Luncheon Ethics Laniapppe, 9/9/20: Track! Movie Fraud! Mainstream Media…Well, You Know.

1 And speaking of movies…I just finished watching the latest from cult director Charlie Kaufman, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” I won’t spoil it or recommend you don’t see it, except to say that it is one of those films that you leave not knowing what you just watched, and resolving either to watch it again (nope!) or decide you wasted your time. It’s a demented cross between “My Dinner with Andre,” “Back To the Future” and “The Exorcist Part II” that would have made a decent Twilight Zone episode at 30 minutes. I tried to puzzle the thing out while and  after I watched it, which seemed fair: how many movies end with a complete rendition of Jud’s gloomy solo “Lonely Room” from “Oklahoma” and a dream ballet, after over 40 minutes of conversations in a car while driving through a snowstorm? At least the film was original, challenging, and bold…or so I thought.

Then I read an article about one of the actors (all the performances are excellent) who said he asked Kaufman, the writer and director, what the film was about, and the answer he got was “I don’t know.” Whaaaaat?

That’s fraud on the audience, a cheat, and unethical. Be obscure, be mysterious, be oblique or vague, but at least have a point when the presumption of any audience member is that every movie means something. This is like James Joyce revealing, after scholars have written books and treatises and had symposia arguing what “Finnegan’s Wake” was about, that he just threw down random words on paper and that the book really didn’t mean anything.

2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (1) Headline of the Day:  From the New York Times front page: “Scaring voters didn’t work in 2018. Will it now?” I’d say that in 2020, it is the violent and intimidating conduct of the Left, such as Black Lives Matter and the antifa, the Democratic governors and mayors refusing to protect their communities and maintain order, and the fact that the mainstream media now so blatantly attempts to cover for all of it that is “scaring voters,” or should. How is there any valid comparison with 2018?

This is the false innuendo version of fake news. The headline implies that Republicans are exaggerating the breakdown of civic order that has been rationalized and excused by Democrats.

3. Fear of the slippery slope! Caster Semenya,  the two-time women’s Olympic track champion from South Africa, lost her final appeal to compete at 800 meters at the postponed Tokyo Olympics next summer. Semenya, who has always identified as a woman, is intersex, with characteristics of both genders and natural testosterone levels far above the standard female range.

The Swiss Supreme Court backed World Athletics, track’s governing body, which had passed regulations in 2018 stating that intersex athletes who have a sexual development disorder giving them both X and Y chromosomes must  lower their testosterone levels to keep competing in women’s events. Accepting the proposition that Caster is a woman, this regulation is manifestly unfair, the equivalent of a rule stating that Babe Ruth had to bat with one arm because he was twice as good as everyone else. The authorities, however, are terrified of a slippery slope precedent if they allow Semenya to compete naturally. Next would be artificially enhanced trans women, with the benefits of the testosterone they got while maturing as males. These are two different issues, or should be. Activists and ideologues, however, don’t do nuance; all the better to confuse you.

In issuing its final ruling, the Swiss Supreme Court said that CAS had “the right to uphold the conditions of participation issued for female athletes with the genetic variant 46 XY DSD in order to guarantee fair competition for certain running disciplines in female athletics,” and that Semenya’s “guarantee of human dignity” was not undermined in agreeing that an athlete’s biological characteristics may supersede a person’s gender identity to protect fair competition.

Translation: ‘if we let her run with all that testosterone, we’ll soon have trans athletes winning every women’s competition.”

The complete EA articles about Caster Semanya are here.

4. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (2) Now from the conservative side! Here’s the Washington Examiner’s headline yesterday: “Baseball general manager Mike Rizzo ejected from game after not wearing mask and arguing with umpires.” This story started popping up in my feeds yesterday with conservative media lumping it with their other stories about irrational and dictatorial Democrats punishing citizens for not wearing masks. The story, however, was bogus. Yes, Rizzo was ejected “after not wearing a mask” but that wasn’t why he was ejected; after all, he wasn’t wearing a  mask while alone in his executive box. He was ejected because he was screaming at the home plate umpire, Cowboy Joe West (a vocal Trump supporter), and since there is no crowd at games, West could hear him.

