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The Ethics of Offhand Comments and Belief


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Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty):
GQ Article: When asked to define sin that is blurring what is right and wrong:  "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there."

Phil Robertson rose to some level of fame through his appearance on the A&E show Duck Dynasty.  By the level of Duck Dynasty merchandise and apparel that is present in gas stations, truck stops, and Walmart in the south, it is apparent that the crew of Duck Dynasty have become leaders in a movement that I can only classify as "redneck."

In an GQ magazine interview, Robertson made statements that expressed a negative opinion of homosexuality and homosexuals rooted in his Christian religious belief.  He also made statements that were dismissive of the presence of racism in the Southern states.  A&E suspended Robertson for those comments but has recently been allowed to return to Duck Dynasty to continue his career in reality television.

Justine Sacco (Public Relations- Various internet companies):

Twitter:  "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!"

Justine Sacco was in charge of Public Relations for various companies and had a personal twitter account where she listed her job as PR rep.  She often tweeted about tweeting while intoxicated, and spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about the people around her that she did not know- identifying them using their nationality or race.

Sacco was headed down to South Africa for a month long vacation with her family.   She tweeted to her approximately 300-500 followers a statement that was likely intended to be a joke and may have been a product of intoxication.  Her twitter account grew from the modest amount of followers to over 8,000 followers before her flight landed in South Africa.  Sacco was fired from her position as a PR representative, and deleted the tweet before deleting her entire twitter account.

Paula Deen (Television Chef, Food Network):

After taking oath to tell the truth in a legal deposition: Admitted to using the "N-word" at home to her husband after being robbed at gunpoint when she was a bank teller.
Paula Deen, TV Chef and restaurant owner, was sued by a white woman, Lisa Jackson, who alleged that she was the victim of racial discrimination and sexual harassment and abusive treatment.  In a deposition relating to those allegations, Paula Deen took an oath to to tell the truth and was asked under oath whether she had ever used the N-word.  Ms. Deen admitted that she had said the word.

Paula Deen lost her show and various endorsements because of her admission.  However the portion of the case alleging racism was dismissed because Ms. Jackson could not claim to be a victim of racial discrimination targeting African-American workers because she was white.

Martin Bashir (MSNBC Political Commentator):
Suggesting through literary reference that if Sarah Palin believes that the Federal Debt is a form of slavery, then someone should defecate in her mouth: "She confirms that if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, then she would be the outstanding candidate."

Martin Bashir was host of a television show on MSNBC, the yang to the yin of Fox News, and made a comment on the air discussing politics.   This statement was thought out, considered, written down, and delivered by Martin Bashir on the air next to a picture of Sarah Palin.

In an attempt to negate the statements of Sarah Palin, Bashir crossed some line of literary license with his statement and resigned from MSNBC under pressure.

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