Ethics Dunces: The Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the National League West regular season championship last night by beating their divisional rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Traditionally, when such moments occur away from the winner’s home park, they are celebrated with a happy mob scene around the pitcher’s mound and then a retreat to the clubhouse, where campaign and revelry reign.

But not in the case of the 2013 Dodgers. Seeing the inviting swimming pool that is a unique center field feature of Chase Field, the giddy Dodger team jumped the fence and splashed into the pool to celebrate. The Arizona Republic, in an editorial today, accurately expressed the reaction of the Diamondback fans and community:

“In the interests of good sportsmanship, here’s to the 2013 National League West Division champs.Congratulations are in order. Even to a bunch as classless as the Los Angeles Dodgers, the first players not wearing Diamondbacks uniforms to celebrate a championship by diving into the Chase Field pool. Informally, the Arizona Diamondbacks management had asked their Dodgers counterparts, should their lads clinch the division at Chase Field, to kindly celebrate in the clubhouse until the fans cleared out. For safety’s sake. Well, the Diamondbacks got their answer. Effectively: We got some “safety,” for you. Right here….” Continue reading

“Ghosting” Is Unethical

I don't care if you are dead, Marley; when you leave my party, say good-bye.

I don’t care if you are dead, Marley; when you leave my party, say good-bye.

Slate contributor Seth Stevenson has an interesting justification for being rude: good manners are too much trouble.

This is the way the world ends, as T.S. Elliot would say.

Stevenson argues that instead of saying goodbye and thank-you to one’s host at a party, the best way to exit is “the Irish good-bye,” or in its non-ethnic stereotype form (Irish guests are presumed too drunk to say good-bye, you see), “ghosting.” “Yes, I know,” he writes. “You’re going to tell me it’s rude to leave without saying goodbye. This moral judgment is implicit in the culturally derogatory nicknames ghosting has been burdened with over the centuries.” That sentence is signature significance for me: Stevenson is an unethical jerk. I get comments and e-mails all the time accusing Ethics Alarms of “moralizing” or being “sanctimonious” when I write that obviously unethical conduct is obviously unethical. That’s because unethical people who do unethical things feel much better about themselves if nobody calls them on it, so they can maintain, as one recent commenter did here who was, I’m proud to say, chased away by the rest of you (and me) with torches and pitchforks, that ethics is “100% subjective”—Translation: “If I want to do it, it’s ethical.”

That’s essentially Stevenson’s reasoning, too.  “Is it really so bad to bounce without fanfare?,” he asks. Continue reading

Well, Now We Know What Kind Of Bandleader The New “Tonight Show” Will Have…

"Welcome to the show, Congresswoman!"

“Welcome to the show, Congresswoman!”


Meanwhile, in the headline to the relevant excerpt from his autobiographical book,  Salon inaccurately quotes Questlove as blaming his victim, Rep. Michele Bachmann, for the fact that his uncivil, cowardly and disrespectful stunt nearly got him fired. Score one unethical headline for Salon. Questlove blames himself. He obviously feels no remorse for being unfair and disrespectful to Bachmann, but he doesn’t blame her.

I wrote about the incident when it occurred: Continue reading

Holiday Ethics Quiz: The Family Stuffing Dilemma

Families can fight about anything.

Further proof that families can fight about anything.

In the category of the kind of ethics controversy only families can devise comes this one, from an old friend from high school, who just e-mailed me for advice:

She is having her sister and her sister’s family, all adults, over for Christmas dinner. She is cooking all of it, turkey, stuffing, chestnuts roasting on a open fire, Andy Williams on a spit—the works. Today her sister tells her that her daughter will be bringing her own turkey stuffing, because she likes her recipe best. My friend said, “Fine,” and hung up. Now she is quietly fuming. She asks, “What kind of behavior is that? I’m inviting them to dinner. Who brings their own private courses because it’s their personal preference?” (She adds that nobody has ever complained about her stuffing. I can personally vouch for that: I’ve eaten it in past years, and it’s excellent.)

My friend thinks the whole idea is an insult and bad manners, and wants to call up her sister to say, oh, lots of possible things, like “You know Christmas Eve when we’re coming over to your house for dinner? Well, my daughter will be bringing hamburgers, because she thinks the food you serve is crap,” or, Tell Phyllis she’s welcome to make her own stuffing and get her ass over here at 6 AM to stuff it in our bird, or she can live with what I’m serving,” or “Why don’t you all just bring your favorite damn dishes and we can just have pot luck?”

So it’s a two-part Christmas Ethics Quiz for the Ethics Alarms faithful:

1. Is the daughter’s conduct inexcusably rude?

2. Should my friend say anything about it? Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Matt Lauer

It's lucky you're dead, Dave, because this would kill you...

It’s lucky you’re dead, Dave, because this would kill you…

Matt Lauer, as the primary host of the “Today” show, reigns where once distinguished journalists and professionals like Dave Garroway, Bryant Gumble, Tom Brokaw and Frank McGee made the show a morning oasis of news and pleasant banter. Yesterday Lauer, who has already revealed himself beyond any reasonable argument as a hack (yes, “Today” has had other hacks), showed himself to be an unmannerly creep as well. Continue reading

He Must Not Have Liked The Tofu At The Reception: Worst Wedding Guest Ever

“I invited him? I thought YOU invited him!”

