A Smoothie Incident In Connecticut

After the now viral video above made the rounds, James Iannazzo, 48, was arrested and charged with a hate crime following the outburst at Robeks in Fairfield, Conn. over the weekend. The Fairfield Police Department said that Iannazzo returned to the store after a smoothie he purchased caused his son, who is allergic to peanuts, to be rushed to the hospital from his home. Iannazzo apparently ordered the smoothie without peanut butter, but did not explain to employees that his son had an allergy.

The New York Post says he called a staff member a “fucking immigrant.” The Times says he called her an “immigrant loser.”

After the Merrill Lynch office where Iannazzo works was swamped in furious emails, he was fired from his job as an analyst. A spokesman for Bank of America, the parent company of Merrill Lynch, told the New York Times in an email,

“Our company does not tolerate behavior of this kind. We immediately investigated and have taken action. This individual is no longer employed at our firm.”

“When faced with a dire situation for his son, Mr. Iannazzo’s parental instinct kicked in and he acted out of anger and fear,” the father’s lawyer said. “He is not a racist individual and deeply regrets his statements and actions during a moment of extreme emotional stress.”

There are many troubling aspects to the matter.

Ethics Observations:

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Not Just An Unethical Statement, But An Unbelievable One: The New York Times

There’s nothing quite like starting the day with a head explosion.

A New York Times story today about the start of Sarah Palin’s libel suit against the New York Times—Conflict of interest? What conflict of interest?—contained this astounding statement:

The Times has denied those allegations, rebutting the notions that it would ever knowingly print something false…

The thrust of the Times objective, unbiased analysis of the lawsuit against the Times is that “Ms. Palin’s evidence is weak,” but she might win anyway, thus creating one more danger to democracy by weakening freedom of the press.

The evidence is weak? The Supreme Court decision in The New York Times Company v. Sullivan held that for public officials to prove defamation, they had to show not only that a news story was false and harmed their reputation, but that the story resulted from “actual malice,” involving printing a claim or allegation with “reckless disregard for the truth” or knowing it was false. Palin is suing because a Times editorial in 2017 stated that when Rep. Gabriel Giffords was shot by a lunatic in 2011, the crime had “clear[ly]“ been incited by a map circulated by  Palin’s political action committee showing 20 congressional districts that Republicans were hoping to win, including the one held by Giffords, labeled by stylized cross hairs. Continue reading

I Ask Again: “Is There Any Justification For A State Censoring Vanity Plates?” And The Answer Is The Same…

In 2018, Ethics Alarms questioned the wisdom and ethics of a state denying permission for drivers to have whatever vanity plates their little vain and often juvenile hearts desire. I happen to live in the state with the most vanity plates of all, Virginia, which not only seldom exercises government power over license plate speech, but also makes vanity plates extremely cheap…and, of course, being so close to Washington. D.C., the state has more than its fair share of narcissists.

What I wrote in 2018 still holds, unedited:

Utah, for examples, bans vanity plates with profanity, “derogatory language,”  drug references,  sex talk, references to bodily functions, “hate speech,” targeting a particular group, or advocating violence advocates, as well as alcohol references and the number combo “69.” Ethics verdict: None of their business. These are words and numbers, and the state is declaring content and intent impermissible. When I see a car with an obnoxious vanity plate, I’m grateful. This is useful information. Racist or vulgar plates translate into “I am an asshole, and want you to know it!”

Thank you, sir! I appreciate the heads up.

Last time, the post concentrated on the plate censorship by New Hampshire and Utah. Now we have access to the banned words and numbers in Illinois, which include, for some weird reason, “BIDEN.” It takes a lot of gall for the state that plasters “Land of Lincoln” everywhere to tell drivers they can’t have the name of Abe’s current successor on their cars. Also banned:

Ooooh...I’m so scared! And this one…

AAAAIIIIII! Now I’m REALLY scared! Take it away! TAKE IT AWAY!

