You Have Two Weeks To Be Ethical And Decide Not To Watch The Super Bowl

Let me say something good about the New York Times: not all of it’s editorials are repetitious attacks on President Trump, just most of them. Last week editorial board member Alex Kinsbury persuaded his colleague to let him used the space for an opinion both ethical and irrefutable. A quick summary: Football is maiming its players, the NFL doesn’t care, and if you watch the Super Bowl and support its sponsors, you’re complicit.

But them you knew that, right? At least you know it if you’re been coming here for any length of time.

Recalling a hard hit on Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, Kinsbury writes, “As the sound of the hit faded into a commercial break, I realized with absolute certainty that I couldn’t watch football anymore. There aren’t enough yards to gain or Super Bowl rings to win that are worth the cost.”

True. What took you so long? He continues by reviewing the well-publicized data:

The first research into the link between football and traumatic brain injury was published in 2005. Since then, the science has become impossible to ignore. In 2017, The Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of the autopsies of the brains of 111 deceased former N.F.L. players, whose relatives gave their bodies up for study. The group was not a random sample, yet 110 showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease linked to concussions. Research published in November estimated that a minimum of 10 percent of all professional football players would develop C.T.E. at some point in their lives.

10% is wishful thinking, even for the  players who can still think. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/2/2019: A Drunken City Council President, A Head-Exploding Political Charity, NBC’s Strange Welcome To The New Year, And Facebook Calls Reality “Hate Speech”

Good Morning!

1. First candidate for “Incompetent Elected Official Of 2019”! The Troy New York City Council president got drunk and then went behind the wheel to chased another motorist at high speeds for nearly 30 miles last week . State police arrested Carmella R. Mantello, 53, after troopers received a call from a terrified driver who told dispatchers that some crazy person was tailgating him and driving erratically. When troopers  pulled Mantello over, she denied following the man and claimed he was following her—interesting, since  troopers stopped her when she was behind the complaining motorist. She also refused to take a breathalizer test.

Later, Mantello  issued this statement:

“I understand the severity of my actions and take full responsibility. I apologize to my family, friends and constituents and am deeply sorry that I let you down,” she said. “I expect more from myself. Finally, I would like to personally thank the New York State Troopers for their professionalism in this matter and the service they render every day to keep our communities safe.”

The best way for her to honor professionalism and keep communities safe is to resign immediately.

Oh—I assumed that Mantello was a Democrat, since the news story didn’t mention her party affiliation. Nope! She’s a Republican.

2. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!—get a load of THIS! Also, KABOOM! My head just exploded. Some ethics stories don’t need any analysis; they are res ipsa loquitur. I generally don’t devote pots stories when the despicable conduct is so obvious, but this one needs to be widely disseminated. From the New York Post: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/4/2018: White Artists, Black Artists, Brain Damage And The Mad Midnight Pooper

Good Morning!

(On the way to lovely Annapolis, MD to present my Clarence Darrow legal ethics program, along with D.C. actor Paul Morella, the real star of the day and the best Clarence Darrow portrayer alive. Paul starred in my 2000 original one-man show about the iconic lawyer-rogue, and has been performing it for lawyer groups and bar associations ever since.)

Déjà vu!  I would write a full post about this, but you can essentially go to all the football head trauma essays, search and replace NFL with NHL, and you’ll pretty much have it. The New York Times reports on a 53 year old ex-pro hockey player whose brain yielded evidence of CTE, and evidence is mounting the the violent sport is doing damage to players similar to what the NFL denied for so long. Right now, the National Hockey League is denying it too:

To the N.H.L. and its commissioner, Gary Bettman, the diagnosis is likely to be the latest piece of evidence to dismiss or combat. Even as links build a chain bridging the sport to C.T.E., the degenerative brain disease associated with repetitive head trauma, and some of the game’s most revered names push the league to take a more open-minded approach, the N.H.L. has denied any connection between long-term brain damage and hits to the head.

The N.F.L. did the same, for many years, until the evidence became too overwhelming, the numbers too much to counter with plausible deniability. Facing a huge class-action lawsuit, the N.F.L. eventually admitted to the connection and agreed to a roughly $1 billion settlement with former players. (That has not kept the sides from continuing to fight over the payouts, amid accusations of fraud and intimidation.) The N.H.L., following the N.F.L.’s strategy of about a decade ago, still contests any role in the burgeoning science of C.T.E., in the courts of law and of public opinion.

What’s going on here? Violent pro sports are popular and profitable, so they will continue maiming players and devastating their families until the public finally refuses to have blood on its hands. It will take a while, and many lives will be destroyed, but in the end, football and hockey are going to have to be responsible, and also held responsible for the carnage their greed has caused.

2. Yeah, I’m being unfair and partisan when I accuse progressives of being hostile to free speech and diversity of views… A hip-hop and R&B radio station in Detroit has announced that it won’t play Kanye West’s music. The alleged justification was the rapper’s dumb remarks about slavery. On “TMZ Live,” West said,

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of you all? You know, it’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word prison ’cause slavery goes too — too direct to the idea of blacks.”

That’s pretty stupid for sure, but hardly any more stupid than the kinds of things West has been saying his whole career as his fans cheered him on. He’s welcome to hijack a telethons to say, for example, that President Bush intentionally let blacks die after Katrina, but this goes too far. (Someone please explain to me exactly what he thought he was saying, if you have time.) Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/20/18: Life, Death, Fairness, Dissonance And Sanity

1 Let’s see more of such Ethics Heroes, please… In Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania,  John Orsini, has gone to court to stop his ex-wife from allowing their son, 17-year-old Antonio, from playing high school football in his senior year. Antonio has already suffered at least three concussions. Antonio’s mother and John’s ex-wife, Janice, says that her son understands the risks, and that doctors have OK’d his continued play.

But he doesn’t understand the risks—apparently neither do those doctors—and he is considered a minor under the law because teenagers are prone to poor reasoning and impulsive decisions…especially when they have incipient brain damage.

CNN is eager to hear his position on gun control though. But I digress..

Says the CBS news story: “John contends that after these concussions and sub-concussive hits, medical research shows that Antonio would be in grave danger if he continues to play football.” He contends? There is no contention: that is fact.

“I’m trying to save his future. I’m trying to save his life,” he said of his son.

Janice and her attorney issued a statement, saying in part,

“The mother and her 17-year-old son have reasonably relied upon the input and opinions of his treating physicians and medical providers, and have considered the state mandated safety and concussion protocols followed by the school district, in deciding whether it was appropriate for him to continue to participate in football.”

John believes the court will side with him.  “If you have a significant indication that the child is being placed in harm’s way, and it’s brought to court to protect the child, it’s the court obligation to do so,” he says. I wouldn’t be so sure. This is football country, and football fanatics are in denial. They’ll get thousands of children’s brains injured before they are through.

“I’m hopeful that my son will just go on, get a good education and lead a healthy life. That’s all I want,” said John, whose other two sons no longer speak to him over this conflict.

Good luck.

Let’s hope Anthony is given then chance to grow smarter than his mother.

2. Let’s see, which Trump Derangement news media story should I post today? Every day, every single day, I have literally dozens of biased, vicious, stupid, unprofessional and blatantly partisan mainstream media news reports and pundit excesses to flag as unethical. Here, for example, is a New York Times columnists advocating for Rex Tillerson to betray all professional ethics, confidentiality, trust and responsibility by revealing everything he heard or saw as Secretary of State that could undermine Trump’s administration. It’s called, “Burn it down, Rex.”

Let me repeat: for journalists to set out to intentionally poison public opinion against the elected President of the United States by manipulation and hostile reporting is unethical and dangerous. This conduct has been the single largest ethics breach in the culture for more than a year, and one of the worst in U.S. history. In strenuously condemning journalism’s abdication of its duty to support democratic institutions and to remain objective and responsible, I am not defending Donald Trump. I am attempting to defend the Presidency itself.

Today I pick…this: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz, Super Bowl Edition: Justin Timberlake’s Integrity”

John Billingsley elaborates on the import and implications of the troubling research results regarding the brain disease CTE and participants in contact sports, especially football.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz, Super Bowl Edition: Justin Timberlake’s Integrity:

I agree that with 99% of NFL players and 91% of college players showing CTE on autopsy there is no ethical justification for American football and we don’t need it. Do we actually need any contact sports? CTE has been demonstrated in participants in multiple other contact sports including basketball, boxing, ice hockey, rugby, soccer, wrestling, and baseball. Unfortunately, there is not as much information available about the rates of CTE in those sports. There was an autopsy study demonstrating CTE in the brains of 21 of 66 individuals who participated in different contact sports at various levels, but no CTE in the brains of 198 controls who had no history of participating in contact sports. A study looking at high school athletes who participated in various contact sports from 2005 to 2014 found that there were about 300,000 concussions annually. That study found that the sport with the highest rate of concussions adjusted for the rate of participation was girl’s soccer. A concussion does not mean CTE will develop but repeated head injury is the etiology of CTE. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz, Super Bowl Edition: Justin Timberlake’s Integrity [UPDATED]

Justin Timberlake, who will headline the Super Bowl LII halftime show while I’m not watching, was asked at a news conference this week whether he would support his son Silas if he wanted to play in the NFL. said Thursday that he will not allow his 2-year-old son play football. Timberlake responded : “Uh, he will never play football. No, no.”

Let us assume, for the sake of the quiz, that the reason Timberlake will veto football for his son is that he does not want his offspring ending up with the IQ of his fellow Mickey Mouse Club cast member and one-time girlfriend, Britney Spears. So why, if the singer does not approve of what playing NFL football does to brains, is he participating in the biggest showcase of the most dangerous major professional sport?

Your Ethics Alarms Super Bowl Ethics Quiz is…

Is Timberlake a hypocrite to accept payment to promote the Super Bowl and participate in pro football’s biggest event, while stating that he would not permit his son to play football?

My answer: sure he is. This isn’t like the cases we have discussed in past posts where American performers have accepted huge amounts of cash to perform for dictators abroad. Those have been private events, and a performer does not endorse his audience. Timberlake, however, is actively participating in the promotion of football and the NFL, to to the nation, and particularly to children. The Super Bowl has always been equal measures of sport and hype, and the half-time shows are hype. If he believes football is dangerous, which it is, he should not accept a fee to make the sport attractive to kids, or help the NFL attract impressionable young viewers.

[Update and Correction: readers Arthur in Maine alerted Ethics Alarms that star performers in the Super Bowl halftime show are typically not paid, but do the show for publicity. This doesn’t change my answer at all.]

Your Ethics Alarms Super Bowl Guilt Trip

You know that by watching the Super Bowl, you’re helping to kill and cripple young men, right?

Sure you do.

You and people like you watch the Super Bowl, maybe hold parties around it, allowing the NFL to make millions of dollars selling ads and merchandise off of the most watched sporting event of the year. And, of course, the popularity of the Super Bowl makes it the year’s #1 promotion for the billion dollar mega-industry that is the National Football League, and down the line, for billion dollar corrupt big time college football, and in places like Texas and other regions warped by the “Friday Night Lights” mentality, high school football, and further down the line, youth football, where kids a young as 8 begin getting the blows to the head that will help make them confused and dysfunctional in their fifties or earlier if they play long enough…and maybe even if the don’t.

Hey, these are great nachos! Is this a microbrew? Look at that funny ad!

The film above, “Concussion Protocol,” was released this month, and shows a compilation of every reported concussion this season. Directed by Josh Begley and produced by Laura Poitras,  it is believed to be a nearly complete compilation of the NFL’s reported 281 concussions this season, the most since 2012. The NFL, which is affirmatively evil, is spinning this as a good thing, pointing out that it means that players are self-reporting their head injuries more often.

Sure. That must be it. Bravo! Problem solved. DE-Fence!
Continue reading