Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/2/2018: Bigotry In, “Jeopardy” Out

Good Morning.

I always play that clip when I need cheering up. It works, too.

1. How did we get to this sick, unethical and un-American place? The New York Times had an interview with America Ferrera in its book section. “Ugly Betty” was a long time ago, and I have no idea why Ferrera, a completely ordinary talent at best, has a career or is deemed important enough to warrant a profile, except that she is a professional Hispanic-American. The very fact that there are such celebrities and activists whose source of income is group advocacy is troubling, and she flagged an unethical quote that “inspires her” that is more unsettling still. She says,

“Brittney Cooper’s “Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower.” It’s razor sharp and hilarious. There is so much about her analysis that I relate to and grapple with on a daily basis as a Latina feminist, particularly this point she makes: “When I talk about owning eloquent rage as your superpower, it comes with the clear caveat that Everyone is not worth your time or your rage. Black feminism taught me that. My job as a black feminist is to love black women and girls. Period.” I say hear, hear!”

“Hear, hear” WHAT? Cooper is essentially saying that only her tribes—women, race, nation of origin—are worth her time or care. This is an unethical point of view that feeds division, distrust and hate. Caring is a core ethical value that includes sympathy, empathy and beneficence. “I only care about people like me” is a selfish, ugly sentiment, and Ferrera is extolling it.

Until people like Ferrera and Cooper stop proclaiming sentiments that would be properly regarded as racist or sexist with a change of color or gender, the nation’s society will continue to be roiled by division.

2. From the “What were they thinking?” files: Now this sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit: Somebody had the brilliant idea of hiring Alex Trebek, the “Jeopardy!” host (after Art Fleming), to moderate the televised debate between Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and his Republican challenger, Scott Wagner. Trebek is a smart guy and quick on his feet, but the problem is one of appearances rather than competence. Reducing a political debate to the status of a game show is the kind of foolish dumbing down and public misinformation that leads to distortions like a Senate confirmation hearing being called a “job interview.” The theory was that more people would watch the debate with a slick MC involved. Heck, why not go all the way? Use the cast of “Modern Family” or zombies from “The Walking Dead” to ask questions. Better yet, how about Kanye West?

To make things worse, Trebek seemed to think the debate was now about him, which isn’t too much of a leap, since the organizers didn’t hire him to do a Martha Raddatz impression presumably. After joking that the only thing with a lower approval rating than the Pennsylvania legislature was the Catholic Church, he decided to inform the audience about his own views, saying,  “I was born and raised in the Catholic Church and I’m just as ticked off as everybody else is over what has happened with the church.When I was a young teenager I attended a Catholic boarding school run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Two-hundred and fifty students, other boys and I, spent three years sharing the same accommodations 24/7 with 44 priests and not once in those three years was there any sexual misbehavior. Now boys are pretty sharp, we talk, we would have known. So I believe that there are Catholic priests out there who are able to minister to their congregations without preying — that’s P-R-E-Y — on the young people.”

Who cares what you think, Alex? The debate is supposed to inform us about the candidates.

3. Confession: I don’t care if Brett Kavanaugh threw ice at a guy who insulted him in a bar when he was at Yale or not. (I don’t care what anyone wrote in his yearbook, either. Or how drunk he got at parties. Or what “boofing” meant in the 1980s. ) The New York Times has decided that this story is relevant to how Kavanaugh will perform as a Supreme Court Justice. It isn’t, and I suspect they know it isn’t. But in order to defeat a qualified nominee for the Court by all previous standards, the Times has joined the Democrats in creating a foolish, irrelevant and impossible standard that will haunt every candidate from any party for every office, forever, unless the American public has the integrity and the sense to reject it, now.

Yes, supporting a SCOTUS nominee because the campaign to smear him has been so loathsome, cruel and wrong is a terrible way to construct a strong Supreme Court. Nonetheless, it is ethically mandatory at this point.

4. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! The Horror. During a White House press conference on trade, President Trump said, referring to the assembled journalists,  “I consider you a part of the Democrat Party.” I’m sure he does, and he should. Everyone should.

