The Ethics of Nailing Barry Bonds

Is Barry Bonds getting the Al Capone treatment? Should we care?

Baseball’s all-time home run king Barry Bonds is finally on trial for perjury and obstruction of justice relating to his 2003 testimony before a grand jury that he never knowingly used steroids. It looks like he may get convicted too, even though the one man who could harm him most, his trainer and childhood pal Greg Anderson, once again has refused to testify and is in jail for contempt of court. (Many—including me— believe that Anderson has a promise of a pay-off from Bonds.)

Essentially everyone who isn’t actively trying to protect Bonds, completely ignorant of the facts of his career, or mentally handicapped knows he was lying and knew it at the time of the grand jury hearings. Barry has been both lucky and relentlessly dishonest, however, seemingly happy to spend the millions he made while cheating and permanently damaging his sport, and pleased with himself for retiring in possession of baseball’s most prestigious home run records, the most homers in a single season, and the most homers in a career.  That Bonds achieved these, and several of his Most Valuable Player awards, while enhanced with the surreptitiously induced body chemistry of a Bulgarian weight-lifter in the 1972 Olympics doesn’t seem to faze him at all. Meanwhile, critics are dredging up the old rationalizations to defend Bonds, none of which apply to his current fix. Continue reading

Ethics Uber-Dunce: Jose Canseco

Jose Canseco...or is it his twin?

Mere Ethics Dunce is an inadequate title for former baseball slugger Jose Canseco, somehow. He has dabbled in extortion and assault, but his real contribution to making the world worse was serving as a one-man steroid epidemic, using the performance-enhancing, testicle shrinking drugs himself to win an American League  Most Valuable Player award, then making sure that as many players as possible on the various teams he played with used them too. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies…”

Today’s Comment of the Day needs some background. The first comment regarding yesterday’s controversial post “The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies…”, asserting the right of a celebrity to decline a sick child’s request, was by reader Nancy Simpson, who wrote…

“Obviously we have different beliefs about what constitutes “ethics”. The first duty of all persons in a civilized society is to care for the children. My ethics say that for the optimum function of society, we care for children unless what they ask for will cause physical or emotional harm to them.

“Short of confinement in a leprosy ward, this woman has no excuse for her unkindness to a child. If the “too busy” excuse is true, then she is just greedy. No law against being greedy, is there? She has no duty to be concerned with anything other than her money.

“The other place we have ethical differences is that it against my ethics to criticize control and blame a sick child’s mother. Talk about hit below the belt. Shame on you.

“Celebrities are not mandated to give back–they may bite the hand that feeds them any time they like. And I decide who gets my hard earned money, and it will not be her or Food Network.

“I don’t pay people who hurt children.’

I was, I admit, rather severe with Nancy, writing in response…

“No, Nancy, you are completely wrong. Obviously we do have a different understanding or ethics, because you have very little and you also didn’t really read or think about the post. If a stranger walks in your home and demands that you care for her child, are you ethically required to do it? What gives “Make A Wish” or Enzo, his mother or anyone the right to finger this one woman because he happens to watch her show and put her in the position of either having to make a major effort to please him—not cure him, not actually make him well, but just give him a good time—at the threat of being condemned by self-righteous uninvolved bystanders like you? Ridiculous.

“Maybe she had a brother with the same disease and spent years in therapy trying to conquer the depression his death caused…and the prospect of getting close with Enzo risks her long term mental health. Does her refusal pass your approval process then, or is she obligated to harm herself because a stranger’s child has a “wish”? How can you judge her actions when you have no idea what motivates her? Granting these things is usually a PR bonanza….I doubt her motivations are crass at all.

“Maybe she is especially emotional around sick children. You have no basis to criticize her. She is not Enzo’s slave, she is not his doctor, she is not his plaything. She has a right to say “no.” There is a difference between exemplary ethics, and ethics. It would be great if she decided to grant his request, but it is not unethical not to. I know—you don’t understand. Well, you can revel in your ignorance without telling me that I don’t understand.

“I DO have basis to criticize Enzo’s mother, and I hereby throw your silly “shame!” through your window.

“She set out to harm a woman who owed her nothing. She sicced the internet on someone for pure revenge. I sympathize with her, but her actions were unarguably wrong. If you think certain classes of people like “mothers of sick children” get special passes to act badly and harm others, go start a Cindy Sheehan fan club—you don’t have a clue what ethics are.

‘You know what rationalizations and excuses are, however.”

Now, today, new reader Yao added a very provocative Comment of the Day: Continue reading

The Message or the Messenger: The Mysterious Foundation For A Better Life

Does it matter who's behind the curtain?

The Foundation for a Better Life sponsors those slick TV spots promoting ethical values like kindness, sportsmanship, charity, and sacrifice. I have long wondered where they came from, and belatedly visited the organization’s website, Values.com, where I spent quite a while clicking through their extensive links to descriptions of core ethical values and inspiring stories. Not bad. The only deficiency I could see with the site was the lack of any explanation regarding how the Foundation was funded, who ran it and who was responsible for it. The site describes itself thusly:

“The Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, started in 2000. Our sole objective is to promote positive values, using print and broadcast media.

We want the stories we share about the positive actions and values of others to serve as inspiration for someone to do one thing a little better, and then pass on that inspiration. A few individuals living values-based lives will collectively make the world a better place.

The Foundation does not have a political or religious agenda. Our values are selected with the hope that most individuals would find these values universal, encouraging, and inspiring. The Foundation acknowledges that each person has a unique lens through which he or she views the world. Naturally there are religious, nonreligious, political, and cultural views that give meaning to our lives. Our objective is to provide a wide spectrum of values without any intended agenda or slant and provide an uplifting message around each one.”

And this appears to be exactly what the Foundation does. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies…”

Commenter Marlene Cohn has some well-reasoned insight on the issue of a celebrity’s obligation to comply with a sick child’s wishes. Here is her comment on The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies: an Ethics Drama:

“I enjoy a bit of celebrity gossip just as much as anyone, and always find internet reactions to perceived celebrity slights to be fascinating. Having been on the internet far longer than the hoards willing to throw around the dreaded “c” word, I’ve been able to see a true shift in what people generally expect of others. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Prosecutor Kit Bramblett

Uh, Willie? The judge woul like you to put down the weed and sing.

In West Texas, Hudspeth County prosecutor has recommended an unusual set of penalties for country music legend Willie Nelson, who has been arrested for possession of marijuana as he has been many times in the past. County Attorney Kit Bramblett has recommended to the judge in the case that she allow Bramblett to drop possession charges if Nelson pleads guilty, pays a fine…

…. and sings “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” for in court.

His recommendation is ethically offensive on many levels, though it is probably not a violation of any Texas rule of legal ethics, for the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct does not directly address Ethics Dunces. However… Continue reading

The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies: An Ethics Drama

Monster?

A boy named Enzo Pereda, now 6, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2009. The Make-A-Wish Foundation asked him what his wish would be, and he said he wanted to meet the Food Network’s Ina Garten, the “Barefoot Contessa,” and watch her cook from his bed. Enzo’s wish was relayed to Garten through the Foundation, but she declined, saying that her schedule was too busy with a book tour. Enzo opted to wait. The request was made again this year, and Garten’s refusal was final and unconditional. Enzo’s mother, who has catalogued his illness in a blog called “Angels for Enzo,” was furious, writing: Continue reading