Category Archives: Quotes

My Ethics Hero: Some Guy In The Harris Teeter Meat Section

I was doing some quick shopping yesterday at a large Harris Teeter supermarket in Alexandria, Virginia. My list from my wife included an option—always a doorway to a shopping confidence crisis—between a whole chicken, a small marinated chicken, or two large chicken breasts. I had decided on the marinated bird, but couldn’t find them where they usually were, and was more or less frozen, like the “hosts” in “Westworld” get when Anthony Hopkins wants them quiet, staring where I expected them to be.

“I’m going to buy one of them, the question is, which one?” a jaunty, relaxed voice close behind me said. At that moment I realized I had been staring at turkeys (I wasn’t there to buy one), and I turned around, not startled but curious, to face a broadly smiling, handsome, bearded African-American man about my age, probably a little younger.

“Isn’t it a little early?” I asked, smiling back. Being habitually disorganized, I am typically shopping  for everything the day before Thanksgiving.

“Oh, no, not for me!” he said, laughing. And he told me that he was going to cook up one or more turkeys for his church on Sunday. We talked about the ways he cooked his turkeys; he preferred to smoke them. He was also a grilling specialist. He took out his phone and showed me pictures of his specialty, ribs. We talked about his favorite recipes, and his church, his family, and its Thanksgiving plans, as I told him about mine. I mentioned that my wife was our traditional Thanksgiving chef, and that got the discussion turned around to marriage. We both have been married a long time, and he took me by the shoulders and talked intensely about commitment in relationships.

I had a twenty-minute conversation with this delightful stranger, just standing by the meat section. Finally, I announced  that I had to finish my assignment, and wished him wonderful holidays. I offered him my hand and introduced myself; he shook it firmly, and gave his name in return. Then we spontaneously hugged each other, which I never do, being from Boston and trained to be reticent in such intimacies, he flashed that terrific smile, and we parted.

My encounter with this exuberant gentleman suddenly made me feel good about life, my community, the country and the human race as I had not for a very long time. I think we’ll be all right. All that had happened was that a stranger just reached out and began a conversation about something two people shared, showing openness, kindness, human interest and trust, and a connection was made. That’s all it takes.

I start conversations with strangers a lot; it was something my father did. He was better at it than I am, and my friend in the Harris Teeter meat section is obviously a grandmaster. But as the holidays approach, and I keep reading these essays about families boycotting each other because of Trump-Clinton divides, it is so obvious that my dad and my turkey buddy are the wise ones.  We’re all just human beings together on a short and unpredictable trip: we should  just focus on that, and reach out.  Why is it so hard? Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Daily Life, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Quotes, U.S. Society

Flashback, November 7, 2012: Unethical Quote of the Month: Donald Trump

Believe it, Clarence.

Believe it, Clarence.

“We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!…Lets fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us…This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!…Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble…like never before…Our nation is a once great nation divided!..The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”

—- Donald Trump via Twitter, in the wake of the 2012 Presidential election results.

I stumbled upon this old post last night, and I can’t resist re-posting it. Then I referred to Trump as the “Republican Designated Buffoon.” It is especially ironic considering that President Trump is so because of that “disaster,’ the Electoral College.

A buffoon in 2012, President four years later! It brings to mind one of my favorite Clarence Darrow quotes:

“When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I’m beginning to believe it!”

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Quotes

Donald Trump “When You’re A Star, They Let You Do It” Apology, Take Two!

Trump’s initial, typically off-the-cuff, dismissive non-apology-apology for the leaked tape of him talking exactly like the piggish narcissist he is was not sufficient to stem his latest self-made campaign crisis. Then he wrote:

“This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”

CUT! I’m sorry, Don, that didn’t come off right….not sincere enough. Can we try it another way? Great!

So Trump got serious, and shot the video above. In case you, like me, got nauseous half-way through, this is what he said:

I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize. I’ve traveled the country talking about change for America, but my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid-off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow and will never, ever let you down. Let’s be honest — we’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we’re facing today. We are losing our jobs, we’re less safe than we were eight years ago, and Washington is totally broken. Hillary Clinton and her kind have run our country into the ground. I’ve said some foolish things, but there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who sees the video or reads those words and concludes, “OK, he apologized. He’s still got my vote!” has proven my point made a week ago, here. Such an individual is too deficient in critical thinking skills to be anything but an impediment to democracy.

What’s the matter with the second apology? Let’s see..how about “Everything”? Continue reading

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Facebook’s Sad, Ignorant, Compassionate, Irresponsible Post-Orlando Freakout

antigun cartoon

If I had the time and wanted to anger about two-thirds of my friends, I could go around Facebook and explain to them why their latest posted anti-gun meme, or latest simple-minded anti-gun cartoon, or furious rant against the NRA, Republicans and “gun nuts,” show them to be ignorant, hysterical, and irresponsible citizens. Maybe I’ll spend a day doing this and see what happens.

The culprits are everywhere, from all backgrounds. These aren’t just my actor friends, who tend to memorize lines with their brains and think with their hearts. It’s many of the lawyers I know too….also journalists, writers, policy-makers—all kinds. As they quote with approval partisan and ignorant anti-gun pundits, actors or elected officials, they also erupt with emotion, counting on a welter of “likes,” “loves” and crying faces from the friends, who uncritically cheer the sentiment without challenging the execrable law and logic. The process repeats over and over, like a rinse cycle, until the original posters are not only convinced that they are right, but that anyone who disagrees is an evil promoter of violence not worthy of human association. I have read, more than once, “If you disagree, keep your opinion to yourself, or I’ll unfriend you.”

