Saturday Afternoon Ethics Picnic, 6/5/2020

Giant ants

And what’s a picnic without ants?

June 5, the day before D-Day, is another date chock full of ethics history. It doesn’t count, but Ronald Reagan died on this date in 2004: I was just thinking that the Great Stupid would have killed him. In Presidential history, this was the day, in 1888, President Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill that would have given a pension to war widow Johanna Loewinger, whose Civil War vet husband died 14 years after being discharged from the army. He was discharged a little less than a year after enlisting for what the army surgeon’s certificate called chronic diarrhea. Loewinger received his pension until he cut his throat in 1876. When Johanna applied for a widow’s pension it was denied; his suicide was not considered to be caused by his military service. Johanna argued that the death was part of the insanity triggered by his war service, and appealed to a member of Congress to petition Cleveland with a bill. But the President declared all previous inquests into the former soldier’s unfortunate death to be satisfactory. Mrs. Loewinger got no pension.

I always thought this was gutsy of Cleveland (or something), since he had paid someone to serve in the Union army for him after he was drafted. But there were bigger ethics landmarks on June 5:

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Ethics Dunce: Yahoo! Sportswriter Shalise Manza Young

Naomi-Osaka interview

The withdrawal of female tennis star Naomi Osaka from the French Open because she wasn’t allowed to ignore rules all the other players were forced to play by has inspired a revealing amount of criticism…of the concept that stars should have to abide by the same rules and laws as everybody else. Since this is a massive ethics blind spot that defies persuasive advocacy, I’ve been somewhat surprised that so many commentators and athletes have been willing to put such an unethical position in print.

I shouldn’t have been, I guess. Osaka (predictably) played the victim, suddenly revealed that she suffered from depression (the old reliable “I’m not bad, I’m sick!” ploy satirized in “Officer Krupke”), and she had the triple benefit of being Asian, Black and female, the “Get Out Of Accountability Free” hat trick (that’s hockey, but you get the point) in the Age of The Great Stupid.

I was originally going to dedicate this post to the fatuous commentary of New York Times columnist Kurt Streeter, to whom all sports is about race, on l’affaire Osaka. “Using social media posts, first last Wednesday then on Monday, Osaka called out one of the most traditional practices in major sports: the obligatory news conference, vital to reporters seeking insight for their stories, but long regarded by many elite athletes as a plank walk. After monumental wins and difficult losses, Osaka has giggled and reflected through news conferences and also dissolved into tears. In Paris, she said she wanted nothing to do with the gatherings because they had exacted a steep emotional toll,” he wrote. “She sent a message with significant weight: The days of the Grand Slam tournaments and the huge media machine behind them holding all of the clout are done. In a predominantly white, ritual-bound sport, a smoothstroking young woman of Black and Asian descent, her confidence still evolving on and off the court, holds the power. Get used to it.”

Get used to what? Star athletes (and politicians, and other celebrities) thinking that if they are successful enough and popular enough, they get to break rules and get away with it? We’re used to that. But the point is that she doesn’t have the power. Tennis authorities fining her and threatening to kick her out of upcoming tournaments proved it. So she threw a tantrum, quit, took her ball and went home, and that’s admirable to Streeter, or anyone else? Well, but, you see, “it is impossible to know the depth of Osaka’s internal anguish” as “the rare champion of color in a tennis world dominated by fans, officials and a press corps that is overwhelmingly white.” Oh, gag me with a spoon. I’d be willing to suffer a lot of internal anguish in an enterprise I could make over 50 million dollars in a year, as Osaka has. Who wouldn’t?

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Ethics Observations On The Naomi Osaka Affair [Corrected]

Osaka2

On Ethics Alarms yesterday, the controversy involving the current top female pro tennis star, Japan’s Naomi Osaka, was relegated to the morning warm-up rather than a stand-alone post. If you were not following EA yesterday, here’s a quick summary:

Citing her annoyance with repetitious questions from the news media that undermined her confidence, the 23-year old announced that she would violate the 2021 official Grand Slam rulebook, which requires players to participate in post-match news conferences. Violations result in fines of up to $20,000, but since Osaka made over 55 million dollars last year alone, more than all but the most elite U.S. professional athletes, this fine would be like a late fee at the library to normal people. I wrote in part,

This is literally an example of a star announcing that rules are for lesser mortals. Verdict: Ethics Dunce. The reason Osaka makes so much money is that athletes are paid heroes and entertainers, and submitting to the idiocy of reporters is part of their job. Fines obviously aren’t enough: a tennis player who refuses to fulfill her obligations to the sport should be banned from competing until she does.

