Morning Ethics Warm-Up,2/25/2020: Remembering “Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee” [CORRECTED]

Notice of a correction: in the first version of this post, I mistakenly wrote that the famous photo above was  of the first Liston fight. It was not: this was the dramatic scene that ended the rematch. Thanks to Tim Levier for reminding me.

Good Morning!

1. Cultural literacy thoughts: I wonder…how many Millennial Americans—or among the post-boomer generations—recognize the context of the photo above? On this date in 1964, a brash 22-year-old black boxer named Cassius Clay (1942-2016) pulled off one of the great upsets in sports history, defeating world heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston, an 8-to-1 favorite, in a seventh-round technical knockout. The now iconic photo above captured the dramatic finale of the 1965 rematch, ending the speculation that Clay’s victory over the previously frightening Liston had been a fluke.

Indeed, the 1964 fight was just the beginning of a remarkable story.

After his stunning victory, the sudden celebrity attended a victory to a private party at a Miami hotel. In attendance was Malcolm X, the outspoken leader of the rising African American Muslim group known as the Nation of Islam. Two days later, Cassius Clay announced he was joining the Nation of Islam, and renounced his “slave name”  to adopt  the Muslim name, Muhammad Ali. As Ali, he became one of the most influential social and political figures of his era, affecting civil rights, politics, public attitudes, language and culture…and sports, of course, as  professional boxing’s greatest champion. After successfully defending his title nine times, Ali surrendered it in 1967 after he refused induction into the U.S. Army on the grounds that he was a Muslim minister and thus  a conscientious objector. His stand against the Vietnam War galvanized national opposition to the war, especially among students and the young. In 1971,  the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Ali’s draft evasion conviction, and in 1974, he regained his heavyweight title in a match against George Foreman in Zaire, enshrining his phrase “rope-a-dope” in our lexicon. Eventually Ali became  the first boxer to win the heavyweight title three times. His post-retirement diagnosis  of pugilistic Parkinson’s syndrome and the sad spectacle of the once loquacious and witty athlete’s slow decline into near speechlessness and impaired motor functionscontributed to the collapse of boxing’s popularity. Ali was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan, and lit the Olympic flame at the opening ceremonies of the1996  Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia.

My mother, who like virtually everyone in her first generation Greek family was uncomfortable around blacks, once met Ali, who was seated next to her at a Harvard College function when she was Assistant Dean of Housing. She said later that he was the most charming, charismatic, beautiful man she had ever met in her life.

2. You can lead an idiot to child-proof packaging, but you can’t make him think. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics aimed at figuring out why there has been a steep rise in accidental poisonings of U.S. children according to CDC figures has come to a disturbing conclusion. Researchers analyzed nearly 4,500 calls to five U.S. poison centers in Arizona, Florida and Georgia over an eight month period in 2017. They found more than half of the prescription medicine poisonings occurred because parents and grandparents removed  pills and medicines from child-proof packaging to make them more easily accessible, to help the adults remember to take them, or more convenient for travel.

3. Speaking of idiots—well-paid idiots—New Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Madison Bumgarner admitted that he has been competing in rodeos under a fake name. This injury prone activity violates the standard contract for star pitchers like Bumgarner, who last year ended up on the injured list with a sprained pitching shoulder from a mishap while riding his dirt bike.  it is wildly irresponsible. The Diamondbacks recently signed the former San Francisco Giants ace  to a five-year, $85 million contract.

4.  Well all righty then! Point made! California’s controversial AB5 law, (discussed here) has had well-documented terrible consequences  for tens of thousands of California professionals who make a living or supplement their incomes as  independent contractors. Participants in more than over 150 industries and occupations, including actors, writers, court translators and interpreters, court stenographers, wedding planners, photographers, and more have been adversely affected.  Lawmaker Lorena Gonzalez, the bill’s author, attended an event scheduled to give members of the public an opportunity to air their strenuous opposition to the law’s unanticipated effects. The room was filled with citizens holding signs protesting the law’s restrictions on their liberty and their “pursuit of happiness.”  When Gonzalez went to the podium to speak and saw the messages on the signs, she interrupted her remarks to shout out, “Fuck Trump!”

