Vermont Crosses The Line: When Government Is Cavalier About Restricting Our Liberty, It’s Time To Push Back

Right wing pundit Sarah Hoyt has been at the forefront of those arguing that it would be better and safer to accept the risk  of more deaths from the Wuhan virus than to allow state governments to behave like police states. So far, I have thought she was wrong and unduly paranoid, but Vermont’s latest action has me agreeing with her response, which was, “I’M SORRY. ARE THE PEOPLE OF VERMONT ALL OUT OF MIDDLE FINGERS?”

From the Burlington Free-Press (Bernie Sanders was once mayor of Burlington. That’s just something to keep in the back of your mind, as this episode suggests the slow but deadly spread of the Totalitarian Left Virus, which may eventually need to be called “the Burlington Virus”):

Large Vermont retailers such as Target, Walmart and Costco are now required to limit the sales of non-essential items in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The directive was announced by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development on Tuesday. The agency hopes it will reduce the overall number of people going into stores to purchase items such as clothing, electronics and toys during the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order.

“Large ‘big box’ retailers generate significant shopping traffic by virtue of their size and the variety of goods offered in a single location,” said Lindsay Kurrle, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development in a news release.  “This volume of shopping traffic significantly increases the risk of further spread of this dangerous virus to Vermonters and the viability of Vermont’s health care system.”

Retailers are being asked to promote online ordering, delivery and curbside pickup to customers….

The order is here. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Great 1 Cent Target Toothbrush Controversy

In Massachusetts, David Leavitt found that Target had mislabelled an electric toothbrush as costing $0.01 rather than $100. When he eagerly rushed to take advantage of the obvious error, a Target checkout employee refused to sell the item at that price, and the store manager backed up the employee.

This set Mr. Leavitt, who says he is a journalist (he appears to be a gaming writer), off into a full-scale social media attack on Target. “This [Target] manager Tori is not honoring the price of their items per Massachusetts law,” tweeted Leavitt, including the young manager’s photo. He then indignantly announced that he had called the police on the Target manager, and said he was prepared to take her and the store to court.

This being social media in the United States of America, where everything, even toothbrushes, is political and a provocation to go to battle,  Leavitt’s vendetta was seen as an unjust  progressive vilification of business, so conservatives rallied to Tori’s defense. The  #TargetTori hashtag was born, and a GoFundMe page raised $28,000 to send her on a well deserved vacation.

Observations: Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/26/2019: Bad Business And Bad Businesses

Whoa! A morning surprise!

As I commented on yesterday’s warm-up, traffic on Ethics Alarms was discouraging slow all weekend, which, as some of you know, makes me re-evaluate my priorities and ponder throwing myself into the shredder. Then, I discover, at some point last night the Mitch McConnell post was linked someplace that has a much bigger audience than I have, and just like that, the blog got more visitors in a couple of hours as the weekend weekended than it had in the previous two days. As is usually the case, it is impossible to find out where the referrals are coming from (except I know they aren’t from Facebook!), virtually none of the new visitors are commenting, and the temporary avalanche spawns few new followers, if any. I never know when this is going to happen, and it almost never occurs with the essays I am most proud of or consider especially important.

1. Of course they booed. They’re NFL football fans. This means they have the ethics of army ants. Andrew Luck, the star quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, stunned the sport with his unexpected decision to retire from the NFL, even though he is only 29 and completed a stellar campaign in 2018. The reason: he doesn’t want to end up crippled or a vegetable from the abuse his body and brain have absorbed and will continue to the longer he stays on the field. not having them anymore after the way fans in Indianapolis treated him after the  on Saturday.

As Luck began to make his way off the field following the 27-17 loss in the Colts’ preseason game against the Bears, fans at Lucas Oil Stadium started to boo their former quarterback because the news of Luck’s retirement broke during the fourth quarter of the game. Of course they booed. Anyone who watches the NFL and supports an NFL team by purchasing tickets, merchandise, or inflating league ratings by watching the games on TV has signaled that they are perfectly happy to encourage young men to ruin their bodies and minds for their selfish entertainment, safe in their seats or on their living room sofas.

2. More on the Left’s undemocratic effort to stifle free speech and opposition to its agenda…Tucker Carlson—I am not a fan, you will recall—returned to his Fox News show after a vacation that seemed more like a retreat from fire to find that the Media Matters-led sponsor boycott  of his show had taken more chunks out of his sponsor base.  Continue reading

From Ethics Alarms “The Truth Hurts” Files: Target’s Fathers Day Card

Target came under fire for putting out the Father’s Day card above, and apologized, especially for having only a black couple version.

Interesting: what exactly is wrong about the card? It depicts the state of black fatherhood as it is: about 72% of black births are to unmarried couples, while about 32% is the white figure. Is the perceived problem that the card shames African Americans, or that it appears to give couples having children without bothering with marriage a societal pass by celebrating their lack of responsibility? Not being married to a child’s mother vastly increases the likelihood of absentee fathers, and being raised by single mothers is statistically linked to many social pathologies that disproportionately plague black communities.

Maybe Target isn’t the one who should be apologizing. One incensed critic wrote on Twitter, “This is an insult to black fathers and a slap in the face to the African-American community as a whole.” No, that would be true if the card’s implication wasn’t true. It is true. Now what? Getting angry at Target is a deflection.

Of course, the likelihood is that Target wasn’t thinking deeply about this at all. It just thought the “baby daddy” card opened up a new Fathers Day market.

More Clown Ethics: The County That Banned Bozo

bozo

An alternate title was “The County Run By People So Ignorant Of The Constitution That They Think You Can Tell People How To Dress And Who Will Be Easy Pickings When The Democrats Decide To Ban What They Decide Is “Hate Speech,” but I thought it was a little too long.

The mass Ethics Dunce in question is Mississippi’s Kemper County, which in response to the evil clown hysteria embarrassing the nation almost as much as the evil Presidential candidates hysteria, enacted a clown ban this week, forbidding people from dressing as clowns until after Halloween. Anyone caught in public wearing a clown costume, mask or makeup will face a $150 fine.

This is, of course, ironic, since any elected officials voting for such a ban are, by definition, clowns themselves.

County supervisors president Johnny Whitsett justified this overly broad law and per se violation of the Constitution as a matter of public safety because, he said, people “could react badly if they get scared by a clown in their yard.” Wait: how does my wearing clown shoes and a red nose in my yard scare someone in their yard?

Boy, I can’t wait until I am retired, rich, and at leisure to go down to future Kember Counties and get arrested for being dressed like Bozo.

In these tiny, trivial, stupid examples of elected officials proving themselves ignorant of our rights and protections are the seeds of the destruction of American liberty.

Meanwhile, non-government entities, which are legally free to reject the principle of free expression but not ethically free to get away with it, at least on this little corner of the Internet, have revealed their own censorious clown DNA. Target, for example, has removed clown masks from its stores and website. “Given the current environment, we have made the decision to remove a variety of clown masks from our assortment, both in stores and online,” the Big Box chain announced through a spokesman.

This is consistent with the current reasoning of the increasingly totalitarian left on guns and other commodities, that if a small minority of citizens abuse a product or right, the rest of us have to do without. Again, I look forward to my future career as the Ethics George Soros, funding nation-wide Scary Hair Dryer User  hoaxes to see if Target will ban hair dryers too.

At Target, One Of Life’s Little Ethics Tests

 

target-logo

We were just shopping at Target, buying everything from dog food to throw pillows to laundry detergent. The lines were long, I was feeling crappy, and the bill was $142.78. The stuff was all loaded into the trunk of our car, a long walk from the entrance, when my wife noticed a tiny 25 watt light bulb—price: $2. 27— that had slipped into a crevice in the cart. “Ooooh, I bet they didn’t charge us for that,” she said.

Immediately, I was hit with a furious rationalization assault trying to kill my ethics alarms like Santa Anna’s men climbing over the Alamo’s walls:

  • “Who cares? They won’t care. Let’s just go!”
  • “It wouldn’t have been missed if the line didn’t make us late! Target deserves to lose the bulb!”
  • “We can tell them about it next time!”
  • “Nobody would go back and return this!”
  • “The walk and the inconvenience are more trouble than the lousy bulb is worth!”
  • “You think it’s stealing? Fine, leave it in the cart. Then we don’t get it either.”
  • “This wasn’t my fault!”

We went back and gave the unpaid for bulb to the customer service clerk. She raised an eyebrow and said, “Really?” Not “Wow, you people are so ethical. I’m going to tell my children about you” really, but “Wow, you people are idiots. Nobody does this. It’s a lousy $2.27! I’m going to tell my friends about this, and they will laugh long and hard” really.

