Sunday Ethics Catch-Up, 5/17/2020: Consequentialism, Graft, Firing the IGs And More Proof Of NFL Rot, As If You Needed Any

Good day!

Lots of ethics flotsam and jetsam hanging around, mostly on my office floor…

1. Speaking of the NFL, the most unethical sports organization extant…Four NFL players were taken into police custody in a span of less than 24 hours from yesterday morning to yesterday evening. First Washington Redskins wide receiver Cody Latimer, was arrested after an incident that started with shots being fired. He was booked on charges of assault in the second degree, menacing, illegal discharge of a firearm, prohibited use of a weapon and reckless endangerment. Later Saturday, Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar and Giants cornerback Deandre Baker  turned themselves in after arrest warrants were issued for the two players. Baker was accused of using a semi-automatic firearm last week to rob multiple people, with Dunbar’s help, of more than $11,000 in cash plus watches and other valuables worth more than $60,000. Then, last night, Bills defensive lineman Ed Oliver was arrested on charges of DWI and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Even for the NFL, which has more players arrested and charged with felonies in any single season as Major League Baseball has had in the last 40 years, this was impressive.  The sport recruits its stars from among fake college students who receive little education while being pampered and idolized, with the predictable result.

2. Firing the IGs. President Trump’s latest controversy involves firing the State Department’s Inspector General Steve Linick. This is the latest of several such firings: before this, we saw the dumping of then-Inspector General for the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson for his role in the whistleblower complaint that prompted the Ukraine probe, and the firing of Glenn Fine, the inspector general overseeing pandemic relief.

Naturally, Democrats are finding something sinister in this, and there might be, as Linick was reportedly investigating Mike Pompeo. Another theory is that all three of these IG’s, including Linick, were Obama appointees, and based on recent developments, President Trump doesn’t trust anyone with a connection to Democrats or Barack Obama. That seems eminently reasonable to me, based on the experience of the past three years.

Professor Turley points out that the firing of Linick probably breached the 2008 Inspector General Reform Act: 

(e) If an Inspector General is removed from office or is transferred to another position or location within a designated Federal entity, the head of the designated Federal entity shall communicate in writing the reasons for any such removal or transfer to both Houses of Congress, not later than 30 days before the removal or transfer. Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit a personnel action otherwise authorized by law, other than transfer or removal. (emphasis added).

That seems like  a weird law: if an IG is ripe to be fired for cause, you still have to wait 30 days? Turley also notes that the law appears to have been violated in the Obama administration and nothing came of it.

3. Carolyn Hax explains what’s wrong with consequentialism. My favorite advice columnist, the instinctively ethical Carolyn Hax, was asked by an inquirer who had moved to a new city to seek a fresh career path and who has so far failed to achieve what she wanted and is now unemployed and depressed,

How do I forgive myself for my past choices — leaving a job to move to a city with no job secured, devoting a year to breaking into a difficult industry, etc. — especially now that I don’t know when or if I’m ever going to start a real career?

Hax responded in part,

You did nothing wrong.  And you’re doing nothing wrong now, except in succumbing to the pull of shame. Trying something new is not a good or bad idea based only on the outcome. Some fine ideas tank for any number of reasons. Or, I suspect more aptly in this case, some ideas take longer to work out than we intended. Even some bad ideas produce eventual good results if you learn from them. There was also no guarantee, by the way, that you’d have stayed just fine in your old job had you opted not to move. So that’s where I’d start with the de-shaming process: You’re struggling now, yes — but, barring our ability to be present in multiple realities, you have no other present circumstances to compare that with. The past is no longer relevant for purposes of comparison.

On a completely different topic, Hax’s inquirer included this section: “I compare myself to my partner, who is a rock star in their career and directly working to manage the virus. They’re headed to law school in the fall as well (theoretically), so I always see them doing amazing things while I’ve been unemployed and directionless for so long.”

For a minute I thought she was having a relationship with a whole rock band. Then I wondered if her partner was possessed, like when Pazuzu tells Father Damien that “we are all in here,” meaning inside Linda Blair. No, this silly person was indulging the ridiculous fad pronoun distortion of using the plural “they”—and it is plural—for a singular individual to avoid having to use a gender-specific word. This is a language abomination, and I, for one, plan on giving an unmerciful amount of grief to anyone who tries to use it with me.

