Tag Archives: diversity

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/14/2018: The “Blotto From A Sleepless Night Fuming About Nobody Stopping That Puppy From Being Stuffed In The United Overhead Luggage Bin” Edition

Good Morning, United!

Where’s that whimpering sound coming from?


1 Don’t make America stupid, ABC. The new ABC legal drama “For The People” premiered last night, and lost me forever. I can’t trust the writers. In the final moments of the episode, a veteran female defense lawyer was consoling a young lawyer who was upset after losing a case. The older lawyer evoked the memory of a 1951 rookie for the New York Giants, who went hitless in his first Major League games and was devastated. But his manager put him in the line-up again, and he hit a home run in his first at bat, and never stopped hitting.

“Ah,” said the young lawyer, “Willie Mays. The greatest player who ever lived.” The older lawyer nodded sagely.

By no measure was Willie Mays the greatest baseball player. Is this racial politics by series creator Shonda Rhimes? I assume so: there is no other plausible explanation. The odds of two randomly selected baseball fans asserting that Mays was the greatest baseball player would only be more than miniscule if anyone who knows baseball believed that. Willie was the greatest centerfielder of all time, the greatest African-American player of all time, quite possibly the most charismatic and entertaining player to watch of all time, and very possibly the second most gifted baseball player of all time. But he wasn’t the greatest. The best player by every measure, statistical, modern analytics, WAR, JAWS, OPS, contemporary reports and common sense was, of course, Babe Ruth. He was the greatest hitter who ever lived, a great pitcher before that, and no athlete in any sport ever dominated it like Babe did in the Twenties.

Now, any individual can hold an eccentric opinion that Willie was better. But that was not how the assertion was presented. It was presented as an accepted fact that two random baseball fans agreed upon. This is irresponsible misrepresentation. I was trying to think of an equivalent: I think it’s like a TV show having someone quote the Declaration of Independence, and a listener then  say, “Thomas Jefferson. Our greatest President!” as the other individual nods sagely.

2. Four Regans, or, if you prefer, Linda Blair Heads.This is the new Ethics Alarms graphic for unethical media spin. The number of Regans can range from one to four, with four Regans signifying “spinning so furiously her head might fall off.” (If you don’t get the reference, you are seriously deficient in cultural literacy.) The four Regans go to the polar news media spinning yesterday’s special election in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Democrat Conor Lamb appears to have narrowly won a seat in a Republican stronghold, though the race is still too close to call. Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Race, Rights, Science & Technology, Sports, Workplace

Windy Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/2/18: More Supreme Court Fun, Transparency Games, Ethical and Unethical Quotes Of The Day…


(Wind storms all over Virginia, knocking out power and my e-mail, and blowing over a tree that narrowly missed my son’s car!)

1 Lack of Transparency? What lack of transparency? During a lecture and moderated discussion at U.C.L.A. this week in which he was a a participant and invited guest, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was heckled with hisses, jeers, shouted insults and profanity from students and protesters, some of whom were ushered and even carried out by police officers. A programmed sixth grader in the audience even questioned him about the fairness of passing permanent tax cuts for companies and expiring cuts for individuals, because as we all know, 10-year-olds are well-versed in tax policy theory.

Afterwards, Mnuchin  revoked his consent for the official video of the event to be released, perhaps because he was flustered by the harassment and it showed. In response to criticism of this virtual censorship,

The Treasury Department, through a spokesperson, said that what the Secretary did wasn’t what he obviously did—a Jumbo, aka “Elephant? What elephant?”—saying,

“The event was open to the media and a transcript was published. He believes healthy debate is critical to ensuring the right policies that do the most good are advanced.”

He just doesn’t want anyone to see or hear the debate.

A related point: The protests were organized by Lara Stemple, a U.C.L.A. law professor, and students and faculty members participated. Protests are fine; disrupting the event is not. Faculty members who assisted in the heckling should be disciplined, and students who participated should be disciplines as well.  It’s an educational institution, and all views sgould be openly explored and heard without interference. No guest of the university should be treated this way. Ever. No matter who it is or what their position. The treatment on Mnuchin was unethical.

