Ethics Agenda, 10/1/2021: Netflix Edition

I am finally ready to set up the first Ethics Alarms Zoom meeting. The topic will be the Netflix series “Clickbait,” which is an ethics cornucopia. I am looking at the period of October 7-21, in the evening, and need to know which days and times are preferred, as well as who and how many visitors here are interested. I’d prefer to facilitate discussion rather than have to dominate it, so I would also like to hear from you if there is a particular ethics issue raised by the story about which you would like to present your views to kick off discussion. I’m envisioning a 90 minute session, but it could be longer. You can respond on this post, or to me via email, jamproethics@verizon.net.

1. Great moments in “It isn’t what it is”…This week, a student attending an event with Vice President Harris opined that Israel was conducting “ethnic genocide” in Palestine. Harris responded, “Your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard.” For some strange reason, Israel’s press had a problem with this, and so did many American Jews and supporters of Israel. “VP Harris to student who accused Israel of ‘genocide’: Your truth must be heard,” was the headline in The Jerusalem Post. The Times of Israel said: “Kamala Harris doesn’t reject US student’s ‘ethnic genocide’ claim against Israel.” Harris’s flacks represented the episode as one big misunderstanding. Her office assured critics that the Veep’s “commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering” and that she “strongly disagrees with the George Mason student’s characterization of Israel.”

Of course she does! I know I always describe statements that I strongly disagree with as “the truth.”

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Showdown At CVS

I’ve been looking for an excuse to use my favorite Ethics Alarms movie clip again [FYI: The library has been updated!]…

Against my usual proclivities, I am engaged in a war with the CVS that I am not going to back down from, stranding my family members there and leaving my my weapons behind to be used by terrorists. I found it odd that every time I made a purchase at the store, about twice a week, I was asked to “re-enroll” in a savings program that I had participated in for over a year. This required me to click “yes”(rather than “later”) at the end of my transaction. I finally asked a clerk what was up, an he said he would check. The result: checking “yes” did nothing. My membership could not be reinstated at that time. He could not tell me why.

So I asked to see the manager, a nice middle-age woman whom I have known there for years. She couldn’t explain why either. Finally she said, “It’s the machines,” and wrote down a phone number for me to call at CVS’s website. “Excuse me, but why to I have to call because your store’s machine’s don’t work?,” I responded. “I’m the customer, I’m misinformed for weeks, I don’t get discounts I’m supposed to get, and I have to fix your problem? I have to sit through automated phone systems and wait times? You are CVS’s agent. You work here. You’re paid for it. You fix the problem. Don’t foist it off on me. I’m the one being inconvenienced.” At this point, by some sadistic twist of fate, a large, aggressive, loud and belligerent young woman had entered the store near the front counter, and she started addressing me stridently.”Why are you harassing them?” she boomed out. “They aren’t CVS. They just work here.”

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Ethics Filips, 4/30/21: Incompetence Amuck [Expanded]

1. CVS, our oasis of responsible health care...This really happened to me. At my local CVS this morning, waiting in line for the pharmacy, everything broke down when the trainee clerk couldn’t locate the prescription of the woman in front of me, who said she had received a call telling her to pick it up. The clerk and the supervisor insisted that they had no such prescription, and the supervisor even printed out a sheet showing her last five pick-ups. “Uh, that one on the top—the one with a red circle around it? That’s what I’m here to pick up,” she said, with less venom than I would have used. This completely confused the staffers, who caucused, and asked her to verify various dates. “Why don’t just look in the bin labeled “O” (her surname initial) and see if it’s there?” the woman suggested. They did, and sure enough, there were her pills. I started giggling, and she looked at me and said, soto voce, “Isn’t this scary?”

Then it was my turn. While waiting out this drama, I had noticed three printed signs reading that “The Coronavirus Vaccine is not currently available at any CVS locations. Check cvs.com for updates.” I asked to speak to the pharmacist, and told her that the signs were wrong: my sister and other people I know had been vaccinated at CVSs, and months ago. “Yes, but this CVS doesn’t have the vaccines,” she said. “But that’s not what the signs on your area say,” I pointed out. “They say that NO CVS locations have the vaccine. That is demonstrably untrue, and I would expect CVS staff to know that.”

“Oh,” she shrugged. “Well, it’s easy to change the signs…”

2. Yesterday I saw…

  • An 8 year-old boy, running in a field, completely alone, wearing a mask.
  • A man leaving his home maskless, then putting a mask on as he got into his car.
  • A teacher (we live next to an elementary school) outside with her class. She wore a mask, and so did half of the children.
  • A woman walking her dog on a windy day in Virginia. She had a mask. (The dog did not. Dogs are smart…)

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Mid-Day Ethics Meanderings, 7/22/2020: Relax, The Duke Is Safe.

1 .Another shoe drops: The Boston Red Sox announced that they would “support” any players who chose to kneel during the National Anthem when The Strangest Baseball Season since World War II, when teams fielded 16-year-old infielders and one-armed outfielders, commences tomorrow. The announcement was no surprise, and this team in particular had little choice.

Boston’s AL team is forever viewed with suspicion on race issues because it was the last major league team to break the color line, and because it passed on opportunities to sign some of the early black stars. Last season a visiting player claimed to hear a racist slur hurled his way from the Fenway Park bleachers, and the Red Sox management has been ostentatiously “woke,” cancelling Tom Yawkey  from the Fenway environs  though the team owes its existence to the long-time owner’s beneficence. He was rumored to be a racist, however, and that was enough to justify erasing his name (except from his initials in Morse Code on the scoreboard).

2.  Bad service only matters for drug stores, apparently. State regulators in Oklahoma cited and fined CVS for conditions found at four of its pharmacies, including inadequate staffing and errors made in filling prescriptions. Staffing just about everywhere is unfriendly to consumers—indeed, most stores were understaffed even before the lockdown, now half-lockdown while the teachers extort the country.

Our local CVS, where I have many ethics adventures, now has minimal staff, including in the pharmacy,  because there are so few customers lately. Hilariously, the store’s auto-scan checkout option is one of the features that requires staff: the damn things don’t work half the time, or a staffer has to lead some confused senior through the process.

3. Unfortunately, it’s more difficult than ever to believe sexual harassment allegations. #MeToo so egregiously overplayed its hand and has been so schizophrenic in its standards that I have to look at any high-profile allegations as potentially motivated by politics. In an action that must have been well underway before the Washington Redskins  suddenly caved and agreed to change the team’s name (yet another poll, a new one, has indicated that the vast majority of football fans and Native Americans have no problem with “Redskins”), 15 female ex-employees told The Washington Post that they were sexually harassed while working for the organization. Shortly thereafter, a Fox News staffer and periodic on-air guest filed suit in federal court alleging they had been harassed or raped  by Ed Henry, the Fox News reporter who was fired for “willful sexual misconduct in the workplace,”  The suit also alleges harassment by  Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, the latter perpetually on “the resistance’s” hit list and the target of boycotts, and Carlson recently becoming a force as a pundit. Therefore he must be destroyed.

Do I find it hard to believe that the Redskins, or any NFL team, has a culture hostile to female employees? No. Do I think that Fox News has effectively banished its pervasive workplace sexism and misogyny since the forced exits of the late Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly?  Absolutely not. Do I think weaponizing sexual harassment allegations has become a predictable and unethical tactic on the Left, (See: Mathews, Chris) thus making the timing of both of these sets of complants suspicious?

Is Bismark a herring?*

4. More things  now as predictable as they are indefensible. The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts will remove its John Wayne exhibit as part of the school’s efforts to address “systemic racism” in society with obnoxious, shallow and foolish gestures.

The Duke graduated from USC, of course (he was raised in Iowa), and the justification for his dishonoring was an admittedly dumb interview he gave Playboy in 1971, where he was obviously (to me, anyway, at the time) trolling a liberal and hostile magazine by saying exactly the kinds of things  the Wayne haters expected him to say. (I always assumed he was drunk during that interview.) This move by USC was expected—California, universities: you know, morons. As Spiked noted, Wayne’s importance to the culture and the history of film by virtue of his on-screen portrayals should not be diminished by any interview the actor did.

As an actor and a director,Wayne was careful to portray characters who respected blacks and other minorities as human beings. In “The Cowboys,” for example, he is routinely reprimanded and shown up by his black cook, played by the great Rosco Lee Browne. In many movies, like “McClintock!,” “Hondo” and “Fort Apache,” he demonstrated sympathy and respect for Native Americans; Wayne also prominently featured Chinese-American actor H.W. Gim in his films whenever feasible from 1942 on, notably as his landlord Chin Lee in “True Grit.”

If his character was a racist, Wayne didn’t hesitate to represent racism negatively, as when he opposed his black ranch hand (Woody Strode) learning to read in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” because Wayne’s character is hostage to archaic traditions, or when he seems determined to murder his white niece (Natalie Wood) because she has lived with Native Americans and presumably had sex with a chief.

All of John Wayne’s wives were also Mexican, meaning that his four children are “Persons of Color.”

Never mind. Wayne’s legacy and hold on the culture is unbreakable. Just last week I stumbled about four of his films on cable. They’ll get Mt. Rushmore before they shoot down the Duke. [Pointer: Pennagain]

__________________________

*Cultural literacy bonus points for identifying the source.

Sunday Evening Ethics Debriefing, 7/22/18: FISA, “Resistance” Jerks, Translator Ethics And More Problems With CVS

Good evening!

1.  Confirmation bias test? The big news today was that the  U.S. Department of Justice and FBI have released the 412 page FISA application used to gain a Title I surveillance warrant against Carter Page in 2016 while he was working as a low-level unpaid adviser for the Trump campaign. The document is heavily redacted in its more than 400 pages. Carter Page himself—he was never charged or interviewed , which seems rather damning in itself–said today,

“‘You talk about misleading the courts, it’s just so misleading… It’s literally a complete joke.'”

The full pdf is available here.

Once again, it is impossible to tell what is going on by following the news media’s reports. It sure seems, however that once you block out the spinning by the mainstream media, this post regarding Devon Nunes’ much attacked memo on the topic was verified.  Still, I have a low rate of patience for these things, and am not the best interpreter of documents like this, so I am only relying on second hand opinions by others who have plowed through the damn thing. I’ll wait to get some reliable readings.

It seems like the critics of the Mueller investigation and the conduct of Justice and the FBI feel confident that the materials show that indeed the warrants were acquired deceptively, meaning illegally, with the unsubstantiated Steele dossier being the crux of the justification for the warrants, also considering the fact that the Clinton campaign was behind the dossier was never revealed to the judges. [Here’s a recent example of the spin being applied to that argument. The judges were told that the dossier was paid for by a person with political motives, and the claim is that this was enough, that they could figure out that it was a tool of the Clinton campaign. I’ve never understood this argument. Why weren’t the judges informed directly, then? ] Ann Althouse commenter named Yancy Ward wrote, Continue reading

Ethics Analysis: My CVS Confrontation

As with many ethics problems, the most important question to answer  is “What’s going on here?”

This is what happened.

