Thursday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/30/2021: A Lecture, A Snub, A Cheat, And A Punch


This is why this blog takes too much time: I just tried to find a song about Thursday. It isn’t that there aren’t any, although I hadn’t heard of a single one though at least one and often many ditties about the other six days rattle around in what I laughingly call my brain. It’s just that they all—and there are a lot– are lousy or forgettable, and if there is a Thursday song written before 2000, I can’t find it. It’s as if we hit the 21st century and a bunch of song-writers said, “Hey! Nobody’s written a hit song about Thursday! I can write the next “Monday Monday” or “Never on a Sunday” but about Thursday! I’ll be rich and famous!” Uhhhh…no.

Is it unethical to waste time going down dead ends like this when there are so many half-completed posts and languishing Ethics Alarms projects? Yes. But it is the story of my scattered life and incoherent career. I am like a dog with squirrels.

1. Speaking of dogs...I’m going to cross-post this on the endless comment thread regarding pit bull breed bias here. Yesterday I was walking Spuds, as usual changing directions and routes constantly to avoid encounters with children (who he loves, but he’s too strong to bet on random meetings), scooters, skateboards and bicycles (which frighten him for some reason) and other dogs, which he always wants to play with, but they and their owners are not always of a similar mind. Two little girls on scooters were zipping along on the sidewalk right at us, so I prepared to cross the street. But someone walking two other dogs was on that sidewalk, and cars were coming by from either direction. On the grass to my right was large groups of people, and someone was also coming up behind us. Trapped, I shouted to the girls to stop. They kept coming. I shouted again. They paid no attention, and now Spuds was wagging his tail. Finally, I stepped out, pointed my finger as I raised my arm, and said, in my best public speaker voice, “Both of you, STOP RIGHT NOW! I’m warning you!” I scared the hell out of them. Good. They froze. Then they got my lecture about paying attention to their surroundings, understanding that they don’t own the sidewalk, and not being stupid about dogs. If they had kept coming, Spuds might have reacted to their scooters, one of the girls might have fallen and been hurt, and that would be curtains for Spuds. Meanwhile, another “vicious pit bull attack injures child” story would be published on Parents have an obligation to teach kids the basics of community, and it is clear to me that most don’t. “Did you hear me? Do you understand?” I said to the girls as I finally could cross the street. I felt bad: they looked like they might cry. “Y-y-y-yes,” the older girl stammered. “We’re sorry.” It’s OK,” I said. “But remember what I said.”

2. Megan Markle doing anything is a good reason NOT to do it. I have now read several pieces extolling the growing trend of brides walking alone down the aisle while leaving Dad in the pews. This is justified as part of the war on “patriarchy,” because the tradition began when fathers paid a dowry to a man to “take” responsibility for his daughter, and the father symbolically completed the “transaction” at the ceremony, handing over the daughter after paying the new husband for taking on the burden of caring for her. I never thought about the ritual’s origins with all of the weddings I’ve attended and participated in, just as I never think about warriors proving they hold no weapons when I shake hands with someone. If you go back far enough, I’m sure the origins of many and maybe most societal rituals and traditions would be offensive to somebody, if that was what those traditions meant today—but they don’t. The father of the bride, who is often paying for the wedding and reception as an expression of love, generally regards the experience of walking his daughter down the aisle as an emotional moments and later as a cherished memory. What kind of a intersectionality-addled woman would rob a loving father of that pleasure to protest a view of marriage that has been dead in the U.S. for more than a century? Well, a Duchess of Sussex kind of asshole, as the Times informed readers last March. Meg left her father out of the ceremony, and this, the Times said, “inspired” other women to do the same. But Markle was (and remains) estranged from her father (who does appear to be a mega-jerk…the acorn didn’t fall far from the tree), so she wasn’t making a feminist statement, just a “To hell with my father” statement.

3. Unethical, but funny! My thanks to Michael West for flagging this one. Artist Jens Haaning was commissioned by the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark to recreate two of his previous works: 2010’s “An Average Danish Annual Income” and “An Average Austrian Annual Income,” first exhibited in 2007. Both works used actual cash to show the average incomes of the two countries. Haaning was $84,000 by the museum to use in the new art works.

Instead, he sent them two blank canvasses he titled “Take the Money and Run.” I have a lot of questions about the contract he agreed to, including whether he was obligated to use all of the money in the new paintings, but never mind: obviously this was a bait and switch by the artist and breach of trust.

Haaning’s press release begins the rationalizing process. The idea behind was to show how salaries can be used to measure the value of work and to show national differences within the European Union, it explains. But by changing the title of the work to “Take the Money and Run” Haaning “questions artists’ rights and their working conditions in order to establish more equitable norms within the art industry.” 

“Everyone would like to have more money and, in our society, work industries are valued differently,” Haaning says in a statement. “The artwork is essentially about the working conditions of artists. It is a statement saying that we also have the responsibility of questioning the structures that we are part of. And if these structures are completely unreasonable, we must break with them. It can be your marriage, your work – it can be any type of societal structure”. 


