Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/9/2018: Plan O, Bad Punditry, Racist Trash Talk, And Disrespecting a 101 Year Old Star

Good morning, World!

1 Golden Globes hangover I. Following up on a point made in yesterday’s Golden Globes post, presenter Natalie Portman’s much-praised but unfair innuendo that the directors nominated in the “best director” category were there because of gender bias rather than the quality of their work was an example of shooting the bystander rather than the villain. The fact that women don’t get the opportunities to direct major films that men do–as a result of many factors, none of which relate to the relative directing abilities of the two pools–is not the fault of the male directors who get the jobs, nor does the fact of discrimination make the films that women do get to direct inherently better and more award-worthy than they are.

That said, the bias against female directors is real, and dumb. Here is an excellent article about it.

2. A Nation of Silly People. I warned that electing Donald Trump as President would eventually turn us into a Nation of Assholes, and that has come to pass with unexpected rapidity. I did not see the development resulting in the US becoming a nation of silly people, though that process was well underway already. The rush to anoint Oprah Winfrey as the savior of the Republic based on a speech at an entertainment awards show, however, is new evidence of the damage done to the nation’s values by the Trump trauma. Oprah is a cult, pop culture figure; a democracy deteriorating into a society where celebrities and cult leaders become political leaders was one of the fears expressed by our Founders. For the Left to embrace Oprah is stunning hypocrisy, after more than a year of (correctly) accusing Republicans of nominating a Presidential candidate with none of the qualifications traditionally required to be taken seriously as a contender for the office. Many unhealthy trends of long standing pointed to this eventuality,it is true: celebrity obsession, poor civic education, ignorance of history, and new age gibberish, plus the stunning absence of legitimate leaders in both political parties. Having followed O for a long time, since her days in Baltimore as a rising life-style reporter, I recognize a lot of warning signs regarding her ethical instincts, such as her addiction to talking about “personal truths,” which is just a sneaky way of endorsing “alternate facts,” her troubling anti-vaxx statements, her promotion of fake experts like Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil, her race-baiting, and more. There will be plenty of time to elaborate on these if and when her candidacy becomes more than a twinkle in E!’s eye. I doubt that we’ll get there, but as President Trump proved, you never know in the United States of America.

3. A “Nah, there’s no media bias against Trump” note: During the Golden Globes broadcast, NBC, that paragon of journalism integrity, tweeted this:

4. Fake news in irresponsible punditry.  I have been meaning to write about this op-ed by New York Times “contributing opinion writer” Kashana Cauley for more than a week now, and the task has seemed so odious that I have avoided it. It is as bad an op-ed as I have ever seen, full of false assertions, misrepresentations , rationalizations and racial hate. I wonder when the New York Times editors reached the point where they would regard such trash as fit to be published under its banner. Rather than dissect the ugly thing as I originally intended, I’ll let you do the work, with me just pointing out some, but far from all, of the features that make this such unethical op-ed page content.

  • It begins by claiming that the death by heart attack of Erica Garner, the 27-year-old daughter of the late Eric Garner of “I can’t breathe” fame, was  evidence that “Since the country’s founding, black families have never been able to thrive.” That statement is false. Many black families thrive, particularly those that are not headed by law-breakers and habitual criminals.

Nor is Erica Garner’s death, as the author somehow believes, the result of “police brutality.”  In relating her father’s demise, Cauley misleadingly attributes Eric Garner’s death to a “banned choke-hold.” No, the choke-hold, which is not legally banned but prohibited by police regulations,  was one of many factors identified in Garner’s death, including compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police,” “acute and chronic bronchial asthma; Obesity; Hypertensive cardiovascular disease”.  She also doesn’t mention that Garner contributed to his plight by resisting arrest, and that he had been had been arrested by the NYPD more than thirty times since 1980 on charges ranging from assault, resisting arrest, and grand larceny.

  • The author writes, “Michael Brown is no longer with us because a cop couldn’t let go of the violent fantasies he entertained about black men. “

This is Black Lives Matters fiction. Michael Brown was shot because he was rushing a police officer after resisting arrest, as every investigation found.

