Four Ethical Heroes Worth Praising

Sometimes we get so busy pointing out unethical behavior, we lose sight of those who do the right thing for the right reason, even if the cost is significant. So this week, we want to call attention to four ethical heroes:

Mike Carey. National Football League referees are supposed to be unbiased, but Carey, the first African-American to referee a Super Bowl and one of two refs honored in 2008 as “best” in the game, puts a justifiable limit on that: He refuses to officiate at games involving the Washington football team, the one that insists on calling itself a name that denigrates Native Americans. When Carey decided in 2006 that he no longer wanted to ref a Washington game, he sought no publicity or attention. Instead, according to The Washington Post, he quietly told his supervisor that his desire for a mutually respectful society was so jeopardized by the team name, he couldn’t bring himself to officiate for Dan Snyder’s Washington team. Asked for his reaction to the fact that Snyder and the team’s fans have hardened their opposition to a change in names (as I found out earlier this month when I wrote about it), Carey shrugged and told the Post’s Mike Wise, “Sometimes evolution is slow for some people.”

Cameron Tringale. Only in golf does the honor system prevail, as Tringale proved this month when he disqualified himself from the PGA championship, a decision that cost him $52,000 in prize money. Six days after the tournament ended, Tringale decided he had incorrectly scored one hole and informed officials. Golf is one of the few sports in which players regular point out their own violations. (When was the last time you saw a baseball player tell an ump that he was really out after a safe call?) A year ago on this site, we called for a code of ethics for all sports, and we still think one is needed.

Bill Lloyd. New York Times columnist Joe Nocera this week identified Lloyd as the man who blew the whistle on the MassMutual Financial Group, an insurance company whose miscalculations meant that guaranteed lifetime annuities were anything but. Lloyd was no disgruntled employee. He did everything he could to get the company to own up and fix its mistakes, but when that failed he went to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The move earned him the enmity of the company, where he says he was “treated as a leper.” Convinced he was about to be fired, he left the company after 22 years as an agent there. That cost him clients and money, though he was able to find another job, and this week was awarded $400,000, 25% of the fine the SEC imposed on MassMutual.

The citizens of Honolulu. For the second year in a row, Honolulu scored 100% in the Honest Tea experiment. For the test, the makers of Honest Tea set up unmanned kiosks offering the beverage on the honor system, asking anyone who took one to drop a dollar in a bin. While Honolulu took top honors, Washington, D.C., won the most improved award, rising from 80% last year to 96% this year. Providence, R.I., was this year’s low scorer at 80%. Because the organizers hid video cameras at the sight, they were also able to also tell us that women were more honest than men, 95% to 93%, and that blondes were more honest (95%) than redheads or brunettes, thereby proving that honesty isn’t incompatible with having more fun.

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