Wednesday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/18/2020: The Betraying Friend, The Abusive Model, The Grandstanding Lawyer, And The Partisan CEO

Several of these items could support stand-alone posts, I suppose, but I have bigger metaphorical fish to fry. I’ve also figured out that traffic would look better if I broke some of these 800-1000 word posts into multiple 400-500 word bites, but to hell with it: a post should be as long as it has to to make the points I want to make. Traffic has also been excellent lately: from Election Day through yesterday EA has had the best extended streak since 2017. As usual with such surges, this has involved some quirks. For example, the post about Margaret Thatcher’s favorite poem has been leading all posts in clicks for three days. I didn’t see that coming…

1. Ethics Quiz: Which is more unethical, the creep who offers such tales out of school, or the publication that gives her a platform?

The entire genre of former school mates coming forward with unflattering and ancient anecdotes about political figures is unethical. Now that Ivanka Trump’s father is likely to be out of the White House next year, her seventh grade friend Lysandra Ohrstrom decided it was a safe to reveal what a creep the First Daughter was as a 13-year-old, because so few of us lacked a functioning ethics compass at that age. She also decided that she would enjoy being interviewed on various Trump-hating TV shows, I assume.

Why the woman continued to stay friends with someone she now says was an elitist snot is a mystery; yes, some of Lysandra’s tales impugn adult Ivanka as well as the child version.

One of her earliest memories of Ivanka is her blaming a fart on a less popular classmate. The monster! In their twenties, Ivanka asked Ohrstrom for a book suggestion and when her friend suggested “Empire Falls,” replied, “Why would you tell me to read a book about fucking poor people?” Ohrstrom also recalls Ivanka once telling her “You’ve really turned into a Marxist” during a discussion about affordable housing in Manhattan.

Is there anyone who has ever lived who doesn’t have embarrassing incidents that occurred early their lives and that they trust that the family and friends who witnessed them have the decency and loyalty not to inform the world? Ohstrom’s ignorance of the Golden Rule and her pathetic lunge for 15 minutes of fame tell us more about her character than reveal anything relevant about Ivanka Trump.

Continue reading

Yes, I’m Blaming The Victim: Ben Gravolet Is An Ethics Dunce. And A Jerk

You may have missed it, but Ellen DeGeneris, the queen of daytime talk shows whose brand has always been her niceness, has had her once impeccable  reputation sullied lately as employees of her show have complained about a “toxic environment” that the star did nothing to address. There’s an investigation now, and Ellen is rumored to be considering leaving “Ellen,” meaning that instead of toxic employment, her staff and production crew will have no employment at all.

In the midst of this crisis for DeGeneris, sensing a cheap opportunity to grab some publicity, kick her when she’s down, and apparently seek vengeance for a slight that he has obsessed about for more than 40 years, a man named Ben Gravolet has come forward to tell the world that…..what, that DiGeneres sexually molested him? That she was secretly working for Fidel Castro? No, Ben accused Ellen of being mean to him when he was 11 years old.

We should have seen this coming, for it is the dangerous slippery slope Christine Blasey-Ford’s dubious accusation against Bret Kavanaugh greased. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Website Of The Month: Etsy”

Commenter Benjamin has a supple metaphorical pen, and this Comment of the Day, on the previous post regarding the open market platform Etsy selling facemasks as porous as cheesecloth is a blast. I’ll be back at the end to explain why it’s also a crock, but for the nonce, here is Benjamin’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Unethical Website Of The Month: Etsy”:

I oppose that modern compulsion to demand oversight of every man, woman, and child which blames every proximate business or municipality for every loophole it can find not as though a new opportunity has been found but as though this was malfeasance not to have thought to cover every possible route of escape. Etsy likely sees itself as a platform for individual sellers who found a way out of their over-managed corporate bureaucracies, not as an over-managing corporate employers of every seller on its platform. I applaud this model, knowing that other one from the inside with no realistic hope of escape. I could imagine an argument that Etsy must become this wretched, undesirable other thing which creeps throughout the world looking for life and happiness to strangle, but arguments from the presumption that it already is that thing are arguments from an untrue premise. Continue reading

Unethical Website Of The Month: Etsy

I haven’t had an unethical website to feature for a while, once I decided that sites like the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN shouldn’t be considered. Today’s choice, however, really deserves the honor, because this is really, really stupid.

