Rationalizations From The Victim Of A Tragedy

A week ago, I briefly discussed the report on the 2017 death of major league pitcher Roy Halladay who crashed his plane into the Gulf of Mexico  on Nov. 7, 2017. The 13-page report said Halladay had 10 times the recommended level of amphetamine in his system, plus an antidepressant, a muscle relaxant, a sleep aid and morphine.  He was also attempting aerial acrobatics and stunt flying.

Now his widow, Brandy Halladay, has issued a statement through the now Hall of Fame pitcher’s last team, the Philadelphia Phillies. She wrote,

“Yesterday’s NTSB report on Roy’s accident was painful for our family, as it has caused us to relive the worst day of our lives. It has reinforced what I have previously stated, that no one is perfect. Most families struggle in some capacity and ours was no exception. We respectfully ask that you not make assumptions or pass judgment. Rather, we encourage you to hug your loved ones and appreciate having them in your lives.”

From one perspective, it seems unkind to be critical of the lament of a grieving family member in the wake of such a tragedy. From another—mine—I can’t let public endorsements of multiple rationalizations like that one pass. I just can’t, and I have an obligation as an ethicist not to. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it: the reason so people make terrible decisions by defaulting to rationalizations rather than ethics is that the culture marinates them, day after day, in these excuses for bad conduct. After a lifetime of hearing the contrived arguments , most people accept such self-deceptions as true. In turn, they engage in conduct, or excuse conduct in others, that causes extensive harm. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2020: Sir Paul, Fauxahontas, #MeToo, The Flying Ace, And The 2016 Ethics Villain Of The Year

good morning.

my college freshman dorm room was where e.e. cummings spent his freshman year too. never liked ol’ e.e.’s poetry much, but admired his clever stunt to avoid having to worry about upper case letters, presenting laziness as style.

i wonder if i could do the same thing with basic spelling?

1. You don’t necessarily have to blame the victim, but you shouldn’t give him gifts for being irresponsible either. Pitching ace Roy Halladay had only been retired for three years when he died in the crash of a private plane he was flying. After his death, he was elected by baseball writers to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ahead of the mandatory five -year waiting period, an honor that was given posthumously to Roberto Clemente, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder who died in a plane crash in 1972 while trying to deliver relief supplies from Puerto Rico to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua. Clemente was a no-arguments Hall of Famer; Halladay was not, though he was certainly a valid candidate. He was elected by sympathy and emotion as much as by careful evaluation; this is one reason the Hall makes players wait at least five years. Now the  National Transportation Safety Board’s report on the investigation of his death is coming out.

This week it reported that Halladay had a  mix of amphetamine, morphine and other prescription drugs in his system while he was doing aerial acrobatics and stunt flying. It was a miracle that he didn’t kill anyone else, as he was flying dangerously close to boats before his amphibious sport plane  plunged into the Gulf of Mexico  on Nov. 7, 2017.

The 13-page report says Halladay had 10 times the recommended level of amphetamine in his system, as well as an antidepressant, a muscle relaxant, a sleep aid and morphine. Continue reading