Oh Joy! A Baseball Ethics Story! Alex Cora Finally Speaks Out!

While the players union and Major league Baseball bicker over the terms under which the American Pastime will have a limited season in 2020, the specter of the ugly ethics scandal that closed out the off-season came out to say “Boo!” Alex Cora, fingered in the Commissioner’s report as the mastermind behind the Houston Astros 2017 sign-stealing scheme, which apparently extended into the play-offs and World Series (which the cheating Astros won), finally talked about the episode, which promises to haunt the Astros, baseball and him for a long time. Cora was suspended for a year and lost his job as manager of the Boston Red Sox. Carlos Beltran, the Astros player who was found to be Cora’s partner in crime, was fired from his new position as manager of the New York Mets, and both the manager and the general manager of the Astros were suspended and fired.

Cora, to my surprise, was cleared in an investigation of the allegations that his Red Sox team in 2018 was also stealing signs. The MLB report faulted a single coach and determined that the sign-stealing was sporadic and relatively minor. I fully expected Cora to be found as the culprit in a second major cheating scandal, and to perhaps be banned from baseball entirely. Well, good: I’m relieved. he’s not the Bad Seed I feared he was.

Back when I was certain Cora was facing the end of his baseball career—and he still might be—I proposed a 12 Step Program for him to regain the trust of fans and his sport. The steps, which are described in detail here, were… Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-U…OH MY GOD I JUST SAW THE “I TAKE RESPONSIBILITY” VIDEO AND MY BRAIN IS CRAWLING OUT OF MY SKULL!!!!!

1. This thing above. How can anyone take these people, or the entire industry they represent, seriously? Was someone challenged to come up with the most nauseating, self-indicting example of narcissistic grandstanding and virtue-signalling imaginable? Among the more recognizable celebrities are Kristen Bell, Kesha, Aaron Paul, Stanley Tucci, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Debra Messing, though I’m sure I would have recognized more if I hadn’t been retching so violently. This PSA is supposed to launch  a new project by entertainment production company Confluential Content, in partnership with the NAACP. So earnest (and as performed, manifestly phony) that it hurts, the stars—I’m assuming they are all stars—take turns reading a wildly hyperbolic and deceitful script:

“I take responsibility for every unchecked moment, for every time it was easier to ignore than to call it out for what it was. Every not-so-funny joke. Every unfair stereotype. Every blatant injustice no matter how big or small. Every time I remained silent. Every time I explained away police brutality or turned a blind eye. I take responsibility. Black people are being slaughtered in the streets. Killed in their own homes. These are our brothers and sisters. Our friends. Our family. We are done watching them die. We are no longer bystanders; we will not be idle. Enough is enough.”

Who is it who will decide what’s a stereotype, an unfunny joke (what if the joke is funny?), or a blatant injustice? You silly people? Right. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Prelude To ‘The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II’”

I did an unusually long deconstruction of an offensive and thoroughly revolting  New York Times editorial  by Charlie Warzel titled “Open States, Lots of Guns. America Is Paying a Heavy Price for Freedom,” or in my print edition, “Will We Get Used To The Dying?” 

It was so bad—and also so representative of the current media propaganda making the unsustainable case that advocating an end to  the lockdown before the U.S. economy is indistinguishable from that of Togo is selfish and irrational—that the piece was ripe for additional censure. Glenn Logan, as usual, did a superb job in this, his Comment of the Day on the post, “Prelude To ‘The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II’”:

Let me give your fisking a some additional fodder:

“The coronavirus scenario I can’t stop thinking about is the one where we simply get used to all the dying.”

Like with the flu, or with suicide, or with automobile accidents? Yes, I suppose your thinking is correct.

You: “How old is Warzel, 15? We accept the mortality of modern life, just as our ancestors accepted the mortality of their own periods.”

Mortality is a fact of the human condition, although Warzel seems blissfully unaware of that. Being born a human is an absolute guarantee of mortality. Hell, being born an organic organism on planet Earth is a guarantee of mortality. While the current level of excess mortality is unusual in the West for the last half-century or so, it is by no means unprecedented, percentage of the population-wise, in modern history. It certainly isn’t unprecedented in other areas of the world in very recent history.

