Friday Ethics Distractions, 10/22/21: Foot In Mouth Edition

foot in mouth Xray

Wow! People sure are saying some stupid things lately!

1. A David Manning Lie of the Month from Joe Biden! The David Manning Liar of the Month was a feature of the old Ethics Scoreboard honoring public figures or corporations that made obviously dishonest statements that they had to assume were harmless because nobody could possibly believe them. Thus Joe Biden really told reporters that he hasn’t gotten around to visiting the illegal immigrant mobs at the southern border because he’s just been too darn busy. All year. And, he added, it’s OK because Dr. Biden has been there. He also implied that he didn’t need to go to the border to see the utter mess his immigration policies have wrought because he’s seen the border

Let’s unpack this, shall we?

  • Joe has had time to go back to Delaware and Camp David, but not where there’s a border crisis of his making because he’s too busy. Does anyone believe that?
  • Let’s be fair: the President shouldn’t have to go to the border if he has competent subordinates to do it and accurately explain what’s going on. However, when President Bush chose not to personally visit the Katrina carnage, he was accused by Biden’s party and its news media of not caring, not doing his job, and, by Kanye West, of being a racist. What’s the standard? Bush felt that all he could do was get in the way. No, said Democrats, he had to go there, see what was happening with his own eyes. If that’s the standard, and I don’t think it needs to be, then why isn’t it also the standard for Biden and the border mess?
  • Talk about the cover-up being worse than the crime: Jen Psaki managed to top herself for mendacity and deflection when Fox’s Peter Doocy asked her why the President felt he had seen enough of the border. Why, she said, because he had been to the border in 2008! She really said that! “And nothing has changed since 2008?” Doocy reasonably asked. No! the President’s paid liar huffed. There’s been no immigration reform since then! And Biden knows President Trump has made everything worse by “separating children from parents” and building a “feckless wall” (whatever that means). So he doesn’t have to re-visit the border to know that, and again, he went there in 2008!

2. Shut up, or start a blog. The dim-bulb royals in exile decided that we need to hear their opinions on two issues. Prince Harry pronounced the First Amendment “bonkers”—yes, Harry, that attitude on the part of your relatives is why England doesn’t govern us any more—and his wife, Meghan Markle, received publicity for advocating paid leave for parents. Neither of these two people famous for being famous have done or said anything that should endow their opinions with any more persuasiveness or newsworthiness than the typical dogwalker’s. Harry was born well; Meghan married someone who was born well. It doesn’t matter what they think, or what they say. It’s not news. Continue reading

And The Great Stupid Figures Out How To Feed Itself: The NCAA’s Brilliant Plan

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I saw this coming. Didn’t you see this coming? Once colleges were told that they could and should treat college athletes as professional athletes, any effort to ensure that they might leave college able to do anything but run, throw, and dunk was on the way out. And so it is.

Last week, an NCAA task force recommended that incoming freshmen in Division I and II sports should no longer be required to meet minimum scores on standardized tests for initial eligibility.

Do you realize how ignorant you have to be to fail to meet the minimum scores?

The recommendation was made by the NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Force, was formed as part of the NCAA’s eight-point plan to advance racial equity. Yes, one sure way to advance racial equity is to let student athletes remain as dumb as marmots.

The Division I Committee on Academics and Division II Academic Requirements Committee will consider the recommendation at their next scheduled meetings in February. “This work reflects the NCAA’s commitment to continually reviewing our academic standards based on the best available data and other relevant information,” task force chairman David Wilson, president at Morgan State, said in a press release. “We are observing a national trend in NCAA member schools moving away from requiring standardized test scores for admissions purposes and this recommendation for athletics eligibility aligns directly with that movement.”

Everybody’s doing it! Now there’s a good reason for abandoning higher education for athletes! The ball started rolling in July 2020, when the National Association of Basketball Coaches called for the NCAA to permanently eliminate standardized test scores from eligibility requirements. Naturally, the main concern of basketball coaches is the educational achievements of student players.

