Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/17/18: Dead Singers, Honorable Magicians, Untrustworthy Ex-Employees, Volunteer Pitchers, And Little Horses

Goooood Morning, Pennsylvania!

(That’s where I going for the next four days, on a rural Pennsylvania ethics CLE speaking tour!)

1. Aretha Franklin Ethics If I can say right now without question that I will never voluntarily listen to an Aretha Franklin record, does that make me a racist? Her death triggers the “recognition but not admiration” impulse I reserve for artists whose skill and importance to the culture I acknowledge and honor, but whose art I never enjoyed and won’t miss. ( Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Barbra Streisand and Joni Mitchell are in the same category for me, restricting the list to pop female singers.) However…

  • It certainly is incompetent for Fox News to mix up Aretha and Patti Labelle, walking right into the “all black folks look the same to them” canard.
  • Since the news media/resistance collective has decreed that anything the President does of says is proof of a depraved soul, we had this yesterday: a White House press pool member for Buzzfeed told another reporter—she didn’t even tweet it!— that the President’s reaction to Franklin’s death was that he”Described her as a person he knew well and who worked for him.” This became more proof that President Trump is a racist: his immediate reaction to the death of a black woman was to think of her as a subordinate.

Will the sane and fair members of the public, which I assume is, if not a majority, a large group, ever turn on such people? A. The statement was hearsay, and not even a quote. B. Franklin did work for him, signing a contract to sing at at a Trump casino. C. What does “knew well” even mean in this context? He didn’t say that he knew her personally, or that they were pals, though who knows? I know her well too: she’s that famous soul singer I couldn’t stand listening to.

2. A spontaneous outburst of integrity...from the unlikely source of professional magician/loudmouth Penn Jillette. Jillette is an asshole, an assessment that I doubt he would dispute himself, but when the vocally-progressive entertainer (aren’t they all?) was asked in a recent Vulture interview to weigh in on Omarosa’s claims about the kind of language Donald Trump used behind closed doors, he responded,

“If Donald Trump had not become president, I would tell you all the stories. But the stakes are now high and I am an unreliable narrator. What I do, as much as anything, is I’m a storyteller. And storytellers are liars. So I can emotionally tell you things that happened racially, sexually, and that showed stupidity and lack of compassion when I was in the room with Donald Trump and I guarantee you that I will get details wrong. I would not feel comfortable talking about what I felt I saw in that room….

I will tell you things, but I will very conscientiously not give you quotations because I believe that would be morally wrong. I’m not trying to protect myself. This really is a moral thing.”

Good for Penn. He’s also a very creative and entertaining magician, as is his mute sidekick, Teller.

3. My Facebook  “resistance” friends are fuming...over President Trump’s following through on his threat to pull John Brennan’s security clearance. In the history of the nation, no former national security figure has issued such sweeping and partisan personal attacks on a President of the united States while wielding his prior position and current security clearance as credentials. We discussed this in some detail here.

Ongoing security clearance is a privilege, and indicates that the individual is still regarded as a trustworthy member of an elite group of trustworthy potential public servants. If they have demonstrated that they are not trustworthy, as not only Brennan but also Clapper, Comey, McCabe and others have beyond a reasonable doubt, then they are no longer worthy of that privilege. Is personal animus also part of Trump’s motivations. perhaps even the decisive part? Sure it is, but we just discussed this, too. Bad motives for doing the right thing do not change the fact that an action is still right.

4. Today’s baseball ethics note. This has been a fascinating season for baseball ethics. The latest issue to raise its horsehide head is the increasing frequency of position players coming in to pitch during blow-outs, like yesterday’s 24-4 Mets victory over the Phillies. Rather than waste a relief pitcher whose fresh arm may be needed the next day in a game with a more competitive score, managers are increasingly resorting to putting non-pitchers on the mound in the late innings. Usually their batting practice serves are clobbered, or they can’t get the ball over the plate. Sometimes batters come out of their shoes swinging at pitches 20 miles per hours slower than what they are used to, and whiff.

