Unethical Quote of the Week: Vladamir Putin

“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

—-Former KGB officer and Russian leader Vladamir Putin, lecturing President Obama and the U.S. public on right, wrong, and human potential, in a New York Times op-ed that neatly exploits the stumbling White House diplomacy efforts regarding Syria. And yes, it made my head explode.

Oh-oh...this was bad one...

Oh-oh…this was bad one…

John McCain’s tweet in response to Putin’s cheeky op-ed was on target: “Putin’s NYT op-ed is an insult to the intelligence of every American.” [Aside: Of course, so was President Obama’s speech. As always these events give us a chance to gauge which journalists warrant ever regarding seriously again. On one side there are the likes of the Daily Beast’s toadying Michael Tomasky, who pronounced the President’s speech “great.” On the other is the Washington Post’s generally left-leaning Dana Milbank, who decided to be honest, pointing out how the President’s speech arising out of his contradictory and incoherent statement about Syria was…contradictory and incoherent: “The president, in the space of his 16-minute address, was often at odds with himself. He spent the first 12 minutes arguing for the merits of striking Syria — and then delivered the news that he was putting military action on hold. He promised that it would be “a limited strike” without troops on the ground or a long air campaign, yet he argued that it was the sort of blow that “no other nation can deliver.” He argued that “we should not be the world’s policeman” while also saying that because of our “belief in freedom and dignity for all people,” we cannot “look the other way.” He asserted that what Bashar al-Assad did is “a danger to our security” while also saying that “the Assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military.” In other words, “great.”] It was more than an insult, however. Putin’s screed was ethics poison: dishonest, manipulative, and malign. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Michael Garcia

Say thanks to Michael, everybody.

Say thanks to Michael, everybody.

An ethical culture is constructed of millions of acts, small and large, prominent and not, that reinforce the best of human values, priorities and aspirations. The Ethics Heroes among us are those who recognize the opportunities to engage in such acts, and who have the courage, initiative and wisdom to not merely perform them, but to perform them impeccably.

Meet waiter Michael Garcia, Ethics Hero.

Garcia, a waiter at Laurenzo’s in Houston, Texas, was serving a family that has regularly patronized the restaurant since it opened. The family’s five-year-old son Milo has Down syndrome, and was talking and making noises, not being disruptive, but still noticeably different than the usual young patron at the family restaurant.  A member of a family at a neighboring table in Garcia’s serving section became annoyed, and began making disparaging comments about Milo. That family farther away from the child, and from that table, still within Garcia’s service responsibilities, said, the offended patron said audibly,

“Special needs children need to be special somewhere else.” Continue reading