The New York Times is holding an event with  Bernie Sanders tomorrow aimed at getting college students to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. Called “Turn Up The Turnout With Bernie Sanders,” this is part of the paper’s “Get With The Times” lecture series. Times reporter Alex Burns will interview Sanders at the University of Maryland for a live-streamed discussion, with watch parties planned at universities across the country. The event is billed as nonpartisan (wink, wink, nudge nudge.)

The news media isn’t even pretending to be neutral or objective any more. It just counts on people who are either deluded or corrupt to keep insisting that they are.

5. The Ethics Dunce here is Georgetown University. Professor Fair is just a bigoted, hateful fool, which is her right. Fair has appeared in Ethics Alarms twice before. She was the one who demanded that Richard Spencer be kicked out of an Alexandria health club because of his political views. She was also mentioned here, for a set of revolting tweets about the Kavanaugh matter. Now she has been getting negative publicity—not from 97% of the news media, of course, because it doesn’t want people to know what kind of professors roam the halls of academia–because of  recent Twitter-vomit in which she opined,

Look at thus chorus of entitled white men justifying a serial rapist’s arrogated entitlement. All of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps. Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine? Yes

Nice! I wonder what her opinions are on the topic of “hate speech”? But I digress: here is Georgetown’s cowardly and dishonest reaction:

“The views of faculty members expressed in their private capacities are their own and not the views of the University. Our policy does not prohibit speech based on the person presenting ideas or the content of those ideas, even when those ideas may be difficult, controversial or objectionable. While faculty members may exercise freedom of speech, we expect that their classrooms and interaction with students be free of bias and geared toward thoughtful, respectful dialogue.”

How could Georgetown possibly expect that? The issue isn’t prohibiting speech; that’s a straw man. The issue is when a university is justified in concluding that a professor’s public statements so damage the trust and respect of  her employer that every student’s degree and every faculty member’s reputation is damaged. Does anyone believe that a parallel statement in which a professor tweeted that all black men should be  killed and castrated would get the same response from the University?

No responsible parent should be expected to pay tuition to an institution so irresponsible and incompetent that it would allow someone this openly hateful and bigoted to teach its students anything.


33 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/2/2018: Bigotry In, “Jeopardy” Out

  1. ”I always play that clip (Singin’ In The Rain) when I need cheering up. It works, too.”

    Here? not so much; not THIS morning, leastways.

    I emptied ~ 4.5 inches/~ 11.43 cms out of our rain gauge this a.m., and while our lower level is dry as a bone, I’ll head over to my nonagenarian parents house soon with the wet-vac.

  2. “Yes, supporting a SCOTUS nominee because the campaign to smear him has been so loathsome, cruel and wrong is a terrible way to construct a strong Supreme Court. Nonetheless, it is ethically mandatory at this point.”

    Since he can be supported because he’s an excellent jurist who can be relied upon to consider the Constitution during his rulings, you don’t have to support him because of the destructive behavior of the Left.

  3. #5 I have absolutely no expectations or hope anymore that the political left will stop hypocritically rationalizing the unethical conduct of those that support the political left while they actively condemn as evil anything they perceive to oppose.

    When the political left pompously implies…

    …they should be looking in the mirror.

  4. ”Brett Kavanaugh threw ice at a guy who insulted him in a bar when he was at Yale or not.”

    It’s my understanding that Kavanaugh was a beer drinker.

    If it’s discovered that he secured said frozen cubed projectile from his GASP stein, ergo, he had ice in his beer, THAT would be a dealbreaker!

    • It WAS at Yale. You know them damned european beer drinkers get their beer HOT, right? They also drink beer so thick that it has to be watered down to properly travel in a bong.

      Brett may have had no choice but to ice the beer.

      Just saying

  5. 2. Alex’s story is interesting, but I agree it isn’t the place for a political debate.

