Month: March 2020
Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/29/2020: Well, It’s Happened. People Are Going Nuts.
I’m still sane!
1. Cultural literacy note. Ann Althouse, holed up and desperate for non-virus topics (as are we all), has been reduced to reading Woody Allen’s newly published memoirs and commenting on them. Today, reviewing a section where Allen said that his “literary heroes” growing up did not include Julian Sorrel, but did include comic book super-heroes like Hawkman and Submariner, among others. Ann, who’s a bit younger than me, openly admits that while she knows Julian Sorrel (“The Red and the Black”–yechhh). but never heard of Hawkman or Submariner.
Is that a girl thing? Admittedly, those are two relatively minor heroes in the D.C. and Marvel comic book universes, but Ann has had a long time to catch up. It reminds me that one’s perspective on so many matters—everything?—is affected by the shape of the culture one perceives, and holes, even little ones, make a difference. Althouse frequently reveals that she is weak on some popular culture (especially movies and TV). She’s a commentator on the American scene, and people are influenced by her opinions. Nobody can know everything, but the fewer holes, the better.
2. Krazy Kollege Ethics...
- Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, “welcomed” students returning from spring break and initially told his faculty to return to campus unless they had a valid medical reason to stay away. He relented somewhat, and they will now teach online rather than in front of classes, but many professors remain on campus. This situation defies Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s order for nonessential businesses to shut down.
At Slate, legal commentator John Culhane thinks Falwell is asking for lawsuits: Continue reading
Ethics Quiz: The Billionaire’s Tweet
David Geffen, the American businessman, movie producer, film studio executive, and philanthropist, is perhaps best known for creating Dreamworks Studios with fellow billionaire Stephen Spielberg. I mean, the guy is rich. How rich is he? He’s so rich, no one can make a “How rich is he?” joke that makes him laugh, because they all are true applied to him. Anyway, Geffen just got in trouble because of this Instagram message:
..showing his $400 million superyacht, Rising Sun, off the coast of the Grenadines, a chain of small Caribbean islands in the lesser Antilles.
Indignation and anger erupted on the Left and Right. Here’s Market Watch snarking,
If ever there were doubts about how the superaffluent are faring amid a pandemic for the ages, media mogul David Geffen wants to make it abundantly clear that, for his part, he’s doing just fine — and he wishes us all the best… The self-made billionaire doesn’t owe the rest of the world anything, presumably, but his tweets and tone may underscore the yawning chasm between how the 1% can cope with isolation amid a pandemic that has deeply altered the normal patterns of society — perhaps, permanently. A recent New York Times article published on March 5 highlighted the lifestyles of the rich and famous amid the pandemic, which featured the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow en route to Paris Fashion Week wearing a pricey black face mask, while many health-care workers are struggling to obtain lifesaving masks for their jobs.
“The rich are sparing no expense when it comes to minimizing their experience with the coronavirus,” the Times story observed. The Guardian wrote that the wealthy are taking to private jets to escape the virus, while other affluent folk are fleeing to places like the Hamptons and Cape Cod, taking refuge in their posh summer homes or ensconcing themselves in luxurious rental properties…The expanding distance between the haves and the have-nots, however, isn’t sitting well with many.
“The View’s Meghan McCain said, “David Geffen is worth 8 billion dollars! For God’s sake help this country get ventilators, our health workers masks and the medical supplies they need! Or no, just stay on your fucking yacht instagramming. This is just shameful and grotesque.” “David Geffen could have donated that yacht to NYC to be used as a makeshift hospital,” New York Times columnist Wajahat Ali tweeted. Film producer Robby Starbuck tweeted, “David Geffen’s thought process: ‘Hey you know what, millions are losing their jobs, can’t pay their rent and they’re worried about a deadly pandemic, I bet they’d love to know how I’m doing. Fire up the copter so we can take some more pics of my yacht! They’ll love this!!!”
Geffen is a progressive and a contributor to Democratic candidates, so he got no passes from conservatives either. “David Geffen tacitly tells the rest of the world to get bent,” wrote conservative pundit Ed Driscoll. A commenter on Instapundit wrote,
Dear Mr. Geffen: Marie Antoinette voiced a similar tone during the French Revolution (although there is debate wether she said, “let them eat cake” or not) and she literally lost her head. Best you stay on your boat for awhile…..
