Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/3/17: A Troubling MLB Suspension, Anti-Trump Mania Update, And Announcing “US Race Relations Have Finally Reached The Point Where They Make No Sense Whatsoever” Sunday

Good Morning!

1.I dread this, but it is looking like it is going to be “US Race Relations Have Finally Reached The Point Where They Make No Sense Whatsoever” Sunday. I have accumulated three stories that fit under that heading, because each one of them is simultaneously annoying, sensitive,  under-reported, and difficult to process. Procrastination isn’t ethical, however, so today is the day. Ugh.

2. Today’s New York Times Sunday Review is again light on President Trump Hate, after last week’s orgy. I was discussing yesterday’s post about the draft letter excitement with my sister, a not-quite-resistance member who is a better lawyer than I am and intermittently reasonable despite hating and fearing the President worse than she does that Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. She agreed that the news media’s elevation of the draft letter to front page status was biased journalism and self-evidently silly. “The news media believes that Trump is so incompetent that it is their job to try to help the country get rid of him as quickly as possible,” she said. She also confirmed that this is the attitude of the “resistance,” Democrats and progressives as well, and she hangs out with all of them.

Her candor was welcome. It’s also an admission, in my view, and I told her this, of an anti-democratic and unethical attempt to undermine our institutions. We remove Presidents by elections, not manufactured impeachments or 25th Amendment removals on contrived grounds. What my sister calls fear of dangerous  incompetence is really objections to style, rhetoric and policy, none of which are justifiable reasons to remove a President before an election.

I also pointed out to my sibling that it is not the news media’s job to conspire with partisan opponents to remove a President. In fact, it is unforgivable.

3. What’s the difference between the National Football League and Major League Baseball? Well, one difference is that when a star NFL player is caught on a video cold-cocking his wife-to-be  in a hotel elevator, the NFL’s first response is to do nothing, and when a second string catcher’s ex-fiance says she was abused on social media and then deletes the post, that’s enough for MLB to suspend the player under its domestic abuse policy. Ethically, I’m not sure which is worse.

Derek Norris is a free-agent catcher who isn’t currently on a major league team’s roster. He was released by the Tampa Bay Rays in late June, a few week after his former fiancée, Kristen Eck, wrote an Instagram post that Norris had  physically abused her two years ago. She wrote in part,

“I approached our kitchen island with the phone in my hand and Derek approached me from behind and put me in a choke hold. At this time, I thought he wanted the phone. I threw the phone onto the kitchen island and tried to get away. Derek then grabbed me by the back of my hair to pull me back to him. He eventually let go and as I turned around he grabbed me by my upper arms so I couldn’t leave as he tried to drunkenly explain that he wasn’t talking to another female.

After this I tried to go to our bedroom to get my phone to call my mom so she could come help me. He stood in front of me cornering me so I could not get to my phone. He kept trying to talk to me and deny what he was doing. I eventually could grab my phone and get into our guest room and lock the door. I grabbed my suitcase and called my mom so she could come get me.”

Later she wrote,

“When I wrote my post on Sunday evening, I felt empowered. I was so proud of getting out of a relationship that was not right for me. I was proud that I left with nothing and could build my life over. I was proud I could finally find the courage to say that I was hurt, damaged, scarred and scared but still found a way to create a life for myself. All I wanted to was to share that. I want more people to know, they can change their circumstances at any time. I still find myself hesitant to share what happened, because, “it wasn’t that bad”. I didn’t bleed, I didn’t break bones, I was not hit, kicked or thrown to the ground. I question, if my experience is powerful enough to help women. Is going through this worth the outcome? My intention is not make the man I loved, and still have love in my heart for, look like a monster, because he isn’t. Life chewed him up and spit him out just as it did to me. I am sure if his work, family, finance and stress situations were different, this would have been different. But they weren’t, and I had words hurt me and his touch hurt me. I will forever have that shape who I am. Already, women have reached out to me living in similar circumstances, many MUCH MUCH worse than I could imagine. With those interactions, I know, that putting myself out there to share will help others to find a way to leave, start over and create something beautiful.”

Norris denied the allegations then and denies them now. His  former fiancée took down the post; I’m not sure what that means. She did not report the alleged attack to the police. MLB’s suspension will coast him the remaining $100,000 that is owed to him by the Rays. He’s not appealing the suspension. Why, you ask? He’s not appealing, I assume, because he will be a free agent over the off-season, and at 28, with an All-Star game on his resume, still has value as a catcher. Norris knew, or if he didn’t his agent surely enlightened him,  that if he doesn’t get this controversy behind him quickly, it will cost him millions of dollars, and not just a hundred grand.

Although Norris  is the fifth major league player to be disciplined under baseball’s domestic violence policy, he is the only one  disciplined without a police report, based only on a social media post.  Yes, Eck’s passionate narrative seems credible, but someone cannot be fairly found guilty and punished for an offense, in law or in fairness, based solely on the unsubstantiated allegations of another—particularly if they are later recanted or withdrawn.