“The days of colleges requiring the SAT or ACT are passing rapidly: more than half of all four-year colleges and universities will not require these tests for admissions in 2021, and more are dropping the requirement every week,” the NABC said in a statement at the time. “These tests should no longer be required in the initial-eligibility standards. The tests are again being recognized as forces of institutional racism, which is consistent with their history, and they should be jettisoned for that reason alone; moreover, pragmatics also support this change.”

Writes education blogger Joanne Jacobs, “So the plan is to admit unprepared students who will play football or basketball and leave college without a degree.”

Exactly. After all, a thuggish Minnesota cop accidentally killed a lifetime black hood without any racial motive, so this is a perfect response. And I am Marie of Romania.

The disgusted Ms Jacobs appended a relevant literary reference to her report…

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Ethics Quiz: The Cancelled Coach’s Video Game Avatar

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This is almost too stupid for Ethics Alarms to comment on, but as regular readers here know, very little is too stupid to interest me.

We discussed earlier the fate of Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who was always a pretty revolting character (and everyone knew it) but who was brought down when a bunch of his old emails were made public. One seemed pretty clearly racist; some were sexist, some were homophobic, and some were just politically incorrect to the Progressive Mob the NFL is kowtowing to these days. Gruden was forced out of his job, and now the woke brigade is in the process of making him a non-person, because the Soviet Union understood these things, I guess.

Now we learn that Gruden will be removed from the popular “Madden NFL 22” video game, as developer EA Sports announced last week. Gruden’s image will be replaced with a generic, imaginary coach who never sent emails that insulted Joe Biden.

EA Sports explained: “EA Sports is committed to taking action in maintaining a culture of inclusion and equity. Due to the circumstances of Jon Gruden’s resignation, we are taking steps to remove him from Madden NFL 22. We will replace him with a generic likeness via a title update in the coming weeks.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is this really “doing the right thing”?

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Ray Fosse And A Lesson In How Ethics Evolve

People who don’t read the baseball-related posts here miss the point: sports in general and baseball in particular create ethical problems that clarify ethics in all fields. The story of former catcher and broadcaster Ray Fosse is a prime example.

Fosse, was an All-Star catcher, a multiple Gold Glove-winner, a two-time World Series champ, and a long-time broadcaster who died yesterday, of cancer at the age of 74. His claim on immortality is the famous play above, which ended the 1970 All-Star Game, back when baseball’s “Mid-Season Classic” was more than just a chummy parade of stars playing baseball with the intensity of an office picnic softball game.

In 1970, Fosse was in his first full big league season with the Cleveland Indians, and signaled that he could be one of the all-time greats at his position. He won a Gold Glove, received some MVP votes, and had a 23-game hitting streak from early June into early July (That’s a lot. especially for a catcher). Fosse made the All-Star team that year and had his rendezvous with destiny when, in the bottom of 12th inning of a tense, tie game, the Reds’ Pete Rose, famous for his hustle and trying to score the winning run from second base, was beaten by the throw home but smashed into Fosse at home plate, causing the catcher to drop the ball and winning the game for the National league. It was a thrilling play, one of the most memorable in the nearly 90 years history of the exhibition, but Rose separated and fractured Fosse’s shoulder. Fosse continued to play for the rest of the 1970 season but because doctors didn’t discover the injuries until the following season his body never healed properly. Fosse would suffer lingering effects from play for the rest of his life. He also was never as good a player again.

Rose was unapologetic, and most conceded that his tactic was a clean play. Fosse was blocking the plate, and the only way Rose could score was to reach home while making him drop the ball. The controversy was over whether it was ethical for Rose to risk injuring another player in an exhibition game. Had Rose epitomized a sporting ideal by playing hard to win—after all, he could have been hurt too—or had he engaged in poor sportsmanship?

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/12/2021: Thanks, Columbus!

Columbus 2

This is the real Columbus Day: After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus saw a Bahamian island on October 12, 1492. He believed he had reached East Asia: Chris was right about the world being round, but it was bigger than he thought. His expedition went ashore and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, the sponsors of his attempt to find a western ocean route to to the far East. Columbus changed the route of history, science and culture, with incalculable effects long and short term, good and bad. He also was directly responsible for brutal treatment of Native Americans, because he was a product of the 15th Century. We honor historical figures for their positive achievements, and if they are positive and important enough, the personal and public evils such figures might have also had on their ledgers are secondary. That is as it should be: the alternative is to honor no one at all, and to make history a parade of villains….

