Armistice Day Ethics Warm-Up, 11/11/18: Pettiness, Tit-For-Tat, And Fake All-Stars

Good Morning!

Why Nora Bayes? Let me tell you a story…

I learned about Nora Bayes (1880-1928) while mounting a production of a “lost” musical, George S. Kauffman’s Hollywood satire “Hollywood Pinafore,” which was essentially a parody of Gilbert & Sullivan’s classic, “H.M.S. Pinafore.” Nora was mentioned in a laugh line in the script, so the 1941 show assumed that the audience knew who she was. I had never heard of her, so I did some research. She was a fascinating character, and a huge vaudeville and Broadway singing and comedy star, household name huge. “Over There” was one of her biggest hits; another was “Shine on Harvest Moon,” which she wrote with her second husband (she ultimately had five), Jack Norwith. He also wrote “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” another Bayes standard. According to one online biography, Bayes Bayes “provided some flamboyant, indeed extreme, examples of the broad social changes happening in the United States in the early twentieth century, namely the questioning of traditional roles for women as well as the challenges to male political and economic power that marked the women’s movement of the time.”

I almost wrote about her in April. As regular readers here know, I believe it is the our duty to honor the memories, accomplishments and cultural influence of past figures in American history, because the more we remember, the more we learn, and the wiser and more ethical we are. Somehow Nora Bayes, famous as she one was, had been in an unmarked grave for 90 years.  On April 21, a group of Nora Bayes enthusiasts placed a granite headstone over her plot. The New York Times told the strange tale here.

Now I think of Nora Bayes every time I hear “Over There,” “Shine on Harvest Moon,” and “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” Maybe you will too.

1. Truth in labeling. Major League Baseball has sent a team to Japan to play a series of exhibition games against a Japanese All-Star team, reviving a long-time tradition that had been suspended for several years. As you may know, the U.S. was critical in introducing baseball to Japan, and sent several major stars there to help get the sport established. Playing in Japan is mostly a lark for the American players, but the games are taken very seriously by the Japanese. In the first two games, the MLB All-Stars have lost, greatly pleasing the locals.

I don’t begrudge the Japanese fans their David and Goliath fantasies, but calling the U.S. team “All-Stars” is misrepresentation. For example, one of the pitchers who got clobbered in the last game, a 9-6  contest that began with the Japanese team jumping out to a 9-0 lead, was a Red Sox pitcher named Brian Johnson. I like Johnson, a crafty swing-man who had some good moments last season, but he’s a lifetime 6-6 pitcher who was left off the Red Sox post-season roster, and will have to battle to stay in the majors next season. I know you can’t sell tickets if the U.S. team is called the “All the players we could talk into coming to Japan Team,” but that’s what it is.

2. Tit for Tat  may be funny, but it’s not ethical. Representative Dan Crenshaw, the veteran who was mocked last week on Saturday Night Live for his disfiguring war wound, appeared on the show last night to mock the appearance of his tormenter, Pete Davidson. Crenshaw was unusually poised for a pol on a comedy show, and the bit successfully got Davidson and SNL, which had been widely criticized for its nasty routine, off the hook. Clever. Successful. Funny. Still wrong, however. This represents an endorsement of Donald Trump ethics, as well as the endlessly repeated rationalization for the non-stop ad hominem attacks the President has inflicted on him daily by the news media and others. The President famously—infamously around here—has always said that if you attack him, he’ll attack you back harder. His haters argue, in turn, that their tactics are justified by his. This is how the culture got in the escalating spiral to Hell it is in. I don’t blame Crenshaw: if he hadn’t accepted the invitation to get funny revenge on Davidson, he would have looks like a petty jerk. Nonetheless, he has now officially become part of the problem, not just a victim of it.

3. Stop making me defend President Trump Dept.  You see, I am kicked around on Facebook for not just falling meekly into line and declaring that everything Donald Trump does is an outrage and proof that he should be impeached. I tell you, it’s tempting. The mass bullying campaign to herd everyone into the undemocratic effort to overthrow an elected President using relentless criticism and flagrant double standards has been effective in stifling others, and it also serves as a kind of mass cultural hypnosis. I don’t like defending Trump. He is doing serious damage to his office, as are his unhinged foes, who are apparently willing to destroy the nation, democracy, and the Constitution to “save” it from him. But I will not be intimidated out of pointing out the revolting pettiness, hypocrisy and unfairness of his critics. Two examples surfaced yesterday.

  • An esteemed commenter wrote, “Did you know that Trump sold a Medal of Freedom to Sheldon Adelson’s wife?” I’m sure the commenter really believes this, but it is false, and unfair. The accusation is based on President Donald Trump decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom  to the wife of one of the Republican Party’s most prominent patrons. Mrs. Adelson has performed some community services, but there is no doubt that her husband’s contributions are the main reason she is receiving the honor. That does not mean the honor was “sold.” Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen, said: “The Medal of Freedom has always been awarded based on service, as the award is intended. Trump uniquely envisions government service as a business for self-enrichment, and so it comes as no surprise at all that Trump would award an otherwise honorable medal to Adelson on the grounds of who gives him the most money.”

This is so disingenuous it gives me cramps. As is often the case, Trump does openly and defiantly what other Presidents have done with more guile. I looked at Barack Obama’s use of the same award, and I say “use” with purpose. Presidents use that award to appeal to various voting blocs, mollify critics, and to reward party loyalty. To suggest that the awrd is an objective measure of service or the quality and quantity of a citizen’s contributions to the nation and society is laughable.

Obama gave medals to Barbra Streisand (not Angela Lansbury), Robert Redford (not Jack Nicholson) , Meryl Streep (not Jodie Foster); Stephen Spielberg (not Martin Scorsese)—and Robert DeNiro (not Al Pacino). Huh…why them? You know why: each has been a major donor or fundraiser for the Democratic Party. That alone elevated them above other equally or more qualified recipients on a non-partisan basis. No, they didn’t “buy” their honors. But without the cash, those honors would have been given to someone else.

Like most awards and honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is a PR tool, and has no integrity whatsoever. I don’t disagree that the award being awarded to Mrs. Adelson is the among most flagrant example of this yet, but the “I’m shocked–shocked!” hypocrisy of Democrats is ridiculous.

  • Worse, however, is the faux social media outrage over President Trump cancelling a scheduled commemoration at a French cemetery for soldiers and marines killed during World War I yesterday. The White House cited the rain and security issues. The usual anti-Trump chorus on Facebook and Twitter as well as some officials in Britain and the United States that Trump had “dishonored” U.S. servicemen.

Most of the social media furies could name a single battle of the Great War. Ask them about Alvin York or “Black Jack” Pershing, and they almost certainly will answer “Who?” The rest of the world honors Armistice Day; the U.S. has effectively erased the war and our war dead from its collective memory, now making it a day to honor all living veterans. (Memorial Day honors the dead ones.) The schools don’t teach World War I. While there are elaborate and much-visited public memorials in Washington, D.C. to World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, even the Spanish American War, the city’s World War I memorial is small, virtually unvisited, and hidden away. If you saw this picture, would you know what it was?

The President is 72 years old. He isn’t in France to honor veterans; that was just a ceremonial event added to his schedule. Maybe he didn’t feel well. Maybe he was tired. Maybe he, or his advisors, felt that he needed to conserve his energy rather than stand in a French drizzle. I don’t know, but I, unlike the vicious anti-Trump mob, don’t presume the worst possible interpretation of everything the President of the United States does. What are they doing to honor the veterans of the Great War? There’s a WWI memorial in most U.S. cities, or close by. Are they visiting it? Why not? The President sent a representative to yesterday’s ceremony. That’s sufficient.

The pettiness, and the fact that it never ends and that its purveyors never tire of it, is what I take away from this non-scandal.

29 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, Popular Culture, Social Media, U.S. Society, War and the Military

29 responses to “Armistice Day Ethics Warm-Up, 11/11/18: Pettiness, Tit-For-Tat, And Fake All-Stars

  1. sgs

    1 – Re: the President’s medal and other similar awards. As an Indian, I must say the deliberate obtuseness Trump haters showed this time was blinding in its obviousness. Our first Prime Minister, his daughter and his grandson (all Prime Ministers of India) gave themselves the highest civilian medals all the time, and their family busin…, err, party used our civilian medals as a political goodwill dole to buy favors in the liberal ecosystem so often that we are sort of inured to this starry-eyed innocence. Pardon my cynicism.
    2 – Re: the France thing. Four people were apprehended in Paris in a suspected plot to attack Macron: https://www.france24.com/en/20181111-france-four-charged-suspected-attack-plot-macron The American intelligence must have been alerted of this eventuality. In addition, a femen topless protester and the baby Trump blimp also put in appearances. What this says about the ability of the Secret Service to protect the American President in a friendly nation, I don’t know.

    • From another France24 article:

      Suspects wanted to ‘kill Macron, Muslims, blacks, Jews and homosexuals’

      The man told investigators he wanted to kill Macron along with “Muslims, Jews, blacks and homosexuals”. Three kitchen knives were found in his car and analysis of his computer found that he had conducted internet searches as part of his plot.

      France is in a similar spot as is the US: it is a multi-ethnic society that is held together by a (somewhat enforced) *national identity* of French Republicanism.

      Like the US, it is more or less duty bound to marginalize those who attempt to re-create a French identity that is white and European.

      There are significant groups in France now — they are mostly on the Right of course — who oppose the multi-culturalism and multi-ethnicism of the French state and, as in the US, it is now necessary to attempt to eliminate them and marginalize them, just as is on-going in the US right now. (Marichel and Marine Le Pen are more or less the most public face of this *movement*).

      [ https://youtu.be/bDdWgYCMi8E ]

      A plot with three kitchen knives?

      No wonder Trump stayed in his flying fortress. 🙂

  2. Michael

    Sorry, Jack, but I disagree strongly with you on one of your points. I was outraged when Pres Obama did not show for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. I am equally outraged that Pres Trump “could not” make it due to rain and fog. Pres Macron made it. Chancellor Merkel made it. Gen Kelly made it. Somehow, they all got there notwithstanding the rain and fog. Maureen and I have been to the cemetery at Belleau Wood and the memorial at Chateau Thierry several times. Maureen’s Grandfather earned the Croix de Guerre for personal bravery at Belleau. My grandfather fought at Chateau Thierry. We were first taken to both by an aged Frenchman whose family saved Maureen’s uncle after he was shot down in WWII less than 10km from where her grandfather was at Belleau Wood. At Chateau Thierry there is a huge statue to French-American friendship. Yes, Jack, Pres Trump’s failure to participate is as outrageous as his critics conclude. Perhaps notable is that he did go to another ceremony, in the rain, where he was the only person speaking. You should not have forced yourself to defend him on this one, Jack.

    • As I know you know, VM, that battle was and is a big deal in my family. My Dad and I attended the special ceremonies every December at Arlington, along with a dwindling group of survivors. My wife worked with the BOTB Society, raising funds and holding events. I have long felt that the ceremonial duties of the Presidency absurdly imposed on the more important tasks of the job. Sometimes, though rarely, only the President will do: when Obama passed on the mass support for France after the Paris attacks, THAT mattered. Missing the BOTB appearance, and Trump following his security advisors advice and skipping testerday’s visit while extremists primed by the anti-Trump collective plotted his demise, are relatively trivial. We don’t need the President to do what we can do perfectly well ourselves. He’s got better uses of his time.

    • Michael wrote, “Yes, Jack, Pres Trump’s failure to participate is as outrageous as his critics conclude.”

      Poppycock.

      Obama missing the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge ceremony and Trump missing this event are both great big double-decker nothing burgers. The fact that the left, and it appears you, are publicly tarring Trump for this is par for the continuously deepening abyss course of anti-Trump resistance hate. For the anti-Trump obsessed, Trump is damned no matter what he does regardless of the realities of the situation.

      Critical thinking is just like the Constitution to the political left, quaint.

  3. Vitaeus

    Jack’s point isn’t that it did or didn’t matter, it’s that nothing He does is not without malice or fault. In 30 seconds of research it seems that the military or security said “No”. If he had over ruled them he would have been “like Hitler” or some such. The relentless negativity is tiring and part of the Big Lie.

  4. PennAgain

    None of which, Michael, diminishes your family’s military history nor your honor of it. Thank you for both.