Yesterday, after winning her first round match at the French Open, Osaka was fined (but only $15,000), and tennis officials proved that they read Ethics Alarms (I jest) and told Osaka that continuing her boycott of the media would result in her being suspended from the current tournament and others. Good. The organization had no other choice, unless it wanted to directly endorse the King’s Pass (Rationalization #11). If Osaka was allowed to snub the media with minimal consequences (for her), then no other player would feel obligated to cooperate either. Rennae Stubbs, a former player who is now a coach and ESPN analyst, stated the obvious while most of the players and former players were expressing sympathy for Osaka: “You cannot allow a player to have an unfair advantage by not doing post-match press. It’s time consuming, so if one player is not doing that and others are, that is not equal.”

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Memorial Day Ethics Warm-Up, 5/31/2021…

It will be interesting to see if the news media discusses the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 any more this May 31 than it has in the past. Discussing this horrible mass murder of blacks in Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend has always been seen as sufficiently tasteless that the story has suffered the equivalent of a historical airbrushing. When did you first learn about it? I didn’t encounter the episode in elementary school, high school, college or law school. I was 50, and furiously researching the life of Clarence Darrow so I could churn out a one man show (that was already in rehearsal) after Leslie Nielsen pulled the rights we had paid for on the Darrow show performed on Broadway by Henry Fonda. I was looking for the context of Darrow’s epic closing argument in the Sweet case (1925), in which he referenced examples of white mob violence against blacks. That was my introduction to the tragedy. How was this possible? I was and am a voracious consumer of American history, movies, and television. Yet the facts of the Tulsa Race Massacre never entered my consciousness.

Here’s one useful resource…there are many others available online. A brief summary: After World War I, Tulsa’s African American community was notable for its affluence. The Greenwood District was known as “Black Wall Street.” But on May 30, 1921, an incident between a white woman and a black man on an elevator—nobody knows exactly what happened—was reported in the Tulsa newspapers as an attempted rape. The young African-American, Dick Rowland, had been arrested, and members of the community believed that he might be lynched. When an angry white mob gathered in front of the courthouse, a group of over 70 back men, some of them World War I veterans with weapons, confronted them. A gun went off in a struggled, and chaos descended on Greenwood. A white mob of thousands overran the Greenwood District, shooting unarmed black citizens in the streets. It burned an area of some 35 city blocks, and more than 1,200 houses, numerous businesses, a school, a hospital and a dozen churches. It is estimated that 300 people were killed in the rampage, though official counts at the time were much lower. 300 is the same death toll as the 1871 Chicago fire. I knew about that tragedy by the time I was 8.

1. IIPTDXTTNMIAFB! That’s short for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden…”, introduced here. The current example: during a speech at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Langley,Virginia two days ago, President Biden began spontaneously complimenting a pre-teen girl who had joined her parents and two older brothers on the stage after her mother had introduced Biden to the crowd. Biden said, inappropriately and creepily, “ I love those barrettes in your hair, man. I tell you what, look at her. She looks like she’s 19 years old sitting there like a little lady with her legs crossed.” Republicans pounced, as the MSM cliche goes whenever Democrats are legitimately criticized. The episode was barely mentioned by the media dedicated to propping up Biden—that is, almost all of it—at all. IIPTDXTTNMIAFB…and President Trump didn’t even have a photographically preserved series of encounters like this:

Creepy-Joe-Biden-President

2. AHHHH! It’s a virus ! Get a gun!!! The headline on the front page of the NYT website yesterday read, “Pandemic Fuels Surge in U.S. Gun Sales ‘Unlike Anything We’ve Ever Seen.'” Incredible. People bought guns for the first time because rioting was going on all over the country, and in many places the police were doing little or nothing to stop it. Buildings were burning and being looted; citizens were being threatened. Who gets a gun to fight a pandemic? (There was never any threat of the kind of civic breakdown from the virus like that portrayed in the movie “Contagion.” Toilet paper riots?)

The degree to which the Times—the “paper of record’!—continues to distort reality to mislead the public and warp public opinion is astounding. Later in the same article, the Times said, “While gun sales have been climbing for decades — they often spike in election years and after high-profile crimes — Americans have been on an unusual, prolonged buying spree fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, the protests last summer and the fears they both stoked.”