The Ethics Alarms week just completed week was notable for the bizarre and lengthy argument over proper conduct by wedding reception hosts, prompted by my criticism of advice columnist Carolyn Hax. It is with some trepidation that I now ask: Can we agree that this is the worst wedding reception guest ever?

The guest is Omar Santiago, a young lad invited to the reception by the brides’ niece, who probably needs to cultivate better taste in boyfriends. Omar was observed around midnight doing something suspicious in a closet at the West Sayville (New York) Country Club as the less larcenous guests were bunny-hopping. The maitre d’ asked bride Joanna Williamson  if she had directed a young guest to handle her gift box. Why no, she hadn’t, Williamson replied—Holy cats!!  Someone is stealing our wedding gifts????? Continue reading

Funny, Clever, Convenient, And Wrong: Housebites

“Your dirty pans, sir…just as you ordered them!”

Normally I wouldn’t post about the practices of a U.K. company, since there are already too many U.S. stories involving ethics for me to keep up with. The innovation added to the world of deception by Housebites, however, has United States written all over it, and I predict it will travel across the pond in about a minute and a half.

The British company will not only cook and deliver a gourmet meal to order for your dinner party or romantic evening…it will deliver dirty pots and pans, to give your claims of hard labor in the kitchen that extra believability. From the company’s press release:

“, the takeaway service that delivers restaurant quality food has today announced a service called ‘pretend you cooked’ that allows customers to pretend they have slaved away at a hot stove more convincingly by delivering dirty pans alongside the food. Cooked by a professional chef and delivered to your door, Housebites main courses cost on average between £10 and £12, and now for an additional £5, customers can request the pans used to cook them for added authenticity. Collection of the pans is then arranged as easily as the original delivery slot.”

How nice. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Jimmy Fallon and The Roots

Why is this Be Unfair To Michele Bachmann Month? Because everybody knows when you don't agree with someone, its OK to be unfair to them..

Late night NBC talk show host Jimmy Fallon’s band, The Roots, has developed a habit of choosing “walk-on music” for Fallon’s guests that contain editorial comment on the guests themselves. The practice is not original, but the degree to which The Roots choose titles that are direct insults is, and it’s an unethical practice. Guests are guests, and playing the music of a song with lyrics that intentionally insult a guest is still atrocious manners, not made any less rude because only those who know the song get the message.

When Rep. Michele Bachmann came on Fallon’s show this week, the band played Fishbone’s “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.” Foul. In ethical terms, this is the equivalent of the band standing up and shouting insults at Bachmann on camera, except that it’s more cowardly. Bachmann didn’t know that she was being insulted, and it was a sure bet that she wouldn’t: I doubt anyone expects Fishbone to be on Michele’s playlist.

Kimmel’s band was proud of itself; Roots drummer Questlove alerted his followers  on Twitter before the ambush, tweeting:

   “Aight late night walkon song devotees: you love it when we snark: this next one takes the cake. ask around cause i aint tweeting title.”

Fallon owes Bachmann an apology, and The Roots need to have basic professionalism explained to them.

UPDATE: Fallon and Questlove both apologized over Twitter.

Ethics Dunce: Christine O’Donnell

Like ham and eggs, Abbott and Costello, or motherhood and apple pie, “dunce” and Christine O’Donnell will forever be paired. Why her embarrassing run for the U.S. Senate didn’t consign her to permanent obscurity I do not know, but she was back in the public eye again tonight, on an apparently slow day for getting guests for Piers Morgan, to talk about her new book. When the host dared to stray into subject matter O’Donnell didn’t want to talk about, however, she quit the interview, leaving Morgan with dead time and an empty chair.

There is no excuse for this abominable behavior. Morgan was not being rude, nor was he straying from ethical interview practices. An interviewee does not have the right to control an interview, and a public figure who is asked about public statements and the contents of a book bearing her name may not call “foul” with any justification. As for walking out in the middle of a televised interview, O’Donnell conduct is indefensible–unfair to her host, disrespectful of her audience,  uncivil, and cowardly

Morgan deserves some of the blame for agreeing to waste airtime on someone who has proven beyond any question that she possesses neither the skills, talent, intelligence, character or judgment to even qualify for D -list celebrity status, much less to be taken seriously as a political figure.

She is, in short, a dunce–ethically, socially, and intellectually. After this performance, anyone who books her for anything other than a “Dunk the Witch” carnival attraction deserves whatever they get.

Answer the #@!!*&%! Question, Michele!

I don’t have the transcript of David Gregory’s interview with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R.-Min), Queen of the Tea Party, on “Meet the Press,” but it went something like this:

Gregory: Do you think the government should be shut down unless the President agrees to more budge cuts?

Bachmann: I think the fielding of Don Hoak at third base for the 1960 Pirates was truly outstanding, and definitely a key to the team’s success. Baby bok choy is delicious.

Gregory: Let me play you a clip of your recent comments. Do you really believe that the President is trying to jeopardize the economy?

Bachmann: Most people think Anchorage is the capital of Alaska, but it’s really Juneau. And, of course, Anne Boleyn had three breasts.

Gregory: I’m asking a direct question…do you really believe that the President has anti-American motives?

Bachmann: I’m now going to recite everything Barack Obama has done wrong from the second grade to the present, and in pig-latin, just for the fun of it….

Okay, I’m a little sketchy on the details. Continue reading