Wednesday Ethics Catch-Up, 8/4/2021: Isn’t It Systemic?

This really is a catch-up, because i never got yesterday’s Warm-Up posted, and a lot has been going on…

1. Systemic denial! Name that rationalization! Governor Cuomo’s ridiculous excuse for his serial sexual harassment—that he’s touchy-feely-huggy-kissy with everyone, not just comely females in the workplace—needs its own rationalization along the lines of “I’m like this to everyone equally, so it’s OK!” it would be a sub-rationalization to #1, “Everybody Does It.” But I am torn: should I name it after the governor, or after George Bernard Shaw’s misanthrope Henry Higgins, who memorably argued (in both “Pygmalian” and the musical based on it, “My Fair Lady,”) that “the great secret…is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls”?

I’m tending toward “Higgins’ Misconception.”

2. Also in the category of reader feedback is my call for answers to this question, raised in the lively thread following the recent Comment of the Day: “How many of the Ethics Alarms readers know Idina Menzel, Kelli O’Hara, Laura Benanti, Audra McDonald, and Sutton Foster? How many could recognize their faces or voices?” My theory: systemic live theater decline…

3. Systemic confusion… Kate Coyne-McCoy, the top Rhode Island Democratic Party strategist and political consultant, sent a now-deleted tweet this week coyly wishing death on GOP Senator Lindsay Graham after his recent positive Wuhan virus test despite being vaccinated.

“It’s wrong to hope he dies from Covid right? Asking for a friend,” Coyne-McCoy tweeted. And who should register a protest but the Black Lives Matter Rhode Island political action committee, which issued a statement condemning Coyne-McCoy’s comments as “extremely distasteful and insensitive.” “Regardless of political affiliation the disregard for human life is unacceptable and should not be tolerated anywhere within any political party,” the group said. “How can we trust someone with such blatant disregard for human life with the will of RI voters?” The group added, “BLM RI PAC strongly urges RI Governor Dan McKee and House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi to call for her immediate resignation, as those views regardless of political affiliation should never be accepted.”

What’s going on here? Is BLM suddenly going bipartisan? Is this a trick? And aren’t they saying that “all lives matter”?

Since the criticism came from a group she cares about rather than just Republicans, Coyne-McCoy tweeted an apology: “I made a mistake. I used poor judgement which I obviously regret.” That’s an apology that doesn’t accomplish anything, if you think about it. The ethical issue isn’t her tweeting a sentiment that reveals that she is a hateful, untrustworthy individual with poor judgment, but that what she tweeted shows that she is a hateful, untrustworthy individual with poor judgment. She can apologize for being a wretch and an asshole, but that doesn’t mean she’s any less of one.

4. Systemic pandering. There was nothing at all wrong about the Obamas planning a huge, celebrity-studded, outdoor birthday bash for Barack on Martha’s Vinyard, other than the fact that extreme birthday parties are a sign of runaway narcissism— this is Barack Obama: what else is new? But the Obamas, who had asked guests to be vaccinated and were going to have a “COVID Coordinator” on the premises to ensure protocols were followed, were apparently afraid of being bashed by the Right for Wuhan Hypocwisy and the Left for not supporting the latest pandemic panic-mongering.

5. Systemic racism...Today we learned that Lincoln Center has named a new artistic director. I played a little game with myself on reading the headline: what color would she be? Since George Floyd was killed by a bully cop’s knee (maybe) last year, dozens of arts organizations have added new artistic directors or leaders, and so far, all the changeovers I’ve seen involve “of color” replacements and an occasional pale woman, but no white men at all.

It’s pretty clear that arts organizations, with overwhelmingly woke contributers, Democratic constituencies and progressive artists to deal with, have decided that virtue signaling and pandering are more important than merit, experience and fairness, because it would be downright weird if the best qualified individual to fill each of these openings just happened to be non-white, and non-male.If the race-obsessed Left’s favorite device was applied, disparate impact, these results would be called racism (and sexism).

Oh, the game: I won! The new Lincoln Center AD is named Shanta Thake—could be Irish!—and she’s the right color: half German-American, half Indian. If she had exactly the same resume and experience but had no Indian ancestry, do you think she’d have the job? Sure she would. Sure.

(As I was researching Thakes’s bio, I learned that the prestigious Second Stage in NYC just named Khady Kamara executive director. Yes, of course she is. Notes industry publication Backstage, “That these welcomed but overdue announcements are coming in clusters is unsurprising, given the widespread Black Lives Matter protests that have been ongoing since the spring, as well as calls for antiracist protocols specifically within the theater.”

They are welcome, you see, because they were made on the basis of race and gender

That’s one hell of a way to fight racism.

27 thoughts on “Wednesday Ethics Catch-Up, 8/4/2021: Isn’t It Systemic?

  1. Okay. I aspire to post a thoughtful analysis on #3, but #4 beckons for an immediate response:

    Wuhan Hypocwisy? Is this a deliberate Elmer Fuddism?

    Princess Bride?

