Two From The “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files: The Women

Soul Cap

I. The Cap.

There aren’t a lot of competitive black swimmers, for a number of reasons, but wouldn’t you think that authorities in the swimming field would have some sensitivity to their special needs when the situation presents itself? I would, or did, and is often the case, I was wrong.

A women’s swim cap designed for African-American hair, called the Soul Cap (above), is meant to accommodate the thicker, curlier hair of black women to provide a better fit and protect hair from chlorine. Ahead of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo which begin later this month, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) banned the use of the cap,  ruling that “athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration,” and that the Soul Cap does not follow “the natural form of the head.”  This is, of course, ridiculous, since the number of black women who have competed in swimming events in the Olympics can be counted on the fingers of one hand, so of course the caps break with tradition and common use. Whatever their bone-headed logic, how could the FINA hacks not figure out that such a ruling would appear tone deaf at best and racist at worst, especially in the middle of the George Floyd Freakout?

After the completely predictable (and fair) backlash, now the body says that it is “currently reviewing the situation with regards to ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusivity and representation.”

There have never been any allegations that the caps confer any competitive advantage. This is how people with dead ethics alarms fuel claims of “systemic racism.”

II. The All-Women Broadcast Team

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/4/18: The Good And The Bad, And If Janus Had A Third Face, It Would be Ugly

Good morning!

1. Looking for biased but reliable progressive news aggregators! I have a long secret list of story sources, but my online leftist news aggregator supply is drying up. That’s where I can find the stories that reflect badly on the Right but that the conservative news sources choose to ignore. The key problem is “reliable.” Sites like Raw Story, ThinkProgress, the Huffington Post and the Daily Kos have all violated Ethics Alarms standards of basic honesty, fairness and trustworthiness—much like Breitbart, Red State and the Gateway Pundit, none of which I will  read or cite unless directed to a particular post, from the other side of the spectrum. The Daily Beast was long my favorite online leftist source, but now it requires a subscription, and I’m certainly not going to pay for biased analysis—beyond what I already get from the Washington Post and New York Times.

Memeorandum remains the most balanced and non-partisan online news aggregator, by far.

2. Retire, Pat. It isn’t just Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein who try to hold on to power long after their advancing age makes it unethical to do so. The GOP has its irresponsible geezers too. Today Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Ks) will announce whether he plans to end his political career or run for another term in 2020, which would take him to his 90th year if he survived it. The man is 82: he should not have run for his current term.

Of course, it doesn’t help that 85-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is providing an unethical role model for all elected officials and judges by ostentatiously refusing to retire and obviously resolving to leave the Supreme Court feet first.

3. Slapping down Big Brother in Oregon.U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman issued a permanent injunction against the Oregon Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying that tried to fine Mats Järlström, who has a degree in engineering and years of experience in the field, $500 for describing himself as “an engineer.”

The judge ruled that this was a violation of the First Amendment, which it clearly was. This wasn’t a case where the First Amendment right to lie came into play, because Järlström wasn’t lying. He was fined for going on television to talk about public policy issues while describing himself as an “electronics engineer” and writing the phrase “I am an engineer” in a letter. The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying claimed he was practicing engineering without a license.

As government regulations proliferate without end,  they inevitably strangle individual liberty, expression and enterprise. Continue reading

More Headline Ethics: Was This Apology Really Perfect? Or Even Necessary? No.

United States' Simone Manuel leaves the pool after winning a women's 100-meter freestyle semifinal during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Salon is hailing what it calls a “10” apology (that would be a Category One apology on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale) from the San Jose Mercury News. My tireless ethics story scout sent the Salon account to me for a reaction, and here it is.

To be fair to Salon, though the headline is “An Olympic-sized gaffe: This newspaper’s apology, at least, gets a perfect 10,” the story doesn’t match the headline. (There’s a lot of that going around lately.) What the post said was,

“So let’s give a modest round of applause this week to San Jose’s The Mercury News, for at least hitting the bar of appropriate responsiveness after screwing up its initial coverage of Thursday’s historic night for the U.S. Olympic swim team.”

I find nothing incorrect about that assessment, if I accept the premise that the paper screwed up, which I only do mildly, if at all.  Salon’s angle is that there is generally a reluctance to apologize, so the San Jose Mercury News being willing to apologize is newsworthy all by itself. Actually, newspapers apologize all the time; not enough, but frequently.

So why is this apology so important? This is Salon, remember. It’s an apology for perceived racial insensitivity, which in Salon’s politically correct world is about the worst crime there is.

Last week,  31-year-old Michael Phelps scored his 22nd career gold medal in the 200-meter individual medley. The same night, Simone Manuel, 20, tied with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak in the 100-meter freestyle to win an individual gold medal in swimming, and set a new Olympic record. The Mercury News headlined the night “Olympics: Michael Phelps shares historic night with African-American.” 

