Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/26/2019: Bad Business And Bad Businesses

Whoa! A morning surprise!

As I commented on yesterday’s warm-up, traffic on Ethics Alarms was discouraging slow all weekend, which, as some of you know, makes me re-evaluate my priorities and ponder throwing myself into the shredder. Then, I discover, at some point last night the Mitch McConnell post was linked someplace that has a much bigger audience than I have, and just like that, the blog got more visitors in a couple of hours as the weekend weekended than it had in the previous two days. As is usually the case, it is impossible to find out where the referrals are coming from (except I know they aren’t from Facebook!), virtually none of the new visitors are commenting, and the temporary avalanche spawns few new followers, if any. I never know when this is going to happen, and it almost never occurs with the essays I am most proud of or consider especially important.

1. Of course they booed. They’re NFL football fans. This means they have the ethics of army ants. Andrew Luck, the star quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, stunned the sport with his unexpected decision to retire from the NFL, even though he is only 29 and completed a stellar campaign in 2018. The reason: he doesn’t want to end up crippled or a vegetable from the abuse his body and brain have absorbed and will continue to the longer he stays on the field. not having them anymore after the way fans in Indianapolis treated him after the  on Saturday.

As Luck began to make his way off the field following the 27-17 loss in the Colts’ preseason game against the Bears, fans at Lucas Oil Stadium started to boo their former quarterback because the news of Luck’s retirement broke during the fourth quarter of the game. Of course they booed. Anyone who watches the NFL and supports an NFL team by purchasing tickets, merchandise, or inflating league ratings by watching the games on TV has signaled that they are perfectly happy to encourage young men to ruin their bodies and minds for their selfish entertainment, safe in their seats or on their living room sofas.

2. More on the Left’s undemocratic effort to stifle free speech and opposition to its agenda…Tucker Carlson—I am not a fan, you will recall—returned to his Fox News show after a vacation that seemed more like a retreat from fire to find that the Media Matters-led sponsor boycott  of his show had taken more chunks out of his sponsor base.  Continue reading

Ethics Observation On The Tempe, Arizona Starbucks Incident

Ethics Alarms does not endorse any organized boycott efforts against any product, business or organization. However, if any corporation is begging to be boycotted, it’s Starbucks…

In case you missed it:

On July 4th, six Tempe, Arizona police officers visited a local Starbucks to get some coffee. The officers paid for their beverages and stood together, sipping coffee and chatting. A barista approached one of the officers, whom she apparently knew by name because he is was a frequent customer, and informed him that a customer  currently in the store “did not feel safe” because of the police presence. She asked the officers to move out of the customer’s line of sight (!) or to leave entirely.

The officers  left, but apparently reported the incident to the Tempe Officers Association, which described the incident on Facebook and added,

This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening. While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019. We know this is not a national policy at Starbucks Corporate and we look forward to working collaboratively with them on this important dialogue.

The Tempe Police put out their own statement:

Starbucks, proving at least that it has not completely lost its mind, quickly apologized to the  Department, with a representative meeting with the police chief.  The statement:

“When those officers entered the store and a customer raised a concern over their presence, they should have been welcomed and treated with dignity and the utmost respect by our partners (employees). Instead, they were made to feel unwelcome and disrespected, which is completely unacceptable,”

Observations: Continue reading

And Championing Racial Double Standards Can Be Expensive As Well As Wrong: Ask Oberlin

Oberlin College deliberately set out to  destroy a local bakery for insisting that laws apply to black college students.  Now, in the case of Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College, a jury has awarded 11 million dollars in damages to the bakery owners, and punitive damages might up the award to over 30 million.

Good. Very good. Spectacularly good.

Ethics Alarms first wrote about this awful story here. A precis:

On November 9, 2016—probably not coincidentally the day after Donald Trump was elected, throwing ultra-liberal schools like Oberlin into a ludicrously extended period of irrational fear and loathing—Jonathan Aladin, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone were caught stealing bottles of wine from Gibson’s Bakery, a small family-owned establishment with a contract with Oberlin . As they have been duly trained by our culture, the students played the race card, initially claiming the shop had racially profiled them, and that their only misdeed was presenting  fake IDs. When that wasn’t working, the three admitted their guilt and also signed statements that the store was innocent of any race-related bias. It also appears that the students punched and kicked the shopkeeper. … (Here is the police incident report.) 

The day after the arrests, hundreds of students protested outside the bakery, and Oberlin’s student senate published a resolution saying Gibson’s had “a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment.” The Oberlin police conducted an investigation into the arrests and found “a complete lack of evidence of racism.” Over a five-year period, the bakery had pursued charges against 40 shoplifters, and only six were African-American.

…The owner met with then-Oberlin President Marvin Krislov and Tita Reed, assistant to the president, and they  pressured him to drop criminal charges against the three students and any future student-thieves who were first time offenders. When he did not agree, the complaint alleges, the school made good on its threat and dropped its decade’s long contract with the bakery. …  Meredith Raimondo, vice president and dean of students, joined students and members of the school faculty in campus demonstrations against the bakery, distributing a flyer that accused Gibson’s Bakery of being a “RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”  A boycott of the business was organized, and according to the complaint, facilitated by the school. College tour guides reportedly informed prospective students that Gibson’s is racist. …

The Ethics Alarms post listed the probable factors at work: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, June 5, 2019: Ethics Corrupters In The House, The Senate, The White House, The Times….

The next morning was going to be a crucial one, but not exactly “good”…

Good Morning!

1. How to expose a demagogue. Senator Elizabeth Warren is near the bottom of my ethics rankings of the various Democratic Presidential candidates, and not just because of the way she handled her crisis of color. She’s a pure demagogue, and a particularly dangerous one, as she is a stirring speaker and apparently shameless.