    Marshall typo?

    Best laid plans of mice and men, as they say.

    (Still intend to comment on #3)


  2. 3. True Democrats wish every Republican on earth would die. ASAP. Problem solved.

    4. I was shocked to see the photos of their evidently more than ten million dollar estate. It’s their house? Where they live? I thought they were bumming it off some gazillionaire donor for the party. Holy Cow. He should start dressing like the Monopoly guy, monocle and all.

    5. Surely this will stop when thirteen percent of all artistic directors are of color. Right?

    • Ginsburg once said there would be enough women on the SCOTUS when there were nine. I once got a response from a black lawyer chillingly similar to the response one of the first female students at West Point got way back when. She said “Good morning, sir.” to an upperclassman, and he sneered, “It’s not going to be a good morning until you goddamn bitches get out of here.” I simply nodded “Good morning,” to this other lawyer, and he snarled, “It won’t be a good morning in this country until there are no more of you honkies, starting with that joke in the White House. THEN it will be a good morning.” Aaaaall right then.

      Notre travail sera terminé lorsque le dernier roi sera pendu par les entrailles du dernier prêtre.

      Es wird ein guter Morgen, wenn der letzte Slawe in der Asche des letzten Juden begraben wird.

      Türk devleti nihayet Ermenilerden, Lübnanlılardan ve Rumlardan ne pahasına olursa olsun temizlendiğinde güvende olacaktır.

      (I love google translate)

  3. An article worth discussing.

    The writer should know this.

    The polio vaccine became available to the general public the same year Disneyland opened. Polio had a grave risk of complications to children, Disneyland’s primary target market.

    Disneyland never required proof of polio vaccinations.

    Nor did it require proof of smallpox vaccinations.

    Nor measles vaccinations.

    Nor swine flu vaccinations.

    Why this particular vaccination?

    What is so important about it?

    • Tuberculosis killed 1.8 million people in 2018. Where’s the outrage? Who has blood on their hands for that? Two of my four grand parents succumbed to TB in their early adulthood. I want reparations.

  4. Re: No. 1; the Renaming Game.

    I suggest calling it “Andy’s Misdirection.” It has that beautiful quality of saying “what’s the problem? I do it all the time to everyone. Want a hug?”

    Re: No. 2; “Kate Coyne-McCoy’s Crime.”

    I suspect BLM issued its statement critical of Kate Coyne-McCoy because they support her successor.


  5. 1. A guy I knew who always used to tell every kind of racist or sexist or anti-gay joke in the book once justified himself by saying he was an equal-opportunity hater. So Cuomo is an equal opportunity harasser? Another lawyer justified acting like a bully because “I’m just that way.” Well, take your way somewhere else then, was my response.

    2. Never heard of Laura, but I have heard of the others. Met Kelli O’Hara briefly once, after the short-lived production of Dracula on Broadway. I don’t think she was happy with the show or her role in it (she had to briefly appear nude, and was second banana to Melissa Derrico).

    3. Most likely she had nothing to offer BLM, and they didn’t want the bad publicity that a tweet like that generated for their side.

    4. Obama’s a rock star, he wants a birthday party fit for a rock star.

    5. The industry wants white men gone, it’s that simple.

  6. “What’s going on here? Is BLM suddenly going bipartisan? Is this a trick? And aren’t they saying that “all lives matter”?”

    These aren’t breakthrough bouts of character, the people we’re talking about have none. My working theory is that Kristen Gillibrand went so hard after Al Franken because she was sniffing around for a judiciary committee seat. Similarly: My theory on why Letitia James announced that Cuomo sexually harassed his staff but isn’t pressing charges is because James is sniffing around a gubernatorial run. Someone from BLM wants a job as a RI DNC strategist.

  7. To answer your question in #2, I’m aware of both Idina Menzel and Sutton Foster for nontheatrical reasons. Menzel became a brief pop-culture reference point when John Travolta butchered the pronunciation of her name at some awards show a few years back (“Adele Dazeem”?), and Foster played Coco on one of my all-time favorite shows, “Flight Of The Conchords”.

    I have no knowledge at all of the others on your list. I think your thesis about live theater is correct. Nobody I know in my generation (Gen X) has even a slight interest in live theater, and I suspect that’s even more true for the generations that follow. Heck, I even worked on a couple community theater shows as a favor to a friend years ago (lighting on “Nunsense” and props on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”), and I still can’t generate even a tiny bit of enthusiasm for theater.

  8. I don’t know that it’s relevant but I know and love Idina Menzel, Kelli O’Hara, and Sutton Foster.
    Not necessarily by face, but from listening to their performances.
    Which is fair when you consider that I don’t know up to 20 Nigerian celebrities by face.

  9. As a mother of young girls, of course I know the voice of Idina Menzel. I’ve not heard of the others, and when people we’re talking about Frozen featuring the talent of Idina Menzel, I asked my dad, who is a movie buff of sorts, who that was. He said, “Probably some new actress they are trying to hype. I’ve never heard of her.”

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