Now Don’t Sue Me, SmileDirectClub, Because This Only This Ethicist’s Opinion, But…

“Hey! That’s a GREAT Idea! I LOVE it! Sure I’ll accept a refund in exchange for never telling anyone how lousy your product is!”

…no one should trust or do business with a company that engages in this unethical practice. Just an opinion, now.

What SmileDirectClub does, as documented in a New York Times Business Section story, is force customers to sign a non-disclosure (or confidentiality) agreement before they can receive refunds for unsatisfactory products. That way, other customer can’t find out about what the SmileDirectClub  can turn out to be, and in ignorance are more unwitting customers.

Here’s an excerpt from the Times piece: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Alternate History Ethics

In 2017, “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss announced that HBO  would carry their new original series “Confederate,” an alternate history show taking place in  an alternate reality where the South won the Civil War, creating a new nation in which slavery remains legal and continues as a modern institution. (yes, presumably they knew this was unlikely, bordering on impossible. )Their release added, “The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone — freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.”

While I generally dislike alternate history fiction (unless it involves extravagant revenge on unequivocal villains, like in “Inglorious Basterds” or “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,)” the genre, done well, has the potential to be enlightening and provocative, like Amazon’s The Man in the High Tower,” a series based on Philip K. Dick’s novel about a world in which Germany and Japan defeated the U.S. in World War II.

Now, however,  we learn:

…. HBO president Casey Bloys officially confirms to TVLine that the…long-gestating, controversial slavery drama Confederate will not be moving forward.

The 2017 announcement was greeted by the same people who want to see all statues of slave-holders and Confederate soldiers melted down (and the Confederate flag regarded with the same revulsion as the Nazi swastika) as a dangerous white supremacy plot. Benioff and Weiss even felt they had to make it clear in interviews that they knew “slavery was wrong.” Here’s an example of the social media brickbats the announcement of the series spawned in 2017: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The North West Hendricks School Corporation

How can organizations, especially schools,  think this kind of thing is acceptable, much less ethical? Who are the lawyers advising these people? Where do they think they’re living?

In Indiana, the North West Hendricks School Corporation’s “ Parent Code of Conduct ” says that parents should not use social media to make “rude or offensive comments” regarding school staff members or the school itself. Parents also cannot use social media to “campaign against or fuel outrage against individual staff members, the school or policies implemented by the school or district.” Violating the policy means that a parent can be removed from the school premises and banned from entering school grounds forevermore.

This is one of those unenforceable provisions that exist to intimidate and deceive those ignorant parents who were so badly educated (perhaps in the North West Hendricks School Corporation ) that they can’t spot an unconstitutional rule when they see one. No public school can tell parents what they can or can’t say on social media. This is a pure First Amendment violation, so blatant that it even roused the local ACLU from its accustomed slumber.

The ACLU of Indiana was asked about its assessment of the restriction on parents’ speech, and  legal director Ken Falk replied,

“I think this is flagrantly unconstitutional. The overarching problem is you have the government saying if we don’t like what you’re saying, we can punish you — but the government is not allowed to do that. That’s why we have the First Amendment.”

The rule has been in the Parent Code since 2016, but nobody reads these things. It is coming to the fore now because the district is currently keeping a teacher on its payroll despite allegations of sexual misconduct toward a student. Some parents have been discussing the situation on Facebook, and wonder about the school’s response. The district made a point of  handing out copies of the Parent Code of Conduct at a December school board meeting, and it was taken by many as a warning. Continue reading

A University Demonizes Diversity Of Thought

The headline in the New York Times last month read, “Indiana University Admits That Professor’s Views Are Vile, And That It Can’t Fire Him.” Nice. First, another party can’t “admit” someone else’s opinions are vile, as if there is a universal standard for “vile.”  Second, the headline assumes that the professor is the villain in this controversy, but then, that’s the Times for you: taking sides instead of reporting the facts.