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From The “Fact Don’t Matter” File: The Presumptuous And Ignorant Naomi Osaka

Osaka

Or, “How to get from one absurd news story to another…”

The New York Times story began this way: “Last year, the tennis champion was shown with light skin in an instant noodle ad. Now, she’ll be portrayed as a manga character, and illustrators insisted on getting details right.” Yes, this is what passes for news in the paper that refused to cover the Hunter Biden laptop story before the election, except to mock it. They would never mock white-washing accusations about a Japanese tennis star about to become a cartoon character. Now that’s news that’s fit to print!

Why I finished reading such a story, I do not know; I have no life, I guess. So I soon came upon this:

Naomi Osaka, 23, the highest-earning female athlete on the planet, has emerged as one of the most vocal antiracism activists in the sports world. In the July issue of Esquire, she wrote about tackling racism while inhabiting multiple identities. Before matches this year, she wore masks bearing the names of Black victims of police violence.

Ah! So the opinions of this non-American athlete about U.S. racial issues matters—why? Because she is rich? Because she is bi-racial (Osaka is the daughter of a Japanese mother and a Haitian-American father)? Because she knows anything at all about America and its race problems? Or because the half-baked, ill-informed positions she spouts happen to be the “right” ones?

If you picked the last, you get…well, nothing, but you’re right. According to an earlier article (in Forbes), Osaka presumed to protest police brutality and racism by wearing face masks bearing these names: Breonna Taylor, Elijiah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice. You know: black victims of police violence. Except:

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Labor Day Ethics Break, 9/7/2020: Ironically, Somebody Needs To be Fired In All Of These Stories….

1. “Boy, he’s strict!”* Novak Djokovic, the top seeded player, defaulted from the United States Open after the ball he hit toward the back of the court in frustration hit a line judge in the neck. This violated the Grand Slam rule book’s  “physical abuse” provision, which states that players “shall not at any time physically abuse any official, opponent, spectator or other person within the precincts of the tournament site.” The  fine for this is to $20,000 for each violation of this rule, with the possibility of even more if it is deemed a “major offense.” In a statement, the United States Tennis Association said: “In accordance with the Grand Slam rule book, following his actions of intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences, the U.S. Open tournament referee defaulted Novak Djokovic from the 2020 U.S. Open. Because he was defaulted, Djokovic will lose all ranking points earned at the U.S. Open and will be fined the prize money won at the tournament in addition to any or all fines levied with respect to the offending incident.”

As I read it, if the ball bounced back and missed the line judge, the rule wouldn’t apply. If it did hit the judge, even though the result was unintentional, then the player gets the full penalty. What a moronic rule! I guess they’ve never heard of moral luck in the tennis world. Either it should be a serious offense to slam the ball anywhere on the court in anger whether someone is hurt or not, or it should be a violation to intentionally harm and official. The rules is incompetent and unethical.

Naturally, none of the stories about the episode point this out.

2. Oh no! Not this again! Seventh grader Isaiah Elliott of the Grand Mountain School just south of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was attending on online art class when a teacher saw Isaiah’s  toy gun, a neon green and black plastic “weapon” with an orange tip, and the words “Zombie Hunter” printed on the side. The teacher, an idiot, hysteric and bully,  notified the school principal, and Isaiah was suspended for five days. The school also called the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a welfare check on the boy without calling his parents first. Here’s the toy:

This is even more idiotic than this story, which was discussed here in June, about the kid whose teacher called the cops on him because she saw his BB gun.

The teacher should be fired and the principal should be fired. Isiah’s parents appear to be raising  hell. Good.  They would be terrible and irresponsible parents if they didn’t. There is an ethical  duty to confront this creeping state child abuse and indoctrination. Continue reading

Wuhan Virus Ethics Updates, Part 1

1. Why keep calling it the Wuhan virus? Because the largely successful news media and political correctness assault on the completely legitimate (and non-racist) label continues to bolster Chinese Communist propaganda and blame-shifting, and because the effort emerged as yet another use of Big Lie #4: “Trump Is A Racist/White Supremacist.”

As for me personally, I will keep using the term because I resent being told that what cannot possibly be racist is racist, especially when my capitulation enables similar political correctness bullying. See the Third Niggardly Principle.

