Morning Ethics Warm-Up I Expected Not To Get Posted In The Morning, 3/26/2021: “Ouch!” Edition


Therein lies a tale

I arrived at the appointed time for my triple tooth extraction to be told that I would be required to pay the entire cost of my surgery on the spot, and the amount was a cool $4000. This, despite the fact that I had been told (by the doctor) that I could wait before deciding on the various treatment options, and having not received clear (to me, at least) information that the office took no general medical coverage at all, just dental insurance, and my dental insurance was not among the blessed. (Raising the related issue of why my dentist would refer me to an oral surgeon who did not accept the insurance that the dentist did, without alerting me in advance. “We tried to call you,” the snotty desk staff said. Really? I had no messages on my home or office lines. “We only call our patients on their cell phones,” I was told. Then why do you ask for the other numbers? If you have essential information to convey, and you can’t reach a patient by cell, why wouldn’t you try the other contact options? Where on the form does it say that the only number you will use is the cell phone? I only included the cell number because it was asked for: I use cell phones when traveling, period, and during the lockdown it is usually uncharged. If I am going to be expected to hand over 4 grand on the spot, I need to be told, and the information I provided gave an easy means to tell me. What I suspect is that the 20-somethings behind the desk, living on their smart phones themselves, would never dream that anyone wouldn’t do the same. It wasn’t a policy, it was an unwarranted and incompetent assumption.

I informed the staff that its conduct was unethical and unprofessional, and that its attitude was arrogant and obnoxious. Then I walked out. I don’t care if the next oral surgeon costs as much or more: I don’t trust people who treat me like this. Screw ’em.

1. It’s a banner day in the history of “the ends justifies the means” medical ethics! On this date in 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announced on national radio that he had successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes polio. Salk had conducted the first human trials of his vaccine on former polio patients, on himself, and his family. The general consensus among ethicists is that self-experimentation is ethical: as one scholarly paper put it, “Organizational uncertainty over the ethical and regulatory status of self-experimentation, and resulting fear of consequences is unjustified and may be blocking a route to human experiments that practicing scientists widely consider appropriate, and which historical precedent has shown is valuable.” But using one’s family as guinea pigs? Unethical, absolutely. The researcher, in this case Salk, has undue influence over such subjects, and consent cannot be said to be voluntary.

2. How long will the public tolerate this kind of thing? The Chanhassen Dinner Theatres issued an announcement this week that it had “made the decision to cancel our upcoming production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Cinderella’,” with the hope of “beginning the production process again with a new title will allow us to put into practice an intentional process based on the work we have been doing towards equity and inclusivity.” The translation of this woke Authentic Frontier Gibberish was provide by theater artistic director Michael Brindisi, who told the Pioneer Press that he made the decision after he took a look at the cast and realized the cast “was 98% white.” Oh, can’t have that! After all, the state is a little less than 6% black, and everyone knows that demographics, not talent, should determine casting, unless the demographics involve white people. In truth, the “Cinderella” cast was about right demographically for the town of Chanhassen, which is even whiter than the rest of Minnesota.

Imagine an artistic director cancelling a production of “Porgy and Bess” because it had no white performers.

The Pioneer Press reported that Brindisi said that some of the actors were disappointed, “but every one to a person said they got it and that they respected the very hard decision we had to make.”

Suuure. I know most actors are so woke it hurts to listen to them, but most actors also like to eat. “Oh, by all means fire me because I’m the wrong race!,” if anyone expressed that feeling at all, was the desperation pretense of someone caught in a fait accompli.

The company’s subscribers should tell it to go away. It’s job is to produce good theater, not the best shows possible using mandatory color schemes. I’ve run several theater companies and directed over a hundred productions. It’s hard enough to get the desired results without self-imposed limits on the kinds of talent you can use.

3. Stay off of Twitter, you morons! It’s too easy for the real you to slip out. Here’s Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is without principles and increasingly obvious about it, responding to Big Tech giant Amazon’s tweets that they pay plenty in taxes: “I’ll…fight to break up Big Tech so you’re not powerful enough to heckle senators with snotty tweets.” This thinly veiled totalitarianism was flagged by Tim Carney, (not Jay, as I mistakenly thought and wrote this morning):

“Pretty explicit: Democrats use the threat of governmental power in order to make sure nobody engages of speech that criticizes them…That’s exactly what yesterday’s hearings were about. Democrats who know they cannot outlaw criticism of them or their presidential nominee, instead exert pressure on corporate America to do it for them.”


4. Res Ipsa Loquitur Dept. Here is the cut line from a New York Times article about how the “far right,” now being censored on the web, is developing new sites and platforms where its politically offensive views (to people who read the Times, among others) can reach the public:

“Groups said to spread conspiracies and misinformation.”

Nope. You cannot maintain trust as a news source when you employ cheap devices like that. Who “said”? Why should the opinions these anonymous “sayers” matter? Anyone can say anything about anyone and anything: that’s not news, it’s not evidence, it’s just an innuendo. Tell me who says, and what their criteria and biases are, and then that statement might be useful.

5. We will miss Sen. Grassley. Nicely responding indirectly to the unethical and groundless accusation by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse that the FBI “faked” its investigation of the the dubious claims of sexual misconduct presented at the Justice Kavanaugh hearing, Grassley pointedly asked the agency and the Justice Department what had become of his requested investigation into statements made under oath to smear Kavanaugh that were later admitted to be false.