This is anti-ethics bias micro-aggression, and in its own, incremental, crummy way, it makes society more unethical and untrusting because it treats ethical conduct as aberrational. If I had been feeling better and my usual annoying, feisty self, I may well have said,

“Oh, is a customer being honest ridiculous to you? So from that I assume that you approve of minor theft, is that accurate? Does that mean you are lifting low priced items from the store, and allowing your friends and family to do so? Let me talk with your manager, please. I want to ask him if you reflect Target policy. I’d like it clarified myself. What priced items are considered so disposable that theft of them is expected to be shrugged off as trivial? Under five bucks? Ten? Twenty? Why stop at twenty? Fifty? A hundred?”

“Before I explain your reaction to your supervisor and ask if that accurately reflects the store’s attitude toward not paying for inexpensive merchandise, let me convey this for future reference. The proper response to a customer who returns an unchecked item rather than just leaving with it is ‘Thank-you!’ and a smile. Not “Really?” and a smirk. Got that?”

Dirty Harry would have added, “Well, do ya…punk?”

KABOOM! University Of Wisconsin Director Of Community Relations Says That Arresting Shoplifters Is Over-Policing

exploding-head3

This story made my cranium explode like Krakatoa, and it really scared my dog. If it doesn’t make your head explode, I am worried about you. I’m worried about you anyway. I’m worried about all of us.

UW Director of Community Relations Everett Mitchell, speaking at a University of Wisconsin Madison panel dealing with “Best Policing Practices,” argued that police should stop responding to shoplifting and thefts at Wal-Mart and Target in order to reduce what he refers to as “over policing” of the community. Yes, he really believes that enforcing the law regarding property crimes against retailers is “over-policing.”  Mitchell, an employee of an institution that exists to enlighten the young and impressionable, said that communities should be able to decide for themselves what laws should be enforced, and that  the ultimate goal of law enforcement is not the actual enforcement of law, but community safety as defined by the community itself. If the community thinks declaring open season on the local Walmart—looting, essentially—is just fine, then the police shouldn’t arrest anyone for it.  Theft from big box stores, he explained, is an example of a crime that police and the community may view differently.

How the owner of the stores that get robbed, the employees that will lose jobs when the store leaves to relocate someplace that doesn’t think theft is “safe,” and the families that will have no place to shop might feel about his plan was not discussed. Mitchell, you see, is an irresponsible idiot.

He was also formerly an assistant District Attorney in the Dane County District Attorney’s Office. He must have been great at that job.

Mitchell said, Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “What Michelle Obama Calls Racism…Today, Anyway”

The First Lady at Target, whose skin color obviously led a shopper at Target to ignore the blouse, cart, shopping cart, purse and sunglasses and assume that she was a minimum wage target employee who just wasn't wearing her red shirt today, because whites are such racists. It's amazing she wasn't shot, when you come to think of it. No really. Amazing.

The First Lady at Target, whose skin color obviously led a white shopper at Target to ignore the blouse, cart, shopping cart, Target bags, purse and sunglasses and assume that she was a minimum wage Target employee who just wasn’t wearing her red shirt that day, because whites are such racists. It’s amazing Michelle wasn’t shot, when you come to think of it. No really. Amazing.

I suppose it should be no surprise that my bias toward “Comment of the Day” candidates tilts toward comments that save me a post. This couldn’t be more true than in the case of this edition, a comment by johnbuger2013 (and I can’t wait to see what johnbuger2014 has to add!). The effort by Michelle Obama to paint normal , harmless, benign and trusting interactions between black and white citizens as racist profiling is really horrible, and the degree that the news media (“oh, there go those tea-bagging right-wing media again, picking on the Obamas for nothing!”) is ignoring the implication of what she did is not merely horrible but terrifying. Essentially, it is a declaration that the media will accept false accounts as truth as long as it furthers the narrative that all blacks—even the Obamas!—are constant victims of thinly disguised bias and racism.

