Dear Sincerely Shallow: “It’s True, You’re Horrible. Show Your Fiancé Your Letter, And Go Pimp Yourself Out Like Anna Nicole.”

This could be you, SS!

This could be you, “Sincerely Shallow” ! Go for it!

Emily Yoffe is Slate’s stunt advice columnist, who in her “Dear Prudence” column answers questions reminiscent of the freak-show howlers they used to concoct for the “Penthouse Forum” (or so I’ve heard.) Sometimes Emily’s advice has me convinced she is the consort of Pazuzu, and other times her advice is measured and wise. This time, she sided with the demon, and I’m about finished with her.

Here is the query sent by “Sincerely Shallow” in its entirety. I’m sure it’s viral by now:

Dear Prudence,
I’m recently engaged to the most honest, thoughtful, and loving man I’ve ever met. He has supported me through many hard times, including losing my job and being assaulted. Here’s the but about him: He makes no money. He has ambitions, and he’s smart, but will likely only bring a middle-class income at best. I have an OK job and I’m self-sufficient. Now here’s the but about me: I’m really, really pretty. My whole life people have told me I could get any man I want, meaning a rich man, and are shocked that I’m engaged to my fiancé, nice though he is. I’ve never dated a rich man, but it does make me curious. So part of me thinks I’m squandering my good looks on this poor man, and the other part of me thinks that I’m so shallow that I don’t even deserve him or anyone else. Am I a fool for thinking that a poor man can make me happy, or an idiot for believing a sexist fantasy?

You can read “Prudence’s” annoying answer here, which concludes with this: Continue reading

Here’s A “No-Tolerance” Policy We Should Get Behind

At least Springfield understands...

At least Springfield understands…

All sane and compassionate adults, tax-payer, responsible citizens and elected officials should adopt this “no-tolerance policy”:

“School officials and teachers who engage in child abuse, hysterical over-reactions and otherwise indefensible punitive measures against children who talk about guns, show pictures of guns, wear T-shirts with guns, use their fingers as guns, form objects that vaguely look like guns, or display obvious toys of any size and material that nobody who has ever watched TV or a movie or traveled among the living could conceivably think was dangerous or a real gun, will not be tolerated, not even once. They will be fired, shunned, and forbidden to engage in any occupation that will give them power or authority over children, anywhere, forever. And school board members, administrators, elected officials or parents supporting such fools will also not be tolerated. Their indefensible opinions will go on their permanent record, creating a prima facie case for any future employer that they are, in fact, too silly to be trusted.”

Is that too harsh? I don’t think so. After all, I just removed the provision that says that any school housing such teachers or officials should be closed down and converted into a shooting range. I can’t stand any more of these stories. Anyone who can read them and blithely send their kids to be “educated’ by such utter dolts and hysterics should be investigated for child cruelty themselves. Who knows what other irresponsible things such parents might be doing?

From the Washington Post: Continue reading

Renée Richards, Fallon Fox, and Déjà Vu: Transgender Ethics In Sports


I think I’ve seen this movie before.

On May 24, Mixed Martial Arts fighter Fallon Fox moved to 3-0 in her MMA career, beating Allana Jones and earning a spot in the finals of the Championship Fighting Alliance’s featherweight tournament.  Her victory was accompanied by a chorus of jeers. Why? Fallon Fox is a transgendered male, now fully female—except for the unremovable Y chromosome—thanks to gender realignment surgery. Her rise through the female martial arts ranks has been greeted by a mixture of horror, ridicule and revulsion. When she came out for her most recent bout, some wit had the Aerosmith song “Dude Looks Like a Lady” blaring  over the loudspeakers. Some of her MMA competitors have declared that they will not fight her, and here’s sports commentator/pundit/personality Joe Rogan opining on her qualifications to compete:

“You can’t fight women. That’s fucking crazy. I don’t know why she thinks that she’s going to be able to do that. If you want to be a woman in the bedroom and you know you want to play house and all of that other shit and you feel like you have, your body is really a woman’s body trapped inside a man’s frame and so you got a operation, that’s all good in the hood. But you can’t fight chicks. Get the fuck out of here. You’re out of your mind. You need to fight men, you know? Period. You need to fight men your size because you’re a man. You’re a man without a dick.”

How quickly they forget. Continue reading

The Julie Principle

The combination of Memorial Day reflections on my late father’s character and a letter to relentlessly ethical advice columnist Carolyn Hax leads me to expound on what we will henceforth call the “Julie Principle.”

Hax’s non-religious correspondent wanted to know what she should do about a good but annoyingly Evangelical friend, who would not cease inviting her to attend church, despite knowing that such an activity held no appeal whatsoever. Hax’s answer, which you can read here, touched on many approaches to the problem. To my dad, the answer was simple. Continue reading

Now THIS Is Incivility!

"Thank you, counselors. We will proceed to fucking closing statements."

“Thank you, counselors. We will proceed to fucking closing statements.”

I just saw a  local Boston TV ad for Ace Tickets. The slogan at the end was “Sit your Ace down!” So clever! Just throw gratuitous vulgarity into a commercial during a baseball game, doubtlessly viewed by many children, because it’s inherently amusing. The message is that vulgarity is cool, clever and acceptable. Other messages in the media, both in advertising and in pop culture, convey the same permissive standards regarding obscenity. Over on the Drudge Report, a much-admired news aggregator for  political junkies, especially on the right, no mention of Anthony Weiner’s annoying candidacy for Mayor of New York is made without a cheap “weiner” joke. Today, Drudge noted that Weiner was “inching up” in the polls. Get it? HAR!  Just under that “gag,” the news that men favored Weiner in polling was headlined “Male Enhancement.” Soooo witty!  The U.S. is being transformed into one huge junior high school. After growing up in such a vulgar, undignified, sleazy environment, the next generation won’t be prone to inadvertently use words like “fuck” and “shit” in public forums such as live award shows and TV interviews, like our current politicians, newscasters and celebrities. They’ll just use them intentionally, all the time. Won’t that be cool? I’m sure David Letterman thinks so. Cool Dave had A.J. Clemente, he of uttering “fucking shit” on the airways in his debut as a news anchor, as a guest on his show. Dave suggested to A.J. that his ex-bosses were jerks to fire him. Good point Dave! A.J. was just ahead of his time. In a decade or so, “fucking shit” may be the sign-off of the next generation’s Walter Cronkite.

Maybe less than  a decade. Note this account, in a court opinion, of a lawyer’s conduct before a magistrate: Continue reading

James Lipton: Proud To Be A Pimp

James Lipton, circa. 1951

James Lipton, circa. 1951

James Lipton, he of the most pompous interview show in the universe, Inside the Actor’s Studio, has decided to celebrate that franchise’s 250th episode by cheerily revealing that he worked as a pimp in Paris in the 1950’s. This was apparently legal there and then, and Lipton, he tells us, was out of a job, so why not earn your money by recruiting desperate women into accepting cash to have sex with strangers, and take a cut of their proceeds for your trouble?

Lipton tells Parade:

“I had to be okayed by the underworld; otherwise they would’ve found me floating in the Seine.The great bordellos were still flourishing in those days before the sheriff of Paris, a woman, closed them down. It was a different time.”

Oh…you mean there was a time when dealing with organized crime was good? There was a time when it was admirable to trap innocent young waifs into the sex trade because of their poverty? To facilitate adultery and infidelity? To tell women who they had to have sex with, and accept a percentage of their fees for doing so? There was a time when doing all of this didn’t mean you were an exploitive, venal, amoral, low life?

I don’t think so. I don’t think there has ever been such a time, no matter what France may think. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Hero: David Blankenhorn, Former Same-Sex Marriage Opponent”


In many ways, I love this post. I love it because it is passionate and serious, and from the heart, and because I am certain that it reflects what many Americans, especially those of a certain age, feel with frustration and a little fear and anger.  I also agree with much of what it concerns, the lack of respect for accumulated wisdom in many aspects of the culture, and the rush to discard old standards not because they have failed us, but just because they are old. The comment comes from a regular commentator, Eeyoure (not his real name, you’ll be relieved to learn, and yes, we both know how to spell the A.A. Milne character he honors) who is educated, decent, smart and articulate.

But regarding his lament’s  applicability to the controversy at issue, gay marriage, he is absolutely, utterly, tragically wrong. The conventional wisdom is that we should just try to ignore Americans who feel similarly to Eeyoure, because demographics are relentlessly removing them from the scene. As the politically active public becomes younger, the support for equal rights for gays, trangendered and bi-sexual citizens will grow into an overwhelming majority.  I think that’s a lazy and obnoxious way to win an argument, even when you are right. Smart but misguided people, like Eeyoure in this matter, should be able to evolve, learn, and realize when what they once thought was right, isn’t.  Realizing that one aspect of entrenched belief was, upon knowledge and reflection, wrong does not mean the whole foundation of civilized society has to crumble—this is the classic, irrational, self-defeating fallacy of conservatism. Change in the presence of enlightenment and experience is the essence of ethics, which constantly evolves. We should be able to explain what is wrong with this post so that even the poster agrees.

Here is Eeyoure’s Comment of the Day, on the post (and comment thread t0) Ethics Hero: David Blankenhorn, Former Same-Sex Marriage Opponent: Continue reading

No Surprise: Michele Bachman Lies On Her Way Out The Door

I won't have Michele Bachmann to kick around any more. Good.

I won’t have Michele Bachmann to kick around any more. Good.

Tea Party advocate and history-addled Congresswoman Michele Bachmann suddenly announced that she will not be running for re-election in 2014, and everyone knows why: she is the object of serious investigations regarding financial improprieties and violations of election laws during her run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. She was also facing a rematch against the same opponent she barely defeated last year. Rather than destroy her brand by losing in an overwhelmingly Republican district (Romney took it easily), Bachmann made the reasonable career decision to leave voluntarily before she was fired.

She didn’t have to lie about it, though. That’s just the way she is. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of The Week: Washington Post Blogger Jennifer Rubin

“How about this for a new communications plan: No one investigates themselves. No one take the Fifth. No executive privilege is asserted to protect anyone in the White House from testifying. Everyone tells the truth. And Holder goes. Otherwise it just looks like more spin and more prevarication from a White House determined to do everything but tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

—-Washington Post conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, discussing the Obama Administration’s defensive and evasive posture in response to the various scandals within.

Good sign!

Good sign!

I was torn about how best to raise the issue of why Eric Holder’s removal as Attorney General is an ethical imperative. Labeling President Obama an Ethics Dunce in his ridiculous decision to leave the investigation of Holder’s conduct in the various news media investigations to the Justice Department itself was fair, but obvious. Noting the apparent dishonesty of Holder’s denial to Congress that he was involved in the surveillance of James Rosen—

“In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material — this is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.”

—-seemed too easy, and I also do get tired of the word-parsing employed by the seemingly impenetrable Obama defenders here, for which this would be blood in the water. Continue reading

Is George Zimmerman Trying A Homer Simpson Strategy?

The accused, pre-donuts.

The accused, pre-donuts.

Based on his appearance at today’s preliminary hearings for his murder trial, George Zimmerman has packed on a few pounds since he was arrested and charged with second degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin. Might this be an intentional strategy dictated by his lawyer? If so, it would be reminiscent of the memorable episode of “The Simpsons” in which Homer decided to give himself the benefit of the Americans With Disabilities Act by eating himself into muu-muus. But would it be ethical?

The theory, I presume, is that the less threatening and mobile Zimmerman looks, the more plausible it will seem to the jury that he was not the aggressor in his fatal tussle with Martin, who, we heard today, the defense will try to portray as a violence-prone thug. This kind of maneuver exploits a structural defect in the jury system, aggravated by the now ridiculously extended justice process. Jurors can only think of a defendant and sometimes a victim as they look in the courtroom, when it is what they were like when the alleged crime occurred that matters. Years ago in the District of Columbia, a wily attorney defending a child molester who swore that his 13-year old victim had credibly presented herself as 18 managed to delay the trial for three years. It was enough time for the victim to get morphed by puberty hard, and she appeared on the stand not as the thin, immature child she was when she was sexually assaulted, but as an obviously sexually-mature young woman speaking in a attractively husky voice, whom one courtroom reporter described as looking at least 25. Her attacker was acquitted. This is considered excellent lawyering. (The prosecutor, who allowed the girl to wear a tight, low-cut dress and full make-up, was, in contrast, an idiot.) Continue reading