Harassing McGruff: Oh-Oh…Am I Going Crazy?

Being an ethicist, especially a blogging ethicist, has its disadvantages. One bad one is that your ethics alarms are tuned to be so sensitive that you see, or think you see, ethics issues in just about everything. Now I think I just may have crossed the line into ethics-hypersensitivity madness, or EHM.

That GEICO commercial above really, really bothers me, and apparently I am the only one.

What is looks like to me, and did from the very first time I saw it, is cruel bullying and office harassment. Despite the stated gag in the ad, this isn’t human beings talking “baby-talk” to a dog. The ad depicts co-workers being deliberately cruel to a colleague because of his appearance, and arguably his race. (McGruff isn’t a dog; he’s a “Goofy,” one of the strange dog-headed animated human mutants most prominently represented by Disney’s slapstick star. Pluto, as made quite clear by the kids in “Stand By Me,” is the dog..)

I find it incredible that GEICO would put out a TV ad that makes a joke about bigotry and workplace harassment now, of all times. How is that funny? Poor McGruff is trying to do his job, and his entire office refuses to take him seriously because he has a dog-face. They humiliate him. They show they don’t respect him. They gang up on him. And GEICO’s announcer just calls it “surprising,” meaning “hilarious.”

I don’t find someone being made to feel like they are being relegated to the role of an office joke as hilarious. We are watching a classic hostile work environment scenario, and GEICO is telling us that it’s funny. Doesn’t that inform children that this kind of peer bullying and denigration is OK, indeed fun? Why doesn’t it? Because McGruff is a ‘toon?” Why isn’t that tantamount to racism? Because of how he looks? If there was a comedy scene in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” where Jessica Rabbit was mercilessly ridiculed and hazed because of her body, would that have been all right? Why isn’t the depicted treatment of McGruff the Crime Dog the equivalent of making relentless comments about a co-worker’s unusually large breasts, or weight?

Or am I just seeing an ethics breach that isn’t there? Go ahead, you can tell me. I can take it.

96 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Workplace

96 responses to “Harassing McGruff: Oh-Oh…Am I Going Crazy?

  1. I agree that it’s disturbing. Nor do I like it when people do baby talk to kids past the age of speech. They deserve a modicum or respect. Now McGruff has always been a junior Joe Friday, giving basic advice and should get similar respect as long as he doesn’t break character.

    He doesn’t and I feel quite sorry for him. That does not engender good feelings for the product Geico!

  2. JimHodgson

    If we learn violence from watching Loony Toons, then it only follows that we could learn bullying from this obnoxious ad.
    Seriously, although I also dislike this ad, and agree with your bullying and harassment observations, I was initially more put off by the trivializing of a crime prevention icon. I doubt that the National Crime Prevention Council was consulted about or remunerated for this use of McGruff’s unmistakable image. Another reason to disdain all TV advertising, as if we needed any more.

  3. Pretty sure you’ve got this one spot on. I mean… the folks writing the ad and animating McGruff show how exasperated and frustrated he is by the treatment, and how it renders him incapable of doing his job.

    There’s been a bit of a mean streak in all the recent Geico ads, now that I think about it…

  4. Steve-O-in-NJ

    I thought this post was an early April Fool’s joke…

  5. BI'll Roscop

    What also bothers me is how the National Ad Council and NCPC sold out McGruff to Geico.. McGruff is a copyright protected image and could not be used without their permission. Shame on them for humiliating a crI’m prevention icon for a few bucks..

  6. Chris Marschner

    When we assign human roles to characters irrespective of how cartoonish they look we subconconciously atribute human behavior to them as well. Obviously interactions with other humans would suggest that their behavior is acceptable. GEICO needs to return to Maxwell and the Gecko.

    I am astounded that the owners of McGruff the Crime dog would permit its licensing to abuse its image. I don’t think Mattel would ever consider licensing a firm to make Hooker Barbie.

  7. I think the intention is that the humans are involuntarily reduced to jelly at the sight of McGruff, more or less unaware that they’re talking baby talk to the irresistibly cute pooch.

    It’s a delightful comic turn by a fine dramatic actor. Veteran dramatic actors – for instance Peter Graves, Leslie Nielsen, and Robert Stack – are able to make comedic hay out of the audience’s expectation that they don’t play for comedy. McGruff does this marvelously, drawing laughs while leaving no doubt that he’ll return to the station house within the hour, with one bad guy with a bite -sized hole in his pants in tow.

    And McGruff is a dog. Right there in his name.

    • Mike Easler, Red Sox slugger, was known as the “Hit Dog.” Fred McGriff was called “the Crime Dog.” Snoop Dogg is called Snoop Dogg.

      He might be a dog, but his name doesn’t prove it.

    • charlesgreen

      Honestly, my first mirthful reaction was that I thought you were doing an April Fools day parody of left-wing, snowflake, intersectional analysis – an angry cry for empathy and fair treatment of – wait for it – a cartoon character.

      And I thought it was pretty funny!

      Add to that GEICO’s ads are some of the best stuff on TV, and as far as I’m concerned, you had penned the perfect spoof.

      Come to find out, you and most everyone else here takes it seriously.

      Clearly I am the odd one out here. I still think it works better as a parody of left-wing sniffly hurt-feelings than as a true ethical analysis.

      But that’s just me…

      • Chris

        It isn’t just you.

      • Don’t you think ethical value can be found in just about anything? I find some of the deeper lessons can actually be pulled kicking and screaming out of the seemingly most trivial or mundane episodes — these can show us whether or not we’ve internalized and become numb towards a wide range of unethical conduct in our lives.

  8. They may have been going for a deconstruction, which I respect, but I don’t think they had enough time to do it justice. I don’t get the impression that they think treating coworkers like that is acceptable. The commercial does imply that people will always use baby-talk with “dogs”, and are trying to compare that consistency to Geico, but it tries to create incongruity by portraying that practice with a sapient being who is supposedly a dog, which as you point out is mere racism.

    However, I don’t think Geico is intending to normalize the practice. Since they talk down to the viewer at the end, the viewer is subjected to the same experience. On the other hand, I think that the conveyance of the message that condescension is rude will be a bit hit or miss depending on how dense the viewer is. Furthermore, it seems a bit edgy for a mainstream commercial to me, since it depicts a bigoted and hostile work environment. I’d expect this from a comedy skit or something, where they can give it a proper payoff at the end.

  9. Zanshin

    Oki-doki Jacky-dacky,

    You are such a bloggy-woggy ethi-cally on the bally writer dude-dely-doo. So happy-de-peppy working hard to save the world.
    And we AAAALLLL love you for that. Yesssss sirrrr, weeeee doo!

    But you watched the telly-belly hè, didn’t you? And what did Jacky-dacky see on the telly-belly? Some mean people, very very mean. And poor McGruffy-duffy. Everybody was so mean to him. And you know why, Jacky-dacky?

    Because he is a LOSER!!! Ha ha yes! McGruffy-duffy is a big-time loser! He deserves to be treated madly-badly because he is such a sissy-wissy worky-dorky with his teeny-weeny impact in the office.

    And, tell me Jacky-dacky, if you look in the mirror, what do you see? No, no, no, don’t tell me. Let me guess. Do you see a sissy-wissy worky-dorky with teeny-weeny impact? Because that’s what I see. What? What you say? You do have impact? Speak louder cry-baby? What’d you mean, I am mean. I was just kidding. It was just a joke, bro. Loser

    All kidding aside Jack, we all know you are highly trained and qualified as ethicist and we all thank you for your service to your readers all over the world.

  10. Another Mike

    Would all of you think the same thing if the character was, for example, a caveman? Yeah.

    Compared to a lot of the programming these ads are injected into, they are a breath of creativity, borderline inappropriate or not. Much better than seeing people being dragged around by a bladder, or seeing a book club meeting interrupted by some idiot in pink tights….

  11. JutGory

    I have always thought that McGruff played on the racist stereotype of the Irish cop.

    But this ad does not bother me.

    First off, McGruff is a dog, albeit an anthropomorphized one. The ad plays on the incongruity of that. Despite being a dog, humans always interact with him as if he was a human; I will leave it to the social justice warriors to explain that THAT is racist.

    So, the ad proceeds from a simple device: treating McGruff like the dog that he is, instead of treating him like the human he is not. That gives you a few options: 1) making him “fetch” something; 2) patting his head or rubbing his belly (Jack’s head would have exploded if they had gone that route); or 3) baby-talk.

