Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/7/2018: Back in the USSR

Good Morning!

1. Self-Promotion Dept. I’m heading off to New Jersey today, to present one of my musical legal ethics seminars—3 hours!—for the New Jersey Bar Association. The real star is my long-time partner in these shows, New York-based singer/musician Mike Messer, who channels Freddie Mercury, Bob Dylan (with harmonica!), Paul Simon, even Johnny Cash in the various song parodies.  This one is called Ethics Rock Extreme, and ends, like all of my musical seminars, with a sing-along. Yes, we get lawyers to sing the chorus of the “Piano Man Parody”…

Sing us the Rules, you’re the ethics man
Sing us the Rules tonight!
We’re stuck in an ethics dilemma here
So tell us what’s wrong and what’s right!

(No, “Back in the USSR” is not one of the songs we do.)

2. First Amendment for me, but not for thee: In an embarrassing episode that is also telling, the Newseum has capitulated to a storm of protests from journalists and will no longer sell its popular “Fake News” mercahndise…like this shirt…

online or in its gift shop. “We made a mistake and we apologize. A free press is an essential part of our democracy and journalists are not the enemy of the people,” the Newseum announced Saturday in a groveling blog post. “Questions have also been raised regarding other merchandise. As an organization that celebrates the rights of people from all political spectrums to express themselves freely, we’ve historically made all types of political merchandise available for our guests to purchase. That has included former and current presidential slogans and imagery and merchandise from all political parties. We continue to do so in celebration of freedom of speech.”

Translation: “In celebration of free speech, we will acquiesce in the censoring of a particular expression of opinion on a humorous T-shirt, because it hurts journalists’ feelings.”

Again, I ask: why does anyone trust journalists and the organizations they represent?

3. More craven apologies to censorious progressives? Last month, the Nation published a poem by Anders Carlson-Wee, who is white. His poem, “How-To,” uses black vernacular to make its point. There was a vicious backlash against the poem on social media, but the Nation’s poetry editors, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith, stood their ground in defense of art and expression, like the Canadian stage directors I wrote about here.

No, I’m joshing…they groveled an apology for publishing the offending poem, and the poet apologized too, saying, “I am sorry for the pain I caused.”

Here was the Nation’s statement:

On July 24, 2018, The Nation and its poetry editors, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith, made this statement about the poem below, which contains disparaging and ableist language that has given offense and caused harm to members of several communities:

As poetry editors, we hold ourselves responsible for the ways in which the work we select is received. We made a serious mistake by choosing to publish the poem “How-To.”  We are sorry for the pain we have caused to the many communities affected by this poem. We recognize that we must now earn your trust back.  Some of our readers have asked what we were thinking. When we read the poem we took it as a profane, over-the-top attack on the ways in which members of many groups are asked, or required, to perform the work of marginalization. We can no longer read the poem in that way.

We are currently revising our process for solicited and unsolicited submissions. But more importantly,  we are listening, and we are working. We are grateful for the insightful critiques we have heard, but we know that the onus of change is on us, and we take that responsibility seriously. In the end, this decision means that we need to step back and look at not only our editing process, but at ourselves as editors.

Well, it’s about what I would expect from a hard-left propaganda organ with strong Communist tendencies. Feminist and Nation columnist Katha Pollitt called the magazine’s apology  “craven” and said that it “looks like a letter from re-education camp.”

Ya think?

By the way, poems don’t “hurt” anyone. The Left’s increasingly common conflation of words with injury is a long-term effort to lay the groundwork for speech and thought suppression. That’s not a political opinion, that’s an observation of fact. Denying that this is the case, however, is unequivocal political bias. [Pointer: Ann Althouse]

4. Next up after censoring wrongthink: let’s have some airbrushing! I wouldn’t have given him a star in the first place, but that’s neither here nor there.  Now that it has been attacked and defaced twice by pickaxe and sledgehammer, Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is targeted for removal by West Hollywood’s city council, which passed a resolution based on the President’s “disturbing treatment of women and other actions that do not meet the shared values of the City of West Hollywood, the region, state, and country.” Because Hollywood, as we all know, has never tolerated disturbing treatment of women. Here’s the full list of the star-worthy: see how many abusers, molesters and criminals you can identify. Oddly, no similar calls for de-starment have been issued regarding Charles Chaplin, a statutory rapist, Bill Cosby–you know—and musician Spade Cooley, convicted of murdering his wife in 1961.

