Let’s See How The Ethics Alarms Of Some Advice Columnists Are Doing…


Well, let’s see: blog traffic is dead today, like most Sundays,, my in-progress post about the Big Lie that President Trump is a racist needs to be cut approximately in half (though it could easily be twice as long), and my current inventory is made up of either “too silly to write about,” yet more “2016 post election ethics train wreck” insanity, or  stuff that’s two complicated to handle working on half a brain, which is what I woke up with, now seems like as good a time as ever to see how the newspaper advice columnists are doing…

  • Philip Gananes (Social Q’s) advises a teenage son who is embarrassed by his mother’s “R-rated” tattoos “all over her arms and back.” The teen has asked Mom to cover up around his friends, and her reply is if people don’t like her tattoos, that’s their problem.”  He asks the advice columnist if he is out of line.

Gananes says in part, “As an adult, she is free to make her own choices about her body and body art. You’re entitled to have feelings about her tattoos. But to ask her to hide them to save you embarrassment is like asking her to pretend to be a different person — because you’re ashamed of the one she is. That has to sting…The next time one of your pals makes a crack about your mom’s tattoos, say: “I’m not crazy about them, either. But she’s a great person and a terrific mother.” When you can say that and really mean it, Brian, you will be a terrific son.”

The Ethics Alarms verdict:


I was surprised that Gallanes, who is usually on target, would embrace the “that’s just who I am” rationalization. The issue isn’t tattoos, but “R rated” tattoos. “Mom, would you please not fart and belch loudly around my friends?” “That’s just who I am!  If people don’t like it, that’s their problem.”  “Mom, would you stop saying “fuck” and “cock-sucker” when my friends are here? “That’s just who I am!  If people don’t like it, that’s their problem.”  “Mom, would you stop coming on to my male friends?….Mom, would you please stop dressing in a halter top and going bare midriff with your gut hanging over your belt when my friends are here? You’re 56 years old and weigh 212!…Mom, would you please not come out to talk to my friends when you’re drunk”?

That’s just who I am!  If people don’t like it, that’s their problem.”
Continue reading

Ethics Hero, Thanksgiving Division: Scott Stuckey, Manager of Atlanta’s Omni Hotel

Scott Stuckey gets hugged by a grateful non-criminal Joel Hartman was homeless and surviving in Atlanta by dumpster diving, but when he found a lost wallet with the owner’s identification and credit card inside, he was determined to do the right thing. The wallet obviously belonged to a tourist, so the 36-year-old man checked the hotels in downtown Atlanta until he found out that the tourist (from France, for a conference) was staying at the Omni Hotel.

After Alanta’s Omni manager Scott Stuckey saw the surveillance video of Hartman—who looked as destitute as he was— turning in the wallet to the hotel’s  security guards, he decided that a reward was in order.  Hartman had given them a fake name, so it took some effort to track the shy good Samaritan down. Stuckey and his staff searched for a week, leaving messages with other homeless people that the Omni wanted to thank the man who recovered its guest’s stolen wallet. Eventually Hartman heard about their quest, and showed up at the hotel. He was shocked at what Stuckey had planned for him. Hartman was told that he would be the Omni’s guest in a luxury room through the Thanksgiving holiday with complimentary room service. The hotel also  gave him $500.

I think the gesture by Stuckey and the Omni was kind, appropriate, and in keeping with the spirit of the holiday….but: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Cabbie and the Jewelry”

Prodigal Commenter Penn re-entered the ethics fray with two anecdotes about ethics and Japanese culture in reaction to the Ethics Alarms quiz, “The Cabbie and the Jewelry.” This was the second COTD to be inspired by that story of the ethical—or pragmatic—cabbie who rescued $100,000 worth of jewelry left in his cab by a careless fare.

Here is Penn’s “Comment of the Day”:

“70s, Tokyo, 2 anecdotes: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: Ethics Quiz: “The Cabbie and the Jewelry”…Ethics or Pragmatism?

Karl Penny puts the perfect topping on this post, about the praise being heaped on the NYC cabbie who returned $100,000 in jewels to an absent-minded fare, when he could have made a dash for the Bahamas. I obviously couldn’t say it better myself, because I didn’t.

Here is Karl, a long-time and cherished reader, on Ethics Quiz: “The Cabbie and the Jewelry”…Ethics or Pragmatism?

“Well, it would be a pretty swell world if everyone did the right thing in cases like these, simply because it never occurred to them to do it any other way.  But that’s not the world we live in.  But, in either type of world, people like Mr. Jalloh should be highly praised:  in the world as it is, because he becomes an exemplar of the way things should be; and in the better world, because virtue never goes out of style and should be reaffirmed whenever an example of it occurs.”

Ethics Quiz: “The Cabbie and the Jewelry”…Ethics or Pragmatism?

Cable news, the New york press and the blogosphere are singing the praises of Big Apple cabbie Zubiru Jalloh, who, when he discovered that an absent-minded passenger, John James, had left a bag containing about $100,000 worth of jewelry in his back seat (“Doh!”) of his cab, rescued the bag from the next passenger, took it home for safekeeping, and eventually got it back to its rightful owner. Continue reading