Tag Archives: New Jersey

Finally, A 2017 Inspiring Ethics Story! A 5th Grade Basketball Team Teaches Adults About Priorities And Values

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I love this story out of New Jersey.

A Catholic Youth Organization 5th grade basketball team out of Clark, New Jersey had played all season with an 11-child roster including nine boys and two girls. In late January the director of the CYO league informed the team that the word had come down from the archdiocese that playing as a coed team offended Jesus or something and thus violated league protocol T team would either have to remove the two girls from the team or forfeit the rest of its season.

The adults running the team had screwed up, you see.

Oops. Sorry kids. Our bad, you pay for it.

These options were unacceptable, and any 10-year old would see it. In fact, any 10-year old did. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Religion and Philosophy, Sports

New Jersey Tries An Ethics Experiment

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New Jersey, a state for which many would say ethics itself would be a novelty, has taken the lead in a truly revolutionary criminal justice experiment that resolves an ancient ethical dilemma in favor of mercy and compassion. Beginning on January 1 this year, New Jersey  judges are expected to release all but the most dangerous and untrustworthy defendants pending their trials, often with certain conditions, rather than  to require cash bail as a condition of avoiding jail.

In 2014, voters decided to amend New Jersey’s Constitution and virtually eliminate bail, responding to a national movement to reform a system that has always discriminated against poor defendants. Although bail requirements are usually modest for most offenses (a bail bondsman typically charges a defendant 10% to post the entire bond), many defendants are still unable to pay even small amounts. Then they wait in jail, often losing their jobs and causing hardship for their families. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

It’s Theater Ethics vs. High School Ethics, And Incredibly, Both Win

New Jersey’s Cherry Hill School District announced last week that the planned Spring student production of the 1998 Broadway musical “Ragtime” would continue to be rehearsed and would proceed, despite the complaints of some parents. However, student actors would not use “nigger” and other racially-charged terms in the original script. They would be changed or eliminated, the District said.

A spokeswoman for the district, said at the time that officials had already been discussing the possibility of censoring the Cherry Hill High School East production when the Cherry Hill African American Civic Association and the NAACP offered their remedies: censorship, political correctness, and bye-bye free expression and thought. Of course this was their reaction. It is simple-minded, but typical of left-wing political correctness tyranny. It doesn’t matter what ideas are being conveyed, certain words cannot be used to convey them. Whenever possible, the heavy boot of government should crush the non-conforming expression. Also “of course,” lily-livered school administrators initially offered no opposition. Duck the controversy, and the real issues be damned. After all, it’s just a high school musical.

Unfortunately, there was the little issue of licensing agreements. “Ragtime” is a work of art, not that the NAACP cares, and artists have a right to control how their work is performed, even in Cherry Hill. The contract under which the school was allowed to produce the show specifies that the script and songs must be performed as written, no exceptions.

The National Coalition Against Censorship, the Dramatists Guild of America, and Arts Integrity Initiative wrote a smart letter urging the school officials “to reconsider and reverse [the] decision to censor “Ragtime”:

“Ragtime’s” use of racial slurs is an historically accurate and necessary aspect of a play that explores race relations in the early 1900s. Ragtime helps minors understand the brutalities of racism and the anger that has historically accumulated, partly through the use of racially offensive language. In contrast, censorship of such language ignores historical reality and presents a falsified, whitewashed view of race relations. Censoring the play will only perpetuate ignorance of our past. While we empathize with concerns about the emotionally disturbing effects of hearing or uttering racial slurs, we believe such concerns are to be resolved through educational means, not by censoring a renowned text. In our experience, similar concerns… have best been confronted through dialogue rather than censorship.”

Then the students, who had been rehearsing the show since before Christmas (no, real high school performers can’t prepare an elaborate show of professional quality in a few days, as “Glee” would have us believe), created a petition on Change.Org: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, Popular Culture, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Yes, Poker Champ Phil Ivey Cheated, Even If He Didn’t Think He Did

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Phil Ivey is known as one of the best all-around professional card players in the world, in part because he notices things that other players, even great ones, may not. While playing baccarat at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City in 2012, Ivey and a friend noticed  inconsistencies on the back of the cards that allowed him to read some of them as if they were marked. He even asked the dealer to position the cards so he could see them better, as in “see what nobody else noticed, giving him an unfair advantage.” Some advantage: he and his associate, Cheng Yin Sun, won $9.6 million at baccarat over four visits to the casino, then won an additional $504,000 betting their winning at the  craps table.

A federal judge has now ruled that the two must repay the $10 million. What they did is called “edge-sorting,” and it is considered cheating, though technically the ruling was that Ivey and Sun breached their contract with the casino.

In baccarat, players bet on the relative value of two hands of two cards each before the hands are dealt or the cards are revealed. The game is  played with six or eight decks of cards placed into a dealing “shoe,” and the object is to bet on the hand that will have a total value closest to nine. If a player knows the value of the first card in the shoe before it’s dealt, the player has a significant advantage over the house. Borgata accused Ivey and Sun of exploiting defects in playing cards manufactured by Gemaco Inc. that were not cut symmetrically during the manufacturing process, so Ivey and Sun were able to spot the manufacturing defects and  read the “marked”  cards without actually touching or defacing them themselves. The New Jersey Casino Controls Act requires that all casino games offer “fair odds to both sides.”  Without intending to or knowing, the casino was creating unfair odds against itself, and these two players made out like bandits as a result.

Ivey’s lawyer argued in a court filing that since his client never touched the cards, his advantage was like the casino trying to distract players with “free alcohol served by only the most curvaceous and voluptuous females in the industry.” Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Etiquette and manners, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Professions

KABOOM! The Tale Of The Third-Grader’s Racist Brownie Offense: No, I Don’t Understand This At All

brownies explosion

This story made my head explode, and thus it will be tagged “Kaboom!” Unlike most such Kaboom! posts, however, this one is likely to make my head explode every time I read it. Or think about it. Forever.

On June 16, a third grader made a comment about the brownies being served to his class during an end-of-the-year class party at the William P. Tatem Elementary School in Collingswood, New Jersey.  After another student opined that the remark was “racist,” the school called the Collingswood Police Department.

Okay, stop. I’m puzzled already, and my head exploded again just writing that:

  • How could a comment about brownies be racist? Did the child say, ” As with human beings, the blonde brownies are innately superior to the dark ones”? Somehow, I doubt it.
  • Another third grader pronounced the statement as racist. Not a teacher, now. An eight-year old. How can that trigger anything, in a sane world, but a discussion led by the teacher about what is and isn’t racist, and how people shouldn’t leap to such  inflammatory observations, because it makes human interaction difficult if not impossible?
  • The school called the police department? For what? A threatened brownie massacre? How is this conceivably a police matter? Why did the police come?

“What is the nature of your emergency?” “A third-grader in my class made an inappropriate remark about brownies!” “Calling 911 with prank calls is a crime, ma’am. Don’t do this again.” 

It is per se unethical and irresponsible for any police department to treat such trivia seriously.

All right,slogging on… Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Is There An Ethical Obligation Not To Allow Idiots To Have Decision-Making Power In State Governments? The Case Of Flipper’s Privacy…

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A dolphin died in New Jersey’s South River last year, so a blogger sought to discover what killed it. She duly filed a public record request to the NJ Department of Agriculture for the results of the dolphin’s autopsy.The Department turned down her request, on the grounds that it violated the amended Public Records Act, which includes an exception for HIPAA information, including diagnosis and autopsies:

Dolphin privacydolphin privacy 2That’s right: New Jersey wants to protect the dolphin’s privacy. No, there is no dolphin autopsy exception to New Jersey’s law, and no cetacean privacy inclusion in HIPAA. On the off-chance that it isn’t obvious, Louis Bruni is an idiot.

This should be funny, I guess, but my patience with fools and dolts making life more difficult, expensive, inefficient and frustrating has about run out. My rapidly developing theory on crazy people starting to shoot other, thus-far less crazy people is that constant contact with the Louis Brunis of the world drive them to it, when combined with hopelessly bewildering technology and outrageously complicated rules, laws, regulations and procedures and the brazen dishonesty and corruption of so many of the “public servants” who are pledged to care about our welfare.

