Now Don’t Sue Me, SmileDirectClub, Because This Only This Ethicist’s Opinion, But…

“Hey! That’s a GREAT Idea! I LOVE it! Sure I’ll accept a refund in exchange for never telling anyone how lousy your product is!”

…no one should trust or do business with a company that engages in this unethical practice. Just an opinion, now.

What SmileDirectClub does, as documented in a New York Times Business Section story, is force customers to sign a non-disclosure (or confidentiality) agreement before they can receive refunds for unsatisfactory products. That way, other customer can’t find out about what the SmileDirectClub  can turn out to be, and in ignorance are more unwitting customers.

Here’s an excerpt from the Times piece: Continue reading

Ruby Tuesday Ethics Round-Up, 1/21/2020: The Boy Scouts Are Going Down, Curtis Flowers Is Getting Out, And David Hogg Is Still An Ignorant Yutz

Good morning, everybody!

Good morning, Mick!

It’s disturbing how things get planted in my head: I couldn’t get the Rolling Stones out of it after someone commented, in reaction to an observation that we had another anti-Trump freakout looming when Justice Ginsberg dies, to the effect that she was the Keith Richards of the Supreme Court. Okay, but she has to leave us sometime,  as do we all, and I would bet that she cannot last another four years. I don’t even like to think about how low Democrats, the “resistance” and the news media will go to try to block the confirmation of a conservative replacement, or the hysteria that will follow.

1. The Lesson: organizations tend to act to protect themselves, not the victims of their misconduct. The Boy Scouts of America may face bankruptcy as lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by leaders and volunteers proliferate. The crisis is greatly aggravated by the loosening statutes of limitations across the country. The District of Columbia  eliminated the statute of limitations that restricted  the time for sexual abuse survivors to pursue civil litigation,  and created a two-year window for survivors under the age of 40 to file suit regardless of the date of the incident.  Accordingly,  Abused in Scouting filed suit in Washington, D.C., on behalf of eight men who say they were victimized as boys by Scout leaders and volunteers. The same process is going on in California, where similar suits are underway by 14 plaintiffs. California’s Assembly Bill 218 just kicked in on January 1, like D.C.’s law allowing victims of child sexual assault to file suit until age 40 and opening a three-year window for those abused as children to sue for past incidents.  Many more states have or soon will follow suit.

This appears to be ready to follow the awful path of the Catholic Church’s child molestation scandal, with similar evidence of cover-ups. The BSOA are a lot smaller than the Church, but they also have far less money to pay in multi-million dollar court settlements. It didn’t take a lot of imagination to see this coming, and the Scouts were already in trouble, with a blurring mission, falling membership and gender issues.

The Boy Scouts saved my father’s life, as I’ve related on Ethics Alarms elsewhere. I’m glad he didn’t live to see this. Continue reading

Are Elizabeth Warren Supporters Really OK With Her Constant Lying? Why Is That?

In a moment that should define her cynical, dishonest, demagoguery-driven campaign for President, Senator Elizabeth Warren really and truly said yesterday, while campaigning in Iowa, “How could the American people want someone who lies to them?” This belongs in some kind of self-indicting Hall of Fame along with Hillary Clinton’s statement that all female accusers had a right to be believed. Even if one ignores Warren’s career-long misrepresentation of herself as being of Native American ancestry, her list of lies is material, long, and growing.

She falsely claimed that her children only attended private school. She falsely claimed she was fired from a teaching job because she was pregnant. The New Jersey bar had to correct her after she claimed to be the first woman to take the New Jersey Bar while breastfeeding.  In another effort to pander to women, Warren has said that she faced a #MeToo moment when she was a young law professor who was “chased around a desk” by her predator, harassing superior….who, it turned out, had polio, and couldn’t chase anyone. He was also a friend and mentor whom Warren eulogized at his funeral, but apparently was fair game for her to slander for her own purposes once he was dead and couldn’t defend himself.

But on second thought, why would you ignore her amazing “I’m an Indian too!” charade (Pop culture quiz: What Broadway musical is that line from?)? Here’s a neat summary from the Federalist: Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Great 1 Cent Target Toothbrush Controversy

In Massachusetts, David Leavitt found that Target had mislabelled an electric toothbrush as costing $0.01 rather than $100. When he eagerly rushed to take advantage of the obvious error, a Target checkout employee refused to sell the item at that price, and the store manager backed up the employee.

This set Mr. Leavitt, who says he is a journalist (he appears to be a gaming writer), off into a full-scale social media attack on Target. “This [Target] manager Tori is not honoring the price of their items per Massachusetts law,” tweeted Leavitt, including the young manager’s photo. He then indignantly announced that he had called the police on the Target manager, and said he was prepared to take her and the store to court.

This being social media in the United States of America, where everything, even toothbrushes, is political and a provocation to go to battle,  Leavitt’s vendetta was seen as an unjust  progressive vilification of business, so conservatives rallied to Tori’s defense. The  #TargetTori hashtag was born, and a GoFundMe page raised $28,000 to send her on a well deserved vacation.

