Category Archives: Race

A Law Student Creates A Dishonest List Called “100 Times A White Actor Played Someone Who Wasn’t White” And Begins Another List Called “Times The Washington Post Published A Race-Baiting Piece Of Lazy Research And Sloppy Reasoning By Someone Who Looks Like She Will Be A Terrible Lawyer”

I didn’t set out to make the news media’s tolerating unethical race arguments the theme today, I really didn’t. While I was researching ESPN’s decision not to hire whites on its new website, to which the Wall Street Journal shrugged and said, by not saying, “Wait….WHAT?” in effect, “Sure, go ahead, discriminate!”, I came upon this piece of journalistic offal called “100 Times A White Actor Played Someone Who Wasn’t White” on the Washington Post website. It was authored by Meredith Simons, a law student and freelance writer. Well, Meredith, free-lance writers get away with these miserably researched and unfairly gathered articles a lot, but if you try to sneak this kind of crap past a judge or a senior partner, you’re going to have a rude awakening.

The fact that her article is incompetent and unfair in myriad ways doesn’t mean that Hollywood has been an equal opportunity employer throughout decades past. It hasn’t, but it has reflected the society and tastes in which it operates, and often has been a leader in race attitudes, as in the film “Imitation of Life.” There is work to be done, but careless articles like Simons’ just causes ignorance and confusion.

The immediate impetus for her hit piece on Hollywood casting was apparently the controversy over the casting of white actor Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson in a planned biopic. Simons calls him “African American icon Michael Jackson,” which is the lawyer’s trick of framing an issue to rig the debate—good one, Meredith—but skin-bleaching, child-molesting, whitebread pop star Jackson is hardly an “African American” icon: he’s a national pop icon who went out of his way to reject race and racial labels. That is what the song “Black and White” was about, right? Sure, the casting was a gimmick, but it’s a clever and legitimate gimmick that I would guess Jackson would have approved of enthusiastically. When they make “The Rachel Dolezal Story,” will Simons complain if a black actress gets the part?

So based on a phony race controversy—two, in fact, with the Oscar nomination spat included—Simons comes up with an even more phony list. “Despite decades of protests over racially inappropriate casting and the recent protests over the lack of diversity among Oscar nominees, filmmakers continue to cast white actors as minority characters on a depressingly regular basis,” she writes.

(A tip  for Social Justice Warriors: don’t write about the performing arts and casting if you don’t know a damn thing about either. The purpose of the performing arts is 1) to make a good product and 2) to make money. Anything that in any way interferes with either is irrelevant. There is no such thing as “racially inappropriate casting” if it furthers either of these objectives, or ideally both. It is not Hollywood’s job to eradicate racial inequality in the U.S. If it helps, that’s responsible and ethical of the movie-makers. This is, however, neither its art nor its business.)

Simons’ list is the epitome of the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy done badly. The fallacy consists of cherry-picking facts that support a predetermined argument and “drawing a circle around them” as if they are the sole relevant facts, while intentionally or mistakenly omitting equally relevant facts that would tend to disprove it. Bad lawyer that she is, she draws a metaphorical circle around “facts” that don’t even support her argument. I’m not going to go through the entire hundred  (say “thank-you, Jack!”) but I’ll point out some of her most egregious botches.

To begin with, either she didn’t see the movies on the list, or intentionally misrepresents them. My favorite, and typical of her terrible research: Continue reading

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Hey, Spike? Mizzou? ESPN? Explain This Diversity Thing Again; I’m Confused…

Head of The Undefeated, Kevin Merida, whose race had nothing to do with his hiring, and how dare you even ask such a question?

Head of The Undefeated, Kevin Merida, whose race had nothing to do with his hiring, and how dare you even ask such a question?

“The Undefeated” website finally debuted this in January, ESPN’s foray into issues of sports and race.

John Skipper, the president of ESPN, gave an interview with The Wall Street Journal that contained this fascinating quote:

At the Undefeated, the play is about content. If you do a time-lapse of the last two or three years in sports, you’d see more stories pop to the top about race and sports than anything. It is an important area to explore. There is a business reason: among our most important consumers are African-Americans. There is not right now a go-to site for black fans, other than just ESPN sites. [The Undefeated] will be a black-run and black-staffed site.”

Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Whose Ethics Alarm Is Obviously Busted

Matthews

“Who is going to watch a debate between the two Cuban guys?”

MSNBC host Chris Matthews, reacting on the air to the news that wittle Donald Twump will be avoiding Thursday’s Republican candidates’ debate on Fox because he’s afwaid that mean, old Megyn Kelly will wag on him and make him cwy.

