Sunday, October 24, 2021

Jeopardy Host Sidelined but Still Kept His Job?

When improper actions are followed by proportionate and predictable consequences, it serves as an incentive for us to behave better.  Let’s face it.  We are not hardwired to do the right thing. If we were, then there would be no need for thousands of laws, rules and regulations to guide our behavior.  We need laws against theft, insider trading and assault because we have accepted that our natural human inclinations often lead us astray.

And, if we were moral creatures by design, parents, teachers and religious leaders would not have to devote so much effort to teaching us to do the right thing.

When a consequence is hollow it threatens our confidence in the integrity of the system.  When a professional athlete has committed assault, the investigations and punishments have seemed to be a very different process than we would expect if an ordinary person, like me, were the accused.  We have all witnessed examples of this over the years.

Some time ago, Mike Richards, who was anointed as the designated new host of the Jeopardy game show, was pulled from his position based on prior offensive social media postings.  Yet, he continued to serve as the show's executive producer.  How does this make sense?  If the company believes that his violation of social norms rendered him unqualified to host the show, how does he still serve as a corporate leader?  Was Sony, who produces the game show, trying to calibrate the minimum level of punishment that would satisfy critics and yet still permit his employment?  Don’t companies realize that these tortured attempts to thread the needle nearly always come back to prick them?

Sony's Corporate Policy

It took a full 10 days for Sony to do what it should have done at the outset.  Richards was removed from the executive producer position.  Sony, however,  was not held to account for this clumsy bungling.

We can’t legislate or incentivize every behavior.  Many acts are wrong and yet escape accountability. Try this hypothetical.  An individual refuses the COVID-19 vaccine and has no medical or religious exception.  His mask, when he does don one, is dangling underneath his nostrils.  Consider some potential outcomes

He infects several people one of whom requires a ventilator.

He spreads the virus at work causing a work shutdown.

He does not reveal to his dating partners that he is unvaccinated.  Two of them become ill.

He infects his grandchild who contracts COVID-19.  His classmates must now return home for remote learning for a period of time.

Should there accountability for this behavior?


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