Good morning, inmates!
I’ve been reading that social isolation may be deadly. Zugswang!
Last week “ethics zugswang” made a return to Ethics Alarms, and you can expect to read a lot more of it. The chess term describing the dilemma is which the only safe move is to stay still, and staying still is impossible, seems to be applying to increasing numbers of dire situations recently, especially in the ethical sense, in which all choices are unethical.Upon reflection, several posts involved ethics zugswang even when I didn’t use that term. The woman whose student loan debts topped 900,000 dollars is in zugswang. Progressive feminists who use gender-baiting as a partisan weapon are in self-condemned zugswang when political allies use misogynist terms against conservative women.
It’s really fun saying “zugswang,” but I will try to touch on some matters that don’t involve ethics zugswang….like…
1. “Hogan’s Heroes” ethics. I never thought it would happen, but a cable channel is re-running “Hogan’s Heroes” episodes. The very popular Sixties sitcom about POW prison camp and the wacky and inept Nazis running it has been thoroughly excoriated as outrageously tasteless and politically incorrect. My father loved the show because anything that made the Nazis look ridiculous was aces with him. Is it tasteless and offensive to show “Hogan’s Heroes” today?
It was clearly satire, in the same spirit as Larry, Moe and Curly playing Hitler and cronies, or Charley Chaplin in “The Great Dictator”—or, to pick a recent example, the child’s view of Hitler as an imaginary friend in “Jo-Jo Rabbit.” The show obviously took its inspiration from “The Great Escape,” of which it is virtually a parody (without the executions, of course.) WW II vets like my father were accustomed to the Nazis being ridiculed and trivialized in the process. In an age that has seen the Holocaust Museum’s exhibits and widely distributed documentaries about the full barbarity of Nazi Germany, the satire may no longer work.
There are other reasons why “Hogan’s Heroes” is no longer funny, despite the very talented cast. Its laugh track is annoying now, especially when the jokes are old and repetitive: how hard can you keep laughing when Sgt. Schultz (John Banner) says “I know nothing! NOTHING!” for the thousandth time? Perhaps the kiss of death for the series is the ubiquity of series star Bob Crane as Hogan, Crane was always smarmy for my taste, but knowing his fate—Crane was bludgeoned to death by a likely participant in his sick S & M porno ring that involved, among other revolting activities, secretly videotaping women engaged in sex—make watching the show a painful experience.
2. Social Media Zugswang...at least for me. As with Facebook, which bans Ethics Alarms for unstated and unjust reasons, whatever they are, I deplore supporting Twitter but have little choice, as it is a necessary (though barely) way to circulate my posts and my expertise. Here’s signature significance: Biden’s campaign released deceptively edited video advancing the false narrative that the President called the Wuhan Virus “a hoax.” (I still read references to this every day on Facebook.) The Washington Post was forced—that is forced because it was so egregious—to give that ad Four Pinocchios, much as it would like the President to sink into the ooze from which he came. Yet Twitter, which has a “manipulated video” policy, has not taken down the thing. While Twitter removed a Trump campaign tweet marked as “manipulated” for violating its new rules,that Twitter claimed implied Biden had mistakenly endorsed Trump in a moment of confusion, Biden’s ad will not be removed because the tweet was sent before the new policy took effect on March 5.
That’s indefensible. The video is still misleading people and being falsely cited online. What difference does it make when it was posted? The idea, we were told, was to reduce disinformation on the platform. In the post linked above, I accused Twitter of embarking on a course of “selective censorship.”
3. Ann Althouse is in zugswang, or denial, or panic, or something, and says she is “happiness blogging” today. I like a lot of her quotes and links, and you might as well. I especially like her first one, from Robert Louis Stevenson: “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.”
Stevenson had serious health problems most of his adult life, suffered from periodic depression, and died at 44 of a cerebral hemorrhage.
4. Here’s an excellent trail of the kind of media bias warping our understanding of the ongoing Wuhan Virus drama. Atlantic writer Anne Applebaum attacked the Trump administration for not sending aid to Italy, unlike China, as reported in this tweet.
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: CHINA EASTERN AIRLINES’ A350 DEPARTED FOR ROME, ITALY FROM SHANGHAI, BRINGING 9 CHINESE MEDICAL EXPERTS AND 31 TONS OF MEDICAL SUPPLIES, INCLUDING PLASMA OF RECOVERED CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS, TO HELP ITALY FIGHT AGAINST THE VIRUS
China, however, is desperately trying to repair an international diplomatic disaster of its own making. It originated the virus and is responsible for Italy’s crisis, especially since the center of Italy’s outbreak in Northern Italy where the government allowed 100,000 Chinese from Wuhan to move to work in these factories, involving direct Wuhan flights. The European Union, meanwhile, has largely left Italy to its own resources. The U.S. has no obligation to provide assistance to Italy while there’s a health crisis here. Appelbaum also failed to note that the US offered to send its scientists to assist China in fighting the virus, and was turned down.
Also ignored by Applebuam: “What China’s propaganda organs have not said: Those shipments of goods are, in at least some cases, not donations but rather exports of goods for purchase. And 1,000 ventilators is a decent deal for a country trying to get its business sector restarted.”
Enemy of the people…
5. Poll update: On the question of whether Sarah Palin’s TV appearance in a rainbow teddy bear suit to sing “Baby’s Got Back” was unethical, funny, or just icky (My position: if a former VP candidate of a national party is deliberately icky, that IS unethical) has so far yielded the result that “icky” is tied with “all of the above,” meaning that only 36 of 79 votes so far consider Palin’s latest stunt unethical. Here’s the poll, which is open for three more days: