Ethics Quiz: Tiger’s Sexist, Juvenile Gag

Once again, we enter the weird realm of offensive or arguably offensive jokes that become public through accident, eavesdropping or betrayal. In such cases, the audience most certain to be offended by the joke learns of it despite the intent of the jokester.

The all-time champion in this category was Nixon/Ford Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz. At the 1976  Republican National Convention (which nominated President Ford, ultimately defeated by Jimmy Carter), Pat Boone asked Butz, then in a three-way conversation with Boone and John Dean, why the party of Abraham Lincoln couldn’t attract the support of more blacks. Butz, who may have been drunk, answered, “Because coloreds only want three things. You know what they want? I’ll tell you what coloreds want. It’s three things: first, a tight pussy; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to shit. That’s all!”

As Otter told Flounder, Butz had “fucked up.” He trusted John Dean, who was at the convention as a reporter for “Rolling Stone.” Dean repeated the joke in his published story, and  the uproar forced Butz to resign.

The Tiger Woods incident isn’t anywhere near as bad as the Butz episode, but it raised some of the same issues.During the first round of tlat week’s Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club on February 16, 2023, in Pacific Palisades, California, Woods out-drove friend and competitor Justin Thomas. As they walked way from the tee, Woods surreptitiously (he thought) handed Thomas a tampon, a hoary guy-gag meaning “You play like a girl.” But cameras caught the exchange (above), and though Thomas appeared to be amused, others were not. Veteran female sportswriter Christine Brennan’s reaction was typical, as she wrote in part,

I’m guessing most of the millions of fathers and mothers who support their athletic daughters probably have long since retired all their juvenile pranks that were intended to demean the ability of those girls they love and for whom they spend so much time cheering. 

But not our Tiger. 

No, he employed basic misogyny to insult his good friend Thomas, a knee-slapper of a dig against female athletes: You hit the ball like a girl!…

[W]hen the biggest name in the sport’s history is giddily spreading misogyny down the fairway, it might just confirm a woman’s suspicions about golf and send her to any one of the scores of other sports she can play for the rest of her life without running into a dude playing a juvenile tampon joke.

Woods sort of apologized… Continue reading

Wow—Is This The Most Contrived Feminist Complaint Ever Put Into Print? [CORRECTED]

Lindsay Crouse—the writer, not the actress, as I originally assumed in the original version of this post— has an op-ed in the New York Times called Why Don’t Women Get Comebacks Like Tiger Woods?” (Thanks to Althouse for pointing me to it: I tend to avoid the Sunday Times Review section since it became a repetitious Trump-bashing fest week after week.)

Here’s Crouse’s argument, condensed, in her own words: Continue reading

The Fifth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2013 (Part Two of Three)


The Ethics Alarms review of a truly disheartening year in ethics continues with fallen heroes, ficks, fools and follies with Part Two of the 2013 Worst of Ethics awards….and there’s one last section to come. Be very afraid:

Fallen Hero of the Year

Edward Snowden, whose claim to civil disobedience was marred by his unwillingness to accept the consequences of his actions, whose pose as a whistle-blower was ruined by the disclosure that he took his job with the intention of exposing national secrets, and whose status as a freedom-defending patriot lies in ruins as he seeks harbor with not only America’s enemy, but a human rights-crushing enemy at that. The NSA’s over-reach and mismanagement is a scandal, but Snowden proved that he is no hero.

Unmitigated Gall of  The Year

Minnesota divorce lawyer Thomas P. Lowes not only violated the bar’s ethics rules by having sex with his female  client…he also billed her his hourly fee for the time they spent having sex , a breach of the legal profession’s rule against “unreasonable fees.” Yes, he was suspended. But for not long enough…

Jumbo Of The Year

(Awarded To The Most Futile And Obvious Lie)

Jumbo film

“Now, if you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”

—–President Obama

2013 Conflicts of Interest of the Year Continue reading

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

Ethics Poison From Nike and Tiger Woods

Woods AdWoods Ad2

…and not for the first time, in either case.

But Woods’ new ad for Nike in the wake of his resurgence in his sport, is audaciously unethical, braying a dangerous, corrupting message into the cultural atmosphere, endorsing, in five simple-minded words, consequentialism, the Star Syndrome, the King’s Pass, non-ethical considerations over ethical ones, and “the ends justify the means.” That’s a pretty impressive load of ethics offal in so few words: congratulations to the soulless ignoramus who devised it.

The assorted miscreants, past and present, who would have gladly stood in for Tiger in his damning ad include dictators, despots, mass murderers, gangsters and corrupt politicians like Richard Daley, Marion Barry, Charley Rangel and Tom DeLay, corporate bandits, assassins, robber barons, Wall Street criminals, athletic cheaters like Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds, serial fathers like the NBA’s priapic stars, arrogant social misfits like Charley Sheen, con artists and liars in all walks of life, and of course, our most popular politician, the man whose entire career is based on Nike’s new motto, William Jefferson Clinton.

