Tag Archives: Washington Redskins

Ethics Diagnosis: #SueyParkisanirresponsiblepowerhungrypoliticalcorrectnessbully

Colbert gag

Suey Park has declared war on Stephen Colbert over a promotional tweet made in his name by some Comedy Central PR employee. Not that there was anything wrong with the tweet*, unless you chose to willfully misconstrue it. The line was a quote from Colbert during a comic riff on his show mocking Redskins owner Daniel Snyder’s lame effort to deflect criticism of his team’s name as being ‘racist.’ (Reminder: It isn’t—not in the context in which is being used. Tasteless? Perhaps…) Anyone who is familiar with Colbert’s schtick—it is all tongue in cheek, exaggeration, irony, sarcasm and satire—understands that the Twitter quote is mocking the idea that one can continue being “racially insensitive” as long as you set up a foundation to show sensitivity to the group you have been accused of being racially insensitive about. Here is an explanation of how Park saw an opening for some cheap social media muscle-flexing, from Slate:

“On Wednesday night Stephen Colbert made sport of Washington football team owner Dan Snyder and his plan to undercut criticism of the team name by founding an organization for the uplift of “original Americans.” Colbert ran though all the reasons why this was funny, then called back to a skit from one of the show’s first episodes, way back from the fall of 2005—a joke about the host being caught on a “live feed” playing a racist Asian stereotype (Ching Chong Ding Dong, from Guanduong), then not understanding why it was racist. Colbert would make amends with his new “Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” He’d played versions of the game since then, dressing up in a sombrero for “Hispanic heritage month.” It’s one of the Colbert character’s oldest gags—he “doesn’t see color,” so he can’t ever be blamed if he accidentally does something horribly racist.”

The rest of the story: Suey Park pounced, first telling Colbert “Fuck you” and then sending her many followers a directive to flood the twitterverse with   …. and so they did, and have. Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society, Arts & Entertainment, Popular Culture, The Internet, Race, Humor and Satire, Character, Marketing and Advertising, Unethical Tweet, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee

We Are All Dan Snyder Now

Washington-Redskins

…and isn’t that a revolting development?

Few things infuriate me more than when unethical conduct by an individual or organization force me to side with the supporters of a position or a cause that I oppose myself. Last year, to cite the most egregious example, I found myself in the same camp with the National Rifle Association, Ted Nugent and worse when anti-gun zealots, uncritically backed by the news media, used dishonest, misleading, irrational and emotional appeals to try to pass more stringent gun ownership regulations on the wave of national horror over the Sandy Hook shooting. Indeed, the more fake statistics and shameless slippery slope arguments (“If we can save the life of only one child…”) that were aimed at guns and  law-abiding gun owners, the more I saw the wisdom of Second Amendment absolutism.

Thanks to the exorbitant and irresponsible rhetoric by the likes of Diane Feinstein, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo, Piers Morgan, Jim Carrey and others—Don’t tell ME what I “need” to protect my family and home; there’s a possible serial killer on the loose in my Alexandria, Virginia neighborhood at this very moment who has been randomly knocking on doors and shooting people—I no longer trust the government to make rational decisions that affect my options as a potential gun owner. Good work, guys. Before you started using kids as props, lying about the number of shootings, and sounding for all the world like a nation trying to make sure only the government could own legal weapons, I was a supporter of more stringent firearms regulations. You lost me. I am officially convinced that we may need  guns to protect ourselves against power-abusing people like you.

Now members of  Congress are trying to strong-arm Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder into changing the name of his football team, using the power of the government to pressure him, through the National Football League, into bending to their will on a matter that is absolutely none of their business. Great. Now I have to stand shoulder to shoulder with Snyder, whom we in the Washington area know as a spoiled rich kid, a bully, an egomaniac and a meddling fool who has progressively reduced the region’s beloved football team to tragic joke.

And you should stand with him too, if you think our Bill of Rights is worth preserving. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, Sports

The T-Rex Escapes: Lessons Of The Washington Redskins’ Nepotism

I can’t exactly say, like Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malacolm in “Jurassic Park,” that I hate being right all the time…in part because I’m not. It sure is frustrating, however, to see an ethics crisis looming, write about it once, then twice, and still see so many people surprised when it arrives like an angry T-Rex. Thus today, I began the morning by pounding my head against the wall to read in the Washington Post sports section a column by Jason Reid with the headline, “Mike Shanahan, by hiring his son Kyle, has created an untenable situation.” Wait, what year is this? Shanahan, the coach of the Washington Redskins, that team with the name that we’re not supposed to say, hired his son Kyle as the team’s offensive coordinator many moons ago, in 2010. It was a terrible idea at the time, an example of classic nepotism that created an immediate risk of exactly what is occurring now, and perhaps the certainty of it, if the situation endured long enough.

