Worst Dinner Guests Ever

If you are invited to dinner with these two, be sure to bring popcorn and a camera.

Jeremie Calo and Tiffani Lynn Barganier decided to have sex on top of their table  at Paddy Murphy’s, an Orlando, Florida restaurant. The fact that many families were there trying to eat didn’t faze them a bit, apparently. The manager  summoned the police after he “was notified by several patrons that a couple was having sex on a table in view of minor children,” according to an Orlando Police Department report.

You can read the report here, at The Smoking Gun.

If anyone has any theories how two adults could be raised in a civilized country and think this is responsible, respectful, tolerable behavior, please pass them on.  My assumption is that anyone with this little respect for others and civilized norms is dangerous, and certainly not trustworthy. Outside of a purveyor of live sex shows in Vegas, what sane employer would hire either of these creatures?

The question of most import is whether they are just outrageous outliers with no greater significance, or whether public manners are in the process of reaching depths we never thought possible?


Facts and Graphic: The Smoking Gun

Comment of the Day: “Comment of the Day: ‘The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies'”


Does the truth matter?

No, that wasn’t a typo: Karl Penny just achieved a first for Ethics Alarms, a Comment of the Day in response to a Comment of the Day.

The COD at issue was Gary’s assertion that he had no obligation to align his ethical preferences according to my analysis (or any other) of the “Ina Garten rejects Make A Wish” dispute, and that to him it was “just a story” that he could use or ignore according to what he chose to believe.

This inspired Karl’s excellent Comment of the Day, which also contains one passage that would justify another Ethics Alarms first, an Ethics Quote of the Week in a Comment of the Day on a Comment of the Day. I bolded it. Thanks, Karl: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies”

He's young, sick, and poor. His mother must be right, then.

Gary, an occasional commenter, grabs the Comment of the Day with a provocative one on a post from quite a while back. To refresh your memory, a sick child named Enzo Pereda asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation to get him a one-on-one cooking experience with “The Barefoot Contessa,” Ina Garten. Garten refused, and the boy’s mother led an online shaming exercise, condemning Garten, encouraging boycotts of her Food Channel show, and launching other bloggers and media on an anti-Ina rampage. Ethics Alarms’ verdict was that the boy’s mother was engaged in compassion bullying, demanding that this cable celebrity do her child’s bidding, alter her own schedule and priorities, and grant her son’s arbitrary “wish” because he happened to be ill. Garten had no obligation whatsoever to do what someone, or even everyone, might consider a kind act, and the one who was acting unethically was Enzo’s mother.

Gary’s comment goes to the heart of what Ethics Alarms is all about. Here is his Comment of the Day on “The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies.”  I’ll have some additional comments at the end: Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Joe Klein and Chris Matthews

John Edwards agrees with Chris Matthews

Journalist Joe Klein has been a candidate for an Ethics Dunce award for a long time, because he has been ethically suspect or worse for a long time. His defining integrity moment came when he lied about his authorship of the Bill Clinton roman-a-clef, “Primary Colors.” Since that time, Klein has gradually evolved into a shamelessly biased and ethically muddled political commentator from the left. Too bad. He’s a perceptive guy and a wonderful writer, but he makes his living now shooting from the hip, so we seldom get the benefit of his best qualities.

It was inevitable that the Chris Matthews Show would allow Klein’s ethical blindness to reach full flower.  Matthews has been on his own journey of self-diminishment since MSNBC decided to become the anti-Fox; where once he could be counted on to treat the issues of the day fairly and avoid partisan cheerleading, the Obama years have seen him abandon any effort at objectivity or even-handedness. Matthews’ Sunday morning panel show now eschews ideological balance and has Matthews posing questions to a rotating group of reliable conservative-bashers, with an occasional straight journalist mixed in who at least pretends to be neutral.  On Sunday, Matthews asked his panel about the appropriateness of the Justice Department’s prosecution of uber-cad John Edwards for violations of the federal election laws. It’s not a bad question, and reasonable people can disagree about the answer. The charges against Edwards stem from solicitation of large cash gifts from two long-time friends and supporters while he was simultaneously running for president and trying to cover up the existence of his love-child with Rielle Hunter and the adulterous affair that spawned her.  The money was given directly to Hunter, raising a legal question as to whether it was really a campaign contribution at all. Continue reading

Tide Commercial Reflections–with Acti-Lift!

This post isn’t going to have any additional ethical musings on the Tide commercials themselves, for I am sick to death of them, and almost as sick of arguing about them. What I have been thinking about instead is what to glean from the fact that an ethics critique of a 30 second laundry soap commercial has become the most viewed post on Ethics Alarms after fourteen months and about 1,100 posts, and has generated more debate than all but a few other issues.

Not that I much mind becoming the apparent ethics authority on Tide (with Acti-Lift!).  It’s a small niche, but at least it’s a niche. If you Google almost anything about the original commercial—“green shirt” and Tide, for example—Ethics Alarms is the first non-Tide site that gets listed. Still, with carefully considered ( and occasionally proofed) posts on politics, immigration, global warming, education, sex, law enforcement competing with it for attention, my ethics review of a TV commercial has attracted far more interest than any one of them.

Why? My thoughts: Continue reading

The Trouble With Auto-Tune

The British show that launched “American Idol,” X-Factor, admitted that it had used Auto-Tune, an audio processor that corrects a singer’s pitch and tone. An 18-year-old contestant named Gamu Nhengu sang just a little too well in the show’s seventh season premiere, and fans and critics started hinting at conspiracy on the web, especially via the show’s Facebook page. Finally, a spokesman for “X-Factor” confessed that Auto-Tune was used to fix disruptions caused by the many microphones used on stage during the telecast, but that the judge’s decisions were definitely based on the actual, non-Auto-Tuned performances of contestants. The show’s producers, he assured the public, only used the processor to “deliver the most entertaining experience possible for viewers.”

I’m sure that is true. This is exactly the reason TV executives rigged the quiz shows in the 1950’s. It is the reason why TV reality shows are scripted, and why NBA stars get away with game fouls that referees call against lesser players. Any competition’s entertainment value is enhanced by better competitors and more suspenseful action. The problem is that once spectators know or suspect that they are being manipulated, they stop watching at all. The fact that Simon Cowell’s UK hit would use the device immediately roused “American Idol” conspiracy theorists, and  Cowell to immediately announced an Auto-Tune ban. Continue reading

The Legal Rape, and the Limits of Cultural Tolerance and Religious Freedom

Sometimes conduct is just wrong, and a culture should be able to reject and condemn it confidently without engaging in navel-gazing over cultural tolerance and diversity. The position, unfortunately popular, that all cultural determinations of right and wrong are equally valid is both lazy and insidious, though it has wormed its way into the minds of some who would cal themselves “progressive,” but who are more appropriately called “confused.”

In this category is a New Jersey Court judge, who refused to find a Muslim defendant guilty of sexual assault despite undisputed evidence that he raped his wife multiple times, (immediately prior to their divorce), saying at one point,

“You are my wife, I can do anything to you. The woman, she should submit and do anything I ask her to do.” Continue reading