I confess, I’ve resisted my natural instinct to take up those dares, because these people are in pain, and, frankly, temporarily deranged. Many of them are gay, an identify personally with the victims. I sympathize with that. They also have a right to their anti-gun opinions, but they are polluting an important debate and making any resolution impossible by being willfully ignorant, and rebelling in it. The lawyers are especially disgracing themselves. Again—it is irresponsible, and it is bad citizenship.

If I were going to be a Facebook vigilante and point out the serious flaws in the various anti-gun rants, my Facebook friends would find more notes like this one, which I left in response to a good friend’s rant against the head of the Gun Owners of America  blaming the Orlando shooting on “Gun Free Zones.”  My friend wrote…

“I’m willing to entertain just about any argument for gun rights, but this one is SHIT. I will not be convinced that on Sunday evening, even a few, trained, people violating the Gun Free Zone in a dimly lit club, with HUNDREDS of panicked, perhaps inebriated, people running in every direction for their lives, could get a “good shot” to take out the man responsible for this atrocity. I believe the result is called more deaths by “friendly fire.”

I responded in part…

The argument is that murderous shooters will be less likely to come to kill when there is a chance that someone will be armed. This is not “shit”…This is the oldest pro-gun/anti-gun divide of all: the criminals and terrorists aren’t the ones who will follow the gun regulations; law abiding citizens are. That should be obvious. I don’t believe for a moment that one can blame the massacre on ” Gun Free Zones.”…but the argument that a shooting occurred because an area wasn’t a Gun Free Zone is even more silly. Is a terrorist going to say, “Ooops! Can’t slaughter gays in that club—it’s a Gun Free Zone!” Of course not. Might a terrorist choose not to attack a venue where he knows that one or more people might be armed, rather than one where he knows the law-abiding victims will be defenseless? Maybe.

Your point of bias, and it’s a common one, is that the presence of a gun makes one unsafe. The presence of a maniac makes one unsafe. If you happen to have a gun, maybe you’re a bit safer. Agree or not, that isn’t “fucking insane.” What I do think is fucking insane is people allowing emotion to eat their brains all over Facebook. It doesn’t help.

It just doesn’t help.  This friend is rational and thoughtful, and I expect him to take my critique in the spirit in which it was offered.  I can’t always count on a reasonable response, however, such as from the friends have posted this meme:

Anti-Gun meme 1

Machine guns and automatic weapons are illegal. The meme goes along with the laments of those who believe that the Orlando shooter used an “assault rifle” or a military weapon in the shooting. When you point out that it was not an “assault weapon,” they just shrug the distinction off as an irrelevant detail, and this is a tell. All guns are indistinguishable to many of my friends. Guns are bad, that’s all. This undercuts the lie—and I am now convinced that it is a lie—that they don’t want to ban guns and repeal the Second Amendment.

Ken White wrote perceptively, as he usually does, on why this approach is both dishonest and counter-productive:

I support the argument that the United States should enact a total ban on civilians owning firearms.

Oh, I don’t support the ban. I support the argument.

I support the argument because it’s honest and specific. It doesn’t hide the ball, it doesn’t refuse to define terms, it doesn’t tell rely on telling people they are paranoid or stupid in their concerns about the scope of the ban. The argument proposes a particular solution and will require the advocate to defend it openly…There’s a very good reason to care about what you mean when you argue that “assault weapons” should be banned: the term is infinitely flexible. If you think it inherently means something specific, you haven’t bothered to inform yourself about the issue. “Assault weapon” means whatever the definers decide it should mean. Banning “assault weapons” is the gun version of banning “hate speech” or “disruptive protest” or “dangerous persons” or “interfering with a police officer” — it’s a blank check. And I don’t like handing out blank checks to the government to ban things and jail people…

A lot of my Facebook friends do, however. Here’s a link approvingly posted by a lawyer friend, saying in part.. Continue reading

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Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Authentic Frontier Gibberish In Defense Of Hillary

Gabby Johnson for head of the DNC!

Gabby Johnson for head of the DNC!

I am going to add “authentic frontier gibberish” (or AFG ) to the Ethics Alarms glossary of special terms. It comes, of course, from a memorable moment in “Blazing Saddles,” but on Ethics Alarms it is usually used to describe either intentional or incompetent blather from politicians or others attempting to confuse the public, duck a question, or mislead everyone. It is deliberate communication malpractice, with the motive of not communicating but pretending to.

Seldom will you encounter a more ringing example of AFG than the foregoing. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a master at AFG,  was asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace why she called the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s possible national security violations in her handling of official e-mails “ludicrous.”

Here was her response… Continue reading

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Barbra Gives An Ethics And Intelligence Test!

Streisand tweet

Quick, now: what is Babs missing, other than the basic ethics principle that “Everybody does it” is not a justification or an excuse for unethical conduct?

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Adam LaRoche Drama Epilogue: A Reflection On Life, Kids, Baseball And Ethics

drake-adam-laroche-

Well, I don’t recall anyone leaving baseball like this before.

When last we visited Adam LaRoche a couple of days ago, he was retiring from baseball (and abandoning his 13 million dollar 2016 contract  to play for the Chicago White Sox) because team executive Kenny Williams asked that he not have his 14-year-old son Drake living and traveling with the team, as well as being being perpetually in the clubhouse, as he was all last year. Today LaRoche released a remarkable statement explaining his decision.

It is well worth reading. I’ll have some comments at the end about the bolded sections, marked by me with letters. Now, here’s Adam:
Continue reading

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