Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/18/2017: Life Is An Unethical Cabaret, My Friends…At Least Lately

Good Morning!

1  Really now: What’s the matter with you? How many of these will it take for everyone to agree that it’s intolerable?

Let’s recap, shall we? Last week, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier confidently cited a “rumor” that that the President was going to fire Special Counsel Mueller imminently. (It would not be undeserved.) The rumor was then treated by the mainstream news media as news, which is, you know, supposed to be fact. This “news” then was considered sufficiently alarming that multiple Democrats and “resistance” members, including former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder (disgracefully) advocated an insurrection, as in “taking the streets.”

Asked about this rumor qua news, President Trump said, no, he wasn’t considering firing Mueller. Did uou know that in the old days, when journalists at least pretended to be ethical, the President would have been asked about a rumor involving his intentions before it was published as news, and before assholes on the Left used it to advocate social unrest?

The episode is beyond unethical. How can anyone support 1) this 2) people who act like this 3) journalists who facilitate this,  4) a party that continues to encourage this, or 5) anyone who supports or enables 1)-4) ?

2. He just doesn’t get it…like a lot of people. Tavis Smiley, whose problems were discussed in the previous post, said this morning that while he did engage in sexual relations with his some subordinates, they were all consensual and therefore did not constitute sexual harassment or an abuse of power. He’s oh so wrong.

Subordinates never have complete freedom to reject the sexual overtures of their boss, so they never can truly consent. It is inherently an abuse of power. Moreover, third party harassment is inevitable, as other female employees are sent the message that they work in a harem. Are they required to submit to the sultan’s desires? If they aren’t asked to submit by their Great Alpha Male, does that mean they have displeased him?

That a hostile work environment, Tavis.

3. ‘If you could see her from my eyes’..Smiley’s attitude conforms to that of a lot of sexual harassers, including, in all likelihood, the President’s. It wasn’t sexual harassment, they believe, because who wouldn’t want to receive their sexual advances?

This made me reflect on this hard-edged number from the film version of “Cabaret,” sung by Joel Grey’s evil MC as sly anti-Semitism for laughs. (I did not know that the number at one point was cut from the stage version because audiences didn’t get the satire until I saw a documentary about Jewish-themed musicals on PBS last night)

If the chilling last line of the song were altered to “It wouldn’t be harassment at all!,” with the “gorilla” representing the way so many women are treated in the workplace, the M.C. would be accurately expressing  Matt’s, Al’s, Harvey’s, Bill’s, Ben’s, Dustin’s, and Tavis’s creed.

4. Is Al Gore next? Not if the New York Times can help it. In a story detailing the rampant sexual abuse and harassment of hotel employees by guests, Al Gore’s name never comes up. The story includes the stunning results of  union survey of hotel workers in Chicago found that 58% of them had been sexually harassed by a guest. Yet in 2010, when three hotel masseuses claimed that Gore sexually harassed him, his denials were sufficient to make the episode quickly discounted and forgotten. What would happen if the same allegations were made today? If Gore had been elected President last years, would Senator Gillibrand be calling for his resignation?

Plan J would seem to demand it.

5. Why sexual harassment allegations are not necessarily credible. From The Hill: Continue reading

Holiday Ethics Assigment: Quick! Watch These 25 Great Old Ethics Movies Again Before You Go Bonkers Too!

movie-theater

I am compiling a new list of great ethics movies to help those troubled by the recently completed Presidential campaign, the election and its aftermath. I haven’t decided whether to reveal it piecemeal, or collectively as I have before, but I do need to begin by presenting the previous list of 25, actually the combination of several previous posts. Ethics films I have covered individually since those lists debuted, like Spotlight and Bridge of Spies, will eventually be added.

For now, here’s the top 25. Don’t pay attention to the order.

1Spartacus (196o)

The raw history is inspiring enough: an escaped gladiator led an army of slaves to multiple victories over the Roman legions in one of the greatest underdog triumphs ever recorded. Stanley Kubrick’s sword-and-sandal classic has many inspiring sequences, none more so than the moment when Spartacus’s defeated army chooses death rather than to allow him to identify himself to their Roman captors (“I am Spartacus!”)

Ethical issues highlighted: Liberty, slavery, sacrifice, trust, politics, courage, determination, the duty to resist abusive power, revolution, love, loyalty.

