Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/11/2017: Words, Debt, And Costumes

Good morning from Richmond, Va.!

1 Passengers keep piling onto the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck:

  • Fashion designer Donna Karan, questioned about Weinstein at an event, said in part:

“I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women,” Karan said to the Daily Mail. “What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?”

Then she pointed to Weinstein’s achievements, and said Weinstein and his wife were “wonderful people.”

(Note to the designer: men who use their power to harass and assault women are not wonderful people by definition.)

After the predictable response to these idiotic comments, Karan protested that her quote was taken out of context, as if the context wasn’t Harvey Weinstein, and issued a low level apology that could only mean, “I’m deeply sorry I said something in public that reveals the miserable level of my values.”

  • Lindsay Lohan, currently in exile in Great Britain and Dubai, used social media to remind her fans in the US that she is, after all, a moron, writing on Instagram,

“I feel very bad for Harvey Weinstein right now. I don’t think it’s right what’s going on….He’s never harmed me or did anything to me – we’ve done several movies together.I think everyone needs to stop – I think it’s wrong. So stand up.”

One of the real benefits of social media is that it reveals the total lack of ethics comprehension, reasoning ability and life competence that inflict so much of the public, including celebrities. With clarity of thought like that, is there any mystery regarding how the once rising star managed to mangle her career despite beauty, talent, and early success?

  • NBC was presented with the Weinstein story before it was broken by the New York Times, says Ronan Farrow, the author of a new Weinstein investigative piece in The New Yorker. The network hasn’t said why. Does it have to? Weinstein was close to both the Clintons and the Obamas, and the scandal directly implicates the Democratic party and its core supporters….like NBC. It is fascinating to watch cable and network anchors and guests desperately try to analogize Weinstein to President Trump, but the Hollywood mogul was enabled by self-righteous liberals and was given the King’s Pass (with an assist from the Saint’s Excuse) because he gave to Planned Parenthood and Hillary, making him, in Donna Karan’s words, “wonderful” by definition. The analogy is Bill Clinton, of course, and any journalist who refuses to acknowledge that has confessed crippling partisan bias.

2. This brings us to a quote by blogger Ann Althouse:

“My hypothesis is that liberals — including nearly everyone in the entertainment business — suppressed concern about sexual harassment to help Bill Clinton. Giving him cover gave cover to other powerful men, and the cause of women’s equality in the workplace was set back 20 years.”

Her hypothesis is correct, and I said so when the liberals, feminists, abortion zealots, artistic community and others circled their wagons around Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal. This is one reason why Hillary’s campaign stance as standard-bearer for women’s rights and victims of sexual assault was so grotesque.

Here’s another quote from Althouse that I like:

“Who are the women who accepted the deal as offered by Harvey Weinstein? Will their names be kept out of the press? Should they?…

…So much silence facilitating so much harm! Should the women who took the bargain and got what they wanted out of it be regarded as victims and entitled to keep their names secret, or are they part of a system that hurt many others, and subject to outing.”

I’ve answered this question in various comments on previous posts, much to the unhappiness of readers who believe that victims who remains silent and thus allow evil to continue shouldn’t be criticized. The women are part of the system, and accountable.3. The national debt is out of control, and that means budgets have to be cut. If the belief is that taxes need to be cut to stimulate the economy, then budgets have to be cut even more. They have to be cut by many, many billions, even trillions, especially since some languishing costs, such as repairing the crumbling infrastructure will require many billions, and cannot be delayed forever. Here is an alarmist article, seeding anger over the prospect of Pell Grants being cut. This kind of objection literally can and will be raised by any substantive program cuts, because every expenditure has some constituency that will scream if its interests are affected. Yup, Pell is a great program, or would be, if our colleges were not indoctrination camps and a scandalous waste of money. We will eventually have to start balancing budgets and paying off the debt, or all programs, and indeed the nation, will be at risk. This article shows why responsible fiscal policy is virtually impossible. If nobody is willing to acknowledge that the nation’s welfare is worthy of sacrifice, then the nation’s welfare, sooner or later, is doomed.

4. Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi said that providing a ticket to citizenship for “Dreamers,” as in illegal immigrants brought here as children whose successful breaching of US laws to their benefit will create a strong incentive for foreign parents to sneak into the country, is so important to her party that it will consider provoking a government shutdown rather than compromise on the issue. Think about the priorities that statement suggests.

5.  Political correctness combined with religious fanaticism and contrived offense will kill Halloween within the decade. The latest example: people are outraged over this costume for an adult:

Let me explain, or rather, let this article try to explain:

The $50 costume — like other unauthorized costumes — does not officially use “Stranger Things” [the Netflix horror series that rips off about 10 Stephen King books and almost as many Spielberg movies] in the title, but the likeness to Eleven, played by 13-year-old Millie Bobby Brown, is indisputable. Brown, as Eleven, appeared on the Netflix series wearing a blonde wig, a pink dress with a high collar, and a jacket. The character also had a fondness for frozen waffles. The costume, called the Upside Down Honey — a reference to the show’s alternate “Upside Down” universe — consists of a blonde wig, a pink dress, a jacket and a waffle-shaped purse.

The model in the costume also suffered from Eleven’s same affliction: a bloody nose….

Though sexualized costumes at Halloween are not new, fans have particular issue with this one because the character in the show is not even a teenager yet.

It’s a costume. The offense is dressing like a post-puberty version of  pre-pubescent fictional character? What is that offense, exactly? If there isn’t an existing political correctness violation, then they’ll just make a new one up.

6. The things desperate lawyers say: Ethics Alarms has repeatedly explained that the duty of zealous representation requires lawyers to take some nauseating positions, but I’m beginning to think that there need to be limits. Lawyers have managed to tie up a law suit against the Palm Beach County school system—over a male teacher who molested  four third grade girls— for 12 years. Nothing wrong with that; now the County has finally agreed to a settlement. However, during its defense, the County allowed its lawyers to argue that the third-graders were “old enough to appreciate the consequences of their actions” when they did what their teacher told them to do.”

If a school makes that despicable a defense, it should 1) forfeit the case and 2) be razed, with salt sown into the ground where it stood.


21 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/11/2017: Words, Debt, And Costumes

  1. #3) The problem WILL NOT BE SOLVED. And at this point, mathematically probably CANNOT be solved. And culturally, no big governmentalists even comprehend the problem. As one commenter gleefully proclaimed awhile back, to the effect, “as long as interest rates are ok, why not take out huge loans?” And no, it wasn’t a drunken sailor who said that.

    Because the problem will not be solved, I’m not sure what are the proper measures for responsible Americans to take in preparation for the inevitable fallout.

    • Honestly, when the loan shark sends in collectors to break your legs or take your life, your absolute last resort is hoping you are armed to protect yourself. Fortunately enough, only a portion of the debt is owned by foreign parties. Most of it is owned by Social Security.

      If we dissolved Social Security and never paid another cent to cure the debt owed to SS, the national debt would be cut in half. Now, that would basically ruin countless people who are expecting SS to be there, that live off the retirement and disability for which they paid.

      I guess the responsible American will look at their SS taxes as “Debt Reduction” taxes and make other plans accordingly.

      • “If we dissolved Social Security and never paid another cent to cure the debt owed to SS, the national debt would be cut in half. Now, that would basically ruin countless people who are expecting SS to be there, that live off the retirement and disability for which they paid.”

        I don’t think it’s as simple as repudiating the existing debt to Social Security (though we DO need to end Social Security as it currently exists). Are there not institutions out there granting the loans to the government to pay out the current social security obligations?

        Those loans operate under the notion that they will be paid back. Whether or not those institutions are domestic doesn’t mean there’s an incredibly destabilizing ripple effect that emanates when you tell the financial institution that plans on debt repayment that their expectations are being cut off.

        • You’re absolutely right that it’s not as simple as repudiating the existing debt. The institutions loaning money to the US Govt include Social Security. They buy us treasuries with the new money collected, and the US Gov’t uses that money to pay the obligations of SS.

          US Gov’t also sells treasuries to other investors in Asia and, really, anyone who will buy them. Those treasury sales fund the US Gov’t for everything that simple tax revenue can’t cover. I’m not sure if our “Debt Servicing” has exceeded our “Tax Generation” yet…once it does, I would certainly consider that “insolvency”.

