Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/26/2019: The Pooping Engineer, Fake Newspapers, And Other Things Not To Be Thankful For

As the Happy Holidays countdown continues…

1. More trivial ethics: Watching Season #2 (2015) of the excellent Stephen Bochco procedural “Murder One,” my wife and I were stunned to hear an expert witness in the trial of one of the teenage shooters in a school bus mass murder point out, while noting that most sociopaths don’t kill people, the Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton were examples of very successful sociopaths. It’s very unusual to see favored progressive narratives challenged in television dramas. Of course, this would have been an opportunity for Trump-bashing had the show been filmed a couple of years later.

2.  Ew. Matthew Lebsack, an 18-year employee of the Union Pacific Railroad Co., defecated on a train-car knuckle three years ago, threw feces-covered toilet paper out of the locomotive window, and informed his manager that he had left a “present” for him. Lebsack’s co-workers cleaned up his droppings using bottled water and paper towels.

At the investigation hearing, Lebsack admitted the specifics of the incident and apologized for his behavior. He claimed he  was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, and his wife had just left him at the time of the incident.

I wonder why?

Yeah, that justifies throwing one’s poop around the workplace. Lebsack was fired, shockingly. His union, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division, or  SMART appealed and the matter was sent to an arbitration board.

The arbitration board found that firing “was too harsh.” That’s good to know, just in case a clueless ethics class frustrates me so much I decide to take a dump on the podium.   Lebsack’s medical and psychological issues were deemed to be sufficient mitigation that board ordered Lebsack to be reinstated once he successfully completes a physical and a psychological evaluation. Union Pacific appealed to vacate the decision and SMART sought to enforce it.

U.S. District Judge Brian Buescher ruled that, under the Railway Labor Act, he was without authority to review the merits of the board’s interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement. Buescher said the arbitration board’s decision fell within its discretion, although he admitted that he didn’t understand its reasoning. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/17/19: Abusers, British Morons, O.J., And A Commie

Good morning.

1. Update! The teachers and the principal responsible for the cruel “award” for the autistic boy (discussed here) are in the process of being fired.

Good.

2. This is what happens when a country doesn’t have a First AmendmentA law goes into effect in Great Britain making it illegal  for advertisements to include “gender stereotypes which are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offense.” Complaints will be assessed by the Advertising Standards Authority. British broadcasters are bound by the terms of their licenses to comply with its rulings.

The aim, we are told,  is not to ban all gender stereotypes, just the harmful ones, because, said a spokesman,  “put simply, we found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people’s potential.”

Right.

Observations:

  • This also shows why progressives in the U.S. see the First Amendment as an impediment to their objectives.
  • Writes Jazz Shaw,

These guidelines don’t provide much to go on. They make reference to images that might suggest women do most of the housework and men being clueless about similar tasks. So I guess you’re no longer allowed to hire a female actress for any advertisements involving vacuuming, filling the dishwasher or operating the washing machine? This should indeed provide new employment opportunities for male actors, but somehow I don’t think that’s what they were going for here. Besides, won’t you just raise a new generation of kids who grow up thinking only men do chores around the house?

Oh, the unintended consequences of controlling what ideas and norms the pop culture can put into people’s heads are marvelous to behold.

  • The best part, you see, is that “authorities” get to decide which portrayals of stereotypes are “harmful.” In the U.S., such a law would be void for vagueness.

I like to keep these kinds of stories within reach when someone arguing for nationalized health care or a death penalty ban uses the “the U.S. is the only first world country that…” tactic. Yes, the U.S. is different.

3. Signature significance for a sociopath. Alternate title: “One more reason to stay away from Twitter.” O.J. Simpson has joined Twitter, saying in a video link,

“Hey Twitter world, this is yours truly. Coming soon to Twitter you’ll get to read all my thoughts and opinions on just about everything. Now, there’s a lot of fake O.J. accounts out there, so this one @TheRealOJ32, is the only official one. So, it should be a lot of fun — I’ve got a little getting even to do.”

And you know what O’J’ does when he decides to get even…

This is signature significance. A normal person in O.J.’s circumstances just doesn’t act like this. Then again, no normal person murders his ex-wife and her boyfriend with a hunting knife.