    So, they picked baby talk. Given that the only thing we know about McGruff, apart from his Celtic ancestry, is that he works in law enforcement. So, do you put him in the office, or out on the beat? Well, if he stops a motorist and starts getting back-talk, there could be a shooting, Black Lives Matter, and all of that. So, you have to put him in the station, where he is supposed to be equal to the other humans (because, again, we are used to seeing him treated as a human). So, this is how the gag works.

    But, if this ad bothers you, just wait until you see the Geico ad where Smokey the Bear mauls a bunch of campers for not properly extinguishing their campfire.

    -Jut

    • Another Mike

      Yes… and Smokey’s voice is done by R. Lee Ermy. You are free to develop your own dialog at this point. Extra points for “Did your mother have any children who lived??!!” and “…reach around..” 🙂

      Sorry, Jack. I should be taking this more seriously, but it is Saturday morning…

    • Zanshin

      Jut wrote,

      I have always thought that McGruff played on the racist stereotype of the Irish cop.

      To be more precise, we are talking about Scots-Irish people.
      And although McGruff is stereotyped, I experience it not as racist. As Jack wrote in a previous post, referring to the Simpsons,

      everyone’s ethnic group, or group of any kind, can be spoofed…and I hold with the attitudes of vaudevillians and comic past—should be spoofed.

      The Scots-Irish people have played an important role in the shaping of America.

      Some fragments from the Amazon description of the book Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America by Jim Webb

      Born Fighting shows that the Scots-Irish were 40 percent of the Revolutionary War army; they included the pioneers Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston; they were the writers Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain; and they have given America numerous great military leaders, including Stonewall Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Audie Murphy, and George S. Patton, as well as most of the soldiers of the Confederacy (only 5 percent of whom owned slaves, and who fought against what they viewed as an invading army). It illustrates how the Scots-Irish redefined American politics, creating the populist movement and giving the country a dozen presidents, including Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. And it explores how the Scots-Irish culture of isolation, hard luck, stubbornness, and mistrust of the nation’s elite formed and still dominates blue-collar America, the military services, the Bible Belt, and country music.

      • JutGory

        Zanshin,
        Yes, Webb wrote much about the Scots Irish, but he completely ignored the contributions of the Black Irish, like Eddie Murphy and Shaquille O’Neal.

        Actually, though, I have never thought McGruff was an Irish stereotype. That was a joke. It seemed like an obviously outrageous claim that no one but an unreasonably over-sensitive person would actually claim. Guess that one fell flat; I guess you had to be there.

        -Jut

        • Zanshin

          Jut, you wrote,

          Actually, though, I have never thought McGruff was an Irish stereotype. That was a joke. It seemed like an obviously outrageous claim that no one but an unreasonably over-sensitive person would actually claim.

          In your first comment you made — as I read it — two claims.
          1. McGruff is stereotyped as an Irish cop.
          2. It is racist to stereotype McGruff as an Irish cop.

          Regarding claim 1: The moment I saw McGruff I realized he was stereotyped as a Scots-Irish person.
          Regarding claim 2; I never experienced this portrayal as racist.

          And you know how it goes with some jokes. Some things you just can’t explain. It’s just not the same.

          • I know one thing for certain: McGruff is not an Irish/Scotch stereotype. First, he is not in uniform, and there is no “Irish plainclothes detective” stereotype. Second, he doesn’t have an accent, which is a key element of the stereotype. Finally, he is obviously a bloodhound, a hunting breed with a law enforcement association. Bloodhounds are English dogs, though their origins were in Belgium. There is no Scottish or Irish connection at all. In the US they also have a backwoods, hillbilly connection—Jed Clampett had a Bloodhound on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

  12. I think it’s 100% clear that the commercial is intended to be humorous and a little less clear that it’s message is trying to teach a lesson on how not to act. Is the ad unethical, I don’t think so.

    Is the commercial effective at getting people to remember GEICO, which is what commercials are supposed to do, maybe.

    Lots of commercials touch on social issues in their commercials; remember this one…

    • Zanshin

      Jack asked, […] am I just seeing an ethics breach that isn’t there?

      My answer, You saw only the unethical part in this commercial because you didn’t have the context to ‘see’ the ethical part in it.

      tl/dr

      1. McGruff is subjected to cruel bullying and office harassment.

      2. Is that an ethics breach? No, not if one undestands “The Jehovah Paradox”.

      3. In the commercial McGruff doesn’t break character.

      4. (At the minimal) the commercial doesn’t go against the teachings of McGruff.

