1. Hmmmm. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Recognize those words? Might the news media have the sense and integrity to include them in stories about state governments “ordering” that there be no public gatherings of 500 or more (New York) and 250 or more (Washington state)?
Update: Massachusetts just “banned” gatherings of over 250. I’d like to see the research showing that numbers not ending in zero are unsafe.
As far as I can figure out, a state governor can’t unilaterally restrict the right to assemble even in a “state of emergency,” and whether such a draconian measure is permissible is subject to court challenge and judicial scrutiny. These two orders seem especially vulnerable. Why 500? Why 250?
I’d feel a lot better if organizations and the public would assert their rights and demand that governors, as Tom Cruise was required by Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men,” to ask nicely. This reminds me of Boston, of all places, meekly submitting in 2013 to a completely illegal demand by police that its citizens stay inside while the search for the Boston Marathon bombings was underway. Fear is a dangerous tool in the hands of the powerful, who have a nasty habit of becoming totalitarians if they sense any lack of resolve among their potential lackeys and victims.
2. Every now and then Jake Tapper’s once significant commitment to honest journalism creeps out of its post-CNN recruitment paralysis. Tapper recently opined on the air that Democratic voters were acting like progressive pundits:
“To be completely frank, I’m getting real 2004 vibes tonight…Democrats want to defeat an incumbent Republican so badly…that they decide which one is electable…and they decide, okay, it’s John Kerry, or in this case it’s Joe Biden… the point is that when you have the Democratic electorate deciding that they are all a bunch of Rachel Maddows and Chris Hayess and the like, that they’re just, you know, progressive pundits and they’re going to pick out who is the best one, maybe they don’t necessarily always know what they’re doing.”
“Hey! Where’s Tapper’s Kool-Aid? Get him a straw, quick!” I assume that within days, a former female guest will reveal that in 2014 Tapper complimented how she looked in her dress and asked, “Are you working out?,” leading to his immediate dismissal.
A fair point made by CNN critics: “I wonder why he didn’t say “Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo?”
3. Gee, what’s more ethical...a murder-for-hire website where they take your money and don’t kill the intended, or one that takes your money and goes through with the hit? From the New York Times: “A collection of online stores offer murder for pay. Researchers say they are scams, but people who want someone dead aren’t listening.”
I’ve been remiss in not formally entering “Kaufman’s Observation” among the official Ethics Alarms Concepts and Special Terms, a failing I will remedy today. I know I’ve referenced this story several times.
George S. Kaufman was a celebrated wit and playwright (“The Man Who Came To Dinner”, “You Can’t Take It With You”, and many more, usually in tandem with Moss Hart), and moonlighted as a panelist on the early TV show, “This is Show Business,” which often featured a celebrity who would consult the panel members about a personal problem. On one show, singer Eddie Fisher ( father of Carrie, husband of Debbie Reynolds and, scandalously, adulterous lover and eventual pre-Richard Burton spouse of Elizabeth Taylor) wanted advice from the panel because desirable women refused to go out with him because of his youth. Kaufman ‘s unsympathetic reply:
“Mr. Fisher, on Mount Wilson there is a telescope that can magnify the most distant stars to twenty-four times the magnification of any previous telescope. This remarkable instrument was unsurpassed in the world of astronomy until the development and construction of the Mount Palomar telescope. The Mount Palomar telescope is an even more remarkable instrument of magnification. Owing to advances and improvements in optical technology, it is capable of magnifying the stars to four times the magnification and resolution of the Mount Wilson telescope. Mr. Fisher, if you could somehow put the Mount Wilson telescope inside the Mount Palomar telescope, you still wouldn’t be able to see my interest in your problem.”
This perfectly expresses my concern for the fate of those seeking hit men who get swindled out of their funds. In the future, I will express such a level of disinterest by citing “Kaufman’s Observation,” with a link.
4. Stairway to Heaven Ethics. Whew! That was a close one!The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, after hearing the case en banc ( that is, before a full panel of 11 judges), decided this week that Led Zeppelin’s unbelievably pretentious classic “Stairway to Heaven” was not plagiarized, and no new trial would be needed.
A trial jury had previously determined that the endless 1971 song did not copy “Taurus,” a forgotten 1968 song by guitarist/singer Randy Wolfe that was recorded by his band, Spirit. After Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” was ruled plagiarism and the song’s writer had to pay more than $5 million to the family of Marvin Gaye, it was feared that dubious claims of “borrowing” elements from a musical piece would prevail using expanded and loosened legal standards, to a degree that virtually all compositions became targets.
In the 2016 jury trial, Led Zeppelin’s lawyers argued that a chord progression and a descending chromatic scale , the musical elements that the lawsuit said had been stolen, were too basic to be protected by copyright. Led Zeppelin’s expert, a musicologist, said that similar patterns have been commond in music for over 300 years.
5. I don’t understand this story at all, but increasingly the values being exhibited in the United Kingdom seem alien to me. A British teenager was charging classmates the US equivalent of 64 cents for a squirt of hand sanitizer, which is apparently in short supply as well as being over-rated as a Coronavirus prophylactic. His school suspended him for that bit of entrepreneurial spirit.
He had made about eleven bucks before his business was shut down. The student’s major purchase with his profits was a bag of Doritos.