Last Resort Ethics Catch-Up, 6/19/2019

Desperately trying to salvage the day with the next one looking worse, and a lot of important ethics matters being swept toward the falls, were they risk being swamped by rapidly moving events…

1. Great sequence, unethical to make it…Not only was D.W. Griffith a film pioneer and a racist, he was also quite mad. If you haven’t see this sequence from D.W. Griffiths’ “Way Down East,” you must. That’s Lillian Gish on the ice floe, and actor Richard Barthelmess trying to rescue her for real. It was  shot on a frozen river as the ice broke up,  and Gish was really headed over the falls, though they were only a few feet high.  No stunt actors were used; Gish’s hair froze and she lost feeling in her hand from the cold. Her right hand was never quite right after that.

Things like this are what made actors’ unions necessary.

2.  What a mess.  The President’s Secretary of Defense nominee, Patrick Shanahan, resigned from the Acting-SOD role and removed his name from consideration in order to keep his family from being dragged through some awfully ugly mud, very little of which, it seems was of his making or germane to his qualifications for office.

Before their divorce, Shanahan’s ex-wife was arrested after punching him in the face; after the divorce, his son was arrested after attacking and nearly killing his mother with a baseball bat.  The Waltons this wasn’t. Shanahan tried to defend his son after that episode, arguing in a message sent to  his ex-wife’s brother  that his son had acted in self-defense and writing…

“Use of a baseball bat in self- defense will likely be viewed as an imbalance of force,” However, Will’s mother harassed him for nearly three hours before the incident.”

It was expected that Democrats would weaponize the memo against him in hearings, #MeToo-style.

Shanahan told  The Washington Post  that he wrote the memo in the hours after his son’s attack on his ex, before he knew the full extent of her injuries, to prepare for his son’s initial court appearance. He said  never intended for anyone other than his son’s attorneys and his brother-in-law to read it, but, of course, by showing the message to his brother-in-law it was no longer confidential.

Somehow, in a civilized culture, private tragedies like these should not become an impediment to public service. Yet it is hard to imagine how Shanahan thought it would not, since this is not a civilized political culture.

3. Extra-innings Ethics: It seems the culture is doomed to get progressively less rich, less diverse, and less valuable for building character. Last night, in Minnesota, the Red Sox lost to the Twins in an amazing, suspenseful, 17 inning game that lasted more than 6 hours. Baseball is the last major sport that holds the possibility of such dramatic marathons, now that tennis has adopted the tie-breakers. I learned a lot of ethics and life lessons from extra-inning games through the years, matters like courage, perseverance, redemption, determination, overcoming adversity, sacrifice, and more. These are also games that demand the devotion of fans, and a level of caring sufficient to make one stick it out no matter how long the contest lasts, realizing that if your team loses, you feel horrible.

Although such games are among the best features of baseball, the rulers of the sport are seriously considering killing them, and either accepting tie games or devising some kind of game-shortening gimmicks, like starting every extra-inning with a runner on second. Why? Well, it seems the computer game generations have the attention spans of mayflies, and won’t sit still for the rare extra-inning ordeal. These games have the same drawback as “War and Peace,” “The Ice Man Cometh,” “”King Lear,’ “The Seven Samurai,” Clarence Darrow’s closing arguments and other works of art that build their magic slowly to reach levels of quality and intensity that are literally impossible to achieve in shorter periods of time.

I read this week that the old Nickelodeon kids show “All That” was being re-booted after 14 years. We were told that the comedy skits would be much shorter, though, for current audiences. “Some of those old skits would just drag on for six or seven minutes,” a writer said.

4. More “When They See Us” ethics: The Netflix series about the Central Park Five case continues to collect victims. Earlier this week I wrote about how Linda Fairstein, the DA in the case who is portrayed as an outright villain,  has lost a publisher, various speaking opportunities and broad positions because of hostility toward her created by the series, an agenda-driven, one-sided portrayal engineered to create the impression of a racist vendetta. Now Elizabeth Lederer, the lead prosecutor in the case whom the script suggests was more interested in getting  convictions to relieve political pressure on her office than to achieve a just result, was forced to resign as an adjunct law professor at Columbia University after students protested,

Law professor Jonathan Turley correctly analogizes Lederer’s fate to that of Prof. Ronald Sullivan, who lost his post at Harvard as a House dean after students protested his legal defense of Harvey Weinstein. He writes, in a post showing more disgust than the careful and restrained legal expert typically reveals,

The merits of the case (like the merits of the Weinstein case) are immaterial to the underlying rights of free speech, academic freedom, and free association. The Deans at Harvard and Columbia trashed these rights in an effort to appease protesters. The cost of those decisions will only grow at these institutions — much like the costs recently imposed on Oberlin for its yielding to protesters in defaming a local grocery. The failure of most faculty to oppose these moves shows how defining values of American higher education are being increasingly pushed aside in an age of rage.