      5. The commercial makers should have done a better job in making the teachings of McGruff more explicit.
      (But maybe couldn’t given ip/licensing issues?)

      Let me explain.

      The commercial makers have combined two cultural memes in this commercial.

      1. The payoff, where (a) given that there will always be people baby-talking to their dog and (b) as long as (a) is true, you can count on GEICO saving money, [etc.]. Kind of silly reasoning but inherently nothing wrong with this payoff

      2. The ‘funny part’. Just have a normal person friendly baby-talking to his dog — that’s probably not funny enough. So, bring in McGruff. But as Jack — correctly in my opinion — noted, there is a difference between Goofy and Pluto.

      And I agree with him that McGruff is subjected to cruel bullying and office harassment. So, in the eye of most commenters: unethical!
      But the commercial makers really know McGruff — better than most commenters on this post. They gave McGruff a behavior response on how to deal with bullying that he also teaches children in some of his episodes. And that makes this bullying of McGruff a clear example of

      “The Jehovah Paradox”: when one must clearly or graphically reference something offensive in order to explain why it is offensive (or not), thereby risking being accused of the same offense that one is trying to analyze.

      In this case they clearly or graphically reference something offensive in order to explain HOW to respond to bullying.

      See the following episodes on YouTube where McGruff explain children how to respond to bullying.
      Samantha’s Choice
      When the Going Gets Scruff

      His approach is “Stop, Talk & Walk”. In Samantha’s Choice, at 2:51 he start to explain what he means with “Stop, Talk & Walk”.
      Stop is defined as follows: Stop listening to the bullies. Ignore them. Shrug your shoulders. Look them in the eye.
      Talk: You can say anything. Make a joke. Say you don’t believe them. Tell them you got some place to be. Whatever.
      Walk: Walk away.

      And if you do a close reading of McGruff’s response to those bullying him, that is exactly what he does: “Stop, Talk & Walk”.

      However, the commercial makers should have done a better job in making the teachings of McGruff more explicit. And more upbeat; he sure seems to walk away as a victim.
      And the payoff should acknowledge the bulling and tie into that. Same with the part where the viewer is suggested to click a button.

      Overall, the commercial is less unethical then it seems on first sight. But this commercial could have and should have been used more as a teaching opportunity, clarifying McGruff’s message, exploring the complex issues of bullying.

      But that would have required bold and competent commercial makers with courage and imagination.

      ====
      NB. Bonus points for those who can trace the origin of the last two sentences to their original source.

  13. dragin_dragon

    THANK YOU, JACK!!! I have been thinking the same thing since I first saw the thing. I was afraid, like you, that I was the only one who saw this.

  14. I was bothered by this commercial but I guess I couldn’t pinpoint the reasons. Thanks for the analysis.

    You’re probably aware that Geico has been running a series of ads along these lines, with the tag line always being “As long as …… you can save money with Geico”. At best they’re rather inane. Actually, I think the caveman commercials were much more amusing — at least initially.

  15. Pennagain

    I think the gekko is a way better sales rep for Geiko … and he (she?) doesn’t even have a name or a history in cartoon world.

    No. “He” is correct.

  16. Uzo

    You need to chill out. I work in HR and have for 10 years, am African American, and find the commercial funny. McGruff is not real, he’s a cartoon, and he’s a dog. If you own a dog like I do, you know people automatically talk like babies when interacting with them. The fact that this fake cartoon dog who is a throw back for 80s babies is treated this way is funny to me. Because the marketing campaign that created him was supposed to make us take him seriously yet despite this, his partners treat him like 75% of people treat dogs – like incompetent babies who can learn a few things and that’s not offensive. Y’all really need to chill out. I’m 100% behind fighting real acts of discrimination, this ain’t that. Most humans can figure that out, some can’t, but that’s no reason to get social justice warrior on this fake scenario with this even more fake character. If you don’t get the joke you should take some PTO and find some joy in life.

    • So you say that animated cartoons making fun of office harassment, sexual harassment, etc. would not be a problem? You are deluded. The behavior being modeled is unacceptable: the charcter picture is a colleague. That he is an anthropomorphic canine colleague doesn’t change the equation at all.

      You can find the equivalent of such lazy arguments as “chill out” and “it’s a joke” on my rationalization list.

      “Chill out” and “It’s a joke” are also common reactions by real sexual harassers.

