Category Archives: Ethics Dunces

Monday Ethics Revelations…

Taking stock of ethics from a long and eventful Monday…

1. As of yesterday, Ethics Alarms is about to complete its most successful month ever in terms of traffic and new followers, beating last August by almost 2000 visitors a day. Thanks to everyone who participated. Thanks especially to the untrustworthy folks at Snopes, whose partisan manipulations and the Ethics Alarms exposure of them fueled the single most read Ethics Alarms post in any month, unseating the previous champion, this, which was a trivial post that the Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, deemed the only Ethics Alarms story worth linking to.

2. Yesterday, I was a guest at a large and combative gathering of personal injury lawyers to work out a dispute involving lots of money, and when the time came for me to speak, I was hooted down and had it made quite clear to me that the majority of participants had no interest in legal ethics whatsoever.

3. They  made it clear that they didn’t know much about ethics either. For example, at one point a lawyer threatened to sue another lawyer for representations made on behalf of a client that the first lawyer felt impugned his character. Lawyers are immune from such suits. To the extent that the lawyer was trying to use a bogus threat to intimidate the other lawyer into representing his client with less zeal, that tactic is unethical, but still not forbidden by the legal ethics rules….because lawyers use the threat to sue all the time.

Just like Donald Trump. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Ethics Dunces: National Park Visitors

bison-selfie

The major reasons for the increase in National Park visitors breaking rules by getting too close to the wildlife and disturbing the integrity of the parks in other ways appear to be…selfies, selfies, selfies, and too many morons.

I may be over-simplifying, but not much. From a CBS report:

Record visitor numbers at the nation’s first national park have transformed its annual summer rush into a sometimes dangerous frenzy, with selfie-taking tourists routinely breaking park rules and getting too close to Yellowstone’s storied elk herds, grizzly bears, wolves and bison.

Law enforcement records obtained by The Associated Press suggest such problems are on the rise at the park, offering a stark illustration of the pressures facing some of America’s most treasured lands as the National Park Service marks its 100th anniversary.From Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains to the Grand Canyon of Arizona, major parks are grappling with illegal camping, vandalism, theft of resources, wildlife harassment and other visitor misbehavior, according to the records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Science & Technology, The Internet

Observations On S.F. 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s Anti-America Protest

Colin-Kaepernick-24

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem before Friday night’s 49ers-Green Packers exhibition game as a protest against the United States. He has apparently been doing all NFL preseason, but it wasn’t noticed until the most recent game.

Questioned about his certain to be controversial gesture, the mixed race athlete—he had one white parent, and was raised by a white adoptive parent—explained thusly:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Observations:

1. Give him credit for one thing: he isn’t trying to take advantage of the King’s Pass. His star immunity is at low ebb, since Kaepernick’s status with his team is shaky and his job as a first string quarterback is in doubt, not because of his political views, but because he has been injured too much and not all that great when healthy. What he did was not in his own best interests. It took guts.

So does leaping naked into a zoo’s tiger exhibit.

2. His action wasn’t a protest. It was grandstanding. It generated publicity for a message that was incoherent. All his gesture said was “Colin Kaepernick is upset and has an irrationally inflated concept of how much anyone cares, or should care.”

3. Kaepernick could have salvaged his act by being ready with a well-reasoned, well-stated, articulate and persuasive explanation. Based on what he said, which was ignorant, counter-factual and foolish, we must assume that he actually gave thought to his response, and that this pathetic statement was the best he could come up with. That shows him to be incompetent, ill-informed, and not very bright. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Race, Sports

Comment Of The Day: “The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies: An Ethics Drama”

