WSJ’s James Taranto Flunks His Ethics Test

A longtime Taranto fan, I was waiting for his Monday installment of his “Best of the Web” blog on te Wall Street Journal site to see if he would retract his flat-out wrong and grossly unfair characterization of the Missoula “Mikado.” Alas, he chose to double down, apparently in thrall to a conservative, Gilbert and Sullivan deprived readership:

“On Friday we noted that a theater company in Montana had inserted into its production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” a lyric calling for the beheading of Sarah Palin. By the close of business that same day, Michael McGill, executive director of MCT Inc., had announced remedial action…”

[The lyric, once again, is: “And that crazy Sarah Palin, needs a psychoanalyst!  She never would be missed.  No. She never would be missed.” Would any fair, sane, English comprehending person say that this “calls for the beheading of Sarah Palin”? Of course not.  Yet there it is.]

Thus Taranto follows a pattern I have noticed among many of the false critics of the production. They don’t seem to care what the facts are, or what is fair. They just want to rise to poor Sarah’s defense, and are willing to victimize an innocent small theater company of very nice, talented, dedicated people to do it.

Ah, James, I have misjudged you, I fear.

Now THIS is Incivility!

Michael Rausch, a 46-year-old Cherry Hill, N.J., lawyer, threw three punches at a Scranton lawyer who, he said, called him stupid and bald.

The fisticuffs occurred in July at the Lackawanna County Courthouse during a civil suit regrading a car accident. Lawyer Rausch was placed on probation, and he resigned from his law firm as a result of the incident.

Hey…what’s wrong with being called “bald”?

Ethics Train Wreck Report: Lessons, Ethical and Otherwise, of the Missoula “Mikado” Mess

Much of my weekend was occupied by reading, writing, thinking, and talking about the bizarre controversy over a community theater production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado,” which, by a series of misunderstandings, misdeeds, hypocrisies and journalistic malpractice, has created much anger and unhappiness for no legitimate reason at all. If you are late to the story and want to catch up, you can do so here, here, here, and here.

For the first and perhaps only time I can honestly say that Ethics Alarms is the most reliable source on a story. There may be plenty of ethicists who are more knowledgeable, scholarly, prudent and experienced than I am regarding ethics theory, but none of them knows this topic—Gilbert and Sullivan and “The Mikado”, like I do. I have 50 years experience performing, directing, studying, parodying and laughing at the works of these Victorian geniuses. The second I read the astoundingly wrong-headed interpretation being attached to the Missoula Community Theatre’s inclusion of Sarah Palin in Ko-Ko’s famous song “I’ve Got a Little List,” I surmised exactly what was going on, and my assessment has been confirmed by everything that has come to light since.

I will summarize what we now know in brief (well, briefer than reading all the posts) form:

Continue reading

The Strange Case of the Opportunistic Fugitive

The ethics call on this story is easy, though it is tempting to say otherwise.

Anthony S. Darwin was on the lam for six years in Wisconsin, eluding law enforcement authorities who were seeking to arrest him on pending charges of aggravated battery, bail jumping, battery, robbery with use of force, substantial battery and identity theft. Then he suddenly surrendered… because he realized he needed treatment for a life-threatening cancer. Continue reading

If Teachers Cheat, What Will Students To Do?

In Worcester, Mass, test scores at the Goddard School of Science and Technology have been tossed out because  school staff “reviewed student work on the assessment, coached students to add to their responses, scribed answers or portions of answers that were not worded by students, and provided scrap paper for students to use during tests,” according to the state commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.

School Superintendent Melissa Dillon wanted to make sure these findings weren’t misunderstood, and wanted to make certain nobody got the idea that her teachers were cheating. “The state did not use the term cheating, so I’m not using the term cheating,” she said. School Committee members agreed. “Calling it cheating I think is a little harsh,” committee member Jack L. Foley said.  He described the problem as “probably too much coaching.” Continue reading

Unethical Journalist of the Week: Aaron Flint, of The Northern Broadcasting Network

Well, why not…before all-Mikado Saturday comes to an end, I might as well highlight this astounding example of spectacularly incompetent journalism by the Northern Broadcasting Network’s Aaron Flint, who actually posted this hilarious idiocy on his “Flint Report” (I will have to comment on the text as it goes, since there is too much nonsense to take in all at once.)

His headline: “Palin Beheaded in Missoula Play” Continue reading