Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/21/2022: Christmas’s And Meat Loaf’s End Edition

Meat Loaf has died. The hilariously theatrical pop singer with the big voice was responsible for one of the great ethics songs: “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.” It packed almost everything into one epic musical journey: temptation, non-ethical considerations vs. ethics, betrayal, consequences and cosmic retribution.

***

Absent a last-minute reprieve or a relapse of whatever it is that I’ve been battling, this looks like the final day for our especially lovely, inspiring Christmas tree. I always feel like I’m making the world a little meaner and less hopeful when I take it down. This post, from three years ago, still stands.

***

In U.S. ethics history, January 21 stands for one of the more significant pardons in American Presidential annals, because in 1977 Jimmy Carter pardoned all those young men, hundreds of thousands of them, who had fled to Canada rather than risk being drafted to fight in Vietnam. (Only half came back. I am tempted to say, “Good!,” but I won’t…) Those who left as a matter of principle and those who ran off because they wouldn’t have fought for their country under any circumstances (this was the era of “Better Red than Dead,” after all) were treated the same. It was a utilitarian trade-off, and whether the President’s decision was unethical (my Vietnam vet friends said it made them feel like suckers) or ethical (it definitely helped heal the national divisions over that misguided conflict), it was certainly brave and consequential. For example, that single act probably killed the draft as much as anything else.

***

Feel free to debate that issue here; I’m not up to it today myself. There won’t be the usual Friday Open Forum because there was one just two days ago (and it’s still open!). Full disclosure: in my fevered state, I really thought it was Friday when it was Wednesday.

1. This video is worrisome if it’s genuine, and it may not be. A young woman freaks out after getting a positive Wuhan variant test result, and acts as if she’s been sentenced to die on the rack and wheel. I fear this is what two years of politically-driven pandemic hysteria is turning our rising generations into: cowards, whiners, phobics and weenies. Her tearful lament ““The coolest characteristic about myself is that I haven’t gotten it!” is particularly nauseating.

2. Boy, I wish I could trust polls more than I do, but I don’t. A Marist Poll, published yesterday, determined that  71% of Americans support some legal limits on abortion, with 17% feeling that abortion should be illegal and 44% believing that states should be able to decide, which was the pre-Roe situation. The poll, which surveyed approximately 1,000 U.S. adults between January 4 and January 9, undercuts the oft-heard claim by abortion advocates that the public is “overwhelmingly pro-choice.” I’ve never believed that, but this means that confirmation bias makes me prone to believe this latest poll.

In one question, respondents were asked to choose among six options:

  • “Abortion should be available to a woman at any time she wants one during her entire pregnancy”
  • “Abortion should be allowed only during the first six months of a pregnancy”
  • “Abortion should be allowed only during the first three months of a pregnancy”
  • “Abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother”
  • “Abortion should be allowed only to save the life of the mother”
  • “Abortion should never be permitted under any circumstance”

 71% of respondents indicated that abortion should not be permitted past three months of pregnancy.

3. I’m shocked, shocked! that Howard Stern is a jerk! Well, not really. I’m enjoying reading the expressions of betrayal from aging conservative pundits over shock-jock Howard Stern’s support for government vaccine and mask mandates. “When are we gonna stop putting up with the idiots in this country and just say it’s mandatory to get vaccinated?” Stern said on Sirius in September of 2021, “Fuck ’em. Fuck their freedom. I want my freedom to live. I want to get out of the house already. I want to go next door and play chess. I want to go take some pictures. This is bullshit.” These conservatives thought politically incorrect Howard was hilarious back in the days when he was asking guests how they masturbated and getting loud mouth celebrities (like Donald Trump) to make asses of themselves with sexist comments while his female, black Ed McMahon, Robin Quivers, played enabling toady. Yeccch. It was always clear to me that Stern was a cynical jerk; I never found him clever or funny, and I have to say, anyone who told me they were a fan dropped precipitously on my cognitive dissonance scale.

4. Speaking of toxic jerks…Alec Baldwin still hasn’t turned over his cellphone to police nearly a month after New Mexico authorities secured a search warrant for the device following his fatal on-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins has more trouble of his own making. The family of a Marine killed in Afghanistan during the Biden administration’s chaotic troop withdrawal has sued Baldwin for defamation, $25 million worth. Rylee McCollum was one of 13 US service members killed in the  bombing outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in the Afghanistan chaos following the Taliban takeover.  Baldwin sent a $5,000 check to his widow, Jiennah Crayton, and her newborn  baby. But when Crayton posted a selfie on Instagram of her participating in the January 6, 2021 rally at the Washington Monument, Baldwin exploded with rage, as he is prone to do. The actor accused her of being an “insurrectionist” and part of the Capitol riot (she was not), and posted, “Your activities resulted in the unlawful destruction of government property, the death of a law enforcement officer, an assault on the certification of the presidential election. I reposted your photo. Good luck.”

One more time: no law enforcement officer died in the riot, and Crayton wasn’t involved anyway. Publicly asserting a false fact along with trying to sic violent Trump Deranged nutcases (who else would follow Baldwin on social media?)on the woman might well cause Baldwin to lose that lawsuit. His career for some time has been an excellent example of the King’s Pass in action along with Hollywood’s biases: a conservative actor with Baldwin’s miserable character (and without his considerable talent) would have been blackballed long ago.