The Horror.

To Salon, this headline demanded an apology, and the paper received some complaints. Why was it apology worthy? Here’s Salon, which first took offense that Manuel wasn’t named in the headline: Continue reading

Post Script: Rant Sports And Its “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors of All Time” vs. The Ethics Alarms List

Suprise!

Surprise!

This topic isn’t really worth two posts, I know, but after some commenters mentioned other obvious examples of distinguished athletes turned actors the Rant Sports  incompetent post ignored, I did some additional research myself.

The first thing I discovered was that Renae Juska’s list was about 90% lifted from other similar web lists that had appeared on various sites over the past three years. These lists were almost as incompetent as hers, though one of them included Johnny Weismuller, and another included Esther Williams. For the most part, however, all included the same basic group of athlete-actors, clearly serving as the basis for the next blogger looking for a cheap post.

This is how bad or misleading information gets stuck in the public mind and discourse, and the process occurs regarding topics and issues that matter, not just gratuitous lists.. This is why politicians still talk about women only earning 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and how 50% of marriages end in divorce. This how rumors and mistaken beliefs take hold and spread, changing the results of elections and the course of history…lazy writers cribbing dubious facts, unsubstantiated stats and lazy compilations of data from other lazy writers. The phenomenon feeds itself. Take the current case: someone asking themselves the question, “Gee, I wonder who the most prominent actors who were also accomplished athletes are?” will google the question and check four or five sites, read virtually the same names on all of them, and think the topic has been accurately researched. That will be an illusion, and soon there will be another post, confirming the earlier ones, and further validating informational garbage.

I also checked the biographies of actors whom I knew had athletic backgrounds, and the performing credits of prominent athletes whom I knew worked in TV, stage and films. I also considered some of the candidates, omitted by Juska, that various commenters had suggested. The result is this list of 30 athlete/actors who were ignored by Juska and Rant Sports, every one of whom is beyond question more deserving of a place on an “all-time” list of “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors” than many of the choices on the Rant Sports list, and quite a few of which—Robson, Williams, Henie, Rigby, Weismuller, Crabbe, Norris, Beradino, and others—should rank near the top. Continue reading

Unethical Website and Post Of The Month: Rant Sports And Its “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors of All Time.”

Maybe #1---but that would take some research.

Maybe #1—but that would take some research.

It is true that you cannot trust everything, indeed most things, that you read on the web, and thus should approach all supposedly factual statements with skepticism and ready access to Google. That does not excuse websites that recklessly and irresponsibly spread misinformation however, or that through their own laziness and ignorance spread ignorance among others.

A slick sports website called Rant Sports provided a particularly galling example this week, when it presumed to post a list it called “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors of All Time.” All the sports sites draw traffic with this kind of trivia-mongering, but even trivia-mongering demands a modicum of research, care, and fact. This may be an opinion piece, but it isn’t the opinions that are problematical. Renae Juska, the fraud who created the list, obviously engaged in no research at all, so her”Top 25″ really was “First 25 I was able to jot down on a piece of paper.” As I will now demonstrate, Juska, on a site dedicated to sports, made an assertion that is demonstrably and objectively false, and under color of authority, misleading readers but just as wrongly, unfairly neglecting many athletes who would have to be ranked on any such list that was given the amount of research expected of a seventh-grader’s term paper.

Here are some examples of how misleading and poorly researched the list is:

  • To begin with, all but one of the “top athletes” are male. Wrong. One of the greatest athletes-turned actresses died just last month, the great Esther Williams, a record-setting competitive swimmer who was unable to compete in the Olympics because of World War II. She was an athlete IN her movies, the most famous of which were aquacade spectaculars featuring Williams swimming, diving, doing what was later called synchronized swimming (she is credited with helping to create the sport), all while smiling and looking drop-dead gorgeous in a one-piece bathing suit. Does Williams qualify as a “Top Actor” over Number 16 on Juska’s idiotic list, the immortal Stacy Keibler, the only woman he deems worthy? Here are her credentials, as Juska cites them: “She began acting in 1998 and was a professional wrestler from 1999-2006. Her most well-known appearances have been in WWE Judgement Day, Summerslam and WrestleMania XX. She has also had guest appearances on How I Met Your Mother, Mayne Street and Samurai Girl.”  Esther’s credits are here, and you can see her in action here:

To say there is no contest is not an opinion, it is fact. Of course, Juska probably never heard of Esther Williams, which means that she has no business making this list at all.

Believe it or not, it gets worse… Continue reading

Rick Curl, The University Of Maryland, Penn State, and Moral Luck

The Rick Curl case is the ethics alarm that won’t stop ringing.

