Afternoon Ethics Infection, 3/18/2020: Only 3 Out Of 4 Wuhan Viwus Wewated Wefewences! These Days, That’s Not bad…

Good afternoon!

1. I missed this: Roman Polanski, with his “An Officer and a Spy” won the directing, and screenplay awards at the French Cesar awards last month, and the results were greeted by protests. After Polanski’s best-director award was announced, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” actress Adele Haenel and director Celine Sciamma walked out of the theater.

It was Polanski’s fifth Cesar in the directing category, He’s scum and a rapist as well as a fugitive from justice, but he is and has always been a great film director. Polanski did  not attend the ceremony because, he said, he anticipated it would turn into a “public lynching.”

Haenel  shouted, “Well done, pedophilia!” as she left the hall. In an interview with The New York Times about his nominations, she had said, “Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims,” she said. “It means raping women isn’t that bad.”

Think about that statement a bit, if you have to. It makes no sense at all, but articulates the logic of the cancel culture. The film is the film, just as a song is a song and a painting is a painting. None of these are the same as their creators. Just as the fact that art created by a saint doesn’t make it any better, the fact that other art is created by vile human beings doesn’t change the quality of the art for the worse.  The law punishes people for bad deeds. Society punishes them in many other ways. What artists build, accomplish, and contribute to society are independent of the artists personally.

Bill Cosby’s albums are still funny, and nobody is saying that raping women isn’t that bad by enjoying those classic performances or by honoring Cosby as a performer. Harvey Weinstein produced too many great films to boycott.

Personally, I refuse to support Cosby, Woody Allen, Polanski and others who disgust me, but their work remains what it was and is, and burying it punishes the culture.

2. Submitted without comment: Ann Althouse flagged this from “The Sanders Campaign Is a Menace to Public Health/Bernie Sanders can’t beat Joe Biden. But he can force millions of people to risk being exposed to the coronavirus” by Jonathan V. Last:

[I]f [Sanders] does not suspend his campaign, immediately, then he and his supporters should be shamed and shunned…. Joe Biden has beaten him in every type of state… among nearly every demographic other than ‘people under 35’… in most places by wide margins…. But Joe Biden has not yet reached the 1,991 delegate threshold required to mathematically clinch the nomination. And since delegates are being awarded proportionally, he might not cross that line until the end of April—and even this assumes that the votes are held roughly as scheduled. As a theoretical matter, Sanders can keep campaigning until then by claiming that the race has not yet been decided. But it has….We are in the midst of a global pandemic…. In order to have an election, a bunch of volunteers—most of them well over the age of 35—get together in a firehouse or a school cafeteria. They then interact with a steady stream of people at close range for a day. These people hand objects to the volunteers (driver licenses, voting ID cards) and are then handed other objects (ballots or forms) in return. They stand within arm’s length of one another. And if the turnout is heavy, the voters stand in a line, waiting as a group…. There’s no shame in losing a campaign. There is a great deal of shame in what Bernie Sanders is doing right now. He is harming America. He should stop.

3. “You know: morons!” I was Christened in the Greek Orthodox Church, and my family continued to attend services with varying regularity until one priest gave a sermon asserting that the children of “mixed marriages”—like my parents, a Greek Orthodox spouse and one who wasn’t (my Dad was kind of a cynical Methodist)—were illegitimate in the eyes of the Lord, at least the one who speaks Greek. Dad got up, took the hands of my sister and me, and walked out of the service, never to return.

Now Greek Orthodox churches in Australia say that they will allow congregations to sip wine from the same holy spoon during mass because “the holy cup cannot carry disease.” If you’ve never been to a Greek Orthodox mass—and why would you? —during communion, a priest dips a spoon into a chalice of wine and places it into the mouths of parishioners. At a time when we are trying to contain the Wuhan virus, this would seem to be rash.  Have no fear, however! The spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia explained that “once we decide to go to church, we believe there is absolutely no possibility of contracting disease from the holy cup….we believe that no disease or illness can exist in holy communion, which we believe is the body and blood of Christ.”

Got it.

During the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, one of the most effective measures to prevent the disease’s spread was closing down church services.

Faithless bastards.

