2018 Ethics Retrospective Poll #4: The Ethics Train Wrecks!

Nominations for “Ethics Train Wreck Of The Year”

This one is self-explanatory, I think. Don’t automatically default to the obvious choice.

(Still rolling and still being used illicitly to exert gender-based power while undermining civil rights.

(which encompasses “the resistance,” the “Get Trump” campaign by the news media, and the ongoing effort to concoct a justification for impeachment)

(The Parkland shooting aftermath was nothing but a resuscitated and refueled version, with different demagogues, and the same lies)

(Statues are still falling, universities are still purging their histories, and “The Sound of Music” can’t mention Nazis…)

(An offshoot of the Harvey Weinstein express,  and perhaps the canary dying in the mine…)

(So long-running and constant that I forgot to call it one, with the “Think of the Children! caboose.)

The Big Tech Social Media Ethics Train Wreck, which has pulled out of the station, will have to wait a few months before we can assess it…

The poll:


Happy News Year, Everyone. And Thanks.

I’ll be honest—this is an ethics blog, after all—this has not been a great year for my family, for my nation, for ethics. I leave 2018 more pessimistic than I entered it, and I hate that.  I feel alienated from a lot of my friends, and am feeling futile–I really hate that. I’ve spent too much of 2018 angry at selfish, dishonest, intellectually lazy, ignorant and mean people, and not enough—almost none, really—having fun. I can’t remember the last time I had fun.

The people, events and things that salvaged the year and made it bearable–the Red Sox had the best team and season by far in my lifetime, and it’s ridiculous how much that helps my state of mind—include the readers and commenters here on Ethics Alarms. As a group and individually, you all are attentive, respectful, serious, tough, smart and generous. Thank you.

Proethics also had a good year, even if some clients behaved spectacularly unprofessionally—how can you be unethical to an ethics company?–and even if every inquiry we got about sexual harassment training withered and died when I insisted that I wouldn’t do boilerplate junk, and would talk about the importance of due process for those accused.

True, I was targeted by a couple of vicious and ideology-driven social justice bullies and feminist Furies this year with minimal damage: I was slimed on a legal gossip website and blackballed on NPR for, the complaining host said, “seeming to defend Donald Trump,” which I wasn’t. I lost a contract for refusing to apologize to brainwashed Chinese academics for describing Mao as a mass murderer, which, or course, he was. As the year ends, Facebook is blocking my posts.

That’s OK. I appreciate the opportunity to practice the courage, integrity, obstinacy and stubborn adherence to principle that Jack Sr. worked so hard to instill in me. (Still working on it, Dad!).

I learn so much researching and writing this blog: as one of my mentors, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue once told me, “Sometimes I don’t know what I think until I hear what I have to say.” I wish I had a bigger megaphone, a larger audience, more influence, a higher place on the cognitive dissonance scale. That I don’t is my own fault and failing, of course; there’s a price for being a dilettante. Well, I’m not going to wallow—if there was one thing I learned from directing “Follies,” regret will kill you.

So my resolution this year is the same as it has been for many years now. I want to end 2019 smarter, wiser, and more ethical than I began it, and if I can be of any assistance helping others to do the same, that will be wonderful.