Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/31/2018: “Goodbye 2018, And Good Riddance!” Edition

Happy dying gasps of 2018!

1. Double standards inquiry: Will someone please explain to me why this magazine cover, which made O.J. Simpson blacker than he really is…

 

was universally condemned as racist, and this current cover of New York Times Magazine, making the late Aretha Franklin look like a ravenous rotting zombie from Hell..

…is just an artistic choice? (ARRGHHHHH!!!)

2. And speaking of looks…It is impossible not to notice that TV commercials are increasingly featuring overweight, ordinary-looking actors instead of the impossibly beautiful people who once were the automatic choices to sell products. This is an ethical development for the culture generally, and should help children develop more realistic aspirations regarding their own appearance. Now if only TV dramas would adopt the same inclusive casting policies—a particularly egregious candidate for reform is “law and Order” creator Dick Wolf.  His old series cast one eye-popping beauty after another as the male ADA’s sidekick, and now he is stocking his current NBC line-up of Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD, with police women, female firefighters and distaff doctors who would be right at home in the pages of Vogue.

3.  More on “Enemies of the People”: Novelist and conservative gadfly Sarah Hoyt has issued a spirited defense—okay, it’s a screed, a rant even— of President Trump’s characterization of the news media, going over ground I have covered (most recently here and here), but with special brio. Read the whole thing— she is mostly right, if a bit hyperbolic and inflammatory—but here are some highlights:

  • “[H] ow would you describe the situation we’re in? Where our media — and most of our intellectual class, at least those who have access to a public-megaphone —are functionally trying to destroy the nation and everything it has stood for?

I’ve described it as: if we had lost the cold war, other than enemy troops in the streets and our economy being looted by Moscow, how would it be different.  If you look just at our education, entertainment, and mass information systems, what would be functionally different?”

  • “Do you know that there are actually people who believe that Trump cut taxes “only for the rich” and therefore the “middle class is paying for these tax cuts.” Yes, they are innumerate. …But they wouldn’t believe that nonsense without the media.

And I bet you all of us have friends who are decent middle-class people, very busy at their job, who get news only from the MSM and are therefore convinced Trump is a tyrant and America is evil. Even though, being decent people, if they knew what was really going on they’d be outraged… at the left.”

  • “Yes, sure, “enemy of the people” was used by tyrants, usually to brand anyone who opposed them. As such, the optics suck. However, our president isn’t a wordsmith, and what he’s saying is no more, no less than the absolute unvarnished truth. If the press had their way we’d be an open-borders, invaded state, where any remaining productive people are taxed 90% to provide “for the needs” of people who do nothing and create nothing.

If you think that’s a worthy goal, you may then disagree with the president that the Press are Enemies of the People.”

4. If you doubt that it’s as serious as all that: watch this video…

…in which Ian Furgeson, 36, found himself verbally attacked and ejected from a store because he revealed himself as a supporter of the President of the United States of America. Had this ever happened in any previous administration? Do you think more than two years of non-stop vilification of President Trump by the news media might have something to do with it?

Yes, the clerk was fired. What he needs is psychiatric treatment….like several million other people.

4.  When is a politician obligated to return a donation? ABC, I assume because it is writing about a Republican, apparently assumes that Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is legally or ethically obligated to return campaign donations because social media mobs have bullied her corporate contributors to ask for them back. You may recall that Hyde-Smith set herself up for a “gotcha” by praising a local rancher with the statement, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” (Most news media reports never explained the context of the comment, and many didn’t include the full quote.) Now, this, one would have to agree, is a really stupid thing to say, especially in Mississippi, where lynchings were common, and when one’s opposition is black and addicted to race-baiting. On the other hand,  it should be clear to any fair analyst that she was not referring to lynchings, but using the archaic practice of executing criminals in the public square as an example of something disgusting that she would nonetheless endure if her supporter asked her to.  Never mind: corporations these days can be hectored into anything if the manufactured outrage gets loud and angry enough, so a welter of spineless companies like  Aetna, Amgen, AT&T, Boston Scientific, Facebook, Google, Leidos, Major League Baseball, Pfizer, Union Pacific and Walmart denounced Hyde-Smith’s non-racial joke (which ABC calls “racially tinged” without explaining what she said–nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!) and publicly demanded refunds.

She refused. Good for her. So would I. If the news media and social media can use their big megaphones to force candidates to surrender contributions that have already been made, we’ll see more and more of such extortion, and we know corporations don’t have the integrity to stand up to threatened boycotts.

5.  When feminist ethics alarms malfunction: Oops! Focus Features posted an ad on Facebook to appeal to feminist fans of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg:

“Win a shopping spree and a trip to Washington, D.C. for you and a friend to celebrate the release of “On the Basis of Sex,” based on a true story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

The text was immediately attacked this as “sexist,” “sexploitational,” and “deeply unsettling.”

Gee, I’d like a free shopping spree!

 

12 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/31/2018: “Goodbye 2018, And Good Riddance!” Edition

  1. 4)Sheesh! I wish I could believe that that was an isolated, loony tunes kinda guy. I wonder if Mr. Furgeson followed through with his promise to call the police and what, if anything, they did about it.

  2. #4 The cashier should have told the other guy “I’m fighting racism here blackie, you wait till I’m good and ready”. That would have made it hilarious. It never came across the cashier’s mind in his denounciation of capitalism, that his employer was probably not the “May First State Smoke Outlet #6” and he wasn’t later sent to a re-eduction camp for airing anti-government rhetoric and agitating citizens for a rebellion.

