In Which I Fail My Duty To Fight Civility Rot…

broken-window

Ah, another day, another ethics challenge at the 7-11! If it isn’t CVS, it’s another local establishment. As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say,

For the third straight night, some jerk had parked his car in the church parking lot overlooking our cul-de-sac, sitting with his headlights on so they came right in our living room window and driving my wife to distraction. And also for the third straight night, I put my lovey but pit-bully dog Spuds on his leash to confront the driver, and asked him why the hell he was sitting in his car shining lights in my window. They always say the same thing: “I’m sorry, I had no idea!” Why don’t they have any idea? See those houses literally right in front of you? See where the light beams go?

What’s the matter with these people?

Immediately thereafter, I ran an errand for my already annoyed wife that required me to go to our local 7-11. The clerk, whom I don’t think I’ve ever seen before but he was wearing a %&4#@! mask so I can’t be certain, handled my transaction while having a conversation on his cell phone, never looking at me. This has never happened to me before. In fact, more than once I have admonished customers ahead of me in line in various stores for not having the common courtesy and respect to get off their cell phones or bluetooths and treat clerks like human beings rather than robots. I’ve done it at that 7-11, in fact.

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Take The Ethics Alarms Rittenhouse Case Pledge: “I Vow To Slap Down The False Narrative Whenever I Encounter It, Forever!”

Witherspoon tweet

The five jagged prongs of the fantasy version of the Rittenhouse case are 1) He carried a semi-automatic weapon “across state lines” to cause trouble; 2) the teen is a white supremacist, hence a racist, and was “hunting” virtuous social justice crusaders justly and peacefully protesting ; 3) the three men he shot were innocent victims, and two of them were murdered, 4) the rioting Rittenhouse was opposing was a protest over a white police officer brutally killing an unarmed black man, and 5) the jury’s failure to convict resulted from the inherent racism of the justice system.

Within those prongs are at least (let’s see…) twelve lies that can no longer be excused by confusion over the facts. Nor is it an excuse that someone like Witherspoon has been reading and watching the wrong news reports (as well as getting her political views from within a progressive bubble), because every American knows or should knows that such sources cannot be believed or trusted.

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The Andrew Yang Affair

Andrew Yang, as of this week the front-runner for mayor of New York City, did nothing unethical.

Well, allow me to modify that. Allowing yourself to be placed at the mercy of a stranger while being videoed is political incompetence. And his fake laugh was too convincing.

The video above, since the news media no longer allows the public to hear or read essential aspects of such stories because journalists regard themselves as public censors, is confusing, so here is what transpired.

The whole, unblurred, unbleeped video is on TikTok, and WordPress won’t let me embed TikTok. Someone the candidate to let him take a phone video as another stranger, a smiling and giddy black man, asks Yang whether a man, “while he’s fucking bitches, can he keep his Timbs on?.” — a reference to Timberland boots. Yang’s answer, under the circumstances, is pretty deft: “I think it’s purely up to your partner.”

Then the classy New Yorker asks Yang whether he “choke[s] bitches,” and Yang laughs—convincingly, I must say— and leaves.

Gotcha!

Yang’s polite engagement with the man after he used the word “bitches” and his apparently hardy laughter after the “choke bitches” line made him an inviting target of feminists and his rivals.

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Comment Of The Day: “Confession: I Wimped Out”

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I am slowly catching up on languishing Comments of the Day. Where a Humble Talent comment is involved, I don’t feel too badly about a late posting; like Mrs. Q, Chris Marschner, Glenn Logan, Steve-O and others, he is a master of the form and has hardly been neglected. This post, from November, relates to the suddenly lively topic of the duty to confront, and is also a cherished genre here, the personal reminiscence.

Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the post, Confession: I Wimped Out:

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“Duty To Confront” At The 7-11

Well, your friendly neighborhood ethics scold, unlike Democratic mayors and governors, is dedicated to doing what he urges others to do. In tonight’s case, I was obliged to follow through on the duty to confront (or the duty of confrontation), which has been a frequent theme here. I think it all came into focus for me when two jackasses at a Washington Nationals game were taking up two parking spots in the lot so they could “tailgate.” When I pointed out that they had only paid for one spot and were blocking where I wanted to park, their answer was “What are you going to do about it?” They chose…poorly. But I digress.

Tonight I was running an emergency errand to the local 7-11, and for some reason—free beer?—the parking lot was packed. Cars were double-parked, and I witnessed two near-accidents; it’s always been a badly designed lot. I had to cicle the block twice before I saw a space. And in the middle of it all the whole time, as other vehicles also searched for places to park, was a car with its hazard lights flashing, squatting in a spot right outside the store’s door, as the woman at the wheel blithely played, texted or whatever on her cell phone.

