line,” “Bobby,” was based on him. As an actor, Thommie was saying on stage lines that rang true because they were true; he was saying things (as “Bobby”) he’d been saying before anyone thought up the idea of doing “A Chorus Line.”

He moved into choreographing and directing. He was ALWAYS working–Broadway, Off-Broadway, TV commercials, you name it. He staged friends’ cabaret shows–most notably the cabaret show of Tony Award-winner Donna McKechnie, his former castmate in “A Chorus Line” and a lifelong friend. She did that show, to great acclaim, for years afterwards in many venues. (I was delighted to be an invited guest at the performance that was taped for an album.) He also worked on the cabaret and concert shows of Chita Rivera and Joel Grey. Broadway royalty.

Among Broadway and Off-Broadway shows Thommie worked on, as a director and/or choreographer, were: “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” “A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine,” “Nine,” “My One and Only,” and “My Favorite Year.”

Thommie won two Tony Awards for choreography: that’s how I knew his name when Chip told me that he was going to direct “Danny and Sylvia,” the two-person musical about Danny Kaye and his wife Sylvia Fine I had originally developed for my theater company, as part of a New York City, Off-Broadway festival. Both cast members were friends, so I got periodic updates on how rehearsals were going. Thommie, like any good director, was making changes, adding his feel for the characters and material as he went along. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Reveries, 3/15/2020: Oh, Hell…I Have To Write About The Wuhan Virus Whether I Want To Or Not..

Good morning…

The avalanche of Wuhan virus stories with ethical implications cannot all be squeezed Part III of the series about the pandemic’s ethical implications, especially since that one will concentrate on politics and the news media. So I’m stuck, much as I would prefer to think about almost anything else….

1. Here’s one that compels the question, “What’s going on here?” among others.  The Struthers, Ohio, police department posted this notice on Facebook:

“Due to the coronavirus, the police department is asking that all criminal activities stop until further notice. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation in the matter. We will update you when we deem it’s appropriate to proceed with yo bad selves.”

Before I got to the end, I assumed this was a serious message. It is far from the dumbest thing I’ve seen in response to the Wuhan Virus mess.Then I reached the end, and I decided that it was probably a joke.

Thinking some more, though: would it necessarily be futile to ask criminals to be responsible members of the community just for a while, for their own benefit as well as society’s? There might be some who would take the appeal to heart. If there were, however, the joke ending of the message would undermine any such impulse.

2. More on the Name Game: Our esteemed Mrs. Q had dubbed the illness the WuFlu. Checking on Google, there was a flurry or reports using that name in January and February; there was even a hashtag. I like it, but using Wuhan Virus does a better job of rubbing in the face of the appropriate parties the deceit and cowardice of the news media’s rush to follow China’s edict and pretend that the virus originated somewhere else. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/14/2020: Mrs. Jobs, Senator Schumer, Mayor de Blasio, And A Possum

Hi!

I’m working on Part III of the Wuhan virus ethics series, so I’m going to try to keep related matters to a minimum here. A couple links you can check out to relieve me of the necessity of commenting on them: Here’s Ann Althouse writing about her “social distancing” without, apparently, any awareness that the average American is not retired, financially well off, with a spouse, with grown children, who are happy blogging and reading all day. And here’s Ruth Marcus, long one of the more blatantly biased (and dim) members of the Washington Post’s editorial board, authoring an op ed with the head exploding headline,Why Joe Biden is the antidote to this virus.” I intend to keep this utter crap on file for the next time someone argues that degrees from elite institutions are evidence of intellectual ability. Marcus has a Yale and Harvard  Law degree.

1.  Rich people have a right to their wealth; it’s a shame, though, that their riches can’t buy IQ points, or the wisdom to know when to shut up. Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve , told the New York Times,

“It’s not right for individuals to accumulate a massive amount of wealth that’s equivalent to millions and millions of other people combined. There’s nothing fair about that. We saw that at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries with the Rockefellers and Carnegies and Mellons and Fords of the world. That kind of accumulation of wealth is dangerous for a society. It shouldn’t be this way….I inherited my wealth from my husband, who didn’t care about the accumulation of wealth. I am doing this in honor of his work, and I’ve dedicated my life to doing the very best I can to distribute it effectively, in ways that lift up individuals and communities in a sustainable way. I’m not interested in legacy wealth building, and my children know that. Steve wasn’t interested in that. If I live long enough, it ends with me.”

What a stupid, ethics-challenged, smug and selfish person. The tell is offering the non-argument that people being able to make as much money as they can and want isn’t “fair” and that it “shouldn’t be that way.” How articulate and persuasive! Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/9/2020: Coronavirus Ethics”

SUCH a pretty virus! Yes you ARE! Yes you ARE!

Whether you or not agree with all of Pennagain‘s generally wise advice, these are good things to talk and think about. The smug manner in which we are all being told to just hole up in out homes indefinitely is not really helpful. Civilization has to continue.

