Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/19/2018: Three Tests!

Good Morning, All!

1 Derangement test! As I write this, Washington, D.C. is on high anxiety alert over whether there will be a government shutdown due to Senate Democrats staging a tantrum over DACA. Previous shutdowns, stupid all, and all ultimately a disaster for the party that triggered them, the Republicans, at least involved a dispute over the budget, which we call a “nexus.” In this one, however, the triggering party is the Democrats, who are grandstanding to their increasingly radical base, declaring the interests of about 800,000 illegal immigrants as a higher priority than the interests of the law-abiding citizens of this country who are not obsessed with “Think of the children!” and the imaginary right of foreigners to cross into the country illegally and stay here as long as they don’t rape someone and blow  their “good illegal immigrant” status.

Essentially the Democratic leadership has decided to test the question of how many Americans have had their brains and values scrambled by the emotion-based pro-illegal immigration argument battered into their heads by the progressive/maintsteam news media coalition. Oh…there’s also their collateral justification of “We can’t make a deal with the President because he used a bad word in a private meeting, or so some say.”

Since both Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have their unequivocal condemnation of the very same tactic they are now engaging in on videotape, they must really be convinced that social justice warrior cant now infests the population. Well, maybe they are right. Maybe they aren’t as incompetent as I think they are, and their flip-flop won’t strike anyone else as cynical and proof of an integrity deficit.

If a party is successful, even once, using this extortion tactic to pass legislation, then the legislative process will have officially collapsed. Democrats—this shut-down is a unilateral offense, not another “everyone is to blame” fiasco—signaled their emergence as a protest organization rather than a responsible party in 2016 when they held a sit-down strike in the House to try to force the unconstitutional measure of banning gun ownership for citizens placed without due process on FBI no-fly lists. If Republicans allow such a tactic to succeed now, however, they will share the Ethics Dunce honors.

And, of course, will use the tactic themselves when the time is ripe.

Let’s see if sufficient numbers of Democrats have their brain cells and values in sufficient good health to tell their representative that those DACA kids have their sentimental support, but not THAT much support, you idiots, don’t be ridiculous!

It should be interesting.

2. Reality test! It really does appear that California has the worst poverty rate in the country. I assumed that story this week was right-wing media spin, but then left-wing media fact-checker Politifact pronounced it true.

Really? Poorer than Mississippi? Poorer than Maine, or Arkansas, or Maine, or D.C, none of whom have a fraction of California’s advantages and resources?


An Ethics Alarms maxim is that allegedly ethical values have to work, as in making society healthier more prosperous, more free, happier and more productive. If they don’t accomplish those goals,no matter how good they sound or appear on paper, they aren’t ethical after all. California is the laboratory for all the progressive principles that Democrats are trying to have adopted by the whole country. Legalized drugs. Open borders. No deportations. Entitlements galore. Rampant political correctness. Leftist schools. Restrictions on free speech. Green regulations. Anti-climate change measures. High minimum wages. California has developed a parallel, substantially counter-American culture, culminating in a landslide preference for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election that all by itself made her the popular vote winner.

And it doesn’t work. The Golden State, with its coastline and beaches and dominant industries in entertainment and high tech, its gleaming, iconic cities and its diverse national resources, and, of course, its one party government, is failing. Doesn’t this at least demand serious critical analysis, or a cogent explanation from the state’s politicians and activists?

2. Integrity test!  Woody Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, emboldened by #MeToo and the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, did a full interview on CBS accusing her father, once again, of sexually molesting her.  Asked by Gayle King about Allen’s defense that Dylan was coached by her mother, Mia Farrow, because Farrow was furious over Allen’s sexual affair with another adopted daughter, Soon Yi, whom Allen eventually married, Dylan said.

FARROW: And what I don’t understand is how is this crazy story of me being brainwashed and coached more believable than what I’m saying about being sexually assaulted by my father?

KING: Because your mother was very angry, so that she would try to coach you, and try to get you to turn against your father.

FARROW: Except every step of the way, my mother has only encouraged me to tell the truth. She has never coached me.

While so many power figures in so many industries have found themselves shunned and shamed  over the last few months after one or more women have accused them of sexual misconduct, how has Woody Allen escaped the same fate? Yes, it’s another “he said/ she said,” and the same due process and fairness arguments apply to Allen as to the other accused, not that the requirements of due process  have stopped those men from being destroyed. On the other hand, this situation is materially different in ways that support the accuser. Farrow wasn’t an ambitious actress who stayed quiet about a sexual assault in order to advance her career, nor did she accept hush money. She was not a spurned fan or date who decided long after the fact to level a public attack on a celebrity. She was a child, he was her father, and she did try to blow the whistle in a timely fashion, only to be disbelieved.

Moreover, what she accuses Allen of doing is worse conduct than what was deemed sufficiently unacceptable to bring other Hollywood figures down. Her story also seems unusually believable, given Allen’s documented, creepy obsession with under-age sex objects in his films (Like “Manhattan”) , and the fact that he had an admitted sexual affair with his older adopted daughter, now wife. (Ick.)  What Dylan Farrow claims is at least as credible as the accusations against Roy Moore, and, again, far worse, but that didn’t stop the Woody-worshiping Hollywood elite from pronouncing Republicans monsters for supporting Moore. But that Woody: what a genius!

