Category Archives: Humor and Satire

The Personal Injury Lawyer’s Sex Doll Ad: Stupid! Funny! But Unethical?

Nah.

Here it is:

There is a dubious principle of advertising holding that as long as the name and the service come through memorably, an ad is a success. This video challenges that assumption. It tells me that the lawyer who let someone talk him into doing an apparently improvised ad with a smut-mouthed rubber sex doll is an idiot, and it is very risky to take legal advice from idiots. Nonetheless, there is nothing unethical about the ad. Does it hold the profession up to public ridicule? No, it holds this lawyer up to public ridicule.

Once upon a time, lawyer advertising was held to be unethical by all state bars, until courts found the restrictions to violate the First Amendment. This kind of ad was what the profession was worried about. A few states, notably Florida (the last I checked), still apply more stringent standards to lawyer advertising than currently apply to used cars and cheesemakers, but as long as an ad lawyer doesn’t make affirmative misrepresentations, it won’t be found to be in violation of the legal ethics rules.

Besides, ads like this one are extremely informative. They tell a potential client everything they need to know about the judgment, reputation and trustworthiness of the lawyer who stars in it. What could be more ethical than that?

_______________________

Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur

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

A Political Correctness Tolerance Level Musical Ethics Quiz: “Speedy Gonzalez”

speedy-gonzales

My mind was still on the topic of political correctness after finishing the previous post when, by chance, the pop song that has a fair claim to being the most politically incorrect of all time came on the radio. It was “Speedy Gonzales,” sung by Pat Boone, a 1961 chart hit written by Buddy Kaye, Ethel Lee and David Hess and featuring the voice of the cartoon Speedy (whom you almost never see on TV anymore because, well, you know), Mel Blanc. Here it is…

Your musical Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is this…

Is the recording inherently offensive and bigoted, and thus inappropriate for play on the grounds that it stereotypes Mexicans, or is it obviously intended to be funny, and ultimately harmless?

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture

No, There’s No Comparison Between Bill Cosby And Woody Allen And No “Double Standard”

One of these things is not like the other....

One of these things is not like the other….

Newspapers should make us more informed and smarter, not less informed and dumber. Thus a Washington Post feature this morning qualifies as journalism malpractice, incompetence exemplified. Its theme: “Gee, why is Woody Allen signing a new deal to do a streaming comedy series for Amazon, while Bill Cosby lost his deal with NBC?” The print edition sub-heads: “Crisis responses may explain…”

No, they don’t. This is a false comparison based on superficial similarities: two comics who initially peaked in the same era, both in their seventies, shadowed now by sex scandals. The effort to use one to question the treatment of the other is either intellectually dishonest or so analytically unsound that it should forfeit the authors’ privileges of being assigned to write anything for mass consumption (the Post piece is by Stephanie Merry and Amy Argetsinger, and shame on them). The question of why Allen and Cosby are being treated differently in the court of public opinion isn’t worth asking, but since they asked, here are the obvious answers:

1. Woody Allen’s art, comedy, and persona have never had anything to do with virtue, stable families or being any kind of a role model. As a performer, he has presented himself as perpetually horny, neurotic, obsessed with sex and masturbation, prone to lying, and open to adultery, betrayal, stealing friends’ lovers; in “Manhattan,” he happily romanced a virtual child. In real life, he says things like “The heart wants what the heart wants,” which is a  rationalization for any act unethical or illegal, involving sexual or romantic desire. If you were ever a fan of Woody Allen after the age of 13, you were so because he was funny, accepting the fact that he is at best a sexually obsessed, maladjusted creep.

None of this is true of Cosby, who has always aimed his comedy at innocence, functional families and traditional virtues, and represented his own values as consistent with these when speaking for himself. Sex was not any part of Cosby’s art or image. He was an iconic good guy. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Childhood and children, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

Unethical Web Site Of The Month: No Hate Speech Movement

hand over mouth

Right before the Paris terrorist attack on “Charlie Hebdo” I was going to post about No Hate Speech and decided, “Eh, this is too stupid.” Then, reflecting upon it in the light of the occurrences in subsequent days, I realized most of the many, primarily  young people, mostly well-meaning, sensitive, loving individuals who are represented on this almost unnavigable website—I hate that— would be making excuses for the Islamic terrorists who executed the French cartoonists, since by their definition, they engaged in “hate speech.”  ( “Of course terrorism is wrong, but...”)  They ended it too, didn’t they? At least they ended those particular speakers.

Free speech is being whittled away by the attempts to define free speech as excluding “hate.” Democratic Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts—you know, that cradle of freedom, democracy, protestm ringing words, and me—has  introduced legislation calling for the government to investigate “hate speech” on broadcast, cable, and Internet outlets. As Alan Derschowitz noted, the effort and the logic surrounding the bill endangers liberty:

“It is a worthy effort, but my prediction is that it either leads to the conclusion government cannot do it, or that they will do it and that will infringe on First Amendment rights. Governments are trying to also make changes to hate speech law and debating the issue in Canada, at the United Nations, and even right now in Israel. It is a worldwide trend, but it is a really dangerous trend.”

