Tag Archives: insults

Ethics Dunce: Joy Behar

These things never happened at the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, but then, those comics were pros, not wannabe political pundits...,

These things never happened at the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, but then, those comics were pros, not wannabe political pundits…,

The View edged up in my estimation a tic or two when Joy Behar exited it for her own show, now mercifully ended. Admittedly, this enhancement still left that offensive ABC daytime talk-fest well below water, but anything was an improvement over Behar, the epitome of a loud and opinionated celebrity with nothing to contribute of substance to any discussion except misplaced arrogance and noise. I’m sure I’ve flagged at least one or two of her stunts…let’s check. Why yes, here is one: I wrote this when Joy led a walk-out on guest Bill O’Reilly because he had the bad taste to suggest that Muslims took down the Twin Towers. (They did, you know.)

Given her antics through the years, I was stunned to discover that anyone would compensate this awful woman to give her a podium, but someone did. On April 1, Behar was one of a group of New Jersey comedians hired to participate in a “roast” of former New Jersey governor Brendan Byrne, who is in his nineties. On the dais with Byrne was the current governor Chris Christie, who, this being a roast, came in for more than his share of the jibes from the comics, who were generally clever about it. Behar, however, decided to make her act personal and nasty. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Professions

Privacy, Facebook, And School Abuse of Power

I bet the school officials never even said they were sorry, did they, Riley?

I bet the school officials never even said they were sorry, did they, Riley?

It can a bit late to the party, in my view, but the ACLU just delivered a crucial blow to Big Brotherism in the schools. Addressing an issue that Ethics Alarms flagged in 2011, Minnewaska Area Schools (in Minnesota) agreed to pay $70,000 in damages to

for violating her rights. It also agreed, as part of the federal court settlement, to rewrite its policies to limit how far a school can intrude on the privacy of students by examining e-mails and social media accounts created off school grounds.

In 2012, the ACLU Minnesota Chapter filed a lawsuit against the Minnewaska School District after it suspended Stratton for a Facebook post, written and published outside of school, in her home, in which she expressed hatred for a school hall monitor who she said was “mean.”  After the suspension, Stratton used Facebook to inquire which of her “friends” had blown a whistle on her. School officials brought the young teen into a room with a local sheriff and forced her to surrender her Facebook password. Officials used it to searched her page on the spot; her parents were not consulted.

“A lot of schools, like the folks at Minnewaska, think that just because it’s easier to know what kids are saying off campus through social media somehow means the rules have changed, and you can punish them for what they say off campus,” Minnesota ACLU attorney Wallace Hilke said. “They punished her for doing exactly what kids have done for 100 years — complaining to her friends about teachers and administrators. She wasn’t spreading lies or inciting them to engage in bad behavior, she was just expressing her personal feelings.”

Not that it was any of the school’s business if she was spreading lies or inciting others to bad behavior. This phenomenon, where schools decide that they have a right to punish students for non-school activity, words and thoughts  was discussed on Ethics Alarms, and condemned as unethical, here, here, here, and here, and more recently here.

Minnewaska Superintendent Greg Schmidt protested (the school settled without admitting any wrongdoing) that the school only wants to make sure kids understand that actions outside of school can be “detrimental.” “The school’s intent wasn’t to be mean or bully this student, but to really remedy someone getting off track a little,” Schmidt said. Not your job, you officious, censorious, child abuser. This is the sole realm of parental authority. I have seen enough wretched judgement from your breed, Mr. Schmidt—like (I’m picking examples randomly) here, here, here, here and here—to convince me and anyone with a cerebral cortex that school administrators lack the training, wisdom and judgment to know what “going of track a little” is for a 13-year old.

Stay out of my kids’ life and my family’s life. You have enough trouble running schools properly…work on that.

________________________

Sources: Daily Caller, ACLU, Minnesota Star Tribune

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Filed under Education, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights, The Internet

Comment of the Day: “How People Rationalize Being Close-minded: A Case Study”

battle-marvel

The Ethics Alarms resident humanist, Bruce, has filed a passionate brief condemning the sometimes rough debate on Ethics Alarms, and, in some ways, the blog itself. This is the latest volley in an ongoing thread that has jumped around from multiple posts: my fault, because I keep raising the issue in various ways. I would normally append some reactions at the conclusion of such direct criticism, but it’s a busy day, so I’ll have to put them in the comments to Bruce’s post later, with this exception.

The Ethics Scoreboard, which was not a blog but a website, embodied Bruce’s suggestion of radically fewer posts, more carefully considered and proofread. I am proud of a lot of the work there, but the format was limiting. The goal of Ethics Alarms is to try to inject ethical considerations into the national analysis and discussion of daily events, including politics, that need them but hardly ever receive them, because, sadly, most commentators are either uninterested or incapable of it.  The reason I chose a blog format is that these issues are time-sensitive, and if I am to have even a wisp of a chance of elevating the discussion and encouraging valid analysis of right and wrong, I have to strike quickly, or I might as well be writing about the ethics of the Spanish American War.

