Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/26/2019: The Pooping Engineer, Fake Newspapers, And Other Things Not To Be Thankful For

As the Happy Holidays countdown continues…

1. More trivial ethics: Watching Season #2 (2015) of the excellent Stephen Bochco procedural “Murder One,” my wife and I were stunned to hear an expert witness in the trial of one of the teenage shooters in a school bus mass murder point out, while noting that most sociopaths don’t kill people, the Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton were examples of very successful sociopaths. It’s very unusual to see favored progressive narratives challenged in television dramas. Of course, this would have been an opportunity for Trump-bashing had the show been filmed a couple of years later.

2.  Ew. Matthew Lebsack, an 18-year employee of the Union Pacific Railroad Co., defecated on a train-car knuckle three years ago, threw feces-covered toilet paper out of the locomotive window, and informed his manager that he had left a “present” for him. Lebsack’s co-workers cleaned up his droppings using bottled water and paper towels.

At the investigation hearing, Lebsack admitted the specifics of the incident and apologized for his behavior. He claimed he  was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, and his wife had just left him at the time of the incident.

I wonder why?

Yeah, that justifies throwing one’s poop around the workplace. Lebsack was fired, shockingly. His union, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division, or  SMART appealed and the matter was sent to an arbitration board.

The arbitration board found that firing “was too harsh.” That’s good to know, just in case a clueless ethics class frustrates me so much I decide to take a dump on the podium.   Lebsack’s medical and psychological issues were deemed to be sufficient mitigation that board ordered Lebsack to be reinstated once he successfully completes a physical and a psychological evaluation. Union Pacific appealed to vacate the decision and SMART sought to enforce it.

U.S. District Judge Brian Buescher ruled that, under the Railway Labor Act, he was without authority to review the merits of the board’s interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement. Buescher said the arbitration board’s decision fell within its discretion, although he admitted that he didn’t understand its reasoning. Continue reading