What Michelle launched into the the public discourse, and “People” irresponsibly abetted, is yet another Big Lie, like the myth that Mike Brown was gunned down while surrendering with his hands up.  Though she was dressed at the time of the alleged incident like a shopper, with a cart and a giant purse, in sunglasses and wearing a Nike cap, Michelle absurdly told the magazine that a shorter fellow shopper, who was short but white—that’s the key, white—asked her if Michelle  could take down an item from a high shelf because the shopper assumed the first Lady was “the help’–because she is black.  The story is unbelievable on its face, and more than that, it exposes Obama as an anti-white bigot. Never mind: everywhere, her offensive characterization is being treated as fact. Fact—even though it is impossible, even though shoppers ask each other, regardless of race, for assistance all the time. Knee-jerk loyalists to the cause of race-baiting, victim-mongering, eternal grievances and Team Obama—including other commenters here— have twisted logic and fairness into grotesque shapes to justify this disgraceful story. The Big Lie, as we know, works.  From the Hollywood Reporter:

“During the show’s Hot Topics section, the co-hosts addressed Barack and Michelle Obama’s recent statements that they’ve been mistaken for the help.”

But Michelle wasn’t mistaken for the help. Michelle is so paranoid, bigoted and race-obsessed that she thought she was mistaken for the help with no justification whatsoever. Never mind: her story is now Truth. From US:

“The ladies [ of “The View”] got into a heated discussion when O’Donnell, co-host Rosie Perez, and Orange Is the New Black’s Laverne Cox agreed that it’s racist when African-Americans are profiled in stores.”

But Michelle wasn’t profiled in the store (and nobody on The View’s panel of ignoramuses had te wit or integrity to point out that the whole discussion was based on a falsehood). Someone foolishly mistook her for a normal, well-adjusted, non-white-hating human being who would happily assist a stranger without assuming the worst about her. This will teach her. next time, only ask white shoppers for help: they won’t hate you for it.

As you might be able to tell, I am upset about this story, and the trend it represents, and angry with anyone, regardless of race, who won’t view it objectively and condemn it for what it is. But this is not a politics blog, but an ethics blog, and even though ethics outrages just pour out of the Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck like the waters of Niagara, my mission is broader,  my target audience is broader still, and on a topic like this, where 90% of journalist are inclined to promote a lie, I can’t accomplish much by flogging the same issue day after day on Ethics Alarms, other than assuaging my own frustration.

I digress, however. Here is the Comment of the Day, by johnbuger2013, on the post, “What Michelle Obama Calls Racism…Today, Anyway”: Continue reading

What Michelle Obama Calls Racism…Today, Anyway

Target Michelle

The current People Magazine has a feature titled “The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences,” in which both Obama’s reflect on their personal experiences with a racist America. It begins like this…

“The protective bubble that comes with the presidency – the armored limo, the Secret Service detail, the White House – shields Barack and Michelle Obama from a lot of unpleasantness. But their encounters with racial prejudice aren’t as far in the past as one might expect. And they obviously still sting.”

Here is a relatively recent experience, the first one cited by Mrs. Obama in the article, that “stung”:

“I tell this story – I mean, even as the First Lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target [in 2012], not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the First Lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.” 

That’s right, Michelle feels—or says she feels—that this incident was proof of incipient racism, one of the “micro-aggressions” that white society inflicts on African Americans daily, sapping their self-esteem, confidence, and trust in society.

She’s right that it “happens in life” and isn’t new. In fact, it happened to me, in the local Target, coincidentally, just last month. A very short elderly Asian woman asked if I would take down a large container of laundry detergent from a high shelf. Obviously, she thought I worked at Target and was denigrating me, applying racial stereotypes to a large bald Greek-American man.

I can say with no hesitation whatsoever that what happened to Michelle at Target was not an incident of racial stereotyping. The photo above shows how Michelle was dressed on the fateful day, and anyone who would mistake her flowered blouse, Nike hat, shades and shopping cart as the uniform of a Target employee had recently escaped from a Home for the Bewildered. What wasn’t new about the encounter is that in a healthy, ethical community strangers should ask each other for kindly help and assistance, and normal, non-paranoid, non race-obsessed citizens—and especially their leaders, who are supposed to model responsible  behavior— ought not to be so warped by ideologically-dictated confirmation bias that their immediate reaction is, “Hmmmm…what did she mean by that?” Continue reading

Black Friday Ethics: Holiday Capitalism Hate In The Media

Thanksgiving shopper. How DARE they?

Thanksgiving shopper. How DARE they?

Left-leaning media and pundits are so biased against corporate America and the profit motive that they will concoct ridiculous theories of wrong-doing just to bombard the ears of listeners with accusations about how cruel, crass and greedy the nation’s employers and retailers are. There is no ethical basis on which to criticize Walmart, Target, Macy’s or any of the retailers who chose to lure shoppers this year by “Black Friday” sales that reached into Thanksgiving. None.  Continue reading