The Illinois Secretary of State is empowered by law to refuse misleading plates or those which create “a connotation that is offensive to good taste and decency.” The state currently has a “Inhibit List,” a compilation of more than 7,000 phrases that won’t be put on a vanity plate. Here are just the As and Bs. And what’s the matter with…

…I wonder? Mentioning beer is in bad taste? Does Illinois still have a Prohibition hangover?

And how did “Brandon” manage to avoid the list? The whole, silly, slippery slope thing is here. Continue reading

Authentic Frontier Gibberish Of The Year (So Far): Kamala Harris

Normally, I would be confident that a stunner like this would be a guaranteed winner, but, 1) this is Kamala Harris, and she frequently talks like English is a foreign languge and 2) her two most high-ranking Democrat colleagues, President Biden and Nancy Pelosi, are also likely to make no sense for extended periods, though in their cases…well, let’s just leave it at that.

On the Today show, Craig Melvin asked the eminently qualified Vice President—she’s “of color,”,female, and has a pulse—- whether it is time for the White House to try a new strategy to deal with the pandemic. This was Harris’s verbatim answer:

It is time for us to do what we have been doing and that time is every day. Every day it is time for us to agree that there are things and tools that are available to us to slow this thing down.

Now who can argue with that? Melvin, since he works for NBC and has no Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Week: Pabst Blue Ribbon

Yes, apparently Don Lemon is moonlighting as Pabst Blue Ribbon’s social media flack. This enthusiastically vulgar tweet, an instant classic, appeared this morning because of only one of a few reasons: the low-level schmuck who has the job of tweeting out stuff for the maker of this long-reviled beer couldn’t take it any more and snapped like a dry twig in the wind; he or she picked a highly unethical way to quit after making up and thinking, “Oh god, what am I doing with my life?”; or this was a well planned, brilliant way to get everyone talking about a beer that few thought was still being brewed.

Regardless, its not the kind of thing any company should inflict on social media users, even those who favor Twitter, the bottom of the barrel.

Alas, the that remains on Twitter is this sad remnant of what was…

The Judge, The Video And The Slur [Corrected]

Judge Michelle Odinet of the City Court of Lafayette, Louisiana, resigned last week after being heard on a video using the term “nigger” while watching security footage of a foiled car burglary outside her home. In her letter of resignation to the chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Odinet said she was stepping down “after much reflection and prayer, and in order to facilitate healing within the community.”

“My words did not foster the public’s confidence and integrity for the judiciary,” she wrote. Yeah, I would say that that’s accurate. Still, it’s a strange story. In the video, voices off camera inside the judge’s home are heard saying “nigger” repeatedly and laughing as they watch security-camera footage of someone trying to break into a car until the criminal was foiled. Also used: “mom,” which is the judge, who was clearly joining in the hilarity.

The video was originally sent by an unknown source to a local newspaper, and when she was first questioned, Odinet tried to huminhumina out of the mess. She initially said she had no recollection of the conversation shown, and claimed that her “mental state was fragile” because of the attempted burglary. She also used the excuse that she had been “given a sedative at the time of the video.” Then she played the Pazuzu card (“That’s not me talking!”) protesting that “Anyone who knows me and my husband, knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives.” Continue reading

Needed: A Civil Substitute For “Oh, Bullshit!” To Describe Kamala Harris’s Excuses

I know Ethics Alarms has covered this before ( like yesterday’s compendium, #4), but it’s “Popeye” territory: there’s only so much I can stand. Or “stands.”

Several sources are quoting (Ugh! Yecchh! Ptui!) Hillary Clinton’s assertion that poor Kamala Harris is being unfairly criticized because of her gender. You know, like Hillary was. ( I actually typed that without breaking up laughing. It’s a Christmas miracle!) The losing Presidential candidate responsible for the most incompetent campaign in U.S. political history said,

“There is a double standard; it’s sadly alive and well,” Clinton told the newspaper. “A lot of what is being used to judge her, just like it was to judge me, or the women who ran in 2020, or everybody else, is really colored by that.”

