Friday Late Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/30/2021: Pot, Bribes, “Advocacy Journalism,” Baseball’s Domestic Abuse Policy, And How Did A Woman Win The Gold In The Men’s Decathlon?

White rabbit 2

I often check multiple websites to see what of ethics significance occurred on given dates. This July 30 isn’t a major ethics day, though the fiasco that resulted in 1864 when the serially incompetent Union General Ambrose Burnside made his third major blunder of the Civil War in the Battle of the Crater carries a crucial leadership lesson that apparently is impossible to learn: don’t give incompetent leaders second (or third) chances to lead.

However, on one of the sites, “This Day in History,” the headline on a note reads, “1976: Caitlyn Jenner wins Olympic decathlon.” That may be politically correct, but it’s cowardly (would the trans activist mob pounce if the event was stated straight?) and absurd on its face. Bruce Jenner won the Olympic decathlon, and it was a men’s event. Caitlyn was, as far as we know, not even a twinkle in his eye. Bruce fathered children after winning the gold; the event and the other events in his life when he was a he were not magically altered by his later transgender journey, like “Back to the Future.”

1. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias” note of the day. Frequent commenter and invaluable tipster Steve Witherspoon sent me a link to a Jonathan Turley column I had missed. The law professor covers a lot of issues we have discussed here as he notes that “Professional ethics, it seems, has become entirely impressionistic in the age of advocacy journalism.”

It seems? There is no question about it. Turley also points out the hypocrisy of the Times with several examples, writing, “If none of this makes sense to you, that is because it does not have to make sense. Starting with the [Senator Tom] Cotton scandal, the New York Times cut its mooring cables with traditional journalist values. It embraced figures like Nikole Hannah-Jones who have championed advocacy journalism.” He also notes that “while the Times has embraced advocacy journalism, its has not updated its guidelines which state that “Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that The Times is seeking to cover objectively.”

Read it all, and I recommend sending it to any friend or relative who calls assertions that the news media is a left-wing propaganda machine at this point “conservative disinformation.”

2. Either MLB players have suddenly started beating up their wives and girlfriends, or baseball is playing catch-up. Another veteran baseball player, Nationals infielder Starlin Castro, has been suspended for 30 days under MLB’s suddenly strict domestic abuse policy, which doesn’t even require any formal charges or trial. Another star, Dodgers pitcher and reigning Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, remains in limbo and under administrative, paid leave while baseball investigates the horrific allegations of abuse against him. Meanwhile, the Dodgers players have told reporters that they don’t want him back, though whether this is because he is an infamous pain in the neck or because he beats up women is unclear.

Since the MLB policy appears to be based on “believe all women” and a “preponderance of the evidence” standard rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” I find it ethically troubling. (It resembles the way the Obama and Biden administrations want campus sexual abuse matters to be handled.) If, and I think this is doubtful, Bauer escapes charges and is still suspended, he is an excellent bet to challenge MLB’s “guilty until proven innocent” approach in the courts. Pains-in-the-necks have their uses.

3. Nothing new or especially alarming on pot legalization effects. For the record, nobody has changed my mind regarding the irresponsible decision, slowly taking over the U.S., to add marijuana to the list of legal recreational drugs that undermine society in so many ways. However, the best available data so far doesn’t give me any more ammunition for my attack on conventional wisdom, either. A new working paper released through the National Bureau of Economic Research analyzing statistics from the states that have legalized pot shows that the major effects have been more pot use (bad, of course), and fewer arrests (good). So far, there is no evidence of increases (or decreases) in the use of other drugs or alcohol, for example.

4. Not unless I get my hundred bucks for getting vaccinated without being bribed...“Today, I’m calling on all states and local governments to use funding they have received, including from the American Rescue Plan, to give $100 to anyone who gets fully vaccinated,” President Biden announced yesterday. First, he’s desperate. Second, paying citizens to do what they should do voluntarily undermines societal ethics. Third, the plan is blatantly unfair. Why should those who hold out benefit from their selfishness? It is like the student debt relief plans: No relief for the suckers who fulfilled their obligations.

