I christened the Hader Gotcha last year after several athletes were forced to apologize for youthful social media comments that suggested a bigoted or insensitive state of mind. The ethics Alarms position on people looking through old social media posts to embarrass public figures and force them to grovel apologies to which ever group their comments offended was summarized in this post in the moderate, calm manner for which I am justly praised:
As I have written here before, searching for lingering social media idiocy that an athlete authored before he could drink or vote is despicable conduct, as is anyone making an issue of what the deep Twitter dives expose. First, what a baseball player said or thought—they are often not the same thing—in the past has nothing to do with his job, which is playing baseball and not making social policy, and second, nothing anybody says or even does before their brain has matured should be held against them in adulthood, unless it is criminal, and even then the law urges us to be forgiving. I know that a lot of social justice warriors think that any racist, sexist or homophobic comments made post birth should be treated a crimes, but they are anti-democratic nuts, and hostile to free thought and speech, so to hell with them.
That post was largely ignored, because too many readers here still fail to grasp that ethics issues arising in baseball often, indeed usually, have broader wisdom to convey. Since I wrote it, the employment of the Hader Gotcha has been expanded outside the realm of sports, most notably the recent example of Kevin Hart, the popular comic who was attacked the very day he was designated as the host of the upcoming Oscars. Hart was forced to withdraw because a Hader Gotcah exposed old anti-gay tweets. This time, however, I agreed that the tweets mandated his withdrawal, writing,
To be successful, an MC has to be liked and trusted by his audience, which is, for the Oscars, the people inside the theater above all. A huge percentage, even a half or more, of the Oscar audience is gay. No one can host the Oscars while it is known that he once said, even eight years ago, that he was terrified that his son might grow up to be gay. It doesn’t matter that he may have “evolved.” Hollywood is a substantially gay community, and the host of its biggest party of the year should neither be nor be suspected of being homophobic.
In other words, the general ethics rule I applied in the posts about athletes don’t always apply when the circumstances are different. What I should have pointed out, but didn’t, was that this illustrates the Ethics Incompleteness Principle:
No system or rule is going to work equally well with every possible scenario, which is why committing to a single ethical system is folly, and why it is important to keep basic ethical values in mind in case a pre-determined formula for determining what is right breaks down.
I still hold that searching for dirt in old social media posts is a miserable thing to do to anyone. Nonetheless, sometimes a miserable someone attempting the Hader Gotcha will uncover information that can’t be ignored, and shouldn’t be. For example…
The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio fired Dr. Lara Kollab, 27, who worked as a resident there, after several of her old tweets from 2012-2014 were uncovered and went viral on the web. in September 2018. Kollab is of Palestinian heritage, and tweeted out, for example,…
There were many others in the same vein.
Was the Cleveland Clinic right to fire her? How could they not? For liability purposes alone, no hospital can responsibly keep a doctor on staff who jokes about giving any patient the wrong medication, not can a doctor who regularly spewed hate about an ethnic group whose members she might be called upon to treat be regarded as trustworthy.
In many respects, this is a standard Hader Gotcha apology: Those words do not represent who I am today. All the athletes, and Kevin Hart, said the same thing. Maybe it’s true in all of their cases, as well as with Lara Kollab.
The problem with Kollab’s apology, and what keeps it from being a Level I apology—the best—on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, is that she never specifically apologizes to the people she denigrated. The problem isn’t offensive words. The problem is the animus and hate she focused on Jews. The fact that she could not bring herself to reassure Jewish patients who might have to trust her care and professionalism that she no longer regards them as dogs or those who would like to poison, while including in the apology references to Jewish “injustice and brutality” strongly suggests that she only regrets her “insensitive” and impolitic expressions of anger and antipathy that still exists. Thus this is not a #1,
“An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness,”
or even a #2,
“An apology motivated by the realization that one’s legitimate and defensible action or words caused unanticipated, excessive, or unnecessary harm to a particular party or parties. The apology expresses a sincere regret that the harm occurred.”
It is, rather, a #7 at best…
A forced or compelled [apology] , in which the individual (or organization) apologizing may not sincerely believe that an apology is appropriate, but chooses to show the victim or victims of the act inspiring it that the individual responsible is humbling himself and being forced to admit wrongdoing by the society, the culture, legal authority, or an organization or group that the individual’s actions reflect upon or represent .
and perhaps even a deplorable Level 10:
An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.
In other words, her apology isn’t good enough. It isn’t close to good enough. Not only should no Jewish patient trust her, no patient of any nationality or faith should trust a doctor who jokes about giving patients the wrong medicine. Nor should any medical facility hire such a doctor until she can prove that those tweets no longer apply to “who she is.”