Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/10/2019: Ethics Savings Time Edition!

It’s still morning according to MY watch…

1. When ethics alarms don’t ring...How could Philadelphia’s retailers and stores not have seen this problem? The city of Philadelphia has passed a law that will requiring retailers to accept cash, responding to increasing numbers that have gone “cashless.”The new law was signed by Mayor Jim Kenney last week and takes effect on July 1 . Violations could bring  fines of up to $2,000.

City Councilman Bill Greenlee co-sponsored  the bill. “It just seemed to me unfair that I could walk into a coffee shop right across from City Hall, and I had a credit card and could get a cup of coffee. And the person behind me, who had United States currency, could not,” he explained.

Good. Serving only people with credit cards is obviously discriminatory.

2.  More on the robocalling experiment. I previously noted that MLB is using the independent Atlantic League to try out some new rules, innovations, and suggested “fixes” for baseball. Only one is of obvious ethics interest: the electronic calling of pitches, which is a matter of integrity. Games should not be warped by crucial decisions that are obviously erroneous and that the game now has the technological tools to prevent. The rest of the measures being tested raise issues of their own:

  • The mound will be moved back two feet to 62’6″. Comment: I assume this is an effort to make hitting easier and pitching harder. I find it difficult to believe that anything this radical has a chance of being adopted.
  • Larger bases will be used (18″ instead of 15″). Comment: Okaaaay…
  • Defensive shifts will be banned. Comment: A terrible idea, constraining defensive creativity and the constant back-and forth change-and-response that has kept baseball dynamic. Let batters figure out how to beat shifts. They have the ability to do it.
  • A radar-enabled strike zone will be employed. Comment: It’s about damned time!
  • Time between innings and pitching changes reduced from 2:05 to 1:45. Comment: Good.
  • Three batter minimum for pitchers entering a game. Comment: This is to eliminate the single pitcher-per-batter trend in late innings that slows down the game with minimal benefits. I see no reason not to do it; there are similar rules already, such as requirements that a pitcher must pitch to at least one batter.
  • There will be no mound visits unless a pitcher is removed from the game or for medical issues. Comment: NO visits is draconian. All this will do is speed the intrusion of electronic communications between catcher and pitcher and pitcher and manager. Yechhh!

3. When lawyers should just shut-up. ABA Model Rule Of Professional Conduct 3.6 says in part:

a) A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.

It also says,

c) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may make a statement that a reasonable lawyer would believe is required to protect a client from the substantial undue prejudicial effect of recent publicity not initiated by the lawyer or the lawyer’s client. A statement made pursuant to this paragraph shall be limited to such information as is necessary to mitigate the recent adverse publicity.

The rule, which has substantially identical versions in all jurisdictions, needs to be enforced more stringently. It isn’t, I assume, because the bar associations are worried about a court striking down the rule as a First Amendment violation.

Here’s Jussie Smollett’s lawyer, media hound Mark Geragos, on the charges against his client.:

“This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy in tampering with his medical records. Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption.”

ALL the publicity was initiated by Gallegos’s client! His crime was designed to get publicity!

Shut up, Mark. This is the kind of statement that does your client no good, and adds to the public’s distrust of lawyers.

I do give him credit for one thing, though: note that he says, “Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence,” and not “Jussie is innocent,” which he knows is a lie.

4. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

  • Headline (NYT):Border at ‘Breaking Point’ as More Than 76,000 Unauthorized Migrants Cross in a Month.” Quote:”More than 76,000 migrants crossed the border without authorization in February, an 11-year high and a strong sign that stepped-up prosecutions, new controls on asylum and harsher detention policies have not reversed what remains a powerful lure for thousands of families fleeing violence and poverty.”

Gee, sounds like a national emergency to me! Nope: it’s Trump’s fault: “the Trump administration’s aggressive policies have not discouraged new migration to the United States.”

