Tag Archives: civility

Comment Of The Day: Saturday Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/18: …#1 Welcome Student Commenters!

This is a unique Comment of the Day, self-explanatory and greatly appreciated.

Here is teacher Andrew Myette’s COTD on Item #1 of the post, Saturday Afternoon (Because I Was Up At 5 AM Writing About CNN’s Unethical “Town Hall”) Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/18: Generic Packaging Scams, Goodbye Molly, Polls, And Welcome Student Commenters!:

Mr. Marshall and Ethics Alarms’ Commentators:

I am the (a?) teacher who has directed my students to Ethics Alarms. I teach an Expository Reading and Writing Course to 12th grade students. Part of the high school English curriculum, the course was developed by the California State University system in response to an influx of students who were not prepared for the rigors of college reading and writing, most notably the inability to recognize, respond, and develop argument.

I have directed them to Ethics Alarms because of the opportunity for them to engage in real world discourse on significant, relevant, and important issues, many of which challenge their world views.

I do not endorse nor do I condone inflammatory, immature, and inaccurate commentary. They know better – or, at least, I hope. As Mr. Marshall posted (under another post), I agree that their age should not excuse them from the challenges they encounter in this forum (“they will not be coddled”). I encourage it. But they must also handle the challenges of the forum with maturity, decorum, and respect. To do otherwise is a sad testament to their preparation for life after high school.

Here are the guidelines I have instructed my students to use when examining and writing argument:

When responding to argument, in writing or verbally, please keep in mind the following.

Be passionate! Reason originates in emotion, but must be tempered by logic and ethos.

Read (listen to) through the text you responding to, including comments, if any. Before you respond, consider the following aspects of rhetoric: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Leadership, The Internet

Res Ipsa Loquitur: KFC’s Apology Ad

Just two weeks ago I wrote another post about ads that use gratuitous references to vulgar language and topics generally thought inappropriate public discourse. All the links to past essays on the topic are there.

KFC thinks “fuck” is an acceptable word to evoke in the marketplace while apologizing for running out of chicken in the UK.

Good to know. I think it should now apologize for running out of civility and tastefulness in the United States.

Make your mental list of ethical corporate citizens accordingly.


Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising, U.S. Society

Observations On The La Jolla High Cartoon Controversy

I was going to make this an Ethics Quiz, but category that  can’t quite encompass the issues involved, and the more I considered it, the more certain I became of what should have happened. Here is the story:

A student-drawn cartoon was  published last month in the La Jolla High School’s “Hi-Tide” newspaper. It depicted eight ethnic groups in a blatantly stereotypical manner ( which is to say, it was a cartoon), with each figure pictured wearing T-shirts with messages  reinforcing the stereotypes. The cartoonist’s purpose was to lampoon the controversial H&M ad that caused the company to pull the ad and apologize:

Here was the student’s cartoon…

The requisite number of sensitive students and /or their sensitive parents complained about the cartoon to compel the school principal to grovel an apology, saying that the decision to publish the cartoon was an “error in judgment and a breach of all the values we hold dear at La Jolla High School,” since the cartoon depicted multiple ethnic groups as “ugly racial stereotypes.”

Observations: Continue reading


Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Dunces, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising

Comment Of The Day: “KABOOM! So It Has Come To This: The Book-Of-The-Month TV Commercial”

The recent post about Madison Avenue continuing its effort to coarsen the popular culture and society with gratuitously vulgar commercials, in this case Book-Of-The-Month Club believing that it is hilarious to fake out viewers into thinking they are watching a tampon commercial, was not one that I felt would ignite much controversy or varied comment. As is often the case, I was wrong. The essay generated several surprising threads, including a comment by prolix, controversial blog warrior Alizia, whose commentary here ranges all the way into another post, the article about a high school musical casting controversy and the school’s unethical response to it.

She also raises the question of whether Ethics Alarms should engage more frequently in meta-ethics and philosophy. One reason I selected her comment as a Comment of the Day is that I’m interested in other readers’ views on that topic, not that I’m interested in turning in that direction. My focus as an ethicist has always been practical ethics, and the posts here about grand ethics issues of the sort that have been debated to no productive end for centuries have been incidental and few. Frankly, those topics don’t interest me very much; certainly not enough to devote the blog to it. About a year ago an erudite young woman briefly submitted some provocative comments here but want to argue about competing philosophical theories. She was shocked, indignant and angered when I refused to engage, and after yelling at me for a while, left the forum.  For those seeking what she sought, I recommend going here.

Abstract and scholarly ethics have undermined the subject of ethics to the degree that it is not one  most people can tolerate or understand, effectively removing ethics from public education and general discourse, and thus undermined the goal of an ethical society as well. They are still relevant to the discussion; I just know from hard experience how philosophy tends to send normal people fleeing like the Tokyo crowds in a Godzilla movie.

Here is Alizia’s Comment of the Day on the post, KABOOM! So It Has Come To This: The Book-Of-The-Month TV Commercial:

One things I noticed and have mentioned a few times in respect to the Ethics Alarms blog and, naturally, the people who participate in it, is that it often clearly distinguishes a situation or event in which an ethical issue is brought out and then it successfully and interestingly provokes an examination of the problem or issue. Yet what I notice as well is that the issue is not brought out in a larger context. Or, the larger context is rarely explored. The reason why it is not explored is more interesting and it seems to me more important than what is allowed to be explored or what is acceptable. I can think of two instances and I will mention them.

