Mississippi Stinking

Gee, I wonder why feminists aren’t cheering the Cindy Hyde-Smith victory in the Senate run-off in Mississippi yesterday.  After all, she is the first female U.S. Senator in the state. And she’s a woman, and weren’t we told in the 2016 election that this alone mandated voting for a candidate, and nothing else should matter?  Admittedly, Hyde-Smith was an especially stinky candidate—inept, unqualified, addicted to sticking her foot in her mouth—but then so was Hillary Clinton. Why does being a woman outweigh all that baggage when the candidate is a Democrat but not when she’s a Republican? Or is the theory that electing a black Senator cancels out the “vote for any woman over any man”  rule?

I need this written down, I guess.

Of course, the losing Democratic candidate, Mike Espy, was pretty stinky himself, corrupt and dishonest, as well as addicted to race-baiting when the opportunity arose. He was required to quit Bill Clinton’s Cabinet after multiple accusations of corrupt dealings and illegal gift-accepting, then accepted a $750,000 consulting deal from former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo’s government in 2011. Espy’s former client is now standing trial for “crimes against humanity.” After Espy came under scrutiny for lobbying for Gbagbo, he claimed he had dropped the  contract once he learned that Gbagbo was a “bad guy.”  Continue reading

The Vagina Epilogues [Updated]

The progress of ethics and wisdom in  civilization generally gets better over time, though it may take some screwy routes to get there. I presume gender ethics will eventually get better too, but right now, it’s hard to be optimistic. Take the vagina, and the absence thereof:

  • According to blogger Amy Dyess, lead singer for Big Dyke Energy, there is a movement to condemn lesbians who aren’t sexually attracted to trans women, the kind without vaginas. She writes on Medium, “Lesbians have the right to a word that defines who we are. We have a right to exist and take pride in our boundaries. Our existence doesn’t invalidate trans people. Plenty of pansexual and queer folks are attracted to trans people, and that’s awesome. There’s nothing hateful about being a homosexual, yet extremists don’t want homosexuality to exist.” Here’s an example of the argument that holds that one’s sexual orientations are a form of bigotry:

 

Writes Dyess, “Being a trans ally doesn’t mean you have to tolerate or promote homophobia. Being a homosexual isn’t anti-trans. It’s unreasonable to expect lesbians to be pansexual. Sexual orientation is sex-based for homosexuals, bisexuals, and heterosexuals. Extremists can’t handle that words have meaning. Boundaries aren’t being respected.”

Well, welcome to the Extreme Left Planet, Amy. It isn’t enough to ensure that people have rights regardless of their differences, its is officially unacceptable to acknowledge that those differences exist of involve any real world handicaps at all. However, special privileges that only those with the special qualifies are always just.

Conservative and liberal are rapidly diverging into two distant corners labelled: REALITY and FANTASY, with the FANTAST side taking no prisoners….or as Amy Alkon says, “Yes, sexual preference has become a form of bigotry in Social Justice Crazytown.”

  • The furied elevation of Women Without Vaginas as a special class continued at Eastern Michigan University, where a scheduled performance of “The Vagina Monologues”was  cancelled because, according to the university’s release, “not all women have vaginas.”  The Women’s Resource Center EMU halted production of Eve Ensler’s iconic 1994 play because of its “lack of trans-sensitivity”, and “overall lack of diversity and inclusion.” According to Ann Arbor News, survey respondents opposed to the production consistently cited that “the play centers on cisgender women, that the play’s version of feminism excludes some women, including trans women, and that overall, “The Vagina Monologues” lacks diversity and inclusion.”

Notice how the extreme Left inevitably arrives at censorship and the suppression of free speech.. It is the totalitarian tilt of the entire ideology: the nail that sticks out must be pounded down. Nah, there’s no difference at all between women with vaginas and women without them, and, I assume the logic goes, women with penises instead. They are as like other women as two blades of grass, and since they are, any opinion or artistic expression that says otherwise, hint otherwise, or in any way supports one who believes otherwise is not merely a lie, but a form of hate speech that should not be permitted in a woke society anyway.

Have I got that about right? I think so.

Many surveyed  wanted to see the play modified to reflect better diversity and inclusion, particularly related to transgenderism. That’s part of the pattern too. You can’t indoctrinate a population if old ideas and opinions are still available. Ban those books, plays, artwork and movies, or cut and paste them into Truth. The past not only has to be ignored and forgotten, it needs to be edited so all of the poison—because SJW’s now KNOW what is right, and the arguments are settled–can’t confuse anyone else.

In the new Broadway musical based on “King Kong,” the female lead doesn’t scream when menaced by a 30 foot gorilla, because we all know a woman would never scream in such a situation. (I might, however…)

EMU is not the first campus to cancel a  production of “The Vagina Monologues.” American University substituted an event called the  “Breaking Ground Monologues”, in order to “broaden the focus from specifically female genitalia to multiple identities and bodies.” In 2015 ,a student group at the women’s university Mount Holyoke College ended its tradition of presenting an annual performance of the play, claiming the play is exclusive of the experiences of transgender women who don’t have a vagina. According to an email sent to students from the group Project: Theater, “At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman.”

It’s funny: I was always excluded by the original  version of the play, but I always had the old-fashioned idea that screenwriters and playwrights should be able to write for all audiences and all points of view. No, now the Left has decided that old way was best: works of thought and art should be banned if authorities conclude that they’re not good for us, just like the censors once banned Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, and “Huckleberry Finn.” The key thing they’ve learned is that this only works if the right people are “the authorities.”

I had a really punchy but uncivil, vulgar, sexist and totally deserved ending for this post, and this story makes me angry enough to use it. I won’t, though.

 

Ethics Addendum: Bill Robinson, Fred Astaire, And The Good “Blackface,” The John Bubbles Connection

The post about Fred Astaire’s dark-make-up-assisted homage to tap-dancing legend Bill Robinson in “Swing Time” was incomplete, both historically and ethically. This post should remedy that.

The dance number in question, “Bojangles of Harlem,” was, as I wrote in the introduction, Fred’s homage to two great black tap dancers who were teachers and inspirations for him, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and John Bubbles.  The post explained why the salute to Robinson was important, but did not elaborate more on Bubbles. He was not as big a star as Robinson nor as well known, either at the time of the film or ever, and is less remembered today. Nevertheless he was an important cultural figure, and it can be argued that Astaire’s number was really more of a tribute to Bubbles than Robinson, not that many noticed.

First, you need to know about Bubbles. Born John Sublett (1902-1986), he teamed at the age of ten  with the six-year-old Ford Lee “Buck” Washington in a decades-lasting act, “Buck and Bubbles.” in which Buck stood and played piano and Bubbles sang and danced.  As adults, “Buck and Bubbles” ultimately  played at New York’s Palace Theatre, the London Palladium, the Ziegfeld Follies, the Cotton Club, the Apollo, and became the first blacks to perform at Radio City Music Hall. Their popularity allowed them to break the color barriers in theaters across the country. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up. 11/27/18: Unethical Perry Mason, Icky Science, Race Card-Playing Democrats, Intrusive Bosses And Slanted History

Good morning…

1. They are showing “Perry Mason” reruns again on cable TV. That was the show that made my generation want to be lawyers, under the delusion that a defense attorney could regularly prove a criminal defendant innocent. (Pssst! They are almost all guilty.) The show holds up, but boy, Perry was sleazy. In an episode I watched while I was sick, he had his investigator tell the hapless prosecutor, Hamilton Burger (Ham Burger to his friends) that he had found an incriminating piece of evidence that proved someone other than Perry’s client had committed murder. Ham relied on the information and got the killer to confess once he was faced with the production of the “smoking gun.” But Perry’s investigator hadn’t really found anything.

Having one’s agent lie to the state prosecutor is a serious ethics breach. Perry also caused the DA to tell a falsehood to get the confession, though Burger wasn’t lying, since he believed Perry’s contrivance. Prosecutors are no more allowed to lie than other lawyers, but when they do lie “in the public interest,” they seldom get more than a slap on the wrist from courts and bar ethics committees, if that. Burger didn’t seem very upset that Perry conned him, because the real killer was caught. The ends justifies the means, or did in “Perry Mason.”

2. Ick or ethics? A Chinese scientist claims that he had successfully employed embryonic gene editing to help protect twin baby girls from infection with HIV. We are told that bioethicists in China and elsewhere are reacting with “horror.” Writes the Times,

“Ever since scientists created the powerful gene editing technique Crispr, they have braced apprehensively for the day when it would be used to create a genetically altered human being. Many nations banned such work, fearing it could be misused to alter everything from eye color to I.Q….If human embryos can be routinely edited, many scientists, ethicists and policymakers fear a slippery slope to a future in which babies are genetically engineered for traits — like athletic or intellectual prowess — that have nothing to do with preventing devastating medical conditions.”

