Ruby Tuesday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/21/2019: Of “Bad Charity,” Fake Headlines, Dumb Atticus, And Being Mean To Mr. Ratburn

Tuesday’s child is full of grace.

Tuesday’s ethics, not so much…

1. The other shoe drops...the New York Times yesterday editorialized against the  generous gift to Morehouse students by billionaire and Ethics Hero Robert F. Smith.  It also took a swipe at Smith himself, whose wealth the Times appears to consider suspect. What the mouthpiece of the Left is lobbying for is Bernie Sanders’ free college for all, meaning that not just billionaires but you and I will all have to pay for inflated tuition at institutions that do not so much teach as indoctrinate (or, in the case of Ohio State and who knows what others, molest).

The wonderful thing about Smith’s gift is that it was a complete surprise. The students had a strong financial motivation not to waste their college years taking useless courses on the Patriarchy of Gas Grilling, and instead had every reason to try to prepare themselves for the workplace. Free college education becomes a privilege and a lark, with no accountability or commitment required.

2. Fake Headline Dept. I have seen this in several places: “Ciara Accepted Into Harvard University’s Prestigious Business School.”  (Ciara is a pop diva, if you care.)

Uh, no, she wasn’t. She is going to attend a  Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports program at the B-school that lasts all of three days. She’ll pay for it, too. Ciara doesn’t have a college degree, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I bet she’ll tell people for the rest of her life that she attended the Business School, just like Bill O’Reilly still says he’s a Harvard grad because he attended the Kennedy School of Government on campus.

Not that a Harvard degree is anything to boast about these days…

3. Shut up and read your lines, Jeff. My old friend, the late Bob McElwaine, was a publicist for many Golden Age Hollywood stars, and he wouldn’t let them off his leash to talk about matters that would expose their limitations, which were potentially embarrassing. Playing smart, wise, virtuous people doesn’t make one smart, wise, and virtuous; I always admired Henry Fonda’s candor when he told Playboy that what he loved about acting was that he could play brilliant, courageous and admirable characters when, he said, “In real life, I’m none of those things.”

Jeff Daniels is a versatile and talented actor but his political views should be no more newsworthy or persuasive than those of the guy who mows my lawn. Nonetheless, he received coverage for his moronic (it really is moronic) statement to an interviewer that if President Trump is re-elected, “It’s the end of democracy.”


  • Daniels is unethically trading on the respect that the character he’s playing on Broadway, Atticus Finch, has with the general public, and that’s a cheat. Jeff’s political acumen seems more on par with the guy he played in “Dumb and Dumber.”
  • If a national election re-elects the President, it’s the end of democracy. You see, what would have been good for democracy is for the “resistance,” Democrats, the news media and the manufactured “collusion” scheme to have succeed in voiding the previous election by extra-institutional means.
  • This is flagrant fear-mongering, about as fair and honest as the current Democratic front-runner’s declaration before a black audience in 2012 that if elected, Republicans would “put y’all back in chains.”
  • Daniels’ earnest idiocy is of a piece with Nancy Pelosi’s unforgivable speculation that the President would refuse to leave office if defeated.
  • Nothing, no policy, no executive order, no action that this President has undertaken hints of a challenge to democracy.  The abandonment of fair and objective journalism by our news media? Yes, that threatens democracy. The orchestrated Democratic Party effort to undermine public faith in elections, impugn the President as a foreign agent, engage in vile personal attacks on a level that hasn’t been seen since the Civil War? The hostility to free speech, the effort to declare individuals guilty of crimes without proof or due process, the enabling of anti-male, anti-white, anti-Jewish, anti-Christian rhetoric?  The undermining of the rule of law in border enforcement, and the abuse of the investigative power by Congress to deliberately interfere with the Executive’s Constitutional duties? Yes, these are all  threats to democracy, and none of them are attributable to the President.

If we were not inflicted with the biased and untrustworthy journalism that threatens democracy, MSNBC journalist Nicolle Wallace would have asked Daniels to explain exactly how re-electing Trump would end democracy. I assume it is because he, like most MSNBC viewers, believe that a system is only working if the “right people” get elected.

I should be able to get past this, but I can’t. Once actors show me that they are idiots or personally repulsive, I have a real problem enjoying their work. This has already ruined for me Robert De Niro, Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman and now Daniels—excellent performers all. “It’s better,” Bob told me, as he told his clients, “if the public doesn’t know what you think.”

4. The Horror. Alabama Public Television pulled an episode of the cartoon “Arthur” last week because the plot focused on a same-sex wedding between Arthur’s male teacher and his male companion. The PBS cartoon about a young aardvark, his anthropomorphic family, and his neighborhood and school populated by talking apes, rodents, dogs, cats, rabbits, ungulates and god-knows-what some of them are has been running for decades. My son used to watch it, when he was six or so. To call the show low-key would be to understate the case. It did influence my son, though: Grant found Arthur’s little sister so obnoxious that he lobbied hard to remain an only child.

