Ethics Potpourri, 4/5/2021, Including, I Blush To Say, An Easter Weekend Lap-Dance for God

I hate potpourri.

1. Amateur poetry ethics. This has annoyed me for a long, long time. Althouse posted a notice from a local restaurant requiring patrons to wear masks. The thing suddenly devolves into verse, and in writing that, I am being generous. Here’s a sample:

I’ve been listening to and reading crap like that since I was ten, and when I was ten, I wrote better light verse by far. Since then, I’ve written song parodies and light verse for fun and profit, and still do. It’s a skill. It takes practice, and it requires care and detail, like most tasks. OK, I know that today’s nearly useless schools don’t teach little things like rhyme, meter and the basics of verse, but if you don’t know how to do something competently, don’t do it. Is this supposed to be a Dr. Seuss parody? I can’t tell, and the first rule of parodies is that they must clearly be parodies. Dr. Seuss has famous style and meter, and this whatever it is doesn’t match it. The problem is that people who author embarrassing junk like this don’t know they are incompetent. They think everyone will think they are clever, but anyone who regard something like this—that presents “forget” and “respect”as rhymes, for example— is clever is illiterate.

2. It takes one to know one. On ABC’s “This Week,” yesterday, former NJ Governor and once-rising GOP star Chris Christie correctly characterized the Democratic attacks on the Georgia voting reform law. “It expands early voting, George, and the president said it ended it. Listen, here’s what Joe Biden’s got to live with when he wakes up this morning on Easter morning. He is doing exactly what he sat around in the campaign and the transition and accused Donald Trump of doing,” Christie said. “He is lying to cause racial divisions in this country. That’s what he accused Donald Trump of doing, and he’s a liar and a hypocrite.”

Yes he is, but who cares what Chris Christie thinks? He’s also a liar and a hypocrite; he has no followers outside of his family, and he sold his integrity to grease Donald Trump’s route to the Republican nomination. This is another example of the unethical media practice of choosing a revolting advocate for the position a news organization wants to discredit. It’s Cognitive Dissonance Scale manipulation 101: make sure the “authority” opposing the dishonest Democratic talking point is widely regarded as toxic jerk.

3. Last word on Ann Althouse. I’m not directly affected by blogger/law prof Ann Althouse’s sudden decision to cut off her commenters. I have always commented on the Althouse posts with ethics relevance here, on my own blog, and will continue to do so. However, her handling of the matter showed an ugly side of Althouse that includes arrogance, disrespect, ingratitude, and a surprising bias against conservatives. Her post about ending comments on her blog received over 600 comments. That alone would have convinced me that there was no ethical choice but to continue allowing comments, at least in some form. Her readers were telling her that they cared about being able to give feedback, that it mattered to them. Her reaction: Too damn bad. This blog is about me, not you, and I don’t have the time to read or facilitate your participation.

When you create something that serves the public, that people begin to count on and enjoy, the act creates an obligation. It is one reason it took me 20 years to end my theater company, even though I had passed the point when it was enjoyable or satisfying for me. Yes, of course, it is the professor’s life, and she has the right to allocate her time and passions as she sees fit, but providing something that people learn to count on still creates some obligation to consider their needs as well. Compromises and accommodations in such situations are the ethical course.

Althouse’s decision, and especially her comments about it, informed me that she never respected her commenters, and by extension, her blog’s readers.

4. OK, what are the rules here? Saturday Night Live, which will not venture into anything but the mildest satire directed at Joe Biden and especially Kamala Harris, that treated Barack Obama as untouchable for eight years, and that has barely nicked the incredibly satire-worthy fools of “The Squad,” featured, in its most recent episode, a portrayal of Rapper Lil Nas X giving God a lap-dance.

On the day before Easter.

Having written, directed and performed comedy, I fervently believe that all forms of humor should be allowed, tolerated, and accepted entirely according to whether the designated audience is amused. Being tasteless and outrageous should not be considered the automatic equivalent of funny, but where the line belongs, nobody is qualified to say.

However, if your TV satire show presents God receiving a male lap-dance the day before Easter as acceptable comedy, you had better allow just about anything else, and present no-hold-barred “humor” aimed at any target regardless of race, creed, gender or political correctness.

As we all know, or should, SNL has long been hypocritical and cowardly in this respect. The God skit, however, was about as low as it can go.

13 thoughts on “Ethics Potpourri, 4/5/2021, Including, I Blush To Say, An Easter Weekend Lap-Dance for God

  1. 2. ” Listen, here’s what Joe Biden’s got to live with when he wakes up this morning on Easter morning.”

    I don’t think Joe has to live with anything. I doesn’t matter to him. Or, perhaps, I’m being unfair. It is possible, after all, that he just didn’t remember saying it.

    It’s unfortunate that Christie is one of the GOP’s better speakers. They need more of them.

    4. I doesn’t surprise me at all. The Left and its allies in the entertainment industry are pushing close to “Der Stuermer” territory with its misrepresentation, mockery and outright hostility of Christianity. They probably didn’t bat an eye putting this together.

  2. 1. Ugh, as an amateur poet I can say that is absolute junk. It’s also worse than worthless. Most folks are at least mildly annoyed that, a year later, we all still have to walk around in masks. A poor attempt at humor just makes that annoyance worse.

    2. Absolutely right. Christie should stick to lawyering now. Believe it or not, he was on a panel at a CLE course end of 2019 that I attended. I could have gotten a picture with him afterward, and I usually jump at the chance if it’s offered, but I decided against it.

    3. In the end, it was her blog, and she had the final word on everything that happened there, just like you have the final word on everything that happens here, and just like we all have the final word on what happens on our own social media pages. She certainly wouldn’t be the first person to decide she was going to do her thing her way, and she was tired of trying to make others happy. However, she also has to live with the consequences.

    4. I’m a Catholic, and I dislike militant atheism, but to me this means nothing. The anti-religious movie Priest was released on Good Friday 1994, 27 years ago, and that killed any faith I had in Hollywood or television to ever portray mainstream Christianity in anything but the worst light possible. Once in a while you’ll get some kind of do-gooder show like studiously dull Stephen Collins vehicle 7th Heaven or wander-the-country snooze-fest Promised Land, and once in a while a series lead will actually have some kind of faith, like Tom Selleck’s Frank Reagan on Bluebloods, but, for the most part, Christianity, especially Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity, gets a bum rap in the entertainment industry. Outrage-mongers like Sarah Silverman have taken all the shock and outrage out of shock and outrage by making it common. Something like this is just par for the course and to be expected. I agree, just being transgressive isn’t by nature funny. Hating on religion is neither clever nor funny, it’s just letting your prejudices leak through.

    • As an atheist my entire adult life, I’m always amused by the term “militant atheist” as it’s commonly used in American culture. A believer, to be termed “militant”, must take up arms and kill somebody – an atheist need only point and laugh.

      Real “militant atheism” does exist, however, and is no laughing matter – ask comrade Stalin.

      • If you want to break it down further, we can talk about activist atheism, or rude atheism, or spoiler atheism. I really don’t care if someone doesn’t believe, that’s his own private affair. I don’t care if someone agrees with my beliefs or doesn’t agree with them. That’s his business. I don’t care if someone wants to write a whole scholarly work on how all religion is entirely theoretical and how certain historical or legendary figures used charisma and deftly deployed rhetoric to pull the greatest deceptions that ever happened. I don’t care if someone wants to write a series of articles showing how any and all miracles could have happened in a non-miraculous way. I actually encourage discussion of the proper role of faith in a modern society and constitutionally based government. I also encourage exposure of those who abuse the trust that the faithful put in them, especially those who are supposed to be shepherding the flock, but instead prey on its most vulnerable members. There is value in reading things like that.

        However, there is a difference between having a civil discussion or discourse, even a tough one, and mockery and insult. I don’t find pointing and laughing at someone’s faith particularly amusing. In fact it’s rude, and it can be dangerous for the pointer. Thankfully most Christians will just shrug and ignore it, or, at worst, walk away, with or without calling the pointer out for being rude. Point and laugh at a Muslim’s faith, however, and you’re potentially courting a lot worse.

