The 8th Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2016, Part 2


Part II of the Worst continues with education horrors, legal outrages, the Lie of the Year, and more.

Above? That’s obviously the…

Fake News of the Year.

Now the doesn’t get any better.

Biggest KABOOM! 


The YMCA Slavery Recreation.  You know, even looking through this category was dangerous. I had forgotten about all these stories, which, by definition, were all horrible. This one, from February, however, had to be the winner. The YMCA Storer Camps in Jackson, Michigan included an “educational” activity called “Underground Railroad” in which black children were asked to play runaway slaves, as some teachers and camp instructors acted as slave masters, chasing them down using real horses. Once captured, the children were “auctioned off.” The principal of the school that subjected its pre-teen students to the slavery simulations rather than the other better known YMCA camp activities like nature hikes, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding and sitting around campfires responded that he didn’t expect the uproar, since no student had ever complained before.

Most Unethical High School Discipline

Red Mountain High School  in Mesa, Arizona. On a dare from a friend, high school football player Hunter Osborn briefly flashed his naughty bits in the team photo. Nobody noticed, including the yearbook’s faculty advisor, so the photo was published in the school yearbook.  Months later, the gag was discovered. Even though the photo was so small that offending nudity was virtually invisible to the naked eye, the school had Osborn was arrested and charged with 69 counts of indecent exposure. The charges were dropped because none of the 69 “victims” pressed charges.

Most Unethical No-Tolerance Action


John Glenn High School in Suburban Detroit.  The offense: “Inappropriate use of electronics in the restroom.” The conduct: Hazel Juco, a 17-year-old student, went to the school’s bathroom to wash her hands. When she turned on the faucet, ugly brown water came out. She then used her cell-phone to take photos of the discolored water and posted it to Facebook and Twitter.

She was suspended, but eventually social media and the local news vindicated her. The water was polluted, and the school district admitted that Hazel was punished for doing the right thing.

Most Unethical School Teacher

(Excluding Rapists)

A Tie! 

1. Malik Leigh, a teacher in Palm Beach Lakes High School’s pre-law academy a kindergarten teacher at Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary on Bainbridge Island, Washington

Leigh’s specialty is indoctrination. Aming his exam questions last year…

“If Donald Trump becomes president of the United states, we are:

A.) Screwed

B.) Screwed

C.) Screwed

D.) Screwed behind a really YUGE wall that Mexico pays for.”


“When performing an opening statement, it is best to:

A. Wink at the Judge

B. find the hottest person on the Jury and focus your words on them

C. Speak to them as if they are cordial friends.

D. Treat them like the MORONS they are.”

He was suspended.


2. “Jill Watson.” You can’t be a more unethical teacher than when you’re not a teacher at all. Or human.

Naked Teacher of the Year

Leigh Anne Arthur, In a completely warped and unfair application of the Naked Teacher Principle, school district officials in Union County demanded and received the resignation of the engineering teacher  after a student stole her phone, examined its contents and found a semi-nude selfie  intended for her husband’s enjoyment only.The student, who  warned her that “something bad was coming,” sent the images to other students through text messages and social media Arthur sued the school board for wrongful termination, but recently dropped the suit.  The student was charged with a computer crime and voyeurism. The Naked Teacher Principle holds that

A secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result. The first formulation of the NTP can be found here.

This obviously does not apply to Arthur. Ironically it would apply to the incoming First Lady if she were a teacher, and arguably applies still, since the First Lady is a role model.

Double Standard Of The Year


Progressives and Democrats, who performed an immediate U-turn as soon Donald Trump won the election, and after having expressing outrage and indignation when Trump had suggested, about a month earlier, that he might not “accept the results of the election,” which he had claimed was “rigged,” immediately challenged the results of the election, and claimed it was rigged.

And they are still doing it today.

 Lie of the Year


Jumbo of the Year

Jumbo film Continue reading

Asshole Ethics And Jay-Z’s Concert For Hillary: There’s An Ethics Dunce In Here Somewhere… Many, In Fact


Hillary Clinton participated in a star packed concert yesterday with a concert featuring Jay Z, Beyoncé, Chance the Rapper and Big Sean, all to inject enthusiasm for her shaky campaign t among African-Americans and younger voters, because anyone else would rip their ears off and feed them to a shredder rather than listen to this stuff.

