Afternoon Ethics Round-Up, 4/8/2022: Suspicion, Suspicious, And The Usual Suspects

I’m wracking my brain to explain why there are a significant number of skeptics out there who want to give Putin and Russia “the benefit of the doubt” and who will wait for “an investigation” before they will conclude that Ukraine is the victim in this deadly invasion and that  the country and its leader, Zelenskyy (are we supposed to include the extra “y” or not?) are hoaxing the world. I understand the talking heads like Tucker Carlson, who are dead-eyed opportunist’s who only care about controversy and ratings. I understand the isolationists (this includes Carlson as well), who think they have to make Zelenskyy a villain so the U.S. isn’t drawn into a war with Russia. But I don’t understand the rest of the “let’s not be so hard on Putin: all of what we hear and read may be Ukraine false-flag operations and propaganda” gang, some of whom were flushed out by this post. Since the “Putin is a victim” claim makes no sense whatsoever (like the Putin excuse, “I had to invade because NAZIS!!!”), I have some theories:

  • The super-skeptics have been so damaged by the increasing vidence of media fake news and propaganda accompanied by exposed lies by all sides of the political spectrum, highlighted by the pandemic Ethics Train Wreckthat they literally don’t believe anything now. Anything. They are victims of ethics rot across our institutions and our culture. Unfortunately, disbelieving everything creates fear and paranoia.. It also presumed the kind of mass, bi-partisan conspiracy that is impossible to hide.
  • They are Super-Trumpers, who, because Donald said some nice things about Putin and because the media sued the Russia collusion hoax to cripple his Presidency, the cognitive dissonance scale pushed them to excuse Putin.
  • It is an extreme backlash to the news media’s sanctification of Zelenskyy, who has taken several anti-democratic measures and is probably using his position to get rich, because the leaders of most Second World nations like Ukraine do.
  • The skeptics are Russian agents.
  • They’re nuts.

Any other explanations?

1. Everything is seemingly spinning out of control! Apparently more pro tennis players are smashing or throwing their rackets. Recent episodes on the tour have come close to injuring officials, ballboys and girls and spectators, so the game is increasing penalties. Two statements in the recent Times story about the topic bothered me:

  • “Long accepted as an entertaining idiosyncrasy of the sport…” Who goes to tennis tournaments to see some asshole throw a racket? When I played competitive tennis, throwing a racket was an automatic forfeit, plus the mark of an infantile jerk. When did that change? I guess it’s Donald Trump’s fault.
  • “Racket-smashing tantrums have long been accepted as part of the game. Like hockey fights, they are a way for players to blow off steam. But as the broader culture becomes less tolerant of public displays of anger, and with an increasing number of close calls on the court, racket smashing suddenly no longer seems like an entertaining idiosyncrasy.” Who says the broader culture has become less tolerant of public displays of anger? That’s an assertion without evidence, especially after the Will Smith episode.

2. Lest we forget...Joan Joyce, reputed to be the greatest softball pitcher of all time, died at the end of March. At  a charity fund-raising exhibition in 1961, Ted Williams, retired for a year, faced her wicked underhand pitches and and couldn’t get more than a foul tip. Finally he dropped his bat (he didn’t throw it!) and walked away, saying, “I can’t hit her.” Ted, to his credit, agreed to face the softball star, then in her prime, several more times for charity. It’s worth noting that he was not in his prime, at 43, and that softball pitchers throw from 40 feet away from batters rather than 60 feet, six inches, as hardball pitchers do. It is doubtful that Williams would have been able to hit Jack Fisher from 40 feet, but he was able to homer off Fisher in his final at bat in 1960. Nevertheless, Ted  told a freind that the toughest pitcher he had ever faced was a teenage girl.

3. Which reminds me: Bill Lee. Joyce told The New York Times in 1975,“I don’t care about the money, I enjoy the game, and that’s the most important thing. I’d play this game even if it meant being broke the rest of my life.” Bill Lee, who started Game 7 of the World Series that same year for the Boston Red Sox, said almost the exact same thing in multiple interviews during his career. Nobody believed him, but after he left the Major League Baseball, he continued to play baseball, first for semi-pro teams, then in exhibitions all over the world. (Ethics Alarms honored his sportsmanship and integrity in this 2016 post.) He’s 75 now, and he’s still pitching, these days for the whimsical semi-pro Savannah Bananas:

Joan Joyce would have approved.

