Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/6/2020: No, We’re Not On The Eve Of Destruction. Stop Saying That!

But thanks for an excuse to play the #2 most stupid psuedo-profound pop song of all time, #1 being, of course, “Imagine.” Take it away, Barry!

1. Mouse in the house. In the 30 years our home was patrolled by Jack Russell terriers, we virtually never saw a mouse (though Rugby literally wouldn’t hurt a fly). Lately, however, we have seen several, including a really, really cute one who is amazingly bold. This tiny mouse has big black eyes and little pink ears, with reddish brown fur. He also seems to like my wife, whom he crept up on the sofa to sit by repeatedly last night while she was napping. Ethically, we are at an impasse. I keep thinking about “Ben and Me,” the Disney cartoon about Ben Franklin’s apocryphal mouse pal, and my wife can’t bear the thought of killing her new fan. But we can’t have mice running around the house.

2. From the Ethics Alarms mail bag: Guess the rationalization! Steve Witherspoon aks what rationalization General Mattis’s fatuous statement, “We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers,”  from his attack on the President evokes. Several, in fact. It’s a clear #22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things,”  as well as the suddenly popular #64. Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is.” Riots in dozens of cities, arson, looting and attacks on over 100 police cannot be called “a small number of lawbreakers.” It’s also a neat #59. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!” As long as those “small number of lawbreakers” aren’t threatening Mattis or his family, he’s willing to accept what happens…to other people being victimized by rioters.

3. This is un-American, illiberal and anti-feminist, but I don’t expect much pushback from Californians.  The Los Angeles Galaxy professional soccer team released midfielder Aleksandar Katai because his wife had placed posts unsympathetic to the George Floyd rioters on her social media account. To make the team’s action even more ridiculous, two of the controversial posts were in Serbian. Never mind—in many of soccer’s hot spots around the globe, husbands are deemed responsible for the conduct of their supposedly submissive wives, and that seems to be the ethical reasoning here.

The first of Tea Katai’s posts was a screenshot from a video showing two New York City police officers driving their vehicles through a crowd of demonstrators with a Serbian caption that means “kill the shits!” The second showed a looter with boxes of Nike shoes below English text reading “Black Nikes Matter.” Katai also wrote another post in Serbian that described the protesters as “disgusting cattle.”

Since none of the posts were necessarily criticizing the race of the demonstrators/rioters but rather their conduct, calling her views “racist” is hyperbole. That doesn’t matter however: firing a man because his wife’s social media presence is inflammatory can’t be defended by any ethical theory, or a business one. The Galaxy’s explanation from  team president Chris Klein was self-indicting:

“We believe strongly that we’re a club that represents our staff, represents our players, represents our fans and our community. The decision, in that respect, was not a difficult one. We have to hold to those values. This is not a soccer decision.”

No, it was a stupid, cowardly, indefensible decision motivated by absurd virtue-signaling. Firing a man for something he had nothing to do with “wasn’t a difficult one?” Good to know.

Klein further stated,

“There are a lot of things that didn’t make the decision very easy. But we have an obligation to represent the values that we’ve upheld. Everyone makes mistakes. But in the end we have to look at what the club stands for and who were are.”

What was Katai’s “mistake,” marrying an insufficiently “woke” woman? What the team stands for are unethical values and suppression of free speech,  and “who they are” is an organization hostile to women, marriage, autonomy, freedom of speech and fairness.

I’d like to hear Megan Rapinoe’s reaction to the Galaxy’s “values.” My guess is that she wouldn’t dare choose a side.

[Pointer: Tim LeVier]

4. I’ll never be able to look at Glenn Ford the same way. We often discuss here the partition between artists and their art, and how as a irrational as it is, in extreme cases cognitive dissonance takes control and it may become impossible for some to continue to enjoy work by artists who are unequivocally revolting in their personal lives. I can’t laugh at Bill Cosby any more, for example, and my wife refuses to watch any film connected to Woody Allen. Glenn Ford’s screen persona for 50 years was that of an ordinary, decent man thrust into extraordinary challenges and dilemmas. Great range was not Ford’s forte, but credibility was: he was always completely believable as the never flashy, unremarkable looking and behaving individual who finds his way to doing the right thing.

Yesterday I learned that that Ford was one of the most notorious Lotharios in Hollywood history, which is saying something. Film musical great Eleanor Powell ended her career to marry him, and was rewarded by Ford’s almost constant infidelity until they divorced. Eventually he had three more wives, but that was nothing compared to the 146 affairs with actresses Ford documented in his personal diaries, including a 40-year, on-and off-again affair with Rita Hayworth. Ford eventually moved next door to Hayworth’s home for convenience.

Not only that, Glenn Ford surreptitiously recorded  nearly every phone conversation he ever had with  his celebrity lovers and friends for 40 years, including Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, William Holden, John Wayne, Cary Grant, Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck, James Mason, Lucille Ball, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Angie Dickinson, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Charlton Heston,  Debbie Reynolds and many others. They, of course, had no idea they were being bugged.

Nice guy!

39 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/6/2020: No, We’re Not On The Eve Of Destruction. Stop Saying That!

  1. “To make the team’s action even more ridiculous, two of the controversial posts were in Serbian.”

    This is quite similar to how the Chinese Communist Party punishes foreign entities (e.g. NBA, Marriott, etc.) for posting tweets that “offend the Chinese people.” Even though the transgressions 1) are posted on social media that is illegal in the PRC [i.e. Twitter] and 2) are not posted in Chinese, the atrocity is so grievous that the ChiComs must mobilize the behind-the-Great-Firewall netizens to share their feelings about the trauma the actions have caused them – and likely receive some Social Credit points in the process.

    Well done, LA Galaxy! Your wokeness would do Xi Jinping proud!

  2. Jack,
    We’re the tapes ever released? An invasion of privacy sure, but this could be the Hollywood equivalent of the (burned) George and Martha Washington letters, as far as revealing people at their most private.

  3. 1. Humane traps, Jack. Hire a guy who uses them. I’m amazed by Mrs. Marshall’s attitude toward mice. Mrs. OB HATES ’em. I’ve trapped or bludgeoned any number of them to death. You can also get someone to come out and seal up the holes they’re using to get inside.

    Our neighbor, a retired potato farmer from Colorado (think McDonald’s French fries) uses our humane traps to catch skunks. When there’s one in the trap, he proceeds across the street to the water hazard, er, penalty area, and proceeds to drop the skunk-filled trap into the water until the skunk is no more.

    • Drowning an animal trapped in a cage seems like it runs counter to the “humane trap” concept…

      But yeah, Jack, get a couple live traps (specifically sized for mice), bait them with peanut butter or dry cat food (ironic, yes), and turn the critters loose in the backyard when you catch them. Odds are they won’t make it back in, because they don’t roam far, and virtually every animal outside likes to eat them…

    • Tractor Supply or Amazon has small “Havahart” traps. Nothing better in my experience (except for Zyklon Discoids).

  4. 3. Hah! Are you kidding? Megan Rapinoe would blast the Serbian woman. She’s so unenlightened she’s married a heterosexual guy! Clearly a living, breathing detriment to the movement.

  5. Relating to 2 and 3 Virtue signaling

    Today I got this broadcast email from the CEO of Wal Mart Doug McMillan

    “Changing the future, together
    We know it takes more than talk—it takes action

    The events surrounding the tragic, senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have put a spotlight on the injustice that exists in our country. We know many of you are hurting, exhausted, angry, and discouraged right now—we are, too.” (Why are you discourage hurt and angry? You got to stay open through the pandemic while your competition was idled by government decree.)

    “What is taking place is further proof we must stand together, push for change, and help build a more inclusive society. It’s not only what we believe, it’s also at the core of the most basic principles of human rights and justice. (Does this mean we will or should begin seeing more whites in the leadership ranks of minority organizations?)

    We know that Walmart has a role to play in changing the future by making a positive impact on racial equity. We also know it takes more than talk—it takes action. (Tell me Doug define and measure racial equity; and how will you know if you achieve it? Don’t you know that goals need to be SMART ? – Specific, Measurable Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound)

    “Inside the company, our work to recruit, develop, and support African Americans and other people of color will be even more of a priority. (When did white cease to be a color?) To influence and lead change in society more broadly, we are going to invest resources and develop plans to increase fairness, equity, and justice in aspects of everyday life. (Does equity mean that all employees will get the same compensation, or are we simply saying fair compensation based on productivity and skill sets? So what do you mean by equitable?) Specifically, we’re going to focus the power of Walmart on our nation’s financial, healthcare, education, and criminal justice systems. (Will the Wal Mart Visa card be at a reduced interest rate for blacks and POC?) Building on what our business can do, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are also committing $100 million over five years through a new center for racial equity. The goal of the center will be to address racism in society head-on and accelerate change. (You can address it head on in your business practices. Example: source goods from domestic minority owned businesses instead of China by allowing smaller margins on those goods.)

    The doors of Walmart have always been open to everyone, and they always will be. A Walmart store isn’t just a place that’s in a community, it’s part of a community. It is representative of all America—and of all Americans. Our stores and clubs should be a place where every individual can feel welcome and know they will be treated with respect as they work or shop.

    What our country is experiencing right now reminds us of the need for us to support each other and to come together. Until we, as a nation, address the hard realities of racial discrimination and injustice, we will never achieve the best of what we can be.” (If you cannot publicly point out three people you know who are currently practicing racial discrimination how do you know the hard realities of racial discrimination and how can you address a problem that you cannot locate? )

    I see this as nothing more than a surrender to the mob and a request not to loot their stores.

    If the CEO wants to work to end racism and promote equity why spend 20 million bucks for the next five years on a “new center for racial equity” which will simply hire privileged blacks to make more demands on the company when he could actually do some good and get some actual return on its investment. If he wants to see African Americans advance invest that 20 million a year in a management development program for young black males. Young black males are the ones most negatively affected by our social systems and black females have myriad programs specific to them. Twenty million dollars a year for five years would go a long damn way in building the nations male black human capital infrastructure.

    I for one will be reducing my expenditures at Wal Mart because I will not fund another non-profit for racial equity that will simply help a handful of connected blacks earn 100K+ a year. I will increase my expenditures if they take my advice, eliminate the carpet bagging middlemen and help meritorious black youth achieve good results and earn the self respect that comes from work and success. Go into the local high schools find the neediest kids who are working damn hard to get into a good school and make their lives a bit easier. Look for the ones under 6 feet 3 inches tall, they need the help. Make a real difference instead of throwing money away of feel good stuff.

    • Chris, I suspect Jesse Jackson’s and Al Sharpton’s corporate shakedown, er, crisis response teams are billing hours 24/7 “helping corporate America respond to this critical crisis in America.” Or some such. CEOs are chickens. Why make a decision yourself when you can use the stockholders’ money to hire over-priced consultants to tell you what to do and if it doesn’t work out, you can say to your board, “Hey guys, I hired the best consultants and they screwed up. What would you have done?”

      • I don’t know who composed this drivel but how do you make something more of a priority. You can say a higher priority as priority implies ranking but more of a priority suggests it is a priority in name only and we only talk about it when we have to.

    • If the CEO wants to work to end racism and promote equity why spend 20 million bucks for the next five years on a “new center for racial equity” which will simply hire privileged blacks to make more demands on the company when he could actually do some good and get some actual return on its investment. If he wants to see African Americans advance invest that 20 million a year in a management development program for young black males.

      Precisely. Well said, Chris.

    • Text of a recent email from Uber:

      Let me start by saying I wish I never had to send this email.

      I wish that the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others weren’t so violently cut short. I wish that institutional racism, and the police violence it gives rise to, didn’t cause their deaths. I wish that all members of our Black community felt safe enough to move around their cities without fear. I wish that I didn’t have to try to find the words to explain all of this to my two young sons.

      But I’ve been given hope this week by hundreds of thousands of peaceful protestors demanding change. I am committed to being part of that change.

      As a company, we believe that everyone has the right to move freely, no matter where they live or the color of their skin. We’re proud of how Uber has helped improve transportation equity over the last decade. But the reality remains that Black Americans often don’t feel safe to move freely in many places around our country. And they still face enormous barriers that others do not.

      This is a reality we should not perpetuate or accept. We must do better.

      We know there is no easy solution to the problems we have faced for centuries. We also know that we need to devote our time, energy and resources toward making a difference. That’s why we’re making a number of commitments that we will uphold not just this week, but for years to come:

      We are committed to driving lasting change through criminal justice reform. On Sunday, we announced a $1 million donation to the Equal Justice Initiative and Center for Policing Equity to support their important work in making racial justice in America more than just a promise.

      We are committed to creating a community that treats everyone equally and with dignity. We do not tolerate discrimination, harrassment or racism on our platform, as outlined in our Community Guidelines. We will hold everyone who uses Uber accountable to these standards of basic respect and human decency. I respectfully ask anyone not willing to abide by these rules to delete Uber.

