Monday Morning Ethics Calisthenics, 7/19/2020: Fig-Heads!

1. Our trustworthy news media, which we can trust to behave like this... From my AOL news feed: “Trump says he may not accept 2020 election results.” From the transcript of the Chris Wallace interview that the headline is referring to:

WALLACE: Are you suggesting that you might not accept the results of the election?


What the President would not do is promise to accept the results if there were a  valid reason not to accept the results. Once Al Gore challenged the Florida vote count after Bush had been declared the winner in 2000, the long standing precedent, followed by election losers like Andrew Jackson, Samuel Tilden and Richard Nixon, all of which had reasons to question the results in their contests, of accepting defeat without a challenge was erased. If any of it remained at all, Hilary Clinton’s pursuit of some way of reversing the Electoral College tally in 2016 completed the job. Trump’s refusal to promise a return to the old tradition is reasonable,  especially with the chicanery enabled by mail-in ballots. What Joe Biden has suggested, despicably, is that Trump will not give up the Presidency even if he is defeated unequivocally and fairly. There is no justification for suggesting this. There is far more reason to believe that any Trump victory, even a resounding one, will send angry and frustrated Democrats into the streets

Trump, as usual, was trolling with his coy response here…

WALLACE: There is a tradition in this country — in fact, one of the prides of this country — is the peaceful transition of power and that no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you’re necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?

TRUMP: What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense. OK?

TRUMP: And you know what? She’s the one that never accepted it.

WALLACE: I agree.

TRUMP: She never accepted her loss and she looks like a fool.

This isn’t a topic he should be playing with, because the Democrats and the news media will claim that something sinister is in the works. Trump gives a strong hint of his real meaning: if Hillary looked like a fool by refusing to accept the election results, he wouldn’t want to behave like Hillary. But the President should have simply said, “If I lose, fair and square, of course I will accept the results.”

He also should have answered Wallace’s question as I would have, by saying, “Chris, the tradition you speak of has been rejected twice by losing Democratic candidates since 2000.”

2. There’s no excuse for this in 2020. I could not believe my ears as I watched “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”last night.

I thought that a TV version of “The Hard Way” (1991)  I watched a bit of until I couldn’t stand any more had wrapped up the all-time prize for idiotic Bowdlerization of movie dialogue with such substitutions as “slug in a ditch” for “son of a bitch.”  I mistakenly assumed that the days of red-penciling movie dialogue on the theory that a film’s audiences would be made up of six-year-old Mennonites and 88-year old nuns were long gone. But here was a a 2017 movie with a lot of rough language being made ridiculous by word censorship. “Fuck” was alternately represented by “flock,” “flip,” and “freak.” “Mother-fucker” became “flipper”—in a bar scene, I at first thought a fight started because one character called another a dolphin. “Bitch” for some reason was removed in favor of the word “cuck,” except it was pronounced like “cook.” A character complained about there being “too many cucks in here,” and for a second I thought I was watching “The Great British Baking Show.” All of these strange words ruined the movie, first because the silly replacements turned a smart and moving drama into a absurdist Monty Python skit, and second because the word substitution was so eccentric that I was constantly taken out of the story by wondering, “What word was supposed to be in there?”

In one scene, the protagonist played by Frances McDormand burst  into the police station calling the officer played by Sam Rockwell a “fig-head.” Another officer indignantly shouts at her, “You can’t come in here and call a law enforcement officer a fig-head!” Wait–what the hell is a fig head?

This is incompetent and unfair to the film, the artists who made it, and the audience.

3. OK, I admit it, I have no idea what Kanye West is doing. And I don’t care. After announcing he was running for President, then implying that he wasn’t, the mentally ill rapper held a campaign event yesterday highlighted by his criticism of Harriet Tubman on the grounds that she “never actually freed the slaves, she just had them work for other white people.”

This is gallactically stupid, but it’s still smarter than Candidate Trump’s criticism of John McCain’s war heroism. At least Tubman, her family and friends aren’t alive to exact their revenge on West should he get elected.

15 thoughts on “Monday Morning Ethics Calisthenics, 7/19/2020: Fig-Heads!

  1. WALLACE: Are you suggesting that you might not accept the results of the election?

    TRUMP: No.

    This exchange is the exact opposite of the AOL headline.

    Let’s break down the question
    Are you suggesting – that you might not accept the results of the election.

    His answer is “no”. His answer is that he is not suggesting anything about accepting election results

  2. 3: As you pointed out he is mentally ill, he’s obviously off his meds and he’s a grown man so as much as family and loyal retainers might wish to curb things like this, they can’t force him.

    As he isn’t breaking any laws and isn’t in his right mind this isn’t an ethics question. Show some kindness, don’t give oxygen to these outbursts, look away till he’s back on his meds.

    • It becomes an ethics question if his illness begins to warp the campaign and the election. It has before: West got before a camera during the Katrina telethon and announced that George Bush was perfectly happy to let black people die. It’s the same ethics issue—for others, not West—as putting Donald Trump on the phone every morning in 2015.

        • Ding HLN then. Switch to happier news.

          For example, breaking on valkygrrl news network, I have finished cleaning rendering chicken fat, it came out a lovely pale yellow color and is all ready to go into a batch of finishes while the bones await being made into soup. The scroll below the chyron reads that the kindle is fully charged and ready to display the final third of Janice Hadlow’s The Other Bennet Sister.

    • Valkygyrrl,

      West is suffering from the Kardashian Vortex. Anyone who gets close to that family gets sucked into its gravitational pull, which necessarily destroys a person’s ability to reason. the KV destroys everything and anyone in its orbit.


  3. Re: No. 2: The Word Bleep Conundrum.

    Obviously, you haven’t seen “Johnny Dangersouly”. Clearly the perfect marriage of high drama and sophisticated humor. I think it swept the Oscars that year. I can’t be completely sure about that because I had been declared dead by the IRS that year for tax purposes.

    I saw it on CBS a few weeks back and the Central Scrutinizers wouldn’t stand for the words that can’t be said on TV. In the pivotal scene when Roman Troy Moronie testifies before the panel about his crimes against humanity, he gave an empassioned speech decrying the violation of his Constitutional rights. Here is the original scene:

    For some reason, the censors changed the dialogue to:

    “I would like to direct this to the distinguished members of the panel: You lousy cock-suckers. You have violated my fucking rights. Dis son-of-a-bitching country was founded so that the liberties of common patriotic citizens like me could not be taken away by a bunch of fuckin’ assholes… like yourselves.”

    Somehow, that destroyed the entire feel of the movie.


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