  • She writes, “Eric Garner’s death was ruled a homicide, but it increasingly looks like one of those homicides no one committed.” The technical use of “homicide” in the medical examiner’s report meant that human agency helped bring about Eric Garner’s death. It does not mean “murder,” or that a crime was committed. Editors had an obligation to make her clarify this.

I’ll let you ponder her objections to black mothers having to face the consequences of leaving young children at risk, and black families being “torn apart’ because of prisoner visiting protocols. This regular Times contributor has apparently never considered that black families are vulnerable because too many are headed by only one parent, have more children than the family can afford, and are headed by habitual criminals. It’s all America’s fault.

5. Gee, who could have seen this coming? Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue accused Buffalo Bills Guard Richie Incognito of using racial slurs as “trash talk”  during Sunday’s NFL play-off game. The NFL is investigating.

Incognito, Incognito...where have I heard that football player’s name before? Oh! Here.. This is the same player who drove African-American Jonathan Martin out of pro football in 2013 with racist hazing that an NFL report found to be had “ a pattern of harassment.” Incognito was suspended for eight games, and the Dolphins dropped him, he was picked up by the Bills. Incognito has had fights with teammates and opponents during his career, and has been accused more than once of dirty play in the pros.  He’s also reputed to be a talented player. This is a sub-category of The King’s Pass, or the Star Syndrome. Not only are high-level performers in organizations often held to lower ethical standards than everyone else, they are forgiven serious breaches that others would never recover from, and given second, third and fourth chances. More often than not, these extra chances just give the “kings” and “stars” a chance to misbehave again, harming their new organization in the process.

6. Golden Globes Hangover II. Social media was indignant that the Golden Globes honored Kirk Douglas, now 101 and the last living vestige of Hollywood’s Golden Age during the telecast. Many twitterers asked why. Why not google him, you ignoramuses? Douglas was a three time Golden Globe nominee, won once, and also was awarded the same lifetime achievement award that Oprah was, the Cecil B.De Mille Award, in 1996. And while it sometimes looks like Kirk will outlive us all, it’s not unreasonable to assume that a salute to him has some urgency. The main objections to his appearance seemed to be that he was 1) a man and 2) has been accused in the gossip and rumor mill of raping Natalie Wood when she was 16. In today’s culture, all that is needed to erase a career and a reputation are anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct, or so the witch hunters would have it. It is revolting that Douglas should have to face these completely unfounded accusations now. The Golden Globes did the right thing.

31 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/9/2018: Plan O, Bad Punditry, Racist Trash Talk, And Disrespecting a 101 Year Old Star

  1. One of the cardinal principles of economics is: People respond to incentives. The war on poverty became the war for poverty when incentives in the laws and regulations of it incentivized out of wedlock child birth. The result has been a massive shift toward paternal irresponsibility and single parent households. Begetting, then, the naturally resulting undesirable social behavior wrought by under-parented children of those households regardless of race. And…voila…an social and economic underclass given to perpetuating more of the same. (Said to be the product of capitalism, when it is actually caused by well-meaning (maybe) government intervention.)

    Ethically speaking: Feeling good and doing good are not the same thing. We now are dealing with its aftermath.

  2. Re #2
    I must say that it would take a supremely AWFUL candidate lineup for me to vote for Oprah. However, I will never say never again, since I did, unfortunately, have to determine that Trump was a better choice than Hillary, and I once said, “Vote for Trump? NEVER!”

    I very much hope for a better selection in 2020, because I don’t like this “hold your nose” voting. I am not, however, holding out much hope, as it sounds like we’ll get Trump again in the R slot and the D slot keeps coming up with people who are, at least in my opinion, worse each time they toss a name out.

  3. Jack,

    The Kirk Douglas thing is especially appalling since most people today have no idea who Natalie Wood even was. Given time, it wouldn’t surprise me if the rape story merged with the story of her death in popular consciousness, and Kirk will become the one who pushed her off the boat. Facts aren’t important when you’re a contrarian.

    • I just remember her because her death was the catalyst for the first series of tasteless jokes I heard waaaaay back in grade school. Hey, what kind of wood DOESN’T float?

