The Gillette Ad

“Everyone” is talking about the new Gillette ad above. It is cynical, manipulative in sinister ways, unfair, insincere, divisive, unfair, and wrong. Over at Reason, the usually rational Robby Soave was sucked in (as was Ann Althouse, who said the little boys at the end moved her to tears—Awwwww!) defending the ad:

But the ad never said that all men are bad. It never argued that masculinity is always and everywhere a dangerous ideal. It made a very modest statement—treat people better—in hopes of selling more razors to people who agree. Again, why is this bad?…Young guys need to learn from men who treat women well and act as protectors rather than victimizers, which…is exactly what the Gillette ad called on men to do. People are free to associate with whatever brand they want, so if Gillette’s so-called virtue signaling bothers someone that much, that person may go ahead and buy razors elsewhere. But it would be a shame if the right started boycotting companies for taking the position that maybe hurting people is bad. Is owning the libs really that important?

Sucker! I am heartened that the ad has generated overwhelmingly negative responses, and while I would never call for a boycott (I use electric razors, thanks), I would still love to see Gillette suffer for this naked virtue-signaling and insulting stereotype mongering, all while pretending to “care,” when in fact it is just a cynical tactic to create buzz. I hope the eventual buzz is the sound of Remington electric razors.

Jon Gabriel’s reaction was similar to mine:

Gillette has had a rough few years. The former shaving hegemon has seen its market share plummet due to a resurgence in classic “wet shaving,” online razor subscription services, and the popularity of beards. Gillette’s obvious options are to lower their artificially high price or drastically improve their quality. Instead, they’ve decided to make their remaining customers feel bad about themselves through an expensive new ad campaign…. “You’re a very bad person, give us money” is an odd marketing pitch, especially from a company that’s used sex to sell its product for decades…Gillette has now declared war on its customer base. [Quoting the Wall Street Journal]

Gillette parent Procter & Gamble Co. is among companies that in recent years have used advertising as a platform to promote their stance on social issues such as gender equality, and polarizing political topics such as immigration and gun control. P&G is perhaps best known for its lauded “Like a Girl” ad campaign for feminine-care brand Always and “Stress test” for deodorant brand Secret.

Promoting social issues can be effective marketing, but notice the difference. P&G’s female-directed ads make women feel better about themselves. The company tells women “you’re great just as you are” and tells men “you’re bad and need to change.”

“Why is this bad?” asks sensitive Robby. Ah, let me count the ways: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Marketing and Advertising

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/16/19: Blacks With White Privilege, A Home Trump Derangement Test, Defending “Hamilton,” And More…

Got up on the wrong side of the bed today..

…and trying to recover.

1. Finally! The Ultimate Trump Derangement Home Test! This is wonderful, and we owe a debt to CNN for making this available. NeverTrump neocon Max Boot, who has been a “rseistance” ally since the 2016 election and who also writes op-eds for the Washington Post, presented this hilarious—but don’t tell anyone you are using the to test hilarious—visual aid to his recent Post screed:

Isn’t that great? I initially thought it was a Saturday Night Live parody, but how could that be, when SNL is all Trump Derangement All The Time itself? All you have to do is show this to a suspected TDS sufferer, and wait for the response. Hearty laughter followed by something along the lines of,” Wow! I didn’t think even CNN would stoop this low, but there it is!”, and you know your friend or family member has escaped the jaws of madness. If the subject’s reaction is to point and shout, “See! See! I told you the election was rigged!”, then it’s time for cold compresses and a 911 call.

Once again, I miss the fevered passion of the self-exiled Trump Deranged commenters on Ethics Alarms, to see exactly how far gone they are, if they are. Hilarity was bound to ensue.

