Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/14/2019: The “Yikes!” Edition.

Good morning!

1. Yikes. The New Republic is routinely irresponsible and disgusting these days, but may have set a new low—I can’t say for sure, because I only intermittently read the rag—with an ugly, homophobic rant by Dale Peck about Pete Buttigieg. So great was the outcry that the far left magazine pulled the piece, something it would not do and has not done when it has savaged a conservative or Republican, though not over sexual orientation, just horrible things like being male, white, or wanting to enforce laws. Here’s an excerpt from what remains on the web…Peck is himself gay, interestingly:

The only thing that distinguishes the mayor of South Bend from all those other well-educated reasonably intelligent white dudes who wanna be president is what he does with his dick (and possibly his ass, although I get a definite top-by-default vibe from him, which is to say that I bet he thinks about getting fucked but he’s too uptight to do it). So let’s dish the dish, homos….He’s been out for, what, all of four years, and if I understand the narrative, he married the first guy he dated. And we all know what happens when gay people don’t get a real adolescence because they spent theirs in the closet: they go through it after they come out. And because they’re adults with their own incomes and no parents to rein them in they do it on steroids (often literally)….the last thing I want in the White House is a gay man staring down 40 who suddenly realizes he didn’t get to have all the fun his straight peers did when they were teenagers.

I’m not saying I don’t want him to shave his chest or do Molly or try being the lucky Pierre (the timing’s trickier than it looks, but it can be fun when you work it out). These are rites of passage for a lot of gay men, and it fuels many aspects of gay culture. But like I said, I don’t want it in the White House.

I want a man whose mind is on his job, not what could have been–or what he thinks he can still get away with.

I know I keep asking this, but how could an editor not have ethics alarms ringing like a seven alarm fire when examining vile material like that?

2. Yikes! I didn’t see this coming...I posted what I thought was a nice, innocuous acknowledgement of the Boston Red Sox management doing something kind for the family of a forgotten walk-on during the team’s legendary 1967 pennant winning season who was inexplicably snubbed over the years. They gave the late Ken Poulsen’s son a 1967 World Series ring in an on-field ceremony before a game last week.

Then I received this in the comments:

I am Kendra Poulsen, Ken’s daughter and first born. I was not informed of this honor and presentation of the pennant ring they gave my brother yesterday. Obviously, I am devastated that me and my son were left out! And Ken had 2 grandsons. My child and my brother’s. The other children were step children from a recent marriage. It all makes me sick! The Sox should be ashamed of themselves. I could care less about the money.

I can’t quite make an ethics call because I can’t answer the threshold “What’s going on here?” query. So far, I’ve alerted a Boston Red Sox sportswriter friend, and that’s all. Was it the team’s obligation to track down the entire Poulsen family for its gesture of contrition? Did the son fail his duty to his sister?

3. Yikes! Andy Warhol won a lawsuit even though he’s dead! In 1981, portrait photographer Lynn Goldsmith photographed  Prince for Newsweek. Three years later,  Vanity Fair licensed one of the black-and-white photos from Goldsmith for $400, and gave it to Andy Warhol  to create an illustration for another Prince article.

Warhol, as he was prone to do, created 16 images “based on” the photo, and one of them ran alongside the article. Goldsmith only became aware of Warhol’s use of her work when Vanity Fair republished the article  after Prince’s death in 2016. She believed that Warhol had  infringed on her copyright, and said so, but took no immediate legal action.  In April of 2017, however, the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts  sued Goldsmith, claiming she was trying to shake down the organization. (I assume she had asked the Foundation for compensation for the use of her photograph.) The suit demanded  a  declaratory judgment that the Prince series did not infringe on Goldsmith’s copyright and that the works were subject to fair use.

The suit made sense, because most of Warhol’s works appropriated the images of other designers, photographs and artists. If the word got around that what Andy was doing was copyright theft, the foundation would be in big trouble. Goldsmith countersued.

This month, U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl ruled in support of the Warhol Foundation, saying in part,

“The Prince Series works can reasonably be perceived to have transformed Prince from a vulnerable, uncomfortable person to an iconic, larger-than-life figure. The humanity Prince embodies in Goldsmith’s photograph is gone. Moreover, each Prince series work is immediately recognizable as a ‘Warhol’ rather than as a photograph of Prince — in the same way that Warhol’s famous representations of Marilyn Monroe and Mao are recognizable as ‘Warhols,’ not as realistic photographs of those persons.”