“I want my daughter to grow up seeing a women lead our country and knowing that her possibilities are limitless,” said Beyoncé. “And that’s why I am with her.”

Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z have also spent the past year lucratively linking their art and promotion to Black Lives Matter and demonizing police as racist killers. Is Hillary Clinton with them?

Hubby Jay-Z, meanwhile, observed trenchantly,

“If you feelin’ like a pimp nigger, go and brush your shoulders off…Ladies is pimps too, go and brush your shoulders off! N—– is crazy baby, don’t forget that boy told you. Get that dirt off your shoulders.”

Continue reading

Kanye West, Ethics Corrupter

FevaTV-KanyeWest Time Kanye West, a major and influential figure in pop music and with young black African-Americans particularly, has been a constant force for racial division, most notably when he told a live national audience that the response to the New Orleans recovery after Katrina was deliberately slow in order to harm African Americans. Despite the fact that he has repeatedly revealed himself to be a shameless jerk as well—really, it’s inconceivable that someone of such taste and class as Kim Kardashian would marry someone like that, but who can map the human heart?—West continues to promote racial distrust and division, making the musician a cultural and societal pollutant, the human national equivalent of Flint water.

His latest racist outburst was a series of tweets yesterday to his millions of followers that proceeded this way, within a minute…

To Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, New York Times, and any other white publication. Please do not comment on black music anymore…

I love love love white people but you don’t understand what it means to be the great grandson of ex slaves and make it this far…

The system is designed for colored people to fail and one of our only voices is music. One of our only ways out is music.

Hilariously, West’s complaint was that a Pitchfork review “only” gave his album a “9 out of 10” rating. He explained that he deserved a “30 out of 10.”

The racists.

This is more evidence that strong, vocal and influential forces in pop culture and the black community have abandoned the goals of racial respect, integrated society and equal justice and opportunity for the new goals black separation, special status, double standards, and disrespect. This has been the message of protesting activists on dozens of campuses; it was the message of the Black Lives Matter/Black Panthers salute Americans were subjected to by Beyoncé at the Super Bowl halftime show, and that is West’s irresponsible message as well.

Kanje has decreed some new rules, apparently : Continue reading

Comment of the Day (1): “Ethics Observations On Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 Halftime Performance”


Late last night produced not one but two clear-cut Comments of the Day. This is the first; another will be along any minute now.

Responding to the post about Beyonce’s use of the Super Bowl halftime show to glamorize black liberation politics, Isaac argued that while the violent and loud radicals and revolutionaries get all the headlines, it is the quiet, law abiding, dedicated “squares”—haven’t heard that word for a long time!—that get the job done. This is essentially the opposite of Clarence Darrow’s conviction that it is the law-breaking revolutionaries who cut through the Gordian Knot of the unacceptable status quo. The man he extolled in a speech making that case was murderer and terrorist John Brown—who would have loved the Black Panthers. [I was just now trying to give you a link to Darrow’s amazing speech about Brown, and can’t find one. Shame on you, Internet! It’s in my book, though…you can get a used one for less than 3 bucks…]

Here is Isaac’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Observations On Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 Halftime Performance:

The bogus assumption often made is that the hippy/counterculture movement somehow brought about civil rights, since those two things happened at roughly the same time. This is wrong and those people should feel bad. It was decades of hard work by a whole lot of “squares” and a lot of stoically religious people, and the type of nonviolent and extremely effective form of resistance and racial healing preached by Dr. King that got the job done, at great personal cost. The stoner crowd and the violent, revolutionary factions like the Black Panthers were almost entirely counterproductive, but a lot sexier. So they are the ones romanticized today. Beyonce isn’t going to do a nostalgic dance number with Black women dressed as Baptists in flowery hats.

Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 Halftime Performance


On the eve of her Super Bowl 50 half time show performance, Beyoncé released  “Formation,” a video full of references to Black Lives Matter tropes and propaganda, including “Hand Up! Don’t Shoot!”  (You can view it here. The earlier version of this post had an unofficial version: I apologize for the error.) Then in her portion of the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, the pop star gave the sold-out stadium and world-wide audience a live version of the video, including  backup dancers wearing Black Panther berets who formed  an X, apparently alluding to black Muslim activist Malcolm X, and raised their fists in the “black power” salute. African-Americans activists wrote that they saw the performance as a tribute to the 50th Anniversary, not of the Super Bowl, but to the Black Panthers.

The halftime show was part of a marketing plan messaging across multiple platforms, from social media to mainstream media. Once the show was seen in the context of the more explicit video, a controversy emerged, just as Beyoncé ‘s marketing geniuses hoped it would. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was among the vocal critics, calling the show “outrageous” said telling Fox News,”This is football, it’s not Hollywood, and I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive.”  Protests are planned at NFL headquarters.

What’s going on here?

1. Stipulated: Beyoncé’s sole intentions are to sell, make money, and get buzz. If she has a genuine political motive, and I doubt it, it is secondary to the good ol’ profit-making motive that has made her a mega-millionaire. She and her husband Jay-Z have been linking their brand to Black Lives Matter because they see profit in it, that’s all. Is it crass and ethically inert? Sure it is…just like the music business and the rest of show business. Is it particular disgusting, at a time of dangerous racial division in this country heightened by liars, crooks, complicit activists and cynical politicians, to try to make money by glamorizing it? Yes indeed, but the Julie Principle needs to be applied here. Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly, and if you are paying any attention to people like Beyoncé, you can’t be shocked or overly angry at them when they show that their motives are purely non-ethical at all times. Yes, Beyoncé’s conduct was culturally irresponsible and unethical. “This is my shocked face:”

shocked face

2. That said, hijacking the Super Bowl halftime show to make a race-baiting, divisive, anti-police demonstration out of what is supposed to be a unifying, fun, family-friendly cultural event, by extolling the racist Black Lives Matter, the criminal and racist Black Panthers, and destructive lies like “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” is indeed outrageous. The stunt deserves every bit of criticism it has recieved and more. Continue reading

On The Matter Of Fake Buglers: Beyoncé Revisited

I don’t know how I missed the fact that the armed services increasingly use fake buglers at military funerals, but I just learned about it the hard way.

Our neighbor, a navy veteran who died unexpectedly leaving his wife and small daughter, received a military burial in Quantico, Virginia. The uniformed bugler raised his instrument to his lips (out of my sight, but I saw him with his bugle on the way to the site), and the mournful sound of TAPS began, only to end abruptly halfway through the melody. There was an awful, awkward silence as the mourners wondered what happened and if the tune would be completed, and then the sailor put away his bugle into a case, and walked over to fold the flag on the coffin.

Because of budget cuts (which, of course, could have been applied elsewhere, for this is a choice) and a shortage of buglers, most military funerals employ non-musicians who hold a fake bugle with a chip and a speaker installed to give the illusion that TAPS is being performed.

In other words, it is a subterfuge and a lie.

I discussed what was wrong with such fake live performances in 2009, and again in 2013, when I beat this topic to death, even going on Bill O’Reilly’s show to talk about Beyoncé lip-synching at the Inauguration as the newscasters lied about it being a live performance. The key quote from both posts is this..,

“The performance was part of the swearing-in ceremony of President Barack Obama, and that meant that it could not, should not, must not be phony, faked, or a lie.”

Whether you think that similar fakery is more or less excusable when the nation says good-bye and thanks to a deceased veteran is a matter of priorities. Both are unethical, both represent creeping corruption and a betrayal of values. This was a Navy service; here’s the relevant provision of the Navy Ethics Compass: Continue reading

Beyoncé Ethics II: Has-Been Shaming at the Super Bowl?

Destinys ChildBeyoncé didn’t lip-sync her Super Bowl appearance, but according to Slate writer Julia Turner, she was ungracious, unkind and disrespectful to her former Destiny’s Child partners, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, who joined her in the half-time show for what was billed as a reunion. She writes:

Beyoncé’s lack of magnaminity reached its peak as their medley came to its climax. Instead of launching into a full rendition of “Say My Name” or some other Destiny’s Child classic, she said “Kelly and Michelle, can y’all help me sing this one?” Kelly responded, “Sho’ nuff, baby,” and the trio launched into “Single Ladies,” Beyoncé’s solo hit—about how great it is to be solo. This was, as Dave Weigel tweeted, “Like Beatles reuniting and singing ‘Mull of Kintyre,’ ” Paul McCartney’s Wings classic. Beyoncé, don’t shame Kelly and Michelle by dragging them back into the national spotlight and then making them sing the very song that shows what a culturally relevant force you still are, and what afterthoughts they have become! Be generous. Share the spotlight. You have so much.”

Fair? Continue reading



Just “Arrrrgh!”

First, Beyonce ducks a question (at pre-Super Bowl  press conference) about whether she really lip-synced the National Anthem at the Inauguration, as discussed extensively here , here, and here,

by using Clintonian parsing—no, she wasn’t lip-syncing ( because that means just moving one’s lips to a song, and technically she was singing. It’s just that the audience may have been hearing her recording and not her real voice.) Then she “answers”…by singing the song, brilliantly, without accompaniment. (Of course it was planned.) Then CNN’s awful morning anchor Carol Costello AND CNN’s headline writer state that Beyonce “answered her critics” by doing so.

For the love of…Arrrrgh!

That was NOT an answer! This was masterful, if screamingly obvious (to all but CNN) misdirection and manipulation.The question posed was not “Can you sing “The Star Spangled Banner?,” but “Did you lip-sync?”, which means, as she well knows, “Did you sing it live at the Inauguration, and was the live rendition what we heard?” Her rendition of the song at the press conference was no more responsive to the question than a sudden riff on “Trouble in River City” or “Turkey in the Straw.” Then pathetic CNN calls it an answer, as if singing the song two weeks after the event in question settles the issue. Our professional journalism establishment at work. (in the version I saw, Costello didn’t even mention that Beyonce gave a technical “no” to the “did you lip-sync?” query before bursting into song.


 Beyonce could have cleared up the controversy weeks ago by either admitting that she lip-synced, or by denying it. Asked about the matter directly, in front of TV cameras, she avoided the question again. That was an answer, all right, but not the one CNN and the singer implied it was.

The answer was “Yes.”


Spark: CNN

Graphic: Soda Head

“What Difference Does It Make?”: The Footlong Sandwich Edition


Perhaps this week will go down in history as the Week of “What Difference Does It Make?”.

What difference does it make whether or not the Obama Administration misled the public for days about whether the Benghazi attack was a spontaneous demonstration over a video or a planned terrorist attack, indignantly asks Hillary Clinton. What matters is that four Americans died!

What difference does it make that Lance Armstrong doped to win his titles and lied about it for 15 years, poignantly ask Armstrong’s defenders. What matters is that his foundation helped cancer sufferers!

What difference does it make whether or not the version of Beyonce singing “The Star Spangled Banner” Americans heard during the Inauguration was live or studio-recorded, asks comic-turned radio pundit Dennis Miller. She’s hot! (By the way, my conversation about this issue with Bill O’Reilly before Miller issued his verdict—and referred to me as “Daddy Warbucks”—can be viewed here.)

Now we have a much ridiculed scandal over the fact that Subway’s vaunted “footlong” subs are in fact only around 11 inches, which has spawned viral videos and at least two lawsuits. Ethically-challenged Chicago Trib blogger Eric Zorn carries the flag for this latest army of “What difference does it make?” lie enablers. His argument, predictably, comes down to a cross between the Stephen Colbert-Jon Stewart  market-tested “Let’s exaggerate this real issue and make it look ridiculous” formula and the Golden Rationalization, “Everybody Does It”… Continue reading

Now A Brief Promotional Message….


Shortly after learning my scheduled NPR spot to talk about Lance Armstrong and Oprah had been cancelled because, I was told, everything has already been said, I was invited to fence with Bill O’Reilly tonight on “The O’Reilly Factor” (Fox News).

The topic? Not Lance, but Beyonce, and the ethics of high-profile lip-syncing. Thankes to you all, I’m more than ready. But will I really be speaking, or will I be lip-syncing?