“The sense was, essentially, there was no upside in staying with him,” Marty Karlon, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Retirement System, said this week, adding, “We don’t support the comments in any way.”
Huh? Were those funds entrusted to Fisher’s firm because Fisher’s firm has a record of successful investments, or because people admired Fisher’s social skills and woke sensibilities? I assume the former, and if it is the former, politically incorrect gaffes that an investment fund’s founder may have made at an industry conference should have absolutely nothing to do with a pension fund’s comfort with using that fund. The ethical duty and fiduciary duty of such funds are to increase the funds’ assets, not to make sure that the firm managing the funds has a sufficiently sensitive CEO. Social issue grandstanding is not a pension fund’s job.
Now, as the familiar cancellation culture process grinds on, people are searching for other comments by Fisher that can be used to wreck his business and reputation. CNBC obtained an audiotape of a 2018 conference in which Mr. Fisher compared selling a mutual fund to asking a woman in a bar for sex. Sexual metaphors are banned now? Good to know. My favorite Fisher comments now being weaponized against him apparently had their origin at a Reuters investment summit in December 2011, when he opined that Lincoln was one of our worst Presidents because he went to war rather negotiating with the slave-holding states in the South. Fisher apparently is passionate on this subject: Forbes uncovered posts on Twitter from last year in which Fisher again criticized Lincoln and argued that everyone, including African-Americans, would have been better off if slavery had been allowed to end “peacefully.”
Money managers have to be skilled historians now too, I guess. That’s also good to know…but stupid. I suppose the assumption is that Fisher’s anti-Civil War opinions make him a racist, or pro-slavery, or something equally heinous. That is an uninformed, unwarranted and ignorant assumption.
I have no idea why Ken Fisher holds that opinion, and I certainly don’t know why he persists in stating it in public, since so many people are irrational and emotional on the topic. However, I have read sufficient historical commentary to know that Fisher’s assessment of Lincoln’s decision to fight a civil war has been criticized by many historians, and not on the basis of racism. I think Lincoln was probably our greatest President, but that assessment comes bolstered by a lot of moral luck. If the North had lost the Civil War, Fisher’s opinion would be the majority one, I expect, and the North could have lost if many events, major and trivial, had unfolded differently, which they easily could have. Lincoln took a terrible risk that might have crippled the nation and allowed slavery to persist for decades or longer; that Lincoln’s desperate gamble paid off (though it resulted in over 620,000 U.S. deaths, the most of any U.S. war) doesn’t prove that it was responsible for him to take it.
Never mind though: apparently everyone has to share officially sanctioned positions regarding American history and use properly sensitive metaphors, or they and their businesses, and everyone who depends on them, must be appropriately punished, ideally by public shunning and destruction. In this punitive, dictatorial and intolerant culture, a slip of the tongue, a remark that offends a sacred demographic, or anon-conforming opinion justified personal and professional destruction.
If you aren’t afraid of living in such a culture, you should be.
20 thoughts on “Cancellation Culture Gone Nuts: The Kenneth Fisher Saga”
Guess I better start checking my analogies along with my white privilege. My girlfriends and I still use “off like a prom dress” when announcing that we are leaving our current location. We thought it was funny when we were 17. We still think it’s funny. Oh well.
(It IS funny. But I’m not letting you handle my investments….)
Well, if you like that one…
Instead of using the tried and true “does a bear shit in the woods?” in response to an obvious question, my go to rejoinder is “does Rose Kennedy have a black dress?”
Also excellent. I had a friend who used “Can Stephen Hawking play second base?”
Hey! That’s able shamming. Minimum punishment of 40 lashings with a wet noodle. I’ll give you the -1. I’m not a monster.
But bonus points for ⚾ reference
Yesterday I took public transit to meet my wife at work. I was a few cents short and asked the driver if I could still ride. He allowed me to get on, for which I was thankful. He then said “aww yeah that’s okay,” followed by “what do I look like…a Republican?”
Would it be punitive of me to report this exchange to the publically tax funded transit corporation? On one hand, people say stupid (and even disparaging) things all the time and he was kind enough to let me ride. On the other, this seemed unnecessary and unprofessional.
Even if the driver was a rabid anti-Republican reporting him would do far more harm than his uninformed comment.
Assume you had reported him he would automatically believe you were a Republican even if you just left the Bernie Sanders event and would improperly reinforce such animus held by the driver.
Had he been reported and lost his job over it multiple other persons are harmed: his family, those the work for people from whom he is a customer, etc.
Why not simply engage him and ask ” That’s an unusual comeback, why did you say that?” Be polite and friendly .
context is important, in Portland, she would have been the one in trouble.
If he had a pattern of this kind of behavior though, perhaps he should at least receive a warning.
Part of my concern is that his sentiments could end up pissing off a particularly unhinged rider who is sick of certain attitudes (especially when riders unwillingly pay to listen to them) and potentially hurt him someday. I’d hope that would never happen but I don’t trust the town I live in anymore, especially as the 2020 election nears, to be non-violent about anything. And as you said, he has a family to think about.
Say with a smile I’m sure there are plenty of big hearted republicans just like you.
It’s about changing attitudes not getting in faces. The driver learned that such statements often get a laugh in Portland so the behavior is reinforced. The objective is to challenge the thinking without challenging the person.
I can’t imagine living in the Portland metro area now. I grew up there and it was a very different city back then. I moved back for three years after college and moved away. I’m so glad I made that decision.
The only reason I visit now is the fact that I’m usually unable to find decent airfare out of Eugene so I have to fly out of PDX.
I was in Austria during the 2016 election. I was nervous about returning but in the week I had left on my trip, they mellowed out and stopped blocking the freeways.
If Trump wins again in 2020, it will be insane for a while.
I fixed “rapid” assuming you meant “rabid.” It makes me feel good when someone else makes that kind of typo, which is an Ethics Alarms tradition.
Thanks. I could have sworn I typed rabid
Like all those times I was sure I typed “open borders” and typed “boarders.”
Hoist the main’sle!
Regarding Fisher’s Civil War comments, I have heard that slavery would have collapsed under its own weight by the 1890’s. It would have become too expensive to own people as opposed to paying them.
If true, the idea would be that there would not have been the same sort of resentment caused by the war and reconstruction.
It’s certainly not a ridiculous theory, and definitely not a racist one.
Well, I have also heard the theory that it would have been better if the United States had not gained independence because England outlawed slavery before the US did.
I guess 1984 is a how-to manual after all.
There was a time when every liberal would’ve rejected the very concept. Now, they embrace it so fully that it’s as if it were holy writ.
The 21st century, as Prof. Reynolds says, isn’t turning out like I’d hoped…