Ethics Quiz: Who Deserved To Be Fired—Beck or The Duck?

Tough quiz today, ethics fans. Be on your toes!

Our quiz for today: Who most deserved to be fired—Glenn Beck, Gilbert Gottfried (the voice of the Aflac duck),  neither, or both?

The Mad Prophet of Fox, Glenn Beck returned to his radio program with this reflection:

“I’m not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes. I’m not not saying that either… but there’s a message being sent. And that is, ‘Hey, you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.’ I’m just saying.”

Yes, Glenn Beck said that the devastation of Japan just may be a message from God. There is no doubt that Beck’s comment, however incoherently phrased, is in massively awful taste. It is, in fact, not far removed from the rantings of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist cult, who claim that the deaths of American servicemen and children is God’s judgment. Saying that the Japanese got smited or smitten or whatever it is God does in the Old Testament is not much better, though Beck isn’t chanting slogans at grieving Japanese mothers of dead babies.  Yet. How do we categorize such a statement? Insensitive, mayhap? Cruel? In execrable taste, would you say?

What’s that?

Nutsie Coo-coo? All right, that too. Should Fox News keep on a show host who would say such a thing?

On to Gottfried. Gilbert, who was an intentionally obnoxious comic before he started quacking for Aflac, and has continued to be, tweeted the following to his followers on Twitter:

“Japan is really advanced. They don’t go to the beach. The beach comes to them.”


“I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, They’ll be another one floating by any minute now.”


I fucked a girl in Japan. She screamed ‘I feel the earth move and I’m getting wet'”

Aflac fired him, saying that “Gilbert’s recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac,” and that “Aflac Japan – and, by extension, Japan itself – is part of the Aflac family, and there is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times.”

Let it be said in the Duck’s defense that..

  • These are really old jokes.
  • They are mild compared to  a lot of the jokes Gottfried makes.
  • People who think Gottfried is funny would think these jokes were funny, and people who don’t think he’s funny don’t read his tweets.
  • Consider the source. If a comedian says something like this, everyone knows he’s kidding. By definition, such comments should not be taken seriously.
  • They were sorta funny, as sick humor goes. What do you want from Gilbert Gottfried on Twitter, Oscar Wilde?

So it’s decision time. Should Fox News fire its rock star culture warrior for insulting an entire nation and culture in their darkest hours, reflecting negatively on the values of his employer and those it represents? Or is Gottfried the Duck the one who has to go, for intentionally tasteless tweets to his faithful? Who should go? Beck? The Duck? Or Both?

The Answer: Gilbert Gottfried.


In terms of content, there is no contest: Gottfried’s lame jokes are not nearly as objectionable as Beck’s comments. After all, Beck wasn’t joking. His comments suggested that Japan deserved its current horrors, while Gottfried was only making light of them—“too soon,” as Krusty the Clown would say. The difference is that Gottfried’s employer, as he well knows, is in the business of selling insurance, and Japan is one of its biggest customers, accounting for billions of dollars in revenue. Gottfried is the voice of Aflac’s symbol, and for that voice to be making jokes about a mega-client’s human tragedy creates a serious crisis for Aflac. The company had no choice—it had to fire the Duck. Gottfried forgot who he worked for. No employer can tolerate a high profile employee recklessly jeopardizing a major business relationship. Gottfreid was not as offensive as Beck, but he was more irresponsible.

It also helps that Beck was so muddled that it muted the force of his comments. Yes, I think it is irresponsible for Fox, or anyone, to employ an on-screen personality as irrational and paranoid as Glenn Beck. But given Beck’s audience, the “message from God” statement is far from the most offensive or inflammatory thing Beck has said. If they haven’t fired him yet, this certainly isn’t sufficient. Fox should apologize to Japan, but Japan isn’t Fox’s market. Fox is in the entertainment business, and for better or worse, it is in the crazy political commentary business with the Glenn Beck show, and his Japan comments are just especially rancid editions of what it pays him for.

All right, all right—half-credit for picking “both,” but the right answer, unfortunately, is Gilbert Gottfried.

Good-bye, Gilbert. Sorry you had to lay an egg.

