When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: The Self-Disqualification Of Rep. Louise Frankel (D-Fla.)

Now THAT was a freak-out…and a particularly telling one.

Richard Kline, owner of City Diner in West Palm Beach, Florida, dared to display the campaign poster above, promoting Rep. Louise Frankel’s Republican opponent in the upcoming November election. Frankel has eaten at the diner for many years, and made it clear that this obligated the owner to support her re-election campaign, or at least not to oppose it. When someone told her about the presence of the poster in the diner, she stormed into Kline’s establishment and began berating and threatening him. Of course someone caught it all on cell phone video, and posted the scene on YouTube.

What did she think would happen? In addition to indicating that the Congresswoman has no self-control, believes she is entitled to power, and has no respect for a constituent’s right to support whatever candidate he or she chooses, the outburst demonstrates that she’s not smart enough to be entrusted with lawmaking.

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Note To Gov. DeSantis: The Tampa Bay Rays Are Not The Same As Disney

I defended Gov. Ron DeSantis’s cancellation of Disney’s long-standing special status with the state of Florida, because, ethically, partners shouldn’t publicly attack partners without consequences, and because Disney’s privilege of self-government was in great part a product of the company bolstering core American values and a family-friendly culture. No, I pointed out more than once, this was not a case of a corporation being singled out to be punished for a political position the state opposed, but a situation where special benefits could no longer be justified if Disney was no longer going to hold up its end of the original mutually-beneficial deal of yore, which could be reasonably seen as “You don’t meddle in our business, and we won’t meddle in yours.” Moreover, giving Disney special benefits that other theme parks in the state didn’t have could not be justified as fair and reasonable any longer.

It now appears that I may have been giving Gov. DeSantis more credit than he deserved, and that his slap at Disney was, at least in part, an example of a state government punishing a company for a political position it had every right to hold, state, and act upon. Yesterday we learned that DeSantis intends to veto a $35 million bill for Florida to pay for a Pasco County facility that would serve as for the Tampa Bay Rays’ spring training home. The reason is, apparently, the baseball team’s public message above.

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“Curmie” Comment Of The Day Double-Header #2: “DeSantis Strikes Back: Ethics Dunce Disney Gets The Legal And Ethical Consequences It Deserved”

No “echo chamber” we, so it is appropriate to include as a Comment of the Day Curmie’s vigorous dissent on the current conflict between Disney and Florida, particularly its ambition conservative governor Ron De Santis.

So here it is…in response to the post, DeSantis Strikes Back: Ethics Dunce Disney Gets The Legal And Ethical Consequences It Deserved…

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Unlike you, Jack, I am neither a lawyer not an ethicist. The closest I’ve ever been to the former was being unofficially “pre-law” for about the first two and a half years of undergrad; the closest I’ve ever been to the latter is that you’ve called me ethical a couple of times. So forgive me if I have trouble discerning the line between that which is legal and that which is ethical.

Perhaps the terms of the agreement between the state and the corporation are akin to trademark laws: that Florida must aggressively defend its prerogatives or be in danger of losing them. But this doesn’t seem like something any corporate CEO would agree to. And I think we can take as given that Governor DeSantis would not be criticizing any corporation that publicly supported his position because they didn’t stay in their lane, even though the level of interference in public policy would be the same. No, it would be the progressives who’d have their collective skivvies in a twist in that case.

More to the point, Disney began their dissent, at least, while the bill was still under consideration. They were, in fact, arguing in favor of the status quo—when there was no law—a position that can hardly be regarded as interfering with the state, only with one party’s agenda. That they didn’t suddenly change their position when the bill became law doesn’t seem very problematic.

Moreover, it strikes me that educational policy is literally everyone’s business. I’m semi-retired now and not currently scheduled to teach at all in the fall, so I have no direct personal interest in what’s being taught in 3rd grade—these will never be my students—but I hope to be around long enough to be affected by their ability to vote or even to run for office… or to become doctors, lawyers, artists, or whatever. Yeah, I care what happens in that 3rd grade classroom. Continue reading

A “Curmie” Comment Of The Day Double-Header, #1: “Ethics Verdict: Non-Math Propaganda Does Not Belong In Math Textbooks”

Curmie,” whose lively and erudite blog has been a favorite of mine for many years, weighed in on Ethics Alarms with his usual force on several substantial issues last week. Here is his first of two Comments of the Day (the other will be along shortly), both involving Florida controversies. This one takes off from the post, “Ethics Verdict: Non-Math Propaganda Does Not Belong In Math Textbooks”

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Meh.

Certainly the injection of any kind of political agenda into elementary school math textbooks is a significant problem. Or at least it would be, if it actually happened on anything like a regular basis. What I find most interesting about this case is the fact that neither Governor DeSantis nor anyone on the Board of Education has (yet, as I write this) shown an example of the offending material from any of the books that have been sanctioned. I presumed that since the list of books has indeed been made public, numerous such examples will soon be forthcoming. Then we can make an informed judgment. Except, of course, now the governor is claiming the specifics are “proprietary information” as publishers weigh possible appeals to the rejections. Were I of a cynical disposition (perish the thought!), I might suggest that that delay ought to get him past the November elections. [JM Note: Subsequent to Curmie’s comment, some examples of varying persuasiveness (see above) were made public.]

What we have by way of example, at least that I can find, is an obviously absurd question that appeared on a homework sheet in a Missouri school. Back when I was blogging more regularly, I’d write about similarly stupid assignments several times a year. I’ve got to yield here to Florida State Representative Carlos Smith’s observation that “The best his [DeSantis’s] propaganda machine could do was deflect to a Missouri district that apologized for a homework assignment they didn’t approve.” Importantly, the worksheet was pulled from a website, not a textbook. So we can’t blame McGraw-Hill or Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt for that particular outrageousness. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Tune-Up, 2/22/22: A Very Special Episode…

1.  “What’s going on here?” I have not decided what exactly the article “The New Homophobia” in Newsweek (Flagged this morning by Althouse: Pointer for Ann!) means or portends: it is, after all, just one man’s opinion. However, I sense that it is relevant to the issues underlying the Disney vs. Florida controversy.

Excerpts…

I learned about queer theory, an obscure academic discipline based largely on the writing of the late French intellectual Michel Foucault, who believed that society categorizes people—male or female, heterosexual or homosexual—in order to oppress them. The solution is to intentionally blur—or “queer”—the boundaries of these categories. Soon this “queering” became the predominant method of discussing and analyzing gender and sexuality in universities…

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This might not be a concern if, by adopting these new identities, young people were merely playing with the boundaries of normative gender expression—something that gays, lesbians, feminists, most liberals and even many conservatives would welcome two decades into the 21st century. But many young boys do not stop at simply painting their fingernails and wearing dresses, and young girls do more than cut their hair short and play football. With increasing frequency, these children are given drugs to block their puberty, cross-sex hormones and irreversible surgeries, all the while cheered on first by online communities, then the mainstream media and now the current presidential administration…

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DeSantis Strikes Back: Ethics Dunce Disney Gets The Legal And Ethical Consequences It Deserved

During a special session called for the purpose, Florida’s Senate has passed a bill that would end the special autonomous tax district status granted to Walt Disney World 1967. The bill now goes to Florida’s House, where passage is expected. Gov. DeSantis will, of course, sign the bill into law.

Good.

The mainstream news media and its minions are pushing, hard, the skewed narrative that this is GOP hypocrisy, with a state government using its power to punish a corporation’s free speech. That, however, is not a correct analysis.

What Disney did, when it publicly announced that it would protest and fight to repeal the Parental Rights in Education Law (falsely and dishonestly tagged the “Don’t Say Gay” law by LGTBQ activists, including much of the news media), was to breach the implicit conditions of its 55 year-old deal with the State of Florida, and, in an uncharacteristic blunder, prompt it to do what it had an ethical and legal duty to do anyway.