It was still a dumb ejection.

5. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (3) Ethics Quote Of The Week, from sports writer and blogger Clay Travis:

It’s important to read the news aggressively and realize that you’re being propagandized, often without knowing it. Even in “news” pieces that claim to be devoid of politics. This wasn’t an opinion piece written by a columnist. This is the work of a supposedly “objective” and “unbiased” reporter who is just there to give you the news right down the middle.

Did the Washington Post do that with these out of context quotes? And if these quotes weren’t objective and unbiased, which I think just about everyone reading this will agree they weren’t, how many other stories are occurring just like this every day? Stories that reporters claim are unbiased and objective, but clearly have a partisan slant.

Read Travis’s extensive account of how he was treated by the Post here.

26 thoughts on “Luncheon Ethics Laniapppe, 9/9/20: Track! Movie Fraud! Mainstream Media…Well, You Know.

  1. Thanks for using a wonderful word that I have not heard since High School. Had actually forgotten it, and will reintroduce it to my vocabulary.

  2. La ñapa in Spanish:


    1. A small gift presented by a storeowner to a customer with the customer’s purchase.
    2. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. Also called regionally boot2. See Note at beignet.
    [Louisiana French, from American Spanish la ñapa, the gift : la, the (from Latin illa, feminine of ille, that, the; see al- in Indo-European roots) + ñapa (variant of llapa, gift of a little something extra, bonus, from Quechua, from yapay, to give more).]

    Word History: “We picked up an excellent word—a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get; a nice, limber, expressive, handy word-‘lagniappe’…. It is the equivalent of the thirteenth roll in a ‘baker’s dozen.’ It is something thrown in gratis, for good measure.” In this passage from his memoir Life on the Mississippi (1883), Mark Twain calls his readers’ attention to an American regionalism that he thinks deserves to be better known, lagniappe. The story of lagniappe begins in South America: it ultimately comes from the word yapay, “to give more,” in Quechua, the language of the rulers of the Inca Empire. The Quechua word was borrowed into Spanish as a noun spelled either llapa or ñapa, meaning “bonus, a little something extra added as a gift,” and the word then spread throughout the Spanish of the Western Hemisphere. Eventually, the Spanish phrase la ñapa, meaning “the gift,” entered the rich Creole dialect mixture of New Orleans, where the whole phrase came to be thought of as a single word and acquired the French spelling lagniappe. The word was then borrowed into the English of the region. Lagniappe continues to be used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. By extension, it may mean “an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.”

    lagniappe (lænˈjæp; ˈlænjæp) or lagnappe
    1. a small gift, esp one given to a customer who makes a purchase
    2. something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus
    [C19: Louisiana French, from American Spanish la ñapa, from Quechua yápa addition]

  3. 1. The director may very well have meant, “I’m not saying. You figure it out. That’s your job, not mine.”

    Reminds me of the architect of our modernist house (a WWII Navy Seabee vet) bristling at his wife’s request that he “explain” one of his houses to visiting family or friends. He’d just grit his teeth and say, “Grrr.” At least to me.

  4. ‘Translation: ‘if we let her run with all that testosterone, we’ll soon have trans athletes winning every women’s competition.”’

    The dumb part is that’s what they’re going have anyway, so why penalize Semenya? The Olympics organizers don’t have the spine to stand up against the woke mob, and will inevitably capitulate to allowing former men to compete against biological women with no restrictions.

    • There’s no such thing as “former” men. There are men who have surgeries and take synthetic or animal hormones to attempt to approximate collective images of what a woman may look like, but no man or woman can ever stop being what they were born as no matter the implants and cutting of flesh.

      I agree with you that Semenya (what an unfortunate last name) shouldn’t be punished for gender-identity politics.

  5. Regarding item 1. When I was active in the amateur theater I was involved in the production of a play entitled “The Rimers of Eldritch.” After two weeks of rehearsal, I figured out that one of the scenes was a rape. I asked the director if it took me two weeks how is the audience going to figure this out in 90 minutes. He said, “It was avant-garde!” It was so avant-garde that we won an award in a theatrical competition.

  6. I like David Lynch’s way of answering questions like those. “I know exactly what it means, all the answers are there for you to figure out, and I’m not going to tell you.”

  7. I do think the Babe Ruth comparison is shockingly stupid. It side steps the core and obvious difference between Babe in the MLB and Semenya in the Olympics. Ruth didn’t compete in a league deliberately designed to filter out an entire class of superior athletic performers. Semenya does. There are no anti-competitive filters that could ethically force Babe Ruth to play one-armed – he would rightly protest that there is no valid reason to handicap him. Semenya does choose to play in a league that has anti-competitive filters and I think it’s very reasonable to say that she falls on the wrong side of them. She literally has male chromosomes and near male testosterone levels. If the testosterone is what her league determines to be the too-competitive feature then I think asking her to limit those levels is a clear way of correcting the performance imbalance. Sucks for Semenya but I that squarely in the category of life’s unfair. It’s not the rest of the worlds job to bend over backwards to accommodate you.

    Personally I think that we should do away with the concept of mens and womens sports and just accept that will often place women (when using the baseball grading system) in the AA or A spectrum of competitiveness (maybe even lower). Some outliers like Semenya could then play in the big leagues or AAA level and certainly then, no one could reasonably complain that they’re being discriminated against. Women would just have to content themselves with playing in the minor leagues just like the generations of men that came before them.

    • Babe was so off all charts that he not only distorted competition, he completely altered the game. If the sport had determined that the game as played needed to preserved, then he would have had to be either banned, or hobbled somehow. (Obviously the one-armed response was hyperbolic and metaphoric…or maybe not so obviously). Babe was more superior to his competition than Caster. If she was as superior as Babe at the beginning, she would have lapped her competition, not just beat them.

      When Semenya started running, there were no regulations in place that would make a runner with a naturally occurring excess of testosterone disqualifying. The authorities had to torture their own rules to get to that point: this wasn’t the Press sisters. Babe is still a mystery, but was playing before science had any way of examining him. So what if his superiority had been found to be the result of a rare “Baseball gene” mutation? The leagues would have a choice of just letting him destroy the competitive balance in baseball, banning him, or finding a way to eliminate his edge.

      Both athletes, as they were without enhancement by outside chemicals or forces, were so superior that they raised questions of “fairness,” except in tehn case of the Babe, nobody considered passing rules aimed at reducing his natural edge.

      I’m satisfied with the analogy for the purpose that I offered it.

      And as you know, I agree that the problem is eliminated by having men and women compete together, though this leads to other problems.

      • I see eliminating separate women’s sport as the most ridiculous idea in sport that I’ve heard of in a long time and basically anti women. Apart from equestrian and maybe one or two other sports it would be impossible for women to compete at the highest level.
        Recently I have become a track and field official. I can see girls up to about age 10 as being able to compete more or less equally with boys but at high school age any girl wanting to compete at the top level would find it impossible. In the events I officiate at there are already more boys competing than there are girls, eliminating a separate competition for women would result in even less girls competing in sport.
        As for the whether or not people with various intersex conditions should be able to compete as women I think that there should be one simple test, are people with that condition normally able to bear children? If they can then they compete as women, if not then they must compete as men.

        • I’ll favor gender divided sports when female athletes stop grandstanding over “equality” in tennis, golf and basketball. OK, you have separate leagues and sports because you can’t compete with men and win. Then say so, and stop posturing.

          There are no similar accommodations for short men, weak men, obese men, and old men, but they can’t compete either. In a related topic, why are women separated out in shooting, or archery?

          I’ve advocated genderless sports as the only solution to the trans athlete controversy and the persistent dishonesty of women’s sports activists.

          • “There are no similar accommodations for short men, weak men, obese men, and old men”
            People can compete in whatever sport suits there body shape or size. Short men have an advantage in weightlifting, they have a more solid body than a man in the same weight group who is taller and also they do not need to lift the weight so high. Weak or obese men have no disadvantage in snooker, pool or darts. As for older men there is masters (veterans) sport. In my officiating I see men and women competing in the various age groups including some over 80.

            “why are women separated out in shooting, or archery?”
            I agree shooting doesn’t need to be separated but archery requires considerable strength to hold the bow steady.

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