…although I would be hard pressed to find anything negative to say about the amazing Desmond Doss, who became the first Conscientious Objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor on this date in 1945. Ethics Alarms told his astounding story here, in 2017; so did the film “Hacksaw Ridge.” I still have a hard time believing it.

1. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (#1): Here is the Washington Post, deliberately promoting statue toppling with a handy-dandy guide. This is the kind of thing that made me stop subscribing to my hometown paper. It does not explain why I subscribe to the Times, which just raised its rates to 90 bucks a month.

wapo_list_of_columbus_statues_10-11-2021

2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (#2): From Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN (That’s the hangout of absurdly unreliable Brian Stelter, who pretends to opine on journalism ethics while having none of his own):

Once respectable liberal journalist James Fallows, now employed by the extreme left-wing “Atlantic”: “The struggle for us all in the media is if we keep pointing out that one side of the political divide is actually instigating these things, defying subpoenas, trying to renege on the debt, holding up State Department appointments, et cetera, we are conscious of seeming shrill, we’re conscious of seeming unbalanced, we’re conscious of seeming to take a side. And so it’s something about our culture, we need to figure out how we can give out a narrative of the actual realities recognizing how this is at odds with our conventions.”

Oh, no! Seeming to take a side when they are taking sides? Seeming to be shrill when they are shrill? “Actual realities,” meaning “our biased views, represented as irrefutable truth to accomplish our agendas”? Whatever shall good journalists do? Wow. [Pointer: Steve-O-in NJ]

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A Déjà Vu Ethics Dunce: Pete Rose

Pete Rose

I confess that at this time of year, with the Boston Red Sox in the play-offs (and doing splendidly so far), my thoughts keep defaulting to baseball and baseball ethics. However, I couldn’t have resisted this inspiration in the dead of winter.

I was already considering writing about how Major League Baseball has now abandoned its former principled stand against gambling on the game to the point where its gambling industry partners are encouraging suckers to bet on game details like extra-base hits and runs-batted-in, and during games, using special bonus pay-offs—you know, like the casinos that give out free chips to get tourists hooked? How MLB is going to square this sudden embrace of professional gambling with the sport’s so-called “third rail” rule that demands a lifetime ban of any player, coach or manager who is caught betting on baseball games is anybody’s guess.

Pete Rose, the all-time career hits leader, is the most famous victim of the third rail, and he was also my very first Ethics Dunce. In January of 2004, Pete’s sleaziness helped launched The Ethics Scoreboard when I wrote,

Pete Rose now admits he bet on baseball (after ten years of lying about it) but says that his bets (always in favor of his team, never against it, he says) as manager of the Cincinnati Reds never effected his management decisions, and thus he did not harm the integrity of the game. He feels he should be let back into the game as a manager.

A couple of things, Pete:

1) Even if this were true, fans of the game cannot put their faith in the outcome of games when they know that those who help determine the outcome might be motivated by their wagers. This is the reason that we call “the appearance of impropriety” an ethical problem.

2) Presumably you did not bet on the Reds when a key player was sitting out, or when your starting pitcher wasn’t feeling good. Right? Or are we supposed to believe that you bet large amounts of money while already in debt to bookies in circumstances when you thought you would lose? So every time you didn’t bet on the Reds, you were sending information to the bookies, and it affected their odds on the game. Got it?

3) You say you never bet against the Reds. You used to say you never bet on baseball. You’re a liar. Why should anyone believe you now?

Pete continued to embarrass himself and baseball, leading to several posts on Ethics Alarms. My favorite Pete Post is this one, in which I wrote in part,

All of the above could be more concisely summarized by six words: Pete Rose is a stupid man. As comedian Ron White says, “You can’t fix stupid.” Manfred, in his letter telling Pete that he can forget about any future employment in baseball, noted more than once that Rose does not appear to understand the import and purpose of the rule he violated, which exists  to protect the integrity of the game. Indeed,  Pete Rose wouldn’t know what integrity was if it sat on his face.