  • Because the Democrat’s watered down “anti-hate” resolution did nothing to condemn the anti-Semitic statements by Rep. Omar, some Republicans withheld their votes for it in protest. Here was how Politico spun it: “Republican leadership splits, and party splinters over hate resolution.”

5. I suppose this should be a stand-alone post, but I don’t want to write about Michel Jackson any more than I have to. It is now official [Pointer: JutGory]: “The Simpsons” is airbrushing away the classic 1991 episode “Stark Raving Dad,” because a key character was voiced by Michael Jackson. James L. Brooks, co-creator of the show, says that the 1991 episode guest-starring Michael Jackson will be pulled out of its archives, permanently, and will be removed from all platforms including DVD sets and streaming services. “It feels clearly the only choice to make,” Brooks says. “The guys I work with—where we spend our lives arguing over jokes—were of one mind on this.”  He added, “I’m against book burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”

Sure it’s book burning, and  “the guys Brooks works with” are probably all in favor of tearing down the statues of Confederate generals and monuments to slave-holding Founders, too. Brooks’ ideological clones are suddenly fans of censorship and hiding history when it becomes uncomfortable. There is so much wrong with this decision, it boggles the mind, but a few will suffice…

  • Why now? Oh, right: a documentary made a decade after Jackson’s death suddenly proves what couldn’t be proved in court, is that the theory?
  • Is Brooks really asserting that any artist who releases his or her art to the public is justified in unilaterally destroying it because of a personal motive? The artist has the right, yes. It’s also unethical. The work is no longer the artist’s, it belongs to the culture. This is why Stephen Spielberg has regretted and reversed his politically correctness-addled decision to change the guns carried by the federal agents in “E.T.” to walkie-talkies.
  • This is a time for Kant’s Categorical Imperative. If this is the right thing to do because of Jackson’s alleged misconduct,  then it must be absolute, an unconditional requirement to be observed in all circumstances and justified as an end in itself. That means that no work by Woody Allen, Bing Crosby, Bill Cosby, Errol Flynn, Richard Pryor, John Lennon (and by extension, The Beatles), Peter, Paul and Mary, Charlie Chaplin, Jerry Lee Lewis, and too many others to list, should ever again be available for the public to view, hear, or enjoy.
  • Presumably any film that O.J. Simpson appeared in must be vaporized as well, including “The Naked Gun” films and the greatest disaster movie ever made, “The Towering Inferno.”

The main thing is that “Stark Raving Dad” is a terrific episode.

This is flagrant narcissism, virtue-signaling and grandstanding by Brooks and his colleagues.

24 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/10/2019: Ethics Savings Time Edition!

  1. Re #5: it would also require you to ban every Simpson’s episode; they did feature Michael Jackson once, even though he did not use his name, but you could tell.*

    And that does not even begin to address all of its ethnic stereotypes.


    *an allusion to a joke from the Itchy and Scratchy Movie episode, where Lisa tells Bart there were lots of famous voices, like Dustin Hoffman and Michael Jackson; of course they didn’t use there own names, but you could tell-alluding to this episode and the one where Lisa’s substitute teacher was voiced by an uncredited Dustin Hoffman.

    • ”Itchy and Scratchy”

      That reminded me of one of my 1960’s animated faves, King Leonardo and His Short Subjects, featuring the ahead of their time criminal duo of Biggie Rat and Itchy Brother.

      I’m shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, that perpetually offended SJW’s haven’t stumbled upon the clearly racially insensitive Fiefdom of Bongo Congo.

      It gets worse.

      King Leonardo supported an X-Chromosomal hierarchy, his “subjects” paid homage to a feudal system AND were, per the title, regularly and insensitively height-shamed.

      Am I getting the hang of this…?

      • Thanks a bunch—now that King Leonardo theme song is stuck in my head. The King taled like W.C. Fields (as if any kids but me could tell) and his advisor the skunk was doing a Ronald Coleman impression.

        • That theme song was certifiable a hoot, which is why it’s a mystery to me that no one has asked, nay demanded, that it be permanently expunged from existence.