I went into the 7-11 and pointed her out to the two employees there. “You know, she’s preventing your customers from parking,” I said. “Oh, she’ll leave in a minute,” I was assured by one of the clerks, who obviously wasn’t looking forward to a confrontation. Neither was I: I was late getting home, I was hungry, and it was raining. By now, there were some empty spaces, including the one on the driver’s side of her car.

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The Ohio State Sexual Abuse Scandal: I Might Have Some Trenchant Ethics Observations On This Horrible Story If I Could Figure Out How The Heck It Could Happen.

I don’t understand this story at all.

Richard Strauss, a now-deceased doctor who worked at Ohio State University, sexually abused at least 177 male student athletes and probably more during his two decades at the institution. Yet the worst consequences he suffered  was a short suspension. When he retired, Ohio State gave him  an honorary title.

Many, many administrators, coaches and students  knew about the ongoing abuse, which included fondling athletes’ genitals, performing sex acts on them and making lewd comments during exams. According to an investigative report released last week, none of them took decisive action. Of the 177 victims, 153 were student athletes or students affiliated with athletic programs at Ohio State, including 48 members of the wrestling program, 16 from gymnastics, 15 from swimming and diving, 13 from soccer, 10 from lacrosse and seven each from hockey, track and field and baseball.

Some students told officials about Strauss, who killed himself in 2005 (GOOD), but the complaints were ignored. The  report on the  investigation,conducted by the Perkins Coie law firm  concludes that Strauss’s abuse was an “open secret” on campus and athletes came to accept it as a form of “hazing.”

I repeat: I do not understand this at all. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/2019: Big Brotherism At The Ballet, And How Hillary Sicced Mueller On Trump

Good morning…

Depressed and discouraged today, about many things…time for Jimmy…

1. Another angle on the the topics here...arrives courtesy of Michael West, who pointed me to this article. about the psychology of unethical behavior. Mostly, it frames in slightly different packages familiar themes on Ethics Alarms, beginning with who people often don’t speak up and actively oppose unethical conduct that they witness or are a part of. Ethics Alarms has examined this phenomenon (and will continue to) many ways. One example was a two part post in 2015 on the duty to confront. (Part II is here) Other posts can be found by clicking on the tags below, such as the duty to lead, the duty to oppose evil, the duty to warn, and the duty to fix the problem.

The wonderfully named author Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg identifies several concepts in her essay, including omnipotence, cultural numbness, justified neglect, and looking out for signs of moral capture.

Ethics Alarms uses different approaches: omnipotence is essentially “The King’s Pass” and “The Saint’s Excuse” in the rationalizations list. Cultural numbness describes how “the Big Yellow Circle’s” gravitational pull influences the Green Circle, encompassing personal values and conscience. Justified neglect isn’t really justified: she is talking about how non-ethical consideration freeze ethics alarms. “Looking out for signs of moral capture” is the topic of Philip Zimbardo’s “rules” to avoid being corrupted by peer groups and organizations. I would assume that the author has studied these, since “Dr. Z” is one of the leading writers and researchers in the area.

Inevitably, the article delves into leadership, concluding,

“The reality is that, for many leaders, there is no true straight-and-narrow path to follow. You beat the path as you go. Therefore, ethical leadership relies a lot on your personal judgment. Because of this, the moral or ethical dilemmas you experience may feel solitary or taboo — struggles you don’t want to let your peers know about. It can sometimes feel shameful to admit that you feel torn or unsure about how to proceed. But you have to recognize that this is part of work life and should be addressed in a direct and open way.”

I disagree with that description of leadership technique, and I’m tempted to say that its the claim as someone who has not done much leading. It does seem typical of so-called “female leadership models,” which emphasize consensus and transparency. Traditional leadership theories hold that a leader’s followers don’t want to know how conflicted a leaders, and learning that a leader is “unsure” is the last thing they want to know. Effective leaders learn to keep their doubts and insecurities to themselves—one more reason leadership isn’t for everyone. Continue reading

More 7-11 Ethics (What IS It With That Store?)

 

Once again (I think this makes three times) a visit to the local Alexandria 7-11 on Quaker Lane yielded a spontaneous ethics drama.

As I was about to get in line to buy a bag of Bugles and some vile tobacco products, two men began shouting at each other. A father with two young boys became upset that the other man was taking too long at the Slurpee machine, and when he protested that he was going as fast as he could, the father told him to “fuck off.”

“Hey, why do you think you can talk to me like that in public?” the man shot back. “You have kids…that’s a great way to raise them. Really? You really think that’s appropriate?”

“How I raise my kids is none of your business,” the vulgar dad replied.

“You have no class at all, buddy,” the second man said. “And now your kids will have no class too, and we all will have to live with them.”

I thought there was going to be a fist fight, but after some more back and forth, they went to their respective corners. I was behind the Slurpee neophyte, and I just had to salute him.

“Good for you,” I said. “That kind of public behavior has to be flagged and condemned whenever it happens, or we end up in a downward spiral of rudeness, and living in a nation of assholes.”

The man turned to me and thanked me. “I really appreciate that,” he said. “It means a lot to have some support.”

The duty to confront, and to enforce cultural norms of conduct. He got it. Everyone needs to, and now more than ever.

Nine Critical Questions About The Independence Hall Social Justice Warrior Park Ranger Tour Guide

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Conservative columnist and former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams reported that Holly Holst, a federal employee of the National Park Service, took visitors on a guided tour of Independence Hall, during which she informed them that the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were the product of “class elites who were just out to protect their privileged status.”

[UPDATE: Adams corrected his original report, which misidentified the ranger involved as Mary A. Hogan. Ethics Alarms has corrected it s original post accordingly. I apologize to Hogan and my readers.]

Adams writes that several attendees of her tour group on Monday told him that Holst repeatedly denigrated the Founders.  She claimed that  “the Founders knew that when they left this room, what they had written wouldn’t matter very much, ” and also told them that the “most important part of the Constitution written at Independence Hall was the ability to change it.”

Exemplifying her historical expertise was Holst’s alleged statement that King George III paid more attention to Parliament than the colonists “because they were right there and could remove him from office.”

Assuming that this is accurate information about Holst and her tour–remember that Adams is a passionate and often angry anti-Obama conservative—I have the following questions.

By the way, if the story above is accurate, my head has asked permission to do its best imitation of Krakatoa.

Questions: Continue reading

Advice Column Ethics: The Case Of The Anxious Godmother

"look, I'll take your 8 kids if anything happens to you, but I really think you should stop juggling chainsaws..."

“Look, I’ll take your 8 kids if anything happens to you, but I really think you should stop juggling chainsaws…”

The best of all advice columnists, Carolyn Hax, found herself confronted with a tough question this weekend, and uncharacteristically flailed at an answer.

I’m going to try to help her out.

The question came from husband who was trying to decide how to deal with the anxiety of his wife, godmother to two teenagers being raised alone by her brother. The brother, it seems, has decided to take up race car driving as a new hobby, and sister, the wife of Hax’s correspondent, is terrified that this risky pursuit might eventually place the teens in her care. “The kids have been raised in a way that neither of us agrees with, and if they were to come under our care, it would be very difficult for everyone involved,” he writes. What should he do?

Maybe Hax’s reply helps the potential adoptive parent, but I sure found it stuttering, overly equivocal and confusing. It’s not surprising: the issues are difficult, full of ethical conflicts.

Here is my analysis:

1. If one agrees to be the designated guardian of a child or children, one is ethically obligated to be ready to accept the duties of the job. “I’ll take care of your kids happily as long as it’s not your fault that you can’t” just isn’t good enough. Too many people, perhaps most, accept this crucial responsibility as an honor rather than as a very serious commitment, and first and foremost, it is a commitment to the children. If a godmother (or, in a non-religious setting, a guardian) is terrified of the reality of fulfilling the duties of the job, she should give them up, so they can be accepted by someone who is not so reluctant. It shouldn’t matter if the parent is an amateur snake handler or a couch potato.

2. It is reckless, selfish and irresponsible for the sole parent of children to not take this fact into consideration regarding his lifestyle and other choices. Two children depend on him: he is duty bound to do what he can to stay alive, healthy, and capable of supporting them. Taking on unquestionably risky hobby like race car driving, or storm chasing, or being a volunteer human subject for the ebola vaccine, is irrational and wrong. It is right for the potential successor guadians to make this point to him, for the children, for a family intervention, for his friends, for anyone. And they should. He is not free to act as if he has complete autonomy, not with two children who depend on him.

3. If his thinking is “it’s OK to risk my life, because I have two foster parents on the hook,” that is similarly unethical, and he needs to be told that, too. But he should be told it by  guardians/godparents who are still committed to being loving parents should the worst occur, not by a couple that accepted the responsibility assuming they would never actually have to deliver.

The bottom line:

  • The inquirer and his wife should withdraw as guardians.
  • The father should grow up.
  • The next guardian couple should be informed of the father’s irresponsible proclivities, and make his promise to take reasonable efforts to remains capable of raising the children as a condition of their accepting the role.

And, of course, if the worst happens and the father ends up a victim of Dead Man’s Curve without having found a suitable guardian, the sister and her husband may be obligated to raise the orphaned teens anyway.

Because that’s what families are for.

Is that what Carolyn says? I’m not sure. If it is, it wasn’t clear enough.