Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

A Bobby Jindal Critic Asks, “Would I Be Uncivil If I Were To Suggest That Somebody Punch This Man Right In His Dick?” Why Yes, I Believe You Would…

By all means, this should be our model for political discourse...

By all means, this should be our model for political discourse…

Gov. Bobby Jindal, desperately trying to stay relevant in the Republican race to be the party nominee in 2016, weighed in on the Oregon community college shooting with an extensive blog post that shows, if nothing else, that the Fifties live. It’s pretty awful, designating as “root causes” of the violence such Oldies but Stupidees as “glorifying violence” in popular culture (Actually, this one is closer  to 1650), movies, TV shows, music (Run, Tipper! This is your chance!) the decline of religion ( “…we flaunt the laws of God and common decency”—I think you mean “flout” there, Bobby), the decline of the family…you know the list. The problem with Jindal’s rant—other than its exaggerations, poor writing and hysterical tone— is that taking any single event and attributing it to generic causes is demagoguery, and as intellectually dishonest as  blaming the NRA every time someone is murdered with a gun.

The Huffington Post, mocking Jindal’s eminently mockable screed, asked “What about gun violence?” as if Jindal left out the one obvious “root cause.” Is it really necessary to point out that gun violence is responsible for gun violence? But that’s anti-gun code for guns, you see. Guns are responsible for the shootings. Take the evil guns away, and nobody dies! That this facile and deceitful dead end reasoning is so accepted among progressives and liberals that it is considered an obvious truth is depressing, but I digress.

Jindal is also depressing, since the only remedy for violent movies, TV shows and video games is censorship of one kind or another, and you know what the Right will do if it gets that started: TV couples will again be sleeping in twin beds like Rob and Laura Petrie by edict. His lack of logic is depressing too—how does someone like this get elected a governor?—when he attributes alleged conditions like “the family is a mess” to a rampage by someone who might have been raised like Opie Taylor but whose mind just snapped, as they have a tendency to do. Again, a single incident has specific causes. Jindal’s main argument is exactly as exploitative and dishonest as using the Oregon shooting to lobby for gun regulations that wouldn’t have stopped the shooting. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Family, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

A Lesson In The Dangers of Wise-assery, Hindsight Bias, And Moral Luck


Once upon a time, a fat, spectacled, pleasant amateur song parodist sold millions of records with what middle-aged college grads thought were witty musical critiques of Sixties life and culture. His name was Allan Sherman, and one of those witty songs was this:

Therein lies some useful lessons which we all should absorb:

1. What seems like a valid opinion today might well seem incredibly stupid to virtually everybody later.

2. Venturing outside your expertise is always risky.

3.  Everything seems obvious in hindsight. In most cases, it was anything but.

4. Yesterday’s wit is tomorrow’s ignorance.

5. Whether your opinion is going to make you look like a prophet or a fool is often nothing but moral luck.

6. Criticizing someone for views proven invalid by subsequent developments no one could have foreseen is consequentialism, and unfair.

7. People will do it anyway.

8. We are all Allan Sherman. We just don’t know how.

It’s hard to imagine now that John, Paul, George and Ringo are icons and deserving ones, but back in 1964 it was considered wise and clever to make fun of their hair, their fans and pronounce them untalented hacks. At the beginning of the British invasion, many sophisticates regarded the Beatles as indistinguishable from the legendary Dave Clark Five, and a passing fancy no more significant that the hula hoop.

Mock them now at your peril. Your time will come…in fact, it probably already has.



Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Popular Culture

Ethics Quiz: Al Roker’s Unethical Selfie And Malfunctioning Ethics Alarm


The question here is a simple one.

On the scene of the devastating flooding in South Carolina, Today Show weather man Al Roker tweeted a selfie of him and  NBC colleagues beaming happily in front of a collapsed highway and a trapped car, with the caption “My crew and I getting ready to report on East Coast flooding from S. Carolina on @NBCNightlyNews with Kate Snow.”

Yes, after many complained on social media about the discordant juxtaposition of cheerful self-promotion and tragedy, Roker apologized, but not before.  The basic question is “What the hell is the matter with these people?“, or as today’s Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz asks,

Is Roker’s insensitivity signature significance of a malfunctioning ethics alarm, or just an excusable one-time mistake?

Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet, Unethical Tweet

Fordham, Marquette and Brown Revoke Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degrees


They want the robe back too, Cos...

They want the robe back too, Cos…

From a Brown University release last week:

“It has become clear, by his own admission in legal depositions that became public this summer, that Mr. Cosby has engaged in conduct with women that is contrary to the values of Brown and the qualities for which he was honored by the University in 1985. On Friday, September 25th, the University’s Board of Fellows held its first regularly scheduled meeting since that information became available. The Fellows deliberated and determined to revoke and rescind the honorary doctorate conferred upon Bill Cosby by Brown University.”

This was the right thing to do, and the three universities—Fordham and Marquette had beaten Brown to the dishonoring of Cosby by a few days— all deserve praise for doing it. No, this verdict isn’t inconsistent with my post condemning Disney’s decision to remove Cosby’s bust in its Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza. I made it very clear that the problem with that decision was that it involved withdrawing an honor that had nothing do with Cosby’s character, and was one that was earned and still warranted: Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Education, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture

Consider: The Fact That People Are Attacking This Ad As Sexist And Racist Is A Big Reason Donald Trump Is Leading In The Polls…

It’s called advertising …. to men who like looking at beautiful women.

The Horror.

If this video advocates unethical conduct, I’d appreciate someone telling me what it is. No, treating the problem of illegal immigration as a joke is not the same as arguing that it is a joke. Try again.

Thank you.


Pointer: Instapundit


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising

Comment of the Day: “The Beatles And Plagiarism”

Then there are Golden Rule considerations...

Then there are Golden Rule considerations…

There were many outstanding comments today, but I have a soft spot in my heart for any comment that completes a post that I decided to shorten by raising the issue I omitted for length. Thus johnburger2013 gets another Comment of the Day nod for his musings on the elusive lines between homage, inspirations, quotes and plagiarism in music.

The three examples discussed in my post are not close calls, I’d insist: my friend, actor/lawyer/ classic rock maven David Elias informs me that John Lennon actually confessed that he had plagiarized the Chuck Berry song, and his was the least egregious steal of the three. Other instances, however, are not so clear cut: If he hadn’t sung all of them, a case could be made that every Gary Puckett song was plagiarized from every other one. (The same, in fact, has been said of Chuck Berry.)

In researching the Beatles story, I found an entertaining site called Sounds Just Like which explores johnb’s “line.” Most are a stretch: No, I don’t think John Williams ripped off Darth Vader’s theme from Mary Poppins’ “A Spoonful of Sugar.” But I do know that Arthur Sullivan was imitating Mendelssohn big time in “Iolanthe,” and that recognizable musical quotes are important tools of the trade that should not be strangled by overzealous copyright prosecutions.

Here is johnburger2013’s Comment of the Day on the post, The Beatles And Plagiarism: Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture

Ethics Dunce: The State of Illinois


State lotteries are unethical, of course, being regressive crypto-taxes on the poor, dumb and gullible installed by gutless legislators to avoid more responsible revenue sources that might cost them votes. Illinois isn’t alone among the states engaging in these shameless scams; indeed it is in the vast, vast majority. This particular slippery slope also slipped exactly as the worst doomsayers predicted, with lotteries leading inexorably to widespread casino gambling and an explosion of gambling addiction and its attendant ruination. But never mind.

Illinois is not an ethics dunce for having a state lottery, although it is. Illinois is an ethics dunce for being the only state that has a state lottery and doesn’t pay up when one of those poor, dumb, gullible citizens gets lucky and wins a bundle. The state is in the throes of a huge fiscal deficit, and because the legislature and governor have failed to agree on a 2015-16 budget for the fiscal year that started July 1, the Illinois comptroller’s office doesn’t have  authority to write checks over $25,000. Lottery winners who have won that much or more when the ping-pong balls popped their way have been waiting for their giant checks. Meanwhile, the state continues to pay the salaries of those working inside the Illinois Lottery and the private company that manages it, and the lottery continues to advertise the games and sell tickets. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement