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.