Afternoon Ethics Afterthoughts, 5/7/2021: On Quitting, Cancelling, Lying And Deflecting

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1. The dignity and integrity to quit. The big news in baseball yesterday was that the California Angels finally released Albert Pujols. Pujols is in the last year of a terrible 24 million dollar a year+ contract he signed as a free agent. For the last several years, he had negative value, meaning that the Angels would have been better if they just stuck a utility infielder in his slot in the line-up. When Pujols left the St. Louis Cardinals, he was already a lock of the Hall of Fame, much like Mike Trout today (also on the Angels) who could quit at 30 and still be regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. In 2019, I wrote about another washed up batter holding on to collect his exorbitant salary when he was no longer capable of earning it, the Orioles’ erstwhile slugger Chris Davis. I wrote in part,

[He] should call a press conference and do what some baseball players better than he have done when they realized they could no longer play at the level they were paid to. Quit. Retire. Say that he has too much respect for the game, his team mates, Baltimore, the Orioles, its fans, and himself to keep on with the embarrassing futility of trying to play major league baseball when he no longer has the skill to do so while receiving millions to fail. Then he should walk away, an Ethics Hero, and a model of integrity.

But Davis didn’t, of course. Davis earned $23,000,000 that year, and last year. He will earn the same amount this season and the next, to add to the 165 million he’s banked already. His OPS (On Base % plus Slugging %) the past three years: .539, .601, and .331. The average OPS in the Major Leagues is about .750. Nothing yet this year: he’s been injured. The Orioles hope he stays that way.

What Pujols is owed if he stays active is virtually monopoly money to him: he already has a third of a billion dollars from his baseball salaries alone, and many millions more from endorsements—and that’s just assuming he keeps his money in a sock. Reportedly Albert is greatly admired as a man of character, but if he was truly that, he would have the character to quit. Now.

2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Here’s a fun link: conservative pundit David Harsanyi traces (some) of the egregious media bias since Biden took office.

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Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 5/5/21: Toyota, Patents, And The Cheating Homecoming Queen

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I don’t want to over-use the “This Date In Ethics” concept, but attention must be paid: this was the day, in 1961,that Navy Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. boarded the Freedom 7 space capsule to becoming the first American astronaut to travel into space.

In these times where so many aspects of our culture are working to imbue Americans with fear of living, when people wear masks in their cars and teachers are willing to cripple both the economy and children’s education to minimize their risk of catching a virus, it should be remembered that a young, healthy man risked his life and the chance of a fiery death to advance America’s science and the spirit of exploration.

1. For some reason (Cognitive dissonance?) I haven’t been checking Althouse as often since she decided that her readers were hogging too much attention on her blog by insisting on posting comments. She still has an admirable talent for cutting through the BS. Reacting to today’s announcement that Facebook’s “quasi-indepedent” board upheld FaceBook’s partisan and anti-democratic ban on Donald Trump’s posts. Ann writes, “I’m not surprised. If the decision had gone the other way, Facebook could have found some new offense and banned him again.”

Not could have, though; would have.

2. How is this fair or equitable? Once again, Toyota is giving a special discount to “recent college graduates.” This is, of course, ham-handed pro-college virtue-signaling, but wouldn’t you guess that non-college grads of the same age need such discounts more? In the TV ad, we see a nice, upper-middle class white girl from childhood to college—it sure looks like her parents can afford a car…or she can afford a full-price cheaper car. Interestingly, this is one of the relatively few TV ads running now that dares to feature a white character who doesn’t at least mitigate her ingrained evil by being part of a mixed-race family.

Special deals on products and services for special categories of Americans—yes, even veterans—are divisive and incoherent.

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Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2021: No Good, Good, Good, No Good, and Good

Some baseball ethics notes in italics, since a lot of you don’t care:

  • The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) issued Major League Baseball an overall grade of C+ , with a B+ for racial hiring and a C for gender hiring. (There was nothing about competency and qualifications hiring, for some reason.) The report also praised MLB’s decision to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta, proving that the organization is a partisan political group using “diversity” as a prop. Baseball should pay no attention to TIDES whatsoever. It is the Southern Poverty Law Center of sports.
  • There was a wonderful example of why baseball needs robo-umps in Wednesday’s game between the Red Sox and the Twins in Minneapolis. At a critical moment in a tie game with the bases loaded for the Twins, Sox pitcher Matt Andriese struck out the last Twins batter for out number three, ending the threat. The umpire, however, said the ball had been fouled into the dirt before bouncing into the Boston catcher’s mitt. The video showed that the bat had missed the ball by several inches, and no foul had occurred. When Red Sox manager Alex Cora came out to protest, the home plate umpire, also the crew chief said, “There’s no way I’ll be over-ruled on that call.” What he apparently meant was that the other three umpires would back him up even though he was obviously wrong, and after briefly caucusing, that’s what they did. Cora was thrown out of the game. Luckily for the umpires, Andriese struck the batter out with next pitch, so the mistake and cover-up didn’t matter. Moral luck!
  • Also Twins related: Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons issued an articulate tweet about why he was declining to be vaccinated like his teammates, after considering the risks. He tested positive 24 hours later. Also moral luck!

1. NOW you’re telling us???. At 6:57 pm on April 15, I stumbled across this:

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Post-Zoom Hangover Ethics, 3-31-21….

People, even lawyers, just do not interact much in remote seminars. It makes a three-hour session far more tiring, even though I’m sitting down, rather than stalking through the space. Thus I am blotto now, after a legal ethics session earlier today.

1. And THIS is the best paper in the U.S…Two headlines on the New York Times front page this morning my high school paper faculty advisor would have rejected…and he would have been right:

  • “Gaetz Said To Face Inquiry Over Sex With Underage Girl” The fact someone says it is not news. Is he “facing an inquiry” or isn’t he? “Three people briefed on the matter” isn’t a source: we’ve seen how accurate the Times anonymous sources are, especially when the subject is a Republican, a conservative, and a Trump supporter. Why the front page for a rumor? Slow news day? Hey, I’ve got an idea: How about an article about how Joe Biden called Georgia “sick” based on a complete misrepresentation?
  • “Taliban Believes The War’s Over And They Won.” This is psychic news again, my favorite fake news form. How does the Times know what the Taliban “thinks”? Who cares what it “thinks”?

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Ethics Quiz: TV’s Imaginary Demographics

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The question is “What is ‘enough’?

The U.S. depicted in television commercials is decidedly—what, strange? Contrived? It is certainly not demographically accurate. All statistics I have seen indicate that African Americans make up less than 15% of the U.S. population, but that’s not how Madison Avenue sees it, or not how they want us to see it.

Actual statistics on this don’t exist, because I presume one will be called a racist for even noticing, but I would like to call for some volunteer counters. Watch TV on a commercial channel and count the number of white, black, and mixed race actors used in the ads, and report back here what you found. I’ve done this periodically over the last few months, most recently this morning. White actors were actually in the minority today and I’m counting Hispanic-Americans as white.

Do I care? Should I care? I don’t know. I certainly don’t care about the personal attributes of roles presented to hawk various products. Does it bother me that “Jake from State Farm” was magically made black? No, certainly in a vacuum it doesn’t matter: he seems like a nice guy.

But a white actor lost his job purely because of his race. Presumably many are losing their jobs too.

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3/17/21 Ethics Wind-Down, 3/18/21 Wind-Up…Featuring “The Song Of The Year”

Wind-Up

There’s nothing quite like a flaming tooth-ache to spark an early-morning post…

1. Corporate incompetence, Indian-style: The Cleveland Indians knee-jerked themselves out of their history, traditions and name by somehow concluding that the Black Lives Matter rioting obligated them to abandon “Indians” just because the NFL Washington Redskins had capitulated to political correctness thuggery. Like all of baseball and most of professional sports, the team decided that signaling progressive virtue was more important than their fans. And like the Redskins, the team prepared to to go through the 2021 season without a new name…just nothing, as in “Cleveland Baseball Club,” or something similarly generic. Because of the unseemly, unnecessary and unplanned rush, the Cleveland Whatsis-es also made it difficult to come up with a new name. Changing a team name is a large and expensive mess, because the name and logo are on everything from the team’s merchandise to websites, sponsorship deals, and the ballpark. Trademarks are needed to protect them. “Advice for anyone doing any product: Before you make it public, file,” Andrew Skale, a San Diego-based trademark attorney told the New York Times.

“The U.S. trademark office offers this kind of unique ability to file when you haven’t started using it, so take advantage of that,” Skale said. “Because I’ve seen when people that have issued news releases about new products and haven’t filed yet, and then they have problems later because some idiots decided to squat on them.” Or maybe not such idiots. Because of the Ex-Indians moral panic, many of the names the team could have chosen based on its history and culture will be now be expensive.Trademarks were filed by squatters after Cleveland’s first announcement for “Cleveland Baseball Team” (from someone in Georgia), “Cleveland Baseball Club” (from a company in Ohio), “Cleveland Guardians” (from someone in New York), Cleveland Rockers (from someone in California), Cleveland Natives and Cleveland Warriors (though even the Ex-Indian aren’t so stupid as to wade back into Native American controversies again), and most of all, the Cleveland Spiders, which has been an early favorite. That was the name of the team. That was the name of the team for ten years, 1889-1899, when baseball players looked like this…

Spiders

The No-names are fighting some of these filings, because the Trademark Office tends to disfavor squatters. It all could have been avoided, though, if the team hadn’t wushed to be woke, thus joining The Great Stupid.

I wonder if “Spider McBaseballfaces” has been taken…

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Coke Commands Its Lawyers To Discriminate: Can’t Do That, And The Law Firms Should Refuse (But I Bet They Won’t)

Coke Coercion

This is a major development with narrow implications in the field of legal ethics, but potentially wide-ranging importance in the society as a whole.

We are just now learning—after all, you wouldn’t expect the news media to report this kind of sinister, reverse-racism bullying, would you?—that the general counsel of Coca Cola issued an open letter to the law firms representing it. [Full disclosure: I have taught legal ethics seminars for one of them] The letter decreed that these firms “commit that at least 30% of each of billed associate and partner time will be from diverse attorneys, and of such amounts at least half will be from Black attorneys.” You can read the letter here. Here are the edicts:

Coke demands

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Ethics Dunce: The Florida Bar. Again.

The reluctance of the legal profession to acknowledge that members of the public are as qualified to recognize metaphors, puffery and hyperbole in the marketing of the legal services as they are when they are buying cupcakes or hiring plumbers continues to astound. Many state bar associations still have, and enforce, ethics rules that make the kind of obvious analogies routine in TV, online and print advertising violations because they are deemed “misleading or deceptive.” Florida has long been one of the most notable laggards in applying common sense to lawyer advertising. In contrast, the District of Columbia, with the largest bar in the nation, has largely eliminated such rules. except in conduct constituting outright lies. Just a few days ago, I told a client that the other bars were slowly moving in D.C.’s direction. I did not expect Florida’s bar to again embarrass itself and its lawyers–AND MY DOG—again, after making itself the butt of jokes over a decade ago with virtually the same complaint it made against a lawyer’s ads more than a decade ago. I thought the Florida Bar had learned. I thought eleven years was more than enough time for it to accept the basic concept of advertising…and to learn about dogs.

Guess not.

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Ethics Quiz: Positive Devlopment Or Slippery Slope?

This ad will run on the NBC Golden Globes Award broadcast:

A similar commercial had previously been rejected by ABC.

Cowabunga! Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:.

Is presenting this commercial on a prime time broadcast network a positive development for society?

Or, in the alternative, is it feminist grandstanding by NBC? Will it inevitably lead to graphic male enhancement ads?  If women can be topless in this commercial, on what basis will anyone be able to argue that breast-bearing shouldn’t be routine in entertainment programming?

Quasi-Apology Of The Month: Attorney John Morgan

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I’m not sure where this falls on the Ethic Alarms Apology Scale.

I admit that I’m never heard of John Morgan, but I am told he is a well known attorney in Orlando, Florida, and like so many trial attorneys, a character. Morgan keeps his name before the public in part by posting self-made videos on Twitter posted ( #Johnin60secs ) videos where he gives spontaneous running commentaries on life in general in the conversational and engaging style that makes him a successful litigator. It is a clever marketing approach: I’m pretty sure it gets around Florida’s strict lawyer advertising rules. For example, in one video he described his head as being “ the size of a watermelon,” which is obviously hyperbole. In a legal advertising, a lawyer can’t me make any false or misleading statement or one that can’t be verified.

But I digress. There is a danger any time anyone, no matter how glib or accustomed to speaking off-script, does so for public consumption, as the late Rush Limbaugh, acres of crushed”shockjocks,” Michael Richards and I, among others, can attest. And so it was that Morgan, in one of his videos, was riffing on fast food franchises, and said about Arby’s,

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