I guess because Derschowitz is an upstanding Democrat, he can’t bring himself to say that it is not a worthy effort. It is an irresponsible trend, with a campaign that depends on ignorance, historical amnesia, naivete and hypocrisy. I was trying to remember why I, last year, allowed a passionate and prolific commenter who was prone to rash and obscene language, often attacking other commenters. NOW I recall: This was the reason. The movement to censor “offensive” speech is a leap onto Markey’s slippery, censorious slope. Hate is a legitimate, if ugly sentiment, and it has its place. That place is in our heads, and sometimes, out of our mouths or pens. You don’t like it?  I’m listening. I lost a lot of readers who were offended by Scott’s remarks. Well, I decided that that the ethical thing was to let those who objected 1) learn not read his comments or 2) talk him out of it. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, The Internet, U.S. Society

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Washington Post Film Critic Ann Hornaday on “Selma”

selma-movie

“How to reconcile facts and feelings, art and fealty to the truth? When filmmakers recall with pride about the deep reporting and research they’ve done for their projects, then they deserve to be held accountable for their projects. For fact-based films, accuracy becomes a formal element, along with acting, design and cinematography. It’s up to each viewer to identify the threshold where artistic license compromises the integrity of the entire endeavor. Cinema has more responsibility in this regard precisely because of its heightened realism, its ability to burrow into our collective consciousness and memory, where the myth has a tendency to overpower settled fact. But viewers have responsibilities, too. If accuracy has become a formal element of historical dramas, then the ensuing fact-checks have become just as integral a part of how we view them. That means it’s incumbent on audiences to engage in a mode of spectatorship that, rather than decide who’s right, can listen to and respect expert critiques, and still open themselves up to a piece of filmed entertainment that speaks to less literal, more universal truths.”

—–Ann Hornaday, Washington Post film critic, on the controversy regarding the counter-factual treatment of President Lydon Johnson in the new film, “Selma.”

The question of whether film makers have an ethical obligation to fairly represent history, and particularly individual historical figures, in their movies has been a topic visited frequently at Ethics Alarms, and I’m not going to re-hash conclusions that have been thoroughly discussed before, such as

…here, regarding the casting of “The Impossible” with a gleamingly light-skinned central family and the changing of the real life heroine from Spanish to British

…here,  discussing complaints that a fictional event was not portrayed accurately in “Noah”

…here, exploring the many falsehoods, some quite despicable, in James Cameron’s “Titanic”

…here, regarding unfair criticism of “Argo”

and here, discussing “Lincoln” screenwriter, playwright Tony Kushner’s inexcusable choice to represent a real life former Congressman voting against the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery when in fact he voted for it.

The conclusion of that last one sums up the lessons of the rest, I think. Kushner’s defense against criticism of the collateral damage his invented facts wreaked was to argue that they were legitimate tactics in the pursuit of drama and “greater truths.” He then compared smearing the reputation of a Congressman, to the detriment of his descendants, to misrepresenting the kinds of socks Lincoln wore. (Kushner can be a brilliant writer, but his ideological utilitarianism is repellant.) I wrote:
Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Race

“Doonesbury’s” Unethical Late Hit On The University of Virginia

Doonesbury

The Rolling Stone-“Jackie”-University of Virginia ethics train wreck has claimed another victim, and an unlikely one: “Doonesbury’s” characters, who have been led astray by cartoonist Gary Trudeau and the newspapers that carry his popular strip.

In the episode that ran yesterday, the campus bimbo-turned-feminist “Boopsie” ranted about sexual assault cover-ups of by institutions, and singled out the University of Virginia as a culprit, forbidding her college age daughter from attending school there. [ Notice of correction: I am informed by a reader that “Sam” is Boopie’s daughter, not her son as I wrote originally. Thus she is forbidding her daughter from attending a school where she thinks she is likely to be raped, rather than forbidding her son from going to a school where major magazines will unjustly accuse his fraternity of being a cult of rapists. I apologize for the error.] The premise was based on the anonymous allegations of a fraternity campus assault that were turned into a sensational expose by a feminist reporter with an agenda, and guilelessly published in Rolling Stone without confirmation, fact-checking, or a minimal level of ethical journalistic practices. “Jackie’s” rape accusations have been shown to be substantially or completely fabricated, and story has been thoroughly discredited for more than three weeks.

Why are Trudeau and his fictional creations still calling UVA a hotbed of sexual assault? There are several reasons: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture

Ethics Dunces: Bitter, Spoilsport, Fuddy-Duddy Republicans and Conservatives

Nope, no Republicans there...

Nope, no Republicans here…

A grand welter of celebrities ranging from Pussy Riot and Paul Krugman to Willie Nelson and Big Bird joined comic Stephen Colbert in his farewell to Comedy Central, as he prepares to step into David Letterman’s shoes and hopes to do a Jimmy Fallon as Dave’s (overdue) replacement, rather than a Conan O’Brien. Obviously the producers and Colbert sought a ridiculously diverse group symbolizing U.S. culture and whimsy, and sent out invitations far and wide. Instead, the got an overwhelmingly liberal and progressive group that may make up half of MSNBC’s total viewership, a group that would almost all have been at home on the floor of the Democratic National Convention.

Don’t blame Colbert. It was clear that ideological animus with Colbert’s almost entirely anti-conservative schtick was no bar to the option of participation. Republicans and conservatives, however, almost unanimously decided to sulk, stay home, and boycott the party. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, U.S. Society