They Seem Like Good Ideas…But Not Really. Clarence Darrow Knew Why.

I. The Daily Telegraph officially apologized “unreservedly” to Melania Trump and agreed to pay her “substantial damages” for an article it published last week. Mrs. Trump had sued the paper in British courts.

The paper said its Saturday Magazine cover story “The Mystery of Melania” this month contained false statements, as her lawsuit claimed. It wrote,

Following last Saturday’s (Jan 19) Telegraph magazine cover story “The mystery of Melania”, we have been asked to make clear that the article contained a number of false statements which we accept should not have been published. Mrs Trump’s father was not a fearsome presence and did not control the family.  Mrs Trump did not leave her Design and Architecture course at University relating to the completion of an exam, as alleged in the article, but rather because she wanted to pursue a successful career as a professional model. Mrs Trump was not struggling in her modelling career before she met Mr Trump, and she did not advance in her career due to the assistance of Mr Trump.

We accept that Mrs Trump was a successful professional model in her own right before she met her husband and obtained her own modelling work without his assistance. Mrs Trump met Mr Trump in 1998, not in 1996 as stated in the article. The article also wrongly claimed that Mrs Trump’s mother, father and sister relocated to New York in 2005 to live in buildings owned by Mr Trump.  They did not. The claim that Mrs Trump cried on election night is also false.

We apologise unreservedly to The First Lady and her family for any embarrassment caused by our publication of these allegations.  As a mark of our regret we have agreed to pay Mrs Trump substantial damages as well as her leg

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/14/2017: Climate Change Porn, Stupid Conservative Tricks, A Lifetime Ethics Dunce, And A Jumbo

Good Morning!

Still waiting for Christmas Spirit to kick in, because I need it…

1 Plus it gives too much power to John McCain...No major tax bill, indeed no major bill at all, should be passed without at least some bi-partisan participation and support. This isn’t democracy, but some kind of freakish distortion of it, created by incremental irresponsible acts over time by too many politicians to name. I have my own favorite culprits, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid prominent among them, but assigning blame can be left to objective historians, if there are any. Right now, what the U.S. desperately needs is a leader with sufficient courage and credibility to force both parties not merely to a table but to a serious and dedicated colloquy, with the objective of signing the equivalent of a peace treaty.

I cannot imagine who such a unifying figure might be, or if one can even exist in a culture where the likes of Jimmy Kimmel is accorded moral authority by a disturbing large segment of the population.

2. Bart Simpson would be proud…no, confused, actually. The latest effort to poison every last public refuge from toxic politics comes from the Right, which is encouraging the jerks among them to troll Starbucks in a variation of the old House of Pancakes gag we used to pull in college when we were drunk. (It also was a running bit on “The Simpsons.”) Starbucks writes the customer’s name on the holiday cups of their ridiculously priced concoctions, so the idea is to force the baristas at the openly progressive coffee shops to place the phony name TRUMP MAGA in view and actually announce it OUT LOUD.

At least the IHop prank names were funny, if you had the sense of humor of a 12-year old. ” I have a reservation for a Hugh Jass!” Bart used that one on poor Moe, too.

Supposedly this is payback from conservatives for Starbucks eliminating religious Christmas imagery from their cups, and this year adding what have been called “lesbian hands,”

….further defiling the holiday. I’m not kidding. People are actually complaining about the hands.

I think I’m going back to bed. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Nicely-Dressed Factor

(NPR says this was an actual passenger.)

When I fly, I always wear a sports jacket. No tie, often a sports shirt. Usually dress shoes, though not since I got mt neato-keen Boston Red Sox canvas deck shoes. Why do I do this? Apparently because I’m old, but also because of that old, archaic value, respect. If I’m in public, and especially if I’m going to be in close quarters with someone, I want the experience for them to be as pleasant as possible.

The airlines exercise very little dominion over what its passengers wear. Bare feet will keep you grounded; a T-shirt  with profanity or a lewd message may get you barred from a flight, but not much else. However, the airlines do notice what you wear, and what you wear may have benefits:

George Hobica, founder of the travel fare advice site Airfare Watchdog, said that “everyone believes no one gets upgraded anymore based on how they look.” But, he added, “It does happen.”… [Hobica] then relayed tales of friends who had been upgraded while wearing clothes they considered nicer than what they might wear to the gym or the grocery store, and a conversation he once had with a gate agent friend at Lufthansa.

“She told me she would upgrade people based on how good-looking they are, how pregnant they are, or how nicely they’re dressed,” he said. “She said: ‘Look, we oversell flights and, of course, we go down the status list first. Absolutely, we look at your miles.’” But if no one on the flight warrants special privileges, the absence of ripped jeans or tattered sneakers can help, Mr. Hobica said.

The Times got uniform denials that attire was rewarded when it contacted various airlines, but a flight attendant vaguely confirmed Hobica’s account.

“I will say that when I see someone come on the plane and they’re dressed nicely and their children are dressed nicely, I do take notice,” said …a United flight attendant since 1978. “When someone is a little dressed up and looking like they made an effort, it’s almost like they’re showing respect for themselves and for everybody else on the plane…My personal opinion is that when you take pride in how you look, you take pride in how you act,” she said.

Hmmmm.

The Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the day is…

It is ethical for polite attire to confer benefits for flyers over passengers who dress in flip-flops, tank-tops and torn jeans?

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/14/17

Good morning!

1. It is a matter of constant fascination to me how all of President Trump’s personal lawyers appear to be flaming jerks, whatever their legal skills may be. Here’s an example from this week: Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal attorney on the Russia conspiracy theory investigation, was contacted by a stranger, a retired public relations professional, who had read ProPublica’s unflattering story on Kasowitz. He sent the lawyer an email with the subject line: “Resign Now.’’

Kasowitz used the 30 minutes between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. to bombard the man with threats and epithets, writing such dignified  messages as,

“I’m on you now.  You are fucking with me now Let’s see who you are Watch your back , bitch/”

“Call me.  Don’t be afraid, you piece of shit.  Stand up.  If you don’t call, you’re just afraid.” 

“I already know where you live, I’m on you.  You might as well call me. You will see me. I promise.  Bro.”

Nice.

This isn’t a legal ethics violation, though it almost certainly would be if Kasowitz were addressing an opposing counsel in such a manner. It’s just generally unethical as outrageous, inexcusable, gratuitous incivility, reflecting poorly on him, his profession and his client. A client who was minimally concerned about ethics would fire him.

2. Speaking of a minimal concern for ethics, Trump’s defense of his son’s dumb but legal meeting with the Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary included the statement that “most people would have taken that meeting.” Once again, we have evidence that Donald Trump literally doesn’t know what ethics is. Oh, his rationalizations are the same ones the average ethically-retarded citizen uses—this is why he is President. They are still rationalizations. Yes, Mr. President, and most people would accept extra money from an ATM and not tell the bank about it. And most people lie to get out of trouble. And most people do all sorts of unethical things, which doesn’t make them ethical, responsible or appropriate.

He is the President, though, and this is how we will inevitably become a nation of assholes. 

3.  And speaking of assholes, there is Nancy Pelosi. Because a female journalist was blocked from access to the House of Representative by a Sergeant of Arms who properly pointed out that she was wearing a sleeveless dress, always forbidden according to Congress’s dress code, we were suddenly subjected to the false narrative that those mean, sexist Republicans were abusing women again, as well as being typically antediluvian in their ideas about propriety. (Men can’t go sleeveless either, but never mind.) Paul Ryan was the target here, as the Speaker is officially charged with enforcing such rules. The narrative was not really about the dress code, but just part of the over-all “Get Republicans” news media strategy to make the party as unpopular as possible. Yesterday Paul Ryan plausibly said that he wasn’t aware of the rule in question, and was happy to amend it. Then Nancy Pelosi piled on, tweeting, “Glad to see [Speaker Ryan] is updating the dress code for the House Floor. These unwritten rules are in desperate need of updates.”

Pelosi was Speaker for four years, her tenure ending just six years ago. The same rule Ryan is being attacked for was in place during her entire tenure. Why didn’t she fix it herself, dedicated feminist that she is? Her tweet is such obvious hypocrisy that it calls attention to the double standards employed by Democrats, the news media and women. Pelosi could have cheered the change without appearing to duck her own responsibility for their continuation. Instead, she acted as if she was an innocent bystander.

Nancy Pelosi is a major reason the Democratic Party has become a party of assholes. Who but an asshole would tolerate a national leader like this as the face of his or her party in Congress? Are Democrats proud of this woman? Do they endorse her tactics and rhetoric? We have to assume so, don’t we? Continue reading

Portrait Of A Really, Really Stupid Ethics Train Wreck

This is the incredibly ridiculous United Airlines/dress code/ leggings story. I don’t want to write about it: there are no good guys, lots of miscreants, and I have a well-earned bias against United already.

Fortunately, the travel site One Mile At A Time did a thorough and ethically astute analysis, here, ending like this:

I see non-revenue passengers asked to follow different rules nearly every time I fly — you probably do too. Nothing about two non-revs being asked to change clothes and/or take a later flight is shocking or newsworthy or even interesting to anyone with an ounce of perspective.

Exactly: not even interesting. So how did this become a hot story on cable news and social media? Well..

1.  Two employees of United didn’t follow company policy regarding proper dress when they fly free. They were Wrong.

2. A family behind the two employees in line and who didn’t understand what was happening leaped to conclusions, and made their daughter change what she was wearing too, completely unnecessarily. They were Wrong.

3. A prominent  publicity-seeking social justice warrior, Shannon Watts, was an observer of all this, and began furiously tweeting, misrepresenting what was going on, and claimed that United was engaged in sexist and discriminatory conduct, when it was not.  She was Wrong.

