Ethics Observations On Viking Adrian Peterson’s Child Abuse Indictment And Controversy

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I am speaking and traveling today, so this will be necessarily and uncharacteristically succinct. I’ll return to many of these issues later.

From ESPN:

Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson turned himself in to Montgomery County, Texas, authorities early Saturday morning. He was booked into the Montgomery County jail at 1:06 a.m. CT and released at 1:35 a.m. CT after posting the $15,000 bond.

Peterson had been indicted by a grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child and a warrant had been issued for his arrest. He flew back early Saturday morning to Minnesota, where he has been deactivated for the Vikings’ home game against the Patriots on Sunday.

This has ratcheted up the focus on NFL player violence in the wake of the still roiling Ray Rice domestic violence controversy. Many fans, as in the case of Rice, are protesting the team’s punishment of Peterson.

Observations: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: If There Is Going To Be A Racial Double Standard For Bigoted Statements, Can We Please At Least Know What It Is?

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Item: Donald Sterling, billionaire owner of the NBA Clippers, while speaking with his mistress/girl friend/ escort in the bedroom, announces that he doesn’t want her bringing black men to Clippers games. In the process, he does not say anything specifically derogatory about African- Americans. He believes the statement is private, and that he is talking to someone he could trust.He was wrong. A recording of the conversation was leaked to the press, and Sterling has been roundly vilified as a vile racist, threatened with a boycott by the players, mostly African-American, in the NBA, fined 2.5 million dollars and banned from the game.

Item: Via Mike Wise, Washington Post sports writer—

“Following Wednesday’s Pacers-Wizards game in Indianapolis, during the time when NBA rules permit media members to be present, the music blaring in the Indiana locker room was filled with vile language: racist, homophobic and misogynist. Afterward, I complained on Twitter that if Commissioner Adam Silver truly wants an inclusive league, he ought to address this (common) practice.”

Result: Wise, who is white, was attacked as a racist. What NBA players listen to in the locker room is none of his business, he is told (but what Donal Sterling says in his bed room is their business.) The NBA has done, and is expected to do, nothing.

Item: Appearing on ESPN where he is a commentator, Charles Barkley, former NBA star (and an African-American), decided to deride the women of San Antonio, Texas as fat. “There’s some big ‘ol women down there,” said Barkley. “That’s a gold mine for Weight Watchers.” He added, “Victoria is definitely a secret. They can’t wear no Victoria’s Secret down there.” A spokesperson for a fat acceptance group protested:

“Making slurs about body size is just as offensive as making comments about body color. One would think being a black man, he’d be more sensitive to having his physical body criticized. It’s totally out of line. He should absolutely apologize.”

Barkley not only refused to apologize, but defiantly challenged anyone objecting to his remarks, jokes or future comments to “change the channel.”  Nobody expects Barkley to suffer any consequences from this series of events.

Item: In 2007, talk show provocateur Don Imus got into a facetious discussion with a broadcast team member about how te women’s basket ball team from Rutgers was “rough looking” and had some “nappy-looking ho’s.” He also referenced Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” and the film’s “Jigaboos vs.  Wannabes.” Imus apologized profusely, pronouncing the exchange inappropriate, thoughtless and stupid. Under pressure from various civil rights groups,  WFAN, which produced his show, fired Imus, who has never regained his previous prominence.

Item: In 2013, media professional Justine Sacco tweeted a race-based joke before boarding a plane to Africa: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” A furious cyber mob condemned her as a racist, and demanded her punishment. When she landed in Africa, she learned that she had  been fired.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for today is…

What the hell is going on here?

Continue reading

A Donald Sterling Ethics Train Wreck Surprise: Something GOOD May Come Out Of This Mess!

French_Revolution_GuillotineBut I doubt that it will feel very good.

Even more than usual, I was physically nauseated by the Sunday morning network news shows this weekend, which all blurred together in a nightmarish display of how lazy and biased the news media is, and how aggressively it now seeks to make Americans complacent, ignorant, and ethically stunted. I’m not sure which of these journalistic disgraces it was—I think it was “Meet the Press”—where the host, briefly attempting to inject some content into his panel’s obligatory Donald Sterling bashing, asked if it mattered that his comments were intended as private. “There is no privacy any more!” a female panelist exclaimed, not as protest or complaint, but as a dismissive rebuttal. Oh. Well, that settles it then! We should now assume that any of us can be publicly pilloried and humiliated for what we say in our homes, bedroom, automobiles, and safe rooms.  Next issue! Boy, the President killed at the White House Correspondents dinner, didn’t he?

Over at ABC, the token conservative this week in that “roundtable,” Laura Ingraham—the allegedly smart, ultra-right wing, acerbic former Supreme Court clerk for Justice Thomas turned radio host—couldn’t manage the presence of mind or the wit to point out that fellow panelist Van Jones had just compared NBA players—you know, the African Americans who make more money in a week than you make all year?—-to black slaves, and twice at that. What good are you, Laura, if you can be intimidated like that, and allow a shimmering opportunity to illustrate the racial double standard being used today for cynical political ends, so the public might start paying attention? No, Laura had her own agenda, so she wasn’t paying attention. She was there to use the Oklahoma “botched” execution as a platform to inveigh against—abortion. I would call her performance pundit malpractice, but how one can be judged incompetent on a Sunday public issues show, when the shows themselves are journalistic abortions?

Retribution is coming for all, however. Eventually, thanks to the excessive and imprudently unrestrained abuse being heaped on Donald Sterling, these knaves, bumblers and hypocrites are going to have to face the reality of the dilemma they have created for themselves, because the standard they so happily apply to Sterling—deceptively safe and easy because he’s objectively repulsive–is now going to be applied to everyone including their champions and heroes, , and the carnage will be unrelenting. And it will be good for the culture, I think, because like the French Revolution, the force unleashed by the politically correctness bullies, race-hucksters and Bigotry Furies will prove unmanageable, and consume its creators. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Michael Wilbon’s Politically Incorrect Confession

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Sportswriter Michael Wilbon, Tony Kornheiser’s African-American foil on the fluffy ESPN show “Pardon the Interruption” and hardly a rabble-rouser, shocked his audience this week when he announced that he is an aficionado of the word “nigger” (but not in public), and objects to being told that there is something wrong with that, especially by white folks. The issue came up regarding an uproar over a tweet, since deleted, from an NBA player using the word to criticize his team mates. [ Aside: It is funny how frequently a single post on Ethics Alarms  about a topic—say political correctness, word censorship, civility and the morass of related ethical issues—seems to trigger an explosion of news stories in the same area. Undoubtedly it is because the proximity of the post itself influences my judgment regarding which events deserve comment, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. This is similar to the phenomenon where you think you have heard a word or phrase for the first time, and suddenly you’re aware of it everywhere.] Wilbon said, unapologetically,

“People can be upset with me if they want, I, like a whole lot of people, use the N-word all day, every day, my whole life … I have a problem with white people framing the discussion for the use of the N-word.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz this weekend is this:

Is Wilbon’s defense of using the word “nigger”ethical? Continue reading