“Why Aren’t People Ashamed To Ask A Question Like This?,” The Sequel

In this post from yesterday, I asked the question in the headline regarding a woman who wondered whether it was ethical to dump her dog-walker because a friend claimed that she had posted insufficiently woke opinions on social media. I have a question to top that one now. On “Social Q’s,” the New York Times weekly advice column on manners and social interaction dilemmas that I seldom read any more because of columnist Phillip Gallane’s addiction to gratuitous partisan talking points, a question from “Anonymous” caused me to do a spit-take at breakfast. Here it is:

A few days ago, while I was driving home — way below the speed limit! — the neighbors’ dog darted into the street. (It looked like he was chasing something.) I slammed on my brakes and felt a thud. I got out of the car and saw that I had hit the dog. He was dead. I carried him to my neighbors’ house, but no one was home. So, I left him on the doorstep. I was going to write a note, but I chickened out. Now, the neighbors have posted signs around the neighborhood asking if anyone knows what happened. I feel terrible! Is it too late to speak up?

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Two From The “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files: The Women

Soul Cap

I. The Cap.

There aren’t a lot of competitive black swimmers, for a number of reasons, but wouldn’t you think that authorities in the swimming field would have some sensitivity to their special needs when the situation presents itself? I would, or did, and is often the case, I was wrong.

A women’s swim cap designed for African-American hair, called the Soul Cap (above), is meant to accommodate the thicker, curlier hair of black women to provide a better fit and protect hair from chlorine. Ahead of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo which begin later this month, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) banned the use of the cap,  ruling that “athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration,” and that the Soul Cap does not follow “the natural form of the head.”  This is, of course, ridiculous, since the number of black women who have competed in swimming events in the Olympics can be counted on the fingers of one hand, so of course the caps break with tradition and common use. Whatever their bone-headed logic, how could the FINA hacks not figure out that such a ruling would appear tone deaf at best and racist at worst, especially in the middle of the George Floyd Freakout?

After the completely predictable (and fair) backlash, now the body says that it is “currently reviewing the situation with regards to ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusivity and representation.”

There have never been any allegations that the caps confer any competitive advantage. This is how people with dead ethics alarms fuel claims of “systemic racism.”

II. The All-Women Broadcast Team

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Wherein Having Ethics Alarms Ringing 24-7 Again Proves To Be Inconvenient…

I took Spuds out for a walk in the light rain, and was relieved when he relieved himself with his usual impressive fecal discharge early on. I dutifully collected it in a blue New York Times bag—using the delivery bags for this purposes amuses me, as the final content of the bag is less noxious than its original product. Spuds even did his doo-dooty near a trash receptacle. “Now that’s over with!” I thought. Then I took my sweet dog on walk down one of the boutique streets in the neighborhood: lovely houses, elaborate gardens, perfect lawns. And Spuds walked quickly onto one of the latter, and duplicated his earlier performance. Topped it, in fact.

He almost never does this, but I almost always carry a second New York Times bag in case he’s feeling prolific. This time I hadn’t.

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Ethics Dunce: Plastic Surgeon Dr. Costanza, I Mean Scott Green

Dr. Scott Green, a plastic surgeon, tried to appear before a judge during a remote video-conferenced traffic trial last week from his operating room, while he was working on a patient. This was not a reality show stunt: Green really attempted to do this. Saved time, you know. Busy, busy, busy. Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner Gary Link, presiding over a virtual courtroom at the Carol Miller Justice Center, couldn’t believe what he was seeing: a defendant in surgical scrubs, with his patient just out of view.

“Hello, Mr. Green? Are you available for trial?” asked a courtroom clerk. “It kind of looks like you’re in an operating room right now?” “I am, sir,” Green replied. “Yes, I’m in an operating room right now. I’m available for trial. Go right ahead.” The doctor had his head down, talking as he replaced a nose, pumped up some breasts, or something. Link was dumbstruck.