  3. #2. It wasn’t only the sidekicks, police women, female firefighters and distaff doctors and other respectable women who were beautiful. It was all of the women. On the screen would appear a gorgeous, 23 year old actress with a smudge on her cheek, while a detective explained that she was an over the hill, drug addicted hooker.

  4. #3 – It will be interesting as we enter tax season. They changed the rules quite a bit so I’m not certain how my taxes will shake out. I know my take home pay went up, but I don’t know how much I get to keep.

    • I am just hoping that my clients listened to me last year and are still getting a refund this year. Too many variables to say whether the refund will be bigger or smaller this year, but most people’s taxes will have gone down from last year.

  5. If the press had their way we’d be an open-borders, invaded state …

    From time to time I tell people that words matter when you are trying to get to grips with problems and find solutions, because then the technical details and distinctions matter a lot. So it is unwise to use words like “invaded” for this sort of thing, even if they colourfully show the general effect. It might even lead to the wrong solutions.

    The thing is, there are three related techniques that should not be confused: incursion, invasion and infiltration. What is going on is infiltration, not invasion.

    … the archaic practice of executing criminals in the public square …

    Huh? No, the traditional practice was to do it just outside the town, typically at an unpopulated place like a crossroads or where a road crested a hill, though sometimes habitation later reached the customary place (e.g. Tyburn). That way, leaving the body up for a while would be visible because the place was frequented and/or prominent, but not noxious to ordinary residents as there were none. There is something poetic about pirates being “hung in chains at Wapping Stairs” (to be drowned by the rising tide in the Thames).

    • …incursion, invasion and infiltration.

      Jack’s prose is so much more sexy, though! And it IS an invasion, given the numbers. Hannibal crossed the Alps with fewer troops (including Elephants!) than cross our border illegally every year.

      Of course, I am in favor of strafing the border in random places at random times… just to add an element of risk to the endeavor. If that is too radical (read: effective) then how about we just plant command controlled minefields along the border, with signs saying ‘Minefield active 4 days a week: guess which 4″

      Tired of the frackin’ invaders, I am.

      My kid cannot get federal grants because he is too white. Yet illegal aliens go to college for frackin’ FREE! On MY dime.

      This will get Trump re-elected.

      • … And it IS an invasion, given the numbers. Hannibal crossed the Alps with fewer troops (including Elephants!) than cross our border illegally every year.

        No, that’s precisely the sort of misdiagnosis I meant.

        It isn’t a numbers thing, it’s whether it’s done as an active attack (invasion or incursion, which differ only in whether they leave forces in place or just shoot through before counter-measures bite as hard) or as a sneaky bypassing of resistance (infiltration), precisely in order to avoid an active attack with all its associated costs and risks. Anyone who tries to defeat the one with the methods needed for the other is like someone treating syphilis with quinine.

        • If the impact is the same… the shoe fits.

          Look, I get you are approaching this from a linguistic direction, PM, and you have a point. My use of this language is to make a different point, and some latitude is usually given when that use lends emphasis to the point.

          The recent caravans WERE an invasion attempt, financed by socialists on both sides of the border as well as the United Nations. Had they been allowed to blow through the border, many more would be coming in today.

          That is invasion even by your terms.

          • If the impact is the same… the shoe fits.

            That is 100% wrong, just like saying “syphilis and malaria both kill, so they are the same”. They are both killers, but it’s 100% wrong to think that’s the place to stop.

            Look, I get you are approaching this from a linguistic direction, PM, and you have a point.

            No, I bloody well am not “approaching this from a linguistic direction”.

            I am approaching this from a “what are we faced with” and “what is involved” point of view. I was just trying to use technical distinctions and technical terms to do that.

            My use of this language is to make a different point, and some latitude is usually given when that use lends emphasis to the point.

            Well, I’m not giving it any latitude, since that would only be rating that colourfulness I mentioned above higher than the point I myself was trying to drive home. Feelings don’t trump rational understanding, and you don’t get to bait and switch my point, something that does the job, for something more emphatic. It’s like a recruitment consultant gussying up a candidate’s cv to get him an interview, even though that guarantees he won’t get the job once the employer checks.

            The recent caravans WERE an invasion attempt, financed by socialists on both sides of the border as well as the United Nations.

            Less politely than elsewhere, since that isn’t working – crap.

            Not nowise, not nohow, is any of that “an invasion attempt”.

            Look, that’s the sort of stealth approach India tried and failed in Goa before they invaded. They are very different beasts. The Portuguese easily fended off Plan A, but couldn’t cope with Plan B.

            Had they been allowed to blow through the border, many more would be coming in today.

            That is invasion even by your terms.

            The first sentence is 100% accurate. The second is utter crap. You really shouldn’t be telling me to my face, so to speak, that I don’t really mean what I have been telling you I mean.

            • Sorry you got offended: it was not my intention to offend you. I really thought I was reading your intentions from your words. I do not bait and switch. Again, I apologize for my misunderstanding.

              You have moved from rational discourse to emotionally weighted wording (‘crap,’ ‘bloody well’) and I was not intending to provoke you.

              I can see we are not going to come to an understanding so will bid you ‘good day.’

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