I take quite a few drugs, some of which keep me breathing. My doctor now e-mails the full slate, usually a three-month supply, but with automatic refills, after every check-up. This time, I actually witnessed the prescriptions being sent. From the start, however, there was a screw up. The first three drugs I tried to get refills for turned up expired: there was no record of the directive from my doctor. Each time, the same thing happened: the CVS pharmacy automated line said the order “was being filled;” when I arrived to get it, I was told that the prescription had expired; I explained that they had a glitch in their system; one of the staff agreed (“Ugh! This ticks me off! Someone is automatically cancelling these orders!”); and I eventually got my drug, sometimes after giving me a partial refill and my having the doctor call CVS to confirm. The last time, however, the prescription I sought was ready. (They all had been e-mailed at the same time.) They also offered me another drug, and extremely expensive one, that I didn’t need immediately. I said I didn’t care to spend the money just then, and they told me they would hold it.

Yesterday I needed that drug, the previous supply having run out the day before. I had no opportunity to go to the pharmacy until nearly 9 PM, but it shouldn’t have mattered: the pharmacy during the week is open until the CVS closes at 10 pm, and I knew the prescription was ready, because of my previous visit.

But it wasn’t. The pharmacist, a young woman, told me that I had no valid prescription. “Nope,” I said. “Wrong.” And I explained what had been happening with my drugs, how I was told that the system glitch had been fixed, and also that I actually saw the filled prescription I now needed when I picked up my last prescription. AND, I said, firmly, skipping a day was not an option. This drug was one of the ones I could not skip.

Then the excuses started. Continue reading

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!

Good Afternoon!

1 The kids are all right! Ethics Alarms has recently been graced with comments by some intrepid and articulate high school students on the guns and schools issue. I salute all of them, as well as the teachers who sent them our way. Some of the students also encountered the tough debate style and sharp rhetoric that our regulars also engage in. One of the students who found himself in a particularly spirited exchange, mostly with me, just sent me a long, self-flagellating and abject apology. My response in part..

Relax. Apology accepted, and I am grateful for it, and admire you for writing it. But you impressed me in many ways. I wish I could meet you.

When I was growing up, there was no internet. I just managed to earn as reputation as a clown, a master of sarcasm and insults, and someone who would never back down from an argument the old-fashioned way—by talking. I made a million gaffes along the way. I made an ass of myself. I hurt people. I also scared some people, but eventually I learned some boundaries. Meanwhile, the skills I acquired being a jerk sometimes have served me well, in college, in law school, in management, in theater, in ethics. (I’m still a jerk sometimes. You have to keep that edge.)

You are welcome to comment on Ethics Alarms any time, my friend. Just remember we’re all human beings, nobody hates anyone, and no mistake is final.

I do hope that any time young readers who identify themselves as such come here to argue, Ethics Alarms commenters will keep in mind that the best result, no matter what they might say while testing the waters here, is to keep them coming back.

2. Packaging designed to make you feel stupid…I’d do a whole essay on this again, but there have been a lot of “yelling at clouds” posts lately. The common practice of generics intentionally imitating the packaging of the original product they derive from is per se unethical. (I’m sure I have written about this before, but cannot find it. I know I criticized the practice of cheap kids animated videos of  stories like “Beauty and the Beast” copying the artwork and color scheme of the corresponding Disney version to fool inattentive purchasers.) My wife just got caught by a CVS scam—the company is a long-time offender—that fooled her into buying for my use an inferior knock-off of Pepcid A-C which I need because the Parkland shooting deception and agitprop is giving me ulcers. It is intentionally packaged with a red fez-shaped cap to look sufficiently like the good stuff to deceive consumers.

See?

Of course, as with the video, it isn’t exactly like the original: the shade of red is different, the cap shape isn’t quite the same, giving them plausible deniability.

There should be some kind of law or regulation to discourage this. I’m going to go into the store and complain to some nice clerk or manager, who will shrug and say she’s sorry, which is to say that, once more,  I will be yelling at clouds . Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “CVS Line Ethics”

golden-2

Texaggo4’s Comment of the Day  enriched the surprisingly lively discussion about  the ethical conundrum of how many single-item purchasers a CVS customer in line should let go before him to checkout if he had, as I did last week, a full cart.