“So unless I’m mistaken, I’m seeing a defendant that’s in the middle of an operating room appearing to be actively engaged in providing services to a patient. Is that correct, Mr. Green? Or should I say Dr. Green?” Link asked. The video is on YouTube, and one can hear the sounds of medical devices at work, pumping and beeping.

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From The Ethics Alarms “What Were They Thinking?” Files: The Weiner Virus

Blockhead

I don’t understand this kind of thing at all. I didn’t understand it when Anthony Weiner nuked his career; I haven’t understood it in similar cases before and since then. The current episode comes from the world of baseball, which apparently had a vote or something last year that all news about the sport had to be embarrassing until the stars turn cold.

Jared Porter, who labored in the trenches for the Boston Red Sox from 2004-15 (there was obviously another vote that all of the worst stories had to be connected to the team I’ve rooted for like a fool since I was 11) and finally scaled the metaphorical ladder and got his dream job, becoming general manager of the New York Mets last month. But the team discovered yesterday that in 2016, while he was was working for the Chicago Cubs in their front office, Porter sent graphic, uninvited text messages and images to a female sports reporter, includingso-called “dick-pics.”

Mets owner Steve Cohen said Porter was fired this morning. “We have terminated Jared Porter this morning,” Cohen wrote on Twitter. “In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it. There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”

Ya think?

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If House Democrats Have Functioning Ethics Alarms, They Won’t Do This…

hand-with-burning-matchstick-

Wait, what am I saying?

Iowa certified Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican, as the winner in the state’s 2nd Congressional District by nearly the thinnest of margins, defeating Democrat Rita Hart by only six votes. Hart hasn’t challenged the result. What she has done is to ask Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, to have her House majority seat Hart anyway. The theory, apparently, is that this strategy will force Iowa to review the current ballot count. Right now, the Miller-Meeks victory will be investigated by the House Administration Committee.

The Washington Times, which reported this last night, says, “The refusal by a Democrat to accept certified results is likely to fuel supporters of Mr. Trump, who believes he has valid reasons for contesting his apparent loss.” Ya think?

If you want a “literal civil war,” as some illiterate conservative hotheads are already claiming we have, this is a great way to push us in that direction, and I might grab a musket myself. Are Democrats really so deluded and power mad that they would try to seat a defeated House candidate by fiat in defiance of the state’s certification even as they deride the President’s campaign for challenging the results in several key states where vote-counting shenanigans appeared to be rampant?

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Georg Floyd Train Wreck Public Official “Racial Insensitivity” Controversies: Eight Case Studies

train wreck painting

It is instructive to periodically read what “America’s paper of record” represents as fair and informational reporting. Here is a fine example: an article below the fold on page 13 of the issue from three days ago. Its title in the print edition: “When Sorry Doesn’t Heal the Wounds.” The theme is small town mayors and other officials being held accountable for “racially insensitive remarks” during the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck.

Case Study #1:  Brian Henry, mayor of Pawleys Island off the coast of South Carolina, whom protesters are insisting must resign for Facebook posts that “outraged and divided much of the community.”

 What did he say? He opined that the killings of two town residents had not received national attention because the victims were white and the suspect is black, and also characterized Black Lives Matter and antifa as terrorist organizations that were destroying American cities. He is in full retreat and grovel mode, saying at a news conference last month that conversations with friends, faith leaders and his staff had given him “a deeper understanding of racial inequality and the importance of diversity sensitivity, which is very much needed to heal Pawleys Island, Georgetown and our country.”

Observations:

A. This is one more example of social media being a menace for public officials unable to keep their fingers still. Why would anyone on public office think it was wise or responsible to make either of these statements without good reason?

B. His first statement was obviously correct. People should not apologize for statements that are correct, unless the apology is for inciting controversy for no good reason.

C. His second set of assertions are also inflammatory but close enough to truth for social media horseshoes. Both groups depend on threats of violence to intimidate citizens into supporting them. Does that make them technically terrorist groups? I don’t care. They need to be de-glamorized and labeled the undemocratic and destructive organizations that they are.

