Mid-Day Ethics Overview, 10/24/2019: TV Ethics, Theater Ethics, Negotiation Ethics…You Know. Ethics.

This song is about ethics, right?

Well, to me it is…

1. Unethical non-traditional casting.  Harvey Fierstein is playing Bella Abzug on Broadway. I know that Harvey, being a very large, undisguisably gay, 65-year old actor with a voice that sounds like he gargles piranha, has a tough time finding outlets for his acting and comic ability (he can be terrific, as he was in his Emmy-winning performance in “Torch Song Trilogy”), but that’s no reason to take it out on the late New York Congresswoman. Abzug was a woman, and being a woman was central to her career, appeal, legend, and legacy. She was not, to say the least, an attractive woman, but that does not mean that it is fair or respectful to cast a 275 pound unattarctive MAN to play her on Broadway. Feirstein is an LGBTQ activist and icon, but he’s ethically confused here.

2. Trump shouldn’t have backed down from holding the Group of 7 Summit at the Trump luxery golf club in Miami. Apparently he did so because Republican members of Congress complained about it, and they complained about it because they knew it would spark more bogus accusations of Emoluments Clause violations (Impeachment Plan C).

Any and every negotiations specialist will tell you that holding a meeting of adversaries in your own territory is a massive advantage. That is why such meetings are often held in Switzerland, or other neutral sites. Holding the Summit at a Trump property makes the President stronger at the meeting, and that benefits the country.

It would have been nice—responsible, educational, fair, honest—if the news media explained this basic principle to the public, but it doesn’t want to justify the President’s decisions or find benign reasons for them. It is in thrall to “the resistance,” and doing a complete analysis of factors involved in a decision like where to hold the Summit just detracts from the effort to undermine President Trump and characterize him as a corrupt and crooked fascist who must be removed from office at all costs.

Republican joined the ignorant stampede because, unfortunately, they aren’t very bright, or very brave. Thus the U.S. voluntarily forfeited a diplomatic advantage because Republicans couldn’t articulate why there was nothing sinister, and much advantageous,  about a world leader holding a meeting at a property that bears his name.

3. “Mr. Mercedes” ethics. Now in its third season, the David Kelley-produced cable series  based on Stephen King’s  Bill Hodges trilogy ( “Mr. Mercedes,” “Finders Keepers,” and “End of Watch”),  gave its audience a very warped version of “justice” that it implied was an ethical one. It isn’t.

Brady Hartsfield is a deranged serial killer who disrupts a community by deliberately driving his car into a crowd of people at a jobs fair. At his trial, a woman, Lou Linklatter,  with whom he had been romantically involved, walks up to him with a 3-D printed gun and shoots him in the head. At her trial, her lawyer essentially argues that the maniac “needed killing,” and, absurdly, that this was not premeditated murder (despite the fact that she carried a loaded plastic gun past the security scanners), but a spontaneous crime of passion, and one that the community should applaud, not punish.

The jury, accepting part of this jury nullification defense, finds her only guilty of second degree murder.  Then the judge, after a moving plea from private detective Bill Hodges, who captured Hartsfield arguing that a good person saved the community from a bad one, and no system of justice that the public can respect would punish its savior, sentences Lou to a long prison term, but suspends all of it. She is free. The spectators applaud.

Ridiculous, and ethically indefensible.

4. Why wouldn’t anyone trust Facebook? (I’m kidding.) Mark Zuckerberg, telling Congress that he hopes one day to have Facebook issue crypto-currency, said, “I believe this is something that needs to get built, but I understand we’re not the ideal messenger right now. I know some people wonder whether we can be trusted to build payment services that protect consumers.”

Ha! Last week, the Facebook CEO  extolled free expression at Georgetown University, in defiance of Democratic politicians demanding that he take down “false and misleading information,” as opposed to the false and misleading information the mainstream media publishes to advance those same politicians’ agenda.  Earlier, he had met with President Trump and Republican lawmakers deny that Facebook gives priority to liberal-leaning content.

I just tried to link on Facebook the post regarding the Houston Astros excecutive. It was rejected because the source—this source—does not conform to Facebook community standards. I’ve been trying to get the platform to address this for months.

No one should trust Facebook.

5. I don’t understand this at all.  In 1955, the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till was pulled from a river where it had been dumped after the boy he had been kidnapped, tortured and lynched for looking at a white woman. In 2008, various memorials were raised in honor of Till, whose death continues to fuel the civil rights movement. The sign at the Tallahatchie River, however, marking where his body was recovered,  location was stolen and thrown into the river. A replacement was riddled with bullet holes. A third was hit with more bullets. Now the community has erected a fourth sign,  500 pounds, made of inch-think steel and reputedly bullet-proof.

I don’t get it. Where is the sick culture that would prompt someone to deface such a sign in 2019 getting its strength and support? The U.S. culture as a whole is more pervasive, and stronger. I assume that the group of people who would deliberately attack a memorial to a young black man who was an innocent victim by any measurement  is very small and a freakish outlier. I certainly hope it is.

9 thoughts on “Mid-Day Ethics Overview, 10/24/2019: TV Ethics, Theater Ethics, Negotiation Ethics…You Know. Ethics.

  1. 5. It’s either…
    A. Ignorance. History isn’t taught or respected. Someone shoots up the memorial because they know nothing about Till nor do they care.
    B. Reactionaries. Angry persons resent the trotting out of Emmett Till every time a young black male has an altercation with police and paint the incident with the same broad brush.
    C. White Supremacists. Should we really be surprised that they wouldn’t care if an innocent black teenage boy visiting his relatives was murdered for no good reason?
    D. False Flag. It’s a hoax designed to spark more racial tension by leading people to believe that bigots are on the prowl.

    Take your pick. I wish I could say none of them were plausible.

  2. Point 2

    I immediately thought the same thing about the power balance using your own turf.

    The other issue is cost. My understanding was that the services would be offered at cost . As for emoluments, exactly how much profit or compensation must be received to be a violation. For example how many Federal employees hold any foreign issued bonds or trade in foreign currencies as part of their portfolios. Technically, everyone holding a position of trust that does is violating the emoluments clause.

    How did Jimmy Carter deal with selling his peanuts overseas? Did any foreign leader buy a bag of his peanuts? Were any payments for his agricultural exports an emolument. Seems to me Washington and Jefferson had similar issurs.

    Sure, this is all absurd. The point is at what point does a payment become an emolument? I see a major difference in being on a payroll of a foreign government where you are directly providing a service to that government and one where your prior private business enterprises, whose mission is to serve high end clientele and is operated by unrelated paid staff, delivers a product or service to a foreign official. Yes, you could fire any of them but you generally let the management team call the shots.

  3. Excellent analysis. In my law enforcement career I investigated a number of incidents of damage, destruction or theft of public monuments, historic markers and other public property of various types. Your list covers the motivations of just about all the offenders I dealt with. The only addition to your list I would make is perhaps the person who steals a copper or bronze plaque or marker for its scrap value, generally to support a drug habit, and generally their thinking is that “the government” will just replace it. Addiction trumps ethics every time for those folks.

  4. ‘Innocent’. That’s what we call someone that grabs a woman around the waist and grinds up against her spouting obscenities.

    Were they white supremacists? Probably. Most people are. More importantly they were the woman’s husband and brother-in-law. Who didn’t even get the story from her but from local blacks who did not approve of Till’s outrageous behavior.

    And before y’all try to claim she ‘recanted’, I’m sure the fellow who had a book to sell can explain why he just plum forgot to tape that part of the interview. Just rotten luck I guess.

    • Can you document any of this?

      Not disputing anything (I don’t know and have no dog in this hunt) just looking for an alternate to the story so often told by people I suspect have had an agenda (MSM) since before I was born.

  5. I don’t get it. Where is the sick culture that would prompt someone to deface such a sign in 2019 getting its strength and support? The U.S. culture as a whole is more pervasive, and stronger. I assume that the group of people who would deliberately attack a memorial to a young black man who was an innocent victim by any measurement is very small and a freakish outlier. I certainly hope it is.

