Comment Of The Day: The Not-Quite-Secret Language

This Comment of the Day, from intermittent participant Red Pill Ethics, is a model for dissenting opinions on Ethics Alarms. I omitted his amusing coda, in which he describes me as “the Stephen King of Ethics.”  That can mean any number of things; I think its a reference to quantity rather than quality….although a lot of the stuff on Ethics Alarms is pretty scary.

Here is Red Pill Ethics’ Comment of the Day on The Not-Quite-Secret Language:

Yeah….. nah. The core of your argument is that talking about someone within ear shot is somehow disrespectful. I don’t see how. If I walk around town in a clown outfit people are going to talk about me as I pass them. If I over hear them or not is irrelevant to whether or not it’s disrespectful – my behavior invites comment and there’s no ethical failure in people reacting to the intentional or unintentional invitation.

To bring it to restaurant ethics specifically: If you’re at a table and your table is making a ruckus (loud children, drunken adults, etc.) in an otherwise calm restaurant you have made yourself a topic of the local public conversation. Absolutely nothing wrong with people discussing their current environment. If you over hear it too bad – you dont get to skyline yourself and complain when your draw people’s attention.

More over not wanting the other table to hear your request to be moved is no way cowardly. Youre out of your mind on that call. If they were denigrating the other table then sure maybe you’d have a case for cowardice – fighting words absent the willingness to actually fight. But dear god, they asked to be moved. My mind is literally blown that you find that cowardly. What was the guy/gal supposed to do? Let look at the evidence.

1) The parents had signaled some level of disregard for the people around them by allowing their children to bounce all over the place.

2) The restaurant had signaled some willingness to accept this level of ruckus by not having the staff enforce some polite noise boundary on the table. Continue reading

The Not-Quite-Secret Language

In the Sunday Times column Social Qs, an inquirer asked,

My adult family and I went to dinner at an Italian trattoria. When the owner led us to a table near a family with bouncy children, I asked, in Italian, if he could seat us someplace quieter. He did. After we were seated, the woman from the table with children came up to me and said: “Don’t worry. We’ll be leaving soon.” She had clearly heard and understood me. I think she crossed a social boundary. You?”

SHE crossed a boundary? The questioner says something within earshot of another party who might be offended by it, and doesn’t have the guts to be open and honest ,  or, in the alternative, to discuss the matter with the restaurant staff privately. Maybe the woman would have crossed a social boundary if she said,  ‘Guess what, dickwad, you’re not the only one who speaks Italian!” But she didn’t; she just behaved as if the request had been in English, and the Italian-as-secret-code user was embarrassed.

Good. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day (1): The Transgender Secret: Was I Right Then, Or Am I Right Now?

Many, many excellent comments followed this post. The issue, covered here before but long ago, was when a transgender individual is ethically obligated to reveal that fact to a romantic target, or partner. The Ethics Alarms poll on the question reached these results:

Here is the first of two Comments of the Day from The Transgender Secret: Was I Right Then, Or Am I Right Now?; this one is by Rich in CT.

I voted “before having sex” and/or “when the relationship becomes serious”; as these were the earliest stages on the list. I also included “when marriage becomes a possibility” as the latest possible time to reveal. (I did not include “first kiss”, as this is too vague a time period)

My take would be as soon as practical (including at soon as the overt risk of a violent reaction is ruled out). The current consensus is that gender and orientation are spectrums, not binary absolutes. Within this logic, we have a duty to understand and respect our romantic partner’s place on the spectrum. One (of ant orientation) might be exclusively attracted to the extreme end of the female gender spectrum, for instance. This might preclude attraction someone with a surgically transitioned body. Since gender and orientation are considered persistent traits, it is not necessarily bias alone that dictates this exclusive attraction.

One must also consider cultural values of a partner. Any relationship I’ve been in, I’ve made known early on that kids (naturally conceived) are a long term goal of mine. On this basis alone, I might decline to pursue any women with known infertility. Were such detail withheld, I would feel extremely hurt and betrayed. Continue reading

The Transgender Secret: Was I Right Then, Or Am I Right Now?

I recently wrote here that I have been pleasantly surprised when looking back on old posts to find that I am almost always in agreement with them. Naturally, I have immmediately been confronted with an issue where I now question Past Jack’s verdict.

Ebony has a “confession’ article—it may be fake, but the issue isn’t—by a trans woman who writes in part regarding her husband,

We were months into dating and contemplating sex before it ever occurred to me that Carlos might need to know… It was wrong, but I chose to keep the secret rather than risk losing him. Now, four years later, Carlos and I are happy and madly in love! It has been a roller coaster, but we couldn’t be happier. But it’s this happiness that is causing me such pain because Carlos feels that it is time to add to our happy family. He is excited to be a father and his face lights up at the very thought. So how do I break his heart? How do I tell him that all of our trying has been in vain because, despite my best efforts to be the person I always felt I was, I’m still not who he thinks I am?

My answer: Suck it up and tell him the truth. Maybe have him watch “The Crying Game” a few times. The relationship has already been built on a material lie, and now adding to the dishonesty by concocting a reason why children are not an option just damages the relationship further.

