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.“