Harris, meanwhile, has been reportedly whining to staff and confidantes about how none of the previous 48 Vice-Presidents were covered as negatively as she, nor so insulted by critics. So now we know that on top of her other throbbing deficiencies, Kamala Harris don’t know much about history, to quote Sam Cooke. Continue reading

Yet Another IIPTDXTTNMIAFB Whopper!

I am getting sick of all the unethical political junk that has been rearing its yuletide head of late, so I’m sure you must be even more sick of it. But stuff like this, which doubles as rotten journalism too, just has to be noted. After all, what the mainstream media wants is for it to just slip away. All the better to help it lie to you later.

This is yet another IIPTDXTTNMIAFB example, short for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.” These drive me crazy, because they demonstrate just how much what was once our journalism has transformed into partisan propaganda. The public was hammered daily with media accounts, fact-checks and accusations about how often Donald Trump “lied,” even to the extent of a phony “data base” that called even obvious cases where Trump was joking “lies.” All lie-counting stopped when Joe Biden was elected, however. That was remarkable, especially because Biden has uttered some of the most infamous lies in political history, notably when he gave an entire speech that he stole from another politician—and it was supposed to be an autobiographical speech!

Well, Joe Biden was making up events in his life once again, this time in an address to historically black college graduates in South Carolina, where, not for the first time, he said that he “desegregated restaurants and movie theaters” during the Civil Rights movement.

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More “West Side Story” Ethics Weirdness: “The Jet Song”

If you read Ethics Alarms often, you know about my objections to euphemisms, which I also call “cover words” since their intent is to deceive readers and listeners about the real nature of what is being discussed. My ethical objections to using “cover words” for words that are considered taboo in various settings follows similar lines, except those cover words don’t fool anyone, and thus are not just efforts to deceive, but silly and insulting efforts. If “f-word means “fuck” and everyone knows it means “fuck,” then it’s ridiculous not to just say “fuck.” The same, of course, goes for “n-word.” When we discuss that word here, we use the word. There are no “banned words” under the First Amendment, and I don’t grant anyone the right to tell me what words I can use to express what I want to express when those are the best words to express them..

Civility is, as a cornerstone of the ethical value of respect, important to societal comity. In dramatic works and literature, however, civility isn’t the issue: ideas, emotion and expression are. The bleeping out of “bad words” or shoving mild substitutes into the actors’ mouths on television constitute artistic vandalism; it’s less common now, but still happens too often. The archaic practice is offensive and insults the audience’s intelligence: the first time I hear a character in a film say “Forget you!,” I turn the channel.

Movies, we all know, stopped worrying about such delicate matters decades ago, and let TV stations worry about their language (and sex scenes, and graphic violence) later. Imagine my surprise, then, to hear Steven Spielberg’s redo of the 1961 “West Side Story” movie begin with the same version of “The Jets Song” that was required by the prevailing stage language requirements of the 1950s. The new, updated, woke-minded, spruced up musical with re-written dialogue still starts with the teen-aged, switchblade-carrying gang of punks singing,

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Comments On Another IIPTDXTTNMIAFB Classic

Yes, President Biden really does seem to think the word is “expodentially.” Based on the way he uses it, the word the President means is “exponentially.” Now, normally I regard excessive attention being paid to an eccentric mispronunciation by a public figure as petty and unfair. Jimmy Carter famously pronounced “nuclear” as “nucular.” My father, an articulate and literate man, mispronounced “fiasco” as “fiesca” for some reason, no matter how many times I corrected him.

But if President Trump kept repeating a blatant mispronunciation of a word (for that matter if George W. Bush did) we would never hear the end of it. Comics like Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah would beat the mockery into a pulp by overuse. This would be have been cited as proof that Trump is a moron. Proof that he never reads. Proof that he should be removed via the 25th Amendment. Remember “covfefe”? Trump tweeted that once, and it was obviously a typo. Never mind: he was mocked about it for weeks.

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