The Hays Code


One of my favorite things in the world is to watch pre-code films. Before the Hays Code was adopted to stave off congressional censorship of films, there was an era of adult talk and intelligent plotting in motion pictures. I like both those things. The Pre-Code era ended in 1934 and we all suffered for it.

The effect of the Hays Code was felt on television far longer than in the motion picture industry. That’s why two single beds in a married couple’s home were the rule until “The New Dick Van Dyke Show.” That’s why we were flooded with widowers like Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show) because people aren’t supposed to divorce or separate so it was easier just to kill off the woman.

You could argue that profanity and sex – and many other things should be censored. I disagree. Many awful things are part of our lives and can be discussed. There are things that should be censored like reality shows. I don’t mean specific lines. Reality shows should not exist. Putting television cameras on real people who are exorted to act out is detrimental to the viewers, the victims and everyone else. Watching an episode of “Survivor” was one of the worst experiences of my life. The people were placed on an island to plot, connive, cheat and lie for the amusement of the viewer. It was pathetically degrading.

The ethics of censorship in films and television are an enormously complex area of analysis. I’d like to talk about it some more in the future. Gene Roddenberry used to write about executives constantly interfering with his science fiction programming and his comments were the beginning of my interest in television censorship.

I’ve got a link below to a young gentleman who has made a film about the Hays Code and its effect on four motion pictures. In my opinion, he did a great job and I found his ideas compelling. So please give it a watch. I hope to see more of his work.

James Pilant

4 Cinematic Victims of Hays Code Era Censorship

What You Say Can Define You as a Racist.


When I was a little boy about the time they were using high power on peaceful black marchers in the south, I remember watching on television people saying that all though they opposed black people voting and using the same schools and sidewalks as whites that they weren’t racist.
This has continued to the present day. Apparently virtually no act and nothing said can define one as a racist according to these people. 
Werner Horn, a legislator from New Hampshire, says that owning slaves doesn’t make you racist. 
Much like a Salvador Dali painting, we have arrived at a point at which all reality is simply melting like so many clocks. 
Horn says that it was an economic decision. No, it is a crime against man and God. It is a savage act that defines one for all time as a depraved monster and, yes, a racist. 
That slavery was legal means nothing morally and ethically. That many people did it is no more a justification than it is for anything else. That those that held slaves were once important members of the government and did great things does not excuse their behavior. Slavery is wrong and the very definition of racism. 
That in the beginning of the 21st Century, that I feel it necessary to reiterate the basic moral rules around racism is a pitiful statement concerning our public discourse. This is a difficult time in America but I believe there will be better times in the future where Americans will realize their purpose and better heritage. 
James Pilant

Broken Heart Syndrome


What does business ethics have to do with broken heart syndrome? Quite a lot. You see we live in a world where there are many who want to tell you that we are individual atoms, or self interest seeking enlightened or patrons of choice – or some other nonsense. The actual facts are very simple. We are a cooperative species and our love, our kindness and empathy are major factors in the quality of our lives. That self seeking greed is an empty life of callous destruction and that we can see this every day in the lives of our ruling class.

Here we have a study showing a likely relationship between a broken heart and cancer. Well, of course, there is. We are not make of stone except in Randian fantasies and “kick them in the teeth” diatribes about getting ahead.

I want you to understand that many of the best things in life are about family and nation and togetherness and cooperation and faith in each other. I know these values are often hard to hold on to in the face of the public evils indulged by our current leadership. Having faith in American and its people in spite of what has been happening may seem foolish. But it is a foolishness I intent to practice and I urge you to do the same.

James Pilant

Broken heart syndrome and cancer are connected, scientists say

Catch Up


Catch Up
The ability to hit a person with thousands, perhaps, hundreds of thousands, of social media attacks is a new phenomenon in law and we haven’t adapted to it yet. 
The appalling mistreatment of Sandy Hook parents by conspiracy theorists and various cranks have resulted in little action so far. 
But that will change. 
The law is in process in dealing with the problem. It takes time but we are starting to see the first successful libel actions and this decision. 
Remember that scandal magazines were once a thing in Hollywood but changes in the law made that kind of operation almost impossible to maintain. 
Be a participant in this. As the law develops let your voice be heard to defend free speech but also to demand accountability to lies and libel. 
James Pilant

Federal magistrate says Jewish woman should get $14 million from neo-Nazi who orchestrated troll-storm

Beyond Planned Obsolescence


Italy’s Competition Authority has fined both Apple and Samsung the maximum amounts possible for deliberately slowing the performance of their phones with the apparent intent of motivating the owners to replace them with newer, pricier phones. 
Both firms provided updates to phones that caused malfunctions and lowered the speed. Neither firm provided any means by which the phones could be restored to their previous capabilities. 
Planned Obsolescence is where you deliberately design a product to only last a limited amount of time. Common with automobiles and similar products, it has been far less practiced in consumer electronics since the products’ capabilities have developed so quickly. 
However, when money is involved, what is unnecessary may still be profitable. They took their own products and handicapped their capabilities so they would reap greater profits when they were replaced. 
Simply put, this is not good business ethics. It is the direct opposite – manipulating customers to buy under the pretence that their phones were too slow – when the update provided by the manufacturer created the problem in the first place. This is stealing and certainly causes one to have serious doubts about the trustworthiness of the companies involved. 
James Pilant

Trolling and Discord!


 

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-were-sharing-3-million-russian-troll-tweets/

“FiveThirtyEight has obtained nearly 3 million tweets from accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency. To our knowledge, it’s the fullest empirical record to date of Russian trolls’ actions on social media, showing a relentless and systematic onslaught. In concert with the researchers who first pulled the tweets, FiveThirtyEight is uploading them to GitHub so that others can explore the data for themselves.”

This is fascinating. Here you can see how the Russian Troll Tweets were targeted and used. You get to look at the data yourself and see what you think. I have to tell you “three million tweets are a lot of tweets.”
This was an endeavor set up by the Russian government to cause discord.
So, why am I, Mr. Business Ethics, talking about it and asking you to think about it.
Because spreading outrage and lies is an Internet business model, and a very successful one. People are building little information empires based on making stuff up. Even worse are those designed to cause discord.
I’m a Methodist. Part of the Methodist doctrine is respect for thing called “the ties that bind.” These are the unifying elements in the church, the family and the larger society.
Societies, towns, states and nations are actually fragile collections of people attempting to share resources, maintain order and accomplish some larger goal like living long lives with some security.
There are people who like to mess that up. Shock jocks on radio and ranting conspiracy theorists are often simply trying to get you mad. Angry people don’t think but they do listen to a lot of radio and watch talking heads on television – both of which I strongly recommend against.
The brain is stimulated and developed by reading and thought. Television is more like a sustained diet of high fructose corn syrup and is better left alone.
Anyway, learn more about trolling, particularly how to spot it. Become aware that what you feed your brain is critical to its well being and that we live in societies that need constant maintenance and care to function.
James Pilant

Non-Profits can be Profitable


“Tiffany Carr runs the state’s top domestic violence organization, a nonprofit that uses public money — state and federal — to finance shelters and other essential services. And she makes a good living.

How good? In a June 30, 2017 report, the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence disclosed she is paid $761,560 annually, a salary that is approved by its board. She hit that mark after receiving pay raises totaling $313,475 over a two-year period.” (This is a quote from the article with a link at the bottom of the page.) 

 

Ah, the wonders of privatization! Now, privatization is based on the idea that the private sector can do anything better than the public sector. That’s not true. But it is one of the tenets of semi-religious Neo-Liberalistic beliefs held by the elites of our government, the educational system and the business world. And so, of course, it must be true and we’re going to do privatization no matter what contrary evidence appears.
Now, we are talking here about a “non-profit.” That is one of the strangest words in the modern American dystopia we live in today. Tiffany Carr makes three quarters of a million dollars a year running a “non-profit.” That sounds pretty profitable to me. And usually when I see the word, non-profit, it is in a news article discussing hundred or millions or billions of dollars, so I can’t help but feel the word doesn’t mean what I think it does.
You see the state of Florida decided that they should run their state funds through a private organization and the world would be a much better place. And they are absolutely right. In the old world state employees were paid small salaries and worked to prevent domestic violence. Now private employees can be paid six figure salaries, and work to prevent domestic violence.
The state of Florida routes federal money through the organization as well as substantial state funds. Now call me petty, but I can’t help but wonder how successful the organization is at combating domestic violence. So, I went and looked for numbers and there are just bunches of stuff on shelter days and developed plans but my foolish question of “Is domestic violence going up or down?” is not readily apparent from my search results.
Of course, that’s not the point of privatization. A public school or a public domestic violence response by state employees doesn’t really yield up money or influence. But a privatized agency paying six figure salaries can reward your friends and result in annual campaign contributions. It’s wonderful and much better than that public service thing.
This is about money and how public money can be used to reward and enhance political power. Whether or not it works any better than the public institutions is irrelevant. It is much better deal for those in power.
So, we’re going to see a lot more “non-profits” and privatization – a lot more.

The Responsibility Edition


The Responsibility Edition

It’s a badly broken system when overseas hackers can make tons of money gaming the American political system. Facebook and Google want to claim that the lies and click bait that has been marketed across their services are not their responsibility. But when it has become obvious that that holocaust deniers have successfully gamed the system and democracy is literally under threat from manipulation from inventors of fake news, trolls and foreign intelligence services, you have to say enough. We’re a little passed the situation of a high school principal being upset by what his students were saying. We’re at a place where well organized organizations are poisoning the marketplace of ideas and the highways they drive to do this are Google and Facebook.

Google, Twitter and Facebook bear some of the responsibility for the misuse of their platforms and a re-classification of their status to that of publishers is probably necessary for them to assume the mantle of responsibility.

Here is short selection from an article in the Guardian called – Stephen Fry: Facebook and other platforms should be classed as publishers

Stephen Fry has called for Facebook and other “aggregating news agencies” to be reclassified as publishers in order to stop fake news and online abuse spreading by making social media subject to the same legal responsibilities as traditional news websites.

Outlining his “reformation” for the internet, as part of the Hay literary festival’s programme to mark the quincentenary of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses in 1517, Fry accused social media platforms of refusing to “take responsibility for those dangerous, defamatory, inflammatory and fake items whose effects will have legal consequences for traditional printed or broadcast media, but which they can escape”.

“One thesis I could immediately nail up to the tent flag is to call for aggregating news agencies like Facebook to be immediately classified as publishers. At the moment, they are evading responsibility for their content as they can claim to be platforms, rather than publishers. Given that they are now a major source of news for 80% of the population, that is clearly an absurd anomaly,” he said.

“If they, and Twitter and like platforms recognised their responsibilities as publishers, it would certainly help them better police their content for unacceptable libels, defamations, threats and other horrors, that a free belief in the value of the press would, as a matter of course, be expected to control.”

Stephen Fry is right and we should support the re-classification of these Internet services as publishers.

James Pilant

AS ALWAYS PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE – YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH EFFECT THOSE THINGS HAVE ON A WRITER PARTICULARLY OVER LONG PERIODS OF TIME!

The American Airlines Culture Failure


The American Airlines Culture Failure

Just a few days after we saw United Airlines drag a passenger off a flight, another airline, in this case American Airlines, generated social media controversy, and this is notable for several reasons. Apparently, there was a dispute over a stroller and a mother of two got hit perhaps with the stroller by an “American Airlines Staff Member.” And in this case, a passenger intervened and offered violence to the offender. I’m very proud that he did. It might be more economically efficient to allow airline employees to humiliate and injure passengers at will but I am still a man and an American and I don’t like being pushed around and I don’t like seeing other people pushed around. You can see the video by clicking on the link below.

http://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2017/04/22/american-airlines-video-incident-raw.cnn

The American Airlines Culture Failure

There is something wrong with the ethics culture at these two airlines, but probably all the airlines in this nation have a problem.

I was doing a little background research and came up with an article from 1999 called – Airline industry still behaves like oligarchy, despite deregulation from the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Here’s a relevant quote from the article:

A case in point is the issue of who is to blame for the increased delays in air travel. The airlines blame the FAA and the weather. The FAA in turn blames the airlines for impractical scheduling. The real problem is that most of the airlines are not customer focused. They focus on operational efficiency and treat most of us as human freight. In fact, they keep raising the price for us as human freight because we are a lot more inconvenient than the freight they carry in the belly of the plane.

How hard is it to solve this on-time issue with a true “customer focus?” It seems to me there’s a very straightforward solution to this problem. It does, of course, require a focus on the customer–something sorely lacking in the airline industry.

Notwithstanding United Airlines’ ads to the contrary, I can find no evidence of a change in how they, or any other airline, appear to view customers. Passengers just seem to be an impediment to on-time travel.

This little piece of the an article written by Michael Gooz almost a decade ago is still dead on in explaining what the problem is.

And the problem is simple – for the airlines people don’t matter. There are too few airlines so even if you don’t like one if you want to get somewhere you’re going to have to use it and in that market, you can treat people anyway you want. You can overbook, you can throw paying passengers off the plane and if a little violence is necessary to keep the passenger in line, we’re going to have a little violence.

There is a solution. You may not have any leverage with the airline but it is a federally regulated industry and they have to answer to the government. Your one voice may have no effect on the industry but the federal government can outlaw overbooking, regulate when you can be deplaned (or re-accomodated), and they can penalize the airlines with millions in fines for delays and injured passengers.

When corporations get too big for humans to affect individually, the only response that remains is joint action.

James Pilant

The Possum Magic Edition


The Possum Magic Edition

Possum Magic is picture book for children written by Australian author, Mem Fox. As a business ethics writer, you might think I was about to take up the topic of her book, its sales, and whether or not it is a good read.

i_00i_243_tnBut no, it’s because of this – (from the Guardian)

The Australian children’s book author Mem Fox has suggested she might never return to the US after she was detained and insulted by border control agents at Los Angeles airport.

Fox, who is famous worldwide for her best-selling books including Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes and Possum Magic, was en route to a conference in Milwaukee earlier this month when she was stopped.

She told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation she was questioned by border agents for two hours in front of a room full of people – an experience that left her feeling like she had been physically assaulted.

“I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness,” Fox said.

“I felt like I had been physically assaulted which is why, when I got to my hotel room, I completely collapsed and sobbed like a baby, and I’m 70 years old.”

The author attributed the aggressive questioning to border police who had been “turbocharged” by Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban.

Fox said she was questioned over her visa, despite having travelled to America 116 times before without incident. She was eventually granted access to the country.

 

It appears that the ongoing militarization of American policing is proceeding with great speed. Do you really need me to explain that getting tough with a white haired seventy year old children’s book author is bad and incompetent policing? Do I need to say that the two hours spent grilling this elderly woman might have been better spent on an actual criminal justice matter?

Empowered to Act Foolish?

I have read elsewhere that some law enforcement feel empowered by the election of Donald Trump and indeed, they have been doing some interesting things lately. Let’s make a little list:

Let’s begin with the son of Muhammad Ali.

On 7 February, border agents at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood international airport held the son of boxing legend Muhammad Ali for two hours. According to his lawyer, they repeatedly asked him about his religion.

Just last June, the world mourned the passing of his father, perhaps the most famous Muslim on the planet, as an American hero. Eight months and a presidential election later, Muslim Americans, including those with notable fathers, can’t even return to their own country without problems.

But, they keep telling us, it’s not a Muslim ban.

Then there is the case of Henry Rousso who was almost deported in spite of the pesky little fact that he was here legally.

A French historian on his way to a conference in Texas was detained for 10 hours by US border officials and threatened with deportation.

Officials at Texas A&M University said Henry Rousso was going to be returned to Paris as an illegal alien “due to a visa misunderstanding”.

The university stopped the deportation with help from a law professor, local news website The Eagle reported.

President Donald Trump has pledged to tighten US border controls.

“I have been detained 10 hours at Houston International Airport about to be deported,” Mr Rousso, 62, confirmed in a tweet on Saturday.

A British teacher who appears to have been blocked for the “crime” of being Muslim.

British Muslim teacher Juhel Miah was on a school field trip when he was escorted off an Icelandair flight to New York and told he was denied entry into the U.S.

And here’s the case of cinematographer Khaled Khateeb

The Department of Homeland Security has blocked a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer who worked on an Oscar-nominated documentary about the country’s civil war, The White Helmets, from entering the country. The Associated Press saw some “internal Trump administration correspondence” in which officials decided to block Khaled Khateeb’s entry into the United States. Khateeb was scheduled to arrive Saturday in Los Angeles via Istanbul, but U.S. official reportedly found “derogatory information” on Khateeb. “Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from terror connections to passport irregularities,” reports the AP.

Dare to be stupid!

I remember a lovely title that just as soon as I heard it I wished I’d thought of it. It was “Dare to be stupid.” What’s our law enforcement doing? And should we even be using that phrase “our” in front of them? Once they just start doing their own thing, they are not really our law enforcement.

What are these guys doing? Have they seen too many episodes of 24? Is there an idea that if we are rude and mean enough to professionals from allied nations and on occasion, the child of an American icon, terrorists will get scared? Because I think this nonsense is just foolish. It’s unprofessional, anti-law enforcement and petty.

It is strange to think that the United States should welcome friends and allies? What do we stand for here? Because petty harassment, anti Muslim sentiment and simple nastiness to foreign visitors are not American values.

James Alan Pilant