Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/4/2018: White Artists, Black Artists, Brain Damage And The Mad Midnight Pooper

Good Morning!

(On the way to lovely Annapolis, MD to present my Clarence Darrow legal ethics program, along with D.C. actor Paul Morella, the real star of the day and the best Clarence Darrow portrayer alive. Paul starred in my 2000 original one-man show about the iconic lawyer-rogue, and has been performing it for lawyer groups and bar associations ever since.)

Déjà vu!  I would write a full post about this, but you can essentially go to all the football head trauma essays, search and replace NFL with NHL, and you’ll pretty much have it. The New York Times reports on a 53 year old ex-pro hockey player whose brain yielded evidence of CTE, and evidence is mounting the the violent sport is doing damage to players similar to what the NFL denied for so long. Right now, the National Hockey League is denying it too:

To the N.H.L. and its commissioner, Gary Bettman, the diagnosis is likely to be the latest piece of evidence to dismiss or combat. Even as links build a chain bridging the sport to C.T.E., the degenerative brain disease associated with repetitive head trauma, and some of the game’s most revered names push the league to take a more open-minded approach, the N.H.L. has denied any connection between long-term brain damage and hits to the head.

The N.F.L. did the same, for many years, until the evidence became too overwhelming, the numbers too much to counter with plausible deniability. Facing a huge class-action lawsuit, the N.F.L. eventually admitted to the connection and agreed to a roughly $1 billion settlement with former players. (That has not kept the sides from continuing to fight over the payouts, amid accusations of fraud and intimidation.) The N.H.L., following the N.F.L.’s strategy of about a decade ago, still contests any role in the burgeoning science of C.T.E., in the courts of law and of public opinion.

What’s going on here? Violent pro sports are popular and profitable, so they will continue maiming players and devastating their families until the public finally refuses to have blood on its hands. It will take a while, and many lives will be destroyed, but in the end, football and hockey are going to have to be responsible, and also held responsible for the carnage their greed has caused.

2. Yeah, I’m being unfair and partisan when I accuse progressives of being hostile to free speech and diversity of views… A hip-hop and R&B radio station in Detroit has announced that it won’t play Kanye West’s music. The alleged justification was the rapper’s dumb remarks about slavery. On “TMZ Live,” West said,

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of you all? You know, it’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word prison ’cause slavery goes too — too direct to the idea of blacks.”

That’s pretty stupid for sure, but hardly any more stupid than the kinds of things West has been saying his whole career as his fans cheered him on. He’s welcome to hijack a telethons to say, for example, that President Bush intentionally let blacks die after Katrina, but this goes too far. (Someone please explain to me exactly what he thought he was saying, if you have time.)

Then there is Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District in New Jersey, which worked with a local VFW chapter to dedicate a newly constructed foyer to alumni who were killed in combat while serving in the armed forces. A dedication ceremony scheduled for May 21 will highlight veterans and their sacrifices for their nation and their community. Kyle Reyes, an alumnus of the school, was invited as the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony, but  the superintendent removed Reyes from the program. Reyes is an evangelical Christian, and opposes homosexuality as a sin. Even though is the national spokesman for Law Enforcement Today, and created over 160 episodes of Behind The Uniforms, and even though his speech was going to have nothing whatsoever to do with gay issues or controversies, Reyes was removed because the superintendent feared that Reyes would make the students feel “unsafe.” Said a stunned Reyes in a Facebook post,

“The VFW Post 872 invited me because of the work we do in the veteran and law enforcement communities. It never was and never would have been about politics. The fact that the VFW was forced by the superintendent to un-invite me because I’m a Conservative spits on the graves of these veterans who fought for a country of FREEDOM.”

I think that’s fair. Now someone explain to me what the current definition of “safe” is in Progressive  Land. I don’t get it.

3. And on a related theme, or at least I think it is: The Baltimore Museum of Art announced that it is selling works by white painters to buy art by non-white artists.  The museum’s  director, Christopher Bedford calls this “an unusual and radical act to take.”  No, it’s a racist, anti-art, divisive art to take. Works by by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and other works are being removed because the artists are white. How is this different from, for instance, taking down artworks because the artists were Jewish or gay? It isn’t. Bedford decribed his decision as “transformative,” and justified it by declaring “the most important artists working today, in my view, are black Americans.” Okay, let’s assume, arguendo (I love being able to use that word) that Bedford is right about the important artists. It doesn’t matter: by all means, but work by important artists. But they aren’t important because they are black, they are important because of their art. If I determine that the most important actors working today are short (which is usually the case with actors), does it follow that I should be looking for short actors rather than good ones?