When I wrote about this topic in 2014, I noted,

A culture is defined by what it tolerates and will not tolerate. Honoring a child molester and incestuous rapist says “This culture tolerates such conduct, and we won’t think less of anyone who indulges in it if they are talented, successful and lucrative.” In fact, I think this is a fairly accurate description of how Hollywood (and the music industry too, which has also lionized a lot of pedophile stars) thinks and feels. The community that honors child molesters in that community has made a statement that it doesn’t think child molesting is all that bad…

Over the past two weeks, several celebrities have declared their regret for working with Allen, including actresses Jessica Chastain, Natalie Portman, and Reese Witherspoon. (Nothing yet from Meryl Streep..). Perhaps the culture is really changing, and all of the grandstanding and finger-pointing hasn’t been a cynical exercise in selective virtue-signalling by a lot of women who would have been perfectly happy to keep getting plum roles from the likes of Harvey and Woody if they thought they could get away with it.

I’ll be convinced when I hear that Woody is spending his days playing charades with Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louie C.K. and Matt Lauer.


94 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/19/2018: Three Tests!

  1. Can these Hollywood stars and directors learn to be honest and say,” I seriously do not know for sure what happened 20 years ago hence may Woody Allen and Mia Farrow sort out the family issue”.

    I have a feeling that some of them use their moral stand to promote their image and social standing. Their fans love to follow stars who have opinions on everything and everyone. God and Goddess? Get real.

    I am not even a Woody Allen fan. Still, leave this man alone. stop resurrecting the case whenever possible.

    • So if they involve themselves in the debate, in a way that reflects how they acted in the past, we should not note that?

      Your request is emotionalism. Facts are facts, and should be up for debate in any ethics discussion, right?

        • Fair enough. At least you admit that you are discussing out of a place of emotion and not logic.

          And that is not totally bad, either. We need emotional compassion as much as logical deduction. Too much of either is destroys society.

    • No, and they shouldn’t. Each individual can make up their mind whether they care to let an artists sensibilities into their brains. When one’s own daughter accuses one of sexually molesting her, you can’t avoid people taking her seriously and wondering about you. I don’t find Allen funny or worth my time any more. He’s a creep royale.

      • Woody Allen’s case has nothing to do with workplace harassments. How on earth his actors are going to know better than the two police departments that investigated independently and found no evidences against him? Some of the actors were not even born when it happened.

        Why artists should be pressed to become detectives, judges and activists and make a moral stand against their directors and colleagues, and then judged by which side they are standing with?

        Is America becoming a communist country?

        I currently live in Australia but I was born in China. My grandfather died from false accusations, products of communist “movements”. He was not executed but died of liver disease caused by severe depression when his whole family was ostracized. Many others committed suicide facing false accusations.

        Metoo movement IS different from cultural revolution of China. But I do see some similarities. I guess I am emotional. I am watching what Americans are doing with disbelief.

        • To a great extent it’s a witch hunt environment as well as a power play, to show they can bring down powerful men, whether justified or not. Allen is a difficult case. He is creepy, he has long played the role of a funny deviant, and he played a man in a sexual relationship with an underage teen in “Manhattan.” For me, the fact that had an affair with his virtual daughter—the adopted daughter of the woman he was in a committed relationship with—-beginning while she was a teen and while he had parental status and authority—well, that’s signature significance for me. That’s only not incest by a technicality. Thus it is easier to believe Dylan Farrow’s allegations than it would be if he never had any dubious sexual conduct to explain.

          • What you said does make sense. He might be guilty. On the other hand, have you considered?
            1) Late teens and 7 year olds are very differently sexually. Those creepy old men interested in barely legal age women are not interested in kids.
            2) Woody Allen is a neurotic oddball artist and socially awkward. He seems to release his creepy fantasy through marrying his young adopted daughter of his girlfriend and filming romances with young women. He might not need to do any more than these two. There isn’t any other similar charge against him, is there?
            3) Mira Farrow is far from a clean figure. It is not unusual for women to use their children to defeat their ex-lovers.

            I am not arguing for Woody Allen’s innocence. I can not know for sure. I am arguing for the right to stay neutral and not to participate the witch hunt. Ends do not necessarily justify means. I am arguing for professionalism and meritocracy over identy politics.

            Gary Oldman is not supposed to win Oscar because of allegation of domestic violence in 1990s? Harper Lee and Mark Twain are now banned by Minnesota schools over racial slurs?

            How far is this movement going to go?

            • Well. I don’t think we differ in fundalmental issues.
              I guess I am more categorily against witch hunt and not willing to see Allen as a “difficult case” as you do.
              Social media trial is unethical, in my opinion.

              • I watched the TV interview by Dylan. I have no reason to disbelieve her. She was a little vengeful but you can’t blame her. I can say she seemed to be prepared but of course she would prepare for that.

                I don’t know. The truth is that I don’t know the truth.

                Woody Allen will probably have to stop making movies. He is already 82. Time to stop working.

                Quentin Tarantino, on the other hand is working very hard to appease the public. He should be able to survive.

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