I don’t understand how O.J. can be active on Twitter and still hunt down the real killer, though…

4. Unethical Quote Of The Month That Doesn’t Deserve The Prominence Of A Stand-Alone Post: Newly Elected Denver City Council member Candi CdeBaca.

“I don’t believe our current economic system actually works. Um, capitalism by design is extractive and in order to generate profit in a capitalist system, something has to be exploited, that’s land, labor or resources. And I think that we’re in late phase capitalism and we know it doesn’t work and we have to move into something new, and I believe in community ownership of land, labor, resources and distribution of those resources. And whatever that morphs into is I think what will serve community the best and I’m excited to usher it in by any means necessary.”

“By any means necessary.”

Yes, she’s a communist. Imagine: Nearly all the communist nations ended up with their economies in ruins, with the larger ones  engaging in murder and political oppression on an epic scale, and this woman proclaims that system superior to capitalism while calling the failed ideology “new.” What kind of American votes for someone like this?

 

 

From The “Easy Ethics Questions That Some People Think Are Hard” File: “Should A Father Warn His Daughter’s Boyfriend That She’s A Sociopath?”

Of course not.

On the the sub-Reddit “AmITheAsshole” board,  a father consulted the group as to whether it would be  wrong for him to warn daughter’s fiancé-to-be  that she’s been diagnosed  as a clinical sociopath. She is  attracted to her boyfriend, he said, she has told him in the past that  she doesn’t feel love or empathy towards anyone, nor guilt or  grief.  Yup, that sounds like a sociopath, all right. A doctor diagnosed the daughter as suffering from antisocial personality disorder at age 18.

“She exhibited odd, disturbing behavior at a young age, and after a serious incident of abuse towards her younger sister, I realized she needed professional help,” Dad wrote. “Throughout her elementary years she struggled heavily, getting in lots of trouble in school for lying, cruelty, and all other types of misbehaviors. With an enormous amount of therapy and support, her bad behavior was minimized as she grew older.”

Her boyfriend has no idea, the father believes, what kind of person he will be marrying, and the father believes that he has a right to know, saying,  “I really like and respect this young man, and would feel awful keeping this ‘secret’ from him, and letting him walk into a marriage without this piece of knowledge.”

Yet since her diagnosis, the daughter seems to have her behavior under control. She has a good job, successfully navigated through college and has  many friends. She is also popular on the dating scene.

The Reddit participants seem to have been flummoxed by the father’s dilemma. I’m not. The ethical course is clear. Continue reading

More Amazing Tales Of “The King’s Pass”: The Megan Barry Saga

You can’t make this stuff up. Well, you could, but nobody would believe you. That’s not quite right: I would believe you, but then I’ve seen this story.

Maybe you’ve seen some of it. There are interesting posts on Nashville’s disgraced and jettisoned mayor here, here, and here. 

Surely you read them. No? I forgive you—after all, Facebook deems the output of this blog not fit for human eyes, so why should anyone bother reading, especially when Ethics Alarms persists in pointing out the astounding double standards being fought for in the media and by progressive warriors? Here, let be provide some quick bullet points as a review, kind of like those Netflix shows do in their second seasons to recap the previous season…

  • “Nashville’s first term mayor Megan Barry admitted yesterday that she had an extramarital affair with the police officer in charge of her security detail. She apologized “for the harm I’ve done to the people I love and the people who counted on me” but said she won’t be resigning. In a news conference, she said nothing illegal happened and no policies were violated.” The Nashville Mayor’s Affair, 2/1/18
  • (Same source as above): “This is sexual harassment. The officer was a subordinate, and she was his boss, with the power to fire him or worse. There can be no genuine consent in such situations….the conservative media constantly points out that when Republicans are involved in scandals, the news media always places their party affiliation in the first paragraph, but when the miscreant is a Democrat, it is buried or not mentioned at all. Let’s use this story as a test:1. NOLA (local), below: No mention of the Mayor’s party at all.2. The Tennessean (local), below: Third paragraph.3. USA Today: 22nd paragraph!

