Tag Archives: fairness

Ethics Dunce: The Smithsonian Institution


The new Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is intended to celebrate the two aspects of African American influence on the nation mentioned in the title, and that includes honoring  influential and historically significant African American leaders. Among the figures ignored by the museum’s displays is Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, only the second black member of the Supreme Court. The museum does, however, celebrate the “heroism” of his last-minute accuser at Thomas’s confirmation hearings, law professor Anita Hill.

This is another and particularly sad reflection of the petty partisan bias and lack of integrity demonstrated by the Obama Administration at so many levels. It is stuffed with so many intractable ideologues, and often incompetent ideologues, that objectivity, respect and fairness are frequently too great an effort to muster. The museum honors Hill, who was recruited as a last ditch effort by Democrats to block President George H.W. Bush’s nomination of a black conservative judge to the Supreme Court and whose accusations of sexual harassment were never verified except by the confirmation bias of Democrats and Thomas’s enemies. It chose to snubThomas, which all involved had to know would be seen as an insult to the Justice, and a calculated one.

By all logic and reason, Hill should be, at best, a footnote to a Thomas display. Mean-spirited bias from the empowered Left under Obama has extended even to museum curating, which should be non-partisan. Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

Trending On Ethics Alarms…


….this post, from July, now the all-time most viewed and shared Ethics Alarms post ever, and this post, from May.

Gee, I wonder why?

I only wish this post, from last September, was as well distributed, but I’m going to keep linking to it until it is, or until it’s moot.

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, The Internet

Don’t Feel Too Bad, Americans: Ethics Alarms Aren’t Ringing In Canada, North Korea Or Japan, Either

It’s an International Ethics Dunce parade!


1. Ontario, Canada

The Windsor-Essex County Humane Society in Ontario thought it would be really clever to use the Donald Trump phrase that many believe disqualify him to be President in an ad to adopt kitty-cats. It featured a photo of Trump and said, “You don’t have to be a star to grab a pussy … cat.”

Amazing. Not one person in the chain of custody of this—I would say obviously, but when so many people miss it, I guess it’s not—offensive ad had an ethics alarm sound.  Nobody had the sense, prudence or guts to say,

“Uh, guys? Hello? You do realize that this is using a phrase describing sexual assault while alluding to the one who used it to describe sexual assault? You do realize that “pussy” alluding to female genitalia is vulgar and uncivil, right? No? Here, let me explain it to you…or hwo about this: there is no way this won’t spark criticism. Is that what you want?”

Sure enough,  the ad promoting cat adoptions this week for $50, was taken down shortly after it appeared this week.

The society offered a pathetic apology. Melanie Coulter, executive director of the humane society, “explained” it was an attempt to make light of the U.S election campaign, though it also “made light” of sexual assault, contemptuous attitudes toward women,  and obscene rhetoric.

“We are obviously sorry if people are offended by the ad — that wasn’t our attempt in the least,” Coulter said. “Our attempt was to find homes for cats that need them.” She also added that the shelter took in more than a hundred cats in the last week.

For the record, the rationalizations here are…

3. Consequentialism, or  “It Worked Out for the Best”

13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.”

It also suggests that I need to add “We meant well” to the list as a sub-rationalization to #13.



2. Kuroishi, Japan

Continue reading


Filed under Animals, Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

From The Ethics Alarms Mailbag: Is The Current Photo Of Trump In The Site Background Unfair?

trump-1A reader asks,

“Earlier you admonished yourself for using unattractive photos of Hillary Clinton to illustrate various posts and in the blog wallpaper, and pledged to stop the practice, Now you have a serene photo of Mrs. Clinton, but a shot of Trump that looks like he’s in the middle of uttering an obscenity. Isn’t this a double standard?”

Answer: Nope. Not in my view. At this point, that photo fairly and accurately portrays Trump’s conduct in the campaign, which is ugly, assaultive, and a direct reflection on his character. Hillary Clinton’s public demeanor has always been dignified and appropriate for a Presidential candidate, so photographs that captured her in millisecond-long poses with her eyes crossed or looking demonic were both unkind and misleading. The photo you refer to is an accurate depiction of Trump’s demeanor and temperament, especially of late. That is Donald Trump.