        In pursuit of my interest of religion and the First Amendment I have been on a few social media pages that strongly take the side of free exercise. I recently encountered one troll on one of those pages, as in someone who goes somewhere to stir up trouble, who was particularly virulent and arrogant. I decided to take a quick look on his page, just to see what kind of guy he is.

        I assume everyone here has seen the bumper sticker that uses symbols of the various religions to spell out the word “coexist.” This guy’s cover photo used similar symbols to spell out the words “toxic fiction,” and his fb intro where you tell people about yourself consisted ONLY of the shouted phrase “all religion is superstitious bullshit!” Predictably, what I could see of the page consisted of anti-religion and anti-conservative memes interspersed with bursts of bitterness and hatred. To say the guy was Richard Dawkins without the scientific insight would be an insult to Professor Dawkins, this guy was more like Craig Stephen Hicks (the rageaholic who murdered three of his neighbors who also happened to be Muslim students over a PARKING DISPUTE) without the disturbing obsession with firearms and violence.

        I didn’t know whether to loathe this guy or feel sorry for him. There was almost not a single post on his page that wasn’t a hostile attack on something or other, and mostly on religion. Part of me wanted to feel sorry for him, because it’s pathetic if there’s nothing in your life greater than hatred for and hostility to the beliefs the majority of your fellow men hold. However, I can think of a lot of things more deserving of my sympathy than someone who’s consciously spent his life feeding his own hatred and hurling insults at others whose only fault is that they believe.

        The fact of the matter is that if I posted that much hate and hostility against any one particular faith, whatever one I chose, I’d be called an anti-Semite, an Islamophobe, or some other form of hater, and rightly so. Yet those who spew this venom against all religion or the majority faith are given a pass and sometimes even called intellectuals. Frankly, that does both ordinary non-believers and intellectuals a disservice.

        As I said at the beginning here, I’ve said many times that I don’t care at all if someone believes or not, because that’s between him and whatever he does or doesn’t believe. If someone prays, I don’t care what name he addresses his prayers to. If someone prays not, I don’t care that he doesn’t. I have no problem with civil discussion of faith, the value of faith, the history of faith, or what role faith plays or should play in society. I also have no problem with the fact that those discussions will sometimes lead to disagreements and sometimes those disagreements will reach the point where the participants will just have to agree to disagree.

        I have a real problem with insults, mockery, hatred and blanket condemnation. I also have a problem with selective hatred and outrage. I have a very big problem with those who engage in these unpleasantries while being smug and arrogant about it. I have a huge problem with those who devote their lives, or much of them, to engaging in this kind of behavior. I don’t see why people who act like this shouldn’t be called out and punished as the haters they are, same as the racists, the sexists, and so forth.

  3. Is the SNL skit funny?
    I assert that it is not funny(maybe I hold too narrow an understanding), but not because of vulgarity or belittling and unclever.
    It is not funny, nor do people find it funny, rather any actual laughter is more closely related to a celebration of bigoted attitudes finding expression – expression of internal feelings that those who laugh are largely to cowardly to express commonly in public – an expression that some in society has some need to see expressed to relieve internal tension.
    We have some sort of need to hate something/someone and see that hate validated in a harmless arena.

    • “Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” ~ Rev. 12:12

  4. Lil Nas was the same guy trying to sell Nike sneakers WITH HUMAN BLOOD IN THEIR SOLES…for $666. Guess being a faux Satan worshipper is his thing.

    Also, his song “Call Me By Your Name” has a video where he gives a lap dance to Satan. I guess the SNL crew thought giving one to God would be a “hilarious parody”. Classy.

  5. It’s Cognitive Dissonance Scale manipulation 101: make sure the “authority” opposing the dishonest Democratic talking point is widely regarded as toxic jerk.

    That seems like making Maxine Waters the “authority” on opposing incitement.

  6. 3. If Ann is like a lot of other people, I suspect she will find the lack of attention (and determent to her Amazon portal) too boring and will bring it back up in 2-4 months.

      • Well maybe not. I didn’t realize she was encouraging people to send her emails instead (thought I can’t imagine that being even remotely better). I guess that will make them seem more personalized thus feeding ego. I liked the comments because often she would write about stuff I found interesting but would approach it in such a strange way. I suspect, I will get to the point where I stop reading her all together.

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