Monday Morning Ethics, 4/8/19: Is Ethics Really As Hard As These People Make It Seem?

Good morning!

(That’s Jimmy’s old vaudeville partner Eddie Jackson singing with Jimmy. Eddie was a one-trick pony and never destined for stardom, though he did appear in the Zigfield Follies. After Jimmy became a big star, he still kept Eddie on his payroll, well into Eddie’s old age. Introduced by Durante as his “partner,” Jackson would come strutting out midway through the live or TV show, singing “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey?” in his unremarkable voice. Sometimes Jimmy joined in, sometimes Eddie just strutted off stage to end the number. This courtesy went on for decades, until Eddie was too feeble to perform.)

1. Baseball ethics: showboating. This happened yesterday…

Why? Well, Chris Archer, the Pirates pitcher, was peeved because the Cincinnati Reds’ Derek Dietrich hit a home run, dropped the bat, and stood stock still and stared at it as it left the field. This is known as showboating and showing up the pitcher; it’s a fuck you move. Archer retaliated in Dietrich’s next at bat by throwing a fastball behind Dietrich near his head, widely considered to be taboo as unacceptably dangerous. The fight ensued.

The episode raised questions about MLB’s controversial PR campaign with the slogan “Let the Kids Play!”, endorsing the flamboyant on-field celebrating and styling brought to the game by Latin players,  Archer is one of the prime “playing” players, famous (or infamous) for dancing off the mound after a strikeout, kissing his arms, and other displays of self-admiration. Since that is his act, many, including me, feel that it is the height of hypocrisy for this pitcher to take offense when a batter treats him the same way he treats batters when he wins their duels.

On the other hand, what Dietrich did was the equivalent of taunting.

Exuberance is one thing, bad sportsmanship is another, and that’s what this was. The “kids”can play as long as they remember that real kids are watching and learning. I don’t think Roy Hobbs’ pennant-winning home run in “The Natural” was any less dramatic because he didn’t flip his bat, watch the ball go and pump his fist going around the bases.

2. Who’s the most unethical New York Times op-ed columnist? There are so many to choose from, but Michelle Goldberg is climbing fast. I highlighted her indefensible op-ed on the Mueller report recently, but I just stumbled an older column that was worse. In this one, Goldberg bemoans that Freedom House only give the United States an “86” score in ranking how democratic a nation is, dropping the US behind such places you wouldn’t want to live in like Croatia, Latvia, and Greece (Sorry, Yaya), and it’s all Trump’s fault. The score is down from 94 in 2009, when every international organization was hailing anyone and anything connected to Barack Obama, and using numerical scoring to measure something like democracy is obviously nonsense, unless the score furthers your agenda. This is similar to journalists calling organizations “hate groups” because the Southern Poverty Law center say so. It’s pure appeal to authority with an authority that has no credibility: a  logical fallacy.

Does Goldberg persuasively explain why the U.S. is suddenly less democratic? Oddly, she doesn’t mention the collapse of a responsible, trustworthy press—sure that’s worth subtracting at least 12.38 points. She also doesn’t mention how the American Left has been trying for three years to undermine elections and the elected President , or as Victor Davis Hanson writes,

“Are such efforts in the future to be institutionalized? Will the Left nod and keep still, if Republicans attempt to remove an elected Democratic President before his tenure is up? Are appeals to impeachment, the 25th Amendment, the Emoluments Clause, the Logan Act, and a Special Counsel the now normal cargo of political opposition to any future elected president? Is it now permissible in 2020 for Trump’s FBI director to insert an informant into the campaign of the Democratic presidential nominee?”

What do you think, another—let’s see—18.47 points down? Goldberg doesn’t think so: she focuses on such things as Russiagate, though she nods that there have been some positive developments on that front: “Several of the criminals who helped Trump get elected either have gone to prison or soon will.”

Love it. Later Goldberg says that Trump’s attack on fake news somehow made other nations start censoring the news media there. That statement above is an outright lie. None of the individuals Mueller indicted had any role in “helping Trump get elected,” as we now know. But she writes that the report gives us two reasons to worry:

The first is that it usually takes more than two years for a democracy to collapse. “Elsewhere in the world, in places like Hungary, Venezuela or Turkey, Freedom House has watched as democratic institutions gradually succumbed to sustained pressure from an antidemocratic leadership, often after a halting start,” the report said— an increase in corruption and a decrease in transparency — both hallmarks of this administration — are “often early warning indicators of problems in a democracy,” undermining public faith in the legitimacy of the system.”

What corruption is she talking about? The Secretary of State selling influence to foreign power through her fake non-profit? No, it can’t be that. An administration using its Justice Department to illegally try to sabotage an opposing party’s Presidential candidate? What about transparency? Even many liberal commentators say that Trump’s administration is more transparent than Obama’s. And who is undermining faith in the legitimacy of the system more than people like Goldberg, who support baseless Democratic conspiracy theories about a traitorous President and a stolen election?

And reason #2:

“Second, if Americans increasingly ignore Trump’s words, foreign leaders don’t. Authoritarianism is on the rise all over the globe — according to the Freedom House report, this is the 13th consecutive year that global freedom has declined. Trump’s presidency is a consequence of this trend, but it’s also become an accelerant of it.”

It’s the 13th consecutive year according to Goldberg’s dubious source, but Trump’s tweets the past two and a half years are really at fault.

Why is this “fit to print”?

3. If our democracy is failing, here’s one of the real reasons:

In Long Island,  11-year-old Bella Moscato said that she was going to choose the President for a sixth-grade assignment at Samoset Middle School to write about a personal hero. The teacher told her that President Trump was not an appropriate choice, and suggested–guess who!—Barack Obama instead.

Bella’s mother, Valerie Moscato says what the teacher did amounts to intimidation and censorship. Yes, and also indoctrination.

Sachem Central School District Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Graham issued a denial, saying,

It is not accurate that this student was told that they were not allowed to conduct research or report on any individual for a school assignment, including President Trump. To the best of our knowledge, by choice the student is still conducting their project of President Trump.

The school board is supposedly looking into the matter. The Moscatos want an apology, and if he is smart, the Superintendent will grab the chance to get off easy.  That teacher, however, should be fired.



28 thoughts on “Monday Morning Ethics, 4/8/19: Is Ethics Really As Hard As These People Make It Seem?

  1. 1. Wasn’t it Cuban Man Child Show Boater Extraordinaire Yasiel Puig (I didn’t even know until yesterday the Dodgers had given up on him and traded him, I assume) who really got the brouhaha going yesterday in Pittsburgh? But of course we can’t criticize Senor Puig. That would be racist and anti-Latino. Jorge Ramos and Jim Acosta would land on us like a ton of bricks.

      • I can’t find the video on youtube but as I recall from seeing the incident on MLB network last night, the pitcher threw at the hitter’s butt, not his head. And won’t there be warnings and retribution and ejections and suspensions the next time the two teams meet? Won’t the Pittsburgh pitchers be obligated to “protect” their hitters? Isn’t that baseball by the book? Old school? Hasn’t EA been down this road any number of times? Do I wish major leaguers behaved like grown, professional men like they used to when I was a kid? Heck yes. But I’m afraid that train left the station a long, long time ago. Just part of the cultural race to the bottom to make everyone feel better. Let the kids play. Awful.

          • Who knows what he was throwing at? At those speeds, when the intent is to intimidate, throwing behind a batter is considered head-hunting.

            Exactly… and always has been.

            It was just an accepted part of the culture before: piss off your opponent, and he might try to commit mayhem upon your body. Field of Dreams showed this dynamic when the ‘kid’ was batting and was warned to watch out for a pitch ‘in your ear.’

