Monthly Archives: September 2018

Ethics Quiz: “The Handmaiden’s Tale” Halloween Costume

It’s never too early to have a stupid Halloween costume controversy.

Online retailer Yandy revealed a “Brave Red Maiden” Halloween costume for sale, evoking the garb women forced into sexual surrogacy wear in Hulu’s series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” “An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no longer have a say,” the description reads. “However, we say be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume.”

Predictably, the social media mobs attacked, so Yandy pulled the merchandise and grovelled,

“Over the last few hours, it has become obvious that our “Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume” is being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment. This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level. Given the sincere, heartfelt response, supported by numerous personal stories we’ve received, we are removing the costume from our site.”

In other words, “We, like almost every other company, will restrict the right of other Americans to express themselves if enough people complain loudly enough that those expressions from others don’t matter as much as who is offended by them.”

Of course, the original hype that the outfit would be “inspiring” was ridiculous, as is the contention that this science fiction show has any real relevance to anything in current United States culture. Women no longer have a say? That’s rich.

However, there is a dystopian future looming if the fascist of the Left are able to censor ideas, art, recreation and any other activities they find objectionable. Aiding them greatly are craven companies like Yandy. “Is being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression” by whom, exactly? It’s a Halloween costume! If you don’t like a costume, don’t wear it. The CNBC article says,

“The iconic red cloak from Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” has become a feminist symbol of protest against women’s oppression around the world. Recently, demonstrators donned the costume outside Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination hearing.”

Now THAT was offensive. I can see the costume as satire, then, of the brain-addled delusions and delusions of such protesters. Maybe I want to dress up as one of the maidens. I guarantee that won’t look sexy. Would that be offensive? A sexy Handmaiden’s Tale costume is silly, but so is a sexy Hester Prynne costume, and sexy witch costumes (Is this disrespectful to the women unjustly hanged in Salem?) Is a sexy Little Red Riding Hood costume…

…offensive? Why not? I think it makes light of pedophilia. Red was a little girl. You shouldn’t be allowed to sell such a costume. You shouldn’t be allowed to wear one. You shouldn’t be allowed to smile at one. You shouldn’t be allowed to think such a get-up is funny.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day While I Struggle With A Legal Ethics Opinion That Is Driving Me Nuts:

Should Yandy have removed the Handmaiden’s Tale costume from its site?

My view, in case you couldn’t guess, is that if enough people want to buy the stupid thing, they should be able to. Doing far more societal harm than any Halloween costume in dubious taste is the complicity of the private sector in political correctness bullying and restrictions on freedom of expression.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Marketing and Advertising, Rights, The Internet, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/21/18: “Ho Ho Hey Hey!”

Good morning!

1.  Oh! You’re bigots and fools, then! Got it. I was watching a mob of—I don’t know, feminists? The “resistance”? chanting yesterday at the Senate: “I believe Anita Hill! I believe Blasey Ford!” I believe that the only reasonable translation of this particular chant—all chants make protesters sound dumb, some chants more than others; at least this one doesn’t start with “Ho ho, hey hey!”—is “I believe whatever story supports my political agenda, and I believe people according to what they are, rather than based on any objective criteria!”

I guess it’s not sufficiently catchy.

2. In case you aren’t nauseous enough...Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be one of the eight honorees of Harvard University for their contributions to black history and culture, the university announced yesterday.

Kaepernick, distinguished for his incoherent on field protest  during the national anthem, instantly setting off the NFL’s version of  #MeToo, as in “I want make my own pointless, annoying protest that I can’t adequately explain!,” thus costing the NFL fans and billions of dollars, will receive the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard’s  Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. The deliberately divisive honor to Kaepernick, who favors socks with cartoons of pigs in police uniforms, is apparently the work of Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the Hutchins Center and Barack Obama pal. You may remember Professor Gates as the race-baiting catalyst for Obama’s “beer summit,” after Gates impugned the character of a Cambridge police officer. No personal agendas here!

