Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/20/2019: Not Funny!

Ah! It finally feels like a September morning!

1. Not fake news, exactly, just half-baked news. On the New York Times front page, right hand column above the fold is the headline “Claim on Trump Is Said To Involve Foreign Leader.” Reading it, we learn that an unspecified complaint has been made by a an unnamed whistle-blower “in the intelligence community” that is “said” (by no named source) to involve President Trump saying something, promising something or implying something, at least partially involving the Ukraine, according to two sources also un-named. This is apparently all being investigated by the appropriate inspector general.

I’m serious. This is what the Times considers front page news now. Instantly, “resistance” members and Democrats will leap to the conclusion that whatever it is, it’s impeachable. Those who are thoroughly sick of the successive coup attempts will assume that this is one more concocted sliming by the Deep State, so we can have a “Russiagate” style investigation that will hamstring President Trump’s second term. Those who are focusing on the mainstream news media’s war on the President will conclude that the Times, having once again exposed itself as less a journalism organization than a Democratic Party hit squad with its self-indicting misrepresentation of accusations against Justice Kavanaugh, rushed a non-story into print as a diversion.

For my part, I’ll wait for actual facts, thanks. I don’t trust “the intelligence community” not to manufacture ways to undermine the Presidency, not after Comey, McCabe, the FISA fiasco, the FBI lovebirds texts, and Mueller’s statements, among other smoking guns. I don’t trust the Times reporting, I don’t trust President Trump not to do or say something that crosses ethical or legal lines, and I certainly don’t trust Congressional Democrats to determine what are serious transgressions by this President and what are typical maneuvers that have only become ominous because he isn’t Barack Obama.

2.  Next: A woman’s pink ensemble, with hat, featuring blood splatter...Bstroy, a New York-based  clothing company, has introduced school-shooting hoodies with  bullet holes in them and bearing the names of four schools that were the sites of gun massacres:  Sandy Hook, Columbine, Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Virginia Tech.

What fun!

I have a spare Brooklyn Bridge to sell anyone who thinks this is anything more or less than a cynical ploy to sell the equivalent of “Think of the Children!” T-shirts to the anti-gun deranged, profiting off of tragedy and political extremism. It is not a legitimate political statement, since it communicates nothing coherent, just encourages fear and hysteria where none is warranted. There are otherwise smart and sincere people who think this stunt “makes a point.” Points. however, must involve reason; the hoodies are pure emotionalism in the service of greed.

By the way, the odds of a U.S. student dying in a gun attack while in school is 614,000,000 to 1, or about four times less likely than a lottery player winning the Powerball jackpot.

3. Indoctrination Ethics. A. In New York City, teachers were told by the city’s education department that teachers could not lead field trips to have their students join  global youth protests for “urgent action on climate change.”

Good.  Every other city, county and state should have done the same. This is not education but indoctrination, and the use of school children as props in political activism. The decision was based on a ruling that employee participation would violate the rules ensuring a “politically neutral learning environment.” Ya think?

B. Meanwhile, the Trump Education Department has ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to revise a Middle East studies program run jointly by the two schools. Following an investigation, DOE concluded that the course was offering students a curriculum biased against Judaism and Christianity in the region, and thus violated the standards of a federal program that awards funding to international studies and foreign language programs.

I’m shocked—shocked!—that political indoctrination is going on at liberal arts colleges.

4. “Not funny!” Ethics. It’s a strange, strange world where news organizations refuse to drop anchors and contributors when their old, substantive attacks on minorities come to light (See CNN and Reid, Joy)—but a once defiantly politically incorrect TV satire show fires a comic because some of his his past jokes were deemed “offensive.”

Shane Gillis, named just last week to the “Saturday Night Live” cast, was fired this week after  videos surfaced in which he used slurs and offensive language—you know, like Dave Chappelle uses in his viral comedy special on NetFlix.  Someone found a podcast in which Gillis used a slur in referring to the Chinese, and did comic take on the accent of a Chinese person speaking English–like Margaret Cho does in just about every  routine she has ever performed, and like Chappelle does in his Netflix show.

I guess the problem is that Gillis is white. In another podcast, Gillis used some homophobic slurs; in another, he used “jew” in an offensive way. Again I ask, what are the rules here, and who gets to make them? The audience of Saturday Night Live only cares about what the cast does going forward, and so should the show’s producers. If SNL is going to be horrified at a performer’s politically incorrect attempts at “edgy” humor when not performing while under contract with the show,, then the restriction should be conditions of employment, agreed to by the performers.

