Ethics Dunce: Laurie Penny

Laurie Penny, in an alternate universe America where we don't bother about trivial things, like saving pompous, ungrateful British journalists.

Laurie Penny was the woman saved from being flattened by a New York cab this week by none other than Ryan Gosling, the dashing actor and and celebrity heart-throb who has already been honored here for his willingness to come to the rescue of others in peril. He pulled her back as the British journalist was about to step off the curb in Manhattan without looking, right in the path of a speeding vehicle.

The celebrity and gossip media went bonkers over this, as you might imagine. After all, a typical headline for this crude segment of the media is that Tia Tequila got a new tattoo or that a Kardashian broke a nail. Let’s see…what’s today’s buzz? Ex-child star Amanda Bynes was bailed out if jail following her DUI arrest, and Heidi Klum filed for divorce. But the attention being paid to Gosling’s good deed just annoys Penny, and, she says, is proof that America is trivial and misguided. In a piece authored for the gossip site Gawker, entitled, “Ryan Gosling Saved Me From a Speeding Car But There’s War In the Middle East So Everyone Calm Down,” Penny exposes herself as the kind of person Gosling might live to regret rescuing.

“Everybody needs to calm down about Ryan Gosling saving me from a speeding car,” she says, because,

  • “I really think the sentiment ‘Ryan Gosling is a total hero and saved this woman’s life!’ needs to be reassessed, even though it’s technically accurate.People do lovely, considerate things for other people all the time. I don’t believe that the fact that A-list celebrities occasionally act like human beings is in itself news — it might have been slightly newsworthy had Mr. Gosling simply floated by on a cloud of his own cultural significance whilst a young woman got smeared into the tarmac, but lucky for me, even the most chiseled-jawed of us are usually boringly dependable in times of minor peril.”
  • It’s no big deal, really, since people are pulled back from the curb every day.
  • This happens to Penny all the time, since she’s usually in deep thought about really, really important things, like “the war on women’s bodies”
  • The rescue lasted only five seconds. I mean, it’s not like Gosling had to do very much.
  • This proves how ridiculous  Americans are, making a big deal because an actor does something good, when they should be occupied by making sure “the United States doesn’t slide further into bigotry, inequality and violence.”
  • “…as a feminist, a writer, and a gentlewoman of fortune, I refuse to be cast in any sort of boring supporting female role, even though I have occasional trouble crossing the road, and even though I did swoon the teeniest tiniest bit when I realized it was him.”

Okay! I’m willing  to recast Penny as an ungrateful, self-absorbed, pompous jerk, who incidentally doesn’t comprehend the country she is a guest in  or know the first thing about how cultures become and stay ethical, despite her deep, deep, oh-so-important thoughts.

Yes, people do good deeds all the time, but a lot of people don’t do them, and the way society makes sure that the Dos don’t overwhelm the Don’ts is to make sure that it identifies, recognizes and praises ethical conduct when it occurs. Gosling is one of the people I wrote about here, whose rescue instinct is in fine fettle, and whose ethics alarms are up to code. People die when we don’t react like Ryan Gosling, and do, rather frequently and tragically. If we pay attention to Laurie Penny, there will be fewer Goslings as time goes by, and more British journalists plastered to the grills of Yellow Cabs. Some of them we might even miss, unlike the insufferable Miss Penny.

Meanwhile, for decades I have heard arrogant foreigners accuse Americans of paying too much attention to everything from football to videogames to political intrigue to sex, usually by outsiders who think their priorities and values are superior to ours. Somehow we’ve managed to muddle through so far, and have saved Europe’s bacon quite a few more times than it has saved ours. Maybe we shouldn’t pluck the Old World back from the abyss next time it is tottering, since it thinks we are so trivial and absurd. Yes, we know Penny and most of her countrymen are quite willing to see Israel get vaporized….stopping that looming war with Iran, which, of course, is no threat to her, is one of the deep thoughts Penny was considering as she stepped off the curb to near oblivion.  Look out for #1 is the rule, and it’s getting traction here, too. And that’s because there aren’t enough Ryan Goslings.

Penny spends the first part of her rant self-identifying as a ditz (“…I am constantly walking into things, losing my phone and keys, and wandering into traffic because I’m thinking about something else or have spotted something interesting in the sky..); she admits to “swooning” over Gosling, and then hits us with a feminist manifesto, claiming it is offensive for Gosling’s act to be praised because it turns her into a damsel in distress. well, Penny was a damsel in distress, due to her own irresponsibility; now she’s  just ungrateful, ethically clueless, presumptuous and obnoxious.

But alive.

I’m so glad.

22 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

22 responses to “Ethics Dunce: Laurie Penny

  1. Even if you find her annoying, I’m not sure how this rises to the level of an ethics “alarm.” She initially thanked him, but she thought the reaction from the public was a little over the top, and she commented on that fact as well. She didn’t lie to anyone, abuse anyone, or threaten violence or any kind of coercion. Perhaps boorish behavior falls under the purview of general ethics, but I’m not sure it should.

    • No, as I thought articulated, her Ethics Dunce-ism is the “everybody does it” dismissal of a noble and ethical act as too commonplace to warrant attention.,,,because, among other things, everybody doesn’t do it, not even close. I wrote, rather clearly I thought..

      “Yes, people do good deeds all the time, but a lot of people don’t do them, and the way society makes sure that the Dos don’t overwhelm the Don’ts is to make sure that it identifies, recognizes and praises ethical conduct when it occurs. Gosling is one of the people I wrote about here, whose rescue instinct is in fine fettle, and whose ethics alarms are up to code. People die when we don’t react like Ryan Gosling, and do, rather frequently and tragically. If we pay attention to Laurie Penny, there will be fewer Goslings as time goes by, and more British journalists plastered to the grills of Yellow Cabs. Some of them we might even miss, unlike the insufferable Miss Penny.”

      It isn’t trivial but critical to make a big deal when anyone saves a life by doing the right thing instinctively.

      Ethics Dunce means not understanding ethics, which defines the boorish Miss penny to a T. But she wouldn’t mnake the grade if she was JUST boorish.

  2. This Guy

    Were I still a single man, I’d have to nominate Ryan Gosling as an Ethics Dunce. Looking like that AND saving damsels in distress? Serious lack of fairness.

  3. Sue

    The woman doesn’t think this is newsworthy and would just like the stories to stop but goes on to write a completely narcissistic account of “the incident” for Gawker?

    When a person is mentioned for his or her good deed, it is usually the person who performed the good deed who will brush off the status of hero and suggest that anyone else in that position would do the same thing. I don’t believe I have ever seen a person who actually benefited from the actions of a good citizen take the position that this citizen is not any type of hero and if he hadn’t had pulled her out of the street…someone else would have. Who cares about Ryan Gosling because if you haven’t noticed by now, it’s all about her. This woman shows a shocking lack of graciousness, a lack of insight, and a very over-inflated sense of self importance.

  4. Karl Penny

    Whatever happened to “Thank you?”

  5. Eeyoure

    I agree with your post but, though it made me grin and nod, isn’t the photo-and-caption along the lines of two-wrongs-don’t-make-a-right?

    • I confess, I often use the graphic choices to indulge my satiric and juvenile side that often presents professional conflicts. You are one of the few commenter who has ever mentioned one. I’d say the message of the photo and caption is “be careful what you wish for”.

      • Eeyoure

        I understand. I too have some cells that possess juvenile and sardonic tendencies, and from time to time their presence can be confirmed, usually (mostly, only) by what I say or write. I can trust you with intending “be careful what you wish for,” even as I speculate (note, I do not say “suspect,” which runs counter to trust) that you and I may possess at least a couple similar if not identical internal conflicts.

    • Dwayne N. Zechman

      I’m not sure I understand your question, Eeyoure. What two wrongs do you think are being illustrated or alluded to?

      To me, it says that “this is the wrong [dead journalist] that results from the absence of two rights [journalist rescued + rescuer praised]” because the combination contributes to the creation of more, rather than less, rescuers.

      –Dwayne

      • Eeyoure

        Dwayne, I am referring to the unethical ways of Laurie Penny (wrong), and Jack’s use of a photo and caption which suggests hypothetically an alternative outcome to the situation where Penny was rescued, but which nevertheless also could be construed as an expression of malice toward Penny (wrong), as in, “THIS is what SHOULD have happened to you, you ungrateful B—-!.”

  6. Please post her picture, Jack. That way, should I happen upon her on a street corner, I can give her a little accidental “nudge”. One good turn deserves another.

  7. Danielle

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say he should have let her step into traffic but I wouldn’t blame him if he wished he had done that once or twice since he saved her.

  8. Kudos to Sue! And about everybody does it? No,how many times have we heard of people in peril and no one lifts a finger to dial 911 let alone to help.

  9. I have to add my brother did something like Ryan did for me. I began walking in a crosswalk stupidly assuming cars are supposed to yield for me. My bro grabbed me back just as a sports car went by,not even slowing. My brother is my hero….MY HERO!

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