The Augusta National Golf Club. Shows How Virtue-Signaling Can Be Unethical

“Virtue-signaling” was going to be the 2017 Ethics Alarms “Unethical Trend of the Year” if I had ever had time to compile that year’s “Ethics Alarms Best and Worst” lists. Until it was overtaken by “presumed racism” in 2020, it was probably the winner in 2018 and 2019 as well. Now it’s on the rise again, thanks to corporations beclowning themselves and abusing their societal roles by taking political stands based on nothing but a desire to appeal to the woke social media mobs.

Signaling one’s virtue, real or imaginary, is not necessarily unethical, but it is always obnoxious. Just as smart people don’t have claim that they are smart, good people and organizations that ostentatiously trumpet what they think will get them societal brownie points should start ethics alarms faintly ringing. I don’t trust such organizations. They are usually sucking up to what they perceive as majorities, meaning that they have no ethical principles themselves, and, sadly, most businesses don’t. At its best, virtue-signaling shows a deficit in humility, modesty, and self-restraint. Its worst is nicely demonstrated by the recent statement by Fred Ridley, the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.

Since Major League Baseball immolated itself and gratuitously harmed the Atlanta community by relocating the 2021 All Star Game as its demonstration of unethical virtue-signaling, activist have been pushing the PGA to do the same with the Masters. Is “lemminging” a word?

The responsible course for the Masters and related parties to take would be to shut up, firmly. It is a sports organization, and should not have any position on political matters and partisan debates. But Ridley, who is especially worthless in this matter because for his golf club to lose the Masters would be a disaster of biblical proportions—“Dogs and cats, playing golf together!”—, so he has a conflict of interest, apparently couldn’t help himself, or was forced into blathering by some of his club’s more influential and less intelligent members.

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Tiger Woods Cheated! Who’s Surprised?

Marital fidelity was a previous rule Tiger thought was stupid. Nike must be so proud.

Marital fidelity was a previous rule Tiger thought was stupid. Nike must be so proud.

The fact that Tiger Woods finished fourth in the Masters was a stroke of moral luck that will allow, in all probability, the memory of his lack of sportsmanship and the PGA’s lack of integrity to cause a bit less harm to professional golf, at least until the next time Tiger tries to cut ethical corners. He is, after all, a shameless cheater with a deeply flawed character. It was just a matter of time before he managed, as the sport’s biggest name, to corrupt it. Now, he has.

During the tournament, Woods improved his lie after a stray shot by taking an illegal drop, and did so in such a blatant and obvious manner that TV viewers noticed it. Based on his experience and the rules of golf, Tiger should have known that what he was doing was a violation; based on his later statement to ESPN, in which he admitted that he placed his ball “2 yards”  behind where it belonged to give himself a better shot at the green, he did know. USGA rule 26-1 says a golfer must “play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot” from which he or she originally hit it. As Christine Brennan correctly explained in USA Today, previous golfers who have committed far less serious infractions have withdrawn from competition to preserve golf’s status as the last major sport that expects competitors to police their own conduct. Golf has an honor code. There is nothing honorable about Tiger Woods. Continue reading