Category Archives: Romance and Relationships

Brief And Rueful Thoughts Sparked By The Previous Post

This was yet another post on which the reactions of the dear departed Zoe Brain would be fascinating. I have to admit, I take it badly when a long-time commenter throws a snit and announces permanent departure. (The latest was Margie, a commenter here since 2010, who decided that I had become too “snarky.”) You try to nurture a relationship in the comments over time, and yet usually all it takes is a single comment, moderation choice, or issue disagreement to trash it all.  I remember vividly the angry exits of Ablativemeatshield, Liberal Dan, Ampersand, and Luke G. And those are  just the ones who announce their leave.

I really worry about the silently vanished. It’s stupid, but I do. Where’s Michael R,, the eloquent teacher, not seen in these parts since December, 2015? Whither Steven Mark Pilling, whose epic battles with tgt (also gone with the wind, with occasional sightings like the Ivory Billed Woodpecker) were worthy of a separate blog or a mini-series? Aaron Paschal? The nit-picking but mordantly amusing Brit, P.M. Lawrence? How about Karla Marie Robinett, who was gone for half a year, came back to say she was happy to be back, and vanished again? I liked it when The Ethics Sage dropped in for a scholarly chat.  Where did he go, and why? Rick Jones, “Curmie” of  “The Curmies,” is just a fond memory. FinleyOshea has been gone for more than a year: his last post just said, “test.” Ominous.  And its been almost four months since Ethics Alarms heard from Julian Hung, another reader from the blog’s beginning. Julian is an intermittent participant, but a sharp one. I’m officially concerned.

These and so many others are noticed when they go AWOL, and missed. New voices take their places, I know, and change is good, or can be. Still, even though I have never met most of these people, I feel their losses, and regret their departures. And that—I just erased a long list for fear of who I was forgetting—is why those loyal and passionate commenters who stay and ride out the storms and disagreements are so cherished and appreciated, even when I may sometimes not sound that way.

Carry on.

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Filed under Romance and Relationships, The Internet

Chicago Justice, Rights, And Pop Culture Malpractice

Dick Wolf, the “Law and Order” creator, is in the process of taking over NBC prime time. He now has four linked dramas dominating the schedule—“Chicago Med,” “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Fire,” and the latest, “Chicago Justice.” (Soon to come, at this rate: “Chicago Sanitation,” “Chicago Pizza,” and “Chicago Cubs.”)

Yesterday was Episode #2 of “Chicago Justice.” The story in involved a “ripped from the headlines” riff on the Brock Turner case, where a woman was raped while unconscious and the rapist received a ridiculously lenient sentence. In Wolf’s alternate universe, however, the judge was murdered, and the rape victim and her ex-husband were suspects. There was another wrinkle too: one of the prosecutors had a close relationship with the dead judge, and was with him right before he was killed. She was going to have to be a witness, and her colleague and supervisor, prosecuting the case, asked her if she had been sleeping with the victim. Such a relationship would have been an ethical violation for the judge, and at least a pre-unethical condition for the prosecutor, requiring her to relocate to a Steven Bochco drama, where lawyers have sex with judges all the time.

The female prosecutor indignantly refused to answer the question. After the case was resolved—I won’t spoil it, but the name “Perry Mason” comes to mind—the two prosecutors made up over a drink. She said that she would have never slept  with “Ray” (the dead judge–when he was alive, that is), but that she remembered reading “in some old document” that we all had “unalienable rights,” she believed one of them was “the right to be respected by your fellow man.”

There is no “right to be respected.” The Declaration of Independence, the “old document” she referenced, lists three rights only, though they are broad ones: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. None of those encompass a right to be respected. The speaker, Anna Valdez (played by Monica Barbaro, a Latina dead ringer for Jill Hennessey, who played the equivalent “Law and Order” role for many years), is a lawyer, and should understand what a right is. It is a legally enforceable guarantee of an entitlement to have something, seek or obtain it,  or to act in a certain ways. As a lawyer, she must understand that this is different from what is right, just or honorable. Her statement, coming from the mouth of a character with presumed expertise and authority, misleads much of the public, which is constantly getting confused over  the difference between Jefferson’s use of “rights” and what is right. So do journalists and, sadly, too many elected officials. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Professions, Rights, Romance and Relationships, Workplace

Comment Of The Day: “More Culturally Subversive TV Advertising: FarmersOnly.Com’s Bigotry”

Shutup, in contrast, DOES get it, whatever it is...

Shutup, in contrast, DOES get it, whatever it is…

A delightfully articulate and analytical reader with the intriguing name“Shutup” sent along today’s Comment of the Day, on the post on the Farmers Only.Com ads, which encourage the bigotry and divisiveness we are increasingly seeing in our country. In his trenchant commentary, reminiscent of Shaw or Mencken, he interestingly labels your humble host a “libtard,” and perhaps as a result, seems to misunderstand the purpose of an ethics blog. For Ethics Alarms never tells anyone what to do; it just explains what one’s ethics are when one does it, and why it may not be wise.