2. More Supreme Court fun with ethics! Minnesota’s law banning “political” clothing and buttons from polling places is being challenged as an affront to free speech. The law prohibits people from wearing a “political badge, political button or other political insignia” at a polling place on an election day, and a member of the tea party movement sued after his “Tea Party” message got him in trouble when he came to vote.

Here is Justice Samuel A. Alito’s exchange with Daniel Rogan of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, who was defending Minnesota’s law:

“How about a shirt with a rainbow flag?” asked Alito. “Would that be permitted?”

“A shirt with a rainbow flag?” Rogan repeated. “No, it would — yes, it would be — it would be permitted unless there was — unless there was an issue on the ballot that — that related somehow to — to gay rights.”

Justice Alito: Okay. How about an NRA shirt?

Mr. Rogan: An NRA shirt? Today, in Minnesota, no, it would not, Your Honor. I think that that’s a clear indication—and I think what you’re getting at, Your Honor—

A T-shirt bearing the words of the Second Amendment? Alito asked.

Probably banned because of the gun-control issue, Rogan said.

The First Amendment? Alito asked. Probably not, Rogan answered.

Got it. The First  Amendment isn’t a political statement, but the Second Amendment is. That led Justice Neil M. Gorsuch to observe: “Under your interpretation of ‘political,’ it would forbid people from wearing certain portions of the Bill of Rights into a polling place but not other portions of the Bill of Rights. And I guess I’m just wondering what compelling interest Minnesota has identified that requires a statute that goes so much further than the vast majority of states?”

In contrast, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asked J. David Breemer, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation, representing the challengers, “Why should there be speech inside the election booth at all, or inside the what you call the election room? You’re there to vote.”

This is a problem requiring an “all or nothing” solution. Either all forms of political speech must be allowed, or no speech at all. In a sick time where citizens honestly argue that a MAGA cap or a picture of a gun makes them feel threatened and “unsafe,” the ethical option would seem to be Justice Kennedy’s. No speech, messages, no logos, no photos, no American flags. Last fall I voted wearing my Red Sox jacket.

Uh-uh. Continue reading


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Jumbo, Law & Law Enforcement

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/20/17: Harvard Hypocrisy, Homely Actors, Horrible Apologies, And The Head Of Apple’s Diversity Program Lands On A Pike

Good Morning.

1 And The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck rolls on…The Harvey Express ran over several more notables in various ways last week (like Lena Dunham…). Although Senator Al Franken got most of the publicity. One was actor Jeffrey Tambor, the long-time character actor turned star of the streaming show “Transparent,” about a transgender woman. Tambor’s former assistant, eager to pick up her #MeToo brownie points even at the risk of throwing the entire “Transparent” cast and staff out of work (this is another reason why these matters are more ethically handled privately), accused the actor of lewd comments and in one case “pressing up against her.” Now Tambor, and almost certainly the hit show, are, as Jeff Flake would say. “toast.”

This weekend I crafted the apology Franken should have offered, but as bad as the one he actually offered was, it was arguably better than what Tambor came up with:

“For the past four years, I’ve had the huge privilege — and huge responsibility – of playing Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman, in a show that I know has had an enormous, positive impact on a community that has been too long dismissed and misunderstood.

I know I haven’t always been the easiest person to work with. I can be volatile and ill-tempered, and too often I express my opinions harshly and without tact. But I have never been a predator — ever.

I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone. But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express.”

On the Apology Scale, this combines the worst features of a #9, a “non-apology apology,” with #10, an “insincere and dishonest apology,” with some other obnoxious features thrown in for bad taste.  Tambor begins by patting himself on the back–-I’m the star, and it hasn’t been easy, but look at all the good I’ve done!—then moves on to Rationalization # 19. The Perfection Diversion: “Nobody’s Perfect!” or “Everybody makes mistakes!”

Next, he engages in deceit, stating that he’s never been a predator, which is like saying he’s never been a race car driver or an antelope. He’s accused of sexual harassment and one incident of sexual assault. What his statement amounts to a non-denial denial: “I never did what she’s accused me of doing more than once!”