2. Because it’s so darn difficult to maintain social distancing while playing tennis... About  200 yards from my home in Alexandria, Virginia, the public tennis courts have their nets removed by another proto-fascist. Yesterday, I saw two people playing on one of the courts using a self-rigged net.  Good for them.

3. The problem is, you can’t force bank employees to come to work. Our bank, a large national chain, has all of its offices closed in this area, Banking is certainly an essential  service, but the fact is that you can’t do banking completely remotely, though the bank is pretending you can. Its website asks for a social security number at the same time as scammers are sending out fake emails that lead you to an authentic-looking clone of the bank’s site so they can steal your personal data. Try to call to clarify or address any problem, and you get a message about how wait times are longer than usual. I’ll say they are: to try to get a fraudulent $4000 charge to our account cancelled, I had to wait for an hour and 40 minutes, then be transferred to wait another 35 minutes, then be cut off when a transfer failed.

Meanwhile, the bank’s on-hold music is played at an unbearable volume, and is an endless loop of some hellish arrangement of a melody that would have been rejected for a theme park ride. I am certain that the recording is designed to make you hang up, or, in the alternative, go crazy and run into the street naked.  It is exactly like the deliberately uncomfortable seats and garish color schemes fast food outlets use to ensure you vacate the premises the second you finish eating. I swear that there cannot be a single person on the globe who would find this music anything but torture. The genre is “loud, abrasive, repetitious semi-music,” and there is no market for that. It makes hip-hop seem like Chopin.

Banks are essential, and rather than stopping stores from selling “non-essential” items, the government ought to require really essential services to have open outlets to serve depositors and bank customers experiencing their own emergencies. If a 7-11 clerk can come to work, so can a bank employee. Banks have my property within their control, and in exchange for the privilege, they are obligated to respond when I need service related to that money. Continue reading

High Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 7/23/2019: Tennis Players, Baseball Players, An Unethical Football Player, And Tarzan

Where did the morning go?

1. Men don’t matter, so apparently this isn’t worth worrying about or criticizing... The same kind of body dysmorphia that has had feminists and psychologists attacking the media and popular culture for warping women’s concepts of acceptable and desirable body types is affecting men just as negatively, it seems. It’s just that nobody cares.

From Barbie to “Baywatch,” the culture’s emphasis on absurdly proportioned and gorgeous, never-aging women has been blamed for poor self-image, anorexia, breast implants, botox, obsessive dieting and exercising, and weight loss scams. The culture’s relatively recent obsession with male physiques that once would have been regarded as freakish, however, is seldom criticized.

Where once he-men and heart throbs like Clark Gable, John Wayne and even Tarzan himself, Johnny Weissmuller, didn’t hesitate to appear in films looking fit but hardly muscle-bound, like this

and this…

and this…

..now even minor minor male characters on TV, in ads and movies have to show bulging pecs, swollen delts and a rock-like six pack, despite the fact that such bodies, unlike those of Gable, the Duke and Johnny, are impossible for most men to attain while maintaining a healthy and productive life-style.

A study published in June found that 22% of men aged 18-24 reported muscularity-oriented disordered eating. Lead researcher Dr Jason Nagata of the University of California says, “The drive for a bigger, more muscular body is becoming very prevalent. Their entire day is spent at the gym trying to bulk up. They may also be taking illicit supplements like steroids.”

Men, however, seldom seek treatment for the problem, and media and social critics continue to concentrate on the pop culture’s unhealthy effects on the body images of girls, not boys.

2. More reason to detest Tom Brady. Here’s father Tom Brady forcing his 6-year-old daughter to jump off a cliff:

Nice.

Hey! I get to use three favorite Ethics Alarms terms in one mini-post! This is res ipsa loquitur for irresponsible parenting. It is signature significance as well, because no good parent would do this to so young a child, even once. And it is moral luck: if Brady’s daughter had been injured in the jump, and she easily could have been, Brady would be widely and justifiably condemned, and possibly charged with child endangerment. That she was not hurt was just moral luck: it doesn’t change the ethics verdict on his conduct at all. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/30/18: Double Standards, Signature Significance, Facebook Tricks, And Pettiness From Beyond The Grave!

Gliddy glup gloopy!!

1. Tennis Ethics: Yes, I’d call this a double standard…When I saw the headline at AOL— “The US Open has been accused of sexism after a female tennis player was slapped with a code violation for changing her top in the middle of a match”—I assumed that this was another bare-breasts equality story. No, it was even stupider than that. At the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows this week,  Alizé Cornet was playing Swedish star Johanna Larsson when Cornet realized she  had put her her top on backwards during a break.

