Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/4/2018: White Artists, Black Artists, Brain Damage And The Mad Midnight Pooper

Good Morning!

(On the way to lovely Annapolis, MD to present my Clarence Darrow legal ethics program, along with D.C. actor Paul Morella, the real star of the day and the best Clarence Darrow portrayer alive. Paul starred in my 2000 original one-man show about the iconic lawyer-rogue, and has been performing it for lawyer groups and bar associations ever since.)

Déjà vu!  I would write a full post about this, but you can essentially go to all the football head trauma essays, search and replace NFL with NHL, and you’ll pretty much have it. The New York Times reports on a 53 year old ex-pro hockey player whose brain yielded evidence of CTE, and evidence is mounting the the violent sport is doing damage to players similar to what the NFL denied for so long. Right now, the National Hockey League is denying it too:

To the N.H.L. and its commissioner, Gary Bettman, the diagnosis is likely to be the latest piece of evidence to dismiss or combat. Even as links build a chain bridging the sport to C.T.E., the degenerative brain disease associated with repetitive head trauma, and some of the game’s most revered names push the league to take a more open-minded approach, the N.H.L. has denied any connection between long-term brain damage and hits to the head.

The N.F.L. did the same, for many years, until the evidence became too overwhelming, the numbers too much to counter with plausible deniability. Facing a huge class-action lawsuit, the N.F.L. eventually admitted to the connection and agreed to a roughly $1 billion settlement with former players. (That has not kept the sides from continuing to fight over the payouts, amid accusations of fraud and intimidation.) The N.H.L., following the N.F.L.’s strategy of about a decade ago, still contests any role in the burgeoning science of C.T.E., in the courts of law and of public opinion.

What’s going on here? Violent pro sports are popular and profitable, so they will continue maiming players and devastating their families until the public finally refuses to have blood on its hands. It will take a while, and many lives will be destroyed, but in the end, football and hockey are going to have to be responsible, and also held responsible for the carnage their greed has caused.

2. Yeah, I’m being unfair and partisan when I accuse progressives of being hostile to free speech and diversity of views… A hip-hop and R&B radio station in Detroit has announced that it won’t play Kanye West’s music. The alleged justification was the rapper’s dumb remarks about slavery. On “TMZ Live,” West said,

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of you all? You know, it’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word prison ’cause slavery goes too — too direct to the idea of blacks.”

That’s pretty stupid for sure, but hardly any more stupid than the kinds of things West has been saying his whole career as his fans cheered him on. He’s welcome to hijack a telethons to say, for example, that President Bush intentionally let blacks die after Katrina, but this goes too far. (Someone please explain to me exactly what he thought he was saying, if you have time.) Continue reading

More Than a Fool: Bachmann, John Quincy Adams, and Wikipedia

John Quincy Adams, Sixth President, slavery foe, and time-traveling Founding Father

I will strive a bit longer to avoid concluding that Michele Bachmann is as irresponsible, dishonest and dangerous as I strongly suspect that she is, though my determination may not last the time it takes to write this post. I won’t wait any longer to conclude that she is a fool.

In one short week since the controversy erupted over Fox News anchor Chris Wallace daring to ask her on the air, “Are you a flake?” and her subsequent botching of both her answer and the question’s fevered aftermath, she has stumbled into two flaky episodes. One—her mixing up Western movie star icon John Wayne with serial child killer John Wayne Gacy—was at least funny. The other, far less forgivable—her claim that the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States”—has signature significance. Continue reading

“Are You a Flake?” Ethics

"Are you Michele Bachman?"

With only four well-chosen words, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace accomplished several objectives Sunday, all of them in the best tradition of ethical, objective, responsible journalism.

The words were “Are you a flake?,” posed to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who is running for President.  The question…

1. Properly forced a conservative darling to address her most striking weakness, belying Fox’s well-deserved reputation for bias toward figures its viewers admire…

2. Was a near-perfect example of the “off-the-wall” question technique, which has exposed more than one pretender to high office (Hello, Mike Dukakis!) as less than desirable.

3. Simultaneously gave Bachmann an opportunity to show how quick she could think on her feet while demonstrating important leadership traits like self-awareness, humor, wit, and grace, or, in the alternative, demonstrate the opposite.

How did she do? Well. Judge for yourself: Continue reading