Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/20/18: Darrow, Damn Technology And Dunkin’ Donuts

Good Morning!

1. Shameless self-promotion Dept. Once again, I am presenting my three-hour Clarence Darrow and modern attorney ethics CLE program for the D.C. Bar, and later this summer, Virginia CLE will be sponsoring the same seminar in Richmond and Northern Virginia. As always, my partner and collaborator in All Things Darrow is esteemed D.C. actor (and American University law school instructor, and, I am proud to say, my friend) Paul Morella, who has been Darrowing since he premiered my one-man show about the great and flawed lawyer in 2000, for The American Century Theater. His website is here. This is Paul…

Paul is a lot taller, thinner and better looking than Darrow, and unlike Clarence, he also bathes regularly. It doesn’t matter. I can’t recommend his show, which he performs for bar associations and legal groups around the country, more highly, and would feel this way even if I hadn’t written it. Of course, any group that wants Continuing Legal Education credits can also book today’s seminar, which has many of Darrow’s greatest courtroom orations, but also legal ethics commentary from me.

2. Ah-HA! NOW I understand why I’m being sued for defamation!  This is in the “This comes as no surprise” category, but it still explains a lot. The Pew Research Center just released a survey that demonstrates that a large proportion of the public can’t distinguish facts from opinions. The main portion of the study  measured the public’s ability to distinguish between five factual statements and five opinion statements. Pew found

“…that a majority of Americans correctly identified at least three of the five statements in each set. But this result is only a little better than random guesses. Far fewer Americans got all five correct, and roughly a quarter got most or all wrong. Even more revealing is that certain Americans do far better at parsing through this content than others. Those with high political awareness, those who are very digitally savvy and those who place high levels of trust in the news media are better able than others to accurately identify news-related statements as factual or opinion.”

I challenge that last part. It may well be that those who place high levels of trust in the news media could distinguish between fact and opinion in those  ten statements, but it doesn’t change the fact (now this is my opinion, but I still believe it is demonstrably true) that the news media distorts what it represents as facts based on journalists’ biased opinions. Continue reading

Self-Webshaming At Dunkin’ Donuts

(Watch this after you’ve read the post. Kind of like dessert..)

The ethical considerations one should review when pondering whether to engage in webshaming nicely evaporate when the subject has chosen, though unwittingly, to webshame herself. Thus Ethics Alarms has no qualms about presenting for your consideration, revulsion, and rejection if she ever applies for a job from you, one Taylor Chapman, a 27-year-old woman who lives in the vicinity of Fort Lauderdale. She eagerly and proudly posted to her Facebook page the phone-video above, of her abusing an impeccable Dunkin’ Donuts employee, annoying a customer, and making serial statements with signature significance—no decent human being would utter even one of these appalling comments in public unless suffering from a brain trauma or extreme intoxication.

Chapman was angry because she and her friends had not received a receipt along with their large drive-thru order, and angrily (and abusively, based on Chapman’s manner, but we can only guess) demanded to receive their order free of charge, as Dunkin’ Donuts now promises as part of a service pledge. The employee handling the order apparently did not know how to proceed, and told the group that they would have to come by the store and see her manager the next day.

[An aside: That’s not good customer service, DD. If you make a guarantee that is supposed to mean anything, you have an obligation to train employees how to deliver on it. Telling customers who have not received the promised service that they have to come back to the establishment another day to receive what they are owed is unreasonable and a bait-and switch. I would have said to forget it. I would have written a letter. I would not have done what Chapman did, and I don’t know anyone who would.]

What Chapman did was to return the next day and demand her free order, tossing obscenities at the extraordinarily polite and unflappable employee (his name is Abid Adar, and you should send him flowers) on duty while she recorded the encounter as if it were a health department sting. Continue reading