18 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Who Deserved To Be Fired—Beck or The Duck?

  1. Thundef00t responded to a similar person saying the earthquake was divine intervention:


    I dunno, I think this is a lesson not to be a compensated endorser. I don’t want something I say to mess up some business relationship, and I don’t want to be on the hook for that.

    Also: is it material that he was just an actor, even if highly recognizable, and not an actual endorser like Whoopi Goldberg was?

  2. “If they haven’t fired him yet, this certainly isn’t sufficient.” Beck should be retained because he should have been fired long ago and wasn’t? I don’t get it.

    • It’s like this: Fox has to fire Beck for its reasons, not mine. I wouldn’t hire him in the first place. It’s like saying Howard Stern should be fired for being a crude, lewd, repetitious, jerk. Beck is kept on the payroll, apparently, to say outrageous things. This is outrageous, but it’s not close to the worst thing he has said. the standards have been set.

      What are you complaining for? I said “both” was half-credit!

  3. So I guess Beck is of the same (or similar) opinion on earthquakes as the clerics in Iran, who blamed earthquakes on women who are promiscuous.

    Is “I’m not saying….I’m just saying” simply a way to say any statement you want with cover so that you can say “I never said that”? Seems cowardly.

    Just listened to the audio you linked to, and it seems that he is blaming the Japan earthquake not on the Japanese and their “sins” but on the sins of America, Hezbollah, and roller coasters. Sorry, but I really struggled to follow his logic, or rather lack thereof.

    • Yes, I couldn’t make much of it—that may have saved him. Why would God punish Japan for our sins?
      I will rejoice when “I’m just saying” passes into the same status as “23 Skidoo” and “Oh you kid!”

  4. Just listened to the inartful Beck tape and it appears to me that he’s referring to the apocalypse as noted in the Bible. The earth has had more of its share of natural calamities in the past 10 years. In other words, people haven’t learned their lessons and refuse to “interpret the signs of the times.”

    When evening comes, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,” and in the morning, “Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. – Matthew 16:1-3

    • That’s what I assumed; that’s why Oral Roberts and Pat Robertson have also said similar things in the past. He’s an idiot—he can believe what he wants, but this is proselytizing, and that’s not his job, nor is this the time to do it.

  5. I’ve never quite understood why some people, on TV, radio or blogs, end their comments with that strange phrase, “I’m just saying.”

    Does it have any actual meaning? Or is it just a brain fart?

    I’ll go with the latter.

    • Count me in. I gather the meaning, if there is any, is like “I’d be the last person to criticize, but…” It’s an effort to say something and duck accountability for saying it. I hate it.

  6. From the Urban dictionary
    The irrefutable way to diffuse any situation. Saying “I’m just sayin'” is to be used immediately after a burn, or after a distasteful opinion is given. There is no response to “I’m just sayin’,” that cant be followed up with another “I’m just sayin'”

    with the proper use of this tool, it is possible to deliver a rude comment or burn and have it bounce off simply as an opinion disguised as an objective opinion, and who can argue with you over an opinion that you don’t apparently support.
    -” Hey man, Stacey didn’t call me last night, I think she was with another guy.”
    – ” Well remember the way she was in high school? she was a huge slut.”
    -“DUDE!!! Thats my fiancé!”
    – ” I know, I’m just sayin'”
    – ” Well ok, but she’s not a slut anymore.”
    -” I’m just sayin.'”

  7. When I was a kid I lived in Utah, and the Boy Scouts were taken over by Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church). This so-called religion practices underage polygamy. They send the boys off on missions to divide the underage sisters among the dirty old men of the clan. Now when these underage girls get pregnant, these same dirty old men send them to the state to get their welfare checks . You should see some of the palace homes that are paid with welfare checks. By the way this is the newest religion that was created right here in United States of America, I guess they’re also in AZ, NM, TX, NV, CO, OK. Someone should ask Glenn Beck about it…he seems to have all the answers.

    • I believe Beck belongs to the mainstream Mormon Church, not the extreme FDLS. Can someone verify this before we accept Montana’s tying him in with them?

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