The award supposedly honors individuals who “Emerging from a variety of backgrounds and professions…represent the quest for knowledge, freedom of expression, and pursuit of truth that are foundational to black history and culture, and that were foundational to Du Bois as a thinker and activist.”

Yup, that sure sounds like Colin Kaepernick!

3. Ed Whelan, call your ethicist! Ed Whelan, an attorney and president of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center, upped the craziness quotient in the Kavanaugh confirmation process and took a First Class seat on the Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck by announcing that Ford’s accusation from three decades ago was based on mistaken identity, and that another student, whom Whelan named and thoroughly doxxed, along with publishing his yearbook photo, was the real alleged assailant.

Well, you can’t just accuse a random private citizen of sexual assault, or even alleged, unsubstantiated sexual assault while a drunken high schooler. I know Ed went to Harvard College and Harvard Law School, but even then, he’s no idiot. I have to believe that this isn’t just an unfounded accusation, because  Ed knows that he’s asking for a lawsuit if it is. He wrote:

“By one week from today, I expect that Judge Kavanaugh will have been clearly vindicated on this matter. Specifically, I expect that compelling evidence will show his categorical denial to be truthful. There will be no cloud over him.”

Whelan has to deliver on a statement like that, or have his own reputation permanently scarred. The only explanation I can come up with is that Kavanaugh’s  twin has already agreed to admit to being at the infamous party and having some kind of episode involving Ford. Of course, there will be no reason to believe him, either.

Still, I may go to the Senate and chant, “I believe Brett Kavanaugh, I believe his secret twin!”

Just for fun. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Sports

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Catch-Up, 8/22/18: Manafort, Cohen, and Mollie”

No, I wasn’t just looking for an excuse to post a photo of Stormy. This is an ethics blog!

Chris Marschner authored a Comment Of The Day this morning, which reminded me that another of his Comments Of The Day had been waiting on the runway for almost a month.

I’m glad of this, because the topic has nothing to do with the Kavanaugh hearings. Chris was writing about the then-popular impeachment plan–Plan K-— raised by Michael Cohen’s fixing activities. Would I rather think about Michael Cohen or Christine Blasey Ford? Would I rather be kicked in the head by a Clydesdale or a musk ox?

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Catch-Up, 8/22/18: Manafort, Cohen, and Mollie:

In your post regarding Gulliani’s quote “the truth is not the truth.” I opined that the truth was what one wishes to believe.

The entire question of whether a payment made by or on behalf of another to obtain an NDA for acts that may be embarrassing is an election law violation begs the question regarding taxpayer funded settlements made to congressional staffers to settle harassment claims by members of Congress. These settlements appear to have similar codicils for non disclosure for the express purpose of avoiding personal embarrassment that could influence their reelection bid.

Michael Avenatti claims his fees are being paid through a crowdfunding site but there appears to be no way to determine if much of those funds that flow through the site are from 10,000 unique people or one person or group. For all anyone knows large sums could becoming from Tom Steyer, George Soros, or even the Russians. Mr. Avenatti does not publicize the fact that he claimed to be the originator of “The Apprentice” and sued Trump years ago. He also does not publicize the fact that he is closely tied to Rahm Emmanuel and the Obamas.

Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Dunce: Glenn Weiss

Awww! YECCHHH!

Director Glenn Weiss made a surprise proposal to his longtime girlfriend Jan Svendsen during his Emmy Awards acceptance speech.

The Ethics Alarms rule, hinted at in other posts, is that anyone who issues a marriage proposal in public, putting unethical pressure on his or her loved one to accept, should be rejected on the spot. The act is unfair, disrespectful, and signature significance for a jerk and a bully who is unlikely to be a pleasant life partner. This goes for sports stadium TV screen proposals, but Weiss’s version is especially bad: the coast-to-coast live TV proposal.

