Fire These Free Speech-Chilling School Administrators

Hannah Watters, a sophomore at North Paulding High School outside Atlanta, took a cell phone photo of her school’s crowded  hallways showing few students wearing masks.  She posted it to social media, and the school suspended her.
Then Hannah’s mother, Lynne Watters, spoke with the school’s principal by phone. The school immediately backed down, and said her daughter  would not be suspended, nor would a suspension  appear on her daughter’s record. That’s nice, but it’s too late. You can’t undue blatant intimidation designed to crush basic rights. The fact that she would be suspended at all, regardless of how long, because the school was embarrassed by its own conduct shows an administration that will abuse its power to cover up its incompetence.

Time to clean house. Fire them all. Continue reading

Wuhan Virus Ethic Train Wreck Update

1. Dr. Fauci told ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton yesterday, “If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it…You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye. Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So if you have goggles or an eye shield you should use it.”

Now you tell us!

Though Fauci is in a high-risk demographic, he has never been shown wearing goggles. Or are glasses like he wears (and I do), good enough? If that’s true, he should say so, NOW. Then again, he didn’t wear a mask when he wasn’t social distancing at the Nats game last week.

2. Explain to me again why Fauci is so beloved and sucked up to by the same news media that claims President Trump has “blood on his hands” from his handling of the completely unpredictable pandemic. Fauci has been inconsistent; he has been flat out wrong on many occasions, and then we get head scratchers like a recent interview with PBS NewsHour, where he lauded New York’s disastrous response to the Wuhan virus.

“We know that, when you do it properly, you bring down those cases. We have done it. We have done it in New York,” he told PBS’s Judy Woodruff. “New York got hit worse than any place in the world. And they did it correctly.”

Really? Doing nothing to curb the obvious virus-encouraging subway travel at the peak of the outbreak…

was “doing it right”? Governor Cuomo dumping infected seniors into nursing homes was “doing it right?”

Lest we forget.. Continue reading

Movies To Keep You Happy, Inspired And Optimistic, Part II

Another boring weekend approaches, so it’s time to finish this project.

Some further clarifications on this continuing list: it’s not a list of my favorite films by any means. The criteria is, as the title above would suggest, the emotions the film leaves you with, or that well up inside your earthly vessel during the film. One reader reacted to the first list by dissing “Rocky,” but here’s the point: when I first saw that film in a stuffed theater, and the movie reached the part in the climactic fight when, after seemingly being out-boxed and outclassed by the champion Apollo Creed, Rocky sees Creed lets his guard down for an instant and , dazed and bleeding, suddenly hits him with a series of the body blows we had seen him practicing on sides of beef . The crowd in a Philly bar goes bananas, and the audience in the theater went bananas too, only louder, cheering and applauding. I’ve seen a lot of movies, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I’ve witnessed that kind of spontaneous eruption of excitement and elation from an audience.

I also have to explain why what anyone here knows are my four  favorite comedies don’t appear. They just don’t fit the theme, that’s all. They make me laugh, pretty much every time, but they can’t be called inspiring by any normal definition of the word.

Here’s the second half of the list:

Sea Biscuit (2003)

I’m not a horse enthusiast,nor a fan of the sport of kings, but this is a wonderful story, and mostly true.

Star Wars (1977)

Oh, all right..

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

And so much better than the stupid movie it evokes, “An Affair To Remember.”

Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)

The only movie ever where a guy’s walk to the electric chair makes you smile..

Spartacus (1960)

Maybe my favorite story out of history ever, plus Cory Booker’s favorite scene…

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Obligatory.

To Sir With Love (1967)

The list needs an inspirational teacher movie (and only one) so I pick this one. Lulu’s song scene makes the difference.

Bells Are Ringing (1960)

Probably the least seen or appreciated film on the list. But Judy Holiday radiates the joy of performing and the genius of a comic pro here like few others, and attention must be paid. Forget that it was her last movie…

As Good As It Gets

One of the best romantic comedies ever, and one of the strangest. Plus an incredibly cute dog… Continue reading

Noonish Ethics Warm-Up: Everyone’s Gone To The Moon, But They Aren’t Going To Zoom

Hello?

The Jonathan King hit from 1965 (most people think was originally sung by Chad and Jermy, who covered it) sounds profound but it’s not; King, who wrote the song in college, later admitted that he was satirizing Dylanesque lyrics intended to have great portent, but in fact he meant nothing in particular. The song sounds timely now, doesn’t it? Yesterday, while taking a walk, my whole Alexandria neighborhood was eerily empty and silent. I started singing loudly as I walked as my own small rebellion, but I didn’t think of King’s song until I got home.

1. The ethics breach is “incompetence.” Imagine having a niche business, waiting for your big break, then you get the break, and botch it. That’s Zoom. When schools, colleges and other organizations were forced to resort to online conferencing platforms, Zoom was a ready-made solution: easy to download, single click-access.

It was, as the saying goes, not ready for prime time. The easy access allowed easy hacking and the new phenomenon of “Zoombombing,” where anonymous assholes—yes, this is another time when the term is fair, apt, and necessary—entered conferences and classes uninvited with with pornography or worse. Zoom was  also caught sending user’s analytics data to Facebook, even if the user didn’t have a Facebook account. There were other privacy issues. Many school districts have suspended classes using Zoom.  Google just banned  the use of the Zoom teleconferencing platform for employees, citing security concerns. [UPDATE: So has the U.S. Senate.] Now many potential users, including me, are looking elsewhere.

The  company’s CEO and founder now says he’ll make his product harder to use to improve Zoom’s safety and security. Good luck with that. I suspect this is a Barn Door Fallacy situation. Business competence requires you be ready for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and if it arrives and you’re not, you not only might not get a second chance, you don’t deserve one. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Covidiot Or Responsible Leader?

The mayor and her hairdresser…

Remember the gag in the original Batman movie, after the Joker poisons some soap and cosmetic products and news anchors go on the air looking like hell? This story reminded me of that.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has just recently pivoted to race-baiting as a strategy for getting through the pandemic—nice— was forced into defending getting a $500 haircut in defiance of her own state’s  stay-at-home order.  Lightfoot had appeared recent in a public service announcement urging Chicagoans to stay home to save lives. She also spoke to her city’s women specifically, saying “Getting your roots done is not essential.” I would interpret this as “Forget about vanity: this is a national crisis.” Hairstylists and barbers are not on Illinois’ list of essential businesses and must be closed during the Wuhan virus outbreak.

Nonetheless, the Mayor had the city pay a hairdresser 500 dollars for a private hair-cutting session. If there was ever the appearance of a “laws are for the little people,” this episode is it.

The Mayor’s defense is that  because she’s “the face of this city,” maintaining her appearance is a special and necessary exception.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is..

Is the Mayor’s explanation and conduct ethical?

Continue reading

Ethics Observations On A New York City Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck Incident

Let’s go through this one step by step. The quotes are from The Intercept’s account.

Police officers arrested three people in Brooklyn over the weekend after they allegedly “failed to maintain social distancing,” court documents reviewed by The Intercept show.

Comment: Remember this photo from two days ago?

I don’t comprehend how anyone in New York City can be arrested, fined or anything else for “failing to maintain social distancing” when authorities daily ignore and accept the lack of social distancing on a mass scale. It is unethical for law enforcement to be that arbitrary and inconsistent. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/6/2020: Another KABOOM!, Two Deranged Op-Eds, And Kansas City Police Adopt The Nuremberg Defense

Feeling blue, beleaguered and dispirited: time for my favorite “Good morning” video again:

1. Yes, it’s another KABOOM! to begin the day. The same critics who attack the President every day for his response to the virus, whatever he does or says, have been alternately praising China for its handling of the pandemic or defending it. Now look at these photos  from two days ago, April 4, showing Chinese citizens heading for the Huangshan mountain park to enjoy the great outdoors, as CNN put it.

2. Today in leadership ethics…on this date in 1841, President William Henry Harrison, then the oldest man by far to take the Presidential oath of office (America take note),  died after just 31 days from a cold he caught by grandstanding to show he wasn’t so old (he refused to wear a top coat in freezing weather, and delivered what is still the longest inaugural address in our history). He was the first President to die in office. He also died after being elected in a year ending with a zero,  launching a creepy 120 year tradition of every POTUS elected in such a year also dying in office (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, FDR, JFK)  until Ronald Reagan beat it, though just barely.

Vice President John Tyler was sworn into office amidst mass confusion: the Constitution was unclear about what happens when a President dies. It directed that in case of the President’s death “the Powers and Duties of the said office” “shall devolve upon the Vice President” until a new President is elected. Here the most unlikely of leaders, an obscure figure from the opposition party (Tyler was a Southern slave-holding Democrat  put on the Whig ticket, maybe because “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!” scanned) who had no constituency, looked like Ichabod Crane…

…and who later joined the Confederate cabinet, made a bold decision that changed American history in too many ways to imagine.

While many experts and legal scholars argued that he was only a temporary, acting-POTUS until a special election could be held, Tyler decreed that he was, in fact, the President, and would serve out Harrison’s full term. Congress couldn’t figure out how to stop him, and thus the United States, by accident and the unilateral decree of an otherwise minor political figure, adopted the smooth manner of transition that has served it so well. It wasn’t until the 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967,  that there was anything in the Constitution saying directly that the Vice President permanently assumes the job and finishes out the term upon the death, resignation or removal of the President.

Fun fact:  President Tyler, who was born in 1790, has a grandson living in Virginia. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr., born in 1924, is 96 years old. I once saw him from afar when he was still living at the Tyler plantation, dubbed Sherwood Forest. Continue reading

Yeah, “We’re All In This Together,” Except When Officious Fools With A Little Bit Of Power Have Dead Ethics Alarms, As They So Often Do.

 

….that is, if this infuriating story is true, which it might not be.

On an American Airlines flight with just eleven passengers, Yahoo! tells us, the flight attendants made all eleven sit in the last three rows, next to each other, because if they were allowed to spread out, they were told, it would be the equivalent of an upgrade. All eleven had purchased basic economy tickets. An unnamed American employee apparently revealed the episode, which occurred on March 24. That was the same day American started a new policy, specifically directing flight crew to spread out passengers to minimize the threat of Wuhan virus infection.

Now, as reported, this is mind-meltingly stupid. Some elements do need to be considered, however: Continue reading

Movies To Keep You Happy, Inspired And Optimistic , Part I

This is a very subjective and personal list. The main requirement was that they all must be, in the final analysis, upbeat. I also have seen all of them more than once.

I left out some obvious choices that I have already devoted full posts to on Ethics Alarms, like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas.” Some of the films on my ethics movies list appear here, but not for the same reasons. Obviously, I encourage you to see those movies too.

Below is approximately the first half of the list. The rest will be along eventually.

Rocky (1976)

It still holds up as one of the most exhilarating sports movies of all time.

The Natural (1984)

Great score and a happy ending, unlike the novelette it was based on.

True Grit (1969)

This is the John Wayne version, with two of the go-to scenes I’ll play when I want to feel better.

E.T. (1982)

Other than the unforgivable rainbow at the end, a near perfect feel-good film.

Stand By Me (1986)

One of two Stephen King movies on the list. Does anyone not love this film?

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

And the other King movie. has any suicide in a film been quite this satisfying?

Erin Brockavich (2000)

More or less a true story, which makes it especially inspiring.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

If Donald O’Connor walking up walls doesn’t get your heart pumping and your mouth smiling, nothing will. Continue reading