In this present instance it is noticed that advertising is incorporating vulgarity. But it is really far more than that, at least as I see things. What is the real issue? The real issue is the pornographication of culture. It is, I think this is true, coming about because this is the sort of things you-plural have allowed to go on. It is certainly true (as I have scoldingly said) that ‘it is your generation that has allowed these levels of moral and ethical corruption to creep in’ and I think that this is a necessary stance to take. In my view, though it is not appreciated much here, ‘the pornographication of culture’ connects to sexual expression of many sorts and also extends to ‘the homosexualization of culture’.

There is an active agent, either in the business culture itself, or perhaps in academic culture, that has set in motion these pornographic processes. And just as media culture and Hollywood has gotten continuingly infected with this material (which I assume *you* find titillating and exciting and do not oppose), similarly one can now notice the insinuation of homosexuality into the culture-productions. It becomes visible, included, and influential thereby. Normalized. But behind these appearances, behind this increasing in-flux, stands something far more raw, far more brutal, far more elemental, far more powerful and influential, and that is ‘the pornographic’, a truly ugly and vile *world*. And what *you* do has world-scale ramifications. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Comment of the Day, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Religion and Philosophy

“The Indefensible ‘Nigger’ Double Standard,” The Sequel!

From Princeton comes exactly the same scenario that I wrote about in March of 2016.

This time, it was anthropology professor Lawrence Rosen who used “nigger” multiple times during a lecture this week in his Anthropology 212 course, “Cultural Freedoms: Hate Speech, Blasphemy and Pornography.” “What is worse, a white man punching a black man, or a white man calling a black man a nigger?” Rosen said, in the context of describing “what is acceptable as free speech and what is not.”

Several black students walked out of the class in protest, two registered a complaint, and now Princeton has vowed to sponsor “a dialogue” with students. This gives far  too much legitimacy to their objections.  The students enrolled in a course about hate speech, blasphemy and pornography, and protested when the professor said an offensive word?

The school’s response should be “Stop looking for ways to be offended and to put others on the defensive, learn the meanings of the concepts of ‘intent,’ education,’ and ‘context,’ and grow the hell up.

As the 2016 post about the identical nonsense at the University of Kansas concluded, “Context matters, and in the case of nigger, the only context that matters is what the word was intended to communicate. The “context” of the speaker’s skin color does not matter.”

I am happy to be able to post that clip from “The Life of Brian” again, in which an official condemning a man for uttering the taboo “Jehovah”is executed for saying the word in order to condemn him.

I wonder if those Princeton students would get the joke.

[A related post is here.]


Pointer: Other Bill


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Childhood and children, Ethics Dunces, language, Race

KABOOM! So It Has Come To This: The Book-Of-The-Month TV Commercial

We have discussed here the increasingly common phenomenon of companies building their TV ads on the juvenile gag of suggesting a vulgar, obscene or rude word, or a topic not discussed publicly in polite society but not really saying what is clearly implied.

Kraft Heinz Company advertised its products with a TV ad in which a boss caught  his employee becoming sexually aroused by his lunch, with the tagline: “Food You Want to Fork.” Get it? HAR! Heineken featured a gay-themed beer ad about “flipping another man’s meat”–“Huh? It’s just barbecue! You must have a dirty mind!.” Wonderful Pistachios uses “nuts” as sexual innuendo, Booking.com uses “booking” in phrases suggesting “fucking,” and K-Mart uses “ship” to suggest “shit.” Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups has run commercial featuring the tags Women want like to make it last…Men are done in seconds…Typical.”  Last year, Volkswagen had Dean Martin crooning about “The Birds and the Bees”  while we see a VW bouncing up and down as the couples within engage in vigorous sexual intercourse, unless they are tying to use pogo sticks.

This is corporate America accelerating the coarsening and vulgarizing society, endangering manners, and helping to make boors out of our children. Quoting Ethics Alarms quoting Ethics Alarms the last time I wrote about this: Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Kaboom!, language

Question: Is There Any Justification For A State Censoring Vanity Plates? (And What’s Wrong With “KAIJUU”?)

My answer to the first question? Absolutely not.(  My answer to the second is, “I have no idea.” ) If a driver can put a sign in his rear view mirror or a bumper sticker on her bumper without state sanctions, then a driver should be able to have whatever he or she chooses on a vanity plate.

Utah, for examples, bans vanity plates with profanity, “derogatory language,”  drug references,  sex talk, references to bodily functions, “hate speech,” targeting a particular group, or advocating violence advocates, as well as alcohol references and the number combo “69.” Ethics verdict: None of their business. These are words and numbers, and the state is declaring content and intent impermissible. When I see a car with an obnoxious vanity plate, I’m grateful. This is useful information. Racist or vulgar plates translate into “I am an asshole, and want you to know it!”

Thank you, sir! I appreciate the heads up.

Below are the plates banned by Utah over the past five years. Most of them fly right over my head. If you have to be a cryptographer to figure out why a plate is offensive, then it’s not offensive.

The less our governments interfere with freedom of expression, the safer we are.

Here’s the list (the  pointer marks indicate spaces): Continue reading


Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Rights, U.S. Society