    3. This debate over terms is stupid and pointless. Anyone who has ever studied etymology will tell you a word can change in context and meaning depending on location, culture/subculture, and understanding. When I heard the word boofing, I immediately thought of the Teen Wolf movie. It came out around the same time. I didn’t know why it was the nickname of one of the characters (and it is never explained by what I can find), but it really doesn’t matter. If Kavaneugh thought it meant to fart, then to him-that is what it meant.

    Until last week I thought netflix and chill meant to relax in front of the TV. I had no idea it was a euphemism for sex.

  6. #1 Typical prejudice and bigotry based tribalism thinking from someone consumed by Progressive ideology, but of course in their mind I’m the one that should be publicly smeared as an evil racist for pointing out that fact.

    Progressives have removed and flushed their brains and intentionally replaced it with a Sasquatch Brain.

  7. I know it’s not Georgetown, but Catholic University gives us a good idea of what it’s like to be on the wrong side of the Kavanaugh debate.

    “A dean at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., has been suspended for a tweet that, according to university officials, “demonstrated a lack of sensitivity” to sexual assault survivors.”

    “Swetnick is 55 y/o,” Rainford wrote. “Kavanaugh is 52 y/o. Since when do senior girls hang with freshmen boys? If it happened when Kavanaugh was a senior, Swetnick was an adult drinking with&by her admission, having sex with underage boys. In another universe, he would be victim & she the perp!”

  8. Professor Fair was evidently sexually abused as a child by her uncle who molested all his own children as well and murdered his wife, the professor’s aunt. I’ve seen what this sort of abuse can do to women. It’s devastating.

    I’m also wondering how much of the sexual assault that’s being discussed as rampant these days is familial sexual abuse rather than classic rape/assault by male strangers or even date rape. I think they’re very different problems. To conflate them seems to really doesn’t help. To say our society, particularly men, shelters and encourages incest and sexual child abuse by family members is just completely wrong. Tragically, the biggest enablers of people like this woman’s uncle are their mothers and spouses who themselves have been abused and victimized. It’s a multi generational phenomenon.

    I’d say this woman’s psychic makeup was irretrievably damaged as a result of her abuse when her nervous system was developing. A tragedy. But she shouldn’t be in a classroom. Could she possibly teach classes in her terrorism field of expertise and stay away from her socio-political opinions? I’m not sure but I doubt it.

  9. Look at thus chorus of entitled white men justifying a serial rapist’s arrogated entitlement. All of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps. Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine? Yes

    Once again, science fiction becomes reality. Professor Fair is indistinguishable from one of the priestesses of the Female Mystery that appeared in City of the Chasch, the first of the Planet of Adventure series. I’m willing to bet she’s had a double mastectomy and proudly displays her scars to her peers.

    • Sure. A job interview is held by the person doing the “hiring”: That’s POTUS, not Congress. In a job interview, there are other candidates. After the job interviews have resulted in a selection, the Semate’s role is to sign off. Indeed, there is no requirement of hearings, and after this fiasco, I’d eliminate them. A job interview is also supposed to be honest and fair, not “Let’s see how I can insult you.” I’d walk out of a job interview like that. Finally, job interviews are constrained by federal and state law. You can’t ask personal, irrelevant questions designed to invade someone’s privacy.

      Kavanaugh got the job based on his real job interview. This process is supposed to be just a fail-safe check.

      • Jack wrote, “This process is supposed to be just a fail-safe check.”

        But it turned into a failing sham.

        I agree, after this circus they should eliminate the hearings and the Senators should just do their own private interviews with the nominee and then the Senators can voice their opinions directly to the President in written form.

      • GREAT clarification, Jack. I had no idea what to make of the Dems hammering on that question. I wish you’d have prepped Kavanaugh to answer it better than he did. As I recall, he did answer that it was a constitutionally specified process. Which implies your answer. I just wish he’d been more explicit, but maybe I missed it.

      • Thanks, Jack. If the POTUS does the hiring, on what basis was Merrick Garland denied a hearing?

        (I ask this because I seem to recall recently reading you as saying that Mitch McConnell had no obligation to hold a hearing for Garland.)

