Ethics Quiz (Extra Credit!): The Sexist, Satirical, Stupid Sign

Stupid sign

Ryan Sullivan, a Salinas High School math teacher, picketed Hillary Clinton’s campaign visit to Hartnell College in Salinas May 25 while holding a sign that said: “Hillary Clinton not fit to be President. President equals a man’s job.”

The sign, naturally, was photographed and quickly went viral on social media, where I encountered it. All of the respondents to the sign’s posting on social media pronounced Sullivan a vile, sexist fool who was unqualified to teach. There is a “fire Sullivan” hashtag on Twitter. I immediately guessed that the sign was probably intended as satire: it was just too stupid. Sure enough, satire is what Sullivan, with the social media screaming for his metaphorical head and to end his teaching career, claims the sign was. It was a joke! Don’t you get it?

He wrote,

“Disgusted by the statement on my sign? Good! I’m happy to hear you disagree with such outlandish statements.Unfortunately, I have several family and friends who express the point made on my sign (mostly behind closed doors), I wanted to bring their message into the public forum to show how ridiculously outdated it sounds in 2016. Glad to hear it bothered so many—opinions like that should.”

Of course, if Sullivan meant every word of the sign, he could still say the same thing, and if his job was on the line, he probably would. Sullivan reportedly wrote his thesis on the gender gap in high school mathematics classrooms to help teachers create a more equitable environment for students. Does that prove his sign was a joke?

Did he hand out his thesis at Hillary’s speech?

Your nearly impossible Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

What should the school do with this guy?

Continue reading

Apology Ethics 2: Is This A Legitimate Excuse? Does It Matter?

Skydiving

Tom Angel was chief of staff for the Los Angeles County sheriff until emails he had sent to friends four years ago, prior to becoming the sheriff’s top aide, denigrating several different groups of minorities including Muslims, Catholics and Latinos surfaced in the media. Now Angel  has resigned.

His boss, Sheriff Jim McDonnell,  announced the departure  in a statement posted to Facebook that called the messages “inappropriate and unprofessional.”  That was fair.

Originally, the department defended Angel, saying in part,

“Although his judgment in this situation is of concern to members of the Sheriff’s Department, no one is more distressed about it than Chief Angel himself.  His apologies for this uncharacteristic act have been profuse and sincere. Chief Angel’s decision-making and actions in his long prior career with the Sheriff’s Department and since his return in 2015 reveal more about his actual character and typical good judgment than the instances from four years prior currently reported in the media.”

It didn’t work, especially after Angel’s apology, quoted in the LA Times, was this:

“Anybody in the workplace unfortunately forwards emails from time to time that they probably shouldn’t have forwarded. I apologize if I offended anybody, but the intent was not for the public to have seen these jokes.”

Should that have been sufficient? Continue reading

The Naked Mayor Principle?

Chip Johnson

Chip  Johnson, the  married mayor of Hernando, Mississippi, sent a photograph of himself naked in the shower to his mistress, who then widely circulated it on the internet after the mayor discarded her like an old sock, or something.  (This is the essentially same plot the the British series “Happy Valley” employed last season, except that ex-lover so exposed was a police detective, not a mayor.)

Chip defended himself by explaining that he had sent the  shower selfie last year to an adult woman who was fully consenting in the relationship; in other words, this wasn’t a Weiner situation. Now he’s playing the victim, whining that it was “hurtful” to have his trust violated while he was violating his wife’s trust as well as the trust of his constituency, which trusted him not to make an ass of himself and embarrass them by emailing his naughty bits to his mistress.  Johnson told the local paper that he was seeking legal advice. Here’s some ethics advice:

Resign. Mayors should, at very least, be reasonably trusted not to have their Johnsons get displayed far and wide. There is no good reason for any mayor’s Johnson to be so displayed. If a mayor’s Johnson, like Mayor Johnson’s Johnson, is so displayed, it is proof positive that said mayor is an irresponsible fool with terrible judgment. Nobody who is an irresponsible fool with terrible judgment should be a mayor. Sure, the ex-mistress’s conduct was cruel and vindictive, but she’s not the mayor.

It’s really quite simple.

He’s toast, and deserves to be.

Let’s call it “The Naked Mayor Principle.”

[ You can review the related Naked Teacher Principle here...]

