Category Archives: Government & Politics

Trending On Ethics Alarms…


….this post, from July, now the all-time most viewed and shared Ethics Alarms post ever, and this post, from May.

Gee, I wonder why?

I only wish this post, from last September, was as well distributed, but I’m going to keep linking to it until it is, or until it’s moot.

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, The Internet

Don’t Feel Too Bad, Americans: Ethics Alarms Aren’t Ringing In Canada, North Korea Or Japan, Either

It’s an International Ethics Dunce parade!


1. Ontario, Canada

The Windsor-Essex County Humane Society in Ontario thought it would be really clever to use the Donald Trump phrase that many believe disqualify him to be President in an ad to adopt kitty-cats. It featured a photo of Trump and said, “You don’t have to be a star to grab a pussy … cat.”

Amazing. Not one person in the chain of custody of this—I would say obviously, but when so many people miss it, I guess it’s not—offensive ad had an ethics alarm sound.  Nobody had the sense, prudence or guts to say,

“Uh, guys? Hello? You do realize that this is using a phrase describing sexual assault while alluding to the one who used it to describe sexual assault? You do realize that “pussy” alluding to female genitalia is vulgar and uncivil, right? No? Here, let me explain it to you…or hwo about this: there is no way this won’t spark criticism. Is that what you want?”

Sure enough,  the ad promoting cat adoptions this week for $50, was taken down shortly after it appeared this week.

The society offered a pathetic apology. Melanie Coulter, executive director of the humane society, “explained” it was an attempt to make light of the U.S election campaign, though it also “made light” of sexual assault, contemptuous attitudes toward women,  and obscene rhetoric.

“We are obviously sorry if people are offended by the ad — that wasn’t our attempt in the least,” Coulter said. “Our attempt was to find homes for cats that need them.” She also added that the shelter took in more than a hundred cats in the last week.

For the record, the rationalizations here are…

3. Consequentialism, or  “It Worked Out for the Best”

13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.”

It also suggests that I need to add “We meant well” to the list as a sub-rationalization to #13.



2. Kuroishi, Japan

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

More Clown Ethics: The County That Banned Bozo


An alternate title was “The County Run By People So Ignorant Of The Constitution That They Think You Can Tell People How To Dress And Who Will Be Easy Pickings When The Democrats Decide To Ban What They Decide Is “Hate Speech,” but I thought it was a little too long.

The mass Ethics Dunce in question is Mississippi’s Kemper County, which in response to the evil clown hysteria embarrassing the nation almost as much as the evil Presidential candidates hysteria, enacted a clown ban this week, forbidding people from dressing as clowns until after Halloween. Anyone caught in public wearing a clown costume, mask or makeup will face a $150 fine.

This is, of course, ironic, since any elected officials voting for such a ban are, by definition, clowns themselves.

County supervisors president Johnny Whitsett justified this overly broad law and per se violation of the Constitution as a matter of public safety because, he said, people “could react badly if they get scared by a clown in their yard.” Wait: how does my wearing clown shoes and a red nose in my yard scare someone in their yard?

Boy, I can’t wait until I am retired, rich, and at leisure to go down to future Kember Counties and get arrested for being dressed like Bozo.

In these tiny, trivial, stupid examples of elected officials proving themselves ignorant of our rights and protections are the seeds of the destruction of American liberty.

Meanwhile, non-government entities, which are legally free to reject the principle of free expression but not ethically free to get away with it, at least on this little corner of the Internet, have revealed their own censorious clown DNA. Target, for example, has removed clown masks from its stores and website. “Given the current environment, we have made the decision to remove a variety of clown masks from our assortment, both in stores and online,” the Big Box chain announced through a spokesman.

This is consistent with the current reasoning of the increasingly totalitarian left on guns and other commodities, that if a small minority of citizens abuse a product or right, the rest of us have to do without. Again, I look forward to my future career as the Ethics George Soros, funding nation-wide Scary Hair Dryer User  hoaxes to see if Target will ban hair dryers too.


