I hate to criticize the ethical instincts of a college student, but Maizie Bryant’s school obviously isn’t doing its job regarding ethics instruction, so it is up to the rest of us.
Last week, following the epic and shocking finish to the Alabama Auburn football game—Auburn’s Chris Davis turned defeat into victory by grabbing an ill-advised Alabama field goal attempt with one second left and running it back 109 yards for a game-winning touchdown—the University of Alabama’s cartoonist drew the cartoon above. The message to anyone familiar with the devices of satire and sarcasm was obvious: this was intended as mockery for the perceived tendency of the President’s critics to blame all misfortunes and problems on Obama. I think it’s a misguided cartoon, in that the message–the “joke”— follows the persistent defensive spin of the Obama Administration, its protective media and the President himself that critics unfairly hold him responsible for those matters for which he is accountable and should be. (If the cartoon was going to be accurate, it would have shown the President attributing Alabama’s loss to George W. Bush.) Whatever its virtues and deficits, however, one thing the cartoon was not is racist.
How could it be racist? It is not racist to criticize Obama even for those things he is not responsible for—such criticism goes with the office. And the cartoon does exactly the opposite anyway. There is nothing whatsoever racial about the drawing. Anyone who perceives racism in this cartoon is
1. Unable to comprehend satire.
2. Unable to comprehend cartoons.
3. Race-baiting, and/or
4. Nuts. Continue reading
“Nelson Mandela Becomes First Politician To Be Missed”
…says the headline currently being sported at the Onion, the web’s preeminent satirical website:
JOHANNESBURG—Following the death of former South African president and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela today at the age of 95, sources confirmed that the revered humanitarian has become the first politician in recorded history to actually be missed. “Today we lost not only an international hero and a symbol of the resilient human spirit, but also the very first political figure ever who people actively wish was still alive and affecting world affairs,” said political historian Wallace M. Delaney of Columbia University…
The Onion’s rueful satire may well escape millions of Americans as old as 40, because it probably seems tragically accurate. Continue reading
Actor and comedian Will Ferrell donned his Ron Burgundy persona from “Anchorman” and delivered the news for KXMB in Bismarck Saturday night. It was a promotion for “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” the sequel to Ferrell’s 2004 hit comedy about a fictional news team in the politically incorrect 1970′s. The station’s sales manager, Tammy Blumhagen, explained that Ferrell’s agent contacted her in May and asked if he could anchor or co-anchor a newscast as part of the promotion tour for “Anchorman 2.” “When they called us, we kind of jumped at the opportunity,” she said.
Well, why wouldn’t she? Since U.S. journalism has abandoned all but the wan pretense of being a legitimate profession, perhaps all TV news broadcasts should just go the route of Bismarck’s local CBS station, and let clowns, reality stars, high school athletes, citizens picked at random, talking macaws and trained seals deliver the news. After all, neither the news judgment, integrity nor competence of what passes for journalists these days can be assumed or even expected. Why not just turn over the broadcast of the evening news to a comedian who plays a idiotic anchorman in films? It’s not like informing the public about what’s going on in the nation and the world is important or anything. The public doesn’t have a right to know. The public has a right to be amused. Continue reading
I am often tempted to write one of those short, bullet point, stream-of-consciousness posts like some fool used to pay Larry King to write for his awful syndicated column, which included trenchant observations like, “For my money, there’s no better game show host than Bert Convy!” Such a post would take a lot less time, and I could cover more of the myriad ethics issues I encounter in my research every day that for one reason or another—the main one being I have to work for a living—never make it to the pages of Ethics Alarms. But it’s my birthday, dammit; I am one year closer to death, I miss my Dad (you too, Mom, but you picked a better day to die), and it’s pretty clear that I will have “epic underachiever” on my headstone where Jack Marshall, Sr’s reads “Silver Star,” so in lieu of any other celebration, I’m going to, just this once, use the bullet point format to note a bunch of the things I normally wouldn’t get around to writing about. Like: Continue reading
Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites
Ugh. Come on.
Fortunately, Jay’s successor is ready to go…
Jay’s ethics alarm was sure malfunctioning during THAT taping. The Golden Rule is made for situations like this. Surely Jay knew about it? Once?
Louann Giambattista, a former American Airlines flight attendant, had sued the airline in June, claiming that American had discriminated against her as a result of her co-workers’ false allegations that she carried pet rats on board planes in her pantyhose and underwear. I get it: it’s an inherently funny story. But Jay charged over every line of fairness, respect, compassion and common sense when he showed Giambattista’s photo to his national TV audience, and then, in a repeating segment called “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda,” challenged three guest comics to make their best jokes about the material. They were rolling, too—some examples..
- “If I were one of those rats, I would’ve been very upset. I prefer not to sit in cooch.”
- “I don’t understand this woman at all. If she wanted something that creepy in her underwear, she should have hooked up with me.”
- Giambattista “coulda used what the rest of us ladies use … a Rabbit” (a popular vibrator).
Classy as ever, I see, Jay! Continue reading
George Zimmerman is in trouble again, this time from a domestic abuse incident. Presumably the justice system will work, and protect his pregnant girlfriend, as well as give Zimmerman whatever punishment the evidence indicates that he deserves.
In the meantime, the news media should be giving his misadventures back page rather than front page attention. I have heard Zimmerman described in the news media as the new O.J. Simpson, which is a slur (O.J. murdered two people in cold blood, with intent and malice aforethought), but which correctly describes how reporters want to treat him. In truth, he is the new Rodney King. Like Zimmerman, King was a maladjusted individual with poor judgment and a penchant for violence, who nonetheless did not deserve the fate that befell him, and was a reluctant celebrity. After the events and the trials stemming from his arrest (which was warranted), his resisting it (which was wrong) and his brutal beating (which was also wrong), King had more arrests and incidents involving law enforcement. These were news items, but not major ones, and the minor coverage they received was proper and appropriate.
Why is Zimmerman’s arrest the lead on this morning’s cable shows? It is because so many in the media fervently wanted him convicted of murder, and to have an official declaration that he stalked and killed Trayvon Martin out of racial prejudice, although there was, and remains, no evidence this was the case. Now they want to frame his current legal issues as proof that he should have been convicted, which is a biased, warrantless, illogical and unfair assumption. A far more plausible conclusion is that Zimmerman’s conduct and instability today arises from the chaos of his life, which was inflicted on him by a culture-wide, media-assisted effort to turn him into a national villain, and the face of racism in America. Continue reading
It is so easy—and tempting—to dismantle Matthew Lynch’s jaw-dropping essay on the Huffington Post titled “12 Reasons Why Obama Is One of the Best Presidents Ever” that it is unethical, like shooting fish in a barrel. Nearly everything about the post is snicker-worthy, beginning with its timing: this is the equivalent of writing a paean to JFK the morning after the Bay of Pigs.
I have no similar reticence about slamming the Huffington Post for running such an embarrassing screed. If it was intended as satire (and I still think this is a possibility), the piece is incompetent, because when satire is so close to reality that readers can’t tell it’s satire, then it becomes a hoax. There is a possibility, I suppose, that the editors published this because Lynch’s glossy-eyed, alternate reality ravings were entertainingly absurd (they are not: they are tragic), but this would be cruelty, the equivalent of Sean Hannity’s practice of allowing an ignorant, usually poor and uneducated liberal caller to make a fool of herself, slyly impugning the intelligence of the entire American Left. Yet the Huffington Post is largely Obama-friendly: his obeisant media may finally be moving away from the President, but not that quickly. I think “12 Reasons…” was run because the editors believed the article had substantive merit, in which case, they should all be sent to the Home for Bewildered Editors. (It also may have been planted as link bait.)
If the post was run on its substance, then the editors failed their responsibilities in another respect: they didn’t check Lynch’s facts. His opinions and justifications for them may be Oz-worthy and his alone, but when he writes a flat-out misrepresentation like this… Continue reading
Before we leave the topic of the ravages of political correctness and the excessive fear of grievance bullies, let’s pause to ask the administrators of Washington University in St. Louis…What’s wrong with you?
On October 30, several students posted a photo (that’s it on the left) on Facebook costumed as three U.S. soldiers pointing super-soakers at another student dressed as Osama bin Laden, with a fifth student holding a large American flag as a backdrop. Several things are not in doubt. 1. This was a Halloween stunt. 2. Osama bin Laden masks and costumes have been relatively common since Halloween 2002, as have been all historical villains in U.S. history since Halloween became a tradition. 3. There is nothing wrong with that. 4. An Osama bin Laden costume is in no way, shape or form an insult to Muslims. 5. Osama bin Laden himself was an insult to Muslims.
Notwithstanding all this, a typical grievance bully on campus named Mahroh Jahangiri, was determined to flex her muscles on behalf of her religion and make innocent fellow-students knuckle under and bow to her will. Maybe she thought they’d even let her speak at the next Democratic national convention, who knows? She posted a screen shot of the photo on her website, and wrote,
“This photo makes a costume of the lives of the thousands of civilian Muslim men who have been murdered during our ‘War on Terror’ and the countless others who have been mutilated, robbed, and stabbed to death in hate crimes across the United States. This is disgusting and cannot be tolerated on this campus. There are very few Muslim students on this campus, and our voice is not loud enough. For those of you who had not heard of this until now, now you have. What are we going to do to change this?” Continue reading
WHAT did you say?
There is more to discuss, a lot more, regarding what I will now call “The Klosterman Apology,” because it sounds like a Robert Ludlum novel. For now, however, since it is fresh in my jet-lagged mind, I’d like to focus on the inevitable result of declaring certain words and phrases so objectionable, hurtful, uncivil or politically incorrect that extraordinary means are employed to eliminate them. In the case of The Klosterman Apology, the words were “retard” and “retard,” and a Mom with a blog threatened “The Ethicist” from the New York Times magazine with an onslaught of political correctness bullies if he didn’t immediately express his abject contrition for having used these words in a harsh way a decade ago, in another job that didn’t directly involve ethics. Chuck capitulated, gracefully and well. As I will discuss in another post, I don’t think he had much choice. Still, word-banning is an ugly, and ultimately unethical business. Continue reading
(I am backed up three deep on the “Comments of the Day,” and I apologize to the deserving and patient commenters.)
And who can forget Mickey Rooney’s hilarious turn in that beloved American film masterpiece “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”?
Alex Yuan raised an element of the revolting Jimmy Kimmel stunt discussed in my post, an extension of his penchant for using children as uncomprehending props for his often ugly comedy, that I glided right over: Why was showing a child suggesting that wiping out the Chinese was a viable solution to national problems even considered fit for broadcast, when a similar comment about Jews, gays, Hispanics or blacks would be considered instantly taboo? Why doesn’t the ethics alarm sound when the minority being slurred or threatened is Asian?
Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Jimmy Kimmel, Child Abuse, And Signature Significance:
It is interesting that you should mention political correctness because I can’t help feeling that in deciding it appropriate to air this segment, ABC – perhaps as a reflection of societal attitudes at large – is illustrating the alleged double standard against Asians when it comes to how topics concerning minorities and other protected classes are handled in public. Continue reading