Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/7/18: Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

Good morning.

…And a good morning to remember a very bad morning in Hawaii 77 years ago today.

1. Oscar’s latest fiasco. The Academy Awards, which like all awards shows has descended into nasty political advocacy, undermining its mission and alienating its audience, decided to pick famously non-partisan black comedian Kevin Hart, who is also a successful movie actor, to host. His gig lasted just a few day. People looking to discredit him went digging into  his social media posts, and some tweets from eight years ago–you know, before Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had flipped on gay marriage?—were judged as “homophobic.” In a post on Instagram at about 11 p.m. last night, Hart said he got a call from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was asked to apologize for his prior tweets, or step down as host. He chose to withdraw, and tweeted this:

“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s….this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past. ‘m sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”

The conservative media is calling Hart another example of political correctness run amuck. That’s ignorant and wrong. To be successful, an MC has to be liked and trusted by his audience, which is, for the Oscars, the people inside the theater above all. A huge percentage, even a half or more, of the Oscar audience is gay. No one can host the Oscars while it is known that he once said, even eight years ago, that he was terrified that his son might grow up to be gay. It doesn’t matter that he may have “evolved.”  Hollywood is a substantially gay community, and the host of its biggest party of the year should neither be nor be suspected of being homophobic,

Why the Academy’s vetters and Hart himself couldn’t figure this out is a different issue: gross incompetence.

2. And now for something REALLY stupid...An Elkhorn, Nebraska grade school principal named Jennifer Sinclair banned candy canes during the Christmas season because she is thinks the J-shape  might be interpreted as promoting Jesus. The Omaha Manchester Elementary School sent parents a list of things she was banning during the weeks leading up to Christmas, noting that their offspring needed to learn to be “inclusive and culturally sensitive to all of our students.”  On the list:

  • Christmas trees in classrooms
  • Santa Claus and other Christmas clipart
  • Singing Christmas Carols or Christmas songs,
  • Playing Christmas music
  • Elf on the Shelf
  • Christmas related books
  • Making a Christmas ornament as a gift
  • Yes,  candy canes
  • Pairing red and green
  • Reindeer
  • Referencing Christmas videos, movies or characters from Christmas movies.

She ended her letter by calling herself, “The (Unintentional) Grinch who stole Christmas (from Manchester), thus violating her own rule about referencing Christmas characters.

Yes, she is an idiot. Happily, the Liberty Counsel, a conservative civil rights group,  sent a cease and desist letter to the school district demanding they reverse this madness. In response, the attorneys representing the school district sent the Liberty Counsel a letter stating the district had “investigated this matter and determined that Principal Sinclair’s memorandum did not comply with Board Policy” adding that the school’s staff was instructed to allow “certain Christmas symbols.”

Jennifer Sinclair was placed on leave, at least for the remainder of the holiday season. Good. She should be fired—not for the letter, but for the hopeless lack of judgment and common sense it demonstrates.

3. And now for something even MORE stupid! The above story indicates the state of our public school system, and this story shows what kind of citizens such a system produces.

Gavin Clarkson told New Mexico’s Las Cruces Sun-News that both a District of Columbia clerk and his supervisor refused to give him a marriage license because they believed that New Mexico is a foreign government. They demanded that he show a proper foreign passport.

This would qualify as an Ethics Alarms KABOOM!, a tale that explodes my head, if I hadn’t lived in or around the District of Columbia so long.

Clarkson eventually was able to explain to both the clerk and the supervisor that New Mexico is a state, and he got his marriage license.

D.C. Courts spokesperson Leah H. Gurowitz issued the following statement:

“We understand that a clerk in our Marriage Bureau made a mistake regarding New Mexico’s 106-year history as a state. We very much regret the error and the slight delay it caused a New Mexico resident in applying for a D.C. marriage license.”

But do they regret hiring, employing and paying taxpayer dollars to incompetent, ignorant clowns?


I find it hard to laugh at this.





28 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/7/18: Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

  1. I’ve heard those anecdotes about New Mexico before, and they seem to be authentic rather than fabrications.

    What would solve the problem? Perhaps a computer powered system with “drop down menu” in which the poorly informed worker is able to choose the state of New Mexico as a possible location within the USA. It’s a bad sign, because it means that government workers cannot make informed judgements and must be protected from their own ignorance through careful guidance.

    As someone who used to live in Iowa, I can tell you that there is a rich body of anecdotes to confirm the hypothesis that many people can’t tell the difference between Iowa and Idaho. The highly clueless Americans will lump Ohio in there as well. At least those jurisdictions are understood to be within the United States.