Several ethics-related questions are being raised by this trend:

  • Is this damaging to the integrity of the game? No, of course not. Baseball’s rules permit any player to play any position, and always have.
  • If the practice is increasing, should baseball limit or restrict it? Ugh. This is like the shifts argument. Again, of course not. Strategies come and go, and the game evolves. Let managers use the roster the way they think will win the most games.
  • Isn’t it damaging to the game that the pitchers-for-a-day don’t take the role seriously? It’s fun for them, sure. Most players were pitchers at some point on their journey to the majors. Rocky Colavito, when he played for the Yankees, was famous for having an incredible throwing arm. He couldn’t wait to get a chance to pitch, and when he finally had the chance, twice, he was unhittable. He smiled a lot on the mound though, and was obviously having the time of his life. Meanwhile, the fans get a kick out of seeing a player try to do something outside of his usual skill-set, especially since the results of these games are not in doubt.
  • There is some statistical evidence that some batters aren’t trying as hard as they might to do their worst against the emergency pitchers. Maybe the players are being kind, and employing the Golden Rules. Maybe they are tired of running around the bases. Is this baseball etiquette, or another breach of integrity?

5. Ick, ethics, or the creeping lunk-headedness epidemic?  As of September 17, Southwest passengers will be able to fly with their  miniature horses as trained service animals.  As of September 17, I will try to fly by flapping my arms before I will buy a seat on Southwest Airlines.

Nobody needs to fly with a horse. If you really have to have an animal with you to fly without freaking out, choose an animal that isn’t livestock. Southwest is inconveniencing all of its passengers to accommodate a silly few.

A previous post on this annoying topic is here.

Officials announced the policy change, via a statement on its website on Tuesday. In the statement, officials name miniature horses, along with dogs and cats, as some of the most common service animals that will be accepted onboard. Passengers, however, will need to be able to provide credible verbal assurance that the animal is a trained service animal.


Sources: The Blaze, Fox , AOL


71 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/17/18: Dead Singers, Honorable Magicians, Untrustworthy Ex-Employees, Volunteer Pitchers, And Little Horses

  1. 4. Baseball’s seen a very weird division of pitchers into either starting pitchers or one-inning relievers, with result that they run out of pitchers even when they seem to be carrying extras. It’s never made sense that there should be guys who are effective for 6 or more innings, and nearly everyone else should pitch one inning and exit the game.

  2. (From the link) “Come September 17, people will be able to carry miniature horses onboard Southwest flights as trained service animals, according to airline officials.”

    Bull. Shit. Even the smallest of miniature horses is still the size of a St. Bernard. If the people hoping to have their animal fly with them can legitimately pick them up and carry them onto the plane, I’ll eat my loafers.

    • My emotional service animal is a six-foot Western Diamond-Back rattlesnake. He keeps me more afraid of him than of flying.

      • Mine is a bat. Hangs from his feet from the overhead of the seat next to me.

        On Southwest, it means I never have to sit by anyone: would you like a bat hanging in your face?

      • The point of the policy is to exclude all animals but those listed (snakes, etc, being NOT included). Then, each animal not categorically excluded must then be individually accommodated, if possible. Presumably too large of a miniature horse would NOT be accommodated.

        Having the policy adds weight to their denial of nonsensical reptiles, rodents, and anxiety insects.

    • Perhaps that is the aim of the policy. A requirement that states that the animal must be carried on board limits the amount and size of horses brought on board.

    • I have to admit I laughed at the pic of a turkey on a Delta flight, but honestly, the whole companion animal thing has gone too far, if now horses have to be considered for flights.

      • Given it’s origins, absolutely. Several years ago, someone did a study and found that pets had a calming effect on people. Thus, we evolved from that to emotional service animals. Kinda sad, when you think about it.