D. However, again, if there was no good reason to make these observations on a little island town, it was foolish and unethical to stir up division by making it.

Case Study #2:  Boston School Committee Chair Michael Loconto, who was caught on audio in a virtual meeting mocking the Asian surnames of community members who wanted to speak. He apologized a few moments later, explaining that he was “talking about a children’s book.” (Right.) Eight members of Boston’s City Council called for Loconto’s resignation, and he stepped down,

Observations:

A. Good. He should have stepped down.

B. “After the ongoing discussion about racism in our country, that type of comment could no longer be accepted,” said Ed Flynn, a city councilor who represents Boston’s Chinatown, as well as parts of South Boston and the South End. “Society will no longer tolerate or accept inappropriate comments from a member of city government.” Wrong. Ridiculing citizens seeking to be heard was never ethical conduct. Stop making everything about George Floyd. The hanging “inappropriate” is a threat to legitimate opinions and speech. Who decides what speech is “inappropriate”?  Society should not tolerate public officials showing disrespect for the public by mocking them based on ethnicity. Be specific. Freedom lies in the balance between details and vagueness.

Case Study #3: Mark Chambers, the mayor of Carbon Hill, Alabama. He resigned after criticizing the University of Alabama’s football team’s support of Black Lives Matter.

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Musings On A Recent Entry In The Ethics Alarms “I Don’t Understand This Story At ALL” Files

Fontrell Baines, 31, a rapper who goes by the stage name of “Nuke Bizzle,” was arrested on three felony counts of access device fraud, aggravated identity theft and interstate transportation of stolen property, thus facing up to 22 years in federal prison. It’s not just that the evidence shows that Baines and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained at least 92 debit cards pre-loaded with more than $1.2 million on them and converted the cards into more than $700,000 of ill-gotten gains. The rapper was caught after he posted a music video about the scheme on YouTube, leading to his arrest last month while he had multiple debit cards in his possession with the names of people who weren’t him..  The catchy rap song,  in which he boasts about getting “rich off of EDD, amassed more than 400,000 views and also alerted authorities to his scheme.

“Unemployment so sweet,” Baines raps. “We had 1.5 land this week!” A cohort on the video joins in, “You gotta sell cocaine, I can just file a claim!”

Prosecutors say the stolen cards were sent to addresses in Beverly Hills and the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, where “Nuke” could get grab them. For inspiration….

Musings:

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Tuesday That Feels Like A Monday Ethics Catch-Up, 10/13/2020.

Antifa arrests

Every one of the antifa rioters arrested in Portland a couple nights ago!

***

I have what I believe is an important ethics essay completed in my head—that’s the weird way I write, and nobody knows why—and I just haven’t had the time or the energy to get it done. I’m sorry. Today, actual ethics work intervened. It’s not that there wasn’t time to finish that post (and two others that are almost written), but that the long posts really need my complete attention, and that was impossible today, as it has been increasingly frequently of late.

1. Goodbye Alizia. One of Ethics Alarms more controversial and prolific contributors informed me that she was leaving the comment wars, presumably permanently. I agreed with virtually nothing she wrote, and found her characterization of the approach to ethics here ranging from bizarre to infuriating to hilarious. I also, I must confess, often failed to do more than skim many of her epic screeds, which I found about as forbidding as Finnegan’s Wake. She has been, however, a unique voice here, a sincere and serious one, and virtually always civil. I also admire her resilience, since few participants here have been battered as intensely and personally as she was.

Or accused of being a robot.

Recently there had been suggestions that my failure to ban her from commenting—she is a white supremacist, after all, as well as anti-Semitic—has cost Ethics Alarms readers. Any potential readers who would reject this ethics blog because he or she objects to the opinion of another reader can go piss in their hats, to be blunt. I reject the entire attitude behind such a reaction. There have been commenters who have made me wince when I saw they had weighed in, since I had a pretty good idea what I was in for; indeed Alizia was one of them. But I have to read the comments here—the format includes my actively engaging with those bold enough to speak up. EA recently passed the 12,000 post mark, and I lead all commenters with over 50,000 replies. Nobody, however, has to read any particular commenter, or any of them. Nor am I responsible for the opinions offered here by others. I have Comment Policies, and generally stick to them. Veteran commenters receive a lot of leeway, because they do contribute content to the blog, like it or not. Yes, there is a provision that says a commenter can be banned for “…Exhibiting racism or other bias.” I interpret that narrowly, in part because a theme here has been the effort by progressives to demonize and suppress speech they find inconvenient or upsetting, and to abuse the label of “racist” to do it. I have chosen to err on the side of free expression, especially when it is under assault, and when the party that signals an intent to metaphorically kneel on liberty’s throat seems poised to take power.

But I digress.

Alizia informed me of her decision in a graceful and uncharacteristically brief note. I told her that she would be missed, at least by me.

2. Ah, Portland… Yesterday, after promoting the event on social media as an “Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage,” protesters toppled statues Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, then went on to ruin the entrance to the Oregon Historical Society before moving into other areas of downtown, smashing storefronts and engaging in a full-fledged riot. Police ordered the rioters moving  through the city’s streets to disperse but this being Portland, but did not directly intervene until nearly an hour after the first statue fell.

The organizers had called for “direct action” and demanded that onlooker who happened upon the group were ordered to stop filming or delete photographs. An apartment resident who tried to shoot a video from his terrace had lasers aimed at his eyes and a liquid thrown in his face. There were about 200 in the group dressed in black, some with body armor, shields, and weapons.

These are the people Americans are voting for when they support the Democratic party in 2020. Joe Biden has passively supported them and their violence with his weasel words, and his VP has directly endorsed them.

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A “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Anniversary Retrospective: The Cancellation Of Charlie Rich

charlierichjohndenver

I wasn’t paying attention in 1975 when this episode occurred: it was a big year for me. I graduated from law school, took the bar, moved back to Massachusetts and then back to D.C. Most of all, the Red Sox went to the World Series and I had prime seats to see Carlton Fisk hit his immortal homer in the 12th inning of Game 6, waving the ball fair, but barely. The Country Music Awards (CMAs) were nowhere on my radar. They still aren’t: there isn’t a sock drawer in America I wouldn’t rather color-code that watch that show. But on October 13, 1975, 45 years ago to the day, an ethics drama unfolded with many lessons.

Charlie Rich, the soulful country music singer they called the Silver Fox (Even I had heard “Behind Closed Doors”) had been voted Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association of America one year earlier, and thus was chosen to  announce that year’s winner of the CMA’s greatest honor at the televised 1975 show.  He opened the envelope, appeared to read the name on the slip of paper,  and instead of announcing it, Rich reached into his pocket, took out a cigarette lighter and set the slip on fire.  While the paper burned, he finally announced that the winner was “my friend Mr. John Denver” Denver was only available to accept the awards via satellite linkup, so he made his acceptance speech with no knowledge of Rich’s gesture.

The audience was horrified, and many country music fans—and obviously John Denver fans— were furious. Charlie Rich was blacklisted from the CMA awards show for the rest of his career. His popularity crashed: from that moment until the end of his career in 1992, Rich had only one more #1 hit in those years, though a couple of songs reached #3 on the country charts. By any standard, his career after flaming John Denver was greatly diminished. Denver, universally regarded as a nice guy, was seen as the victim of a jerk. (The “my friend” seemed like a particularly nasty touch.)

What was going on here? The assumption was that Rich was taking a stand for country traditionalists against pop music turf invaders like Denver and Olivia Newton-John, who had won the Most Promising Female Vocalist award in 1973.  To this day, some even see his uncivil attack on Denver as courageous. The Saving Country Music blog opined in 2013:

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