The museum’s decision is an endorsement of bias. Anyone who thinks that a work of art of any kind is superior or inferior because of the melanin content of the artist is 1) a bigot and 2) an idiot. [Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur]

4. I just have to mention… Thomas Tramaglini, Superintendent of Schools in Holmdel, New Jersey and a lecturer at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, was arrested after a police investigation determined that he was the one who had been regularly defecating on a local high school football field. They caught him on video, in fact.  The Pooper-intendent, as he is now being called, is charged with lewdness, littering and public poopery.

He is, we are told, “on leave” from his $147,504 a year job. Yes, apparently nightly crapping on a school field still isn’t an automatic firing offense. “He made a mistake, that’s all. He’s a terrific superintendent!” If someone is making that argument, I want names.

5. Why is Scott Pruitt still EPA chief? Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt has 11 ongoing federal probes into his conduct. There is this, new allegations that  Pruitt paid himself nearly $65,000 in reimbursements from his two campaigns for Oklahoma attorney general, in ways that look extremely shady. There is this, a report in The Washington Post  that as soon as he took over the EPA, Pruitt made a list of his preferred travel destinations and told his staff to find official reasons for him to travel to those countries, according to four EPA officials.

Pruitt still has a job because everyone knows that the news media and Democrats would be demanding his removal even if he were as pure as the driven snow. They know that the hold-over EPA employees want to get rid of him because of his policies, and his ethics are secondary, and a means to an end. Just because Pruitt’s accusers are biased and partisan doesn’t mean they aren’t right, but this is another example of how divisive politics interferes with ethics.

Of course, if Pruitt weren’t so corrupt and arrogant, this wouldn’t be an issue.


41 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/4/2018: White Artists, Black Artists, Brain Damage And The Mad Midnight Pooper

  1. I’ve been thinking about this “cultural appropriation” bruhaha. So if someone comes here from a dictatorial country where free speech and free press are not a part of the culture, why wouldn’t it be cultural appropriation for that person to exercise our culture of free speech and free press?

    • Because “cul app” (there, 6 syllables gone; makes me feel better) – sounds like slooow applause. yeah – doesn’t apply to the intelligence or the artistic or the intrinsic principles of, say, the Constitution. It started with Hallowe’en costumes and hasn’t risen far above the level of hey, Hymie Cohen, take off that sombrero or Pancho Villa will come in the night and stuff a jalapeno up your nose. Come to think of it, how come nobody wants to app Jewish culture? Nobody wants to put a babushka on the hair, eat a matzo, dance the hora, tell a joke with a punchline in Yiddish, hey? Wassa matta you!

  2. I feel the distinction between NFL & NHL is material. Hockey can be played without the blows to the head, and is not a feature of the game. As with any type of contact sport, it’s a possibility, but it can be counteracted with awareness and a bit of mindfulness on the part of the players.

    In the case of the NFL, the real scandal there isn’t the “big hits” of a receiver being laid out by a defender, so much as it’s about the linemen up front who are hitting helmets at the snap of every play. Little micro hits that keep on piling up. How do you play this same game without that interaction? You can’t. It’s a feature of the game.

  3. “Now someone explain to me what the current definition of “safe” is in Progressive Land. I don’t get it.”

    Where there’s no dissenting opinion or worldviews. Where, once the powers that be capricious changes what was truth yesterday to what is truth today, the people quietly fall in line.

    I think I read a book like that once.

    • In the eyes of progressives (Democrats, blacks, hispanics, and way too many Republicans), ‘hate speech’ IS violence. They are the same thing. Therefore, if someone utters ‘hate speech’, it IS violence. There is no difference between reading a Ronald Reagan speech and setting a pipe bomb off.

      Here, you can read it defined by a professor of linguistics. I like his take on this, saying that we have to restrict speech to allow free speech. Hearing the wrong things makes people not free.

      • ”we have to restrict speech to allow free speech.”

        Kinda like “losing weight deliciously” or what I’d expect to see on a welcome sign to Oceania, Eurasia, or Eastasia.

        ”Hate speech these days is not just speech by an individual. It has become an industry for the racist right — organized, purposely provocative, a recruiting tool, and a show of power aiming at greater power.” (bolds mine)

        Seems the talented Professor Lakoff believes that hate speech is the sole province of Righty (and I presume) Whitey.

        I imagine ideologically entrenched Lefty students and academics genuflect obsequiously while nodding in furiously myopic agreement at his rare brilliance.

        Did you read the comments? I may mosey over there later on and weigh in…

  4. 1. It’s not for nothing that they say “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.” Hockey is by nature an aggressive contact sport, and fans go to see it to see the players cut loose on each other – body-checking, fistfights, the occasional stick fight. It should come as no surprise that CTE is common too.

    2. The current definition of “safe” appears to be “devoid of anything that doesn’t comport in even the slightest way with the left’s view of how things should be.”

