Dear Rockettes: You Are Professionals And Americans…Act Like It.

rockettes

Asked about whether he would perform at the January 20 Inauguration or its subsequent official celebrations in Washington, D.C., country music super-star Garth Brooks said, simply, “It’s always about serving. It’s what you do.”

Right answer. This marked him as a professional, a patriot, and an adult (or perhaps as a lying hypocrite, since for whatever reason, he is not performing). The opposite reaction of so many of his show business colleagues mark them, in contrast, as divisive, arrogant, ignorant and unprofessional jerks.

Performers fit all the requirements for being regarded and respected as professionals, who are those who use their skills and talents for the benefit of humankind and society. The traditional definition adds that professionals do this service at some personal sacrifice, a virtue that most doctors and many lawyers can no longer claim. Performers, however, are largely impoverished, devoting their lives to making people gasp, laugh, weep, cheer or most important of all, think, because they love what they do, and understand the importance of art to society and civilization.

It is as unprofessional for a singer, dancer, juggler or actor to refuse to entertain audience members whose politics or character they oppose as it is for a doctor to refuse to treat them, for a lawyer to refuse to represent them, or a clergyman to  withhold from them spiritual guidance. The problem unique to performers as professionals is that they are not educated to appreciate their responsibilities like typical professionals, nor do their professions exercise any ethical oversight. As a result, we get the current display of divisive and ignorant grandstanding over performing—or not performing— at Donald Trump’s inauguration.

In Honolulu, Hawaii, yet another partisan and bigoted establishment has ordered anyone who voted for Trump to take its business elsewhere, as a local cafe posted a sign that reads: “If you voted for Trump you cannot eat here! No Nazis.” It has become clear that if many progressives have their way, their efforts to divide the nation into the Good and the Bad, with the fairly elected President of the United States as the defining feature of the latter, will shatter societal bonds coast to coast like nothing the U.S. has seen since the Civil War. The sooner the Angry Turned Vicious Left comes to its senses, the safer and healthier we all will be.

Performers, as professionals, are supposed to understand that they have a higher calling than restaurant owners. They are here to bind society together, for what we all experience in a diverse audience brings us closer in sentiment, emotion, empathy and enlightenment. For performers to decide to excise certain audience members from that process is madness, as well as a betrayal of their mission and art.

Not surprisingly, many of the tiny percentage of elite and wealthy performers feel entitled to pretend they have a different mission. Had they always required political or character vetting for admission into their performances, of course, they would be neither wealthy nor famous enough to grandstand now. Nearing the level of intensity capable of causing my Hypocrisy Detector to blow up is any singer, dancer or actor using Trump’s sexism and misogyny as a justification for not performing at his Inauguration. If they are successful professionals in the entertainment industry, they have accepted, enabled and profited from a culture in which powerful people like Donald Trump are the norm, not the exception.

Let’s put that aside, however. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the Inauguration is not a ceremony for one man, but for the entire nation. An entertainer performing at the Inauguration is not performing for Donald Trump—indeed, Barack Obama will also be in that audience. Such an entertainer is performing as part of an important and historic tradition that celebrates and embodies the strength, values and virtues of the United States of America, all of which have allowed every one of these petulant performers to achieve what they have. Their insult to Trump is really an insult to the nation’s institutions and all of us. Like the “Hamilton” cast’s insufferable decision that it should single out an individual audience member to criticize, the refusal of performers to participate in America’s celebration of democracy shows ignorance and ethics abandonment.

The Radio City Music Hall’s Rockettes have been the focus of this controversy of late, and the dancers’ “dilemma” is the focus of a recent article in Marie Claire, which only demonstrates—surprise!—that those who make their living high-kicking are not deep-thinkers in political or ethical matters. That’s not a problem, as long as they understand what their professional duties are: to dance. This article, sadly, is a parade of one uninformed, biased, dumb or unprofessional quote after another. Like:

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable standing near a man like that in our costumes,” said another dancer in an email to her colleagues.

Gee, how many of the gawking men in a typical audience at Radio City would you feel comfortable standing next to? How about Bill Clinton? Joe Biden? Do you ever stand next to anyone but another Rockette when you’re performing?

“If I had to lose my job over this, I would. It’s too important. And I think the rest of the performing arts community would happily stand behind me.”

What’s the ethical principle “the performing arts community” would “happily stand behind’? That no performer should ever feel obligated to perform in front of an audience containing anyone with whose beliefs and statements he or she strongly disagrees? That’s what the principle being asserted is, if it has any ethical validity. Or is what they really would stand behind is “Anything that undermines this particular President who defeated our beloved, corrupt and manipulating champion is acceptable, because the end justifies the means”?

“But dancers are worried that their choice to sit out now means they’ll be sitting out for good; it’s not as if dancing makes for a stable career, even without hurdles like this one to jump. Mary knows of three full-time dancers who have chosen to decline to perform, and at least one of them is fearful of losing her standing as a result. “It will be interesting to see who doesn’t get their job back,” Mary says. ‘But do you really want to work for a company that supports this? I just don’t know. It’s become a moral issue at this point.'”

