Why The Winooski Bacon Controversy Matters

bacon signLast week, Sneakers Bistro and Cafe in Winooski, Vermont removed a sign reading “Yield for Sneakers Bacon” from a garden at the Winooski Rotary after a woman who described herself as “a vegan and a member of a Muslim household” called the sign offensive in an online post.

“Given the large number of Muslim families in Winooski, as well as many others who do not eat pork for a variety of reasons, it seems unnecessary for this insensitive business sign to be at the city’s main crosswalk,” she wrote. Sneakers, obeying the growing U.S. cultural mandate that any individual has a veto over words and conduct that he or she finds offensive regardless of 1) whether it is offensive to anyone else and 2) whether the alleged offense is certifiably bats, apologized, and took the sign down.

I am happy to support that this decision did not play well, even in ultra-liberal Vermont, and under a barrage of criticism on the web and elsewhere, the Sneakers’ management posted the following message on its Facebook page, thus making their situation worse:

“We are here to serve people BREAKFAST, not politics. We removed the sign that was located on public property as a gesture of respect for our diverse community. There were also concerns raised about safety. Removing it was not a difficult decision. We still love bacon. We still love eggs. Please have the political conversation elsewhere.”

That idiotic statement was the disaster anyone conscious should have been able to predict it would be. And let’s be thankful this is still true. Tomorrow, Sneakers’ response may be standard operation procedure, even if ISIS doesn’t take over the country while the President is breaking par. Continue reading

Flashback: “Law, Citizenship, and the Right to be a Jackass”

Wrong country, same gesture.

[The principal in this tale from a post early in Ethics Alarms’ existence just dicsovered it, and sent some additional detail in a comment.  I am fairly certain that almost nobody read the original post, and I had completely forgotten about it myself. Its central point is still valid, however, and since it involves  an ethics conflict that has frequently re-appeared here—the duty to respect law enforcement officials versus the right not to, and the proper handling of a citizen who is rude, abusive, or worse—I thought I’d revive it.

Much thanks is due to David Hackbart for his considerate comment.]

Three springs ago on the streets of Pittsburgh, David Hackbart was starting to parallel park when a car pulled up behind him. Don’t you hate that? Hackbart did too, and presented his flip-off finger to the anonymous driver in silent protest. “Don’t flip him off!” came a shouted edict from someone outside his car, and Hackbart, not in the mood for officious intermeddling, gave the anonymous civility referee The Finger as well. Continue reading

Rep. Schakowsky Was Right…Inarticulate, But Right

Okay, Jan Schakowsky's not exactly Daniel Webster.But she's not wrong, either.

As proof of the degree that Tea Party anti-tax mania has unhinged the brains of conservatives generally, especially hyper-ventillating  pundits, consider last week’s controversy over poor Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill), who told a morning talk show, Wade & Roma on WLS-AM in Chicago, that citizens were obligated to pay a portion of what they earned to the government, and as a result became the poster girl for What’s Wrong With America, or at least the Democratic Party.

To read and listen to the abuse and ridicule heaped on Schakowsky, one would have thought that she was Lenin-in-a-bra, advocating government confiscation of the wealth stolen from the workers—in fact, that’s what I did thought when I heard some of the furious rants about her comments from the conservative talk show circuit. Then I listened to the clip. Do you know the horrible, foolish thing she said? You’ll be shocked. Here’s the key exchange: Continue reading

Are Citizens of Warring Nations “Innocent”?


“Innocent” and “civilians” apparently go together like a horse and carriage, if one is to believe the cliché used with increasing regularity by journalists, bloggers and even elected officials. The instance that finally provoked me to write about the irresponsible acceptance of this falsehood was the gratuitous appropriation of it by a sportswriter, who, if I understand him correctly, feels the United States has no standing to object to baseball star Barry Bonds’ lying and cheating because it dropped atom bombs on “innocent civilians” in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (The sportswriter neglects to mention that these act occurred during wartime; perhaps he doesn’t know.) The exoneration of civilian citizens for the acts of their governments is a relatively new phenomenon, one happily endorsed by the habitually politically correct. It is untrue, and it is time to blow the whistle. Ethics foul. Continue reading

