The Kate Smith Ban, Chapter II: Oops! Kate Was Actually An Important Voice AGAINST Racial Prejudice! Now Can We Put Her Statue Back Up And Listen To Her Recordings Again?

Oh, how I love this development!

As Ethics Alarms discussed last week, The New York Yankees banned singer Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” at their games after some individuals claimed she was a racist because of the lyrics of two songs she recorded in the 30s. This was a stupid complaint, and the Yankees were cowardly to react to it as they did, but you know, the Yankees. (I kid: my Boston Red Sox were even more craven for  removing the name of their most essential owner, Tom Yawkee, from the street bordering Fenway Park as a virtue-signaling  surrender to Boston progressives.)

The NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers had  more reason to be loyal to Smith’s memory than the Yankees, for the singer was the team’s good luck charm, singing “God Bless America” at crucial Stanley Cup home games in the early 1970s. Not only did  the Flyers ban Kate’s rendition of the Irving Berlin patriotic anthem, it covered Smith’s statue in front of the team’s arena with a tarp, then took it down completely.

Nice. I wonder why they didn’t renounce their Stanley Cup victories, since now they are tainted.

Now it appears that Kate was falsely smeared, misrepresented, misunderstood and mistreated.  Continue reading

Asshole vs. Asshole, And How To Avoid Starring In It

If you are old enough, you may remember the long-running comic  in Mad Magazine called “Spy vs Spy.” It was kind of a wordless Roadrunner cartoon with a Cold War vibe, and not especially funny, but I just thought of it for the first time in decades. (Incredibly, it is apparently still running in Mad, though the magazine itself is sinking fast.) I was considering this ridiculous story…

…It started small, but disputes over a Kansas man’s alleged violations of his homeowner association’s rules has led to a complex legal battle that is now the most expensive of its kind. Owner Jim Hildenbrand, has been locked in conflict with the HOA of Avignon Villa Homes since he moved there in 2012…

What began with a disagreement over the placement of a satellite dish and a decorative wall has escalated into a legal back-and-forth that has cost both parties at least a combined $1 million. It is the most expensive HOA dispute in the country.

It is also yet another example of the increasingly common societal phenomenon of “Asshole vs. Asshole.” These are ethics breakdowns where two parties in disagreement decide that making the other side pay for daring to have an adverse position overwhelms whatever the original objectives of the two parties were. It is reminiscent of the kinds of disputes parents—the good ones, anyway–arbitrate between siblings. “You’re both right,” Mom or Dad will say, “And you’re both wrong. You have reached the point where the escalation of anger and retaliation is the problem, not what you think you are arguing about.. Work it out. Compromise. See it from the other one’s perspective. And if you don’t, we’re going to punish both of you.”

In the case of Mr. Hildebrand and his fascist Home Owner Association, both sides say it’s the principle of the thing. As any reader hear know, I am a believer in and a practitioner of taking stands for principle, but knowing when this is essential (Do NOT apologize for speaking the truth or bucking the mob) and destructive is a critical life skill. The trick is keeping emotion out of it, and engaging in ethics problem solving. Asshole vs Asshole occurs when hate, and anger, and the desire to teach that jerk a lesson blinds both parties to common sense, the Golden Rule, and the human duty to seek peace, not war. Continue reading

The “Dog Park Diane” Affair

This ridiculous story has apparently “gone viral” in some corners of social media, I suppose because it involves race (sort of), dogs, and sex.  I was blissfully unaware of the whole foofaraw until a friend sent me a link.

Here we go!

In Attleboro, Massachusetts, a dog identified as a pitbill mix belonging to African-American Franklin Baxley began doing what frisky dogs sometimes do to other dogs, human legs, and pillows, to a dog belonging to Grace Sandland, who apparently freaked out.  She demanded that he and his dog leave the park, and when Baxley refused, she called the police on her cell phone.

“Why are you calling the cops right now? Because I told you I wasn’t leaving the park?,” Baxley, 42, asks the unnamed woman in the video posted online. “Because my dog humped your dog?” Another women, identified as park staffer Carol Cobb, according to the Daily Mail. Cobb, took the side of the sexually assaulted dog;s owner, and is seen on the video telling Baxley that the pit bull’s  behavior was “inappropriate for the dog park.”

