Category Archives: Public Service
The Edison Contradiction, Or Why Great Achievers Are So Often Unethical People, And Civilization Is Still Better Off For It
As a holiday prank, two Minneapolis police officers decorated a Christmas tree inside a Minneapolis Police Department precinct in a primarily African-American area with half-crushed cans of malt liquor, crumpled bags of Takis chips and Funyuns, a cup from Popeyes and two packs of Newport cigarettes, all highlighted by a strip of yellow crime-scene tape.
Naturally, a photo of the tree made it to social media. The officers responsible were placed on leave after the local African American community and public officials expressed anger and outrage, including Mayor Jacob Frey, who described the tree as “racist, despicable, and well beneath the standards of any person who serves the city of Minneapolis.” Continue reading
“Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow… said he would fire the [Department of Natural Rresouces] warden tomorrow if he could for ‘being complicit in putting firefighters at risk, over a stupid deer.’
‘This is a complete embarrassment and a joke,’ tweeted Jarchow…. The DNR posted a glowing statement about the incident on its website Tuesday. The release praised Warden Jesse Ashton for organizing a team of wardens and local firefighters to rescue the deer [The deer had wandered 500 yards out onto the frozen lake], saying, ‘Those little hooves are no match for slick surfaces!… Teamwork strikes again!'”
You can imagine the calumny being heaped on this monster’s head by animal lovers on social media.
But is he right? (Jarchow is himself a volunteer firefighter.)
Your Ethics Alarms Thanksgiving Weekend Ethics Quiz Of The Day is….
Should firefighters be used to rescue animals in peril?
Pointer: Ann Althouse
Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/30/18: Double Standards, Signature Significance, Facebook Tricks, And Pettiness From Beyond The Grave!
Gliddy glup gloopy!!
1. Tennis Ethics: Yes, I’d call this a double standard…When I saw the headline at AOL— “The US Open has been accused of sexism after a female tennis player was slapped with a code violation for changing her top in the middle of a match”—I assumed that this was another bare-breasts equality story. No, it was even stupider than that. At the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows this week, Alizé Cornet was playing Swedish star Johanna Larsson when Cornet realized she had put her her top on backwards during a break.
So she quickly fixed the wardrobe malfunction on the court, briefly exposing her black sports bra. The Horror. The umpire slapped Cornet with a code violation, unsportsmanlike conduct. But male players frequently remove their shirts on the sidelines, and usually aren’t wearing any bra at all. Indeed, male player Novak Djokovic removed his shirt on the same day Cornet received her warning. Women’s Tennis Association rules state that women are not allowed to change clothes while on the court, but there is no similar rule for men.
2. Signature significance for an unethical politician. (But it’s Andrew Cuomo, so we knew that anyway.) During the New York gubernatorial candidates’ debate between Governor Andrew Cuomo and actress-turned-politician Cynthia Nixon, there was this exchange,
Cuomo: Excuse me, can you stop interrupting?
Nixon: Can you stop lying?
Cuomo: Yeah, as soon as you do!
The audience thought this was funny.
3. Today’s alarming “Nah, [enter Social media of mega-tech company here] doesn’t abuse its power 0r manipulate information for a political agenda! Why would anyone suggest such a thing?” note:
NPR, to its credit, published an investigative reporting piece debunking a popular anti-gun fake stat, one that David Hogg et al. have wielded repeatedly: the U.S. Education Department’s claim that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools … reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting.” The NPR investigation findings:
“…NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened. Child Trends, a nonpartisan nonprofit research organization, assisted NPR in analyzing data from the government’s Civil Rights Data Collection.
We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.
In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn’t respond to our inquiries.
“When we’re talking about such an important and rare event, [this] amount of data error could be very meaningful,” says Deborah Temkin, a researcher and program director at Child Trends.
Gee, ya think?
This statistic has been disputed before, but since the challenges came from conservative news media, the NRA or other Second Amendment supporters, the mainstream media kept using it, and I’m sure the Parkland kids will keep using it anyway, since facts seem to have little importance to them. National Public Radio, however, has been resolutely anti-gun for decades, and never saw a liberal cause it didn’t admire.
When a Facebook user shared the NPR article on Facebook, however, it was removed because, as Facebook informed him, “it looks like spam and [it] doesn’t follow our Community Standards.” See?
