Groundhog Day Ethics Warm-Up: 2/2/2019

Happy Groundhog Day!

1. Gov. Northam ethics Updates  a)There are reports that Virginia’s beleaguered governor will resign tomorrow. b) Then again, maybe not. The Times has this amazing story:

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, facing intense pressure to resign from fellow Democrats after admitting that he posed for a photo in a racist costume as a medical student more than 30 years ago, was calling state Democrats on Saturday to say he did not think it was him in the picture and that he would not resign… in phone calls on Saturday morning he said he had no recollection of the yearbook image of two men, one in blackface and the other in Ku Klux Klan robes….

In addition to calling state Democratic officials, Mr. Northam has been calling former classmates at Eastern Virginia Medical School in an effort to determine more information about the picture — and to survive a crisis that is threatening his year-old governorship, according to a Democrat familiar with Mr. Northam’s calls.

This Democrat said the governor was determined to prove it was not him in the photograph and was even considering using facial recognition software. The governor, the Democrat said, had wanted to take responsibility on Friday night, which was why he apologized for appearing in the picture without acknowledging which person he was in the image.

Now he has to resign because he has proven that he’s an idiot. He began by admitting that he was definitely one of the two men in the photo and apologizing. If he wasn’t, does that mean that there’s another photo of Northam in a Klan get-up or in blackface? Why would he admit to dressing up in blackface or as a Klansman if he never did so? Was this so routine for him that he wouldn’t remember if he did it or not that particular time? Was he lying when he admitted that he was in the photo–and why would he do that?—-or lying now in a desperate attempt to save his career? Ugh. Show some dignity, man.

c) Conservative bloggers and pundits are enjoying this revolting spectacle way too much. Allahpundit: “Killing babies on the table is one thing, but an old blackface photo is where America draws the line.” Charlie Kirk:

David Bernstein: “The standards on past indiscretions confuse me. If we had had a picture of Ted Kennedy driving a car off a bridge and leaving his passenger to die while he planned a cover up, would he have had to resign?”  And when Planned Parenthood demanded that Northam resign, we got this…

d) Ann Althouse, as I assumed she would, is dubious about the fairness of condemning Northam for an unexplained use of blackface 35 years ago. “Here‘s the Wikipedia list of celebrities who’ve done blackface, ” she writes. ” Would those who want to exile Gov. Northam agree that all of these people should be shunned retrospectively (even the dead ones)? Fred Armisen, Fred Astaire, Dan Aykroyd, Jack Benny, Fanny Brice, George Burns, Johnny Carson, Joan Crawford, Billy Crystal, Robert Downey Jr., Judy Garland, Alec Guinness, Rex Harrison, Jimmy Kimmel, Dean Martin, The Marx Brothers, The Lone Ranger, Carroll O’Connor, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, Grace Slick, The Three Stooges, Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley Temple, John Wayne, Gene Wilder.

Of course, as Ann must recognize, all of those individuals, unlike Northam, were or are performers whose use of dark make-up was related to a particular role, skit or musical number.

2. Still Northam-related, but this deserves its own item. An ongoing trope of the mainstream media’s bias is that when a Republican official is caught in a scandal, his or her party affiliation is mentioned prominently in the resulting news reports, but if the miscreant is a Democrat, that fact is either buried deep in the news story, omitted entirely, or in some cases, the individual is falsly labeled a Republican. When Northam’s yearbook photos emerged, wags joked that CNN would probably make Virginia’s Democratic Governor a Republican…and it DID!

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

3. Wait, does this mean Bill Maher can’t be governor of Virginia? Yesterday’s edition of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher featured the alleged comedian making a fried chicken black stereotype joke to mock Will Hurd, a Republican congressman representing Texas’ 23rd District. When Hurd, speaking of his decade with the CIA, said, “I was the dude in the back alleys at four o’clock in the morning collecting intelligence on threats to the homeland,” Maher replied,  “That’s where you’d collect it, huh? Wow. By the Popeye’s Chicken?”

All improvisational and extemporaneous commentators, satirists and comics should be given general dispensation for such gaffes, and Maher himself has defended other comics whose jokes, ad libs and tweets evoked righteous demands for firing, cancellation of shows, or general shunning. Still, Maheroften accuses Republicans and conservatives of veiled racism and “dog whistles.” I can’t wait to see the double standard that comes out of this episode.

