Ethics Quiz: Now THIS Is An Irresponsible Mother! So…

A 4-year-old Detroit girl is in critical condition after being shot in the arm and leg. Her mother is in custody: first she said that her daughter was wounded in an attempted robbery, then she admitted that her gun went off accidentally while she was cleaning it.


Now, this ethics quiz is based on the facts as the mother stated them. According to the reports, there are many reasons to doubt what she is now claiming—for example, police say the girl’s mother said the firearm was inside the apartment, but they did not find any gun there after getting a warrant and searching. But let’s assume, arguendo, as lawyers say, that she is telling the truth. Let’s also assume that she isn’t crazy or a drug addict.

According to the ATF, these are the conditions under which a citizen can lose the Second Amendment Right To Bear Arms:

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Ethics Quiz: Good Friend? Bad Friend? Jerk Or Weenie?

For the first Ethics Quiz of the new year, consider Patton Oswalt. The gnomish comedian and left-wing wit has long been on my hate list, not for his work, for he is extremely sharp and often very funny, but out of envy: he managed to snag the heart of lovely actress Meredith Salenger, his wife and one of my all-time Hollywood crushes, despite Oswalt looking like a nuclear accident victim. But that is neither here nor there.

What is here and now is this: Oswalt had posted photos memorializing a nice gesture by long-time friend Dave Chappelle on New Year’s Eve. Oswalt, who was doing small show in Seattle (he mostly does small shows, which explains why you may not have heard of Patton Oswalt) got a spontaneous call from Chappelle to come over to the nearby stadium and join him in Chappelle’s huge show. Oswlat wrote gratefully on Instagram,

“I waved good-bye to this hell-year with a genius I started comedy with 34 years ago. He works an arena like he’s talking to one person and charming their skin off. Anyway, I ended the year with a real friend and a deep laugh. Can’t ask for much more.”

Of course the social media mobs took after him for being a friend of that anti-trans bigot Chappelle. First, Oswalt took down all the hate posts, and then felt compelled to explain himself, writing, Continue reading

Let’s Check That “Echo Chamber”…

[ If you want to skip my explanation, you can start with paragraph #5.]

It’s a new year, and the last one had several outbreak of complaints here, some fair, some contrived, and some obnoxious, about Ethics Alarms being an “echo chamber” that either had insufficient diversity of opinion, discouraged diversity of opinion, inevitably favored one political/partisan end of the political spectrum over the other, or artificially tilted its analysis and reader reactions to my personal biases.

The analysis here should be consistent, and I expect readers to blow a whistle when it is not or seems that way. I also furiously reject the concept of ethical relativity, or that “you have your truth and I have mine.” A society needs to settle on its values and objectives, and those decisions need to be based on linear constants, or the result is chaos. It is also important, however, that those values and objectives be subject to constant analysis and reexamination. We learn by experience and debate: that’s the nature of ethics, as opposed to morality. It is also why diversity of viewpoint is valuable on an ethics blog. Different perspectives are invaluable in helping us cut through the underbrush of bias, conventional wisdom and lazy assumptions that impede our ability to distinguish right from wrong.

But there are structural flies in this buttermilk, the prime among them being human nature. People tend to want to see, hear, read and believe things that they find comforting and confirm their world views; being open minded is uncomfortable, even painful. Sometimes, it can be dangerous, or at least scary. One reason I spend the time I do on Ethics Alarms is that it forces me to read and consider opinions and examine topics that I normally would not.

The goal here has always been to promote a colloquy of thoughtful and articulate readers to focus on ethics and sharpen our habits of analysis while avoiding the jargon, excessively abstract navel-gazing and mind-numbing theoretical intellectualizing that has killed ethics as a topic the general public has any interest in or sufficient competence in applying. Whatever the reasons for it, the perceived trend, at least in the comments, for opinions to run in the same general direction (when there are valid and legitimate positions that point elsewhere) is “concerning” (as Prof Turley would say.)

This is all prelude to asking readers to place themselves on the ideological/political beliefs spectrum/world view spectrum. Before WordPress went to a hopelessly complicated system, I would have used a poll for this purpose, but none of the Ethics Alarms polls attracted more than a couple hundred participants out of the thousands that visit the blog every day. Now I’m going to give you a range of choices to answer the question, and I’ll be very grateful to those who take the time to answer it.

You can…

  • Just describe where you see yourself fitting.
  • Use a ten point scale with #1 being knee-jerk extreme Left on all matters and #10 being the opposite.
  • Take this online survey, which is dated but appears to be pretty good based on my own experience.
  • Or this one, which is also pretty good, by the Pew people.
  • Or you can try this one.

