My wife and boss, Grace, emailed me this morning with a list of major events that occurred on August 9th, remarking, “NOW THIS WAS AN INTERESTING DAY IN HISTORY !” Indeed it was: this is a major marker of ethically provocative events, each worth not just a post, but a debate, a book, and museum:
- Richard Nixon’s resignation as the 37th President of the United States took place at noon on August 9, 1974, avoiding the personals shame and the national trauma of an impeachment and trial, back when an impeachment was still an impeachment (and not, as the Democrats recently transformed it, a purely partisan device to demonstrate hatred of the elected President). This put an unelected President into office, Gerald Ford, who soon after taking office announced that he was pardoning the man who appointed. This act forever defined Ford’s brief Presidency, and was either a courageous act of political sacrifice on his part, or part of a corrupt scheme to allow Nixon to escape criminal prosecution. (I believe the former description is the correct one.)
- On 2014, a black teen, Michael Brown, was shot to death in Ferguson, Missouri, by a white police officer. The episode launched an ongoing Ethics Train Wreck that is still stopping for passengers and causing great destruction to this day.
- It was on August 9, 1969, that members of Charles Manson’s “family” murdered five people in movie director Roman Polanski’s Beverly Hills, California, home, including Polanski’s pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate. Less than two days later, the cult members killed again, murdering Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in their home. The murders finally ended the myth of the “peace and love” Sixties while casting a shadow over the lives of many not butchered that night, from the Beach Boys to Doris Day to Hollywood, especially perhaps Polanski, who eventually became a living Ethics Train Wreck himself.
- Speaking of the hippies, Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden, or, A Life in the Woods” was published on August 9, 1854 and became a staple in the intellectual arsenal of those advocating “dropping out” of society. “Dropping out” of society is unethical.
- August 9, 2010 was the day that JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater actually attracted praise for his “fuck you” exit from his job as a Jet Blue flight attendant. Not from Ethics Alarms, though…
- And speaking of metaphorical “funk you’s,” on this day in 1936, African American track star Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal of the Berlin Olympics in the 4×100-meter relay, thus foiling and infuriating Nazi leader Adolf Hitler plan to use the Games for “master race” propaganda.
- Finally, though it should probably by first, it was on August 9, 1945, that the U.S. dropped a second atom bomb on the citizens of Japan, at Nagasaki, finally speeding Japan’s unconditional surrender. If the decision to drop the first atom bomb is controversial, the ethics controversy over the second is even more contentious.
1. Oh, let’s start with another Wuhan vaccination matter, this one from the Ethicist, who was asked,
My elderly mother is in an independent-living facility where all the residents have been vaccinated …Protocols are very strict, and no resident has gotten sick. [A] relative who lives nearby… is not vaccinated. This facility will soon mandate that all visitors be vaccinated, but my relative plans to dissemble in order to evade the requirement. Should I … tell the facility that my relative is not vaccinated?
Does she really have to get expert advice to figure this out?
2. From the “Seeing what you want to see” files: a letter to the Times Book Review recounts that the writer was an Olympic team member kept from competing because of President Carter’s boycott of the Moscow Olympics in protest of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan. In 2000 the athlete wrote Carter a letter telling him that while she had supported him, she also believed he had made a wrong decision. [My call: Carter, for once, was right.] She continues,
“To my amazement, I received a handwritten note back from the president not five days later that said: “It may well be that the U.S. Congress, the Olympic Committee, 50 other nations and I were wrong. My heart went out to you and the other athletes. Best wishes, Jimmy Carter.” Would that we still had presidents with this deeply reflective and ethical view of the world.”
No wonder she supported Carter: the woman is a sucker for his passive-aggressive arrogance. Carter’s reply literally says, “Yeah, there’s always a chance that the President, Congress, the Olympic Committee, 50 other nations were all wrong, and that a nobody like you had all the answers” and she didn’t even notice.
3. Brittany Commisso, identified in the damning Cuomo harassment report from the state attorney general as “Executive Assistant #1,” came forward and identified herself. She says that, in addition to remarks that qualify as textbook sexual harassment, the Governor also crossed the line into sexual assault, pulling her into intimate hugs. “I could feel him pushing my body against his and definitely making sure that he could feel my breasts up against his body,” she told investigators. “And was doing it in a way that I felt was obviously uncomfortable for me and he was maybe trying to get some sort of personal satisfaction from it.” Commisso said Cuomo also kissed her repeatedly, including at least once on the lips, and “rubbed her buttocks.”
Incredibly, Cuomo’s lawyers last week mocked the various accusations as “a sex scandal with no sex.” Apparently Cuomo plans a defense that pretends that the sexual harassment laws don’t exist.
4. Proving you can fool most of the people all of the time: Pundit Jim Treacher writes, “First Barack Obama told us he was throwing a huge party for his 60th birthday. Then, when everybody freaked out because we’re supposed to be scared of this week’s “variant,” Obama told us he was scaling back his birthday party. And now, as is usually the case with Obama, it turns out he lied to the world and just went ahead and did whatever he wanted to do in the first place.” And, may I add he did so with full confidence that the fawning news media would cover for him and the public would just accept that he did the good and wise thing, even though he didn’t, and frequently doesn’t.
Photos and videos emerging from the Martha’s Vinyard bash show piles of celebrity guests and Obama cavorting maskless and without social distancing, “while the rest of us are being told to wear masks everywhere we go, even if we’re vaccinated. We’re being threatened with yet more shutdowns, we’re being shamed if we gather in numbers, and we’re being prevented from seeing our loved ones overseas. Once again, our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters are scolding us to put aside our own desires and comfort, not to mention logic and common sense, for the “greater good.”
Continues Treacher, “Democrats don’t need masks because they’re better than you. They can party all they want, and Fauci has nothing to say about it because they’re his comrades.”
5. I doubt you can get around the First Amendment this way… The College Fix reports that two women’s volleyball coaches at the University of Oklahoma argue in a legal motion that they have the right to discipline players for their political beliefs in the interests of “team unity.”
Player Kylee McLaughlin sued coaches Lindsey and Kyle Walton along with the OU Board of Regents alleging “she had been excluded from the team […] over her politically conservative views.”McLaughlin, the OU team captain and first team All-Big 12 selection in 2018 and 2019, had made comments that “at least one” of her teammates considered “racist” following a team viewing of the Netflix documentary “13th.” Kyle Walton allegedly told McLaughlin “[I’m] not sure I can coach you anymore.”
In their motion to dismiss, the Waltons argue that even though they were the ones who injected politics into the team, they have the right to discipline those with differing views. “While Plaintiff was free to make bigoted statements, she was not free from the consequences of how her teammates perceived those statements,” their’ motion states. “The First Amendment cannot force her teammates to trust Plaintiff or desire to play with her. Consequently, the Complaint makes clear that Coach Walton was within her rights to cultivate a winning ‘team atmosphere by ensuring the players that ‘trust’ each other would be on the court.”