I was tempted to do a whole post showing how every one of Boot’s “reasons” are strained circumstantial evidence at best or utter nonsense at worst, but two words, “confirmation bias,” pretty much covers it, along with a third, “desperation.” Meanwhile, just as self-amusement, I’m working on the list of reasons why Max Boot might be a Russian agent. So far I have Dilbert’s Scott Adams’ observation that while the pitiful Russian fake news on social media couldn’t divide the country, hysterical anti-Trump conspiracy theorists are doing a good job serving Russian interests by undermining the Presidency; Max’s “Boot” code name, which evokes George Orwell’s’ famous metaphor for Communist totalitarianism; and that Curly Howard hair cut, the choice of international anti-democracy villains in James Bond films,  “The Man From U.N.C.L.E,” TV’s “The Black List” and everything in between.

That’s only three, though. Suggestions welcome.

2. Is this good news or bad news? “Family Guy,” Seth McFarland’s nastier, cheaper, uglier rip-off of “The Simpsons,” has announced that it will be “phasing out” homophobic jokes. It’s certainly good news if this includes the disgusting and unfunny running gag about the old man next door to “The Family Guy” who has sexual designs on Peter’s idiot son, I guess. The problem is that the only feature of “The Family Guy” that made its intentionally tasteless and offensive humor excusable was that the show was cruel and unfair to everyone, pretty much equally. If the show is now bowing to victim-group pressure, how long will it be before its only targets are white men, conservatives, Fox News and Donald Trump?

If McFarland and the show are now afraid of being politically incorrect when political incorrectness is a career death sentence for everyone else, then it should just kill the show, rather than wander the airwaves hollowed out and submissive like the brainwashed Winston Smith at the end of “1984.”

Oh-oh. Second Orwell reference already today… Continue reading

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Fairness Inquiry: Is Rep. Steve King A Racist?

[This is long. I’m sorry.]

I wrote earlier today that the Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) situation had become a full-blown Ethics Train Wreck, and that is true. It is an ETW because there is virtually no way one can get involved with the controversy in any way and not risk blundering into unethical conduct. If one rushes to condemn the Iowa Congressman without examining the evidence, that is unfair. If one tries to excise him from his position before the end of his term without more than just an objection to his choice of words, one is interfering with the free choice of his constituents regarding whom they want representing their interests in Washington. If one attempts to defend him, there is a risk of rationalizing and excusing bigotry on the part of a lawmaker. If one sides with his critics enemies, one may be facilitating a cynical effort to mis-characterize King and distort his sentiments to use him as a weapon against President Trump, Republicans, and conservatives generally, for “Trump, Republicans and conservatives endorse racism and white supremacy” is one of the loudest narratives that has been promoted since the 2016 election and before.

Let us not forget that King himself started this train wreck rolling with his own careless and defiant rhetoric. His latest was a quote from an elusive interview in the New York Times, in which King said,

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

Despite King’s protestations that he had been misunderstood, Republicans, Democrats and the news media condemned his statement as racist, and he was stripped of all committee assignments by his party, as Democrats readied an attempt to have him formally censured.

It is not difficult to clarify the difference between an admiration for the amazing and undeniable achievements of Western culture, and a belief that the color of the people responsible for building it was a factor in its success. Despite the fact that King raises the issue frequently, however, he has somehow never managed to make the distinction clear. There is therefore a rebuttable  presumption that he doesn’t believe there is a distinction. The alternative is that he, much like the President of whom he was an early supporter, lacks the command over the language to explore such distinctions competently. If that is true, then he is disrupting national discourse and seeding division and hate through incompetence.

I regard King as a less articulate, less intelligent, less amiable version of Pat Buchanan, the conservative gadfly and pundit who helped defeat George H.W. Bush’s bid for reelection and who inadvertently helped elect his son President. Buchanan is an anti-Semite, a xenophobe, a homophobe and a racist. He is very clear that he regards immigration as a threat to what he believes must be a Christian, white, European-dominated culture in the U.S. Unlike King, he is direct and unambiguous about it:

  • “If we do not get control of our borders, by 2050 Americans of European descent will be a minority in the nation their ancestors created and built,” Buchanan wrote in his 2006 book “State of Emergency.”
  • In “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?,” he wrote, “[T]he decline in academic test scores here at home and in international competition is likely to continue, as more and more of the children taking those tests will be African-American and Hispanic.
  •  Buchanan, though calling Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people  in Norway “evil,”  added : “As for a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries, on this one, Breivik may be right.”
  • From his column “Are Liberals Anti-WASP?” May 14, 2010: “If [Elena] Kagan [President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court] is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats. Is this Democrats’ idea of diversity?”
  • Extolling the good old days in “Right from the Beginning”: “In the late 1940’s and 1950’s…race was never a preoccupation with us, we rarely thought about it….There were no politics to polarize us then, to magnify every slight. The ‘Negroes’ of Washington had their public schools, restaurants, bars, movie houses, playgrounds and churches; and we had ours.”
  • “How is America committing suicide? Every way a nation can. The American majority is not reproducing itself. Its birthrate has been below replacement level for decades. Forty-five million of its young have been destroyed in the womb since Roe v. Wade, as Asian, African, and Latin American children come to inherit the estate the lost generation of American children never got to see…our minority population rose 2.4 million to exceed 100 million. Hispanics, 1 percent of the U.S. population in 1950, are now 14.4 percent. Since 2000, their numbers have soared 25 percent to 45 million. The U.S. Asian population grew by 24 percent since 2000, as the number of white kids of school age fell 4 percent. Half the children five and younger today are minority children….The Anglo population of California is down to 43 percent and falling fast. White folks are now a minority in Texas and New Mexico. In Arizona, Hispanics account for more than half the population under twenty. The America Southwest is returning to Mexico.”  That’s Buchanan just 11 years ago, in Pat’s “Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed are Tearing America Apart.”
  • Also from the same book: “The United States, the greatest republic since Rome, and the British Empire, the greatest empire since Rome, may be said to have arisen from that three-cornered fort the Jamestown settlers began to build the day they arrived. But that Republic and that empire did not rise because the settlers and those who followed believed in diversity, equality, and democracy, but because they rejected diversity, equality, and democracy. The English, the Virginians, the Americans were all ‘us-or-them’ people. They believed in the superiority of their Christian faith and English culture and civilization. And they transplanted that unique faith, culture, and civilization to America’s fertile soil…This was our land, not anybody else’s. But today America and Britain have embraced ideas about the innate equality of all cultures, civilizations, languages, and about the mixing of all tribes, races, and peoples, that are not only ahistorical, they are suicidal for America and the West.”

There are many quotes like these, for Buchanan writes a lot. As you probably noticed, either King reads a lot of Pat’s work,  he thinks the same way without quite being able to express it clearly or perhaps he doesn’t have the courage that Buchanan has to say what he believes and accept the consequences. Some of those quotes sound a lot like King.

What makes it difficult to accurately and fairly define what’s wrong with King’s statements through the years, in addition to his own lazy speech habits, is the ongoing tendency of the leftward, anti-conservative news media to assert that statements that are not racist are, and indeed to obliterate any precise meaning of racism into convenient vagueness. For example, a New York Times article called A History of Steve King’s Racist Remarks” almost convinced me to defend King. It is incredible that the Times would be so dishonest, inflammatory and unfair as to assemble the “remarks” it chose under the description of “racist.” The fact that it would tell us more about the biases and untrustworthiness of the Times than it does about King. The problem is that while the Times and others will claim that almost anything King (or Donald Trump) says is proof of racism, there are enough real racist and xenophobic sentiments in the mix to justifiably conclude that King is Buchanan II.

Here’s the list:

“Mr. King, in the Iowa State Senate, files a bill requiring schools teach that the United States “is the unchallenged greatest nation in the world and that it has derived its strength from … Christianity, free enterprise capitalism and Western civilization.”

Not racist. Not even close.