      We are committed to supporting the Black community. As a starting point, we will use Uber Eats to promote Black-owned restaurants while making it easier for you to support them, with no delivery fees for the remainder of the year. And in the coming weeks, we will offer discounted rides to Black-owned small businesses, who have been hit hard by COVID-19, to help in their recovery.

      We are committed to making Uber a diverse and inclusive place for people of color to work and thrive. While we have more work to do, we have tied our senior executives’ pay to measurable progress on our diversity goals, and will continue to publish data on our workforce so the public can hold us accountable. We’re also committed to expanding opportunities for drivers and delivery people, including through education opportunities and skills training.

      We know this isn’t enough. It won’t be enough until we see true racial justice. But we plan to work day in and day out to improve, learn, and grow as a company.

      Lastly, let me speak clearly and unequivocally: Black Lives Matter.

      Dara Khosrowshahi
      CEO

      • Just think! When the rest of America’s major corporation$$$ have jumped on the bandwagon, BLM can close out their demand for repatriations.

          • We need to ask all the organizations – What will be the metric in American Society that determines when your work is finished and your organization is no longer necessary?

            It appears that most of the donations are going to fund social justice lawyers and places that reinforce the idea that racism is prevalent. The Equal Justice Institute which is one of the top beneficiaries of all these corporate donations memorializes the Trayvon Martin in their museum. These organizations will need a steady stream of new clients to keep their operations viable for the long haul so every perceived injustice no matter how slight will elevated to Emmitt Till stature. That means that their success is not tied to the success of their clientele. The black community is being taught to be fearful of whites and they are constantly being held back. When you believe you cannot win in a fair fight you will lash out or give up. Both of these behaviors in the client population make it easier for the SJW’s and the civil rights lawyers to maintain their social and professional lifestyles.

            When organizations start using their funds to help people advance in the larger society, thus intervening in the lives of young men and women before they get involved in the criminal justice system, I will be more likely to support those efforts.

            • “When organizations start using their funds to help people advance in the larger society, thus intervening in the lives of young men and women before they get involved in the criminal justice system, I will be more likely to support those efforts.”

              What do you want to bet that few of these outfits (Walmart possibly being a major exception) give much, if anything, to groups like the Boy Scouts?

          • “What’s a few extra syllables among friends…”

            Your needless waste of those extra electrons makes the ozone layer cry!

  6. #2 General Mattis’s fatuous statement, “We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers,”

    That sentence from Mattis was only a small piece of what was wrong with General Mattis’ anti-Trump critique. It appears that Mattis is consumed with his hate of President Trump and he is willing to squander the reputation he once had to smear the President.

    • Steve,
      I am beginning to believe that since the mid nineties the “Generals” have been manipulating civillian control over the military for their own ends. Trump ‘s unwillingness to keep our troops overseas indefinitely – Syria for example- caused both Mattis and Kelly to expose themselves.

      • I suppose Mattis and Kelly conducted Presidentially ordered military ops like Comey conducted court ordered surveillence.

    • It is. His predecessor, Dickens, chased squirrels, possums, mice and birds. And he killed two HUGE rats.
      Rugby was unusual, a lover—of cats, mailmen, chipmonks, big dogs, small dogs, all humans, all creatures great and small. On his last hour, the vet said that she was more upset by having to end his life than any dog she could recall, because he was such a sweet soul. And he was.

      One exception: he hated Belgian Shepherds, because one attacked him when he was a puppy. Left unrestrained, he would attack any one he saw. It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

  7. *sigh*

    The CEO of my company issued a similar communique this past week.

    And yet. not to be too much of a coward, but how can one respond? I really am not prepared to lose my job just yet and I see that certainly as a possibility.

    Perhaps half my clients and a number of my co-workers are non-white (a decent number non-Americans [legal] in fact). I treat them all the same, I believe, and I also believe that that is the extent of my responsibility.

    Clearly that’s not considered good enough these days, at least by these people.

  8. Let’s look on the bright side, folks. By the time this is all over, Al Sharpton will have raked in more than enough to clear his tax debt.

  9. I used to really like Mattis back when he was saying things like “Be polite, be professional, but always have a plan for killing everyone you meet.” Guess that backbones have a shelf-life too.

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