Angry-Blogger

I haven’t made one of the spammed Ethics Alarms hate comments a Comment of the Day for a while, but this one really asked for it. The commenter, who calls herself Sarah Bradley but isn’t, was spitting vitriol over a five-year old Ethics Alarms post that I remember well, the story about a mother’s attempt to shame and bully a cooking show star, Ina Garten, who politely turned down her sick son’s “Make A Wish Foundation” request that she hold a special live cooking exhibition just for him.  The mother  used her blog to call down the web Furies on the chef’s head, and I, as you may notice that I often do, pointed out that the conventional wisdom that the chef deserved the abuse was ethically obtuse, writing in part…

Garten’s refusal was not wrong, and it was not justification for criticism. There are many legitimate reasons for her choosing not to give Enzo an audience, including just not wanting to do it. Do all of us have an obligation to do a favor for a stranger simply because they asked for it? No. Do we have an obligation to do the favor if the stranger is sick? Young? Old? Dying? No, no, no and no. Accept any other answer, and we are declaring that whenever the Make-a-Wish Foundation delivers a request, it is really a demand, backed by the threat of public humiliation….dictatorship of the desperate, attack of the compassion bullies.

Would I make Enzo’s wish come true, under almost any circumstances? Yes. Ina Garten doesn’t have to. Would most celebrities? Yes…and Ina Garten still doesn’t have to. Being kind and generous is ethical, but saying no when there is no ethical duty to say yes is not unethical. If Enzo is making a request, then the request can be refused. If its isn’t really a request, but an order, Enzo has no right to issue it. There is a duty to rescue. There is a duty to confront and report wrongdoing. But a duty to comply with the random desires of sick children? Absolutely not.

I wish all of my posts were as clear and well-argued as that one. Yet “Sarah” thought it was deserving of an abusive, ethics- and logic- free attack, because she reasons like about 85% of the commenters on most blogs and news aggregating sites. There no objective logic, no balancing of interests, no understanding of values, no ability to distinguish rationalizations from ethical analysis, no ability to see a complex situation from multiple perspectives, no objectivity. All there is to support “Sarah’s” indignation and fury is knee-jerk emotion and pre-digested platitudes. She is typical of the average member of the public who has never been trained in logic or ethics, doesn’t understand why that’s a handicap, and who allows their lizard brain to guide them through life, making society and the culture a mine field for the rest of us.

I didn’t get into the ethics field to help people like Sarah, because people like Sarah are too far gone to help. I’m an ethicist to try to help people, and their kids, and anyone they may have an influence upon, to avoid becoming like her. When you can’t think any clearer than Sarah, you are incompetent at life, and others will suffer.

Here is Sarah Bradley’s Comment of the Day, on the post, The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies: An Ethics Drama: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Comment of the Day, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

Ann Coulter’s “In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!” : Unethical Book Title Of The Millennium?

Ann Coulter: Take seriously at your own risk. Just like Donald Trump...

Ann Coulter: Take seriously at your own risk. Just like Donald Trump…

I have long been waffling over whether to bother mentioning Ann Coulter’s cheerleading for Donald Trump, which began almost a year ago. Coulter is freakishly unethical and proud of it, a rare professional fick, whose shtick (I guess one shouldn’t use fick and shtick in the same sentence: sorry) is to pander to The Angry Right in such obnoxious and inflammatory terms that the Angry Left goes bananas with hate, thus selling books and providing her with media appearances to promote them. I have  assigned her to the dark corner reserved for performance artists who posture and lie for a living, for that’s Ann. I have no idea what she really believes, just as I have no idea what James Carville, Milo Yiannopoulos or Rush Limbaugh really believe—and anyone who really thinks that they know what Donald Trump really believes is beyond redemption, since it is quite evident that he doesn’t know himself.

Thus when I heard that Ann’s latest book, doubtlessly written in about five hours of dictation and containing some measure of her trademark snark, which she is very skilled at, was called “In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!,” I was sorely tempted to express my disgust, especially since Coulter, an educated woman and a lawyer, actually stooped to using that mark of an illiterate, “awesome,’ like the book was authored by a modern day Gidget. But why play into Ann’s hands? This is why she writes this crap: to cause buzz on the net and cable so she can sell the books to right wing idiots who will be soothed by her calculated pose.

The title is an absurd, almost Orwellian (“War is Peace”) lie. Trump, as much as anyone alive,  cannot be trusted regarding anything, especially to hold great power. The reasons for this are evident and undeniable, and have been so long before running for President, wrecking the Republican Party, threatening the United States’ public’s faith in democracy and handing the White House to the most corrupt candidate a Presidential race has ever featured was a twinkle in the Donald’s eye.

However, listening to Trump blather about immigration last week, and seeming to renege on his signature promise to depart each and every illegal immigrant, almost compelled one to direct massive schadenfreude Ann Coulter’s way. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics

Good: Hope Solo Finally Loses The Protection Of The Star Syndrome; Bad: U.S. Soccer Still Doesn’t Get It; Good: Hope Provides Rationalization #59

Solo loses

The Star Syndrome, a.k.a “The King’s Pass,” #11 on the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List, is the ethics bane of organizations generally and sports especially. It is one of the major catalysts of cultural corruption, whether the “star” is Bill Clinton, Lance Armstrong, Manny Ramirez, O.J. Simpson, Roget Ailes,  Brian Williams, George S. Patton, or Werner Von Braun. To refresh your memory…

11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?”

One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.  In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust.

Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others, through…

11. (a) “I deserve this!” or “Just this once!”

Especially common to the hero, the leader, the founder, the admired and the justly acclaimed is the variation on the Kings Pass that causes individuals who know better to convince themselves that their years of public service, virtue and sacrifice for the good of others entitle them to just a little unethical indulgence that would be impermissible if engaged in by a lesser accomplished individual. When caught and threatened with consequences, the practitioner of this rationalization will be indignant and wounded, saying, “With everything I’ve done, and all the good I’ve accomplished for others, you would hold this against me?” The correct answer to this is “We are very grateful for your past service, but yes.

There are few more striking examples of this phenomenon than women’s soccer star Hope Solo. The New York Times neatly summarizes her last decade of dubious conduct (I’m being diplomatic): Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Sports

Ethics Mega Dunce And Ethics Corrupter: “Dancing With The Stars”

Ryan Lochte, role model

Ryan Lochte…liar, boor, jerk, TV star, role model.

This announcement would warrant a KABOOM! if ABC’s popular reality show/ dance competition hadn’t already demonstrated its lack of responsibility and decency so many times before. I guess my still unexploded head should be grateful for that, at least.

Dancing With The Stars is going to include Ryan Lochte in its line-up of competing celebrity dancers in the upcoming season. Why? Because he urinated on the wall of an establishment belonging to someone else, lied about the immediate consequences, insulted the hosts of the Olympic Games he competed in, and thoroughly embarrassed the United States, of course.  He’s infamous! He’s cute! He’s a moron! Naturally, this makes him attractive to “Dancing With The Stars.”

The undeniable message such casting sends to younger citizens whose sense of ethics and appropriate social conduct are still being formed is that wrongful conduct pays. DWTS is proving that as long as what you do makes you famous, it doesn’t matter if it is reckless, stupid, harmful or illegal. Then you can cash in.

This is the message that the show has often broadcast. Kim Kardashian was a contestant because she made a sex video, was the daughter of one of O.J.’s lawyers, had a freakishly large butt and epitomized hedonism, venality, and style over substance. Perfect! Tom DeLay was on the show because he was a famously vicious and corrupt—and successful— politician. Bristol Palin’s sole qualification for the show was that she managed to be an unwed mother-to-be, engaged to a jackass, while her mother was trying to convince the nation that she was qualified to be a heartbeat away from the White House. Reality shows and the ranks of washed-up actors have  supplied the show with a steady stream of drug addicts and low-lifes  whose sole distinctions have been that they were primarily famous for doing things that would get normal people fired or imprisoned. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Popular Culture, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society