When Hate Sidetracks Due Process: Lessons from Planet Fitness and Horse-Racing

The Barometer was awaiting the opening of the doors to the mighty Planet Fitness gym, you know, the alleged “Judgement-free zone.” The English spelling of “Judgment” in the United States will not be corrected because as a Planet Fitness manager responded to the Barometer as she raised the issue, “It was judgmental to point out a spelling error.” Ah, alert the National Spelling Bee folks for the rules must change.

A gentleman also awaiting fitness on his own planet began espousing his political views, as he always does when we are found together at the locked door. He explained to us that New York was going to indict Trump and his company and added, “I hope he goes to jail and that they lock him up for life.” Seemed a little harsh for an income tax issue involving executive perquisites. And Trump was not the one who got the perks.

Then came the New York Racing Commission banishing Bob Baffert from racing in New York because of allegations of cheating (i.e., his winning horse in the Kentucky Derby had banned substances that showed up in a post-race drug test). Bob Baffert is one who gets as close to the line as a human being can get and sometimes his toes cross over that line. His autobiographical book has some frightening admissions about his behaviors in the climb to the top. The worst part about the admissions is that he seems to have no self-awareness that his book includes such admissions.

Nonetheless, a New York court has lifted the Baffert suspension because he was suspended without a chance to be heard. Like the Planet-Fitness zealot, emotions often kick in and the powerful and those who wish they had power want those they believe to be bad out and now! Baffert was banned without an evidentiary hearing. He was banned because so many in the sport have strong feelings about him and allegations of his cheating. Off with his head!

There are similar (stronger?) feelings about former President Trump. He is already out of office but many want him banished from life for life. In the words of so many defenders of rights in different context, “This is not who we are.”

This is a nation of due process. This is a nation that subscribes to the notion Benjamin Franklin articulated as follows, “That it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer.” Franklin called it “a Maxim that has been long and generally approved.” He was referring to similar statements by Voltaire and Blackstone (although Blackstone limited his swath to ten going free).

A longstanding maxim across religions and ethics scholars is that we should treat others as we would want to be treated. Regardless of what Baffert or Trump may or may not have done, they need their chances to be heard. That chance to be heard is a small price for a society to pay to be certain that they are not mistaken in their perceptions and beliefs. Due process is the protection against emotional swings that pass judgment without even being willing to listen to the defenses, explanations, or facts those charged wish to share.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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