Category Archives: Family

From Ethics Alarms “The Truth Hurts” Files: Target’s Fathers Day Card

Target came under fire for putting out the Father’s Day card above, and apologized, especially for having only a black couple version.

Interesting: what exactly is wrong about the card? It depicts the state of black fatherhood as it is: about 72% of black births are to unmarried couples, while about 32% is the white figure. Is the perceived problem that the card shames African Americans, or that it appears to give couples having children without bothering with marriage a societal pass by celebrating their lack of responsibility? Not being married to a child’s mother vastly increases the likelihood of absentee fathers, and being raised by single mothers is statistically linked to many social pathologies that disproportionately plague black communities.

Maybe Target isn’t the one who should be apologizing. One incensed critic wrote on Twitter, “This is an insult to black fathers and a slap in the face to the African-American community as a whole.” No, that would be true if the card’s implication wasn’t true. It is true. Now what? Getting angry at Target is a deflection.

Of course, the likelihood is that Target wasn’t thinking deeply about this at all. It just thought the “baby daddy” card opened up a new Fathers Day market.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Gender and Sex, Marketing and Advertising, Race, U.S. Society

Chaos, Kindness, Vivian Landis, and Me

Yesterday I attended the funeral of Vivian Landis, mother of my long-time friend Lise Landis. Vivian was 98 years old when she died, and by all accounts had a wonderful and rewarding life. She also played a big part in mine, by doing what she apparently did routinely: being kind.

Mrs. Landis, along with her late husband Paul, were, by sheer chance, placed in the position of being the Chaos Theory butterfly in the Amazon jungle that causes a momentous chain of events by flapping its wings. They exemplify to me why it is vital for all of us to strive to live using ethical values. We have often no idea what the results will be, but the odds are they will be more good than bad.

In 1972, I had been rejected by all of my choices for law school, though I had been wait-listed at Georgetown. However, it was August, the fall semester was looming, and no word from Washington, D.C. had reached me. Discouraged but resigned, I said the hell with it, and resolved to take a year off, perhaps to craft my thesis on character and the American Presidency into a book. In the meantime, I decided to join my parents and sister on what bid fair to be our last family vacation. Dad had planned one of his typical forced marches, this one through Reno, Sequoia National Park, Yosemite, San Francisco, and Seattle.

I was having a great time, relaxing, enjoying the sights, when a ranger tracked us down on the Yosemite canyon floor. Our next-door neighbors in Arlington Mass. had sent a telegram forwarding a Georgetown telegram to the Marshall homestead: a slot for me had just opened up in the 1975 Class, but to claim it, I had to be at the Law Center to register Monday morning—and it was Sunday. And I was in California.

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to law school at that point, but my dad was determined that I should take the opportunity. We cut short our Yosemite visit and drove to San Francisco, where I was deposited on a red-eye to Dulles. I had few clothes, and knew nobody in the District of Columbia or anywhere near it. Somehow, I was assured, my family would have a plan for me by the time I arrived. I was to call their hotel in Frisco once I had registered. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Daily Life, Family, Love, U.S. Society

Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 6/9/18: PART II, The Bee-Free Zone…Facebook Friends Behaving Badly, Stupid Pardon Tricks, More On The Dancing Doctor, And Another “Good Illegal Immigrant”

Now that we have the unpleasantness of Samantha Bee out of the way, your gorge is safe. Well, sort of…

2. Short version: “Grow up!” If the long-time theater friend who just defriended me on Facebook is reading (yes, I know who you are), this is a message for all the people who can’t tolerate, or remain friends with, anyone who challenges their anti-Trump fanaticism by pointing out–nicely!– that they sound like lunatics. I know you assume that you are in the warm, comforting womb of a left-wing echo-chamber, but friends don’t let friends write stupid, or shouldn’t. You, let me remind you, stated in black and white that Al Franken was the best hope to defeat Trump in 2020 (See how nice I was? I didn’t even challenge that nonsense!) until Republicans secretly engineered his destruction. I wrote in response that this was tin foil hat stuff, which it is; that implicitly accusing Kristen Gillibrand of being in cahoots with the GOP  was bonkers, which is accurate, and that you should get help, which you should.

Your response was defriend me. Nice.

This has happened with about five theater friends, and in all cases over hysterical assertions that would be only acceptable from a 12-year-old. They, like you, are used to making ridiculous, hyper-partisan statements without being challenged, and regard a dissenting argument as a personal affront as well as the mark of Satan. You should not want to remain deluded, you should want to be called out when you write something idiotic, and you should not react with hostility to a friend who does so in good faith.

What I have learned about the resistance is that their logic, facts and debate skills are fatally flawed or absent. Their only defense against rebuttal is to censor it.

You really should not want to hang out with this crowd, my friend. Get well soon. I mean it.

And shame on you. I don’t deserve that.

3. Google is your friend, Mr. President. Yesterday, President Trump floated the idea of pardoning the late Muhammad Ali, who was famously convicted of draft-dodging during the Vietnam war. Ali, however, needs a pardon as much as I do. (Less, really, since he’s dead.) His conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. There is nothing to pardon him for.

This kind of thing is an unforced error that justifiably undermines trust in the President. It’s just inexcusably sloppy—typical, I concede, but sloppy. I don’t blame Trump for not knowing that Ali’s conviction had been reversed: I had forgotten that myself. Making impulsive statements based on flawed information and snap decisions, however, suggests that the President might take impulsive actions based on misunderstandings as well.

Well, he does that, too.

More on pardons: I have seen several news sources, including the New York Times, contrast President Trump’s political “celebrity” pardons with President Obama’s pardons of less high profile Americans. Fake news. At this point in his administration, how many pardons do you think Obama had issued?

None. Zero. Zilch. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

Suicide And Ethics

Just as we learned about the suicides of two niche celebrities, Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade, the news media is reporting a massive increase is self-homicide since 1999, over 25%. “Social isolation, lack of mental health treatment, drug and alcohol abuse and gun ownership are among the factors that contribute to suicide,” says the Times. All of that hasn’t increased 25% in less than two decades, however. What has changed?

This:

1. The decline of religion. In Christianity, for example, suicide is a sin, and if you believe in an after-life, a terribly short term solution. People don’t believe in eternal punishment for suicide any more.

2. The end of shame. Suicide was once considered shameful in this culture. For decades, however, suicide advocates have been promoting it not only as a right, but a reasonable option under certain circumstances. Never mind sin: the culture currently teaches that suicide isn’t even wrong.

3. Reinforced narcissism, selfishness, and cowardice. Suicide is a terrible act of aggression against loved ones and associates.  As a member of a family that has suffered through three suicides, I have seen this up close. Suicides leave horrible emotional carnage in their wake. The essence of ethics, which is thinking about the impact of one’s conduct on others, has been gradually eroded in the culture through the dominance and influence of ethics corrupters.

4. Confused and contradictory cultural signals regarding death. Beginning with abortion, through assisted suicide laws in Oregon, our culture is sending strong messages that some people are better off dead. For the unsophisticated, the young and the gullible especially, this new cultural eddy makes suicide far more attractive than it used to be.

5. Celebrity suicides. In a culture that uses performing celebrities as role models, suicide becomes model conduct. Politicians rarely kill themselves, much as we might wish they would.

I don’t see any mystery at all. Suicide rates are increasing because our culture no longer sends the message that suicide is wrong.

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Filed under Bioethics, Character, Family, Health and Medicine, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/25/2018: What Do Kellyann’s Husband And The NFL Kneelers Have In Common? [Updated]

Morning in my home town, Arlington Massachusetts (where they seem to have found another body in Spy Pond….)

Good Morning!

1. George Conway is unethical. It’s really as simple as that. Kellyanne Conway’s husband George, a lawyer, has decided to take advantage of his wife’s notoriety to grab unearned influence and fame for himself. He has become a regular twitter critic of the President, routinely blasting the Administration through mostly re-tweeted commentary from other sources. This, of course, makes the Trumpophobes ecstatic, embarrasses his wife, and gives George 15 hitch-hiked minutes of fame.

Let me count the ways this is wrong:

  • He’s not contributing anything valuable to the public debate, just bolstering his wife’s enemies.  Social media-users who can’t muster their own arguments and who only appeal to authority should not be taken seriously, and if George wasn’t undermining his wife, he wouldn’t be.
  • Who he is married to is the only reason anyone pays any attention to his tweeting. Surely he knows this. Surely he knows that the result is his wife’s embarrassment, and that he he is actively working against her. This is not a James Carville-Mary Matalin act, where both spouses are independently regarded as powerful political consultants. This is spousal sabotage.
  • He’s risking his wife’s career for his own aggrandizement. I’ll say this for Trump: he’s more forgiving than I would be. I would give Kellyanne an ultimatum: get your husband to stop undermining us, dump him, or quit. This is analogous to the crazy estranged husband who keeps coming to his wife’s place of business to harass her. The employer’s completely justified message: “We can’t have this. It’s your problem; fix it, or we will.”

2.  ‘We don’t care: he’s a racist whatever he does.’ President Trump announced his long-rumored pardon of black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson yesterday. (The Times has an interesting feature about Johnson’s travails here.) Praising the President for this long over-due exoneration, an NAACP spokesman said…nah, I’m kidding, the civil rights organization didn’t say anything. However, the Congressional Black Caucus, which had urged President Obama to finally right this decades-long wrong, said…no, they had nothing to say either.  [ Correction: Originally I wrote here that John McCain, who sponsored a resolution asking for Obama to pardon Johnson,, did not signal praise for the pardon. He did, and I apologize to the Senator for the error. Thanks to Dan Abrams for the information.]

There is no reasonable argument against pardoning Johnson, and there never has been. Apparently Obama was hesitant–but then he was always hesitant—this time because Johnson had a reputation for domestic abuse. Thus I presume that the female contingent in the White House pulling Barack’s strings—Valerie and Michelle—along with the all-important advocates for the Democratic Party’s feminist base wouldn’t let him do it. Obama, a lawyer, or so I hear, must have realized that Johnson’s racist persecution by the government for being a  famous and defiant black man who openly had white female companionship had absolutely nothing to do with domestic abuse, and that misconduct a controversial figure may or may not have engaged in unrelated to an unjust criminal conviction shouldn’t play any part in a pardon assessment.

That Barack. So principled. So courageous…

3. I like David French, but...his recent op-ed for the Times attacking the NFL’s ruling on National Anthem protests going forward—if a player won’t stand respectfully, the he must stay off the field, in the locker room—is ethically obtuse. French’s point is that conservatives should champion free speech at a time when the Left is trying to suppress it. That’s a good point, and I agree wholeheartedly, but it has nothing to do with the NFL’s kneelers. I suspect that French wanted to make this argument, and negligently grabbed at the NFL policy as his chance to make it.

He writes in part, Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Leadership, Race, Rights, Social Media, Sports, Workplace

KABOOM! Harvard’s Class Of 2003’s Reunion Attack On Jared Kushner

I was going to write about this depressing and disgusting episode from the anti-Trump derangement parade yesterday, but I thought I could keep my head from exploding if I waited a bit. No such luck.

As some of you know, I come from a Harvard family. My Dad went there on the GI Bill; my mother was working as the Dean’s secretary when she and my Dad met. I attended the College, and so did my sister. Long after we had left, my mother was still working in the administration, ultimately as Asst. Dean of Housing. I was raised about 15 minutes from Harvard Square. I ushered at the football games when I was in high school. Many of my best and oldest friends are Harvard grads; I loved the place. It was a terrific place to go to school. This story, however, makes me deeply ashamed, and demonstrates, not for the first time in recent decades, how poorly the university’s leadership has upheld the core values of America’s oldest institution of learning, opting instead for partisan politics and divisiveness.

Since the 19th century, Harvard has invited alumni in reunion years—that is, ever five years—to write personal updates about their lives, and have it published free of charge by the University and mailed to all class members.The crimson covered paperback is called the Red Book. I have read more of them than I can count, between my father and myself. Here’s one of my father’s:

Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Family, Government & Politics, Kaboom!, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

Morning Ethics Warm-Up Overstock, 5/15/ 2018: It’s Use Them Or Lose them…

This is perplexing. I have a backlog of ethics stories and issues that I feel are better mentioned in the Warm-Up format, then that post run long, and the items in my basket of deplorable often get superseded by new issues, and are never seen here at all. The collective approach saves amazing amounts of time, so if I have to post each of the leftovers individually, that will preclude doing the work necessary on potentially more significant issues.

Well, today, at least, I’m posting on some of the morning issues that didn’t make the cut.

And this is why Royals used to avoid marrying commoners.

What an Ethics Dunce, and worse,  soon-to-be Royal father-in-law Thomas Markle is! Your daughter is unexpectedly in the middle of a world event (not that it should be that), and she is approaching the most exciting day of her life. One of your two duties is to be on hand to walk her down the aisle, and your other duty is not to screw things up for her and embarrass her. Markle couldn’t do either, because, it is evident, he is a low-life, the real equivalent of  Eliza Doolittle’s father in “My Fair Lady,” who after years of neglect has to try to cash in on his daughter’s good fortune.

The father of the soon-to-be royal bride couldn’t resist cashing in, doing several photoshoots with a paparazzi agency ahead of the wedding. The news reports of this provoked a negative reaction, predictably, except Tommy Boy was too greedy or dumb to predict it, and now he says that he will not attend because he does not want to embarrass Meghan or the royal family.

Too late!

Are there really people who think this is legitimate criticism?

I suppose there are, but wow.  A politically active genealogist named Jennifer Mendelsohn—she’s an idiot, by the way—spends her time digging into the ancestry of critics of illegal immigration and illegal immigrants to prove they are hypocrites, or something. Her latest target is Fox News’s Tomi Lahren (I am not a fan) and Mendelsahn really seems to think she has uncovered a “gotcha!,” tweeting…

Except the 1930 census says Tomi’s 3x great-grandmother had been here for 41 years and still spoke German. Her 2nd great-grandmother had been here for 10 yrs. Spoke no English. Her great-grandfather’s 1895 baptism from MN? Recorded in Norwegian…But as long as people like Lahren continue to push a specious agenda that suggests today’s immigrants are somehow wholly different from previous ones, I’ll keep showing just how alike they really are.

I really do think the wretched quality of thought here is more characteristic of most illegal immigration activists than people are willing to admit. I’m sure you can do this analysis yourself, but…

  • Illegal immigrants are not the same as legal immigrants. That what was once legal is no longer doesn’t make what the legal immigrants did in 1900 wrong, or what illegal immigrants doing now right.
  • There is nothing hypocritical about a citizen with immigrants in their lineage condemning illegal immigration. Indeed, there would be nothing wrong with someone with illegal immigrants in their family doing the same. If my great, great grandfather was a pirate, I can still oppose piracy. If I exist because my great-grandmother was raped, there is nothing wrong with my opposing rapists.
  • Did I mention that Mendelsohn is an idiot?

Just wanted to make sure.

Best rejoinder to her tweet: “Now do Elizabeth Warren!” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Family, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Romance and Relationships