4. The Really Big King’s Pass. Somehow, even though there is a shortage of Wuhan virus testing kits and critically ill Americans of normal size and income are waiting to be tested,  somehow the NBA is managing to get its players, who are not a high risk group, tested. How could that be, especially since the season has been suspended? An NBA spokesman “explained”:

“Public health authorities and team doctors have been concerned that, given NBA players’ direct contact with each other and close interactions with the general public, in addition to their frequent travel, they could accelerate the spread of the virus. Following two players testing positive last week, others were tested and five additional players tested positive. Hopefully, by these players choosing to make their test results public, they have drawn attention to the critical need for young people to follow CDC recommendations in order to protect others, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly.”

Sure. The short version: “We’re rich, we’re famous, we’re bigger than you are, and we do what the hell we want.”


14 thoughts on “Afternoon Ethics Infection, 3/18/2020: Only 3 Out Of 4 Wuhan Viwus Wewated Wefewences! These Days, That’s Not bad…

  1. Having not watched an NBA game of any kind in any venue for any amount of time in over 20 years, I marvel they can still pay their players at all, much less in the millions per year. (Guess I’m not their demographic.)

  2. As sad as I am that our local diocese, the Diocese of Cheyenne, has suspended public Mass, and even before that suspending offering the Eucharist under the species of wine, it is true that these are prudential measures to take.

    The Greek Orthodox Church holds the same belief regarding the Eucharist that Catholics do (even if the practice for distributing communion might differ). The bread and the wine are trans-substantiated into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. What this means is that their substance, what they ARE changes, but their accidents (their appearance, texture, taste, disease-fighting capabilities) remain the same. The Precious Blood retains the same germ-killing ability as alcohol. No more, no less. If health officials are saying that hand sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol to kill the virus, and the standard wine used for the Eucharistic sacrifice is 15% or less, then one could not expect the Precious Blood to effectively kill the virus. That Greek Orthodox spokesman needs to recheck his theology, because I attest that speaking something nonsensical about one’s religion when one should know better is unethical.

  3. I’m Orthodox (not Greek, but that shouldn’t matter). Many dioceses including mine have severely limited attendance at services, to the point where services are still running but no one besides clergy is allowed to be there. This doesn’t negate the decision in Australia at all, but I wanted to put another perspective out there.

    The Church has a problem with cultural tribalism, and as someone on Althouse commented on the same story, it often manifests as “more traditional than thee-ism”.

  4. 1. The guy has put out some great stuff, but it’s hard to watch and not inwardly think “ick!” just like I do with Woody Allen.
    2. Sanders is “assessing” his campaign after the drubbing he took yesterday. I think he’s going to pull the plug soon.
    3. The Archdiocese of Newark has dispensed everyone, probably until Easter, so have many other places. It is foolish to do otherwise. These clergy are playing with fire.
    4. What, no “nah-nah?” 😛

  5. My church closed last week and will be closed until the first week of April (for now). We live-streamed the sermon, used Ritz Crackers and Cranberry Juice for communion. Our church was not the only one to do it either. We are also in a very Red State.

  6. I agree with your thoughts about art versus artists. Do we really know what Leonardo, Velazquez, Matisse et al, were like as human beings? Should we care? In at least one fertile segment of their existence, they uncovered an aesthetic bounty that has lifted mankind all the way up to present time and (God willing) beyond. That aspect of their persona should be respected and acknowledged. Modern artists “suffer” from the transparency factor of social media and political movements, not to mention, in a very few conspicuous cases, the latent power of their own crimes. Let’s not make the “baby with the bath water” error, for crying out loud. Wasn’t it Christ who invited some of us to throw the first stone? He had a lot on the ball, and the world was better for it, no matter your belief. Did he ever make an unsavory remark about a shapely wench from Galilee? Should we cease to love our enemy if that biblical comment suddenly becomes “un-redacted?”
    Your excellent blog and fantastic level of production is flabbergasting. Please keep it up.

  7. “If you’ve never been to a Greek Orthodox mass—and why would you?”

    Possibly because my ex-wife’s mother’s Maiden name was Thyonie Theofilu (and I am NOT sure I have the spelling right) whose Father was a naturalized Greek, and whom I accompanied to Greek Orthodox services more than once.

