The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 1)

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2014 was the year of the Ethics Train Wreck. They were coming so fast that they were getting tangled up with each other, and old wrecks from past years started rolling again, or the damage that was triggered a year ago or more started kicking in. I don’t know if every year really is more ethics free than the year before, or that it just feels that way because I’m getting better at sniffing it out. By any standards, it was a wretched year, with epic ethical misconduct across the culture. But I can’t stall any more: let’s wade into it. There will be more installments this year, so the misery is coming in smaller bites. You’re welcome.

Ethics Train Wreck of the Year

trainwreck

It’s a tie!

The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck and The Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck

The obvious winner is the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, which has managed to hook up with the 2012 winner, The Trayvon Martin- George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck, as well as a the sub-EthicsTrain Wreck attached to the death of Eric Garner, to further degrade U.S. race relations, undermine the stability of numerous cities, get several people, including the recently assassinated NYC police officers killed, revive race riots, give vile demagogue Al Sharpton unprecedented power and influence, and pick up such distinguished riders as President Obama,  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, New York Mayor de Blasio. It is also still barreling along at top speed after many months, and is a good bet to continue its carnage well into 2015. 

Yet, it became clear to me this summer with this post that the entire Obama Administration has become an Ethics Train Wreck, and one that is neck-and-neck with the one spawned in Ferguson in threatening short and long-term damage. Incompetence, dishonestly, lack of transparency and arrogance have hardened cynicism in the public, corrupted the ethical values of defenders, let journalists to disgrace themselves, and fertilized festering potential disasters internationally and domestically. This is also, I now see, a wreck of long duration that started in 2009, and had gathered momentum with every year. It also has sparked other wrecks, including the one that now keeps it from being the sole 2014 winner. How much damage will The Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck do in 2015? Which agency or department will prove itself to be corrupt, incompetent and mismanaged, which official will continue in a post after proving himself unfit to serve, which inept pronouncement or abuse of power will further degrade American trust and freedom?

I’m not looking forward to learning the answers.

Fraud of the Year

The U.S. Justice Department, which allegedly participated in a plot to force  Sierra Pacific Industries and other defendants  to pay $55 million to the United States over a period of five years and transfer 22,500 acres of land as settlement of charges brought against the company by DOJ for causing a 2007 wildfire that destroyed 65,000 acres of land in California. Naturally, the national news media has barely covered this scandal, which is still in litigation. Runner Up: The Victoria Wilcher scam, which made KFC pay for plastic surgery for a little girl when there was no evidence that the company was in any way involved with her injuries. After the fraud was discovered, it didn’t dare ask for its money back. Well played, fraudsters! Continue reading

Second KABOOM! of the Day: The Worst Example of “No-Tolerance” Ever

Not again!!!!

Not again!!!!

Sometimes it seems as if there is a team of fiction writers concocting absurd school no-tolerance scenarios just to see what idiocy the news media will believe. Unfortunately, the topic defies parody, and now, just as I cleaned my office up after the cranial detonation earlier today, there is this:

At Bayside Middle School, in Virginia Beach,* Virginia, sixth grader Adrionna Harris saw a classmate cutting his arm with a razor blade. She took the blade from the student, threw it away and persuaded him that what he was doing dangerous and wrong. Then she told the school’s administration about the incident. Because saving the boy from serious harm required her handling a dangerous weapon on school grounds, Adrionna received  a 10 day suspension with recommendation for expulsion.

KABOOM!

In an example of the news media’s  remarkable facility for misunderstanding just about anything, a local TV station reporting on this story asked, “Was the school’s zero tolerance policy taken too far?” Yes, for all you idiots and teachers out there, was this the right thing to do?  What a stupid, stupid, question. Of course it wasn’t. Of course the school’s zero tolerance policy was taken too far. Any no-tolerance policy is by definition “taken too far” because it eliminates common sense and discretion (assuming that school personnel are capable of either) and leads to fiascos like this. That is not the question raised by the episode. Note to our sad and incompetent journalists: if you can’t do better than that, just report the news and shut up. You aren’t helping.

Among the legitimate and urgent questions that are raised by what happened to Adrionna Harris are these: Continue reading

When Unethical Meets Stupid

Cuation! Moron at Work.

Pilots flying multi-million dollar aircraft to Navy Air Station Oceana say that beams coming from laser pointers are blinding them as they make their approach. The Navy says there has been a sharp increase in the number of laser sightings within the last 18 months. “You’re getting ready to land–you’re getting ready to go through a number of steps configuring the airplane to touchdown. In the two-seaters, there aren’t any sticks in the back. So if you lose the ability to fly it in proximity to the ground, it gets pretty dangerous,” says Webb. In short, the laser pointers are risking military planes and lives. Continue reading