    The best riff on this problem is the T-shirts you can buy with an outline of the state of Ohio and a big title proclaiming “Iowa: the Potato State.” Or there were the T-shirts stating “The University of Iowa, Idaho City, Ohio.

    • Yep, they are authentic. My former mother-in-law was born in New Mexico and was constantly asked about her green card when she moved out of state.

      • I’ve heard the same thing. Pretty inexplicable but evidently fairly common. Maybe it’s a hearing thing. Maybe people just don’t hear the “New.”

  2. Sheesh! I am at a loss for words. But I suppose this is so incomprehensible to me because I lived for a quarter century within 50 miles of the New Mexico state line. Hard to pretend it’s not a state when it is right next door.

    • Well, let me reconsider. After living on the East Coast the past 15 years, and watching and listening to a bunch of sports broadcasts — I would have to say there’s a lot of ignorance on this coast about almost anything west of the Mississippi.

  3. I post FDR’s address to Congress on 12/8/1941 on Facebook every December 7.

    1. Hart was originally defiant and argued that he shouldn’t have to apologize for Facebook posts he’d made years ago and couldn’t understand why people couldn’t allow for a person’s attitude to evolve.
    2. Almost nothing on that list has anything to do with Christianity at all. Although, I have heard that candy canes were shaped thusly to represent a shepherd’s crook, so, perhaps, one could argue that it is intended as a religious reference. Red and green, seriously? Was Sinclair really going to make red and green clothing pairings as taboo as gang colors in her school?
    3. In light of this, New Mexico should go on a PR blitz emphasizing its tourism and reminding people, “Yep, we ARE actually a U.S. state!”.

  4. #3: Check out this link:

    This was started by the New Mexico Magazine, a product of the New Mexico Tourism department. Back in the days of the print magazine, the last page was filled with anecdotes that residents of the state would submit, with stories like this one. The magazine has been around since the 1930’s, but I don’t know when it started. I learned about it when my uncle moved there in the early 1980’s and we visited. He had bought and then ran an RV park and he kept stacks of the magazine that he gave away to guests. We loved reading through those, they never got boring.

  5. #1: Originally I’d heard that Hart stepped down from his hosting duties rather than apologize, saying he had already addressed the comments and wasn’t going to keep doing so. Looks like he ended up going with a cookie-cutter grovel about personal growth instead- the first version was cocky, but I kind of liked it.

  6. I overheard a tourist couple on a bus a few years ago discussing where they were going next since it was their last day in San Francisco. The man said Hawaii was a great idea since they were already on the West Coast. The woman responded in an aggrieved tone of voice where he thought they were going to get a visa over the weekend.

  7. On point 2, why does the requirement for cultural sensitivity only fall on backs of one particular demographic segment. Should the others also be culturally sensitive?

    • I love the progressive Gordian Knot of advocating tolerance for LGBT and Islam. Christians are bad because some oppose gay marriage, but let’s ignore that many Islamic countries execute homosexuals.

  8. Ok stupidity a subject that everytime it rears it’s head, I react it is like when I order the subway melt, and the sandwich guy asks if I want cheese on it.
    1 ) Ok, first the Academy Awards was originally set up as an attempt to keep actors from unionizing. That failed, but we got years of glamour out of it. – Kevin Hart was as Jack says a poor choice of host due to his perceived past, but who among us have not grown and matured over the years, My dad when he was alive was extremely Homophobic with 3 gay sons, but he only knew he had two. My brother Gregg only came out after his five kids were raised and dad was gone! My Dad was starting to come around just before he died. He and I had been rebuilding our relationship after my brother David’s death. Ever since Marlon Brando the Oscars have become a political night, it should not be, as it should be about celebrating the work, but it has become the reality! His apology should be enough, but as Jack points out the theatre and film crowd has a huge gay component. But also it is far to the left politicaly, it is ethically diverse and growing more so, though it also has its Republicans and white male privledge. The night always needs the best host. But we now have entered the has he or she ever said anything stupid test phase of choosing a host. I donor think anyone can pass that one. I have had trans friends since the late 80’s. But it took me years to understand I would not want to be considered if I was viable, due to statements I made when I was younger and stupid. The equation for finding the perfect host is now too difficult. As I see it we need a Muslim covert raised in a same sex home, who was raised half Christian half Jewish, is racially mixed in a blender, and has credibility with both political parties, and works in the Film industry. Ok you can step forward now!
    Come on the academy just needs someone everyone likes and trusts! Or someone that will take the politics head on and crack jokes at everyone’s expense. No target safe. Because it this politicaly correct, devided country we need to find a way to bring us together. It seems impossible to offend no one so let’s offend everyone till they learn to laugh and look at themselves.

