Zoom Ethics: A Shocking Home vs Workplace Conflict

…and, in my opinion, a really, really, stupid one.

I’d say that this story should be in online glossaries to describe “pearl-clutching.” Also “virtue-signaling.”

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that Brian Akers, president of the Charter Oak Unified School Board in Covina, California, drank beer out of a bottle during a Zoom video board meeting last week, and everyone is FREAKING OUT!!! 

The video conference platform allows people to have  in-person meetings from their homes. People drink beer in their homes. They do it while talking on the phone, or messaging on Facebook. So, after finishing dinner and logging into the meeting, Akers took a few sips from the already opened bottle of beer without giving it a thought.

School board members were offended and aghast, apparently under the impression that it’s 1929.  Akers, they said, violated the board’s alcohol and drug-free workplace policy. “This is an isolated and unfortunate incident that was quickly addressed by members of our governing board, once it was brought to our attention,” board Vice President Gregg Peterson said in a statement. “As elected officials, we need to be transparent and hold ourselves accountable for our actions.” They “addressed” it by reprimanding Akers.

After all, he had to be held accountable……for engaging in a completely legal and normal act in his own home that harmed no one, that every single member of the school board has done themselves, probably countless times, and that everyone knows they have done it. Never mind: Greg Palatto, a psychologist and executive board member of the Charter Oak Educators Association said he was “taken aback,” and was in such shock that he couldn’t even process what he had seen.

“No way could that have been a beer, maybe a root beer.” he told reporters. “Then we look back on the live and yup, that’s a Pacifico!”

OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!


Palatto declared that Akers’ having a beer on camera sets a bad example for students, some of whom watch school board meeting videos for civics classes. “Kids are watching us,” Palatto said. And, as we all know, no kids have any idea that adults drink beer.

Some parents, like John Sitz,  who has three children who graduated from district schools, said that Akers should resign. “I would like to see him resign due to the fact that if it was anybody else caught drinking on the job, you would be walked off the premises at that point in time,” said Sitz. Walked out of his own home, you idiot? When unique circumstances force people to turn over their privacy and homes to employers, some reasonable leeway is called for, not rabid intolerance and hyperventilating over nothing, and a single swig of beer is nothing.

“I’ll apologize to anyone. It wasn’t intentional,” Akers said, descending into full grovel.

He should not apologize. He should tell his grandstanding colleagues to apologize to him. He should say, “Yup, I drank a beer during the meeting. I often drink beers at home, and I was home. I didn’t think about it, in part because I foolishly thought my colleagues on the board had common sense and a modicum of proportion and fairness. I was wrong. They don’t. They can have my resignation if they want it, but they won’t get an apology, because I did nothing wrong. Now I’m going to have another beer.”

But hey, I might be wrong. Let’s see what a poll shows…

“Flipping A Man’s Meat” Ethics

Is this what the culture has accomplished with its hard won respect for and acceptance of gay Americans? Really?

Neil Patrick Harris has done a series of quirky, benign spots  for Heineken Light, perhaps to lure us into a false sense of ease.  For in his most recent commercial,  Harris notes, as he stands next to a man grilling barbecue, that Heineken Light makes it OK “to flip another man’s meat.”

This is another in a long and growing list of TV ads based entirely on the assumption that adults think it’s hilarious to suggest obscene or vulgar innuendos. I’ve written about this phenomenon before, which is merely the normalization of crudeness in our discourse, nothing more, but nothing less either. So now we have gay sexual innuendo  by an openly gay actor to advertise beer. Isn’t that great? Boy, Heineken must be so proud.

The grill guy replies to the puckish—or flirtations?—former-Doogie that no man can do that, but late,  Harris asks him: “Can I flip your meat?”

Wow, that’s just hilarious! Why is it hilarious? Because it’s naughty? Because it’s daring? It’s certainly not clever, and if virtually defines the word “gratuitous.” It it a challenge to viewers, daring them to question the taste of joking about “flipping a man’s meat” when they routinely accept gross commercials with vulgar and gratuitous—you know, like this —heterosexual double entendres?  Is the assumption that gays will giggle, guffaw and slap each other on the back when they see this! “Good own, Neil!” Really? How insulting.

I can’t wait for the masturbation double-entendres in credit card and bank commercials. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz (Gotcha Edition): Mistake, OK, or Nothing At All?

Braden's mom, Braden's stein, and Braden

Not an hour had passed since I posted my lament about small incidents being blown up into national controversies, and suddenly a perfect Ethics Quiz presented itself on the same trend, from a pre-school yet, just as in the lunch police flap. This one is a tempest in a tea cup, except instead of a tea cup the tempest is in a teeny, tiny beer stein, made out of plastic, that was given to 4-year-old Braden Bulla to represent Germany. His class was studying various countries and their culture, and the teach gave out little plastic artifacts as part of the lesson.

I’m not even sure it qualifies as a stein; it looks exactly like a creamer I’ve had forever. But it was clearly supposed to represent a stein. The children drank apple juice out of these as they learned about Bavaria.  When Braden brought the 2-3 inch plastic thing home, his mother was furious. She told the school and reporters that it is irresponsible to have students  pretend to drink alcohol, even if it is apple juice. “It is entirely inappropriate,” Bulla said. She argued with the teacher and principal, and then pulled her child out of the pre-school. Naturally, someone asked Mothers Against Drunk Driving to get into the act, and they complied, while noting that they couldn’t be authoritative without having been in the classroom. “We would say this: MADD is concerned anytime that a minor is involved in any activity that centers around alcohol consumption,” a spokesperson said. “Even in a case like this one, when there is no actual alcohol.”

So your Ethics Quiz for the day is a multiple choice question:

What best describes the Case of the 4-Year-Old’s Beer Stein? Continue reading