Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/3/2018: Christmas Song Banned! Ethics Alarms De-Faced! Sharpton Cashes In!

Good afternoon!

1. Well, is it good to be a patrician President or isn’t it? It depends, obviously, on who you want to bash. Simultaneously with sidelong sneers from the peasant-shirted left about the Bush family’s wealth and isolated status as rich, privileged, white, WASPS for generations, there have been multiple salutes to the same family, and the late George H.W. Bush in particular, for his grace, class, and dignity in office. These things go hand in hand, you know: wealth, privilege, prep schools, “breeding,” and impeccable manners. John Adams, Andrew Jackson, Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Grant, Truman, LBJ, Clinton, and now Trump, all from “lesser” stock, all had their moments when their behavior was attacked as beneath the office they held. Well, all of them were middle class or lower (you can’t get any lower than Andrew Johnson). Ideally, we want our Presidents to arise from the common clay, but to act like aristocrats in all things public.

Of course, many of our “aristocrats” were low-lives of the soul, but adept at keeping their worst conduct hidden from view. Aristocrats have bad habits too, especially as they relate to women. (See: “David Cop-A-Feel.” I’m sorry, I’ll never get over that…)

2. The President will not eulogize George H.W. Bush. Good. If he reads a nice eulogy written by someone else, it will be flat and awkward. If he extemporizes, God knows what he might say. If he extemporizes and is brilliant, witty, moving and inspiring, it will be attacked anyway.

And by the way, I like the red trees.

Anyone who says that the same decorations put up by Michelle Obama or Jackie Kennedy (EVERYONE had weird colored trees in the early Sixties) wouldn’t be hailed as bold, dashing examples of a modern First Lady’s impeccable sense of style is lying, or hasn’t been paying attention the past two years.

3. Nah, there’s no social media platform bias! Apparently Facebook is now censoring Ethics Alarms posts. Over the weekend I heard from several readers whose links to EA posts were taken down because they didn’t comply with “community standards.” None of the posts were extreme, and all employed consistent ethics analysis, but then the “community” on Facebook, including a majority of my Facebook Friends, is politically intolerant, narrow-minded, ideologically rigid and intent upon driving down that nail that sticks out.

4. From the Ethics Alarms “Appearance of Impropriety” Files. Rev. Al Sharpton sold the rights to his life story to his own charity. From the New York Post:

The National Action Network agreed to pay the activist preacher $531,000 for his “life story rights for a 10-year period,” according to the non-profit’s latest tax filing,…NAN can apparently turn around and sell those rights to Hollywood or other takers at a profit, but neither the reverend nor the charity would identify what producers are waiting for such Sharpton content.

The document does not indicate when Sharpton, who is president of NAN, gets the cash, which is above and beyond the $244,661 he already pulled down in compensation from the group in 2017.

This is clever–slimy, but clever. Why didn’t the Clintons think of it?

5. Baby, It’s Stupid Outside.”   WDOK Christmas 102.1 in Cleveland, Ohio pulled “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”  from its 24-hour Christmas rotation this week, citing listener complaints. #MeToo, you know.


I wrote about the complaints last year, and I’m not a fan of the song:

Here is an article protesting the movement to “ban” (figuratively, not literally), the seasonal duet “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”  for “being insufficiently PC in the sexual assault/harassment realm.” Ethics Alarms called the song “date-rapey” two years ago, so while I don’t exactly want to ban the thing, I am sick of hearing it on Christmas playlists. On Sirius-XM’s “Holly” station, I’d estimate that over 50% of the “Holiday songs” have to do with sex (none have to do with the religious holiday, by design), and I blame “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which on the alternative Christmas channel, “Traditions” “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is played every hour, sometimes more than once. …Writes the blogger,

“But if you actually look at the lyrics, it’s clear that the woman wants to stay, and that her protests are merely for the sake of propriety, and that the whole thing is a flirtatious little game of seduction. In her objections she keeps mentioning what other people will think, not her own feelings. So you might say she’s striking a blow for autonomy and throwing off fusty old custom when she acquiesces at the end.”

It depends on how the song is sung, of course. Dean Martin’s version sounds like a seduction, but then, that was Dean. Actually banning the song, however, with so much far more blatant sexual innuendo infecting Christmas music and other aspects of the holiday, is bats.