      • I suspect the truth is complicated. Wood was a precocious 16, and having a sexual affair with her “Rebel Without A Cause” director, 44 year old Nicolas Rey. I could see her having a consensual fling with Kirk (39, five years younger than her boy friend) at the same time, telling someone about it, and having the source do the math and say–“Hey, that was rape!” And it would indeed be (as was her relationship with Rey) but Hollywood is a sick culture with its own norms. That was a 1955 culture, which the Golden Globes say Hollywood is trying to change. I doubt it.

        Here’s Natalie when she was 16:

        • Unless there’s another source I’m unaware of, we have one poster who pretended to be Robert Downey Jr. (which got featured on gawker) and a tabloid book which didn’t provide a name just claimed some actor raped her.

          It’s possible the following summary is wrong though. I don’t follow this crap normally.

          • It’s not irrelevant. It doesn’t excuse the director or Kirk, if that story is true, but if the culture routinely accepted underage sex with teen sirens, it isn’t irrelevant. The accounts say that Wood seduced Ray specifically as a tactic to get the part she wanted. He’s accountable, but she’s not a victim.

  4. #4. Yawn. There’s frankly no reason to dissect this rant. We’ve heard it all before. Start with the assumption that everyone who isn’t black or a staunch BLM supporter is a racist. Continue with the horrors of slavery and either imply or openly say that all of American society still owes the blacks for that. Throw in some recent deaths of black people in police custody or in police encounters and say loudly, with complete conviction, and maybe with some angry profanity mixed in for spice, that it’s all the fault of the racist police. Add something about the oppressive economics. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    No offense, but after a while reading the same assertions and the same lies and half-truths gets kinda boring. I think every black person who repeats these rants should be offered a free one-way ticket to the sub-Saharan African nation of their choice, plus free processing of the transfer of citizenship. If you don’t like it here, if you’re unhappy here, and you don’t think it’s possible to thrive here, then leave. No one is putting a gun to your head and saying you must stay.

    By all means, get yourself an apartment in Cote D’Ivoire or look for a spread of land in Zimbabwe or South Africa, I think there are a few the blacks expropriated from the white landowners that should be available pretty soon. Live among your own kind, where there are no white police officers to pursue young black men because that’s what they do, no white prosecutors to overcharge blacks while cutting whites a break, no white judges to judge someone they just can’t understand, no white employers to turn away your application for no reason other than your color, no white bankers to deny you credit or loans because they saw your face, and no white neighbors to treat you with anything other than the utmost respect and deference, because that’s what you’re entitled to. In fact you’ll probably be able to get to someplace where you’ll never see another white person again if you stay away from the airports and docks.

    Any takers?

    What, no Marcus Garvey types? (nice hat)

    Let’s get something straight here. Your color, your history, and the fact that there are fewer of you than of others in this nation doesn’t give you the right to ignore the laws when it’s more convenient for you, whether by selling untaxed cigarettes, or by selling crack, enforcing deals by machinegun. It doesn’t give you the right to declare any area yours, and subject only to your way of doing things, everyone else keep out. It doesn’t give you the right to stuff your head with hate for everyone who isn’t like you and then act on that hate. It definitely doesn’t give you the right to silence every other group that isn’t like you. If you believe it does, then you need to reconsider the deal I just offered, because society can’t function like that.

  5. 5. There has to be a great AbBott and Costello style routine in this.
    Costello: Hey AbbotT, who’s playing guard?
    AbbotT: He’s Incognito.
    Costello: Why won’t he tell us who he is?

  6. 1 Golden Globes hangover I. Following up on a point made in yesterday’s Golden Globes post, presenter Natalie Portman’s much-praised but unfair innuendo that the directors nominated in the “best director” category were there because of gender bias rather than the quality of their work

    Isn’t this a false dichotomy?

    It is true that they were nominated because their work was of high quality. It is also true that all of the nominees are usually male because of discrimination against women in Hollywood.

    Nothing about Portman’s statement implied that the first statement isn’t true.

    was an example of shooting the bystander rather than the villain. The fact that women don’t get the opportunities to direct major films that men do–as a result of many factors, none of which relate to the relative directing abilities of the two pools–is not the fault of the male directors who get the jobs, nor does the fact of discrimination make the films that women do get to direct inherently better and more award-worthy than they are.