“This final chapter (I hope) in the sad Rose gambling saga drives home a fact that is under-appreciated in the ethics world. Ethics is hard, and requires attention, critical thinking, and a modicum of intelligence. Ethics involves choosing among competing options in difficult situations, often under pressure; it involves recognizing when non-ethical considerations are threatening to overwhelm ethical principles; it involves being able to understand why an ethical society is preferable to a corrupt one, and the difference between rationalizations and ethical values.

When tying your shoes is a challenge, most of this is out of the question. Or to put it in Pete Rose terms, if you are seeking forgiveness for  placing bets on baseball when you knew that baseball bans anyone who does that, and can’t figure out that continuing to gamble on baseball isn’t going to help your case, the chances that you are going to be able to figure out whether a particular situation requires an application of the Rule of Universality or not are those of Frosty the Snowman bumpety-bump-bumping safely through Hell...”

As you have probably guessed by now, that was not “the final chapter.” A new chapter came out today. Pete, who is always playing some angle to make money off of his baseball exploits because he is perpetually broke, has launched a sports gambling podcast.

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The ACLU Believes Certain Sports Are Racist Now…

The logic and legal reasoning underlying the American Civil Liberty Union’s current bit of woke grandstanding is profoundly depressing. These people are lawyers. This is the caliber of legal minds we are supposed to trust to protect the Bill of Rights?

Central Michigan University eliminated its men’s track and field team. It shouldn’t matter why, but in its announcement of the move in May of 2020, the school cited budget concerns in the midst of the pandemic lockdown. This seems reasonable; when funds are tight, colleges should be spending money on education rather than sports. The controversy was launched when CMU decided this year to add a men’s golf program.

The decision, the ACLU of Michigan decided, was racist in light of the fate of track and field. In one letter, the organization protested that track and field was crucial to the Black community because it has “offered many a way out of oppressive poverty.”

I’d like to see the data on that.

Then the ACLU wrote the university president on September 16 that golf, in contrast, was a “white sport.” “Country clubs that have been the training grounds for elite golfers have historically been racially exclusive,” the letter states. “Add to that the expense of the sport and the socio-economic circumstances of many African Americans, and the reasons for the whiteness of golf are quite evident.”

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Friday Ethics Potpourri, 9/24/2021: On PBS, Boeing, A Political Hack Law Dean, And Caring

Lawn sign

Many thanks to reader and commenter Jeff for bringing that lawn sign to my attention. It’s available here. I wish I had thought of it; one of these days I’ll get around to making a “Bias Makes You Stupid” T-shirt as an Ethics Alarms accessory. I would never post such a sign on my lawn for the same reason I object to the virtue-signaling signs in my neighborhood: I didn’t ask to my neighbors’ political views thrust in my face, and I don’t inflict mine of them. However, if a someone living in a house on my cul-de-sac inflicted a “No human being is illegal” missive on their lawn where I had to look at it every day, the sign above would be going up as a response faster than you can say “Jack Robinson,” though I don’t know why anyone would say “Jack Robinson.”

1. Roger Angell on caring…It’s September, and the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees start a three game series tonight with nine games left to the season. It could well determined which of the two teams will go on to the post-season, with a shot at the World Series. The encounter brings back a flood of memories, wonderful and horrible, about previous Sox-Yankee battles of note, including one from 1949, before I was born. I worked with a veteran lawyer at a D.C. association who was perpetually bitter about all things, and all because the Red Sox blew a pennant to New York that year by choking away the final two games of the season. For me, moments like this are reassuring and keep me feeling forever young: as I watch such games, I realize that I am doing and and feeling exactly what I was doing and feeling from the age of 12 on. Nothing has changed. Roger Angell, one of my favorite writers, eloquently described why this is important in his essay “Agincourt and After,” from his collection,”Five Seasons”:

“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look — I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

A small price indeed.

2. PBS may be a progressive propaganda organ, but the facts will out. A streaming service offers the channel’s documentaries for a pittance, and they are a reliable source of perspective and enlightenment. One that my wife and I watched this past week was about the development of the FDA and other federal agencies that protected the public and workers. When workers at manufacturing plants making leaded gasoline started dying of lead poisoning, the government scientists’ solution was to just ban the product. General Motors and Standard Oil fought back and overturned the ban, assuring Congress that they could make leaded gas safe to produce, and they did. This was a classic example of why we must not let scientists dictate public policy: leaded gasoline transformed transportation and benefited the public. The scientists’ approach was just to eliminate risk; they didn’t care about progress, the economy, jobs or anything else. Science needs to be one of many considerations, and when scientists have been co-opted by partisan bias, as they are now, this is more true than ever.

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A Baseball Ethics Meets Legal Ethics Spectacular!

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You can imagine how happy this ethics mash-up makes me.

In legal ethics, a perpetual controversy involved what a law yer should do when another lawyer inadvertently sends him or her confidential information intended for the adversary lawyer’s client, and the information is a smoking gun that could win the receiving lawyer’s case. In the old days, when this involved some clerk in a law firm sending a load of documents to the opposition by mistake, the rule was simple. It was called “the Wigmore Rule,” after the famous law professor, John Henry Wigmore (above) who coined the phrase, “You snooze, you lose.”

In brief, the convention was that if a lawyer was careless enough to let this happen, he or she was at fault, and the lawyer getting the confidential documents could use them to benefit his or her client. The advent of faxes, and later the internet, and after that metadata, however, through what was largely settled law and ethics into a tangle that has yet to be settled. Technology made such errors much more common and also easier to make, and the American Bar Association’s opinions on the matter bounced back and forth like ping-pong balls, first saying that a Golden Rule approach should apply, with lawyers sending the material back to the technologically-challenged lawyer without looking it over, then concluding that lawyers should know how to use essential technology (back to the Wigmore Rule!), until the newest technological developments made them sympathetic again to lawyers who don’t get confidential metadata out of their emails. Last I checked, the state bars still don’t agree, but many are drifting back to the Wigmore Rule once again…as they should.

Now, you might well ask, how does this relate to baseball ethics?

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Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 9/16/2021: On Idiots, The Donner Party, Statistical Reparations And The Evil NFL

Frozen Statue

I had to get out of bed to write this; I’ve been exhausted all day. I better not be getting old. That will really tick me off…

***

I’m working on a post called “Cannibal Ethics,” and this obviously led me to the Donner Party, the group of doomed pioneers who had to eat each other to survive when they were caught in a storm in the Sierra Nevadas in 1846. If I knew that they had come to their fate because of a negligent author, I had forgotten it: a fake expert named Lansford Hastings had written “The Emigrant’s Guide to Oregon and California” recommending a short-cut (which actually increased the trip’s mileage) to the Promised Land (this was before the two areas were ruined by reality-free politics)He had never actually traveled the new trail when he published the book. He did finally do it shortly before the Donner party set out, and helped sealed its fate by leaving paper notes along the way that further misled them. One told the already desperate wagon train they could cross Utah’s Great Salt Lake desert in a faction of the time it actually took. The group ran out of water in the middle of the salt plain about half-way across.

If I compiled a list of U.S. Ethics Villains throughout history—I’ve considered it—Hastings would be on it. After he left the U.S. for Brazil following the Civil War, he wrote a sequel of sorts to the book that killed so many of the Donner Party: “The Emigrant’s Guide to Brazil.” (1867).

1. Tales of The Great Stupid, Headline Division. From the Boston Globe: “How did Boston miss its moment to elect a Black leader?” The reporter, Stephanie Ebert just can’t imagine why he three Black candidates in the mayoral primary were eliminated in favor of Michelle Wu, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and Annissa Essaibi George, whose father was a Tunisian Arab Muslim. But, Ebert complains, there won’t be “any candidate who knows the weight of being Black in a city with deep racial scars.”

Maybe the three black candidates were not seen as skilled, experienced, or qualified as the primary’s winners. Or is Ebert saying that being black should be enough to qualify someone to be mayor?

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