Tag Archives: privacy

Now THIS Is An Unethical IRS Employee…Howard Stern Too, But We Knew HE Was Unethical

[There is supposed to be a photo of Howard Stern here, but WordPress keeps refusing to embed it, thus showing the software’s admirable good taste.]

In May of 2015, Judith Barrigas of Sandwich, Massachusetts called the IRS service center  with a question about her tax refund. She reached IRS agent Jimmy Forsythe, who was goofing off on the job, on hold after a call to Howard Stern’s radio show on satellite radio. Forsythe, still on hold (or so he thought) took the taxpayer’s call, and when the Stern show took reconnected, Stern’s listeners somehow heard Forsythe’s conversation with Barrigas.  Stern and paid sycophant Robin Quivers then joked about the call, which concerned Barrigas’s payment plan: the IRS had applied Barrigas’s tax refund to pay her outstanding debts from 2011 and 2012, even though she complained she already had a repayment plan set up with the  IRS. Her call, which she assumed was private, should have assumed was private and was guranteed by federal law to BE private, was on the airwaves for nearly an hour.

“I’m learning so much,” said Stern at the time, before he finally cut off the surreptitious eavesdropping. “I feel like I’m in math class and I’m flunking because I don’t know one thing he’s saying. I think I’m going to bail on this guy. By the way, this is the most boring job ever. I’d rather live in my parent’s basement if I had to do that. I’d give out all the wrong information. All right, dude, later!”

Barrigas  has just sued  the IRS, the Howard Stern Production Company, and Stern individually for violations of the Federal Tort Claims Act,  unlawful disclosure of tax returns and personal information, and just the for the Stern side,  negligence, invasion of privacy, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Ethics Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Workplace

The 8th Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2016: The Last Of The Worst

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Ethics Alarms wraps up the Worst in 2016 Ethics with the usual education and journalism breaches, Ethics Dunce of the Year, and more delights for the sadistic…

Unethical Government Fiasco Of The Year

The Flint, Michigan water crisisA failure of competence, diligence, responsibility and honesty, compounded by bureaucrats, elected officials, the city of Detroit, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the EPA made people sick and cost billions.

Good job, everybody!

Scam of the Year

Sen.Ted Cruz’s fake “official” mailer before the Iowa Caucus. Cruz’s campaign  sent out mailers labeled in all capital letters, “ELECTION ALERT,” “VOTER VIOLATION,” “PUBLIC RECORD,” and “FURTHER ACTION NEEDED.” On the other side, the mailer said, in red letters at the top, “VOTING VIOLATION.” The text read:

You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.

This is why Trump’s nickname for Cruz, “Lyin’ Ted,” was crude but accurate.

Ethics Dunces Of The Year

All the social media users and others who ended Facebook friendships, genuine friendships and relationship over the 2016 election. Haven’t they ever seen “It’s A Wonderful Life”? Morons. Shame on all of them.

Weenies of the Year

The college students who demanded that exams be cancelled, therapists be available, safe spaces be found, puppies be summoned and cry-ins be organized because the awful candidate they supported in the Presidential election lost, as candidates often do.

How embarrassing.

Unethical University Of The Year 

Liberty University.  This is the most competitive of categories, with all the schools that railroaded male students based on questionable sexual assault claims while quailing in fear of the Dept. of Education’s “Dear Colleague Letter,” and all the schools that signaled that the results of a simple election justified PTSD treatment for their shattered charges, as well as making it clear to any students who dared to tilt Republican that they were persona non grata. Nonetheless, Liberty University takes the prize with its unique combination of greed, hypocrisy, and warped values. From the Ethics Alarms post:

Last week, with great fanfare, Liberty hired Ian McCaw as its new athletic director. “My vision for Liberty is to position it as a pre-eminent Christian athletic program in America,” McCaw said during a news conference.

This is his first paying assignment since May, when he left his job as the athletic director at Baylor, also a Christian university. His departure was made essential after a thorough investigation that found that those overseeing Baylor’s  football team as well as the management of  the athletic department—that is, McCaw— had been informed of multiple gang rapes and sexual assault by team members and had ignored it, as any good football-loving Christian would….especially when a star was involved.

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Observations On The Obscene Trump Audio Scandal

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A leaked audio  obtained and released by the Washington Post has Donald Trump commenting to media personality Billy Bush about his attempts to bed a married woman, a few months months after he married Melania Trump, his third wife. When he sees a beautiful woman, the GOP standard-bearer said, he  kisses her without consent.  “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” he explains. He describes a married woman who wouldn’t sleep with him by making fun of her as having“phony tits.” Then he advises Bush, “Grab them by the pussy.”

Nice.

But not surprising. Not even a little bit.

Observations:

1. CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta believes this may finish Trump’s presidential campaign. Utter incompetence and confirmation bias: why does anyone listen to “experts” this dense? Acosta, and I’m sure he has lots of company, apparently has learned nothing over the past year. What kind of person who currently supports Trump despite his constant vulgarity, misogyny, meanness, dishonesty, irresponsible statements and foolishness would regard this unremarkable male jerkishness as a last straw? Of course he talks like that. I never had any doubt that he talked like that, just as I never doubted that Hillary Clinton regarded Bernie’s supporters as gullible children, as a recent leak of her candid comments revealed. Did you think Trump talked about women differently than this when he was with other guys? Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media

Comment of the Day: “A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.”

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Having just returned from an eight-day (and partially laptop-less) speaking tour  that has me about ten posts behind, it was nice to have Steve-O-in-NJ deliver a textbook Comment of the Day, expanding on the original post with relevant and useful observations about photography -obsessed parents and photography ethics.

I do object from an ethical standpoint to his tit-for-tat endorsing last line.

Here is his good and thoughtful work in response to the post, “A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.”

What are the ethics of taking 500 pictures of your child? I wish that I could say that the ethics of taking large numbers of pictures are always the same but they are not. I am in the middle of a two-week vacation and I have been taking a large number of pictures. I see absolutely nothing wrong with shooting a large number of pictures during an air show, particularly where the opportunity to get a particular shot is very limited. I see absolutely nothing wrong with taking a large number of pictures at a place like Colonial Williamsburg, where the actors are deliberately dressed up in costumes designed to attract attention. The same ethics generally applies to any event where there are costumed individuals who are seeking attention. The same ethics probably apply to sporting events. Of course the shooting of inanimate objects like in a museum is perfectly all right, subject to whatever policies the institution puts in place and makes known. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Family, Social Media

A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.

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An 18-year-old Austrian woman is suing her parents for continually posting embarrassing childhood photos of her on Facebook without her consent. Since 2009, she alleges, they have willfully humiliated her by constantly posting intimate images from her childhood—about 500 to date. Among them are potty training photos and pictures of her having her diapers changed.

The abused daughter told reporters, “They knew no shame and no limit – and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot – every stage was photographed and then made public.” Her parents have  700 Facebook friends.

The technical term for them is “cruel and merciless assholes.”

They have refused to delete the photos, with her father arguing that since he took the photos he has the right to publish them to the world.

Oh, what does the law have to do with this? If the parents had any decency, and sense of fairness, respect and caring, the law wouldn’t have to be involved in any way.  Their daughter feels humiliated, as most of us would be, by having such photos published. There is no ethical principle under which publishing photographs (or videos) of anyone that were taken without consent when the subject objects or one knows or should know that he or should would object can be justified. This controversy, if ethical parents were involved, would be settled with a simple exchange:

Her: “Please don’t put anymore of those photos on Facebook, and take down the ones that are up now. They are embarrassing.”

Them: “OK!”

How hard is that? I know it’s hard for parents to resist posting photos of their adorable infants and toddlers while they are too young to protest, but the protest should be presumed. The Golden Rule rules, and I go further: this is an absolute. Children should not have their lifetime privacy scarred by parents selfishly indulging themselves by treating their children like pets. Children should be able to trust their parents to respect their sensibilities and vulnerabilities, and not to sacrifice them for cheap Facebook “likes.”  Obviously, many of them can’t.

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Family, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Ethics Alarms Presents A New Category: “Trump Of The Month” And Congratulates The First Recipient, Kelly Osbourne

From this day on, “Trump of the Month” will recognize those individuals who are accorded the benefits of celebrity, public attention, trust and credibility despite  demonstrating beyond any shadow of a doubt their lack of  the character, judgment or acumen to justify such status.

With that important announcement, Ethics Alarms now designates its first Trump of the Month, the daughter of elderly British rock star Ozzie Osbourne, Kelly Osbourne. She is described these days as a “television personality,” the rocking-chair career also occupied, at a slightly higher level, by Osbourne’s opinionated wife, Sharon. Both Osbournes owe their millions in dollars and fans to the fact that they are related to Ozzie, and nothing else—and Ozzie was a drug-addled, half-forgotten has-been when some bright TV executive, inspired by his name and the idea of doing a reality show parody of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” the sine qua non of unfunny whitebread Fifties family sitcoms, gave him a second bite at fame.

Kelly’s got nothing, and I am being generous. She is not especially attractive, has no talent, has never uttered a perceptive comment in her life, and should fall down on her knees and thank providence that she is not living in a two room apartment in Gary trying to make ends meet as a temp. Because, however, she acquired that most important of all assets, at least to star-struck Americans, fame, by appearing weekly in a long-past reality show about the dysfunctional family of a mumbling boob with a lot of money (that would be Ozzie), she has been tapped to deliver verdicts on everything from fashion (Kelly herself likes to dye her hair lavender) to the administration of Barack Obama. Why are so many citizens ill-informed and eagerly embracing the dubious leadership abilities of Trump, Clinton or Sanders? Paying attention to “authorities” like Kelly are part of the reason. Compared to Kelly Osbourne, the Kardashians look like the Algonquin Roundtable.

Kelly Osbourne earned the initial Trump of the Month by engaging in the kind of slimy conduct that in a sane culture would ensure permanent obscurity and antipathy. Her parents recently announced that they were getting a divorce because Sharon found incriminating e-mails that proved Ozzie had been fooling around with  Sharon’s hairdresser. In response, pundit Kelly tweeted this classy tweet to her FOUR MILLION followers on Twitter:

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Celebrity vs Fan: The Amy Schumer Affair

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Trendy comedienne Amy Schumer posted this tale of a recent encounter with a selfie-seeking fan on Instagram:

“This guy in front of his family just ran up next to me scared the shit out of me. Put a camera in my face. I asked him to stop and he said ” no it’s America and we paid for you” this was in front of his daughter. I was saying stop and no. Great message to your kid. Yes legally you are allowed to take a picture of me. But I was asking you to stop and saying no. I will not take picture with people anymore and it’s because of this dude in Greenville.”

She included the resulting photo of him above, which

a.) Made him an instant celebrity

b.) Made him an instant target,or

c.) Both.

Later, she “walked the statement back,” as they say in politics, and tweeted,

“I’ll still take pictures with nice people when I choose if it’s a good time for that. But I don’t owe you anything. So don’t take if I say no.”

The smiling young man with the blurry thumb  is named Leslie Brewer. This weekend, he contacted the Fox affiliate in Greenville–apparently everything will be happening in North Carolina from now on—to defend himself, and since conservatives hate Amy Schumer, Fox was eager to give him a forum.  The resulting story, in part: Continue reading

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