Mr. King is the chief sponsor of a law making English the official language of Iowa, [and ] Mr. King introduces the English Language Unity Act, a bill to make English the official language of the United States.”

Again, not even close. Many people of good faith, including me, believe that the U.S., its culture, education and commerce would be well served by declaring English to be the official language.

Mr. King sues the Iowa Secretary of State for posting voting information on an official website in Spanish, Laotian, Bosnian and Vietnamese.’

Stupid, yes. Racist, no.

At a rally in Las Vegas, Mr. King calls the deaths of Americans at the hands of undocumented immigrants “a slow-motion Holocaust.” He claims that 25 Americans die daily because of undocumented immigrants, an unsupported and illogical leap from government statistics, which years later influences talking points by President Trump.”

The “slow motion Holocaust” conspiracy theory is a white supremacist trope. Racist.

On the House floor, Mr. King demonstrates a model of a 12-foot concrete border wall topped with electrified wire that he designed: “We need to do a few other things on top of that wall, and one of them being to put a little bit of wire on top here to provide a disincentive for people to climb over the top or put a ladder there. We could also electrify this wire … We do that with livestock all the time.”

Oh, I get the theory: the Times is implying that King is comparing illegals to animals. No, he’s comparing fences.

Mr. King on the House floor, speaking of how law enforcement officers can spot undocumented immigrants: What kind of clothes people wear … what kind of shoes people wear, what kind of accent they have … sometimes it’s just a sixth sense they can’t put their finger on.

Apparently the Times thinks that even discussing illegal immigrants is racist. Seriously, how is this a “racist remark’?

Mr. King in a speech opposing the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to cover contraception: Preventing babies being born is not medicine. That’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birthrate get down below the replacement rate, we’re a dying civilization.

Race isn’t mentioned or alluded to, yet the Times calls this a “racist remark.” Amazing. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

On a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference with Peter Brimelow, an open white nationalist, Mr. King referred to multiculturalism as: a tool for the Left to subdivide a culture and civilization into our own little ethnic enclaves and pit us against each other.

Is any statement to a white nationalist “racist”?

Mr. King on why he opposes legal status for Dreamers, who were brought into the country as children: “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.”

I don’t know what to make of that one, but the Times seems to believe that anyone opposing the “Dreamers” is a racist. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/15/2019: I Am Cleopatra!

Good morning, Ethics Lovers!

1. Coming attractions. Rep. Steve King is now officially a human ethics train wreck, but boy, it would be nice if we could trust the news media. I will be writing a full post on this matter soon, but in the meantime, if someone can find me the full text of the alleged “interview” with the Times that generated King’s infamous “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” statement, I would be very happy. The link used by all sources reporting on the interview and its aftermath, including the link used by the Times, goes to Before Trump, Steve King Set the Agenda for the Wall and Anti-Immigrant Politics.”

But that’s not an interview! It’s an anti-King hit piece. I wanted to see the context of King’s remark, like, say, the question that evoked it. Is that too much to ask? All we get, however, is this:

Mr. King, in the interview, said he was not a racist. He pointed to his Twitter timeline showing him greeting Iowans of all races and religions in his Washington office. (The same office once displayed a Confederate flag on his desk.)

At the same time, he said, he supports immigrants who enter the country legally and fully assimilate because what matters more than race is “the culture of America” based on values brought to the United States by whites from Europe.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

That’s telling us about the interview, not the interview itself, and doing so while poisoning the well. More later. However, the fact that the Times won’t provide the unredacted interview itself is troubling.

2. Trump Tweets. Finally I can compliment a good one. This morning the President said, in the climax of a tweet, “They got caught spying on my campaign and then called it an investigation.” I’m critical of Trump’s communications skills, but you can’t do better than that. I also strongly suspect that he is correct. Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On The Vegetative Rape Victim

In Phoenix, Arizona,  a 29-year-old female patient who has been a vegetative state for more than a decade at Hacienda Healthcare center gave birth to a healthy baby boy.  The staff had no idea she was pregnant until she went into labor and gave birth on December 29th. She had an apparently been raped several times.

