Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/5/17: “Close Encounters,” A Bad Bank, A Jaw-Dropping Tweet, Sentimentalizing DACA, And More

GOOD MORNING!!

1. A remastered “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is in theaters now, and I have mixed feelings about the fact that it is not attracting many ticket-buyers. Spielberg is incapable of making a bad movie, and even his most annoying films (like this one) are thought-provoking and entertaining compared to most of the junk we are getting from Hollywood now. But “Close Encounters” is an unethical movie that bothers me more every time I see it.

The film celebrates hippy spiritual fanaticism for no good reason. Why does everyone get all misty-eyed over these angelic, long-armed  aliens who think they have leave to kidnap human beings, including babies, take them away from their families and disrupt their lives, and then dump them off in another place and time? Why is Richard Dreyfus smiling about that, the idiot? Meanwhile, his character has forgotten about his own wife and kids, never giving them a second thought once he goes E.T. hunting. (And why is Terri Garr treated so badly in her movies by alleged protagonists? Dustin Hoffman used her as a door mat in “Tootsie,” too.)

2. As an addendum to the previous post about DACA ethics, consider this example of how the news media sentimentalizes and propagandizes illegal immigration: the Washington Post’s heart-tugging and misleading story with the headline, “He was brought to Virginia as a toddler, deported at 19. He died in an overheated tractor-trailer trying to return.

“He” was an illegal immigrant, though the Post uses the deceitful “undocumented immigrant” euphemism, as if he lost his library card or something. His name was Frank  Fuentes, and he was quite rightly deported a year after he pleaded guilty to assault and battery as well as grand larceny­/pickpocketing in 2016. He died trying to break the law, and while dealing with the criminals who smuggle people into the U.S. in trucks. The fact that Fuentes didn’t deserve to die is waved by the Post like a crimson flag to distract from the fact that he had no right to be in the U.S., and no right to sneak back in.

Ah, but he was a good man at heart, who “loved skateboarding and music.”  “We all make mistakes,” the post quotes a friend as saying, not noting that this is the go-to rationalization for every law-breaker from Billy the Kid to Joe Arpaio. “He wanted to be better for his family and his mom . . . that’s all he cared about.”

What the Post is doing  isn’t reporting. It is selective, manipulated sentiment designed to obscure the real issues in illegal immigration. This kind of coverage is why polls about “dreamers” reflect shallow emotion-based reflex, not serious, informed consideration.

3. Sam Stein, formerly the Huffington Post’s senior politics editor now writing for  The Daily Beast, tweeted,

Discuss.

4.  The president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, announced that the police union’s members will refuse to hold the American flag as planned at the NFL’s Cleveland Brown’s home opener, after nine Browns players took a “Kaepernick” and knelt during the national anthem in a pre-season game with the New York Giants.

“It’s just ignorant for someone to do that,” Steve Loomis told reporters. “It just defies logic to me. The fact that management was aware of what they planned on doing, that’s as offensive as it can get.”

Good for the union. The NFL has been cowardly and irresponsible by not confronting and ending these demonstrations against the United States in general and police in particular, starting with its non-action when the St. Louis Rams performed a “Hands up! Don’t shoot! display in 2014. Kaepernick specifically had said, in his various vague posturings, that police were among the  targets of  his kneeling stunt, making the ignorant statement that officers in police-involved shootings should not collect a salary while investigations were pending (unlike, say, the many NFL players who have been suspects in criminal investigations).

Among the many functions of professional sports teams is to bring communities together, not divide them. Players are free to express their political positions, however ill-informed, off the field if they are willing to take responsibility for them, which may involve negative team action and fan anger. Cleveland, where 12-year old Tamir Rice was shot by an incompetent cop, is an especially sensitive place for an anti-police demonstration to take place.

The comments on the article at the link are depressing, as in knee-jerk and foolish.

5. Wells Fargo now says that it has found another 1.4 million fake accounts its employees illegally billed customers for. That’s 67% more than it initially estimated, bringing the total of the sham accounts up to 3.5 million. What do you do with a mega-bank that can’t count? And why did it take a full year for the bank to find the additional fake accounts?

These aren’t the only things the bank does badly–in July, it accidentally leaked the electronic records of 50,000 customers.

How is this bank still in business? American consumers cannot complain about bad service and corrupt corporations if it can’t be bothered to hold the most unethical ones accountable.

6. Finally, this charming note: Musician John Legend has asked his casting company for a music video to find white, fat, old actors to play President Trump supporters.

According to a listing on Casting Networks in L.A., Legend’s music video seeks eight actors to play protesters on a set resembling a rally 30-65 years old, “preferably out of shape” to play Trump supporters. Here was the photo used to give the casting agents guidance:

I’m surprised Legend didn’t send them this one…

…but I do understand why he wouldn’t send this one:

Using negative stereotypes are unethical, unless, of course, the good people wield  them against the bad people. Right, John?

20 Comments

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20 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/5/17: “Close Encounters,” A Bad Bank, A Jaw-Dropping Tweet, Sentimentalizing DACA, And More

  1. Steve-O-in-NJ

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3865414/An-innocent-parade-patriotism-frightening-force-Police-ceremony-high-school-football-game-causes-outrage-black-groups-claim-aggressive-response-anthem-protst.html

    Patriotism and appreciation of the military and emergency services are almost becoming dirty words in some communities now. Two high schools were going to play football. The local police chief organized a salute to the military and first responders, yes, heavy on the cops as you can see in the pictures. In the past it would have elicited applause, a quick mention in the local paper, and nothing more. Now, from the reaction from some of these idiots, you would think that those were the Nazi SS marching out onto the field, not the various NJ police. Those are badges they’re wearing, idiots, not swastikas. Patriotism isn’t a sin, and to say you will refuse to honor your nation until it comes up to your standards is playing God and making the perfect the enemy of the good. Kudos to the police for saying enough is enough.

  2. Wait – does DACA give you the right to vote? Or is Sam Stein looking for an illegal immigrant who illegally voted in U.S. Elections?

  3. Inquiring Mind

    That was the St. Louis Rams.

    The St. Louis Browns were a baseball team that became the Baltimore Orioles.

  4. No. 3: Looks like Sam reconsidered his posting. It is not on his twitter feed anymore.

    No. 4: I am dense today. I fail to see why the Police Union would refuse to hold the flag during opening ceremonies this coming weekend. Are we talking about Old Glory or the Cleveland Brown’s flag? The article does not clarify. If it is the US flag, why would the police refuse to carry/hold the US flag at the opening ceremonies? What is the message? Are they saying that they feel the players are so thoroughly disrespectful that they don’t deserve to have the flag carried in by them? Or are they so offended by these idiotic publicity stunts that they refuse to participate in the games until the players get their heads straight? I hope it is the latter, akin to a boycott of the NFL. Otherwise, it is a confusing message: “We are so mad at you we won’t carry the Stars and Stripes into game, but by golly, we won’t risk watching the game, so there!”

    jvb.

  5. Chris

    , “He was brought to Virginia as a toddler, deported at 19. He died in an overheated tractor-trailer trying to return.”

    “He” was an illegal immigrant, though the Post uses the deceitful “undocumented immigrant” euphemism, as if he lost his library card or something.

    I think I can understand why they might not describe someone brought here as a toddler as an illegal immigrant, though technically that designation still applies. But given his criminal record, I don’t object to his deportation.

    4. The president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, announced that the police union’s members will refuse to hold the flag at the NFL’s Cleveland Brown’s home opener after nine Browns players took a “Kaepernick” and knelt during the national anthem in a pre-season game with the New York Giants.

    “It’s just ignorant for someone to do that,” Steve Loomis told reporters. “It just defies logic to me. The fact that management was aware of what they planned on doing, that’s as offensive as it can get.”

    Good for the union. The NFL has been cowardly and irresponsible by not confronting and ending these demonstrations against the United States in general and police in particular, starting with its non-action when the St. Louis Browns performed a “Hands up! Don’t shoot! display in 2014. Kaepernick specifically had said, in his various vague posturings, that police were among the targets of his kneeling stunt, making the ignorant statement that officers in police-involved shootings should not collect a salary while investigations were pending (unlike, say, the many NFL players who have been suspects in criminal investigations).

    Among the many functions of professional sports teams is to bring communities together, not divide them. Players are free to express their political positions, however ill-informed, off the field if they are willing to take responsibility for them, which may involve negative team action and fan anger. Cleveland, where 12-year old Tamir Rice was shot by an incompetent cop, is an especially sensitive place for an anti-police demonstration to take place.

    The comments on the article at the link are depressing, as in knee-jerk and foolish.

    This is unprincipled nonsense.

    If it’s wrong for the nine Browns players to protest by taking a knee, it’s also equally wrong for the police union to protest by not holding the flag. It’s also an incompetent protest; if they’re mad that the players didn’t stand for the anthem, why would they choose to show their objection by refusing to hold a flag? Wouldn’t they want to show that they are more patriotic than the players? This is as incoherent as when illegal immigrants carry Mexican flags to protests demanding that they be allowed to live in America.

    Among the many functions of professional sports teams is to bring communities together, not divide them.

    Police have a much greater obligation to bring communities together, rather than divide them. Does their protest have that effect?

    Cleveland, where 12-year old Tamir Rice was shot by an incompetent cop, is an especially sensitive place for an anti-police demonstration to take place.

    I’m not sure what conclusion we’re meant to draw from this statement. Because an incompetent police officer shot and killed a child in Cleveland, there should be no protests against police in Cleveland? That can’t be your position.

    • There’s no obligation by the police to hold the flag. Pre-game flag ceremonies are almost always volunteer based privileges to engage in. If that’s the case here, the police, having been scheduled for this game, they can back out for any reason whatsoever.

      There is an obligation for the players NOT to engage in this asinine protest for reasons that have been thoroughly discussed on the blog.

  6. VPJ

    And why is Terri Garr treated so badly in her movies…
    Gene Wilder was quite good to her in Young Frankenstein.

  7. Isaac

    John Legend should consider why he feels a need to make what is unequivocally a propaganda film. People who are secure in their positions don’t need to propagandize. They don’t need government, consumer culture or corporate media to validate their opinions for them. They don’t need to vilify, create caricatures, or manufacture straw men instead of just stating their opinions. Because they have clear consciouses and courage of conviction.

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