No-Hitter Ethics!

Hope

You see, this is why I am a lifetime underachiever. Here I am, desperately preparing for a challenging 3-hour seminar, and when Jutgory sends me a story about a controversy over what should count as a “perfect game” in baseball, I can’t think of anything else. Baseball and ethics. The combination gets me every time! So I am writing a post instead of doing my job. Pathetic.

For some reason, 2021 has been a big year for no-hitter definition categories. About ten days ago, Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Madison Bumgarner threw seven hitless innings against the Atlanta Braves, winning 7-0. However,the game was part of a doubleheader, and this year, as in the 2020 season, twinbills consist of two 7 inning games. Bumgarner’s gem does not officially count as a no-hitter, because MLB declared many years ago that an official no-hitter must be nine innings, a shutout, a victory, and a complete game. This eliminated no-hitters that had been shortened because of rain but were still official games, and the strange games where a pitcher gave up a run or more because of errors or walks. It also wiped out one of the most famous no-hitters of all time.

Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Piratesgave up no hits, walks or baserunners for 12 innings against the Milwaukee Braves on May 26, 1959 in a 0-0 extra-inning tie. He retired 36 consecutive consecutive batters until an error in the 13th ended the perfect game bid, then he gave up a hit, and eventually a run and the game. It was one of the greatest pitching performances of all time, but did not count, sayeth the rule-makers, as a perfect game or a no-hitter.

Not giving Baumgarner credit for a “no-no,” as no-hitters are called by their close friends, seems very unfair. The game was official and not shortened by the elements. He did everything he could do: it wasn’t his fault MLB is lazy and incompetent and decided to allow kiddie rule 7-inning games this season. (The excuse was, as with much that is outrageous, the pandemic.) I am quite sure that baseball didn’t think through such possibilities as a double-header no-hitter, and was stuck with a rule that really shouldn’t have applied.

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From The “Just Tell Me The Rules” Files: Are Alvin And The Chipmunks Racist?

The song you hear above was the brainchild of Rostom Sipan “Ross” Bagdasarian, a cousin of author and playwright William Saroyan. He performed under the stage name of Dave Seville, and using that name, had a novelty hit in 1958 with “I Told the Witch Doctor.” The song introduced the gimmick of speeding up a human voice to sound high pitched and funny, as with helium. The singing “witch doctor” (it was, of course, “Seville” himself) was returned to vinyl later in the same year as a chipmunk, actually three chipmunks, in a Christmas novelty song, “Christmas Don’t Be Late.” That hit, in turn, spawned sequels, eventually an animated TV series, and finally, two movies.

By current woke standards, having a “witch doctor”—generally thought of as a black member of a primitive African tribe—sounding silly and singing gibberish like “Ooh ee ooh ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang, ooh ee ooh ah ah ting tang walla walla bang bang” is racially demeaning (rather than what uninfected people would call “silly and harmless”) bordering on racist.

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Ethics Quiz: The Football Coach’s Tweet

Malone

Once again, I am 90% certain, maybe more, what the right answer should be, but also again, I’m close enough to the cusp to have “reasonable doubt,” or as they would say in the Chauvin trial, “Never mind!”

Chris Malone, an offensive line coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (UTC), , was fired two days after he tweeted,

“Congratulations to the state GA and Fat Albert @staceyabrams because you have truly shown America the true works of cheating in an election, again!!! Enjoy the buffet Big Girl!! You earned it!!! Hope the money is good, still not governor!”

The school responded, through its athletic director,

“Last night, a totally inappropriate social media post by a member of our football staff was brought to my attention. The entire post was appalling. The sentiments in that post do not represent the values of our football program, our Athletics department or our University. With that said, effective immediately, that individual is no longer a part of the program.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for today (as I head to my oral surgeon for the latest emergency…):

Was it ethical to fire him?

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A Word From Your Sponsor…

I’m giving a Zoom CLE seminar, 3 hours, for legal ethics credits, for the D.C. Bar this evening. If you are a lawyer, you might want to participate. The program is “Clarence Darrow’s Legal Ethics Lessons for Today’s More Ethical Lawyers 2021,” and features, as Darrow, my friend and long-time D.C. theater star Paul Morella. (You may recall him as a sinister young law firm associate in “The Pelican Brief.”) I do the ethics stuff.

Paul and I have done constantly evolving versions of this seminar for years, an adaptation of a one-man show I wrote for my late, lamented Arlington, VA theater company 20 years ago. Paul has continued to perform the show all over the country.

The link is here.

Now back to our usual scheduled programming….

Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 5/5/21: Toyota, Patents, And The Cheating Homecoming Queen

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I don’t want to over-use the “This Date In Ethics” concept, but attention must be paid: this was the day, in 1961,that Navy Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. boarded the Freedom 7 space capsule to becoming the first American astronaut to travel into space.

In these times where so many aspects of our culture are working to imbue Americans with fear of living, when people wear masks in their cars and teachers are willing to cripple both the economy and children’s education to minimize their risk of catching a virus, it should be remembered that a young, healthy man risked his life and the chance of a fiery death to advance America’s science and the spirit of exploration.

1. For some reason (Cognitive dissonance?) I haven’t been checking Althouse as often since she decided that her readers were hogging too much attention on her blog by insisting on posting comments. She still has an admirable talent for cutting through the BS. Reacting to today’s announcement that Facebook’s “quasi-indepedent” board upheld FaceBook’s partisan and anti-democratic ban on Donald Trump’s posts. Ann writes, “I’m not surprised. If the decision had gone the other way, Facebook could have found some new offense and banned him again.”

Not could have, though; would have.

2. How is this fair or equitable? Once again, Toyota is giving a special discount to “recent college graduates.” This is, of course, ham-handed pro-college virtue-signaling, but wouldn’t you guess that non-college grads of the same age need such discounts more? In the TV ad, we see a nice, upper-middle class white girl from childhood to college—it sure looks like her parents can afford a car…or she can afford a full-price cheaper car. Interestingly, this is one of the relatively few TV ads running now that dares to feature a white character who doesn’t at least mitigate her ingrained evil by being part of a mixed-race family.

Special deals on products and services for special categories of Americans—yes, even veterans—are divisive and incoherent.

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Dave Portnoy

“[I]t’s unfortunate that the powers that be at N Magazine are spineless jellyfish who are held hostage by the whims of the vocal minority. Meanwhile, I will continue to do my best to make Nantucket and America a better place while those who hate me can continue to throw cry parties for themselves about how I made a joke they didn’t like 20 years ago.”

–Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy mocking N Magazine, a publication focused on the life on Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he lives, for its nauseating apology to readers who criticized its May cover story on him.

Bravo. Now if every grovel to every grievance mob was certain to attract a similar response, maybe we would see fewer grovels. The fact that someone who spawned a company called “Barstool Sports” in Boston, where call-in sports radio is so outrageous that it has driven athletes to tears and where sports discussions would be banned at Basecamp  because they so frequently lead to battle, has been known to express himself, well, like he’s on a barstool, is absurdly obvious. The complaints to the magazine were as risable as the annual letters from Sunday school teachers to Sports Illustrated condemning its swimsuit edition is “immoral.”

But no. Though the article celebrated Portnoy’s documented charity work raising money for bars, pubs and small businesses (you can imagine what 2020 was like for a bar in Nantucket), the invertebrate publisher and editor of the magazine placed a nauseating grovel on the magazine’s Facebook page, saying “a number of people in the community have taken issue with offensive remarks and actions [Portnoy] has made in the past. We never want to hurt, offend, or disappoint any of our readers with the stories we publish. Accordingly, we formally apologize for any pain caused to those who have objected to this May cover….We now recognize and acknowledge our oversight in how this story would be received. We appreciate feedback, positive or otherwise, because ultimately it helps make us a better publication going forward.”

The Manchurian Candidate or Winston Smith could not have said it better.

That’s right: any time anyone decides that anything offends them, they must be apologized to, and efforts to cancel productive societal actors based on real or alleged “offenses” in the past must always be treated as valid and sacred. This kind of craven virtue-signaling is far worse for society than anything David Portnoy might have said on the most politically incorrect day of his life.

Now, when public apologies like N’s result in tangible negative responses—I’d cancel a subscription to any publication run by aspiring totalitarians like that—maybe this antidemocratic trend can be eradicated, as it richly deserves to be.

Hell, I might subscribe to “N” just so I can cancel my subscription.

Observations And Questions About The Weirdest Political Photo Ever…

Carters and Bidens

Once again I have to say, “I don’t understand this AT ALL.”

The photo didn’t come from the Babylon Bee, it came from the Carter Center, which was not hacked. The place really did send out this ridiculous photo that makes Joe Biden look like Andre the Giant, Rosalynn Carter look like Lily Tomlin playing “Edith Ann” on “Laugh-in,” Dr. Biden look like she’s remaking “Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman” and the former President look like Dorf.

1. What idiot at the Carter Center didn’t pick up on the fact that the photo made the Center’s scions look like dolls? How hard is that? Is this fool still employed? Does he or she secretly hate the Carters? “We’re pleased to share this wonderful photo from the @POTUS and @FLOTUS visit to see the Carters in Plains, Ga.!” the Center’s tweet said. “Wonderful”? It’s an incompetent photo.

2. What allged photographer took that monstrosity? Who approved and released it? Who are these incompetent employees?

3. No masks? No masks inside within inches of two high risk seniors in their Nineties?

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Comment Of The Day: “From The Increasingly Fantastic Annals Of The Great Stupid: Norton And The Philip Roth Biography”

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Here is JP’s Comment of the Day on “From The Increasingly Fantastic Annals Of The Great Stupid: Norton And The Philip Roth Biography”. It tells the story of how a high school student learned what was wrong with banning books…any books.

I’ll add this as preface: “The Giver” is one of the most frequently banned books in public school libraries.

When I was in high school, I was a terrible student. I was averaging a 2.2 GPA and had no desire to do anything other than the absolute minimum of what was required of me (I think that is why my grammar is so bad).

Since I wasn’t doing too well academically and had failed a few classes, I was not on a path to graduate until, one day, in my sophomore year, the head librarian approached me. Apparently she was friends with one of the teachers I was pretty fond of, and they discussed ways to help me out. I was asked to be a the librarian’s personal Scout, a kind of \a teaching aid). The library had lots of Scouts, but I reported directly to her, and not the lady who supervised the rest of the scouts.

It was fun. I loved it. Then came the teaching. She gave me a book and wanted to know what I thought about it. She would tell me her favorite parts. She told me I reminded her of Sam. “Who’s Sam?” I asked. That was another boo, and that book turned into another book, and they kept kept on coming. That year I discovered a passion for reading. Pretty soon I was asking her for for new books and was leading the discussions.

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Verdict: Facebook’s “Oversight Board” Is An Unethical Farce

kangaroos jury

From the Boston Globe this morning: “The social network’s quasi-independent Oversight Board voted to uphold [Donald Trump’s] ban from the platform after his account was suspended four months ago for inciting violence that led to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.”

That tells you all you need to know about the fairness of any such decision involving any organization with “media” in its description. Let’s see:

  • What—THE HELL—is a “quasi-independent” board? Is it independent, or isn’t it? Oh, it’s “kind of” independent, is it? Right. It’s not independent then, and no decision by any body that allows itself to be used in corporate deceit like that can be trusted. Gautam Hans, a technology law and free speech expert and professor at Vanderbilt University, commented that “If any other company decided, well, we’re just going to outsource our decision-making to some quasi-independent body, that would be thought of as ridiculous.”

Yes, that’s because it is ridiculous, for Facebook or “any other company.”

  • President Trump was banned for “inciting violence” when any objective analysis of his words and what happened shows that he did nothing of the kind.
  • The gratuitous use of “deadly” is more of the news media’s attempt to bias public perceptions of the event to Trump’s detriment.

The CYA board—I think that’s a fair description—then said, contradicting itself, “It was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension,” although the board is allowing the penalty to stand. It gave Facebook (of which, remember, it is quasi-independent! Don’t forget that! ) six more months to reexamine the “arbitrary penalty” it imposed on January 7, and then decide on another penalty that reflects the “gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm.”

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Unethical “American Idol” Tricks

American-Idol-Season

Wow. Has it really been that long since my last “American Idol” post? The last one appears to have been in 2012. I began losing interest in the updated version of “Major Bowe’s Amateur Hour” when it became clear to me that the show’s system routinely missed the best talent, notably Adam Lambert, who so obviously had “star” written all over him during the 2009 season that his loss to the vanilla Kris Allen (Who?) was an embarrassment. I stopped paying attention a few years later—yes, I guess 2012 fits.

But I can’t let this pass.

At the end of last month on “American Idol” Season 19, MC Ryan Seacrest announced that ten “familiar faces” from last season, when the show was made remote and virtually dead by the production limitations prompted by Wuhan virus fears , would be permitted to compete for a spot in this year’s top 10. “Those finalists never got the true experience of the big stage, the lights, the cameras, the hair, the makeup, the wardrobe, that fun stuff, Kris Pooley and the band backing them up,” Ryan said, not really justifying anything. Yup, they got a tough break. But it was that season’s groups’ tough break, and the current season’s competitors shouldn’t be penalized for it. Adding those performers now obviously ould skew the voting: some of them already had a solid fan base. This was especially true of last popular season’s runner-up, Arthur Gunn.

Sure enough, Gunn predictably won the “comeback round,” and thus was added to the Season 19 Top Ten. That meant that one of this season’s singers who would have made the finalist group without the Invasion of the Losers from Season 18 was robbed of his or her shot. At very least, Gunn should have been the 11th finalist if he was going to be allowed to compete at all. Then he was voted into the Final Seven, compounding the damage.

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