The Case Of The Involuntary Naked Teacher

This isn't a picture of Leigh Anne Arthur; this is 2014 Naked Teacher Principle victim Kaitlin Pearson. But even if this had been the picture on Arthur's cell phone, she wouldn't have deserve to be fired...

This isn’t a picture of Leigh Anne Arthur; this is 2014 Naked Teacher Principle victim Kaitlin Pearson. But even if this had been the picture on Arthur’s cell phone, she wouldn’t have deserved to be fired…

The Ethics Alarms Naked Teacher Principle (NTP) states:

A secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result. The first formulation of the NTP can be found here.

I suppose I need to circulate this more widely, because some schools apparently are confused, such as Union County High School in South Carolina. In a completely warped and unfair application of the NTP, school district officials in Union County demanded and received the resignation of engineering teacher Leigh Anne Arthur after a student stole her phone, examined its contents and found a semi-nude selfie (intended for her husband’s enjoyment only), which he shared with his classmates.

 The district’s David Eubanks said that the district’s position was that the 13-year teaching veteran was at fault for leaving her phone unlocked on her desk when she went out of the room, and that she had, in effect made the pictures available to her students. He also said that the engineering teacher’s actions may have contributed to the delinquency of a minor.

The technical terms for Eubanks are unethical, unjust and illogical. The kid stole the phone before he knew what was on it. He would have stolen it even if it had been locked. Arthur didn’t make him a delinquent; he was already a delinquent. How far would the school board take their absurd logic? If the kid stole her purse, found a key in an envelope with a bank account number on it, and the student took it to a bank and got into her locked storage box, and in there was the combination to a warehouse storage locker that contained a nude oil painting of her that was painted when she was an artist’s model, and he stole the painting and held an exhibit of it in his garage, charging admission, would the school system fire the teacher, or expel the student for an outrageous invasion of privacy, as well as theft? Continue reading

The Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2015, Part 1

Donald and Hillary

Sigh.

Watching the (encouraging) Iowa Caucuses results drip in last night, I was reminded that I hadn’t finished the task of completing the Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards for 2015’s Worst in Ethics. There are two reasons for my tardiness: a lot of other ethics issues have arisen of late, and this job makes me physically ill. It is depressing and discouraging: 2015 was much worse than 2014, which was considerably worse than 2013. What am I doing here? What is the point of spending all of this uncompensated time—it is more profitable bagging groceries—trying to nurture a more ethical culture and a more ethically competent public when all evidence points to utter futility as the result? Well, that way madness lies, I guess. I’m just going to grit my teeth and do my duty.

Last year I began by saying that 2014 was the year of the Ethics Train Wreck. There were far more of them in 2015, and they were more serious and damaging. That should give you sufficient warning of the horrors to come…

Ethics Train Wreck of the Year

trainwreck

The Illegal Immigration Ethics Train Wreck

One reason 2015 was a train wreck fest was that last year’s winners, the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, which begat the Freddie Gray Ethics Train Wreck, both begat by the 2012 winner, The Trayvon Martin- George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck, and The Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck, were still running amuck this year as well. The latter managed to run head-on into the immigration mess, with the President over-stepping his Constitutional limits to decide unilaterally not to enforce the law, and the Middle East foreign policy fiasco, causing Democrats to bury their heads in the sand and deny that admitting unvetted Syrian refugees into the country was unacceptably dangerous, and Republicans to start talking like 1930s Germans. Then everyone was demonizing the issue, including the President and all of the Presidential candidates. Runners-up: The Donald Trump Presidential Campaign Ethics Train Wreck and the Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign Ethics Train Wreck

Fraud of the Year

Rachel Dolezal, the militant, angry, anti-white NAACP official who, we discovered, was lily white and had magically become black by “identifying” so.  This ridiculous episode neatly encapsulated the entire year, which included sexual predator-enabler Hillary Clinton becoming a feminist champion by identifying as one, Bruce Jenner turning himself into herself by just saying so (and cashing in as a result), and President Obama making failed policies successful by repeating over and over that they were. RUNNER-UP: The Illinois Lottery, which first lures poor citizens into paying millions they can’t afford for a distnat chance at a jackpot, and then doesn’t pay up when one of them wins.