          Contented Natives Playing Contented Songs On Their Contented Drums?

          Yoikes; THAT along with every other aspect of the show, if that ain’t a target rich environment, I don’t know what is!

          Considering other T.V. offerings from that era you enjoyed, my best sense tells me you were a fan, am I right?

  2. # 3 (kinda) Yawn; another day, another unreported/under-reported Fake Hate Crime.

    Astutely observed: ”It is clear that there simply is not enough hate to meet the widespread psychological need to be a victim in the current social system that rewards such status.”

  3. Re #2:

    “That wasn’t a strike! Reverse the call, HAL!”

    “I’m afraid I can’t do that Dave.”

    “Reverse the call, HAL!”

    “I’m afraid I can’t do that Dave.”

    (mutters under his breath)

    “I can read lips, Dave. You are ejected from the game.”

    Regarding the rule of pitching to one batter minimum, how would one flout that rule? How does an assigned pitcher pitch to NO batters?

    • Although not a baseball guy, I *am* enough of a gamer to recognize a rules exploit when I see one: unless I’m wrong, there’s a game stoppage whenever there’s a pitching change. If a team wanted to delay the game for some reason they could do so by repeatedly subbing in pitchers without ever having one throw a pitch. It’s the kind of thing that gets done one time in one weird situation and then a rule gets added to prevent it.

        • Out of curiosity, what would be the advantage gained by that stalling tactic? Something concrete, or just the baseball equivalent of “icing the kicker” by stalling long enough that you hope to make the other side get antsy and out of the zone?

      • [My reply was meant for Gamereg. Everyone else’s comments were ineligible for praise in the Satire category. I think.]

  4. On #1 – I’m not sure I see the ethical issue. I’ve never thought there was an overriding ethical obligation for a business owner to take payment in whatever form the customer chooses. A cashless business is simply determining the method they want to accept payment, not actively discriminating against any one set of people. It is no different from places that will only accept cash, that pass on a surcharge for credit, refuse checks but take other payments, or won’t let you pay for a sixty dollar service in pennies.

    Given the premise that most businesses wish to make money and that more customers = more money, the conclusion is that cashless businesses are basing their decision around a business model that makes them deliver services more efficiently and cost-effectively to their customers. It could also result in increased safety for workers by removing temptation for burglary. To me, those seem to be the important ethical (and practical) considerations at play.

      • This is a good example of how out of touch people are with much of America. The banking industry, financial advisers and so on will attack the check cashing industry as predatory, when it really is the banks that are worse and predatory on the poor. Using check cashing and living with cash is the smarter thing to do for lower income people.

        I recommend watching this:

    • It is no different from places that will only accept cash, that pass on a surcharge for credit…

      Actually, it is different. Places that accept cash and credit but do not pass on a surcharge for credit are still passing on a charge for credit, only to all customers. It’s a Tragedy of the Commons thing nudging everybody towards only using credit, with the spurious appearance that it is more convenient all in all when in fact it is net worse but with its costs spread on others. That makes “the conclusion is that cashless businesses are basing their decision around a business model that makes them deliver services more efficiently and cost-effectively to their customers” the very essence of the spuriousness.

    • My brother went into a deep bankruptcy after a girlfriend tapped more than every dime he could get to get unused clothing for her kids among other things. He could not get a bank account for a while. Are you saying he should not be allowed to get a cup of coffee, too?

  5. How do you enforce the no shift? Are they going to start marking the fields and tell the defensive players they have to stay inside during each pitch? Frankly the whole idea just sounds stupid.

  6. 2. Another reason to enjoy living in Chinatown: Cash on the counter gets me the same meals, goods and services I would get in the places that take credit cards . . . for 1/2 to 1/3 the price. And they wonder why shoppers (especially for fresh produce on the main and sides streets off Stockton) travel to SF daily from hours away. Though sad to say, unbridled gentrification is on the way … after all, it IS the Year of the Pig.

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