Saturday Ethics Booster, 8/7/2021: Looking For A Hero…

I hate to inflict that song on you (the singer/composer was the late Jess Cain, once the most popular disc jockey in Boston) but I have limited options. The 2021 Red Sox, who were sailing all season to what looked like a certain play-off slot , are suddenly in freefall,  with the hitters not hitting and the pitchers not pitching. They face a double-header today, and a double loss would be disastrous. After the 1967 Red Sox “Impossible Dream” season, the best summer of my life, when a team of virtual kids won the closest pennant race in baseball history by a single game after finishing in a tie for last place the year before, WHDH, which then carried Boston’s games, put out the cheesy but wonderful commemorative album above, containing clips from broadcasts of the most memorable games and Cain’s song, tied together by Sox play-by-play announcer Ken Coleman reciting one of the worst pieces of doggerel ever heard by human ears. At one point, Ken recounted a desperate point in the team’s underdog quest, and, having set up the rhyme with “zero,’ intoned, “We have to have a hero.” Cue the Yaz song!

I’ve been thinking about the need for a hero, indeed more than one, quite a bit lately, in matters more consequential than the Red Sox season (well, for normal people anyway.) The Sox sure need one today. If he shows up, maybe it will be an omen…

Incidentally, Yaz deserved the song. Modern metrics show that his Triple Crown, Gold Glove, MVP 1967 season was the second best of all time. (Babe Ruth had #1, naturally.) Anyone who followed that 1967 season knew it before the numbers were crunched.

1. More free speech threats in the Biden Era, but Donald Trump was a threat to democracyThe Baltimore Symphony fired Emily Skala, 59, the orchestra’s principal flutist for more than three decades, because she shared social media posts expressing doubt on the efficacy of vaccines and facemasks. Fellow musicians, audience members and donors complained, so it was bye-bye Emily. Skala, no weenie she, will challenge her dismissal, and accuses the orchestra of creating a hostile environment where she was being attacked for expressing unpopular views. I’d say that is likely. Musicians as a group are about as progressive and open to conservative views as college professors.

Skala angered many of her colleagues for sharing posts questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election—Oooh, can’t have that! She was also criticized for saying that black families needed to do more to support their children’s classical music studies. Wow, this woman is a veritable Nazi! Amusingly, the New York Times cites as among the examples of social media “disinformation” that got her fired were “false theories suggesting that the coronavirus was created in a laboratory in North Carolina” and posts “raising concerns about the safety of vaccines.”

That’s funny: it wasn’t too long ago that suggesting that the virus originated in a Wuhan lab was considered disinformation. And didn’t Joe Biden and other prominent Democrats raise “concerns” about any vaccine produced under the Trump Administration?

I’m just spitballing here, but if only we had some heroic organization that defended free speech, regardless of what side of the political spectrum it came from. It could call itself…let’s see…the National Civil Liberty Protection Alliance, or something like that…

2. Believe it or not, this Russian lawsuit isn’t frivolous, just mind-meltingly stupid. Thanks to Curmie for passing along the saga of Ksenia Ovchinnikova, an Orthodox Christian in Omsk, Russia, who is suing McDonald’s on the theory that its ads made burgers seem so yummy and irresistible that they made her break her fast for Lent in 2019 after years of successfully avoiding meat. She wants 1,000 rubles ($14) as damages for “sustained moral damage.”

The reason this isn’t frivolous (at least not in the US) is because a lawsuit clears the bar if it seeks a new interpretation of existing law, no matter how wacky. Of course, a heroic lawyer would tell the woman, no matter what she offered to pay, “You’re out of your mind, and I’d rather eat my foot than disgrace my profession by taking such a ridiculous case. By the way, would you like this  corndog?”

3. Gong show Ethics…Gong Lijiao, the Chinese Olympic gold medalist in the women’s shot put event, was referred to by a sports correspondent for CCTV, a state-run network, as a “manly woman.” Then she cut to an interview in which Gong was asked about her post-competition plans  for a “woman’s life,” followed by, “Since you used to be a manly woman for shot put, do you feel you can be yourself from now on?” Wow, Chinese sports reporters are gutsier than ours are! When did THAT happen? Here’s Gong:


Stipulated: the interviewer was insulting and needlessly indelicate. But at a time when transgender athletes are competing against women, does such a question really warrant the anger and indignation it sparked on social media?

4. Oh yeah, THIS will end well…How did I miss another of Oregon’s bad ideas as it battles California for the title of “Most Irresponsible State In the U.S.”?  In February, Oregon enacted Measure 110, a law that abolished prison and jail sentences for all types of drug use and possession— cocaine, meth, heroin, LSD, you name it. Oregon’s reaction is now, “Hey, no big deal, man!”

In 2019 more than 4,000 Oregonians  were convicted of drug possession and many more cut deals with prosecutors allowing them to avoid a conviction in exchange for supervised probation and some rehab. Now, with possession bringing nothing more than a $100 ticket,  defendants can get the fine dismissed if they place a phone call to a drug abuse assessment hotline. However only 29 people ticketed for possession have placed that call since February, according to the nonprofit that runs the hotline.

What a surprise! Drug addicts want to keep using drugs. 

Mike Marshall (no relation), who is executive director of Oregon Recovers, opposed Measure 110—Marshalls are smart—and now worries that the new law will cause Oregon, which has the third-largest addiction problem in the nation, to see more overdoses and deaths. Ya think?

5. I want to take this opportunity to apologize to Career Employer, whose copyrighted photo I carelessly used without permission or proper credit in this 2015 post. That error has finally been addressed. This is not the first time I have made this mistake, but no other copyright owner has been as civil, reasonable and understanding in asking me to deal with the problem.


4 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Booster, 8/7/2021: Looking For A Hero…

  1. Jack, I think that you and your readers need to know that there is more to the Emily Skala situation than is in the article you linked. I completely get that you have an aversion to anyone in the media definitively stating that certain things are false (or true) when you believe it’s under fair debate and an individual expresses what is considered to be the currently non-authorized opinion. And in general, I happen to be personally permissive about individuals giving their input, whether as a completely private manner or as a known individual, which “principals” in a major symphony orchestra tend to be.

    However, notice that the New York Times article very fairly linked back to the Baltimore Sun, which in turn has been onto the story for a while. A search of the Sun’s archives will generate some more information about what’s been going on. Even more so, your readers can go to the global classical music website “Slipped Disc” at, enter “Emily Skala” into the search box, and find out more, including Ms. Skala’s own very striking interjections into the conversations. I do warn everyone it’s quite a rabbit hole to go down!

    Finally, I have to note that the individual in question plays a woodwind instrument that you blow into, and yes, during the pandemic that raises some natural questions about protections for everyone else. I’m not intending to make a “thing” out of all this or continue commenting – it’s just that this incident is taking place in our region, I know a little something about it, and I thought I’d help out. That’s all.

    • Now there’s a downside of subscribing to the Times I had never considered! I read that story in newsprint, and included the link for the blog readers but never even saw the Sun link myself. Thanks for flagging it.

      My basic point is that her social media posts and opinions shouldn’t be a factor in her firing at all. The other issues—the vaccinations, the alleged violations of other policies—may be the real reasons behind her dismissal, and they don’t raise ethical issues. The question, which I assume the lawsuit will address, is whether it was her expressed opinions unrelated to the workplace that really caused her dismissal. At this point, we don’t know—but the Times certainly gave them the focus of the piece.

      • I wouldn’t want to say that the social media posts don’t matter. They’re certainly at least intertwined with what all happened. Opine as you will. Thanks and very gracious.

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