I would have been more supportive of Gillis if he didn’t grovel a blatant non-apology, saying, “I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said.” If you can’t do better than “I’ll apologize if it will save my job,” don’t bother. He should have said, “If political and social censorship invade comedy and satire, both are doomed.”

5.  But that wasn’t the worst apology! At a closed meeting, of the Trenton, NJ, city council,  the president, Kathy McBride (a Democrat)  described the negotiation tactics of a Jewish city attorney thusly:  “They were able to wait her out and jew her down.”

Nah, the Democratic Party doesn’t have an anti-semitism problem! Why would anyone think that?

After her comments became public and received the predictable criticism, McBride issued this truly terrible apology: “In my position, you cannot make anyone feel insulted, or you cannot be insensitive to any ethnic backgrounds, so I am apologizing to the community at large.”

Councilman George Muschal then made this statement in defense of McBride: “You know, it’s like a car dealer. They wanted $5,000, you Jew ’em down to $4,000. It’s nothing vicious. The expression has been said millions of times.”

Just like referring to someone as a nigger, right? The expression has been said millions of times, so it’s OK! Everybody does it!

Yes, we elect people whose ethics alarms and common sense are this dysfunctional to govern us.

Eventually, someone persuaded these idiots that they needed someone with a brain to draft real apologies, or at least what sounded like them.  Vaughn’s Apology #2: “First and foremost, I am sincerely sorry. My comments were wrong. Never was it my intention to hurt, disrespect or demean anyone when I described a racial slur or its usage, as a verb.”  Muschal issued an email to the AP saying he apologized to anyone in the Jewish community he offended.

And I have no doubt that the majority of Jews in Trenton will continue to support  the party that regularly displays contempt for them, though this approach has not worked out well in the past.

11 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/20/2019: Not Funny!

  1. Re 3: In the local FB neighbors group someone posted for us parents to encourage the school to excuse absences for kids going to the protest today. I replied something along the lines of “teaching ’em to be loyal serfs”. Looking forward to a ban from that group or at least a warning. 😀

    Re 4: “I apologize to anyone who might want to get me fired for these comments” is the sort of apology a comedian should actually make, literally, and they would earn my support forever.

  2. So if I am understanding the Trump whistle-blower thing correctly, the intelligence community is listening to the presidents phone calls with foreign leaders without his knowledge or permission? That seems like the real issue here. Trump is the president (like it or not), and as such he is the one who is actually authorized to speak to foreign leaders and make promises on behalf of the United States. Can you imagine the outrage if it were shown that Bush Jr. or Obama’s intelligence agencies were spying on them?

  3. 4) Supposedly he was hired by SNL to “appeal” to rightwingers in an attempt to expand their audience out of the echo chamber it is. What’s concerning about this is that the Left…even Left wing influencers, no longer just employ slurs and mischaracterizations against right wingers…they actually are beginning to BELIEVE that right wingers actually do reflect what used to just be pejoratives meant to influence elections.

  4. 4. “I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said.”

    I “actually” sort of like that…The insertion of “actually” seems just snarky enough to read the whole thing as “I’m sorry that you felt offended”, rather than “I’m sorry I offended you”.

    But of course the offense hierarchy still applies, with white, male, “conservative”, straight, Christian, citizen being at either the very top or bottom, depending on which way you flip the chart. Don’t know if Gillis meets all the points, but seems to hit enough to get taken out (just the first two will often do the trick).

      • I agree with William here – that was the first thing I thought when I read it. “If you’re actually offended by this, then…” I’ve never heard of this guy; maybe he’s a comic genius and indeed does possess that language precision.

  5. “By the way, the odds of a U.S. student dying in a gun attack while in school is 614,000,000 to 1, or about four times less likely than a lottery player winning the Powerball jackpot.”

    That…. Can’t be right. I would assume the math on the likelihood of dying as a student would be calculated as (number of student deaths by shooting in (timeframe x))/(number of students in(timeframe x))*(time student is in school/(timeframe x))

    There are about 56 million students in school in 2019… If the rate of shooting mortality for students was 1/614000000 per student, we’d see about one shooting deaths every ten months. (1/614000000*56000000) = .88 deaths per year). That seems low, especially since in 2018 there were 27 shooting deaths in just Santa Fe and Parkland, but seeing as there’s only four or five powerball jackpot winners annually, that math actually works. I have the feeling that statistic come from adding in a LOT of historical years.

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