This is a terrible precedent, and the slippery slope is already sliding: MLB. is currently investigating  Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, whose wife, Melisa, wrote on Instagram that Russell had cheated on her, prompting a friend of hers to post that Russell had once struck his wife.  Russell, now in the process of getting a divorce, has denied the accusation.

The policy MLB seems to be establishing will allow players innocent or guilty  to be extorted by girlfriends, and spouses, ex-and current, who know they can cost a player millions and even a career by posting an allegation of abuse on social media, without the claim ever being reported officially or investigated by authorities close to the time it occurs. That isn’t fair, just, responsible or competent.

I’m sure Mattress Girl approves, however.

I also find myself wondering if Norris would be treated this way if he were not a currently unemployed reserve catcher, but a key player on a play-off seeking team. Would the King’s Pass take over?

5. This baseball season has featured more ethics issues and controversies than any within memory. I’m pondering whether to start a spin-off blog devoted to baseball ethics. I’m sure at least ten people would read it…nobody actually involved with baseball, of course.

17 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, Social Media, Sports, Workplace

17 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/3/17: A Troubling MLB Suspension, Anti-Trump Mania Update, And Announcing “US Race Relations Have Finally Reached The Point Where They Make No Sense Whatsoever” Sunday

  1. Rick M.

    Is it just my perception that in he said/she said the “truth” is always with she said? Several years ago a person I worked with was in the process of a divorce and consulted a lawyer. She was told to get a restraining order. When she responded that there was no need for it nor had any violence – physical or verbal taken place – she was told to either get a new lawyer or “grow-up.” She got a new lawyer. I have a tendency to support the female version of these various “incidents,” but I am now questioning that.

    • One of the most frustrating episodes of my life involved losing one of my high school friends over a girl. She had said that I had done things that not only had I not done, but would have been facially absurd had at the time been out as being gay. And to this day I don’t understand why… You know? Why lie like that? Regardless… My friend, who must have been thinking something like you, despite 15 years of friendship believed her over me, and we are no longer friends.

      For quite a while afterwards, I was bitter, heck… I still might be. This had colored my preconceptions about honesty, especially surrounding domestic abuse. And part of my process when I’m bitter and don’t understand things is to soak up as much information as I can about the topic.

      Usable statistics regarding domestic abuse are basically non-existent. What we have fit on spectrums, with one side being those coming from groups like AVFM that are interested in minimizing the problem, and the other coming from a basket of progressives that are very interested in making people think that every man is a latent violent neanderthal. What that means is that in the absence of unbiased numbers, we should be able to look at the methodology and pick out something close to the truth. The problem is that I don’t think AVFM *has* a methodology and feminists learned after the Kost studies that people will actually read them and point out the ways the study was biased, so now they more often than not it isn’t provided. But one of the best breakdowns of numbers related to the topic comes from Data Gone Odd, who has unfortunately stopped blogging. He mentioned several times after the “How to Mislead” series that progressives were harassing him because of the topic. I find this funny for two reasons. First.. I don’t KNOW whether they harassed him to the point of exhaustion or if he just got lazy, but this kind of fact pattern is used as evidence as per se examples of censorious harassment from progressives. But I guess only when someone else does it. And two… DGO’s information is really as unbiased a look as I’ve ever seen, and so from my perspective, progressives shitting on him was one of the earlier examples I had of progressives rejecting reality to adhere to their dogma.

      http://www.datagoneodd.com/blog/2015/01/25/how-to-lie-and-mislead-with-rape-statistics-part-1/

      Now… on to the topic of honesty in domestic abuse… DGO talked about a study done by Eugene Kanin:

      “This city was targeted for study because it offered an almost model laboratory for studying false rape allegations. First, its police agency is not inundated with serious felony cases and, therefore, has the freedom and the motivation to record and thoroughly pursue all rape complaints. In fact, agency policy forbids police officers to use their discretion in deciding whether to officially acknowledge a rape complaint, regardless how suspect that complaint may be. Second, the declaration of a false allegation follows a highly institutionalized procedure. The investigation of all rape complaints always involves a serious offer to polygraph the complainants and the suspects. Additionally, for a declaration of false charge to be made, the complainant must admit that no rape had occurred. She is the sole agent who can say that the rape charge is false. The police department will not declare a rape charge as false when the complainant, for whatever reason, fails to pursue the charge or cooperate on the case, regardless how much doubt the police may have regarding the validity of the charge. In short, these cases are declared false only because the complainant admitted they are false. Furthermore, only one person is then empowered to enter into the records a formal declaration that the charge is false, the officer in charge of records. Last, it should be noted that this department does not confuse reported rape attempts with completed rapes. Thus, the rape complainants referred to in this paper are for completed forcible rapes only. The foregoing leaves us with a certain confidence that cases declared false by this police agency are indeed a reasonable–if not a minimal reflection of false rape allegations made to this agency, especially when one considers that a finding of false allegation is totally dependent upon the recantation of the rape charge.”

      “Since this is the internet and that was a long quote, allow me to sum it up

      -Police officers are forbidden to use their discretion in deciding whether a complaint is false.

      -A complaint is determined to be false if, and only if, the complainant admits that no rape occurred.”

      Now… There are all kinds of legitimate problems with the Kanin Study… The most glaring is that it comes from a single Midwestern county with a population of about 70,000 people. But the Kanin study found that using those specific fact patterns, the rate of false rape allegations, not unproven rape allegations, but allegations actually admitted to being false by the complainant, was 41%. or 45 of the 109.

      Why so much higher than we’ve been told? I suspect because of the two bullet points there: A certain amount of judicial discretion usually keeps cases that are either facially absurd or quickly proven impossible from being filed and counted. If every allegation immediately resulted in a file being made… I think national numbers would start to approach this. As an example, while writing this, the case of the Edmonton cab driver who was accused of rape because the fare didn’t want to pay $10, and was exonerated by his on board camera sprung to mind. Had he not had a camera, his life would have been made hell, and as it was, nothing came of the allegation.

      Do I believe that the false allegation rate nationally is 41%? I sure hope not… But the truth of the matter is that we don’t know, and it could be. It would beggar belief and be damn coincidental for the one district that actually gave a damn about properly processing rape allegations to punch twenty times the national average in false allegations. In fact, it could be higher… Admitting to filing a false report is a crime, and in this Midwestern county, I have to assume that there are people savvy enough to realize that admitting to falsely accusing rape is actually a crime, so the real number is probably 41%+The accusers who did not admit they lied.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Regarding 5: I don’t know if you’re actually considering it but imho it’s a bad idea to make a spin off.

    We are drowning in political war (not on this site, in general I mean), and while it is important to keep covering the stories related to the…is it still the 2016 election trainwreck?…anyway, it is also extremely important to keep the stories from other events happening.

    As someone who doesn’t follow baseball at all it’s enjoyable to read your analysis of these things as someone who doesn’t have a strong believe either way on some of these topics.

  3. “…again light on President Trump Hate, after last week’s orgy.”

    When the leftist attacks in Berkeley were covered last week, I wondered if the media wasn’t picking a very late summer story to cover as an inoculation against bias charges when everyone is back and paying attention after Labor Day.

  4. Sharon

    5. I do not follow baseball but it seems I have always gotten something of value from your baseball posts because I am always able to apply those posts to other areas of life. An example is the post you did on the knuckleball. In fact, when “Knuckleball” was showing on Netflix, I HAD to watch it. My husband was very pleased and thought I had finally come around and was now interested in baseball. His happiness was a bit deflated when I told him I was not watching “Knuckleball” because I was interested in baseball. I was interested in the struggles and dedication it takes for an accomplished pitcher who uses the knuckleball.

    • This is gratifying, Sharon; I hope that’s the way readers regard the baseball posts. The game, for many reasons, is a reliable Petri dish for ethics issues that extend far beyond the diamond.

  5. JP

    Not a fan of baseball but I have become a big fan of you and all your post. I check the site at least ten times a day to see what you have to say. I find all of it fascinating. Keep it up.

  6. Yes, Eck’s passionate narrative seems credible, but someone cannot be fairly found guilty and punished for an offense, in law or in fairness, based solely on the unsubstantiated allegations of another—particularly if they are later recanted or withdrawn.

    This is a terrible precedent, and the slippery slope is already sliding: MLB. is currently investigating Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, whose wife, Melisa, wrote on Instagram that Russell had cheated on her, prompting a friend of hers to post that Russell had once struck his wife. Russell, now in the process of getting a divorce, has denied the accusation.

    This is why the word of Jesus Christ, “Judge not lest ye be judged”, is good advice.

    What you wrote is the alternative

  7. Chris

    What my sister calls fear of dangerous incompetence is really objections to style, rhetoric and policy, none of which are justifiable reasons to remove a President before an election.

    Is it your position that the president is not dangerously incompetent?

    • I can’t speak for Jack, but my take on it is that despite the preconception that the president is the most powerful man on Earth, he’s in reality not even the most powerful man on the continent.

      I mean, financial power notwithstanding, in order for the president to do anything, he has to contend with the check and balance that is congress. Whereas say… In Canada, so long as the Prime Minister has a majority parliament, he basically has the run of the mill. Trump himself cannot under any circumstances provide a positive vote towards anything.

      And that’s part of the beauty of the American system, it can withstand idiots in power, so long as the people surrounding him are not also deranged in some way shape or form.

      America’s problems did not start with Trump, he’s the whipping boy.

      • Chris

        What checks and balances stop the president from launching a nuclear weapon?

        • The same ones that stopped Obama from illegally authorizing drone strikes on American citizens…

          Elections have consequences, as Obama loved to say.

          • Chris

            But that’s my point, slickwilly. Saying that Trump has certain checks and balances isn’t a rebuttal to my statement that he’s dangerously incompetent. The nuclear weapon question was to show how his incompetence could be dangerous in a way that couldn’t be checked. I’m not sure why HT thought that was a joke. Your drone example shows the same is true for a leader who is dangerously arrogant.

            • I think we are in violent agreement on the concept. 🙂

              I also think Trump is not the madman progressives find it politically convenient to pretend he is.

              You pays yer money, and takes yer seat.

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