I’d like to hear from more of you than just the regular commentariat, so for this purpose only, I will accept submissions labeled “anonymous” or the equivalent. I will also relent and accept submission from readers who have been banned from commenting, as long as they stick to the topic.

None of the online tests are perfect, and many of the questions or propositions are too general (or specific. But I’ve taken all of them more than once, and have been surprised to find that they were remarkably consistent in their findings, and, at least in my case, perceptive. For example, here is where the Political Spectrum Quiz places me:

That’s not only where I think I am, it’s where I think I should be, as opposed to where the same survey places the average participant, which is where the green pointer resides:

I eagerly await your assistance.

Ethics Quiz: Welcome To My World!

Today I received two comments from an aspiring participant here called “snowflake.” They are really a single comment submitted in two installments. The topic was this post, about the weenie professor who grovelled an apology for daring to show Sir Lawrence Olivier’s screen performance of “Othello” in a class for discussion purposes.

Here is the comment:

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A Brain-Blowing Ethics Quiz To Enliven Sunday: Joseph Gordon’s Parole

Joseph Gordon

In the midst of a flurry of wrongfully convicted black men finally given their freedom comes the perplexing saga of 78-year old Joseph Gorden, locked up in New York’s Fishkill Correctional Facility since 1993 for a murder he says he didn’t commit. But that, as they say, isn’t the half of it.

Last March, Gordon was denied his fifth application since since 2017, when he had served the minimum term of his sentence of 25 years to life in prison. The reason he is still incarcerated is simple: he refuses to express remorse for the 1991 murder of a white Westchester County doctor, because Gordon insists that he is innocent. Usually a parole board will not waive the remorse requirement, which—and this is not the ethics quiz!– presents a classic ethical conflict for defense lawyers.

A lawyer cannot advise a client to lie. That is a bright-line professional ethics edict of long-standing. A lawyer is also required to defend a client’s rights and fight for his or her interests as zealously as possible. Would you, as a lawyer, convinced of your client Joseph Gordon’s innocence, advise him to express remorse to the parole board, which would require a false acceptance of the jury’s verdict? Many lawyers have done exactly this, and would argue that they did the right thing. Their bar associations and courts would almost certainly disagree.

I digress, however; sorry. That problem has always fascinated me. My favorite version is when the lawyer knows the convicted client is not guilty because another one of his clients has confessed to the murder, a confidence that the lawyer cannot ethically reveal.

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Ethics Quiz: Indoctrination On Sesame Street

Seseme St Covid

I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming.

Big Bird tweeted a few days ago, “I got the COVID-19 vaccine today! My wing is feeling a little sore, but it’ll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy. Ms. Hill even said I’ve been getting vaccines since I was a little bird. I had no idea!” Naturally, President Biden, who watches Sesame Street religiously (yes, it’s a cheap shot, but I’m in a bad mood) tweeted back, “Good on ya, @BigBird. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep your whole neighborhood safe.”

This set off an immediate partisan and ideological debate, with conservative hone-schooling mother, blogger and pundit Bethany Mandel taking a leadership role. She wrote in part,

Just as “Sesame Street” isn’t content with allowing parents the freedom to guide their children’s own moral compass, so too are they uncomfortable with the idea of parents making individual risk assessments for their children’s health and safety. There is a moral absolutism necessary to be part of the left, which is where “Sesame Street’s” writers appear to fall. The messaging on COVID-19 vaccination has become yet another absolutist position. Big Bird’s tweet doesn’t exist just on Twitter. It’s part of a larger campaign from the series to “educate” parents on the vaccine.

Earlier this year, she wrote about the iconic children’s educational show shifting from ABCs and vocabulary into the culture wars:

Those in charge of messaging and programming children’s media have positioned themselves as arbiters of our children’s moral compass. And that Soviet-style demand for a universal, well-curated set of beliefs from a particular coastal lens should concern all parents — not just those with religious or personal beliefs that make them uncomfortable with a particular episode of “Sesame Street” aired during Pride Month.

Parents should take note: The aim of children’s media is no longer just to provide free, education-minded babysitting while you get ready for work.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

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Ethics Quiz: It’s Greek To Me!


This story seems very Greek based on the attitudes and actions I observed through the years on the part of my mother and the large Greek side of my family. Greeks have a, shall we say, unique concept of ethics, which is interesting, given that ancient Greece was the home of all the earliest ethicists.