          Anyway – the above is my simple understanding. I am perhaps even flawed in my understanding, for which I welcome all corrections, clarifications, and additional education.

          • Oh! I didn’t realize that…if there are institutions floating the loans for Social Security, whose only financial dealing are social security, then the ripple effect of telling them “it just won’t work anymore, sorry about your specific treasuries” could be more manageable. Though it would decrease confidence across the board.

          • Well, because of continuing low interest rates, the interest on our national debt for FY2017 is only about $200 billion, versus revenues of about $1,800 billion.

            I’d expect that to rise over the next several years as the Fed continues to raise rates.

            Payroll taxes will generate about $800 billion, while Social Security and Medicare payments will come in around $1,000 billion — so SS/Medicare deficit is about $200 billion or so. To put it another way, current revenues are covering about 80% of the Social Security/Medicare expenses.

            I’m not 100% sure, but I assume that Medicaid — which will run about $250 billion this year — is paid (so to speak) for out of general revenues rather than payroll taxes.

  2. #6) Good lord.

    How does one practically limit specious arguments? It’s it a matter of making the general rule and expecting judges to throw out arguments that seem to match the general rule?

  3. Lindsay Lowbrow is not functioning at the level of a moron: In my estimate, she’s more in the microcephalic idiot range. If it didn’t happen to me, what’s the problem? Amazingly vacuous ethics. But then again, who takes anything that she says seriously.

  4. 6. The things desperate lawyers say – The tone deaf county school system hits me the hardest in this list. Lawyers have a mandate to explore all options with clients even some that are ugly but the client, especially a school, has to live up to its mandate. A school that argues that 8 year olds are complicit is beyond disgusting. Teachers used to stand in loco parentis. For a board/county to abdicate its responsibility like this to save a few dollars is one of the more egregious ethics violations I’ve seen in awhile.

    5. Political correctness combined with religious fanaticism and contrived offense will kill Halloween – This reminds me of one of the rules of Reddit, the social media site. Rule 34 states that if there is a thing, no matter what, there is porn for it. As “Stranger Things” is a thing, ergo, someone has sexualized/fetishized it. But the rule could be extended. If there is a thing, no matter what, someone will be outraged about it.

    From today’s Globe & Mail – schools and Halloween:

  5. Regarding #6:
    Lawyers also need to remember how things play to potential jurors. They need to consider what will happen if it goes to a jury trial and the plaintiff attorney manages to get that admitted in some way. It is highly prejudicial, but then again it is a self inflicted wound.

    A lawyer has a duty to advise clients not to do foolish things, and this would fall under that category. He’s really failing if he’s advising that as a course of action because most sane people are revolted by that suggestion.

    I’ll also suggest the citizens of Palm Beach County have a duty here. School administrators are at will employees, and the citizens should ensure that the school board either fires the administrators involved or is replaced by board members who will.

  6. However, during its defense, the County allowed its lawyers to argue that the third-graders were “old enough to appreciate the consequences of their actions” when they did what their teacher told them to do.”


    Why did they not just go ahead and argue that the only harm the girls suffered from the molestation were high-fives from other girls?

    In any event, the obvious retort is that even assuming the veracity of the argument, it still does not diminish legal liability.

  7. Harvey Weinstein is an outspoken and dedicated feminist, just like Joss Whedon, Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, Hugo Schwyzer, Bob Filner, Eliot Spitzer, Ted Kennedy, and so on. It’s almost like third-wave feminism DOESN’T make you any better at respecting women. You just have to be a decent person.

  8. Political correctness combined with religious fanaticism and contrived offense will kill Halloween within the decade.

    The Left wants it dead, and it appears they will pull out the stops to make it so.

    They’ll kill Christmas too, eventually, except among actual Christians. Easter is next, no doubt.

    How many more American institutions will die as well? Statues, Halloween, Christmas, Columbus’ birthday, pretty soon the birthdays of all presidents who weren’t all in on slave liberation, re-carving Mount Rushmore to include Clinton and Obama and remove Washington and Jefferson… The list seems endless.

    Traditions. Monuments. Who needs ‘em?

    • Like I said, the left wants a monopoly on honor – only they can say what you are allowed to celebrate or honor. That way they can control your thinking. Their biggest mistake was targeting Christmas first, which is too big and too powerful of a target to take down with a direct assault. However, if you set up enough other dominoes to fall first, the last domino is likely to fall even if it is bigger than the rest.

      Another secret is that where attacks don’t necessarily work, spoilerism and making a nuisance of yourself often do, especially at the low or local level. You might not be able to get Halloween wiped off the school calendar by a direct attack, but if you keep repeating that it’s the Devil’s birthday or the costumes are cultural appropriation or whatever, maybe the school board will do away with it just to not have to hear your complaints every year. You might not be able to directly pull down the monument to the WWI soldiers in the park that has a cross on it, but keep making noise about a lawsuit and maybe the town will, just to shut you up. Gay organizations weren’t able to bull their way into the St. Patrick’s Day parade with a lawsuit, but after years of whining on the sidelines and enlisting sponsors to boycott, they got their way.

      The same approach that got Halloween pushed out of the public schools is enabling new pushes to have Christmas declared unmentionable there (although often Hanukkah and Eid escape that fate). The same approach that enabled some to say “take that cross down, or risk being labeled a bigot and sued” has now led like-minded folks to say “take down that statue, or risk being branded a backward-minded racist.” Few protested this past Monday along Fifth Avenue as the parade passed, but I am sure that was mostly because it was a gray, drizzly day and attendance was down. I bet that next year, if we get a nice day, like we have the last 6 out of 7 times, the protesters will line the route from start to finish, complete with Indian way-ha-way dancers, tom-toms, and gory signs, until the businesses along the route take a hit in their bottom line and the authorities decide it’s easier to just give up rather than make the same arguments every year and pay a ton of police overtime to keep order.

      As it was last year Veterans’ Day was a near-police state, with four NY policemen on each side of each block and tac-vested fed, state, and local officers with rifles all over the place, lest there be spillover from the election 72 hours before. The authorities simply can’t keep this up, even in the biggest city with the most resources in the US. Elsewhere that level of protection is out of the question. I was in Lexington, VA last month on vacation, and paid my respects at the grave of Stonewall Jackson, which, is, appropriately, topped by a bronze statue of the general. It’s also guarded by a car sitting opposite the face of the statue (presumably so it won’t interfere with photography), staffed by off-duty local cops, to discourage vandalism or other troublemaking. The thing is, someone’s presumably paying those cops, and whoever that is will eventually tap out their budget for additional security. At that point they may decide it’s easier to send the statue “for refurbishing” and just never have it come back. Not too far from there is the tomb of Robert E. Lee, and it wouldn’t shock me if the chapel that houses it is soon “closed for renovations” just to keep it from becoming a focus for trouble.

      Maybe, just maybe, mind you, the places where other monuments to people now disfavored by the noisy life can placate them by adding “context” or “explanatory plaques,” but you know that’s just a step on the road to removal a few years down the road after the authorities have capitulated once. The true believers on the left are like Hezbollah, who once openly stated that they would take what they could from Israel at the negotiating table, then use terrorism to take the rest. They aren’t interested in a good faith discussion. They aren’t interested in compromise. They aren’t interested in anything but getting their way every time, all the time. If they can get it via the ballot box, like in the uber-liberal cities on the Left Coast or other cities dominated by either leftist universities or minorities, that’s great, but in the smaller towns where the salt-of-the-earth ordinary folks laugh at them and the cities where there is powerful opposition to their agenda (like Winchester, VA, where every inch of the soil is drenched in history, like Norfolk and Virginia Beach, where the biggest employers are the military and tourism for those who come to SEE the military, and like NYC and Boston, where you can’t throw a ball without hitting an Italian-American or a Catholic) they don’t hesitate to resort to harassment, annoyance, and worst, just to make it untenable for those who wish they’d all just move out to the West Coast with like-minded folks, and leave the rest of the nation alone.

      In the end it’s just about who can last longer.

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