Paying people to be vaccinated sounds like something a cynical real estate tycoon would advocate…

On a related note, Bret Stephens, who apparently is being given a long leash by the Times as the only genuine conservative in its op-ed stable, correctly wrote an op-ed disabusing readers of the mainstream media myth that Republicans were primarily at fault for making some Americans wary of vaccines. After flagging Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a vocal anti-vaxxer, he writes,

If millions feel that some public-health experts are not as heroic or as honest as their media stenographers make them out to be, there’s a good reason for it. What goes for questions about the origins of the pandemic goes also for questions about its handling. The C.D.C. vastly overstated the risks of outdoor spread of the virus, which (at least until the emergence of the Delta variant) appears to be closer to 0.1 percent than as high as 10 percent. Fauci lied — there’s no other word for it — about what he saw as the threshold figure for reaching herd immunity, based, as Donald McNeil reported in The Times in December, on “his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.” An alarming C.D.C. study found that Hispanic and Black children were at greater risk of being hospitalized for Covid, which contributed to the pressure to keep public schools closed to in-person teaching despite mounting evidence that schools weren’t viral hot zones. The impact of this misinformation on everyday life has been immense. And while it may have the virtue of being offered with the best intentions or out of an abundance of caution, it has probably done more to undermine public confidence in establishment science than a Florida quack. The credibility of public-health experts depends on the understanding that the job of informing the public means offering the whole truth, uncertainties included, rather than offering Noble Lies in the service of whatever they think the public needs to hear.

15 thoughts on “Friday Late Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/30/2021: Pot, Bribes, “Advocacy Journalism,” Baseball’s Domestic Abuse Policy, And How Did A Woman Win The Gold In The Men’s Decathlon?

  1. To go completely off script, because this only ties in tangentally to the Jenner intro: I don’t have a problem with the idea of trans men in men’s divisions in the Olympics.

    I think we have to look at the idea of why things are the way they are. Why is there a women’s division? Well, there’s a historical reason, but currently there’s a women’s division because women, generally, can’t compete with men. This confuses no one, not really. But the Olympics are the pursuit of excellence, and we want a way to highlight the excellence of women.

    If that isn’t true, if there is no difference between men and women, if we don’t have an objective thing to measure to, then we might as well do away with the men and women’s divisions and conduct the events co-ed. What’s the argument against that?

    To paraphrase, I’ll be blunt in a way that isn’t fashionable: Women’s medals come with an asterisk that men’s medals don’t come with. When a man wins gold, the medal says: This was the best person at this event at this time. When a woman wins gold her medal says: This was the best woman at this event at this time. If I ever get a moment, I might compare the standings for all the Olympic medal winners in 2021, but I have the impression that without a women’s division, women would basically disappear from the podium because with very few exceptions, a woman’s gold probably wouldn’t win a men’s bronze. There might be a couple of outliers. It would be interesting.

    So if a person normally restricted from men’s divisions (a woman, a trans man, someone with a physical handicap, ect..) could actually compete with men following the same set of guidelines that all contestants must adhere to…. Let them. There’s no reason not to. The men’s division isn’t the “Men’s Division” so much as it’s the AAA bracket. And if a AA team would win the AAA bracket, they should.

    That logic doesn’t follow through to the women’s division. The women’s division exists to give women who could not compete with men the opportunity and space to compete with other women. Because of that, it is much more important to gatekeep women’s sport than men’s. It is important that we have a measurable, objective standard for competition in women’s sport. I’m not saying that I know what that standard is, I’m not saying the standard should be up to me, but it is beyond obvious that there should be one.

    • I agree with most of this, although I think it is a bit broad brush to call the entirety of the women’s divisions basically the minor leagues. Some of that depends on the sport. Can women compete on an even field in soccer or basketball or weightlifting? No, they cannot. They can compete in sports like gymnastics and ice skating, though. Men are generally bigger and stronger, but women are generally smaller, more agile, and more flexible. That actually can be an advantage in some sports.

      Men and women’s gymnastics are completely different, with different events. They have different events for a reason. Men’s events are geared toward showcasing strength events, while women’s events are geared towards agility, flexibility, acrobatics and balance. Men are mostly to large and to tall to do the women’s gymnastics events. In my opinion, women’s gymnastics is FAR superior to men’s gymnastics. It is more entertaining, more dangerous, and more skilled. Pommel vs vault: vault is far more likely to result in broken limbs or spinal injury. Parallel bars or high bar vs uneven parallel bars: you are far more likely to land on your head and break your neck on the uneven parallel bars. Men’s floor routines are downright boring compared to women’s. There is nowhere near the same level of acrobatics or style.

