Saturday Ethics Freakout, 6/20/2020: Fake News, Resignations, Topplings And Cancellations…But Also Hope

I know just how you feel, Homer.

1. Mainstream media journalism, 2020. I thank Tim Levier for this classic, from NBC News:

Fake news. First, the Court did NOT rule that Trump cannot end DACA. The opinion by Chief Justice Roberts said explicitly that he can. Second, “Dreamers”  were not legal immigrants so they cannot magically become legal immigrants. At best, they will be illegal immigrants who have been given a pass for their violation.  The tweet is deceptive, misleading, and incompetent.

2. Cancellations, Resignations and Topplings Update! The current list of entertainment celebrities and politicians who have been documented as wearing blackface for one reason or another is long, and if one falls to the mob, the rest might start feeling awfully nervous.

The list includes Justin Trudeau, Ralph Northam, Howard Stern, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Joy Behar, Sarah Silverman, Ted Danson, Gigi Hadid, Julianne Hough and Billy Crystal.  Right now rumors are swirling around the irredeemable Jimmy Kimmel, who has suddenly announced a hiatus, with many speculating that he is holding on to his job by a thread…and if he goes, the innocuous Fallon may be next. Though Stern, Kimmel and Behar are blights on the culture whose professional demise I would cheer, long past blackface dabbling should not be used to punish any of these people now….except perhaps the Virginia Governor.  Northam is a special case, because his party is wildly hypocritical to allow him to escape accountability when it is cheering on the mobs. However, again, a law school costume has no relevance to the Governor today.

As for Trudeau–I don’t care.

3. Cancellations, Resignations and Topplings Update, Literary Division. At the Poetry Foundation earlier this month,  leadership was forced to resign because its official grovel to Black Lives Matter and the George Floyd mob was deemed not abject enough. The Foundation had issued a brief, four-sentence statement on June 3, expressing “solidarity with the Black community” and declaring faith in “the strength and power of poetry to uplift in times of despair.” This prompted a critical uproar from the progressive poets, with another letter from members calling the statement “worse than the bare minimum” and an insult to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other African-American victims of police violence. The foundation’s president and board chairman then quit, because, I suppose, poets are lovers, not fighters.

“As poets, we recognize a piece of writing that meets the urgency of its time with the appropriate fire when we see it — and this is not it,” the letter said. “Given the stakes, which equate to no less than genocide against Black people, the watery vagaries of this statement are, ultimately, a violence.”

Genocide! Talk about poetic license. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/26/18: Ominous Portents

Good Morning!

This day in ethics: in 1908: the FBI was founded as the the Office of the Chief Examiner, and re-named a year later. Few American institutions have as mixed an ethical legacy, and the cognitive dissonance continues. In 1984, one of the most evil men in U.S. history died, though his exploits have inspired as many works of fiction and entertainment as many a more virtuous figure. Ed Gein, the serial killer who was the inspiration for “Psycho,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Silence of the Lambs” and many others novels and films,  and about half the episodes on the long-running CBS drama “Criminal Minds, finally went to his maker. The identity of this monster’s “maker” is a matter of debate.

1. Baseball ethics and a troubling societal blind spot.  The American League Rangers finally demoted struggling outfielder Delino DeShields to Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday. The real question should be what too them so long. Despite playing solid defense in the outfield, DeShields, 25, has hit just .204  in 322 plate appearances this season with an  On base+Slugging total of .570, which is, for you sad baseball unenlightened, objectively horrible. Any OPS under .700 is unacceptable in the major leagues.

Yet an unnamed Rangers player told reporters that such demotions don’t breed a winning culture and instead breed complacency. Funny, I always thought complacency was when an organization just accepted sub-par performance rather than moving to address it. Yes, even in baseball, the toxic idea that employees have a right to their jobs no matter how well or poorly they perform them is on the rise, and with it support for America’s socialists. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Texas Rangers Ace Yu Darvish

 

Only Yu...

Only Yu…

Pitcher Yu Darvish is 7-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 14 starts this season. The ace of the Texas Rangers pitching staff has amassed 118 strikeouts in 96 1/3 innings, and is undeniably one of the top hurlers in the American League. He would be chosen for the All-Star game, beyond question, except that he says he doesn’t want to play, and won’t.

He’s a jerk and an ingrate.  The reason Darvish is paid the millions of dollars he is to work once every five days is the support and interest of baseball fans and the huge sums television pays Major League Baseball for its premium attractions, the World Series, the play-offs, and the All-Star Game. The latter is a gift to the fans, an exhibition that purports to be a “dream game,” and once was how the players, with the help of the game’s turnstile receipts, replenished the tills of the players’ retirement fund.

Being selected to the game is an honor, as well as a chance to show the fans that these throwing and batting tycoons play for something more than money, and for someone other than themselves. Virtually every player would love to have the four days off, but they show up anyway, to give their team’s fans someone to root for, to show loyalty to their league, and respect to the game.

Not Darvish…he says he would rather go shopping.

A Baseball Integrity Conundrum: The Non-Hit That Is Always Called A Hit But Shouldn’t Be

In baseball, when a batter gets lucky and his pop-up or fly falls between fielders who could have easily caught it but who got mixed up, allowing the ball to drop in safely, it is scored as a hit, not an error, as long as neither fielder touched it on the way down. Sometimes this makes sense; usually it doesn’t. Then again, it also is ruled a hit if an immobile, fat outfielder can’t run down a fly ball that the average Little League could catch with ease, whereas if a faster outfielder runs over, catches the ball but drops it, it would be an error. Such are the scoring vagaries of baseball.

