Tag Archives: Maine

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/9/18: Update On A Jerk, Deceptive Recycling, A Movement Becomes A Club, And The Future Is Abused

Good Morning!

1 Good! Billy Williams, that Derry, N.H. Used Apple Store owner who announced that Republicans weren’t welcome in his store, was evicted from his space. For weeks, a sign in the window has said that the store would re-open after renovations, which Williams’ former landlord says is not true. Williams rented the commercial space for $2,000 per month and owed $15,110 after neglecting to pay rent for seven months.

Williams, you will recall, said that he infallibly could recognize Republicans. His Facebook post announcing the GOP ban described members of the political party as “almost evil, and to be honest, usually evil.” [Pointer: Arthur in Maine]

2. Recycling Deceit: In Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, I was intrigued yesterday by the cylindrical re-cycling receptacles that had two deposit holes, a circular one on one side, into which we were told to put cans and bottles, and a long rectangular slot on the other side, for newspapers and other paper refuse.  I lifted off the top: sure enough, everything went into the same place, newspaper and cans alike. I don’t know what the term is for gratuitously demanding that the public do something pointless and trivial just to exert power, but this was it.

3. The problem with #MeToo. Commenting on yesterdays Comment of the Day, in which Carcarwhite wrote, while criticizing the #MeToo movement,

“I was kissed by Eddie Van Halen back stage in the 80’s, on the lips, a few times. He was tipsy and happy and took a selfie of us before seflies were selfies, and I’ve actually had friends on the Left tell me I should my story publicly. And they say I am ENABLING THIS BEHAVIOR by not going forward”

Commenting, Still Spartan said in part, “What you described is NOT “Me Too.” Just because some people take it too far, does not mean that it is not legitimate. Please take it from someone who had to leave a job and have her career derailed for multiple years because of this crap. It happens, and it happens every damn day.” Continue reading


Filed under Comment of the Day, Environment, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Derry, NH Used Apple Store Owner Billy Williams

“There comes a time when every man will needs to stand up for what’s right and blaze a better path. Today we do that, today we say no thank you to any Republican. If you affiliate with the Republican Party you are not welcome into our store. We will not offer you service. If you come in anyway, I suppose you could sneak in but we will probably know. In fact, we can point out a Republican just from the way you look in person or in a photo. Once I tried doing this and realized I could. We put to a test and told 30 random people that we were guessing Republican or not and all 30 I was correct. You have an uptight, closed energy, negative aura to you… almost evil, and to be honest, usually evil. You also lack a psychic gateway to technology.”

—Billy Williams, owner of the Used Apple store in Derry, New Hampshire.

Signature significance: Billy is unethical, a bigot, a bad neighbor, a bad citizen, a bad American, and a toxic asshole. He is the kind of hateful hyper-partisan fool who is poisoning our culture, our communities, national politics and our public dialogue.

So is anyone who cheers him on.

Billy takes pains to point out that his bigotry isn’t illegal, so it must be OK. (See: Rationalizations List, #4. Marion Barry’s Misdirection, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical.”)  He also doesn’t worry about backlash from any potential customers who might choose to direct their business to someone who isn’t working to divide the United States into divided camps, each discriminating against the other based on hate and contempt for their opinions. “If you’re in it for the right reasons, it doesn’t matter that someone isn’t gonna come to you with their money,” Williams said, courageously. .He then compared himself to Oskar Schindler.

You know, that’s exactly who I thought of! No, wait—it was Oscar Wiener….

Continue reading


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, U.S. Society

A “Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men” Ethics Quiz: The Bitter Propane Dealer

A Skowhegan, Maine Trump voter.

A Skowhegan, Maine Trump voter.

The quiz itself has little to do with the fact that Michael Turner is the kind of bad American, bad neighbor, bad community member and  jerk who makes Ebenezer Scrooge seem like a mensch, but ponder on his conduct anyway.  If you are one of the residents in Skowhegan, Maine   and you call Turner LP Gas in Skowhegan, Maine to buy propane to heat your home, you get this message from the owner:

“If you voted for Donald Trump for president, I will no longer be delivering your gas. Please find someone else.”

No, it’s not a hate crime, it’s just hate. It gets cold in Maine, and Skowhegan, like the rest of the state, has a lot of poor people among it’s 8500 or so residents. It also has many who are elderly and poor, for whom having to find another propane supplier may be not just inconvenient, but life-threatening. This is why we have public accommodation laws: To protect us, especially the vulnerable among us, from bigots and bullies like Michael Turner.

He is no different in his lack of decency and the void of ethical values in his soul than the racists who refused to allow black citizens to frequent their establishments before the Civil Rights Act, bridal shop owners who won’t sell wedding dresses to same-sex couples, and the innkeepers who turned away a pregnant woman and her husband long ago, on a night we celebrate soon.