Family members for the woman  have declined to give a public statement, but their attorney told Huffington Post,”The family obviously is outraged, traumatized and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter at Hacienda Healthcare. … [They] would like me to convey that the baby boy has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for.”

Coming so soon after the post here about the ethics issues surrounding the death old a fetus, this news story prompted several readers to inquire here. Some observations: Continue reading

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Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/14/2019: Bad Leadership, Bad Punditry, Bad Journalism…Looking For Silver Linings And Failing Miserably

Good Morning!

The news is ugly, but the snow is beautiful.

1. Who’s really to blame for the shutdown? A weak and feckless GOP Speaker was the culprit, the wishy-washy, onflicted and above-it-all Paul Ryan.He had a Republican majority in the House, and lacked the leadership, resolve and political skills to take care of the border issue when the opportunity was there. Is there any doubt that Nancy Pelosi, Tip O’Neil or Newt Gingrich couldn’t have gotten the job done?

We were constantly told that Ryan was a reluctant Speaker. Reluctant leaders are almost never effective leaders; leaders want to lead and like to lead, and it is unethical to assume the role of a leader when you don’t have the spine or the skills to do the job.

2. Stop making Ann Althouse defend Donald Trump! Ann, with assists from Seth Barrett Tilman and Glenn Reynoldsdoes a nice job debunking writer John McWhorter’s cheap shot criticism of the President in his  “Trump’s Typos Reveal His Lack of Fitness for the Presidency/They suggest not just inadequate manners or polish, but inadequate thought.”

He wrote,

“The president of the United States has many faults, but let’s not ignore this one: He cannot write sentences. If a tree falls in a forrest and no one is there to hear it … wait: Pretty much all of you noticed that mistake, right? Yet Wednesday morning, the president did not; he released a tweet referring to ‘forrest fires’ twice, as if these fires were set by Mr. Gump. Trump’s serial misuse of public language is one of many shortcomings that betray his lack of fitness for the presidency. Trump’s writing suggests not just inadequate manners or polish—not all of us need be dainty—but inadequate thought. Nearly every time he puts thumb to keypad, he exposes that he has never progressed beyond the mentality of the precollegiate, trash-talking teen.”

My contribution: Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley

I almost included this in yesterday’s ethics warm-up, but realized that the point was too important not to have the focus of an entire post.

During the Post 2016 Election Ethics Train Wreck that threatens the stability of the United States and its future as a functioning democracy,  Prof. Turley has been one of the select few to meet the qualifications laid out by Rudyard Kipling in my late father’s favorite poem “If.” He has managed to keep his head while all about him, especially in academia, his realm, but also most professionals, have been losing theirs, mostly in response to crushing peer pressure, unsupported conventional wisdom, and partisan bias.

It’s remarkable how much easier it is to analyze complex problems accurately when one can maintain sufficient objectivity and remove, and can overcome bias and resist the lure of rationalizations. In The Hill, Turley demonstrates the benefits of his integrity with a sharp and accurate post—it happens to be consistent with my own conclusions of more than a year’s duration, but I don’t have to hang out in a faculty lounge—explaining the dynamics of the unprecedented efforts by the FBI and the Justice Department to undermine the Trump Presidency before it even began.

Turley’s article begins by mentioning  the New York Times “bombshell” about the FBI launching an investigation of whether the President of the United States was a Russian asset…

However, the real benefit of the investigative story may not be the original suspicion, but rather how it could explain the course that both sides have taken into our current quagmire. What if there were no collusion or conspiracy but simple cognitive bias on both sides, where the actions of one seemed to confirm precisely the suspicions of the other?

Let me focus the professor’s words here. There are all kinds of cognitive bias, and several may be at work. However, the main one is clearly confirmation bias, the human tendency to interpret information in ways that confirm what we believe already. Continue reading

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