Unethical Codes of Ethics

By | September 18, 2022

[September 18, 2022]  I was surprised when I read my local school board’s code of ethics.  Their code was transparently unethical.  Nowhere have I witnessed a code of ethics that requires its adherents to “obey” all the laws and rules of the state.  A rigid following of human-created law has historical led us to a path to tyranny and dystopia.  Unethical codes of ethics are more common than we might think.

Codes of Ethics are necessary, in my view.  Such a code helps guide us regarding the morally correct action to take.  By following a code of ethics, we can be reasonably sure that we are doing the right thing legally, safely, and ethically.  They help us in our lives and career.  We can build more trusting connections with those around us by demonstrating ethical behavior.

For example, the U.S. military officer oath says:

“I, _____ (name), having been appointed an officer in the _____ (Military Branch) of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”

But, that is not always the case.  There are unethical codes of ethics, most often demonstrated by codes of school boards that require full adherence to all laws and rules promulgated by unelected, unaccountable organizations like Departments of Education.

According to New Jersey’s 18A:12-24.1 Code of Ethics for School Board Members, paragraph a., it states:

I will uphold and enforce all laws, rules and regulations of the State Board of Education and court orders pertaining to schools.  Desired changes shall be brought about only through legal and ethical procedures.1

This is the first ethical guideline and, therefore, most important.  When we are required to follow all the rules, something is seriously wrong.  Rosa Parks defied Alabama law requiring black people to give up their seats to white passengers.2  Mahatma Gandhi broke British laws to imbibe self-respect in the Indian population.3  And, of course, there are many other examples, from the Nazi’s extermination of Jews to women being denied the right to vote.  Disobedience to laws and rules is an American tradition, and part of how we improve our lives by ensuring justice is equally applied to all.

Whenever laws and rules are part of a code of ethics, we must reject the idea that justice can be appropriately applied.  It means we are accountable to a set of ideas that may run counter to moral behavior and common sense and rejects the idea that we can apply reasoned logic and independent judgment to a particular circumstance.

Unethical codes of ethics should be rejected outright and modified to remove any requirement to “follow the rules” or obey all laws.

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  1. https://www.nj.gov/education/ethics/coe.shtml
  2. https://blackartstory.org/2020/12/03/rosa-parks-was-arrested-for-civil-disobedience-december-1-1955
  3. https://lalitkumar.in/blog/mahatma-gandhi-breaking-the-salt-law-famous-photograph/

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Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

31 thoughts on “Unethical Codes of Ethics

  1. Idiot Savant

    Exceptional article. Thank you Gen. Satterfield for giving up your time for this leadership website.

    Reply
    1. Linux Man

      Unsurprising given what I’ve seem from school boards adopting anti-American and anti-Christian values over the past few years.

      Reply
  2. Jerome Smith

    Do not be surprised by this. I’ve seen the all out decline in the morality of school boards across the country in the false claim that they are being respectful. See Gen. Satterfield’s comments on “respect” and it will open your eyes to what is going on.

    Reply
  3. Eye Cat

    Don’t be too surprised. Anyone can now see that many School Boards have become lapdogs to “experts” in education who are the same ones who locked down our kids and made the dumber.

    Reply
    1. DocJeff

      …… and made them wear masks and elbow touch. What utter stupidity and then when they were told this did no good, they just doubled down on it. A 5th grader could have made a better decision.

      Reply
  4. ZB22

    Gen. Satterfield, I hope that you tell them what you’ve told us. Point out that their ethics are unethical as written. Any code of ethics that says you will always follow the “law” is at best suspect.

    Reply
  5. Greek Senator

    It is easy to complain but to point out what is the obvious is not so easy. It is not easy becuase people are so indoctrinated for so long, they look beyond what is in front of them to something unimportant (but thought important).

    Reply
  6. KenFBrown

    When reality hits these folks, they will be “shocked” – I say “shocked.” Why? Because they cannot see what is right in front of their eyes. The prefer to willfully be ignorant because it is easy.

    Reply
  7. Liz at Home

    I did a Google search on “unethical codes of conduct” a few minutes ago and found nothing at all. No mention of this website. But when I searched Bing.com on the same thing, this article was highlighted at the top. So, yes, Google appears to be censoring Gen. Satterfield’s spot-on ideas.

    Reply
    1. Valkerie

      I did one today (just a few minutes ago on 9-19-2022 at 9:20 am Easter time) and found nothing on Google. They are suppressing the article.

      Reply
      1. Valkerie

        No change. All engines rate it at the top, nothing at all on Google. They are the “masters” of the search. Nothing like having book burners at the top of the commercial pyramid.

        Reply
    1. The Kid 1945

      I’ll say. I also searched the Internet for anything approaching this idea that “codes of ethics” themselves could be unethical. This one mentioned by Gen. Satterfield is a classic case. Once you read it, it jumps out as unethical in and of itself. Someone needs to bring this up.

      Reply
      1. Laughing Monkey

        Don’t be surprised if Google scrubbed those articles from the Internet. In a couple of days, do a Google search for this article on unethical codes of ethics and see if you can find it. I’ll bet a days wages you won’t be able to find it because it questions the ethics of the state. Google is a lapdog of the state.

        Reply
  8. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    The idea that codes of ethics are unethical is something that I never considered. I just assumed (yeah, I know what that means) that a code of ethics was properly vetted and regularly reviewed by smart people who have the job of making sure codes of ethics are proper and ethical themselves. Gee, just imagine an unethical code of ethics.

    Reply
  9. Bryan Z. Lee

    Gen. Satterfield has made this a really wonderful website and today’s article hammers home the point that “obeying the law” is not the most important mission of leaders.

    Reply
    1. Edward G.

      Right, and let’s not forget what Gen. Satterfield wrote about earlier that there are rules and there are meta rules. The laws of our nation, state, or locally, can be superseded by meta laws, those that cover more important topics. I think this is where Gen. Satterfield is going with this.

      Reply
    2. Karl J.

      Yepper, great website where you can learn more than you can imagine and do so with little effort and little time.

      Reply
        1. Yusaf from Texas

          Me too. Thanks Fred, good to see you on Gen. Satterfield’s website. Great day here in Texas.

          Reply
  10. Veronica Stillman

    What? How can it be? 😉 – smiley face with a wink. That’s what we get from Boards of Education … a wink and a smile.

    Reply
      1. Nick Lighthouse

        Bobby Joe nailed it too. Great comments today on an unexpected topic from Gen. Satterfield. I love this leadership website and for exactly that reason. Common sense made plain and obvious. Don’t be confused that the stupidity coming out of the New Jersey state Board of Education. They are not interested in kids but only their careers.

        Reply

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