4. Yes, she’s perfect for MSNBC. Biden paid liar Jen Psaki, now in her finals days of spinning facts and throwing dust for Democrats before she joins MSNBC to do the same thing, was asked by Fox News gadfly Peter Doocy how the Biden administration would handle the estimated 18,000 illegal aliens a day crossing the Mexican border when the CDC’s pandemic restrictions on illegal immigrants are lifted. Psaki: I don’t know where you’re basing your specific numbers on, Peter, but what I would tell you…Doocy: “I’ve got it right here. Earlier this week the department (DHS) gave reporters an estimate that up to 18,000 migrants could be apprehended at the border each day if Title 42 expires.”

Psaki: “Well, ‘up to’… and we’ll see what happens.” Notice that she didn’t answer his question. I was reminded of the scene in “Die Hard” when John McLane’s wife (Bonny Bedelia) approaches the villain (the late, great, Alan Rickman) about some needs of the hostages his group of criminals are holding.

“What idiot put you in charge?” he sneers.

“You did—when you murdered my boss,” she replies.


5 thoughts on “Afternoon Ethics Round-Up, 4/8/2022: Suspicion, Suspicious, And The Usual Suspects

  1. I don’t believe a damn thing the media says anymore. They lie just for shits and giggles, at this point. No conspiracy is to big to hide when you don’t have a news media, and half the population is perfectly happy to swallow obvious lies. Look at the conspiracies that the left has gotten away with so far. Russian-Collusion, IRS corruption, election tampering by big tech. So far as I can tell, the left is allowed to do absolutely anything they want without consequences. Label it Russian disinformation and POOF! The truth is gone.

    I don’t think Putin is a victim. I can definitely see how people might think that he is, though, if they take a naive approach to processing media lies, and just assume the opposite of whatever the media says is true. It’s not like they haven’t been using Russia as a scapegoat for years. To someone not very bright, this is probably just one more Russia scapegoating lie. The media is the boy who cried Russia.

    In a truthless society, people believe all kinds of stuff. Consensus is a fond memory that won’t be returning any time soon. The damage from years of lies is only beginning to rear its ugly head. Put your seatbelt on, cause it’s about to get ugly.

  2. We do not need to pretend that Zelensky is any better than Ngo Dinh Diem was to know who the aggressor us.

    How do these skeptics who give Putin the benefit of the doubt conpare to those who protested the Vietnam War?

  3. I think most of the people citing Russia as less than the aggressor are doing so for ulterior motives; Tucker Carlson is not a news program and its popularity would be mind-boggling if MSNBC didn’t exist. I find Mr Carlson’s explanation of things to be mostly fantasy. In your following post, asking for readers to please stop making you defend Tucker Carlson, and it was Joy Reid that came to mind when I first asked myself why Tucker is in a prime time slot and went from being a douche wearing a bow tie to being a douche who used to wear a bow tie. Anyone who had faith in mainstream media ended up feeling very betrayed, and that’s what Tucker exploits.
    I don’t know the inner workings at Fox, but Carlson must be a moneymaking opinion host; I find him arrogant and disingenuous and reflexively doubt everything he says, including ‘thank you.’ To me, Carlson is a dumbed down Glenn Beck.
    As for Zelensky (how it was spelled for Trump’s first impeachment), Americans seem to have forgotten that the Ukrainian President was the same person that the mainstream media considered a liar (willing stooge) when he said that Trump had not put any pressure on him to help recover data about Hillary & Hunter if Zelensky wanted to keep receiving American weapons. This is the guy Trump was talking to during that ‘perfect’ phone call.
    Like all humans involved in life or death struggles, imperfections are going to come out. Zelensky has been far more successful than anyone thought possible, and I cannot imagine a war in which only one side commits war crimes. I don’t think that Zelensky has ordered false flags that resulted in death & mutilation of Ukrainian civilians, but the Azov Brigade in the south has a nasty history and appears to be a semi-independent militia; it would surprise me if they haven’t committed atrocities. Crickets from the mainstream media.
    Tucker Carlson hasn’t earned any grace during this war, but when Joy Reid & her ilk start to pile it on, think of it as impugning MSNBC, not defense of Carlson.

  4. OK, so “Savannah Bananas” is my new favorite sports team name. Sorry, Montgomery Biscuits, you still have a better logo, but your name doesn’t rhyme.

  5. >>Zelenskyy (are we supposed to include the extra “y” or not?)

    Well in Cyrillic, his name ends in “ИИ”, corrosponding to “ii”. I guess it’s optional to to westernize it to just “y”. I think Voldi is a bit more respectful than the Türkiye and won’t complain.

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