Why The Winooski Bacon Controversy Matters

bacon signLast week, Sneakers Bistro and Cafe in Winooski, Vermont removed a sign reading “Yield for Sneakers Bacon” from a garden at the Winooski Rotary after a woman who described herself as “a vegan and a member of a Muslim household” called the sign offensive in an online post.

“Given the large number of Muslim families in Winooski, as well as many others who do not eat pork for a variety of reasons, it seems unnecessary for this insensitive business sign to be at the city’s main crosswalk,” she wrote. Sneakers, obeying the growing U.S. cultural mandate that any individual has a veto over words and conduct that he or she finds offensive regardless of 1) whether it is offensive to anyone else and 2) whether the alleged offense is certifiably bats, apologized, and took the sign down.

I am happy to support that this decision did not play well, even in ultra-liberal Vermont, and under a barrage of criticism on the web and elsewhere, the Sneakers’ management posted the following message on its Facebook page, thus making their situation worse:

“We are here to serve people BREAKFAST, not politics. We removed the sign that was located on public property as a gesture of respect for our diverse community. There were also concerns raised about safety. Removing it was not a difficult decision. We still love bacon. We still love eggs. Please have the political conversation elsewhere.”

That idiotic statement was the disaster anyone conscious should have been able to predict it would be. And let’s be thankful this is still true. Tomorrow, Sneakers’ response may be standard operation procedure, even if ISIS doesn’t take over the country while the President is breaking par. Continue reading

KABOOM! Homophone-phobia In Utah


I thought this had to be a hoax.

I prayed it was a hoax.

It’s not a hoax.

Now I’m washing my brains off the ceiling using a rag on a stick.

Behold…from the Salt Lake Tribune:

“…the social-media specialist for a private Provo-based English language learning center wrote a blog explaining homophones, he was let go for creating the perception that the school promoted a gay agenda. Tim Torkildson says after he wrote the blog on the website of his employer, Nomen Global Language Center, his boss and Nomen owner Clarke Woodger, called him into his office and told him he was fired. As Torkildson tells it, Woodger said he could not trust him and that the blog about homophones was the last straw. “Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality,” Woodger complained, according to Torkildson, who posted the exchange on his Facebook page….”

Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Shirley Sherrod, Striking a Blow for Accountability

The Department of Agriculture, in a desperate effort at damage control (and to make amends for its unprofessional and unfair treatment of her), offered Shirley Sherrod another job. She has turned it down, saying, “I know [DOA Secretary Tom Vilsack] apologized, and I accept that. And a new process is in place, and I hope that it works. I don’t want to be the one that tests it.”

Excellent.  Brava! Continue reading

More Lessons from the Sherrod Ethics Train Wreck

Gordon Peterson, venerable host of “Inside Washington” and long-time Washington D.C. news anchor, began the show’s segment on Shirley Sherrod this way:

“Some of you may remember the good old days of newspapering and TV and radio news when you had hours to work on your story, and your editors and producers had plenty of time to sift through your stuff for accuracy. If you remember that, you’re a dinosaur. Welcome to the blogosphere, the burnout pace of online news and the 24 hour instant deadline. Which brings me to the story of ousted Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod who was let go on the basis of a single piece of internet video that was edited out of context, posted on a conservative website, picked up on Fox News, and bought lock, stock and barrel by the Obama administration.”

That’s right, Gordon. And, as Charles Krauthammer immediately pointed out on the show, you have succumbed to the blogosphere’s unethical standards, because you didn’t check the accuracy of that statement. Continue reading

Fairness Dilemma:When Should Past Misdeeds Affect Present Trust?

The Shirley Sherrod case raises a broader ethical question that surfaces frequently, both in current events and in private life. When, if ever, is it fair to lower one’s opinion and level of trust in an individual’s character based on events that occurred long ago?

In Sherrod’s case, an twenty-four year old incident she cited in a speech before the N.A.A.C.P. as a lesson in how not to behave got her fired from her job at the U.S.D.A., condemned by the N.A.A.C.P., and called a racist by conservative news commentators. This is an easy call: her instance of racial anger and bias should not be held against her for several reasons: Continue reading

Race, Politics and Cowardice: the Unethical Victimization of Shirley Sherrod

The forced resignation of Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod, an African-American, is far more significant than it appears. By itself, it is a deplorable example of an innocent citizen being victimized by a convergence of unethical conduct by the media, the Obama Administration, and the N.A.A.C.P. Sherrod’s fate, however, is also a warning, a frightening sign that racial and political tensions are rapidly spinning out of control in America, and that the very institutions we should be able to trust to apply reason, competence, courage and fairness to the issue of race are displaying cowardice, dishonesty and opportunism instead. I hope this is an isolated incident. Everything tells me it is not.

This sudden ethics train wreck developed when Andrew Breitbart, proprietor of the provocative, entertaining and thoroughly Right-leaning website Breitbart.com, posted a grainy video that he said showed Shirley Sherrod, U.S.D.A.’s state director of rural development for Georgia, speaking at a March 27 NAACP Freedom Fund banquet. Continue reading

Pop Ethics Quiz! Who’s More Unethical: Mel or Oksana?

Actor/director Mel Gibson has been in a series of nasty public and private battles with Oksana Grigorieva, whom he is currently fighting in court for custody of their love-child. As part of her assault on his fitness as a father, Grigorieva secretly taped one of their emotional arguments and released it to the tabloid media. On the tape, Gibson calls her a number of names that aren’t in a gentleman’s vocabulary, but the pièce de résistance is this charming sentiment:

You look like a fucking pig in heat and if you get raped by a pack of niggers it will be your fault.”

Your question is: Which is more unethical? Mel’s ugly words or Oksana’s taping and releasing them?

[Pause for “Jeopardy” music…] Continue reading

Breach of Duty: Hallmark Capitulates to the Race Card

Every time an individual or a corporation meekly submits to the demands of  bullies, it harms the rest of society by giving that bully more power and credibility. It doesn’t matter if the bullies are jihad-minded Islamic extremists threatening the creators of “South Park,” an extortion-minded Congresswoman threatening NBC of dire consequences if it doesn’t start meeting her racial quotas, or a schoolyard bully intent on stealing lunch money. Give a bullies what they want, and they will continue to abuse their power until someone else does his or her ethical duty, which is to confront bullying and stop it. I call this “The Duty to Confront,” and it is a responsibility of citizenship and being a member of society. Corporations will hold symposiums and issue bold words about their commitment to good citizenship and corporate responsibility, but when it comes to a citizen’s duty to oppose bullies, they are worse than the meekest. weakest wimp in the school yard. Exhibit A:  the disgraceful example of Hallmark, which has capitulated to the N.A.A.C.P.’s most ridiculous and embarrassing accusation of racism yet, which is quite an accomplishment. Continue reading

Progress, with a dash of…WHAT???

Penguin Group Australia had to reprint 7,000 copies of its new cook book, Pasta Bible, last week,when it was discovered that the recipe for tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto called for “salt and freshly ground black people.” (“It’s a cook book!!!!!“—“To Serve Man,” The Twilight Zone)

Guess what it was supposed to say. That’s right. Continue reading