Tag Archives: risk-taking

Recent Ethics Thoughts On The Fyre Festival Fiasco

This Instagram photo of one of the “luxury gourmet meals being served to attendees of the 2017 Fyre Music Festival has come to symbolize the whole stunning debacle.

When Ethics Alarms last posted about the ridiculous Bahamas Fyre Festival  debacle, it was this, last July: “Remember the Frye Festival fiasco? Billy McFarland, the inept con man/idiot who set it up has been arrested and charged with fraud. Good!” Now more about that epic ethics fail is coming out. Two documentaries about the ridiculous scam/botch/whatever it was were released in January, one on Hulu and one on Netflix. I just saw the latter, and it’s pretty incredible. Here, to refresh your horror, was the original Ethics Alarms description:

Celebrities with ties to the organizers  tweeted and Instagrammed, building buzz about Fyre.  Ja Rule tweeted just a month ago, “This is where the cool kids will be April 27-30 May 5-8!!! #fyrefestival #fyre.” Ticket packages to experience the self-proclaimed “cultural event of the decade” included accommodations and chartered flights from Miami, with a low price of $900 and a luxury tag of $399,995 for access to the performers.  Days before the festival was to begin, @fyrefestival  was still ginning up anticipation.

Then the festival-goers arrived on the first day to find…nothing. Well, worse than nothing: chaos. Those who had  paid $500 apiece for what the festival’s promotion described as “villas” found that the only shelter provided were FEMA-style refugee tents. There was no food, except some hastily packaged cheese sandwiches. All of the scheduled performers canceled.

The festival-goers who hadn’t arrived by private yachts found themselves confused and stranded, with luggage but nowhere to sleep for the night. Some paid festival employees $100 to return them to the airport in a flatbed truck, but when they arrived at the airport gate, they were told that they couldn’t access the airport, requiring more bribes to get to a plane, if they were lucky. The stampede of shocked glitterati desperately trying to flee backed up the local airports, stranding many attendees in deplorable conditions, like understaffed kitchen tents with pots of uncooked food.

Subcontractors and suppliers went unpaid, Bahamian workers were stiffed, millions of dollars vanished.  The interviews with McFarland’s “team” are jaw-dropping. One fast-talking, ever-optimistic leader, McFarland, somehow convinced everyone, some who were experienced in event planning,  that he could pull off the impossible, even as the days counted down to zero hour and it was obvious that there would be no festival, just broken promised and angry rich people. There’s also an amazing coda to the Netflix documentary: while McFarland was out on bail, awaiting trial, he set up another scam, using the mailing list for the Fyre Festival to get some of the same suckers to buy phony event tickets.

Some new developments and thoughts: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Dunce: Federal Judge Liam O’Grady

"I swear judge, I have no idea who that guy next to me is."

“I swear judge, I have no idea who that guy next to me is.”

When civil rights advocates point to the disparity of sentencing for non-violent African-American drug offenders and white, shameless, greedy crooks like Kathleen McGrade and her husband, Brian Collinsworth, my best course is to feign a seizure or something. I have no good explanation for them, except that judges like federal judge Liam O’Grady are a large part of the problem.

McGrade was a management analyst for the State Department who used her position and influence to fraudulently direct $53,000,000 in 43 government contacts for construction projects and security work at U.S. sites overseas to the Sterling Royale Group, whose Vice President and CEO were Collinsworth and her daughter Jennifer Herring. She did this by hiding her relationship to the company and its officers. The taxpayer-funded family bounty, meanwhile, allowed McGrade to buy a $73,000 Lexus, a half-million-dollar yacht and nearly $223,000 in jewelry. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

The Shannon Stone Tragedy Ethics Quiz, Part II

Don't try this if you're not a firefighter

 Many commenters were upset with me for characterizing the tragic death of Shannon Stone, who fell to his death while trying to catch a ball during a Texas Rangers game, as the result of his own bad judgment, suggesting that I was impugning the character of a dead man. (I wasn’t.) That reaction sparks the second Ethics Alarms quiz question relating to the incident.

NBC baseball blogger (and lawyer) Craig Calcaterra put up a post this morning headlined “Idiot nearly falls from the stands chasing a ball at the Home Run Derby”:

“Just days after Shannon Stone died from a fall while reaching for a baseball at a Texas Rangers game, a fan at last night’s Home Run Derby nearly fell out of the outfield stands while lunging for a home run ball hit by Prince Fielder.  He was spared serious injury or death only because his friends grabbed him by his feet, held him and then pulled him back as he dangled over the railing above a concrete deck 20 feet below…His name is Keith Carmickle, and common sense is not his forte. His fall came after he stepped up onto the narrow metal table which abutted the railing — the kind you stand in front of and set your drink on while watching the game — and then, while still standing on it, reached down low to catch the ball as it came in…He missed the ball, but his momentum carried him forward and he fell headfirst over the rail. If it wasn’t for his brother’s and his friends’ quick action, down he would have gone. Despite his idiocy, he (a) escaped this dangerous situation of his own making unscathed; and (b) was allowed to stay at the Derby by security. Both of these factors have been added to the “evidence that there is no God and/or that He is not just and fair” side of the big ledger I keep on my desk and in which I tally the wonder and folly of Humanity as I encounter it…”

Your questions to answer, if you dare: 1) Is it fair for Calcaterra to call Carmickle an idiot, and Stone just a random victim of circumstance? 2) Why or why not? Continue reading

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Filed under Journalism & Media, Professions, Quizzes, Sports

Ethics Quote of the Day: Lori Palatnik

Is "ding-dong" wrong?

“In life we must know what is good and what is evil. Yes, we are commanded to remember that there is evil in the world, and not only are we allowed to celebrate when it is destroyed, we must.”

Mrs. Lori Palatnik, in an essay today entitled “Is It Proper To Celebrate Osama bin Laden’s Death?”

Writer David Sirotka at Salon, among others, has sharply criticized the jubilant reaction of most Americans to the terrorist’s death. He found the chanting crowds in front of the White House and Times Square disturbing, symbolizing a gleeful embrace of violence as the way to address problems, an instance of becoming the enemy in order to defeat it: Continue reading

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