Filed under Character, Government & Politics, The Internet

The Disgraceful Exploitation Of Ken Bone, With This Ethics Note: Ken Is 100% Correct That Trayvon Martin’s Shooting Was Justified, While Journalists And Pundits Who Criticize Him For Saying So Are Big Lie Purveyors


I’m glad I could clear that up.

Poor Ken Bone, the man in the red sweater who was chosen as a designated undecided voter to ask a question at the last debate, embodies Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame” comment because, apparently, the news media has to come up with trivia to write about so it doesn’t have to inform the public about substance they actually need to know about. The perfectly unremarkable man chosen to ask a question at this fake “town meeting” should have been allowed to do his job and then go back to his normal life, but no. Silliness demanded that he be lionized and bestowed with celebrity status. Even the usually rational Jake Tapper got into the act, telling his viewers…

All day long, my staff and I, we’ve been pondering this important question, “What makes Ken Bone so awesome?” …Why do we all find him so charming? Is it the red sweater? That was actually his backup outfit after he says he split his pants to his olive-cover colored suit. Maybe it’s the mustache? Perhaps it’s the disposable camera he used to snap pics after the debate. Ken Bone’s name started trending online during the debate. Now, Mr. Bone is making the TV interview rounds. He told CNN earlier today about his new following on Twitter…. He’s even more awesome than ever, just watching that clip. [His Twitter following]  is more than 30,000 now, and the Ken Bone memes are everywhere. There’s Ken Bone with the 90s rap group, Bone Thugs-n- Harmony. How about the Ken Bone Halloween costume?

How about stopping the condescension and tongue in cheek mockery, Jake? Yeccch. It is nothing less than cruel to throw someone into the maw of celebrity like this, a throbbing neon target to social media bullies and the Twitter Furies who have nothing more productive to do in their mean, measly, pointless lives than mock, ridicule and attack a citizen who tried to participate responsibly in an irresponsible election. Now he is under national scrutiny for his clothing, his weight and his moustache. What is wrong with these people? Is the Golden Rule extinct?

Don’t blame Ken because he accepted invitations to appear on TV after his big moment. He’s never been a celebrity before. If he had done some research, he would have discovered that most ordinary Americans thrust into the celebrity machine come to regret it, but for him this is different, this is exciting, this is fun! He gets flown to places he’s never been, and put up at nice hotels, and treated like royalty. Some ad agencies will try to recruit him for a disposable commercial or two: who turns down money? Who turns away from their 15 minutes, if it comes? Would you? We can’t blame him, because he is a good person, and good people often make the dangerous mistake of assuming that the people they deal with, like the news media are also good people. Unfortunately, they cannot be trusted.

Thus what has happened to Ken Bone was completely predictable. Having been built up by irresponsible journalists like Tapper into something he never asked to be—National Puppy of the Month would be a good name for it—it was inevitable that other irresponsible journalists would see cheap columns and clicks from tearing Bone down. Even though Bone had told the media that he was leaning toward voting for Clinton, vicious  progressives—the mistreatment of Ken Bone comes entirely from the left—dissected his comments when he  participated in an “Ask Me Anything” forum on  Reddit, using them to denigrate him. They also went back to check other statements he had made on the site. What they found was virtually nothing; I find myself imagining what these cruel, unethical people would do with everything I’ve written online. Never mind: it was enough. In response to “Truth or Dare” style questioning, Ken…

  • Admitted that he watched porn and peeked at Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos when they were hacked.
  • Admitted to forging insurance documents so that he could keep a pizza delivery job. This, despicably, was headline on some sites as “insurance fraud.” It is not insurance fraud. It is lying. Insurance fraud occurs when someone collect insurance payments based on false representations, not when someone falsely claims to be insured.

“Worst of all,” we were told, and thus most publicized of all, Bone opined months ago that Trayvon Martin’s shooting was “justified.”

The Horror.

It is part of the current politically correct narrative to keep Black Lives Matter from being properly recognized as the racist propaganda organization that it is for the progressive community to preserve and protect the Big Lie that George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin because he was black. The lie persists on liberal websites; it was enabled at the Democratic National Convention when Martin’s mother was allowed on stage in a mass pander to the victims of police shootings; it is advanced every time Martin’s name is included in the litany of young black men supposedly killed by a “systemic racism.” Whatever other cases may show, Trayvon Martin’s death only stands for racism and murder because unscrupulous, dishonest, and on occasion ignorant activists, politicians and journalists want it to.

There has never been any evidence that George Zimmerman profiled Martin, who was a stranger walking through a gated community at night. MSNBC even altered a 911 tape to make it sound like this was the case, and a Big Lie was born. There has never been any evidence that prior to the tragic encounter, Zimmerman had  expressed racist views. The evidence that is available shows that Martin confronted Zimmerman, not the other way around. Finally, investigators established that Zimmerman was being beaten by Martin and reasonably felt in mortal danger when he shot the teen. Those are the facts, and based on those facts, a jury properly acquitted Zimmerman of murder applying the doctrine of self-defense, which made the death of Martin a legally justified killing under Florida law and all criminal law going back centuries. Bone’s comment on Reddit…


…is entirely accurate, fair, and reasonable. Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Social Media, U.S. Society



Now I think understand why Ann Althouse, an intelligent, rational lawyer and law professor, has begun holding a “Most Loved Rat” contest on her blog to see which of her rat doodles are most popular. I’m less creative, I guess (though I also draw good rat cartoons!)—my head just explodes. It exploded last night.

It’s hard to explain exactly what did it.  Here I was, watching a series of baseball play-off games (since the Red Sox had been eliminated by the Cleveland Indians the day before), and Neil Patrick Harris appeared yet again to tell me that “Heineken Light makes it OK to flip another man’s meat.” (I wrote about the gratuitous vulgarity of this ad here. Apparently this makes me a homophobe.)

Wait…isn’t flipping another man’s meat sexual assault? What is the difference, in lack of respect and sexual assault ethics, between grabbing a woman by the pussy, as Donald Trump so eloquently put it, because you’re a rich celebrity, and flipping another man’s meat because…of beer? 
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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, U.S. Society, Workplace

Nobody Cares, But NBC Has Been Wildly Unethical In The Trump-Bush Video Affair


NBC deserves to be condemned for its conduct in many ways in reference to the Trump Pussy Tape episode, going back eleven years.

1. NBC technicians allowed Trump to continue talking without his realizing that his microphone was on. Unethical, and unprofessional, as well as a pure Golden Rule violation. Basic decency, fairness and professionalism requires that when a guest is doing this, his mistake must be  made known to him at the earliest possible time. This is the rule when someone continues to speak on a conference call believing the call has ended. It is the ethical thing to do  when you are in a bathroom stall and your opponents in a law suit start discussing strategy while they are washing their hands. I have several times, at taped seminars, begun to answer questions during a break and realized that I was still being recorded. Sometimes a technician has reminded me. Worse (but funnier) I have done a full “Naked Gun”, using the Men’s Room while wearing a live mic…and the technician dashed in to get me to turn it off, just in time. (Well, almost.) Allowing a guest to embarrass himself on tape as Trump did is despicable and unprofessional in every way.

2. NBC betrayed its own employee, Billy Bush, by not alerting him, either.  Disloyal, unfair, and uncaring.

3. Once the recording was made, it should have been destroyed as soon as anyone in authority realized the participants were speaking without knowing the mics were on.

4. Attorney Robert Barnes makes a compelling argument that NBC’s conduct violated California Penal Code 632, which criminalizes the act of any person who “without the consent of all parties” records their conversations. Of course, violating the law is also unethical. Trump might  have a just lawsuit, though the damage can’t be undone: the pussy’s out of the bag, so to speak.

5. Bush, as an NBC employee, should have been told about the recording and its contents long, long before it was made public. NBC was obligated to inform him as a basic courtesy. Continue reading


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