      • Chris

        I don’t think the commercial portrays the conduct as acceptable. The particular example used is so cartoonish and absurd that no one would be expected to take the situation modeled as an endorsement of how to behave to a real person, or a real talking dog.

        • It’s FUNNY, though. Cruelty to a colleague based on looks, or race, is FUNNY. Lighten up!
          People talk baby talk to WOMEN in the workplace. I’ve heard it, and flagged it.

          • Chris

            *sigh* No, Jack, talking to a personified dog like an actual dog in the workplace is funny, and trying to apply that directly toward actual marginalized groups is nonsense. This isn’t a realistic situation, and no one would mistake it for same and assume this is an acceptable way to treat actual *people.*

            I also find it very odd that you find this joke unethical yet find ethnic stereotypes in cartoons—which actually do affect the way real people treat other people—acceptable and funny. How is it that you call those who have reported being called “Apu” and bombarded with his catchphrases ridiculous and PC, yet somehow believe that this commercial promotes harassment when no one on earth has reported such treatment?

  17. M

    Agree! Very surprised during a time when everyone is appalled with this behavior we are supposed to take delight in someone’s discomfort in being singled out for torment. Wonderful ideas for kids of all ages that singling one out for non stop evil torment can be so much fun…

    Harrassing appears to be such a comfortable role for them that I feel the direct reflection of their contempt for their customers. In times when policyholders really need someone on their side, their insurance representatives are seeing them as losers to be talked about with sarcasm back in the office.

    And no it’s not in any stretch innocently meant for an animal, it’s repeated with nastier hits to the knight, his name, his talent, his manhood and his mother. Seriously? What’s next, people missing a limb? How is any of it funny and how was it not stopped at the first stupid suggestion. They will only react and pretend to be sorry when people cancel their policies to state “Enough cringe already”.

    The hilarious mahem Allstate ones are far more enjoyable and never get old, as well as the ones by Farmers.

    • Well, you obviously get it. So, so many do not. You should see my “lighten up” file.

      • M

        Those ok with it are numb to the repercussions from doing the taunting. But they are the first to whine and declare some variation of descrimination when they are the target. So ignore, it’s only a matter of time until they are personally shocked into a realistic perspective.

        • Chris

          How do you feel about members of the Indian community who have reported being taunted with Apu impressions?

          • How did I feel about my Medford Mass. room mate who was teased about his Boston accent when we were at “Hahvahd”? I felt: no big deal, brush it off, which he did. They use Boston accents on the Simpsons’ too. Accents are funny, a comedic staple, in fact. The British and US Southerners learned to take it in good humor, and so can Indians.

            • Chris

              Just so we’re clear, this is your argument:

              1) Fictional people mocking a dog with stereotypes about dogs in a commercial is unethical.

              2) Real people mocking an Indian person with stereotypes about Indians in real life is perfectly fine.

              Wow.

              • charlesgreen

                I have to say, the same disconnect appeared to me. Jack?

              • Workplace harassment is illegal and the McGruff commercial endorses workplace harassment. As a supervisor, I would shut down any such conduct, of McGruff, of someone with a funny voice, of a Southerner, of a Pakistani, of anyone. All kidding over personal characteristics are not equally or legitimately harmful. C-O-N-T-E-X-T.

                And then there’s the fact that nobody mocks Apu on the Simpsons, nor is the character an invitation to harass. That some choose to use it that way is their misconduct, not the show’s.

                Nice attempt at finding an inconsistency when there is none, though.

                • Chris

                  Your argument here is internally consistent…but it relies on certain distinctions while ignoring far more relevant distinctions, IMO.

                  1) The Geico ad shows workplace harassment against McGruff while The Simpsons does not; OK, but talking dogs aren’t real, and Indian people are. That’s a more relevant distinction to me.

                  2) No one mocks Apu on the Simpsons; OK, but his whole existence is a mockery of Indian people, while McGruff is not a stereotypical portrayal of dogs. That’s the whole reason the joke in the ad works, because he isn’t what the people harassing him think he is. They’re the butt of the joke, not McGruff; every time Apu acts in a stereotypical manner, he is the butt of the joke. That’s also a more relevant distinction to me.

