Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/11/2019: No Laughing Matters

You know, Saturdays  were a lot more fun when I watched cartoons in the morning …

1. More on the divisive Red Sox visit to the White House, as all the blacks and Hispanic-Americans—but one—boycotted the honor.  Kyle Smith at the National Review has some spot-on observations. Some samples:

Naturally the media blamed the target of this calculated mass protest. “Did Donald Trump honor the Red Sox or the ‘White’ Sox?” asks columnist Edward Montini in the Arizona Republic, adding, “Trying to pretend that President Donald Trump has not caused a widening racial and ethnic divide means not believing what you can hear with your own ears and see — clearly — with your own eyes.” MSNBC guest and former Joe Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said, “I bet [Trump] was happy today that he was able to say that the white players were here and players of color weren’t. That’s the kind of division he fosters deliberately.”

Isn’t Klein’s statement obviously the blathering of an asshole? How far gone do you have to be to buy that? More from Kyle…

[L] et’s call this what it is: Top athletes, especially top athletes of color, are insulting the President of the United States. They have every right to do this, but let’s at least get the direction of the animosity right. Trump doesn’t invite just white athletes to the White House. The racial resentment in these ceremonies is being flung at him, not by him. The athletes, not the president, are racializing these ceremonies….These feel-good photo-ops for jocks are nonpartisan. Everyone used to understand this. Participating in a White House ceremony does not constitute an endorsement of a president, much less agreement with all of his policies. Before the Trump era, only a handful of athletes had ever been conspicuous no-shows at White House events to honor them, and most of them hastened to clarify that they had non-political reasons for missing the events. These days everything must be scrutinized for political content. Dave Zirin of The Nation is assailing Tiger Woods for accepting a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump, saying it amounted to “to kiss[ing] Trump’s ring.

Read it all, but really: who’s being an asshole here? It isn’t Trump.

2. Let’s give credit to conservative pundit Ben Shapiro for openly admitting that he behaved like jerk, but he really did behave like a jerk. Shapiro was a guest on  the BBC to discuss his new book, New York Times best-seller “The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great,.” Apparently he was expecting the kind of soft-ball, pandering interview from host Andrew Neil that he criticizes U.S. journalists for serving up to progressives and Democrats. Uh, no.

After greeting one another (the interview was conducted from London via satellite) Neil asked Shapiro whether he believed Georgia’s new abortion law was a return to the “dark ages.”

Rather than answering the question, Shapiro attacked the  questioner, saying, “OK, a couple of things. Are you [an] objective journalist or an opinion journalist?”

Neil’s response: “I’m a journalist who asks questions.”

Shapiro:  “You purport to be an objective journalist, BBC purports to be an objective, down the middle network. It is obviously not, it never has been. And you, as a journalist, are proceeding to call one side of the political aisle ignorant, barbaric, and sending us back to the dark ages. Why don’t you just say you’re on the left?”

In fact, Neil is regarded  as a conservative commentator ( by British standards) , and responded, “Mr. Shapiro, if you only knew how ridiculous that statement is, you wouldn’t have said it.” Then he asked  Shapiro to explain his past  inflammatory statements on  transgender rights and abortion.

Shapiro snapped back that the interviewer was raising “lone things that sound bad out of context” in order to make “a quick buck on BBC off the fact that I’m popular,” and that Neil was an interviewer that “no one has ever heard of.” Then he ended the interview, saying,  “This whole thing is a waste of time. Frankly, I don’t care — I don’t frankly give a damn what you think of me, since I’ve never heard of you. I think we’re done here.”

The “I’ve never heard of you so what you say doesn’t matter” dodge is something of conservative pundit trademark, and boy, do I hate it. In addition to Shapiro, practitioners include Mark Levine and Donald Trump.

Shapiro did redeem himself somewhat. He tweeted,

“Just pre-taped an interview with BBC’s @afneil. As I’m not familiar with him or his work, I misinterpreted his antagonism as political Leftism (he termed the pro-life position in America ‘barbaric’) – and that was apparently inaccurate. For that, I apologize.” 

That wasn’t much of an apology, though, so Ben tried again:

“@afneil DESTROYS Ben Shapiro! So that’s what that feels like 😉 Broke my own rule, and wasn’t properly prepared. I’ve addressed every single issue he raised before; see below. Still, it’s Neil 1, Shapiro 0.”

Much better. I’ll be even more impressed if he apologizes publicly to Neil.