Again: You cannot trust these companies or the people who run them. Continue reading
Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/17/18: Dead Singers, Honorable Magicians, Untrustworthy Ex-Employees, Volunteer Pitchers, And Little Horses
Goooood Morning, Pennsylvania!
(That’s where I going for the next four days, on a rural Pennsylvania ethics CLE speaking tour!)
1. Aretha Franklin Ethics If I can say right now without question that I will never voluntarily listen to an Aretha Franklin record, does that make me a racist? Her death triggers the “recognition but not admiration” impulse I reserve for artists whose skill and importance to the culture I acknowledge and honor, but whose art I never enjoyed and won’t miss. ( Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Barbra Streisand and Joni Mitchell are in the same category for me, restricting the list to pop female singers.) However…
- It certainly is incompetent for Fox News to mix up Aretha and Patti Labelle, walking right into the “all black folks look the same to them” canard.
- Since the news media/resistance collective has decreed that anything the President does of says is proof of a depraved soul, we had this yesterday: a White House press pool member for Buzzfeed told another reporter—she didn’t even tweet it!— that the President’s reaction to Franklin’s death was that he”Described her as a person he knew well and who worked for him.” This became more proof that President Trump is a racist: his immediate reaction to the death of a black woman was to think of her as a subordinate.
Will the sane and fair members of the public, which I assume is, if not a majority, a large group, ever turn on such people? A. The statement was hearsay, and not even a quote. B. Franklin did work for him, signing a contract to sing at at a Trump casino. C. What does “knew well” even mean in this context? He didn’t say that he knew her personally, or that they were pals, though who knows? I know her well too: she’s that famous soul singer I couldn’t stand listening to.
2. A spontaneous outburst of integrity...from the unlikely source of professional magician/loudmouth Penn Jillette. Jillette is an asshole, an assessment that I doubt he would dispute himself, but when the vocally-progressive entertainer (aren’t they all?) was asked in a recent Vulture interview to weigh in on Omarosa’s claims about the kind of language Donald Trump used behind closed doors, he responded,
“If Donald Trump had not become president, I would tell you all the stories. But the stakes are now high and I am an unreliable narrator. What I do, as much as anything, is I’m a storyteller. And storytellers are liars. So I can emotionally tell you things that happened racially, sexually, and that showed stupidity and lack of compassion when I was in the room with Donald Trump and I guarantee you that I will get details wrong. I would not feel comfortable talking about what I felt I saw in that room….
I will tell you things, but I will very conscientiously not give you quotations because I believe that would be morally wrong. I’m not trying to protect myself. This really is a moral thing.”
Good for Penn. He’s also a very creative and entertaining magician, as is his mute sidekick, Teller. Continue reading
Goodbye, July, 2018!
(and don’t come back!)
1. Ethics translation time! Baseball’s current World Champion Houston Astros just traded for young, exciting closer Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays. This raised some eyebrows, because the 23-year-old Osuna is just completing a 75-game suspension from MLB for allegedly beating his wife. The Blue Jays had decided that they wanted no part of Osuna, and that he would not be a member of their team going forward, despite the fact that he is regarded as one of the best late-inning relievers in the game.
Anticipating some criticism from Houston fans and baseball fans in general, who usually don’t like cheering for disgusting people,Astros GM Jeff Luhnow released a statement following the trade, saying,
“We are excited to welcome Roberto Osuna to our team. The due diligence by our front office was unprecedented. We are confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind. Roberto has some great examples of character in our existing clubhouse that we believe will help him as he and his family establish a fresh start and as he continues with the Houston Astros. We look forward to Osuna’s contributions as we head into the back half of the season.”
“Our team has had bullpen problems all season, and as of now we have no closer, even as the team has lost three games in a row [now it’s four], two of our best players are injured, and we’re beginning a series against the Mariners, who are just a few games behind us. So in the interest of winning and because the ends justify the means, we are suspending our “zero-tolerance” policy regarding “abuse of any kind” to tolerate a player who Major League Baseball has determined to be a very serious abuser. I don’t know how we’re going to tell another player who is credibly accused of less serious abuse that we won’t tolerate his presence on the team when we just voluntarily brought an abuser onto the team, but never mind: there’s a pennant to win. I’m pretending that Roberto has complied with all consequences related to his past behavior when he is currently pleading not guilty in his pending Canadian trial on battery charges, in the hope that most fans aren’t paying attention.”