This particular rule of scoring drives some aficionados of the game nuts. Why should the pitcher be charged with a hit if his fielders were at fault? Why should a hitter get credit for a hit when what he did would have been an out if the fielders didn’t mess up, or the wind wasn’t blowing, or the sun didn’t get in their eyes? They are right, but a hit is what the game defines as a hit, and by practice and tradition, this has always been called one, so it is.

Except that on Friday night in Arlington, Texas, it wasn’t. Yu Darvish, the Abbott and Costello-named Texas Rangers ace, was pitching a masterpiece against the Boston Red Sox. In fact, with two outs in the 7th inning he was working on not just a no-hitter but a perfect game (no batter reaches base), either of which qualifies as a major, landmark achievement. Then Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (who would later single to break up the no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning) hit a high pop-up to shallow right field, an easy out….except that it fell, untouched, between the Rangers second baseman and the right fielder, Nelson Cruz, who could have and should have caught it. It was a terrible way for a pitcher to lose a perfect game and a no-hitter, and a collective sigh of disappointment came from the Texas crowd, only to turn to cheers when the scorer (local sportswriters are given the job of deciding hits and errors in Major League Baseball) ruled the ball an error on Cruz. The perfect game was gone—anything, even an error, mars that—but the no-hitter was alive!
Continue reading

The Monsters, the Baseball and the Kid

“WAAA! I wanted that ball! By the way, where am I?”

I skipped this ten-minute controversy from last month, but I think it was worth mentioning from several ethics angles, so consider this catch-up.

Rangers fans Sean Leonard and Shannon Moore were at a Texas Rangers-Yankee game a few weeks ago when a  game ball was tossed into the stands by Texas’s Mitch Moreland. They caught it and gleefully posed for the TV cameras, which also caught a three-year old boy crying hysterically next to them. Immediately, the couple was vilified far and wide, on TV, in blogs and on radio talk shows ( Business Insider called them “The Monsters Who Made A Little Boy Cry”)  for taking the ball and not giving it to the child. The main accuser  who sparked all this hatred was Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay, who told his radio audience that the couple was taunting the unhappy boy.

Outrageous, all right, but Kay, not the couple. Kay’s description of what occurred was speculative and even fanciful, and for other commentators to commence vilifying the two fans without knowing anything about them, or even why the child was crying, was frighteningly unfair, irresponsible and cruel. Yes, you too can be caught on camera and turned into a national punching bag! Later, we discovered that…. Continue reading

The Shannon Stone Tragedy Ethics Quiz, Part II

Don't try this if you're not a firefighter

 Many commenters were upset with me for characterizing the tragic death of Shannon Stone, who fell to his death while trying to catch a ball during a Texas Rangers game, as the result of his own bad judgment, suggesting that I was impugning the character of a dead man. (I wasn’t.) That reaction sparks the second Ethics Alarms quiz question relating to the incident.

NBC baseball blogger (and lawyer) Craig Calcaterra put up a post this morning headlined “Idiot nearly falls from the stands chasing a ball at the Home Run Derby”:

“Just days after Shannon Stone died from a fall while reaching for a baseball at a Texas Rangers game, a fan at last night’s Home Run Derby nearly fell out of the outfield stands while lunging for a home run ball hit by Prince Fielder.  He was spared serious injury or death only because his friends grabbed him by his feet, held him and then pulled him back as he dangled over the railing above a concrete deck 20 feet below…His name is Keith Carmickle, and common sense is not his forte. His fall came after he stepped up onto the narrow metal table which abutted the railing — the kind you stand in front of and set your drink on while watching the game — and then, while still standing on it, reached down low to catch the ball as it came in…He missed the ball, but his momentum carried him forward and he fell headfirst over the rail. If it wasn’t for his brother’s and his friends’ quick action, down he would have gone. Despite his idiocy, he (a) escaped this dangerous situation of his own making unscathed; and (b) was allowed to stay at the Derby by security. Both of these factors have been added to the “evidence that there is no God and/or that He is not just and fair” side of the big ledger I keep on my desk and in which I tally the wonder and folly of Humanity as I encounter it…”

Your questions to answer, if you dare: 1) Is it fair for Calcaterra to call Carmickle an idiot, and Stone just a random victim of circumstance? 2) Why or why not? Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Should Shannon Stone’s Family Sue the Texas Rangers?

One Thursday, a 39-year-old firefighter named Shannon Stone leaned over a stadium railing at a Texas Rangers game to catch a ball flipped into the stands by Ranger outfielder Josh Hamilton.  Stone’s son, 6-year old Cooper, was a big Hamilton fan, and the devoted father made an extra effort, catching the ball but falling over the railing down to the concrete 20 feet below. He went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital, and died.

The railing where Stone fell is 33 inches, seven inches more that the legally required 26 inches. Why is it that short? So people sitting in the front row can see the game without having to look through the railing. Is it dangerous? Well, it was dangerous this time.

Everyone, naturally, is horrified by the tragedy. The Rangers held a moment of silence for the firefighter at the game last night. Hamilton, who like all major league players has been instructed to toss inning-ending balls and retrieved fouls into the stands for fans to catch as souvenirs, is understandably distraught.

Your Ethics Quiz: Should the Stone family sue the Rangers? Continue reading

Stupid Unethical Reporter Tricks

If true, what Sports Illustrated reporter Jon Heyman is being accused of by his colleagues is a major ethics breach. The context—a free agent baseball star’s negotiation with teams competing with each other for his services—is a narrow one, but it challenges us to ponder how often the same dishonesty occurs in other news reporting contexts. Continue reading