In fact, the opposition to her law in the room was bipartisan.

5. “You keep using that phrase “take a stand.” I don’t think it means what you think it does.” Destiny McDermitt, a junior at Hill McCloy High School in Montrose, Michigan, was given an assignment along with the rest of her class  to write a speech discussing an issue she felt strongly about and to “take a stand” for or against it. She is the daughter of “two mothers,” so Destiny decided to take her stand on the issue of same sex marriage.

The teacher, whose name has been withheld by the school district, told McDermitt she couldn’t take a stand on that topic because it might offend another student. The student wrote a letter to school administrators and left dropped the class. Linden Moore, Montrose Community Schools superintendent, said the district investigated the incident and concluded McDermitt’s topic was not the only legitimate one the teacher haddenied. “The teacher was thinking smaller and the kids were thinking bigger,” Moore said.

It’s supposed to be the other way around.

24 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up,2/25/2020: Remembering “Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee” [CORRECTED]

  1. ” Two days later, Cassius Clay announced he was joining the Nation of Islam, and renounced his “slave name” to adopt the Muslim name, Muhammad Ali.”

    Ironically, he was probably named for a prominent abolitionist. I have a hard time believing that Ali didn’t know for whom he’d been named, though, I suppose it’s possible.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassius_Marcellus_Clay_(politician)

    Also, since it was his parents who presumably named him, how could Cassius Clay be a “slave name”?

    • He rejected the name of a prominent abolitionist, one who kept Russia out of the Civil War and possibly forced Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. He took the name of two prominent white men who owned and traded African slaves. Mohammed valued a black slave at half the value of an Arab slave, called Ethiopians ‘raisinheads’ and said that the devil looks like a black man. The punishment in Islam for saying that Mohammed was black is death. Those two people, Mohammed and Ali, started a movement that controlled the East African slave trade for over 1000 years.

      Cassius Clay changing his name to Mohammed Ali because it is more suitable name for a black man seems to well represent the attitude and treatment of black Americans in the Democratic Party. The black public in America thinks all these welfare programs, affirmative action, Planned Parenthood, and inner-city public schools are things the Democratic Party does to help them, when in fact, these are things done to keep them subservient and powerless. Mohammed Ali thought he changed his name from one representing oppression to one representing freedom, but he actually did the opposite and no one told him. He stood there smiling, proud of his ‘achievement’, while the people in the know laughed at him or shook their heads in disgust.

      • The black public in America thinks all these welfare programs, affirmative action, Planned Parenthood, and inner-city public schools are things the Democratic Party does to help them, when in fact, these are things done to keep them subservient and powerless. Mohammed Ali thought he changed his name from one representing oppression to one representing freedom, but he actually did the opposite and no one told him. He stood there smiling, proud of his ‘achievement’, while the people in the know laughed at him or shook their heads in disgust.

        I like this because it indicates a *complete inversion* of a former narrative. The Republican Establishment, the American Conservative establishment, had always been trying to lift Blacks out of subservience and powerlessness. But the Democrats interfered with their *lying narratives* whose purpose was to disempower & weaken.

        It is interesting to observe how the Political Center is changing. It has to rewrite its own narrative, and then rewrite the historical narrative, so that a new narrative takes shape which becomes the New American Narrative.

        • American abolitionist movement, freedom for African slaves, citizenship for former slaves, voting rights for former slaves, and the Civil Rights Movement. All were Republican. The KKK, Jim Crow, and established slavery were Democrat. So, hardly an ‘inversion’ of a former narrative.

          • American abolitionist movement, freedom for African slaves, citizenship for former slaves, voting rights for former slaves, and the Civil Rights Movement. All were Republican. The KKK, Jim Crow, and established slavery were Democrat. So, hardly an ‘inversion’ of a former narrative.