Goldsmith says she will appeal the ruling.  “My hope is that more of the visual community, particularly photographers, stand up along with me to say that your work cannot just be taken from you without your permission, and to show their support of the importance of what the copyright law can mean not only for me, but for future generations,” she says. The photographer has already spent about $400,000 on the lawsuit.

The Copyright Act of 1976, which came into effect in 1978, states that “transformation” of the underlying work is “fair use.” Berry Werbin, Goldsmith’s lawyer, says that the application of the law to photography is too broad, saying, “Obviously we and our client are disappointed with the fair use finding, which continues the gradual erosion of photographers’ rights in favor of famous artists who affix their names to what would otherwise be a derivative work of the photographer and claim fair use by making cosmetic changes.“

What do you think? Fair use, or rip-off?

4. Yikes! What do you make of today’s “Unethical Quote of the Week,” Gov. Inslee saying that he would appoint Women’s Soccer team captain Megan Rapinoe as his Secretary of State if he becomes President?

24 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/14/2019: The “Yikes!” Edition.

  1. 1. Caramba! That pool of spleen is the best evidence of the fact certain super bitchy gay guys reserve their greatest contempt for other gay guys who, according to their noble estimation, don’t “come out” or don’t “come out” fast enough. I guess they’re viewed as quislings.

    • There is a point of human nature that makes men who are uncertain of their own sexuality to be the most vehement in condemning those who DID come out. These may be the loudest detractors.

      That those men later come out is greatly resented by those they derided.

  2. #4. My first thought was that more than one response would fit Inslee, but I ended up with ‘none of the above’. I scanned a few articles which all seemed to say pretty much the same thing, but none of which provided good context nor his full comments. I think he was kidding about naming Rapinoe but was serious about naming someone with a mindset like hers, i.e., a nonTrump.

  3. Regarding the poll, there’s an awful lot of overlap between “He’s an idiot” and “He really thinks she would make a great Sec. of State”…

    Regarding the Warhol thing, I think “fair use” has been stretched and abused a lot over the years. I can understand some logic for fair use being applied in, say, the case of an audio sample in a new song. The sample is only a small part of both the original work and the new work, so that seems like a pretty good case for “fair use”. In the case of the Warhol, though, the entire new piece is based on the entire original work. Harder to make a case for fair use in that instance, I think. A hip-hop song that uses an Aretha Franklin sample could still exist without the sample. A visual collage piece could still exist if one of the component photographs was removed. The Warhol painting would not exist at all without the underlying photograph, so I think the photographer has a pretty strong claim to being owed compensation.

    If you just recorded a backing track of bagpipes and pasted it onto the entire song of “Hey Jude”, I don’t think you could credibly claim that it wasn’t copyright infringement.

    • ‘[T]here’s an awful lot of overlap between “He’s an idiot” and “He really thinks she would make a great Sec. of State”…’

      AOTM: Astute Observation of the Morning.

    • Regarding the overlap…indeed. But “He really thinks she would make a great Sec. of State”…” is a narrow subset of “He’s an idiot.” He’s an idiot for so many reasons:

      1. He doesn’t realize that this makes him LOOK like an idiot
      2. He doesn’t realize saying this casts him into disrepute among his state’s citizens.
      3. He really thinks he has enough of a chance to get the nomination that humiliating himself like this is worth it to pick up a teeny bit of non-existent support.
      4. He has said this without meeting the woman, and probably without actually following her misadventures.
      5. He chose her when he could have made the same pledge using Colin Kaepernick, and picked up the “Paranoid African American” vote.
      6. He thinks “Imagine” is profound.
      …and so on.

    • The Warhol painting would not exist at all without the underlying photograph, so I think the photographer has a pretty strong claim to being owed compensation.

      This is the WARHOL Foundation. To liberals, it is Too Big To Fail. Having the entire collection vulnerable to such claims would destroy a favorite liberal bit of nostalgia.

  4. There has to be some sort of counter-argument to homosexual perversions in combination with the general sexual perversions of the (astounding) present. I would not write that or anything like that myself, but is any critique completely off-limits?

    • It’s hard to imagine how a Kantian do-no-harm modern pragmatic ethos would even approach the question. One would have to either accept the self as an invalid target for “harm” via virtue ethics (rejecting a narrow pragmatism wholesale) or somehow expand the idea of harm to include large-scale societal harm in the absence of particular “victims” in the traditional Kantian sense. It looks like this was either a pre-programmed result of accepting liberal ethics or a classic example of people falling into a pit their critics were mocked for seeing ahead of time and exclaiming, while our eyes roll about uncontrollably, “How were we supposed to know?”

      • Very interesting to consider the Harm Principle in the larger social context.

        Wiki: ‘Harm Principle’:

        “The harm principle holds that the actions of individuals should only be limited to prevent harm to other individuals. John Stuart Mill articulated this principle in On Liberty, where he argued that “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” An equivalent was earlier stated in France’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 as, “Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.”

        Pretty obviously, if I say that ‘homosexuality is a dead-end’ or is ‘destructive’ and, at least, must not and should not be actively promoted as a positive social value or a life-style choice, I am thinking of specific value terms which I have already defined for myself as values. But certainly my value-assessment does not correspond with the value-assessment of many others.

        We know — it is absolutely true — that homosexuality will never go away. And that it must be tolerated. But must we, and should we, accept that it is advocated for as an equal choice? That it be given equal status? That it be presented to children as a viable and acceptable option?

        I wonder if there are homosexuals or a faction among homosexuals that recognizes that their activity or their choice (to the degree that choice enters in) is, in certain senses, destructive to society? If they did, would they still advocate for teaching homosexuality as a valid option? Of making it just another choice, like the flavor of ice-cream or the color of one’s socks?

  5. On point one: Why was this even printed. No sexual preference has anything to do with policy . Mayor Pete has not demonstrated he can be a leader and his plan proposals that were never executed in South Bend tell me he is nothing more than an analyst who cannot be held accountable for his ideas because he fails to implement them

    • Ps the story was disgusting. Anyone that believes that is appropriate for publication can never criticize Trump for his all access hot mike recording by Billy Bush.

  6. On Point 2, my initial thought was that “Kendra Paulson” was most likely a Pseudonym and that the writer was making a sarcastic point about the folly of trying to include a dead guy in something 52 years too late, and/or the futility of trying to make amends. I’d be curious to know if you ever find out…

    • I had an initial flash of skepticism, as well, but really had no basis for it: nothing to be gained by such a ruse here except for thought experiments.

      Besides, such things would seem to be subject to relatively simple verification (did he have a daughter, was she there, did she have a son, etc.). It would be risky to spin a tale when one could easily come along and de-bunk it.

      But, like Jack suggested, there are lots of questions raised her


      • No raised questions. The daughter that travelled with him through the Carolina league. I am not hard to find. And the Sox do know I exist! I have been getting mail for 30 yrs.

    • Daniel, feel free to email me at KendraLPoulsen@gmail. com or friend me on Facebook at Kendra Leann Poulsen.

      Not a joke my friend. A daughter devasted!

  7. “I’m not saying I don’t want him to shave his chest or do Molly or try being the lucky Pierre (the timing’s trickier than it looks, but it can be fun when you work it out). These are rites of passage for a lot of gay men, and it fuels many aspects of gay culture. But like I said, I don’t want it in the White House.”

    Wow, “gay culture” sounds kinda horrible.

  8. Jay Inslee is an idiot no doubt.

    At a campaign rally in Portland, Washington Governor Jay Inslee attempted to boost his presidential campaign nothing that he sought opportunities to arrest Oregon Senate Republicans.

    “I want you to know that I looked for a way to arrest your legislators in Washington,” Inslee told the Portland crowd. “I couldn’t find it.”

    So Inslee thinks he should fight ICE and hide illegal aliens under deportation orders, but wants to arrest those that belong to an opposing party.

  9. 1. So what he’s saying is that Mayor Pete isn’t the right kind of gay man? Is that right? The fact that he thinks that Pete’s speculative experiences or non-experiences as a gay man make him wrong for the Oval Office is idiotic at best.

    This is what happens when a diversity checklist is required.

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