Last season, when the Redskins swept to the NFC East Championship behind thrilling rookie QB Robert Griffin III, the ethics-challenged sports fandom here (Washington, D.C., remember) cited the success as proof that nepotism is an ethics boogie man, nothing more. This was pure consequentialism. As I concluded my post on the topic last January,

“This is rank consequentialism in its worst form. Nepotism is an unethical way to run any staff, company, team, business or government, unfair, inherently conflicted, irresponsible, dangerous and corrupting. It should be recognized as such from the beginning, and rejected, not retroactively justified if it “works.”I’m sure there were and are non-relatives of the Redskins coach who could have devised a successful offense with RG3 taking the hikes. The ethical thing to do was to find them and give one of them the job. The Redskins coach’s nepotism is just as unethical in 2013 as it was in 2012, 2011, and 2010.”

In “Jurassic Park,” the same day that chaotician Malcolm warns that the dinosaur park is so complex that a fatal loss of control is inevitable, the systems break down and he gets nearly gets eaten. The same year I wrote those words, ten months later, it’s Mike Shanahan on the menu as Jason Reid wrote these: Continue reading

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The President And The Redskins: Learning Curve Flat As Ever

An updated graph of President Obama's learning curve on his practice of gratuitous commentary on the jobs, businesses, and duties of others. Oddly, it looks exactly like the last such graph, and the graph before that...

The  updated graph of President Obama’s learning curve regarding the Presidential practice of gratuitous commentary on the jobs, businesses, and duties of others. Oddly, it looks exactly like the last such graph, and the graph before that…

In the long list of example of President Obama interfering with private decisions, court cases and local matters that the occupant of highest office in the land has an obligation not to meddle in, his comments on the Washington Redskins are among the least annoying. It was a wishy-washy statement, all in all, that he gave to the AP:

“If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”

Does anyone doubt that owner of the Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder, hasn’t thought about it? On its face, the statement is petty, but of course, as the President resolutely refuses to learn, everything the President of the United States says, scripted or non-, regarding national policy or local matters, be they about red lines or how victims of gun violence look like his son, the President’s comments are seized upon, blown out of proportion, spun, used as weapons, provocations and ammunition, and generally warp public policy discourse, public opinion and personal and local decision-making. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Leadership, Race, Sports, U.S. Society

Slate’s Unethical “Redskins” Blackout

You know what Redskins really means, don't you? It means standing up to political correctness bullies.

You know what Redskins really means, don’t you? It means standing up to political correctness bullies.

Via the usually rational reporter David Plotz, we learn that Slate has decided that the Political Correctness Gods will no longer allow the on-line magazine to use the name of Washington’s NFL team when it is reporting on Washington’s NFL team. This is, of course, presumptuous, arrogant, and lousy journalism. It is not the media’s job to re-make the world into what pleases them. Slate doesn’t like the Redskins name so it’s not going to publish it. This seems to be the current mode of operation in the media today–it is no longer dedicated to reporting and commenting on the news, but rather reporting and commenting on the news it doesn’t find “offensive.”

The Redskins, as a team nickname, is certainly the strongest case for those who believe in censorship of team names with ethnic or national origins. The NCAA has already gone way beyond any rational execution of that mission however, and even in the case of Redskins, an unquestionably racist term when applied to Native Americans, the objection to a sports  team name with supposedly negative historical implication has a lot of the “a chink in the armor” nonsense about it. For in Washington, D.C. and in football bars and Sunday afternoon gatherings, Redskins is not a slur, and does not refer to native Americans. It is the name given to a squad of NFL players who play pro football in the name of Washington, D.C., and a franchise that is worshiped in the city. When the name is used, it is not aimed at Native Americans or intended to denigrate them. It does not refer to Native Americans, and not intended to give offense. It is intended to designate the football team, because that is the team’s name. How can someone be offended at the use of a name that is not intended and is not a slur in the context of the use in question? There two answers to this: 1) Most people, including rational Native Americans, aren’t, and 2) Because such people want to be offended.

The name “Redskins” was never intended as a slur, as I have explained here before. Continue reading

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Political Correctness, Abuse of Power, the Redskins, and Spite

I’m sure glad I don’t own the Washington Redskins.

Boston RedskinsI say this without even considering the current problem of having a head coach who let the franchise player ruin his knee. I’m glad I’m not Dan Snyder because the annual sniping about his team’s unfortunate name pulls me in opposite directions ethically and emotionally, and I don’t enjoy being Rumpelstiltskin.*

If I owned the Washington Redskins and was being pragmatic as well as ethical, I’d just bite the bullet (oops! Is that phrase banned now?) and change the team’s name. The debate is stupid, but it’s a distraction no sports franchise needs. I would dig in my heels against political correctness zealots who demand that the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Blackhawks and other Native American-themed names get tossed in the ash heap of history, but “redskins” is undeniably a term of racist derision, despite the fact that it isn’t that in the context of football. In football, it just means those NFL players in red and gold that a whole city worships year round.

