Friday Night Ethics Fever, 11/13/2020 [Corrected]

1. “Then they came for Professor Turley…” Jonathan Turley, who has distinguished himself throughout the Trump years and the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck with clear, unbiased, non-partisan analysis that generally correctly identifies who is the transgressor and why, was attacked by University of Colorado Law Professor Paul Campus who compared his discussion of possible voting irregularities to Holocaust denial. Turley is measured, as usual, in his criticism, but he is obviously troubled by the continuing trend, writing in part,

“It is part of a wave of intolerance sweeping over our colleges and our newsrooms. It is therefore an ironic moment as someone who has been writing about the growing intolerance of dissenting views on our campuses and efforts to fire academic.  Some have been targeted for engaging in what is called “both sides rhetoric” rather than supporting a preferred narrative or viewpoint. Campos is arguing that it “would be appropriate to fire” any professor who stated that we should allow these challenges to be heard even though they have not and are unlikely to produce evidence of systemic fraud to overturn these results.  That is a view of academic freedom and viewpoint tolerance shared by some in academia.

I am not the first academic that Campos called to be terminated for his views. In the end, I would defend Campos in his posting such views. Unlike Professor Campos, I do not believe that he should be fired for holding opposing views or even calling for others to be fired. That is the cost of free speech. Indeed, Professor Campos is the cost of free speech.’

And yes, this is exactly what you voted for if you voted for Joe Biden.

In fact, it’s what Professor Turley voted for, as I suspect he did, when he voted for Joe Biden.

2. Regarding another favorite Ethics Alarms blogger…I respect and value Ann Althouse’s opinions and analysis, but boy does she epitomize what’s irresponsible about intellectuals.  There is a constant tone on her blog that it’s all just a big cosmic game, nothing really matters much, and all these intellectually inferior people are running around in circles, obsessing over base and minor matters. Meanwhile, Ann is preoccupied by the fact that there’s a “homophone for alibi,” the relative size of statues, and some local interviewer in Lincoln, Nebraska. These matters seem to concern her about as much as the means by which a President was finally taken down, the cracking of our democratic institutions, and the fact that our journalists have become no better than rumor-mongers and partisan assassins.

It’s that studied distance that academics and those over-educated egotists who are full-time frolickers in the playgrounds of the mind display that makes normal people—and me— suspicious of their motives and judgment.

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Ethics Corrupter: The Boston Red Sox

red_sox disgraced

Sometimes, a mere “ethics dunce” designation isn’t enough.

The decision, announced yesterday, by the Boston Red Sox to rehire disgraced manager Alex Cora to a two-year contract that will again put him at the helm of the team is disgusting and indefensible, unethical to the core. For me, it constitutes 2020’s second major ethics offense by an organization and a sport that has been important on many levels throughout my life, substantially challenging my loyalty and affection.

I was going to call the post “Ethics Strike Two On the Boston Red Sox,” but that formula would require me to give the team a third chance to disgrace itself before I called it “out” of my life, and I don’t know if I can do that. Nonetheless, I’m going to attempt to keep the emotional component of this most recent ethics breach on the metaphorical bench in this post as I try to be objective.

I won’t promise that I will succeed.

Cora was fired by the Red Sox in January after he was found to be the architect of the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scheme, one of the worst scandals in Major League Baseball history, trailing only the 1918 Black Sox scandal and the illegal player steroid era in its degree of damage to the sport. Commissioner Rob Manfred later suspended Cora through the end of the 2020 postseason. The revelation that Cora, a bench coach for then Astros manager A. J. Hinch,  had been at the center of an organized cheating scheme that helped bring the Houston Astros a World Championship also cast a shadow over the following year’s World Championship achieved by the Boston Red Sox, which had hired Cora as its manager. Did the cheating mastermind from Houston bring his unethical ways to his first managing job? Why wouldn’t he?

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A Case Study: Here Is Why We Cannot Trust Polls And Pollsters

GARBAGE IN-OUT

The Marist polling organization, which also had a presidential race poll out over the weekend, was widely publicized recently for its poll asking fans of professional sports why they weren’t following them as they had in past seasons. (The NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball have seen significant TV ratings drops in their respective weird, pandemic-marred seasons.) The headlines in one news source after another focused on a single “finding”: the invasion of political posturing by athletes had not played the primary role in driving fans away. “No, the increased political activism in professional sports doesn’t explain the ratings decline,” wrote Yahoo Sports, repeated by AOL. “And no, the sports where that activism is the most pronounced, like the NBA, haven’t suffered more in comparison.”

That may or may not be true, but the Marist poll cited didn’t indicate either of those conclusions, because those polled were not asked about either issue with sufficient precision or clarity.

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Yes, We Have Another New Rationalization! Welcome #20 A: “Everyone Deserves A Second Chance!”

Cora

No, in fact everyone doesn’t.

