One More Time…Ethics Dunce: California, And Its “Jumbo” Culture

Has any state…heck, has any 10-year-old’s tree house club…had as many terrible ideas as California? No wonder its presidential vote single-handedly gave the popular vote to Hillary. And the United States is supposed to allow itself to be the dog wagged by this Bizarro World ethics culture?

The latest: Under a bill now heading through the California State Legislature, millions of criminal Californians who have misdemeanor or lower-level felony records would have their criminal records officially sealed from public view once they completed prison or jail sentences. I’m shocked to read that the legislation would not apply to people convicted of committing  murder or rape. Well, give the Golden State time.

We are told with a sniff and a tear that in the United States, a record showing a criminal conviction or even an arrest that does not lead to a conviction can make it difficult for someone to find a jobs, rent an apartment or obtain professional license. Well, that’s because conduct has consequences, and in particular breaking trust has consequences. Society is based on mutual trust. Committing criminal acts raises reasonable doubts in society as to whether an individual can be trusted to–let’s see, handle money for an employer, follow rules, meet financial obligations or serve in a professional capacity, the primary requirement of which is trustworthiness.

Simply because someone has been in jail doesn’t mean they have become more trustworthy. Why would it? So under California’s brilliant scheme, a bank could hire a convicted embezzler as a bank teller. A law school could hire a convicted bank-robber as a law pro—oops. Sorry. My alma mater already did that. But at least it had the opportunity to know what it was doing.

This is kindergarten easy: if I am going to trust someone with my business or my property, I have a right to know who that person is, and if he or she has a record of warranting trust. The fact that convicted criminals have a tough time doesn’t mean I should be put at risk. They committed the crime, why are the citizens who haven’t broken any laws being forced to take risks they don’t want to take? Continue reading

Ethics Lessons of The Peter Chang “Plad Asshole” Affair…And No, One Of Them Isn’t “Always Serve Rice In Individual Bowls”

Peter Chang: Chef, ethical restaurant owner, tough father...

Peter Chang: Chef, ethical restaurant owner, tough father...

In my metaphorical back yard, a kerfuffle over whether Chinese restaurants should serve rice  in individual bowls or family style resulted in bad publicity for a burgeoning restaurant chain, a family rift, some lost jobs, and an internet controversy.

I almost missed the last part. Luckily, my issue scout Fred misses nothing.

It unfolded thusly:

A group of four diners at the Peter Chang restaurant in Arlington, Virginia included a man who had lived in Beijing, and he expressed  surprise when the obligatory steamed rice arrived at their table in one large bowl.  He asked, “‘Oh, you guys don’t serve them in individual rice bowls?'” The server told the group that when rice is served to three or more diners at Peter Chang, it comes in a large bowl.

After the former Beijing resident (later termed “the know-it-all” in the ensuing social media debates) noted that it was an odd choice, considering that personalized bowls  were the norm in China, the server then offered to bring individual rice bowls instead. The group declined.

Oh…for some reason, three of the four men were in plaid jackets. Believe it or not, this detail is relevant.

When the diners received their bill, they saw that it had insulting typed commentary on it as well:  “im a plad asshole” and “i have a small penis”:

peter-chang-bill

When they complained to the manager, he apologized and brought out the two servers responsible for the typed insults on the point-of-sale slip. One of the diners told the Washington Post that the manager and the server appeared embarrassed but not contrite. “It was just a joke” and “You weren’t supposed to see it” described their attitude, he said. Continue reading

Apology Ethics 2: Is This A Legitimate Excuse? Does It Matter?

Skydiving

Tom Angel was chief of staff for the Los Angeles County sheriff until emails he had sent to friends four years ago, prior to becoming the sheriff’s top aide, denigrating several different groups of minorities including Muslims, Catholics and Latinos surfaced in the media. Now Angel  has resigned.

His boss, Sheriff Jim McDonnell,  announced the departure  in a statement posted to Facebook that called the messages “inappropriate and unprofessional.”  That was fair.

Originally, the department defended Angel, saying in part,

“Although his judgment in this situation is of concern to members of the Sheriff’s Department, no one is more distressed about it than Chief Angel himself.  His apologies for this uncharacteristic act have been profuse and sincere. Chief Angel’s decision-making and actions in his long prior career with the Sheriff’s Department and since his return in 2015 reveal more about his actual character and typical good judgment than the instances from four years prior currently reported in the media.”

It didn’t work, especially after Angel’s apology, quoted in the LA Times, was this:

“Anybody in the workplace unfortunately forwards emails from time to time that they probably shouldn’t have forwarded. I apologize if I offended anybody, but the intent was not for the public to have seen these jokes.”

Should that have been sufficient? Continue reading

The Irony Of Wikileaks: Yes, It Is Despicable…But It’s Still Useful To Know That PBS, Ben Affleck And Prof. Henry Lewis Gates Are Despicable Too.

Batman is ashamed of you, Ben...

Batman is ashamed of you, Ben…

Once a secret is out, it isn’t a secret any more. Once privacy is shattered, it’s gone: that egg can’t be put back together again. I wish Sony’s e-mails hadn’t been hacked: everyone who isn’t operating under a policy that mandates that their communications must be archived and available for media and public examination, like, oh, say, Hillary Clinton, has a right to have private business and personal communication.

Julian Assange is a fick, and an uncommonly arrogant one. He encourages, aids and abets the theft of proprietary information in the interests of world anarchy, which is in the interests of nobody. So let’s see now…North Korea hacks Sony to chill our First Amendment rights, and Wikileaks helps magnify the damage by spreading private e-mails and documents far and wide.

Yechhh.

But it’s all out there now, and there is no virtue in averting our eyes and plugging our ears. There is a lot of unethical conduct exposed in those 30,000 documents and 170,000 emails hacked from Sony, and while the means by which it was exposed was illegal and wrong, we should still learn from what is now public information.

The fact that PBS and Harvard prof Henry Louis Gates Jr. can’t be trusted, for example, is good to know. Continue reading

Two and a Half More Rationalizations: “The Hillary Inoculation,” “The Unethical Tree in the Forest,” and a Sub-Category of “The King’s Pass”

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“There are more rationalizations in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

It certainly seems so, Hamlet.

And stop calling me “Horatio”!

While writing about the McDonnells, I found myself citing some obvious and common rationalizations that I discovered (to me shame and embarrassment)  had never been added to the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List, which two days ago stood at an even 40. I wrote them up and added then, placing “The Unethical Tree in the Forest” at #10, since it is so common, and designating the other, “I deserve this,” as a sub-category under “The King’s Pass,”at #11 (a). Then, in today’s comments to yesterday’s post about the perfect Naked Teacher (if only all those who clicked on that post were just slightly interested in ethics!), came a ridiculous argument that I immediately recognized as particularly infuriating rationalization I had heard before, too often, in the days when Democrats were churning out rationalizations like the chocolates on Lucy’s conveyor belt. I have dubbed it “The Hillary Inoculation.” These put the current count of rationalizations at forty-two, and a half. Here are the new additions.

Learn to recognize them, but don’t use them.

10. The Unethical Tree in the Forest, or “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” Continue reading