Mass fake vaccinations have been taking place in dozens of vaccination centers throughout the homeland, as doctors and nurses are accepting a standard bribe fee of 400 euros to get Wuhan virus vaccination cards but don’t want the real shot. They are getting water shot into them instead, or think they are. Mega TV  is reporting that many doctors are taking the money but secretly using the vaccine instead of water. This means that the vaccination cheats aren’t cheating, but only think they are. Meanwhile, the doctors and nurses rationalize that they have earned their 400 euros because they are keeping the public safe, preventing a fraud, and benefiting those bribing them even though they’ll never know it.

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Ethics Quiz: Too Much?

Halloween gore

The scene above was the work of Steven Novak, an artist in Dallas, Texas. Last year, neighbors were so unsettled by his Halloween decorations that one of them called the police to report a murder. (No word yet on what this year’s display was.)

Your post Halloween Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz:

Is a display like that unfair to the neighborhood and irresponsible?

A few thoughts:

  • I think it’s great.
  • Do you think he got many trick-or-treaters?
  • It may be OK, but I’d advise Alec Baldwin to avoid such creativity.


Source: Res Ipsa Loquitur

Ethics Quiz: Superman Ethics


A DC Comics artist announced that recent decisions by the venerable comic book company to wokify its iconic hero were causing him to quit in protest. “I’m finishing out my contract with DC. I’m tired of this shit, I’m tired of them ruining these characters; they don’t have a right to do this,” said colorist Gabe Eltaeb during a recent podcast. “What really pissed me off was [changing Superman’s credo] to “truth, justice, and a better world,” Eltaeb added. “Fuck that! It was Truth, Justice, and the American way! My Grandpa almost died in World War II; we don’t have a right to destroy shit that people died for to give [to] us. It’s a bunch of fucking nonsense!”

What do you really think, Gabe? First, you should know what you’re quitting about: the new slogan is “Fighting for Truth, Justice, and a better world.” And the company obviously has a right to change the big guy’s slogan to whatever they want to. But yes, “the American way” has been sent to the ash heap of history.

Over at Fox News, they were freaking out, as usual. Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo said on a Sunday talking heads show that DC Comics altering Superman’s motto to eliminate fighting for “the American Way” was a “disservice to fans.” “Now you have a multinational corporation, D.C. Comics, that decided it would rather politically grandstand and build foreign markets than respect their character and the audience that built him. You don’t need Kryptonite to kill Superman when you have D.C. Comics doing a great job. This is a huge disservice to fans and I’m waiting for Superman to turn up in a red costume and we will just call him Super Person. Lex Luthor should send DC Comics a thank-you card for sidelining and killing Superman.”

“This is clearly a distortion and a disservice to anyone who loved Superman that read the comic books and watched those movies,” Arroyo told “The Big Sunday Show.” “Remember, this was about an alien from another planet, a dying planet that comes and lands in the heartland of America and embodies the American ideals of freedom, justice. He wears red, white and blue for goodness sake!”

There were two recent developments in the DC Comics universe that provoked all the angst: the longtime publisher of Superman comics, changed Superman’s 80-year-old slogan from fighting for “truth, justice, and the American way” to “truth, justice and a better tomorrow,” and also revealed that the younger version of Superman, the son of Lois Lane and Clark Kent, is bi-sexual, and was drawn kissing a guy.

OK, the last one is obviously blatant pandering, but what about the motto?

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is there anything wrong with DC making the Superman motto change?

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Ethics Quiz: The Dying Patient’s Denial

Let’s start off today’s ethics adventures with a quiz…

The New York Times this morning has an odd choice for its placeholder in the spot typically reserved for editorials: an essay by Dr. Daniela J. Lamas, a pulmonary and critical-care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The piece endorses lying to patients “for their own good.” The op-ed—that’s not what the times calls such essays any more, but that’s what it is and they are—is fine, raising a legitimate ethics issue for readers to ponder, hence the use of it here as an ethics quiz. The placement and timing is suspicious, however.

This could be called a “conspiracy theory,” I suppose, but such theories are germinated by a genuine and deserved development of distrust. Since I do not the trust the Times to report the news objectively and ethically, but believe with good reason that it manipulates its reporting and choice of opinion pieces to advance a progressive and usually partisan agenda, I suspect that this op-ed was given such prominent placement to plant the idea that doctors—like You Know Who—and health care “experts” are justified in using incomplete facts, false certainty and disinformation when communicating to the public regarding the pandemic, vaccines, masks and the rest for “the Greater Good.”

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