Comment Of The Day: “Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month, As Trump Derangement Allegedly Eats Chuck Schumer’s Brain”

Aggressive Ethics Alarms commenter Elizabeth II was on fire yesterday, authoring two and maybe three Comment of the Day-worthy screeds. This was the first of them, and on a topic that never can have enough discussion here: civility, in reaction to Senator Schumer’s public berating of a Trump voter in a New York restaurant.

Incidental Update: when that post was written, no leftward mainstream media sources reported the incident, though it was unquestionable newsworthy. If Senator McCain or Mitch McConnell, and certainly Sarah Palin, had behaved this way, it would be on every front page and CNN would be leading with it every hour.  I noted that this was a perfect example of how the polarization of news sources works today; I also wondered if the story would ultimately be debunks or credibly denied. The story  hasn’t been debunked, and the Left’s media pals have ignored it. From now on, I think I’ll ask any desperate denier of news media bias try to explain this.

Here is Elizabeth II’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month, As Trump Derangement Allegedly Eats Chuck Schumer’s Brain”:

I think this is more than Trump Derangement — though of course Trump as POTUS is making it worse. It is the awful, seemingly uncontrolled downturn in civility generally in this country. We dress like slobs, we act like slobs, and we talk like slobs. We seem to have no control over our behavior: in perhaps two generations, all bets are off in terms of civil behavior.

When my son was very young I did want him to learn to be a “gentleman.” This had nothing to do with money, class, or beliefs: it was attitudinal and behavioral only.

My explanation was this: what you do or say in the privacy of your own home — absent breaking the law — is absolutely one’s own business.

Outside the home, however, is where being a ‘gentleman’ comes into play. The key to being a gentleman is to match your public behavior to where you are and who you are with — doing so with grace and civility without , compromising your own personal ethic. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “World Series Ethics: Another Pine Tar Sighting, As Baseball Ethics Rot Gets A Thumbs Up From Legal Ethics Rot”

Volquez, unaware...

Volquez, unaware…

I think I made a poor call deciding not to write about the interesting ethics question that arose during Game #1 of the just completed World Series.

We learned during the broadcast of Game 2 on Fox that Daniel Volquez, the father of Kansas city Royals Game #1 starting pitcher Edinson Volquez, had died of heart trouble during the day in the Dominican Republic. But Volquez’s family had asked the team not to inform Volquez until after the game, and the team, on behalf of the family, asked the same of the broadcasters, directing them to withhold the news from the TV audience. I decided to pass on the story because I couldn’t confirm that Volquez didn’t know about his father’s passing, though it now appears he did not. That was foolish: the ethics issues are the same regardless of whether he knew.

Fortunately Ethics Alarms reader Noah D. insisted that the issue was attention worthy, and wrote his own commentary. I’ll have some comment at the end. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, World Series Ethics: Another Pine Tar Sighting, As Baseball Ethics Rot Gets A Thumbs Up From Legal Ethics Rot: Continue reading

Law vs. Ethics: A Snatched Bar Mitzvah Gift, A Leaky AG, An Embarrassing Scoreboard, and”OINK”

Oink

I try to keep my legal ethics seminars up-to-the-minute, so while preparing for yesterday’s session with the Appellate Section of the Indiana Bar, I came across a bunch of entertaining stories in which the ethics were a lot clearer than the law, or vice-versa. All of them could and perhaps should sustain separate posts; indeed, I could probably devote the blog entirely to such cases.

Here are my four favorites from the past week’s legal news, involving a mother-son lawsuit, a brazenly unethical attorney general, a college scoreboard named after a crook, and police officer’s sense of humor: Continue reading

Comment of the Day #2: Advice From A Father To His Hypothetical College Freshman Son, In Reaction To “Ethics Observations On The Old Dominion University Signa Nu Fraternity Freakout”

Judge Hardy would have approved.

Judge Hardy would have approved.

As with the first Comment of the Day posted today, Steve-O-in-NJ  takes an Ethics Alarms essay in a new direction, as he uses my post about Old Dominion University’s treating an ill-considered episode of frat boy sexual innuendo as the equivalent of threatened rape and sexual violence. His Comment of the Day is his advice to a college-entering hypothetical son, in light of the dangers inherent in the modern campus culture.

It also begins with an assertion that is vital but that none of the Presidential candidates—or the President— discussing the issues of student loans and the cost of college ever seem to make, which is that the purpose of college is to learn to think, become educated, broaden intellectual horizons and be socialized as a blossoming adult and productive citizen. Instead, we, and they, are told that a degree is essential to get a job and make as much money as possible, regardless of whether or not that piece of paper stands for any increased knowledge and skill. Often it doesn’t. Usually it doesn’t. It was over this issue—promoting education as a work credential rather than as a life enhancement and necessity—that I resigned as president of an education promoting non-profit many years ago. The situation has only gotten worse since. This warping of purpose also warps student ethics: if the piece of paper is without substance, why not cheat to obtain it?

Here is the Comment of the Day by Steve-O-in-NJ on the post Ethics Observations On The Old Dominion University Signa Nu Fraternity Freakout: Continue reading

The Demon Barber Of Snelville

shamecut

A barbershop in the Atlanta suburb of Snelville offers parents the opportunity to give their misbehaving little boys a punishment they’ll never forget.  A-1 Kutz will give the boys a “Benjamin Button Special,” free of charge, a haircut invented by Russell Fredrick and his team of barbers that makes tykes look like balding progeria victims.

Gee, what a good idea.

Fredrick  is a 34-year-old father of three, and first tried the disfiguring haircut on his 12-year-old son, Rushawn, last fall. He claims it was a great success, since Rushawn’s grades“dramatically skyrocketed” after he was humiliated. And we all know the ends justify the means. Now, he claims, there has been a surge of interest from other parents.He told the Washington Post that he thinks African-American parents are looking for alternative ways of discipline after the uproar over Adrian Peterson—yes, that other NFL role-model–leaving bruises and welts on his four-year-old with a tree branch. All right, I’ll concede that humiliating a child among his peers and using childhood cruelty as a tool of discipline might be preferable to putting your child in the hospital because you beat the crap out of him. I will not concede that those are the only options, or that African American parents are so devoid of imagination and compassion that the only forms of discipline they can envision are forms of cruelty.
Continue reading

The Fifth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Best of Ethics 2013

Ethics Story 2013

I decided to start with the Best in Ethics this year, in contrast to other years, on the theory that it would get things off to a positive start in 2014. What it did, instead, was make me realize how negative Ethics Alarms was in 2013. Either there wasn’t much positive going on in ethics, or I wasn’t seeing it. My thanks to those of you who send me nominations for Ethics Heroes (and other stories); even when I don’t write about them, they are valuable. Please keep them coming. In the meantime, I pledge to try to keep the jaundice out of my eye in 2014. Things just can’t be as dire as they seemed last year.

Could they?

Here are the 2013 Ethics Alarms Awards for the Best in Ethics:

Most Important Ethical Act of the Year:

The U.S. Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, paving the way for the universal legalization of gay marriage. Yes, it was a legal decision, but it was also based, as all such culturally important decisions are, on a societal recognition that what was once thought to be wrong and immoral was, in fact, not. This is ethics, an ongoing process of enlightenment and wisdom about what is right and wrong, and the U.S. Supreme Court did its part. Continue reading

Ethics Alarms Presents …The Kaboom! The First Recipient: Fun Mom Judy Viger

kaboom

With this post, I am introducing the Kaboom!, a special category reserved for cases that should require no ethics commentary from me, since the ethical breach is beyond obvious, but where the individual’s ethics alarms have proven so spectacularly useless that attention must be paid.

The name of the award derives from the sound my head made as I read the story, because I don’t know how to spell the sound my brains made when they hit hit the ceiling and then slowly fell to the floor.

The first Kaboom! goes to the most deserving Judy Viger, 33, of Gansevoort, New York. Viger is taking a plea deal after being charged with five counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Just for fun, let me tell this story in stages, and let me know when you hear the Kaboom!

1.Police arrested Viger for after she arranged to have two strippers perform at her son’s 16th birthday party in November.

2. Some of the party-goers were 14.

3. The two women performed lap dances for the male teenaged guests, and the birthday boy, of course.

4. Viger did nothing to stop it.

5. One teenaged boy sustained a bitten nipple.

6. Viger then posted pictures of the proceedings on Facebook.

How did you do?

My head went off at #1.

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Pointer: ABA Journal

Facts: Post Star

Ethics And “The Rifleman”

If you want to ground your child in basic values and ethics, buying the new DVDs (available next month) with all 168 half-hour episodes of “The Rifleman,” the classic Western TV series, is a good way to start. I’ve been watching episodes recently (they are currently showing on both AMC and Starz), and am struck by how virtually every one has a strong ethics lesson to teach, and teaches it well without interfering with the drama. Most of the TV westerns from the genre’s Golden Age (which had already ended before the demise of “Bonanza,” the last of the great ones) had strong ethical values embedded in their plots, but few made ethics as thematic as the show starring Chuck Connors as a single father, living on the prairie in the 1880s, who used his Winchester rifle the way other cowboys used a pistol, but faster and with more accuracy.  Because Lucas McCain was trying to survive while teaching his young son (played by original Mousekateer Johnny Crawford) how to be a good man and citizen, he was always striving to be a role model while solving the difficult and often dangerous problems that came his way. Unlike many Western heroes, McCain didn’t always get it right, sometimes letting his emotions get the better of him or being unfair or impetuous, and had to undergo an ethical course correction by the end of an episode.

A repeated theme in the show was redemption and trust, as McCain often became the champion of a fallen woman or reformed criminal, or had to rely on an ally with a less than sterling past.  Villains in “The Rifleman” sometimes saw the error of their ways at the last second, committing a noble act before dying or going to jail. And sometimes they didn’t, and got shot with the Winchester. I’m sure that “The Rifleman,” with its gun-happy opening sequence (it presents the rifle as the star of the show as much as Connors) will seem like an unlikely source of ethics to the gun-queasy parents out there, and that is a shame. There is much to learn from “The Rifleman.”

You can watch some episodes of the show herehere and here. The catchy theme music is here; I was surprised to discover that it had lyrics, which by the standards of the generally terrible lyrics of westerns that had songs that were actually sung on a show, aren’t too bad. The best of its endless verses:

                           
THERE IS A MORAL TO HIS EXPLOITS                         

AND HE’S TAUGHT IT TO HIS SON

SPEAK SOFTLY TO YOUR ENEMY

BUT LET HIM SEE YOUR GUN!

Chorus:             

THEY CALL HIM THE RIFLEMAN
THE STRONG, COURAGEOUS RIFLEMAN
A GREAT BIG MOUNTAIN OF A MAN!

 

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Sources: Wikipedia, The Rifleman, Chuck Connors,

From Oklahoma, A Remarkable Ethics Lesson

hartmanparkinglot_610x458

Young Christian Lunsford was disgusted when he saw the TV report about the mugging of seventy-eight-year-old Tona Herndon of Bethany, Oklahoma, robbed while visiting the gravesite of her husband of 60 years, who had died just two weeks earlier. It wasn’t merely that the mugger took a purse and $700 from a vulnerable and grieving woman, but that the culprit was Christian’s father. He had been quickly arrested, and his mug shot, shown on TV, was all-too-familiar to his fifteen-year-old son. Christian’s parents divorced when he was two, and his contact with his father had been minimal as the elder Lunsford kept ending up in jail. The teen had recently heard from his dad, however, when he sent Christian $250 to pay for his participation in a school band trip.

The latest crime, however, moved Christian to do something exemplary. He contacted Tona Herndon and asked her to meet him in a church parking lot. When she did, he mugged her too, as a tribute to his father.

No, that’s not what happened: I was just messing with you. Continue reading