Etsy is a website that sells products from other producers, often small, home-based operations. During the Wuhan virus outbreak, Etsy merchants have been doing a booming business  marketing masks made out of mesh, lace, and other materials that have visible holes in them. These masks are advertised as fashionable, comfy, and “breathable,” none of which are features related to the purpose masks are supposed to serve. Continue reading

OOOH! Does This Guy Win “Biggest Non-Criminal Jerk Of The George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck”?

He’ll be tough to beat.

Former ESPN NBA reporter Chris Palmer for some reason felt qualified to offer his ethical guidance regarding the burning and looting in Minneapolis. As the first full night of riots got underway, Palmer re-tweeted a photo of a burning building with the caption, “Burn that shit down. Burn it all down.” That “shit” was Midtown Corner’s  planned affordable housing  project. Then the riots moved closer to home, so Palmer was indignant. After all, they destroyed A STARBUCKS!!!! Continue reading

Observations On An Ethics Mess

Ethics Messes are situations too chaotic and ugly to qualify as Ethics Train Wrecks. This is an Ethics Mess. Think of it as a runaway Ethics Train Wreck that hit a nitro-glycerine factory and was then stomped by Godzilla. All we can do is sift through the gore.

California State University, Sacramento associate professor Tim Ford and his wife had a confrontation with their neighbors during which Ford’s wife, who was intoxicated, called one of the neighbors a “nigger” several times as well as a “bitch.” The target of her abuse, Mikaela Cobb, videoed the exchange and posted it on Facebook. The professor’s conduct was far from civil as well, as he is caught shouting, “I’m a professor at Sac State, dude. I have a Ph.D. I don’t need to be dealing with shit like this!”  He can also be seen tossing  a can of some beverage at the neighbor’s window.

Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen said last week that he had recently received and watched the “very disturbing video” that showed the professor and his wife in “an ugly verbal dispute with their neighbors.” Even though the couple’s neighbors are not Sac State students, Nelsen said, he still regarded the situation as serious and a school matter, and he said that the video had a harmful impact  on the campus community. Continue reading

Now THIS Is Moral Luck And Chaos Theory! How An Unethical Practical Joke Got Its Target a Plum Job, And Pete Rose Banned From Baseball

Yes, this one is about baseball. Trust me, I can find baseball ethics stories even when there’s no baseball. It is also about moral luck, how unethical conduct can have good results and vice-versa, and Chaos Theory, which posits that in complex systems, even insignificant changes can  set into motion unpredictable chain reactions, and where they stop, nobody knows.

On Oct. 2, 1983, the Boston Red Sox said goodbye to Carl Yastrzemski at Fenway Park. I was there, along with my wife, thanks to the kindness of a good friend  (who eventually real-life de-friended me over a political disagreement in an episode I will never understand. I don’t like to think about it,) Yaz got a great send-off for his final game, with an hour-long pregame ceremony, the retirement of his No. 8 jersey and a letter, read aloud to the crowd, from President Reagan. Yaz, memorably, rounded the park, touching the hands of the fans, and dramatically ripped off his jersey as he went down the steps of the dugout for the last time as a player. I’ll never forget it.

Since the retirement of a Red Sox legend after 22 years was the biggest story in the city as well as in baseball,  the Boston sports talk radio show “The Sports Huddle” on WHDH decided to play a little joke. Let me interject here that “The Sports Huddle” was always a vile feature of the sports scene in Boston, uncivil, unfair, with loutish hosts and the kinds of callers who epitomized the worst stereotypes of Boston fans.  It’s gone now, and good riddance. But I digress….

The show decided it would be funny to ignore Carl Yastrzemski, who the show and its callers had been generally vicious about for a decade, and to devote its four-hours on Yaz’s day to a joke tribute to as unremarkable a baseball figure as they could find. The producers settled on the first-base coach of  the Montreal Expos,  55-year-old Vern Rapp, who had once managed the St. Louis Cardinals without distinction, and who had announced that he would end his baseball career at the end of the the 1983 season. Of course, only the most hard- core baseball fans in Boston would have any idea who Vern Rapp was.

The Sports Huddle jerks decided to play it all straight, presenting a solemn ,extended tribute to the mediocre, obsure,Expos coach. They tracked down former minor league teammates of Rapp’s,  friends  from his time in St. Louis, and  Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon, interviewing them all about Rapp’s fine qualities as a baseball man and human being, and how much baseball would miss him. Then they interviewed Rapp himself. Nobody suspected that it was all a put-on.

At least nobody dumped a bucket of blood on his head, like they did to Carrie White. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Facebook Users Are Actually Posting This. It Shows Scrambled Ethics Alarms.”

