Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/13/2019: Defending Bette, Not Defending Cuba Or The Giant Christmas Penis….

Good Morning!

1. Regarding the President’s military pardons. This story is now a month old, and my post about it got derailed, so let me be brief. The uproar over these pardons was overblown, and yes, by the media. I never read any mention in the various reports, for example, about how Jimmy Carter, then Governor of Georgia,  announced his outrage when Lt,  William Calley was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering 22 unarmed South Vietnamese civilians in the My Lai Massacre . Carter instituted American Fighting Man’s Day in support of Calley, and asked Georgians to drive for a week with their lights on.  Calley only served seven years of his sentence.

It is important for the military to insist on discipline, and I think President Trump was wrong to interfere with it in these cases. Each of them has a different set of facts, but the President’s statement about the inherent unfairness of training human beings to kill, placing them in deadly situations and unimaginable stress, and then punishing them when their fury and programmed violence erupts in illegal violence and other acts (like posing in a photo with a dead enemy  combatant) has validity. My father, who had been in combat in World War II, regarded such crimes as the equivalent of “battle fatigue.” He hated General Patton for slapping the GI suffering from what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in a field hospital, and felt that harshly punishing soldiers for the kinds of incidents Trump’s beneficiaries engaged in was wrong and hypocritical.

Any time any convicted American is pardoned, there are arguments that clemency undermines the justice system. In the end, this is a policy dispute. The military has good reasons to object to such pardons, but President Trump’s decision is defensible, and would probably be considered so if he were anyone else.

2.  Cuba Gooding, Jr. is now in Bill Cosby territory. Seven more women have come forward to accuse the popular actor of sexually assaulting them. This brings the total number of accusers up to 22.

In one court filing, a woman alleges that after she met Mr. Gooding at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in 2009, he took her to a concert, where he began to kiss her in a secluded hallway as she was attempting to leave. Then he placed his hands on her buttocks, and pushed onto her crotch so forcefully that her tights ripped.  The woman bit Mr. Gooding’s cheek so she could escape. Another woman accused the 51-year-old Gooding of sliding his hand down her pants and grabbing her buttocks at a restaurant in 2011. Yet another accuser says that he grabbed her vagina twice at a restaurant in  in 2016, according  the court filings.

Gooding’s legal team argues that the new claims are from women looking to cash in  due to his celebrity status. maybe, but history and experience suggests otherwise.

Whatever the culture is that gives men the idea that they can act like this and that there is nothing wrong with it needs to be rejected, since it obviously came special delivery from Hell. I would no more have done any of those things, even in the prime of youth, than I would have ridden a pogo stick into church with a wombat on my head. I assumed everyone was raised like that.

3. Another contestant for the Ethics Alarms “Asshole of the Year”  title: Shelby Gash decided to assault her Kansas neighbors by shaping Christmas lights into a giant penis over her house.

“Sorry neighbors … I felt the need to make a giant dick on the roof,” Gash wrote alongside photos on Facebook. “‘Tis the season!”

Nice. There is no conceivable excuse for doing something like this, at any time of year, but especially Christmas. Gash told WDAF that the display it was light-hearted  reaction to how “uptight” her neighborhood has become. “People think it’s hilarious,” she insisted. “People are stopping in the middle of the night taking photos and laughing. People think it’s so much fun.”

Right. She’s missing essential ethics alarms, including basic consideration, civility, and civic responsibility.

What an idiot.

4. There is hope! A new Monmouth University poll shows Senator Elizabeth Warren’s once thriving campaign is collapsing. The ex-Harvard prof scored 28% among Democrats in September, and has fallen 17 percent in December. Combined with the elimination of Kamala Harris, the two Democratic candidates who had most distinguished themselves by demagoguery and dishonesty finally were taught a variation of Lincoln’s maxim: You can’t fool enough of the public all the time.

I still find it impossible to believe that the party of women, youth and radical progressiveness will go into the 2020 elections with ancient, mentally failing, women-groping, moderate Joe Biden as its standard-bearer. Still, it speaks well of Democrats that they can detect two blatant phonies when they see them.

In related news, Warren said yesterday that “We know that one Democratic candidate walked into a room of wealthy donors this year to promise that ‘nothing would fundamentally change’ if he’s president, ” according to a story in the Washington Post.

She was apparently referring to Biden. Why does she assume that most Americans want “fundamental change”?

5. Stop making me defend Bette Midler!  The outspoken and politically illiterate celebrity tweeted out this:

..with the caption, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

A twitter mob rushed to the defense of the teens pictured, CNN reported:

Nothing is wrong with this picture since we don’t know what the backstory is,” author Katrina Ray-Saulis countered. “They could be contacting their parents after spending hours there. They could be reading about the history of the art on the museum’s website. We assume too much if we’re upset by this.”
Her comment mirrored a wave of reaction that met Midler’s initial tweet.
Perhaps the girls tired out after spending a day in one of the world’s largest art galleries, are taking a much-needed reprieve in the European paintings gallery before heading back out to consume more art, one user suggested.
Or maybe they just weren’t that into centuries-old art in the first place? Comedian Jaboukie Young-White posited that the trio were on their phones because “classic art gets old so fast.”
Or maybe the star’s criticism was all wrong — those devices hold more information about the artworks in question than the labels stuck next to them.
In other words, defenders of the symbolic three were being willfully obtuse, pretending not to know what Midler was referring to, pretending that it was relevant to Midler’s absolutely legitimate point what the actual trio were up to, and avoiding the issue on order to send an “OK, Boomer!” rebuke. Moreover, a fair observer would know that Midler didn’t mean “wrong” as in unethical or harmful, but “wrong” as in demonstrating a troubling trend. I see scenes like this all the time. Maybe this particular example had a benign explanation, but there is no dispute, or shouldn’t be, that Americans spend an unhealthy amount of time with their attention being focused on their electronic devices as a substitute for interacting with and experiencing the world around them, including fellow human beings.  The young are especially addicted to this practice, and their adult guides and role models have been negligent in allowing the conduct to metastasize. They, our society and culture will pay a high price for the life skills these habits are stunting. Now shut up and sing, Bette…


15 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/13/2019: Defending Bette, Not Defending Cuba Or The Giant Christmas Penis….

  1. 5. Marshall McLuhan would probably have a laugh at Bette (or her assistant) likely using the very thing she’s criticizing to criticize others for using it. On oh-so-analog social media no less. Maybe next time she can hire a messenger on horseback to convey her wisdom. While I agree with her point, her message is lost in the hypocrisy of it.

    • Did you ever see “The Simpsons” episode in which Sideshow Bob hijacks a nuclear weapon in order to force Springfield to shut down television entirely?

      He makes his demand on one of those huge kiss-cam screens at an Air Show, then adds, “Oh, by the way, I am aware of the irony of appearing on television in order to decry it, so please don’t bring it up.”

    • My granddad once told my mom, while smoking a cigarette, how dangerous smoking is. The message simply isn’t stong when the actual message essentially is “do as I say, not as I do.” If folks are that worried (and I do agree with you) they should model the behavior. Isn’t that a more ethical and congruent way of sending a message?

      I wonder what are good ways to convey excessive phone use is harmful – while not using a phone and the platforms most used by them, to do it.

  2. 1. I don’t have much to add, except to point out that my personal experience in the military suggests that “war crime” charges are often more about the politics than the reality. Showing the world how righteous we are is an obsession with some people. I don’t mean to paint with too broad a brush, but cases like Gallagher’s, which looked to me like an attempt to scapegoat a man because they needed someone to blame make me suspicious of all such charges.

    2. Good grief. And I liked Cuba Gooding Jr., but it’s hard to like a man who violates women against their will, especially women of lesser social standing. I’m sure his parents didn’t raise him that way, which suggests he’s trading on his success to get his reprehensible behavior excused via the King’s Pass.

    One has to wonder who gave him the idea that it was okay to lay hands on women’s private parts uninvited? Assumed license from his fame? Bill Cosby? Some other celebrity? Inquiring minds want to know.

    3. The penis decoration, in my view, is a self-portrait of the woman.

    4. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving shrew or in this case, shrews.

    5. The Twitter mob has spoken. I fart in their general direction.

    Regarding the young people, they are going to suffer from early neck and back problems as well as atrophied social and cultural skills. Once again, I am reminded of “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” and our love of electronic gizmos is laying waste to a lot of minds.

    …. he said, as he logged is 8th hour of the day behind a computer screen…

  3. #4
    I’ve also thought Joe Biden is in mental decline too, but found his comments today interesting and he seemed far more lucid than normal.

    Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday sought to draw parallels between the results of the United Kingdom’s general election and the 2020 White House race — arguing that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resounding victory should warn Democrats against veering too far left in their fight to defeat President Donald Trump.

    I had a parallel thought as soon as I heard the news. The conventional wisdom was that Boris Johnson was going to be ousted yesterday. Instead of the house of commons succeeding in ejecting him, the people sent him back. Gee, does the first part sound familiar?

    About Biden, I do wonder if he was well coached or had a moment of lucidity.

    • He endorsed the lunatic “Green New Deal.” It’s too late for him to claim to me moderate.

      The conventional wisdom, even among honest Democrats, is that Trump is going to win in 2020, maybe big.

      • If, by happenstance, Biden somehow pulls out a win, he goes into office with a target on his back. The moment Attorney General Adam Schiff launches an investigation against a rival Republican, the moment Biden asks a foreign country to do something; the moment Russia starts airing ads in the Biden/Warren ticket’s favor, Republicans will call for impeachment.

        Biden cannot hide behind racism, sexism, even ageism. He will have to answer to the facts of the case, while keeping a straight story about Trump’s actions being too completely different. He’ll mangle the story so bad, that Republicans will call on the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment (even if it puts, winces, Warren in the Hot Seat).

        Women will come forward with lawsuits about sexual harassment, and Biden will hide behind executive immunity. Republicans will call for impeachment for obstruction of justice!

        Democrats should be proud. Their nominee will be one of the greatest, scandal free president’s in history!

  4. #5
    It’s not lost on me the use of cell phones and digital media to deliver the oh-so-pithy “o.k. boomer.”

    Steve Jobs, b. 1955
    Bill Gates, b. 1955
    Sergy Brin, b. 1973
    Larry Page, b. 1973
    Tim Berners-Lee, b. 1955
    Robert Cailliau, b. 1947

    Perhaps a “thank you for creating a platform with which I can deliver a sanctimonious, self-important, ignorant and immature, insult” would be a little more accurate.

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