 His discussion of applying The Golden Rule to the situation took off from my comment referring to his earlier assertion that it wasn’t strictly a question settled by Reciprocity. The numbered statements on Tex’s post are from me. Here is Tex’s COTD on the post, “CVS Line Ethics”—I added another brief comment he offered in the same thread at the end, as it is germane:

1.“I don’t recall Jesus, Zoroaster, Buddha and the rest ever noting the CVS exception.”

I don’t recall ever noting an exception either…since this isn’t necessarily Golden Rule territory. In this scenario, application of the Golden Rule would arise as the exception.

“2. The GR has nothing to do with an obligation. It is never an obligation. It is based on altruism.”

It is very much about obligation– and obligation isn’t a dirty word. The real question here is where do you draw the line on whose needs outweigh the others, and if they really do or not. Golden Rule would compel you to allow someone to cut if their cutting *actually* decreases *actual* harm. The Golden Rule doesn’t compel you to allow someone to cut *just because* it increases an already-present level of contentment in their lives. It may strongly suggest such conduct in so much as it doesn’t needlessly impose on you, but it no means compels it, hence this isn’t necessarily a Golden Rule scenario.

You see, “so whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” is a painfully open ended, and as such-much criticized maxim, when taken out of context. So, the Golden Rule IS the Law. Looking at the phrase elsewhere one would glean that ALL the Law, and therefore the Golden Rule, depends on two basic commands:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”

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CVS Line Ethics

Nothing is simple for an ethicist...

Nothing is simple for an ethicist…

Today, I was sent to the local CVS with an unusually long list. The store was almost empty, and only one clerk was checking out purchases. I had a full cart: paper goods, drinks, over the counter drugs, items on sale, all sorts of stuff.

One shopper was ahead of me in line, and just as she had paid, I noticed an older man standing nearby holding a single tube of ointment. “Go ahead, “I  said. “Thanks,” he replied. For some reason the man’s transaction took an absurdly long time: he was chatting with the clerk, and wanted cash back, and he had some coupons. Just as he was done, an elderly woman holding two small cans of cat food walked up and raised her eyebrows at me.

“Sure, be my guest,” I said, smiling, but not really feeling the smile. I had run out with dinner waiting, and I wasn’t planning on my mission taking this long. Just as I motioned her ahead, another woman, younger than the cat lady, stepped up to me holding a bag of cough drops and a box of Nyquil. “Could I possibly go ahead too? My husband is so miserable!”

“Sure, no problem,” I said, not smiling this time. Continue reading

Yup, Joe Morici Is A Hero, And CVS Is Right To Fire Him

batman

Joe Morici says his military instincts kicked in when he saw two thieves jump over the counter at the Beltsville, Maryland CVS where he worked and grab narcotics. Despite CVS’s strong (and typical) policy against employees playing Batman, Morici chased them to the front door, fended off a screwdriver attack, and retrieved most of what was stolen, though the criminals fled.

“He tried to hit me again with the screwdriver. I disarmed him of the screwdriver, while having the other guy pinned against the one door,” Morici said.

CVS fired him. Of course they did. The company can’t have clerks risking their own lives and those of customers by reckless interference with robberies.  Morici happened to have some training, but he wasn’t hired as a security guard, and chasing down bad guys isn’t in his job description. CVS had to fire him. It couldn’t give him a reward, either, because then it would have clerks all over the country trying to be heroes.

Thus Joe behaved, irresponsibly and CVS behaved responsibily, but allover the news media, this story is being played up as a great injustice, showing how cruel, heartless and ungrateful corporations are. That’s ignorant, and in the case of the news media, willfully so: their employers know CVS was right.

“Ah,” those Trump supporters will say. “This is why we need someone to make America great again! We don’t appreciate heroes any more!” It’s a visceral position, and like many visceral positions, simple-minded. This is, however, the way our culture encourages demagogues.

To be fair, Bernie Sanders supporters probably think CVS is wrong too.