                  3) And as previously mentioned, plenty of people have reported being mocked in a way that references Apu; I haven’t heard a single report of anyone being harassed in a way that references this Geico ad. Certainly one has to consider the real world effects of each text in order to evaluate the ethical ramifications of each in relation to one another. But I know my ethical philosophy is a lot more effects-centered than yours.

                  • 2) A successful immigrant running his own business is a mockery of Indian people?

                    Wow.

                  • 3) It CANNOT be Matt Groenig’s fault what others do. And Jack hasn’t even made a case built on what people do with the Geico ad. What odd standard is this?

                    This is “Don’t Draw Mohammad Because Muslims May Burn Down the Town, Cut off Heads, Massacre a Few Cartoonists” territory.

                    • Chris

                      And Jack hasn’t even made a case built on what people do with the Geico ad. What odd standard is this?

                      It’s the only standard: art can only be judged as “unethical” if it has a real world effect on people taking unethical actions in the world. If that’s not your standard for judging whether art is unethical, what is? And why is it better than this standard?

                      This is “Don’t Draw Mohammad Because Muslims May Burn Down the Town, Cut off Heads, Massacre a Few Cartoonists” territory.

                      No, it’s nothing like that at all. The reaction you’re describing is from those who are angered over the portrayal, not from those who think it’s hilarious. A better analogy would be “Don’t draw Mohammad blowing up a building because that perpetuates negative stereotypes about Muslims.”

                    • “It’s the only standard: art can only be judged as “unethical” if it has a real world effect on people taking unethical actions in the world.”

                      Consequentialism! Flat learning curve, I guess.

                    • No, that isn’t the standard. Art is communication, communication just like speech is graded on its content just as much as on the likelihood that *reasonable* people will act on it.

                      Randa Jarrar’s tweet is Exhibit A on the ethics of the content of communication.
                      Muslims reacting badly to a drawing of Mohammad are not behaving like *reasonable* people and therefore don’t count in judging the ethics of a Mohammad drawing.

                      Your complaint is that negative conduct was attributed causally to some drawing/art/communication…it is precisely in the realm of “Don’t Draw Mohammad because Muslims Will Lose Control of Themselves” ‘ethics’.

                      Your objections do not hold up under scrutiny.

                    • But Chris’s theory is that doing do BECOMES unethical if that is the result. This is a common leftist delusion. Having a right to own guns is unethical because people who break the law use guns to do bad things.

                    • Chris

                      I should revise.

                      Art can only be judged as unethical if there is a reasonable expectation that it will have a real world effect on people taking unethical actions in the world.

                      Is that better?

                      There is always a reasonable expectation that depicting stereotypical views of an underrepresented minority in mass media will have a real world effect. We know that stereotypes of these groups lead to actual discriminatory treatment in the world. That isn’t even under debate.

                      There can be no reasonable expectation that this Geico ad could have a real world effect. No one sees a cartoon dog being subjected to baby talk and thinks it’s OK to do that to actual people in the real world.

                      That’s why your comparisons aren’t working. If this had been a human woman or Indian man or any kind of person at all in McGruff’s place, the ad would be nonsensical and unethical, as there could be a reasonable expectation that people would see it and think it was OK to treat other human beings this way. But with McGruff there, there is no such reasonable expectation.

                      Verdict: Not unethical.

                    • “Art can only be judged as unethical if there is a reasonable expectation that it will have a real world effect on people taking unethical actions in the world.”

                      Nope. Art, like any communication, can be judged unethical if there is an expectation that *reasonable* people will engage in harmful conduct as a result.

                      You have the word “reasonable” in the wrong place and it makes all the difference.

                      And again, the supposed inspiration for viewers of the cartoon is immaterial to this discussion. The *message* is what is material to this discussion.

                    • Chris

                      But Chris’s theory is that doing do BECOMES unethical if that is the result. This is a common leftist delusion. Having a right to own guns is unethical because people who break the law use guns to do bad things.

                      I guess it’s bad analogy day. No, having a right to own guns is not unethical because people who break the law use guns to do bad things…the media glorifying lawbreakers, or glorifying irresponsible gun usage, may be unethical if it has that effect, though (and I’m not sure of any research that shows it has this effect, while there is quite a body of research showing that stereotypes in media does have an effect on real world racism; why that is, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just easier to be racist than to shoot people).

                      Your analogy would work if I had suggested that it’s unethical for people to have the right to make stereotypical portrayals of minorities. That’s not my position.