      I do agree that female-to-male transgenders competing in men’s events is far less unfair than male-to-female transgenders competing in women’s events. If women want to go lose to men, that doesn’t bother me so much. Men deciding to go compete with women is usually completely unfair, and sometimes dangerous in sports like boxing or contact sports. The biological difference is real, no matter how hard people shove their fingers in their ears and scream it isn’t.

      • I’ve been surprised marginal guy golfers and tennis players haven’t looked to the distaff tours to make a living. I’m guessing pro golfers and tennis players are just way too macho. But at some point, I think it’s going to happen and will throw those tours into chaos because they’re dominated by lesbians to a not insignificant degree.

      • “I agree with most of this, although I think it is a bit broad brush to call the entirety of the women’s divisions basically the minor leagues. Some of that depends on the sport.”

        Perhaps I could have been more clear, but obviously. I thought I had enough qualifiers when I said women would “would basically disappear from the podium because with very few exceptions, a woman’s gold probably wouldn’t win a men’s bronze”. But I suppose that they’d also probably win the events that don’t exist in the men’s divisions were the Olympics to combine to a co-ed event.

        It just seems so obvious… The Olympics are a competition, not a self affirmation exercise.

  2. I’m not saying this to be silly, but Bruce Jenner, exceptional athlete his was notwithstanding, always struck me as running like a girl when he was winning the decathlon in 1976 and in his Wheaties Bob Richards heyday. Plus, he seemed so enamored of his long, flowing hair. Sure, he married and had kids, but I wasn’t at all surprised when he became a lesbian.

    3. We have legalized recreational pot stores in Arizona. I think they are simply patronized by pot heads who can now buy their pot at a store rather than on the sly. I have to wonder how long it will be before BLM goes after pot legalization as racist. After all, black guys in the drug trade are only in the drug trade because they are discriminated against and it’s the only way available to them to support their families. I’m assuming the dope dealer on the street is basically SOL. I read recently that British American Tobacco is getting out of tobacco and going all in on pot. So, pot legalization seems to be having the unintended consequence of cutting off an income stream for the black community, much the same as integration killed so many black-owned businesses. That being said, I’m coming around to legalized pot being a net good idea. Fewer busts, fewer dealer turf wars, or so it seems. This may simply push more guys into dealing other illegal drugs and result in an uptick in those sales and arrests and death and so forth.

    • In Connecticut, which legalized marijuana as of July 1, the legislature is giving priority to black applicants for licenses to set up businesses, and special priority to people with previous convictions for selling pot.

      • That’s interesting. Kind of like rum runners turning into Kennedys and Bronfmans. I’ve wondered about street dealers being able to afford licenses, rents, etc. All the things you need to run a legitimate business. I bet a lot of fortunes will be made in the next couple of years amassing licenses of little guys who get pushed out.

    • I was reading just the other day that legalized pot n California has not stunted the illicit market at all. The regulations and red tape of the legal market means that it’s still cheaper and easier for many people to buy it on the street.

  3. As I’ve been saying for years now, if gender is a social construct and has no basis in biology or physiology, there is no justification whatsoever for men and women competing in separate divisions. It’s the only logical, rational conclusion. If you can slide around from one division to the other, what’s the point? There’s no difference. And may the best man, er, competitor win.

    Of course, adios Title IX and women’s scholarships and so forth and so on. You can not have your cake and eat your cake unless you bake yourself another cake, lefties.

  4. If the delta variant is so deadly, why is the southern border wide open for anyone and everyone who chooses to cross it? Why are people infected with the delta variant who illegally cross the border loaded onto trains and planes and buses and sent all over the country to spread the virus? If the delta variant is such a big deal, why is it only a big deal for people who already live here? Politics. This is all a farce. This is all a game.

    If the vaccines work, why are 74% of the people infected with the delta variant in Barnstable County, Massachusetts fully vaccinated? They call these cases “breakthrough” cases. They aren’t breakthrough, the vaccine doesn’t work on the delta variant. Period.

    Yet deaths from the virus have not risen. This delta variant is either less deadly, or the original statistics were so over-inflated it is the real baseline mortality rate for the virus.

    Everyone bleating panic porn about this virus, from the politicians, to the media, to the “experts” are lying liars who lie. They cannot be believed on anything. They cannot be trusted when they say the virus is deadly. They cannot be trusted when they say the vaccine is effective. They cannot be believed when they say the vaccines are safe. They cannot be believed when the say masks work, or when they say masks don’t work. They lie. Daily.