4. Oh, I can’t wait to see how the emergency pandemic aid is spent...From the New York Times:

The state of Mississippi allowed tens of millions of dollars in federal anti-poverty funds to be used in ways that did little or nothing to help the poor, with two nonprofit groups instead using the money on lobbyists, football tickets, religious concerts and fitness programs for state lawmakers, according to a scathing audit released on Monday.

According to the report, released by the state auditor’s office, the money also enriched celebrities with Mississippi ties, among them Brett Favre, a former N.F.L. quarterback whose Favre Enterprises was paid $1.1 million by a nonprofit group that received the welfare funds. The payments were for speaking engagements that Mr. Favre did not attend, the auditors said.

Other large sums went to a family of pro wrestlers whose flamboyant patriarch, Ted DiBiase, earned national fame performing as the “Million Dollar Man.” In a news conference on Monday, Shad White, the state auditor, said it was possible that many recipients of the money did not know it had come from the federal welfare program.

14 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Catch-Up, 5/17/2020: Consequentialism, Graft, Firing the IGs And More Proof Of NFL Rot, As If You Needed Any

  1. 3) Do ye then object to the singular you

    First I me my mine
    Second (t) thou thee thy thine
    Second (v) ye you your
    Third he him his she her hers they them their
    Third (objective) one one’s

    First we us our ours
    Second You your yours
    Third They them their

    • You is both singular and plural, and has been for centuries. Since it is second person rather than third, using the plural isn’t confusing or ambiguous. You have to d better than that if you’re going to try to defend that idiocy.

      • So all I need is a few centuries? That’s easy.

        There’s not a man I meet but doth salute me as if I were their well-acquainted friend

      • I find it interesting that stuff I lost points for in school is now becoming politically mandatory. Then again, when I was in college there were some professors who would fail you automatically if you didn’t use “his or her” for every. single. pronoun. Now they’ve created Latinx to replace Latino/a. I do not know if the other romance languages have been touched, like Italianx, Portugesx,, etc., but it would not surprise me.

        • ‘He or she’ is clunky, and using ‘he’ as a stand-in for the generic human is offensive. Singular ‘they’ is elegant and current style-guides allow it.

          • Singular “they” makes as much sense as singular “dogs.” He or she may be clunky but it is also grammatical. There’s nothing elegant about misinformation, and “They” is just as misleading as the generic “he.” “Woke” style guides are not style guides, but indoctrination and brain-washing tools.

            • When one makes a point of calling something they dislike “woke,” it makes me question their motivations. It is the grammar you dislike so or just those who champion that usage?

              I, for myself, had no idea The Chicago Manual of Style is “woke.”

              • I don’t dislike all things “woke,” I dislike using the desire to be seen as “woke” to justify misleading language, among other things. I have consistently fought this kind of thing before “woke” was a thing. For example, actresses insisting on being called “actors” and monstrosities like”omsbudpersons” There’s nothing wrong with using “man” as a stand-in for human; “womyn” was more silliness. The fact that a tiny % of the population has gender ID issues is not sufficient reason for the other 99.85% to suffer. I object to tyranny of minorities: it’s unethical. “Woke” is shorthand: I will work to use it less often.

          • I see nothing offensive about using “he” for a generic person. It was perfectly ok for centuries, it’s still perfectly ok. The point of writing is to make your point, not worry about offending a loud minority. If you have to resort to criticizing someone’s use of a pronoun, unless there’s outright untruth involved, then your argument is weak. What’s more, I still use policeman, fireman, mailman, congressman, etc. It’s what I grew up with, it’s my default setting, and it’s not my job to please others with the way I talk.

  2. Didn’t Hillary Clinton effectively have no IG for the State Department while she was Secretary of State? I think it is funny watching people throw a fit about the firing from a position they previously didn’t view as essential. And we know how the Democrats feel about ‘nonessential workers’ these days. It is just funny claims that only come from ‘right wing’ sources are dismissed, why are these concerns from ‘left-wing’ sources credible?

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