Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/22/2020: A Girl Named Nazi, And Other Ethics Puzzles

Good morning!

Believe it or not, that was what kids looked forward to on Saturday mornings.

Amazing.

1. Naming Ethics. I just learned that the U.S. Women’s Chess Champion in 2016 and 2018, is named  Nazi Paikidze.  Apparently in her parents’ native Georgian her euphonious first name means “gentle.”

Oh! Well no problem then!

2. Completely unrelated…no really, completely...In Hobart, Indiana, 23-year-old Kyren Gregory Perry-Jones and 18-year-old Cailyn Marie Smith drove up to two teenage boys who were riding their bikes, and asked if they supported President Donald Trump. The two boys’ bicycles were flying small American flags. After they answered yes, the couple swerved to drive them off the road.  Perry-Jones, according to the boys; account, left his car to rip one of the flags from its bike tossed it on the road, got back into his vehicle and ran over it. He also shouted, “Don’t let me see you downtown.”

The suspects—I wonder who their candidate is? My money’s on Bernie—were apprehended after they posted videos of the incident on Snapchat. One shows Cailyn Marie saying,  “Ya’ll scared, just like your President!…America is not great!” to the teens. I haven’t used tis video in a while, and this seems like a good time..

 

The two have been charged  with felony counts of intimidation and criminal recklessness. Continue reading

Late Sunday Ethics Dump, 2/9/2020: Firings, Voting, A Holiday Swap, And Chris Matthews Breaks Ranks

I can’t believe I’m writing this at 8:30 pm.

(Who knows when I will finish it..)

No, I’m not watching the Oscars, because one political remark—we have been warned that Obama and Clinton speechwriter are ghostwriting winners’ acceptance speeches—might send me into the streets with a machete. Grace is still in a lot of pain and depressed in the aftermath of her fall  17 days, two hours and six minutes ago (the bouquet from the Ethics Alarms Commentariat is still beautiful); believe it or not, the Christmas tree is still not completely undecorated because I’ve been doing it, alone, in five minute increments, and really am in mortal fear that a drooling hoard of the Walking Trump Deranged will burst through the windows any minute now based on the crazy things I’m reading on social media. I believe that I have never lived through a period when so many smart people were expressing such astoundingly stupid assertions.

But the delayed Mookie Betts trade with the Dodgers finally got straightened out, so there’s that…

1.  On the topic of stupid positions adopted by smart people. Naturally, Trump Derangement is the culprit. All these people caterwauling about the President firing Lt. Col. Vinderman, his twin brother, and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in the aftermath of the impeachment trial have forgotten whatever they once knew about management, common sense, and accountability.

“This shows this President’s respect for TRUTH!” wrote one temporarily–I hope–lobotomized friend. Wow. This isn’t especially complicated. Once a President no longer trusts a subordinate, he not only is justified in firing him or her, he has to, or he is incompetent and naive. It doesn’t matter if the distrust is justified, either. If the subordinate or appointee has shifty eyes, or seems evasive in his answers, that’s enough. No President in our history has been so routinely betrayed and undermined by leakers, partisan moles and Deep State vigilantes. Continue reading

What’s The Ethical Response When Your Life And Reputation Collapses, And It’s Your Fault? My 12 Step Program For Alex Cora

I have been thinking a  lot about what I would do if I were Alex Cora.

In the past, people who have had the kind of precipitous public fall from grace that Cora has had often committed suicide. That’s neither an ethical nor reasonable response for the former Boston manager, but what is an ethical and reasonable response?

If you don’t know: Alex Cora was, until recently, one of the most popular, secure and successful young managers in Major League Baseball. His present was bright—he had a contract that paid him $800,000 a year, he was one of the faces of the Boston Red Sox, a storied franchise with a fanatic following, he was seen as a role model and an an inspiring  figure who represented the game, his city and his team, as well as his Puerto Rico home. His future was if anything, brighter: more money, perhaps even greater success with a talented and wealthy club, endorsement contracts, upper management, books, broadcasting…and of course, adulation, celebrity and fame.

Then, in the span of days, it was all gone. Cora was named as the mastermind of a sign-stealing cheating scandal that devastated the Houston Astros, and as the likely one responsible for another cheating scandal in Boston. He was fired as Boston’s manager, and the fans, and sports media are furious. Cora is certain to be suspended without pay for two years, and to be pronounced persona non grata in baseball for the foreseeable future. No baseball team will want to be associated with Alex Cora even after his official punishment is over.

So far, Cora has not addressed all of this in public; presumably he is awaiting the MLB report after its investigation of Boston’s sign-stealing in 2018. He has not yet apologized nor acknowledged wrong-doing. What is the most ethical way for him to proceed?

If I were hired to give Cora professional guidance about the way to proceed in the most ethical manner possible, what would it be? Cora still has to earn a living. He has to go on living too: he has a family. He has responsibilities.

Here are the 12 steps—it just turned out that way, I swear. Okay, when I got to ten and realized I was near the end, I did think, “Surely this can be jiggered to have 12 steps..”—that I would urge Alex Cora to follow: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: Santa In A MAGA Cap”

The issue of whether a mall should have fired a long-time Santa who posed for gag photo in a MAGA cap inevitably invited comparisons with the Naked Teacher Principle, which holds “that a secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for  children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result.” There are many variations of the NTP, including the recently visited Naked Congresswoman Principle, which cost Rep. Katie Hill her seat.

The question: Is there, or should there be a “President Trump-supporting Santa Claus Principle?

Here is Alizia’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz: Santa In A MAGA Cap”

“I think this one might fall into The Naked Teacher Principle.”

I think I can understand why you would say that, but I think there are a few problems with that assessment. I will try to explain:

First, a school teacher who engages in sexual misconduct, is transgressing in a limited area. Our social norms — though this is changing of course — does not allow teachers of children to appear to be loose sexually. Long ago, and more especially for women who were teachers — and mostly women were teachers — it was part of cultural norms that a teacher have a ‘chaste appearance’.

But in a sense there is no issue of ‘speech’ involved when and if a teacher posts a naked photo. That is, there is no ‘speech content’ or political opinion expressed. If there is a ‘speech’ issue it is only of a vary limited sort.

The Santa who had his photo taken with a Trump hat should never have had to apologize to anyone. He was completely free to take such a photo of himself. There is no possible argument that could be brought out in a so-called free society that could successfully take the man’s right away. Continue reading

A Cautionary Tale: The Corruption Of Post Columnist Colbert King, Part II

Part I is here.

King refused to apply his usual ethics alarms to Obama, but continued to be a credible and objective analyst where the D.C. government was involved. He was an instant Donald Trump-hater, however. the second the 2016 results were known. I can understand reaction to the two-time runaway winner of the Ethics Alarms “Asshole of the Year” award. But King concluded Trump was a racist—his embrace of  birther accusations against his beloved Obama was enough to guarantee that—and once Trump was elected, King became the Post’s counterpart to Trump-deranged Times columnist Charles M. Blow, except that King at his worst is usually more endurable than Blow at his best.

King’s latest anti-Trump screed, however, shows how far a smart pundit can fall when the cognitive dissonance scale and confirmation bias work in tandem, especially when old age marches on and one is mired in both work and personal bubbles where a single bias dominates.

The column begins with one of my least varieties of fake news, future news, when a journalist sets out to push a negative view of a politician based on what he will do.  The headline is “It’s a good bet Trump pardons his felon allies. Here’s when that’s most likely.”

I don’t think it is a good bet, though it is certainly possible. King assumes it is a good bet, as his column makes clear (along with all of his previous columns relating to Trump) because he thinks of the President as a corrupt racketeer. King’s once nimble mind  is now incapable of imagining a justification for pardoning the “allies” in question, Roger Stone, Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort. I can: arguably all three of them were indicted and convicted because of the “resistance”effort to try to drive Donald Trump from office, and to send a message to anyone who might be of value to his administration that they would instantly be in cross-hairs if they dared to try to support the President. President  Trump might feel responsible for their plight, and use his absolute clemency power to relieve their burdens. If so, it would not be an unprecedented political or personal use of the pardon and clemency power. King reallywas just using this question as a pretense to vent about the President, whom he detests, shredding his own credibility in the process. For example, Continue reading

A Cautionary Tale: The Corruption Of Post Columnist Colbert King, Part I

Colbert King is 80 now, but he is still a regular columnist with the Washington Post. As a recent column demonstrated, he has finally fallen prey to the Post culture and no longer is what he once was: the rare pundit, in his case, a liberal one, who could be counted upon for fairness and integrity regardless of the topic. The one-two punches of Barack Obama and Donald Trump showed how cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias can corrupt the best of us, and make no mistake about it, King was once one of the best.

Although he is an African-American, he stood out for decades among his corruption- enabling black colleagues in consistently calling out the D.C. government’s corrupt leadership—notably Marion Barry but many others—on their arrogantly dishonest, venal and untrustworthy practices and attitudes.

Then Barack Obama happened. I listened in surprise on a local Sunday talking head show as King defended Barack Obama’s quiet, decades long assent to the black liberation (that is, anti-white, anti-American rantings of Reverend Wright, Obama’s “spiritual mentor.” Were these rationalizations I heard Colbert King uttering? King reliably mocked rationalizations, and yet here he was using them, notably “Everybody does it,” to defend  a black Presidential candidate’s approval and association with a black racist and demagogue.

Once Obama was elected, King got worse. Not only could Obama do no wrong, but those who criticized were enemies in his eyes; worse, King treated Obama’s appointees and cronies with similar reverence, a complete reversal from his approach to the  parade of incompetent or criminal black politicians in D.C.  Notably, he defended Obama “wing man” Eric Holder, the racialist Attorney General, when he was refusing to comply with a legitimate Congressional inquiry into the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious fiasco. His excuses for Holder and his attacks on Republicans were so redolent of partisan hackery that in 2012 I was moved to write my one-time Ethics Hero the “Open Letter”: Continue reading