Go ahead, genius, define that “moral issue.” The dancer who fears she might not get hired back because she refused to perform with the Rockettes at a national ceremony on every TV station, promoting her colleagues and employer, should fear it, because she shouldn’t be hired again. She can’t be trusted or relied upon, unless her moral position is “Donald Trump justifies suspending professional ethics”-–call it “The Hamilton Theory.”

I wouldn’t hire her. Who knows when she’d pull out of a performance because someone she disapproved of bought a ticket?

This posturing by performing artists can’t be defended by precedent, art or logic.  Ethics Alarms has repeatedly defended performers who accepted large fees to perform for foreign dictators.  This is a common occurrence: among the U.S. stars who didn’t find it too repulsive to give private performances—not for the nation but for the man–for human rights violators are Nelly Furtato, Mariah Carey, Usher, Lionel Richie, Beyoncé, Hillary Swank, Jennifer Lopez, Sting, and the late Michael Jackson. Yet our principled celebrities are unified in their refusal to honor their nation in order to show their disgust with Donald Trump, and are choosing, given a chance to heal and unify the nation, to further divide it.

It isn’t just an attack on Trump. This disrespect for the nation and its institutions, and those responsible will either succeed in tearing the country apart, or pay a painfully high price for their irresponsible response to the election. One way to facilitate the latter would be for Trump’s Inauguration committee to deliberately seek the most talented unknown performers possible—there are many thousands of them—and give younger and equally talented  entertainers the exposure necessary to help them take some big performing fees right out of the hands of those who turned their backs on the Inauguration and their fellow citizens.

71 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Popular Culture

71 responses to “Dear Rockettes: You Are Professionals And Americans…Act Like It.

  1. Inquiring Mind

    And how many of these Hollywood types condemned those photographers who didn’t want to photograph same-sex weddings, or bakers who didn’t want to bake cakes for same-sex weddings, or who opposed RFRA laws in Arizona and Indiana?

    They would not grant freedom of artistic expressions to those they opposed, now they want it…

    Why do I feel VERY uncharitable about those requests.

  2. Steve-O-in-NJ

    The fault is only half that of grandstanding performers. Witness the post below I took from Jackie Evancho’s Facebook page.

    Do you really want to be remembered for supporting donald trump?
    I will never buy anything you record, I will boycott any of your performances and I will make sure that your name is trashed as being a supporter of the most vile man in history next to hitller. How can your parents make such bad decisions on your behalf. Take a hint from other more seasoned performers who boycotted his request, don’t commit professional suicide. If you don’t think people will remember…..you’re wrong.

    • Just one more social media attack. Literally meaningless.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      Not to blow my own trumpet, and not that I am looking for special favors from Jackie, but I got annoyed enough to respond, and this is what I said:

      The most vile man in history next to Hitler? Sure. Do the names Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Il-Sung, Ceaucescu, Tojo, Himmler, Mengele, Solano Lopez, Cromwell, Dzerzhinsky, or Ivan the Terrible mean anything to you? If not I’d suggest you hit the history books. Trump didn’t commit a mass democide, or turn a nation into a terror state, or start a ruinous war of aggression, or commit brutal medical experiments using human subjects, or anything even close to what those evil men did. I could name 200 more if I put on my thinking cap.

      Trump didn’t do anything other than get elected…instead of a woman who thought she was entitled to the office but who really had very little to recommend her other than the fact she rode the coattails of a powerful man, amassed a great fortune by bribery and influence peddling, viciously attacked anyone who dared question her, and lied, lied, lied, as easily as you and I breathe. I’d check my definition of vile if I were you. You won’t, though, because, like most of the idiots lighting up cyberspace while hiding in a safe space, you don’t think, you simply hate and act on your hatred.

      Frankly, I think Jackie is, at this point, the reverse of Charlotte Church, who stupidly spoke ill of the FDNY and America in the aftermath of 9/11, which sent her CD sales into a tailspin from which they never recovered and her career on a long, slow slide down into plump, D-list days of gigs that start after 11 PM to audiences too drunk or drugged out to care and hateful opinions with no more value than those of the guy who cuts my hair. She saw a chance to sing a song that can’t miss to an audience of millions, and jumped on it, and the image of her singing against the flag will stay long after you haters have run out of gas. She also has not said so much as one unkind word during all of this, though she’d have every right to tell someone like you to go take a flying f*** at the moon. That speaks to pretty steely professionalism, I’d say.

      I’ve bought my copy of her Christmas album and I am eagerly awaiting “Two Hearts” with its original material. Jackie’s professional life isn’t going to be without challenges going forward, but I am more confident at this point to say that she will still be charting long after your hate has burnt itself into cinders.