                    • Chris

                      Michael, the (or at least one of the) message(s) of Apu is that Indian people are ridiculous.

                      The message of the Geico ad is that cartoon dogs are ridiculous.

                      The former is, if not unethical, at least worthy of ethical analysis. The latter is not. You and Jack have this entirely backwards.

                    • 1. That is NOT the message, because the message of the Simpsons is that EVERYONE is equally r\ridiculous. No one could watch the show and think otherwise.
                      2. The message of the GEICO ad is that harassing a colleague who is different is normal and acceptable, if “everybody does it.”

                  • Everyone who is mocked based on physical characteristics in a workplace emulates the GEICO ad, and the ad refereneces all such harassment, while endorsing it. The fact that this particular distinction doesn’t exist doesn’t change what is going on.

                    If the cartoon Apu was in the ad instead of McGruff, my analysis would be exactly the same.

                    • Chris

                      I watched the ad again. There is no endorsement.

                      If the cartoon Apu was in the ad instead of McGruff, my analysis would be exactly the same.

                      That’s the problem, and where the “Indian people are real and cartoon dogs aren’t” distinction comes in.

                    • You are being intentionally obtuse.

                    • Chris

                      Well, we both think that of the other, so we’re at a stalemate here.

                    • Whatever you say, Chris! Fortunately, I’m the one people pay to teach this stuff. One issue is an example of seeking fake victim status, stifling creative license and promoting political correctness, the other issue is trivializing harassment in the workplace. The fact that I see the distinction and you don’t doesn’t make the argument a “stalemate.”

                  • Chris

                    I thought another key distinction is that the commercial displays people treating McGruff the way they always treat dogs, because that’s how you’re supposed to treat dogs, regardless of whether or not, in this case, this dog, has become a professional peer.

                    It would be like, say, the media treating a black man “the way you’re supposed to treat all black men”, regardless of whether or not, in a certain case, perhaps, that black man, was elected to the City Council.

                    No…it’s really not like that at all…since blacks are people and dogs aren’t.

                    The commercial doesn’t have people mocking McGruff for some quirky trait he’s developed as an individual. The commercial has people mocking McGruff for what he is.

                    Yes. The commercial doesn’t praise or reward the co-workers for that conduct, though, and thus cannot be accused of promoting unethical activity.

                    Whereas, like you said, in the Simpson’s, Apu is actually not being mocked at all, unless, those here crying foul, are claiming that the mere use of a Indian accent by an Indian immigrant is automatically mockery…but that says more about those crying foul than it does about the show.

                    Seriously? If you don’t already know that there is a lot about Apu that is stereotypical beyond simply his accent, you could easily find out.

                    Maybe watch the documentary.

                • I thought another key distinction is that the commercial displays people treating McGruff the way they always treat dogs, because that’s how you’re supposed to treat dogs, regardless of whether or not, in this case, this dog, has become a professional peer.

                  It would be like, say, the media treating a black man “the way you’re supposed to treat all black men”, regardless of whether or not, in a certain case, perhaps, that black man, was elected to the City Council.

                  The commercial doesn’t have people mocking McGruff for some quirky trait he’s developed as an individual. The commercial has people mocking McGruff for what he is.

                  Whereas, like you said, in the Simpson’s, Apu is actually not being mocked at all, unless, those here crying foul, are claiming that the mere use of a Indian accent by an Indian immigrant is automatically mockery…but that says more about those crying foul than it does about the show.

  18. The above thread has led me to a logical conclusion: Chris is actually Jack himself, being used as a teaching tool, ala’ the Aristotelian method, where we (the readers) are the students.

    Facts:

    Chris provides perfect examples of unethical thinking for Jack to correct. They are almost too perfect

    Chris posts all during the day, despite claiming to be a (public?) school teacher. Most teachers would be too busy to produce such massive content. Chris does not yet have a family, true, but it is… unusual for someone that age to spend such time on the computer in an ethics blog.

    Chris uses progressive tactics, but keeps it mostly civil. Just enough to establish progressive ‘bona fides’

    Chris has not been banned, having been given far more grace from Jack than his actions deserve… just like a teaching tool. Jack has banned others for far less, even taking into account Chris’ long standing has a commenter

    Of course, a logical conclusion can still be wrong.

    It disturbs me if I am right, as it means Jack can actually come up with some of Chris’ stances. He is either frighteningly experienced with unethical thought processes, or far more machiavellian than I had given him credit for.

