Sliding UP The Slippery Slope: NO To Forced Sterilization, And A Belated NO To Forced Vasectomies Too

"OK, now this is entirely your free choice..."

“OK, now this is entirely your free choice…”

This has turned into Revisiting Old Posts Day on Ethics Alarms.

Last July, I posted an Ethics Quiz regarding a Virginia judge’s sentence offering a profligate and irresponsible serial father to choice between an extra four years in jail and a vasectomy at his own expense. After asking readers whether they thought the sentence was ethical, especially in light of the state’s ugly history of forced sterilizations, I demurred, writing,

I am not ready to make a call on this one. Since neglected children often become the responsibility of taxpayers, the argument that the state has no legitimate interest in regulating profligate reproduction by irresponsible parents falls flat. Is taking away someone’s ability to have more children (after seven) really a greater intrusion on his freedom than locking him up? Yet this sentence seems to cross lines that government should cross with caution, if at all. I’m not sorry that Herald won’t be inflicting more of his line on us. I am uneasy, however, with the way this result came about.

I am now ready to make an ethics call in the quiz in light of this news report: Continue reading

Our Untrustworthy Public Schools, Part 2: The Fool and the Indoctrinator

When Alex met Kendra...

When Alex met Kendra…

There are bad apples in every barrel, but no apple barrel should contain poison apples. When it comes to teachers, these two make me regard the entire barrel as a bad risk.

The Fool

At Summerville High School in Summerville, South Carolina, a teacher caused a 16-year-old student named Alex Stone to be arrested and suspended because he wrote a passage on his Facebook page, as part of an assignment, that described using a gun to kill a dinosaur. Never mind that dinosaurs are extinct: guns are real; the teacher, a hysteric, a child abuser and a fool, notified school officials, and the school notified the police. They in turn,  searched Alex’s  book bag and locker for the dinosaur murder weapon, and came up empty. Police said that when Stone was asked by school officials about the his post, he became “very irate” —as would I—and so they handcuffed and arrested him.

Look at the bright side: at least they didn’t shoot him. Then Stone was suspended for the rest of the week. Continue reading

The Unethical Opposition To Tennessee’s Fetal Drug Abuse Protection Law

200439961-001Tennessee is one of the most activist states that it comes to protecting children; for example, it has the among most stringent laws in the nation regarding the mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse. It also has a new law that just went into effect this month that allows officials to arrest mothers for assault who illegally use narcotics while they are pregnant if the child is born with symptoms indicating that the drug use impaired the child’s condition.

Predictable and tiresomely, the media and “war on women” scolds are attacking this is yet another incursion on the rights of women to have dominion over their own bodies. Think Progress, dishonestly, calls it a “pregnancy criminalization law.”  This is intentional misrepresentation, a TP specialty. The law doesn’t criminalize pregnancy in any way, by even the most distorted interpretation.  The knee-jerk opposition to the law highlights the problems of consistency and integrity that the women’s rights and pro-abortion forces have in all the areas relating to childbirth. Essentially, their position is that if conduct is related to child birth—or preventing it—in any way, anything they say, want or do must be accepted, and asserting otherwise, no matter what the justification, makes the government an oppressor of women. Continue reading

Tip Shaming Fraud On The Web: NOW Do You See Why Applebee’s Was Right To Fire Its Vigilante Waitress?


At the beginning of the year, we had a real donnybrook on Ethics Alarms over my contention that Applebee’s correctly fired a waitress for web- shaming a customer who refused to tip another server on the grounds, as the customer wrote on her credit card receipt, that the automatic tip of 18% was excessive since she (a pastor as well as a jerk) gave God only 10%. The indignant waitress posted the receipt on Reddit, which led to locals recognizing the pastor’s handwriting and appropriate antipathy being directed her way. Since the waitress’s conduct was a clear violation of Applebee’s employment terms and because publicly shaming customers who exercise their right not to leave tips is a poor customer relations strategy, she was sacked. Subsequently the unapologetic waitress received a lot of sympathy, while equally misguided observers vowed to punish Applebee’s for not wanting to be known for having  waitresses on the payroll who are prone to misappropriate customer receipts and post them online to bring opprobrium down on the niggardly diners’ heads.

I think Applebee’s is looking prescient and wise right now. Ask Red Lobster, which did not fire Christina Jenkins, a 19-year-old African-American server at the Red Lobster restaurant in Franklin, Tennessee. Jenkins served a $44.53 order to Devin Barnes and his wife. Barnes wrote the word “none” by “tip, ” and, Jenkins claimed, wrote “Nigger” on the receipt as well.  Jenkins then posted a photo of the racist receipt on her Facebook page, writing, “This is what I got as a tip last night…so happy to live in the proud southern states. God Bless America, land of the free and home of the low class racists of Tennessee.” Going the Applebee’s vigilante one better, Jenkins allowed Barnes’ signature to be visible on the receipt.

The photo, and story, went viral on the web and the news media gobbled it up. Mr. and Mrs. Barnes denied that they would write such a thing (they didn’t tip because the order was a carry out), but nobody believed them. After all, everyone knows that white customers in southern states are likely to write “nigger” on receipts, just as everyone knows that sort-of white neighborhood watch members racially profile black kids in hoodies for carrying bags of Skittles. Jenkins, in contrast, was besieged with sympathy and cash contributions: the latest tally was $10,749. A handwriting expert hired by Barnes, however, proved that “nigger” was not written by the customers, but by the waitress herself. Now Jenkins and Red Lobster are being sued by the Barneses, who have been subjected to harassment and threats.

And that’s not all… Continue reading

More Name Ethics: An Incompetent Judge Blocks An Irresponsible Name

"Mom...Dad! It's your son Messiah!"

“Mom…Dad! It’s your son Messiah!”

Let us stipulate that while  parents in the United States have an absolute right to name their children whatever they please, it one of those aspects of free speech that is often horribly abused by irresponsible, self-centered or just plain dumb parents who treat their children as bumper stickers or social science experiments. Naming your boy “Sue,” (You know) or your daughter “North West,” (Kanye West) or your daughter “Fifi Trixibelle” (Bob Geldof) is unforgivably and gratuitously cruel, virtually guaranteeing that your child will be a target, a head case, or will change his or her name the second legal majority comes around. Nonetheless, the state doesn’t raise children in America—yet—and parents can still decide what they wear, watch, learn and eat, as well as the name they have to answer to. The operative term is “free country.” Many of our fellow citizens don’t like or understand that concept, which is also their right in a free country. Judges, however, must not only understand the concept but constrain their power by it.

This is why Cocke County (Tennessee) Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew needs to be a) removed from her job and b) set on a more appropriate career path, like say, taking tolls in a tunnel or orders at Papa John’s. She ruled—it doesn’t matter how or why this came about—you can read the ridiculous story here-–that the parents of a baby couldn’t name him “Messiah,” because, she said in an interview with a reporter whose mouth had to be surgically closed afterward, “The word ‘Messiah’ is a title, and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person – and that one person is Jesus Christ.”  Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The Ridgedale Church of Christ

This is Kat and Krista. I mean, come on! Look at those two women, blatantly being a couple like this! How can any God loving, devout person, even one of their mother's tolerate conduct like this? I mean, just look at what they're doing!

This is Kat and Krista. I mean, come on! Look at those two women, blatantly being a couple like this! How can any God loving, devout person, even one of their mothers tolerate conduct like this? I mean, just look at what they’re doing!

The culture’s rapid acceptance of same-sex romantic relationships and their natural progression, gay marriage, is leading some churches to isolate themselves from basic societal values, and call into question the sincerity and validity of organized religion itself. Today’s lesson: Chattanooga’s Ridgedale Church of Christ.

Linda Cooper and her family had belonged to the church and its community for more than 60 years. Then her daughter, Kat Cooper, led the months long effort that led to the Chattanooga suburb of Collegedale becoming the first city in Tennessee to offer benefits to same-sex spouses of its government employees.Kat, a detective the Collegedale Police Department was  married to her same sex spouse Krista, in Maryland, in May. During her successful and well-publicized legal battle, Kat was supported by her mom. Linda stood by her side throughout the process. She held tight to her daughter’s hand at a July meeting over the issue. And the two embraced after the City Council’s 4-1 vote in favor of same-sex benefits on Aug. 5.  Her church took notice…and disapproved. Continue reading

Helpful Civility Hint For Newspaper Editors: Don’t Tell The President of The U.S. To “Shove It”

Classic song, catch phrase, unethical headline.

Classic song, catch phrase, unethical headline.

In a classic example of the stark difference in world views between the so-called “conservative media” and the mainstream (a.k.a. Left-biased) news media, the firing of a Chattanooga newspaper editor for an editorial headline telling President Obama to  “shove it”is either being held up as proof that the President’s allies are censoring the news and trying to drive objective journalists out of their jobs, or being ignored as a local story with no larger implications.

The story has larger implications, and they are these: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Judgmental Judge

"I'm sorry, Miss McBeal, would you repeat that? I lost my train of thought..."

“I’m sorry, Miss McBeal, would you repeat that? I lost my train of thought…”

Circuit Judge Royce Taylor in Murfreesboro, Tennessee is being excoriated by some as being sexist or at least presumptuous for daring to broach the topic of attorney attire in the courtroom, specifically female attorney attire. In a memo, he noted that the topic had arisen in recent Bench/Bar Committee meeting, and wrote,

“The unanimous opinion was that the women attorneys were not being held to the same standard as the men. It was requested that the judges require all attorneys to dress professionally. I have advised some women attorneys that a jacket with sleeves below the elbow is appropriate or a professional dress equivalent.”

What? An elderly male judge presuming to tell female professionals what they should or shouldn’t wear?

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz:

Is it fair and respectful for judges to require female lawyers to adopt the same dress standards as male lawyers in the courtroom? Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Everybody Connected With This Ridiculous Story


"Just remove that offensive bumper sticker, sir, and they'll be no trouble."

“Just remove that offensive bumper sticker, sir, and they’ll be no trouble.”

USA Today, NBC, Yahoo! and other news outlets are snickering as they report the story of an elderly couple pulled over by two police cars in Tennessee because a Buckeye leaf decal on their car, signifying their fealty to the Ohio State football team, was mistaken for a marijuana leaf by the men in blue. “What are you doing with a marijuana sticker on your bumper?” one of the cops asked the Jonas-Boggionis, the occupants of the vehicle. It was all a big misunderstanding! Boy, are those Tennessee cops dumb, not to be able to tell a Buckeye leaf from pot!

In classic “what’s wrong with this story?” fashion, not one of the news media reports, in their hilarity over the cops stopping the couple out of official botanical and sports ignorance, noted  that the police would have been just as wrong if the decal DID portray a marijuana leaf. It’s called the First Amendment, guys—perhaps you’ve heard of it? It’s the same Constitutional amendment that allows you media reporters to do the rotten, incompetent job you do covering the news without  being declared by law to be the menace to a free and informed society you are. You know, it might be helpful, when the police engage in a blatant First Amendment violation and abuse of state power, for reporters to recognize and explain it to the public as such, rather than make the news story about how the police stopped the Jonas-Boggionis for the “wrong reason.” Even if they had stopped it for what the stories say is the right reason, it would be the wrong reason. Continue reading

In Tennessee, the Tea Party Tries An Anti-Chris Rock

The fine art of whitewashing, brought to you by Tennessee’s tea parties.

It might have been Chris Rock’s anti-Fourth of July tweet, or perhaps because there hadn’t been enough news stories making tea party members look racist or foolish (though there have), but suddenly Salon and other left-leaning websites started publicizing an 19 month-old press conference by Tennessee tea parties demanding that the Tennessee legislature pass a law that would whitewash American history, particularly as it applies to the Founders. From a report in the Commercial Appeal from January of 2011:

“Hal Rounds, spokesman for the group, recently claimed at news conference that there was ‘an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the Founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.’ As a result, the Tea Party organizations argue, there should be ‘no portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.’ ‘The thing we need to focus on about the Founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at,’ Rounds explained of his interpretation of the legacy of the Founding Fathers.”

There is a lot of useful information to be extracted from this remarkable theory, some with ethics ramifications, and some without. Among the non-ethical conclusions are that… Continue reading