Monthly Archives: December 2016

“Is It Possible To Address A Race-Related Problem Without Being Attacked As Racist?” And Other Reflections On The Holiday Mall Brawls

mall-violence

On the City Journal website, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute writes in part,

Judging by video evidence, the participants in the violent mall brawls over the Christmas weekend were overwhelmingly black teens, though white teens were also involved. The media have assiduously ignored this fact, of course, as they have for previous violent flash mob episodes. That disproportion has significance for the next administration’s school-discipline policies, however. If Donald Trump wants to make schools safe again, he must rescind the Obama administration’s diktats regarding classroom discipline, which are based on a fantasy version of reality that is having serious real-world consequences.

The Obama Justice and Education Departments have strong-armed schools across the country to all but eliminate the suspension and expulsion of insubordinate students. The reason? Because black students are disciplined at higher rates than whites. According to Washington bureaucrats, such disproportionate suspensions can mean only one thing: teachers and administrators are racist. The Obama administration rejects the proposition that black students are more likely to assault teachers or fight with other students in class. The so-called “school to prison” pipeline is a function of bias, not of behavior, they say.

This week’s mall violence, which injured several police and security officers, is just the latest piece of evidence for how counterfactual that credo is.  A routine complaint in police-community meetings in minority areas is that large groups of teens are fighting on corners…The idea that such street behavior does not have a classroom counterpart is ludicrous. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic males of the same age. The lack of socialization that produces such a vast disparity in murder rates, as well as less lethal street violence, inevitably will show up in classroom behavior….School officials in urban areas across the country set up security corridors manned by police officers at school dismissal times to avoid gang shootings. And yet, the Obama administration would have us believe that in the classroom, black students are no more likely to disrupt order than white students.

The entire essay is here.

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Quotes, Race, U.S. Society

2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck Ethics Dunce: Jan Chamberlin…It’s The Golden Age For Irrelevant Grandstanding Jerks!

"Pssst...is that HITLER in the audience?"

“Pssst…is that HITLER in the audience?”

Jan Chamberlin, a singer for the 360 member Mormon Tabernacle Choir, sent a resignation letter to the choir president and choir members. Who is Jan Chamberlin, and why is this by any stretch of the imagination news?  She is no one of special note, except that she crafted her resignation an insult to the President Elect of the United States, ignorantly and absurdly. That, according to the news media, and that alone, makes her today’s 15 minute star. She wrote in part:

“Since ‘the announcement,’ [ that is, the cataclysmic announcement that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would perform as part of America’s celebration of Inauguration Day on January 20 ] I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot, talked with family and friends, and searched my soul . I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in the choir for all the other good reasons. I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be all right and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.”

But Jan is thoroughly infected by whatever virus it is that has led so many left-leaning Americans to conclude that all previous standards of respect, honesty, decorum, fairness, civility, common sense and civic duty have been suspended because a manipulative, corrupt and incompetent Democratic Party nominee for President defending the awful record of the current Democratic President somehow managed to lose an election.  Thus the singer concluded that a sensible course was to make a play for historical footnote status, and metaphorically spit on the country, the public and its chosen leader before he has spent a second in the Oval Office.

Naturally, the news media, bidding to be even more roundly distrusted and reviled than its performance during the last year has  made it, responds like Sea World seals. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

UPDATE: Cyber-Zombie Peter Cushing And The Prospect Of Cyber-Zombie Carrie Fisher Remind Actors To Fight For Control Of Their Post-Mortem Acting Career

cgi

It looks like I wasn’t the only one who felt that Peter Cushing was being abused by finding himself in “Rogue One” without his prior consent. Of the late actor being digitally inserted into a role he never agreed to play and deliver lines he never contracted to deliver, I wrote…

The emerging technology raises many ethical issues that didn’t have to be considered before, but when it comes to using a dead actor in a new role, the ethics verdict should be easy. It’s unethical, unless a performer  gives informed consent for his image to be used post mortem in this fashion. Presumably, the consent or the lack of it will be part of future negotiations and standard contracts. Actors who agree to have their images used as cyberslaves will also probably want to limit the uses of their names and images.

Cushing’s exploitation and the subsequent death of Carrie Fisher with widespread speculation that she would soon be added to the “Star Wars” franchise’s army of CGI clones have now sounded the alarm loudly. But apparently many actors were already aware of the threat, and taking affirmative action to control their destinies. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Popular Culture, Professions, Rights, Science & Technology

Ethics Hero: Uber Driver Keith Avila

keithavila

Outside a house in Sacramento, California, two women got into Uber driver Keith Avila’s car with a girl who looked to him like she was just 12, wearing a short skirt.  One of them asked Avila to turn up the music as his car approached their destination, a Holiday Inn in Elk Grove. But Avila could still hear them.

“They were describing what they were going to do when they get there: ‘Check for guns. Get the money before you start touching up on the guy,’” Avila said on Facebook Live, minutes after he dropped off the passengers and had called police to report that the women seemed to be selling a child for sex. Though the girl was 16 and not 12, she was being sold for sex at the Holiday Inn.  Avila was correct. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement

The Ethical Problem With The Cinnebon Tweet

cinnebon-fisher

First I was going to post an essay about Cinnebon’s humorous tweet above under the title “How Humor Dies.” Our culture is in serious trouble if a clever, playful, obvious joke like this attracts so much criticism that it generates a retraction and an apology.Clearly, there are Political Correctness Furies on the Left and  Puritan Scolds on the Right lurking and  lying in wait to make any attempt at levity too much of a risk for all but the socially inept or defiantly rude to attempt. I confess, I laughed out loud when I saw Cinnebon’s gag. I thought the company deserved applause, not opprobrium.

Then I thought about it, and decided to make the episode an Ethics Alarms ethics quiz. Does the fact that Cinnebon can be accused of using Carrie Fisher’s tragic death as product promotion outweigh the cleverness of the tweet, or was the joke a natural one for the sticky bun-makers to make? Who better to remind us of all the jokes about Leia’s odd hairstyle when “Star Wars” debuted? Maybe this was one example where the “she would have approved” standard might be more than a rationalization. Is there any doubt that Carrie Fisher would have laughed at Cinnebon’s joke more heartily than anyone?

Fortunately, I thought some more.

I hadn’t realized until just a few minutes ago that the tweet was issued on the day Carrie Fisher died.  Ick, and also, yecchh, as well as “Ethics Foul!”

It doesn’t matter how clever, well-executed or funny it was. Krusty the Clown could have told Cinnebon what was wrong with the tweet in a trice, if they had the sense to ask, and Krusty wasn’t a cartoon character.

Too soon.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Unethical Tweet

When Debbie Reynolds Took A Stand

Some readers were offended that I noted in a comment here that Debbie Reynolds characteristically upstaged her daughter by dying a day after Carrie Fisher, again stealing the spotlight from her daughter. Sorry about that—but it’s true. For most of her life, Reynolds was less than comfortable when she didn’t feel an audience watching her, as Fisher herself complained in her semi-autobiographical novel, “Postcards from the Edge.” Debbie Reynolds shared the life-defining neurosis of many performers: she was happiest when she was being herself for the world to see. Debbie, in fact, was an extreme version of this model. Most such performers are miserable, and recognizably so, when they aren’t performing. Reynolds appeared not to acknowledge that there was a world off-screen.

In “The Unsinkable Debbie Reynolds,” an excellent appreciation of her career today in the New York Times (another good one is this, in “Variety,”and the Times obituary is here.), Anita Gates confirms my assessment. It was hardly a difficult one, for Reynolds radiated her love of performing in everything she did. Here are some excerpts (do read the whole essay), as Gates begins by doubting that we will ever see a show business figure like Debbie Reynolds again in our increasingly cynical culture:

“Who’ll be as plucky? Who’ll work as hard to stay as morally pure? Who the hell is gonna be named Debbie? …We’ve all been happy to be at the movies. She always seemed happy to be in the movies. She never ceased to be thrilled to be herself. Ms. Reynolds, who died Wednesday, didn’t so much act as sell — she sold happiness, she sold pragmatic romance, she sold professional stardom…Ms. Reynolds was, as they say, a trouper. So she did what came naturally to her: She trouped… Ms. Reynolds embraced virtue. She was the least ostensibly neurotic of her peers — a class that included Shirley MacLaine and Doris Day. The movie titles got a lot of that anti-anxious decency across. She played “The Singing Nun,” for heaven’s sake. But she also starred in the 1964 musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” a title whose adjective best explains the full Debbie Reynolds experience: maximum buoyancy…”

When a time came to take a public stand on principle, however, Debbie Reynolds proved that she had her priorities straight. Continue reading

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George Michael’s “Trunk”

trunk

Performers are dropping dead left and right, and people are trying to find ways to keep their talents and names profitable without their consent so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. I just read that a CGI version of Debbie Reynolds will star in a sequel to “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Kidding!

So far, at least.

Pop singer George Michael died on Christmas day, and already there is a controversy over his unpublished songs, what Irving Berlin and his generation referred to as a songwriters’ “trunk.” The “trunk” was where composition deemed unfinished, unsatisfactory or just not quite right were stored, perhaps for future commercial use, perhaps for oblivion.

Fadi Fawaz, Michael’s partner, posted online a song from Michael’s unreleased and unfinished album “Trojan Souls.” The song, called “This Kind of Love,”includes the lyrics: “This empty house seems to get colder and colder. So won’t you stay here with me?”

Michael’s  fans immediately clamored for the song to get an official release, calling for it to be properly edited to share with the world in George’s  memory. Michael’s Wham! collaborator Andrew Ridgeley has disagreed strenuously.  In response to one fan who suggested that a previously-unheard track should be released to raise money for Michael’s preferred charities, Ridgeley tweeted:

“No, #GM [George Michael] controlled all his output. I, nor anyone else have the right to transgress that principle.”

The singer’s representatives have not confirmed plans for any future releases, but don’t be surprised if they do: now that he is dead,  Michael’s music is hot and flying up the charts. We can expect that the same rationalization regarding Michael we have heard regarding the “Star Wars” franchise using Peter Cushing’s cyber-zombie to reprise his original role despite the fact that he is long dead and never anticipated having post-mortem, computer controlled performances attributed to him: “I’m sure he would have wanted it this way,” or in the case of Cushing’s  heirs, “We’re sure he would want us to make money off of him.”

Maybe, maybe not. In the case of performances and songs an artist chose not to reveal to the public while he was alive, the ethical course is to presume he did so for a reason, and whatever that reason was, it should be respected now.  Andrew Ridgeley is right.

Keep that trunk closed.

 

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