Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/11/18: More On De Niro, A Censored Valedictorian, A Heroic Pit Bull, And A Popeye

Good Morning.

1. Still angry... Here are some prime comments from Ann Althouse’s blog (she posted on DeNiro before 6 AM, beating me to it.) I should have posted last night; it might have let me get some sleep:

  • I think the Democrats have just found their 2020 Presidential Candidate…and his campaign slogan. Speaking as a Republican I am quaking in my boots…

  • Well, no more Robert DeNiro movies or shows for us then. The magic of the screen, the verisimilitude, is shattered. You can no longer look at the actor playing a character and forget that he HATES you in real life. He has no longer any status as Actor since he decided to play on the Political Stage. Why can’t they just STFU? Are you an entertainer [actor/singer] or are you a Politician? Pick one. Choose wisely.

  • I’ve been around people in the arts, including actors, most of my life, and there are two things I’ve found that are true about them: (1) except for their craft and whatever arts they’re involved in, they tend to be fairly uneducated, and woefully ignorant about history and economics; and (2), although they see themselves as free spirits and rebels, they’re usually brainwashed tools of the “liberal” Hive, and fall in lockstep like so many Eloi when the Hive calls. The whole evening, from what I saw, was one big anti-Trump rally. Strangest to me were the Gays who were reacting as if Trump were loading them onto box cars and shipping them off to death camps. And yet as members of the Hive, almost certainly falling into line with the Hive’s goal of a bigger and more powerful State. Bad news, artistes: if you think you can have full freedom of expression where the State is omnipotent, think again. Maybe actually open a history book every once in a while.

  • On my way down to NYC today with my wife. I thought we might try to see a play if I can get some cheap tickets. Last night she was watching the Tonys in our hotel room. I was reading about the history of disease but could not avoid seeing/hearing some of it. I was reminded why THEATRE!!! has no interest at all for me. What a bunch of pretentious dreck. I’ve always liked Robert DeNiro as an actor. But FUCK HIM!!! as a person.

  • In 1936, the New Yorker ran a cartoon about some old rich white people. We know they’re elites because there is a butler hovering in the background. The caption: “Come along. We’re going to the Trans-Lux to hiss Roosevelt.” Our betters didn’t use the f-word so often in those days.

  • I’m calling my shot: Trump wins 40 states. My liberal friends seem resigned to the fact that he will get reelected, that is unless, how did one guy put it, “overwhelming evidence is presented.” They take it for granted that Trump must be guilty of something. He simply has to be. Trump’s ascendance to the presidency is an offense against their worldview. Its rather amusing because Trump isn’t really all that conservative. Hell, Bernie Sanders campaigned on controlling illegal immigration and reworking trade agreements in order to improve job prospects for Americans. I don’t bring that up with my liberal friends though. I just ignore their comments about Trump and change the subject. They probably think I can’t refute them, but I just don’t want to piss them off. 

  • Life imitates “A Fish Called Wanda”:

Archie: You are a vulgarian, aren’t you?
Otto: You’re the vulgarian, you fuck!

2.  Lesson:  If you are going to be unethical, make sure it’s on behalf of a media-endorsed cause. Petaluma High School in Petaluma, California, cut off valedictorian Lulabel Seitz’s, microphone when she went off-script and began talking about school sexual assaults, specifically her own alleged assault,  halfway through her speech to her graduating class.

Seitz told reporters she decided to  talk about being assaulted even though administrators told her to not mention it during her speech.  “They made all these rules to prevent me from speaking,” Seitz told ABC News. “So I decided to use the opportunity to bring it up.”

Despite how the episode is being spun in the news media, the school was right, she was wrong. The valedictory speech is not an open-ended opportunity for a student to settle scores and air grievances.

3. Now THAT doesn’t fit the “narrative”…from reader Jim Kelly (thanks, Jim!) comes a pit bull story that will never get widespread news media attention:

A mother in Stockton, California, says her 8-month-old pit bull is a “hero pup” for saving her and her baby’s lives last week when a fire broke out in another unit of her four-plex. Sasha the puppy and 7-month-old Masailah have a special bond, their mom, Nana Chai, told KCRA. “She’s in her bed every day,” Chai told the station. “They take baths together and everything.” So it’s no wonder that Sasha went straight for Masailah as soon as she felt heat coming through their door just before midnight on Sunday. …The pit bull alerted her owner that something was wrong first by barking and yelping, before any of Nana’s human senses detected that anything was wrong….

[Nana] rushed to Masailah’s room, but Sasha had beaten her there. The dog was trying to carry her out of bed and to safety — by Masailah’s diaper….