As with cloning, my view on this controversy is that a new technology does not become unethical because of how it might be used. That unethical use will be unethical, and that is what needs to be addressed when and if the problem arises. (Airplanes could be used to drop atom bombs!) The fear of “designer babies” also seems to be an example of “ick”—it’s strange and creepy!—being mistaken for unethical. Making stronger, smarter, more talented and healthier human beings is not in itself unethical, even if it is the stuff of science fiction horror novels and Josef Mengele’s dreams. Continue reading

Monday Ethics Musings, 11/26/18: Surprise! I’m Not Going To Discuss The Border Mess Here.

Good Morning!

Well, the combination of the holidays and my extended illness, plus some lost days due to travel and speaking engagements, just resulted in the worst 9 days of traffic in recent Ethics Alarms history. As Robert E. Lee said after Pickett’s Charge, “It’s all my fault,” and I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to the readers and loyalists here who continued to visit, read and comment despite my failure to keep up on content.

1. I WAS going to cover the “caravan’s” travails...but when I started it was clear that the topic would be too long for the Warm-Up. Reflecting my disgust as the dishonest and hysterical punditry on the matter, low-lighted by the “They’re gassing women and children!” narrative, I was also going to title the post, “Morning Ethics Throw-Up.”

2. Yesterday’s post about Bill “Bojangles” Robinson has garnered an unusual response so far: far more links to social media than comments. This essay is a good example of why I miss the self-exiled progressives here. I really would love to read an argument of why Fred Astaire’s homage to his friend and teacher is nonetheless racist, because it’s “blackface.” I don’t expect good or persuasive arguments, mind you, because I doubt there are any. But we all benefit from the process of debate when both sides are intelligent and arguing in good faith. Even the most doctrinaire ideologue’s per-programmed talking points can be valuable, if only to help us understand how the hive-mind is buzzing.

An aside: I wonder how many Americans under 50 know what The Kingston Trio was, or have any idea how influential they were on music and the culture in the Fifties and Sixties?

3. Yeah, I guess this is bias. Still...A Nassau County (New York) judge, Thomas Rademaker, had ordered the jailing of a dead-beat dad, Michael Berg, in November 2016 and said he could win his release by paying nearly $518,000 to satisfy his obligations. Rademaker also told Berg that he “symbolizes everything that’s wrong with the world today.” He called Berg “selfish,” “self-interested,” “lazy,” “arrogant,” and said Berg was the last guy he would “want to be in a foxhole with” because he would “fold like a cheap suit.”

The appeals court decided that the judge’s comments had crossed the line and constituted sufficient evidence of bias to mandate a new judge to be appointed to consider whether Berg had willfully failed to pay child support. Berg had not moved for a recusal, which meant the bias issue was not preserved for appellate review. The court said it was nonetheless considering the issue of bias “in the interest of justice.”

I’d love to see how Berg argues that he unintentionally neglected to pay a half-million in child support. Continue reading

Look: An Illegal Immigration Ethics Fractal!

This story is the migrant caravan and the “good illegal immigrant” media narrative in miniature, with exactly the same fallacious ethical reasoning!

Here is the misleading lazy, dishonest and fake news version of a recent incident as reported in two New York papers:

White House turns away foreign students on tour with class

A group of seventh-graders from Henry Hudson Regional School in Highlands braved a snowstorm on Nov. 15 for a long-awaited bus trip to Washington DC.

The bad weather and treacherous road conditions added hours to the drive and left no time for anything but their visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Even lunch on the White House lawn was canceled.

But the snafus didn’t stop there. Months in advance, the school had to send the White House visitors office a list of all students and adults expected to take the tour.

After making it through an initial checkpoint, Secret Service agents stopped three Henry Hudson students who didn’t have their passports or other identification required for non-US citizens.

Aww.

Because the students “braved” the bad weather and their teachers screwed up, the White House was being mean, and probably racist, to enforce the security requirements that have been in place for decades for White House visits. Think of the children!

I feel sorry for the students, but the United States should and cannot waive laws because it feels sorry for the would-be law-breakers. I feel sorry for everyone who lives in Mexico and Guatemala, too. Also China, Somalia, France, Russia, Greece, Togo, and Canada, among many other countries, in fact about all of them that are not the United States. I feel sorry for lots of criminals as well. Laws still have to apply the same way to everybody, or there is no law.