Ethics Alarms has discussed this ugly phenomenon many times. The Bush administration tried to validate it by approving the so called “workers’ right of conscience, ” that permitted a wide variety of health care workers to refuse to administer treatments they found morally repugnant. President Obama, to his credit, restricted that wide-open door to division and bigotry, then allowed the rest of his years in office to exacerbate societal schisms to the point that we have large numbers of a political party trying to overturn a legal election while calling  Americans who dared to vote differently than they did racists, sexists and fascists.

A recent Ethics Alarms post titled, “Americans: End This Slippery Slope Now, Before It’s Too Late,” about a Washington, D.C. restaurant that publicly apologized for letting an alt-right group to eat there, asked,

Are all groups, families and individuals now going to be required to declare their political and ideological positions before being allowed to order a lasagna? What is an acceptable group? If there is a protest over a Black Lives Matter dinner,  will Maggiano’s apologize? If Mike Pence and his family eats there and the “Hamilton” cast protests, does that mean they will refuse to serve cannoli members of the Trump administration? Despite the fact that the protests came from progressives, the attack on the restaurant is totalitarian in substance.  What is being commanded is conformity of thought.

Ah, but the persecutors are the good guys, don’t you understand? They know they are right, so they can rationalize hurting anyone who isn’t like them. Michael Turner is this breed of citizen. I must admit, when I warned that electing Donald Trump would turn the U.S. into a nation of assholes, I didn’t anticipate that it would be assholes like Michael Turner.

There’s no quiz on this topic, for it is settled ethics that his practice of punishing neighbors for their political views stinks. No, the quiz involves the conduct of Turner’s customers:

Today’s Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is this…

If Turner required customers to state that they voted against Donald Trump in order to buy propane from him, would it be unethical for Trump voters to lie?

Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Quizzes, Rights, U.S. Society

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R)


Those who want a glimpse into what a Donald Trump presidency would be like need look no farther than the perpetual self-created mess that is the tenure of Republican Paul LePage as governer of Maine. The New York Times recently provided a handy summary of his more recent embarrassments and attacks of absurd incivility and unprofessional behavior:



Mr. LePage apologized after storming offstage and calling protesting students “idiots” during a public appearance.


Mr. LePage displayed “Wanted”-style posters aimed at environmentalist and union groups during a town meeting, saying those groups were holding the state back.


Mr. LePage said asylum-seekers brought disease and the “ziki-fly.” When asked to apologize at an event in June, Mr. LePage did not, and said conditions like hepatitis C and H.I.V. were on the rise in Maine. Mr. LePage also drew criticism that month for appearing to mock a Chinese businessman’s name.

That month, Mr. LePage also delivered his State of the State address in the form of a letter, breaking the tradition of giving a speech to lawmakers. He said it would be “silliness” to address lawmakers who had tried to impeach him.


Mr. LePage apologized for a “slip-up” after saying drug-dealers would come from out of state and “impregnate a young white girl” before leaving. The drug dealers, he said, in a comment that was widely perceived as racially charged, “are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty — these types of guys.”



Mr. LePage apologized to the son of a cartoonist for The Bangor Daily News because he had told the son he would “like to shoot” his father. That comment drew criticism, with some noting its added insensitivity given the attack at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris earlier that year, although the son said he was not offended.


A charter school in Maine said Mr. LePage had threatened to take away its funding if it did not rescind a job offer to the House speaker, Mark Eves, a Democrat.

“The full power of the state was used to put a father of three out of a job because he was a lawmaker who disagrees with the governor on policy,” the editorial board of The Press Herald wrote.

Some Democrats called for impeachment, but an effort to investigate Mr. LePage — which would have been a precursor to impeachment in January 2016 — did not muster enough support for a vote.


Mr. LePage vowed to veto all Democratic-sponsored bills until the party accepted his effort to eliminate the state’s income tax. The question of whether Mr. LePage had vetoed 65 bills within the proper time frame ended up in the State Supreme Court, which found that the bills could stand as law.



Two lawmakers, who remained anonymous, said they had heard Mr. LePage say at a fund-raiser that President Obama “hates white people.”

June Mr. LePage made a graphically lewd statement about Troy Jackson, a Democrat who was the assistant Senate majority leader at the time. He added that Mr. Jackson was a “bad person” with “no brains” and a “black heart.”



Mr. LePage compared the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo in a radio address. Asked about the comment in a follow-up interview several days later, he said: “What I am trying to say is the Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated. Maybe the I.R.S. is not quite as bad — yet.”



Mr. LePage said leaders from the N.A.A.C.P. who had questioned his decision not to attend Martin Luther King’s Birthday events could “kiss my butt.”



During his campaign for governor, Mr. LePage told a group of fishermen that he would tell Mr. Obama to “go to hell.”