5.  The Democratic Party’s drift toward totalitarianism continues…First the Democratic Nation Committee announced that Fox News would not be permitted to host any of the candidates debates—after all, they wouldn’t want any challenging questions from non-Democratic Party favoring journalists to trip up anyone or expose their weaknesses. Now comes news that only  MSNBC will be allowed to provide live coverage of Saturday’s South Carolina Democratic Convention,  where 21 presidential candidates are expected to speak. No reason was given. I can’t imagine why Democrats would want to limit reporting by all except the most openly partisan network of them all. Huh. I’m stumped.

One essential element of totalitarian take-overs is for a party to control what the public sees,  hears, and understands. The news media has been in substantial lock-step with progressives and Democrats in this respect, but apparently not enough for party of “by any means necessary.”

6. Hmmmm. The last we heard about David Ortiz, the Boston Red Sox icon was nearly killed by an apparent hit in Santo Domingo, leaving him with bullet wounds in te stomach, liver, gall bladder, and his large and small intestines. “Big Papi” survived, but his reputation as one of baseball’s good guys was in critical condition after rumors circulated that Ortiz had crossed a local cartel boss by carrying on an affair with the gangster’s wife. David is supposed to be an admirable husband and father, and also not that stupid.

Today the Dominican Republic’s Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez said the shooting was result of mistaken identity, and the target was another man, who was seated  near the internationally-known baseball star at the Santo Domingo bar.

I love Ortiz, and would hate to see his sterling mage tarnished, but the officials in his home town undoubtedly feel the same way. Ortiz is a major philanthropist in the Dominican Republic.

Am I wrong to be skeptical? How many people look like 6’3″ 250 lb. David Ortiz?

10 thoughts on “Last Resort Ethics Catch-Up, 6/19/2019

  1. Regarding extra-inning ethics, money has likely had an impact.

    As I recall, in 1987, the Twins beat the Tigers in the AL Championship to go to the World Series. I remember getting home from school to see the games, which started in the middle of the afternoon.

    Not anymore. Too much money to be made with prime time coverage. Moving things later into the evening makes that 17-inning game almost impossible for many to stay up for. Had that been a 3:00 game, a 6-hour game would have been much easier to endure. Hard to stay up for many west coast matchups. Hard to start watching a game at 9:00 at night, especially if it goes to 3 in the morning.


  2. There are few regular season games like baseball’s extra innings. To be honest I don’t get why the commissioner is so unhappy with the way his sport is going. Attendance at the parks I believe is good, for the most part, revenues rival the NFL, and they definitely hit a home run when they added the second wild card. I have yet to hear from someone who thinks putting a runner on second starting every extra half inning is anything less than a horrible idea.

    That said, I will say that perhaps the most exciting and nervewracking event I can think of is overtime playoff hockey. Hockey is fairly low scoring by nature, but those games literally can both last forever and be over in an instant. Most other sports, even when you’re in overtime you can see the game trending towards one team or the other. Possibly the best equivalent is the walk off home run in baseball — that can also occur without warning and be instantly over.

    • Manfred needs to go! No baseball man can contemplate putting a batter on at second. Idiotic!

      On the plus side, when this was tested in the minor leagues, it backfired! The runners in running position tended to score, protracting the game, rather than shortening it. This proposal had better be dead.

      Almost as distressing, Manfred proposed abolishing the two leagues. I red the argument in favor, but it was so inane I cannot even articulate it. Rereading it would just make me mad.

      There was an indescribable magic when I visited the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time last year; one key aspect was the scoreboard in front, neatly divided between the American and National Leagues. These same two organizations have been competing for the Word Series for 115 years now. Manfred thinks abolishing the very meaning of the series is going to improve ratings. What a joke.

      Does anybody remember that Lord Stanley’s Cup was originally awarded to the best team of the best league in the Canada – that the best league was not always the National Hockey League?

    • Walk-off homers also occur in the bottom of the 9th.
      Here is The walk-off homer: Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn went the distance in a scoreless 16 inning game at SF’s Candlestick Park, scoreless until Willy Mays gave one a ride in the bottom of the 16th. SF 1, Milwaukee 0..

      Also of note is that Juan is from the Domican Republic and alive today at 81.

  3. 6. My goodness, or Dios mio, How convenient! A little money spread around the Dominican judicial system and its operatives should take care of any potential reputational problems in a banana republic. Si o no? Wait, do they grow many bananas in the D.R? Maybe not. And it shouldn’t cost much. The hit only took about eight grand, and that was spread out among what, nine people?

  4. How can a person lose their job because of something that is not only false, but an actual published work of fiction?

    I hope they can sue for some serious, Gibson Bakery-type money. This needs to happen again and again until colleges lear that they’re supposed to educate students, not empower their bad behavior.

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