    Now this is a fair point, and why I’m not fully comfortable with Portman’s comment. It turned the focus away from the nominees being honored and toward an issue which, while important, shouldn’t have overshadowed their accomplishments.

    • “were there because of gender bias rather than the quality of their work

      Isn’t this a false dichotomy?”


      This is the trouble we get into when we discuss increasingly narrowing groups of people all the way down to individuals.

      (Hypothetical number trigger warning:)

      Yes, there are 100 directors who are men and 2 who are women, in part due to gender discrimination. There are also 2,000 non-directors who wanted to be directors who aren’t because they lack ability….let’s say that’s 1800 men and 200 women.

      Now, only 4 of those 100 directors get nominated. They were nominated for quality of work. Not because of gender discrimination. Were they even available in the pool of potential directors because of discrimination? To a degree. To an even greater degree they were available in the pool of potential directors because they were vastly superior to ALL the others who never even get to direct…men and women alike…because those hopefuls weren’t any good.

      Since we’ll never know what kinds of numbers those truly are, we can never make, with any reliability, the kind of implication that Natalie Portman inadvertently made. (Inadvertently, if we give her a charitable reading like you have…Intentionally, if we give her a more realistic reading like Jack does).

  7. 3- Hyper-partisan MSDNC (sic) hack Katy Tur could barely contain herself: “Michael Wolff, it is a fascinating book. Fire and Fury…. Congratulations on the book, and congratulations on the President hating it.” (bolds mine)

    Seriously; seriously?

    Perhaps some over-compensating for getting positively eviscerated by former economics professor/current HoR David Brat (R-VA) a couple of weeks ago.

    6- ”Kirk Douglas, now 101 and the last living vestige of Hollywood’s Golden Age during the telecast.”

    Despite not having the same body of work, the lovely, hardworking, timeless, inimitable, just-turned-96-years-old Betty White deserves mention.

    And for anyone that’s watched the (at times) grating “Hot In Cleveland,” she can still (IMHO) deliver zingers with aplomb.

  8. Jesus, Kurt Douglas is still alive! Well, I’m glad that Spartacus is still alive and got due credit from the Golden Globes. He certainly had an an illustrious career.

      • Kirk is in a lot of my favorite movies, including “Paths of Glory” and “Spartacus.” Others: “Seven Days in May,” “The Bad and the Beautiful,” “Gunfight at the OK Coral,” “The Devil’s Disciple,” “Detective Story,” and my favorite guilty pleasure of all-time, “The Vikings.”

        • But see? They’re all MEN’S movies! . . . Now, if they’re open to remakes as useful documentaries: Paths of Gloria (jogging without pain), Sparty and Beth (case history of a slightly split personality), Seven Days with May (a dangerous crash diet), Coral vs the 2nd Amendment, Angelica’s Discipline (a single mother’s “time-out” method), and The Sveepings and the Wipings, a Swedish housekeeper’s memoir.

  9. Oprah rules. Check out Tucker Carlson’s show from last night: beginning at 19:23 through 26:05. Oprah healed us and brought us all together, as declared by Professor Wendt Osefo She makes us feel warm inside. Yes, she does. We are better because Oprah spoke. I feel better about myself. Well, that was until Mark Steyn decided to be a Davie Downer and torpedoed the whole thing, beginning at 26:17 through 31:54. Boy, what a bunch of sad sacks they are.


  10. 2. Oprah has ZERO chance… and I hope they run her and cheat her opponents just like they did for Hillary. No way she wins in a general election: her race baiting and pandering alone will sink her in middle America.

    We (WASPs) are TIRED of being told we are incurable ‘deplorables’ just because of to whom we were born. TIRED of being discriminated against. TIRED of the constant progressive prosecution of our way of life. We did not have slaves, and did not get where we are through some sort of institutional racism. In fact, we had to fight against that to make it where we are, where the ‘chosen favored’ got it handed to them. Racism is wrong: take it from one who experiences it in modern day America.

    References (and experiences) available upon request.

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