Related: Last night I saw the 1949 Christmas film “Holiday Affair,” starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh. It’s low key but fun and well acted. It also has a scene where Mitchum walks into the kitchen as single mother Leigh is doing dishes, grabs her without warning or consent and gives her a long, hard kiss on the mouth as her arms flail helplessly.

Sexual assault.

6. Related to that: Boy, studios had no scruples and no shame back then! The story is about as chaste a romance as you could imagine, with Leigh, who was a true sex-bomb when she wanted to be, playing a devoted mother who dressed and acted like a mother should. Yet here was the original poster:

…which misrepresents the movie entirely, especially Leigh, who is never seen in such a pose. That’s nothin’, though. When the movie was a box-office bomb, they decided that it was because nobody wanted to see film noir tough guy Mitchum being nice, charming and polite (his character resembles John Payne in “Miracle on 24th Street”). So they put out this poster, which is outright misrepresentation:

Now THAT’S an unethical movie poster!





62 thoughts on “Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/3/2018: Christmas Song Banned! Ethics Alarms De-Faced! Sharpton Cashes In!

  1. 5) I’ll have to reassess, my verdict on the song being date-rapey was the clear reference to a spiked drink and to her being fed drink after drink. But in retrospect, she only says “say, what’s in this drink”…that’s not definitive and she could be playing coy.

    Only means the song may still be unethical, but from another angle.

  2. 1) If you are a Republican patrician you are a rich snob who gained his lucre on the backs of the oppressed and all your policies are designed to enrich your plutocrat friends.

    If you are Republican log-cabin president, you are dumb rube who probably can’t even spell his own name.

    If you are a Democrat patrician you recognize your noblesse-oblige and clearly understand your debt to your fellow man and will intelligently guide everyone else towards similar levels of prosperity.

    If you are Democrat log-cabin type, you are the Common Man’s man. You understand the plight of all and will lead everyone in glorious resistance against the man!

    This is easy to do.

  3. Not sure what I feel about the Facebook issue. I figured it was my fairly progressive friends and now I am curious to see the reply or action by Facebook..wonder if I can get the same judge who decided that Trump cannot block folks on twitter?

  4. 1:) Donald Trump walks into a talent agency, He says boy do I have an act for you. I do all this bigly. He proceeds to show a montage of his tweets and rally speeches.

    The talent agent aghast, asks him, what do you call an act like that.

    Donald Trump replies, the aristocrats.

  5. I have not so seen it mentioned so far, but Facebook utilizes in it’s never ending effort to police fake news. Seeing how you’ve criticized these particular judges of truthiness in the past…the algorithmic manipulation of your website’s exposure could be a somewhat personal venture indeed. Just speculation but worth considering.

    Merry Christmas!


  6. Jack, while I agree that not keeping “Cold” in rotation is stupid, I disagree with the term “banned.” The radio station, a private company (or whatever – it’s not the government) decided on its own to not play the song. Now, in reality, who would notice if they didn’t play the song if they didn’t ANNOUNCE that they weren’t going to play it? I don’t know what songs I miss when I’m not listening to the radio, right? I see this move more along the lines of virtue signalling. “We understand the current issues! Listen to our radio station!” Either way, I think the term “banned” is inaccurate.

    • Online commenters disagreed with me when I criticized the American Library Association for renaming an award named after Laura Ingalls Wilder because of the perceived racism in her books. I was told that it’s not like the books were being banned. My argument was that removing the name from the award is only the first step. The next step is school libraries taking the books off the shelves because, after all, the ALA says they’re racist and children shouldn’t be able to check out racist books in school libraries, right? Eventually public libraries will do the same. Before long, the only way to buy the books will be through online retailers.

      What happens when a radio station sends the message that this song is bad and anyone who listens to it endorses date rape? Sure, it’s virtue-signaling, but doesn’t that put pressure on the other radio stations to stop playing it? If they don’t, doesn’t that give the impression to Woke People that they endorse the song’s alleged message? If other radio stations follow, won’t that limit access to the song? Isn’t that a stepping stone to eventually eliminating the song from the public sphere? The government may never ban Laura’s books or any of the upteen versions of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, but the public smearing of cultural relics like these sometimes does the job anyway.

      • The government may never ban Laura’s books or any of the umpteen versions of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, but the public smearing of cultural relics like these sometimes does the job anyway.