Observations: Continue reading

‘Wait…Pulling A Patient’s Tooth While Hoverboarding? Was That Wrong?’

For some reasons, all of the dentist ethics stories I come across are really weird. So is this one.

In Anchorage, Alaska, dentist Seth Lookhart extracted a sedated Veronica Wilhelm’s tooth in July 2016 ….while riding a hoverboard. This was prosecuted as an “unlawful dental act” that “does not conform to minimum professional standards of dentistry.”

Yes, that sounds fair.

I would have said “allegedly,” except that Dr. Lookhart filmed himself while he performed this stunt (which his unconscious patient had not consented to) and texted the video to at least eight people. In the text messages, Lookhart referred to his actions as a “new standard of care.”

Yes, he’s a fun dentist.

He’s also a crooked dentist when he isn’t on his hoverboard. Lockhart was  charged with theft and engaging in a “scheme to defraud” Medicaid,  fraudulently billing at least $1.8 million to Medicaid and stealing over $250,000 from business partners.

Last week he was convicted of all charges. Veronica Wilhelm testified against Lookhart in December, saying, “What you did was outrageous, narcissistic and crazy.” Paul Stockler, the dentist’s attorney, said in court, “I want you to know that as his lawyer, I apologize for what he did on that hoverboard.”

See what I mean? Weird. What a strange ethics alarm to be missing:  “things it’s unethical to do on a hoverboard.”

Oh—-The Alaska Dental Board has suspended Lookhart’s dental license. It would have been weird if it didn’t.

_________________________________

Sources: NBC 1, 2.

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/19/2020: In Which The Conundrum Is Posed, “Can A Warmed-Up Warm-Up Still Be Called A Warm-Up?

Hmmmm…

Well, that was strange. Yesterday’s warm-up turned into the long post about Judge Staton’s disturbing dissent, and by the time I had finished it and the previous “fake news” compendium, my window for getting the Saturday Warm-Up up had slammed shut. Today’s Warm-Up is largely made up of the items that were wiped off the board by the Obama-appointed judge’s “whenever the courts really, really think national policy should be different from what it is, they have the power to change it by edict” opinion.

1. Sausage biscuit ethics. I’m fond of sausage biscuits for breakfast, but the 7-11 variety have a garbage-y taste, and the sole local McDonald’s that I’m not boycotting for ethics transgressions is mobbed in the morning. Of the frozen variety, I will not patronize a company, Jimmy Dean, which uses its dead founder as a TV spokesperson without pointing out that he’s dead. Over the holidays, I tried a lesser and much cheaper brand of frozen sausage biscuit, Tennessee Pride, and they were good enough.

Yesterday I bought another box. When I pulled out a bag of two “sausage biscuits,” I saw that the sausage was sitting between two small buns, unlike the contents of the previous box. Buns are not biscuits, but the label on the box read in large type, “Sausage Biscuits.” I did notice, however, that the photo on the box showed buns.

Would that fact be a complete defense against an accusation of false labeling? I doubt it, but it doesn’t matter. “Fool me once” is once too many.

2. Res Ipsa Loquitur: “an informed public.” Twitter user @Golfergirl2018  shared a post she saw on Facebook, written by someone who sympathizes with antivaxx parents (you know…morons) who don’t want to put “chemicals” in their kids. “I think instead of chemical shots the doctors should give a small piece of the virus, so the body can build immunity,” he wrote.

BRILLIANT! Why didn’t someone think of that long ago?

Yes, it is unethical and irresponsible to publish opinions on topics you haven’t researched, don’t understand, and know nothing about. I wonder how many social media posts would survive if this were recognized as a rule of commentary? Continue reading

The Terrifying And Unethical Dissent Of Judge Staton In “Juliana vs. the United States”

This is why all Americans should be grateful for President Trump’s judicial nominees.

In 2015, a group of 21 children (<cough> I’m sure this was the children’s idea, aren’t you? Sure you are) filed  a lawsuit that came to be known as Juliana vs. the United States. This pure abuse of the legal system to engage in climate change hysteria  grandstanding asserted that the government  was violating their constitutional rights by not sufficiently addressing the climate  change crisis. The case should have been thrown out years ago, but last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals finally did it.

Well, good. The fact that it took this long was a disgrace, and the result of “Think of the children!” pandering. The 9th Circuit being the residue of judicial activism and liberal bias that it has long been, however, it couldn’t restrain itself from writing, “The panel reluctantly concluded that the plaintiffs’ case must be made to the political branches or to the electorate at large,.”

panel concluded. Whoever one the three judge decided that the word “reluctantly” belonged there should be forceably retired.  “The panel reluctantly concluded that the United States Constitution does not permit courts to dictate national policy, nor citizens, especially those without voting privileges, to bypass our system of governance because they disagree with its policies” is what that word is telling us, and a judge who regrets how the separation of powers operates to that extent does not belong on the bench. Maybe they belong in President Elizabeth Warren’s cabinet, as she announced this week that she would eliminate student loan debt “on day one.” Lord, this woman is a shameless liar!

But I digress. Sorry. Warren’s name is becoming like “Niagara Falls” to me in the old vaudeville skit….

Continue reading