The “Cuban guys” are two  U.S. citizens and public servants named Mark Rubio and Ted Cruz. “Who is going to watch a debate between Rubio, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz?” Chris went on. (Yes, Chris, we know who you meant). “Who cares?””

I just got back from a New York day trip to do an ethics training seminar for a large law firm. I read about Matthews’ hateful, ugly, bigoted statement just as I was getting ready to leave this morning, and it  bothered me the rest of the day. I haven’t checked—has Matthews apologized? Has he been sacked? Have Hispanics and Latinos rallied to support the Republicans he attacked?

There is no spin, no excuse, no rationalization that removes Matthews’ comment from the realm of hateful, gratuitous partisan bile. This is also the guy, remember, who sees racism in the use of the word “Chicago.” Let’s see if we can find any equivalent statement that wouldn’t be legitimately and immediately  identified as the calling card of a bigot:

“Who is going to watch a debate between the two black guys?”

“Who is going to watch a debate between the two Jewish  guys?”

“Who is going to watch a debate between the two gay guys?”

“Who is going to watch a debate between the two Muslim guys?”

“Who is going to watch a debate between the two women?”

Yet this just vomited out of Liberal Chris’s mouth like it was perfectly reasonable and fair, just like you hear other bigots default to “nigger” without blinking. The statement radiates contempt for a nationality, assumed superiority by a comfortably white hack , and absolute disrespect—because the two men are Republicans, and thus don’t deserve decency or fairness at his hands. That’s how Chris thinks. That’s the culture of MSNBC. That’s the attitude of a shocking number of U.S. “progressives.” Continue reading

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Ethics Dunces: Professor Robert Donald Weide, And Any University That Employs Him

crushing dissentThe results of the Curmie Award vote are up at Curmudgeon Central, where blogger Rick Jones tracks episodes of supreme embarrassment for his profession, education. I think next year’s winner may have already arrived. It’s not that I can’t imagine worse conduct by an educator—I have a lively imagination—it’s just that the conduct California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) professor Robert Donald Weide is an apt symbol of why U.S. higher education is no longer a solution to anything, but a tragic problem in itself. There is no reason, none, why any school shouldn’t immediately sack a faculty member who behaves like this. If the issue is tenure, then tenure needs to be abolished. Tenure should not shield campus fascists.

What did Weide do? CSULA’s branch of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative political organization, dared to invite Ben Shapiro to give a lecture called “When Diversity Becomes a Problem” about such emerging issues as Black Lives Matter, “microaggressions,” “safe spaces,”  trigger warnings and other assaults on free speech on campuses and elsewhere. Naturally, since the topic is an important and legitimate one, many at CSULA are attacking the event and arguing it should be blocked by the university, citing trigger warnings, safe spaces,  microaggressions, and, of course, the ever-useful censorship concept of “hate speech.”

Perhaps here is as good a place as any to note that I wouldn’t cross the street to listen to Ben Shapiro, and wouldn’t do so even before his website, Breitbart, decided to shill for Donald Trump. That, however, doesn’t alter the fact that he is every bit as worthy of a campus speaking gig as Lena Dunham, Bernie Sanders, Sean Penn, or the Pope. Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On The Academy’s Pro-Diversity “Fix”

Chris-Rock-Backstage-at-Oscars

Apparently panicked by the negative reaction to its all-white 2016 Oscar nominations,  and determined not to give MC Chris Rock more ammunition than he already has, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scientists has rushed into place new voter qualifications for next year’s awards. Under the new rules, members who have not worked over the past 30 years  will lose the right to cast Oscar ballots unless they have been nominated for an Oscar themselves.

What’s going on here?

1. Is this substituting real bias for unfairly assumed bias?

Sure it is.

As one soon to be disenfranchised voter told the Hollywood Reporter, “The Motion Picture Academy, in the spirit of Affirmative Action (which has worked so well in our universities), is determined to take the Oscar vote away from the Old White Guys…Personally, I wish they’d examine their complex preferential ballot procedure which clearly isn’t working right. But no, blame the Old White Guys.” Others noted that to assume older voters, many who were at their peak during the rebellious Sixties and the Civil Rights Era, weren’t voting for black artists was foolish. The new rules seem to be an obvious attempt to stigmatize and penalize older voters.  The seniors, said one dissenting Academy member, are often “perfectly vibrant and very much with it and, while they may be retired, it doesn’t mean they aren’t functioning on all cylinders. They have earned the privilege of being in the Academy through their work and just because they’re no longer active doesn’t mean that they can’t be a good judge of what they’re looking at.” Former actress Delores Hart, who gave Elvis Presley his first screen kiss and who was the top-billed star of “Where the Boys Are?,” was direct, saying,  “It’s age discrimination.”

Of course, Hollywood has long-accepted age-discrimination, and Saturday Night Live would never skewer the Oscars for that. Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: Ice Cube…Adult

Ice Cube

The Academy Awards nominations flap has been gradually acquiring Ethics Train Wreck Status. Naturally, since it involves race (black artists didn’t get their quota this year, whatever that quota is–it’s a secret quota, but clearly zero isn’t it) and thus an opportunity for him to get some publicity, Al Sharpton weighed in with sputtering outrage, calling for a boycott of the Oscars. Then Spike Lee announced a personal boycott, making no sense in the process, rapidlly followed by Jada Pinkett Smith, who really made no sense, writing,

“Begging for acknowledgment or even asking diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people. And we are powerful. Let’s not forget it. So let’s let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let’s do us.”

Gibberish. What is throwing a tantrum and boycotting your industry and profession as it honors itself and your colleagues’ art because  the people you really care about—those of the right color, you know— didn’t get a nomination, if it isn’t demanding recognition, which is as pathetic as asking or begging for it, just more obnoxious?

Next her husband, Will Smith, who looks like a poor sport by doing so, followed her lead, muttering inappropriate platitudes. He said, “There is a position that we hold in this community, and if we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem.” If you say so, Will. Causing racial division in your profession and sabotaging its big self-promotion night is part of what solution, now?

In ethics train wrecks, all passengers live to regret it. Over at Fox News, panelist and former “Clueless” actress Stacey Dash suggested that black actors had nothing to complain about as long as they participated in blacks-only honors, like the BET Awards, and the NAACP Image awards. What was that supposed to mean? That Oscar should be all-white, since there are all-black awards? Is this a plug for separate but equal? Her argument was incoherent, so naturally Donald Trump endorsed it, saying, and I quote, “Blah, blah, blah, blah…” Among the blahs, he noted,

“So over there — the whites don’t get any nominations, or don’t get — and I thought it was an amazing interview, actually. I never even thought of it from that standpoint. But with all of that being said, it would certainly be nice if everybody could be represented properly…”

Trenchant analysis, you moronContinue reading

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The Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Best of Ethics 2015, Part II

DavisHand

The Awards continue (Part I is here)….

Most Important Ethical Act of the Year:

The US Supreme Court’s Decision in  Obergefell v. Hodges in which the Supreme Court considered whether states had to recognize a right to same-sex marriages, and narrowly decided that they must. The prejudice against homosexuality is ancient, deep, and complex, mixed up in confounding ways with morality and religion, and deeply divisive. Nonetheless, I felt that the opinion should have been unanimous; it’s a shame that it was not, but in the end, this will not matter. The result was preordained from the moment gays began coming out of the shadows and asserting their humanity and human rights. Since the Stonewall riot, the nation and the culture has learned a great deal about the number of talented and productive gay men and women in our society and our history, the pain, ostracizing, discrimination and mistreatment they have suffered, and the falseness of the myths and fears that lead to this suffering.  In the end, as Clarence Darrow said about blacks, it is human beings, not law, that will make gays equal. No topic immediately causes such emotional and intense debate, on this blog or in society, as this one, but the Supreme Court’s decision is a major step toward changing the ethical culture, by asserting  that gay men and women have the same rights,  in the eyes of the state, to marry those they love and want to build a life with, and by implication, that the beliefs of any religion regarding them or their marriages cannot eliminate that right.

Outstanding Ethical Leadership

Senator Rand Paul.   I am neither a Rand Paul supporter, nor an admirer, nor a fan.  However, his June filibuster-like Senate speech against National Security Agency counter-terrorism surveillance was a brave, principled,  important act, and a great public service. The point Paul made needs to be made again, and again, and again:  there is no reason to trust the NSA, and no reason to trust the current federal government either. The fact that on security matters we have no real choice is frightening and disheartening, but nevertheless, no American should be comfortable with his or her private communications, activities and other personal matters being tracked by the NSA, which has proven itself incompetent, dishonest, an untrustworthy.

 

Parent of the Year

Tonya Graham

Toya Graham, the Baltimore mother caught on video as she berated and beat on her son in the street for participating in the Freddie Gray rioting and looting. Continue reading

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