It’s story time, courtesy of Steve-O-in -NJ, who was inspired by the obnoxious, hopefully fake internet message going around the web purporting to be a dressing-down of “inconsiderate” shoppers who “browse.”  He recounts a related episode I apparently missed, with trenchant commentary.

Here is Steve-O-in -NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Facebook Users Are Actually Posting This. It Shows Scrambled Ethics Alarms.”

It reminds me of the list some bitter soon-to-be-former employee of Borders Books and Music wrote on a whiteboard and put up right before the whole chain closed in 2011 due to various factors, mostly the expansion of amazon and missing the boat on the e-reader market. I’ll run through it, adding my own commentary:

Things you never knew about Borders Employees:

    • We hate when a book becomes popular simply because it was turned into a movie.

What, so it means you’ll sell more of that book? How does that hurt you?

    • It confused us when we were asked where the non-fiction section is.

It shouldn’t. Anyone older than eight knows the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Yes, non-fiction is pretty broad, but that’s easily answered with a question to try to narrow what the person is looking for.

    • Nicholas Sparks is not a good writer … if you like him, fine, but facts are facts.

No, that’s your opinion, which counts for exactly nothing here. Just who made you, a skinny, bored, can’t-be-bothered-to-do-more-than-the-bare-minimum, clueless twenty-something, an authority on what constitutes a good writer? Your job is to sell books, not critique them, and certainly not to pass judgment on customer choices. You want to become a book critic, see if the local paper is hiring.

    • We greatly dislike the phrase “Quick question.” It’s never true. And everyone seems to have one.

Then get a job flipping burgers. Answering questions is part of the job.

    • Your summer reading list was our summer reading NIGHTMARE. Also, it’s called summer reading, not three days before school starts reading. Continue reading

Facebook Users Are Actually Posting This. It Shows Scrambled Ethics Alarms.

A Facebook friend really and truly posted this and encouraged people to pass it along.

He apparently thinks it’s reasonable and profound. In fact, the message is obnoxious and unethical.

  • It’s a lie. It doesn’t speak for employees of those stores.  It certainly doesn’t speak for all of them, as it claims. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t even written by an employee of any of those stores.
  • So someone is posting messages on behalf of people who didn’t consent to it, and sending offensive messages to their employers’ customers. Nice. And my Facebook friend, who once had a functioning mind, thinks this is praise-worthy.
  • If I received one of these from the management of a store I patronized, that store would never get my business again. If I was the management of one of these stores and learned that one or more of my employees were involved in circulating such a message, I would terminate those employees  for cause.
  • This is what happens when the chic thing to do is to call anyone doing their jobs “heroes.”  I appreciate workers in grocery stores and other businesses, but then I always do.  For example, I talk to them, thank them, and don’t do business with them while talking on my cell phone. I tip them frequently and generously, like I did the guy who was spraying disinfectant on grocery cart handles yesterday. I do not and will not appreciate any employees behaving like I am beholden to them because I bring business to their stores that allows those stores to keep them employed. Continue reading

Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns

Good afternoon.

Stop blaming my favorite animal, the pangolin, or the so-called “scaly anteater,” for the pandemic!

That’s a tree pangolin above in a defensive posture. Ever since the nexus for the outbreak of COVID-19 was traced back to a wet market in Hubei province, scientists have been looking for the virus’s heritage.  It’s possible that the virus emerged in a colony of horseshoe bats in Yunnan, a province that borders the south-east Asian country of Myanmar. But some fingers are also pointing at the pangolin, which was once believed to have bats in its ancestry. The animal, like others that American wouldn’t recognize, is the most trafficked beast in the world due to the supposed health benefits of its scales, with most of that traffic ending in China. A search for the “missing link” in the chain of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has uncovered two close cousins of the variety of coronavirus that started the pandemic in Wuhan in pangolins smuggled into China. Not THE virus, however.  Here’s a photo of a pangolin unfurled:

1. It is outrageous that a U.S. newspaper would include this sentence…From an article about the joys of Randolph Scott Westerns by Times film critic Ben Kinegsberg: “The depiction of Native Americans as horse-eating, husband-killing savages doesn’t sit well in modern eyes, and the name of Henry Silva’s character in “The Tall T” is so offensive it cannot be printed.”

Well, it has to printed somewhere, or the information itself has been permanently erased! If a newspaper is going to start  purging words, names, history  and facts, where does it stop? I’ve been trying to imagine what name could justify the Times refusing to reveal it, other than “Voldemort.” What could it be? Let’s check the Internet Movie Database (the film is “The Tall T“)… Continue reading