I encountered this inexplicably omitted rationalization—“inexplicably” because we all hear it so often, yet its obvious rationalization character had not occurred to me—today while reading a post by a friend, a Boston Red Sox sportswriter. My friend was answering a query about who the Sox, just off a terrible season, might tap to become the new manager, since the team had unceremoniously dumped poor Ron Roenicke, who literally never had a chance to do anything but fail. The inquirer wondered if Alex Cora, the Sox manager in 2018 and 2019, might return though he had been fired before the 2020 season since he was serving a year-long suspension for his part in the Houston Astros cheating scandal while he was a Houston coach in 2017. My friend, who has made this same argument to me in private conversations, wrote,

I’m not an oddsmaker, but if I was making the decision, I would bring Cora back in a heartbeat. Players responded well to Cora in his two-year stint managing the Red Sox, and it would obviously be well-received in the clubhouse if he comes back. Cora is also popular among Red Sox fans as many of them have been pining for his return. Bringing Cora back could help to rejuvenate a fan base that was discouraged by the 2020 season. As for the detractors who say he was part of a sign-stealing scandal with the Astros? Everyone deserves a second chance.

Ugh. This was not my friend’s finest hour—wait, that’s a rationalization too (19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.”). Okay, the statement was awful:

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Columbus Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 10/10/2020: Dumb Tweets, Rigged Reviews, Insane Academics, And Police Conduct Worth Protesting

Is it that time again already? Great, now we have to listen to more Statue Toppling rants from anti-Columbus zealots who don’t think changing the world unquestionably for the better and setting in motion the chain of events that allowed the United States to exist is worthy of a day of recognition.

1. I confess. Although I bailed out of following baseball this “season” when MLB’s groveling to Black Lives Matter became too much to bear, I do check the scores now and then, and thus am taking some pleasure in the fact that the New York Yankees were eliminated in the best of five Divisional Play-offs by the Tampa Bay Rays, making it eleven straight years since the Bronx Bombers got to the World Series.

2. Idiotic tweets that did not come from the White House. Whether one believes the Doomsday Polls or not, it is beyond question that President Trump’s prospects this November would be far brighter were he able to resist sending out dumb tweets, many of which I have highlighted here. (There is a Trump Tweets tag, if you want to reminisce. Like so many of his regrettable proclivities, this one is apparently contagious. Powerline recently flagged three head-exploders:

  • From Washington governor Jay Inslee:

Inslee tweet

  • From former CIA director and Deep State Trump saboteur John Brennan:

Brennan Tweet

Those who visit here often know that by Ethics Alarms standard, quoting “Imagine” as if this infantile doggerel by John Lennon is profound automatically wins any “Dumbest” competition.

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Comment Of The Day: “Oh, Look! More Baseball Ethics Dunces! This Time, It’s the Baseball Writers’ Association of America”

I have been remiss in getting up “Comments of the Day,” another consequence of my frustration adapting to the new WordPress “block” system, damn it.  I usually hand le COTD posts from my laptop, and posts requiring my concentration and composition rather than the imported wisdom of others from the Fortress of Ethics Solitude, my office.

I’m posting this follow-up comment from Here’s Johnny regarding the baseball writers’ gratuitous smear on the original commissioner of baseball based on nothing but rumor, a desire to practice “anti-racism,” without actually doing anything, and the smug assumption that History Doesn’t Matter, Gratitude Doesn’t Matter, and Honors Don’t Matter.

And the dog is licking my toes

UPDATE: Well, that was a failed experiment. When I tried to move the text from Word to WordPress, I couldn’t make the format work from the laptop, so I’m back at my PC. That was 20 more minutes of my increasingly scarce time on Earth robbed by WordPress. I’m thinking of sending them an invoice...

Here’s Here’s Johnny’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Oh, Look! More Baseball Ethics Dunces! This Time, It’s the Baseball Writers’ Association of America”:

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Ethics Alarms Translation: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Explains It All

NBA I cant breath

In a recent interview, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gave a useful and predictable, if disheartening, response to a question about the National Basketball Association’s crashing ratings, and the widespread (and surely accurate) belief that many fans have been alienated by the league’s endorsement of aggressive Black Lives Matter propaganda in the arenas, on the courts, on players’ uniforms, and in other aspects of the sport.

Rachel Nichols on NBA Countdown asked the businessman, and I use that term pointedly,

The NBA has certainly been the most visible billion-dollar organization championing social justice and civil rights. As you noted in your press conference the other day, though, that has not been universally popular. How committed are you to being that going forward?

I have to interject here: “not universally popular” is craven equivocation by the interviewer, echoing several Ethics Alarms rationalizations like, 19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.” I hate that crap; as I get older, I hate it more: “It wasn’t everything we hoped for” used to mean, “It was a complete disaster,” and similar weasel words to avoid being direct and honest. The NBA’s Black Lives Matter boot-licking wasn’t “not universally popular,” it was unambiguously unpopular. Such deliberate avoidance of the truth is deceit, and is a variety of fake news.

Silver responded,

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Ten Questions About The Lakewood High School Football Game Incident

lakewood

A football game at Lakewood High School in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, was intercepted and run into racial politics and partisan grandstanding territory when a voice over the public address system before the game declares that the school would has designated itself an “agent of change” in the battle against “systemic” racism in “society as a whole.”

After the band played the Lakewood alma mater, it then played “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the so-called “black national anthem,” in imitation of the NFL, which is featuring the song this season as part of its official grovel to Black Lives Matter. The announcer added his commentary about how racist the U.S. is, intoning,

 “Let us pause and reflect on the inequality that our nation has faced since its beginning. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tamir Rice among others remind us of the systemic racism that persists across so many of our nation’s institutions and society as a whole. By acknowledging, discussing, and taking action to address these inequalities, Lakewood City Schools aims to be an agent of change, not only in our community but in the world. We must all take a stand against racism. Let this be the moment when our children someday look back and say, ‘This is when we stood together for change.’”

Sources confirmed that both the school principal and the band director approved the political kick-off.

Despite receiving many complaints from parents and law enforcement over the stunt, the school reportedly will repeat its BLM-themed ritual in  future football games but will remove the names of those killed in encounters with police. Absurdly, the school will read a tribute to first responders at halftime as part of a “compromise” with law enforcement.

The new revised speech will provide context  for “ the black national anthem” explaining  how “Lift Every Voice and Sing” sets “an atmosphere of reverence for the journey of people of color, gratitude for the selfless sacrifices of their ancestors and for the inheritance of indomitability and resilience. The song recognizes these moments as important to moving forward toward hope and faith for a better future and a better America. The song is universally uplifting and speaks to every group that struggles.”

Here are some questions, rhetorical and otherwise:

1. What would you do if your child was involved in a high school sports contest and the school perverted it into a political demonstration? One father who attended the game said afterwards that he would have walked out…if it were not his son’s senior year. Yeah, those are typical priorities all right. It’s an outrage, but not important enough to teach a child that preserving standards and values is more important than a high school football game.

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Oh, Look! More Baseball Ethics Dunces! This Time, It’s the Baseball Writers’ Association of America

mlb-mvp

Yesterday, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) announced that group will remove the name of Kenesaw Mountain Landis from the American League and National League Most Valuable Player plaques presented each year to the MVP winners.. Landis has been honored with having the plaques bear his name since 1944, the year of his death. He didn’t do much: he only probably saved the National Pastime at its darkest hour.

It was Landis, a famously tough and uncorruptible federal judge, whom the baseball owners turned to in 1920 in the midst of the Black Sox scandal. The scandal involving the Chicago White Sox throwing the World Series in 1919 under the influence of bribes from gamblers to some key players, including star Shoeless Joe Jackson. Even though the eight accused players were acquitted in their trial, Landis, who remained a judge for two years while serving as Commissioner, banned them all from baseball, laying down a rule that participating in efforts to corrupt the game through gambling or having knowledge of other players doing so and not acting to stop it were grounds for permanent exile. Eighteen players in all, like the infamous Hal Chase, were banned by Landis, who remained commissioner for the rest of his life.

Landis had a memorable career as a judge before coming to baseball’s rescue: in 1907, he thrilled the man who appointed him, Teddy Roosevelt when he fined Standard Oil of Indiana more than $29 million (about $800 million in 2020) for violating federal laws forbidding rebates on railroad freight tariffs.

Why, then, is Landis suddenly the victim of metaphorical statue-toppling? That was a clue: in the wake of the George Floyd Freakout and The Great Stupid, the baseball writers, which are thoroughly infested with self-righteous and semi-ignorant would-be social justice warriors like this guy, blame Landis for not “doing more” to desegregate baseball before Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey finally did the trick, three years after Landis died. In other words, he’s being punished for not seeing clearly what everyone sees almost 80 years later, and not actively fighting for a cause that neither baseball nor American society may have been ready for.

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Paul Mirengoff

“Conservative America is disgusted with the NBA, and therefore is tuning it out. We’re disgusted ….with the embrace of the radical BLM movement by the league and its players….My problem was what was allowed, indeed encouraged, during the games. I will not watch any sports event during which the preaching of politics or ideology occurs. I guess I’m not alone.”

—Conservative lawyer and blogger Paul Mirengoff on the Powerline blog, discussing the huge fall-off in TV ratings for the current NBA play-offs.

Mirengoff is wrong to attribute this reaction only to conservatives, however. I have spoken with many sports fans who would not fit that description who are equally disgusted with the professional sports leagues. All of the leagues made a foolish assumption that by embracing the views of many progressive activists, they would at least hold on to the allegiance of  fans who agreed with those positions. ESPN and many sportswriters have made the same mistake., and it’s a stupid one. If I go out to dinner and the service staff bombard me with their political views during the evening, it doesn’t matter if I agree with what they say: I didn’t come to the restaurant to listen to political diatribes.

If you’re wondering about the ellipses, I left out a reference to the NBA’s addiction to China’s money, leading the league to ignore the despicable human rights record and political oppression in that country. That is a conservative complaint, and a valid one, but I doubt it affects NBA play-off ratings one tick.

I haven’t finished my letter to the Boston Red Sox, but I write it as I completely ignore the baseball play-offs as I will through the World Series. I want to make sure the team realizes that if its ugly promotion of Black Lives Matter could alienate me, it is in big trouble in the community. The players need to understand that as well, but it was up to management to tell employees to do what they were paid for, and not use their celebrity to make incompetent and divisive political statements. Continue reading