    Last fact: Jack would be up for sainthood (‘The Patron Saint of Patience?’ ‘Saint Jack the Ethical?’) if Chris were real

    Just sayin’

    • charlesgreen

      For the record, I don’t see Chris’s interventions that way at all. He is persistently intelligent and polite. His only sin(?) is his persistence. IMHO.

      • charlesgreen wrote, “For the record, I don’t see Chris’s interventions that way at all. He is persistently intelligent and polite. His only sin(?) is his persistence. IMHO.”

        So you think Chris’ regular misrepresentations of others is perfectly fine in the scheme of things? Well that’s rather telling Charles. IMHO.

        • charlesgreen

          Zoltar, have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or no, come on, answer me.

          I suggest your premise that “Chris’ regular misrepresentations of others” is false. Hence any conclusion you draw from the false premise is, quite literally, nonsense. And certainly not “telling.”

          • charlesgreen wrote, “I suggest your premise that “Chris’ regular misrepresentations of others” is false. Hence any conclusion you draw from the false premise is, quite literally, nonsense.”

            False you say; denial isn’t a river in Egypt Charles.

            I used to think you were better man who’s character was above using such obviously ridiculous arguments. I was wrong about you.

            • charlesgreen

              Ad hominem arguments are the last resort of those who have no content to speak of. Jack has written about this.

                • Chris

                  That he disagrees with you about me says nothing about his character at all, Zoltar.

                  • Chris wrote, “That he disagrees with you about me says nothing about his character at all, Zoltar.”

                    Reread Chris, you’re misrepresenting me right now.

                    Disagreeing with me is completely irrelevant; Charles stating that you don’t misrepresent others is open denial of factual evidence. You have been called out for it many times by multiple people here, this is not something new or unknown to regular commenters.

      • Fair comment, charles.

        But it does not in any way refute my hypothesis.

        In fact, it may support it: who ever heard of a ‘polite’ social justice warrior?

        He is very good at the Alinsky tactics, as Zoltar comments. Pick a small or tangential point, and beat your opposition over the head with an irrelevance.

        Which Jack could have studied and put to good use as a teachable moment.

        • Chris

          I am definitely adding “polite social justice warrior” to my Twitter bio.

          That is, if I am not just a product of Jack’s imagination.

          • Your welcome… even IF you turn out to be Jack being clever 🙂

              • charles, you have met Jack… are you in on this? Does he investigate deep progressive sites as research into the Chris persona?

                Does he sound like he could have written The Prince?

                • charlesgreen

                  Ah ha ha, love the way you think SW! Yes I have met Jack, and found him to be every bit as clever and full of stories as he appears online. A true raconteur (I think that’s the right word) whose second love is the theater.

                  The only thing slightly surprising about him (and he may feel the same about me) is that he and I did not engage in any political debate during a thoroughly delightful breakfast at a local feeding establishment of his suggestion. Which was just fine by me.

                  He was a perfect gentleman, very good-natured, well-read, and a delightful person in person.

                  As to impersonating Machiavelli, I wouldn’t put it past his capabilities, but I doubt he’s devious enough.

                  • I wasn’t surprised! Healthy people with wide interests are neither obsessed with nor especially amused by politics. It is so far down the list of my favorite topics that I seldom muck around there, especially when I’m meeting cool dude like Mr. Green, who shares so many other of my passions.

    • slickwilly wrote, “Chris posts all during the day, despite claiming to be a (public?) school teacher. Most teachers would be too busy to produce such massive content.”

      This one is actually not very accurate.

      You have to pay attention to the routine time frames that Chris does not post comments and the time of day differentials between the times comments are posted (Eastern Time Zone) and the time of day in California where I do believe Chris resides to make that kind of determination. There are regular commenting black holes on specific days where you don’t see comments from Chris, yes, there is a pattern.

      • Chris

        This week and next my students are taking CAASPP, and I’m all caught up with grading. I’ll have a lot of time on my hands.

        I do admit to occasionally posting while my students are working on independent or collaborative work (they do a lot of that at my school). At other times I get behind and wonder how the rest of you post so much while also working. It always mystifies me when Jack apologizes for not posting for half a day; for selfish reasons, I would prefer he updates this blog less, as I find it time-consuming and it demands a lot of critical thought to engage here. But that’s a good problem for a blog to have.

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