4. Imagine if Northam had a photo showing him wearing a MAGA hat…then he’d really be in trouble…Best selling cookbook author Kenji López-Alt tweeted over the weekend that “…if you come to my restaurant [called Wursthall ] wearing a MAGA cap, you aren’t getting served, same as if you come in wearing a swastika, white hood or any other symbol of intolerance and hate.” It’s impossible to tell any more whether someone like López-Alt is a deliberate purveyor of the Left’s Big Lie that “Make America Great Again” is a white supremacy slogan, or if he is just another dupe. At this point, I don’t care: I wouldn’t eat in his restaurant or check out his recipes if the alternative were dog food. Hateful censors of political opinion are the danger to our society, not red hats. Now the fool has retracted his tweet, apparently because his backers weren’t keen on his insulting a large segment of the restaurant’s potential customers. He also issued a long groveling apology, ending with, “Wursthall will continue, as it always has, to serve all customer regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual preference, gender orientation, disability, or political opinion  —  so long as they leave hate, anger, and violence outside of the doors of our restaurant.”

5. Anti-Trans bigotry? No, just basic common sense. Trans rights advocates are indignant that  USA Powerlifting does not allow biological males who have transitioned to female to compete in female powerlifting competitions. “Male-to-female transgenders are not allowed to compete as females in our static strength sports as it is a direct competitive advantage,” one trans competitor was told. “Transgender male to female individuals having gone through male puberty confer an unfair competitive advantage over non-transgender females due to increased bone density and muscle mass from pubertal exposure to testosterone.”

That competitor, JayCee Cooper, then competed as a woman in a state competition that allowed trans entrants, and won. Surprise.

There are a limited number of viable, equitable and ethical solutions to the trans athlete conflict:

  • Ban trans athletes from all gender differentiated sports.
  • Eliminate gender distinctions in all sports.
  • Have  special trans-only categories in strength and endurance sports.
  • Allow all forms of performance enhancing treatments, drugs, gene therapy and surgery.

Allowing surgically and chemically altered males to compete as women is not among them.

10 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Bioethics, Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race, Social Media, Sports

10 responses to “Groundhog Day Ethics Warm-Up: 2/2/2019

  1. 3-Bill Maher’s puss, always plastered with that all-knowing/yeah-I’m-hip! face-crime violating smirk, is (IMHO) FAR more punchable than Sandmann could ever dream of being.

  2. Here's Johnny

    2. CNN corrected the video, so it’s all good now, right? Well, the new, improved chryon does not label Northam as an (R). In fact, it doesn’t show his political affiliation at all. Good job, CNN.

    • ”it doesn’t show his political affiliation at all.”

      That’s a game (Hide The Inconvenient Political Affiliation) with which Lefty has a considerable experience.

      To wit:

      Remember when those Bell, CA Lefties got caught with their ‘nads in a ringer?

      (bolds/caps mine throughout)
      09/21/2010 : “Today, eight city council members were arrested in Bell, California for what Los Angeles County District Attorney labeled ‘corruption on steroids.’ Thus far, every major news outlet that has reported on the story has omitted the fact that all eight individuals arrested are Democrats.

      ”These glaring omissions come only weeks after NewsBusters reported that of the 351 stories on the then-brewing controversy, 350 had omitted party affiliations, and one had mentioned they were Democrats only in apologizing for not doing so sooner.

      ”ABC, CBS, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and the San Francisco Chronicle all reported on the arrests today without mentioning party affiliations.

      ”One commenter at CNN’s online story got it spot on: ‘I notice there is no mention of the party affiliation of the accused. I can find no mention of it in any story on the internet. THIS MUST MEAN THEY WERE ALL DEMOCRATS.’ ”

      • luckyesteeyoreman

        Same HTIPA thing was done to cover up for Eliot Spitzer, wasn’t it?
        (I don’t know why, but that’s who the Northam cover-up reminded me of.)

        • Your return has mercifully soothed your adoring throngs, lucky; one of them leastways.

          While your reappearance has lifted them from the dark abyss in which they’ve dwelt since your abrupt hiatus last fall, FWIW, your absence didn’t go
          unnoticed.

          • Rats! I should have scrolled down and spared myself the ignominy of an obsequious confession.

            For some inexplicable reason, I no longer get auto-delivered new posts/follow-up comments from EA, and going back to check is a work in progress; too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

            Anywho, glad you’re back!

  3. Rich in CT

    Regarding number 5, we keep getting told that gender is non-binary, yet we keep getting told that it is discriminatory for individuals who do not fit the these obsolete binary categories to be excluded from them….

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