      I’ve seen Jackie in concert, and got a chance to (briefly) talk to her afterward. She’s basically a sweet kid who is trying to make her way in a tough business. That includes taking gigs that will get her the maximum exposure. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, literally choirboys and girls, are coming in for the same kind of abuse and venom on their social media. Is it any wonder some musicians would just as soon not deal with this crap? The real loser, I think, among all of this, who I just saw for the first time live in the 20 years I have known of him, is Andrea Bocelli, who publicly buckled under a storm of abusive posts and tweets and boycott threats, because he’s now going to get nothing from the deal. The conservative side will sneer at him as someone who can be bullied, and the liberals will just say “and let this be a lesson to you.”

  3. “But this is a special situation. Trump is unprecedented. They and everyone else OUGHT to spurn the President Elect. He deserves it. It’s for the good of the nation to outright reject him now.”

    There. I’ve anticipated the knee jerkers response.

    Hopefully that saves time.

    • Well summarized. It is also pure rationalization of unethical conduct.

      On another topic: do you think a “She/He would have wanted it” deserves its own status as a sub-rationalization under 32. The Unethical Role Model: “He/She would have done the same thing”?

      • Hm. If this is in regards to several of the Cushing related excuses and one of the Steve Martin retraction related excuses, I’ve been pondering those arguments.

        It’s like a reverse “victim blaming” but it’s also like a reverse “it’s for their own good” but also like a reverse #32.

        I’ll have to ponder it some.

        I need to decide who really is the victim in some of those instances. In Cushing’s instance, he is the victim (though I haven’t decided if there are more). In Martin’s instance, HE is the victim though the bullies who suppressed him are actually invoking their own rationalizations for their bullying which are muddying my analysis.

        • It’s both. I was thinking about this when I was writing about Cushing and the “he would have wanted it” claims, then Zoltar suggested the Rationalization, then it came up again. I’m inclined to think it deserves its own title, though it is narrowly used.

          • I’ll meditate on it awhile tonight.

          • I’m having trouble dissecting EXACTLY the unethical conduct in the episodes for which the excuse is being made.

            1) There’s the hyper-feminists who bullied Martin for the tweet – in which case Martin is the victim.
            2) Then there’s Martin himself taking down his tweet – in which case I can’t figure out who is the victim here unless it’s a kind of “everyone is a little bit the victim when bullies win”.
            3) Then there’s Cushing’s estate and the movie makers using his image without his consent in which case Cushing is the victim.

            Now, the argument “Cushing would have approved of this conduct of which he (though dead) is the direct object of, therefore the conduct is not unethical” is somewhat different than “Fisher would have not have approved of the conduct of which she was the direct object of, therefore conduct punishing the miscreant is not unethical”.

            I’m not sure if the difference is material.

            But, I think the “He/she would approve/disapprove of the conduct” is, in Cushing’s case, likely a derivative of “Contrived Consent”, though heavily flavored with “Victim Blindness” (as he’s about as blind as a victim can get) or “What He Doesn’t Know Won’t Hurt Him” as well as an odd version of the Golden Rule Mutation, where instead of postulating that you’d be alright with the conduct aimed at you, you are arbitrarily assuming the dead guy would be alright with the conduct aimed at him.

            In Fisher’s case, “He/she would approve/disapprove of the conduct” strikes me as a variation on “It’s the Right Thing to Do” as well as a kind of reversal of the “Golden Rule Mutation”.

            I’m not sure. My head is swimming.

            • Which I suppose is an argument for having it as a distinct rationalization. Or who knows, maybe it’s a “parent” or “archetypal” rationalization for several categories.

              • I don’t know man, I’m thinking of the Carrie Fisher Cinnabon thing. Carrie Fisher WOULD have approved of it. She WOULD have laughed at it. Is there some kind of justification there? Even for behavior that goes contrary to the golden rule? George Carlin’s ideal funeral probably looks a whole lot different than mine.

                I went to a communications seminar a couple of weeks ago (HR may be trying to tell me something) and they trotted out a new “platinum rule’ which is basically “Treat people the way they want to be treated” which is… dubious, logistically, but still, if someone WANTS to be treated differently than the way you would prefer to be treated, and there’s some kind of relatively accurate way to figure out what that way is…. It would seem like a slam dunk ethical thing to do. Right?

                • No doubt.

                  But who makes the decision on what a deceased person “would have wanted”.

                  Maybe the inheritors of the estate? Maybe no-one?

                  But I certainly know it isn’t some faceless cluster of feminist busybodies who are primarily projecting their own sensitivities…not Fishers (even if by chance they manage to guess correctly)..

    • zoebrain

      But this is a special situation. Trump is unprecedented.

      Agreed.

      The rest, not so much.

      I guess it depends on whether The Donald insists he has the right to go into the changing rooms beforehand, as he’s done in the past.

      I can understand a professional dancer not wanting to run that risk, can’t you?

      This *is* a special situation. Trump *is* unprecedented.

      Seriously, what happens if he does? What do we do, write it off as just his funny little way of doing things, a harmless eccentricity? Or perhaps some form of droit de signeur, as was the case with the Miss Universe contest?

      • Glenn Logan

        This is a special situation. Trump is unprecedented.

        In what way? Seriously, we have elected 43 different men president, some of them in close elections and some with plenty of pre- and post-election controversy.

        I agree that the behavior of the left has been unprecedented in the sense that it is utterly destructive, vile, divisive, malignant, and appears to be ongoing and never-ending. I agree that the Hollywood crowd’s implicit threats to entertainers is beyond the pale of human behavior and exposes their barbaric narcissism in a way that puts Trump to shame.

        Seriously, what happens if he does?

        Does what, gropes the dancers? The entertainment crowd didn’t seem to be concerned that Bill Clinton would rape the female performers when he was elected, despite a number of women who accused him (some credibly) of a broad continuum of sexual misbehavior. My memory does not include a boycott by performers of his second inauguration after the Monica Lewinski affair, in which his turpitude was made manifest. If there was ever any man elected president whom female entertainers should fear, it was Clinton. Yet you conveniently ignored that in your reply despite Jack’s raising of the issue.

        Your response is biased. Bias makes us stupid. Jack is right — this is about America, and the inauguration is for everyone in America, for our allies, friends, and especially our enemies — it shows that even though we are politically divided, we are one nation.

        Jack is also right that performers have performed for human rights violators and murderous dictators. Yet somehow, it is appropriate not to perform for a duly elected president of their own country because their political masters have decided that a freak-out is the only way to disagree?

      • Jesus. What if he turns into a dragon and eats Pence? What if he recruits an army of zombie slaves to overrun California? These absurd hypotheticals are being used to frighten those whose real fear is “Gee, what if he cuts regulations, fixes Obamacare, shows strength abroad, enforces immigration laws and it works, showing beyond a shadow of a doubt what a pathetic incompetent ideologue the previous President was? THEN what?”

  4. Patrice

    “Performers, as professionals, are supposed to understand that they have a higher calling than restaurant owners. They are here to bind society together, for what we all experience in a diverse audience brings us closer in sentiment, emotion, empathy and enlightenment. For performers to decide to excise certain audience members from that process is madness, as well as a betrayal of their mission and art.”

    I’m willing to bet that there are quite a few performers who do NOT understand any such thing, and therefore they don’t see a problem. Nothing against performers specifically, though, because I’m willing to bet that MANY Americans, let alone performers, do not understand the following:
    “What does matter is that the Inauguration is not a ceremony for one man, but for the entire nation. An entertainer performing at the Inauguration is not performing for Donald Trump—indeed, Barack Obama will also be in that audience. Such an entertainer is performing as part of an important and historic tradition that celebrates and embodies the strength, values and virtues of the United States of America, all of which have allowed every one of these petulant performers to achieve what they have. Their insult to Trump is really an insult to the nation’s institutions and all of us.”

    I keep hearing this quote attributed to Kennedy on the radio: “The greater our knowledge increases, the more our ignorance unfolds.” I blame this particular ignorance on a lack of spirituality in our culture. Or maybe just baseball. Either one understands ritual and its vital importance to the human psyche.

  5. I have to wonder how these same performers, who are so appalled at the thought of engaging in their art for what they see as the benefit of the in-coming President, managed to perform on other occasions for a President who’s favorite drone program has resulted in headlines such as this one, “Former Drone Operators Say They Were “Horrified” By Cruelty of Assassination Program”. So what is it about Donald Trump that makes him so much worse than Barack Obama, and why exactly, is it OK to perform for one of these men, but not the other. It must be a very fine line because I sure can’t see it.
    https://theintercept.com/2015/11/19/former-drone-operators-say-they-were-horrified-by-cruelty-of-assassination-program/

  6. Other Bill

    Why not just skip having entertainment at all these functions? Just provide some nice food and drink and a pleasant night out for the attendees. In the quiet, people could talk to each other and enjoy each other’s company and all the entertainers and their agents could take a pass on a big check and stay home.

  7. Paul Compton

    Just a thought. I assume the US Government funds many shades of the arts.

    Will all those to ‘high principled’ to have anything to do with Trump still accept the funding from ‘his’ government?

  8. Paul Compton

    What about the Southern Poverty Law Center et al?

  9. dragin_dragon

    Here’s something odd I have noted, in both stage and screen actors. Having had very little contact with singers and/or stand-ups, I suspect this is true of them as well. When an actor goes through a door, he/she never closes it behind them. This is foreign to literally everything I have ever learned. The most common quote, “You born in a barn?” Why does this happen? Because the director does not immediately shout “Close the door!”…thus, without a director telling them what the ‘motivation’ of the character is, they have no clue what to do. They believe that their audience is ALL progressive, so we get this kind of reaction. They are, in essence, substituting the audience for the director and responding accordingly. Sad, that.

  10. Chris

    It is as unprofessional for a singer, dancer, juggler or actor to refuse to entertain audience members whose politics or character they oppose as it is for a doctor to refuse to treat them, for a lawyer to refuse to represent them, or a clergyman to withhold from them spiritual guidance.

    I don’t see how this is defensible. People have a moral (and constitutional) right to fair legal representation. People have a moral right to medical treatment. Clergymen are pledged to try and help everyone on a spiritual path regardless of their moral standing.

    There is no moral right to have someone perform for you, and forcing someone to perform or create art is tyrannical.

    I trust the artists to decide what is a “betrayal of their art.”

    • This is not on based on rights at all. Professionalism preceded codified rights. Nor is morality the issue. It’s the profession’s mission. There is no right to medical care, you know. Or to an accountant. No law forces a lawyer to represent anyone. T

    • Isaac

      “There is no moral right to have someone perform for you, and forcing someone to perform or create art is tyrannical.”

      What about forcing someone to bake a cake for you? Asking for a friend.

      • “If there’s Christians involved, don’t worry, we can always find a way to word the situations as completely different from each other. We’ve practiced this skill our whole lives.”

        -Spinner’s Mate 1st Class, 341st Leftist Battalion, Hillary’s Own Regiment

        • Chris

          Don’t be ridiculous. A Christian performer shouldn’t have to perform at an event they deem unsuitable either. Bakeries are different; we’ve been through this.

      • Chris

        Bakeries are a public accommodation. The Rockettes are not.

        • Chris said “Bakeries are a public accommodation…

          Are they? If a Bakery refused to bake a cake, aren’t there others who will gladly take the opportunity?

          My first impulse is that they are privately owned businesses that can refuse to serve anyone ala’ “no shoes no shirt no service,” but I am not sure what the legal definition is.

          What is the difference between a bakery and a performer? Both sell a service that is not required for survival, as we have deemed telephone service, for example.

          Looking for input here.

    • Glenn Logan

      I trust the artists to decide what is a “betrayal of their art.”

      This is without a doubt the most absurd statement I have read on here in a while. How can a performer “betray their art” in any way by performing in a patriotic ceremony on behalf of the country that is responsible for making their art famous? The very notion should make our collective heads explode.

      The fact that Donald Trump is the honoree has absolutely no impact on what this is. If a performer can accept large sums of money to perform for a human rights violator and murderer, how is it possible performing for a political figure in his own country could represent a betrayal when the former does not? Again, the notion is insane, beyond logic, reason, or even defensibility. It is non sequitur, senseless, fatuous, lunatic, or as the Brits say, “mental.”

      People have a moral right to medical treatment.

      As I said, mental. Go demand your rights to your physician, and see if he cares. Better yet, take it to your psychiatrist.

      • I’m thrilled to see someone else realizes how deranged, hypocritical and illogical these artists are being, and trailing along the knee-jerk left with them. The real issues, in the long run, is 1) who or what is going to bring these people to their senses and 2) will the non-left be principled enough to decide “Just because they are going to take the position that no one other than their candidates deserve acceptance and respect, requiring them to defy and deny our system of government, we won’t go down that road or sink to that level.”

      • Chris

        If a performer can accept large sums of money to perform for a human rights violator and murderer, how is it possible performing for a political figure in his own country could represent a betrayal when the former does not

        I agree that performers who have performed for dictators but refuse to perform for Trump are hypocritical. Show me someone who has done this, and I’ll call them a hypocrite. As far as I know the Rockettes haven’t.

        As I said, mental. Go demand your rights to your physician, and see if he cares. Better yet, take it to your psychiatrist.

        Let’s see how far you take this. Do people have the right to emergency medical treatment?

        • Glenn Logan

          It’s fairly obvious to me that you missed the point of Jack’s commentary. It isn’t about the Rockettes, although they are surely an important example of the lack of principles he’s trying to expose. It’s about performers mooing dutifully as herded cattle of the professional left and Holywood/entertainment elites, and the resultant ethical collapse of the entertainment establishment as a whole. This broad refusal to perform because of who is being inaugurated is just the manifestation of that collapse.

          His point is that there is no ethical principle to be discovered here, despite repeated assertions by the rejectors that their refusal to perform is, in fact, principled. Consider this:

          “If I had to lose my job over this, I would. It’s too important. And I think the rest of the performing arts community would happily stand behind me.”

          Jack’s question here is quite correct: Would she have refused to dance for Bill Clinton’s inauguration? We will never know, but both Jack and I are convinced she would’ve had no problem with it, and no matter what you think of Trump’s alleged and proven behaviors, Clintons alleged and proven behaviors were orders of magnitude worse.

          So Jack’s point, with which I agree, is that looking at a national patriotic event through the lens of disagreements or concerns you may have about the duly elected (by your fellow Americans) honoree is not only unprincipled and unethical, but dishonest. No matter what these people think of Trump, this is an American tradition designed to help celebrate our democratic republic and bring the nation together. These “principled” stands are intended to try to place an imprimatur of illegitimacy on the event, and split the country further apart. That is patently unethical no matter what your principles are.

          The defense of it, given the numerous performers who have willingly performed for dictators and killers place the performing arts, as a collective, in a position of hypocrisy on this issue.

          Let’s see how far you take this. Do people have the right to emergency medical treatment?

          Absolutely not. Can forcing someone to do something for you whether they want to or not ever be a right? No. It is an exercise of naked power, not right, to force a provider to serve you. No person has a right to demand someone do something for another.

          As a country, we have chosen to make certain duties part of our social compact, but by no means does that make them rights. There is no right to a basic education, or right to college, or right to a job. None of those are rights, despite the absurd statements by agenda-driven socialist wanna-bes. Basic education and emergency care is provided for by social compact, college contingent on payment for service and jobs are offered for the benefit of the employer, not the employee. That the employee may sell his labor at the best price he can obtain and feed, house, and clothe his family is the natural consequence of his ability to refuse to work for someone else.

          But you know all this. And just to be clear, the Rockettes and others do have a right not to perform for any reason whatever. Performances are not “public accommodations” under the law as far as I know, and even if they were, political beliefs are not protected by our social compact. And even if they could be compelled to perform by social compact, their right not to perform still exists in principle, but in practice has simply been negated by an exercise of government force.

          The only question (remember, this is an ethics blog) is whether or not it is ethical for the performers to do refuse to play, not whether or not they have the right not to do so. Just as you don’t have a right to a doctor’s services, the inaugural celebration doesn’t have a right to those of a performer.

          • Chris

            It isn’t about the Rockettes, although they are surely an important example of the lack of principles he’s trying to expose. It’s about performers mooing dutifully as herded cattle of the professional left and Holywood/entertainment elites, and the resultant ethical collapse of the entertainment establishment as a whole. This broad refusal to perform because of who is being inaugurated is just the manifestation of that collapse.

            I see. You’d rather they “moo dutifully as herded cattle” for Trump, instead of taking a stand for what they believe in.

            Jack’s question here is quite correct: Would she have refused to dance for Bill Clinton’s inauguration? We will never know, but both Jack and I are convinced she would’ve had no problem with it, and no matter what you think of Trump’s alleged and proven behaviors, Clintons alleged and proven behaviors were orders of magnitude worse.

            I have no idea what this means. Clinton’s alleged behavior was worse than Trump’s alleged behavior? Both have been accused of rape, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, so that’s not true. Clinton’s proven behavior was worse than Trump’s proven behavior? Both men have committed adultery–Clinton was caught, Trump never tried to hide his affairs. So what is it that Clinton has been accused of that is worse than what Trump has been accused of? What has been proven of Clinton that is worse than what has been proven of Trump?

            The defense of it, given the numerous performers who have willingly performed for dictators and killers place the performing arts, as a collective, in a position of hypocrisy on this issue.

            No. Performers are not responsible for the actions of other performers. They are responsible for their own actions. If a performer has performed for, say, Kim Jong-un but won’t perform for Trump, then they are a hypocrite. But if Beyonce does this, and the Rockettes don’t, the Rockettes are not guilty of hypocrisy.

            As a country, we have chosen to make certain duties part of our social compact, but by no means does that make them rights. There is no right to a basic education, or right to college, or right to a job. None of those are rights, despite the absurd statements by agenda-driven socialist wanna-bes. Basic education and emergency care is provided for by social compact, college contingent on payment for service and jobs are offered for the benefit of the employer, not the employee. That the employee may sell his labor at the best price he can obtain and feed, house, and clothe his family is the natural consequence of his ability to refuse to work for someone else.

            Ok, but I don’t think performing at an inauguration is demanded by the social compact in the same way emergency treatment or education are.

    • I trust the artists to decide what is a “betrayal of their art.”

      Waiting on that Wedding Cake answer.

      • Other Bill

        Didn’t the lefties, being the arbiters of all things artistic, blithely deem baking cakes not an art?

      • Glenn Logan

        It will never be forthcoming. That is what I believe they call a “sticky wicket.” 🙂

        • It’s like the left all of a sudden realised that freedom of association was a thing. It’s not quite apples to apples, because the government isn’t forcing these interactions, but this seems a wonderful test for ideologues. How can you be for one, but not the other? Ideology. Jack is consistent, he thinks they should both do the work. Agree or not, that’s a MUCH more defensible position than someone who thinks the baker should bake the cake, but the dancer shouldn’t dance.

    • Spartan

      Performers are not a store that is open to the public — like a bakery, an apartment building, or a doctor’s office. Artists choose who they will and will not perform for — and those contracts are negotiated in great detail. I’ve seen some of them (my husband is an entertainment lawyer) — sometimes they dictate which plants will be in the dressing room as well as the size of the chandelier.

      Now a group like the Rockettes are under contract, so they have to go wherever their boss tells them to go. Same goes for an orchestra, a Broadway cast, etc. But an individual artist like Garth Brooks? Of course he can say no if he wants to.

      Your blanket statement goes too far Jack. If an artist were asked to perform at a KKK rally, could he say no? How about at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser?

      • “Your blanket statement goes too far Jack. If an artist were asked to perform at a KKK rally, could he say no? How about at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser?”

        I think you’ll have a hard time arguing via analogy.

        I think there’s a material difference between the inauguration of the President and the situations you cite.

        Not saying there aren’t other arguments to make, but I don’t think analogy works.

        • Spartan

          I wasn’t making an analogy, I was challenging Jack’s blanket statement.

          But, for the record, I do think that an individual performer could turn down an inauguration ball — for any reason whatsoever. I do not think that a group could — they have a contractual responsibility to do what they are told.

      • Straw man. It is well established the the law can’t force an artist to perform even under contract, and the law can’t compel expression. This is about ethics, however.The issue of refusing to perform for an entire audience of cannibals, rapists or racists isn’t at issue. (Though I don’t recall anyone breathing a word of criticism of Johnny Cash for performing at Folsom Prison…)The analogous question is, “could a Rockette ethically refuse to perform in Radio City because ONE KKK member was present?” Of course, using a KKK member as an equivalent of the President of the United States is gross hyperbole, but never mind—your pals are acting crazy and like children, and I wish them a quick recuperation.

        • Spartan

          It’s not a straw man — it was your test.

          I think the test should be as follows — an individual artist can ethically and legally refuse any engagement he/she wishes, for any reason whatsoever. A group, however, must do whatever their contract dictates. If an individual within that group refuses, then that should be grounds for termination.

          • Based on bigotry? Hate? A desire for revenge? Professionals don’t act that way. Lawyers can also refuse clients, but we regard lawyers who refuse cases out of hate or animus or bigotry or greed to be unprofessional and unethical, as well as poor role models.

      • “Performers are not a store that is open to the public — like a bakery, an apartment building, or a doctor’s office.”

        This is a sickeningly stupid argument, sorry Spart. What’s the material difference? That the bakers operate a storefront that you can enter? Would it pass muster for a bakery to refuse certain clientele if they operated as an over the phone service?

        “Artists choose who they will and will not perform for — and those contracts are negotiated in great detail”

        Bull, as a blanket statement. Sure, some *can* be… But I organized parties for a summer, and all it takes to get an Elvis impersonator to show up is 300 bucks in twenties.

        • Spartan

          I am talking about entertainers like Garth Brooks and the like — they require more than $300 which, coincidentally, roughly is the cost of a wedding cake.

          • But whats the distinction then? Rules are for little people, and once you get to a certain level of fame, rules don’t apply to you?

            • I think ultimately, if truly pressed, the only distinction that can come to justify this is that some people are lucky enough that the Free Market forces their particular art into a more free-lance, *negotiable* contract based product, such as singers or painters, or WEALTHY fashion designers, then they get the protection; BUT if some people’s art is driven by the Free Market into a business model that requires mass production and common consumption, then they DO NOT get the protection….such as Cake Makers.

              I’m trapped currently in meditation on this topic. I am being pulled into 3 directions on this.

              1) EVERYONE’S profession is their ART. That goes from the most interpretive dance choreographer all the way across the spectrum to the Bridge Engineer. To apply then the Freedom of Expression universally would compel society to accept that EVERY SINGLE SWINGING JOE gets to deny service to whoever they please.

              But we’ve had this discussion before.

              2) There’s a huge swathe of what we call “ART” that should NO LONGER receive the protections we’ve given the abstract term “ART”. That would apply to the random starving artist who is mass producing the same crap for a paycheck.

              He’s no longer making art…he’s making a product. It would apply to him and up the continuum to an undecided cut-off point.

              3) That yes, indeed, there are distinctions between the arts and other producers, but that our current abstract definitions are insufficient to describe those distinctions but that the Free Market has done a decent job coalescing around the kinds of “art” that needs those new definitions to describe.

              • Spartan

                Yes, I think we are close on this Tex. If something is a commodity, like a wedding cake, mass-produced photograph, flower arrangement, etc. then it probably does not deserve protection. But if your art requires an independently negotiated contract (not boiler plate) and requires a specific person (or persons) to complete the art, then it is probably more deserving of protection.

  11. deery

    I’m having trouble dissecting EXACTLY the unethical conduct in the episodes for which the excuse is being made.

    1) There’s the hyper-feminists who bullied Martin for the tweet – in which case Martin is the victim.
    2) Then there’s Martin himself taking down his tweet – in which case I can’t figure out who is the victim here unless it’s a kind of “everyone is a little bit the victim when bullies win”.
    3) Then there’s Cushing’s estate and the movie makers using his image without his consent in which case Cushing is the victim.

    Now, the argument “Cushing would have approved of this conduct of which he (though dead) is the direct object of, therefore the conduct is not unethical” is somewhat different than “Fisher would have not have approved of the conduct of which she was the direct object of, therefore conduct punishing the miscreant is not unethical”.

    I’m not sure if the difference is material.

    But, I think the “He/she would approve/disapprove of the conduct” is, in Cushing’s case, likely a derivative of “Contrived Consent”, though heavily flavored with “Victim Blindness” (as he’s about as blind as a victim can get) or “What He Doesn’t Know Won’t Hurt Him” as well as an odd version of the Golden Rule Mutation, where instead of postulating that you’d be alright with the conduct aimed at you, you are arbitrarily assuming the dead guy would be alright with the conduct aimed at him.

    In Fisher’s case, “He/she would approve/disapprove of the conduct” strikes me as a variation on “It’s the Right Thing to Do” as well as a kind of reversal of the “Golden Rule Mutation”.

    I’m not sure. My head is swimming.

    I was pondering the distinctions in these cases myself Tex. I guess this is where I fall out, and why.

    Cushing v. Fisher

    Cushing died, and left an estate to designated persons. We don’t know how Cushing felt about his images and performances being used in future performances after his death, so the estate properly exercised its judgment in lieu of Cushing’s own, as he explicitly designated them to do. I don’t see an ethics breach, jus an ick factor on the part of some people.

    As far as Fisher, we do know that she was very vocal about the focus being on her looks, and that she regretted taking roles where that was the focus. Martin, as a friend of hers, knew, or should have known that. Yet his tribute to her lead off with a focus on her looks, which struck some people as not quite being the tribute Martin thought it was. Which was a very minor ethics to me.

    But the focus wasn’t as much on Martin’s “misstep”, as supposedly him being “bullied” and “political correctness run amuck.” But I don’t see either in this case. There were no attempts to get him banned, no planned boycotts, or whatever. Simply more speech. Free speech doesn’t require the recipients to hear/read speech, nod silently, and whisper quietly to themselves, “just so, old chap.” Sometimes speech will encounter more speech, and it will disagree with what the original speaker said. Sometimes even, that 2nd, reactionary speech will spin off into 3rd reaction, and that a 4th, and so on. And sometimes, rare in these times, the first person might hear of a critique, go, “you know what, you are right, I agree.” and revise their opinion of their own speech. I don’t think that reaction is unethical in the least, nor is it a sign of “political correctness” or “being bullied.”

    Rockettes v. Cake Baker

    This was easier for me. A lot easier. If Trump bought a ticket to one of the regular shows the Rockettes put on in their home theater, and they refused to honor his ticket and perform for him there, that would be unethical. This was a routine show that they offered to every member of the public. Singling out Trump would not be correct.

    Similarly, the cake baker routinely offered cakes to every member of the public at their own storefront. It would be discriminatory to single out which members of the public they would or would not offer those routine services to.

    However, in this case, Trump is not wanting to attend a regular performance of the Rockettes. Instead he wants special services that are not routinely offered to members of the public. He wants them to fly down to DC, perform in a new space, with probably new blocking and technical aspects that would go along with that. They have a right to say no that, as it is not part of the service that is regularly offered to the public.

    In the case of the cake baker, they could ethically say no if the gay couple demanded the baker fly out to their wedding destination to bake the cake. Or demand a specially designed cake that was not routinely offered to the public. But that wasn’t the case in their refusal to bake the cake for the couple.

    Rockettes v Martin

    I guess I don’t see how people can get angry about Martin deleting his tweet, because he is being “bullied”, but yet be perfectly fine with the Rockettes being forced to perform against their will for Trump, because “it’s the right thing to do”, or because it is “patriotic.” Is “political correctness” just mean you take whatever I dish out, and if you disagree, you are being “politically correct”? It certainly seems that way.

    • First, this discussion is misplaced. I don’t think the possible rationalization is related to the Rockettes. It was merely proposed here.

      Second, you don’t need to argue whether or not the conduct regarding the Cushing or the Martin episodes is ethical or unethical in this sub-thread. Rather discuss what form does the “He/she would or would not have wanted this” rationalization should take and what subcategories it has or is a component of. Because it IS a useful rationalization to study and define whether or not you think it was used in the episodes provoking it.

      • deery

        I just some inconsistent reasoning spanning across several threads, and thought I would consolidate it all on the latest one, as there seemed to be a lot of overlap in the language and logic being used to rationalize the conclusions to all three episodes.

  12. E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

    We’ve discussed all this before. You’re beating a dead horse. What anyone may think about a Rockette’s ‘political stand’ is a non-starter. They dance. They get paid for doing so. And what their politics are is way beyond my even tangential interest area. This is going to come up again, as the artistic community is nothing if not egocentric. But honestly, Mention it when you must, but overall, I’ve had it on agreeing with you on each and every instance.

  13. DC Guy

    “It is as unprofessional for a singer, dancer, juggler or actor to refuse to entertain audience members whose politics or character they oppose as it is for a doctor to refuse to treat them, for a lawyer to refuse to represent them, or a clergyman to withhold from them spiritual guidance.”

    I’m sorry, this just doesn’t ring true to me at all. Artists don’t have the obligation to accept every opportunity that comes along, and disagreement with the entity seeking to employ them strikes me as a perfectly legitimate reason to refuse. Wouldn’t a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men been justified in refusing to play in Richard II, knowing the performance was designed to foment rebellion against their Queen? (Granted, none of them did so, they just extorted additional payment.)

    I’m also curious how you reconcile this view with Rule 1.16(b)(4), allowing a lawyer to withdraw representation where “the client insists upon taking action that the lawyer considers repugnant or with which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement.”

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