It is a violation of several federal laws to share materially false information with committee investigators and to obstruct proceedings of congressional committees. Grassley, then-Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, referred several of these apparent false statements to the Justice Department for investigation in 2018.

Here is his letter:

Grassley 1 LargeGrassley 2

11 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up I Expected Not To Get Posted In The Morning, 3/26/2021: “Ouch!” Edition

  1. 2. This one makes no sense at all. Doesn’t the director hire the actors/actresses? Why aren’t all of them pissed at the director/company? Where the ones who didn’t say anything negative secretly promised a part in the next production. That would be interesting. See who said the positive and see who is invited back.

    • I’m also confused as to how the director became confused at his own hiring practices. I wonder if, with lockdowns and restrictions being what they are, the decision wasn’t actually financial, and the excuse was the spin to try to cover that.

      But more than that, I don’t know nearly enough about the kinds of contracts involved in productions (but I know someone who’s probably an expert), but is “I’m cancelling the show and firing all the actors because they’re too white” actually legal? I know that it’s apples and oranges, but I actually have an eye-tick going on right now thinking about the fallout I’d have to deal with if our company laid off a location’s worth of employees because of the racial demographics of the group.

      • I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV but it seems to me that the Director is actually violating EEO law by overtly discriminating based on race.

        Americans have become accustomed to believe that we have discreet “protected classes”: Women, African Americans, Hispanics etc. I have yet to find where it says that a particular demographic group is “protected”. As far as I know the law is generic such that one cannot discriminate based on: Race, Sexual Orientation (all inclusive meaning) and Religion among others.

        I suspect that had the director recast the play to be more inclusive it would be patently obvious he was discriminating against white actors. Perhaps his legal team advised cancelling the entire production. That might have been the only way the Director could discriminate because every one was fired. Now, he is free to cast a new production as he chooses. The best reaction by the public should be for them to guarantee that it will play to an empty house.

    • It makes a lot more sense when you look at map and see Chanhassen’s proximity to Minneapolis, and consider the current goings-on in that city, and reflect on the flammability of the sorts of materials that theaters are generally constructed from…

      White people in general are very scared of being thought of as racist right now. Unfortunately, that hand is being drastically overplayed, and it won’t be long before that fear no longer motivates a lot of folks. Then things will get really ugly. Is there an example in history of a society that focused so much energy and attention on race, where that resulted in greater tolerance and peace?

  2. Sorry to hear about your dental horror. Those must be pretty bad if they had to refer to an oral surgeon. I assumed your dentist was going to do them which made the statement that you had to walk out somewhat shocking. The fact that you had to go to an oral surgeon makes it so much more understandable. Sorry to hear you are having so much trouble with those.

  3. Sorry about your dentist thing; nothing like making a bad time even worse. Probably what caused you to call Jay Carney “Tim” 😉

    Porgy usually has a couple of minor roles cast as white these days, though I think maybe it was all black, originally. (it was the last thing we got to see before they cancelled the season “because covid”. I might pay to see Cinderella, no matter what racial makeup, if everybody sounded like the cast of Fargo.

  4. 1. I’ve had several oral surgeries over two months, and one final one scheduled for next month before “reconstruction” (implants & prosthetics) starts, so I feel your pain. Our dentist of a decade is incredible, does pretty amazing work as an oral surgeon & cosmetic dentist, he’s incredibly reasonable in his rates (and payment options), and practices compassionate dentistry. I’ll email your beautiful wife & give her the practice info if you’d like it.

    2. If Brindisi truly wanted inclusivity, he could have easily cast multiple races, done some gender swapping, non-traditional types, including disabled actors, etc., in R&H’s “Cinderella”…it’s such a classic show, ensures packed houses, and can be as diverse & unique as you want to make it.
    But…it has to be cast a) from the people who actually COME to audition, and b) by the most talented and suitable actors for the roles.

    I used to show up for auditions PRAYING there would be tons of incredible people vying for the role I wanted…I wanted to compete against the best, and WIN against the best. I didn’t want to be cast because I was simply the most talented of a mediocre audition group or the prettiest of, say, three women who turned out. So, if I were an actor who happened to be a POC, and I knew that I’d gotten a role over a more talented white actor simply because of my skin tone, that wouldn’t work for me. It would be insulting. I’d feel it was racist. Maybe that’s my “white privilege” showing since I can’t speak for someone else. But I’d like to think most people in our beloved Arts corner would feel the same way.

    “Cinderella” is a timeless show that draws crowds young & old, is family friendly, and a guaranteed money maker. Mounting a show that is untested/new, w/a cast that might be less than stellar because of the limited actual diversity in a specific geographic area, is a ridiculous financial risk, esp when the pandemic has kept so many things like this shut down. But I guess people have to learn “Get woke, go broke” firsthand.

    It’s so frustrating to see this continuing to happen everywhere. I feel as though there’s a much bigger racial divide NOW than ever before. And I hate that I can’t do a whole lot about it.

  5. I anxiously await NBA/NFL…um…productions being CANCELLED because they’re not representative of U.S. racial demographics, 74.2/68.7 % black–16.9/28.6 % non-Hispanic white, respectively.

    MLB has a different problem:

    It’s A Baseball Problem: MLB Redoubles Its Efforts As Sport’s Black Population Remains Low–7.7 %

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