It was unethical in other respects as well. The Emmys aren’t license for any winner to hijack the show  and divert it for his or her own  personal objectives.  Making an acceptance speech into political rant is wrong, but the recent culture of award shows has ratified the obnoxious practice: that’s why the ratings for awards shows are falling like ripe apples in October. In Weiss’s case, there was also the hypocrisy factor. He has produced and directed 18 Tonys telecasts for CBS, and is known “as an unforgiving stickler when it comes to keeping acceptance speeches to the allotted 45 seconds.” One theater exec told Page Six that “every year, Glenn gives this pompous speech to all the nominees, lecturing everyone about how the clock starts the second your name is called and that going long is unfair to your fellow nominees because it eats time for everyone whose categories come later in the evening. Leave it to him to completely flout his own rule in order to grab as much attention as humanly possible for him and his girlfriend.”

Good luck, Jan.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Romance and Relationships

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/20/2018: Trying To Get All Of The Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck—Or Is It The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck?— Debris Cleared So I Can Write About Something Else [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

[Actually, it’s late at night. Somehow today’s original warm-up vanished; not sure how. It’s back now. Sorry for whatever it was...and my apologies for the confusion. Luckily, the comments were preserved.]

1. #MeToo, ethics corrupter. The Kavanaugh hearing fiasco shows that #MeToo, like Black Lives Matter, has become an ethics corrupter. It has handed women the power to destroy men without fairness, proportion or due process, and because power does, in fact, corrupt, the results have been predictable. Since it involves tribal divisions and victim-mongering, Democrats have benefited from the movement, while acceding to making misandry fashionable and acceptable, just as the party embraced Black Lives Matter with its promotion of anti-white racism and the vilification of police.

Once #MeToo started being about partisan political gain rather than recognizing the serious problem of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace and elsewhere, it compromised its objectives and eroded its credibility. If Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser refuses to appear before the Judiciary Committee, her motives and those of her supporters will be in plain sight.

They should be anyway. Were it not for the news media’s near complete abdication of its duty to inform the public without regard for how facts will affect elections, Democrats would already be thoroughly exposed as hypocrites. How in the world can leaders of the Democratic Party demand a futile FBI investigation of a 30-year-old incident at a high school party while the party’s own co-chair, Keith Ellison, has been credibly accused of domestic abuse, a current, provable crime that #MeToo cares about, and he has not been suspended, investigated, or even widely criticized?

#MeToo power is also being used to censor dissent. Ian Buruma, the editor of the New York Times Review of Books has been forced to resign because he approved an essay by a #MeToo-targeted journalist who was eventually acquitted in court. His essay described how public accusations alone, without verification or confirmation, are enough to destroy a mans’s life and livelihood. “There has indeed been enough humiliation for a lifetime,” the author, Jian Ghomeshi wrote. “I cannot just move to another town and reboot with a pseudonym. I’m constantly competing with a villainous version of myself online. This is the power of a contemporary mass shaming.” The #MeToo social media mob was so outraged that it drove Burama to resign.

And he was so good at making sure almost every book review included some Trump-bashing, too! Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

The Attack Of The Unethical Women

I had pretty much concluded that Christine Blasey Ford was contemptible based on her willingness to impugn a public servant’s integrity, derail what should be an orderly and fair political process, and manipulate the U.S. Supreme Court’s membership using a three decades old allegation that involved, at worst, teenage misconduct. She did this with full knowledge of how #MeToo has unjustly harmed other men simply by raising unprovable rumors and characterizations. In fact, it seems clear that she chose her course of action knowing that she could harm Brett Kavanaugh the same way. If the allegation was politically motivated, as I strongly suspect it was, she is unethical and despicable. If the motive was late vengeance for a teenager’s indiscretion, she is unethical and despicable.

