Morning Ethics Shout-Out, 10/28/2020: “And Tyler Too…”

I am ashamed: when I listed my anti-depression playlist, I somehow managed to leave out one of the best and most exhilarating songs of the group: The Isley Brothers’ “Shout.” I apologize profusely.

1. Self-delusion is not ethical. When Ben Ferencz, the last surviving lead prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, finally leaves us (he’s in his nineties now and still going strong), I will make him an Ethics Hero Emeritus. As the new Netflix documentary about his astounding and ethics-focused life makes clear, few have devoted the time and energy to the cause of human rights and justice any more intensity or longevity than Ferencz. My admiration of him is only marred by his advocacy for pacifism, which the last portion of the film highlights. Ferencz was instrumental in the creation of the World Court, a kind of standing extension of the Nuremberg Trials which the U.S. has, wisely, refused to participate in. The legal scholar speaks passionately for the  cause of eliminating war by substituting law and international tribunals. The idea is delusional on its face, and also cynically exploited by those who know the idea is impossible, but who support it as a way to impose world government, and the concomitant reduction in individual liberty that would necessarily entail.

As Ethics Alarms has discussed many times, one great weakness of ethics as a discipline is its drift toward utopianism, and its persistent destruction of its own credibility by advocating goals and standards that cannot be achieved, indeed, that defy history and common sense. Has anyone asked Ben Ferencz if he really believes that Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, the USSR or current day North Korea and Iran would voluntarily submit to the edicts of a World Court? If he has, it did not make the documentary. One can understand why a man who has seen and experiences why Ferencz has during his long life would cling to the hope that some day war will be eradicated and peace will reign forever, but rejecting reality for comforting idealism does not, and never has, advanced the cause of ethics.

2. This would seem to be an easy topic for a bipartisan bill. (Why isn’t it?) Democrats introduced legislation making it illegal for banks and other financial firms to discriminate against their customers because of their race, religion, sexual orientation and other characteristics. I thought this was illegal already, but the absence of any mention of financial services constitutes a loophole in the Civil Rights Act. Thus “The Fair Access to Financial Services Act,” introduced a week ago by members of the Senate Banking Committee, would explicitly outlaw discrimination against bank customers. Right now, it is legal for banks and other financial businesses to treat some customers differently based on race as long as the services aren’t denied entirely. Banks can legally use racial profiling to delay customer transactions, or require extra steps to prove their legitimacy.

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Business Ethics: Tales Of Two Partisan Dunces

grocery Discount

1. The Trump Supporter: Jose Colon, owner of the Fresh Food Supermarket in Oakdale, New York,

Mr. Colon, a legal immigrant  from the Dominican Republic and a naturalized citizen, advertised a discount for supporters of President Trump on the store’s Facebook page last week.

“Trump supporters get 20% off.  Mention at the cash register you are a Trump supporter to get discount. (Excludes beer),” it read, as you can see above.

The store was immediately inundated with threats and social media posts advocating a boycott. Colon says he’s puzzled. .“We’re supposed to live in a free country,” Colon told Fox News. “This is weird. It’s crazy…We live in a free country where we support democracy, where we can go both ways, we can support left, right — whatever you want. I decided to vote and support the best interest, I believe, for this country.”

He has responded by offering the same discount to Biden supporters, and is claiming that this was his intent all along, though he is a vocal supporter of the President.

Let me try to explain what this particular citizen doesn’t seem to understand about his free country. It’s not going to remain free if people and businesses withhold goods and services from citizens based on their political beliefs, just as it is destructive to discriminate based on other criteria. If you want to break the nation into armed camps, having special restaurants, bars, grocery stores and movie theaters restricted to those of certain political persuasions is an excellent way to do it. What Colon did was well-intentioned, but un-American. He deserved the blowback, though the social media messages quotes don’t demonstrate any more civic comprehension than the grocery store owner seems to posess: what’s wrong with the discount isn’t that “Orange Man Bad,” but that it is unethical  for businesses to reward customers for their political views, which is the same as penalizing other customers for their political views. What does Colon think he’s doing? Buying votes with his discount?

I wouldn’t organize a boycott against a store that did this, but I wouldn’t buy groceries there again.

Then Colon’s solution to this dilemma of his own making was to offer the same discount to Biden supporters, discriminating against those who want to vote for the Libertarian or Green Party candidates, or Kanye West. Or me. Wrong. This flunks the Golden Rule test, Kant’s Universality test, and simple utilitarianism. In short, it’s unethical, and there is no ethical or civic defense for what he did. To be fair, the conservative news sources I’ve checked on this story, like Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, don’t seem to comprehend the problem any more than Colon does.

Meanwhile, does anyone believe that Colon always intended to offer a 20% discount to both Trump and Biden supporters as he now says? This is another reason for amateurs to stay out of politics: the pros lie better.

Well, usually.

2. The Biden Supporter: David Barrett, CEO of the software company Expensify.

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Ethics On A Sunday Afternoon, 9/27/2020: Baseball And Rainbow Hearts [Corrected]

1. For the first time since I was 12, I’m glad to see the regular baseball season come to an end.

Not only was the 60-game make-shift schedule played before empty stadiums,  with fake crowd noises and cardboard cut-outs a farce, but it looks like some of the accommodations made to adjust to Life Under Lockdown will stick, cheapening the game forever. The worst is the expanded play-off system, which, like the National Hockey League version, basically makes the regular season irrelevant. Maybe the habitually wrong-headed owners will reject it for future seasons, but I’m not sanguine. The extra-innings gimmick of starting each half-inning with a player on second is an abomination, and only slightly less offensive are the seven inning games in double-headers.

Meanwhile, I haven’t watched or followed a Boston Red Sox game since the team joined the one-day wildcat strike to protest the racist, brutal shooting of Jacob Blake, which was neither racist in motive nor an example of police brutality. I’ll be writing a long letter to the team this week: if it alienated me, it’s not only in trouble, it doesn’t know its fan base. And if I get anything approaching the “you’re just a racist not to believe that black lives matter” response that I got from idiot Boston sportswriter Pete Abraham, I’m burning all my Red Sox memorabilia, and burying the stuff that doesn’t burn.

Meanwhile, the club showed its ethics deficits in other ways. Before today’s merciful finale, the team announced that manager Ron Roenicke would not be returning in 2021, a move that was inevitable but that certainly didn’t have to be made now, before the season was even over. Roenicke did nothing to distinguish himself in the lost 2020 season, but he was a good soldier, doing his best—which appears to be mediocrity personified—to guide a snake-bitten team that began by losing its popular manager, Alex Cora because he’s a cheater, then traded its best player, superstar Mookie Betts, then lost its star pitcher to arm surgery and its second best pitcher to the complications from Wuhan virus. The Boston team began a 60 game season by quickly falling ten games under .500, guaranteeing no post season slot, and several of the veteran players started going through the motions. Roenicke, in short, never had wisp of a chance, and the team would have crashed if he were a combination of Casey Stengel, Earl Weaver, John McGraw and Connie Mack

Boston fans, even those that are not disgusted with the team for slapping huge racist, Marxist, lie-based slogans inside and outside Fenway Park, will not want to be reminded of this season, so Roenicke’s demise was mandatory, but he deserved to be treated with some respect. Not even waiting until the season to dump him was over has a “this guy is so bad we can’t stand having him around another second” stench to it, and he did not deserve that.

Well, there’s always the Yankees... Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences, Or “Good-Bye, Oscar!”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Science signed the death warrant of the Oscars, or, in the alternative, the film industry itself. This would warrant the “Madness! Madness!” clip, but I’m getting sick of it since that last moment in “Bridge Over The River Kwai”  been relevant almost every day since early June.