4. United’s Twitter team responded by referencing the §21 of the company’s Contract of Carriage, stating that passengers can be denied boarding for being “barefoot or not properly clothed”. This was confusing, since that provision had nothing to do with why the two non-revenue passengers were told to change. Typical of the crack United staff, however. Incompetent. Also Wrong. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Would You Pay $15 An Hour To This Employee?”

Sylvia finger

The latest example of “How Not To Be Approved As An Ethics Alarms Commenter” comes from the pseudonymous “Joe Mama,” who wrote in response to the July 29, 2015 post about Sylva Stoet, an indignant ex-Penny’s employee (above) who took umbrage on Twitter at being asked to go home and change when she showed up dressed as shown to work in the “Career Department.”

“Note to the writer. Is it possible for you to write a blog without your opinion. That is how people would prefer it. You old sack of shit. You would think knee shorts are inappropriate. I agree with the ex employee. If that was in the career section, it should be changed.”

Notes:

1.  I wondered if it was necessary to specify in the commenting guidelines that calling the proprietor “You old sack of shit” in the commenting audition was not a recommended strategy.  That question has been answered.

2. No, it’s not possible for an essay on a blog about ethics not to contain my opinion. That’s the purpose of the blog. The better question is whether it is possible for alleged news reports by reporters on supposedly objective news sources to be free of the writer’s opinion. My opinion is, based on the current evidence, is that it’s possible, but increasingly unlikely.

3. Those “people” Joe alludes to who would prefer that a blog not contain opinion are also known as “people who don’t know what a blog is.” His suggestion is like recommending that I hold a dog show for people who think they are cats.

4. Of course knee shorts would be inappropriate; shorts are inappropriate for  most workplaces, especially in retail, unless the items on sale are shorts.

5. But it doesn’t matter what I think is inappropriate, but rather what then-17-year-old Sylva Stoel ‘s employer thought was appropriate, since Penny’s had as much authority to decide that short-shorts weren’t appropriate attire as I have deciding “You old sack of shit” is inappropriate comment discourse, especially from someone defending inappropriate workplace attire. Sylva’s response to that completely responsible exercise of the supervisor-subordinate relationship was a middle finger.

6. If Joe agrees with the ex-employee, I fervently wish him Sylva’s likely career path until she figures out that he’s an idiot.

7. Anyone who can decipher Joe’s last sentence, let me know. “If that was in the career section, it should be changed.” What’s “that”? What’s “it”? Is he saying that she should change her garb, since it was in the career section? That can’t be it: that’s the opinion he didn’t want to read.  Is he saying that since she showed up dressed like that, the name of the section should be changed, like to “The Inappropriate Workplace Dress Section”? Or is he saying that when an employee shows up dressed inappropriately for one section of the store,  she should be moved to another section to accommodate her fashion choices?

Joe’s not getting another comment published on Ethics Alarms on a prayer, and my opinion is that he should look elsewhere for an opinion-free blog…. the Moon, perhaps.

Dress Code Ethics: The Jet Blue Affair

Maggie flying (above) and performing (below)

Maggie flying (above) and performing (below)

JetBlue has a line in its contract of carriage that gives its employees the power to refuse to fly passengers who try to board a plane wearing clothing that is “lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.” Based on that vague standard, Seattle-based burlesque performer Maggie McMuffin was refused seating on a JetBlue flight from Boston’s Logan International Airport last month when the airline’s gate agents refused to let her board  until she changed her shorts. Maggie told a local CBS affiliate that an airline employee said her outfit was “not appropriate” according to the flight crew and pilot. Now Maggie is taking advantage of the situation to get some cheap publicity and maybe an interview or two, while embarrassing JetBlue. You can read more details in Slate’s story here.

Ah, dress codes! They are conduct rules put in place by businesses and institutions because some people have no manners, sense of place, consideration for others or respect, and these codes never, ever, work in the long run, because some people have no manners, sense of place, consideration for others or respect.

Once upon a time, children, adults going out into public dressed with taste and modesty as an expression of respect to others, including strangers, that they might meet. The Sixties destroyed this cultural consensus by questioning manners, decorum, conformity, dignity, and respect for others, especially anybody over thirty. Do your own thing! Let it all hang out! Today, a half century later,  people nonchalantly wear flip-flops to the opera and church, while the obese passenger sitting next to you on an airplane may be wearing a tank-top, and hasn’t  bathed in a week.

Of course Maggie McMuffin—I’m sure that’s her real name—wasn’t dressed appropriately to fly. (That’s her outfit above to the left–I assume she was wearing her head…) She was definitely dressed appropriately to draw attention to herself as burlesque performers (a.k.a “strippers”) are wont to do, and that was her intent. The JetBlue agreement, however, doesn’t say its employees can kick you off the plane for dressing inappropriately—like in a scuba suit, a bunny costume, or as Dracula. It says “lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.”  Whatever you can say about Maggie’s travel garb, it isn’t “lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.” JetBlue was wrong: unfair, incompetent, foolish. Unethical. Continue reading