Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Insensitive Exam Question”

 

I am hopping slickwilly’s answer to the ethics quiz about “Above the Law” editor and social justice warrior taking offense at a Georgetown Law Center prof’s exam question over several other languishing but equally deserving Comment of the Day. The main reason is that it’s witty and mordantly funny, and it made me laugh out loud.

Yes, it qualifies as a rant, and I know there’s a line of long-standing in the Comment policies that says “political rants are not welcome.” However, as readers here know, every rule has exceptions, and several apply to slickwilly’s work. To begin with, any literary form, if executed well, is worthy of respect. Second, Ethics Alarms bestows special privileges on regular commenters here, who add so much to the content and quality of the blog. Finally, I have to concede that sometimes only a rant will do.

The astounding hypocrisy, dishonesty and Orwellian tactics of the “resistance” appear to be immune from rational, traditional analysis. When, for example, Mr Trump’s enraged and hateful foes accuse him of being a fascist while they encourage their supporters to physically intimidate anyone who supports the President, or say that Trump endangers democracy as they attempt to undermine public trust in the President and the nation’s institutions, dispassionate arguments fail to have much impact—it is, as I have said at various times, like arguing with lunatics or toddlers. Rants can provide special clarity by crystallizing the frustration and anger created by trying to engage ethically with a shamelessly unethical adversary. I don’t want rants to become the currency of the realm here, but this one is timely and skillful.

Here is slickwilly’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz: The Insensitive Exam Question”:

“Was the professor’s exam question unethical, as in irresponsible and uncaring?

Hell, no!

Color me surprised that a progressive hack found something to be offended by.

What, President Trump not taken to Twitter lately? Was this a slow news day in Mystal’s neck of the woods? Weren’t there pygmies in Africa with acne to write about? No pictures of swimming polar bears denoting some perceived deficiency with their habitat, undoubtedly caused by evil man?

‘Snowflake’ is an apt term for what academia and progressives are indoctrinating students into becoming.

If you cannot stand up to the adversity of life, cannot even hear a point of view not dictated by your progressive masters;

If you cannot stand to be reminded that the thing you are outraged about TODAY was the thing you endorsed YESTERDAY;

If the mere presence of a designated ‘deplorable’ on campus sends you fleeing to a room with coloring books and puppies;

If the term ‘safe’ implies a space and not a condition of a runner in Baseball;

If you believe in violence against those who disagree with progressive cant, yet self defense by those attacked is not a natural and correct response;

If you believe that everyone should pay ‘their fair share’ yet complain when YOU have to pony up;

If you believe that Roe-v-Wade is written in stone, yet Heller-v-District of Columbia should be reversed upon a whim; Continue reading

McAfee And Me: An Ethics Rant

I have written here before about my theory that the needless complexity of life, especially involving daily interactions with technology, are driving normal people crazy, and sometimes homicidally crazy. While activists and justly alarmed citizens point to guns and mental health policies to explain murderous rampages by citizens previously regarded as quite and law abiding, insufficient attention is being paid to the ratcheting-up of daily stresses caused by the private and public sectors gratuitously making  daily life unbearably frustrating to navigate, particularly for the less skilled navigators among us.

I don’t expect to snap, but you never know. It is said, I assume apocryphally, that there was a sick drawing New Yorker black humor cartoonist Charles Addams would send to his editor when he was about to have one of his periodic breakdowns, and the magazine would see that he was deposited in his favorite sanitarium in a timely fashion. If you read the message  “AGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGZZZZZKKKKKAAAAARHHHHHYY!”-and nothing else--in a future post, you will know that I have gone full Sweeney Todd (Sweeney in his fury and grief determined that half the human race were so cruel and corrupt that they deserved to die, and that they made the other half so miserable that it was merciful to murder them too) and my immediate neighborhood is in mortal danger. Call the police. I don’t have a gun, but I don’t need one: I’m pretty good with a baseball bat.

If and when that happens, something like my experience yesterday will be the cause.

I have a new netbook, and it included a free 30 day trial subscription to McAfee’s virus protection service. For a week I had been getting obtrusive pop-up ads from McAfee telling me that my protection was about to lapse and my opportunity to purchase a special discounted continuation of the service (Just $39.99, marked down from $89.99!) would soon evaporate. Yesterday was the expiration date, so I decided to accept the offer and sign up online.

I checked the appropriate boxes and filled in all the information, including the credit card data. The attempt to pay was rejected, the screen told me, for my security code, that little three digit number on the back of the card, was incorrect. So I reentered it, after checking it carefully. After much churning and two “preparing your order” screens, I again got the error message. Huh. I tried again. Same thing.

This provoked a mature explosion quite familiar to my wife and dog (the dog hid under the bed), in which I cursed all online purchase, subscription and registration procedures, which inevitably take far longer than they are supposed to, are so complicated that they invite human error, and appear to have been designed by Joseph Mengele as some kind of sadistic experiment. My wife sagely suggested that I try another credit card, since the one I was using had recently been the object of a bank screw-up that ate another several hours of my rapidly dwindling life span. This I did…four times. Every time, the security code was flagged as entered wrongly, which it was not. Finally, I used a third card. Again, no dice, “incorrect data.”

The attempt to pay McAfee $39.99 had now taken about a half an hour. Continue reading

Marco Rubio Better Have An Explanation For This Unethical Statement Other Than The Obvious Ones

Seen on Sen. Rubio's Senate office door...

Seen on Sen. Rubio’s Senate office door…

The obvious ones would be:

  • Because I can.
  • Because I lack integrity.
  • Because I’m as immature as I look.

I can’t make the Rubio quote making the rounds this morning an Ethics Alarms “Unethical Quote of the Month,” because it occurred, we are told by the Washington Post, on the evening of September 18 during the last Republican candidates’ debate. Why didn’t I pick up on Rubio’s statement then? I don’t know: no one else did either, based on a Google search.  I guess when there are 11 GOP candidates embarrassing themselves and their party seriatim (By the way, did you know that the WordPress spellcheck program says that the word I wanted to type there is “Maserati’?), it’s easy to miss a few outrageous statements.

Anyway,here is what Sen. Rubio said, however, after being chided by Donald Trump for missing so many Senate votes:

“That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate. I am not running for reelection.”

The front page Washington Post story says that Rubio is frustrated with the unresponsiveness of the U.S. Senate to his attempted leadership:

Marco Rubio is a U.S. senator. And he just can’t stand it anymore.

“I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word,” Rubio said in an interview. “I’m frustrated.”

This year, as Rubio runs for president, he has cast the Senate — the very place that cemented him as a national politician — as a place he’s given up on, after less than one term. It’s too slow. Too rule-bound. So Rubio, 44, has decided not to run for his seat again. It’s the White House or bust…Rubio had arrived at one of the least ambitious moments in Senate history and saw many of his ideas fizzle. Democrats killed his debt-cutting plans. Republicans killed his immigration reform. The two parties actually came together to kill his AGREE Act, a small-bore, hands-across-the-aisle bill that Rubio had designed just to get a win on something.

Now, he’s done. “He hates it,” a longtime friend from Florida said, speaking anonymously to say what Rubio would not.

So Rubio is missing votes in the Senate because he hates his job?

That’s not exactly indicative of trustworthy character, not just for national leadership but for any position, including busboy. He ran for the job, got it, is being paid for it, and if it isn’t as much fun or as rewarding as he thought it would be, tough. Rubio still has an obligation to fulfill his duties as best he can. Who gets to goof off at work because he or she doesn’t like a job or is “frustrated”? Just Marco Rubio, it seems. Leaders have to be role-models and ethical exemplars. Rubio is modelling the “stop doing the job if you’re not good at it but still collect your paycheck” approach to the workplace. Who does he think he is?