    It is likely that in this response to your inquiry — a rhetorical question really — that I get into the most trouble, or am seen as a trouble-maker, or that it is assumed that I must be in favor of violence against Blacks or against anyone. But I have looked into this issue, and I think I have some insight.

    It is really not very difficult to understand — that is, if one can approach the topic from a fresh perspective. The South was invaded by and largely decimated by the North. It was an invasion and an occupation. Additionally, there was established through the war-event, and then by all the branding and assignment of labels, that the Southerner was a lower order human being. There is a tradition among Northerners to puff themselves up within their ‘righteousness’ and to feel it very proper and even good to take a slam at the Southern ma, the culture of the South, of southern traditionalism. It is very easy to notice this near-religiously expressed righteousness when reading the writing of the Abolitionists and the Republicans who invested themselves in hatred and contempt of the South. Through my studies I came to see that the Northerner has a fantastic blind spot: he employs his ‘contempt of the Southerner’ to cover over and mask from himself his own (northern) culture’s horrifying treatment of Blacks. See ‘North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860 by Leon F. Liwack).

    The best example of an entire theatre of contempt and hatred that I found was the film Mississippi Burning. It is a complex *text* which shows how this Northern contempt is expressed, and how the Southerner is made into a vile image to which a spectacular hatred is directed. I came to understand that it is these sort of *moods* that got communicated to the wider culture and for this reason a film like Mississippi Burning is a very specific kind of cathartic theatre: you enter the theatre and you get to live a sort of viewing through which, in the end, you absolve yourself of *complicity*. You root for the *good guys’ of course, even when the good guys is the FBI as it engages in illegal tactics to ‘get their man’.

    But the actual fact is that the North invaded, occupied, and attempted to remodel and refashion the South. America has continued that peculiar process of hypocritical self-deception: it says that it invades a given country for an altruistic purpose (building democracy, freeing the women, or whatever untruth-du-jour is to be used) but in reality there are whole other sets of motives; far more typical of power-plays and really far more transparent.

    The South has had a tradition of resisting the North. The North (to speak generally) has no comprehension of the ideological or philosophical reason why this is so, and only hated the Southerner more when s/he shows a resisting spirit. In modern times, when the US barges in to a given culture, destroys its social fabric, and does harm to the delicate social and cultural body, it always creates resistance movements. In the same ways, by comparison, that Palestinians resist Israeli occupiers who came and took their land and plow their trees: resistance is a natural and a normal reaction. But the ‘northern spirit’ — a peculiar configuration within the Northerner — creates a kind of blind through which it is impossible for him to understand this. This Americanism, in his own eyes, is god-sanctioned and America’s actions in the world is God’s own creative activity. Who in their right mind would resist it?!? (Answer: only a Devil).

    I suggest that this entire attitude defect has now become prevalent in America, and we see it now, in full force, in the Progressives. It is a kind of disease of the mind and of the spirit.

    This is not to advocate the destruction of the Emmet Till monument, but rather to set up a way to explain why that ire exists against the ‘impositions’ imposed on the South through a complex ‘Northern imposition’. It connects to resistance to projects of ‘social engineering’, and to impositions of many different sorts.

    And one must note, at least, the ‘hunting down’ and the vilification — the deplatforming if you will — of those boys who, for whatever reason, posed in front of that monument. (They were ejected from their fraternity and who knows how it will affect their lives and livelihood). It is the same project, I suggest, as blocking Ethics Alarms posts from posting to FaceBook and to other forms of censorship and social shaming. I mean, these things are connected.

    If one wanted to understand the resistance to over-weening Northern hubris and resistance to Federal projects of all kinds (the civil right movement is enforced by Federal authority for example and the destructive wars of late are, of course, Federal projects) one only has to click a few terms into Google . . . and all sorts of information shows itself. Doing this will also help someone to understand the so-called ‘Alt-Right’ and Right-leaning dissidence generally.

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