It takes clarity of thought and rhetoric to expose demagogues, especially Warren’s breed, which carry the trappings of authority—after all, she’s a Harvard professor, so she must be smart (or so those who did not attend Harvard seem to think.) The President’s favored tactic of name-calling is of limited value for this purpose, but Rep. Dan Crenshaw, the veteran mocked by Saturday Night Live because of his war wounds,  is providing an ongoing seminar on how to expose Warren’s dishonesty.

When Warren tweeted this high-sounding sentiment…

…Rep. Crenshaw  zeroed in on its deception.

Note also the gently mocking imitation of Warren’s flip use of “thing,” so much more rhetorically effective than calling her “Pocahontas.”

Here is how Crenshaw eviscerated another typical bit  of Warren pandering…

Then there was this expert take-down….when Warren grandstanded with this…

Crenshaw pointed out exactly what was wrong with it…

Why, yes, that’s exactly what it is.

2. Censorship and keeping the truth from the public is not ethical, nor is it a legitimate way to address problems in a democracy. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/1/2019: Ethics Is Busting Out All Over! Mostly BAD Ethics…

Happy June!

1. Boycott/extortion update! Let’s see if Georgia has as much guts and principle as Alabama, and tells Disney to go fly a kite.

Hugh Culverhouse, Jr., the University of Alabama’s largest donor,  called for a boycott of Alabama , both the University and the state , because of Alabama’s defiant, anti-Roe  abortion ban, recently signed into law. The university’s law school was renamed Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law last September 2018 after the Florida businessman pledged  $26.5 million to the university. In response to Culverhouse’s boycott call, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John recommended to the Board of Trustees that it return the $21.5 million  the law school it has actually received from Culverhouse, and restore the name to “The University of Alabama School of Law.”

Good. That’s exactly how states should respond to attempted extortion by individuals and corporations to control their lawmaking and bend the state to their wills rather than the decisions of voters. The whole story is at TaxProf Blog.

2. Nah! A reverend like, say, Martin Luther King would never engage in the kinds of sordid acts his biographer claims! They are men of God!

Bobby J. Blackburn, the pastor of Elevate Church in Prestonsburg, Kentucky,  was arrested this week and  charged with the prohibited use of an electronic communication system to procure a minor to commit a sex act. Blackburn is also the owner of Giovanni’s, a pizza restaurant in Prestonsburg. A girl who worked there showed a police sergeant images of an iMessage conversation she had with Blackburn in which he asked the minor to engage in a “threesome” with him and another girl, also a minor. He also made other sexually explicit requests.

Rev. Bobby tried to weasel out of his mess by bringing a third young woman to the police station and having her claim that she sent the incriminating messages from his phone. It didn’t work: under questioning, she admitted that she was lying and that Blackburn ordered  her to make the false claim under threat of losing her job.

I hear he’s one heck of a pastor, though! Continue reading

Disney’s Sinister Threat And The Danger Of Partisan Corporate Boycotts To Democracy

The official position of Ethics Alarms is that organized boycotts are a form of unethical coercion that pose a direct threat to democracy and personal liberty. Recent developments on the corporate front only reinforce that conviction. Several states have chosen this moment to try to persuade a conservative majority on the Supreme Court to either amend or overturn Roe v. Wade, either with so-called “heartbeat” bills, defining a fetus with a detectable heartbeat distinct from the mother’s as a person within the range of Constitutional protection, or in the case of Alabama, a direct challenge to Roe with a bill outlawing abortion entirely except in special circumstances.

My personal assessment is that these efforts are doomed to fail, and that conservative justices, in part because they advocate conservative jurisprudence, will not accept the invitation to overturn Roe regardless of their objections to the holding. It is a major decision of long-standing asserting an individual right, and the epitome of the kind of decision that requires the practice of stare decisus. I cannot think of another example where the Court eliminated a right after a previous Court had protected it, certainly not one with such wide-ranging social and legal implications. Even though abortion is only ethically defensible by applying the most brutal variety of utilitarian balancing,  and requires disingenuous, bootstrapping reasoning in the process, I do not advocate overturning Roe. We have a system, though. The system should be allowed to work. It has generally served us well as a nation and a society. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/1/2019: May Day! May Day!

Good morning to you,

me, not so much…

I’m ticked off at myself this morning for being cripplingly anxious. I have a looming appointment with a specialist later today regarding a medical issue that could be minor or, in a worst case scenario, could be “curtains.” My father taught me better than this: my anxiety is completely irrational. If I dropped dead tomorrow, I would have no basis for complaints; as Clarence tells George Bailey, I’ve had a wonderful life. Regrets? I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention….

1. About the cultural literacy test...To be fair, I’m going to put up a second test that requires recognizing the name and significance of various figures rather than identifying photographs. They are indeed two different kinds of knowledge, although some of those in the current test are also iconic images. I tried to include some visual clues when I could: the guy with the cigar was famous for his cigar, and that basketball player is an iconic basketball player. The complaints about the figure holding the gun are fair, but literally every other photo I could find of him gave his identity away. Commenter Zoltar’s scoring method of taking half the points when he knew why the person was famous or important but couldn’t fetch the name was justified.

I checked the score of the photos I felt culturally literate Americans ought to be able to identify, and the total was 40. Let’s check the most recent poll…ah! 21 of the 46 results so far met that benchmark. And someone score a perfect 125! My score was only 118…

I felt a little guilty about including the old movie star, but she was the inspiration for the test. Her Academy Award-winning turn was on TV, and she has always been a favorite of mine, as well as legendary with film buffs for her comic technique. I wondered how many Americans recognize her today, for once she had one of the best known faces in the nation. And what a face it was! Continue reading