Outrageous Hoax Of The Year
Mamoru Samuragochi, the composer sometimes known as “The Japanese Beethoven” because he composed critically acclaimed works despite being deaf, was exposed as double fraud: he didn’t compose the works that made him Japan’s most popular classical composer, and he isn’t even really deaf! Samuragochi hired a musical ghostwriter named Takashi Niigaki to compose more than twenty compositions for Samuragochi since 1996.
Funniest Outrageous Hoax
Unethical Artist Of The Year
Performance artist Maximo Caminero, who walked into the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, entered a special exhibit of sixteen ancient Chinese vases painted over in bright colors by celebrated Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, picked up one of them, and immediately after a security guard instructed him not to touch the exhibit, allowed the vase to fall from his hands, shattering into bits. Caminero admitted that smashing the pottery, which was valued at a million dollars, was intentional, and was his protest against in support of local artists like himself whose work is not exhibited at the museum while the art of international artists like Weiwei is.
Unethical Veterinarian Of The Year
Fort Worth, Texas veterinarian Lou Tierce lost his license for five years as a result of, among other transgressions, his telling the owners of a Leonburger (it’s a very big dog) that their pet was terminally ill and had to be euthanized, then secretly keeping the dog alive in a small cage so he could use Sid’s blood for transfusions to Dr. Tierce’s other canine patients. Eventually an assistant at the clinic blew the whistle and alerted Sid’s owners, who rescued their dog and sicced the law on the worst veterinarian since Dean Jones menaced Beethoven.
Unethical Doctor Of The Year
Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s medical expert, endangered the public by defying a voluntary quarantine for possible Ebola exposure, because she just couldn’t bear to be without her favorite soup.
Scam of the Year
The Affordable Care Act.
Unethical Federal Agency Of The Year
The Secret Service. Lots of competition in this category: the Veterans Administration, the I.R.S., the CDC, the Justice Department, NSA…but when you essentially have one job to do and do it badly, sloppily carelessly and dangerously, there’s really not much more to say Continue reading
2014 Conflicts of Interest of the Year
- Conflicted Elected Official: Philadelphia State Senator LeAnna Washington. This is always an entertaining category. Washington was convicted of using her tax-payer financed staff to organize a yearly campaign fundraiser around her birthday party. When one staffer complained that this was illegal, she reportedly replied, according to his grand jury testimony:
“I am the fucking senator, I do what the fuck I want, and ain’t nobody going to change me. I have been doing it like this for 17 years. So stop trying to change me.”
- Conflicted Journalist: CNN sent Jay Carney, fresh off his assignment as President Obama’s official spokesman, defender and spinmeister, to cover his ex-boss’s speech.
- Conflicted “Non-partisan” Watchdog: CREW. The Center For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and its chief, Melanie Sloan, finally came clean (after falsely claiming non-profit status as a non-partisan organization for years) by making David Brock, head of the openly partisan, foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Republican media watchdog Media Matters its Chairman of the Board, essentially merging the two groups.
- Appearance of Impropriety Award: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La), Republican Whip. It is not certain yet whether Scalise knowingly spoke to a group of white supremacists in 20o2, inadvertently spoke to the group, or just spoke to another group meeting in the same venue before the David Duke-affiliated group of racists started comparing sheets. It isn’t even clear that Scalise knows, but everyone should agree that it looks awful no matter how you categorize it, making the fiasco a classic appearance of impropriety situation. If the Republicans were smart, they would dump him.
Unethical Attire of the Year
Unethical Political Candidate of the Year
Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, whose campaign materials were largely plagiarized from the materials other candidates.
Ethically Clueless Voters of the Year
New York’s 11th Congressional District, which contains Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. These alert and ethical citizens sent back to Washington thuggish and crooked Rep. Michael Grimm (R), then facing a 20-count indictment by federal authorities for fraud, federal tax evasion, and perjury, having earlier distinguished himself by threatening to kill a reporter and being recorded doing so.
Unethical Advertising of the Year
Public Service Announcement Division:
TV Program Division:
The Discovery Channel’s campaign for “Eaten Alive!” which did not, in fact, feature anyone being “eaten alive,” or at all.
Private Sector Product Division:
Halos. Or perhaps this is the Child Abuse Division:
Political Campaign Division:
Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for Texas Governor, offered an ad attacking her wheelchair- bound opponent that 1) appealed to bias against the disabled 2) misrepresented the duties of a state attorney general 3) misrepresented the facts of the cases the ad referred to and 4) deceived the public regarding the ethical duties of lawyers, which Davis, a lawyer, presumably understands. Continue reading
My guess: Paul tastes like chicken…
When we left naturalist and filmmaker Paul Rosolie, we were told that he journeyed to the Amazon, donned a special suit, slathered himself in pigs’ blood, and allowed himself to be swallowed whole by an anaconda on “Eaten Alive,” in a two-hour special produced by the Discovery Channel that would air December 7. Rosolie would be removed from the snake by a cord attached to his suit, presumably before he was digested. Animal rights groups and zoologists objected, quite accurately, that this was cruelty to animals for sport.
What did viewers see on December 7? (I’m sorry: my sock drawer desperately needed organizing that day. I’m basing this on published accounts.) Rosolie found an appropriately large and hungry snake and attracted its attention in the water. The 20-feet long reptile attacked, wrapped around him and then began to constrict. Then the snake started to try to eat the naturalist head first: Rosolie’s helmet camera provided a lovely shot of the anaconda’s gaping throat.
At that point, Rosolie did a terrific imitation of Gene Wilder as “Young Frankenstein” after he had himself locked in a room with the Monster with instructions that nobody should let him out no matter how much he begged. (“Let me out! Let me OUT OF HERE!!! GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!!….Mommy!” ) Rosalie’s team rushed in and pulled him away, disappointing the snake. Continue reading
From The Christian Science Monitor:
Audiences can see [naturalist and filmmaker Paul Rosolie] don a special suit, slather himself in pigs’ blood, and then be swallowed whole by an anaconda, the largest snake species in the world, on “Eaten Alive,” Dec. 7 on the Discovery Channel….According to trailers for the show, Rosolie and a Discovery Channel team venture into the Amazon rainforest to search for an anaconda, then prepare for Rosolie to be eaten alive by the snake, the largest of which can measure 30 feet long. After putting on a “snake-proof suit,” and covering himself in pigs’ blood to make himself more palatable (to the anaconda), Rosolie kneels next to the snake. …According to reports, Rosolie is later removed from the snake by a cord attached to his suit, after having been swallowed whole.
What? Naturally PETA is up in arms (Dear PETA: If only you didn’t complain about harmless animal spectacles like Ground Hog Day in Punxsutawney, people might pay attention when you have something legitimate to complain about…), but so are rational, serious zoologists and animal activists. The stunt has outraged officials at The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, for example. “If this snake would ingest something very large, like a human, and then have to regurgitate that prey or that food, that obviously could be harmful to the snake,” said Tom Stalf, CEO and President of the Columbus Zoo. Some believe, given the Discovery Channel’s reliability, that this is a hoax rather than a cruel stunt.
If it is going to be unethical, I suppose I would prefer that the network engage in the hoax rather than really traumatize the big reptile for the amusement of 21st Century equivalents of side-show gawkers.
Sources: CSM, Snopes
The Ethics Scrooge here.
If you think I’m going to get all misty eyed about the “random acts of kindness” fun and games Florida Starbucks customers have been amusing themselves with lately, you are sadly mistaken.
The happy-talk story of the week—and I admit, the nation needed one—concerned a St. Petersburg, Florida Starbucks where an early morning customer at the drive-through window decided to “pay it forward” and buy coffee for the next person in line.That customer emulated the spirit of the Kevin Spacey weepie, and bought a drink for the next person in line at the drive-through, and so it continued throughout the day, with 378 customers purchasing drinks for the strangers in line behind them, a so-called altruism chain that lasted 11 hours.
Awww. Continue reading
There’s been a lot of gratuitous Harvard-bashing lately, lately being defined as, oh, the last two hundred years or so. The latest plot to embarrass Harvard, my alma mater, came from the campus newspaper, the Harvard Crimson. This also isn’t a new development: I often found the Crimson embarrassing to Harvard back when I was student, when its staff was as often as not on a picket line chanting “Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”
It’s latest effort was to send a roving reporter out with a video camera to show how ignorant Harvard students are. The question featured: “What is the capital of Canada?” Here is the video:
Sure enough, none of the students shown could answer the question, except a Canadian. How humiliating! I can only imagine how many people will be flush with pride because they know that the capital city is Ottawa, and Harvard students don’t.
Of course, the video is meaningless. One Crimson reader, a student, wrote in to point out that he was interviewed for the stunt, gave the right answer, and turned up on the cutting room floor. He theorizes that there were others like him, and I wouldn’t be surprised: “Only six out of 19 Harvard students know the capital of Canada” isn’t much of a headline, is it? “Lame” was this student’s verdict for the Crimson’s rigged version of “Jaywalking.” I agree. Continue reading
The Jackie Mitchell saga is a great, feel-good story ruined by ethics rot. On one level, it is exactly the kind of tale that compels the treatment recommended by the old newspaper editor in John Ford’s “the Man Who Shot Liberty Valence”: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” On another, it is an ethics mess, which might explain why I had never heard of Jackie Mitchell, once a proto-feminist icon, until I cracked open my new issue of Smithsonian Magazine.
Mitchell was a Depression era Chattanooga teenager who had been taught how to pitch by her friend and neighbor, Major League ace Dazzy Vance. A star on local women’s baseball teams, the tomboy southpaw was signed to a pro contract by the promotion-minded owner of a local AA level minor league team, the Lookouts, in 1931. Her big moment came when the New York Yankees came through Chattanooga from Spring Training on the way to opening the season up North. Lookouts owner Joe Engel arranged for two exhibition games against the Bronx Bombers, who, you baseball fans should know, included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Engel promoted the game as a David and Goliath showdown with Jackie playing David, and he was rewarded with a full stadium. Then this happened: Continue reading
The Mayor of Newark has an overly broad job description…
I came close to giving Newark Mayor Cory Booker the “Incompetent Elected Official of the Month ” designation for his well-publicized stunt of rescuing a freezing puppy from the cold. I decided it would be unfair. An executive who wastes his or her time doing the jobs of others is indeed incompetent, not to mention inefficient, wasteful, and dumb, but that’s really not what Booker was doing. What he was doing was shamelessly sucking up to dim-bulb voters who are impressed with silly PR maneuvers like this rather than actual job performance.
To a moderately intelligent, informed citizen of Newark, a mayor interrupting his day to do what the city pays animal control workers a fraction of what he earns to do more responsibly would be an indictment of that mayor’s priorities, time-management skills, and judgment. To an idiot, it means that the mayor is a real swell guy who loves animals and is running willy-nilly all over the city, leaping tall building in a single bound—a hero! Booker has apparently made the calculation that Newark has more idiots than moderately intelligent, informed citizens, so his conduct was an insult as well. Or maybe he’s right.
The public’s grasp of what their elected leaders actually do is tenuous enough without elected officials like Booker intentionally adding to their ignorance. To be fair, he is an activist, hands-on leader who has engaged in genuine and appropriate acts of generosity, kindness and bravery. He should not, however, be rescuing kittens from trees or dogs from the cold, rushing to answer 911 calls or cleaning the streets. The taxpayers are already paying people to do those things. His job is to be mayor, and Newark needs one, full-time. If he has so much time on his hands that he’s doing the jobs of other city employees, then he’s neglecting his own responsibilities.
BAD mayor! BAD!
Sources: News One, Time
Now SHE'S what you call a distraction...
Illinois attorney Thomas W. Gooch III became the object of great hilarity in legal circles this week when he reacted to what he felt was an unethical courtroom tactic by his opposing counsel in a lawsuit by filing this motion in limine:
Defendant’s counsel is anecdotally familiar with the tactics and theatrics of Plaintiff’s counsel . . . . Such behavior includes having a large breasted woman sit next to him at counsel’s table during the course of the trial. There is no evidence whatsoever that this woman has any legal training whatsoever, and the sole purpose of her presence at Plaintiff’s Counsel’s table is to draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings before this court, obviously prejudicing the Defendant’s in this or any other cause. Until it is shown that this woman has any sort of legal background, she should be required to sit in the gallery with the rest of the spectators and be barred from sitting at counsel’s table during the course of this trial.
Not surprisingly, the motion failed, and predictably, Gooch has become the latest villain in the gender wars, reducing a competent legal professional (according to attorney Dmitry Feofanov’s answer to the complaint) to the size of her bra cup and denigrating women generally. Continue reading
John-Baptiste Clamence reacts to yesterday’s post with a crucial point (that I happen to agree with) about the role of law in setting cultural values and societal ethics. Here is his Comment of the Day, on “The White Male Scholarship”:
“It’s a hard line to draw sometimes; the line between your right to have the wrong opinion, and how much the law should push you to have the right opinion.
In the UK, since 1996 it has been illegal for B&Bs to refuse rooms to gay couples. These are private businesses – should they have the right to offer their services in a discriminatory way also?
“The situation you describe is, in my view, unethical for the reason that it perpetuates the idea in society that racial discrimination for an academic award is OK. The sooner and stronger the message given by the law is, then the sooner the views of society change.
“To paraphrase Cesar Millan: Change the behaviour, change the thoughts.”