Burqa ban vs. Christian Flag ban – Where do you fall on the ethics of the Governmental decisions?

October 7, 2010

O.K. – I know that this is a controversial subject, but at times it is worth taking the time to explore choices, consequences and opinions.

Earlier today a report came out in Fox News of – what they referred to as – a Holy War in a little town in NC (the state of my residence).  The article stated the following:

A holy war is brewing in a small North Carolina city, where the Christian flag seems to be flying everywhere.

A meeting of the King, N.C., City Council was packed on Monday with dozens of citizens who asked city officials to put the Christian flag back up at the local Veterans War Memorial. The council had voted to take down the flag rather than spend the estimated $200,000 to $300,000 it would cost to fight the American Civil Liberties Union in a First Amendment lawsuit.

“The city received inquiries from the ACLU and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State suggesting that the Christian flag flying over the Veterans Memorial at Central Park violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” City Manager John Cater said. “At the advice of the city attorney, the City Council voted to take down the Christian flag at last night’s City Council meeting, citing the enormous cost associated with fighting a potential lawsuit on the issue.”

Katy Parker of the ACLU in North Carolina told FoxNews.com, “The city council did the right thing to take down the flag because it was endorsed by the city as part of a public monument. Now, if private citizens want to hold the flags, it is absolutely their right to do so.”

As an ethics speaker and author, I often pose questions that seem to illustrate the conflict between law and what many would call ethical behavior.   If you define ETHICS as “that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions,” one might easily say that the values of this community – their human conduct – represents the ethics and values that they hold fast to and to remove (as is the case here) the Christian Flag from a public display lack ethics, values and does not represent the code of human conduct that is pervasive in this tiny North Carolina town.

QUESTION: When testing the outcome of an action (the removal of the flag in this case) between the ethical beliefs of the community in contrast to the law – which should win?

Should the offense of one or two outweigh the desires of the many?


Today, according to a CNN report, top constitutional authorities in France approve the banning of the burqa and other Islamic face coverings.  The report states the following:

France’s plan to ban the burqa and other Islamic face coverings in public places is legal, top constitutional authorities in France ruled Thursday, so the law goes into effect immediately.

In September the French senate approved the law – making France the first European country to nationally impose such a measure. The legislation was overwhelmingly approved by the lower house of parliament in July.

French people back the ban by a margin of more than four to one, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found in a survey earlier this year.

In this case the question, like the one above, rests on the law vs. the ethical choices of a group or religious beliefs of a group and popular legislative beliefs and actions.  Female members of the Islamic faith in France are faced with a real conundrum.  Do they comply with Islamic law or expectations or do they comply with the law of the land in which they reside?

QUESTION:  Is it ethical for a government to take an action that addresses the ability of an individual to practice their religion when the interests of the population is take away that religious compliance option?

It is not my intent to express an opinion one way or the other, rather, my hope is that we raise the discussion regarding religious desire, practice, compliance, law and ethics.


Students – It’s Time to Think of Facebook in a Different Light! Comments by Business Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher

February 16, 2009

Facebook – on of the fastest growing social networking sites can be awesome or can be a curse. Started by a young man who wanted to keep up with his friends, Facebook has become an outstanding tool. Likewise, like any tool, how you use it determines whether it will serve you or hurt you.

As a business ethics speaker I talk to college groups all around the country about effective uses of Facebook and other social networking sites. The creative application of Facebook could make the difference in whether you get that first job (the one you really want) or don’t. The question is – “Is Facebook a tool for business or a public garbage dump for how you feel at the moment?” facebook-logo

Here’s a garbage dump example:

A Calvin College student has been suspended for one year over a lewd Facebook message he allegedly posted about an ex-girlfriend.

According to an article in The Grand Rapids Press, a message about an ex was posted from Tony Harris’s account in November that “referred to the woman in two slang terms and referenced sexuality.” Calvin officials did not return calls from The Chronicle, but the newspaper reported that the college cited Mr. Harris, a sophomore, for violating technology and conduct codes at the institution, which refers to itself as “distinctively Christian.”

The acceptable-use policy on the college’s Web site prohibits “communication that degrades or harasses individuals or groups.”

Mr. Harris, who not respond to requests for comment from The Chronicle, has insisted that the ex-girlfriend, who he said knew his Facebook password, logged in to his account and sent the message herself, presumably to frame him, the newspaper reports. Calvin officials were apparently unconvinced.

In order to resume his studies at Calvin in a year, Mr. Harris will need to re-apply to the college and recant the Facebook message, according to report. —Steve Kolowich

Now, ethically speaking, Mr. Harris used Facebook as a public garbage dump for how he felt about his ex-girlfriend. Not only was that less than honorable, but it had repercussions far greater than Mr. Harris would have expected when he posted his thoughts or feelings.

Every choice has a consequence.

The Consequence: Kicked out of school! Not allowed to return without reapplying and who knows what other repercussions he is experiencing from his ex-girlfriend and parents. In fact, one might wonder how many girl would now want to be his girlfriend since he has demonstrated that he might not honor them when they part?

There’s a saying – “garbage in — garbage out.”

While Facebook may have been started as a social networking site, it is rapidly becoming a “product/person differentiation site”. In other words, with Facebook being public and searchable, people of all ages who use it should consider that it is nothing more than a personal web site. What you put on there is your advertisement of yourself. If you want to sell yourself, you need to consider what you say and how you position yourself.

Facebook is a powerful tool – use it to your advantage!

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