I swear, I’m not making this up.

Sandland told police that Baxley had “verbally assaulted” her, and that Baxley’s dog wouldn’t stop humping and assaulting her dog. Baxley said that he immediately pulled his dog off of hers, but Cobb said that his dog was breaking the rules: no humping permitted. Eventually an Attleboro police sergeant arrived to the scene. No charges were filed, but Baxley has been banned from the dog park.

But wait! There’s more!

Baxley claims that the incident was sparked by racial prejudice, and took to the news media and his Facebook page to make sure everybody knew it. “If I were not black, she would not have felt threatened by me talking to her and defying her orders for me to leave the park,” Baxley told the Daily Mail. “I am a responsible dog owner, and my dog is super friendly. Anyone who goes to that park regularly knows me and will attest to that fact. The dogs were living their best lives the whole time.” The news media quickly dubbed Sandland “Dog Park Diane,” emulating “BBQ Becky,” the sobriquet affixed to a white woman who called the police on a black family grilling ribs in a public park in California. Meanwhile, Baxley began a relentless attack on Sandland on Facebook, whipping the social media mob into a frenzy. The confrontation occurred five days ago, and Baxley is still writing about it, giving interviews, and doing everything he can to ensure that Sandland is labelled a racist for life.

What’s going on here? Continue reading

Amazing Tales Of “The King’s Pass”: The Johnny Manziel Saga

To refresh your memory, from the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list:Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list:

11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?”

One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.  In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust. Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others.

There was good news on the King’s Pass front, when reports emerged that the Philadelphia Philllies decided to spend their “crazy money” on free agent outfielder Bryce Harper rather than free agent infielder Manny Machado because of Machado’s unsportsmanlike conduct during the recent post-season and his excusing his loafing to first  in a game by saying that he “wasn’t Johnny Hustle.” Since Harper’s ridiculous contract from Philly ended up being 30 million dollars more than Machado’s ridiculous contract with the San Diego Padres,  one could conclude that Machado ‘s conduct, which would get a lesser player benched, demoted, traded for a bag of peanuts or released, at least cost the jerk 30 million dollars.

Good.

But with the King’s Pass, such episodes are rare. Yesterday we learned that alleged football star quarterback—his nickname is “Johnny Football”—Johnny Manzeil was released from the Canadian Football League. The CFL wouldn’t give details, saying only he had “contravened the agreement which made him ineligible to play in the league,” but since it was known that the agreement included weekly therapy appointments, mandatory doctor visits and monthly Lithium tests, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened: Johnny happened. Here’s a summary of Manziel’s “controversies” from Wikipedia:

June 2012 arrest

On June 29, 2012—before he was chosen as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback and before his first college game—Manziel was arrested and charged with three misdemeanors—disorderly conduct, failure to produce identification, and possession of a fictitious driver’s license. These charges stemmed from a late-night fight…In July 2013, he pleaded guilty to failure to produce identification, and the other two charges were dismissed.

…After the incident, Manziel eventually regained the favor of his team and head coach…and was named the starting quarterback… When reporters asked about the incident during his first press conference on November 27, Manziel stated that he had learned from the mistake and “had to make a lot of changes in [his] life.”[146][147]

2013 offseason

During the 2013 offseason at Texas A&M, Manziel drew significant media attention over his behavior off the field. Notable incidents include his early departure from the Manning Passing Academy after allegedly oversleeping, tweeting that he “can’t wait to leave College Station” after receiving a parking ticket, and getting kicked out of a fraternity party…ESPN reported that the NCAA was investigating whether Manziel accepted payments for autographs that he had signed in January 2013. The NCAA did not find any evidence that Manziel accepted money for the autographs, but reached an agreement with Texas A&M to suspend him for the first half of the season opener against Rice University, due to an “inadvertent violation” of NCAA rules.

2015 offseason

On February 4, Manziel entered a treatment program for unspecified reasons. On May 30, Manziel was involved in an incident with a heckler at a   golf tournament. The heckler had been continually asking for an autograph, to the point that Manziel became fed up and threw a water bottle at the man. The water bottle missed the heckler. Security and police were called, but no charges were filed.

2015 season

Manziel was pulled over by a policeman after fighting in his car with his then girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. Although no charges were made, Manziel admitted to having had some alcoholic drinks earlier that afternoon…On November 24, a week after Manziel was announced as the NFL C;eveland Browns’ starter for the remainder of the season, head coach Mike Pettine demoted Manziel to third string after a video of him partying surfaced on the Internet….It was later revealed Manziel reportedly lied about the video… Manziel was seen at a Las Vegas casino the night before the Browns played their final game of the 2015 season. Manziel was scratched from the final game because of a concussion. …The next day, Manziel failed to report to the Browns on Sunday morning when he was supposed to report to the team medic, which all players with concussions are supposed to do.

2016

On January 6, 2016, Manziel’s marketing agency, LRMR, announced that it would no longer work with Manziel. Manziel’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, also announced that he would no longer represent Manziel. On February 5, 2016, the Dallas Police Department announced that they were opening a criminal investigation with a claim of domestic violence involving his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. Dallas police had originally closed the case, but re-opened it with allegations stemming from an altercation on January 30, 2016, at a downtown Dallas hotel. According to Crowley, Manziel forced her into a car, pulled her by the hair, and threatened to kill both her and himself. On April 24, Manziel was indicted by a Dallas grand jury on misdemeanor assault charges for the incident.

On April 19, 2016, after just two months of representing him, agent Drew Rosenhaus terminated Manziel as a client, marking the first time in Rosenhaus’ 27-year career he fired an NFL player.On the same day, Nike ended its sponsorship with Manziel.[166]

On June 24, 2016, Manziel’s attorney, Bob Hinton, accidentally sent a lengthy text message to the AP relating to Manziel’s defense in his domestic violence case. In the message, Hinton expressed concerns about Manziel’s ability to stay clean, saying that he was given a receipt that suggests Manziel spent around $1,000 at The Gas Pipe, a drug paraphernalia store. On the same day, Manziel’s father, Paul, told ESPN: “He’s a druggie. It’s not a secret that he’s a druggie. Hopefully, he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses. I mean, I hate to say it, but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. I’m doing my job, and I’m going to move on. If I have to bury him, I’ll bury him.”

On June 30, 2016, he was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. On December 2, 2016, Manziel and prosecutors finalized a plea agreement in which Manziel agreed to undergo counseling and have his conduct monitored by prosecutors for up to a year or face prosecution.

Apparently Wikipedia got tired of updating Johnny’s page. Now kicked out of the NFL and the CFL, a new pro league is thinking about signing Johnny Football, and here is how USA Today reported it, in part: here is how USA Today reported it, in part:

It’s no surprise Johnny Manziel’s sudden availability was cause for great celebration around the AAF (Alliance of American Football). Johnny Football would be the ultimate addition for the upstart league….Before anybody whips out a contract and a pen, however, be warned: You don’t know who you’re getting. Will it be Johnny Manziel, who last summer spoke earnestly of prioritizing his mental health and the costly lessons he’d learned from when he didn’t? Or will it be Johnny Football, whose boozed-up escapades and immaturity sent him crashing out of the NFL two years after he was a first-round pick?

Gee, I think it will be Johnny Manziel, certified asshole, who has been behaving the same way since college, but teams keep signing him and giving him money, sending the rest of the team, football, kids and the world that if you have talent, you can get away with almost anything, or at least get an endless number of “second chances.”

The other news? Manziel’s wife was accused of cheating in a half-marathon, and lying about her time.

Come on, AAF, sign him up! What are you waiting for?

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Rosaine Santos, MAGA-Hater

“I had a little bit to drink maybe that’s the reason that I couldn’t walk away but being discriminated for so many times in my life, I just had to stand up for myself. He’s not a victim. I am the victim. I have been bullied, OK?”

—-Brazilian immigrant Rosaine Santos, upon her arrest for assaulting  a male customer patron at a Casa Vallarta, a Mexican restaurant in Cape Cod who was wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap.

Santos attacked a man for wearing a MAGA hat, and was charged with disorderly conduct, assault and battery. She was upset that 23-year-old Bryton Turner was wearing the Trump campaign hat at a Mexican eatery.

Turner was just eating quietly when Santos started yelling at him. He pulled out his phone and started recording her. The video shows Santos is  hitting his hat off his head. As police escorted Santos out of the restaurant, she took another swipe at Turner.  She told police that Turner should not be allowed to eat at a Mexican restaurant because of his support for President Donald Trump.

What an asshole.

Observations: Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The CNN/Acosta/Press Pass Ruling

From the Washington Post this morning:

Judge Timothy J. Kelly granted CNN’s motion for a temporary restraining order that will prevent the administration from keeping Acosta off White House grounds. The White House revoked the reporter’s press pass last week after a heated exchange between him and President Trump and a brief altercation with a press aide at a news conference. Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, is the first reporter with a so-called hard pass to be banned. CNN sued President Trump and other White House officials on Tuesday over the revocation. Kelly’s ruling was the first legal skirmish in that lawsuit. It has the immediate effect of sending Acosta back to the White House, pending further arguments and a possible trial. The litigation is in its early stages, and a trial could be months in the future.

Observations:

  • The ruling is a surprise. For me, it calls to mind once again my favorite Clarence Darrow quote, that “In order for there to be enough liberty, it is necessary that there be too much.” Apparently the judge, as courts have in other First Amendment cases, decided to leave a wide margin of safety around a constitutional right rather than interpret it narrowly, even reasonably narrowly.

I understand and sympathize with that instinct, and perhaps it is the right one.

  • Judge Kelly’s opinion  insisted that there be some basic procedural protections, requiring the White House to state clearly the grounds for revoking the clearance.  The Court did not find an express  violation of the First Amendment and Acosta might still be barred from the White House following appropriate due process.  Kelly said his ruling was “limited” and  temporary until a more detailed explanation and sufficient notice by the White House was established. (Not surprisingly, the White House viewed a tweet as notice enough.)
  • So a vague, traditional but unstated standard of not acting like an entitled jackass during a press conference and debating the President rather than asking questions while refusing to yield the floor is not, absent written standards and procedures, enough to get an unprofessional jerk like Jim Acosta banned. Got it.  It would be nice if previously acknowledged standards of basic respect for the office and the relative roles of the professionals involved were enough to avoid this kind of controversy, but apparently not.

Reflect on this episode the next time CNN or a pundit fusses about President Trump “defying established norms.” Continue reading

Prophesy Confirmed: SNL And Our Nation Of Assholes

The most unforgivable part of Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” mockery of Congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw was ridiculing a decorated veteran because of the disfigurement he recieved serving his country, though that was bad enough. It was his dismissive reference to the fact that he lost his eye in “war or whatever.” Yeah, my father had his foot blown up in “war or whatever.” Whatever.

My prophesy that electing Donald Trump President would rapidly convert the United States into a “Nation of Assholes ” was accurate, and here’s the proof. In any civilized community since our nation—indeed, any nation, began, a six-year-old who mocked a veteran for his wounds would be punished and every adult who witnessed such ignorant disrespect, even from a child, would be embarrassed to see it.  Now, however, that same infantile, disrespectful insult is featured on national television, as alleged adults roar  with laughter.

Donald Trump mocked a disabled reporter on the way to the White House. He denigrated prisoners of war like John McCain, and recently called Stormy Daniels “horseface.” Of course, the civilized and respectable approach to discouraging such rude and vulgar behavior is to condemn it, and shun its practitioners. The Left and the resistance are now emulating it. They have used mockery of the President’s physical appearance for years, the purest and most inexcusable form of ad hominem attack. Now they are widening the target area, so a veteran who lost an eye in battle is considered fair game. (As an aside, how does someone  like Davidson have the gall to mock anyone’s appearance? The guy looks like a ventriloquist dummy come to life….)

But the same people who deride the President’s boorishness, viciousness and lack of ethics alarms are not justified in adopting his bad habits, and corrupting the culture. When they act like President Trump, they are subject to the same standards. Davidson’s ugly routine wasn’t a joke. This was “We all hate conservatives and Republicans, so isn’t it funny to mock how they look!” Sure it’s funny, if you’re ten. Continue reading