  8. 3. Even though there has not yet been a single reported case of COVID-9 in my county, my church and most others here have cancelled services at least through the end of the month. Sermons are being live-streamed and the church (the body of believers) is using social media to stay in touch and keep check on our older members, of which there are many. Teachers among our members are helping newly-minted homeschooling parents with resources and advice. I have seen a few “Facebook theologians” questioning the faith and commitment of churches who chose to take the viral threat seriously, but that’s about the extent of resistance that I’ve heard about locally.

  9. #3 – Iran is suffering badly from wuflu because they are practicing the same kind of “Alah will protect you” rash behavior. Saudi Arabia shut down the Haj and Mecca is deserted, but Iran did not heed the same advice. They kept the holy sites open, and they continued the practices of packing in and kissing / touching / interacting as normal.

  10. Months ago, I had a clear sense that *something would happen*. (This is something we often talked about in my household). I was not sure what. I thought that there would occur a war, or a significant terrorism act, or perhaps some financial event that caused a great deal of fear and chaos. Something that would consume people’s consciousness. The purpose being to get control over people. To get back a kind of control which has been lost. It is not at all outrageous or inaccurate to say that the MSM and the systems of communication have lost their former ability to *control the narrative*. That MSM seems to be fighting to recover that ability with limited success. What does this say about the very structures of power?

    Anyone with two eyes recognizes that over the last few years something significant has happened: people are thinking and talking about the surrounding world — the political and social events — with more seriousness, and I suppose that one of the factors is that there are an abundance of new sources of information and analysis. I cannot personally be certain about this new level of conversation since my own interest here only began 6 or maybe 7 years ago, but people older than me have told me that something new and different is going on, something they had not seen before.

    But what is it? Who best describes it? Is it merely ‘nationalism’? The rise of a dangerous *Far Right*? A battle between two opposed political poles? Or is there an inner, spiritual dimension?

    If the object is to *understand the present*: what has made it what it is, then there is really no end to the questions that can be posed and the general questioning. I have said many times that here on this blog most seem satisfied with the analysis of *surface* and that I think this is a result of intellectual failure. You don’t win may friends by saying such things yet it really should not be that way. There should be greater appreciation for those who attempt to widen understanding through research, analysis and conversation.

    Those who don’t or won’t allow their own perceptual parameters to widen, and those who try to shut down others from doing so, perform a disservice. Those who only think within the established limits and refuse to consider the perspectives of those who do seek to push these further obviously inhibit greater understanding. I have to say — though I don’t think anyone will care one way or the other! (my Fate as it were in the Cassandran sense!) — that I have not and do not learn here how to push the boundaries of knowledge forward, but rather how strong and conventionally-minded people, mostly men, use all their power to keep those boundaries from being expanded, and to keep the boundaries in their place. I have various theories as to why this is. But the take-away point, for me anyway, is that this is not really ‘conservative’ attitude and those who enforce the established boundaries are not Conservatives.

    Conservatism in this radically rebellious present must involve itself in the recovery of foundational ideas and also of power. Power to escape from the boundaries that have been imposed on us. I mean within the Postwar *constructed world* of course, which I write about often. It is anti-liberalism in certain defined ways.

    But to say this, and to understand how this has come about — a level of control over ideation — and even that it has come about, can only happen when people choose to willingly engage with those ideas. Therefore, true conservatism must be more than merely applying a brake, it has to be active in the recovery of the foundations that will enable a counter-movement. But by and large — if I really were to be honest — there is no one writing here, except occasionally one or two, who seem to have any sense at all about what a *counter-movement* is and what it would entail. Thus, their ‘conservatism’ is intellectual fear and other reactionary attitudes that arise from some general fear.

    What is interesting to me in this *crisis* that has suddenly come upon us is not necessarily that I think it was manufactured (there are people who do suggest this is possible though) but rather that one can examine and ask questions about how it is being exploited. But this involves a somewhat paranoid or disbelieving stance: a critical attitude taken toward ‘the machinations of the present’. On one hand that is seen as *conspiracy thinking* and is dismissed, but the question I ask is what sound and constructive attitude should one take, must one take, as one examines and considers political and social control and its mechanisms? You cannot in the middle of a crisis understand it well, you can only react to it.

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