Mid-Day Ethics Alarms, 3/22/2021: A Wonderful Father And A Judge Sees The Light, Though Others Not So Much…


1. Spitballing ethics? When everyone is throwing out ideas—you know, “Just say whatever crazy thing pops into your head, don’t worry whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea, just let ’em rip!” is it fair later to hold someone to account because a discarded idea was offensive or politically incorrect? I tend to think not.

Hiroshi Sasaki, the creative director for Tokyo Olympics, was participating in a brainstorming session about the opening ceremony with members of a committee a year ago, and at one point suggested that a popular overweight female Japanese comedian and plus-size fashion designer, Naomi Watanabe, be costumed in pig ears, perhaps a snout and curly tail, and parachute out of the heavens as an Olympic messenger: “Olympig.”

No? OK, bad idea. Let’s move on. The inspiration received immediate negative reviews in the private meeting, but when the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, 83, resigned this year after saying that women talk too much in meetings, the year-old conversation about “Olympig” was recalled in an article on the website of “Shukan Bunshun,” a weekly magazine. Yes, one of Sasaki’s trusted colleagues had talked. (That’s an easy call: Unethical.)

So you know what comes next, right? Groveling. “Now many people know what I wrote. I cannot apologize enough to Ms. Watanabe,” he said, adding that he was a big fan of hers. “I have been trying not to hurt others by making fun of diversity, gender and physical appearances. But it was a great misunderstanding. I realized my low consciousness and insensitivity.” He resigned.

Now you know that at least for now, when someone says to just suggest whatever pops into your head, no filters, no fear, don’t.

On the positive side, it’s comforting to know that The Great Stupid isn’t just an American phenomenon.

2. The whole concept of “hate crimes” was always a terrible idea and an unethical one. It is gratifying to see that its essential dishonesty is being exposed so vividly, and by its advocates.

The front page headline in the Times last week read “Asian-Americans Ask: “Why Not Call It Hate?” [Interestingly, the online headline is the less fatuous “Asian-Americans Are Being Attacked. Why Are Hate Crime Charges So Rare?” I see this a lot. The newspaper headlines are over-the-top to cater to presumably hysterical subscribers, but toned down for web-surfers.] Why not call the Georgia massage parlor shootings hate? Because there’s no evidence that it’s hate, that’s why. Never mind: a white guy’s victims were of a different race, so that’s enough in the era of presumed racism, epitomized by George Floyd’s death being almost universally represented as a race-motivated death despite the lack of any evidence other than the fact that his alleged killer was white.

In the same vein, Atlanta’s race-obsessed mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, is arguing that the “symbolism” of hate crime charges against the sex parlor shooter is important despite such charges adding only two years to a criminal’s sentence. “When you look at the definition of a hate crime in Georgia, it’s not just based on race, it can also be based on sex,” Bottoms said. “And he targeted Asian massage parlors, in his own words – if you can believe the word of a mass murderer – because of some sexual addiction that he had, and he targeted women.”

No, he targeted a kind of business, not type of person. If someone thought an addiction to basketball was ruining his life and shot up an NBA game, would Bottoms conclude that the shooter was out to kill blacks, or tall people?

Oh, she probably would.

The shooter should be executed. That would make the hate-crime blather superfluous.

3. If Gov. Cuomo is allowed to escape his sexual harassment scandal, nobody should ever do anything but laugh when #MeToo is mentioned by Democratic supporters. In fact, everyone should be laughing already.

Last week, the NY Times published yet another claim of sexual harassment involving Cuomo from Alyssa McGrath, who is a current aide to the governor. She described to the paper incidents similar to those described by other accusers, such as being alone in the governor’s office and his making her uncomfortable with suggestive comments. Now Cuomo is encouraging the state’s black community to embarrass itself by supporting him. Cuomo is taking cues from Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Virginia, a Democrat who survived widespread calls for his resignation after two women accused him of rape and sexual assault. Virginia blacks supported Fairfax remaining in office, and polls apparently trump movements and ethics, at least when the accused politician is a Democrat.

Black Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, a Democrat from Brooklyn, invoked the Central Park Five — the group of Black and Hispanic teenagers who were wrongfully convicted of assaulting a white female jogger in 1989 — in defending Cuomo. Now THERE’S an apt analogy! Apparently to prove white Democrats could be even more ridiculous, George Latimer, the Westchester County executive, used a Facebook post to compare those calling on Cuomo to resign to the mob that lynched Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black boy who was wrongfully accused of offending a white woman in Mississippi more than 60 years ago.

4. So what took him so long? Judge Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Circuit for the Court of Appeals called the national news media what it was in a ringing dissent that called for courts to revisit libel laws that protect the press from being held liable for their increasingly irresponsible reporting. He wrote in part,

“It should be borne in mind that the first step taken by any potential authoritarian or dictatorial regime is to gain control of communications, particularly the delivery of news. It is fair to conclude, therefore, that one-party control of the press and media is a threat to a viable democracy. “[The New York Times and the Washington Post ] are virtually Democratic Party broadsheets. And the news section of The Wall Street Journal leans in the same direction…Nearly all television—network and cable—is a Democratic Party trumpet.”

Commenting on the manipulation of public opinion by Big Tech, Silberman added, “Some emphasize these companies are private and therefore not subject to the First Amendment. Yet—even if correct— it is not an adequate excuse for big tech’s bias. The First Amendment is more than just a legal provision: It embodies the most important value of American Democracy. Repression of political speech by large institutions with market power therefore is—I say this advisedly—fundamentally un-American.”


5, Dick Hoyt, an ethical father. Rick Hoyt was born in 1962, a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, unable to control his limbs or speak. When Rick was 10, engineers at Tufts University built a computer that allowed him to communicate by choosing letters with a tap of his head. His first words were “Go Bruins.” Reasonably, his father Dick concluded that his son had a passion for sports. So when, in 1977, Rick asked to be involved in a five-mile benefit run, his father pushed Rick in his wheelchair the entire distance, finishing next to last. Dick had never been a runner.

He was after that, though. Dick finished more than a thousand road races pushing Rick’s wheelchair, becoming a familiar sight in the Boston Marathon, which the father and son competed in nearly every year from 1980 to 2014. They also entered triathlons, including six at the Ironman distance, in which their best time was 13:43:37. Dick pulled Rick in a boat for the swimming legs, and they rode a tandem cycle for the bicycling segment. They also biked and ran across the country in 1992.

“When my dad and I are out there on a run, a special bond forms between us,” Rick Hoyt told The New York Times in 2009 with the help of his computer voice program. “And it feels like there is nothing Dad and I cannot do.”

Dick Hoyt died last week at 80.

What a wonderful, loving dad.

6 thoughts on “Mid-Day Ethics Alarms, 3/22/2021: A Wonderful Father And A Judge Sees The Light, Though Others Not So Much…

  1. 1. It’s when someone says to say whatever pops into your head that you need to make sure your filter is in working order, because it may be a trap, or in this case, a potential time bomb. Maybe you better look back and make sure you didn’t rant after 9/11, lest anyone dredge up something less than politically correct you said in the heat of the moment.

    2. Unfortunately, hate crime statutes are here to stay, and they’ll be trotted out whenever a white criminal kills someone not white, because every white criminal who takes a life does so because he’s a racist, not because he’s, you know, a criminal.

    3. Cuomo will probably escape, for the moment, but either he will be primaried next year or he will lose the general election. If the Democrats are smart they will have him step aside, in favor of a woman, of course.

    4. A good dissent, telling the truth, but in the end it really means nothing. I think too many people in this country have concluded that the individual right of free speech should give way to government enforcing civility, preventing offense, and generally making sure everyone toes the line.

    5. Nice.

  2. RE #1: A lot of the Great Stupid is based on premises created in other places, notably Europe. In keeping with its heritage, the United States has figured out how to weaponize it, so other nations now follow our lead – as they do in many things when it comes to attempting to forestall litigation (another industry in which the U.S. leads the world).

    RE #5: the Boston press has spent a fair amount of time on this one, to its credit; Hoyt was indeed an Ethics Hero, and there are damned few of those in this state I now grudgingly call home.

  3. (4) What we have now is basically the scene from Demolition Man where Simon Phoenix, unable to shoot Dr. Coctaeu himself, merely orders his subordinate do it. The government can’t suppress speech, but they can have private companies do it for them.

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