    • Michael

      For those who have “researched” and decided that Trump’s non- attendance was for security reasons, that is not what the White House said:On Saturday morning, the White House sent out a statement, saying, “The President and First Lady’s trip to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial has been canceled due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather.”
      That is an unacceptable as Obama not attending the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge when invited by the King and Queen of Belgium, who did attend a peraonally greet every veteran (I was there). I am not one of the legion against which Jack justifiably opines, even rants. But I can probably count multiple of Jack’s list of “rationalizations” that some seem to be using to excuse DJT’s non-appearance. I was with a General and multiple WWI historians all of whom were as appalled as I — and they were most certainly NOT whiners from the left. Please re-read your own posts and see if you (including you, Jack) can identify as many Ethics Alarms rationalizations as I can.

  5. PennAgain

    Some of the points about remembering WWI made by one small British publication (I know: who cares!*) are: “the continuing, often unacknowledged impact of the Great War on our lives . . . only just now emerging, [from] the black hole of identity politics to the internecine unravelling of the Middle East” (both of which have direct bearing on current American issues) . . . . e.g., the postwar crisis of meaning and identity . . . the fall of the Ottomans . . . the persistence of violent conflict . . . the age of nihilism . . . and [full disclosure: my personal favorites]:
    “the much maligned legacy of the war poets”
    https://tinyurl.com/yb6kf7dj
    and
    “India’s Untold War Story.”
    https://tinyurl.com/y8yq7qz5

    *Spikedonline is a British Internet magazine focusing on local as well as international politics, culture and society with its “alarms” set for Free Speech as a complement to Ethics Alarms’ focus on Ethics (minus the baseball, a distinct loss). In covering its subjects as objectively and widely as it can, the publication goes left just as often as Jack goes right, without either losing its sense of balance.

  6. JimHodgson

    The anti-Trump crowd seems to have an ally in Macron, who felt led to criticize U.S. nationalism while apparently forgetting that we are the only reason they aren’t speaking German today.
    Our town’s regional history museum had a special program today honoring local WWI veterans. Reenactors and students from a local university drama department portrayed soldiers, nurses, and folks on the home front during the war. All were skillfully, thoughtfully and faithfully portrayed. As a part of this program, photo and memorabilia exhibits had been prepared honoring several specific area vets including my grandfather. He fought with the 117th Infantry and was fortunate enough to survive the war, although he had his lungs permanently scarred by exposure to mustard gas. General Pershing was his hero. The program was well-received, although I expected much larger attendance than was actually the case. The museum was giving out bunting ribbons for all veterans to pin on and, judging from the number of ribbons I saw, many of those attending, aside from family members of the honorees, were current service members and more recent veterans and their families.

  7. Armistice Day relevant argument:

    The following twitter post has spawned a debate. It’s a doctored image that many say is fine because it’s accurate while others say though it be accurate it’s not fine because its doctored.

      • My opinion is that though it captures the truth of the horrors of the war, it still isn’t an ethical image. It belongs in an art museum not a history museum (if it isn’t caveated as doctored).

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          I say tell the whole truth- the document up top is an actual photo of the battalion. The lower one is the same photo doctored to remove those who perished in the war.

          • Yet it doesn’t even capture that accurately. It shows a representative number of those who survived but really it’s just the front 27 men from the original photo and barring a near statistical impossibility, we know the front 27 men of the phone weren’t the miraculously coincidental survivors.

            Not only that, apparently it isn’t representative of their casualties of the whole war, but on further research, some have found that the battalion took those casualties in first five months of the war. Which is even more telling of the horrors of the war.

            Most of our assumed stereotypes of the war involve the trench war slog that churned up the dead on an industrial scale, but we forget that in the first month or two of the war, when it was still a highly mobile maneuver war, the armies actually racked up a much higher casualty rate than they did during the trench phase of the war.

            • Steve-O-in-NJ

              After the “race to the sea” the “red little army” was the “dead little army” and both sides had tapped out their skilled regulars. Apparently some of those regulars could shoot very quickly, the story goes that at one point the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers so peppered the Germans that they thought they were facing machineguns.

          • Ugh, it’s even more frustrating. One of the 3 battalions from this regiment made it to the Front in 1916 and the other 2 in 1917. So our twitter poster hasn’t done his due diligence at all before posting.

  8. #2 I generally agree with you. I truly don’t think that Representative Dan Crenshaw would have agreed to this appearance without him getting to say what he said between 3:11-4:06 in the video – that is the part that hopefully will stick in the viewers memory.

    Something I immediately noticed as I watch Pete in the clip was that Pete Davidson could conceal his personal contempt for Dan Crenshaw for the entire piece, he let loose a visual display of his inner most feelings at the very end, watch Pete closely at 4:13. There is no way that Representative Crenshaw missed what I saw.

    I believe that Pete was forced by SNL to apologize and SNL was forced into this action by the network. I rate this apology a #7 on the Apology Scale.

    • Dwayne N. Zechman

      Considering the way Davidson turned and spoke privately to Crenshaw right after making that face, I’m willing to give benefit-of-the-doubt that it was something else. Crenshaw didn’t appear to have any negative reaction to the private comments.

      Even if the apology itself was less-than-genuine (on this point, I agree), Davidson still publicly took his lumps, was a good sport about it.

      –Dwayne

      • Dwayne N. Zechman wrote, “Crenshaw didn’t appear to have any negative reaction to the private comments.”

        Crenshaw is an experienced military professional, he’s very disciplined, he is very straight faced and you are going to have to be very aware of the subtleties to see any reaction from him in public. I can guarantee that there was a put niceties aside private conversation between the two of them before this public appearance ever happened and there was likely another very brief one sided private “conversation” just after this appearance.

  9. https://www.nytimes.com/video/what-is-disinformation-fake-news-playlist

    I don’t like defending Trump. He is doing serious damage to his office, as are his unhinged foes, who are apparently willing to destroy the nation, democracy, and the Constitution to “save” it from him. But I will not be intimidated out of pointing out the revolting pettiness, hypocrisy and unfairness of his critics. Two examples surfaced yesterday.

    [ . . . ]

    An esteemed commenter wrote, “Did you know that Trump sold a Medal of Freedom to Sheldon Adelson’s wife?” I’m sure the commenter really believes this, but it is false, and unfair.

    I was surprised this morning to see 3 videos in the NYTs dealing on the topic of *disinformation* and referencing Yuri Alexandrovich Bezmenov, a previous Soviet intelligence operative who’d worked in India for a long time. Naturally, the NYTs is making the effort to impugn Russia for the wide-ranging *disinformation* (Fake News) that, according to this narrative, has been dreamed up in Russian intelligence underground bunkers the purpose of which is to destabilize the West. The best way to understand how this *narrative* plays is to remember when our dear Chris exclaimed about Russia that ‘they hacked our democracy!‘ Such innocence really; a blind, willed refusal to understand the profound complexity of (literally) epistemological and hermeneutical issues as they play out, and are played, in our present. We desperately need an INTERPRETER and yet: Who can do it?

    If people (if we) see *the other* as the source of lies, distortions and evil, we tend to take ourselves off the hook and not to see our own *complicity*. And for this reason, it would seem, it becomes imperative to locate and define an *enemy* onto which the blame is laid.

    Now, I will admit that interpretation of the present is a very difficult project. When I examine a statement like this: “He is doing serious damage to his office, as are his unhinged foes, who are apparently willing to destroy the nation, democracy, and the Constitution to “save” it from him”, I can only notice, in myself, that I do not have a full enough picture *of things* in order to be able to state, with certainty, what is going on. Therefor, I am in that precise position of viewing ‘through darkened glass’ to quote St Paul.

    Yet I also note that, now, in our present, and now right there in what does genuinely appear to me to be a kind of propaganda organ for some force and faction in America (or is it global?), that they are taking on the role of being the source of the information that will lead to *correct epistemological foundations* and correct *interpretation*. They do so by exposing the tricks and strategies of the *evil other* as it seeks to undermine ‘us’. They use the notion of ‘us’ in this way. They are defending ‘us’ from lies and deceptions, and they represent themselves as the ones qualified to a) see the lies and b) expose them in such a way that there is a simulacrum of *transparency*.

    There is a great deal of good information in these videos, or perhaps I should say resources for further investigation, since I am not sure that the NYTs is a *pure* source for exposing the profound and deep LIES that literally understructure the very platform that we stand on. My basic thrust has been to merely begin to describe *how power functions* and how power is compelled to use whatever means are available to achieve its will. It seems to me simply a basic fact, and one that everyone should know and which should be part of very basic understanding (an epistemological tenet) that power will always lie. And that we must understand that we live in a *world* that has been so infused with Postwar distortions, carried out by para-military and para-governmental agencies, that it might prove impossible to separate the skeins and *see* things straight. But most especially we cannot see ourselves and our own activities because, as I do not tire of saying, our own complicity.