Incompetent Elected Officials of the Year

Every elected official involved in the Flint, Michigan water disaster. Plenty of unelected officials were accountable too, but I don’t have a category for them.

Sexual Predator Of The Year

 Bill Cosby. He won this category handily in 2014, and added about 20 more alleged victims to his total this year. Who know how long he will hold the title? Meanwhile, his own Ethics Train Wreck sucked in Walt Disney World, the Smithsonian, and Claire Huxtable, among others.

Runner-up: Bill Clinton. Karma’s a bitch. Continue reading

The Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Best of Ethics 2015, Part II

DavisHand

The Awards continue (Part I is here)….

Most Important Ethical Act of the Year:

The US Supreme Court’s Decision in  Obergefell v. Hodges in which the Supreme Court considered whether states had to recognize a right to same-sex marriages, and narrowly decided that they must. The prejudice against homosexuality is ancient, deep, and complex, mixed up in confounding ways with morality and religion, and deeply divisive. Nonetheless, I felt that the opinion should have been unanimous; it’s a shame that it was not, but in the end, this will not matter. The result was preordained from the moment gays began coming out of the shadows and asserting their humanity and human rights. Since the Stonewall riot, the nation and the culture has learned a great deal about the number of talented and productive gay men and women in our society and our history, the pain, ostracizing, discrimination and mistreatment they have suffered, and the falseness of the myths and fears that lead to this suffering.  In the end, as Clarence Darrow said about blacks, it is human beings, not law, that will make gays equal. No topic immediately causes such emotional and intense debate, on this blog or in society, as this one, but the Supreme Court’s decision is a major step toward changing the ethical culture, by asserting  that gay men and women have the same rights,  in the eyes of the state, to marry those they love and want to build a life with, and by implication, that the beliefs of any religion regarding them or their marriages cannot eliminate that right.

Outstanding Ethical Leadership

Senator Rand Paul.   I am neither a Rand Paul supporter, nor an admirer, nor a fan.  However, his June filibuster-like Senate speech against National Security Agency counter-terrorism surveillance was a brave, principled,  important act, and a great public service. The point Paul made needs to be made again, and again, and again:  there is no reason to trust the NSA, and no reason to trust the current federal government either. The fact that on security matters we have no real choice is frightening and disheartening, but nevertheless, no American should be comfortable with his or her private communications, activities and other personal matters being tracked by the NSA, which has proven itself incompetent, dishonest, an untrustworthy.

 

Parent of the Year

Tonya Graham

Toya Graham, the Baltimore mother caught on video as she berated and beat on her son in the street for participating in the Freddie Gray rioting and looting. Continue reading

Beating The Naked Teacher Principle: The Provocatively Clad Bodybuilding Teacher Principle.

min jensen

It is important to remember that the The Naked Teacher Principle   doesn’t state that pre-college teachers who allow themselves to be seen on the internet in states of undress likely to arouse the lust of their students should and must be fired—though most of them should be—but that they have no legitimate complaint if they are. Teachers who must command respect, serve as role models, and of course, teach, should not permit themselves to become pin-ups and peep-show stars for their students. At very least, they owe their employers and their students’ parents advance notice.

Mindy Jensen, a Utah middle school teacher,  has a second (or perhaps first) career as a bikini model and fitness competitor. She came under the  cloud of The Naked Teacher Principle the usual way: a student was surfing the web and cried out: “Holy crap! That’s my teacher, and she’s HOT!”  The news (and images) spread around the community and student body quickly. Parents called the Instagram photos “pornographic” and demanded that Jensen be dismissed. The school gave her an ultimatum: take down the photos, make her account private, or get sacked.

Jensen made the Instagram account private, then changed her mind. . Explaining her decision, Jensen told ABC Utah,  “Why am I taking this picture off, I get comments and messages that it’s inspirational to them and these women like my story. If I put it to private, it’s not going to reach these people that might need and understand me.”

The school has since backed down,  opting instead to hold training sessions for  parents on teaching kid to be careful on the Web—you know, like avoiding hot photos of their teachers. (Good luck with THAT.)

I think several features of this episode on The Naked Teacher Principle spectrum led to this result. In 2014, in this post about whether the NTP applies to non-teaching bodybuilding mothers, I raised the issue of bodybuilding teachers on the web, and posited this photo as an example for discussion: Continue reading