Geffen has made his Instagram account private.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day…
Does David Geffen deserve all the abuse for his message and photograph?
Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/28/2020: Well, In At Least One Respect, WW II Must Have Felt Like This…
“This” being that almost every single news item and media article related in some way to a single topic, the war then, the pandemic today. That’s one reason President Roosevelt asked major League Baseball to keep playing on, despite the fact that most of the game’s stars had enlisted or were about to, leaving the teams to field old players, players who came out of retirement, minor leaguers, and such curiosities as Pete Gray, the one-armed outfielder.
Wait: the baseball season was supposed to start two days ago, and is postponed at least until May. In that regard, at least, this is worse than World War II…
1. Speaking of baseball: Red Sox ethics! Major League Baseball approved a pool of 30 million dollars (That’s $1 million per club) to compensate ballpark employees during the enforced suspension of games. That left out the employees of subcontractors like Aramark, the company that supplies Fenway Park with food services, among other things. The Sox announced that it would add a half-million dollars to the $1 million for Aramark, a move that is expected to shame the other 29 clubs into similar moves.
2. You wonder why America’s children are growing up to be Marxists? Well, this doesn’t help: The following articles appeared this week in Teen Vogue:
- The Coronavirus Pandemic Demonstrates the Failures of Capitalism
- The Coronavirus Makes Me Wish We Already Had a President Bernie Sanders
- With the Coronavirus Crisis, We Must Cancel Student Debt Immediately
- Rent Strike 2020 Is Calling for a Rent Freeze Because of the Coronavirus
3. From the front page of the Boston Herald:
I’m not going to track down the article; it would just ruin the wonderful picture in my head. Continue reading
A Brief But Significant Addendum To “I’ve Looked And I’ve Tried And I Believe In Civility, But The Only Fair Descriptive Word For These People Is ‘Asshole'”
Mollie Hemingway, editor at the National Review, had an admirably understated reaction to this tweet from Mrs. Clinton, saying, “Fully acknowledge I’m biased here, but my advice would be that if your politics are giving the impression that you’re rooting against your fellow Americans and for a deadly virus attacking them, you might want to reassess.”
My observations are not quite as understated:
- What an asshole! But we knew that. By “me” I mean everyone who has observed this awful, awful human being’s behavior and statements since at least 1992.
- The actual form of assholery that the spectacularly failed aspiring first female President models here is not a variety examined in the post referenced in the title above, but in this post, item #4, in which I noted, “You can mark down any pundit (or Facebook friend) who gloats about the official U.S. tally of Wuhan virus cases making it the most infected nation in the world as fitting neatly into the topic of this recent post.” She’s not a pundit, of course (nor my Facebook friend, thank god); she is, by about 20 laps, the most ungracious, unethical, whiny, nasty, divisive and pathetic losing political candidate for national office in American political history…and she just happens to be the only woman to be on the ballot for President. Continue reading
Unethical Website Of The Month: reddit (ProRevenge)
I often have thought that I ought to research reddit more thoroughly for ethics stories. Then I stumble onto something like this, have to take a shower, and decide that I’ll be happier if don’t. There is also the persistent reddit problem that one can never be sure when what you are reading isn’t completely made up by some aspiring James Frey wannabe. I have been burned in the past.
One of the reddit sub-site communities is devoted to revenge, and participants send in their alleged experiences. Revenge, as we all know, (I hope), is unethical. It’s also frequently entertaining and fun. Revenge has been a staple of drama since the ancient Greeks, and it’s vibrant still, perhaps because there is nothing unethical about revenge fantasies.
One particularly exhilarating (and disgusting) example is the original “I Spit On Your Grave” (yes, there are sequels), an extremely violent and graphic cult film in which a young writer is gang-raped and left for dead by five locals in “Deliverance” territory. She returns, trained, dead-eyed, determined and remarkably creative in a Marquis de Sade way, to pick them off, one by one.
Women seem to especially enjoy the film. I would not be surprised to learn that Hillary is a fan.
But I digress. The following story recently turned up on the reddit ProRevenge section. The disturbing thing was how few of the many commenters were critical of the writer’s alleged conduct, which is, as you will see, appalling. Here is his account, redacted a bit for length, with periodic comments from your host. Continue reading
Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns
Stop blaming my favorite animal, the pangolin, or the so-called “scaly anteater,” for the pandemic!
That’s a tree pangolin above in a defensive posture. Ever since the nexus for the outbreak of COVID-19 was traced back to a wet market in Hubei province, scientists have been looking for the virus’s heritage. It’s possible that the virus emerged in a colony of horseshoe bats in Yunnan, a province that borders the south-east Asian country of Myanmar. But some fingers are also pointing at the pangolin, which was once believed to have bats in its ancestry. The animal, like others that American wouldn’t recognize, is the most trafficked beast in the world due to the supposed health benefits of its scales, with most of that traffic ending in China. A search for the “missing link” in the chain of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has uncovered two close cousins of the variety of coronavirus that started the pandemic in Wuhan in pangolins smuggled into China. Not THE virus, however. Here’s a photo of a pangolin unfurled:
1. It is outrageous that a U.S. newspaper would include this sentence…From an article about the joys of Randolph Scott Westerns by Times film critic Ben Kinegsberg: “The depiction of Native Americans as horse-eating, husband-killing savages doesn’t sit well in modern eyes, and the name of Henry Silva’s character in “The Tall T” is so offensive it cannot be printed.”
Well, it has to printed somewhere, or the information itself has been permanently erased! If a newspaper is going to start purging words, names, history and facts, where does it stop? I’ve been trying to imagine what name could justify the Times refusing to reveal it, other than “Voldemort.” What could it be? Let’s check the Internet Movie Database (the film is “The Tall T“)… Continue reading
I’ve Looked And I’ve Tried And I Believe In Civility, But The Only Fair Descriptive Word For These People Is “Asshole”
That graph above dominates the New York Times front page this morning, but not in a normal way. The graph is at the bottom of the page and covers its entire width. The long bar representing current unemployment page runs up the entire right margin; it’s a full 18 inches. This wasn’t necessary to convey the information. It was necessary to alarm readers as much as possible. The Times publisher and editors are assholes.
I have been criticized for using that vulgar word here. I think the first time I used it, ironically enough, was to describe Donald Trump when he first said he was running for President in 2012. I used the word to describe the Christian minister who announced that he was going to burn the Koran at a time when Muslim crazies were murdering Christians in retribution for every perceived insult to their religion. I don’t use the word lightly. I use it when more socially acceptable descriptors like “jerk” are obviously inadequate.
An asshole is a person who willfully and often gleefully defies positive social norms for personal gain or just because he or she can, indulging the basest human motivations and non-ethical considerations to the detriment of society. Jerks can reform; usually assholes cannot. When someone acts like an asshole but is not one, often the simple device of calling them what they are acting like will shock them back into more responsible behavior. This is why the word must remain among our ethics enforcement tools, like a gun, usually holstered, but still available when needed.
It is needed a lot right now.
As I keep reminding readers, in 2015 I wrote a post declaring that if Donald Trump were elected President, he would turn America into a nation of assholes. I was right about that, but completely mistaken about the process. I thought that Trump’s reflexive lack of ethics and civility would poison the young, who typically adopt the values and manners of prominent role models in the culture, and historically no individual exercises more powerful influence over our culture than the President. However, what we have witnessed over the past three years is an epidemic of asshole conduct by those who oppose President Trump, who actually despise him. I didn’t see that coming. The Wuhan virus emergency has especially brought their assholism (“assholery?” “assholicity?” ) into focus.
Ann Althouse said it nicely (without using the word) reacting to Joe Biden’s current strategy of tossing off incoherent insults and second-guessing regarding the President’s handling of the epidemic. She wrote in part… Continue reading
Comment Of The Day: “From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All”
Reader JP, who is a minister, had a fascinating reaction to the post about the Australian cartoonist in the process of being “canceled” because he had the audacity to mock mothers who pay more attention to their cell phones than their infants. Australians, especially mothers and feminists, are furious…because he criticized conduct that nobody denies occurs.
Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All”:
“Is guilt driving the attacks on Michael Leunig? Is that it? They are punishing a truth-teller for using satire and humor to hold a mirror up to their faces like satirists and social commentators are supposed to do? If that cartoon sparks such anger, what would these people have done to Swift, Voltaire, Gilbert, Shaw, Parker, Wodehouse, Vidal, or even Dave Barry?”