People like LePage and Trump don’t improve over time, because they don’t learn. If they did, they would not still behave like this at such advanced ages. Thus Governor LePage recently shattered his own record for outrageous conduct, whatever it was, beginning last week.  LePage told a town hall meeting addressing the current heroin-use epidemic in Maine that most drug dealers in the state were black or Hispanic, and that he had a binder to prove it. Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, Race

The Case Of The Snoozing Prosecutor

cigar ash

There is a true story about Clarence Darrow putting a wire in his cigar and puffing it during an opponents closing argument to the jury. The idea was to create an absurdly long ash, so the jury would become distracted and watched to see when it would fall on his suit, when they were supposed to be paying attention to the summation. I’ve used that story in ethics seminars, asking attendees if this was unethical, and if so, was there a rule that could be used to punish a lawyer who did it.

Now comes word that the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled  on Tuesday that there was no prejudicial error in the trial of Buddy Robinson, who was convicted in the death of his downstairs neighbor, despite the fact that the prosecutor, then Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, pretended to fall asleep during his Robinson’s lawyer’s closing. Robinson had appealed the verdict because of this and other questionable conduct by the prosecutor. Benson admitted that he sometimes pretended to be asleep in trials to annoy defense attorneys. In its opinion denying the appeal, the court concluded that the trial judge did not err in denying Robinson’s motion for a new trial, given the strength of the prosecution case.

It also said that the fake sleep bit “was sophomoric, unprofessional and a poor reflection on the prosecutor’s office.”

It’s also an ethics violation, a couple of ways. Maine’s Rules… Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Two Stories To Look Back Upon Ruefully When The Nation Has Gone To Pot And It’s Too Late To Reverse Course

Once heroin is legal, there will be no more heroin problem...

Once heroin is legal, there will be no more heroin problem...

One of the horrible results of the coming election—not as horrible as the possibility of electing Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump President, perhaps, but horrible still—will be the nation’s final capitulation to the movement started in the 1960’s to keep the country, the culture and the poor stoned. Cognitive dissonance will ensure it on the Republican side, as opponents to legal pot will be the same old fogeys who proclaim that gay marriage will destroy the earth, causing a valid and correct argument to be destroyed by a senseless one. Others in the party, caring about staying in power more than our society’s welfare, will just give in, citing the usual ethically inert rationalizations that legalizing drugs is the lesser of two evils and that we need to use treatment, not punishment. Meanwhile, Democrats will pander to its pot-loving base, while also stumping for state governments legalizing the crap to close budget deficits created by their fiscally irresponsible policies. Heck, even I would rather see the pot industry taxed instead of me.

And we will be bombarded by the pairing of pot legalization with the allegedly racist “mass incarceration problem,” which is really and truly the “too many African Americans break laws and expect to get away with it because their parents and culture don’t send the message that its a big deal” problem. The big deal they, and we, are now being told is that they get punished for breaking laws, which is racist because Black Lives Matter.

I was in court watching sentencings a couple months back in Northern Virginia. While the crimes the defendants being sentenced for were not drug related, every single one of those sentenced–-every one—had either  a pot charge dropped in favor of a guilty plea for a more serious crime, had record of drug arrests, or had tested positive for pot during while awaiting sentence or on parole. Bernie and Hillary and the gang (the gang including journalists, who like their weed) would have us believe that the prisons are just teeming with otherwise law-abiding black citizens who are there because they engaged in harmless recreational drug use and nothing else. The new paradigm, pushed by the President (of course), is that prison should only be for violent felons, not habitual scoff-laws who often dabble in violence too.

Ah, yes, this is all going to work out so well.

I  encountered two stories on the web that show the path we are on as well as the muddled thinking and dishonesty that got us there. Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Literature, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

The Great Maine Diner Controversy


Thanks to the internet, every day conflicts between ordinary citizens become opportunities for society-wide ethical evaluation . This can be extremely beneficial, helping to reveal disagreements regarding ethical conduct in common situations, and establishing social norms with efficiency that once would have been impossible. Of course, that requires that society reaches a reasonable consensus.

Last week a controversy emanating from a Portland, Maine diner called Marcy’s had blogs bloviating, pundits punditting and social media boiling over. Vacationing parents took their toddler to a crowded diner for breakfast, waited 30 minutes for a table and another 40 minutes for their food. The hungry child went on a crying jag that went on too long for the owner, who  suggested that the couple to leave in a less than polite manner, and finally shouted at the little girl to  “shut the hell up!” The couple left the diner.

The mother, Tara Carson, couldn’t resist registering her indignation on the Marcy’s Facebook page, the owner responded with even more colorful language than she did in the original confrontation, and social media appeared to divide into the “it takes a village so be sympathetic to parents of young kids and give them a break” camp and the “serves these entitled and incompetent parents right for being so inconsiderate and not controlling their child” camp, with the latter considerably smaller than the former. Then, not content to let the matter blow over, Carson got the Washington Post to publish her op-ed about the episode, which concluded, Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Family, Social Media, U.S. Society