Of course, this is all part of Sasha’s diabolical scheme to kill them both once she has their trust completely. Now watch Sasha become a Golden Retriever in future news reporting…

4. A Popeye: I’m really tired of this disingenuous argument…Conservative blogger Tyler O’Neil was moved to write this, in part, about another Tony Awards outburst last night:

Actor Andrew Garfield won “Best Actor in a Play” at the Tony Awards, for his performance in “Angels in America.” Garfield took the opportunity to get a dig in at Jack Phillips, the Christian baker who just won the Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

“We are all sacred and we all belong, so let’s just bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked,” Garfield quipped.

….So many LGBT activists and well-meaning Americans think bakers like Phillips refuse to serve same-sex weddings because they have an animus against gay people. This is far from the case — Phillips gladly served gay people at his bakery, and even in the act of refusing a same-sex wedding cake for the two gay men who came to request it, he immediately offered to sell them anything else in his shop. Phillips’s case, and those like it, are about free speech, not discrimination against gay people…Garfield’s pot shot at Phillips only solidifies the argument that Phillips was engaged in discrimination, not free speech. It is important for Americans to understand that this is wrong.

It’s not wrong. If you refuse to treat a citizen differently than how you would treat any other citizen because of his or her race, religion, gender or sexual proclivities, that’s discrimination by definition. The baker’s position was that his discrimination was legal, but it was still discrimination. The reason for discrimination—in Jack Phillips’ case, that his religion believes gay people marrying is a sin—doesn’t make it less discriminatory. It may make it legal.

Moreover, Phillips didn’t win his case; the Colorado commission lost it by ruling against him based on a bias against his religious beliefs.

“We are all sacred and we all belong, so let’s just bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked” is a perfectly accurate, Golden Rule-based assessment of what was wrong with Phillips’ conduct.

30 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/11/18: More On De Niro, A Censored Valedictorian, A Heroic Pit Bull, And A Popeye

  1. Despite how the episode is being spun in the news media, the school was right, she was wrong. The valedictory speech is not an open-ended opportunity for a student to settle scores and air grievances.

    I concur. I attended the high school graduation of my 2nd kid this weekend, and I would not have wanted to hear this. The problem for this school and any others trying this stunt is that it guarantees far wider publicity than if they let it in. Now the school is known nationwide to be a “school with sexual assault problems.”

    • True. I’m willing to bet that schools start preventing futures speeches to prevent things like this from happening again. After all, speaking in a graduation ceremony is an honor, not a right.

  2. 2. The school owns the venue, and can dictate the speech. This girl can go rent an ad in the The New York Times (on her own nickel) if she wants to get this message out.

    3. Dogs are dogs. They are a product of nurture as much as nature.

  3. The Golden Rule also dictates that slaves should not run away from their masters since they wouldn’t like it if the shoe was on the other foot.

  4. I think I fully understand your anger. You have made it well known that you hold in high reverence the office of the presidency as well of your love of the theater. It has to be heartbreaking to have to chastise those within the theater establishment for their boorish behavior at times when they attack the very governmental institutions we should hold sacred simply because they did not get their way on election day. It must be a double whammy to the gut when it requires that you wind up appearing to defend Trump when in fact you are simply communicating your beliefs that we should make our feelings about any candidate known at the ballot box. This is not to say that one cannot honestly challenge a policy issue during an administration but these attempts to undermine a duly elected official – no matter how loathsome that person may be in your opinion – is antithetical and detrimental to a civil society. I hope I have captured that sentiment properly.

    Much has been stated about how guttural and vulgar political discourse has become. Some lay the blame squarely at the feet of Trump because of his rhetoric. I don’t. Perhaps I don’t see Trump’s lack of verbal articulation skills as an indicator of lacking intelligence because I too have a hard time expressing my myriad thoughts and ideas cogently in verbal form; I prefer write which allows me the time I need to sequence my thought processes. I am the Tommy Smothers of the snappy comeback (cultural throwback reference). Despite the fact that I lack such skills I can often see things others of quick wit miss. I see Trump as the equivalent of a foul tasting medicine; it’s hard to swallow but without it, that which plagues us will continue to metastasize. We were in danger of losing the rule of law when it comes to national sovereignty, we are hearing that the Constitution is an arcane and obsolete document, fiscal conservatism is becoming extinct, just to name a few threats to our American ideals. I find it absolutely funny that those who feel the Constitution is outmoded run toward its protections when they feel their rights are violated.

    Common impolite words are mere words nothing more. However, they become particularly heinous when uttered by referent authority. It is no different than the casting couch for those in the entertainment industry. The only difference is that your ability to think is what is being screwed. Every young wannabe actor that hears these tirades will be hard pressed to speak out against this troll who works as an actor who is also held in high esteem within the industry.