    • “They cannot be trusted…”

      Good point. However it’s not just Biden’s absurd $100 vaccine offer or Democrats fervently believing “that the ends justify the means in all things” or politicians & public health “experts” who are in the business of operant conditioning that can’t be trusted.

      Here’s some snippets from Ethics Alarms on May 10th:

      It is a utilitarian trade-off, and the appropriate one.

      So the responsible, patriotic, rational act is to get vaccinated.

      Unfortunately, a lot of people have been unreasonably suspicious of all vaccines…

      The Right—including conservatives, libertarians, flat earthers and a lot of Republicans—are reacting… by resisting the vaccine and sliding into conspiracy theories.

      Tough bunnies

      If you have no options, you have no problem, and getting the nation back to normal is the only option.

      It turns out the Covid vaccines (and masks and social distancing) aren’t getting us back to normal.

      It turns out technocratic social control via Big Tech colluding with the White House and Big Pharma is stomping all over responsible patriots who openly question the science.

      It turns out more have died and suffered harmful side effects from these current vaccines then all the previous vaccines combined – with no vaccine court to hear these people out.

      It turns out so-called conspiracy theorists (Cass Sunstein is that you?) may not have been “unreasonably suspicious” after all.

      And it turns out there are ways of fighting Covid without putting a constantly self-replicating mRNA operating system into one’s body.

      Instead of panic porn we got lubricated with false patriotism in the form of platitudinal utilitarian bullshit on EA. My friend’s arm won’t stop oozing blood since she got her first vaccine. My neighbor miscarried her baby. My cousin lays in a hospital unable to walk.

      But hey, some people have to die and some people will be permanently damaged with no recourse while a bunch of experts profit handsomely. At least we know they’re responsible, patriotic, rational…and not some Tucker Carlson loving paranoid hysterics.

      You’re right Null, this is all a farce. Credibility has been lost. And this pandemic response and the heady Kantian commentary behind it here has been dangerous game. I remain deeply disappointed Ethics Alarms chose to play it.

      Mark my words…there won’t be a going back to normal. What is being ushered into our culture isn’t something to ignore or pretend will just magically go away when Covid finally runs its course. Progress is a myth and propaganda for Big Pharma won’t save this country. Discernment, even of those we once thought were ethics heroes, just might.

      • If you don’t want to get into this, we don’t have to, and as much as I feel for your friends and family, I feel that the record needs to be set straight…. Those almost certainly aren’t adverse vaccine symptoms.

        I could go into the details of how vaccines work, I’ve done it before, but frankly… I think you’ve already self-selected the kind of information you were willing to take in and it’s led you to this place. The thing that antivaxxers always seem to forget is that bad things already happened at something approximating expected rates…. With upwards of 50% of Americans, 70% of Canadians, and 95% of Israelis vaccinated, if the things being reported as vaccine side effects were actually more prevalent in vaccinated people, we would know about it.

        I mean, really… The AZ vaccine was shown to produce blood clots at the rate of 6 people per million, and it was shelved until they could study the effects further. That, while 6 cases of blood clotting per million is significantly less than the prevalence of blood clotting that we have deemed acceptable in female birth control pills.

        The fact of the matter is that miscarriages, as tragic as they are, happen. They happen at a certain rate, and we can’t even find a correlation as weak as 6 per million between the unvaccinated and the vaccinated. Which means that the most likely scenario is that your neighbor was going to experience a tragedy in her life regardless of her vaccination status, and I truly hope you haven’t shared your theory with her, because she’s probably feeling awful as it is, and your assumption that something that she did directly led to the death of her child is not helpful. The vaccine was supposed to protect against Covid, not every ailment known to humanity.

        It’s just so frustrating… I’m hearing “People died after getting a vaccine!” As if that actually means something, as if no one in the history of humanity has ever died before, and that person would obviously have lived if not for the vaccine. Then when you dig into the statistics a little further, you find that some of the people who died died from an auto accident. This is the *exact* opposite side of the coin that people were using to inflate Covid deaths over the last year. But for some reason, the people who are eager to use the “vaccine” fatalities now to throw shade on the vaccines share a mighty wide slice of Venn Diagram with people who were previously skeptical of the “Covid” death numbers.

        I’m having none of it.

    • Six percent increase in injury accidents and four percent increase in fatal accidents. I wonder whether either of those are statistically significant increases.

      Based strictly upon experience obtained half a century ago, I’d say much more than alcohol, pot intoxication causes near immobility and a lack of desire to even get behind the wheel. However, results may vary.

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