  3. (b)2 (/b) Jillette describes himself as libertarian, is pro-gun rights, and has defended the Tea Party. I wouldn’t put him in the “progressive” camp as we know them today.

    Some of his comments on discussing the Tea Party:
    “…magician and comedian Penn Jillette – who is a self-described libertarian – challenged assertions by actress Rachael Harris that the Tea Party movement is motivated by “racism” against President Barack Obama. Jillette: “Well, that’s the magic word. Once you say ‘racism,’ the other side loses automatically. And I don’t think we have very much evidence that that’s what it is. Don’t they have to be doing racist things besides you just saying that they’re racist?”

    Harris cited the racial makeup of the Tea Party movement as evidence of its racist motivation: “No, but they’re looking at the number of people that are in, like, the majority of the people that are in the Tea Party,” leading Jillette to respond: “So the race that they are makes them racist by definition?”

  4. Correction. Jillette is a libertarian — and a well known one at that. I agree with you that he is a loudmouth though.

  5. Oh, and I love Aretha Franklin. I’ve had “Think” in my head for two days now. I like Barbra, especially her old movies, but her personality does grate on me.

  6. 1 Joni Mitchell’s style always drove me crazy…sounds like she was just handed a random paragraph and told to sing it extemporaneously.

    Heard some paean to Franklin the other day praising her for her role in “promoting social justice”, or some such typical cant. Surprised the hell out of me; I thought she was just a well-known singer. Does that and also being black automatically award you status as a hero of the revolution?

  7. Point 4.

    I personally believe that no person deserves special credentials – security clearance or otherwise- following a stint in the White House, or Congress. This includes all related departments.

    My rationale is, that with respect to security clearances, it is an expensive proposition for employers to obtain security clearances for new hires. This puts all non government personnel at a disadvantage in employment in the private sector and gives larger employers that hire former government employees subsidy that smaller contractors who need employees with clearances will not get.

    In a sense, it is unjust enrichment simply by virtue of being formerly employed in government.

  8. Huh. “Bad motives for doing the right thing do not change the fact that an action is still right.” Well, that statement certainly is incorrect under the law — at least employment law. If a boss fires his secretary claiming that she is the WORST typist in the world (and indeed she is), but he’s really firing her because she won’t sleep with him, then she is going to get a judgment in her favor.

    That said, I have no comment on the Brennan affair. Honestly, it is so low on my list of things to be concerned about, it’s not even worthy of a mad face emoji on Facebook.

    • That’s a great example of a law vs ethics bind. Similarly, the law won’t let you fire a terrible employee who is smart enough to file a complaint about something or other first, because the law will treat the firing as retaliatory.

      The ethics question is: is the right thing for the company to fire the clod, and is the CEO doing his duty to do so?
      Similarly, there may be ethical reasons why a particular employee isn’t fired—kindness, compassion, loyalty but that won’t make the decision not to fire him—if he’s hurting the company, or engaged in conduct that demands firing—any less wrong.

      • But we can’t talk about ethics here either because it is Trump (or any politician for that matter). It’s all about optics.

    • Why is it is so low on your list of things to be concerned about, it’s not even worthy of a mad face emoji on Facebook? Maybe you could illuminate those of us nitwits who find Brennan’s post election conduct so annoying and, frankly, as a former head of the CIA, reprehensible?

      • OB — I’m referring to the liberal outrage. I’m not joining them in this because I have bigger fish to fry. Now, on the other side of this coin, if this has you all riled up, then you do you.

  9. 4-“during blow-outs, like yesterday’s 24-4 Mets victory over the Phillies.”

    Is it just me, or have there been an inordinate number of significant shellackings this season?

    If so, why? And has Global Warming been ruled out?

    • Why? It doesn’t explain the Phillies being clobbered by the Mets, but it’s clearly because of the polarization of talent this season, due to injuries, bad luck, and in some cases, so-called “tanking.” Three teams will win 100 games in the AL: that’s never happened in a league since expansion (1961). Three teams, and maybe five. will lose 100 games. The Orioles may lose more than 110. Baseball has had a long period of parity, but it all fell apart this season, especially in the AL.

  10. #5) How is this not a safety issue? How can a miniature horse be secured during flight turbulence? What about emergency deplaning? Etcetera.

  11. 4. Today’s baseball ethics note.

     Is this damaging to the integrity of the game? Of course it is. In sand lot and little league anybody can play anywhere. These guys are major leaguers. Just because it’s not prohibited by rule it’s a good idea? Maybe the Clintons should become commissioner. Do we need a rule that says “The object of the game is to have more runs than the other team at the end of the game?”

     If the practice is increasing, should baseball limit or restrict it? Yes. Allow managers to concede, as they are now allowed to concede intentional walks by simply signaling. These hits and runs have no integrity. What about the sanctity of statistics?

     Isn’t it damaging to the game that the pitchers-for-a-day don’t take the role seriously? Of course it’s awful to have major league players clowning around in league games before paying customers and TV audiences. It’s fun for them, sure. So what. If Rocky Colavito wanted to pitch, let him pitch in winter ball. If he was such a great pitcher, let him pitch every fifth game and rest in the outfield during his off days. I attended a bel canto opera where the cast members were clowning around and essentially making fun of the bel canto style. The program notes quoted on of the singers as saying the director “had allowed them to have fun doing the opera.” Since when is it the objective of a professional artist or athlete to have fun plying their trade? If you don’t respect the work of art, or the game, STOP. Meanwhile, the fans get a kick out of seeing a player try to do something outside of his usual skill-set. Why not have them play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the organ or run in the Presidents race or the pretzel race during the stretch? Especially since the results of these games are not in doubt. If that’s the case, why continue? “Farce” – noun – definition no. three: an absurd event. Why not have a sabermetrics guy sit next to the scorer of every game and declare a winner when the result of the game is no longer in doubt?

     There is some statistical evidence that some batters aren’t trying as hard as they might to do their worst against the emergency pitchers. Maybe the players are being kind, and employing the Golden Rules. Tom Hanks, take it away: “There’s no Golden Rule in baseball!” Is this baseball etiquette, or another breach of integrity? If concessions were allowed, the question and the answer would be irrelevant.

    What’s probably driving the hesitation to allow concessions is television and radio advertising revenue and, ironically, concessions themselves, i.e., revenue from beer and food and gift shop sales in the park. In any event, this practice is a blight on the game. If everything is about pitch count and percentages, stop the charade. Somebody needs to have the backbone to say concessions are permissible and admit, to paraphrase Howard Cosell, “that’s why we don’t play the game (after a certain point).”

    • And if we’re going to have major league games played like Little League, MLB should adopt a mercy rule. Five runs? Seven runs? Ten runs.

      • Well, I watched the Mariners take a 12 run lead to the 7th and eventually lose to the Indians in the 11th, 15-14. (8/5/2001) So no mercy rule, ever.
        I realize you likely weren’t serious, but as a Mariners fan, I can’t help recalling this game, often, publicly, and loudly. It is the essence of the Mariners; an absolute distillation of pure mariner-ness, snuck into an historic 116 win season by the baseball gods to remind all of Marinerdom who we are. But, it also makes a larger point about baseball.

  12. 5: I doubt the miniature horse thing will last. Horses can’t be housetrained and diapers only do so much for so long. I’ve been in too many livestock tents to want to be in a livestock airplane. Wait til customers raise very justifiable fits and probably lawsuits. Accommodation should not butt up against other’s accommodations. This should be funny.

    • I was wondering when this issue would come up. I have experienced equine critters, both mini and regular, right here in the “yard” and either would cause much trouble confined on a plane, let alone in the loading lounge. That tube from the gate to the plane has too many similarities to a trailer for loading to go smoothly.

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