Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/7/2020: Is It Just Me, Or Does Anyone Else Feel Like They Are In A “Twilight Zone” Episode?

A really boring one.

Zombies would be an improvement…

1. More on my mask photo ethics conflict...I wrote about this in a comment on the post last night about Rep. Lee, but I’m still obsessing about it because I still don’t know what the ethical course is. When I saw that photo of Rep. Lee wearing her mask with her nose exposed (this makes her a nose-breathing idiot rather than a mouth-breathing idiot; it was also upside down), I was going to post it with two other photos showing elected officials doing the same thing. At literally the last second, an ethics alarm sounded. The other two officials, a city mayor and a member of Congress known to be, shall we say, an unlikely “Jeopardy!” contestant, were both black. In the case of Lee, who is the chair of a task force on the national response to the epidemic,the validity of pointing out the visual evidence that she’s an epic boob (we knew that, but still) is unassailable, perhaps even by the race-baiting standards of the Congresswoman herself, who  repeatedly attributed any criticism of Barack Obama to racism.

Objectively, however, when accompanied by two other photos of African-American political figures making fools of themselves, would not the array appear to be a racist “dog whistle”? I don’t need to be tarred as a racist—I already have lost considerable income because I dare to oppose the anti-Trump mobs—and this would invite that result. Moreover, as I also commented last night, conservative sites were stinking with racist comments about the Lee photo. (“If you let blacks vote, you get blacks in power over you. This applies to every other non-American race and culture too,” wrote one commenter on Instapundit.) Thus the Second Niggardly Principle seemed to be triggered:

“When an individual or group can accomplish its legitimate objectives without engaging in speech or conduct that will offend individuals whose basis for the supposed offense is emotional, mistaken or ignorant, but is not malicious and is based on well-established impulses of human nature, it is unethical to intentionally engage in such speech or conduct.”

In the narrow context of my post, I’m confident that this is the right call. In a larger context, however, the Third Niggardly Principle seems to apply:

When, however, suppressing speech and conduct based on an individual’s or a group’s sincere claim that such speech or conduct is offensive, however understandable and reasonable this claim may be, creates or threatens to create a powerful precedent that will undermine freedom of speech, expression or political opinion elsewhere, calls to suppress the speech or conduct must be opposed and rejected.”

Indeed Ethics Alarms has made a recent Third Niggardly Principle stand, refusing to accept the widespread ban on any designation of the virus that references its origins and the Chinese government’s role in turning it into a pandemic. I have done this even though the Chinese connection has led some thugs to attack Asian-Americans. I believe the principle that facts and words must not be suppressed because some may misconstrue them or react irrationally is a crucial one, and a principle that the totalitarian Left is working hard to deconstruct.

So in light of all the factors, what was, or is, the ethical way to handle this conflict?

2. Speaking of polls, here’s where the last one sits. Polling is still open, and you can vote as many times as you want, for different candidates. The poll asks you to choose which Democratic Presidential candidates would endorse withholding online classes from all public school students because poor students didn’t have WiFi access:

3. And speaking of masks, here’s what NBC Washington tweeted along with a photo of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam demonstrating the right way to wear a mask:

Later, it tweeted a “correction” that the mask was really dark green. Still later, NBC removed both tweets, saying, “Correction: We made a misjudgment in a tweet about Gov. Northam’s face mask. We sincerely apologize for the error.”

What “error”? This wasn’t an error. This was someone at NBC deliberately taking a cheap shot—Remember that Northam’s yearbook showed him wearing blackface, for which he had no coherent explanation? Blackface-“black face mask”? Get it?—-just to be a wise-ass.  I yield to no one in my contempt for Virginia’s pandering, hyper-partisan and clueless Democratic governor, but he was  a victim here.

I have wondered about this: would the years-long practice of journalists being disrespectful jerks to President Trump eventually become a habit that will be routinely inflicted on other elected officials, regardless of party?

4. Good idea! Major League baseball is discussing opening the season with all games being played in Arizona without spectators, essentially making baseball a 100% TV programming  event. The baseball seasons were nearly all cancelled during World War II until President Roosevelt urged the sport to play on, even though most of its stars had joined the Armed Services. In his famous letter known now as “The Green Light Letter,” Roosevelt wrote,

“I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going…Baseball provides a recreation which does not last over two hours or two hours and a half, and which can be got for very little cost. And, incidentally, I hope that night games can be extended because it gives an opportunity to the day shift to see a game occasionally…these players are a definite recreational asset to at least 20,000,000 of their fellow citizens – and that in my judgment is totally worthwhile.”

Well, games are over three hours now, but the reasoning still holds. Baseball will be performing a national service if it can find a way to give the public something to think about other  than the pandemic. The President would be well-advised to do his best FDR imitation and write his own “Green Light Letter,” but he isn’t well-advised, and he only cares about football.

Now THAT should be impeachable…

5.  Finally, a token diversity note...Harriet Glickman, who as a teacher persuaded Charles M. Schultz to add “Franklin,” an African American kid, to the “Peanuts” gang in 1968, had her obituary in the New York Times. Her reasoning, presented in a letter to the cartoonist, was sound:

Franklin’s addition, however, was immediately recognized as pure tokenism. He wasn’t funny; he was only an occasional visitor, and he represented as clear an example of diversity for diversity’s sake as a critic could find. It didn’t help that by 1968, “Peanuts” had largely stopped being funny itself.

16 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/7/2020: Is It Just Me, Or Does Anyone Else Feel Like They Are In A “Twilight Zone” Episode?

  1. Huh, I knew he was added for diversifying, but it hadn’t struck me that it was less funny by then, as I was too young to notice that. But this may be the earliest example of how token characters, even with the best intentions, do not have enough character and flaws to be interesting and engaging. The classic example of flat token characters litter comic books now and their displacing stronger characters has not helped sales.

    We can wonder now what would have made Franklin a more interesting character, to be both different and engaging. My fav idea, fitting with the strong christain orientation in Peanuts, would be to make Franklin the kid of a minister who wants to be an astronaut. All the major Peanuts characters yearn for something and the canon Franklin just isn’t memorable. Requests from fans really feed creative ideas, not replace them.

  2. 1. As I’ve said before, problems in the black community and their failure to be solved, have driven any number of people and groups of people crazy. The result has been the creation of grotesque bar lowerers such as “white privilege” and “systemic racism.” I don’t know how this enforced blindness is going to end.

    4. Baseball can be got at little cost?

    I just happened across a computer generated image of Derrick Jeter’s new house abuilding on Biscayne Bay somewhere in the Miami area. It will be three stories and looks mostly like a large public school. The cost of the probably thousand feet long bulkhead alone must be astronomical. I’m not sure every MLB owner could afford the house. Sure Derrick’s an owner now, at least nominally, but come on guys, baseball salaries are obscene. In light of 1. above, I guess we’re not to be worried about “income inequality” (another ‘bar lowerer’) if the rich guys are “of color?”

    • Now, now you have forgotten your economics. This is a billion dollar industry with a little less than 1000 unique talents fueling it. Their salaries are, if anything (according to some models) too LOW. They are not fungible commodities, and by entertainment industry standard, are a bargain.

        • Unlike owners, players assume absolutely zero risk, other than having to drive a beer truck if they can’t hit major league pitching. And they bear virtually zero responsibility for under-performing.

          • On the other hand, literally no owners rely on the clubs for their livelihood. It’s all recreation for them, and the income is still guaranteed: they make money whether the teams win or not.

            • There are lots of less stressful ways to play the capital gains game than owning a sports franchise. And yes, franchises have ballooned in value with the advent of digital recorders because live sports are the only reliable content people will watch live. But come on, Jack, Mike Trout is making as much as a guy who worked a long time in outdoor advertising and bought a team. At least Artie Moreno knows how to read a financial statement and make a payroll and capitalize an income stream. Mike Trout’s a magnificent, stud idiot, but are we supposed to be thrilled he’s putting gazillions into a bank? I just don’t see it. “When you’re a ballplayer, there ain’t much to bein’ a ballplayer.” –You Know Who

    • Re the Chicago mayor. She’s certainly making the Wuhan Flu all about racial inequity. Guess it was inevitable. Everything else is. AOC was out front on this. She must have gotten the memo first.

  3. I’m actually really glad that Chuck Schumer was caught wearing a mask incorrectly, because I was actually having the same pangs whenever I talked about the inability of elected officials to consistently give a good example during the current pandemic; It seems like, for whatever reason, African American leaders have a poorer batting average and give a vastly disproportionately bad example in cases like this.

    And I struggle with it… Correctly wearing a face mask is so easy, there are usually pictures on the god-damned packages. And these people have aides! For Christ’s sake fire every single one of them! Face masks are all over popular culture, particularly in medical shows, but also in every forensic investigation series, and have guest appearances in basically everything other than Game of Thrones, except in prop placement mistakes. How stupid, inept and out of touch do you have to be to wear a mask like that, look in the mirror, and think you’ve done a good job?

    The problem is partly, that I think the African American representatives we’re talking about (at least two of the three, I’d never heard of Sylvester Turner (probably because he’s a mayor).) are tokens. I’ve heard Lee and Green speak, they aren’t intelligent people. And far be it for me to suggest that idiocy is exclusive to this group, no no no… I think a lot of Reps are stupid, but When I hear that a representative has said or done something egregiously stupid, it varies by topic, but there’s a general list of usual suspects, and Lee, Green, and Waters are usually on them, I cannot in good conscience assume that their ability to win an election against an electric hair dryer could be anything more complicated than shallow partyism or complete tokenism.

    And that’s both frustrating and a shame. In a time when people are willing to shout racism at anything that even appears to have a racially disparate impact, having the Black Caucus display their ignorance so consistently gives ammunition to everyone in a time where we could really use a few less bullets flying. And it’s a shame because for better or worse, these are the people their community looks at for cues. At the end of the day, there is a certain amount of Darwinism in play here, but I’m sure that someone will have seen those pictures of those idiots with their nose hanging out and assume that’s the correct way to wear a mask.

      • How many box tops did she have to clip?

        I’m only half joking. I don’t think she has the intelligence to have passed a course load in higher education. I don’t know whether it was affirmative action, or someone got paid, or she has drank a prodigious amount of bleach in the intervening years, but she and Green in particular hit me as people only nominally capable of breathing and walking at the same time.

  4. Regarding the FDR green light letter reestablishing baseball during WWII. You note the 2-21/2 hour time frame is no longer applicable since most games last 3 hours or more. This expansion in time is due mostly to the many product hawking commercials. However, you failed to note the other discrepancy. President Roosevelt said the amusement from the game ” can be got for very little cost.” That, too, is no longer applicable. For my father’s 90th birthday I wanted to take him to a Yankee game. When I researched tickets along the third baseline they started at $5000 per seat. We settled for a Mets game, sitting in the upper levels at $50 per seat. Of course, there were the exorbitantly priced goodies that added to the total price being far from a “very little cost.”

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