Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/15/2019: Patriots Day! Jackie Robinson Day!

Good morning!

It’s funny: over at Ann Althouse’s blog, she’s complaining about how there’s nothing to write about. From an ethics perspective, I am finding too much to write about, especially since, unlike Ann, I still have to work for a living.

1. Quick: what does Patriots Day commemorate (and no, it’s not Tom Brady)? My home state of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine (which was once part of the Bay State), and Wisconsin observe the holiday, which honors the twin battles of Lexington and Concord, the confrontations with the British (on April 19, 1775, the day after “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”) that launched the Revolutionary War. I visited both battlefields more times than I could count when I was living in Arlington, Mass., right next to Lexington. That battlefield, what’s left of it, is in the middle of busy streets on all sides; it’s hard to imagine the scene as described in the song above from “1776.” Concord’s battlefield, in contrast, is almost exactly as it was in 1775.

All the publicity, even in Boston, about today will be dominated by the running of the Boston Marathon, but attention should be paid to the inspiring story of how ragtag groups of volunteers faced off against the trained soldiers of the most powerful country on Earth, sending the message that this rebellion would not be so easy to put down.  49 Colonists died, 39 were wounded, and five were unaccounted for. The British lost 73, while 174 were wounded,and 26 were missing.

2. It’s also Jackie Robinson Day. In every MLB game today, every player will wear Jackie’s number 42. The best way to honor Jackie for the rest of us is to tell his story to someone who doesn’t know who Jackie Robinson was, and it is shocking how many such people there are. The film “42” does an excellent job of dramatizing how Jackie broke the color barrier in baseball, simultaneously weakening segregation everywhere. The Ethics Alarms post about Robinson is here. Continue reading

Cheerleader Ethics: Nice Cheerleaders Don’t Say “Fuck,” But They Have A Right To Say It When They Aren’t Cheerleading

cheerleaders

Well, this in encouraging. Another court has slapped down a school’s attempt to punish a student for what she wrote online in a personal social media  account. Ethics Alarms has protested the abuse of authority this increasingly common practice represents for many years—I don’t have the time right now to track all the posts down, but I will, and add a link to them here.

U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo ruled that the Mahanoy Area School District (In Pennsylvania) violated a student’s First Amendment rights when it kicked her off the junior varsity squad for writing “fuck” repeatedly in a Snapchat post. Do you use that mouth to cheer with, honey?

The teen made the vulgar post on a weekend in May, 2017, off school grounds. It pictured her and a friend holding up their middle fingers with the cogent text, “fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything.” She was dressed in street clothes, not her cheerleading uniform, with no pom-pons.  I don’t know how schools got the idea that they could control every aspect of a student’s life and speech to this extent, but too many try. And too many get away with it. Continue reading

When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: Snapchat Approves A Domestic Abuse Game Ad

On February 8, 2009, Chris Brown beat up pop megastar and then-girlfriend Rihanna. Five months later, Brown pleaded guilty to a felony assault and was sentenced to community labor, five years probation, and domestic violence counseling. Naturally, someone looking to make a buck off of the millions of ethics dunces who use social media recognized this as an appropriate basis for a game, and paid Snapchat to run their ad, which you can see above.

The “Would You Rather” ad was removed earlier this week, and Snapchat released an apology, saying “The advert was reviewed and approved in error, as it violates our advertising guidelines.” What does “in error” mean in such a case, though? It means “we have erroneously been hiring people at high levels with the ethical sensitivity of mollusks, and upon reflection, this was a miscalculation.” What  deadness of soul and mind could ever ever explain someone, indeed a chain of employees, seeing an ad mocking domestic abuse and reacting by saying, “Great! Put it up and bill ’em!”

Advertising on Snapchat is purchased through a self-serve advertising platform and subject to review,  the company says. Review by incompetents,  creeps and fools, apparently. Unfortunately, they are far from unique.

Rihanna posted a rebuke to Snapchat on Instagram, writing in part, Continue reading

Ten Further Thoughts On The “The Taunting Girls Softball Team”

Well! I returned from my seminar to find an excellent discussion underway regarding this Morning’s Ethics Warm-up, wholly devoted to the Virginia girls softball team that was hammered mercilessly for the raised middle fingers of six teammates to send off their vanquished foes in the semi-finals. Here are some further thoughts after reading the comments:

1. There is no question that the conduct of the girls concerned the game, the sport, and the League. They were in uniform. The message directed the “up yours” gesture to the other team. This is not a case where personal expression via social media was punished by an outside authority. Ethics Alarms has been profuse in its rejections of efforts by schools to punish students for their language, ideas or other expression on platforms like Facebook and Snapchat. Those are clearly, in my view, abuses of power, parental authority and free expression. This is not like such cases in any way. If a cheerleader squad, wearing the uniforms, colors and emblems of a school, behaved like these girls, punishment by the school would be appropriate, right up to the “death sentence” of dissolving the squad.