    Personally, being chronically lied to obtain my vote, is what I consider political vulgarity. Such lies are designed to appease the vulgate or the common people. What I consider particularly vulgar are underhanded tricks by those in power to make a political adversary appear stupid, ignorant, or guilty of something. It is vulgar because it is designed to appeal to mass audiences, requires no superior arguments, only innuendo, manipulation or misrepresentation of facts, and a pulpit from which to speak. When Trump misrepresents his positions to obtain votes he too will lose elections. So far, like it or not, he is carrying out his promised agenda.

    I do find it a bit ironic that DeNiro, who made millions portraying crude tough guy protagonists in films is so upset that Trump is Trump. Trump is the real life equivalent of many of his characters. I am at a loss to know exactly what the resistance is fighting against. I keep hearing that under Trump we are losing our democracy. What does that mean? We are a republic not a democracy. Yes we believe in democratic ideas in which the majority generally wins the argument but we also limit the majority’s ability to put its heel on the necks of the minority. It seems that minorities are fine with that until they can coalesce their individual minority status into a collective majority. At which point, the majority must always win.

    As for the Popeye, “We are all sacred and we all belong, so let’s just bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked” is a perfectly accurate, Golden Rule-based assessment of what was wrong with Phillips’ conduct.

    Seems right, but this was no ordinary cake, it was a wedding cake. Phillips has no qualms with baking a cake for anyone so this statement is as wrong as those saying the court ruled in favor of Phillips. The actor’s statement would suggest that Phillips broadly discriminates against gays which is not the case. Phillips also will not create Halloween themed cakes which apparently violate his beliefs as well.

    • But Chris, not making a Halloween cake is a religious statement that doesn’t involve discrimination: he doesn’t do it for anybody. He does make wedding cakes, just not for gay people. That makes it discrimination as a matter of law. WHY he discriminates doesn’t matter. If his religion told him the God doesn’t want black people to celebrate St. Patrick’s day, would he be able to say that the Obamas can order any other cake, but not one that says “Kiss me, I’m Irish!”, do you really buy the “not discrimination” argument?

      • Jack, I dont disagree. Perhaps I dont understand the Popeye. I thought it was a response to a repeatedly mischaracterized statement. The actors statement mischaracterized Phillips act as that he would not serve gays in any way. That is no different than characterizing the court’s decision to suggest that it affirmed Phillip’s right to freely practice his religion. Neither is accurate and such inaccuracies are something ” I just can’t stands nomore”.

        SCOTUS punted and never made a decision regarding competing civil rights

        • The last statement is definitely correct.

          The Popeye is when “It’s all I can stand, ‘cuz I can’t stand no mores!” I can’t stand people saying that discrimination magically stops being discrimination because a religion says “Descriminate.”

          • I did not mean to suggest that Phillip’s act was not discriminatory.

            With that said, discrimination involves a conscious choice. One should also consider whether the choice of bakers was based on expected outcome based on known religious objections that could lead to an activists court challenge. Discrimination can occur overtly and covertly. Obviously Phillips statements demonstrates overt discrimination. The motivations of the couple are based on their statements of simply wanting his decorating skills. I hope that is simply wanted.

    • To back up a bit, but I found Chris’ first 5 paragraphs to be COTD worthy, as he has cogently, rationally, logically and persuasively made some objective points about the resistance.

  5. According to my German born friend and sometimes barber and pit bull owner and lover, pit bulls, i.e., Staffordshire terriers, were known as “nursery dogs” in Victorian England because they were so good with infants.

    I truly despise the low lifes who have turned them into fighting dogs, mostly as a macho thing. Anybody who brings up a dog to be a mean dog is beneath contempt.

  6. “We are all sacred and we all belong, so let’s just bake a cake make a sign for everyone who wants a cake to be baked sign to be made” is a perfectly accurate, Golden Rule-based assessment of what was wrong with Phillips’ conduct.

    Even for Westboro Baptists or ISIS sympathizers?

    • “We are all assholes and we all deserve the unfettered right to hate, so let’s just NOT bake a cake for anyone who wants a cake to be baked, if we notice that they happen to love something we hate.”

      • There is zero evidence that the bakers in question were motivated by even an iota of “hate,” or that “hate” had anything to do with it. If you keep using that word where it doesn’t belong, it’s going to lose all meaning.

        And that’s regardless of whether or not the bakers were unethical, immoral, foolish, or even illegally discriminating.