A few years ago, I was teaching this class on 1 Corinthians. It had been going on for about a month at this point where we got to the section on marriage, divorce, and adultery. Most of the class focused on the marriage part. Very little was said about divorce and adultery. I didn’t focus on it too much. In a class like this, I tend to let discussion stay with the interests of the class. I did address divorce and adultery as real problems of the church and said they should not be ignored.
After class, a women came up to me and let me have it. According to her, divorce and adultery were “none of the church’s business.” She was pretty passionate about it, so I let it go. She wasn’t at the next class I assumed she was making a point because she thought that I would never agree with her.
A month later, her husband dragged her into my office, saying she been committing adultery. He wanted to know what he should do about it. She wouldn’t look a me. I suggested a professional counselor, and that was the last time I saw either of them. Continue reading
From The “Stop Making Me Sort Of Defend Joe Biden!” Files: Oh, Look..As Soon As Democrats Finally Conclude That Joe Will Be A Disastrous Candidate, A Woman Accuses Him Of Sexually Assaulting Her 27 Years Ago. How Unexpected!
Seriously, how long will it take women and feminists to realize that repeatedly and transparently using sexual assault and sexual harassment accusations as suspiciously timed political weapons undermines the credibility of legitimate victims and their cause generally?
In fact, why has it taken this long?
We have now seen this scenario so many times: accusers haul out old and unsubstantiated alleged episodes of sexual misconduct conveniently timed to do maximum damage to an individual who has become a problem for the Left. Chris Matthews. Brett Kavanaugh, the most obvious example. Now, the same week in which President trump’s ratings rise, Joe Biden’s bunker broadcasts have even the most dedicated deniers wondering about his acuity, and New York governor Andrew Cuomo is being whispered about as a promising last ditch replacement for Joe if only there were some way to pull it off, and this happens (From Reason):
Despite his public pronunciations on the subject of never touching women without their explicit verbal consent, Biden has previously faced accusations that he was too handsy with people. But now the former vice president is facing a much more serious accusation of sexual assault, from an alleged former staffer named Tara Reade…Reade says she worked for Biden in the early 1990s and asserts that she was unambiguously assaulted by him in 1993. According to Reade, he began kissing her without her permission, pushed her against a wall, reached under her skirt, and penetrated her with his fingers.
“He said ‘come on man, I heard you liked me,'” Reade recalled to Halper in the interview. “For me, it was like, everything shattered. I looked up to him, he was like my father’s age, he was this champion of women’s rights, in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it was happening. It was surreal.”
…She said she once tried to talk to a supervisor about what had happened, but this person shut her down before she could tell the whole story. She also said she filled out an official form detailing her assault, but does not know what became of it.
A year ago, Reade—who supported the campaigns of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.)—attempted to come forward with stories of sexual harassment in Biden’s offices. As detailed in an Intercept piece, she reached out to Time’s Up, a project of the National Women’s Law Center that provides support to alleged #MeToo victims. Time’s Up declined to assist Reade; the organization’s official excuse was that a feud with a national political candidate could jeopardize their status as a 501(c)(3) non-partisan group. But as The Intercept also notes:
“The public relations firm that works on behalf of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is SKDKnickerbocker, whose managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign. A spokesperson for Biden declined to comment. The SKDK spokesperson assigned to Time’s Up referred questions back to the NWLC.”
Hey, nothing to see here, move along! Continue reading
Steve-O-in-NJ has given us his thoughts on the continuing assault on the President of the United States as he does his best to deal with the unprecedented Wuhan virus crisis. (Reader Pennagain has expressed a preference for “Pangolin virus.” The prejudice against scaly anteaters is wide and deep, and when we start hearing reports of thugs beating up pangolins while shouting anti-pangolin slurs, we’ll know who to blame. )
The inspiration for Steve’s Comment of the Day was Hillary Clinton’s mocking tweet that put her on the current Ethics Alarms Asshole List, though I’m not sure she ever left it. I’ll also mention here that no less a luminary than John Kerry has apparently joined those of us who believe that “asshole” is sometimes the only description that will do. Commenting on GOP House member Thomas Massie’s absurd stand temporarily blocking passage of the epidemic emergency legislation, the former Senator and Secretary of State tweeted,
Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day on the post, “A Brief But Significant Addendum To “I’ve Looked And I’ve Tried And I Believe In Civility, But The Only Fair Descriptive Word For These People Is ‘Asshole’”: