Radner as “Baba Wawa.” Walters, oddly, never felt the need to respond…
Maybe the ethics component in the title is gilding the lily in this case. Fox’s Kurtz, in attacking what he perceives as the unfairness of Stephen Colbert’s barbs, certainly misunderstands the ethics of Colbert’s craft, but what he primarily proves is that he’s a dunce…what kind of dunce, it’s difficult to tell. Is he the kind of dunce who can’t take a joke? Or is he the kind of dunce who doesn’t realize he should leave the gags to professionals?
The former media ethics watchdog for the Washington Post, CNN and the Daily Beast, now playing that role for Fox News (all oxymoron jokes gratefully accepted), says that he has finally had his fill of being mocked by Colbert, the Comedy Central satirist whose gimmick is playing a conservative fool in order to ridicule real ones.
“It’s about time someone took on Stephen Colbert,” Kurtz wrote in what is either serious piece on Fox News Insider, or a criminally inept attempt at ironic humor. “This guy—a fake anchor if ever there was one—has been maligning hard-working journalists for too long. Journalists like me. In an effort to get a few cheap laughs, this Comedy Central clown took my work out of context and, worse, engaged in selective editing. It was nothing less than a deliberate attempt to mislead viewers.”
Uh, Howie? Continue reading
The New York Times is taking fire from diverse commentators on the Right for publishing a political satire cartoon that includes this panel:
It is part of a larger cartoon japing at the supposed aftermath of a harsh winter:
Among the ethics complaints against the drawing:
- “Aside from its patently offensive notion that those holding different political views don’t deserve to live, the panel in question also lacks a key element in political cartoons that aim to be tongue in cheek — it isn’t funny. Imagine the outrage at the Times if Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, et al., suggested that liberals should die for not agreeing with them. Yes, things would get nasty in a hurry. Has it really been that long since the Tucson massacre and the left’s demand for more civility, at least from conservatives?”—Newsbusters
- “Global warming has made much of the country so cold that the Times is instructing its readers to use giant icicles to bludgeon the non-believers to death.”—Ed Driscoll
- “So, as WUWT readers well know, I have a different opinion about global warming.Do you think the New York Times should endorse stabbing me (and others with similar opinions) through the heart like a vampire because I hold that opinion?”—Anthony Watts Continue reading
In “Ricky’s Hawaii Vacation.” a famous episode of “I Love Lucy,” the Riotous Redhead was so desperate to win tickets for her neighbors (Fred and Ethel, or course) to accompany her and husband Ricky to Hawaii that she agreed to appear on a sadistic radio quiz show, in which the host, Freddie Freeman—played by the immortal Frank Nelson of Jack Benny skit fame (“Yyyyeeeeeeessssssss???”)—tortured his contestants with various indignities before awarding prizes. This was funny at the time, because it was a wild exaggeration of current TV quiz show programming. It was also funny, as with all slapstick, because the mayhem being inflicted was, the audience knew, part of a comedy skit and not real. A real Freddie using a contestant’s desperation for a prize as an excuse to degrade and humiliate her would have been unacceptably cruel…in the 1950′s.
Now, however, we have True TV’s new reality/game show, “Killer Karaoke.” It is a reality/game/ comedy show of shocking sadistic glee, the result of more than a half century of incremental slippage in standards of decency and public tolerance for cruelty. Take that episode of “I Love Lucy” and take it through a journey that includes stops at “Beat the Clock,” “Truth or Consequences,” “Let’s Make a Deal,” “Scare Tactics,” “Wipe Out,” “Fear Factor,” “Survivor,” the worst of the “let’s watch a human train wreck as desperate ex-celebrities beg for exposure and pay-checks” reality shows, and nightmare futuristic sci-fi movies like “The Hunger Games” and “The Running Man,” and “Killer Karaoke” is what you get. The show has been hailed by TV critics as “brilliant.” I admit: it is difficult to watch it without laughing. So why are those ethics alarms going off in my head? Continue reading
That mad wag, Jimmy Kimmel, is doing another victory lap. This time, the biggest jerk on late night TV managed to fool news services, panic families of Olympian athletes and insult Russia (not that that bothers me very much) by his latest internet gag—convincing American luge athlete Kate Hanson to relay, via Twitter, his fake video of what appeared to be a wolf roaming the halls of the Olympic Village accommodations. Any collateral damage is irrelevant to Kimmel, because his objective is to cause trouble, then mock everyone who was fooled for allowing the trouble to be caused, since if they weren’t so dumb, trusting and gullible—it’s all their fault, not his, you see—nothing would have happened. (Yes, Kate Hansen is a jerk too.)
Here is what this relatively harmless (as opposed to harmless, which no web hoax is) misrepresentation accomplished:
- It took up thousands of valuable minutes of news broadcasts throughout yesterday which could have been used productively to educate the public about all manner of things they actually need to know about—what’s happening to Justin Carter, for example—remember him? Maybe a well-produced segment on why a teen shouldn’t be facing terrorism charges for an obvious joke he made on Facebook could spark some much-needed public outrage. Instead, serious news broadcast time, a finite resource, was used to further a prank.
- It made the media a party to a lie. It doesn’t matter about what. It’s a lie.
- It wasted the time, thought and energy of every person who talked about the wolf, expressed concern about it or thought about it.
- It further increased cynicism and doubt about news reports, feeding the tendency to adopt conspiracy theories and fear of sinister manipulation. How do we know the moon landing wasn’t a Jimmy Kimmel hoax?
Most of all, this will encourage other, bigger, more reckless asses than even Kimmel to go further and further with their web hoaxes, because such pranks mean viral videos and fame, no matter what harm they cause. Continue reading
THIS was a hoax, but…
Since we are on the topic of web hoaxes—an Ethics Alarms hot button—I thought it appropriate to mention that one such hoax that effectively tricked me back in 2011—the story about the jilted lover who supposedly tattooed a huge steaming pile of poo on his ex’s back as revenge—apparently came to life for real in Australia.
Christopher William Lord, 23, has been sentenced to a year in prison for inspiring a tattoo artist to trick his “friend” by inking a large tattoo including a penis, testicles and an obscene phrase on the unsuspecting victim’s back, while assuring him that the design the unsuspecting young man had chosen was coming along beautifully. The tattoo artist is serving time for the incident, properly charged as an assault.
Yes, alcohol was involved. As a special nice touch, the man whose back was so defaced is disabled.
The only thing that approaches the obnoxiousness of web hoaxes is the superior sneering of those who, after the hoax, mock anyone so trusting as to believe such “ridiculous” stories. This is hindsight bias at its most annoying, and this is part of the despicable objective of hoaxers. It is their own, warped IQ test, designed to allow them to feel superior to their victims, while amusing others so toxically cynical that they refuse to believe or trust anyone or anything, and deride the rest of us for promoting and encouraging trust the only way possible—by doing it. Web hoaxers and their enablers,in contrast, make life a little bit crummier, nastier and dangerous, because it amuses them.
“If you let them, they will crochet the world the color of goose shit.”
– Jacques Brel.
“I remember a satire we did on ‘High Noon.’ The townspeople were supposed to abandon me and return their deputy badges to me by pinning them on my chest. I was supposed to have a sponge inside my shirt. But I didn’t have time to change. So they kept coming, saying, ‘Sorry, Sheriff,’ and pinning on the badges. After it was over, I went backstage, and somebody said, ‘Hey, you did real good pain takes.’ I told him the pain was for real.”
—-Comedy great Sid Caesar, who died yesterday at the age of 91, recounting for the New York Times an example of a how he suffered for his art, which was, always, making us laugh.
Caesar’s anecdote is as perfect a description of professionalism as I have ever seen, or ever will see.
Thank you, Sid Caesar, for devoting your life, body and soul, to laughter.
One wonderful thing about extreme success combined with middle age is that you can, if you have the integrity, speak unpopular truths without caring who objects. Thus it was the Jerry Seinfeld correctly dismissed as irrelevant and misguided the suggestion that seeking racial and gender balance should be an objective in his comedy shows. In response to a question challenging his Web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee“as too white and male, the comedian said:
“People think it’s the census or something, it’s gotta represent the actual pie chart of America. Who cares? Funny is the world that I live in. You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that, but everyone else is, kind of with their little calculating, “Is this the exact right mix?” To me, it’s anti-comedy. It’s more about PC nonsense than ‘are you making us laugh or not’.”
Exactly. Not that the race and gender bean counters will let Seinfeld escape with an explanation of such obvious common sense. Here’s Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher playing his full hand of gender, race, guilt and quota cards: Continue reading
“Your Honor, uh, you’re not quite yourself today..”
How many racist e-mails does one have to send out before it proves one is a racist? At Above the Law, legal affairs blogger Ellie Mystal says the answer is one, and I agree. Mystal writes:
“If you send one horribly racist email that actually manages to leak out into public discourse, it’s probably not your only one. Seeing a racist email from someone is like seeing a mouse in your apartment: there’s never just one. I believe in temporary insanity, but I don’t believe in sudden onset racism that magically appears once and only once and then disappears forever. Of course, whenever anybody gets caught in a racist email scandal, they always say that it’s the only one. It’s always “Whoops, that email was racist, but I’m not racist.” The racist email is always allegedly “out of character,” and the person always claims to have shown “poor judgment.” And that person always has some apologists, as if sending one or two racist emails is just something that “happens” in the normal course of business to non-racist people.”
The “out of character” nonsense is what Ethics Alarms refers to as the “Pazuzu Excuse,” as when someone explains that his or her full-throated expression of a vile nature “just wasn’t me” and “doesn’t express how I feel,” as if their being was suddenly possessed by the evil demon that made Linda Blair spit pea soup in “The Exorcist.” People try that excuse—and absurdly often are allowed to get away with it—because, at their core, they realize that signature significance is persuasive when judging character. Non-racists simply don’t send out racist e-mails ever, even once, and one such episode, all by itself, is convincing evidence that the sender is, in fact, a racist.
The racist under discussion by Mystal was retired federal judge Richard F. Cebull, appointed chief judge for the District of Montana by President George W. Bush in 2001. In 2012, Cebull got in trouble when he sent the following e-mail to seven acquaintances: Continue reading
In a twist, this Unethical Website found me. Smosh’s despicable montage titled by the ethically clueless creep who concocted it, Will Weldon, “19 Funniest Examples of Kid Shaming” includes, among its hilarious examples, the photo above from an Ethics Alarms essay I posted about a year ago, with a link back here. Weldon appears to have stolen his post idea from an earlier version of it on the website Heavy, this by an equally warped wag named Elizabeth Furey. Heavy would have been an “Unethical Website of the Month” if I had known about its post last May, and everything I write about Smosh applies to Heavey, just as everything I write about Will applies to Elizabeth.
In the linked Ethics Alarms post, I specifically condemned the practice of parents forcing children to hold up a sign “confessing” some transgression, taking a photo of him or her*, and posting it on the web. I wrote:
“I think any aspect of a punishment that outlives the effects of the offense and a continues to do harm long after the original wrongdoer has reformed is unfair, abusive and cruel. If, as seems to be the case, the boy’s parents added to his punishment of having to return his Play Station 3 by first photographing the kid holding a sign describing his transgression, and then memorializing his humiliation by posting it on the internet, they took the lesson into unethical territory. Punishing their child for his spoiled and ungracious behavior by taking away a cherished gift is a legitimate exercise of parental authority, if a bit excessive for my tastes, especially at Christmastime. Turning him into the web poster child for ungrateful and spoiled children everywhere is, I believe, an abuse of that authority.”
I was feeling uncharacteristically equivocal that day, it seems, infused as I was still by the holiday spirit. Let me be more assertive now. Dog-shaming using this device is a “thing’ on the web now, and such photos can be funny. Needess to say…or rather, it should be needless to say, but apparently I need to say it for people like Will and Elizabeth…children are not dogs. Continue reading
Melissa finally realized that this photo isn’t funny.
I posted earlier about the sub-par apologies offered by the infamous MSNBC Three, who decided to indulge their hate for Mitt Romney and Republicans by ridiculing the fact that Romney’s family now includes an adopted African American infant. Either Melissa Harris-Perry got a Martin Bashir memo, or she sincerely decided that she had not adequately communicated regret for the ethically indefensible segment. What she delivered, on the air this time rather than through Twitter, arguable qualifies as a Level #1 apology ["An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness."]:
“Without reservation or qualification, I apologize to the Romney family. Adults who enter into public life implicitly consent to having less privacy. But their families, and especially their children, should not be treated callously or thoughtlessly. My intention was not malicious, but I broke the ground-rule that families are off-limits. And for that I am sorry. Also, allow me to apologize to other families formed through trans-racial adoption, because I am deeply sorry that we suggested that interracial families are in any way funny or deserving of ridicule. On this program, we are dedicated to advocating for a wide diversity of families. It is one of our core principles. And I am reminded that when we are doing so, it must always be with the utmost respect. We’re genuinely appreciative of everyone who offered serious criticisms of last Sunday’s program, and I am reminded that our fiercest critics can sometimes be our best teachers.”
Harris-Perry deserves special credit for the last sentence. She didn’t have to say that, and it is an excellent point for her to make, especially on her network, where some critics have been told that someone needs to shit in their mouths. Continue reading