I’m resorting to the enthusiasm of Mr. Durante, an icon in my childhood home, because I sense readers are exhausted, or depressed, or moping, or something. Even my dog is a bad mood—he growled at me a couple of times, which is out of character. The traffic and comments on Ethics Alarms are way down; last month was especially bad, with views topping 4,000 only once. Is it anger? Fear? Submission? Surrender? The weather? Have the pods all been successfully delivered while we sleep? Well,
This is no time to stop working on creating a more ethical society, when totalitarianism is slowly creeping up from the muck…
1. And now for something completely…something. I wonder: what is the ethical reaction to this?
Or to the text that accompanies it in the Times, which includes passages like,
The final product is an example of a visual tradition in Black culture that usually circulates during two specific occasions: When a Black person ascends in society or dies. In this case, the moment came when Ms. Harris, was sworn in as the first woman and the first Black and South Asian person to ascend to the position of Vice President….It’s hard to pinpoint an exact time when these works began to merge into the mainstream, according to Aaron Bryant, a curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. But “they have been around for a long time,” he said. “Throughout art we have always celebrated folks that we see as heroes. They become a symbol of good conquering evil”…While some of these images are camp or cringe, Mr. Cheatham’s image of Ms. Harris was sincere. “What makes these images particularly Black is that they aren’t made for the white public, he said. “If you don’t get the reference, you’re not going to enjoy it,” Desus said. “They’re not made in a way that is for general consumption. There is definitely a hood angle to it in that they’ll do something that if you’re not from the hood you’ll take the whole memorial as blasphemous. It is like graffiti in that way.”
The painting above has been circulating briskly among African-Americans on social media, we are told.
Here were my first thoughts when I saw it:
- I was immediately reminded of the laughable scene at the end of “The Return of the Jedi,” when Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker and Yoda, all dead and shimmery, stood smiling down at the gang celebrating with the Ewoks.
- “Gee, I still can’t tell Elijah Cummings and John Lewis apart.”
- And, “There’s Joe, feeling up another woman.”
2. And speaking of the President and sexual harassment...You remember #MeToo, right? Democrats? Feminists? Buehler? Actress Evan Rachel Wood, on Instagram and in a statement, accused her former boyfriend, singer, actor and weird person Marilyn Manson of sexually abusing her. The performer, whose real name is Brian Warner, immediately called her claims “horrible distortions of reality.” Never mind. Without an investigation or any evidence to remove this from the “he said, she said” category, Manson was dropped by his record label, Loma Vista,which announced
“In light of today’s disturbing allegations by Evan Rachel Wood and other women naming Marilyn Manson as their abuser, Loma Vista will cease to further promote his current album, effective immediately. Due to these concerning developments, we have also decided not to work with Marilyn Manson on any future projects.”
Credit conservative pundit Jim Treacher with asking the uncomfortable question, “If You Believe Marilyn Manson Accuser Evan Rachel Wood, Why Don’t You Believe Tara Reade?” He writes,
After dozens of women stepped forward in 2017 to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, the floodgates opened and for months we saw what came to be known as the “Weinstein effect.” Powerful men in media and many other industries were brought down. That’s why you don’t see Matt Lauer or Charlie Rose on morning television these days, and Louis CK and Bill Cosby aren’t packing arenas anymore. That’s why the only time you see Al Franken, he’s giving an embarrassing TV interview with a liberal host who’s clearly struggling not to cringe.
Then last year a woman named Tara Reade accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, and #MeToo came to a screeching halt. Suddenly, women were no longer believed automatically. An accusation no longer served as its own evidence. In a single news cycle, #MeToo became #MaybeNot. All it took was the possibility of four more years of President Trump to make everybody take a step back. But now Trump has gone back to Mar-a-Lago, and apparently it’s safe again to accuse men of rape.
You know, if you replaced Cummings, Lewis, McCain and Ginsburg in the painting above with JFK, Warren G. Harding, Bob Packwood, and…hey! Martin Luther King would fit!…the message would be completely different.
3. Now I refer you to the previous post. There, I discussed a SCOTUS decision last year which held that a legal precedent wasn’t necessarily required to justify removing qualified immunity from an officer who engaged in harmful conduct that he or she should have known was illegal or violated a citizen’s civil rights.
Protests broke out yesterday in Rochester, New York, after police released the video of an incident last week where officers pepper-sprayed a 9-year-old girl who had been handcuffed after they responded to a family distress call. Police explain that the girl was expressing suicidal thoughts as well as threats of violence against her mother. When they tried to restrain her, she resisted, so they they used pepper spray to subdue her so they could get her into their patrol car. The video shows the girl asking for her father while the police command her to follow their orders.
Interim Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan condemned the spraying.
But was it so obviously a civil rights violation that the officers should lose their qualified immunity against a law suit?