I apologize for missing this chapter in the ongoing effort to intimidate and persecute anyone whose views do not align neatly with the mandated progressive orthodoxy.  The Times piece in question is dated November 23; not only was that my wedding anniversary, but I was also on an ethics training road trip without a functioning laptop. (I have one now.) I’m pretty sure I would have perceived the need for Ethics Alarms to bring some fairness to the assault on Professor Eric Rasmusen, though, as you will see, he is very capable of defending himself, if he could get a fair hearing (or reading).

The reason he can’t is because the news media has already decided that he should be shunned, as students try to run him out of academia and the marketplace of ideas.

To be clear, Professor Rasmusen is the victim of unethical conduct here, not the perpetrator of it. His “crime,” and it is not supposed to be a crime in the United States or academia, is asserting non-conforming views on his personal blog.  The news media framed the story to undermine Rasmusen by stating as fact that he “used his social media accounts to denigrate women, people of color and gay men.” That is a false and unfair characterization, Rasmusen uses his blog and social media accounts to cover a wide range of topics, often brilliantly, from the perspective of a Christian conservative. Continue reading

High Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/12/2019: Laser Eyes And Science Trees

Yyyyup!

Sirius XM already has two Christmas stations operating, emulating Hallmark, which is showing nothing but cheesy Christmas movies starring B and C list actors (Candace Cameron Bure is one of the better known ones) all day long. Is there some significance to this rush to get to Christmas? Is it because everyone is so nasty and hostile that there is some kind of collective yearning for peace on earth and good will toward men, womyn and non-binary trans-pan-sexuals to arrive by cultural fiat? My wife is betting that the effort will just make everyone thoroughly sick of Christmas by the time we get there. Elmo learned, in a Sesame Street Christmas Special, that if every day is Christmas, nothing is.

But I digress…The reason I noted this was that I just heard Kelly Clarkson’s “My Grown-Up Christmas List” on the “Holiday Traditions” channel (I deemed it a better bet than The Doors, and “:Please Mister Custer”) and finally listened to the lyrics:

So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas list
Not for myself but for a world in need
No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no
This is my grown up Christmas list.

Yeesh. Those are grown-up wishes? They are if “grown up” means ten-years-old.

Or you’re John Lennon.

I. One more ominous example of the Left channeling old fashioned totalitarianism..I knew that San Francisco was erecting a mural dedicated to the Climate Change Bullies’ own  Joan of Arc, creepy Greta Thunberg, but I didn’t realize how huge it was going to be. The conservative satire site the Babylon Bee joked that her eyes would be equipped with lasers to zap SUVs, at least I thought it was a joke. Legal Insurrection writes, 

Instead of focusing on issues of sanitation, job creation, or at least ensuring there are more high school students than drug addicts in the city, activists have chosen to honor Swedish “climate crisis” activist Greta Thunberg with a giant mural that will grace the skyline.

Andres “Cobre” Petreselli, an internationally renowned artist, is painting the activist teen with big blue eyes and a Mona Lisa smile.

The mural is still a work in progress, as Cobre is spending his days hoisted high up on a platform about 10 stories above Mason street, on the side of the Native Sons building near Union Square.

Thunberg is the 16-year old from Sweden who has inspired young people all over the world to take to the streets and let older people know they want climate change to be taken seriously.

“What I want from people is to realize have to do something for the world,” Cobre said. “Otherwise, it’s going to be the beginning of our extinction.”

Yikes. Continue reading

The Judicial Persecution Of Jonathan Vanderhagen

It began when Jonathan Vanderhagen petitioned Macomb County (Michigan) Circuit Court Judge Rachel Rancilio for sole custody of his 2-year-old son, Killian, arguing that Killian’s biological mother was unfit to be his son’s  guardian. Judge Rancilio disagreed and the child’s mother retained custody. Not long after the decision,  Killian was dead. Since his son’s death in 2017, Vanderhagen has harshly criticized the Rancilio’s custody ruling on Facebook. 