It was in June, in fact, that the Academy said it would add a diversity component to the Oscar requirements. I wrote than that it was an anti-artistic development. Yesterday, the dreaded other shoe dropped, and it was far more dilapidated and stinky metaphorical footwear  than I could have imagined, even with the complete contempt for Hollywood and the intellect of its leadership I have developed over the years. I am certain the race-hucksters and minority activists are dancing with joy, having destroyed the Oscars in order to “save” them. Yes, it’s a victory: the Woke Mob has succeeded in wrecking another American  institution and source of enjoyment for the  public. The only question is which institution: merely the Awards, or Hollywood itself.

To be optimistic, I assume it’s just the Oscars, in which case the Academy just committed suicide. The Awards show once was a shared cultural experience, then the actors started getting political and partisan, then the integrity of the process began to look fishy, and over time, culminating in the nominations miraculously including more African American nominees because a activists complained about too many white people receiving the honors. If I had bothered to think about the Oscars at all, they would have been high on my list of casualties of the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck. Of course Hollywood would leap at the invitation to mandate the “right” kind of discrimination.

When you read the hilariously pompously named “Academy Aperture 2025” below, it should become immediately clear that the Academy has abandoned its mission of encouraging, promoting and rewarding excellence in cinema, and now will be giving out awards for meeting interest group dictated quotas and dubious social justice criteria. Whether the movies are any good or not will be secondary. Artists are being given incentive to seek political objectives at the cost of artistic integrity and worth.  Well, good luck with that: I doubt many Americans will care about such awards, especially since they barely care about the Oscars now. The Academy Awards seem to be following the doomed path of the Miss America Pageant, which capitulated to the feminists, ceased to be about attractive women in bathing suits, and thus eliminated the only justification, already slim,  for its existence.

I think I understand how the Academy came to make such a bone-headed decision: it is dominated by progressives, and as they have devolved from  passion to fanaticism to  obsession, progressives have become deluded into  accepting the concept that politics and political correctness determines virtue and value in all things.  It is an indefensible decision that betrays the essence of art, but I understand it.

I assume that most film-makers, and all of those with integrity— will choose to follow their artistic vision whether it allows the requisite number of “diversity” boxes to be checked or not. I assume that eventually, maybe quickly, a widely praised and a hugely successful film will be snubbed for not having the required number of handicapped and trans key grips, and the Awards will be mocked out of existence. We shall see: the studios, being award-hungry and run my morons, will initially insist that films meet the Oscars’ restrictive criteria, and then, when the box office suffers, most of them sill conclude, “To Hell with this: let’s make movies people want to see.”

Hollywood has bet its chips on joining the Black Lives Matter mission of creating a race-based culture where color and ethnicity, and secondarily gender, dictate advancement, financial rewards, influence and power. This is part of the indoctrination process, and if it results in bad art, so be it.

I think it’s a foolish bet, but time will tell.

Now hold on to your butts, as Samuel L. Jackson says in my favorite dinosaur movie: here are the standards that, beginning in 2024, films  will have to meet on order to  to qualify for the Best Picture category… Continue reading

Google Is Making It Extra-Easy To Discriminate On The Basis of Race! Thanks, Google! [CORRECTED!]

[I was so upset about this that I rushed to get it up, with the usual skipped words and missed typos. I think they are all fixed now. I’m sorry for the sloppiness]

Well, isn’t that ducky! Google pledged last month to support the black community in its battle for “initiatives and product ideas that support long-term solutions  to systemic racism, and has come up with a nifty way to do it that will assist racists of all colors everywhere. Continue reading

Monday Ethics Cool-Down, 7/27/2020: Lots of Stuff Hanging Around The Runway

I have a long night of work ahead of me, so I don’t know what time it is.

Or care.

1. Res ipsa loquitur.  Oopsie! “Health company apologizes for falsely telling 600,000 US military members they were infected with coronavirus”

Tricare apologized for a poorly worded email that implied the recipient had  been infected with the Wuhan virus.

I guess the writer was a Rutgers English major.

On the bright side, it is better to get a false positive than a false negative.

2. Schadenfreude Alert! Seattle radio host  Paul Gallant  mocked President Donald Trump last month for suggesting Seattle’s riots were violent. Then, last night, the “mostly peaceful” demonstrations got his Starbucks. HIS STARBUCKS!!!

“I feel like I need to buy a firearm, because clearly this is going to keep happening. Enough is enough,” Gallant he added.

It was enough a long time ago, you pathetic jerk.

3.  Boy, when you can’t even trust the sports reporters…ESPN tweeted a video over the weekend of players from the WNBA’s New York Liberty and the Seattle Storm leaving the court, and wrote, “As the national anthem was played, the @nyliberty and @seattlestorm walked off the floor as part of the social justice initiative.” For this display, the women were roundly criticized.

Then ESPN tweeted  “Correction: Players left the court before the national anthem was played, not during.” That’s what I call a material mistake.

Nevertheless, at last checking,  the original misleading tweet is still up.

4. This is presumably justifiable because all cops in New Jersey are racists, as proven by the fact that a non-racist cop in Minneapolis killed a black man.  Kevin Trejo, 21, of Westwood, New Jersey has been arrested for  spitting into the coffee of a police officer at Starbucks.  Police have evidence  that Trejo had done this repeatedly with officers.  Trejo claims to have only done it just once. Oh! Well that’s OK, then!

Question 1: Is this a violent offense?

Question 2: Why would any police officer chance ordering a beverage at Starbucks? Continue reading

A Sunday Morning Ethics Quiz: “Ass and Boobs” vs. “The Camel’s Toe” [Corrected]

Roenick, Lipinski and Weir. Wait…Johnny Weir is gay?

Ex- pro hockey star Jeremy Roenick has sued NBC Sports for wrongful termination, claiming the network discriminated against him as a heterosexual. At issue is his firing in February of this year for saying,  during a Barstool Sports podcast called “Spittin’ Chiclets”, while discussing his wife and Kathryn Tappen, a coworker,

“I’m swimming with my wife and Kathryn, and they’ve got their bikinis on, and they look fuckin’ smokin. Ass and boobs everywhere. It’s great.”

I suppose I should mention by way of context that sports fans do not listen to ex-hockey players  blather on “Barstool Sports” to be enlightened on the writings of Marcel Proust. Nonetheless, NBC quickly suspended Roenick, and though he issued an apology, his NBC supervisor, Sam Flood, subsequently informed him that he was fired.

[Notice of Correction: I originally wrote that Barstool Sports was an NBC production, It isn’t. So Roenick was fired for comments made when he was not under the auspices of NBC.]

What sparked the lawsuit now was the absence of any discipline levied by NBC sports after NBC Sports commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir participated this May in a leering promotional video for the At-Home Variety Show on the Peacock streaming service, joined by “Pitch Perfect” actors Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “KABOOM! Anti-White Stereotyping At The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture”

This is a historic moment for Ethics Alarms. Glenn Logan has scored three (3) Comments of the Day in a row, and has a fourth that will not be consecutive idling on the runway.  Today is is particularly well-timed, as it prepares us for the horrors to come today on this space. Be warned.

The “plaint above” that he refers to at the outset is this, Glenn’s earlier COTD on the same post.

Here is the follow-up to that comment, and Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day on the post, “KABOOM! Anti-White Stereotyping At The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture”:

You know, after I wrote the plaint above, I forgot once again to consider the ethics of this matter. As this is an ethics blog and not a political site or repository for polemics against … whatever insult heaped upon our collective sensibilities today (and cranial detonations are certainly polemic-worthy), I guess I need to offer whatever my meager brain can conjure regarding the subject matter of Jack’s home on the Internet.

I wonder what ethical principle allows non-whites to hold the descendants of this country’s founders in contempt for the practices, language, and culture they adopted and adapted for their own? I know the New York Times wants to argue that black people founded and built this country under the whips of white masters, but the objective, historical truth is far different from their bizarre, revisionist perspective.

When did it become the ethical duty of white people to learn other languages, change their culture to fit the sensibilities of minority immigrants and former slaves, reject the founding principles of the country founded by majority white Anglo-Saxon descendants? Is this true of just the USA, or are all former slave-holding countries bound to do this? Or does this apply only to majority white countries. What guiding ethical principle provides for this self-immolation? Continue reading

The Ethicist Apparently Endorses Discrimination As Ethical

, the New York Times Magazine’s ethics columnist, just opened a can of metaphorical worms, and I’m going to spread them around a little. It may get messy.

A woman—actually, now that I re-read the post, we don’t know it’s a woman— wrote to be reassured that he or she wasn’t a bad person for wanting to dump a man she had engaged in a nascent romantic relationship after discovering that he had Crohn’s Disease. “I know I’m being selfish, but is it unethical to not date him because of it?” she wrote. ” I don’t know what to do to support him, and I am worried about the future. He said it’s very likely his intestinal issues could get worse, and his life expectancy may be shorter. I want to shield myself from the pain, but I also feel like a terrible person for even thinking about it.”

Hey, don’t feel bad,  sayeth “The Ethicist”:

“Once someone is truly a friend or a lover, you have all kinds of responsibilities to them that you didn’t have before. So for example, it would be deplorable to abandon a spouse because he or she has become seriously ill. That’s part of what’s meant by saying a marriage is to endure “in sickness and in health.” Of course, this can turn out to be a promise someone can’t keep. But precisely because a partnership is for the long term, you can appropriately consider what your lives together would be like before you enter into one. When a potential partner is already seriously ill, committing to this person may be committing to a life as a caregiver. (The specific condition you mention has a wide range of severity; it can be mild and well controlled or genuinely debilitating.) You don’t owe it to anyone to accept that burden; indeed, if you think you don’t want such a life, you have a good reason not to enter into the relationship. It doesn’t make you a terrible person to think about the issue. The terrible thing would be to make the commitment and then to be unable to keep it.”

Oddly for “The Ethicist,” he ducked the main question that was asked, and instead answered what he thought was an easier one.   The questions he answered were ” Is it wrong to reject a commitment to someone because that commitment may be too burdensome?,” and “Is it wrong to think about the issue?” (It isn’t wrong to think about anything, regardless of what Black Lives Matter says. They should see what I think about them.)

What the inquirer was asking, however, is whether she should end a casual relationship—she had only known the guy through Zoom, after all—because he had Crone’s Disease, before she could form an attachment to him and might decide that he was worth the trouble…make that  potential trouble.

I see no distinction between what she wants to do and invidious discrimination in any other relationship, like employment. Discrimination is when you treat someone worse than someone else because of who they are and  features they have no control over, rather than what they do, have done, or “the content of their character.” It is also discrimination to make judgments about someone based on assumptions about people “like” them—profiling, essentially. “I don’t want to date him, even though I really like him, because he has a handicap” is,  as I see it, indistinguishable from saying, “I don’t want to hire her because she has a handicap/ is likely to become pregnant/ is old/ is black.”

That’s discrimination, and that’s wrong. Continue reading

A Message From PetSmart

I just received a message from the CEO of PetSmart, which inspires this project: I ask any and all Ethics Alarms readers to send in, as comments to this post, other virtue-signaling screeds from businesses and organizations on the topic of race. Once we have a sizable collection, Ethics Alarms will hand out some awards—Most Sincere, Most Offensive; Most Ridiculous; Most Hypocritical; Most Substantive, even Most Useful, if there is such a message. Perhaps I will put these up for a vote.

Here’s the PetSmart letter; I’ll have some comments at the end. Continue reading