I wish that I was as prescient all the time as I was in 2015, when I warned of the cultural rot relating to basic societal civility that would surely come if the United States elected a leader as habitually vulgar and nasty in his rhetoric as Donald Trump. True, I mistakenly predicted that the effects would be concentrated in the young, when in fact Mr. Trump’s lack of restraint and taste was quickly adopted by his political foes as well as entertainers and pundits.
The most recent evidence of my prognostication powers, however, comes from the group I originally signaled were most vulnerable: high school students. During a hockey game last week between the Armstrong River Hawks and the Mars Fighting Planets in Pennsylvania, a number of Armstrong Junior-Senior High School students began chanting “she’s a whore” and “suck our dicks” at the Mars goalie. The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League announced last week that Armstrong students would be prohibited from attending games for the remainder of the season, including during the playoffs.
What possessed these students? I grew up in hockey-crazy Greater Boston, and my high school was state hockey power. I never heard chants like that. What changed?
The President of the United States changed, that’s what. Trump is no racist and he wasn’t Hitler, but his disrespect for woman and his verbal misogyny cannot be denied, nor can his vulgar rhetoric, though much of the worst of that was leaked by staffers who betrayed his trust in ways no previous President had to endure. Moreover, the despicable chants at the hockey game come while half the media is rationalizing and excusing a coded “Fuck Joe Biden” chant, and at recent sporting events, not even coded. That chant too flows directly from Trump’s un-Presidential boorishness.
Well, I can write about the great issues of the day here or universal ethics principles, and attract crickets, but when a spoiled superstar female gymnast chokes on the Olympics stage, THAT attracts the most comments in a 24 hour period that Ethics Alarms has seen in months.
Actually, there is more of ethical significance to the Simone Biles Affair than is immediately apparent. The main issue, I think, may be the hypocrisy of feminists and sports journalists who rush to rationalize conduct by a young woman that no male athlete of any note would ever get away with. There are also profound issues of character, duties to one’s team, the ethics of sport and the the narcissism that celebrity creates. There are also some issues that I expect to emerge down the metaphorical road. For example, I haven’t yet encountered anyone arguing that criticism of Biles’ choke is racist, but given the response in Japan to Naoimi Osaka’s shocking loss in tennis, I expect that is coming. I also have written in my head the Ethics Alarms post responding to any post-Olympics product endorsement deals that come Biles’ way.
Yet another issue is raised by the Comment of the Day by JStevens, in what appears to be his inaugural contributions here, as his reaction to the post, “Simone Biles Betrayed Her Team…Stop Making Excuses For Her”…
I lost an ethics training client over the issue now raising its ethically-muddled head in New Jersey. Several years ago, during a day long seminar I taught for a teachers association, I stated that a teacher who taught grade school, middle school of high school students while pregnant and unmarried was harming her students, and that responsible school were ethically entitled to make pregnancy outside of marriage grounds for dismissal. Literally all of the attendees were outraged (even the two men in the group), though none could articulate a valid argument against what I said. (“The right to choose!” is not a valid argument in this context.)
I was right, they were wrong. The controversy now over a Catholic school art teacher who is demanding that she should have been able to keep her job despite being pregnant is much easier, or should be.
Victoria Crisitello was an art teacher at the New Jersey’s St. Theresa elementary school in Kenilworth. In the course of negotiating for a raise, she mentioned that she was having a baby. Weeks later, she was fired by the principal, a Roman Catholic nun, who explained that she was being terminated “because she was pregnant and unmarried.” “Sex out of wedlock violates a fundamental Catholic belief that the school in this instance felt it could not overlook,” lawyers for St. Theresa’s wrote in a petition to the state Supreme Court. Crisitello’s lawsuit was tossed out by two trial court judges, only to be restored each time when an appeals court sided with the ex-teacher. Now the state’s highest court, acting on an appeal by the school, has agreed review the case, which raises the continuing thorny question about the relationship between the government and religion.
I covered this episode briefly yesterday (Item , but upon reflection, it deserves more derision. The decision to pull the simple tweet saluting all of the women who have served on the Supreme Court because of indefensible tweets like these cited yesterday…
and others, like this…
…was bad enough: craven, submissive, and irresponsible. The organization’s explanation afterwards, when it had begun getting the much-deserved criticism for backing down in the face of the Woke Mob, compounded its disgrace. First it tweeted meekly,
..and when that abject grovel was not well-received, a Girl Scouts USA spokesperson so mealy-mouthed that—well it’s too early, and I can’t think of a witty metaphor—gave us this:
I have no desire to magnify or dwell on Hillary Clinton’s failures and character flaws. She has reason to be miserable, just as Al Gore did; I really can’t imagine what it must be like to be either of them.
However, as Hyman Roth memorably said, “This is the life we have chosen!” Politics involves regular defeat and victory, compromises and disappointments, all under public scrutiny, with plaudits and jeers a routine part of the experience. If you can’t handle it, you’re in the wrong business. While I can be sympathetic to the stresses of the life, I also expect those who try to persuade us to bestow extraordinary honors, power and trust upon them to display extraordinary character or at least adequate character.
This Hillary Clinton has shown, repeatedly, she cannot do. The character is not there to display.
Here is what she said in part in a guest appearance on Kara Swisher’s New York Times Opinion podcast, “Sway,” after Swisher asked Clinton if she thought a woman president would handle the coronavirus pandemic more ably. [What an idiotic question, but that’s Kara Swisher for you…]
“I have no doubt, especially if it were me. I was born for that. I mean, that’s why I knew I’d be a good president. I was ready for crises and emergencies, and I would have done what you see these women leaders doing. You listen to the science. You bring in people in an open, inclusive way. You communicate constantly, you make the case by explaining why what you’re doing is in the long-term interests, not only of health, but also, of the economy. Yeah, I have no doubt in my mind at all that I would have stepped up to that crisis.”
Regarding the possibility of the President’s re-election, Clinton said,