By 1967, Walt Disney himself had been negotiating a sweetheart deal with Florida since Walt Disney World was just another twinkle in his eye. The planned 40 acre complex was audacious and unprecedented, and audacious because it was unprecedented. Central Florida was an under-utilized swamp, and Disney was promising to turn it into the biggest tourist destination in the U.S. This would mean publicity, tourism ,commerce, hotel construction, jobs, tax revenue and development for Florida, and Disney was a tough negotiator. (Another Disney theme park project planned for Manassas, Virginia was abruptly killed when that state was less than accommodating.) Disney had a well-earned reputation for doing things right, so Florida saw nothing but benefits in allow it nearly complete freedom to build and run the new theme park the way it chose, without meddling from regulators. When Disney wanted to build a building, fill in a lake, or pave a road, it didn’t have to seek permits or approval, allowing the place to operate and start making money for itself and Florida as early as possible. Continue reading

Ethics Verdict: Non-Math Propaganda Does Not Belong In Math Textbooks

The New York Times reports that Florida has rejected 42 of 132 math textbooks proposed for use in public school classrooms because they “incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies” including social-emotional learning and critical race theory, according to the state’s Department of Education.

Good.

The tone of the Times article is framed to advance the “Wow, look at what radical conservative hate-mongering Neanderthals they have running the asylum in Florida, with that racist, transphobic Ron DeSantis as governor!” narrative. But this is only a partisan issue because one party’s core ideology, the Democratic Party, has, in “Happy Days” parlance, “jumped the shark,” or in my parlance, is in the process of sliding toward totalitarianism.

Here’s reporter Dana Goldstein’s second paragraph:

But Florida has a new law, which goes into effect in July, limiting the way that sexual orientation, gender identity and social-emotional skills are taught. Gov. Ron DeSantis is also expected to sign legislation, known as the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act,” prohibiting instruction that could prompt students to feel discomfort about a historical event because of their race, sex or national origin.

What does that have to do with a Department of Education deciding that mathematics textbooks should be entirely–not substantially, not mostly, but entirely, about mathematics? It doesn’t matter, or shouldn’t, what distractions, pet agendas, tangential advocacy or ideological indoctrination is in a math textbook. It doesn’t belong there. Standing for that rather simple and, I would think, obvious principle is not a partisan position, unless one party is interested, indeed invested, indeed determined to advance in something other than education. That something is indoctrination, and indoctrination of the young is essential for totalitarianism to grab a nation, culture, society and people by the throat. Continue reading

Disney And The LGTBQ Activism Ethics Train Wreck: A Prelude [Corrected]

I have been intending to examine the Disney empire’s misbegotten entry into the battle over Florida’s recently passed “Parental Rights in Education” law for weeks, but postponed the project because it is too complicated to do correctly without involving other complex issues that are closely related to it. Unfortunately, these issues have proliferated during the delay.

For example, Florida is threatening to remove Disney’s special status that allowed it to operate Disney World as an autonomous municipal government because of the company’s political action. Is that kind of punishment for a political opposition ethical? Should Disney have such special status, regardless of why it is being threatened with its removal? If the special status should be removed anyway, does it matter if it is done in response to political speech?

Here’s another: Republicans in Congress are threatening to end Disney’s copyright on Mickey Mouse, also in response to its LBGTQ activism. But that copyright should have ended decades ago, and its artificial endurance has stifled creative works blocked by thousands of other drawn-out copyrights that aren’t Disney. Now I am dealing with copyright law policy, the importance of Disney to the culture, and what, if anything, the government should do to–what? Reward it? Strengthen it? Direct it? Control it?