As a result, he was arrested and charged with a malicious use of telecommunication services , which includes using a telecommunication service with the intention of terrorizing, intimidating, threatening, or harassing someone, in this case, the judge. From Reason:

The case report filled out by Sgt. Jason Conklin of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office notes that Rancilio was made aware of Vanderhagen’s posts, several of which included screenshots of her own Facebook page and pins on Pinterest. The screenshots are accompanied by captions promising to expose the corruption of the court system and calling Rancilio and Mary Duross, a 14-year veteran Friend of the Court who was involved in the custody case, “shady.”  “At no point does [Vanderhagen] threaten harm or violence towards Rancilio or Duross,” Conklin wrote in the case report.

Apparently some of the “threat” claim comes from the meme above and others like it that Vanderhagen—talented!—has created and posted on Facebook. That shovel! Scary! The caption says, “Dada back to digging [and] you best believe [I’m] gonna dig up all the skeletons in this court’s closet.” “I won’t stop till changes are made, people are held accountable, careers are ended, & these kids get the justice they deserve,” he wrote in another one of his “threatening” Facebook posts.

What’s going on here?

I don’t think its a tough question: what’s going on is a concerted effort  by some Michigan judges of dubious skills and character to take vengeance on a citizen who hasn’t been willing to grovel at the the feet of the Robed Ones. Judges are like that all too often, but this is an unusually ugly example that begs for a serious reckoning with Lady Justice—for the judges. Continue reading

Unethical, Damning And Revealing: “Can Peer Pressure Defeat Trump?”

That was the title of an essay in the New York Times Review section a couple of weeks ago. I took a while to get around to reading it, because it was authored by Amy Chozick, the Times journalist who wrote “Chasing Hillary,” an extended mea culpa for contributing to Hillary Clinton’s ‘s defeat by actually reporting the news. I don’t really care what someone capable of writing that thinks, but in this case, she is revealing the frightening, fascist, ends-justify-the means and power-at-any-cost mind-set of her colleagues, her party, the “resistance,” and those Facebook friends of mine who gang-attack me any time I point out that their Trump hate has eaten their brains, ethics, and respect for democracy.

“We are intensely social creatures and need to situate ourselves inside the collective,”she quotes  a professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University as telling her. From that Amy—can I call you Amy?—endorses the use of “peer pressure” —gentle, of course!—to make sure the President she and all decent people detest is defeated. Her title is itself a form of peer pressure, since she assumes that defeating Trump is what “everybody” wants, “everybody” meaning the Good People, like her. And Hillary.

I’m sorry, I threw up in my mouth there and had a giggling fit. I’m OK now.

I taught my son to ignore peer pressure, conventional wisdom, going along with the crowd, going along to get along, and caring so much about who likes you that you surrender your mind and soul. I was taught the same lessons by my relentlessly contrary, idealistic father, who drove my mother to distraction by quitting one job after another when he felt he was being asked to take part in activities he believed were wrong. He suffered for this proclivity, as have I on occasion, and as has my son already at the tender age of 24. But none of us were or are inclined to do what someone else wants us to do because of threats, shaming, mobs of advocates, mass news media propaganda, or social media bullying.

For that is what Chozick is advocating, the strategy we have been seeing since that fateful day in November of 2016 when sufficient voters decided electing a true outsider and an obnoxious one at that was the perfect way to send an indelible message to the arrogant Leftist Elite who just assumed that their dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and contempt for democracy and American values didn’t matter to the public any more.

As I wrote at the time, it was a defiant gesture akin to the decision of Delta House to destroy the homecoming parade of the college that had expelled them. Otter says,” I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!” Sometimes the bad guys just can’t be allowed to win, and Americans. thank God, are still ready to say “Fuck you!” to people who think they can order them around. Yes, electing Trump was a surprising, but much deserved, “Fuck you!”

Of the many, many unexpected benefits of Trump’s election (along with many expected deficits) , perhaps the most important has been the crazed Left’s open revelation that it has no principles whatsoever, closely followed by the completely corrupt news media’s self-impeachment. The opposition to the President—how dare he defeat Hillary, when it was time to elect a female President?—has been an escalating series of anti-democratic, indeed totalitarian tactics. The “resistance’s” violent ally, the antifa, began attacking Trump supporters during the inauguration, a fair imitation of Brown Shirts even as the “resistance” was calling the President a Nazi. That Big Lie has persisted, as have many others, most of which are false projections on Trump.of conduct that Democrats and progressives have, shockingly, adopted as their own.