            I have been paying attention to what I understand as a sort of ‘new argument’ that is coming out into the open:

            The argument goes that it is the Democrats — the entire Democrat establishment with all their humanistic social will, their particular progressive-inclusionary and multi-racial, multi-ethnic, pro Multi-culturalism stances, as well as their (former) defense of the working man and the family: now these are seen as the obstacles which have kept people down. Now, it it the Republican Party that has grabbed the torch of freedom, and as it turns out it is the Republican Party that always had the best interests of the slaves, the former slaves, the integration of America, the integration of the schools, the leveling of the classes, and ultimately true progressive American egalitarianism in its heart-of-hearts. And now the Democrats have been exposed for what they really are: a corrupt system of deep state operatives who are turning the nation to Leninism.

            It is true that the Radical Republicans were the progressives of their day. I get that part. And some of them were totally over the top in what they proposed. And I also do understand that they often had a profoundly abolitionist stance. My researches have shown me that in no sense does this mean that certain or many of them were not absolutely racist, in the sense that Lincoln was absolutely racist.

            The KKK, Jim Crow, and all the efforts to exclude Blacks from political power in the South were (in my view) natural reactions against having a foreign political will forced on those people. There is a perverse connection between invasion/imposition and the rise of ‘defensive opposition’. In this sense (again, my view) the North was always profoundly racist and remained profoundly racist while they played an image-game of righteousness. This corresponds to our own modern progressives to some degree. Not absolutely but to some degree. What they sought to do with and in the South was to not what they said they were doing. The entire object of that war was to destroy a political and social rival and to consolidate power within the northern sector. In the end they did not really care about the Blacks.

            Other aspects of the *inversion* I speak about have to do with the way the Republican right-leaning and conservative establishment is sort of rewriting its platform. I am uncertain if I fully trust political chameleons. But, I tend cynically to observe how the game of power-politics is played.

      • Very very dumb man when it came to picking a religion or a righteous name for himself (he could hardly have done better than his given name, or worse than the one he chose.)

        Undeniably the best at punching people in the face though.

  2. I believe that photo is much later, unless Sonny Liston became an African American. In 64 Ali/Clay was 22 and much younger looking. I believe the guy on the mat is Smok’n Joe Frasier.

    However that photo captures the fierceness and dominance of Ali. Great post.

    • Mea culpa .
      Liston was African American. Given that I never followed boxing I thought Liston was white because of the racial context of the day. Now I am not even sure if that photo was from the 70’s . My apologies to all.

  3. Mea culpa .
    Liston was African American. Given that I never followed boxing I thought Liston was white because of the racial context of the day. Now I am not even sure if that photo was from the 70’s . My apologies to all.

  4. It’s amazing how TDS runs so deep that a law made by a Democrat, in a deeply blue state, passed by a state government that is overwhelmingly Democratic, that opposition to the bill by the citizens of that very blue state can be looped back to “Fuck Trump”. He’s about as far removed from this issue as anyone could be, and he still gets blamed for its failure.

    Also like how she said that they didn’t need Trump supporters there. Zero possibility that the bill might not be working well. All the agitation is caused by Trump and his supporters. The TDS still manages to astound me.

  5. #1. I was not yet driving, the first–and last–time I would see Ali on live television lighting the Olympic flame. but I was familiar with his name and learned all the above about him except who he fought and that his case went all the way to SCOTUS.

    #2. I drilled my kids about safety and regularly challenged my then to open child-proof bottles. They figured them out between the ages of four and five. Didn’t even know how to read the instructions!

    Once, while visiting grandparents, my cousin’s children went through our bags and scattered OTC painkillers and vitamins around the room in search for candy. It was our kids who alerted about the mess, and luckily before much younger toddlers made it into the room.

    Early in the mandate of child _resistant_ caps, there was a increase in poisonings due to adult’s relying on the cap and neglecting previous access controls. Public service announcements were played to educate that medications still need to be kept out of reach.

    #3. Knowing a few thrill seekers, they’d likely argue this interferes with their right to persue happiness.

  6. Muhammad Ali was never someone I idolized. He seem to be pretty much a loud mouth jerk in his boxing career and that he claimed to be a Muslim minister to get out of the draft was a phony excuse. He certainly never would have served in a combat position anyway and after basic, probably would have been assigned to fight exhibition matches for the Army. I will never forget him for needlessly humiliating Archie Moore in the ring either.