Imagine someone you may have harmed when you were an immature teen. That individual never calls you to account, privately or officially. She never urges you to apologize, accept responsibility, or make amends, or gives you an opportunity to do so. No, she maintains the grievance in escrow, to bring it out years or decades later when the accusation will not only do the most damage, but will also be impossible to defend against. What a cruel, horrible, inhuman way to treat anyone.

First Ford attempted to harm Kavanaugh anonymously. Then, when that wasn’t going to work, she announced her accusation in the news media.

What is being ignored by all those rationalizing Ford’s actions is that that the harm to alleged wrongdoers is magnified and multiplied the longer a victim delays calling for accountability. If Kavanaugh did what he is alleged to have done, he should still have the right to deal with the consequences, accept punishment if any, and be able to get on with his life, set a straight course, and prove his character and values as an adult. Wouldn’t anyone want that opportunity? Shouldn’t any 17-year-old miscreant have that opportunity? As I have already noted, Ford’s conduct is an anti-Golden Rule monstrosity.

It also creates the equivalent of ethics toxic waste. In a just society, nobody is pronounced guilty until guilt is proven, and nobody is publicly accused unless the offense is provable.  A prosecutor who knows that there isn’t evidence to convict someone of an offense is violating prosecutoral ethics to bring charges. Ethically, the principles follow. If you cannot prove an accusation, if all you have is your word and nothing else, if there is no chance that any evidence will arise that supports your version of events, you must be, at very least, absolutely certain that you are correct. Ford cannot be 100% certain. Not after more than 30 years, and especially after a long period in which she says she had forgotten about the alleged episode. There are many, many memorable episodes in my life, and I have always had a remarkable memory for events I witnessed or took part in. Such memories, however, shift and blur over time. No 30 year-old memory is 100% reliable, and because we, well, those of us who are fair and honest, know that is true, no 30-year memory should be employed as a weapon or personal destruction. Ford’s memory is both destructive and impossible to defend against exactly because it is so old. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Education, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 9/19/18: Conditional Authoritarianism, Fake Reparations, And Profitable Harassment

Having a good and ethical day?

1. Here’s a useful definition…that I formulated while reading another issue of the increasingly and inexcusably anti-Trump propaganda obsessed New York Book Review section. This past weekend’s addition was more obvious than usual. “Democracy at Risk!”  (Not by an opposition party setting out to topple a Presidency with the assistance of the news media—no no no! The risk justifies the opposition party doing this!) “Is Donald Trump a Fascist?”  Hey, what’s Bob Woodward reading, just to pick a celebrity out of a hat? (The interview highlights the lack of self-awareness among the Trump-haters: Bernstein points out how intolerance and hate destroyed Richard Nixon as the Times allows and promotes hate in its war against the current President.) There’s an essay about…white nationalism! A Times reporter has written a book that pronounces the United States as “DOOMED!” And here’s Andrew Sullivan extolling an American revisionism exercise while referring to the current “spasm” of authoritarianism, and Doris Kearns, my old presidential power prof in college, with a new book about her faves, Lincoln, Teddy, FDR, and LBJ. These were great leaders.

The definition: Authoritarianism is when a President you don’t like exerts strong leadership within his powers to accomplish policy goals you disagree with. When a President you do like stretches and exceeds his Constitutional powers to achieve policy goals you approve of, that’s not authoritarianism. That’s great leadership.

As an aside, Andrew Sullivan tells us in his review that “the 2008 Heller decision rejecting a D.C. handgun ban is quite obviously bonkers.” All righty then! I guess that settles it!

2.  Speaking of Bonkers: Emmys Ethics. Michael Che appeared in a pretaped bit in which he handed out “reparation Emmys” to  black performers who supposedly were overlooked by the voting academy. These included Jaleel White (Urkel  on“Family Matters”), Marla Gibbs (nominated five times for her role as Florence on “The Jeffersons”), Tichina Arnold (“Martin,” “Everybody Hates Chris”) and Kadeem Hardison (“A Different World”).
Continue reading

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