Could Joe be the rule rather than the exception?

Could Joe be the rule rather than the exception?

I’ve written about it twice, both times focusing on the devil’s deal made by the victim and her family, who allowed Curl, a renowned D.D. area swimming coach, to get away with sexually molesting a 13-year female swimmer under his supervision and escape either official detection or legal punishment for decades, as the victim’s family decided to accept $150,000 in hush money/ extortion/ settlement from the rapist-coach instead. Curl went on his happy coaching, and maybe child-molesting way—we don’t know if there were other victims or other pay-offs—even to the Olympics, until the girl he molested, Kelley Currin, had a belated attack of conscience at 40 and finally told authorities about what a trusted coach in close contact with girls on a daily basis had done to her, leading to Curl’s arrest last year.

Rick Curl was sentenced to seven years in prison for child sexual abuse at a hearing this week. At that hearing, we learned for the first time that the University of Maryland had been informed about the abuse more than 25 years ago, and probably knew about it before that. Continue reading

Cost of Rick Curl’s ‘Stay-Out-Of-Jail-And Keep-Molesting-Girls’ Card: $6,250 a Year

I hope it was worth the cash, Kelley.

I hope it was worth the cash, Kelley.

All in all, you would have to say that renowned Maryland swimming coach Rick Curl made a pretty sweet deal for himself. True, he’s headed to jail now, after pleading guilty to charges of child sexual abuse as a result of the testimony of Kelley Currin. Currin, now 41, was a former swimmer coached by Curl, and was molested and ultimately raped by him over six years beginning when she was only 13. But Curl paid Kelley’s parents, Gerald and Pamela Davies, $150,000 to keep his secret from police, the community, and the swim team (the Davies had read about his abuse in their daughter’s journal and confronted him) in 1989.  Kelley, who was 19 when her family got paid off, waited until last year to finally alert authorities, so Curl kept his freedom, reputation, and most important of all, his opportunity to be trusted with the yummy, young, nubile daughters of other, unsuspecting parents, for a bargain yearly rate of only $6,250.

Not bad! Not bad at all. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Men’s Breast Stroke Olymipic Gold Medal Winner Cameron van der Burgh

“If you’re not doing it, you’re falling behind. It’s not obviously – shall we say – the moral thing to do, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my personal performance and four years of hard work for someone that is willing to do it and get away with it.”

—– South African Olympic swimmer Cameron van der Burgh, admitting that he cheated in his gold medal winning race because, you understand, everybody else cheats too.

Yechhh.

Maybe they won’t notice…

The commercialism is blatant, the nationalism is sickening, the warping of the lives of the young athletes as they prepare for the Games is disturbing. The one constant that has made the Olympics worth our attention is the opportunity to see great athletes in fair and intense competition with the most capable rivals in the world, and to see the best of the best triumph in the various sports by dint of superior effort, skill, training and character.

Who wants to see who the most effective cheater is? If you do, what’s the matter with you? The most disturbing aspect of van der Burgh’s admission is that there was no shame in it. He matter-of-factly explained that he cheated, how he cheated and why, and apparently believes that this doesn’t diminish his victory at all. And, also apparently, he’s right. Despite the fact that a gold medal winner blandly declaring that he cheated robs the Olympics of any pretense of integrity, it appears unlikely that anything will happen to the swimmer or his prize.

See? Cheating works!

And nobody cares!

Well, if the Olympics are going to stand for the cultural standard that cheating is acceptable as long as enough competitors do it, I have better things to do with my time, like making dust bunny sculptures under my bed. Just about everything we see and read about these days is corrupting and cynicism-producing; if the Olympics are just going to add one more toxic lesson to the array, what good are they? What’s the point?

Higher, faster, sneakier?

Wonderful.

_____________________________________

Pointer: Rick Jones

Facts: NBC

Graphic: Deviant Art

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

 

Settlement Corruption and Ethics Failure: The Kelley Currin-Rick Curl Saga

” Ah, what a beauty! $150,000 well spent!”

Imagine, if you will, that the late Joe Paterno didn’t take action to expose the child-molesting proclivities of his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, not because he was concerned about his cherished football program’s image, but because Sandusky paid him off with a big check. Can we all agree that this would have been even more reprehensible than what actually occurred? I assume so. Paterno would have been enriching himself with the sacrifice of young innocents to a pedophile.

Now compare that hypothetical with what we know about the developing scandal around renowned swimming coach Rick Curl, who has trained Olympian swimmers for decades. took a leave of absence from the club he founded Wednesday in the wake of accusations that he engaged in a sexual relationship with a teen swimmer and then paid her and her parents to keep quiet as part of a settlement. Continue reading