    3.Out with the white, in with everything that’s not white, same with government, teaching, and every other field the left can get its tainted mitts on.

    4. I think we can PASS on this one.

    5. This is the same politics that kept “strong progressive voices” belonging to guys who were sex-obsessed pigs in government.

  5. There are a lot of people calling a radio station not playing Kanye’s… work, I’m going to settle on “work”… as a first amendment issue… That’s maybe a first amendment – free speech confusion, but it’s not really even a free speech issue. The operators of the radio station have free speech rights too, and association rights… It would be wrong to force them to broadcast anyone or anything on their station.

    It’s still fucking bizarre though. I mean, really… What timeline are we in where a radio station will censure someone for wearing a MAGA hat and saying something dumb in public, but when someone says that The Rothchilds are controlling the weather so they can control black people in cities,and then he goes on to ask, at the Holocaust museum, whether the Nazis are “protective escorts” for the Jews and compares the ghettos to gated communities, *Democrats*… You know, the guys who purport to care DEEPLY about anti-Semitism and Nazis, ELECT him?

    • It’s not a First amendment issue, but it is certainly a free speech and expression issue. When you censor an artist’s work in retaliation for speech, you are rejecting the principle of free expression. It’s teh same as a boycott. West isn’t an employee, and his music is distinct from his private opinions.

      • It’s related, but I think that if you follow that to a logical conclusion, it breaks down.

        Is it acceptable to retaliate against someone who says something you find objectionable?

        If we say that such a retaliation breaks the principle of free speech, and therefore assert that it shouldn’t happen, are we not stopping people from exercising their right to express their criticism, to project their speech, and to associate with who they choose, being hampered?

        Is it more or less acceptable to prevent people from exercising their rights to speak and associate than it is to hold someone accountable for how they use their rights?

        • I also want to point out: This is EXACTLY identical to my position with Jarrar. Jarrar’s case was easier, because she directed harassment at her employer, but there are a lot of parallels here.

          If anyone defended Jarrar against termination, but is celebrating Kanye being blacklisted, I would LOVE to read how you reconcile those positions.

          • I never said a word about Jarrar either way so, er… What answer means Kayne stops being in the headlines? That’s the one I choose.

            I’m generally much happier on days when Kardashians and the Kardashian adjacent aren’t mentioned.

  6. 2- Transformative? Move over Woke!

    4- “nightly crapping on a school field still isn’t an automatic firing offense.”

    If Ty Webb’s college roommate in Caddyshack (Mitch Cumstein) can get kicked out of school for something FAR less offensive and unsanitary,”night-putting,” it should be.

  7. 2: I’ll take a stab at translating Kanye.

    I think what he was trying to say is that black people buy into the concept of slavery as necessairly part of the black condition, and specific to the black condition, in perpetuity. He seems to argue that that mentality is a choice, and that he prefers the term “prison” to “slavery” because it removes it from its relation to race.

    • You said it more succinctly than I was going to. Conceptually, the preoccupation with slavery imprisons Blacks in a mindset that they can never achieve without protections.

    • Emily, I think that is a fair guess at an analysis, and I am frankly unable to come up with anything better. Sometimes I think the mans jaw gets ahead of his jaw…makes it impossible to tell what he was trying to say.

  8. “apparently nightly crapping on a school field still isn’t an automatic firing offense”

    I suspect there is some concern over the legal issues affecting how you terminate an employee who may have developed mental health problems.

  9. “the most important artists working today, in my view, are Aryans.” ~ Hitler.

    I’m sure he must’ve said something similar.

    • I’m even more sure he said something along the lines of, “Guys, steal all the decadent but very valuable art owned by all the Jews and trade it with the Swiss for currencies with which we can buy munitions. But keep the cool stuff for us and our buddies.”

  10. Jack, I think you need to adjust the title, since the midnight pooper is from NJ, this is a smear on the good name of the Commonwealth! We have plenty of other dumb things happening that can be rightfully attributed to the Bay State, but this is not one of them.

  11. I think that’s fair. Now someone explain to me what the current definition of “safe” is in Progressive Land. I don’t get it.

    I can’t tell you what “safe” is, but I can tell you what the definition of unsafe is: Any thought that might stray from progressive dogma.

  12. I used to be a fan of Kanye’s earlier stuff (College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation) and admit his bombastic countering opinions always amused me so I’ll try to translate.

    “When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?…”
    400 years is a long time to put up with slavery and I don’t really know how anyone could deal with all the aspects of it for that long.

    “…That sounds like a choice. Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of you all?…”
    Why didn’t slaves get angry, organize, and fight to take their freedom back by any means necessary? I sure would!

    “…You know, it’s like we’re mentally in prison…”
    Slavery isn’t just about controlling bodies but minds too. Blacks today may think they’re free, but their mindset is still one of enslavement.

