Archive for the ‘Ethics-general’ Category

These heroes saved the Union 150 years ago today

July 2, 2013

little round top summitAn important responsibility of citizenship it to understand our history and acknowledge our debts to the people who came before us. My friend, Jack Marshall  (ethicsalarms.com) reminds us that today, July 2, is the 150th anniversary of the second day of the battle of Gettysburg.

We Americans are taught that Abraham Lincoln saved the Union. Yes, he did, but it was about to be lost on July 2, 1863, until the Twentieth Maine Volunteers, commanded by Col. Joshua Chamberlain, defeated a major Confederate attempt to turn the Union’s flank at Little Round Top. Many historians believe the desperate counterattack by the Maine unit is what really saved the Union. Read about Little Round Top here.

 

In today’s Ethics Alarms column Jack Marshall describes how the credit really needs to be shared with the heroic First Minnesota. Read and marvel at what we owe to the unquestioning valor and sacrifice of these American citizen soldiers.

The NY Times “Ethicist” says stealing is OK if it’s only “technical” stealing. Well, not 100 per cent OK, but 96 per cent.

June 30, 2013

stealing plantsChuck Klosterman, who the Times labels “The Ethicist,” absolved a couple who took several cuttings from plants in a shopping center to transplant on their patio. He explains that since the owner of the plants was not damaged, then no harm, no foul:

“So here is my analysis: you technically stole, you technically committed vandalism and you should have asked the shopping center’s permission before trying this unethical act… But if I were to place unethical acts on an ascending continuum of 1 to 100, I’d give you and your wife a 4. Maybe a 3.”

The Ethicist is sliding down a slippery slope. Is an act that rates 4/100 on an unethics scale OK? How about a five? Perhaps he would settle for an unethics score of 49/100 as acceptable: that would say it’s OK to steal (or lie or cheat?) if the offense isn’t more than halfway to total lack of integrity.

Slippery slopes are hard to negotiate. Clarity of principles makes for easier decision making. When it comes to stealing I’d recommend my formula over The Ethicist’s. It’s one of my unenforceables:

What’s not mine is not mine.

Simple, huh? I think The Ethicist would give it a perfect unethics score of zero.

 

Is it ethical to eat Chick-fil-A?

June 29, 2013

Dan-Cathy-Chick-Fil-A-DOMA-Tweet-520x400The other night I attended the grand opening of Westwood Village’s newest restaurant, a Chick-fil-A. C.R., the young owner (all, or most of the brand’s restaurants are privately owned), welcomed us with warmth and excitement at starting his own business in a friendly new—to him—city.

After speeches and music we were treated to a sampler of all the wares, from three kinds of chicken sandwiches to salads, yogurt parfaits, and finally the richest chocolate chunk (not measly chip) cookies to send us on our way.

But when I told my daughter Lisa about the event she scowled and proclaimed that she wouldn’t patronize a homophobic business like Chick-fil-A.

I protested that the views were those of the company president, Dan Cathy, not of the corporation, and I’d be shocked if individual store owners like C.R. harbored anti-gay sentiments.

But now I wonder, is it ethical to patronize a business whose owner promotes views that are abhorrent to me?

Cathy was brought up in the Bible belt with biblical warnings about the evil (more…)

What in the world is going on in Turkey?

June 24, 2013

Turkey demosFour weeks ago a small group of environmentally-minded Turks staged a demonstration, or an occupation, of tiny Gezi park in Istanbul, where the government had stated its intent to build a replica of an Ottoman-era barracks to house a shopping mall.

The government responded by attacking the protesters violently with water cannon and tear gas. The disproportionate attack on the peaceful protesters crystallized widespread hostility to the government of Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdoğan (pronounced ER-duh-wan). The protests grew and spread all over Turkey, and everywhere the protesters were met by violent police action. So far five have died, and the protests have died down.

Erdoğan blames the trouble on outsiders, including CNN and the “interest lobby,” and has called out his supporters into massive counter demonstrations.

Erdoğan was first elected to head the government in 2002, with 34% of the vote. He was reelected in 2007 with 46%, and again in 2011 with just under 50% of the votes cast. He is a practicing Muslim—rare for a Turkish leader—and has steadily moved to make Turkish society more congenial to pious Muslims. He wants to amend the Constitution to allow women to wear headscarves in public buildings (now forbidden), and has had laws passed that allow early religious instruction in elementary school, limit the sale of alcohol, and has proposed bans on abortion and even on kissing in public.

Some fear Erdoğan’s goal is to introduce Sharia law, a la Iran or Saudi Arabia, while others (including The Economist) call him a “moderate Islamist” and believe his intent is simply to (more…)

Ethics, Religion, and Father Greg Boyle, SJ

April 15, 2013

SolidarityBusiness ethics students often ask me what’s the connection between ethics and religion, and I stumble to answer, something like all religions share the Golden Rule, which is the heart of ethics. As Hillel said in the 1st century, “All else is commentary.”

And at the heart of the Golden Rule is the ability to see others as like you, not as “other.” Father Greg Boyle, SJ, must be the world champion at seeing others this way. And he does this in the unlikeliest of environments: the Latino gangland of South Los Angeles, where he ministers to/saves/employs/buries—and most of all, loves—gang members and ex-gang members, most of them covered in tattoos and recently released from incarceration. He created Homeboy Industries, which has given thousands on gang members a path to employment and responsibility.

I first heard Greg Boyle (“G-dog” to his “homies”) being interviewed by Krista Tippett on her “On Being” radio show. He’s such a compelling person that I immediately ordered and read his memoir, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. He’s (obviously) religious and I am not, but his steadfast belief that we are all the same before God is an attitude all of us, believers and not, could strive for. He calls his God “not the ‘one false move’ God but the ‘no matter what’ God.”

The book is heartwarming, funny, heartbreaking, and page-turning. Father Boyle is a man of unbelievable courage, love, compassion, and faith. And a heckuva storyteller.


Special offer on ethics seminars, and on The Ethics Challenge

March 8, 2013

Jiminy1) I’ll visit your workplace or school and do a pro bono seminar on either

  • The Ethics Challenge: Essential Skills for Leading and Living, or
  •  The ABCs of Ethical Leadership

If the seminar is out of the LA commuting area I’ll ask you to cover my reasonable expenses.

2) Alternatively (or in addition), you can buy my latest book(co-authored with Mick Ukleja) in hard cover for only $10, with free shipping.

Here are the details on the offers:

Seminars: email me at bobstone17@gmail.com to make arrangements, for (more…)

Subway’s ‘FOOTLONG’ is a description, not a measurement

January 28, 2013

 

Subway footlongYears ago on a cold day I bought a hot dog from a vendor outside Philadelphia’s Franklin Field, and after biting into it and getting a chill in my teeth I asked the boy who sold it how he could call it a HOT dog when it wasn’t even warm. He responded, “It’s just the NAME, not the TEMP-A-CHOOR.”

Two years ago the boy’s remark was topped by a spokesman for then-Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ), who explained an outrageous lie that the Senator had told about Planned Parenthood, ‘his remark was not intended to be a factual statement.

And now Subway (Australia), whose footlong sandwiches have been discovered to be only eleven inches long, gave their explanation: ” ‘SUBWAY FOOTLONG’ is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway Restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length.”

(Thanks to New York Post for the photo)

 

Should you beware of your tour guide? Even in Turkey?

January 2, 2013

 

150 RustemP P1000074I think Turks are more honest than most, and I’ve written several times about how hard it is to lose a wallet in Turkey because some Turk will always pick it up and track you down to return it. In contrast, when a friend lost her wallet in front of the Whole Foods market in Westwood—an upscale part of Los Angeles, right by UCLA—it vanished without a trace. I wouldn’t be surprised if Turkey was the only place in the world where you just can’t lose a wallet.

So what to think when Today’s Zaman, Turkey’s top English language newspaper, runs an exposé headlined, “Beware of your tour guide”?

The article, along with a follow-on piece, gives several examples of

“tourists who are taken advantage of by a licensed, professional tour guide, someone who they have hired to show them the historic sites of the city, who builds up a sense of trust and who then knowingly fleeces them out of additional money after they have already paid a sometimes hefty fee for a guided tour.”

The scams mainly involve kickbacks from shops and restaurants who jack up their prices and share the loot with the unscrupulous guides who bring the poor trusting tourists to be fleeced.

So should you beware? No and yes. No, because you’ll forego an enriching experience if the warning makes you avoid guides altogether. Some of my most rewarding travel experiences have been with licensed guides, particularly Arzu Tutuk Altinay in Istanbul and Atil Ulas Cuce in Cappadocia.

But yes as well. Use common sense, check them out, and don’t give someone you don’t know carte blanche to choose your restaurant, carpet dealer, jeweler, or spice shop. Even in a country where honesty predominates there are sharpies and crooks looking for you. So hire a guide, be enriched by the knowledge she has, and—always—think for yourself.

 

 

Zero Dark Thirty: Did torture lead us to Osama bin Laden?

December 21, 2012

zero-dark-thirty-2012-img02See Zero Dark Thirty. It’s a terrific yarn about the search for Osama bin Laden and about the remarkable raid that killed him. Jessica Chastain is perfect as the real-life CIA agent assigned to the case as a rookie. She starts, sensibly enough, with little confidence, but steadily grows into a single-minded pain-in-the-ass who won’t let anybody, up to the director, get in the way of her search. When the CIA director is finally told that the Agency is “60 per cent confident” of bin Laden’s hiding place, Chastain shouts from the back row, “It’s 100 per cent certain.”

The movie starts with a CIA agent torturing a detainee, with Chastain looking on nervously. There is a strong implication that torture produced information that had an important role in finding UBL, as bin Laden is known in the film.

Now there is a firestorm swirling around the movie, with senators knowledgeable in intelligence arguing that torture played no part in finding UBL, and the neocons and the right arguing that of course it did.

So did it?

The film’s director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal issued this statement:

“This was a 10-year intelligence operation brought to the screen in a two-and-a-half-hour film. We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden. The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible (more…)

Romney’s little joke, heh heh: “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate”

August 24, 2012

How do you encourage the right-wing idiocy that Obama was born in Kenya and thus an illegitimate President, while not getting the tar of hate on yourself? Why, by making a little “joke” about it, like Mitt Romney did today while campaigning in Michigan.

“I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born in Harper Hospital,” Romney said. “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”

The text says I’m one of you. The subtext says my opponent is an “other,’ not like us at all. Romney, who is used to getting away with irresponsible language in his prepared texts, often shows his true self when ad libbing. His prepared texts say that he knows that Obama was born in the United States. His true self says, encourage the crazies to hate Obama and to vote for me.

<a href=”http://www.hypersmash.com”>www.hypersmash.com</a&gt;


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