Afternoon Ethics Agony, 7/9/2020: I See Awful People…

Hi!

I am feeling stressed because there are a lot of Ethics Alarms projects  and commitments that are languishing: I’m trying to work out the logistics of a Zoom symposium for commenters; I have to compile the many submissions for the corporate and organizational grovels to the George Floyd mobs so we can vote on the best and worst; I am finishing the Ethics Alarms glossary of fake news categories, and I still owe Michael  West his prize from an Ethics Alarms contest he won a couple of years ago—and that’s still not all of them. The best I can say is: please be patient, because I’m not.

1. Is this a good sign, or something else? I turned on Sirius-XM’s “Comedy Greats” channel while driving to pick up some prescription and heard a segment of a Nick DiPaulo routine that was unbelievably politically incorrect, or, as many would say today, racist, misogynist and anti-trans. The audience was in hysterics; several of the jokes were so extreme—but funny!—that I nearly lost control of the car. I had to check: no, he hasn’t been assassinated yet. Neverthless, I felt like I had fallen into a parallel universe. DiPaulo makes Dave Chappelle seem like Art Buchwald.

2. How about “Lady Asshole”? Several readers sent me links to this story, telling us that the Grammy-winning vocal group  formerly known as Lady Antebellum, having decided to ditch the second half of their name to grandstand and show that they support tearing down statues, are now suing Anita White, a blues singer who has called herself “Lady A” for decades, because she wouldn’t sell  the rights to that name to them for a price the group found reasonable.

I can’t imagine anyone being sympathetic with the group, especially a jury. Nobody made them change their name, and choosing “Lady A” without doing sufficient research was negligent. The group is using wealth and fame as a cudgel, with three rich white jerks trying to bully a local (and black) artist into bending to the their will. I hope someone has started a GoFundMe page to help Anita with her legal fees.

3. Find my 2011 post on Donald Trump running for President, substitute Kanye West’s name for his, and you’ll have the Ethics Alarms position on Mr. Kardashian’s candidacy. I know a lot of celebrities and too many members of the public don’t comprehend this, having the civic literacy of gerbils, but our democracy is not a game. Running for President as an exercise in ego-massage and branding is wildly irresponsible, and threatens to distort voting and results. West is not a serious candidate, but he’ll attract attention and the support of those who vote purely on the basis of group biases.  But the news media will give him more attention than he deserves, which is none, and he could easily take votes away from Democrats.

The good news is that since Kanye has approximately the attention span of a mayfly, it’s a good bet that this impulse will be fleeting, just as Trump’s was in 2011.

4. While we’re on the topic of undermining democracy, there is a groundswell among some fearful Democrats—how ironic that name is now!—for Joe Biden to refuse to debate President Trump. Never mind the various rationalizations offered: the reason is that they are terrified that once put on the same state with the President, Biden will reveal that he’s old, enervated, mentally diminished and unable to function when he’s not working from a script.

Well, if that’s the case, the public has a right to know, because they have a right to know who they are voting for. The fact that Democrats and left-leaning pundits would even suggest this shows their lack of respect for elections and the public.

5. Hint: If you can’t control yourself sufficiently to avoid  confirming the worst of what activists are saying about people like you, stay away from demonstrations and better yet, self-quarantine.

Better still, move to Brazil.

In Elizabethton, Tennessee, Sonya Holt shouted at a teenage girl,  “White lives are better!” while confronting Black Lives Matter protesters; later she told another protester, “You’re a gay homosexual piece of crap who’s going to burn in hell!” A man standing next to her shouted to the protesters, “We should have kept you fucking slaves, that’s what we should’ve done!” What lovely people!

Of course, the exchange was caught on video.

Of course it was posted. and of course, it “went viral.”

And of course, Sonja lost her job a  result. (I don’t know about the nostalgic slavery fan.)

Good.

Later Sonja apologized, sort of,  saying, “I would like to apologize to the little girl. I did not know that she was a minor. If I had known she was a minor, I would have never spoken to her.”

Oh.

I don’t think Sonja gets this whole racism thing. Or the apology thing, for that matter.

6. Mary Kay Letourneau has died. (A thank-you and a pointer to Neil Dorr for alerting me.) I wrote several posts about the ethics corrupter grade school teacher, who raped a student in her 6th grade class, went to prison, then married him on her release. There were three posts about her on Ethics Alarms, and more on its predecessor, the Ethics Scoreboard. She is the poster girl for Rationalization #23 A, Woody’s Excuse: “The heart wants what the heart wants”; in fact, I’m seriously considering exchanging her name for Woody’s and renaming it “Mary Kay’s Excuse.”

What was so infuriating about Letourneau is that she never showed any remorse at all for her betrayal of trust, always insisting that love transcends age,that she and Vili Fualaau were soul mates, and that the loving couple was being persecuted by a cruel society.