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Fractal (frac·tal): [Mathematics] noun: fractal; plural noun: fractals:

A curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. Fractals are useful in modeling structures (such as eroded coastlines or snowflakes) in which similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales, and in describing partly random or chaotic phenomena such as crystal growth, fluid turbulence, and galaxy formation.

_____________________________

Pointer: Victory Girls.

The Nauseating Caravan Apologists

As usual regarding illegal immigration, there is no “other side,” only rationalizations, dishonesty and Trump hate and emotionalism. Still, the Left’s…and the media’s but, you know, same thing… rhetoric response to the happenings at the border over the weekend represented a new low. I may just let my deranged Facebook friends stew in their own hateful craziness for a while, so I avoid snapping and telling them exactly how they are acting, which might be ethical but wouldn’t be civil. Here’s international law and human rights expert Alyssa Milano, former witch and Tony Danza’s daughter on Twitter:

“You tear-gassed women and children, asswipe! And on Thanksgiving weekend, you piece of shit, asshole, motherfucking, evil-creature-person!!”

Now, I count at least five ways this is unforgivably moronic (It’s not unforgivable to be a moron, but it is unforgivable to make moronic statements in public), but maybe you can find more that five. It is also, except for its exact choice of words, pretty much the same level of logic as most of my lawyer friends on Facebook: yes, they have been reduced by Trump-hate to the abysmal level of a washed-up celebrity with (I think) a high school education.

One: women who break the law and participate in violent attacks on law enforcement officials are as legitimate targets of non-lethal response as men. Funny how feminism evaporates when it is convenient to the feminist.

Two: Using children as human shields is child abuse, and essentially what sops like Millan are arguing is that an adult with a child should be subjected to different law enforcement standards and more lenient ones than anyone else. Wrong. Also unworkable. Also stupid. There were pictures coming out of yesterday’s chaos of men holding up toddlers as literal shields. Nice. By all means, Alyssa, let’s make that an effective tactic.

Three: Democrats, reporters and Facebook sillies were using “gassed” to describe tear-gassing as if the U.S. was breaking the Geneva convention with chemical weapons. Tear gas and pepper spray are legal, useful, necessary alternatives to deadly force in riot situations. My college classmates were subjected to tear gas twice while I was in college, and deserved it.

Four: Wait, did I miss the new law that says that violent illegal immigrants get a pass on a holiday they don’t acknowledge? Or the one that says that other laws are suspended on Thanksgiving? Or the one that says that besieged law enforcement officials are supposed to throw stuffing and cranberry sauce at their attackers?

As for Five, I offer this to Alyssa and any other hypocrite who had no complaints when this was going on, but who now excoriate Trump in vulgar terms: this link, where we find, Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “If The News Media Won’t Resist Publicizing Big Lies, What Hope Is There?”

In response to the post about the mainstream news media still presenting the deaths of Freddie Gray and Mike Brown as “murders” despite all evidence and judicial law enforcement determinations to the contrary, Matthew B raised some interesting questions that I’ve pondered myself.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “If The News Media Won’t Resist Publicizing Big Lies, What Hope Is There?:

I don’t understand why the Black Lives Matters focuses in on the cases that don’t make their point. They should be using Philando Castile as a rallying cry, not Freddie Gray.

I also don’t get what is wrong with most white people. How can we have shootings like Daniel Shaver and think there is nothing wrong? We’ve got a police training issue where an unreasonable level of fear pervades contact with the public and a criminal justice problem where officers are given the King’s pass because too many people view police officers as the good guys no matter what. The BLM crowd is unethical in its conduct in trying to make their point. We’ve got the other side who’s unethically blind and want to ignore that the problem exists.

Bill Robinson, Fred Astaire, And The Good “Blackface”

We recently came through the usual Halloween bag of “blackface” controversies, and Ethics Alarms, as it has before, tried to guide the discussion to the material distinctions that social justice warriors, who strategically deal in absolutes when seeking power through real and contrived offense, refuse to acknowledge or are intellectually incapable of doing so. The short version of the Ethics Alarms message: make-up for legitimate theatrical purposes isn’t “blackface,” isn’t “racist,” and shouldn’t be object of knee jerk condemnation based on emotion or ignorance.

