Memorial Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 5/26/19: The Fish, The Fist Bump, And Harriets’s Lament

Good Morning!

Here is another of my father’s favorite Sousa marches, “The Black Horse Troop.” I remember thinking about the march when I saw that the riderless horse in my father’s Arlington funeral procession was all black.

1. Let’s start with a fish story…

That’s Tom Volk holding  the nearly 17-pound walleye he caught along the Heart River in Mandan, North Dakota. Little did he know that what was briefly a happy experince for him would end up with him being attacked on social media and prosecuted by the state. A fish is considered hooked illegally—it’s actually a crime—if the hook was in the fish’s back rather than its mouth. As soon as Volk claimed the record, he was accused of cheating. The Game and Fish Department opened a criminal investigation. Volk had to hire  a lawyer, and the prosecution could have an impact on his career:  Volk serves as a city councilman in North Dakota and works in drug prevention for the state government.

Finally game wardens compiled an 11-page report on the fish after conducting witness interviews. The county prosecutor said  his office had reached “a consensus view” that the walleye had been improperly hooked. The chief game warden said he was convinced that the fish was “foul-hooked,” but also believed that Mr. Volk might not have known about the infraction until after he left the riverbank. His department issued a written warning, disqualifying the fish from record consideration, but no criminal citation.

The walleye could not be reached for comment. Continue reading

Halloween Ethics: Fat-Shaming Kids in Fargo

halloween letter

UPDATE: There is some persuasive, if not conclusive evidence that “Cheryl” is a hoax. As usual in such cases, my analysis is the same regarding the conduct whether it actually occurred or is merely hypothetical. All forms of media hoaxes are unethical, unless they are obvious or flagged by the perpetrator before other media picks them up as factual. I detest them, and I detest those who create them.


If she follows through as promised, a Fargo Morehead, West Fargo, N.D. woman we know only as “Cheryl” will be handing out fat-shaming letters to trick-or-treating children who in her unsolicited opinion are too fat. The letter, sealed but certain to be read, if not immediately recognized, given the pre-October 31st publicity, by the unlucky children receiving them tells parents of the costumed kids she considers porkers that they need to do a better job parenting.

Cheryl is a presumptuous, meddling jerk, and if I got handed such a letter by my child, Cheryl would have to worry about a lot more than toilet paper in her trees and flaming bags of poop on her doorstep. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Bismarck, N.D. Supporters Of A.J. Clemente, The Obscene Ex-Newscaster

A.J. Clemente.

A.J. Clemente.

In an earlier post I referenced A.J. Clemente, a newscaster for KFYR-TV in Bismarck who debuted in his new role by saying “…fucking shit!” on the air, because he didn’t know his mic was on. Not surprisingly, he was fired. Now, apparently, many viewers have come to his defense and are admonishing the station for being too harsh.

The station is not being too harsh. The station is upholding correct professional standards, and removing an unprofessional employee whom they do not trust and have no reason to trust. The episode showed him to be careless, reckless and, obviously, subject to obscene outbursts, which only are appropriate if you are David Ortiz. Ah, but some of the good citizens of Bismarck, displaying the same entrenched ethics cluelessness that led to the nomination of the ridiculous Mark Sanford, ex-Romeo governor, to lose a GOP House seat in South Carolina, don’t comprehend accountability, trustworthiness or responsibility, because to them, the only values that matter are forgiveness and compassion. The technical terms for such people are “patsies” and “marks.” They would cripple society, business and government with their mindless, deadly niceness. Examples: Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Kent Anthony Clemens, Bank Robber

With bank robbers, the bank alarms go off, but the ethics alarms don’t. This is the exception.

Proving that it’s never too late to do the right thing (well, almost never), Kent Anthony Clemens successfully robbed a bank in a small North Dakota town and escaped to Topeka, Kansas, where he gave much of the money to his sister. Then he felt bad about it and called 911, telling the police to come and arrest him.

Admittedly, this is a case in which the ethics alarms sounded a bit late, but they sounded nonetheless. The temptation is to minimize the virtue of Clemens’ conduct in turning himself in, because it just speeded up the inevitable, but that may not be the case. The news story notes that Williston, like many towns in North Dakota that have been victimized by vastly increased crime in the wake of the state’s oil boom, is strapped for law enforcement personnel and overwhelmed with unsolved cases. The amount Clemens stole wasn’t much ($700), and it’s not unlikely that he would have gotten away with his heist. But there he was when police arrived in response to his call, sitting on his front porch wearing the same outfit that surveillance cameras showed him in when he knocked over the Gates City Bank. Continue reading