If, however, I wanted to take a much needed stand against the unethical tactics of political correctness bullies everywhere, refuse to yield to an argument that is as dishonest as it is illogical , I might well do what Snyder has done so far out of pure orneriness and spite, which is to say to the team’s critics, “Stick it!” Continue reading

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Robert Griffin III, Wally Pipp, and the Catch-22 of Lies

Dan Wetzel would have loved Wally Pipp

Dan Wetzel would have loved Wally Pipp

If you want to see the stark difference between the culture of baseball and the culture of football. look no further than Washington, D.C., where the city’s sports fans are in mourning for the second time in barely three months’ time. The surging Redskins just met play-off elimination, because their young star quarterback was injured but allowed to stay in the game. Back in October, the city’s new sports darlings, baseball’s Nationals, were eliminated in their first play-off round, in part, fans believe, because the team wouldn’t let its completely healthy young star pitcher play for fear that he would get injured.

This week everyone from my local sandwich shop proprietor to the driver of the cab I just got out of is furious  at Redskins coach Mike Shanahan for allowing the obviously hobbled Robert Griffin III to stay in the doomed game against the Seattle Seahawks when there was a competent back-up on the bench. And some, like Yahoo! sportswriter Dan Wetzel, are blaming Griffin, for “lying”:

“Robert Griffin III couldn’t do much of anything Sunday except lie, which is what he’s been trained to do in situations like this.
Lie to himself that he can still deliver like no backup could. Lie to his coach that this was nothing big. Lie to the doctors who tried to assess him in the swirl of a playoff sideline. So Robert Griffin III lied, which is to be excused because this is a sport that rewards toughness in the face of common sense, a culture that celebrates the warrior who is willing to leave everything on the field, a business that believes such lies are part of the road to greatness.” Continue reading

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Consequentialism Alert At Redskins Park!

Washington, D.C. has a grand tradition of nepotism. Sometimes it works; it's wrong all the time.

Washington, D.C. has a grand tradition of nepotism. Sometimes it works; it’s wrong all the time.

A year ago, I wrote about the dilemma faced by Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who was mired in another terrible season with a failing offense engineered by his son Kyle, the team’s offensive coordinator.  Here we have the ethical problem with nepotism, I wrote…

“There is no way to tell what is happening or what the effect of the nepotism is, which is why all appearance of impropriety situations are toxic to trust; there is no way to tell whether the apparent conflict is causing real harm or not. When everything goes well, the doubts will be muted and there won’t be a crisis in public trust, but that is luck, and nothing more…Not only are the Skins losing, but the leaks have sprung in Nepotsim Central, where Kyle Shanahan is responsible. It was fully predictable, not that this would happen, but that it could very well happen, way back in 2010 when Mike Shanahan had the bright idea of hiring sonny boy. Not foreseeing this is a miserable failure to play ethics chess: when a choice is a good bet to create an ethics problem a few moves from now, don’t make it. Owner Snyder should have forbidden it; Kyle should have turned the job down.”

Ah, but that was then, and this is now. The vicissitudes of moral luck have struck again.  Now Kyle’s offense is working like a charm, thanks to the magic arm, legs and mind of rookie quarterback sensation Robert Griffin III. Now the ‘Skins are the NFL East Champions! Now Kyle is an offensive wizard, not a putz, and Coach Dad a visionary for hiring him. What’s the matter with a little nepotism? Never mind!

This is rank consequentialism in its worst form. Nepotism is an unethical way to run any staff, company, team, business or government, unfair, inherently conflicted, irresponsible, dangerous and corrupting. It should be recognized as such from the beginning, and rejected, not retroactively justified if it “works.”

I’m sure there were and are non-relatives of the Redskins coach who could have devised a successful offense with RG3 taking the hikes. The ethical thing to do was to find them and give one of them the job.

The Redskins coach’s nepotism is just as unethical in 2013 as it was in 2012, 2011, and 2010.

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Self-Promotion Department

Fortunately, you won't have to look at me...

I’ll be “appearing” on NPR’s “Tell Me More” tomorrow with Michel Martin, discussing the NFL’s bounty scandal and maybe another issue or two. Check local times in your area, or just plan on rearranging your sock drawer.

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The Washington Redskins and the Nepotism Trap

Bobby Kennedy was lucky. Kyle Shanahan isn't.

No leadership error embodies the appearance of impropriety more completely than nepotism, and, for good measure, it also creates an inherent conflict of interest and undermines fairness and integrity. Yet people continue to argue that it is not inherently unethical, and leaders and managers in all fields continue to walk into the nepotism trap. The fact that it doesn’t always snap shut is not an argument in its favor, for this is just moral luck; letting your kid play with matches in bed won’t necessarily burn the house down or kill him, but it’s still irresponsible.

Washington Redskins fans now have a painful lesson in nepotism’s drawbacks to guide their own decisions. As has been a routine event about now in the pro football season since hapless owner Dan Snyder became responsible for the team’s personnel, the Redskins season is imploding, and the head coach is on the griddle. This season that coach is Mike Shanahan, and the problem is his offense. The Skins were shut out Sunday, 23-0, and appear to have no quarterback, no offensive line, and no clue.

The team’s offensive coordinator? Kyle Shanahan, the head coach’s son. Now what? Continue reading

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