Today Turner Movie Classics showed “Swing Time,” the 1936 musical that is probably the high water mark in the Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire canon. It has the best song (“The Way You Look Tonight”), the best novelty scene (Astaire pretending to be a klutz in a dance lesson with Ginger, then shocking her and her boss—and saving her job— by showing “what a great teacher she is” by dancing, well, like Fred Astaire) and arguably two of the best dances by the two, “Never Gonna Dance” and “Waltz in Swing Time.” The film also contains a controversial “blackface” number, “Bojangles of Harlem,” in which Fred pays homage to two great black tap dancers who were teachers and inspirations for him, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and John Bubbles. Local TV stations have long been reluctant to show “Swingtime” because of guaranteed complaints that the number is racist, or, if they cut the number (which is unconscionable), complaints pour in from film and Astaire fans that they have defaced a classic out of misplaced political correctness.

If one argues that the number is “racist” because of Fred’s make-up, then one is necessarily arguing that no white performer can ever offer an admiring  salute to an African-American great by emulating him. Astaire’s choreography (by Hermes Pan) contained specific references to trademark steps and gestures by both Bubbles and Robinson, though more of the former than the latter. (Some would say, maybe even Fred, that this was because he didn’t dare set himself up to be compared to Robinson, whom many regard as the greatest tap-dancer of them all.) Blackface, as typified by minstrel shows, was a burlesque of negative black stereotypes. There isn’t a hint of this in Astaire’s number: he wears dark make-up because he is honoring two contemporary black dance stars who he knew, learned from, and respected. The make-up is the epitome of a legitimate theatrical device, and racially demeaning neither in intent nor effect. Those who see it as such are either deliberately misconstruing the number, or don’t know what they are talking about. (There is an unfortunate racially demeaning set piece that appears for a couple of seconds at the start, a large caricature of exaggerated black features. You can take the film out of 1936, but you can’t take 1936 out of the film.)

The ironic part of the effort to quarantine “Bojangles of Harlem” is that the number is one of the few reminders in our culture of who Bill Robinson was, and—here’s Jack on his “duty to remember” and cultural literacy soapbox again–he was an important figure in American theatrical, cultural and civil rights history that should be remembered.  Instead, Robinson is almost completely forgotten: I bet most of the NAACP members who get up in arms when TMC shows “Swing Time” have no idea how significant Robinson was, and the contributions he made to art and society. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Rundown, 11/25/ 18: Liberty Games

Good Morning!

1. Baraboo hangover. Apparently the Wisconsin male high school students who gave a Nazi salute in an off-campus photo will not be punished. The superintendent overseeing Baraboo High, Lori Mueller of the Baraboo School District, said in the letter that the district was “not in a position to punish the students for their actions” because of their First Amendment rights. That’s right from a Constitutional viewpoint, and something good will come of the incident if it means that schools will stop punishing students for what they post on social on their own time. Here is the photo, in case you have forgotten…

The Times article sure is full of dissembling and nonsense, however. Peter Gust, the jerk who took and posted the photo, claims that it had been modified by “malevolent behavior on the part of some in society.” Sure. Jordan Blue, the boy in the upper right hand corner in the red tie, has embraced the role of ethics hero in the media, and is grandstanding and virtue signaling like mad, saying that he didn’t have time to leave the photo but that he didn’t raise his arm because “I knew what my morals were and it was not to salute something I didn’t firmly believe in.” Uh, that should be “firmly didn’t believe in,” Jordan. Then there is Brock Turkington, also  in the photograph, whose story is that  “As we were about to take that photo, the photographer instructed the boys to give a ‘high-sign.” The photographer instructed us to extend our arms out, no one knew what a ‘high-sign’ was. I asked another student next to me ‘What are we doing?’ He responded, ‘Stick your arm out.’” But that’s not a “high-sign.” That’s a Heil-sign.

2. I won a bet with myself! Cracked, the list and pop culture commentary website that evolved out of a cheap Mad Magazine rip-off from the Sixties, has a feature called “5 Laws From Other Countries (The USA Should Totally Steal).” Cracked is dominated by smug, if clever, social justice warriors, so I made a bet with myself that the list would contain  several concepts that were unconstitutional or that would advance the Left’s dream of perpetual power. (By the way, you can’t “steal” a law.) Sure enough, the tally was three out of five. I win!!! Continue reading