The Pandemic, Medical Ethics, And Baseball: What Exactly ARE “Essential Surgery And Medical Procedures”?

One of the policy and medical ethics issues that is looming larger as the pandemic continues is the requirement that hospitals not be burdened by  “non-essential surgery and medical procedures.”

I agree: it would have been better if  Ethics Alarms has more precisely defined “essential surgery and medical procedures”  in the previous post on the issue, when I examined the question of whether abortion can be ethically put in that category as Texas and Ohio have decreed. Abortion, as that post noted, is a particularly poor  choice for such analysis, given that our society cannot agree on what it is, other than the Supreme Court’s ruling that whatever it is, a woman has a Constitutionally right to do it.

Incidentally: can we agree that there is also a constitutional right to have any surgery or medical procedure? It hasn’t been specifically stated by the Court, but I assume that the abortion precedent applies to everything else as well, from having a kidney transplant to getting a wart removed to acquiring breast implants. These would all fall under the right of privacy and inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Forbidding any surgery, non-essential or otherwise, is a big deal, and my guess is that a judicial challenge to the whole concept would stand a substantial chance of success. What is essential surgery to me might not be such to you, but frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn, and unlike an abortion, my procedure isn’t killing anyone. Continue reading

Now THIS Is Trump Derangement! Also: Ethics Dunce, Unethical Quote Of The Month, Unethical Tweet…[CORRECTED]

Remember Jemele Hill? She was the African American co-host on ESPN who got herself fired because she couldn’t restrain herself from making hysterical anti-Trump declarations and other politically inflammatory social media posts and outbursts despite being warned, even by the left-wing Disney mouthpiece ESPN, to cool it. I wrote a couple of posts about her; since then she has receded into irrelevance, where angry, vile public figures like her belong. Oh, now she works for The Atlantic, a publication almost as much obsessed with Trump-bashing as  Stephen Colbert. The problem is that Hill is irrational, arrogant, and somehow under the impression that her vendettas have any societal use whatsoever.She also is laboring under the delusion that her emotion-soaked, undisciplined brain is a fine-tuned instrument. It’s not. She a classic example of someone what was told she was brilliant her whole life by lazy and incompetent mentors and instructors, and has been permanently handicapped as a result. And as a result, she serves society garbage, thinking it is caviar.

Yesterday the Boston Globe reported that New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft had sent a  team plane to China to pick up 1.7 million  N95 masks to fly to Massachusetts for the use of health care workers as they care for patients ill withe the Wuhan virus.

Search as you might, there is no negative spin you can place on Kraft’s act. It is altruistic. It is compassionate. It is an act of service to his community and the state that supports his team.

Now here is what Jemele Hill tweeted: Continue reading

From Idaho, Common Sense Measures Regarding Transgender Competitors In Women’s Sports

Naturally, the common sense measures are being condemned as bigoted and unethical.

Idaho is now Ground Zero in the controversy over the ethical and equitable treatment of transgender individuals. In addition to the newly passed and signed Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which bans biologically male transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports events,  Idaho Governor Brad Little (a Republican, of course) signed a bill making it more difficult to change the sex designation on a birth certificate.

Ethics Alarms has discussed the transgender/women’s sports controversy in many posts. It’s admittedly a difficult ethics conflict that has played out in many strange ways across the country, including a female high school wrestler transitioning to male being forced to compete against females, and many instances of formerly male athletes competing as women crushing their double-X opposition while giving us photographs like this:

Female athletes who have protested the unfairness of this development, like Martina Navratalova, have been attacked as bigots, while some feminists have predicted that allowing trans athletes to continue to take advantage of their passing through puberty as males will destroy women’s sports, negating the salutary effects of Title IX, the law that made gender discrimination in sports illegal.  Idaho state Rep. Barbara Ehardt , who played basketball at Idaho State University and later coached Division I women’s teams, led the way in pushing the legislation through to law. “If I had had to compete against biological boys and men, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to play,” she told reporters. “Honestly, I know firsthand that we simply can’t compete against the inherent physiological and scientifically proven advantages that boys and men possess. We simply can’t do it, regardless of any hormone usage.”

Intersex competitors, like Caster Semenya, pose a different ethical problem. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/28/2020: Well, In At Least One Respect, WW II Must Have Felt Like This…

“This” being that almost every single news item and media article related in some way to a single topic, the war then, the pandemic today. That’s one reason President Roosevelt asked major League Baseball to keep playing on, despite the fact that most of the game’s stars had enlisted or were about to,  leaving the teams to field old players, players who came out of retirement, minor leaguers, and such curiosities as Pete Gray, the one-armed outfielder. 

Wait: the baseball season was supposed to start two days ago, and is postponed at least until May. In that regard, at least, this is worse than World War II…

1. Speaking of baseball: Red Sox ethics! Major League Baseball approved a pool of 30 million dollars (That’s $1 million per club) to compensate ballpark employees during the enforced suspension of games. That left out the employees of subcontractors like Aramark, the company that supplies Fenway Park with food services, among other things. The Sox announced that it would add a half-million dollars to the $1 million for Aramark, a move that is expected to shame the other 29 clubs into similar moves.

2. You wonder why America’s children are growing up to be Marxists? Well, this doesn’t help: The following articles appeared this week in Teen Vogue:

3. From the front page of the Boston Herald:

I’m not going to track down the article; it would just ruin the wonderful picture in my head. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 3/23/2020: Examining The—OH NO! I TOUCHED MY FACE!!!

1. From the “Futile isn’t Ethical” files. The hectoring over face-touching is annoying at a time when we need less annoyances. Here’s a useless article that gives elaborate strategies for eliminating face-touching only to admit toward the end that you probably can’t stop. I’ll wager that nobody can stop, since we do it thousands of times a day, often for good reasons, and that with all the other things we have to think about, thinking about NOT doing something natural all day long—which is essentially the strategy the three professors of psychology credited with the article recommend—will do more damage than it addresses.

Here’s a typical passage:

“Now that you are aware of the behavior you want to change, you can replace it with a competing response that opposes the muscle movements needed to touch your face. When you feel the urge to touch your face, you can clench your fists, sit on your hands, press your palms onto the tops of your thighs, or stretch your arms straight down at your sides.”

Here’s another idea that I’m sure everyone will want to adopt while they worry about their jobs, their friends, and where their next meal is coming from:

Self-monitoring is more effective when people create a physical record. You can create a log where you briefly describe each instance of face-touching. For example, log entries might say:

—Scratched nose with finger, felt itch, while at my desk
—Fiddled with eyeglasses, hands tingled, frustrated
—Rested chin on palm, neck sore, while reading
—Bit fingernail, nail caught on pants, watching TV

2. Baseball ethics fix: While there’s no baseball for an undetermined period, baseball continues to spark ethics consideration. Continue reading

Movies To Keep You Happy, Inspired And Optimistic , Part I

This is a very subjective and personal list. The main requirement was that they all must be, in the final analysis, upbeat. I also have seen all of them more than once.

I left out some obvious choices that I have already devoted full posts to on Ethics Alarms, like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas.” Some of the films on my ethics movies list appear here, but not for the same reasons. Obviously, I encourage you to see those movies too.

Below is approximately the first half of the list. The rest will be along eventually.

Rocky (1976)

It still holds up as one of the most exhilarating sports movies of all time.

The Natural (1984)

Great score and a happy ending, unlike the novelette it was based on.

True Grit (1969)

This is the John Wayne version, with two of the go-to scenes I’ll play when I want to feel better.

E.T. (1982)

Other than the unforgivable rainbow at the end, a near perfect feel-good film.

Stand By Me (1986)

One of two Stephen King movies on the list. Does anyone not love this film?

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

And the other King movie. has any suicide in a film been quite this satisfying?

Erin Brockavich (2000)

More or less a true story, which makes it especially inspiring.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

If Donald O’Connor walking up walls doesn’t get your heart pumping and your mouth smiling, nothing will. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Infection, 3/18/2020: Only 3 Out Of 4 Wuhan Viwus Wewated Wefewences! These Days, That’s Not bad…

Good afternoon!

1. I missed this: Roman Polanski, with his “An Officer and a Spy” won the directing, and screenplay awards at the French Cesar awards last month, and the results were greeted by protests. After Polanski’s best-director award was announced, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” actress Adele Haenel and director Celine Sciamma walked out of the theater.

It was Polanski’s fifth Cesar in the directing category, He’s scum and a rapist as well as a fugitive from justice, but he is and has always been a great film director. Polanski did  not attend the ceremony because, he said, he anticipated it would turn into a “public lynching.”

Haenel  shouted, “Well done, pedophilia!” as she left the hall. In an interview with The New York Times about his nominations, she had said, “Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims,” she said. “It means raping women isn’t that bad.”

Think about that statement a bit, if you have to. It makes no sense at all, but articulates the logic of the cancel culture. The film is the film, just as a song is a song and a painting is a painting. None of these are the same as their creators. Just as the fact that art created by a saint doesn’t make it any better, the fact that other art is created by vile human beings doesn’t change the quality of the art for the worse.  The law punishes people for bad deeds. Society punishes them in many other ways. What artists build, accomplish, and contribute to society are independent of the artists personally.

Bill Cosby’s albums are still funny, and nobody is saying that raping women isn’t that bad by enjoying those classic performances or by honoring Cosby as a performer. Harvey Weinstein produced too many great films to boycott.

Personally, I refuse to support Cosby, Woody Allen, Polanski and others who disgust me, but their work remains what it was and is, and burying it punishes the culture. Continue reading