I almost forgot the terrorists. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Derek Jeter

Roger Clemens is now on trial facing perjury charges. Barry Bonds has been convicted of obstruction of justice. Pacman Jones has just been arrested again; Tiger Woods hasn’t won a golf tournament since he was exposed as a serial adulterer. Through the travails and embarrassments of all of these and many more tarnished athletes who were once looked upon as cultural heroes, Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter has remained a constant— a team player, a clutch player, and an undeniably great player who has maintained his integrity and high values of competition and sportsmanship, never betraying the trust of his fans, his city, his team, or his game.

Yesterday Jeter reached 3000 hits, the watermark of the greatest of the greats, becoming the only lifetime New York Yankee to do so. He achieved the magic number with the flair only special players can muster, rising to a grand occasion like Ted Williams, hitting a home run in his final at bat, or Cal Ripken, marking  his passing of Lou Gehrig’s “iron man” record for consecutive games with a homer. Yesterday, Jeter passed 3000 in a rush, going 5 for 5 with the hit # 3000 being, yes, a round-tripper. Continue reading

Bret Favre, Meet Derek, LeBron, and Tiger

Recent revelations about Joe DiMaggio’s conduct while doing PR work for the military during World War II shocked some people who had been humming “Mrs. Robinson” over the years. Joe, as insiders had long maintained, really was a selfish and anti-social guy, far from the knight in shining armor that the public took him to be. But he played his hero role well when he was in the public eye, and that is to his credit: DiMaggio met his obligation as a hero-for-hire. Athletic heroes are challenged to live up to their on-field character, and not surprisingly, few are equal to the task. One who was has been back in the news lately: Stan (the Man) Musial, the St. Louis baseball great who will soon be awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

In these anxious times when every institution and every champion seems to betray us eventually, sports heroes who can remain untarnished are especially valuable, which is one reason why they earn so much money. On the field, court, course, ring or track, they can exhibit courage, trustworthiness, selflessness, leadership, sacrifice, diligence, loyalty, fair play and sportsmanship to inspire us and serve as role models for our children. All they have to do is avoid showing that it is all an illusion after the games are over. It shouldn’t be difficult, yet it is.

Tiger Woods only needed to be a responsible and trustworthy husband and father. LeBron James only had to avoid revealing himself as a fame-obsessed child. Derek Jeter only had to resist the impulse to extort the team he symbolized for money he neither deserved or needed. Yet they couldn’t, or wouldn’t do it. They hurt their own images, reputation and legacy beyond repair, but more important, they robbed us of heroes that we sorely need.

The latest addition to the pantheon of fallen idols is Bret Favre, the star NFL quarterback now suffering through the humiliating final season that was more or less guaranteed by his inability to retire while he could still pick up a football. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Donald Trump

I know, I know. The ethicist’s equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

Nonetheless, even for the notoriously shameless and tasteless real estate mogul, this is a new low. He has recruited Rachel Uchitel for his self-promotion vehicle reality show, “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Uchitel, in case you’ve lost count, was the first of Tiger Woods’ many mistresses to be identified by the press.

Now every attractive woman seeking fame and fortune has a motive to contribute to the destruction of male celebrities’ marriages, to help disrupt  their children’s lives and shatter their sense of security, and to aid and abet self-destructive, dishonest, cruel conduct. If you do it well enough, Donald Trump will make you a star! Soon you can be appearing on other reality shows, making money, hiring an agent, getting photo spreads in the Globe and National Enquirer. All it takes is plenty of greed, a lot of ambition, and no shame. Talent, hard work, skill and intelligence are optional, and maybe even a disadvantage. Continue reading

Journalistic Ethics Cluelessness: Weigel, Outrageous Bias, and the Washington Post

There can be no doubt : the main-stream media is so ideologically biased that it can’t recognize obvious bias anymore, even when it undermines its credibility. That is the only conclusion one can reach from the amazing story of David Weigel, who was awarded a Post website blog to write about “inside the conservative movement.” David Weigel, as his recently leaked e-mails to a mailing list shows, detests conservatives, conservatives views, positions, commentators and leaders. He does so not in a possibly manageable “there are evident problems with the extremists in this movement and some of its underlying philosophy” fashion, but it a “I hate these morons and wish they’d all die” way, which is exactly the sentiment many of his messages convey.

Giving someone like Weigel the role of reporting on conservatives is exactly as responsible and fair as letting Michelle Malkin cover the progressive movement, asking Senator Inhofe to cover climate change developments, asking Gloria Allred to keep us up-to-date on the life of Tiger Woods, or giving Helen Thomas the assignment of covering Israel. And yet that is exactly what the Washington Post did. Continue reading

The Ethics of Helen Thomas Awards

When does an honor start honoring the wrong values? This tricky ethical problem is now in the spotlight thanks to the sudden self-destruction of Helen Thomas, who blurted anti-Semitic sentiments to a Rabbi, on camera, in an impromptu interview.

There are journalism awards named after Thomas, including The Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement given by the Society for Professional Journalism. Now that Thomas has included among her life time achievements a demand that the Jews “get the hell out of Israel” and go back to Germany and Poland—you know: “where they belong,” what does her name on the award mean to future recipients? Is accepting it a tacit endorsement of her views? Or should individuals be assessed on the totality of their careers, and not solely identified with their inevitable missteps. no matter how reprehensible? The latter was a common theme of eulogizers at President Richard Nixon’s funeral. Continue reading