2. “Because sometimes they say yes…” It is no coincidence that Tambor, Franken and Weinstein all come from the performing arts world and all are very homely men. I have observed in my own theater experience that the most aggressive violators of the boundaries of restraint and decorum in interactions with women in a theatrical settings are frequently the guys who are unattractive and feel  that it they don’t take chances, they’ll die a virgin. It is astounding how aggressive some of them are, and how resilient they remain after rejection and even physical abuse. If they fail a hundred times and succeed once, that’s positive reinforcement enough. If, through talent, hard work and luck, such individuals reach a level of power in the performing arts profession, sexual harassment is an established behavior pattern that doesn’t set off their ethics alarms at all.

3. It’s NOT OK to be white? Denise Young Smith, Apple’s first vice president of diversity and inclusion and an African-American, was part of a  panel discussion on fighting racial injustice eat the One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia. At one point she said,

“Diversity is the human experience. I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT…there can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.” 

Apple fired her, six months into her new role after 20 years successfully running Apple’s international Human Resources department. Smith did not have the integrity to stand by her words, and instead tried a desperate Pazuzu grovel, apologizing and saying that her words “were not representative of how I think about diversity.”  It didn’t work. Continue reading


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Popular Culture, Quotes, Romance and Relationships, Workplace

KABOOM! Brandeis Cancels A Play About Political Correctness Because Students And Faculty Protested That It Wasn’t Politically Correct

I do want to thank Curmie, our esteemed drop-in commenter who is a drama teacher and chronicler of ethics outrages from the world of education, for ambushing me with this head-exploding story from Brandeis University. And my head had been doing so well.

Playwright Michael Weller had received a Creative Arts Award from Brandeis, and when he wrote a  a play, “Buyer Beware,” that satirized the political climate on U.S. campuses the University scheduled it to make its premiere there. The satire concerns a student who discovers the works of  iconic 50s era comedian Lenny Bruce, and attempts to stage a  production in the spirit of the taboo-challenging comic. The production offends  students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Brandeis-like university, which worries that the controversy will offend a crucial donor. The script, channeling Bruce (think George Carlin but more abrasive, and not as funny) called for a white character to use “nigger” in several instances. The play quotes Bruce’s famous manifesto against strictures against mere words: “Imagine if we just kept saying these words over and over again, sooner or later they’d become meaningless noise.”

Without reading the script, it appears, so many students protested that Brandeis administrators, proving that their spines and principles were noodle-flexible, capitulated and cancelled the production, when the statements of the protesters should have made it obvious that such a play was desperately needed. For example, Andrew Childs is an Undergraduate Department Representative for the Theater Arts Department and a member of the season’s play selection committee, told the student newspaper,

“The issue we all have with it is that [Weller] is an older, straight…, able-bodied and white man. [ Wait! Isn’t it okay to be white?] It isn’t his place to be stirring the pot.”

What are they teaching at Brandeis? Only certain genders and races can “stir the pot”? Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Kaboom!

Ethics Quiz: “The Stickering”

More than a dozen handmade stickers reading “It’s okay to be white” were posted around overnight in Harvard Square earlier as well as around the nearby Harvard Law School campus.

Law School Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells, who is black, wrote an email to law students in the wake of what Stephen King might call “The Stickering”:

“It seems likely that these anonymous postings, made in the middle of the night, were provocations intended to divide us from one another HLS will not let that happen here. We live, work, teach, and learn together in a community that is stronger, better, and deeper because of our diversity and because we encourage open, respectful, and constructive discourse”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Dayand watch your step!—is…

Do you think posting the stickers was unethical? Do you think the Dean’s response was responsible?

Continue reading


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Quizzes, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

“Why Is Madeleine Leader Still Employed?” And Related Puzzles

That was an email from Democratic National Committee Data Services manager Madeleine Leader, announcing that the Technology Department is looking to fill several positions and asking interested parties to forward the openings to their colleagues.

Note the last sentence:

“I personally would prefer that you not forward to cisgender straight white males, since they’re already in the majority.”