        • Garland was owed a vote, not hearings. Mitch was wrong to do what he did, but well within his ‘rights’ to do it, as precedent was set by the Democrats. Unethical, but there it was.

          • Ok, not owed hearings, but owed a vote. What was the justification for not giving him a vote, then, in this model where the president is the hirer and the senate is supposed to be a fail safe, but not the hirer?

            • Which precedent had been set by the Democrats?

              Is our politics to devolve to “they did it first”? That seems like a surefire way of having an eternal descent to ever lower standards. I’m not sure how either party manages to escape the death spiral, but it seems it would be better to encourage our politicians not to follow bad precedent.

              • Democrats told Bush not to nominate judges when he was a lame duck. Said that the new POTUS should have that right.

                As to the downward spiral, what is YOUR solution when one side will do ANYTHING to get power? Keeping to the high ground has been tried. It failed. The only thing Democrats understand is the application of their rules against them: naked power showing them that as they do it will be done unto them.

                Unethical. But, I fear, necessary, when one side will not restrain themselves.

                • Thanks, slickwilly. I wasn’t aware of that, about the Bush judges.

                  I don’t know the solutions. Given the prisoner’s dilemma, and politics being about power, I don’t see a solution. I don’t think the situation is good though, or that either side is particularly justified.

                  What I see as I read commentary on both the left and the right, is that *both* sides think the other side will do anything at all, no matter how underhanded, to get or maintain power.

                  • Which side HAS done anything? Which side continues to attempt to reverse a constitutional election? Has the other side ever done so?

                    Beware false equivalencies. The Elite GOP are scum, true, but they have not jumped the shark like progressives (democrats) have.

            • “As you have done, so will be done unto you”

              GOP was wrong to do so. But human nature dictates that tit for tat will result when one side acts as progressives have the past decade

  10. In respect to the Times interview with America Ferrera, I am hoping to get a call so I can tell my story… I’m a Latina, technically!

    What books are on your nightstand?
    What was the last truly great book you read?
    What’s your favorite thing to read?
    What are your favorite movies or shows based on books?
    And what book would you most like to see turned into a movie or TV show?
    What’s the last book that made you cry?
    The last book that made you furious?
    What kind of reader were you as a child?
    If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
    Whom would you choose to write your life story?

    Although these are really dumb questions, designed I suppose for an eighth grade girl-child, and are insulting in and of themselves — still it would be fun to answer them and drive the interviewer mad with (righteous) indignation. Maybe even like a heart attack or something…

    • My reaction to these questions exactly. The interview is also fake, as nobody could answer those questions in detail off the cuff.

      By the way, the book I would most like to see turned into a movie would be Philip Roth’s “The Great American Novel.”

  11. Sane-‘splaining the Left: one word at a time

    1) Excerpt: Diversity is a nice word. It would take a brave soul to challenge diversity. And yet we must. Not the fact of diversity — a healthy, free, pluralistic society will, by definition, contain myriad political, religious and cultural views — but certainly the institutionalisation of diversity. For while this elevation of diversity as the defining value of Western societies might dress itself up as tolerance, what it really represents is a refusal, or an inability, to define the core values of a society, the glue of society, the things that can unite the populace whatever their petty identitarian or faith-based or lifestyle differences. When [the UK, the USA, Germany], and others, redefine themselves as a ‘multiplicity of coexisting lifestyles’, they are using buzzwords to disguise their relativistic reluctance to celebrate their own historic traditions, social values and national achievements. ‘Diversity’ is the PC front behind which the contemporary nation state hides its moral cowardice and national malaise.
    Brendan O’Neill, editor
    Spiked Review

  12. That clip from Singing in the Rain always makes me happy.

    On an unrelated side-note, the color palette of that film is remarkable. Watch Singing in the Rain and feel your grow fat. It is one of the most stunning looking musicals ever made.

    I taught a media class at Fordham once which included showing films. There was a lot of trepidation when I said we were doing an old musical … but that movie really went over.

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