Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/9/2019: “I See Unethical People!” Edition

S-s-s-s-stretch those ethics muscles!

(although, to be fair, the items today don’t require much stretching…)

1. Rosie Ruiz, unethical icon, has died. Rosie Ruiz got her 15 minutes of fame—well, infamy—by briefly fooling officials and the media into believing she had won the 1980 Boston Marathon. “She jumped out of the crowd, not knowing that the first woman hadn’t gone by yet,” a source who Ruiz had confessed to told The Boston Globe. “Believe me, she was as shocked as anyone when she came in first.” She wasn’t even a skilled cheater.

Nonetheless, Ruiz maintained publicly that she had been robbed of a genuine victory, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. She even displayed her first place medal whenever possible.

Ruiz is an excellent example of how signature significance works. It would be nice to report that she went on from this one, impulsive, foolish scam and became a beloved and tireless worker for the common good. Uh, no. Cheating in a major athletic competition isn’t something anyone does who has functioning ethics alarms. Ruiz was charged in 1982 with grand larceny and forgery, accused of stealing cash and checks from the real estate firm where she had been a bookkeeper. This got her a week in jail and five years’ probation. In 1983,  she was arrested on charges of attempting to sell cocaine to undercover agents at a hotel in Miami and spent three weeks in jail.

2. “Shocked…shocked!” One more institutional icon has been punished by a culture that knew about and tolerated his crimes and misconduct far too tardily and mildly to help his many victims. From the New York Times:

George H. Morris, the foremost trainer in equestrian competition and a former coach of the United States Olympic team, was barred for life from the United States Equestrian Federation on Monday as a result of an investigation into “sexual misconduct involving a minor,” according to the published details of the suspension. The permanent suspension…is the most severe meted out by the United States Center for SafeSport, an independent investigative body charged with examining sexual misconduct in Olympic sports, according to Dan Hill, a spokesman. While SafeSport does not publicly announce its findings in order to protect victims, Mr. Hill said that the designation of a permanent suspension was “reserved for the most egregious cases.”

Talk about too little too late: Morris is 81. Although the ban resulted from the facts of one case, Morris had many victims, and his story is a nauseatingly familiar one. Michael Cintas, who coached equestrians for the United States Olympic modern pentathlon team in 2008, was trained by Morris, and he said Morris’s reputation for having sexual relationships with the boys he would scout and train on his farm was common knowledge among students and staff.

“Many people saw what was going on, knew what was going on, and no one said anything,”  Cintas said. The Times notes that Morris’s protege  “now acknowledges” that what Morris was doing to boys on his farm “was wrong.”

How perceptive of him!

The United States Equestrian Federation said it could act only if a claim of abuse was filed. None were received until 2012. Still, dozens of former students and professionals told The New York Times that they had long been aware of  Morris’s sexual relationships with minors, but were afraid that his power as an equestrian “kingmaker” could destroy their chances to win ribbons in the horse show ring if they came forward.

Easy call, I guess: stopping a sexual predator vs. staying on his good side.

It is not as if Morris was especially careful: in his published memoir, he described trips to places like Studio 54 with underage boys, and estimated the number of his sexual partners to be “10,000 and counting!” Individuals interviewed by the Times confirmed  Morris’ relationships with underage students throughout his career, but said that his behavior was shrugged off at the time as “acceptable,” or the boys themselves were blamed.

Even now, defenders of Morris are protesting his ban, arguing that “times were different.” You remember those times when it was considered “acceptable” for teachers to sexually molest underage students, don’t you?

3. Another “Pity the illegal immigrant” story. As the news media, and especially the New York Times, has decided to do what it can to spread emotional pro-illegal immigration propaganda, the illegal immigrant sob story has become a virtual genre.

Today the Times headline in my paper is “Deported  to a Country He’d Never Seen, He Couldn’t Survive. “The web version is ICE Deported Him to a Country He’d Never Seen. He Died 2 Months Later.” NPR and other outlets are carrying the same story. Compressed version: Jimmy Aldaoud was officially an Iraqi,  and entered the United States legally in 1979 at the age of six months. He never bothered to become a citizen. Aldaoud was ordered removed from the United States in May 2018 after at least 20 criminal convictions over the previous two decades, including assault with a weapon, domestic violence and home invasion.   He was sent back to Iraq, where he did not know anyone, and did not speak the language. He had a bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, clinical depression and diabetes. In two months, he was dead.

This story is a useful test of where one’s mind is regarding U.S. obligations to non-citizens. I’m sorry Jimmy suffered, but the fact that he did was entirely his own fault. He was destructive and a habitual criminal in a country where he was officially not only a guest, but one who had deliberately over-stayed his welcome. He had no right to remain here. Americans have no obligation, compassionate or otherwise, to accommodate and care for non-citizens and predators who do not respect our society.