I also offer the comment, which is of the stripe that usually does not make it out of moderation, console disconsolate Hillary fans that the sightings of free range deplorables may be more than mere rumor after all.

Here is Shutup’s Comment of the Day on the post, “More Culturally Subversive TV Advertising: FarmersOnly.Com’s Bigotry”

We will not be hearing from him again.

And welcome to my world… Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites

Ethics Observations On This Kind Of Post-Election Hate, Those Who Write It, And Those Who Believe It [UPDATED]

thanksgiving-conflict

The piece in question is one published in The Daily Banter. The author is Justin Rosario, self-described as a “center-left Jewish-Puerto Rican atheist liberal.” His essay came out just before Thanksgiving, and he titled it, Yes, You Should Shame Your Trump Voting Relatives At Thanksgiving Dinner
(They’ve gone beyond politics and should be treated like the pariahs they are).

Here are the guts of it, when he explains exactly what your Trump-voting relatives “are”:

They’re the people in Germany who stood by and watched the Jews be herded into concentration camps and murdered. Except they’re worse because at least the Germans had never seen anything like the rise of Hitler before. They had no frame of reference to understand what was happening to their country. Your Donald voting relatives have heard and read about Nazis their entire lives. They know and they didn’t care.

Yes, they will have a million excuses for why they voted for someone they knew was a monster but they’re all bullshit. It wasn’t the economy. It wasn’t ISIS. It wasn’t unemployment. It wasn’t Hillary’s emails. It wasn’t Bill’s affairs. It wasn’t Washington corruption. Every single reason they give is a lie and they know it. They wanted one thing and one thing only: To take “their” country back from that fucking n*gger in the White House. That’s it. End of line. Full stop.

Your Donald voting relatives were so freaked out that a black man was president that once Donald told them it was not just permissible to be racist but necessary, they leapt at the chance to put Those People back in their place. And in doing so, they knowingly elected a man that will be all the things they were so afraid Obama was going to be: A tyrant. A dictator. A bully. An autocratic pig that will disregard the rule of law and treat America like his own personal playground. A brutal despot that will silence the media, arrest his political opponents and use the full power of the government to destroy his enemies.

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race, Romance and Relationships, Social Media, U.S. Society

Surprisingly, Many California Lawyers Want To Have The Option Of Having Sex With Their Clients

It's all your fault, Arnie...

It’s all your fault, Arnie…

For most of the last century, sensible and rational lawyers accepted that exploiting the attorney-client relationship to have sex with their clients was unprofessional and unethical, without needing a formal rule to tell them the obvious. Then along came Steven Bochco’s popular TV drama “L.A. Law,” the over-heated saga of a high-rolling Los Angeles law firm and its libidinous lawyers. Most libidinous of all was domestic law specialist Arnie Becker, played by the then-blonde and dashing Corbin Bernsen. Arnie habitually slept with his clients when they were wealthy, sculptured, beautiful trophy wives trying to shed their husbands. This was not the image that the family law bar wanted to see broadcast to America, so lobbying efforts were undertaken in many state bars to formally declare Arnie’s nocturnal client conferences unethical, as they undoubtedly were.

California, being partially at fault for the uptick in the public’s false belief that lawyers use their practice as a virtual dating bar, was among the first states to pass an “Arnie Becker Rule,” though it had company, like Oregon, which amusingly anticipated Bill Clinton by including a strangely specific definition of what sexual intercourse was, and New York, which narrowly limited its prohibition to Arnie Becker and domestic relations lawyers like him. Other jurisdictions demurred, as well as the American Bar Association, which is supposed to seek consistency in the legal ethics rules. California’s new rule was one of the more wishy-washy ones, with Rule 3-120 stating that Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Romance and Relationships

The Complete “It’s A Wonderful Life” Ethics Guide [UPDATED AGAIN! ]

 Once again, Ethics Alarms re-posts its ethics guide to Frank Capra’s 1946 masterpiece “It’s A Wonderful Life,”one of the great ethics movies of all time. It was written in 2011, and revised regularly since, including for this year’s version. I suspect we need it more in 2016 than usual.

It is fashionable now, and was even when the film was released, to mock its sentiment and optimism. On one crucial point Capra was correct, however, and it is worth watching the film regularly to recall it. Everyone’s life does touch many others, and everyone has played a part in the chaotic ordering of random occurrences for good. Think about the children who have been born because you somehow were involved in the chain of events that linked their parents. And if you can’t think of something in your life that has a positive impact on someone–although there has to have been one, and probably many—then do something now. It doesn’t take much; sometimes a smile and a kind word is enough. Remembering the lessons of “It’s a Wonderful Life” really can make life more wonderful, and not just for you.