I just had two seminars cancelled, a few minutes ago. I expected it, but the ramifications are many and complex, and not just for me.

Here’s Pennagain’s Comment of the Day on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/9/2020: Coronavirus Ethics”:

The basic information is everywhere and easily available. It is also repeated or presented regularly. Anyone can find it online in the regular (not specially created) medical websites. This is a panic and the rest of us — I assume that includes most readers here — need to sit back, give a think, and wait it out. And, much as I hate to say it, not watching TV (particularly the un-news) will help enormously. [If you don’t understand why you should stop regular, unquestioning watching of television and online “news”, never mind] If you feel secure enough, support your local grocery, gym, restaurant (get take-out) and other small businesses you usually do. You don’t want them to fail; they won’t be back again.

Do not follow some instructions — several of which seem to have been taken from a 1934 public health pamphlet. A few. Do not wash your hands unless you have a reason to. Hand washing is fine after touching something or someone who might have been infected. Luke-warm water, a bit of soap that you usually use. Hand scrubbing is not okay unless you are a surgeon at work. Rub and rinse under luke-warm (never hot) running water. Pat dry. Alcohol-based cleaners are being suggested by otherwise reputable health care sources. Eschew them. They do not protect against viruses and most of all, they dry out your skin, which then develops cracks (including microscropic cracks) that viruses can get into. Panic reaction to AIDS (the mid 80s) caused fast-thinking savvy businesspeople to jump on the hand-“cleaner” bandwagon and the public went along like hypnotized lemmings. Nobody needs them. oh, and nobody ever caught anything from a toilet seat either.

Try not to share your anxiety with your children. Think about having to home-school them! Here’s what you do need to know. Yes, it’s simple. Pass it on: Continue reading

How Do People Get These Crazy Ideas About Right And Wrong?

I always review the “Social Qs” advice column on Sundays, and frequently have a disagreement with the advice offered by columnist Philip Gallanes. (He’s pretty good, though.) This time, however, his column bothered me from a different perspective, namely, “What the hell is the matter with these people?” I found Gallanes’ advice reasonable and ethical throughout, but in three of the four letters, the conduct described was so obviously wrong that I found myself once again feeling that my insignificant efforts to try to promote good ethics decision-making skills (a task that takes up about three hours a day, seven days a week, 365 ,  366 this year, days a year—Do NOT tell my business partner!—are an irresponsible waste of time that I will want back when I am dying  of COVID-19.

First, a college freshman wrote that her boyfriend had given her  a 50 dollar gift certificate for Panera on Valentine’s Day. When she told the guy, whom she said was “great,” that his gift was terrible, he replied, “Well, at least I got you a gift.” Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Sixth Grade Dance

A furious mother is making an issue out of a Utah middle school’s policy requiring sixth-graders to agree acquiesce when a classmate asks them to dance.

Alicia Hobson’s 11-year-old daughter, Azlyn was asked to dance by a boy she thought was icky. She “politely” refused, but the principle at Rich Middle School in Laketown, Utah,  intervened, telling the couple to get out onto the dance floor. Was the boy short, fat, covered with acne, bad-smelling, a bully, afflicted with Down Syndrome? Was he poor, have a lisp, or Muslim? Was there a cool boy Azlyn was waiting to play Prince Charming? Never mind: As the principal, Kip Motta, later explained in a letter to Alicia Hobson, the school has a policy requiring students to accept dance invitations, and sticks by it. Motta wrote,

“We do ask all students to dance. It is the nice thing to do and this will continue to be our policy. There have been similar situations in the past where some students have felt uncomfortable with others, and, as stated prior, the issues were discreetly handled. This allowed all students to feel welcome, comfortable, safe, and included.”

Hobson equates the policy with “rape culture,” and is prepared to take the issue to the Utah Board of Education. “Girls HAVE to learn that they have the right to say no and that those around them have to respect that,” Hobson wrote on Facebook. “I’m not going to quietly stand by while my daughter and all of her classmates are being wrapped up in rape culture. No way.”

Ethics Alarms dealt with a similar issue in a different context in this post, about children accepting kisses and hugs from repulsive family members.

Before I pop the quiz question, I have three observations. The first is that that the principal’s fad use of the word “safe” has just got to stop. That’s not what “safe” means, and if we keep using “safe” to mean “insulated from any event, feeling or experience that someone might prefer to avoid,” the word will cease to have any communication value. The second is that equating the social obligation to accept an invitation at a supervised dance with “rape culture” is a hyperbolic crock, and should be identified as such immediately.

The third observation is that the “Today” headline is intentionally misleading and unfairly supports the mother’s inflammatory framing. “School policy forbids kids from saying ‘no’ when asked to dance” presumes the conclusion Hobson wants. “School policy requires students to be kind and considerate when asked to dance” promotes  the school’s rationale. An ethical and responsible headline would be, ““School policy requires students to accept an invitation to dance.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz today :

Is the school’s policy wise and ethical?

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