Sunday Ethics Reinforcements, 2/7/21: The “Don’t Watch The Concussion Bowl” Edition

Brain Damage football

Ethics Alarms has been chronicling the mounting evidence that pro football condemns a large percentage of its players to future dementia and premature death for a long time, often in conjunction with what a Georgetown professor friend calls “The Concussion Bowl.” Many of those posts are here, under the CTE tag. Incredibly, the NFL has done little to stop the carnage, perhaps because seriously addressing the inherent damage to brains caused by a necessarily violent sport would end football as we know it, and that would cost owners, TV networks, colleges and merchandisers billions. Can’t have that.

Equally amazing, the public and the news media have allowed the NFL to get away with distracting from its unethical priorities with the flagrant and cynical virtue-signalling of pandering to Black Lives Matter. I’m pretty sure that when it is all tallied, the NFL will have killed more innocent black men by far than all the brutal police officers over the same period. But most people just don’t care. If they cared one hundredth as much about athletes getting permanent brain damage for their Sunday (Monday, Thursday) TV viewing as they do about a single ugly incident where an overdosing lifetime petty crook died under the knee of a Minneapolis cop, there would be action. Not riots and take-overs of public property, but serious, effective action, including safety regulations.. Football would have to change, evolve, or vanish. The public and the media (and government officials) don’t care, and neither do the NFL executives. If Colin Kaepernick had performed his on-field protests against CTE, he would have been suspended and eliminated from the sport faster than Deion Sanders running for the goal line.

Talk about conspiracies….

1. False Narrative Dept. Now dishonest anti-Trump propaganda is showing up on Turner Classic Movies, which has been generally exemplary in avoiding partisan pandering over the last four years. Today, Eddie Muller, TCM’s film noir maven, pointedly showed the 1950 move “The Killer Who Slaked New York,” about a potential smallpox outbreak that was shut down by New York City health officials in 1947. Ultimately only 12 people were infected, and the threat was a single contagious smallpox victim who had to be found and contained. As you can see, this is a perfect analogy for the Wuhan virus outbreak in 2020. Noting that New York City quickly launched a mass vaccination effort (because there was already a smallpox vaccine, another close parallel), Eddie raised an accusing eyebrow and said,voice dripping with contempt, “That’s how we did things then.”

It’s Eddie’s show. I don’t think he should be fired or suspended. He’s welcome to his ignorant and obnoxious opinion. But he’s part of a disinformation campaign and an effort to distort reality, He’s also annoying TCM’s generally mature audience members who have been paying attention, and who presumably watch old movies to get a break from political BS, not to be subjected to more of it by movie nerds driving out of their lane.

2. From the “Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid Files”…The Bank of America gave customer data on 211 citizens to federal investigators of the Capitol riot. The justification for this fishing expedition: the 211 used credit and debit cards for lodging, food and other purchases in D.C. in the days before the January 6 attack. “That’s just not a good reason to hand over private information. If that’s the way they do business now, then the people of this country really have something to worry about,” said Bernard Kerik, the security consultant who headed the NYPD in 2000 and 2001. None of the 211 were under any suspicion of wrongdoing. In the past, such information has only been requested from banks when there was reason to suspect criminal activity by a specific individual. [Pointer: JutGory]

3. More reason to subscribe to Glenn Greenwald’s balanced and non-partisan reporting: He writes,

A new and rapidly growing journalistic “beat” has arisen over the last several years that can best be described as an unholy mix of junior high hall-monitor tattling and Stasi-like citizen surveillance. It is half adolescent and half malevolent. Its primary objectives are control, censorship, and the destruction of reputations for fun and power. Though its epicenter is the largest corporate media outlets, it is the very antithesis of journalism.

I’ve written before about one particularly toxic strain of this authoritarian “reporting.” Teams of journalists at three of the most influential corporate media outlets — CNN’s “media reporters” (Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy), NBC’s “disinformation space unit” (Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny), and the tech reporters of The New York Times (Mike Isaac, Kevin Roose, Sheera Frenkel) — devote the bulk of their “journalism” to searching for online spaces where they believe speech and conduct rules are being violated, flagging them, and then pleading that punitive action be taken (banning, censorship, content regulation, after-school detention). These hall-monitor reporters are a major factor explaining why tech monopolies, which (for reasons of self-interest and ideology) never wanted the responsibility to censor, now do so with abandon and seemingly arbitrary blunt force: they are shamed by the world’s loudest media companies when they do not.

4. How unethical have biased lawyers, academics and pols become since 2016? This unethical…House manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, (D-Md), a lawyer and former law professor, declared that the decision of Trump not to testify in the Senate would be an indication of his guilt. Such a statement is a contradiction of core civil rights and constitutional law, and it shouldn’t take a law degree to recognize it. I would expect a well-educated high school senior ( I wish I could say middle-schooler) to know about the Fifth Amendment. Prof Turley, appropriately horrified, wrote of Raskin’s words,

Legal experts who long defended criminal defense rights have suddenly become advocates of the most sweeping interpretations of criminal or constitutional provisions while discarding basic due process  and fairness concerns…No principle seems inviolate when it stands in the way of a Trump prosecution. Yet, the statement of House manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., this week was breathtaking…Under this theory, any response other than conceding the allegations would trigger this response and allow the House to use the silence of the accused as an inference of guilt.The statement conflicts with one of the most precious and revered principles in American law that a refusal to testify should not be used against an accused party…

The Fifth Amendment embodies this touchstone of American law in declaring that “[n]o person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”  It was a rejection of the type of abuses associated with the infamous Star Chamber in Great Britain. As the Supreme Court declared in 1964, it is the embodiment of “many of our fundamental values and most noble aspirations.”  Murphy v. Waterfront Commission, 378 U.S. 52, 55 (1964)…

Central to this right is the added protection that the silence of an accused cannot be used against him in the way suggested by Raskin. There was a time when members of Congress not only respected this rule but fought to amplify it. For example, in 1878, Congress was enacting a law that addressed testimonial rights but expressly stated that the failure of an accused to request to testify “shall not create any presumption against him.”

The Supreme Court has been adamant that the type of inference sought by Raskin is abhorrent and abusive in courts of law.

Typically, the party that has maintained for four years that Trump dangerously defied “democratic norms” now is threatening him with presumed guilt if he follows one. No President has testified in his impeachment trial since the first in 1868..

5. “A President for all Americans.” Sure, Joe. The Biden Justice Department has dropped its discrimination lawsuit against Yale University alleging that “Old Eli” was illegally discriminating against Asian American and white applicants in favor of African Americans with lesser credentials. The evidence that this is indeed what is going on (as it is at Harvard and other schools) is well nigh undeniable, but discriminating in favor of anointed minorities is part of the Biden creed demanded by the Democratic base, which is why color has, so far at least, played a larger part in Biden’s appointments than trivial matters like experience and skill.

Swan Lee, a co-founder of the group behind the original complaint, called the Biden administration’s reversal “a racist decision because it preserves discrimination in education. It’s a setback in our fight against racial discrimination against Asian Americans in education.” Bingo! That fight is alive, however, in a similar lawsuit against Harvard. Though plaintiffs have lost at each round in the lower courts, their appeal to the Supreme Court is fast approaching a hearing. “The challenge to race-based affirmative action in higher education will continue regardless of any change in the Department of Justice,” said Edward Blum, the president of Students for Fair Admissions, which filed the lawsuit against Harvard.

My guess is that the illegal discrimination against Asians and whites will finally be called what it is by the SCOTUS majority, causing heads to explode all over academia, and maybe even a new round of riots.

4 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Reinforcements, 2/7/21: The “Don’t Watch The Concussion Bowl” Edition

  1. 1. With rare exceptions, war films were not all that popular during WWII. People got enough of the war during normal hours. When going to the movies, they wanted to relax – even then, they had to sit through newsreels – and be entertained. I am sick to death of the endless Trump-mocking ads for Trevor Noah’s show when I’m just binge-watching “The Office” on Saturday mornings. If my cable provider hadn’t suddenly yanked TCM from our lineup in December of 2019, I’m sure Eddie’s comment would have stuck in my craw.
    2. But liberals have no problem with this type of Big Corporate betrayal of customers. Big Corporations are evil until they can bring down conservatives. Even stupid conservatives taking inane selfies don’t deserve this invasion of their privacy.
    3. This does not surprise me at all. The poorly-written articles, the badly-sourced assertions, the idiotic headlines. I want a job that lets me sit around all day calling myself an asset to democracy while trolling Facebook for posts I don’t like.
    4. What else can I contribute here? The thing speaks for itself. They will spin his refusal to testify in the worst possible way while excusing Bill Clinton and probably toss in that Richard Nixon didn’t testify at his non-existent trial.
    5. Called by the SCOTUS majority and dissented by the usual suspects.

  2. Hey, hey – the NFL is trying to End Racism, though. I think they’re serious – they got t-shirts and they painted it on the end zones and everything.

  3. Any update on the Pandemic Creates a Classic and Difficult Ethics Conflict, especially as countries in Europe are continuing restrictions despite the existence of a vaccine?

    Teams of journalists at three of the most influential corporate media outlets — CNN’s “media reporters” (Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy), NBC’s “disinformation space unit” (Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny), and the tech reporters of The New York Times (Mike Isaac, Kevin Roose, Sheera Frenkel) — devote the bulk of their “journalism” to searching for online spaces where they believe speech and conduct rules are being violated, flagging them, and then pleading that punitive action be taken (banning, censorship, content regulation, after-school detention).

    We know who the real enemy is.

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