I do not understand or sympathize with Times readers who see this story and feel that it shows that the United States is cruel and unjust. Every citizen has an obligation to know the nation’s  laws that affect him or her; every non-citizen likewise. Actions have consequences, and should have consequences. The Times and other news organizations want to make Jimmy into a martyr or a victim. They are promoting unethical and irresponsible standards.

4. Today’s “Facebook is a menace to society and not just because it bans Ethics Alarms” note... Facebook denies it participates in the practice called “shadow banning,” blocking a users’ posts or comments from everyone except the user who made the post or comment. Under oath in April, Facebook executives denied that it shadow-banned in congressional testimony  but  the company has filed a patent application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) claiming to have invented an automated system that would “receive a list of proscribed content and block comments containing the proscribed content by reducing the distribution of those comments to other viewing users” while continuing to “display the blocked content to the commenting user such that the commenting user is not made aware that his or her comment was blocked.” The application is  for United States Patent 10356024.

We literally cannot believe anything Facebook says.

31 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/9/2019: “I See Unethical People!” Edition

  1. 1. At least, Charles Van Doren kept his head down for the remaining decades of his life.
    2. This is like Hollywood’s open knowledge of Bill Cosby: everybody knew but nobody knew enough to act, is that it now?
    3. This one is all over my newsfeed, too. I’m sorry he died, as well. He had decades to take out citizenship.
    4. Facebook is nothing but Newspeak.

  2. 2. You remember those times when it was considered “acceptable” for teachers to sexually molest underage students, don’t you?

    Hell fucking yes I do. In the late ’60s. A buddy was propositioned by one of our high school teachers. A principal “had a nervous breakdown” a few weeks after arriving at our high school and disappeared. All good Marist brothers. Celibate. Hah. Priests were moved around in the ’80s and ’90s whenever they created a problem at a particular parish. A fussy, Anglophilic sport like horse jumping? Rife with gay guys. Just gay guys being gay guys. Nothing to see here. Of course all that stuff was acceptable. It’s why “normalization” of homosexuality has been a blessing and curse for gay guys. They are now expected to adhere to certain norms where before they lived in their own little world of their own making and pursuant to their own rules. It’s called pederasty and it’s a critical, essential and readily accepted part of gay life. It’s how lots of young gay guys figure out they’re gay.

    • When I was working for one of the silicon valley giants, one of the requirements was regular cultural sensitivity indoctrination. One of the events featured Matthew Shepard’s parents. His mother actually argued that being critical of pederasty was just another form of homophobia and that we should learn to accept it as older men teaching younger gay boys about gay culture.

          • Remember, though, pederasts are not always homosexuals,

            True.

            …and homosexuals are no more likely to be pederasts than heterosexuals.

            The evidence at hand does not agree with your assessment.

            …being critical of pederasty was just another form of homophobia and that we should learn to accept it as older men teaching younger gay boys about gay culture.

            Sounds very much a part of the gay culture to me. I am just taking years of gay advocacy at its word.

            • I think it’s something that gay culture has to grow out of now that the culture that surrounds it has changed.

              The old man/young boy dynamic that is common enough that it’s a stereotype grew as a response to growing up gay in a culture that was hostile to gay people: Sex education, so much as it existed, basically didn’t apply to you, you didn’t talk to your parents or friends about it because you were afraid to be disowned or shunned, you are a giant confusing bundle of hormones, there was no way of telling who the 1% of humanity was that might be interested in you, the internet doesn’t exist yet. That isn’t even taking into account sodomy laws, overtly hostile or violent bigots, or shitty conversion pseudoscience. So what’s an up and coming verified bachelor to do?

              They found men, older men, who were more openly gay than they were able to be. Men that were set up enough or confident enough not to care what their families or friends thought, and had a little life experience and new all the little quirks of gay culture. And did that end up creating some disturbingly disparately aged couples? Oh yes. Is that ideal? Hell no. But I’m not sure that the alternative was better. Maybe if people weren’t being forced into closets, they wouldn’t have had to settle for whatever support was available.

              The silver lining is that now most, not all, but most, of those problems are either gone or mitigated, and young men can figure out their sexuality without the doom of Damocles over their heads from people who aren’t forty years their senior.

              • If the older guys were nobly introducing the young guys into the brotherhood, couldn’t they have done that, you know, verbally? They could have explained things to them and not had sex with them, right? And what about the kids who weren’t necessarily gay that get preyed upon? Maybe gay guys’ gaydar is one hundred percent accurate, but maybe it isn’t and young heterosexual kids can get messed up? I still think it’s naïve not to view this behavior/tradition predatory. And, in a word, unethical.

                • I’m sure they could have, and I’m sure many did, but I fail to see why they should have to. You’re acting as if we aren’t talking about consensual acts between adults. If we aren’t talking about adults, the math changes a little, but frankly, I don’t think you’re overly concerned with much context past the fact that we’re talking about the kind of sex lives you disapprove of.

