The Lesson Of The Pete Rose Saga: It’s Hard Being Ethical When You’re Stupid

Rose rejected

Pete Rose’s final appeal to have his ban from Major League Baseball lifted was rejected, as Commissioner Rob Manfred delivered a stinging rebuke. (You can read his letter here.) The very first ethics post I ever wrote was about Pete, and I have posted about his character and plight several times since. Rose, the all-time leader in hits and undeniably a great player, was banned from the game in 1989. An investigation concluded that he had bet on baseball games while a manager of the Cincinnati Reds, a violation of MLB’s famous “third rail” no-gambling rule, which makes it an automatic expulsion from the profession to place bets on baseball games as a manager, coach or player. This is regarded as an existential rule for baseball, which was nearly ruined when gamblers fixed the 1919 World Series.

Rose maintained his innocence of the allegations for decades, then admitted(to sell a book) that he had been lying, and did gamble. Just a few months ago, evidence surfaced that he had also bet on baseball while a player, which Rose has always denied.

In his letter rejecting Rose’s appeal, Commissioner Manfred noted that one of the conditions that had long been set for Rose to have any chance of reinstatement—though Rule 21 has no exceptions, MLB was willing to do almost anything not to have the holder of the record for lifetime hits on its blacklist—Rose would have to earn a pardon by showing he had turned his life around, meaning that Pete was no longer a sleazeball.

Manfred wrote that Rose, who had, among other black marks, served time in prison for tax evasion, asserted in his latest appeal that he indeed was a new and better man. Nevertheless, Rose…

1. Refused to admit that he had bet on baseball as a player, when the evidence was incontrovertible, and

2. Revealed that he still gambles on horse racing and professional sports, including baseball.

Manfred came to the obvious conclusion that “Charlie Hustle,” who pretty clearly has a gambling addiction, has taken no positive steps toward addressing it, is still a risk to gamble on baseball games or get himself in debt to gamblers if he returned to the sport, and  can’t be trusted.

All of the above could be more concisely summarized by six words: Pete Rose is a stupid man. As comedian Ron White says, “You can’t fix stupid.” Manfred, in his letter telling Pete that he can forget about any future employment in baseball, noted more than once that Rose does not appear to understand the import and purpose of the rule he violated, which exists  to protect the integrity of the game. Indeed,  Pete Rose wouldn’t know what integrity was if it sat on his face. Continue reading

Ideology And The Vegan Kitten


Regular readers of Ethics Alarms may have surmised that I detest rigid ideologies. Like moral codes, they are short-cuts for the intellectually and ethically lazy, “how-To” manuals for policy-making and problem-solving that eliminate the need for analysis and critical thought, and that therefore cause untold misery. Ideologies, whether they involve small government, caring for the poor or always bring in your closer in the ninth inning, are among the primary reasons that the country and the world are in the mess that they are.

An awful story from Melbourne, Australia is the best metaphor for this that I have encountered in a while. A vegan couple decided that their virtuous lifestyle dictated that they make a vegan out of their kitten—cats, unlike dogs, must eat meat to survive—so they force-fed the little fluffy animal a vegan diet of potatoes, rice milk and pasta. Naturally, the kitten became deathly ill and was barely saved by an animal hospital after three days of intensive care.

Human babies have also been made sick and sometimes killed by similar misapplied ideologies. These people are, of course, idiots, but are they that much more irresponsible than elected leaders who are incapable of setting aside their ideological biases to care for cities, states, and nations, and deal with the non-conforming, non-ideologically neat crises they find themselves in?


Spark and Pointer: Instapundit

Facts: The Herald Sun

Is Ronald Miller An Ethics Dunce? How Unethical Is Really, Really Stupid?

Is stupidity a defense for unethical conduct?

Is stupidity a defense for unethical conduct?

The news report from Texas about a father posing as an armed intruder to test the security of his son’s school once again raises the thorny problem of how to distinguish ethically obtuse and dumb as a brick. From U.S. News and NBC:

Officials say Ronald Miller was unarmed Wednesday when he told a school greeter outside Celina (Texas) Elementary School that he had a gun… The greeter froze in panic when Miller said he was a gunman and his target was inside, Celina Independent School District Superintendent Donny O’Dell told Miller was then able to walk into the school and entered the office. “He told them that he is a shooter and ‘you’re dead, and you’re dead,'” O’Dell [said.] Never showing a weapon, Miller then reportedly revealed his stunt was a test of school safety and he wanted to talk to the principal. School staffers knew Miller, who was a father of a student, and police were not called until he left the school, The Dallas Morning News reported. He was arrested Wednesday evening and is being held in lieu of $75,000 bail…”

Is Miller so stupid he doesn’t know why this is wrong? It is “the ends justifies the means” thinking personified: he was willing to risk a panic, scare school workers sick, possibly set off a violent incident (what if, as the NRA fervently wishes were the case in all schools, someone in the principal’s office was carrying a gun and decided the safest thing was to shoot Miller before he started his rampage?), and undermine what little rational trust there is left in schools these days, all to prove absolutely nothing, other than the fact that parents aren’t high on the list of suspected school shooters, since no parent has ever been one. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week

“Some, including the archbishop, have argued that by providing health care to a gay or lesbian spouse we are somehow legitimizing gay marriage. Providing health care to a gay or lesbian partner — a basic human right, according to Church teaching — is an end in itself and no more legitimizes that marriage than giving communion to a divorced person legitimizes divorce, or giving food or shelter to an alcoholic legitimizes alcoholism.”

—–Tim Sawina, former chief operating officer of Catholic Charities, in a letter protesting the Washington D.C.-based organization’s recent decision, dictated by Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, to eliminate health benefits for all new employees’ spouses in response to the legalization of same-sex marriage in D.C.

Even if one is inclined to be sympathetic to the Catholic Church’s plight in the gay marriage issue, as it finds itself locked into a centuries-old moral code that declares homosexuality a sin while the world steadily rejects the premise as ignorant, cruel, and wrong, the Catholic Charities decision is indefensible. It is especially brain-melting to try to justify such a decision by a charitable social service organization. Continue reading

Ethics Trumps Morality: Ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Almost lost in the din of President Obama’s defiant State of the Union address was his promise to finally end “Don’t ask, don’t tell” as military policy. There is no ethical argument against this long overdue move. It has always been a policy based on the political expediency of politicians afraid to do the right thing.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is unethical. The law treats gay Americans in a biased and discriminatory manner, reinforcing negative stereotypes and the irrational fears. It also hurts the military and the nation by robbing it of able soldiers and military personnel. Continue reading