Apparently it was the same-sex aspect of the wedding and not the inter-species aspect that troubled APT. Yes, “Arthur,” like most of the generally unfunny animated TV fare for kids these days, has always been stuffed with social messages,and I can see why a parent might object to that.  However, same-sex marriage is a fact now. It’s approved by law, it is part of the culture, and it is not going anywhere. I’m hardly an activist, but I’ve been a guest at a same sex wedding, and I know and respect quite a few same sex spouses. “Modern Family,” the long-running sitcom that has highlighted the humorous travails of a same-sex marriage for almost ten years is viewable on cable day and night.

Pulling the episode because the cartoon reflects the nation, the laws and the culture is as irresponsible as it is hysterical.  I, for one, send my best wished to Mr. Ratburn and his new husband. I assume they will honeymoon on the Island of Dr. Moreau.


23 thoughts on “Ruby Tuesday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/21/2019: Of “Bad Charity,” Fake Headlines, Dumb Atticus, And Being Mean To Mr. Ratburn

  1. ‘Nation, laws and culture’. Well, it reflects a judicial edict so I guess that’s law making for 1 out of 3. I’m sure it was just coincidence it kept getting voted down whenever it appeared on a ballot. And with the advent of the virtual lynch mob that will hound people into internal exile for the slightest disapproval of degenerate behavior it would seem taking the public’s temperature on the matter rather difficult.

    • On the matter of rights, the public is notoriously confused and ill-informed. The public wouldn’t vote for the 1st Amendment, or the second, or probably the 4th and 5th. The ruling was down the middle of the alley equal protection. The way the Constitution read, no other opinion would been possible.

  2. Nothing that costs is “free.” “Free” is getting to be such an over-used word so as to become almost meaningless. “At no cost to the user/buyer” is a more accurate designation, but it’s not free if I and the rest of the taxpayers are footing the bill.

  3. 1. The other shoe

    Perhaps the NYT and other like-thinking Leftists are lamenting the failure of the old Soviet Union to “bury us,” and this is their way of saying it.

    3. Jeff Daniels

    Time to trot out the “everybody does it” rationalization, because virtually everyone in Hollywood does it!

    Alyssa Milano, she of the “let’s withhold sex from men until we get abortion on demand” fame, is just a recent example. Taylor Swift’s comments during the last election are another. They all trade on their fame for undeserved “credibility” about matters beyond their ken, and beyond their narrow realm of competence.

    They all do it, virtually without exception. James Woods and Clint Eastwood do it for the right. Uncounted numbers of famous people shill for causes about which they have little, if any, understanding. Leonardo DiCaprio flies around the world in a private jet complaining about “carbon footprints” even as he demonstrates the true, plain meaning of “Do as I say, not as I do.” He might as well just come out and say that climate change is for the little people, not important celebrities like him.

    Jeff Daniels is no different in any aspect than all of these. He, like they, offer opinions for which they have accrued no actual credibility or even understanding, and trade on their fame in totally unrelated areas of pop culture to give undeserved weight to their remarks.

    It is totally unethical. I’d boycott them all if I could. Unfortunately, that would just leave me without any entertainment. So I suck it up and forget that, as real people, they’re total jerk-offs.

    I should be able to get past this, but I can’t. Once actors show me that they are idiots or personally repulsive, I have a real problem enjoying their work.

    Forget it, Jack. It’s Tinseltown.

    4. “Arthur”

    Bollox. I don’t mind shows “reflecting pop culture,” except now everything, every show it seems, has to celebrate gay stuff. I quit watching a show I generally liked because the gay aspect was so in-your-face, and I’m a primitive pre-Neanderthal knuckle-dragging cave-dweller who still finds constant overt gay sexuality and same sex tonsil-tickling less than agreeable.

    To be fair, I don’t even like heterosexual face-sucking and sexual content in my grille, but these days are trying ones for old prudes like me.

  4. Arthur:

    There is no doubt that same sex marriages are becoming part of the culture. However, the issue remains a contentious one for quite a few people. Broaching this topic with an age group of roughly 3 to 8 year olds seems inappropriate. Why is it so important to introduce sexual themes into children’s programming. Why can’t the two males simply be best friends that are inseparable? What if these themes are misunderstood and Johnny learns something completly different and starts saying he wants to marry his best friend Billy. The concept of marriage is not understood at this age. Now woke mommy and daddy start helping Johnny with his assumed gender dysphoria perhaps even leading them to help him at some stage get hormone therapy to start the change. Far fetched? Maybe, but what price do we want to impose on children by our desire to create a sense of well being for adults who promote non-traditional marital relationships. If you want to introduce gay marraige to preadolescents then why not go all out and have the man marry a transgender man. It is one thing to see these themes on South Park with Mr. Slave and Mr. Garrison it is quite another for children’s programming. This begs the question does this anthropomorphic cartoon include a gerbil and if so what is its role?

    • Kids don’t see marriages as sexual, as you know. The fact that it bothers adults doesn’t mean it has any resonance on kids than teaching them that men can marry men and women can marry women. They should know that: that’s the society they are going to grow up in. The less bothered they are by it, the healthier they will be. That’s what marriage is now. The fact that many adults find that contentious is in the same category as many finding evolution, or women boxers, or rap music, or thongs, or tattoos, free speech, or owning guns or a million other things, contentious. Pretending it isn’t here to stay—and I would say that there’s a better chance that abortion will be removed as a right than the right to gay marriages will be reversed–is pointless, misleading, and will just prolong contentiousness. This like sit coms in the 50s being forced to show married couples sleeping in separate beds when kids knew their parents slept in the same bed.

      • I recognize that kids do not associate marriage with sexuality but adults do.

        There are many things that are here to stay that does not mean that introducing them to children at a particular age is appropriate. Firearms are ubiquitous but I am not sure I want a cartoon promoting or denigrating the issues of the second amendment I would want to explain them – probably with the help of some of the commutariat here.

        I have no issue with same sex marriage but that does not mean I would want my child getting these lessons from a cartoon. These are sensitive subjects and not every child is ready for these lessons.

        I agree that the more people see different relationships the more they become nothing out if the ordinary.
        These cartoons however have many more age appropriate themes to explore.

        I fully appreciate your perspective and you may be right, but there are just some things I believe need to be explained by the family when the child is old enough to understand both sides of an issue. Simply telling a child (X) is perfectly acceptable fails to address some of the expected challenges and how to react when those challenges present themselves.

      • I think there’s more to it than that. There’s a real distinction to be made between a marriage between a man and a woman and a union of a man and a man. The injection of these themes into children’s programming forces a discussion the child isn’t ready to hear and at an age at which he’s susceptible to childish relativist sophistry (stunting people at this stage of intellectual development is a major modern enterprise). Indeed, the child has developed an emotional attachment to this anthropomorphized vermin, and attempts by a parent to discuss the matter critically will be associated with some poisoned-well heel character no doubt injected into the plot. Parents just don’t understand, you see. Anyone who intends to raise children to value Natural Law is increasingly required to shun nearly all media until his brood is mature enough to laugh at pathetic ersatz arguments like straw men and appeal to emotion. I’m completely certain that’s the point of all such changes to children’s programming – programming of children and exodus of moral individuals from public life.

        I suppose if ascetic life in the wilderness was good enough for St. Benedict, who am I to complain? “My child has Christophanic visions” is better than that cliche honor student bumper sticker. I mean, who isn’t anymore? Public institutions discriminating based on scholastic performance is unconstitutional.

  5. I don’t care much one way or another about the marriage, but it bugs the living hell out of me that Arthur is supposed to be an aardvark, but has rounded ears and no nose at all. The two main features of a damn aardvark are its pointy ears and long nose. That’s just lazy-ass drawing.

    Also, his ears are on top of his head and he has no nose. How do his glasses stay on?

    Forget the gay marriage stuff, this cartoon is giving kids terrible information about aardvark physiology and gravity. Where’s the outrage about that?

    I think maybe it’s time for me to go to bed.

    • Wow.

      I never really gave any thought to what sort of animal Arthur was supposed to be. In the age of teenage mutant ninja turtles and having been raised on Disney, the thought never occurred to me to wonder about his species, much less how little he resembled a real one.

      Do you expect Goofy to walk on all four legs? Mickey to gnaw holes in the wall? Both of them do not resemble the animals they are based on.

      I mean, have you seen Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid?’


      • Ah, but Mickey is recognizable as a (heavily anthropomorphized) mouse. Likewise Goofy can be discerned to have some dog DNA way in back in his pre-Dr. Moreau lineage. If you took a survey of people who had no familiarity with Arthur, and asked them what animal they thought he was supposed to be, I’d bet not a single one would guess “aardvark”. With Goofy and Mickey, Disney at least tried to give them some features of their animal halves. Whoever drew Arthur just crapped out a circle with ears and said “Ah, fuck it, his name starts with “A”, let’s say he’s an aardvark. It’s five o’clock somewhere.”

  6. 4. Arthur
    My daughter loved watching Arthur when she was small; thank God (literally) she is now 28 and missed a lot of the pop culture social justice programming that permeates even children’s entertainment these days. At the risk of inviting personal ridicule, I will affirm the role of our applied Christian faith in helping us raise a wonderful, intelligent and thoughtful daughter. I know from our experience that it is possible to raise children who are, as the Bible says, “in the world but not of the world.” We did not depend upon the schools or television to teach values and morals to our child, and we prepared ourselves to answer the “hard questions” that children often ask, but always with an age-appropriate response. This applies to many of the “hot button” social justice issues -including homosexuality- that attempt to force a false choice between obeying God’s law and man’s law. We taught our child that one does not have to approve of everything other people do in order to faithfully extend God’s love to those people and to respect their dignity and worth, and to support and defend their equal status under the law. Judging the quality of another’s faith is also above my (our) earthly pay grade. During her teen years, our daughter saw and learned from the mistakes made by several of her peers and was not only appalled by the bad choices they made but also by the steep consequences that often followed. Our council, advice and example, were proven right, time and again. By the time she went to college, she appreciated the strong foundation we had helped her build, and didn’t go “off the rails” as so many college freshmen do. (Whew!)
    My fatherly instincts were -and remain- to protect my child (and now my grandchildren) whenever and wherever possible, and to prepare them for those situations from which I cannot protect them. With God’s help, this will I do.

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