Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/2/2019: Monkeys, Howlies, Nikes, And The Great Tag Hoax

Gooooood Morning!

1. Talk about a newspaper column that is exactly the opposite of the truth! The Times had an essay in its “Review” section this Sunday with a title that gave me a shock: Want to Be Less Racist? Move to Hawaii”

The headline would have been more accurate if it read, “Want to live in the only state with lawful and open racial discrimination? Move to Hawaii!” Hawaii gives special benefits to residents with full or partial Native Hawaiian ancestry. There is a special  Hawaiian registry program which verifies an individual’s Native Hawaiian ancestry, so the favored race can receive such goodies that are unavailable to other racial groups as buying land for a home at only $1 a year,  low-interest loans, and admission for their children to the elite Kamehameha Schools.

Anecdotally, I can also state that the only time in my life that I felt I was the target of racial epithets was in college, when the Hawaiian contingent frequently derided me and my white room mates as “howlies,” a disparaging Island term reserved for anyone who is not a native Hawaiian. I will always remember my 6’5″ roommate Dave ending the practice by saying to the two main offenders, “If I ever hear that word from any of you again, I promise that I will shove you, Howie, directly up Reggie’s ass, head first.  Are we clear on that?”

Dave never bluffed, and seldom joked. That was the last time we were called “howlies.”

2. Nike is not just scum, but cowardly, sniveling scum. Nike Inc. cancelled a U.S.A.-themed sneaker featuring the Betsy Ross American flag because Head NFL Kneeler Colin Kaepernick, a Nike endorser, told company officials that he and others felt that the  historic flag is an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery.

The Air Max 1 USA had been designed for release in celebration of the July Fourth holiday, and scheduled to go on sale this week. The heel of the shoe featured a U.S. flag with 13 white stars in a circle, the original flag created during the American Revolution and known as the Betsy Ross flag.

Wow! How racist can you get!

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/2/18: Of Tyros, Typos, Grandstanders And Rotting Fish Heads

Good Morning!

1 Don’t try that here! Several commenters on the Ethics Hero post yesterday , about a British minister resigning in self-declared disgrace after he was late for a session in Parliament, argued that his wasn’t a true resignation because he had to know it wouldn’t be accepted. I had written a comment to that theory, but I decided to post it on the Warm-up instead.

Fake resignations are unethical. Ethical people don’t attempt such a stunt, which is designed to make everyone beg them to return and create a sense of power and importance. I learned long ago in my parallel theater and management careers not to trust or tolerate subordinates who threatened to quit, telling one cast member of this ilk, in what he thought was  too-vital a lead role to be relaced last in rehearsals and who made the threat in a full cast rehearsal, “You have ten seconds to either quit, be fired, or retract that threat. I’ll play your part myself if I have to, and I’ll be a lot better at it. 10-9-8…” He retracted the threat. When I took over a struggling, spectacularly badly managed health promotion organization in Maryland and announced major policy changes, two legacy managers of the non-profit handed in their resignations in protest.  Then they came to work the next day. My predecessor, it seemed, routinely tolerated such games. They were shocked, indignant and angry when I told them, “You don’t work here any more, remember? You quit. Good luck in your future endeavors. Now get out.”

Ethics Alarms, as veterans here know, has the same policy regarding commenters who self-exile, usually with a “Good day, sir! I am done here!” flourish. When they try to weigh in days, weeks, or months later, they find that their self-banning is permanent. This is now explicit in the Comments Policies. As at least six regulars here know from their own experiences, I reserve the right to try persuade a valued commenter to reconsider his or her exit, and I have done that as a manager with subordinates too. But anyone who counts on a resignation being rejected is a fool.

I have to believe that Lord Bates’s resignation was principled, not grandstanding.

2. Fox owes me a keyboard!  Yesterday afternoon,  I spit out a mouthful of coffee when Fox News flashed this news item under a feature while I was surfing the news channels to see what was happening to the “secret memo”: “Poll Says Majority of Americans Support Border Ball.”

This came up multiple times. I think spending billions of dollars for any ball is unethical, whether it is the party or the toy, or even if “Border ball” is a new professional sport that doesn’t give its players CTE.

And speaking of typos, yes, I would fire for cause everyone in the chain who let this happen…

If you don’t have enough respect for the government, its institutions and the nation to take more pride in your work than that, you shouldn’t be working for the government.