            Our culture used to accept that some actions might provoke a swift right hook to the jaw: insult a lady, using fighting words, boorish behavior, and so on. Realizing that your opponent might defend themselves at least mitigated the impulse to provoke and assault. As we have lost that acceptance (for better or worse) our society has become less polite.

            Now we are rounding the bend of the circle, back to where were started. It is fine to assault someone for wearing a MAGA hat, or expressing a differing political opinion, or because they are white/male/Christian/unWoke. It will take some of the aggressors being hit back to realize that the deplorables will fight to stop the cycle.

            As always, liberals and progressives fold on whatever they use in place of principles when THEY themselves will pay a price.

        • Ty Cobb or even Pete Rose would call it a sissy game today. No take-out slides? No bowling the catcher over? Warning and ejections when a pitcher retaliates? The controversy in baseball is whether it has made baseball illegal.

          • That’s an interesting point. Also, to clarify, my expressed fondness for how the game was played when I was a kid and the players were adult men was for their businesslike demeanor. No gloating, no grandstanding, just play a very difficult game well and go home and get ready for the next game.

            • Do we need take out slides and spikes used to cut people or headhunting retaliation (often from pitchers who don’t go to the plate)? Probably not. Taking Buster Posey out for a season is not sportsmanship, it’s just moronic.

              • And if Pete Rose wants baseball tougher, how about no fielders’ gloves and modern baseballs. That’ll make a man out of you, Charlie Hustle.

              • Buster was responsible for that injury. He was blocking the runner’s access to the plate. Both that rule and the second base rule are just enforcement of the existing rules. I’m in favor of both, but they do take some excitement out of the game.

      • This brawling-over-prima-donnas’-delicate-egos is no way to shorten games. I know I don’t pay to go to see a fight while expecting to see a baseball game break out.

  2. 1. Hey, at least he didn’t mime a bowel movement on home plate. Seriously, Dietrich may have mocked him, but throwing at someone’s head is a thug move, especially after he’s apparently been acting like an ass on the mound for a while. He was probably a golden boy growing up and was allowed to act the jerk, but heaven forbid anyone call him on it.

    2. Michele Goldberg can join Barbara Kingsolver and Katha Pollitt and all the other liberal idiots who float in this different world where things like 9/11 and the War on Terror and (gasp) the election of Donald Trump just don’t happen. Any day now she’s going to wake up to President Hillary’s grandmotherly voice assuring her that all’s well, and the new Department of Public Safety will be around to collect all guns as soon as Speaker Ocasio-Cortez and Majority Leader Harris shepherd the 28th Amendment (which repeals the Second) and the 29th (which modifies the First to exclude hate speech and reduce free exercise of religion to freedom of worship) through.

    3. The teacher was a dummy not to set reasonable neutral parameters, like excluding current political figures or even saying living people can’t be used. She was an idiot to suggest Barack Obama instead, who only an idiot would consider a hero.

  3. 1. Baseball ethics: Showboating

    So the pitcher is well-known for taunting, and Dietrich gave him some of his own medicine.

    Yes, this is unethical. It’s also exactly what the fans these days want, and players know it. They also know that they enjoy taunting the other team. Pathetic, but true. Fans cheer when players showboat, make provocative gestures, and generally piss off the other team.

    This is part of a larger problem in sports, a culture that has now decided that it will tolerate as much of this kind of demonstrative behavior as it can, because it excites the fans and increases revenue. We all know that this is going to create tit-for-tat retaliation, but we profess to be shocked when it happens.

    Bah. Players should know better. So should managers and owners. Fans are largely too stupid to care, but honestly, feeding their stupidity is throwing hydrogen on the fire. The game suffers because of it.

    I don’t think Roy Hobbs’ pennant-winning home run in “The Natural” was any less dramatic because he didn’t flip his bat, watch the ball go and pump his fist going around the bases.

    I agree completely. I’ll bet neither of the two combatants has seen the movie, but they both need to watch it. Act like you been there and done that before, just like Roy.

    2. Unethical Times columnist

    Who’s the most unethical New York Times op-ed columnist?

    I recommend “Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe.” You can’t go wrong any way you do it.

    My vote goes to the “conservative” Jennifer Rubin.

    What corruption is she talking about? The Secretary of State selling influence to foreign power through her fake non-profit? No, it can’t be that. An administration using its Justice Department to illegally try to sabotage an opposing party’s Presidential candidate? What about transparency? Even many liberal commentators say that Trump’s administration is more transparent than Obama’s.

    Ah, well, you know the Messiah known as former president Obama cannot be blamed for anything that went wrong on his watch — the most scandal-free administration ever, you know.

    The Times has a list of rules, and that’s #3, right behind “never mention a Democratic politician’s party in connection with a scandal until the second half of the article” and “always use “pounce” to describe Republicans taking advantage of Democratic missteps, and “push back” to describe the reverse situation.”

    3. Failing democracy

    The school board is supposedly looking into the matter. The Moscatos want an apology, and if he is smart, the Superintendent will grab the chance to get off easy. That teacher, however, should be fired.

    Why? Because she’s following the exact philosophy she’s been taught all her life? How fair is that?

    Firing her won’t change that, and it’s for damn sure the principal won’t care. She should be counseled that it is inappropriate to display political preference and censorship like that, made to take mandatory sensitivity training on how to be unbiased in front of children, and required to pass a junior high school politics and government exam from 1959.

    After all, we don’t want to embarrass the little snowflake too much, though I’d be willing to wager she’d flunk the test comprehensively.

    • Thanks Dave. Yikes. That’s CREEPY! But I don’t think it’s conspiracy theorist stuff. It’s very plausible given her behavior. She clearly has trouble whenever she goes off script.

      There seems to be an entire cadre of young commies out there in pundit land and in campaign ranks. Check out this guy: Given the opportunity, I think these guys would primary Obama if he were to run for dogcatcher. to them, everybody wants a revolution and these guys are Lenin and Trotsky and Fidel and Che.

  4. Is pointing out those remorselessly unethical pointless? Don’t get me wrong, no one loves seeing leftists hoisted by their own petard more than me, but the list is so long and the ethics violations are so frequent, they seem to require consideration of some periodic general summary of bad behavior rather than the old Johnny Cash one piece at a time treatment daily. Just sayin’.

  5. 3. Can we maybe, just for a moment, using our country’s supposed “innocent until proven guilty” mantra, presume that the teacher didn’t do what she was accused of? Just for a moment. I’m guessing that maybe every single thing that a sixth grader utters about what his or her teacher said to him or her at school might not always be 100% accurate. Maybe it IS true. (I realize that the vast majority of EA readers will believe that it is.) But what if the 11-year-old responsible for reporting this egregious failure of education misunderstood what his teacher said, or even worse, went home and lied to his parents about it?? I taught for 31 years, and these kinds of things are among the reasons I retired – so many out and out falsehoods about what goes on in the classroom. And for the record: I agree that the teacher should be disciplined if this is indeed true. As mentioned in a comment above, the teacher should have known better than to not include some parameters in the assignment to avoid this type of issue. But for the student to be told “no, you are not allowed to use DT as a subject…” is indeed an egregious failure of education.

    • Yes, BUT. We know from verified accounts in other schools the kind of unethical indoctrination that occurs and is occurring in our schools. The 11-year-old’s account doesn’t sound like a likely fabrication for a child, and the sperintendants’s blanket denial is typical.

      There once was reason to trust teachers to be professional and not bring their unions’ politics into their teaching. No longer. Obviously, the student’s account must be verified before any untoward consequences attach to the teacher. Maybe the kid is a pint sized Jussie Smollett. I wouldn’t bet on it.

      • …and it shouldn’t be difficult at all to investigate and verify the accuracy of anything that happens in a room full of 20-30 people.


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