Barack Obama? Continue reading

Fan Ethics Guidance From A Red Sox Fan To Washington Nationals Fans (And Others): Booing Your Manager Is Unethical

Matt WilliamsOn September 9, following his press conference in the aftermath of a horrible and devastating loss to the New York Mets, the Washington Nationals manager (the reigning Manager of the Year from 2014!), was vigorously booed by a group of fans (the rich ones) in the next-door Presidents Club dining room, who banged on the press conference room’s glass walls. The team was pronounced a shoo-in to the World Series, you see, before the season started, and that loss made it clear, if it wasn’t already, that the Nats probably weren’t even going to make the play-offs.

No doubt about it: Matt Williams, the team’s calm, amiable, incompetent manager, is part of the problem, but he was just as bad last year, just much luckier. (See: moral luck; consequentialism) He was hired with no managerial experience at all, just the experience of being a (pretty good) major league player for quite a while, and the truth is that managing a baseball team requires judgment, tactical expertise, courage, flexibility, facility with statistics and leadership, as well as experience. Williams isn’t bereft in all of these areas, but enough of them to make consistent success as a manager unlikely. Because the boo-attack occurred in front of the press corps and came from the season ticket types rather than the bleachers and beer crowd (“You’re a BUM!!!”), it immediately became a big story in Washington. Today, one of those angry fans wrote an explanation and alleged justification of his actions in the Washington Post.

He wrote in part:

“So, after staying till the bitter end of the latest heartbreaking loss, and after watching Williams wrap up another tedious Q&A filled with a series of cliched answers, a group of mid-30s fans who have been cheering this team from Day 1 had seen enough. A defiant Williams exited the podium, and we booed … we booed hard. It felt good. It felt like Williams needed to hear it — and it felt like the Nats brass needed to, as well…We’ll always support this team, but on a night like that night, sometimes enough is enough. When it takes 54 excruciating pitches to get three outs in a season-killing seventh-inning meltdown, and when the manager has pushed all the wrong buttons since last October, there’s not much else a fan can do…but boo.”

This fatuous non-wisdom comes from Rudy Gersten, an executive director at a public policy organization, and presumably he speaks for his similarly jeering friends, “an ethics and compliance lawyer, an IT project manager, [and ]a construction senior project manager.” Continue reading

Of The Great Noodle Ordeal, Sweeney Todd, Stressors, and The Importance Of Ethics In Stopping Mass Killings

I have a theory about mass killings, and it is neither original nor exclusive: in fact, it has been proposed in various forms for at least a  century But I think it is worth considering.

I think that the smart, creative, intense, ambitious, restless and entrepreneurial people in this country keep designing an environment, and forcing it on us whether we like or need it or not,  that is increasingly, and ultimately unbearably, hostile to those who are not smart, creative, intense, ambitious, restless and entrepreneurial. I think that as life becomes increasingly stressful and confusing for average people—remember, about half of the public is below average intelligence, and even average intelligence is nothing to jump up and down over—they are more likely to reach what the serial killer profilers on “Criminal Minds” call “stressors”—the final straw, the moment when they see red, and deadly fury takes over. On the TV show, of course, the stressor is the death of a child, or a firing, or the onset of an illness, or financial setbacks. But I can see it simply being the realization that life is hopeless…that it is always going to be a miserable, frustrating struggle, and that powerful, rich, meddling people are at work always finding ways to make sure it gets harder and harder, and ultimately futile, for normal human beings to get through the day.

I entertain delusions that I am smarter than the average bear, and I can barely stand it myself. Yesterday, stuck at La Guardia, I wanted to get some food in the a terminal’s food court. The place I chose had just added computerized self-ordering on iPads. I’m not intimidated by iPads; I use one. The woman in front of me, however, stared at the device—there were no readily available employees to guide her through it—as if it were a space alien. She pushed some buttons, sighed, and gave up. Continue reading

Fair and Unfair Facebook Post Firings

frustrated-at-workWhen is it fair for an employer to fire an employee for the contents of a personal Facebook post?

  • When the post harms the business, impugns the integrity of its staff or business practices, or otherwise affects the reputation of the company in the community.
  • When the post indicates that the poster lied to a superior.
  • When the post raises legitimate doubts about the poster’s fitness for a job, either in the minds of potential client and customers, or in the judgment of employers.
  • When the post is sufficiently  disreputable and offensive to the community at large that it raises the question of whether any company that hires or has such an individual in a position of authority can or should be trusted.
  • When the post shows poor judgement of such a degree that it reaches signature significance, and legitimately causes an employer to doubt the stability, sanity, or trustworthiness of the poster. Continue reading

When The Ethics Alarms Don’t Sound: A Cautionary Tale From Seattle

 

%$#@*#!!!

Like all of us, Seattle attorney Ronald Clarke Mattson was infuriated when he found cars parked straddling the lines in crowded parking lots and garages.

It really is rude, inconsiderate, obnoxious and unethical behavior, especially when it is blatant, as when the owner of the Lexis or the Jaguar intentionally takes up two spaces to guard his baby against any accidental dings. This is a statement that rings out loud and clear: “My car is more important than your convenience, and I’ll take up two spaces, robbing you of your right to one, because I matter, and you don’t.” 

I’ve left nasty notes for these jerks, for all the good that does. I’ve complained to stores, and even had them make announcements over their public address systems. On a couple of occasions, when one was handy, I’ve recruited a police officer, and several times I’ve waited for the owner of the car so I could tell him off (if he wasn’t armed or too big).

Once, when the car was a brand new, loaded, shiny  sports convertible, I engaged in the intentional infliction of emotional distress, leaving a note that said that I had used a tool to leave a fairly deep, but small, indentation on his now no-longer-pristine car, and I hoped he had fun looking for it. (There was no such wound, but I am not proud of this.)

If I had a momentary desire to really harm the car, as I may have had once or twice, several considerations set off my various ethics alarms. The Golden Rule alarm wouldn’t sound, because this isn’t a Golden Rule situation: I would never take up two spaces.  Others, however, would:

  • The “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right” alarm.
  • The “It’s Against the Law” alarm.
  • The “What If Everybody Did This?” alarm
  • The  “Don’t Take Action That Has No Purpose Other Than To Do Harm” alarm
  • The “Sons of Maj. Jack Marshall Sr./ Lawyers/Ethicists Don’t Act Like This” alarm
  • The “I Would Be Ashamed If Anyone Found Out” alarm, and most of all,
  • The “You Know This Is Wrong” alarm.

And if they all failed to sound, due to poor installation and maintenance? Then I might have done as Ronald Clarke Mattson did, more than once. He pleaded guilty this week to a reduced count of attempted second-degree malicious mischief, a gross misdemeanor, for keying three automobiles in retribution for their owners’ parking misconduct.  He received a one-year suspended sentence, 240 hours of community service, restitution for the three victims, and has to attend an anger-management class.

But his problem isn’t anger management. His problem is malfunctioning ethics alarms.

Mattson has been a lawyer since 1972, and could now face punishment from the Washington State Bar Association, which is charged with making sure that attorneys with faulty ethics alarms seek immediate repairs.

One Joke We Can Do Without

Recently “Jimmy Kimmel Live” showed a video of a “Candid Camera” style prank pulled on an unsuspecting woman at her workplace. As a loud siren blared, everyone around her started hurling themselves on the floor, losing their balance, reeling and staggering as if the building was shaking. It wasn’t, but the woman was understandably alarmed (even conspiracy theorists don’t instantly assume that they are really surrounded by actors that Jimmy Kimmel has paid to behave like the sky is falling), though the commotion ended as suddenly as it started. Then it started again..then a third time. The woman ended up on the floor, hiding her head under a metal folding chair.

Hilarity ensued. Continue reading