    4. NPR: Nope!

    5. NBC: Nope!

    6. ABC: Nope!”

  • And this just in! Nashville’s main newspaper, the Tenneseean, reports that Rob Forrest, the Mayor’s married lover, earned substantially more overtime than the other bodyguards on Barry’s secuirty detail, $173,843.13  between July 2015 and January 2017, which was nearly $53,000 more than the other four bodyguards received combined. But, as several internet wags have noted, let’s be fair: Rob was doing more for the mayor than those other bodyguards..How Many Rationalizations Can You Spot In This Op-Ed? (2/20/18)
  • “The statement is a whitewash, a delusion, and a lie. It is the upbeat farewell of a successful leader, not what it should be, the humble request for forgiveness from a terrible one, acknowledging wrongdoing and promising to be better. The statement shows no contrition, no remorse, no accountability, no courage, and no conscience. Based on these words, I think Megan Barry is a sociopath.” Unethical Quote Of The Week: Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s Resignation Statement, 3/7/18
  • Same source: “… after various revelations that suggested illicit and excessive compensation somehow made their way to her huggy-bug, both Barry and paramour Robert Forrest had to plead guilty to theft of property over $10,000 — a Class C Felony. She will pay $11,000 to the city in restitution and serve three years’ probation, as will Forest, though he will have to pay back $45,000 to the city.”

Continue reading

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

Unethical, Shameless, Gutsy, Creepy Or Thought-Provoking: Kevin Spacey’s Christmas Video

What do we make of this, released by actor Kevin Spacey lastweek almost at the same time as he was being indicted for sexual assault?

Yikes.

The much-acclaimed actor  career collapsed in 2017 as more than 30 people claimed that Spacey had sexually assaulted them. Now he is speaking in the persona—with accent!— of his Netflix series villain, Frank Underwood, the central character of “House of Cards.” Or is he? Much of the speech seems to refer to Spacey’s own plight, and suggests that the actor is being unfairly convicted in the court of public opinion. By using the voice and character of an unequivocal miscreant however, for Frank is a liar, a cheat, a sociopath, indeed a murderer, such protests are automatically incredible.

Or is Spacey making a legitimate argument that an artist’s personal flaws should be irrelevant to the appreciation of his art, especially in a case like “House of Cards,” where the actor’s role can’t possibly be undermined by the actor’s own misdeeds: whatever one says or thinks about Spacey, he can’t  be as bad as Frank Underwood. If you enjoyed watching Underwood destroy lives on his way to power, why should Spacey’s conduct, even if it was criminal, make you give up the pleasure of observing his vivid and diverting fictional creation? This isn’t like Bill Cosby, serially drugging and raping women while playing a wise, moral and funny father-figure. Spacey seems to be arguing that there should be no cognitive dissonance between him and Underwood at all. Who better to play a cur like Frank  than an actor who shares his some of his darkness? Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “THAT’S The Concept I Was Looking For—’Cultural Vandalism’!”

Another perspective on the question  of how the personal and professional misconduct of artists should affect our regard for their art comes from Curmie, a drama teacher, director and blogger who has as deep credentials for this topic as anyone.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, THAT’S The Concept I Was Looking For—“Cultural Vandalism”!…

Back in graduate school, I worked as a teaching assistant to a brilliant professor, Ron Willis, in his Introduction to Theatre class. Seitz’s commentary intersects with two of the concepts Ron highlighted in his course. The first of those is what Ron called para-aesthetics: those elements which affect an audience’s reception of an aesthetic event without being the aesthetic event.

These can be entirely coincidental (it’s pouring rain) or created specifically by the production company (the poster). The company many have had some, but not complete, control over the influence (there’s insufficient parking, in part because of another event in the area). The para-aesthetic influence could apply to the entire audience (the leading actor is a big star, the auditorium is freezing) or to an individual (the leading actor is your best friend, the person next to you thinks that showers are for other people, you’ve had a couple glasses of wine before the show).

The fact that a Bill Cosby’s off-camera life has been considerably short of exemplary matters in a para-aesthetic way. But each individual spectator will respond differently to each impulse. That leading actor—my best friend—is someone else’s ex. Facebook tells me that a year and a day ago I saw a play in London with a young movie star in the title role. His presence mattered to me not a bit, but there were dozens if not hundreds of his fans in the house: people who were there specifically to see him. That play was an adaptation of a script I adore and indeed directed a few years ago. The fact that the play as presented bore little if any resemblance to the original bothered me a lot; those who didn’t know the 19th-century version were far more able to accept the 21st-century revision on its own terms. Continue reading