Our Unprofessional Professionals, Our Inexpert Experts: The Ethicist And The Economist

One of the most disturbing aspects of the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck was the ugly spectacle of once esteemed professions deciding en masse to ditch their integrity in order to join the “Get Trump!” mob with the cool kids. Historians, lawyers, judges, psychiatrists, scholars, civil libertarians, journalists, educators…yes, and ethicists—all these groups disgraced themselves and breached the one, overarching mandate for those who supposedly labor for the public good: be trustworthy. Then came The Great Stupid, compounding the damage to society and the culture by showing “experts” to be equally unreliable, burdened as they were by crippling bias, political agendas, and flawed skills and assumptions.

Two recent examples highlighted this trend. First up, the ethicist.

Doriane Lambelet Coleman, a professor at Duke Law School, is co-director of the Center for Sports Law & Policy and a senior fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. She authored a jaw-droppingly lame op-ed for the Washington Post headlined, “Yes, Kamila Valieva should be skating in Beijing.” There isn’t a single valid ethical principle behind her entire, constructed-for-sentimentalists argument.

Her first sentence would normally make me quit reading any opinion piece: “Russian Kamila Valieva is the best figure skater on the planet, she is gorgeous to watch perform and she should be skating in Beijing.” This is the equivalent of “Barry Bonds is a great player and we should ignore the fact that’s he’s a steroid cheat.” An ethicist is openly elevating the most obvious non-ethical consideration seasoned with personal bias, that the author thinks she is “gorgeous” on the ice, over the clear ethical consideration that the skater broke the rules, and had they been enforced, she wouldn’t be at the Olympics at all.

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The Russian Figure Skater And The Beijing Olympics’ Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Ethics Call

I suppose it should not be a surprise that these most unethical of all Olympiads (since the Olympics should never have been held in this totalitarian, ethics-free nation to begin with) would feature the most unethical decision imaginable. If I cared one whit about the disgusting charade in China and who wins what, I might really be upset. As it is, I’m just going to point out, dispassionate, the ethics rot on display.

Fifteen-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva  tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned substance that improves athletic performance, in the  urine sample that Valieva submitted at the Russian national championship on Christmas. The drug, known as TMZ, is a heart medication that can increase endurance. But the result was not confirmed and relayed to Russian officials or to her for more than six weeks. Russia’s antidoping agency said it learned of the failed test on February 7. On that day, the teen led the Russians to a gold medal in the team event.

Let’s stop right there. She tested positive for a banned substance, and that should have stopped her from competing in the Olympics. It doesn’t matter why the test results were delayed (the Russians cheat, and have always cheated). It doesn’t matter whose fault it was. Valieva was ineligible, and whenever it was discovered that she was ineligible, the only fair and ethical response was to disqualify her. This also meant that her team would be disqualified, because a disqualified skater helped it win the team event.

Ethics can be hard, but this conclusion isn’t hard. It is obvious and irrefutable. Because she shouldn’t have been competing at all, and would not have been had either someone in Russia not cheated or was incredibly incompetent, the skater had no right to be skating, and any athlete or athlete who would have won had she not been illicitly permitted in the Games has been treated unfairly, robbed, cheated, pick your term.

That ought to have been the immediate decision. Instead, Olympic “arbitrators” (Arbitrators are supposed to have impeccable ethics alarms, and not the ethical instincts of Hillary Clinton. Who are these fools?) ruled that Valieva not only wouldn’t be disqualified but could continue competing, but that any medals in any event in which she places the top three will not be awarded. The question of who wins what medal, and whether Valieva wins any, will wait until after her doping case is definitively settled, which may take months. 

Ethics Dunces. Irredeemable cowards. Morons. Continue reading