I do think that transgendered individuals have a difficult choice regarding the timing of this revelation as they enter a relationship, but that’s a different issue (There’s a poll on that one coming up.)

In 2012, however, I did post following an Emily Yoffe advice column (“Dear Prudence”) , and came to the opposite conclusion, in contrast to Yoffe. Then I wrote, Continue reading

The NBA Coach, The Secrets, The Loving Wife, And Twitter

The Colangelos (though she goes by the name of Barbara Bottini)

This isn’t exactly a social media ethics story, not entirely. Yes, it reinforces the Ethics Alarms position that Twitter makes you stupid, and that it is an ethics disaster waiting to happen for the impulsive and the unwary. The main ethics lesson, however, lies elsewhere,

Bryan Colangelo resigned as the president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers two weeks ago despite leading his perennially doormat team to the NBA play-offs this season for the first time in many years. He resigned in the middle of a Twitter scandal. The Ringer, a sports website,  received an anonymous tip from someone who claimed that he  or she had linked five anonymous Twitter accounts to Colangelo. The accounts had all tweeted about internal matters relating to the 76ers players, personnel and business, even, in one tweet, defending Colangelo for his eccentric shirt collar style, which had been the topic of some social media mockery.

The Ringer contacted the 76ers, but only told the organization about two of the suspicious accounts, not all five. Colangelo informed the team that one of them, @Phila1234567, was indeed his, but insisted that he had never posted anything using it. Coincidentally, or probably not, the other three accounts that the Ringer had not revealed were suddenly switched from public to private after the  76ers had their little talk. After the Ringer published The Mystery Of The Insider Tweets,  the 76ers  hired a large New York law firm  to conduct an independent investigation. Over the course of a week, the firm collected several  suspicious laptops and mobile phones (well, it was the owners who were really the suspected ones; you can’t blame the devices), and retrieved text messages and emails. Investigators also analyzed the involved Twitter accounts to try to determine who was behind them. Continue reading

This Explains A Lot, I Guess…

Here’s another planned post from those lost notes on a Sunday Times I just found from two weeks ago:

In  the New York Times Magazine,  the Times announced the results of an online poll of 2, 903 subscribers by its research-and-analytics  department. 72% Times loyalists would prefer to have done something horrible that only they knew about than to have everyone think they did a horrible thing that they really didn’t do.

Wait…what?

See, if you did a secret horrible thing, there really was someone hurt by your conduct. If people just think you did a horrible thing, you in fact hurt nobody, and did nothing wrong. This was a sneaky way of asking, “Are you a selfish and unethical human being, or not?”  Well, sneaky assuming that Times subscribers are incapable of thought, or that they let their 12-year-old kids answer Times research questions. About 3/4 answered, “Oh, I’m completely unethical!”

For the sake of clarity, let’s assume that both sides of the question involve the same horrible act, agreed? After all, if the real act is setting an orphanage on fire, and the wrongly believed act is farting loudly during a funeral service, or vice versa, the question is ridiculously easy.

So…72% of Times subscribers would rather have murdered a child than have everyone wrongly think they murdered a child? Molested a child? Broiled and eaten a child? Committed adultery? Spousal abuse? Spousal torture? Buried a spouse alive? Keeping a spouse locked in a dungeon? Locking a spouse in a dungeon with rabid wolverines?

What does this poll result tell the Times? What were they trying to learns? What does it tell us?

I guess it might explain the continued presence of the likes of Charles Blow, Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman on the Times op-ed pages.

Or maybe their presence explains why Times subscribers reason as they do.

The Manager, The Hot Reporter, Conflicts and Professionalism

moranfarrell

It’s nice of my favorite baseball team to supply me with ethics stories, don’t you think? This one has management ethics, relationship ethics, journalism ethics, sexual harassment and professionalism.

The Boston Globe reported last week that Boston Red Sox manager John  Farrell and Comcast SportsNet New England reporter Jessica Moran, who covered the team,  were romantically involved. Moran promptly resigned. This quickly degenerated into the usual ethically muddled discussion by members of the public who watch George Stephanopoulos interview Hillary Clinton and see nothing amiss, and have been so badly taught the ethics basics that they couldn’t identify a conflict of interest if they tripped on one, and members of the news media, who, if anything, are worse.  Among the questions being floated, and their somehow elusive answers…

These are consenting adults. Why aren’t they free to have a relationship?

Because they are professionals, with special duties to their constituencies and stakeholders, and the relationship between a reporter and her subject undermines independence, loyalty, trust and competence.

Why is it always the woman the one who has to lose her job?

It isn’t. The journalist has to lose her job, because the journalist breached the basic ethics of the profession. The baseball manager’s conduct is wrong,  but comparatively tangential to his duties at worst. It is still seriously unethical, however, and undermines team culture and the status of other women who have duties involving the team.  Farrell, by dating Moran, was sending a message to his players and other team personnel that these women are legitimate targets for sexual courtship rather than workplace colleagues.  The relationship may have constituted third party sexual harassment, making other women feel as if team leadership had sent the message that they weren’t to be taken seriously as professionals.

Why is everyone making a big deal about this? She’s a beautiful young woman, covering a team of men. Isn’t this to be expected? Continue reading