So she quickly fixed the wardrobe malfunction on the court, briefly exposing her black sports bra. The Horror. The umpire slapped Cornet with a code violation, unsportsmanlike conduct. But male players frequently remove their shirts on the sidelines, and usually aren’t wearing any bra at all. Indeed, male player Novak Djokovic  removed his shirt on the same day Cornet received her warning. Women’s Tennis Association rules state that women are not allowed to change clothes while on the court, but there is no similar rule for men.

2. Signature significance for an unethical politician. (But it’s Andrew Cuomo, so we knew that anyway.) During the New York  gubernatorial candidates’ debate  between Governor Andrew Cuomo and actress-turned-politician Cynthia Nixon, there was this exchange,

Cuomo: Excuse me, can you stop interrupting? 

Nixon: Can you stop lying?

Cuomo: Yeah, as soon as you do!

The audience thought this was funny.

New Yorkers.

3. Today’s  alarming “Nah, [enter Social media of mega-tech company here]  doesn’t abuse its power 0r manipulate information for a political agenda! Why would anyone suggest such a thing?” note:

NPR, to its credit, published an investigative reporting piece debunking a popular anti-gun fake stat, one that David Hogg et al. have wielded repeatedly: the U.S. Education Department’s claim that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools … reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting.”  The NPR investigation findings:

“…NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened. Child Trends, a nonpartisan nonprofit research organization, assisted NPR in analyzing data from the government’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.

In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn’t respond to our inquiries.

“When we’re talking about such an important and rare event, [this] amount of data error could be very meaningful,” says Deborah Temkin, a researcher and program director at Child Trends.

Gee, ya think?

This statistic has been disputed before, but since the challenges came from conservative news media, the NRA or other Second Amendment supporters, the mainstream media kept using it, and I’m sure the Parkland kids will keep using it anyway, since facts seem to have little importance to them. National Public Radio, however, has been resolutely anti-gun for decades, and never saw a liberal cause it didn’t admire.

When a Facebook user shared the NPR article on Facebook, however, it was removed because, as Facebook informed him,  “it looks like spam and [it] doesn’t follow our Community Standards.” See?

Again: You cannot trust these companies or the people who run them. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Race-Baiting Click-Bait At The Daily Beast”

Ethics Alarms commenter Mrs. Q has proven herself the master of blending personal experience with ethical analysis, and we are blessed with another example of her best work, a Comment of the Day on the recent post about a Daily Beast editor’s attack on Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova. Here she enlightens us from her perspective on confirmation bias, and its current damaging effects on public discourse and independent thought.

Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day on the post, Race-Biting Click-Bait At The Daily Beast:

What’s going on here is total BS in the form of Mr. Madison’s racism, not Sharapova’s. Clearly he conflated the very correct description of Williams body, with that of ….? I suspect the real story is this guy feels traumatized that everyone else is a racist when I bet if he looked in the mirror, he’d discover we all have prejudices and it’s part of what creates a society that forgives one another.

Back in the day primitive shamans used rituals to hypnotize victims into fear and trauma. Having been a Social Studies major and Women’s Studies minor, I must say, in a way, being a minority, especially brown and queer, is wild at a liberal arts school. Every day was a new trauma of story after story about how terrible America is. Before kids chanted “cultural appropriation” today, I was doing it when I saw Mohawks, African masks, and whatever else displeased my social justice blood thirst. One day I couldn’t take another class in exploring my own oppression. I needed to go live and set my mind free of the prejudices I came to have against whites, men, heterosexuals, etc. I just couldn’t wear myself and others out with indignant anger anymore.

When my wife and I; an interracial same-sex married couple, go traveling, we love to go to small towns and rural areas. Only liberals say to us “why would you go to X with all those rednecks?” People who have bumper stickers that say “Co-exist” or “Love is Love” will say to us “aren’t you scared to be around those Republicans with guns?” Every time we visit a place like rural Montana, Eastern Oregon, or all of Idaho, we meet the most friendly people. Those who we can tell aren’t abiding by the ‘Worship Diversity’ religion just treat us as anyone else and mind their business. It’s SO MUCH BETTER than being pandered to constantly in the city by Saint Social and Friar Justice. Continue reading