        Well, sure. But then there would have to be a large part of the public to take a lot of their time out to act as watchdogs for every radio station and tv channel and newspaper and magazine article and all their replies, plus the commercials and speeches and old movies and everything posted onli . . . . oh

        • Right. To say nothing of streaming services that are slowly replacing hard copies of movies and television shows and e-readers that are meant to replace hard copy books. When corporations like Hulu or Yahoo control the content, it’ll be easy to bury uncomfortable old shows like “Amos & Andy” or movies with Fred Astaire in blackface.

          And with video hosting sites like YouTube restricting hate (content they don’t like), finding these old gems will be harder and harder. Unless, of course, hard copies are owned and bootlegged, ala “Song of the South”.

                    • We were able to buy a VHS copy at…don’t laugh…Jefferson Davis’ plantation gift shop in Biloxi, MS a couple of years ago.

                    • I won’t laugh but may I ask why in the world you went there?

                      And do you wonder WHY they would be the one place to go through the effort of importing it?

                      As a side note, I’ve passed by the Jefferson Davis house in Mississippi twice but would have never thought to actually go there.*

                      *If you’re road tripping from Atlanta to New Orleans highway 90 beats the hell out of I-10, you’re in sight of the Gulf most of the way, you go right through the main drag in Biloxi and there’s plenty of good eats to be found.

                    • What you’re getting is of dubious legitimacy but you’ve opened up an interesting ethics issue.

                      To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

                      The constitution’s copyright clause, 18’th century English in all its glory. To promote the progress of science (Books but mostly they were concerned with maps, a young country with a lot of unsettled (by white people) land, they wanted to encourage surveying and map making. And the useful arts, inventions, nifty do-dads, the weird stuff Dr. Franklein liked to make, I mean a stove, can you imagine? By securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries. Simple enough, you write it, draw it or build the first one and you get a monopoly for a limited time, seven years in the 1790s, Life+70 more years after you kick these days.

                      So you get to profit off your new shiny thing and then after you’ve had your time, the rest of the world gets it freely, lest people have no particular incentive to respect your monopoly. Lock up stuff for a time so everyone gets more stuff in the long run. Violating that is, of course, unethical.

                      But what happens when that monopoly isn’t exploited? The deal was you get to profit but in this case, the monopoly is being used to withhold. You’re getting a dubious copy of a movie and yet Disney didn’t lose a cent because they wouldn’t sell to you at any price. In this case, enforcing the monopoly violates the spirit of the grant in the first place. We’re supposed to get stuff as payment for giving the protection in the first place.

                      In the end though, going outside the intention of copyright law doesn’t change the letter of it. If you believe that any violation of the law is unethical on its face then you can’t obtain media that isn’t legally available without employing rationalization 11(a) “I deserve this!”

                      Verdict: unethical, but I still have my bootleg Star Wars: Holiday Special.
                      Second verdict: valkygrrl is a hypocrite.

                    • Too bad, it’s an important topic. And one of the few we probably generally agree on (so added bonus, you are probably right on this topic). Copyright law and the original law enforcing the Constitutional provision protecting intellectual property are NOT out of date, the gross ethical error is the modern protection ad infinitum. Can’t wait for the discussion on the COTD.

                    • An ethics blog.

                      Gotcha! I just won a small bet with myself.

                      Of course, to the progressives to whom Val would wish to virtue signal, EA has been established as a right wing bundle of deplorable. Objectivity, fact and fairness do not matter to that crowd.

                      I saw an opportunity to tweak your nose, Jack, while mocking progressives and their righteous judgment as our betters by using their term for anything they disagree with.

                      Everything in my little rabbit trail is snark.

                    • Michael West, you can discuss right here. I’ll get you going.

                      What happens when that monopoly isn’t used to withhold an old movie, which people can certainly live without but instead is a patent on a new medicine?

                      What if it’s a simple headache remedy but it works in 30 seconds instead of the 20 mins or so taking an aspirin takes?

                      But then what if it cures Ebola?

                      The ethics assessment shifts. You’re not required to let thousands of people die in an outbreak to protect a monopoly. That would be unethical.

                      And what if it’s priced far too high? That’s why some Asian countries don’t respect drug patents. It’s a problem, they put themselves at odds with American and European drug companies for the sake of their own people while the western governments are obligated, legally and ethically to defend their own rent-seeking companies who in turn are obligated to recoup their investments. It’s lose-lose.

