Category Archives: Quotes

Farewell To Yogi Berra (1925-2015)


Whether celebrating the life of Yogi Berra has anything to do with ethics is debatable, I guess, but I feel ethically obligated to note his passing.

My father loved him: next to Ted Williams, who had the added enhancement of being a two war veteran and war hero, Yogi was Dad’s favorite athlete even though he hated the Yankees almost as much as I do. [ CORRECTION: I am reminded  by reader John Condray that Yogi was also a war hero, “serving on the LCSS (dubbed “Landing Craft, Suicide Squad” by sailors since they operated in harm’s way). He was at D-Day & the Anvil landings in southern France – where he was grazed by a bullet from a Nazi machine gun.” I’m sure Dad knew that, and I should have.]

Berra was a unique and successful baseball player, a Hall of Fame catcher, and that rarity, a completely benign and welcome presence, always. A poor kid from a St.Louis Italian-American ghetto, he managed to project himself as a nice guy who was grateful to be able to make a living playing a kids game, and who never felt superior to anyone. He was an 8th grade drop-out, and always happy to play the fool, but those who knew him realized quickly that Yogi Berra was as witty and savvy as he was modest. If anyone didn’t like Lawrence Peter Berra, he or she never had the guts to say so in public. He really appears to be just as nice, honest and modest a man as he seemed to be.

Maybe that’s what Yogi Berra’s life has to do with ethics. He had a successful and long lasting marriage to his wife Carmen, successfully raised a family, was in public life for six decades without saying a mean word against anyone, entertained and thrilled millions of baseball fans, was the epitome of a professional, and left the world richer for his being in it.

You don’t get much more ethical than that.

You can read more about Berra here and here; his statistics are here. As you may know, Berra’s talent for coming up with funny quotes, many of which were deceptively wise and showed a deft sense of internal irony and word play, became as celebrated as his baseball achievements. Today those quotes are everywhere, including some that he may not have said. As Yogi did say once, “Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true.”

Below are 25 of my personal favorites.  Some of them make me laugh every time I read them.

What a great life. Continue reading


Filed under Character, Humor and Satire, Quotes

Ethics Quiz: The Syracuse Kiss Cam Ban

Kiss cam

The Syracuse University Carrier Dome kiss cam was taken out of service over the weekend and was not in operation during  the Syracuse-Central Michigan University football game, apparently because a letter to the editor  on expressed the opinion that it encouraged sexual assault. So-called kiss cams are a tradition in some stadiums in which the scoreboard camera pans the crowd and picks out a couple who find themselves being displayed over or under a banner that encourages/demands that they kiss as the crowd roars. Typically, they do, laugh, and life goes on.

Yes, it’s stupid.

Letter writer Steve Port described watching two kiss cam scenes in which women didn’t seem to want to be kissed, but nearby men kissed them anyway as the crowd cheered.  He said such a practice condones and encourages “sexual assault and a sense of male entitlement, at best. And they are an actual instance of assault, at worst…No one has the right to forcefully touch someone be it a hug, a kiss or a violent rape.”

Well, I certainly agree that rape cam is a bad idea.

Port argued that “the Syracuse University student government, the chancellor, the athletic director, etc. review what happened last weekend and seriously consider the ramifications of what they are encouraging.” Spooked by the letter and the online response to it, the Syracuse administration discontinued the gimmick. One letter is all it took. “We are taking the time to assess the concerns expressed in the letter to the editor. We discussed this with POMCO, the sponsor, and they supported that approach,” Sue Edson, executive senior associate athletics director for communications, said in an email.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is the kiss cam a provocation to sexual assault and a sense of male entitlement and therefore unethical?

Continue reading


Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Quotes, Romance and Relationships, Sports

Eureka! The Shocking Origin Of “Politically Correct” [UPDATE: This Is Apparently A Hoax]

The didn't say

They didn’t call him “Give ’em Hell Harry!” for nothing.

CORRECTION: I am shocked to learn this  a hoax, because I would not expect the two sources involved, both of whom make a serious avocation of verifying quotes, to be fooled. Rees has written a book on the topic of political correctness, and Tom annoys his friends by checking Snopes on almost anything he runs across. I apologize, and as usual, I’m annoyed, because I hate web hoaxes to pieces. The Snopes debunking is here: my thanks to faithful reader Phlinn, who first flagged this.