4. “Unethical or just dumb?” asks commenter JutGory regarding a story much in the baseball news right now. The answer is “Unethical AND dumb.” Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Williams was the most dominant reliever in baseball last season when he was Rookie of the Year, and this season, after a slow start, he played a major role in getting the Brewers to their current perch on top of the National League Central Division. A play-off battle to reach the World Series looms, but Williams won’t be part of it. He had too much to drink after Sunday’s division-clinching celebration, got angry for some reason and punched a wall with his pitching hand, breaking it. He will need surgery and will almost certainly be unable to help his team in the post-season.

The King’s Pass will apply. If he were a journeyman pitcher, the Brewers would probably release him as punishment. They might fine Williams, but he won’t lose his job. He’s too good. Of course, if he wasn’t so good, losing him at this crucial point in the season wouldn’t hurt the team as much.

11 thoughts on “Thursday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/30/2021: A Lecture, A Snub, A Cheat, And A Punch

  1. 1. Ordering them to stop was probably OK. Lecturing them, eh. I’m really reluctant to interact with children not of my own family, and lecturing is a little too close to discipline, which is not yours to do. For all you know the girls might have mentioned that you were mean to them or made up a story that you touched them, and you are going to run into a Karen mom or a very large, overprotective, violent tempered father the next time you are out for a walk.

    2. I guess it’s up to the family to talk it over and decide how the wedding will be run. This was Megan’s second marriage, PLUS she was estranged from her dad, though, it was never meant, as you point out, as a feminist statement. Of course, if first-time young brides insist on walking by themselves down the aisle, especially if their dads want to walk with them, then they shouldn’t be surprised if things chill between them and their parents.

    3. The museum is run by idiots.

    4. It was dumb when Kino does it in “The Pearl,” it was dumb when I did it over an argument with my family, and it was dumber now. That said, hitting the person who made you mad would probably be worse.

    • 2. And anyway, hasn’t it long been known as “giving the bride away?” I’ve never heard of any quid pro quo being involved, or any dowry being paid. Upon reaching the altar with my daughter, I said to my woke son-in-law, “She’s all yours now,” whereupon he essentially made a dirty, enlightened face, as if to say a daughter isn’t chattel. Nice.

  2. 2. I much prefer calling her Meghan Sussex. It’s so Shakespearean. And what’s funnier than being named a county? Too bad Harry couldn’t be named Hotspur. Harry and Meghan Hotspur. The Hotspurs, of Montecito. Poor kid. I think either they’ll divorce or he’ll become an alcoholic.

    • “I think either they’ll divorce or he’ll become an alcoholic.”

      Embrace the power of “and”, Bill! “Divorced alcoholic” is not an uncommon combination.

      • He was no stranger to hitting the sauce before they got married. It wouldn’t shock me if he went back to it now. Marrying her was probably the worst choice he made or will make in his life.

  3. Relevant to Number 4 may also be his apology:

    “I’m pretty upset with myself. There’s no one to blame but me,” said Williams, 27. “I feel like I’ve let my team down, our coaching staff, our fans, everyone. I know how big of a role I play on this team, and there’s a lot of people counting on me.

    “All I can do now is cheer my team on, learn from it and don’t make that same mistake in the future.”

    Where would that rank on the Apology Scale?


    • Well, he never says he’s sorry, just that he’s upset with himself and why. It’s a Narcissist’s version of #1. It shows that he understands what he did was wrong and why. But how is he going to try to fix it to the extent that he can? All he can do..? he can pledge to give back his World Series share and have it divided among the team mates he betrayed, for example.

  4. There was a fair amount of discussion on a dog-walking confrontation a few months back, although the circumstances here are a bit different, especially since it was kids this time vs. an adult then.
    There seems to be a conflict in “I scared the hell out of them. Good.” and “I felt bad: they looked like they might cry.” Putting kids on the edge of crying is good reason for feeling bad, and that makes me question the reasonableness of scaring the hell out of them. Steve noted above that there could be adverse consequences for you out of this situation, but I’m trying to see it from the standpoint of the kids. Their perception, and one that probably will make it around the kid grapevine in the area is that everyone needs to watch out for that mean old man and his bad dog. Dogs that fit the general description of Spuds will now be seen as dangerous, at least by those girls; otherwise, why the screaming to stop and the harsh lecture?
    Without knowing the actual geography and the location of the large groups of people on the grass to the right (park? school? church grounds?), I’ll just have to accept that there was not even a few feet of space there for you to get off the sidewalk. I know the grass strips between the sidewalks and the roads in that area are pretty narrow, and I’ll also accept that there was not room on the road either.
    However, the responsibility for controlling a dog rests with the dog walker. The intent to cross the street and the earlier changing of directions and routes showed acceptance of that responsibility. But, there seems to be a further responsibility, given a densely populated area with a lot of kids, given a dog that may be perceived as dangerous, and given that the dog may have a tendency to lunge at people. That responsibility is to train the dog not to lunge. There are a lot of dog walkers in my area, and sometimes, when there is not a lot of room to pass, the commands ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ are used effectively.
    The girls may have been too young to say it and maybe too young to even think it, but they will come to the point that, when lectured by a stranger, they will think or say, Bite me!”

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