Seven questions bubble up to the surface as I ponder this:

1 Why is Madeleine Leader still employed by the DNC? I can answer that one: her email accurately reflects the culture of the Democratic National Committee, and the Democratic Party. If she wasn’t completely confident that such an open expression of prejudice and discrimination would be acceptable, she would not have dared to put such a sentiment into print.

Even so, if the Democrats had an ounce of sense or even aspired to decency, they would have fired Leader with expressions of horror, and proclaimed her a rogue employee. However, the party apparently believes that its base and perhaps even the typical Democrat will read Leader’s message and say, “What’s the matter with that?”

2. Do progressives and Democrats really think there is a difference between saying “no white, straight males need apply” and “no black lesbians need apply”? I can answer that one too. Of course they do. They really think the latter is despicable, racist, sexist homophobia, and the former is just virtuous diversity at work.

They really do. No, seriously. They do.

3. Why was this story first reported at the Daily Wire, a conservative website, then at several other conservative websites, then on Fox News, and finally at The Hill, a political website that tilts left, but not yet at any mainstream media sources?

See #1 above. One reason the DNC thinks it can pretty much duck this embarrassment is that it knows the mainstream media will cover the party’s  tracks by not reporting the story. “Democracy dies in  darkness,” pompously proclaims the Washington Post on its front page. Right. The Post doesn’t want independents or anyone who isn’t in lock-step with whatever the Democratic Party does or says to know how low the party of Jefferson, Jackson and FDR has sunk, and how much it has abandoned democratic ideals. It has been three days since Leader’s email became public. The Post has kept the story in darkness.  So has the New York Times, apparently because blatant bigotry at the DNC isn’t news fit to print. Continue reading


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Science & Technology, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, Workplace

Comment Of The Day: “The West Point Communist, How Cultures Rot, And The Whistleblower’s Letter…”

I was hoping one of the Ethics Alarms military vets would on the issues raised by the recent West Point scandal, and frequent commenter Steve, among others obliged.

Here is Steve’s Comment of the Day on the post, The West Point Communist, How Cultures Rot, And The Whistleblower’s Letter…

These issues are the result of the PC culture that civilian leadership has foisted on all things military. Results are demanded, not those of honor and integrity but of achievement of feminist and progressive goals.

I am retiring from the Marine Corps, things have changed and in terms of accomplishing the mission only a few changes have been good. The core of our military is the infantry, the best of the best of our officers strove to become infantry officers, the most demanding and dynamic job a young officer can have. To be successful you have to be in the top 10 percent of physical performance, be mature, have heart and character. The service academies strove to develop those types of leaders, the type that could be successful infantry officers. With that as the bar, our academies, all of them, have provided the nation with some of the best leaders has given the nation a steel core that helps strengthen the whole country and provides us with resolve and honor that has helped to drive the nation during times of strife.

Civilian control of our military is essential but is also the cause of the rot. Many of the issues such as DADT and the official acceptance of gays in the service doesn’t matter much, the fight and dissent on this issue was due to concerns of political correctness and social engineering effecting the performance of the military, creating a distraction from, in terms of gays in the military it has never hurt us and we have all know some, as a leader I don’t give a shit who you sleep with so long as conformity and uniformity is achieved where it matters most, that the chemistry of the unit is stable. That is that issue in a nut shell.

Now the issue that is very much hurting our academies and the military is the unattainable push for equality, again the core of our military is the infantry, the pinnacle of being a good soldier is to be an infantryman, it is where the bar is set the highest, success requires achieving and maintaining peak mental and physical condition. The infantry is the essence of the military and women can only be artificially successful as an infantryman.

Over the last couple of decades the push has been focused of the individual achievement of women, for achievements sake, not as a multiplier of available manpower or enhancement of performance but to be able to lay claim to being just as effective soldiers as men, it is a desire to be able to make a claim, not to realize it. Standards remain different, there is an acceptance that requirements must be flexible to the individual so as not to become the focus of ire from civilian leadership. It all flows from the top, civilian authorities select generals not solely based on merit or performance but more and more on politics, those who are willing to tow the political correctness line are promoted, those who focus on effectiveness and strive to be apolitical are shown the door or are passed over. Continue reading


Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, War and the Military