In this post, the last one I authored about Mary Kay, I offered ten observations in response to this nauseating family photo:

I’ll just re-post the last one:

10. No: the daughters of Mary Kay Letourneau Fualaau and Vili Fualaau who posed in that happy photo should not cannot be considered trustworthy to teach children.

25 thoughts on “Afternoon Ethics Agony, 7/9/2020: I See Awful People…

  1. 3. There are evidently credible reports that Kanye is having a severe manic episode. Does announcing you’re running for president sound like delusional self-aggrandizement? Yes it does. I don’t think he’s a bad guy, he’s just severely bi-polar. I’ll bet the “campaign” is withdrawn ASAP.

  2. Re: No. 2; Lady Ante. . . What? A? B? Who knows, who cares.

    I saw that yesterday and had a nice chuckle. The complete lack of self-awareness is really awesome to behold. I love it. Lady Antebellum changes its name to be in line with the current BLM protests, kneeling before the altar of wokeness. Nobody thought to do a quick google search to see if “Lady A” was available. If they had, they would have found out that the original “Lady A” is an African-American gospel singer with a few records on her shelf, and has had a good bit of fame in the gospel music market. Yet, the Original Lady A had to call them up and say, “Uh, it goes against my Christian and gospel roots to cause scandal but I perform under the name of ‘Lady A’ and I have done so for years. Your name change is causing me whole lot of confusion and dilution of my property rights. Please reconsider.”

    Did the “Artists Formerly Known as ‘Lady Antebellum'” reconsider? Nope. After consulting with counsel, the “Subsequent Lady A” got all litigious and sued the “Original Lady A”. I wonder if their counsel is experienced in intellectual property law. Probably not. (I can’t imagine an experienced intellectual property lawyer would declare, “By gosh! You got yourselves a solid case! Let’s go to court and beat that gospel singer!”) Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are not my forte but I would think that the Original Lady A wins on summary judgment, if not on a motion to dismiss. The PR value behind the “Artists Formerly Known as Lady Antebellum'”s name change is forever lost to the winds of time.

    The lovely part of this is that “Artists Formerly Known as ‘Lady Antebellum'” lost all of their signaled virtue and have to crawl back under the white supremacy cloud they so desperately tried to shed. Dumb luck, that. What do they say about one’s pitards?

    jvb

    • I wish I had the research skills to figure this out, but all I have is a pointer. If you’re familiar with the heavy metal band Slipknot, then you may know that they had usurped their name from an established local blue grass band named Slipknot. For years, the website slipknot [dot] com was owned by the original band and they used that site to rail against the popular, nationally recognized band. I guess it all finally got settled….but I don’t know what that fight was like. If anyone has the skills to find out and write up the story, it might be instructive as to what Lady A is about to face against Lady Antebellum.

      Also, I think it’s interesting that “Lady [before the war]” is going to war against Lady A. After the war, shouldn’t they just change their name again to “Lady Postbellum”?

  3. 6. “The classroom teacher met Fualaau when he was a second grader and she was a teacher at Shorewood Elementary School in Burien. Their relationship advanced when the married mother of four and her student began having sex.”

    He was in second grade when first targeted by her? She was the married mother of four?

    Caramba.

    How’d you like to be her former husband or any of those four children?

    • We had a middle school teacher that pulled the same thing with more than one student. The crazy part was she was the wife of a cop. Yes, a cop’s wife. With two kids. She had done this to one boy, and when she got too old for her tastes, she moved on to a younger one. The previous boy blackmailed her to keep having sex for a while, but she finally refused. When she did, he reported her.

      The cop then started harassing the boy who reported her. The family of the boy moved away and sued the department. They settled out of court. The department tried to punish the cop, but in usual fashion, the union took it to arbitration and the officer received back pay for his suspension.

    • Thanks for that information. It would appear that they, the Artists Formerly Known as “Lady Antebellum” might just have a good case. From what I gather, the Original Lady A demanded $10 million to settle. Off to court they go.

      jvb

    • I also had read that the band had registered the name “Lady A” ten years ago, but it was my understanding that the Gospel Singer has been using the name for quite a while longer than that. I do wonder who strong they’re case really is. It makes me wonder how much Trademark law parallels Patent Law. I wonder if:
      A. “Lady A” may be too generic. i.e. not novel/original enough.
      B. If the name was in use publicly prior to the trademark it would invalidate the trademark. i.e Prior Art.

  4. A couple of comments (there could be so many!).

    1. No, no, not Brazil! A racist, male-dominated society. About ten years ago, a Ford Foundation rep told me: (a) That racism is so rampant in Brazil that according to their census ALL Brazilians are white and descended from Spanish and Portuguese whites. No one wants to admit to any black or Indian blood in Brazil. So, since they’re all white, no racism, right? (b) Until recently, and probably still now (I have to check), a fair defense against a man murdering his wife was that she ’embarrassed him in public.’ Untold — or unreported — numbers of men were acquitted of murder on this defense. I know people will climb all over me for this, but Brazil is too much like Islam nations, who preach peace but actually live in a prehistoric world.