                      This is a worthy topic for an ethics blog. The issues involved straddle the partisan divide. The debate should attract less of the mean and belittling attacks on people, specifically me, that generate a lot of hard feelings.

                      Them again it might take time away from the constant attacks on anyone who see’s Trump for what he really is.

                    • Given that I offered to make the issue central to the discussion here by highlighting it as a Comment of the Day—because that’s what the COTD is for—and you chose to block it, which I chose to respect though I was not obligated to do so, the last sentence is especially indefensible. I wanted to raise the issue, you chose to prevent it, and them you write that. Both unfair, and gratuitously nasty. Nice.

                      Meanwhile, you obviously don’t know what you are talking about. You’re mixing up copyrights, which have been unethically extended by an unholy alliance of Congress and Disney, with patents. I had a lot about the unethical copyright laws on the old website, but I keep forgetting it’s down. There is also a lot about them here:

                      Patents are a different matter. They aren’t “monopolies,” they are property created by an individual or company, and they are essential to encourage invention, along with the work, risk and expense it entails. The market system has worked very, very well with patents, and would work even better without institutionalized distortions of the system, like insurance. People who invent stuff tend to want to price it so those who want it can afford it. And if businesses couldn’t recoup their costs in rug development, they wouldn’t develop drugs. But you are focusing on one, narrow area where the patent laws and the market don’t always work. In general, patent law has made the US the most innovative society in world history.

                    • Patents are monopolies just like copyright, the time is just shorter, 20 years, which is perfectly reasonable in most cases.

                      There is an issue with improperly granted patents though it’s a bit outside what we were discussing above.

                      And Jack, nothing is stopping you from writing a new post of your own on the subject.

                    • Nope. Because the perspective of commenters is often the best way to approach these issues, since I get sick of myself, and, I have been shocked to discover, don’t have all the answers. And I expect all participants here to do so in the spirit of the enterprise. This was a copyright episode, you know: if you write here, I own the copyright, and can do what I want with the words and concepts. That’s the law. Ethically, I won’t do that. Ethically, I gave you control of your own product. (Then you kicked me in the teeth anyway, falsely suggesting that I had no interest in the topic.(Again, nice.) Meanwhile, I allow anyone to reprint anything here, as long as they give proper credit. Most people ask my permission any way. Then there was the California lawyer who stole a whole post, slapped her name on it, and when I wrote her, claimed I had plagiarized her (The posting times proved otherwise.) Nobody knows what to do about bloggers like Amy Alkon, who I generally like, but who frequently publishes another author’s essay, or 80-90% of it, with just a few comments of her own. Ken of Popehat has complained about that practice frequently. But people don’t click on links, so where is the line? Then there’s “scraping”—unethical in school, but so common online that its impossible to police, and a true copyright gray area.

                      None of which is relevant to patent law and ethics, except that patents have parallel issues.

                    • VG, we were on a road trip to New Orleans and decided to come back via Biloxi, Mobile and up through Montgomery. We stopped at the plantation because we’d never seen a plantation and figured that, if we were going to one, it might as well be one belonging to Mr. Antebellum himself. It was ironic, though, going to Montgomery where the statehouse is a virtual shrine to Davis, from the block on the steps marking where he was inaugurated President of the Confederacy to the room where the CSA was formed to the mural on the top of the rotunda dome including a panel of him being inaugurated to the other room where his body laid in state after he died. Yep, it was all marked, too. Looking down the street and imagining civil rights marches coming from Birmingham, we had an idea what those marchers were up against.

                      And we, too, found the gift shop with its confederate souvenirs everywhere delightfully fun, in an ironic way.

  7. EA is banned from FacePlant (with kudos to Paul for the term. Hope he doesn’t mind if I use it) because EA is constantly pointing out the lack of ethics in the media, on social sites and employed by the Left, in general. The fact that EA ALSO points out ethics ‘;slippages’ pretty much EVERYWHERE is irrelevant. Anybody and any thing that finds fault with the Progressives must be Conservative and, hence, must be buried. Unfortunately, this type of censorship will eventually result in the Internet being regulated.

  8. ”kudos to Paul for the term.”

    Shoot d_d, I’m sure I lifted it from somewhere; but public domain & every poet is a debtor to Homer kinda thingey.

    And it may come as no surprise that my ”Homer” happens to be a Simpson…

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