They have made it clear that they do not believe men should have the rights of due process and presumed innocence, but Trump is the gender bigot . (He is, but just personally, not in his policies) With barely a wisp of proof, they state as fact that Trump is a racist, while aggressively promoting anti-white bias in their schools, colleges, and the news media. Their house historians and scholars assemble slanted and deceitful arguments to accuse the President of “breaching Democratic norms” while Democrats and their leaders have trashed one essential system-bolstering tradition and norm after another. They refused to accept the verdict of the election. They have sought to manufacture justifications for impeachment in the absence of any conduct that meets the Constitutional standard. They have, in fact, called for impeachment purely because they don’t think Trump is “fit to be President,” ignoring, and trying to alter the fact that our system makes the people the arbiter of that issue, not the election’s bitter losers.

They used high school conduct and an unsubstantiated accusation to try to defeat the President’s SCOTUS nominee; they have used obscene language and vile insults that were previously taboo to diminish him; they have attacked the President while he was representing the nation on foreign soil; they have even made it impossible for him to fulfill the unifying symbolic functions of the office, like presiding over the Kennedy Center Honors, appearing at the White House Correspondent’s dinner,  or throwing out the first pitch in a baseball game. They have weaponized the news media as a partisan force, as demonstrated by the one-way focus of CNN and other news sources.

But it’s the President who is dangerously breaching “norms.” Amazingly, many people believe this, because their peer group is saying it’s so loudly and meanacingly, or because they are not especially attentive, knowledgeable, or bright.

Perhaps the most relentless and despicable of the Big Lies emanating from the hate-filled Left is the constant fear-mongering. Since everything did not go to hell under President Trump as “the resistance” was telling us it would (an otherwise smart Massachusetts lawyer, a single mother, told me in December 2016 that she was “terrified” that her toddler son was doomed.) Every day, every single day, I hear interviews by celebrities and read everything from movie reviews to cooking features in which someone casually throws in a reference to how anxious everyone is and how we are in a crisis of existential proportions.

This week, Nick Kristof, always a hard-left scold but now apparently completely infected by the fact-free anti-Trump madness of New York Times colleagues like David Leonardt, Paul Krugman and Charles M. Blow, actually wrote a disgraceful op-ed headlined, We Will Survive. Probably.: American democracy is too resilient for Trump to destroy.”

This is propaganda, not opinion. The only threats to Democracy posed during the first three years of the Trump administration have been the loss of fair, objective and honest news reporting, and the Democratic Party’s ongoing effort to overthrow the President.

Such unconscionable distortions of reality are the catalyst for the “peer pressure” that Chozick endorses. Almost every day, there is a story of one of Chozick’s compatriots attacking someone, sometimes a child , for wearing a MAGA cap. Here’s a recent sampling:

  • “Martin County bus aide offended by MAGA hat grabs it off head of 14-year-old boy”
  • MAGA-hat wearing teen claims California high school wouldn’t permit her to wear hat

  • High school student charged with assaulting classmate wearing MAGA hat, Trump banner

That’s the kind of “peer pressure” that Chozick is endorsing, the gentle examples in her essay notwithstanding, because she knows that that’s what her fellow progressives are doing and have been doing, and it’s not “gentle”: using threats, fear, shaming, and majority pressure to make people do what the mobs–the “peers”—want them to do, or else. Or else we won’t like you, or else we won’t include you, or else we’ll conclude you’re a racist/sexist/ homophobic person who likes seeing children shot/ mean bastard who doesn’t think starving children in South America should have a better life who’s taking marching orders fro Fox New and Sean Hannity.

The peer pressure she is extolling is intimidation. It is a totalitarian strategy, not a democratic one. The Trump-hating hysterics can’t persuade because their position is built on Big Lies, fear, emotion, bias, and historical ignorance. If they can’t persuade us to agree with them, and we are independent enough to see through the lies, then they will try to force us. Hurt us, if necessary.

You know. “Peer pressure.”