Yet somehow humanity got through those others, and “got used to it.”

“The day I read Mr. Nelson’s tweet, 1,723 Americans were reported to have died from the virus. And yet their collective passing was hardly mourned. After all, how to distinguish those souls from the 2,097 who perished the day before or the 1,558 who died the day after?”

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t try to distinguish “souls” from each other. That’s God’s job, not mine. Is Warzel comparing himself to God, or does he imagine it is the job of humanity to mourn every stranger who passes from a natural process like a disease? Continue reading

Comment(s) Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz And Poll: The Nurse Practitioner’s Dilemma”

We have a rare two-headed Comment of the Day on “Ethics Quiz And Poll: The Nurse Practitioner’s Dilemma,”about the nurse practitioner’s dilemma when she was asked by a poor, unmarried, 16-year-old , unemployed high school drop-out to help her get pregnant. Taking a minority position among commenters (the post’s poll results overwhelmingly favored counseling the girl against pregnancy), commenter valkygrrl wrote,

“Assuming the local age of consent laws make the pairing lawful, I think we have our answer in regard to professional ethics:

(f) Not discriminate against patients who have difficult-to-treat conditions, whose infertility has multiple causes, or on the basis of race, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation or gender identity.

Assuming the local age of consent laws make the pairing lawful, I think we have our answer in regard to professional ethics.”

Commenter Tony, a physician, added in his Comment of the Day #1, Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz And Poll: The Nurse Practitioner’s Dilemma”

As I thought it might, the Ethics Quiz about “The Ethicist’s” position that a nurse practitioner was obligated to help an unemployed, unmarried, 16-year-old high school drop-out get pregnant provoked a lot of discussion. Here is how the poll results on the issue are running:

And here is Arthur in Maine’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz And Poll: The Nurse Practitioner’s Dilemma”:

Yikes. I know you hold Appiah in high regard, and your previous posts about his work make clear why. But I agree with you – he’s very much in the wrong on this one.

Many years ago, I worked in a group home for adjudicated teenagers. We had several 15 and 16 year old girls who, like the girl in question, actually wanted to become pregnant (thank God none of them managed to achieve this goal on our watch).

I recognize that my sample size is small enough that this is nothing more than anecdotal – but as far as I’m concerned, well-adjusted 16-year-old girls may adore babies and kids but understand that now’s not the time. To desire pregnancy at that age requires one or more underlying pathologies. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz And Poll: The Nurse Practitioner’s Dilemma

Sure.

It is seldom that I strongly disagree with NYU philosophy professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, “The Ethicist” of the New York Times Magazine’s long-running advice column. A month ago I did, and emphatically so.

The question posed to him involved a professional ethics dilemma, and “The Ethicist” was so certain he had the correct answer that he was uncharacteristically terse about it. I’m pretty certain about the answer too, except that my certainty is that he’s wrong. But I have some doubts, based on my ethical positions in related situations.

The inquirer was a a nurse practitioner working at a primary care clinic for low-income patients. She said that a 16-year-old patient told her that she had stopped coming by the clinic to have her birth control pills replenished because she and her partner were trying to have a baby together. She had been having unprotected sex for  a while, and she was concerned that she might have some physical problem preventing her from conceiving. The nurse practitioner asked,  “Would it be ethical for me to steer her away from trying to get pregnant? …Or, as her health care provider, do I have an ethical duty to try to help her conceive?”

Appiah doesn’t see any wiggle room. He says,

“You’re her health care provider. You should certainly tell her about the medical consequences of pregnancy. But the social and economic consequences don’t fall within your professional competence. An intervention about her life choices may seem moralizing and intrusive to her, and it could drive her away; and then she’d be losing your guidance on the things you are trained to help her with.”

Really? Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Archives: “The Siena Research Institute’s Lousy Independence Day Gift: Misleading, Biased and Incompetent Presidential Rankings”

Now and then an old post suddenly get a lot of clicks. Often this will draw my attention to an essay I had forgotten: such was the case with this post from 2010. Someone on Reddit put it up for discussion, and last week the old post had hundreds of views. I was intrigued and re-read it. Good post!

I would change a few observations—in the intervening years we have learned that Woodrow Wilson was even worse than I thought—and add some, but the post was long, and a thorough evisceration of this embarrassing survey’s results would require a book.

***

The Siena College Research Institute persuaded over 200 presidential scholars to participate in a survey designed to rank America’s forty-three Chief Executives. There is great deal to be leaned from the resulting list that the Institute proudly released on July 1; unfortunately, very few of the lessons have anything to do with the men on it.

The list shows us that:

  • A survey is only as good as its design
  • Historians who call themselves “presidential scholars,” working together, could do no better in their supposed area of expertise than to arrive at a ranking that would get most 7th Graders a C in junior high school History, raising serious questions about how history is taught in our universities, but perhaps explaining why Americans choose to be so ignorant of their nation’s past.
  • Historians are, as a group, biased toward liberal causes, against conservatives, and in favor of people who are like them.
  • They are unable to recognize their biases, even when a list like this one makes them stunningly obvious.

Lists are mostly for fun and to start arguments. When one purports to make historical judgments, however, and the individuals doing the judging are supposed to be experts, there is still a responsibility to try to do the task fairly, competently, and responsibly. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: The U.S. Congress. Again

Actor Mark Ruffalo (he plays the Hulk in The Avengers  movies, but it wasn’t because of that role) was invited to testify before Congress last year on public policy involving  public health, chemistry, toxicology, and epidemiology. He has no expertise in these areas at all. The reason was that he starred in “Dark Waters,” which I wrote about here.

Ruffalo is a 9/11 truther, believing  that the U.S. government helped destroy the World Trade Center. That would be enough for me to ding him as an authority on anything, but he has embraced other conspiracy theories as well, like this one.

Never mind: he was presented to the public as an authority on pollution whose opinions on environmental matters have weight. The don’t, and they shouldn’t.

This is a repeat offense. Members of Congress are addicted to the unprofessional and insulting stunt of inviting actors and performers to testify as substantive witnesses on topics that they acted about in movies. As a professional director, I can state with absolute certainty that if an actor is really an expert in something their character was supposed to experience or know something about, 1) that actor is very unusual, and 2) there will still be thousands of real authorities who know a lot more.

Nevertheless, Congress keeps doing this, apparently believing that the public is so naive and gullible that they really believe that because a performer credibly pretends to know what a script-writer prepares to make them sound like the know, they really are experts. Sadly, a lot of the public does believe that. (More sadly, a lot of actors do too) Continue reading

From The Pandemic Ethics Lessons Files: Unicorns And Elves Do Not Constitute An Emergency

Courts , like hospitals, are having a difficult time handling all of the matters under their jurisdiction  during the health crisis. Staffs are home-bound; judges, who are generally in a high risk demographic, are available only for true emergencies. A lawyer who claims that his or her client’s concerns qualify is asking a lot, and a spurious claim is going to regarded as irresponsible.

Art Ask Agency creates life-like images of fantasy creatures like elves and unicorns. Its lawyers asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for an emergency hearing in their trademark infringement case, though the  Chicago-based federal court’s executive committee had issued an order just two days before holding “all civil litigation in abeyance.”  A court employee had also tested positive for the Wuhan virus that week, leading to the closing of its clerk’s office to the public. Continue reading

Having Previously Concentrated Only On Idiotic Reasons Not To Call The Contagion By The Name It Deserves, The Deranged Settle On A Vile And Unethical One

I have managed to post twice about the name game, and the ridiculous effort to find some way to justify not identifying the Wuhan virus by its place of origin, a campaign led by, naturally enough, its place of origin. The first post focused on the idea that calling a Chinese virus a Chinese virus was “racist,” a concept so devoid of reason and logic that it made my brain hurt.

The fact that the concept was enthusiastically embraced by such proven blights on the political scene as Rep. Omar was  one major clue that  dastardly motives were involved. This was a pretty much flat out resort to Big Lie #4 in the “resistance” Big Lie tool box, that one being “Trump is a racist/ white supremacist.” It was a short post, because there was no legitimate argument to rebut. Continue reading