Still trying to clear the ethics Augean stables…
1. Fox News headline: “The Dangers of Vaping.” Fake news! The story following that headline explained that teens were falling ill of serious lung difficulties after using what we once called “electronic cigarettes” to inhale THC. There is little convincing evidence that using e-cigarettes as they were designed to be used causes any lung problems. Thus the headline is as accurate as leading off a story about tainted beef with “The Dangers of Eating.”
2. Another old ethics question comes around again. In 2017 I questioned the wisdom of the Miami Marlins baseball team loudly honoring the memory of Jose Fernandez, a rising pitching star who got himself and others killed by driving his speed boat while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. died July 1 in his hotel room
There is a level of recklessness, irresponsible conduct, arrogance and stupidity that cannot be excused, and whatever the level is, Fernandez exceeded it. The fact that he was killed himself was moral luck: imagine if only he had survived. Fernandez would be facing homicide charges and serious prison time….and would deserve it all. He had a family, a child, a city, a baseball team, and a sport all relying on him, and he decided to risk it all for coke, booze, and a speed boat ride, killing not only himself but two other human beings, who had families and responsibilities of their own. He was no hero. He was a deadly, selfish, asshole.
No other message should be sent to the kids who once admired him that that one. Honoring Fernandez now would be a particularly ugly example of The King’s Pass or The Star Syndrome, Rationalization #11 on the list. A non-celebrity did what Fernandez did would be guaranteed posthumous infamy. The fact that the pitcher was a baseball star doesn’t make him better than that; if anything, it makes him worse.
Now we learn that Anaheim Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, a 27-year-old Angels pitcher who died on July 1 in his hotel room, perished because he had mixed multiple opioids with alcohol. The Red Sox are playing in Anaheim, and the Angels players are all wearing tributes to Skaggs on their uniform, a prominent “45.” True, Skaggs didn’t get others killed by his irresponsible behavior, but his death was still the result of conduct that needs to be discouraged, condemned, and certainly not romanticized. The Angels can honor their dead team mate privately, but a public display that suggests that Skaggs’ death was anything but a self-made tragedy send a dangerous and irresponsible message.
3. Our trustworthy social media giants: Hackers took over the Twitter account of Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, yesterday and used the account to broadcast a string of racist messages and bomb threats. Yes, the social media platform that assured Congress, out of the mouth of Dorsey, that it adequately protected Twitter users couldn’t adequately protect itself. I have a Twitter account that does nothing but tweet links to Ethics Alarms essays (you know, what Facebook won’t allow me to do), but I’m wondering if the ethical move is to get off Twitter entirely. I do use the account for research, but Twitter does more bad than good in our society, and perhaps its time to leave.
4. She is an Ethics Dunce, of course, but its so obvious that I don’t want to waste a full post on her. Madeleine Westerhout, President Trump’s personal assistant and director of Oval Office operations, quit last week before she could be fired. It was revealed that Westerhout got drunk at a dinner with and dished about the President’s family and other matters. The episode raises legitimate questions about what else she has leaked during her three years in the job.
The President depended on Westerhout’s loyalty, professionalism and discretion. Her breach of confidentiality was no less than a rank betrayal of her country as well as her boss. Spins the Times, trying to somehow impugn Trump when he is the victim, “In Trump world there are leaks you can get away with, and there are leaks you cannot get away with. Anything having to do with the family falls into the second category.” In the world generally, a personal assistant cannot leak, or tell anyone what he or she is privileged to know as the one with constant access to an executive, and that’s an absolute.
Now let’s see if she sells out completely, with a book or a contract with one of the Trump-bashing news networks. My guess: she will.
5. Speaking of Ethics Dunces…Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out of the Democratic Presidential sweepstakes this week. She positioned herself as the uber-feminist in the field; in fact, she was the most obvious anti-male bigot, as she has been throughout her Senate tenure, from promoting “Mattress Girl’s” efforts to brand an innocent Columbia student as a sexual predator, to driving Al Franken out of the Senate for behaving like a politically incorrect comedian when he was a politically incorrect comedian. (Not that I miss Al.) That, based on my conversations with local Democrats, soured many progressives on her candidacy, but she was wholly unqualified in every way.
If only what remains in the field was notably better….