5. And then there’s the Pravda impressions….ABC, NBC, CNN, the The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others sounded the impeachment warning bells because the President “admitted” in a tweet that Don Jr’s infamous 2016 meeting with a Russian operative was for the purpose of acquiring opposition research on Hillary Clinton. George Stephanopoulos pronounced the tweet as a “stunning reversal” and “dramatic new admission” in the Russia investigation. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie said on “Today” that  Trump was admittingfor the first time” that the purpose of the meeting was to gather dirt on Clinton.

This isn’t just fake news, it isn’t news at all. In a July 2017 press conference with France’s Emmanuel Macron, The President said about the meeting

“I do think this, that taken from a practical standpoint … most people would’ve taken that meeting. It’s called opposition research or research into your opponent...I’ve only been in politics for two years, but I’ve had many people call up, ‘Oh gee, we have information on this factor or this person,’ or, frankly, Hillary.That’s very standard in politics. Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard where they have information and you take the information, and I think the press made a very big deal out of something that really a lot [of people] would do.”

A month later, he tweeted,

“Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!”

I want a T-shirt.

18 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/7/2018: Back in the USSR

  1. See how long it takes for someone to jump on that business opportunity. Seems like their competitors owe them for their exit from that market.

      • Shh! Do you Amazon to know that you’re talking about politically incorrect merchandise available for purchase on its site????

    • Good one. I’ve read recently that China is a bigger threat to our elections among other things.

      Side note: If there isn’t one, I’d like to see a tee shirt saying “Make America funny again.”

  2. No joke: A friend of mine was convinced that this tweet from Trump pretty much settles the case that Trump knew in advance about the meeting and that he’s guilty of some serious crime amounting to “moral” if not strictly “legal” treason. What crime that is, he couldn’t say. When I pointed out the tweet from a year ago, the response was that the earlier tweet wasn’t explicit about the purpose of the meeting, but the latest tweet is. And what do I gain by making excuses for Trump anyway?

    It’s become impossible to have a rational conversation. I didn’t even bother to point out the self-evident double-standard with the Clinton campaign’s paying Fusion GPS for opposition research gathered by a foreign agent from Russian sources, which was subsequently used to obtain a FISA warrant. Presumably the response is that the multiple layers actually shielded Clinton from whatever law Trump supposedly broke.

    • “Presumably the response is that the multiple layers actually shielded Clinton from whatever law Trump supposedly broke.”

      In other words, Democrats are better at being sneaky, underhanded and unethical.

      The more I ponder the hyperventilation of the Left about so-called Russia-Collusion the more I have to wonder about my oft-proven principle: If the Left is screaming accusations at the Right, there’s a 90% chance the Left is already engaging in or setting the stage for engaging in the very behavior they are hyperventilating about.

      So, I wonder, just how deeply the DNC and DNC-affiliated institutions like Big Education, Big Law, Big Government, Big Industry, and Big Media are in bed with foreign powers and for how long?

      • I mean, the latest screaming about the NRA being a front organization for Russian money makes me wonder how many key pro-DNC lobbying groups, advocacy groups and think tanks are heavily funded by foreign entities.

        • Yes, the arrest of Butina was interpreted to mean that the NRA and GOP are now Russian assets. Of what is she accused? Behaving like a foreign lobbyist without having so registered. And this is clear evidence of Russia’s sophisticated conspiracy to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

    • The lawsuit might be a precursor to further civil rights litigation and legislation regarding censorious and systematically oppressive exclusion of certain political viewpoints from virtually monopolistic social media such as Facebook and Twitter. I would not bet beyond “might,” though.

  3. 3. A curious cult are the left:
    Despite their political heft,
    Their foes’ least expression
    But left-power, evil-bereft.

    So to kill the American nation,
    All drown in disinformation
    Till the left controls all
    (Yet with no border wall)
    “Cultural appropriation.”

  4. I thought for awhile that the books on the “Deep State” fit within a dark conspiracy genera. Now I’m beginning to wonder.

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