3. Now THIS is firing for cause-level incompetence!  Australia put 46 million new $50 notes into circulation, and they all had a typo. The last “i” in the word “responsibility” was missing on the bill. This has been called a “tiny mistake,” but it’s not a tiny mistake. It’s a junior high school level mistake that makes Australia look foolish. Nations are not supposed to be that careless. I wonder how many officials and employees whiffed on this? My guess is quite a few…and every one of them should be sent packing. Some mistakes are unforgivable, and this was, in effect, 46 million mistakes.

The “Red Socks” typo was funnier.

4. GOOD! “Murphy Brown” redux was just cancelled. The alleged sitcom was zombified from the Eighties to add one more network insult to the President of the United States. The original version poked fun at conservatives and conservative views, smugly and sometimes embarrassingly (Rich Murphy had a baby without a husband, entrusted the child round-the-clock to a male nanny, and we seldom saw the kid again), but while it was political, it was never hateful. The new version just pandered to the resistance, and even its producers acknowledged that was the only justification for its existence.

Doing better is “The Good Fight,” a streaming series on CBS which at least does not pose as a comedy and appeals to professional Trump-haters like the Times’ Michelle Goldberg, who extols

...“The Good Fight,” the only TV show that reflects what life under Trump feels like for many of us who abhor him. Its showrunners, the married couple Michelle and Robert King, have figured out how to alchemize our berserk era into entertainment. When historians look back at this ghastly moment — if there are still historians when it’s over — this fizzy, mordant cult series is likely to be one of its richest artifacts. It’s a balm, a reminder, on days when I feel like I’m cracking up, that it’s really the world that’s gone crazy.

It’s not the world that’s gone crazy, Michelle. It’s you and people like you.

 

22 thoughts on “Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/11/2019: No Laughing Matters

  1. #2 – Shapiro did respond like a jerk. And it’s no excuse, but the question was asked from a biased point of view and a bad question at that. What if Shapiro had just replied “No. Next question” ? Would Neil have asked Cuomo if New York’s recent late term abortion law was a revival of the holocaust?

      • Yeah. That’s right, Jack. Shapiro made an ass of himself. Self-deprecation is definitely a start, but he owes Neil a public apology. He doesn’t have to abase himself, but I’m not impressed by his trying to approach the issue from the side.

        Weak. Man up, Shapiro. Remember the Golden Rule, and live it.

        • Shapiro is a softcore never trumper, and thus has ethical problems already.

          This position means he gets called out from both sides, and is sensitive as a result. Accepting the interview without doing homework was stupid, and if someone books/vets his appointments they should be fired.

          Expecting the BBC to be unbiased was brain dead as well.

  2. Point 1:

    Do the writers realize they are saying that the players that did attend are supporters of Trump and therefore white supremacists? That can be the only logical reason for those,players attending or are there simply good people on both sides; those that went and those that chose to boycott.

      • I assume then the Manager of the Red Sox agrees that a number of his players are supremacists. He and the GM should summarily get rid of them so there is team cohesion. Their behavior is blatantly racist and we have determined such behavior cannot be tolerated.

  3. Murphy Brown was boring the first time. It was only interesting when Dan Quayle mentioned the show and it wound up on the front page. That was short-lived, thankfully.

    • Rest In Politics, Murphy Brown. So abortion has been chosen. The only episode of MB I watched was the one that ended with the dumping of potatoes. That was petty enough for me to take “responsibilty” and watch only that episode. I am sure that not watching MB enabled me to earn at least $50 (U.S.) more over my lifetime. That’s no small sack of potatoes. I’ll have to peek at “Good Fight.” (I’m laughing already.)

  4. I’m collecting Australian $50 notes.

    You need a high power magnifier to see the wording, the letters are rather smaller than the thickness of a human hair, and without magnification, appear to be lines depicting a grass lawn.

    Similar to the wording United States of America on Grants collar on the US $50 Bill, but smaller.

  5. Australia put 46 million new $50 notes into circulation, and they all had a typo. The last “i” in the word “responsibility” was missing on the bill. This has been called a “tiny mistake,” but it’s not a tiny mistake. It’s a junior high school level mistake that makes Australia look foolish. Nations are not supposed to be that careless. I wonder how many officials and employees whiffed on this? My guess is quite a few…and every one of them should be sent packing. Some mistakes are unforgivable, and this was, in effect, 46 million mistakes.

    You have been misinformed.

    The typo reportedly occurs three times on each such note.

    It is also remotely possible that you have heard a misquotation about “tiny mistake”; they may only have been reporting that it occurs in the tiny print, not claiming that the mistake itself was inconsequential.

      • Who’s nit-picking? You complain about a typo that isn’t even visible without artificial aid, you further complain that it isn’t just one typo but a very specific high number, and you don’t want to know that your count is out on the grounds that I’m turning it into a quibble? You opened the door to being told further and better particulars.

        • PM,

          So was this a significant mistake for which government workers should suffer consequences, or not? Are they going to be held to account, and if not, why not? Was this a major issue or not?

          You seem to be straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel, here. What is to be gained by your quibble?

          Was the typo worse for being misspelled three times on each bill, or less so? If Jack made a math mistake, does it invalidate his analysis, or does this enter Golden Rule territory, where we would all like to be forgiven minor mistakes?

          I am not attacking: I want to understand where you are coming from: in the past, you have had interesting points which I would not have otherwise considered.

          • I’m sorry for the delay replying. I’m both busy myself and held up by browser trouble. (E.g., my system just froze for a minute while accepting that last “le.”, even when composing it in an editor.)

            You seem to be straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel, here. What is to be gained by your quibble?

            “My” quibble? No, I was trying, gently, to show that he was quibbling by touting that very specific, large number rather than looking at the single, large, underlying issue. It is of the nature of a reductio ad absurdum to present an absurdity.

            Was the typo worse for being misspelled three times on each bill, or less so? If Jack made a math mistake, does it invalidate his analysis, or does this enter Golden Rule territory, where we would all like to be forgiven minor mistakes?

            He did make a trivial “math mistake”, and in doing so he made a larger mistake: he quibbled. That’s not something to skip.

            • So was this a significant mistake for which government workers should suffer consequences, or not? Are they going to be held to account, and if not, why not? Was this a major issue or not?

              Still missing the points, and refusing to answer those. Bad debate (Alinsky) tactic to deflect from the point being made using a smear over a minor mistake to attempt to discredit that point.

              You say you are not doing this, but you do this a lot here at EA, on purpose or not. Hanlon’s razor as applied to progressives is wearing thin here in the US, and our sensitivity over minor, distracting points stems from progressives doing the same thing you seem to be doing to avoid addressing the issues.

              However, I believe you are consistent in your love of absolute accuracy, and (when you are pressed) I see you usually have actual, thought out positions that belie the seemingly frivolous nature of your objection.

              The deflection tactic is a pet peeve of mine, having had it used against me from within family at a young age as well as in later life; when facts can not be disputed, the unethical run to irrelevant distraction and act like that wins the argument.

              I have found that we can agree to disagree, and that is enough.

              • From my perspective, this is what happened. I saw nothing contentious in most of what JM posted, but I did see one minor point that was off, so I addressed that in as low key a way as I could. Then you came along and did a “Norwegian Blue parrot, beautiful plumage” thing by asking all about what was never in dispute. For the point I was raising, which in no respect undercuts the stuff of JM’s that was sound, that is a distraction and a deflection, and the best low key way I had for dealing with it was to get back on track and not let myself be distracted – which meant, not rising to your fly.

                So, if you aren’t doing that very thing yourself, you may be satisfied to know that I didn’t address it because I wasn’t disputing it. But if you are doing that, you should know that what I brought out still holds, and I won’t be deflected or distracted from it: it’s a live by the quibble, perish by the quibble thing, in that if JM is going to harp on specific numbers, either he shouldn’t do it at all or he should get them right – and he is estopped from the former once he is living by the quibble.

                • I didn’t address it because I wasn’t disputing it.

                  You should say what you agree with to avoid the perception of using unethical Alinsky-like tactics, if that is your intention. Otherwise, how is a reasonable reader to know the difference? Just trust your reputation?

                  Just sayin’

                  • Quod scripsi, scripsi. Neither you nor anyone else has any grounds for reading into it what I did not write, not even that there are grounds because I should have known you would. If I had made that sort of supererogatory disclaimer, it would have given sophisters the very opening to make out that I was dealing with the other stuff and that my actual point was a side issue – because I would have been writing about the other stuff alongside the actual point, and probably writing more words doing it, too. Have you noticed how often JM writes something like “I could say …, but I won’t”? In a syncopation way, that gets readers to hear that anyway. Playing it your way, on the grounds that if I didn’t I should have known that otherwise you would read into it what wasn’t there, would also make it read as something it wasn’t: a comment about that other stuff.

  6. I have to say: misspelling “responsibility” is especially ironic.
    It’s kind of like misspelling “pays attention to detail” on one’s resume.

    I’m not surprised that Zoe is collecting them. I would too. They’re destined to become collector’s items, no matter how the Australian government moves forward on this.

    –Dwayne

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