Favorite quote: “When a free man dies, he loses the pleasure of life. A slave loses his pain. Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That’s why he’s not afraid of it. That’s why we’ll win.” [Spartacus (Kirk Douglas)]

2.  Hoosiers (1986)

“Hoosiers” is loosely based on true story, but its strength is the way it combines classic sports movie clichés—the win-at-all-costs coach down on his luck, the remote superstar, over-achieving team—into a powerful lesson: it isn’t the final victory that matters most, but the journey to achieving it.

Ethical issues highlighted: Forgiveness, generosity, leadership, kindness, courage, loyalty, diligence, redemption.

Favorite quote: “If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners.” [ Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman)]

3. Babe (1995)

A wonderful movie about the virtues of being nice, the greatest civility film of all time. Second place: “Harvey.”

Ethical issues highlighted: Civility, kindness, reciprocity, loyalty, courage, love, friendship, bigotry, bias.

Favorite quote: “Fly decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that sheep were stupid, and there was nothing that could convince her otherwise…The sheep decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that wolves were ignorant, and there was nothing that could convince them otherwise”  The Narrator (Roscoe Lee Browne) Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Boxer Who Bet Against Himself, And Lost His Bet

donnellyboxingv2

Three Olympic boxers received “severe reprimands” from an International Olympic Committee last week for betting on fights during last month’s Rio de Janeiro Games in violation of Olympic  anti-betting rules.

The interesting one is Ireland’s welterweight Steve Donnelly, shown above. Donnelly bet against himself in a first-round bout but still won the fight.

The IOC said the three boxers received only reprimands rather than retroactive disqualifications or bans because a disciplinary panel determined “there was no intent to manipulate any event” and the athletes have apologized.

Donnelly, an evident idiot, said that he was in fact not aware of the prohibition against betting, though he had signed the documents agreeing to the restrictions. He hadn’t read them, he said.  He claimed that he bet against himself without intending lose his match to win those bets. He reasoned that if he lost the match, winning the bets ( he made two on his opponent) would be some compensation for his defeat.

Good thinking there, Steve.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day

Is a reprimand just and sufficient punishment for an Olympic competitor who bets on himself to lose, as long as he loses the bet and not his competition?

Continue reading

Ethics Verdict: The New York Daily News WDBJ Shooting Front Page Isn’t “Tasteless” or Unethical; It’s Journalism

Virginia shooting

Honestly, I don’t get it. The horrible photos of the exact moment deranged racist Vester Lee Flanagan opened fire on Alison Parker convey what happened in specificity and clarity that no mere verbal description could. If your issue is gun violence, this shows it. If you want to see and understand what tragedy is “up close and personal” and even if you don’t want to understand it, this is how we learn. The furious criticism being focused on the Daily News is traditional Daily News hate, as far as I can determine. That paper has been criticized for having the guts to show raw images for a century now: one of its first outrages was a surreptitious photo of murderess Ruth Snyder being electrocuted:

Snyder_chair

Now that photo is history. Today’s front page will be history too.

At the journalism ethics site of the Poynter Institute, Kelly McBride, Poynter’s vice president for academic programs and a media ethicist, argues against using the unedited pictures, saying that “the problem with it is that it a deeply intimate image. It is a moment of someone’s death.”

You mean like….. this?

Nagasaki

That’s just thousands of people being incinerated in Nagasaki, but from a distance, so it’s tasteful, is that the idea? Well, what about this award winner… Continue reading

CNN Asks, “Why do we ignore Mayweather’s domestic abuse?” Here’s Why…

Floyd uses the pink gloves on his girl friends...

Floyd uses the pink gloves on his girl friends…

CNN’s Paul A Reyes writes,

“The wait is over,” proclaims the copy on Showtime TV’s website. The cable channel is heavily promoting Saturday night’s boxing match in Las Vegas between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. The cable network is going all-out to raise interest to a fever pitch for what it is billing as “one of the most anticipated fights in boxing history.” There is something missing here: Amid all this hoopla, as corporations and promoters line up for their big pay-per-view payday, there is a resounding silence on Mayweather’s documented history of domestic violence — no mention of any accountability or responsibility….That Mayweather is a serial batterer of women cannot be disputed. According to the sports website Deadspin, Mayweather has had at least seven assaults against five women that resulted in arrest or citations in addition to other episodes in which the police were called but no charges filed. …Questioned by CNN reporter Rachel Nichols last year about his abusive behavior, Mayweather showed little remorse. He noted that there were “no pictures … just hearsay and allegations.” He has previously said he should not be compared to O.J. Simpson or Chris Brown because there are no pictures of the women he has allegedly abused — as if the lack of video or photographic evidence is equal to exoneration. In fact, Mayweather spent several months in jail in 2012 after pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault charges….Mayweather, whom Forbes has named the highest-paid sportsman in the world, is set to take home $180 million for the fight.

Such collective indifference by the public of Mayweather’s domestic abuse is curious considering other incidents involving football players. After video surfaced of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée (now wife) in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, elevator, he was temporarily suspended by the NFL and later dropped by the Baltimore Ravens. Adrian Peterson was likewise suspended by the Minnesota Vikings for harshly disciplining his son. These punishments occurred amid widespread outrage among fans and the public over what was deemed unacceptable behavior by athletes. Such outrage seems to be absent when it comes to Mayweather.

CNN (and ESPN, and other commentators) are perplexed and amazed by this. Let me explain it to them. It’s not hard.

1. This is boxing, in which two men, and sometimes women, try to beat each other into unconsciousness, sometimes permanently injuring the other. It is a thoroughly discredited, completely unethical sport, whose biggest celebrity, most honored figure and most admired practitioner, Mohammud Ali, is a brain damaged shell as a direct result of his participation in it. The most famous recent champion, Mike Tyson, is a self-confessed vicious brute, a rapist, and a domestic abuser who in his last championship fight bit off a piece of his opponent’s ear. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland,

concussions NFL

It is indeed strange to call someone an ethics hero for taking reasonable steps to save his own life. In the case of Chris Borland, however, it is appropriate.

Borland, one of the NFL’s top rookies in 2014, announced that he is retiring after just one season he does not want to risk the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma.

Borland, 24, said  he made his decision after consulting with  concussion researchers, and current and former teammates, as well as researching  the relationship between football and neurodegenerative disease.

“I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” Borland told ESPN.  “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.” Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week : NPR Sports Commentator Frank Deford On Football, Values and Brains

football-brain-injury-symptoms

“A new study shows that almost one-third of NFL players will suffer long-term cognitive problems. Granted, that’s professionals, but obviously younger brains are at jeopardy on all gridirons. What mother or father can any longer willfully allow a son to play such a game with such odds? Verdict: Football is dangerous to your brain.”

NPR Sports commentator Frank Deford, in his weekly commentary, this time focusing on the deteriorating reputation and public image of pro football, and how football fans, so far at least, don’t seem to care.

It’s dangerous to your brain in more ways than one.

The NFL Vikings, for example, having decided first that sitting out one game with pay was sufficient to punishment for their star running back who beat his four-year-old son black and blue, then reinstating him for the next game, apparently on the theory that it had thrown a bone to critics, then pulled him off the roster again following new reports of an old story, involving Adrian Peterson allegedly beating another toddler son. (Peterson spreads his seed far and wide and with great generosity and abandon, having an estimated seven or more children with an equal number of unmarried women. The NFL and NFL fans have never shown any disapproval of this irresponsibility conduct, of course.) Now, we have no evidence in this latest allegation beyond text messages in which Peterson admits giving the boy a “woopin,” which is presumably the same as a “whuppin.” Peterson’s lawyer says nothing happened, and indeed, no complaint was made and no charges were filed. So what does the Vikings’ move mean? Is the NFL team concluding from this ambiguous incident that what Patterson did to his other child (that is, one of his many other children) was worse than the horrific photos already showed they were? How much worse could his conduct be? Is it sending the message that all corporate punishment is wrong? Who the hell is the NFL, which allows its players to maim each other, to tell me that I’m a child abuser if I spank my son? Or are the Vikings simply proving, as the league itself did it when banned Ray Rice only after a video showed him doing what it had to know he had done when it suspended him earlier for only two games, that it has no clue what’s right and what’s wrong, what is acceptable violence and what is unacceptable, what the public will ignore and what is so bad that it shouldn’t matter whether the public will ignore it or not?

Football is as dangerous to your values as it is to your brain. Continue reading