The Disney LGTBQ advocacy issue also involves, as virtually every issue does now, media ethics, as almost all outlets other than Fox have a clear pro-LGTBQ bias. The New York Times reporter assigned to covering Disney and the Florida law controversy is Brooks Barnes, and he can’t be trusted. In an earlier story last month, the reporter wrote,

Earlier in the week, Mr. Chapek, the company’s chief executive, botched an internal email to Disney employees. He was seeking to explain Disney’s public silence on anti-L.G.B.T.Q. legislation in Florida that activists have labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

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The Freakout To Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Law, Not The Law Itself, Will Send LGBTQ Acceptance Backwards

There is nothing discriminatory, bigoted, ant-gay, anti-trans or unethical in the “Parental Rights in Education Bill’ signed into law by Florida Governor Jim DeSantis. Have you read it, or just relied on the hysterical and dishonest characterizations of the bill by the news media and woke activists like the three Oscar co-hosts, who chanted “Gay, gay,gay, gay!’ like four-year-olds in supposed bold and hilarious defiance of what progressives have been calling the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Read the law. It doesn’t prohibit saying “gay” at all (the word doesn’t appear in the law), and as unfortunately vague as the wording sometimes is, no fair interpretation would find that it inhibits free speech.

Here is the closest wording in the bill to an “anti-LGBTQ” provision, in Section 3, page 4:

3. Classroom instruction by school personnel or third  parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur  in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

The Horror. Only the most committed and unhinged gay activist could find that provision problematic, and the fact that so many progressives do is signature significance: they lave lost touch with common sense and reality. The law isn’t anti-gay, it’s pro-parent (and student). Any parents who really think their 4-8 year olds need to be trained in human sexuality are welcome to do it themselves. I would not want my child introduced to those topic by kindergarten through third grade teachers, even if I had the opportunity to closely examine the teachers’ qualifications for doing so and the way it would be done. This is not their job, and no, I wouldn’t trust them to take it on if it were. They have a hard enough time teaching language, arts, math, science and history. I don’t trust them to teach ethics. Continue reading

Ethics Test: The Corey Pujols Sentence vs. The Derek Chauvin Sentence

I am having a hard time reconciling these two criminal trial sentences with basic ethical principles like fairness, equity, and consistency. Maybe you can help.

I suspect you never heard of the Corey Pujols manslaughter case in Florida, where a black Dunkin’ Donut manager was sentenced for killing a 73-year-old white man. There were no national headlines or special network reports after the May 4, 2021 incident at a shop in Tampa, Florida. There were no protests or angry demonstrations or riots; no organization called “Old White Guys’ Lives Matter” took up his victim’s cause.

Vonelle Cook was a  regular customer at the doughnut store, and not a welcome one: he was often cranky and abusive. On this visit he began berating staff members for the service he received at the store’s drive-through window. Asked repeatedly to leave, Cook parked and entered the shop while store manager Corey Pujols told another store employee to call the police. Cook began arguing with Pujols across the counter, and then Cook called Pujols a “nigger.”  Pujols came out from behind the counter to confront Cook.  Pujols, 27, warned the old man “not to say that again,” and true to his character and mood, Cook repeated the slur. Pujols punched him in the jaw; Vonelle Cook fell backwards onto the floor, hitting his head and sustaining fatal injuries. He died in a hospital three days later. Cook never touched or tried to strike his attacker Pujols.

Pujols was charged with manslaughter, but agreed to a plea deal in which he accepted  the lesser charge of felony battery. Under the sentence imposed this week by Judge Christine Marlewski of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court, Cook’s killer will be on probation for three years after he completes two years of  house arrest, and must perform 200 hours of community service as well as attending anger management courses.

Fair? Proportional? Consistent?

Andrew Warren, the state attorney for Hillsborough County, was satisfied, saying that the result “holds the defendant accountable while considering the totality of the circumstances — the aggressive approach and despicable racial slur used by the victim, along with the defendant’s age, lack of criminal record, and lack of intent to cause the victim’s death.”

From the news accounts, it appears that that the fact that Cook was not an admirable citizen and that he will not be greatly mourned by the community was also taken into consideration. He was a registered sex offender who had served time in prison after being convicted of  crimes including child abuse, possession of child pornography and sexual activity with minors.

Now let’s consider and contrast the sentence imposed on former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin—22 years and six months—and the relevant factors the two cases share and do not share.

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