Tag Archives: caring

The 87th And 88th Rationalizations: The Reverse 15 And The Psychic Historian

Translation: “I got nuthin’!'”

I haven’t been in tip-top shape the last several days, making new posts more of an ordeal than they should be. Luckily this motivates me to catch up on updating the Rationalizations List, which has several waiting additions, including these:

Rationalization #15 A. The Reverse 15, or “If I don’t do it ( and I don’t want to) somebody else will.”

The Reverse 15 uses exactly the same excuse as #15. The Futility Illusion:  “If I don’t do it, somebody else will,” but for the opposite purpose. In #15, the rationalizer wants to avoid the consequences of doing something unethical by arguing that his or her refusal to follow orders would have no practical effect: someone else would just step in and do what was demanded anyway. How, asks the fictionalized version of Confederate Captain Henry Wirz in “The Andersonville Trial,” can a post-Civil War military tribunal fairly hold him responsible for cruelly mistreating the Union prisoners in the Georgia prison camp as he was ordered to, when if he refused he would have been shot, and his successor would have abused them anyway?

In 15A, the argument is the opposite. The rationalizer refuses to perform a necessary ethical act out of apathy, callousness or fear, but this was reasonable because he or she was certain that someone else would do the right thing instead. The Reverse 15 could also be called “The Kitty Genovese Rationalization,” recalling that the many people who heard the murdered woman’s screams chose not to “get involves” while convincing themselves that someone would come to her aid. All of the Mount Everest climbers who left a stricken colleague behind to die protested later that they were certain the next climber behind them (or the next, perhaps) would stop to help the man. We pass a stopped car in distress on the highway at night, reasoning that someone else will stop to help, sparing us the trouble.

Sometimes someone does. Sometimes not. This abdication of an ethical duty is accomplished by casting one’s lot, and gambling with the fate of another, while relying on the unpredictable quirks of moral luck. The only ethical decision is to take action. You must do what you know is the ethical act yourself, and not ignore your obligation because you can pass the buck and then argue, disingenuously, “How could I know that everyone else would be as unethical as I am?”

Rationalization #1B. The Psychic Historian, or “I’m On The Right Side Of History”

Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Government & Politics, History, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/19/17: Pelosi Asked For It And Got It, Hillary Is A Disgrace, The Unabomber Was Right…And The Importance Of Caring

Good Morning!

1 Red Sox colors. I sometimes feel guilty about the fact that since I was 12, the fate of the Boston baseball team has been able to elevate or undermine my view of the day, existence  and the cosmos regardless of what other far more objectively important and significant events have occurred within my family, in my life, or to nation or the world. It is because I care, as writer Roger Angell once wrote in his New Yorker essay “Agincourt and After” (I know I have quoted it before), and caring itself has importance, whatever the object of it…

“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look — I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

2. This video is almost res ipsa loquitur for its ethical content:

Almost.

There you have it: proof positive of the slippery slope the sloppily sentimental, irresponsible support for “Dreamers” polishes to a fine sheen. The illegal immigration, open borders and anti-U.S. sovereignty activists won’t be satisfied, because they really think they have a right to just take U.S. citizenship irrespective of our laws. They will also call anyone who opposes that assertion “racist.” They are so deluded, moreover, that they don’t realize how much a display like the one above damages their unethical cause. I heard some commentators say the episode made them feel sorry for Pelosi. Sorry for her? Her demagoguery and her  party’s dishonesty and cynicism on this issue is what created that mob.

This was what George Will calls “condign justice.” Continue reading

77 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Family, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Science & Technology, Sports, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

Morning Ethics Warm-up: 8/19/17—-The St. Louis Rally Cat Edition

Good morning!

1. The still unfinished saga of the St. Louis Rally Cat illustrates nicely how the most innocent-seeming events can spin out of control when the participants don’t heed their ethics alarms, or lack the instruction manual to operate them competently. As an aside, this baseball season has yielded a bumper crop of ethics controversies, the most I have ever seen, and it is far from over. In general, Major League Baseball’s participants, including its sportswriters,  are not very good at ethics, and the simple-minded virtue-signaling in the Tom Yawkey controversy is a recent, and embarrassing example. As an aside to an aside, I used to provide baseball ethics commentary at little or no cost to a well-regarded stat-head website, until they made it clear that they neither appreciated the importance of ethics in the sport, nor were capable of practicing it. Too bad. Baseball ethics is a lot more valuable than knowing the exit velocity and launch angle of a home run.

But I digress. The Rally Cat…and let’s count the ethics breaches:

Last week, the St. Louis Cardinals, fighting to overtake the Cubs in the closely contested and mediocre National League Central, were trying to rally back from looming defeat. The bases were loaded with Cardinals at Busch Stadium when a juvenile cat raced onto the field and halted play. A groundskeeper captured the cat, which mauled him as he carried it off the field. This was shown on the video scoreboard, provoking laughter and applause from the crowd.

As soon as play finally resumed, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina hit a grand slam, and the Cardinals won as a result. Baseball players are superstitious, as the game is an orgy of moral luck, and such incidents typically create unlikely and illogical totems. In Los Angeles, there is a video of a monkey going nuts, the Angels’ “Rally Monkey.” In Boston, it is the old Neil Diamond ear-worm “Sweet Caroline.” Last year, the Kansas City Royals had a good luck praying mantis-–I’m not making this up—dubbed “The Rally Mantis.”  Back in the politically incorrect Twenties, the New York Giants had a mentally-challenged man travel with club as a mascot, because the team won the day he arrived and told Manager John McGraw that he was a great pitcher. For laughs, McGraw told the poor man that he was starting the game, and he actually warmed up on the sidelines as the players guffawed. He didn’t pitch, but the Giants won, so McGraw had him warm up before every game, as the team went on a winning streak.

So, naturally, the St. Louis cat was given the name Rally Cat, and responsibility for the Cardinal’s fate this season was placed squarely on its fluffy shoulders.

Now came the ethics botches:

Ethics breach #1. Lucas Hackmann, the cat-grabbing groundskeeper, let go of the feline talisman to get his bites attended to. Foul. He works for a baseball club; he is obligated to be aware of the culture he serves. He had to know, or should have known, that the cat would be a media star, and that the team, if it won the game, would want to employ him, or her. It. He also should know that cats do not stay, like dogs. The cat ran away, endangering the Cardinals’ season/

Incompetence.

Ethics breach #2. The Rally Cat was picked up by a fan, Korie Harris, and she left the park with it. Cardinals security questioned her, and she said it was her cat. Again,  Incompetence. The cat now had potential value to the security personnel’s employers. Why did a fan have a cat? You can’t bring a cat into the ballpark.

Ethics breach #3 Of course, it wasn’t her cat.  She was lying.  Dishonesty.

Ethics breach #4, 5, 6 and 7. Then Lying Korie (I bet that’s what the President calls her) also lost the cat. Some animal lover she is. If she was going to take custody of the animal, she had accepted responsibility for its welfare. She could have adopted it. She could have advertised to find its owner. She could have returned it to the Cardinals. She could have given it to a shelter—anyone but PETA, which would have probably killed it. No, she just let it go. Feral cats live a fraction of the average life of a house cat. Four fouls: Lack of responsibility, incompetence, dishonesty, and lack of caring.

Ethics breach #8 The Cardinals released a statement hoping that the cat would be found so the team could “properly care for it.” Right. A traveling baseball team is the perfect place for a cat. The Kansas City Royals killed the Rally Mantis, and quietly replaced him, thinking nobody, including the Baseball Gods, would notice. Ha! They missed the play-offs.

Again, this is dishonesty. The Cardinals don’t care about cats; if the team did, it would be donating money to animal shelters. It cares about good luck charms that can be used to promote the team..

 Ethics breach #9 The cat was found and taken into custody by St. Louis Cat Outreach, a nonprofit organization. The Cardinals claimed ownership. “The St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach organization has assured us they will be returning our cat to us after a mandatory 10-day quarantine period,” Ron Watermon, the team’s vice president for communications, said in an email to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Rally Cat will be cared for by our team, making the Cardinals clubhouse his home,” Watermon said. “Mike (Mike Matheny, the Cardinals manager) and our players are looking forward to loving and caring for him.” Outrageous Dishonesty!  The cat shelter denied the story, posting on its Facebook page: “It was a totally false statement that STLFCO has committed anything to the Cardinals. We have made no decisions about Rally’s long-term placement.” Moreover, anyone who thinks the baseball team was “looking forward to loving and caring for” a cat in the middle of a pennant race will believe anything.

2. That took longer than I expected. I assume you are sufficiently warmed up, though.

Here’s Lucas and the Rally Cat:

____________________________

Pointer and Facts: New York Times

13 Comments

Filed under Animals, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Marketing and Advertising, Sports

Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘Ethics Observations On The Florida Teens And The Drowning Man'”

Responding to Pennagain’s comment, now a Comment of the Day, on his own Comment of the Day, Mark wrote in appreciation,

“Pennagain – I am a musician, mostly classical, and I tend to think in musical terms. I love it when I encounter something non-musical that is “symphonic” in its scope. Your response to my post is positively Mahlerian and, like a Gustav Mahler symphony, it must be listened to many times with each hearing offering up new ideas, connections to old ideas, or even bringing to life something completely new.”

This is, I think, Ethics Alarms’ all-time best ever comment by a commenter on another commenter’s comment on his Comment of the Day.

This July has an unfortunate record as the first month in the blog’s history to fall so far short of the previous year’s traffic in the same month. (Last year’s July did have the political conventions pumping up interest.) However, it also has seen the most Comments of the Day for a single month ever, with many more of equal distinction.  I’ll take quality over quantity every time.

Here’s is Pennagain’s Comment of the Day on the post, Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Observations On The Florida Teens And The Drowning Man”

I’m not sure the disconnect began with the hand-held devices, Mark. That was Phase III. I think the first part began with the invention of teenagers (as a group) in the early 50s, still “post-war” time — and “post-war” was barely “post-Depression” time, so it had been at least two decades and a full generation gone since the the good times rolled. The early 50s coincided with the installation of “labor-saving” devices which took over a lot of household chores for youngsters, not just for the housewives the companies advertised to. All of a sudden, I could keep what I earned on my paper route (though I did have to replace my own bicycle once, used, of course, after I carelessly left it in a neighbor’s driveway), mowing lawns, delivering groceries, raking (and burning) leaves, shoveling snow, sitting for the rowdy 7-year-old twins down the block. All of a sudden, we had a refrigerator in place of the ice-box, so I didn’t need to help chop ice; meat came ground so I didn’t have to cut the chunks and push them slooowly through the grinder; . . . I keep forgetting some things and remembering others, like ruining the dessert one night we had guests because I got some rock salt in the motor of the ice cream maker . . . having a clothes washing machine which got rid of most of the water so I didn’t have to help hold up the soaking wet sheets to be pinned on the lines above my head. All of a sudden, I had both privacy (my own telephone), my own music, and “free” time, however much my parents tried to fill it with after school lessons-this and lessons-that. Money and time. Time and money. It was time for friends to bump together with other pairs and bond like atoms in a molecule, becoming a “gang,” having our own things and our own things to do. Choosing our own movies, having sleep-overs, cook-outs, camp-outs, or just standin’ on the corner (“Most Happy Fella’) watchin’ all the girls/boys go by …. choices my mother had as a flapper for a very short time but in her young adulthood, not a teenager, already making the transition from one family to another.

Until I was in my 20s and living outside the US, I didn’t realize that growing away from my family (not spending most of my days with them) had not been a natural shift, and not a gradual one either. Nor was it particularly safe – a lot of new habits were acquired (smoking was mandatory, drinking less available, less so; under-exercised/over-eating — unrecognized for another generation!), and a lot of lessons were never learned properly, like working through emotion-based arguments, and almost everything about sex). By the time I left for college I was, though without realizing it, estranged from my parents — my peers and some self-appointed guides knew better than they did! — and stupid enough socially to be a total jerk. There was a missing link. So what? I let go of the past and caught up with the future. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Love, Science & Technology, The Internet, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Week: San Diego State University Political Science Professor Jonathan Graubart

I find myself annoyed at the groundswell of good wishes for John McCain after his diagnosis of glioblastoma…McCain is a war criminal and, more to the point. someone who as a politician has championed horrifying actions and been lousy on state commitment to public health…But ultimately what troubles me is the urge to send such well wishes to an utter stranger as it reinforces the notion that some lives are more important than others. There are lots of people with glioblastoma and who have died from it (including my mother twenty years ago)….

San Diego State University Political Science Professor Jonathan Graubart on Facebook, prompting some calls for him to be fired, and others on campus to second his opinion.

Is this an Ethics Quote or an Unethical Quote? I could call it  an Ethics Quote because it raises many ethical issues, and mere statements of opinions, even stupid and vicious ones, are not usually unethical in themselves. This quote strongly suggests that the speaker is unethical in  than one respect; it is also, at very least, irresponsible in its context, which is that he is a teacher, and represents the institution.

Jonathan Turley flagged this episode, as he reliably does any time a professor comes under fire for controversial speech. As always, he supports his fellow academic:

“Graubart’s comments are hurtful and hateful. It is a reflection of the incivility that has taken hold of our social and political dialogue. It is always sad to see a fellow academic rush to the bottom of our national discourse. However, we have free speech and academic freedom to protect unpopular, not popular, speech. Popular speech does not need protection. Graubart is expressing his deep political and social viewpoint on social media. He should be able to do that just as his critics have a right to denounce his views.”

San Diego State University is a government institution, and thus subject to the First Amendment, in addition to the principles of academic freedom. However, even a state institution  has a right to protect itself from harm. This isn’t just political speech; it is bona fide asshole speech, signaling that the speaker is not a trustworthy teacher, and that any school that would have someone this intolerant, doctrinaire, vile and contemptuous of kindness and compassion educating, aka indoctrinating students isn’t trustworthy either. Universities, public or not, should be able to insist on a minimal level of professionalism from faculty in their public behavior and pronouncements so the institution isn’t permanently discredited, embarrassed, and harmed.

Here is Graubart’s whole Facebook rant: Continue reading

33 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Professions, Rights, U.S. Society, War and the Military, Workplace

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Observations On The Florida Teens And The Drowning Man”

My old friend Mark drops in to comment just a few times a year, but always delivers his trademark optimism, fairness, and perception. When he talks, I learned early on in our relationship, attention should be paid.. His was one of several excellent comments on the horrific episode in Cocoa Beach, where five teens stood by watching a handicapped man drown, and seemed to enjoy the sight mightily as they recorded his death on their cell phones. In response to another commenter’s query, “Are “kids” that are so disconnected that they’d do something of that magnitude rehabilitatable?”, Mark leaped k took the discussion to a related topic that I had found myself thinking about a lot while I was trapped in a lobby and two airports yesterday with nothing to do but wait and silently curse. What are electronic devices and social media obsession doing to our social skills and ability to relate to the world? At what point to we start sounding the ethics alarms…or the societal survival alarms? [ I’m going to include the last part of Mark’s earlier comment on the story, because it is a helpful introduction to the rest.]

Here is Mark’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Observations On The Florida Teens And The Drowning Man:

…The natural human reaction to observe has been enhanced by our ability to record, and it now seems to be the first response in almost every situation – the more harrowing the better. I’m sure there is some personal thrill involved in being able to post the result, garnering comments and ego-gratifying oohs and aahs.

The situation in Florida is only the most horrible of them, right up there with the guy who posted pictures of himself with the corpse of his step-father, whom he had just murdered. Like everything else, this is a tiny part of a much bigger picture of who we are becoming as a culture. The 21st century ability to remain safely behind a screen while still feeling a full participant in life (Internet commenting a prime example) frees us of the necessary empathy (or simply humanity) to come from behind that screen to behave in ways that might be heroic or even civil. I have little difficulty seeing that behavior manifesting in children raised viewing life through a cell phone.

The much larger question – at least for me – remains “Am I my brother’s keeper?” It’s a nagging question, versions of which swirl in and around almost all the major political issues of our day and, now, into our personal dealings with one another. It is always there, but we come up with more and novel ways to avoid actually answering or acting on it. Clearly, it never occurred to these boys. Cain didn’t want to answer the question. And, I suspect, neither do we.

***

 I carry two cell phones, absolute wonders of technology, which remain in my briefcase most of the time although I’ll take one of them with me to a picture-taking occasion. My friends grit their teeth at receiving responses to texts that are weeks old. My relationship with my cellphone(s) was cemented when I had the opportunity to whale watch off of Maui. I realized that I was so concerned about my precious iThing getting wet or falling into the water that I wasn’t watching the whales. I put the phone away and decided that watching the real world with both eyes was more interesting and that’s what I try to do. I hope sincerely that that attitude would ensure that I offer whatever aid I can in a dire situation rather than wondering what it will look like on Facebook later on. Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Science & Technology, Social Media, The Internet

The Unappreciated Home Depot Hero

It’s more exciting than you think!

Ethics Alarms has dealt with this issue multiple times: an employee violates policy by intervening to prevent a crime or serious injury, and is fired for it.  In 2009, a bank teller named Jim Nicholson turned Batman and foiled a bank robbery, then was fired.. A would-be robber had pushed a black backpack across the bank counter to Nicholson and demanded money. The teller threw the bag to the floor, lunged toward the man and demanded to see a weapon. The robber sprinted for the door with Nicholson in pursuit. Eventually Bat-Teller  knocked the man  to the ground and held him until the police arrived.

The bank had to fire him. The episode could have gone wrong many ways, some resulting in bank customers and employees being injured or killed. Law enforcement repeatedly cautions against such conduct, and the bank’s policies were clear.

In other cases, no-tolerance makes no sense, as no-tolerance often does. In 2012, Ryan Young, then working in the meat department of a Safeway grocery store in Del Rey Oaks, California, witnessed a man beating a pregnant woman, apparently his girlfriend. Young told the man to stop, but when he continued with his assault, shoving and kicking her, Young jumped over his counter, pushed the thug away, and ended the attack.

Safeway fired him. So what would it have had Young do, stand there and wag his finger? This crossed into duty to rescue territory. Young did the right thing, and rather than blindly following a policy that didn’t fit the facts, Safeway should have realized that an exception was called for.. (Eventually public opinion and bad publicity forced Safeway to re-hire the hero). A similar scenario involved a lifeguard who violated his employer’s policy by saving a drowning man off a beach adjacent to the property where he was stationed. Jeff Ellis Management, an Orlando, Florida-based company, fired  21-year-old Tomas Lopez for daring to save a life pro bono, and was similarly pilloried by public opinion. Two lifeguards quit in support of Lopez, and he was also eventually offered his job back. Lopez told Jeff Ellis Management to get bent, or words to that effect. Continue reading

22 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, War and the Military, Workplace