    2. Please do not, do not, remove Woody’s name from your rationalizations list. I get great satisfaction having his name live in infamy — an infamy he so richly deserves. I also am pleased to say that I have not watched a Woody Allen movie since he married his adopted daughter, since I won’t put one thin dime into the pocket of a child molester, regardless of his talent. (Unfortunately, this list keeps getting longer and longer…)

    3. A word on a previous post. I recently watched the director’s cut of “Spartacus,” right on the heels of a film on black-listed screen writer, Dalton Trumbo. Kirk Douglas, who had the power at the time, insisted that Trumbo get the credit he deserved, thus starting the breakdown of the communist black list in Hollywood. On checking a bit on Douglas, who recently died at age 103 (?), he was a liberal who unlike all the other millionaire Hollywood liberals who espouse policies that will never touch them because they are so rich, Douglas and his wife gave hundreds of millions of dollars to charity, so they both talked the talk and walked the walk. I miss him, but be sure to see “Seven Days in May” — with Burt Lancaster. Originally the roles were reversed: with Douglas as the military conspiracist and Lancaster as the good colonel who stopped the coup. They decided together to change roles, and Lancaster as the bad guy here is iconic.

      • Is it that hard? Might the comment be read as “Ironically, white supremacy and toxic masculinity are much more a problem in a purportedly diverse, happy, definitely not American (God forbid) nation such as Brazil, where Trump isn’t even president.” Or maybe, “If you want to see unbridled white supremacy and toxic masculinity, go someplace like Brazil!” Does that help?

        • Ahh you’re saying we must redouble our efforts to fight both white supremacy and toxic masculinity and hold Brazil up as an example of leaving them unchecked.

  5. #2) Imagine how many grown adults were in the room with Lady “A”ntebellum who are beholden to their money, influence and friendship who didn’t tell them “guys, don’t do this” but didn’t tell them not to do this and they got their way.

  6. A comment not related to any of your points,but…..I just rewatched the Space X launch of two astronauts to the International Space Station a few weeks ago.

    It has not yet gotten old, despite watching it a number of times. Space X has been going full bore despite everything. It is heartening to watch us once again accomplish great things.

      • Mrs. OB and I watched “Ferris Beuhler’s Day Off” a couple of nights ago. I got a huge kick out of Ben Stein doing his high school economics teacher shtick. And damned if a young Charlie Sheen didn’t show up to do a terrific scene with an original-nosed Jennifer Gray (who was also very good). John Hughes has his weak points and less desirable aspects, but Charlie did one heck of a job giving Hughes what he wanted in a very impressive bit of acting. I can see why he’s always had lots of work. He must be bi-polar, resulting in all his madcap antics when not in front of a camera. And he was playing Charlie Sheen.

  7. On point 2: I was suspicious when none of the articles I saw discussed the legal merits of the case so I did a deep dive. They’re not suing Anita White because she wouldn’t sell her rights to the name – the band literally already has the rights. They filed for trademark protection on Lady A in 2010 (for music, entertainment, and merchandise purposes) and had been using the name as far back as 2008. They got that protection without contest and now they’re suing to protect the name. It sucks that Anita White chose a name that was already protected (and/or didn’t do the work needed to protect it) but the band offered her some solid money as a good PR move and because I’m sure they were (to varying degreess) sympathetic. Anita White wanted 10 million for a name that she did not have the rights to and very literally said “5 million is nothing” while simultaneously publicly implying that the band was racist. Unless I’m missing something, it looks to me like, at the very least, Anita White is an idiot who doesn’t understand foundational life topics like the value of money and career relevant law. At worst she’s actively an asshole who’s using that favorite cudgel of the left, racism, to extort the band in the court of public opinion.

    Side note: I dont have a dog in this fight. I listen to country but there aren’t many female country singers who get me going. Lady Antebellum was never one of them. Reba and Tracy Chapman are pretty great though – they could move a rock.

    • “there aren’t many female country singers who get me going.”

      Not sure if they’re considered “crossover”** or not, but I can never listen to the (IMO) positively angelic voice of Alison Krauss’ cover of Dimming Of The Day without tearing up.

      **Same with Bonnie Raitt, on both counts.

      • Been a hot minute since I thought about Alison Krauss. I like the tragic (El Paso), angry (A Boy Named Sue), and prideful (Wagon Wheel) country songs. Country is one of the few genres that really celebrates the whole emotional spectrum – not just love and happiness. She’s not a regular of mine but back in the day when Brad Paisley hadn’t given up, she was positively haunting in Whiskey Lullaby. I havent heard Dimming of the Day before but after listening to it I might have to spend the morning checking more of her stuff.

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