One day a delicate soul, their sanity on the ragged edge, makes a simple request, not even in an important matter, and are foiled by someone who thinks Dead Flipper has privacy rights, and who nonetheless has his salary paid by taxpayers. Out of the millions and millions of Americans who cope with this crap every day, day after day, an infinitesimal percentage of the public can’t handle that one extra insult to logic and common sense. and snaps like a dry twig in the wind. Like Sweeney Todd, their now damaged mind concludes that there are two groups of human beings, those who make everyone else miserable because they are evil, stupid, or both, and those who are the first group’s helpless victims. “Kill them all!” the now deranged victims of our Brunis conclude: killing the miscreants is just, and killing their suffering victims is merciful.

And off they go.

Now imagine layer and layer of Brunis, up and down all levels of government, sometimes reaching executive levels with access to real power. You know, like Joe Biden. John Kerry. Michele Bachmann. No, don’t. We have enough crazy people all ready.

Here…this will calm you:

UPDATE: Here we discover that Mr. Bruni previously was fined for lying about attending….required ethics classes! [Pointer: Phil Alperson]

_________________________

Pointer: Fred, one of his best.

 

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Filed under Animals, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Trump’s New Jersey Muslims 9-11 Celebration Lie Justifies A Nazi Label

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The current controversy—except there’s no disagreement on the facts, so it isn’t really a controversy—over Donald Trump’s unretracted statement that he saw “thousands” of New Jersey Muslims celebrating the Twin Towers’ destruction on 9-11 is materially different from the other items on the list of his various outrageous insults, vulgarities and misrepresentations. It’s a Big Lie, the device perfected and employed by Hitler and Goebbels, a weapon of totalitarianism. Other American politicians and leaders have dabbled in the technique, of course. I flagged the false accusation that the Republicans “stole” the 2000 Presidential election as a Big Lie; so is the Democratic cant that Bush “lied” about weapons of mass destruction. The “War on Women” is a Big Lie. Birthers are engaging in Big Lie politics—so is Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla), who insists that Ted Cruz isn’t a “natural born” American. The Truthers are Big Liars. Black Lives Matter was built on the Big Lies that Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown were murdered. The current claim, being treated with disgusting respect by journalists, that white America is engaged in systematic black genocide is a Big Lie.

Most of these, however, are really Little Big Lies. They are dangerous and destructive, but not in Goebbel’s league. Trump, however, is using a Big Lie to impugn the patriotism and trustworthiness of a group of citizens based on their religion and cultural heritage, and attempting to stir up purely group-based hate. To hell with Hanlon: this is Nazi Propaganda 101, and deserves to be identified as such directly to Donald Trump’s face.

There is no debate over whether Trump could have “seen” thousands of Muslims whooping it up on TV (like blacks celebrating O.J.’s acquittal for gutting his wife), because no such video was taken, broadcast, or archived. If there were such celebrations, Trump didn’t see them, unless he somehow obtained George Burns’ magic TV from the old Burns and Allen sitcom, on which George was able to see what his wife, friends and neighbors were doing while he chatted with the TV audience. If Trump did see such a non-existent broadcast, he couldn’t have seen “thousands,” unless there was a ’round the state relay, like they do on New Years Eve at midnight, going around the country to show simultaneous celebrations.

Trump didn’t see it. He couldn’t have. There is no controversy.

Yet he still claims he did, and has a team of paid liars telling media interviewers he did. He could have said he was mistaken; he could have said that he confused televised scenes of Muslims abroad celebrating (though not “thousands”) with accounts of some Muslims celebrating in New Jersey, and apologized. He didn’t though. He stuck to a false story after he had to know it was wrong, and that makes it a lie. The fact that the lie tacitly suggests that American citizens of the Muslim faith lack loyalty to their nation and love of their fellow citizens whom they cheered to see murdered  makes it a Big Lie. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy