Pandemic Ethics Potpourri: Spring Cleaning, Chapter 1

My files of potential and ongoing ethics stories and issues involving the Wuhan virus outbreak are stuffed to overflowing. I’m not going to have time to do the full posts many of these deserve, and the rest risk dropping into oblivion. Here is the first of several collections that will at least flag issues while allowing me to keep current…

1. Golf and the virus…

  • Three Massachusetts golfing enthusiasts, blocked from the links in their own state , were charged with misdemeanors in Rhode Island after going to extraordinary lengths to sneak into that state to hit the little white balls around. Rhode Island has issued a directive requiring all travelers to quarantine themselves for 14 days after entering the state. Gregory Corbett, 51, Tyler Pietrzyk, 22, and Nye Cameron, 22, determined to make it to the Meadow Brook Golf Course drove from Massachusetts to the smallest state, changed cars in a McDonald’s parking lot, and proceeded to the golf course with Rhode Island-issued plates to the club.
  • Right: right, we’re all in this together. Here’s Michigan Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel in two tweets:

2. When the going gets tough, the tough get race-baiting. Black Americans are experiencing a significantly higher percentage of infections and deaths than other demographic groups, especially in big cities. There are many likely reasons for this, but this one is infuriating: Continue reading

Pandemic Ethics Overflow, Including The Funniest Story So Far [Updated]

1. The funniest pandemic-related story comes out of Australia, and it goes in the “Scientific incompetence” files. Or maybe the “Sure, we should always trust the judgment of scientists” file. From The Guardian:

An Australian astrophysicist has been admitted to hospital after getting four magnets stuck up his nose in an attempt to invent a device that stops people touching their faces during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr Daniel Reardon, a research fellow at a Melbourne university, was building a necklace that sounds an alarm on facial contact, when the mishap occurred on Thursday night.

The 27 year-old astrophysicist, who studies pulsars and gravitational waves, said he was trying to liven up the boredom of self-isolation with the four powerful neodymium magnets….“I had a part that detects magnetic fields. I thought that if I built a circuit that could detect the magnetic field, and we wore magnets on our wrists, then it could set off an alarm if you brought it too close to your face…

So he made millions of people around the world slap their foreheads in amazement.

2. About those idiots who drank the fish tank cleaner: The emerging facts, after so many headlines blamed the husband’s death on the President’s misinformation, show this was more fake news. The Arizona woman who said that she and her 68-year-old husband ingested a substance used to clean fish tanks after hearing President Donald Trump enthuse about the potential value of chloroquine (but not fish tank ccleaner constaining the chemical)  as a cure for the Wuhan Virus is a Democrats, opposes Trump, and has given thousands of dollars to Democratic groups and candidates over the last two years. In late February, she gave to a Democratic PAC, the 314 Action Fund, that is part of the  “pro-science resistance.”It has even used the death of her husband to attack the White House.

Now the surviving fish tank-cleaner gourmet admits that she and her husband were both Democrats, not Trump supporters. But she  told NBC News that she took the fish tank cleaner to follow Trump’s advice.  “We saw Trump on TV—every channel—and all of his buddies and that this was safe,” she said last week. “Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.” Naturally, nobody checked her story: it was too good an opportunity to get Trump.

Now the women admits that she heard about the potential benefits of chloroquine, an antimalarial drug, in news reports, and decided at the “spur of the moment” to try  it “We weren’t big supporters of [Trump], but we did see that they were using it in China and stuff,” Wanda told the Free Beacon. “And we just made a horrible, tragic mistake,” she said. “It was stupid, and it was horrible, and we should have never done it. But it’s done and now I’ve lost my husband….We didn’t think it would kill us. We thought if anything it would help us ‘cus that’s what we’ve been hearing on the news.”

But at least she was able to spin the story so the  the news media would falsely say that the President was responsible for them drinking fish tank cleaner, so it wasn’t a total loss. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/7/18: Amazing Facts Edition: Every Marriage Is Bi-Racial, Fat Is Beautiful, Sex With Students Is No Big Deal, And Discrimination Is Good

Good Morning!

1. Are fake media stereotypes ethical if they are benign stereotypes? When my son was a young child, I watched a lot of children’s programming, and immediately noticed that almost every show had a computer nerd, tech genius character, and that character was almost invariably black. I get it: the idea was to fight pernicious stereotypes with opposite stereotypes, but neither stereotype was accurate. (Lots of prime time movies and TV shows for adults also perpetuated the black tech genius  trope, like “Die Hard,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and many others.)

Now Madison Avenue  or their corporate clients apparently want American to believe that inter-racial marriage is the norm. I literally could not care less who people marry, but I just sat through four TV ads in a row featuring black and white couples. I failed at my admittedly limited attempt to find out what current percentage of American married couples are bi-racial, but  the last study, which is nine years old, found that less than 9% of married couples consisted of a white and an African American spouse. That’s great, but the popular culture should be reflecting society, not using its power to manipulate it according to its own agenda.

2. Take this, for example:

This is part of new “woke” Gillette campaign. “Go out there and slay the day!” says the corporate tweet accompanying the photo.

Funny, I’ve been told that obesity has become a serious public health problem in the U.S.  Fat-shaming is wrong—the Woke still constantly insult the President by calling him fat, and that babe in the photo makes him look like Chris Sale—but fat glorification is irresponsible. But hey, what’s consistency when the idea is to virtue-signal like crazy? “[We’re]committed to representing beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, and skin types because ALL types of beautiful skin deserve to be shown. We love Anna because she lives out loud and loves her skin no matter how the “rules” say she should display” says Gillette. Continue reading

Lincoln Chafee’s Batty Ethics Argument For The Metric System

Lincoln_Chafee_official_portrait

Ugh. I can’t let this pass.

Yesterday I happened upon Lincoln Chafee on one of the Sunday shows, giving his elevator pitch for why he should be President. You may recall that Chafee, former Republican Senator and Governor of Rhode Island, turned independent after being defeated for re-election and now is following Bernie Sanders’ example, declaring himself a Democrat for the purpose of getting nominated. Chafee is another politician, like the Bush bothers and Hillary Clinton, who owes his initial political prominence to being related to a popular political figure rather than his own innate abilities. As he made obvious the more he spoke…

His two primary campaign positions were 1) “Wage peace”—whatever that means. This is right up there with John Lennon songs as serious policy discourse,  though I’m sure ISIS is fascinated by the concept, and 2) Adopt the metric system. Chafee borrowed this from the idea machine known as the Andrew Johnson administration, as Andy was the first President to officially acknowledge the benefits of the U.S. adopting the less eccentric measurement system used by Europe. I’m sure we all can agree that this is one of the most pressing issues facing the country today.

However, Chafee really got my attention, and sparked this post, when he attempted to combine his two prime objectives, which is no mean trick. I tried to find a transcript, video or a news report to document this, but so far I have failed: maybe everyone is trying to be nice. I swear I am not making this up, though I wish I were.

Chafee argued that the United States should adopt the Metric system because it invaded Iraq and didn’t find the weapons of mass destruction.

He really did. Continue reading

Pre-Election Ethics Quiz: The Campaign Fortune Cookie

I have not authored the usual number of unethical campaign tactics indictments this time around. One reason is that their desperation while facing an almost certain GOP wipe-out has led Democratic Party candidates into far more questionable devices than the confident Republicans as the Blues have increasingly defaulted to race-baiting, Koch brothers attacks, scare-mongering on everything from guns to contraception, and the “war on women” chorus. Combine that with the popular integrity breach of  Democratic incumbants virtually pretending that they never heard of the Democratic President in the White House, and I was faced with giving more ammunition to those who accuse me of partisan bias. Looking at the poll projections, it appears that the worst offenders—Wendy Davis, Allison Grimes, Mark Udall, and Mary Landrieu among them—will get their just desserts from voters without additional alarms from me.

Speaking of desserts: this campaign tactic is worthy of note. A loyal Rhode Island reader inquires if I have any ethical problems with the campaign of Allen Fung, the Chinese-American GOP candidate in the closely contested Rhode Island governor’s race, delivering thousands of fortune cookies to Rhode Island Chinese restaurants that look like this when you open them

fortune-cookie-fung

So your Ethics Alarms Pre-Election Ethics Quiz is the question asked of me:

Is there anything unethical about this?

Continue reading

Unethical Website of the Month: Kio’s Asian Stir, Newport, Rhode Island

kios-asian-stir-I hate to pick on a small Chinese restaurant, but this kind of casual incompetence in an electronic age is ridiculous. Besides, I’m tired, hungry, and not in the mood to be tolerant.

I’m in Newport, you see, where I have  presented three-hour legal ethics seminars to two large and responsive groups of lawyers, courtesy of AON and the Rhode Island bar. My wife was kind enough to accompany me, and thus instead of returning from a seminar to a lonely hotel room and endless hours surfing cable TV, I am actually enjoying my surroundings for a change, driving around, checking out galleries, walking along the shore. The only persistent problem is meals. By the time I finish the seminar, talk with participants, get back to our bed-and-breakfast in scenic Newport and walk Rugby (he’s here too), it’s invariably 2:30 0r later; by the time we drive to Iggy’s or Flo’s (double yum) for clams, it’s 4:00, meaning that dinner is up against the hard, generally 9 PM deadline most kitchens observe around here, and the fact that I’m as fried as the clams we ate and barely able to move. This makes carry-out mandatory, but time is tight.

By this time we’re sick of pizza and sandwiches, so after perusing the options, and there goes another 20 minutes, we arrive at the perfect solution: the well-regarded Asian restaurant Kio’s, which is close by (everything is close-by; this is Rhode Island), delivers, and, it announces on it’s website, I can order on-line! See…

We are adding Online service to Kio’s Chinese Cuisine in Newport, RI. You can now online order your favorite chinese dishes such as Chicken Chow Mein, Shrimp with Cashew Nuts and Sauteed Mixed Vegetables. Order online is easy and fun. We provide fast Delivery too (minimum order $10). Order Now!

For the special experience of ordering online at Kio’s, try the link. There’s the tantalizing menu, but oddly, clicking on the various options accomplishes nothing. You will search in vain for a form or anything else that suggests “on-line order,” much less “easy and fun” on-line order. Continue reading

Legal Ethics Quiz: The Bean Bag Tossing Defense Lawyer

" I swear, you can do this in court. I saw it on "Ally McBeal"...

” I swear, you can do this in court. I saw it on “Ally McBeal”…

Holy crap! Here is a courtroom stunt you don’t see everyday…or ever.

The dramatic bribery trial of Rhode Island defense lawyer Donna Uhlmann and co-defendant Jamaal Dublin took a hard left turn into “Boston Legal” territory and beyond with the, well, creative closing argument of Dublin’s lawyer, Christopher T. Millea. It was so creative, he was nearly held in contempt of court.

“You see, all of this has to do with the throwing of feces,” said Millea, cleverly reminding the jury of the bizarre conduct of a key state witness who once threw his own excrement at a prison guard.  “The state wants to throw as much against the wall to see what sticks, just like Michael Drepaul throwing his feces …”

With that introduction, Millea took two bean bags out of a box he had placed in front of the jury, and threw them at the courtroom door. Then he retrieved the turd stand-ins and placed them in another box near the door, and placed that box next to the one in front of the jury, which, it was later discovered, read “Reasonable doubt,” though only the jury could see the words. The first box was labelled, “State’s case.” Continue reading

The Truth Behind School Anti-Gun Madness: In The Battle of the Razors, Occam’s Beats Hanlon’s

"GUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

“GUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

My parents once gave me a tie clip with a tiny derringer on it, which I wore to school frequently. Occasionally, I loaded it…you see, the gun took a miniscule cap, and when you pulled the trigger, the report was shockingly loud. Had this been the kind of itsy-bitsy gun that 12-year-old Joseph Lyssikatos had on his key chain (his gun was slightly larger than a quarter; mine was slightly smaller than a nickel), then his school might have had a valid reason to object. But it wasn’t. His gun was a decoration only, but it didn’t stop the school from suspending him for three days.

I’ve been pretty dense about these cases, I must admit. I used to think it was just no-tolerance idiocy, merged with post-Sandy Hook paranoia, that was behind all of the silly news stories. It finally dawned on me that it is far more sinister than that: this is a deliberate and relentless process of state indoctrination. The schools, teachers and administrators are determined to make  future generations of Americans just as fearful and negatively disposed toward guns, and thus toward self-sufficiency and the Second Amendment, while pushing them to embrace complete dependence on a government that cannot be depended upon, and trust in a government that has proven progressively more untrustworthy. Continue reading

Comments of the Day: “Incompetent Elected Official of the Week” : Rhode Island legislator Lisa Baldelli-Hunt”

Several powerful and moving responses were posted in response to yesterday’s “Incompetent Elected Official of the Week” article about  Rhode Island legislator Lisa Baldelli-Hunt’s crusade to make it impossible for registered sex offenders to live in her state.  I was unable to choose between the three that follow, one by the mother of a registered sex offender, another by Sherika, who includes a letter written on behalf of the families of registered sex offenders, and the third by Shelly Stow, who offers a letter she wrote to the legislator (and that was bounced back to her). I find myself wondering if Baldelli-Hunt has spoken to or listened to any residents of her district with stories and opinions like theirs, whether she has considered these perspectives, or, as her own comments suggest,  just doesn’t care about fairness and collateral damage when it involves the people she regards as “the worst of the worst.”

Here are the Comments of the Day on Incompetent Elected Official of the Week: Rhode Island State Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt: Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official of the Week: Rhode Island State Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt

Funny, she doesn't LOOK vicious...

The Penn State scandal will have one good effect: it will embolden victims of sexual  molestation to confront those who harmed them. Unfortunately, it will also embolden political grand-standers  to propose draconian and unconstitutional measures that will encourage fear, bigotry, hate and persecution.  Rhode Island’s Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, D-Woonsocket, is ready for her close-up.

Baldelli-Hunt proposed a law this year that would allow local police to place signs on public sidewalks or streets in front of the homes of sex offenders, designating them as threats. This shows a nice 17th Century strain, placing her in the ranks of town elders of the past that encouraged various forms of branding former offenders to ensure their perpetual mistreatment.  To give her credit, though, she also can claim international inspiration from the past, and may want to consider requiring registered sex offenders to wear, say, brightly colored star-shaped badges.

The Anti-Golden Rule logic of such a proposal is stunning: how would you like a sign proclaiming the worst thing you ever did in your life in front of your home? How would Baldelli-Hunt like a sign in front of her house that says, “Outspoken endorser of persecution and hate”?

An elected official who has no concept of ethics is not only unqualified for office and incompetent, but dangerous, because there are always a lot of ethically-challenged people to lead. Baldelli-Hunt is squarely in the “the ends justify the means” camp with every brutal dictator, vigilante killer, and mad scientist fictional and real, from Dr. Frankenstein to Josef Mengele. “I have some concerns regarding sex offenders because, quite frankly, they don’t walk around with signs telling people they are sex offenders,” Baldelli-Hunt told reporters. “I’m not interested in their rights or protecting them. I have no concern for them because they are the worst of the worst.”

Baldelli doesn’t walk around with signs telling people she is a vicious fool, either, but her words do the job:

1. She doesn’t know who “they” are or what “they” did. The vast majority of former sex offenders have paid their debt to society and are not dangers to anyone. She is, therefore, selling and facilitating bigotry.

2. Every registered sex offender did not commit an offense of equal seriousness. An 18-year-old boy who has consensual sex with a 15 year-old girl is not “the worst of the worst,” or any kind of worst at all.

3. Elected officials in a community are obligated to care about every citizen’s rights, not just the citizens they like and admire. Officials like Baldelli-Hunt brought America witch trials, lynchings and segregation.

She, in fact, is this worst of the worst.

Consider this her sign.