    “…I like the word prison ’cause slavery goes too — too direct to the idea of blacks.”
    Slavery is too dramatic a word for our modern era, whereas “prison” is a better way of discussing what’s happening in the black mind today, especially to other blacks.

    The funny thing is I have often thought about how if I had been a slave back in the day, I don’t think I could have handled it. I think I would have fought with everything I had to make myself free, even if it meant getting killed to pursue such freedom. Perhaps this is to a degree what West is getting at.

    Side note- A store here in the Socialist Republic of Portland has on its marquee “LOG OFF KANYE.” Out of curiosity I called the store and asked them about the sentiment (full disclosure this store always has some leftist political “thought” on their marquee). The conversation went roughly like this:

    Me: Hi. I’m curious about your sign that says LOG OFF KANYE
    Her: Yes. I’m black and I think Kanye needs to stop talking about Trump.
    Me. Oh ok. Well I’m black too and was thinking that in a way the sign says “shut up and know your place Kanye.” Am I wrong?
    Her: What I’m saying is he shouldn’t say stuff like that.
    Me: So you’re saying he needs to “log off” and stop talking about stuff you disagree with?
    Her: Yeah
    Me: Then why not say “I disagree Kanye”? Wouldn’t that be more accurate, otherwise it just looks like you’re telling a black man, and by proxy black men, what to say and think?
    Her: Well that’s what I meant. I disagree and he should stop siding with Trump.
    Me: OK. Thanks for your time.

    Somewhere a white supremacist is filled with joy watching (once again) blacks telling other blacks what to say and think. Maybe Mr. West isn’t so far off after all.

    • Thanks, MQ, your take is pretty much what I was thinking Kanye was trying to say (but yours is more comprehensive than I would probably have taken the time to compose). Could be wrong here, but I believe Jack may just have misunderstood Kanye’s less-than-clear statement.

      • Mr. West and Mr. Trump seem to share their predeliction for speaking in, as Jack has said, word clouds.

  13. I THINK Kanye was saying that he wished that African slaves had risen up and somehow refused to be slaves anymore. I think he’s trying to say that they were not aware of their own power because White people mentally manipulated them. But that’s just my best stab at an interpretation.

    • That’s my interpretation, as well. Blacks outnumbered whites by a serious margin in the South. Southerners were terrified of a slave revolt which is why they cracked down on blacks after Nat Turner’s rebellion. Kanye appears to be saying that blacks were slaves for centuries in the United States and didn’t have to be because they had the power to revolt and didn’t. He wonders what psychologically prevented them from getting their freedom by overwhelming the whites.

      • “Blacks outnumbered whites by a serious margin in the South.”

        One of many common misconceptions about a “Peculiar Institution” that was by no means limited to transplanted Africans and their progeny.

        “Southerners were terrified of a slave revolt which is why they cracked down on blacks after Nat Turner’s rebellion.”

        That they were, and that they did…in no uncertain terms!

        It’s been inferred that the wealthy planters…um…encouraged lower class Whites’ hatred of Blacks to provide a ”cannon fodder” buffer, which would separate them (the planters) from the Great Unwashed (both colors); a story as old as time itself.

        The “Homestead Acts,” not to diminish all the good they did, (beau coup original 40 acre plats still exist in many state including WI) incentivized a barrier between the civilized East and the frontier.

        Frontier being a euphemism for Native Americans who may have have been miffed that their land had been swiped.

      • However, my belief is that he was saying no slave survives to this day. No-one now living was ever a slave(in the U.S.) thus they are allowing something that they did not experience color their view of the world. The ‘prison’ he is referring to is allowing the history of slavery mold and shape current thought…in other words, “a history of slavery is forcing you to play the role of a victim”.

        • Point of order: There ARE slaves living in the US today… just not the traditional black-only stereotype. They come from around the world, and color or creed does not matter. They are imported here to work for their masters in certain businesses.

          One such was busted in the San Antonio area recently: a massage parlor offered a ‘happy ending’ for an additional fee. This was in a small-ish town, and someone offered such service objected to the police. A sting operation found about 20 girls of varying ethnicity who were sex slaves, in the US illegally but not of their own volition. The ‘madam’ and her right hand man were female.

          Slavery persists everywhere in the world.

        • That was my take too, d_d, but it is straight-line logic – and that is not welcome where obscurity, clouds, opacity and ambiguity abound. It is possible that Our Leader will someday be revered as the first Poet President.

    • Now THAT’s a comment of the day. Great catch, Greg.That magazine was truly the print and high school equivalent (and predecessor, I think?) of “Animal House.”

  14. Almost seems like he is trying to say “Get over it”, like he is trying to take the role Cosby was once filling. Too bad he’s not anywhere as smart as Cosby.

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