Here we go:

1. “If It’s About Ethics, God Must Be Involved”

The movie begins in heaven, represented by twinkling stars. There is no way around this, as divine intervention is at the core of the fantasy. Heaven and angels were big in Hollywood in the Forties. Nevertheless, the framing of the tale advances the anti-ethical idea, central to many religions, that good behavior on earth will be rewarded in the hereafter, bolstering the theory that without God and eternal rewards, doing good is pointless.

We are introduced to George Bailey, who, we are told, is in trouble and has prayed for help. He’s going to get it, too, or at least the heavenly authorities will make the effort. They are assigning an Angel 2nd Class, Clarence Oddbody, to the job. He is, we learn later, something of a second rate angel as well as a 2nd Class one, so it is interesting that whether or not George is in fact saved will be entrusted to less than Heaven’s best. Some lack of commitment, there—then again, George says he’s “not a praying man.” This will teach him—sub-par service!

2. Extra Credit for Moral Luck

George’s first ethical act is saving his brother, Harry, from drowning, an early exhibition of courage, caring and sacrifice. The sacrifice part is that the childhood episode costs George the hearing in one ear. He doesn’t really deserve extra credit for this, as it was not a conscious trade of his hearing for Harry’s young life, but he gets it anyway, just as soldiers who are wounded in battle receive more admiration and accolades than those who are not. Yet this is only moral luck. A wounded hero is no more heroic than a unwounded one, and may be less competent as well as less lucky.

3.  The Confusing Drug Store Incident

George Bailey’s next ethical act is when he saves the life of another child by not delivering a bottle of pills that had been inadvertently poisoned by his boss, the druggist, Mr. Gower. This is nothing to get too excited over, really—if George had knowingly delivered poisoned pills, he would have been more guilty than the druggist, who was only careless. What do we call someone who intentionally delivers poison that he knows will be mistaken for medication? A murderer, that’s what.  We’re supposed to admire George for not committing murder.

Mr. Gower, at worst, would be guilty of negligent homicide. George saves him from that fate when he saves the child, but if he really wanted to show exemplary ethics, he should have reported the incident to authorities. Mr. Gower is not a trustworthy pharmacist—he was also the beneficiary of moral luck. He poisoned a child’s pills through inattentiveness. If his customers knew that, would they keep getting their drugs from him? Should they? A professional whose errors are potentially deadly must not dare the fates by working when his or her faculties are impaired by illness, sleeplessness or, in Gower’s case, grief and alcohol.

4. The Uncle Billy Problem

As George grows up, we see that he is loyal and respectful to his father. That’s admirable. What is not admirable is that George’s father, who has fiduciary duties as the head of a Building and Loan, has placed his brother Billy in a position of responsibility. As we soon learn, Billy is a souse, a fool and an incompetent. This is a breach of fiscal and business ethics by the elder Bailey, and one that George engages in as well, to his eventual sorrow. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Popular Culture, Professions, Romance and Relationships

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Donald Trump (Of Course!)

“Take a look. You look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

Donald Trump, denying People Magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff’s claim that he “brought her into a room, shut the door, “and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat.”

This is Trump accuser Cassandra Searles, who, Donald Trump wants us to know, IS the kind of woman he sexually assaults...

This is Trump accuser Cassandra Searles, who, Donald Trump wants us to know, IS the kind of woman he sexually assaults…

This comes as close to being funny as a man running for President who proves his sexism and misogyny even in the act of denying them can be. It is tragic, however.

Trump can’t help himself. He can’t help himself for two reasons. The first reason is that he really does, deep down, believe that women exist on earth for purely the carnal enjoyment of men, particularly wealth and powerful men. This is part of his world view, and he is incapable of changing or learning. When Trump said, in his second pseudo-apology for his recorded 2005 comments, that he had “changed,” implying that he had changed in regard to his enthusiastic endorsement of privileged sexual assault, he was lying, straight up. This comment, which is an ad hominem attack upon and insult to his accuser, proves it, not that the claim wasn’t an obvious lie when he said it in the apology video.

The second reason is that the man literally is incapable of thinking through what he says before he says it. We already knew this, too. He has pitiful self-control, de minimus common sense, and the  judgment of  Ryan Lochte.

In this instance, Trump reminded me of Fredo’s downfall  in “Godfather II,” when mere minutes after he pretends to not know Johnny Ola, Hyman Roth’s henchman (having previously denied to his Godfather brother that he had ever had any contact with him), Fredo loudly contradicts himself by telling the group including his brother that Johnny Ola had recommended the Havana sex club Fredo had brought them to.  Fredo, being an idiot, doesn’t even realize what he has done. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society