        • I agree, and that’s an important distinction. On the other hand, removing the hate doesn’t make discrimination more palatable. I’m old enough to remember the smiling Southerners telling reporters during the Civil Rights battles in the Sixties, Sixties”oh, we LOVE our colored folks! We just need them to know their place, that’s all!”

          • This is true.

            We needed SCOTUS to give guidance (to douse the flames tearing our nation apart, or at least let us roast weenies over the fire) and they ducked out.

        • Trying again to post…

          [reply to Isaac’s June 13 at 1:02 am]
          “There is zero evidence that the bakers in question were motivated by even an iota of “hate,” or that “hate” had anything to do with it. If you keep using that word where it doesn’t belong, it’s going to lose all meaning.”

          Careful, Isaac. If you keep NOT using that word (hate) where it DOES belong, it’s going to lose meaning in YOUR mind that is nonetheless and regardless part of its meaning – and, you’re going to catch yourself tolerating a lot of hate that you ought not tolerate – hate that will not be permitted to tolerate, by law – while thinking mistakenly that what is in your mind is not hate.

          Isaac, you and I do not have the license to determine all of what is considered hate. Phillips might have been as polite and “accommodating” as is reasonably possible to the customers he refused to bake a cake for. But even so, Phillips seized the power to refuse to “love,” or falsely declare that he loves, what his faith compels him to hate. Rejection of what is considered sinful is still hate. That rejection still imposes real impacts upon real people, to an extent that the people impacted “feel the hate” as if it was specifically focused directly against them personally – that is, in a deliberately demeaning, marginalizing, exclusionary, and discriminatory way. Deny it all you wish, but the truth stands that a certain hate played a pivotal, compelling role in Phillips’ choice not to bake the cake.

          I used quotation marks in my reply to Michael Ejercito (June 12 at 4:22 am) to create a strawman “extremist” line of reasoning in support of discrimination justified by hate. My purpose there is to advance our discussion in the direction of recognizing that the trend in our society’s jurisprudence is a seemingly inexorable march toward thought control: a new, exacting set of specifications (however double-minded, arbitrary, and obviously hypocritical) on what is permissible (legal) discrimination, and what is not permissible, be it in deed or only in thought (such as religious faith). Government agents and their policies and practices in all its branches are evolving toward acceptance, even aggressive promotion, of hostility to certain thoughts and bases for thought; the society is filling up with agreeable, hive-minded automatons who will support and defend such government and governance at any and all costs.

          The aforementioned trends are alarming, but short of breaking down the whole social order with genocidal violence and starting over, I don’t know what to do about them. Their existence may be arguable, but I don’t think so. We’ll see just how long Phillips’ bakery business survives in Colorado.

  7. 3) This is the most recent article mentioning Pit Bulls that returned from the search; so, I’m commenting here. Let me start by saying, I know the dog or dog breed isn’t at fault, it’s how the dog is handled and the care it’s given by it’s owners. I walk all the time for exercise (5 to 10 miles a day) and on the weekends I often walk to the local market (one is 7 miles and the other 5) and then my wife and I complete the shopping and I return with her. Okay, this morning I was walking and a Pit Bull was in a yard on the opposite side of the street where I was walking. As I got closer, the dog left the yard and came at me aggressively and circled me barking in a very menacing manner. Now, I don’t have anything against this breed but I was very, very, afraid. I’ve walked this road many times and this never happened before. I moved very slowly down the road taking less than half steps, inching away all the while the dog was within 1 foot of me barking constantly. Again, I was extremely frightened and I don’t want and serious bodily injuries at 61 years of age (or any age, but just giving my age as perspective). Once I felt I was safe, I called 911 and reported it to the police. On the follow up they did verify the dog was licensed and had all it’s shots, etc. The owner said the dog was out by accident and the police explained the leash laws to the owner. So, that’s all that happened and I have no ill feeling towards the dog but I was literally scared to death. One reason I reported to the police is that many people walk, run and bike down that road. So, the dog does have responsible owners but was just off the leash this time. Still, I don’t want to go through that again. Hope you can reply even if it’s short and a comment on an older article.

    • I’d just like to add that I’ve had dozens of encounters with dogs while walking and I was never intimidated until today. Every other time I had an encounter the dogs maintained their distance while barking or backed off once I turned around or stopped walking. Today, that wasn’t the case and I’m telling you I was terrified as this dog was withing inches of me. My description of the incident may not convey the true level of fear I was feeling as I’m not a creative writer. I had no idea what that dog might do because I didn’t know the owners or the dog like many of the other dogs in my area that I meet while the owners are out walking them. Anyway, it was kind of traumatic for me but it will subside shortly; just a harrowing experience today.

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