2. Would the reaction to the photo be different if it were a boy’s team? I just don’t think so.

3. The comparison has been made to the earlier post about Matt Joyce, a major league player, being suspended by the league for a comment made to one fan during a game in a heated exchange. For the life of me, I cannot figure out what anyone would think is similar about the two episodes, the primary difference being the fact that in one case, an adult was disciplined for professional misconduct on the field of play, and in the other, children were disciplined for breaching conduct their sport and organization exists in part to teach, reinforce and convey. The punishment of the player was $60,000 in lost income for a single word, not broadcast via social media. The team was not punished except to have to play without his services for two games, but then it was not colorably a team offense by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t even want to think about what an MLB team would do to six players who, in uniform, made the same gesture the girls did to “our fans.” They might all get released. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/8/2017: The Taunting Girl’s Softball Team

Good Morning!

I’m squeezed today like fresh orange juice!

I have an early morning ethics seminar in about 90 minutes, so one topic is all I have time for. But it is a good warm-up, reaching an ethics issue—the proper level of punishment for civility breaches in sports— recently discussed here, but with very different factors and ethical considerations involved.

Here and Virginia, many are steaming over the harsh punishment handed down to the victorious Atlee Little League girls’ softball team, which was kicked out of  the Junior League World Series,  featuring the best 12-to-15-year-old girls teams in the world, only hours before its players were about to take the field on national television. The team’s offense: an unsportsmanlike social media post, taunting its last opponent.

Atlee prevailed in a week long tournament in Kirkland, Washington, culminating in tense 1-0 victory in the semifinal game against the host team. Apparently resentment between the teams ran high, and the game featured a controversy over the Kirkland team stealing signs. (Stealing signs in a girls’ softball game? Wow. I didn’t even think there were signs in girls’ softball!)

After the victory, the carptain of the Atlee team used Snapchat to post a photo of showing six members of the team flipping the Fuck You Finger at the Kirkland team.

The Atlee manager Scott Currie heard about the post and had it deleted. Then he arranged for his team to deliver a formal apology in person  to the Kirkland players the same evening. Nonetheless, it was too little, too late. The next morning the head office of the Little League World Series disqualified Atlee from the tournament, and awarded Kirkland the berth in the title game.

The Junior League  issued the following statement:

“After discovering a recent inappropriate social media post involving members of Atlee Little League’s Junior League Softball tournament team, the Little League® International Tournament Committee has removed the Southeast Region from the 2017 Junior League Softball World Series for violation of Little League’s policies regarding unsportsmanlike conduct, inappropriate use of social media, and the high standard that Little League International holds for all its participants.”

Not surprisingly, supporters of the Atlee team, and the team itself, feel that the punishment is excessive.

Observations: Continue reading

From An Ethics Dunce Playmate Of The Year, A Full Pazuzu!

dani-mathers post

Dani Mathers is a former Playmate of the Year. On the left below, you see Dani as she appears to unknowing bystanders; on the right, the oil portrait of herself that she keeps in the attic.

Dani+Mathers

Befitting the character and soul accurately portrayed by the portrait, the skin-deep beauty took a cellphone photo of an unaware naked female member of LA Fitness in the gym’s shower. Then Dani posted the pic on Snapchat with the caption, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either.”

The actual photo does not have the victim’s body blotted out.

Said LA Fitness of  Dani:”Her behavior is appalling and puts every member’s privacy at risk. We have handled this internally and also notified the police.”

Of course cell phone photography is prohibited in locker rooms. Doing what Mathers did may also be against the law.

Caught with her ugly soul exposed to the world, the model reverted to full Pazuzu mode. Pazuzu was the demon who made poor Linda Blair say all those horrible things in “The Exorcist,” and the Pazuzu Excuse is what Ethics Alarms calls apologies for horrible statements or conduct that include such incredible statements as “Those statements do not express my real beliefs,” “That doesn’t reflect who I am,” and the always popular “That wasn’t me.” Continue reading