Now I’m going to have a word with my old friend…

From my old friend (we go back to 1970 together) and frequent theatrical collaborator Tom Fuller, an intermittent contributor here, comes this fascinating historical snippet regarding the origin of the term “politically correct.” Tom’s British source, the author of the Politically Correct Phrasebook (1993), initially placed the phase’s origin to the 1980s, which is when I first recall hearing it and detesting it. However, Tom informs me that BBC’s Nigel Rees has uncovered much earlier source: President Harry S. Truman.

From Rees’ quotation newsletter, as relayed to me by Tom—and this is, if accurate, amazing…

“Now I have just been handed an explosive use of the term – apparently in its modern sense – but dating from 1945. It comes in an exchange of telegrams re the Japanese surrender between General Douglas MacArthur and President Harry S Truman on the day before the actual signing of the Surrender Agreement in September 1945. An unnamed source at the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, provided them – and not a word has been added or deleted … I hope they are genuine:

(1) Tokyo, Japan 0800-September 1,1945

To: President Harry S Truman From: General D A MacArthur

Tomorrow we meet with those yellow-bellied bastards and sign the Surrender Documents, any last minute instructions?

(2) Washington, D C 1300-September 1, 1945

To: D A MacArthur

From: H S Truman

Congratulations, job well done, but you must tone down your obvious dislike of the Japanese when discussing the terms of the surrender with the press, because some of your remarks are fundamentally not politically correct!

(3) Tokyo, Japan 1630-September 1, 1945

To: H S Truman F

From: D A MacArthur and C H Nimitz

Wilco Sir, but both Chester and I are somewhat confused, exactly what does the term politically correct mean?

(4) Washington, D C 2120-September 1, 1945

To: D A MacArthur/C H Nimitz

From: H S Truman

Political Correctness is a doctrine, recently fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and promoted by a sick mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end!

Now that’s politically incorrect!


Filed under Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Quotes, War and the Military

Out Of 199 Quotes, 40 That Reveal Donald Trump’s Ethics

Slogging through 199 Donald Trump quotes is too much for anyone to endure. Here are the 40 that matter...

Slogging through 199 Donald Trump quotes is too much for anyone to endure. Here are 40 that matter…

I don’t like or trust the technique of cherry-picking quotes from famous people to make them sound stupid, venal, mean or distasteful. First of all, the technique has been  abused by the news media, which uses it against people like Sarah Palin and Dan Quayle, but seldom digs up quotes to embarrass the leaders and political figures they like and support. Many liberal icons—Barney Frank comes to mind—talk so incessantly that it would be easy to make them sound like monsters or fools using the technique, but if it is done to these people at all, it is done by ideological blogs with minimal exposure. Second, those who make such lists often cheat, taking quotes out of context, or worse, making them up. Many lists designed to show that Sarah Palin is an idiot, for example (she is many things, but idiot is not among them) use lines actually said by Tina Fay while lampooning Palin.

Michael Kruse’s feature for Politico called “The 199 Most Donald Trump Things Donald Trump Has Ever Said”, however, deserves a bit more deference. After all, he appears to have waded through a putrid swamp of Trump interviews, books, and videos, which probably left him drooling and giggling in a corner some place; I’ll be relieved when I see evidence that he’s OK. That task took courage, dedication and endurance: attention must be paid. Moreover, this isn’t the usual list of ten or twenty quotes: you could make Stephen Hawking  seem like a dolt in twenty quotes if you chose them maliciously. This is 199. Impressive.

Also horrifying. In selecting the 199 juiciest and most provocative quotes from any prominent American, wouldn’t you expect at least one that was articulate, thoughtful, wise or memorable? I’m not looking for Samuel Butler here, or even Barack Obama, but for someone who is at least for the nonce a “serious” candidate for the highest office in the land, it would be reassuring to find some evidence of wit, perspective, reflection, or a vocabulary beyond that of a typical 8th grader, and it just isn’t there. Has Trump  read any literature? Has he ever seen a play? Is he capable of a relevant famous quote or a cultural reference (saying that Bette Midler is “grotesque” doesn’t count, though “grotesque” may be the most sophisticated word that appears on the list)? If so, there is no hint of it. Maybe Kruse intentionally left out quotes that would reflect well on Trump, and omitted utterances like “I suppose there’s a melancholy tone at the back of the American mind, a sense of something lost. And it’s the lost world of Thomas Jefferson. It is the lost sense of innocence that we could live with a very minimal state, with a vast sense of space in which to work out freedom” (George Will) or “When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators” (P.J. O’Roarke) or even“Our political differences, now matter how sharply they are debated, are really quite narrow in comparison to the remarkably durable national consensus on our founding convictions.” (John McCain). I doubt it.