3. A show of hands: Who has heard about this depressing story? Anyone? Funny that the mainstream news media doesn’t think it’s newsworthy… The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that many of the nation’s “historically black colleges and universities” have ridiculously low graduation rates.  The newspaper found that the six-year graduation rates at twenty schools were 20% t or lower in 2015, and some schools in the category had graduation rates as low as 5%.  Here was the explanation offered by Marybeth Gasman, an education professor at the University of Pennsylvania who directs the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions: Continue reading

Sanctioned Race And Gender Bias In Tort Compensation?

For its next witness, the defense calls the distinguished  forensic economist...

“For its next witness, the defense calls the distinguished forensic economist…”

I was going to make this an ethics quiz, but there really is only one answer. The practice is ethically indefensible, and noxious too. The only question is how and why it is still occurring.

One reason may be that not enough people know about it. I certainly didn’t. Kudos to the Washington Post for shining light on a terrible, and terribly unethical, practice.

The American tort system frequently uses race and gender statistics to calculate the damages victims or their families should receive in compensation after someone is catastrophically injured or killed by another individual’s negligence or misconduct. Experts are allowed to testify regarding what a particular victim might have achieved and earned during their lives, were they not dead, or brain-damaged, or paralyzed. Race and gender are among the factors allowed into that calculation.

Writes the Post:

As a result, white and male victims often receive larger awards than people of color and women in similar cases, according to more than two dozen lawyers and forensic economists, the experts who make the calculations. These differences largely derive from projections of  how much more money individuals would have earned over their lifetimes had they not been injured – projections that take into account average earnings and employment levels by race and gender.

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Burger King, Mary J. Blige and the Political Correctness Double-Bind

"No, let's give the fried chicken commercial to Donny Osmond. I don't think Mormons even like fried chicken..."

My theater company did a production of the Depression Era comedy “Stage Door,” about a group of young actresses  who stay in a boarding house. There are two roles for “domestics” in the play; the female of the two has quite a few lines. The director felt that it would be perpetuating a stereotype to cast African-Americans in these roles, though that is what the characters were supposed to be, so she cast white actors in both parts. The bottom line is that African-American actors were not cast because of their race, in parts written for actors of their race. No offensive stereotype..and no jobs.

This seems counter-productive and foolish to me. Another example: I was once told by the EEOC specialist at a New York law firm that he never took female associates on travel to meet with clients, because he didn’t want to be vulnerable to sexual harassment claims. “So you’re discriminating against women in your firm to avoid harassing them?” I asked. “Well, I suppose you could say that,” he replied.

Which brings us to Mary J. Blige. The singer was hired by Burger King to sing in a fried chicken commercial, and the result has been attacked as racist stereotyping by several black publications and critics. Burger King has pulled the commercial, muttering some cover-story, along with Blige, about the ad being released “prematurely.” How that would change the fact that she is singing “Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses with dressing!” I don’t really grasp. Anyway, Burger King has officially apologized, which, I suppose, means that just as you can’t use the term “chink in the armor” in discussing anything to do with Jeremy Lin, you can’t hire a black singer to promote fried chicken….even if a black singer wants to promote fried chicken and needs a job. Continue reading

Note to the EEOC: “Fairness” Must Not Require The Suspension of Common Sense

In the  rich and annoying category of “Official Statements and Actions That Guarantee The Death Of Affirmative Action,” we have the recent warning by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that companies using criminal records to screen out job applicants might run afoul of anti-discrimination laws and be illegal because such a policy would have the effect of disproportionately disqualifying blacks and Hispanics. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Rand Paul

The demise of the Tea Party movement may well come when it actually has to put individual candidates before the electorate and the media to carry its message. At least, that is what the ascendancy of Rand Paul, now the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky after his primary victory this week, portends. Paul, before his first week as the nominee is up, has managed to expose himself as unacceptably challenged by the task of reconciling the deceptively simplistic philosophy of libertarians with real world ethics. Specifically, he has declared that he does not support the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s requirement that private businesses  serve all members of the public, irrespective of race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation. This position Rand haltingly clung to despite withering interviews on National Public Radio and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show. You can see the latter, in two parts, here and here. Continue reading