Jeffrey Field, my favorite Occupier who often weighs in here, periodically sends me a note that says “Slow down!”  I appreciate that, and take it to heart. Nonetheless, when the news media was (lazily? maliciously?) misrepresenting the meaning of David Wildstein’s lawyers’ letter regarding Chris Christie’s involvement in the George Washington Bridge affair, and I could find nobody who was pointing out what miserably unethical journalism this was, I had to write about it immediately—and, frankly, Ethics Alarms readers were ahead of most of the public. A little later, the New York Times, for example, had to tune down its characterization of the document.

I know my analysis is not always air tight, but I’m not trying to end discussions, but begin them. I wish I could do ten posts a day.

Here’s Bruce, and his Comment of the Day on the post How People Rationalize Being Close-minded: A Case Study”: Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Etiquette and manners, The Internet, U.S. Society

Maybe I’m Losing My Mind, But I Think Geico’s “Maxwell The Pig” Ads Are Racist

Well, not racist, exactly, since there is no such human race (yet) as “Pig Men.” If there were such a race, however, there is no question that Geico’s humorous ads would be regarded as racist and offensive. And in Geico Universe, where Maxwell the Talking Pig resides, there is such a race. Therefore the ads are racist. Right? No?

Hear me out.

This has been bothering me for a while, and I don’t think I am imagining it. If we had, living among us, anthropomorphic swine like Maxwell (first discovered being driven home by a friend’s mother and yelling “Wee wee wee!” all the way), would making not so subtle, demeaning pig references (“when pigs fly” in one commercial, “pig in a blanket” in another) be considered acceptable or civil? Clearly not. Obviously Maxwell is a minority, and obviously sensitive about being a pig. Using “when pigs fly” around him is like intentionally inviting an obese friend to “chew the fat,” or accusing a Native American of being an “Indian giver.” Maxwell gets the intent of the insult in both ads, too: “I can’t believe she said that,” he says after one swine-slur, and “I walked right into that one,” after another.

Geico laid the foundation for Maxwell to be a “harmless” stand-in for harassed minorities that the commercials couldn’t mock without serious consequences in an earlier ad, where his car is stopped by a policeman. The cop asks, “Do you know why I stopped you?” Maxwell suggests profiling. “Because I’m a pig driving a convertible?” Yes, it’s strange. The more I think about it, the stranger and more subversive it seems…

This is ridiculous, I know, but also, I think, sinister. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Race, U.S. Society

The Five Truths Of Elan Gale’s Twitter Lie

"Diane"

The above photo is how “The Bachelor” producer Elan Hale chose to announce to the world that his Twitter tale about “Diane” the hysterical Thanksgiving traveler and his campaign to shame her was all a “joke.”  This is Diane! Har!

Truth #1:

Elan Gale is an asshole, and because he is shameless about it, he is also a fick.

Truth #2 Continue reading

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Ethics Verdicts On The Elan Gale vs. Crazy Woman In Seat 7A Air Battle

Update (12/3): This incident has been revealed as a hoax.

The ethical analysis stands.

Yes, this is stupid, but it is the day after Thanksgiving, I’m still hung over from l-tryptophan, and there are ethics lessons to be learned everywhere, even in disputes between crude TV producers and hysterics.

You can read the details of this story here and the live tweets it generated here—Gale, a reality TV producer, gave a blow-by-blow description over Twitter.

In brief:

  • A plane on its way to Phoenix was delayed on the ground and one of the passengers angrily and loudly protested to the flight attendants that she was going to miss Thanksgiving dinner and what were they going to do about it?
  • Gale, as well as the rest of the passengers (presumably) found her self-centered hysteria offensive and made his point by sending her a complimentary glass of wine, some little bottles of vodka, and this note:

Gale note

The woman was not amused, and sent him this in return… Continue reading

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Hallmark’s Christmas Carol Ethics Misadventure

holiday-sweater-keepsake-ornamentTo consider this ridiculous controversy, let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start):

Here are the lyrics of the 19th Century Christmas carol “Deck the Halls,” one of the best known and most sung of the traditional carols these days because it doesn’t mention God, angels, Jesus or anything overtly religious:

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

(There are four more verses, but these are the ones most of us know.)

You would think that nobody could get in trouble using this particular holiday song, but Kansas City-based Hallmark was equal to the challenge. It decided to change the words for one of its new holiday ornaments, designed by “Keepsake Artist,” Matt Johnson. He  designed an ornament shaped like a typically gaudy Christmas sweater  sporting the altered lyric “Don we now our Fun apparel.” The word “gay” was removed.

Hallmark, much to its surprise, was flooded with complaints, and not just on the basis of one perceived offense, but several, and contradictory ones at that:

1. How dare they mess with the lyrics of a traditional and well-loved carol?

2. This was an anti-gay decision, literally and figuratively.

3. This was political correctness, to avoid criticism from gays.

Confronted with unseasonal hate mail and threats of a boycott, Hallmark did what many corporations do in such crises. It lied. Here was its initial statement, before Hallmark surrendered and apologized with one of those ‘we didn’t mean to offend anyone’ things : Continue reading

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Strange Tales Of The Ethically Clueless 1%: When A Birthday Gift Is Worse Than No Gift At All

"Oh, thank you, kind sir!"

“Oh, thank you, kind sir!”

The title of Ethics Dunce doesn’t do Fort Wayne Newspapers CEO Mike Christman justice.

In order to “celebrate” his employees’ birthdays, and, of course, recognize his loyal staff’s value, hard work, industry and loyalty, he gives each member of his corporate family a small token of his  appreciation on his or her birthday, and I do mean small token: a $1.25 token that can be used to buy a soda or a snack at a company vending machine.

How condescending, demeaning, disrespectful, insulting and, of course, cheap: the equivalent of a pat on the head. In the Gilded Age, rich men would occasionally drop nickles on the street for the street urchins to pick up. John D. Rockefeller was the most famous practitioner of this form of low-level charity, though he would use dimes. During the Depression, though he was still a billionaire, he switched to nickels. (Nickels in the Great Depression were worth a lot more than $1.25 today.) His beneficiaries were children, however. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: Fat-Bashing Film Critic Rex Reed

melissa_Elle

Actress Melissa McCarthy stole the film “Bridesmaids” right out from under its better known stars, including the screenplay’s author, Kirsten Wigg. In that film, her hit CBS sitcom “Mike and Molly,” and subsequent films (of varying quality), McCarthy has shown that she is s versatile, appealing comedienne with deep dramatic resources. Film critic Rex Reed, however, is mostly concerned with her weight, which is usually a component of the characters she plays and the quality, other than her talent, that sets her apart from the standard issue, impossibly thin, fit and sexy Hollywood actress.

In his withering review of her latest comedy “Identity Thief,” Reed causally refers to McCarthy as a “female hippo” and reduces her career to this: “Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) is a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.” Called on his fat-bashing, Reed responded, “I have lost entirely too many friends to obesity-related diseases to pretend Ms. McCarthy’s alarming obesity is anything to applaud.”

There are two aspects of this that are striking. One is that Rex Reed, who played the pre-op Myra Breckenridge in the awful movie version of Gore Vidal’s gender-bending, and considered scandalous at the time, satiric novel (Raquel Welch, now over 70, was post-op), is still alive and reviewing, albeit obscurely until, as now, he writes something outrageous. At one time—40 years ago? Longer?— Reed was considered the most quotable and one of the most influential film critics; now, to say he is passé would be a compliment.

The other striking aspect of this incident is this:  while the culture will turn with unforgiving venom on any public figure who derides individuals for their color, sexual orientation, malady or disability, any of which would be considered cruel, bigoted, and hateful, deriding individuals because their weight doesn’t meet with aesthetic norms—among which are now out-sized breasts on otherwise fat-free frames and sharply chiseled abdominal muscles, a look that was literally freakish until the dawn of Nautilus and personal trainers—-still is largely regarded as justified and acceptable. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Jonathan Capehart’s Confrontation Against Bigotry: Better Than Nothing, But Not Enough

confrontationWashington Post writer Jonathan Capehart shared a personal experience in a column today. Attending an aunt’s funeral in  church in the North Carolina community of her birth, he sat fuming as a guest minister used the occasion to condemn all gays as sinners, and urging them to use faith to give up their sinful ways.

Capehart, who is openly gay, decided that he was obligated not to accept this insult without a response. Here is what he did:

“After the visiting preacher was thanked for his rousing sermon by the congregation and the home pastor, the two made their way to us in the  front pew. During his oration, I vowed I would not shake his hand. But I did, given the immediate circumstances. So I used that as opportunity to make my displeasure known. As he shook my hand and leaned down for a sympathetic hug, I told the preacher, “Your sermon was offensive!” He leaned back, looked at me and replied, “What?” I repeated, “Your sermon was offensive to me. I need you to know that. That’s all I have to say.”

That seemed to satisfy Capehart. “As he moved his way down the pew, the anger I felt was replaced by relief and pride. Never before had I faced down religion-based bigotry. And it felt great.”

I feel terrible for Capehart having to endure such an indignity, and I’m glad what he did  made him feel better. But in no way did he “face down religious bigotry,” and I agree that facing down religious bigotry was called for. What did he do, really? He told the reverend that he was offended. He didn’t even say why he was offended. Continue reading

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