An Unethical Website, Golden Rule Malpractice And The Worst Anti-Bullying Program Ever


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The Golden Rule is a valuable ethics tool. No question about it. Its best feature is that it compels an ethical point of view, causing us to think about the impact of one’s conduct on others. This simple shift of perspective—that’s the other virtue of the Golden Rule: it’s simple; a child can understand it—-distances us from the powerful ethics alarms-muffling effects of non-ethical considerations, which are primarily our subjective wants and needs, and forces us to look past them to more ethical objectives.

The Golden Rule is not, however, a panacea, or even the most useful ethical system. It doesn’t work in complex systems , or when multiple inter-related interests are involved, or when chaos looms. You can’t run a successful business, organization or nation using only the Golden Rule; you can’t have a coherent legal system, or the rule of law, or a banking system. Yet there are a lot of people, many of them with advanced degrees, best-selling books and millions of followers, who continue to practice Golden Rule malpractice and preach that it will solve all society’s ills, despite the fact that the most cursory examination of history and human nature makes it blindingly clear that much as we would wish it otherwise, this just isn’t true. Some of these people are well-meaning, good-hearted chumps. Some are insane. Many are fanatics. Some of them are con-artists. All of them are dangerous.

The latter was illustrated when the fifth-graders in Lincoln, Nebraska’s Zeman Elementary School received flyers on how to deal with bullying. (To get the side issues this blog deals with periodically out of the way at the outset, the incompetent and naive advice the flyer contained is one of an endless number of examples of how the education establishment is inadequately trained, staffed and regulated to be trusted with the welfare of young children, and how any parent who blithely entrusts their offspring to public schools without monitoring them closely is irresponsible, because teachers and school administrators cannot be trusted to exercise good judgment.) The flyer contained some “rules” for bullied children to apply after and during bullying episodes. The flyer was disavowed after the Lincoln, Nebraska school system’s Facebook page melted from the abuse poured on it by shocked and disgusted parents, and so far, at least, nobody has transcribed all of what is barely readable on this photo of it, and I don’t see or type well enough to do it myself: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: “Ethics Dunce: An Unknown Diner”…. Just Desserts?

What would Jesus do if he got a crappy card like this instead of a fair tip?

The tale of the diner who left a pre-printed proselytizing card, disguised to look like a $10 bill, in lieu of a tip has attracted a surprising amount of interest on other sites. (The card began, “Some things are better than money…like your eternal salvation,” and went on to extol the benefits of religion.) Some of the comments raise ethical issues of their own. On Reddit, this interesting exchange occurred:

First Commenter: “I had a table of four leave me one of these and sixteen cents on their $40+ bill. The next time that they came in, which was the next Sunday after their church service they were completely ignored by all staff including managers. Forty minutes for their drinks, an hour and a half for their food, and a swift walk-by to throw the bill on their table was their service from then on.”

Second Commenter: What you SHOULD have done is this: Made their order, brought it to them, then, just as they were about to start eating, you should’ve taken the food away and replaced it with a piece of paper that said SOME THINGS ARE BETTER THAN FOOD…

Third Commenter: And did that make you feel good? Why not just refuse them service?

 First Commenter: Couldn’t actually refuse service for corporate bullshit reasons. This was a chain restaurant. Trust me we all wanted to tell them to GTFO and take their proselytizing bullshit with them. And yes it made every employee feel good to treat them like shit. Servers work for less than half of minimum wage, and a religious pamphlet does not help pay the bills.

Your Ethics Quiz to begin Thanksgiving week is a multiple choice: Which of the responses to the card is the ethical one?

Possible Answers:

1. Giving the group lousy and rude service.

2. Leaving the ironic message after taking awy their food.

3. Refusing them service.

4. None of them. Continue reading

Comments of the Day: “Bully Ethics…”

I was in New York all day, and returned to find a plethora of excellent comments on the post, “Bully Ethics: Lessons from Casey the Punisher.” Two of the finest follow, and they go well together: Michael on the dilemma facing the bullied child, and Lianne on her family’s solution.

First, Michael:

“Bullies only understand violence. If you are being bullied, how can you stop it? Continue reading

Bully Ethics: Lessons From “Casey the Punisher”


Go get him, Ralphie!

The YouTube video of the tormented 16-year-old Australian student who provides a surprise ending to a 12-year-old bully’s fun at his expense by suddenly slamming the younger boy to the ground—breaking the bully’s ankle in the process— has set off an international debate that could help clarify some important ethical dilemmas regarding bullying, or muddle them further.


The video shows a heavy teen, one who classmates say has been bullied by other children for years, enduring repeated punches by a smaller student as his humiliation is being videoed for posterity. Then, emulating Ralphie’s sudden rage against the evil Scut Farkus in one of “A Christmas Story’s” iconic scenes, he suddenly fights back…and how. Continue reading