              • In my high school, and even in my college, there was a group of guys who were all pretty obviously gay. They ran together. I can’t imagine they couldn’t figure things out amongst themselves. And I assume by the fact they were running together, they HAD figured it out.

                And as William F. Buckley famously said, “If only three percent of the population is gay (two more than HT’s one percent), I’ve met all of them.”

                • Well.. I’m convinced. Bill saw three gay guys talking once, so the cultural phenomenon I’ve been seeing throughout my life is obviously a lie. I don’t even know why you think you need to comment on things like this Bill, you don’t know much on the topic and it’s fairly obvious you don’t want to learn.

            • Every gay guy I knew in high school was either regularly being propositioned by, or in a relationship with, an older gay man. Admittedly, that was a small sample size of about three people.

              But apart from actual relationships with minors, it seems par for the course for men in their 30’s or older to groom/date barely legal adult males. I’ve heard or seen lots of gay men comment on it as if it were a rite of passage.

                • My high school buddy had to be under eighteen and more likely around sixteen. Certainly statutory rape material. Plus, the brother was a TEACHER taking advantage of the student/teacher relationship, a relationship I consider among the most sacred.

              • That was my experience. I was 18 and Dave was 34.

                I also got to see firsthand my mother’s side of the family ostracize my uncle as he came out, watched the one openly gay kid at school get shit thrown at him fairly regularly and overheard my very first boss (who would regularly read from the bible he had in his desk drawer on his breaks) talking about ‘faggots fucking everything up’ during the Canadian gay marriage debates in the early 2000’s. Should I have done something about any or all of those? I suppose it would have been great if I had, but it’s… so very intimidating to be one scrawny teenager with a secret against the world. If I could redo it knowing what I do now….

                My first job was 400 miles from where I grew up, and I’m just going to say… It is amazingly easy to feel very much alone, even in a city surrounded by a million people. Dave was the son of one of the cashiers I worked with, and I don’t know what I would have done without him. I found myself with him, I allowed myself to be myself with him. Is that predatory? I really do believe I’m a better person for having that experience. I’m sure he had fun too. And maybe he could have done that without any sexual contact, but I fail to see what happened as negative.

                I do however, find it really quaint when people who wouldn’t cross the street to piss on a gay person actively on fire all of a sudden care very deeply that they might have been taken advantage of by the only person on Earth who gave a shit about them. I don’t believe it, it comes off like insincere concern-trolling.

    • 3. Wait. Iraq doesn’t provide cradle to grave health care for all its citizens? It’s a Muslim country! It’s not superior to the United States in every way? Iraqi Americans aren’t champing at the bitto return to Iraq because of Trump and racism in America? Aren’t they people of color?

  3. 4. Why is Facebook so viciously lefty? Are Mark Zuckerberg and his minions that intent on influencing contemporary ideas?

  4. 4–Shadow Banning; you’ve put a name to the action an…um…acquaintance has experienced on more than one occasion.

    When he wasn’t getting any responses to his prescient observations and well-intended recommendations, he logged in on another computer only to discover, to his dismay, that he’d been shadow-banned.

    Why the gutlessly vindictive, bullshit move? Why not grow a pair and just ban them outright?

    • It is absolutely true. On the rare occasion I post a right-of-extreme left political position (I rarely find Facebook an appropriate forum for such posts), I will get silence, not a single response. Most benign, nonsensical posts will get a half-dozen “likes” or so.

    • Because if Facebook, et al, were openly banning people and ideas they don’t like, then quite a few people would stop using those sites. Letting someone howl into the void with a shadow-ban doesn’t reduce the user base, and keeps the data mine operating. If you shadow-ban someone, you keep their “harmful” ideas from circulating, but you still get to collect tons of data about them, and that data has value when you sell it.

      It’s a chickenshit move, because they want their cake (complete control to define what’s “acceptable”), and to eat it, too (dolla bills, ya’ll).

      Not to put too fine a point on it, but Facebook and Twitter are malignant cancers eating away at our society.

      • Oh, and there’s absolutely no doubt that they do it. Google and Twitter too. The proof is in the facts that 1. They have both the ability and the motivation, 2. There’s zero way for an outsider to prove it’s going on, 3. Not even the U.S. government, which uses Google, knows their algorithms, 4. outside evaluations and studies (made by posting similar left and right-wing statements in a controlled environment similar to a scientific experiment) routinely show that right-wing statements are shadow-banned. Again, the problem is, you can’t prove the crime; you can only show the dead victims.

      • “Facebook and Twitter are malignant cancers eating away at our society.”

        Despite having been told repeatedly that I “don’t know what I’m missing,” I’ve never wasted so much as a nanosecond on either.

    • The elite equestrian world is littered with dark, highly unethical people. Not sure if it’s really any worse than other elite, expensive sport (though horse traders have historically always been people you should be wary of). But I saw and heard about too much stuff when I was in that world, and it can get very dark. Today I’m suddenly not sad I missed out on a George Morris clinic when I was a kid…

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