  7. Re: Ali. There was also “I AM the GREATEST!”

    I think too many people missed Ali’s humor and self-deprecation. I think there was always a glint of humor in his eye. He was a comic, to a great extent. I think he was saying, “Of course I think I’m the greatest. How the hell else do you do this kind of stuff and thrive at it unless you can inflate your ego to the required dimensions?”

    Unfortunately, his humor was lost on most people. It’s lead to really ubiquitous grandstanding in all professional sports. I’m fairly partial to “Act as if you’ve done this before or as if it’s what you’re expected to do.”

    As a cultural influence, I’m not sure Ali has been all good. It was a heck of a ride and I like his heir Charles Barkley, but I think most jocks modeling Ali’s braggadocio aren’t really up to the task and it’s not a good thing.

  8. Here is an artricle abouty climate change.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2004/feb/22/usnews.theobserver1

    These are some of the key findings of the 2004 report commissioned by Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall.

    · Future wars will be fought over the issue of survival rather than religion, ideology or national honour.

    · By 2007 violent storms smash coastal barriers rendering large parts of the Netherlands uninhabitable. Cities like The Hague are abandoned. In California the delta island levees in the Sacramento river area are breached, disrupting the aqueduct system transporting water from north to south.

    · Between 2010 and 2020 Europe is hardest hit by climatic change with an average annual temperature drop of 6F. Climate in Britain becomes colder and drier as weather patterns begin to resemble Siberia.
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    · Deaths from war and famine run into the millions until the planet’s population is reduced by such an extent the Earth can cope.

    · Riots and internal conflict tear apart India, South Africa and Indonesia.

    · Access to water becomes a major battleground. The Nile, Danube and Amazon are all mentioned as being high risk.

    · A ‘significant drop’ in the planet’s ability to sustain its present population will become apparent over the next 20 years.

    · Rich areas like the US and Europe would become ‘virtual fortresses’ to prevent millions of migrants from entering after being forced from land drowned by sea-level rise or no longer able to grow crops. Waves of boatpeople pose significant problems.
    Sign up to the Green Light email to get the planet’s most important stories
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    · Nuclear arms proliferation is inevitable. Japan, South Korea, and Germany develop nuclear-weapons capabilities, as do Iran, Egypt and North Korea. Israel, China, India and Pakistan also are poised to use the bomb.

    · By 2010 the US and Europe will experience a third more days with peak temperatures above 90F. Climate becomes an ‘economic nuisance’ as storms, droughts and hot spells create havoc for farmers.

    · More than 400m people in subtropical regions at grave risk.

    · Europe will face huge internal struggles as it copes with massive numbers of migrants washing up on its shores. Immigrants from Scandinavia seek warmer climes to the south. Southern Europe is beleaguered by refugees from hard-hit countries in Africa.

    · Mega-droughts affect the world’s major breadbaskets, including America’s Midwest, where strong winds bring soil loss.

    · China’s huge population and food demand make it particularly vulnerable. Bangladesh becomes nearly uninhabitable because of a rising sea level, which contaminates the inland water supplies.

    Any comments?

  9. Can I issue a slight correction? The photo above is from Fight #2, May 25, 1965 fight. I was just watching Fight #1 and noticed Liston and Ali were both wearing light colored shorts. In Fight #2, Liston was wearing Black trunks.

  10. 4. Funny, I had just recently read an insightful article dealing with the gig economy co-written by Nick Hanauer, the voice against economic corruption and self-fulfilling power. The point of the article was that freelancers should have portable benefits packages that many different employers can contribute to on a prorated basis. But no, that would require legislators to think about the consequences of their actions, design things with forethought, and to give people choices. It’s far easier to prohibit and compel than to offer people tools they can use as they see fit, though far less effective at achieving the intended results.

    Here’s the article, by Nick Hanauer and David Rolf: https://prospect.org/labor/portable-benefits-insecure-workforce/

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