    2) Christmas has largely become secular and even I have 5 Christmas song play lists ; religious, mainstream, kid friendly, comedy, and gay themed. I play them depending on my mood, mostly it is comedy. This woman is clearly not able to see the difference, the day I see a rudolf in a manger scene I will go ballistic for the two worlds infringement on each other. I candy cane is shaped like a cane, lady hence the name, the confectioners of the world are not in a conspiracy to covert the unsuspecting. I hope. It is reprehensible to block secular trimmings of the holiday as they are part of our collective culture,an educator should look at this as an opportunity and teach, of other holidays and beliefs, to foster understanding, I am not implying indoctrination, I am saying foster understanding. I know very little of the religious holidays of my Muslim, Hindu, and Bubist friends, My Pagan and Jewish friends I do. We should add Chanukah,Saturnalia, and Yule decoration’s though the later two have often been borrowed by Christians. As we plopped the twelve days of Christmas over them like a throw rug to hide the past. An educator that bans anything that can serve as a tool to educate an enlighten does not Deserve the position in education.
    3. Both the clerk and supervisor should be fired. As this is something that anyone with a fifth grade education should know. The general public should not be subjected to dealing with them if they do not have the knowledge basics needed to perform their Job!

  9. I find Ms. Scrooge Sinclair even less laughable than the D.C. story. Christmas is just what the economy thinks it is: a Season and, as such, it has unique emotions and colors and melodies that belong to it, as well as family traditions, and special comforts for people who believe in them. I realize the little 6,000+ population of that incorporated corner of Omaha is probably close to (if not completely)100% Christian, but it did tickle me to think what a surprise the principal would have gotten if everyone showed up in the class the next day and made little clay menorahs to light tinted candles in, played dreidel games, danced the hora and had latkes for lunch.

  10. A contrary analysis and examining the *larger issue*

    The conservative media is calling Hart another example of political correctness run amuck. That’s ignorant and wrong. To be successful, an MC has to be liked and trusted by his audience, which is, for the Oscars, the people inside the theater above all. A huge percentage, even a half or more, of the Oscar audience is gay. No one can host the Oscars while it is known that he once said, even eight years ago, that he was terrified that his son might grow up to be gay. It doesn’t matter that he may have “evolved.” Hollywood is a substantially gay community, and the host of its biggest party of the year should neither be nor be suspected of being homophobic.

    One might say then that they have *taken over* Hollywood. One could say that that is not a good thing. One could advocate that they be purged from Hollywood. One could advocate that the presentation, normalization, selling & encouragement of open homosexuality be discouraged. Just as the homosexuals, and their supporters, advocate for their values, it is just as reasonable and fair that those values be reversed through a shift in cultural attitude.

    The thing about this man’s tweets is that they are all vulgar and mean-spirited — stupid in fact. They are on the level of a 10 years old boy and directed to a similarly stupid audience. There are no ideas behind them. The manifestation of sexual deviancy is connected to a general social breakdown which in its turn is connected to other decadent processes. If this is not understood, and the sexual aspect is seen independently of general ethics (and morality), the problem cannot really be seen.

    The *selling* of homosexuality, the presentation of it, the normalization of it, can be seen — can be studied in fact — through the examination of a (Hollywood) film like American Beauty. The process of normalizing it has specific roots, and the roots are connected to other social trends. It’s ‘all of a piece’ as the saying goes.

    This homosexual elite, this superabundance of homosexual activists and participants, must be ‘driven out’ of Hollywood. But this can only happen if an entire trend of hyper-liberalization and decadence is, somehow, arrested. This decadent process significantly began, according to my research, 60-70 years ago. Film has been a large part of it. It can be located and traced. Therefor, if these deviant trends are to be addressed it will take a number of generations. It can only come about through a social process of rejection of the *values* or really the *anti-values* sold be a perverted elite through its productions.

    It has to be confronted intellectually as a first step. And there is no one there who can do this. The perversion is not *out there* it is *in us* in one way or another. It enters us through *image*. The *body* so to speak is out of control and *in rebellion* against the mind, but there are *agents* that stir up rebellion. This is not only a matter of homosexuality, it is connected to the entire relationship to sexuality which has become hugely deviant.

    I am evolving and want to continue to do so.

    A strange statement when you examine it. Evolution is equated, I reckon, with moral and ethical growth? But it does not seem *genuine*, but rather forced. If enough of the mass insists that resisting homosexuality is regressive, one *evolves* to *embrace* it. Its is all really crazy. When people lose their (sorry!) metaphysical underpinnings, the entire ground of existence becomes unstable.

  11. I disagree with the Kevin Hart thing. I mean, Hart only said he hoped his son wasn’t gay. He didn’t call for killing all gay men. He didn’t call for murdering them, then castrating them and feeding their corpses to pigs. The latter two behaviors seem to be perfectly acceptable for college faculty as long as you want to kill whites or white men. Your university will even support your right to say that and state that there is no problem with you dealing impartially with students, even if you have publicly expressed the desire to kill them or have them killed. If expressing the desire for genocide is OK, who would think that Hart’s statement from long ago would be a deal-killer?

  12. Re No. 1, The Oscars Kerfuffle:

    I am not sure I agree with the main point here: That an Oscars host must be acceptable to the gay community. Hart* wrote something offensive to the Alphabet Community** and he was forced to step down rather than apologize, then he apologized, and promised to evolve (whatever that means – is he physically changing to a new humanoid species? I better check with the Directors of Genetic Control on how that is going) .

    It’s the Oscars. Has that show been relevant in the last 10 to 15 years? It is a mutual admiration society for a bunch of confused, self-important narcissists with over-inflated egos. Remember, this is the same show that routinely fawned over Harvey Weinstein.

    I get that a moderator should be likable and trusted, for the live audience but also the TV viewing public. More importantly, the moderator has two jobs: Attract attention to the show and make it entertaining for those watching it. I venture to say that every moderator/host over the last 10 to 15 years has done neither. Look at the ratings. The last time the Oscars had any good ratings was when Billy Crystal hosted it. Nobody watches the show any more because it has ceased being fun. Viewers voted with their time by watching other shows.

    But this part is what has me thinking:

    “No one can host the Oscars while it is known that he once said, even eight years ago, that he was terrified that his son might grow up to be gay. It doesn’t matter that he may have ‘evolved.’ Hollywood is a substantially gay community, and the host of its biggest party of the year should neither be nor be suspected of being homophobic.”

    “No one”? Is that true? Kevin Hart is very popular in the Black community. Is that to subordinated to the Alphabet Community? If so, why? Alizia, above, kind of tapped into some thoughts I had but then went off on a different direction. For me, the issue isn’t about the Alphabet Community; it is about entertainment. When I go to a movie, I don’t want to be bludgeoned by/with the latest pop culture pet cause unless that is a cause I am interested in or support. If I want to see Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, I want to see over the top stunts, crazy plot twists, and really cool explosions. If I want to see Helen MIrren, I want to see her do just about anything – she is a monumental talent and keeps her politics at bay unless the role calls for it (if you want to see a brilliant performance second to none, watch her in “The Hundred-Foot Journey”). If I want to be spoon fed leftist propaganda, I will watch Michael Moore (and then, quickly gouge my eyes out).

    I really could not care one iota about a performer’s sexuality or sexual identity or political leaning. Moreover, if I were inclined to waste time watching the Oscars, I would want the host to be funny and entertaining, and provocative if it is relevant. But, because a large part of Hollywood is gay the host is supposed to be supported by and a supporter of that community? No. I disagree. It is the Oscars, not the Alphabet Community’s Oscars. By that reasoning, only Alphabet Community gets to decide the content of movies, television shows, advertisements, and school curriculum. That seems to be going over the top.


    *Ed. Note 1: The author of this post asks facetiously: “Who is Kevin Hart and why am I required to care about this?” Please note the author has been sacked for his paucity of pop culture knowledge. He is being reeducated as we speak.

    **Ed. Note 2: The author of this missive keeps using “Alphabet Community” because he is a Philistine and cannot keep up with the proper listing of letters that make up that community. In his defense, that community can’t even agree on the proper order of letters so how in the name of Mike is he supposed to do it? That being said, he has been sacked – see Ed. Note 1 above.

  13. There’s a “myth” that the human body replaces itself every 7 years and so you are not really the same you from 7 years ago. The idea is that a cell dies off and is replaced and over the course of 7 years, you are completely new again. I call it a “myth” because the reality is trickier. It varies depending on the cell in question. Stomach lining cells regenerate every 5 days, some cells are about 15 years, and others last a lifetime.

    My point is, can this be instructive to how people evolve? If someone last espoused a stupid point of view 8 years ago, can we just accept that 7 years is the lifespan of an idiotic thing to say and that since it’s now 8+ years later that we need updated information to judge someone? (At least in the social media, political correctness, and social justice venues?)

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