There are three Trump bon mots in the 199 that barely justify quoting, like  #57: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Family, Finance, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Quotes, Race, Romance and Relationships

One Class, 114 Valedictorians….W.S. Gilbert Warned Us About This

Apparently this has been going on at Arlington, Virginia’s Washington and Lee High School, from which my niece graduated, for years.  The school calls about a third of its graduating classes “valedictorians,” so 1) the school can put it on their college applications and deceive those who haven’t connected the dots; 3) make certain the school can claim a female valedictorian, a black valedictorian, an Asian-American valedictorian, a trans valedictorian…you know, because everyone is above average, like in Lake Woebegon, and 3) the official rationalization, to eliminate competitiveness for honors among students, because life isn’t competitive.

Back when I wrote about this in June, 2010, the news was that…

In many high schools around the country, as many as fifty graduating seniors were designated “valedictorians…

Now honor inflation ins some schools is  more than double that, so this atrocious practice is obviously catching on. Integrity is such a chore. Excellence, superiority, achievement…they are all chores too.  As for the genuinely superior students, they are out of luck: this is the high school equivalent of all the gladiators standing up and crying “I’m Spartacus!,” except now it’s “I’m the smartest one in the class!” This Maoist denial of the fact that some of us earn more success than others and that there is nothing wrong with doing so is all the rage, and you can expect to hear more such ideas as the various candidates to lead the nation, one founded on the principle of personal self-determination based on ambition and enterprise, argue about how to deal with “income inequality.” Income inequality is but a subset of talent, industry, risk-taking and ability inequality…and good fortune inequality too. Might high schools sending graduates out into the world with the cuckoo concept that everyone should be regarded as equally accomplished whether they really are or not also contribute to income inequality?

Why yes, I think so. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Humor and Satire, Literature, Quotes, U.S. Society

July Fourth Ethics: On Liberty And Freedom


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

—-The Declaration of Independence

“It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment, independence now and independence forever. “

—-Daniel Webster, U.S. politician and orator

“Liberty is the soul’s right to breathe, and when it cannot take a long breath, laws are girdled too tight.”

—-Henry Ward Beecher, abolitionist.

“Without an unfettered press, without liberty of speech, all of the outward forms and structures of free institutions are a sham, a pretense – the sheerest mockery. If the press is not free; if speech is not independent and untrammeled; if the mind is shackled or made impotent through fear, it makes no difference under what form of government you live, you are a subject and not a citizen.”

—- Senator William Borah (R-ID), 1917

 “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

—-George Orwell
Continue reading


Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, History, Quotes, Religion and Philosophy

“Everyday Feminism,” Trigger Warnings, And The Duty Not To Be Stupid



I have long posited the idea that we have a duty to be competent in the act of living, since incompetent members of society make the rest of us miserable. This means not rising beyond your own ability to be competent: an idiot who aspires to be Senator and who achieves his goal is not inspiring, but unethical.

Of course, people who don’t know they are stupid should be exempt from an unethical label: ironically, you can’t be an ethics dunce if you are truly a dunce. We also have a duty not to make our children, family members, friends, associates, fellow citizens and the culture dumber by reckless dissemination of idiocy.

Which brings us to this, from the earnest, apparently certifiably insane blog, Everyday Feminism. Trigger warnings, the recent progressive invention designed to shield overly sensitive members of our species from any idea, word, concept, thought, memory or theory that troubles them in any way lies right on the cusp of unethical, as it is at the threshold to censorship and thought control, as well as to stupidity itself. Everyday Feminism, however, charges over that line with hilarious excess. This could have easily been published by The Onion, but Everyday Feminism apparently means it.

The article was about triggering, so it had to have this warning:

This article discusses triggering in detail and mentions common topics of triggering (sexual assault, anxiety, health anxiety, depression, death, non-specific fears and phobias).

But the blog felt warning itself needed a trigger warning, and so it began with this:

Like this phenomenal article, Everyday Feminism definitely believes in giving people a heads up about material that might provoke our reader’s trauma. However, we use the phrase “content warning” instead of “trigger warning,” as the word “trigger” relies on and evokes violent weaponry imagery. This could be re-traumatizing for folks who have suffered military, police, and other forms of violence. So, while warnings are so necessary and the points in this article are right on, we strongly encourage the term “content warning” instead of “trigger warning.”

Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Quotes