Today’s Dispatch From The Great Stupid: The Nazi A’s Coach

Because, in the course of trying to communicate to his players while following MLB’s pandemic protocols, he made a gesture that might be taken as a Nazi salute if it weren’t on a baseball field in 2020 and if the supposed member of “Hitler’s Coaches” was insane, Oakland A’s bench coach Ryan Christenson was accused of deliberately giving a Nazi salute.

I didn’t need to see the video or learn anything more. I knew he wasn’t giving a Nazi salute, just as I wouldn’t need to check if someone told me a baseball player laid an ostrich egg on third base. The man was gesturing for some reason to explain something. Maybe he was saying, “Hit the ball out there!” and used the flat of his hand rather than pointing. I don’t know; I don’t care. There are no laws about gestures, and I always presume good will, not bad will and insanity.

But the usual bunch of cancel-hunters saw that they might be able to destroy someone, so they tried. This is like the equally ridiculous “OK” sign outrages. If these terrible, terrible human beings can’t get someone fired, at least they get a notch on their metaphorical belts if they can make someone grovel. Here they hit the jackpot: first the poor coach apologized, explaining that the A’s do something they call “the karate chop” instead of a high five (which is banned as part of the MLB protocols, and he was being schooled on the safe way to do it. He had reached out to do the  chop with someone who said “No, no, no straight arm!” and Christenson took a second to realize what he meant. By all means, the coach should be fired. Heck fire both of them. Ban the team. Continue reading

Another Cancel Culture Episode In Canada

A retired pro hockey player accused the NHL’s Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters of calling him a “nigger” a decade ago when Peters was coaching him on a minor league team, the Rockford Ice Hogs, an affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks. Peters apologized in a letter to the Flames management after the allegations, and two days later was  forced to resign.

The Nigeria-born  player, Akim Aliu, wrote on Twitter  that when he was playing for a minor league team a decade ago, Peters, who is white, “dropped the N bomb several times toward me in the dressing room in my rookie year because he didn’t like my choice of music.” Aliu further said that he “rebelled” against the coach as a result of the episode,, and that Peters retaliated by advising executives to demote Aliu to a lower-level league. The National Hockey League reacted with a statement saying that Peters’s alleged behavior was “repugnant and unacceptable.” The Flames immediately opened an investigation into Aliu’s allegations.

In a letter of apology, Peters wrote in part, “I was rightfully challenged about my use of language, and I immediately returned to the dressing room to apologize to the team. I have regretted the incident since it happened, and I now also apologize to anyone negatively affected by my words.”

Aliu, who played briefly with  the Flames, in  2012 and 2013, refused to accept the letter as sincere. There are, by my count, about 28 black or bi-racial players in the NHL, or a bit fewer than one a team on average.

There is so much I don’t understand about this story, it’s hard to know where to begin.

  • Yesterday Aliu met with NHL brass yesterday. Afterward, he told the press, “They couldn’t have been kinder and receptive to the message that we’re trying to bring. I think there’s just some big change coming and it’s long overdue, and I’m excited to see it come to fruition.” Wait, who is “they”? The NHL released a statement too:

  • Akim Aliu is being called a whistleblower.  If so, that was one slow whistle.

How does reporting an incident that took place ten years ago, in a different league, qualify as whistle-blowing in the NHL?

  • Were there other allegation against the Flames coach in his current job? Did he have a long record of bigotry and mistreating players? If this one late hit by Aliu about what happened with the <cough> Ice Hogs is really the whole thing, why did Aliu act now?

His Wikipedia entry describes him as something of a trouble-maker. Was this just vengeance for a his mistreatment for a decade ago?

  • Does it really make sense to fire someone for what he said, with a different employer, that long ago, no matter what it was? Does this mean that Peters can never work again, and will have to wander the world, starving, begging, without friends or shelter? If a statement—not a crime, mind you, but just words, ugly as they may have been— made ten years ago is sufficient to make a man unemployable and a permanent pariah, then why not 20 years ago? Is our enlightened society now concluding that no one can change, or improve, or learn, and a single moment of anger or bad judgment justifying shunning him or her for life?

If I write that this seems cruel and excessive and indeed unethical to me, does that make me racist too?

My usual question as I enter ethical conundrums is “What’s going on here?” In this case, I have no idea, but I doubt that it’s good.

Post Road Trip Ethics De-Brief, 11/20/2019, AND Morning Warm-Up, 11/21/2019

Bvuh.

Thinking is a chore right now, never mind typing.

We returned from a triumphant two-Darrow ethics program New Jersey tour, highlighted by the intense Darrow oratory performed by actor/legal instructor Paul Morella. This does a cynical ethics CLE presenter’s heart good: finding myself short of time, I asked the assembled NJ Bar members to vote on whether Paul should omit Darrow’s famous Leopold and Loeb closing argument, or Darrow’s own desperate plea for an acquittal when he faced a jury considering his own guilt of jury tampering in the 1911 MacNamara case. The group almost unanimously voted that we complete both closings, with my ethics commentary as well, bringing the program to an end almost a half hour later than scheduled. Nobody left, and believe me, in most CLE seminars, the lawyers seldom stay one second longer than they have to.

Brought a tear to my eye…

No rest in sight, though: tomorrow, I take an early flight to team up with rock guitar whiz and singer Mike Messer in Las Vegas for Ethics Rock Extreme. And I’m punchy now...

1. Well, maybe the NFL is learning…News item: The Miami Dolphins released already suspended running back Mark Walton on Tuesday, hours after he was arrested on charges of punching his pregnant girlfriend multiple times in the head. Walton had been serving a four-game suspension because of  three arrests before the season started. He was sentenced in August to six months’ probation after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor weapons charge.

Now let’s see if the Patriots sign him…

2. Just a quick impeachment hearings note: It is astounding to me that witnesses are being called by the Democrats to testify regarding their opinions on a President’s phone call to a foreign leader. Big black headlines shout that witnesses called a phone call “inappropriate.” Who cares? The President has the authority to decide what is “appropriate,” and there are no impeachment articles in the Constitution designating “acting inappropriately” according to someone else’s opinion as a “high crime and misdemeanor.”  Leaders become leaders because they do thinks that others think are “inappropriate.”

Don’t get get me  started on presidential actions through the centuries that experts, government veterans and other critics at the time thought were “inappropriate,” or worse.

I started compiling a list of what I would consider genuinely impeachable actions by past Presidents The list makes the current impeachment push look even more contrived than it already is.

3. I see that the group that surreptitiously filmed Planned Parenthood staff discussing abortions was hit with over 2 million dollars in damages. Good. Continue reading

Cancellation Culture Gone Nuts: The Kenneth Fisher Saga

“Be afraid…be very afraid.”—Geena Davis in “The Fly”

Kenneth Fisher, the acclaimed billionaire money manager whose investment firm manages more than $112 billion of investors’ money,  spoke at an October 8 conference.  In his remarks, he said getting new clients was akin to “trying to get into a girl’s pants.” The analogy between marketing and seduction is old, common, and not without validity. It can (and should) be expressed in less vulgar ways, to be sure, but no one in the audience could have mistaken Fisher’s meaning.

Yet the New York Times described the remark as a “lewd and sexist joke”—Lewd? Joke?—and like-minded cancellation culture posse members set out to destroy Fisher and his business in retribution for using an analogy of dubious taste. [ I should note that some attendees at the conference–including some who are Fisher’s competitors—reported that there were other “off-color” comments that could not be confirmed by the Times.]

Thanks to a news and social media campaign since he made that “joke,” the past two weeks have seen public pensions and institutional investors pull nearly $2 billion from Fisher Investments, which has 3,500 employees.  They also deserve to lose their jobs, presumably, because their boss is insufficiently sensitive in a #MeToo world. Other public pensions have placed  Fisher’s firm on a watch list for potential action.

Monday Morning Summary Of What Would Have Been In The Sunday Ethics Warm-Up That I Was Supposed To Post But….Aw, Forget It. Here’s Some Ethics Stuff…

Good morning.

Boy, am I glad THAT week is over.

1. Moral luck saves the 2019 baseball post-season…for now. MLB missed a major disaster when an umpire missed a clear strike three (he ruled a foul) on Yankee slugger Gary Sanchez in a tied and crucial game between the Houston Astros and New York.  It was the 11th inning, meaning a tie-breaking run would mean a likely Yankee victory.  THAT would have meant that the Astros would have lost the first two games of a seven game series at home, a hole that very few teams in baseball history have been able to overcome.

Sanchez  struck out on the next pitch, and a Carlos Correia home run in the bottom of the inning sent the Astros to Yankee Staudium in a series tied 1-1. The botch was moot, and will soon be forgotten. But if he Sanchez hit a home run or otherwise led the Yankees to a decisive score, the ALCS might have been completely turned by a blown call captured on video for all to see.

And there would be no excuse: the rules allow no appeal on that kind of play, but there has to be.

Yes, it was “moral luck” again. The fact that the worst didn’t happen doesn’t change the seriousness of the fact that only luck saved the day and prevented a blot on the integrity of the whole 2019 post-season. Maybe it would have been better if the bad call had altered the game, the series, and the World Series. Maybe then baseball would stop waiting for the high-profile disaster caught on video that will force it to have ball and strikes called by technology. It took an umpire’s obvious blown safe call in what should have been the last out of a perfect game to make baseball go to replays, and anyone who watches many games knows how many times a reversal changes game outcomes. Continue reading

Ethical Quote Of The Month: Ellen DeGeneres

“We’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different… but just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them.”

—-Ellen DeGeneres, countering social media criticism of her hanging out with former President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game.

She prefaced that comment with this:

“When we were invited, I was aware that I was going to be surrounded with people from very different views and beliefs. And I’m not talking about politics… I was rooting for the Packers. So I had to hide my cheese hat in [her spouse] Portia’s purse. People were upset. “They thought, why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?… A lot of people were mad. And they did what people do when they’re mad… they tweet.”

If they are morons, that is. These are the people who harass those wearing MAGA hats, who won’t speak to family members who voted differently than they did, who seek to boycott companies and individual who contribute to causes they oppose. They are unethical citizens and corrupted human beings. Continue reading

An Ethics Train Wreck So Dumb That I’m Embarrassed To Have To Write About It…

…but, as Hyman Roth said, “This is the life we have chosen.”

The train wreck farce unfolds in three acts:

Act I, Scene One: Iowa’s Carson King, 24,  was seen on “ESPN College GameDay”  holding up a moronic sign in a football game crowd that read, “Busch Light supply need replenished. Venmo Carson-King-25.”  That isn’t comprehensible English even by stadium sign standards. Needs to be replenished? Needs replenishment? Giving people positive reinforcement for being illiterate is irresponsible, and makes the public stupid.

Act I, Scene Two: People actually sent money to King’s beer fund on Venmo. With all the really desperate people in this country and all the legitimate objects of charity, this boob’s scrawled plea for beer money struck a chord. People sent in contributions who would normally sneer at homeless people begging on the street.

Act I, Scene Three:  Venmo and Anheuser-Busch, seeing a promotional opportunity, both  pledged to match  donations to Kings “Help me be a drunk!” fund. The sign raised $1.14 million.

Now comes the one moment of reason and ethics in the tale: King decided to donate the money to  the   University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.  Act I ended on a positive note.

Intermission. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/7/2019: Trump’s Obsession, Joe’s Hands, And University Ethics Stumbles

Good morning!

September has always been my favorite month at the beach….not that I’m at one. But I can dream…

1. Dumbest Ethics Train Wreck of the Year. Incredibly, people are still arguing over whether the President “lied” about Alabama being at risk from Hurricane Dorian, and the news media is still writing about it as if it mattered. I wish I had the time to make a list of all the real news stories with actual impact on the nation that the mainstream news media has buried or ignored in recent years to contrast with this nonsense. Of course, the President is also at fault, since he is incapable of letting stuff like this go, as, say, a well-adjusted adult and responsible leader would. The latest (from the AP);

…The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a statement from an unidentified spokesman stating that information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to the president had demonstrated that “tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.” The advisories were dated from last Wednesday, Aug. 28, through Monday, the statement read.

Friday’s statement also said the Birmingham NWS tweet Sunday morning “spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

The statement from NOAA contrasts with comments the agency’s spokesman, Chris Vaccaro, made Sunday. “The current forecast path of Dorian does not include Alabama,” Vaccaro said at the time.

Friday’s NOAA statement, released just before 5 p.m., points to a few graphics issued by the National Hurricane Center to support Trump’s claims. The maps show percentage possibility of tropical storm force winds in the United States. Parts of Alabama were covered, usually with 5% to 10% chances, between Aug. 27 and Sept. 3. Maps on Aug. 30 grew to cover far more of Alabama, but for only 12 hours, and the highest percentage hit 20% to 30% before quickly shrinking back down.

Alabama was not mentioned in any of the 75 forecast advisories the hurricane center sent out between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2. From Aug 28 to Aug. 31, a handful of locations in Alabama were mentioned in charts that listed percentage chance of tropical storm force winds or hurricane winds, maxing out at about 7 percent chance for Whiting Field to get tropical storm force winds.

Former National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read blasted NOAA leadership Friday night on his Facebook page calling the situation “so disappointing” and saying he would comment because NOAA employees were ordered to be quiet.

“Either NOAA Leadership truly agrees with what they posted or they were ordered to do it. If it is the former, the statement shows a lack of understanding of how to use probabilistic forecasts in conjunction with other forecast information. Embarrassing. If it is the latter, the statement shows a lack of courage on their part by not supporting the people in the field who are actually doing the work. Heartbreaking,” Read wrote.

Takeaways: This is only news because 1) so many people will grab on to anything if it will allow them to denigrate the President and 2) the President acts the way he does.

2. Least shocking ethics story of the week: Campaigning in Cedar Rapids, Joe Biden grabbed pre-school teacher Jessica Roman’s  hands and held them while he double-talked around her  question about his plans to help unionized teachers deal with Iowa’s collective bargaining laws. She later told the news media that his physical contact was “unwelcome”: Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/26/2019: Bad Business And Bad Businesses

Whoa! A morning surprise!

As I commented on yesterday’s warm-up, traffic on Ethics Alarms was discouraging slow all weekend, which, as some of you know, makes me re-evaluate my priorities and ponder throwing myself into the shredder. Then, I discover, at some point last night the Mitch McConnell post was linked someplace that has a much bigger audience than I have, and just like that, the blog got more visitors in a couple of hours as the weekend weekended than it had in the previous two days. As is usually the case, it is impossible to find out where the referrals are coming from (except I know they aren’t from Facebook!), virtually none of the new visitors are commenting, and the temporary avalanche spawns few new followers, if any. I never know when this is going to happen, and it almost never occurs with the essays I am most proud of or consider especially important.

1. Of course they booed. They’re NFL football fans. This means they have the ethics of army ants. Andrew Luck, the star quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, stunned the sport with his unexpected decision to retire from the NFL, even though he is only 29 and completed a stellar campaign in 2018. The reason: he doesn’t want to end up crippled or a vegetable from the abuse his body and brain have absorbed and will continue to the longer he stays on the field. not having them anymore after the way fans in Indianapolis treated him after the  on Saturday.

As Luck began to make his way off the field following the 27-17 loss in the Colts’ preseason game against the Bears, fans at Lucas Oil Stadium started to boo their former quarterback because the news of Luck’s retirement broke during the fourth quarter of the game. Of course they booed. Anyone who watches the NFL and supports an NFL team by purchasing tickets, merchandise, or inflating league ratings by watching the games on TV has signaled that they are perfectly happy to encourage young men to ruin their bodies and minds for their selfish entertainment, safe in their seats or on their living room sofas.

2. More on the Left’s undemocratic effort to stifle free speech and opposition to its agenda…Tucker Carlson—I am not a fan, you will recall—returned to his Fox News show after a vacation that seemed more like a retreat from fire to find that the Media Matters-led sponsor boycott  of his show had taken more chunks out of his sponsor base.  Continue reading

Sexual Harassment, Cancellation Culture, Anonymous Accusers, And Placido Domingo

A report last week revealed that nine women accuse towering opera figure Placido Domingo of sexual harassment.  None of the accusations have been investiaged or substantiated, and only one of them isn’t anonymous. Yet two American institutions, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera, immediately canceled their upcoming concerts with him, giving the now-familiar “safe environments” explanation. None of. Domingo’s many upcoming scheduled performances in Europe were canceled, however, as sponsors took what the New York Times calls  “a wait-and-see approach,” or what used to be known in this country as “Let’s not punish someone based on unsubstantiated  accusations alone.” Or fairness. Due process. The Golden Rule.

There are countervailing factors pulling every which way. As I understand it, #MeToo  and “Time’s Up” insists that female accusers must be believed, unless the accused is the black, Democratic Party’s Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, or the harassment is caught on camera repeatedly, as in the case of the Democratic Party front-runner for President. In the arts, these allegations have had mixed effect. Conductor James Levine has not performed in public since he was fired by the Metropolitan Opera last year after accusations of sexually abusive and harassing conduct were substantiated in an investigation, but when Pixar chief and creative muse John Lasseter was fired for being a serial hugger (rather like that Democratic Party front-runner) he was rapidly snapped up by a rival studio that gave him as much power and more money. Go figure.

There is the anonymous factor: it is my long held position that an anonymous accusation relating to the workplace should be regarded as no accusation at all, meaning that there has been one allegation of sexual harassment against Domingo. An accused individual cannot address claims when he doesn’t know their source or facts. I have been the target of false anonymous accusations—not of harassment—in my career, and as a manager in various businesses and associations, I told staff that unless they were willing to go on the record with an accusation of wrongdoing, I didn’t want to hear it. It is too easy to destroy careers and reputations with false accusations with no accountability attached.

The other issue is the multiple accusation factor. In sexual abuse and harassment, there are no one-time offenders unless there has been a massive miscommunication. The typical scenario is that a single accusation triggers several, often many, more with near identical facts. This is why I did not believe Anita Hill and Dr. Blasey-Ford, and why I did believe Bill Cosby’s many accusers.

Timing is also important. Ancient accusations of sexual misconduct—I would say anything more than five years old is dubious—arriving after memories have faded, evidence has vanished and seemingly timed to do maximum damage to the accused should be treated with skepticism and a presumption of  bad will, especially when the accused is a public figure.

And yet… Continue reading