Michael Palmer’s Ethics No-Brainer

Physician/novelist Michael Palmer is something of the new Michael Crichton, though unlike the eclectic late author of “Jurassic Park,” Palmer generally restricts himself to medical thrillers. He is promoting his latest novel, “A Heartbeat Away,” with a series of “ethics brainteasers,” as he called them in a recent Twitter post. Here is the latest, which he posted on his Facebook page and asked fans to discuss:

“What if a close friend confides to you that he/she has committed a heinous crime and you promise that you’ll never tell. However, you soon discover that an innocent person has been accused of the crime and is possibly facing significant jail time. You plead with your friend to give him/herself up, but he/she refuses and reminds you of the promise. What should you do? What if the if jail time was only a few months? What if the sentence was death?” Continue reading

Gee, Thanks a Bunch, Chris…Big Lie Ethics and Obama’s Birth Certificate

Great. Now Chris Matthews is giving support to the birther conspiracy theory.

The excitable MSNBC host recently asked why President Obama doesn’t just put the suspicion and rumors to rest by giving the OK for Hawaii to release his original birth certificate, thus proving that he was born a U.S. citizen and ending the claims that Obama is really foreign-born and never was eligible to become President of the United States. By lending his credibility and perceived legitimacy to the lament of the birthers, Matthews has engaged in irresponsible conduct and done a disservice to the President, the office of the President and the nation. Continue reading

Christine O’Donnell’s Insult to Democracy

[NOTE: For reasons having to do with  brain synapses and carelessness, the earlier version of this post had Ms. O’Donnell identified as  Christine Whitman, who is not insulting democracy, at least not yet. I apologize to Ethics Alarms readers and the GOP candidate for governor of California for the error.]

As there is no defined “duty not to make the entire theory of representative government look like a terrible mistake” we’re just going to have to settle for applying the ethical duties of diligence, competence, and a few others in assessing Republican Senate nominee (in Delaware, which is collectively cringing in embarrassment) Christine O’Donnell’s disqualifying performance during her recent debate with opponent Chris Coons.  Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Slate Editor Dahlia Lithwick

“[The G.O.P. nominee for the U.S. Senate, Christine] O’Donnell explained that “when I go to Washington, D.C., the litmus test by which I cast my vote for every piece of legislation that comes across my desk will be whether or not it is constitutional.” How weird is that, I thought. Isn’t it a court’s job to determine whether or not something is, in fact, constitutional? And isn’t that sort of provided for in, well, the Constitution?”

Dahlia Lithwick, current Supreme Court commentator for Slate, during a three-way published exchange about what an unstable, unqualified kook Christine O’Donnell is.

I hope it is at least a little disturbing to Slate that their Supreme Court expert is apparently ignorant of where the basic responsibilities of obeying the Constitution lie. Continue reading

Are Restaurants That Hire Illegal Immigrants Ethical?


Next question.

Okay, let’s not be hasty. The New York Times Diner’s Journal asks the question, invoking the images of the 2004 film “A Day Without a Mexican,” in which all of California’s Mexicans suddenly disappear and the state is thrust into a world with far fewer gardeners, nannies, fruit-pickers, maids, cooks, and dishwashers. The film is the high-water mark of the essentially unethical rationalization for illegal immigration that is one of the main culprits for America’s unconscionable tolerance of it—that without illegals, the economy and quality of life of Americans would break down.

That the argument makes any sense at all is really a strong reason to stop illegal immigration, because it shows what happens when illegal and unethical practices becomes so entrenched that they warp the institutions, systems and cultural norms they affect, and corrupt the citizens who take advantage of them.  Continue reading

“Birthers”: Unethical, or Merely Deranged?

Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney, a military expert who appears as an analyst on Fox News, has submitted an affidavit in support of Army Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Lakin, who is refusing to deploy to Afghanistan because of his belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Lakin faces a court-martial for his refusal. Thus has General  McInerney officially admitted to being a “birther,” one of the legion of conspiracy theorists who deny Constitutional eligibility for the White House.

From McInerney’s affidavit: Continue reading