The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes,” was ratified by the requisite number of states on this date in, 1919. It was a great, botched, ethics experiment. Alcohol was too far embedded in the culture for too long and in too many ways, and the laws prohibiting alcohol were badly drafted and engendered public resentment and contempt. Still, as the Ken Burns documentary on the topic made clear, the damage being caused by alcohol abuse before Prohibition was permanently slowed down and reversed by the ban, though the ban itself was doomed from the start.
1. Quote of the Day: I just finished watching “We Bought A Zoo” again, and it reminded me of the quote, alluded to in the film, by the real life English man who did buy a zoo, and whose story was transferred to America in the film staring Matt Damon. Benjamin Mee said in his book (with the same title as the film) about the adventure, “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
He’s absolutely right, and this principle has enriched my own life too many times to count.
2. Negligence at the Tower of London. A British legend and prophecy dating from the time of King Charles II in the 17th century holds that if and when the ravens leave the Tower of London, the Tower will crumble and the Crown and Kingdom with it. Thus the Tower ravens have clipped wings, and one of the duties of the Tower Warders (“the Beefeaters”) is to make sure there are always at least 6 ravens within the Tower walls. In December, ominously, Christopher Skaife, who is the Tower’s ravenmaster, noticed that Merlina was missing without leave from the rest of the ravens — Jubilee, Harris, Gripp, Rocky, Erin and Poppy. he speculates that she is dead, but the point is that she has, Elvis-like, left the building. If she could leave, so could another one of the big black birds, and if another one goes, the United Kingdom is toast.
With the future of Great Britain on the line, you would think a ravenmaster would make sure no ravens went “missing.” Yeah, that legend is probably bunk, but why chance it?
3. The Patriots head coach is a unique jerk. Stipulated, Bill Belichick was a terrible choice to receive a Medal of Freedom. but far worse was his offensive pandering to Trump Haters (and calculated insult to the Office of the President) by turning down the honor citing that attack on the Capitol. He is one of only three of the over 600 Americans offered the honor to turn it down, and the other two were not trying to insult the Presidents involved. Jackie Kennedy was offered the chance to be included in her late husbands Medal of Freedom and felt that the Medal should go to him alone. Moe Berg rejected the award from Harry Truman, because, well, Moe was weird. The eccentric and brilliant third-string major league catcher with more degrees than most professors refused the medal for his service as a spy during World War II, saying that he was “embarrassed” by the honor and didn’t risk his life to get an award, but to defeat the Nazis.
4. Gee, I’m so GLAAD—I’m sorry, glad—that someone’s keeping count! An annual report by by GLAAD found that 9.1% of characters on prime-time broadcast series identified as LBGT or Q in the 2020-21 season, down from 10.2% in the previous season. The Horror. I couldn’t care less what the hypothetical sex partners of fictional characters are on TV, and neither should anyone else who isn’t unhealthily obsessed with quotas. The interjecting of gay relationships in TV shows is almost always gratuitous, and it often appears that a producer or writer has a character reveal himself, herself or themselves to be gay or trans just to make GLAAD happy. What does it add to the show? (What did it add to the recent film of “It” to make two of the Stephen King’s heroes gay?) It’s usually a cynical marketing ploy to attract viewers who want to watch “people like us,” but who then insist that LBGTQ Americans aren’t different in any material way from anyone else, in which case “people like us” is a contradiction. . Of course, the actors playing those “people like us” may not in fact be gay, or trans or whatever.
5. If this cowardly pandering doesn’t stop, race-bating won’t stop. Senator James Lankford (R-Ok) grovelled this week to black constituents who were offended by his decision to challenge to fairness of the 2020 election and to question vote totals, saying he had not realized the effort would be perceived as a racist attack.
His letter addressed to voters in North Tulsa, which is predominantly black, Mr. Lankford, who is white, acknowledged that his challenge to Biden’s election had “caused a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state. After decades of fighting for voting rights, many Black friends in Oklahoma saw this as a direct attack on their right to vote, for their vote to matter, and even a belief that their votes made an election in our country illegitimate. I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you. I deeply regret my blindness to that perception, and for that I am sorry.”
He should read Benjamin’s Mee’s quote in #1, and maybe learn something. Every and any challenge to the policies, positions or conduct of Democrats will be attacked as racist, and until conservatives and Republicans develop the integrity and guts to call that tactic what it is—cheap, dishonest, and divisive—it will continue.
11 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Alerts, 1/16/21: “Nevermore!” If Only…”
5. I got a kick out of this little train wreck as well. Compare this guy to all the black politicians saying it was the black vote that got Biden elected and installed two Democrat Senators in Georgia and they are thus due many things from the Democrats they’ve put in power. Wasn’t there a precinct in Melwaukee where the turn out was a hundred percent?
Newsweek had a very interesting story regarding the black vote the day after the election.
4. Waylon Smithers, though possibly gratuitous was the great inside joke between the writers and the audience. Though, I guess he recently came out, “recently” being sometime in the last 10 years, I think.
Yes, that one was definitely NOT gratuitous. The joke of Smithers dreaming of Mr. Burns popping out of a cake and singing “Happy Birthday” half-naked a la Marilyn Monroe to JFk was pretty wicked.
If your whole job is to look after eight birds, and you just lose one, you might not be very good at your job. It just so happens I’ve got eight chickens in my backyard flock, and I manage to not lose any birds, with only about ten minutes a day of attention. And my birds are beset on all sides by hawks, raccoons, owls, and every other predator around, and they’re not even carrying the fate of a nation on their little bird shoulders. Perhaps the title “ravenmaster” is bit too grandiose for this numbskull’s competency level…
Great comic writing, Jeff.
Those HUGE ravens at The Tower are CREEPY.
I’m with you all the way. Do you like “chickenmaster”?
I prefer “Eggman”. Koo-koo-ka-choo!
All I’m saying is that this cat doesn’t seem to have “mastered” the most basic part of raven-keeping, which is keeping the goddamn ravens. Perhaps he’s a ravenjourneyman, at best, but he’s no ravenmaster.
I sorely miss the days when The New Yorker cartoons were funny. That’s a great one above. I’ve never really “gotten” E.A. Poe. Not my cup of tea. I suspect The New Yorker will continue running nothing but stunningly mundane Trump-mocking cartoons for the foreseeable future notwithstanding his no longer being in office.