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Rights, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Hero Emeritus: Edna Gladney (1888-1961)”


I love when a well-considered comment is entered on an older post. It draws my attention back to topics I may have forgotten about, and as in the case of this Comment of the Day, it reminds me of people and things I really shouldn’t forget.

Rebecca, in her first visit to the comments wars, entered this reaction to the post about Edna Gladney (that’s her on the right above, with Greer Garson, her screen avatar, on the left), an amazing woman who should be better known than she is for her  pioneering work on behalf of orphans and unwed mothers. I suggest that you read the post about Edna first, and then read Rebecca’s Comment of the Day. Here it is:

I just recently saw the TCM movie and was instantly taken by her courage and perseverance, especially since I, too, consider myself a child and family advocate. However, once I read about the historical Gladney, I am saddened that Hollywood thought it necessary to change the storyline to “soften” the blow of Edna’s own illegitimacy. Just goes to show how much was (and still is) wrong with the media. Also goes to show how media perpetuates certain attitudes about our societal issues. For example, even though the movie was retrospect, and even though Gladney may have been successful in removing illegitimate designations on birth certificates, society itself was still hell bent on being judgmental….couldn’t even tell the story like it was for fear it wouldn’t be accepted.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Bioethics, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Heroes, Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History

Debate Ethics: Trump’s “Breathtaking Repudiation Of American Democracy”


Substance, of course, is officially irrelevant to the 2016 Presidential election. This is a bitter “be careful what you wish for” realization for Ethics Alarms and its author, as I have long argued that leaders’ values and character are more important and should be given more weight in any choice of candidates than their political affiliations or official policy positions. I did not foresee  a race in which both candidates have definitively proven that they are unfit for office and corrupt beyond repair or redemption, and one of those candidates is so unfit that even the epic dishonesty and democracy-corroding conduct of his opponent cannot begin to justify a vote for him by anyone with the sense of a bivalve mollusk.

Thus, once again as in the first two debates, the leading story coming out of last night’s snark-fest relates to character, not substance. In this case, it doesn’t even relate to practical reality. Donald Trump was asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace,

Your running mate Governor Pence pledged on Sunday that he and you, his words, will absolutely accept the result of this election. Today your daughter Ivanka said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight, do you make the same commitment that you’ll absolutely accept the result of the election?

..and after talking around the question interminable, as usual, Trump finally answered,

What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, okay?

Hillary Clinton immediately pronounced the answer “horrifying,” and her assessment is currently being echoed on editorial pages and by pundits and analysts as if Trump announced that he was raising an army of NRA members to take the White House by force. Gasped the Washington Post this morning, in an editorial titled, “Trump’s Breathtaking Repudiation of American Democracy,” “Respecting the will of the voters has since the end of the Civil War allowed for a peaceful transition of power that has made this country the envy of the world….[Clinton’s flaws] fade to the status of trivia in the face of an opponent who will not accept the basic rules of American democracy.”The New York Times, in its editorial titled “Donald Trump’s Contempt for Democracy,” pontificated,

Mr. Trump’s meltdown in the closing weeks could be dismissed as a sore loser’s bizarre attempt at rationalizing his likely defeat. But his trashing of the democratic process, in service of his own ego, risks lasting damage to the country, and politicians of both parties should recoil from him and his cynical example.

It in no way excuses Donald Trump to take notice of the “breathtaking” dishonesty here.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, U.S. Society

Ten Ethics Obsevations On The New Bill Clinton Sexual Assault Accusation

The late Leslie Millwee...VERY late.

The late Leslie Millwee…VERY late.

From Politico:

Leslie Millwee, a former reporter for local Arkansas TV station KLMN-TV, has accused former president Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her three times in 1980, while Clinton was governor of Arkansas…Millwee told Breitbart she interviewed Clinton about 20 times publicly and also met with him in KLMN-TV’s newsroom. She said he groped her and rubbed his genitals on her while they were alone in KLMN-TV’s small editing room.

“He came in [to the editing room] behind me, started hunching me to the point that he had an orgasm,” she told Breitbart’s Aaron Klein. “He’s touching, trying to touch my breasts and I’m just sitting there very stiffly, just waiting for him to leave me alone. And I’m asking him the whole time, ‘Please do not do this. Do not touch me. Do not hunch me. I do not want this.’ And he finished doing what he was doing and walked out….Breitbart also interviewed three of Millwee’s friends, who said Millwee told them in the late 1990s about the alleged assaults.

…Millwee’s accusations are new, and Breitbart, which published a 19-minute video interview with Millwee, has been supportive of Trump and dismissive of the numerous women who have accused him of sexual assault. The site is led by Steven Bannon, who took a leave from Breitbart to serve as CEO of Trump’s campaign.Millwee said she considered coming forward in the late 1990s, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but she was intimidated after seeing how the media treated other women who accused Clinton of sexual assault.

“I almost came out during the Monica Lewinsky and Kathleen Willey situation,” she said. “I watched that unfold a little bit. I was very prepared to go forward then and talk about it, and I watched the ways the Clintons and Hillary slandered those women, harassed them, did unthinkable things to them, and I just did not want to be part of that. I had very small children at the time, I had a job at pharmaceuticals, it was a very conservative situation. I didn’t want to do anything to bring harm to my career and my family.”

Millwee said she decided to finally go public now because she believes that the media still has not held Clinton accountable for his alleged sexual assaults. A Breitbart spokeswoman said Millwee reached out to Breitbart on her own “months ago after Hillary’s ad that sex assault victims have a right to be heard.”


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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

In A Sufficiently Rational And Ethical Society, The Official Apology To African-Americans By The International Association Of Chiefs Of Police Would Begin A Productive Process Toward Healing Distrust Between Police And Black Communities. This Is Not A Sufficiently Rational And Ethical Society.

"Not a bad speech, Chief, but since we all know you and your kind are part of a racist conspiracy to murder unarmed black men, not nearly good enough."

“Not a bad speech, Chief, but since we all know you and your kind are part of a racist conspiracy to murder unarmed black men, not nearly good enough.”

Terrence M. Cunningham, the chief of police in Wellesley, Mass, and the president of America’s largest police management organization, announced a formal apology to the nation’s minority population this week.

Cunningham delivered his remarks at the convention in San Diego of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, whose membership includes 23,000 police officials in the United States. He said in part:

There have been times when law enforcement officers, because of the laws enacted by federal, state, and local governments, have been the face of oppression for far too many of our fellow citizens. In the past, the laws adopted by our society have required police officers to perform many unpalatable tasks, such as ensuring legalized discrimination or even denying the basic rights of citizenship to many of our fellow Americans.

While this is no longer the case, this dark side of our shared history has created a multi-generational—almost inherited—mistrust between many communities of color and their law enforcement agencies. Many officers who do not share this common heritage often struggle to comprehend the reasons behind this historic mistrust. As a result, they are often unable to bridge this gap and connect with some segments of their communities.

While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future. We must move forward together to build a shared understanding. We must forge a path that allows us to move beyond our history and identify common solutions to better protect our communities. For our part, the first step in this process is for law enforcement and the IACP to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.

At the same time, those who denounce the police must also acknowledge that today’s officers are not to blame for the injustices of the past. If either side in this debate fails to acknowledge these fundamental truths, we will be unlikely to move past them. Overcoming this historic mistrust requires that we must move forward together in an atmosphere of mutual respect. All members of our society must realize that we have a mutual obligation to work together to ensure fairness, dignity, security, and justice.

It is my hope that, by working together, we can break this historic cycle of mistrust and build a better and safer future for us all.

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society