    So, let me propose that just now, surfacing in the Times, is an *Active Measures* operation

    [Russian: активные мероприятия) is a term for the actions of political warfare conducted by the Soviet and Russian security services (Cheka, OGPU, NKVD, KGB, FSB) to influence the course of world events, in addition to collecting intelligence and producing “politically correct” assessment of it.]

    The purpose of which is, in itself, to take its own Active Measures against what it is labeling (truthfully I think) the Active Measures that are used worldwide by the powerful. There has to be a State player for large-scale Active Measures, and it is total stupidity and deliberate ignorance to imagine, if only for a second, that the US is not deeply involved in exactly the same level of intelligence operations and counter-operations.

    In these NYTs videos — of course! — the face of V. Putin is constantly shown, and his face is craftily associated with Trump’s face, but this video presentation does not, and cannot, take into account that according to fair and informed sources (unless one denies them as operations of Active Measures!) one president of the US had very deep and longstanding connections to the upper echelons of US Intelligence of the type that developed during the Second War and during the construction of the Postwar world. The book I refer to is Family of Secrets by Russ Baker. The implications of such intelligence operatives in US government are as alarming as that of Russian agents ‘hacking our democracy’ and Russian agents setting in motion various false news stories, yet as the New Narrative is now developing — the Times seems to be the source of most of it — the US is portrayed, again, as the idiot giant that just doesn’t have the guile to see the world as it really is, in all its horror and darkness. And that the US is unraveling (experiencing discord) because of these devilish foreign agents, and not, as is likely more true, because of internal divisions which result from our own social engineering projects; that result from very bad and destructive wars like Vietnam which had horrifyingly bad effect in the social body, and which are arising naturally, as a result of internal policies.

    So, it all looks (to me anyway) as just another octave of the game of manipulation and deception designed to control how people perceive. The question of [what is destroying] “the nation, democracy, and the Constitution” remains an open question that can only be answered by a difficult act of profound self-analysis and historical analysis, and there is no one capable, interested nor qualified to undertake it.

    Except me of course. But no one listens to me! 🙂

  10. …appeared on the show last night to mock the appearance of his tormentor, Pete Davidson.

    I had more of a problem with this line of Jack’s. He didn’t appear on the show for the purpose of mocking Pete Davidson’s appearance. He appeared on the show to formally accept the apology. It’s not “tit for tat” because Pete Davidson was “in” on the jokes that were lobbed his direction. They further served the function of letting the audience know that sometimes jokes miss the mark, that doesn’t mean we stop telling jokes. We apologize when they miss, we forgive those who take risks, and we move on, united.

    Dan Crenshaw showed us exactly who we all should be in the past 10 days. Primarily with his initial response to the original joke, how he was able to not be offended and not lash out. He had a good response and that left the door open for the possibility of a genuine apology. He didn’t demand one, want one, and only said he would accept a genuine one. He acknowledged who Pete was and paid respect to who his father was. He rose above it and SNL could have left it there to die on the vine, but they reached out and continued to show us the process of forgiveness. Dan Crenshaw could have taken an apology over the phone and not participated any further, but he accepted the apology and was able to demonstrate his capacity for forgiveness by accepting time on their platform to share a screen with his “tormentor”. In a world where we see tit-for-tat political warfare on a daily basis, this was a shining moment.

    This was a victory for real people, in real life. They could have easily dismissed each other as sub-human internet trolls, something each of us can relate to based on our regular internet consumption, habits, and experience; but then we saw them come together, in person, to respectfully collaborate on an apology, comedy bit, and a serious message. Sure we can denigrate the experience by showing how it was rigged or how it was disingenuous; but what exactly does that get us? We would lose the teachable moment, the demonstration of fairness and forgiveness. Let’s accept this one at face-value.

  11. 2) Half of good humor is absurdly elevating unethical conduct to a level of normality or virtue. Three stooges and Abbott and Costello made comedy gold on petty and spiteful people getting even with each other in cheap and demeaning ways. There was no danger because people knew it was absurd.

    If the danger here is that an elected official is engaging in the humor, then I think that is the angle to attack this from, not from the angle that comic representations of unethical behavior are dangerous.

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