And May The Best Man Win

As of 1:20 AM, Newt Gingrich had not congratulated Mitt Romney on his Florida Primary win (clobbering Newt), nor did he offer the traditional congratulations to the winner in his concession speech.

I’ll grant Newt this: it isn’t as if he’s pretending to be what he’s not…gracious, fair, respectful, polite, humble, classy. I guess that represents a certain kind of integrity…the integrity to be a jerk, and to be open and unapologetic about it.

Buck Foston’s Ethics

News Item:

“A New Brunswick businessman has filed suit in federal court, charging New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill is holding up approval of his liquor license for a new high end sports bar because he doesn’t like the bar’s proposed name — Buck Foston’s. Larry Blatterfein, who has owned the Knight Club, a bar on Easton Avenue, for 30 years, charges Cahill is violating his first amendment constitutional right to free speech by holding up the transfer of a second liquor license to Blatterfein from another restaurant in town.”

The story goes on to say that the mayor denies the accusation, that the name has nothing to do with the planned establishment’s problems. Maybe not. Continue reading

“Are You a Flake?” Ethics

"Are you Michele Bachman?"

With only four well-chosen words, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace accomplished several objectives Sunday, all of them in the best tradition of ethical, objective, responsible journalism.

The words were “Are you a flake?,” posed to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who is running for President.  The question…

1. Properly forced a conservative darling to address her most striking weakness, belying Fox’s well-deserved reputation for bias toward figures its viewers admire…

2. Was a near-perfect example of the “off-the-wall” question technique, which has exposed more than one pretender to high office (Hello, Mike Dukakis!) as less than desirable.

3. Simultaneously gave Bachmann an opportunity to show how quick she could think on her feet while demonstrating important leadership traits like self-awareness, humor, wit, and grace, or, in the alternative, demonstrate the opposite.

How did she do? Well. Judge for yourself: Continue reading

Ethics Train Wreck at the French Open: The Saga of the Over-Eager Ballboy

John McEnroe slams a player for not being an exemplary sportsman. Wait...WHAT?

Sparking a mini-ethics train wreck at the French Open, an overenthusiastic ballboy, thinking a point was over when it was not, ran onto the court in the middle of the tennis match between Andy Murray and Viktor Troicki, forcing a replay on a point that appeared to have been won by Troicki.


  • Andy Murray happily accepted his good luck and won the replay. He was wrong. The tradition of tennis, unlike most other sports (but like golf), is for the competitors to be gracious in such situations, as when a player knows that an umpire mistakenly called a good point by his opponent out of bounds. True, these days that tradition is observed less and less frequently. It would still have been the right thing to do, the ethical response.
  • Commenting on the match on The Tennis Channel, John McEnroe criticized Murray for not giving Troicki the point. This may win him the Gall of the Year Award, sports division. Yes, people can change, and it is not strictly hypocritical for one of the most unsportsmanlike players in tennis history to criticize a current player for not being an exemplary sportsman, now that the brat has mellowed and learned the error of his ways. At very least, however, if Mac was going to criticize another player for not doing something he would have never considered when he was competing himself, McEnroe was obligated to admit that he was advocating a standard he didn’t embrace when he had the chance. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: John Green

Appearing on the Today Show, John Green and his wife Roxanna were asked about their feelings about the tragic death of their daughter Christina, age nine, at the hands of Tucson shooter Jared Loughner.

John Green, grieving father, replied:

“This shouldn’t happen in this country, or anywhere else, but in a free society, we’re going to be subject to people like this. I prefer this to the alternative.”

With his last six words, he established himself as superior in mind, principles and character to all of the unscrupulous commentators and devious politicians who have attempted to use this terrible tragedy to stifle dissent.

John Green leaves all of us wondering if we could summon such perspective, rationality and nobility under similar circumstances.


Unethical Quote of the Month: Bristol Palin

“Going out there and winning this would mean a lot. It would be like a big middle finger to all the people out there that hate my mom and hate me.

Bristol Palin, Sarah Palin’s daughter and blatantly undeserving finalist in ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” on the show’s finale Tuesday’s night, prior to the revelation of the results of the audience voting. (She lost.) Continue reading

Stay Classy, Mr. President: It’s Part of Your Job

Appearing on PBS’s “Inside Washington,” this week, veteran Democratic media cheerleader Mark Shields reached the conclusion that other Beltway pundits on the Left and the Right had reached before him: Democrat  accusations that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pumping foreign contributions into domestic campaign ads, in violation of Federal law, are baseless, and worse.  “It was absolutely fallacious on their part,” said Shields. “And they made it up, the White House did.”

President Obama, in his campaign appearances, has continued to suggest that this illegal tactic is occurring. The facts the accusation is based on was revealed by White House advisor David Axelrod when he repeated the accusation to an incredulous Bob Shieffer on last Sunday’s “Face the Nation” on CBS. Shieffer asked Axelrod if he had any evidence this was true, and Axelrod’s replay was,”Well, do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob?” He then called upon the Chamber to prove a completely unsubstantiated claim wrong. This is, of course, a small bore version of Adolf Hitler’s unethical “Big Lie” tactic. Hmmmm…where else have I heard this approach used recently? Oh, I remember: “If Barack Obama really is a U.S. citizen, why doesn’t he prove it?” One would think the White House and President Obama would find this tactic beneath them.

The sad fact is that in the past few weeks, almost nothing has been beneath the President’s dignity. Continue reading

The Ethics of Booing Manny Ramirez

As it so often does, the world of sport is presenting us with a clear ethical conflict tomorrow night—one of those times when we have to prioritize ethical values, and decide which is more important in our culture, because if we meet one, we violate another.

Manny Ramirez will be returning to Boston’s Fenway Park in a Dodger uniform, as Boston hosts Los Angeles in an inter-league contest. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Detroit Pitcher Armando Galarraga

When Umpire Jim Joyce apologized to Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga, the man whose perfect game he destroyed with an erroneous “safe” call on what should have been the 27th and final out, he gave him a hug and graciously accepted it without rancor. In interviews, Galarraga has said, “What else could I do?” A great many of his colleagues would have had some alternatives, and they would have not been pleasant. Galarraga is handling his disappointment, frustration and bad luck with superb grace and kindness, in the best tradition of the Golden Rule.

“Nobody’s perfect,” he told ESPN, accepting Joyce’s mistake as human and not malicious. But Armando Galarraga was perfect, both on the mound in Detroit, and in his noble response to misfortune.