12 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/21/2022: Christmas’s And Meat Loaf’s End Edition

  1. Mr. Baldwin has a right to say what he wants. Unfortunatley, what he has to say often is not right. In this case, it is so not right that it breaches the norms on defamation.

  2. RE: the preamble:

    I always found Meat Loaf too over the top and bombastic for my taste; that was the beginning of the punk/new age era and much more exciting, stripped-down music was coming out of that scene. Additionally, I question whether Meat Loaf would have found any measure of significant success were it not for his producer and principal songwriter Jim Steinman (who is probably guiltier than Mr. Loaf). That said, there’s no question the man was a superb entertainer.

    RE #1: That’s right in Titania McGrath territory. Obvious parody. The tells are all of the production that went into it.

    • It is interesting that at the same time, disco, glam rock and prog rock, the antithesis of punk, were all huge. Meat Loaf’s theatrical style was not reactionary but was ingrained. For those of us that leaned more to punk and new wave, he could be and was a guilty pleasure. I’m sure I and many of my friends know all the words to Paradise by the Dashboard Light. What a great duet.

      Regarding Steinman, he is seriously underrated in the minds of the wider public. He has a signature style and was very successful as a writer and producer but is not really known like others of his time. While I am not a Celine Dion fan, her big 1996 LP had its 25th anniversary recently and was played in its entirety on one of my favourite radio shows CBC’s “Drive” with Rich Terfry. Each week, the show features an old influential album, across the wide genre of pop music and usually near a milestone anniversary. The song “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” was a big hit for CD, though I don’t remember it much. (I admit I spent most of the 90s listening to jazz masters following my punk and new wave 80s phase as a reaction to grunge.) When we listened to that song, I said that it really sounded like Meat Loaf. I had a look, and sure enough, written and produced by Jim Steinman.

      • With you on part of that – when Bat Out of Hell was released, prog was in decline and disco was past its peak (until the BeeGees gave it a dead cat bounce with Saturday Night Fever, those bastards).

        • “disco was past its peak”

          Beg to differ. I was a bouncer in one of the (arguably) hottest Discos in the upper midwest (a going concern until nearly 1980) which was thriving when Bat Outta Hell was released in October 1977; eerily coinciding with the release of Saturday Night Fever ~ six weeks later.

          Factor in that was WESconsin, which, OB will be quick to remind you, will never be confused with being a trend-setter…

          I remember listening to Bat Outta Hell selections on the POS AM radio in my two-door red ’67 Bonneville Rag Top in late ’77/early ’78.

          I trust I’m not alone as I cringe while recalling what I’ll charitably refer to as my “attire” during that time.

          • Let me rephrase. Disco was already in decline in its epicenters – New York, LA, etc. It did hang on uncomfortably long in flyover country.

        • Prog was definitely not on the wane. Bands like Rush, Genesis, Floyd, Yes, and Marillion, and to an extent The Police, were still selling massive records and filling concerts halls. As much as punk was a stripped back, no frills rock music, it didn’t dent prog, but the more adventurous bands incorporated the raw style into their sounds.

          Secondly, Meat Loaf was a phenomenal talent. He gave voice to Steinman’s songs and brilliant production qualities. Those two were tied to the hip, dependent on each other’s inspiration. “Bat out of Hell” is a fucking great album, start to finish. Todd Rundgren does some his best guitar work on that album. The songs are skillfully crafted and Steinman’s production struck the right balance. A true gift to popular music.

          Meat Loaf, though, didn’t handle the fame, fortune, or adulation, which is what you would expect from a small town kid from Texas. Later, he learned perspective and never gave less than one hundred percent, even to the point of exhaustion and possible breakdown. His acting career is impressive, as well. Let’s give him his due respect.

          jvb

          • Yes crested with Close to the Edge in ELP essentially went dark for four years after the dreadful Brain Salad Surgery (1973). Genesis became more of a pop band after Peter Gabriel left in 1974. I’ll grant you that Rush started coming into their own with 2112 in 1976, but I’ve always had a hard time considering them fully a prog band; they certainly had prog elements but were still, IMO, rock and roll at heart. Gentle Giant never really caught fire – a shame, IMO, because I thought they were better (and more interestings) musicians than any of ’em. I’ll grant you the Floyd, though I must admit I find pretty much everything after Dark Side of the Moon to be largely tiresome – albeit with some moments of sheer, flat out brilliance, even up until their last (post-Waters) albums. And there are certainly terrific prog bands to this day (Nightwish is a personal favorite). The point is that the great crest of prog as a dominant form was clearly receding by the mid-70, at least as far as the record-buying public was concerned (personally, I think the excesses of Yes and ELP was a primary driver of that).

          • I have emailed this to several friends over the years. It is my favorite video version of Dashboard Light, and sharing is caring. I rank it in the top three all time best music videos of all time.
            The babe in white plays her part very well and really brings it home.

            “Meat Loaf, though, didn’t handle the fame, fortune, or adulation, which is what you would expect from a small town kid from Texas.”

            Not just Texas; it isn’t as easy as one might think no matter the geography.
            The temptations are nearly indescribable….

            Btw, disco never dies if you like to dance.

  3. – The draft was the reason for mass public opposition to the Vietnam War.

    The draft was immoral and unethical.

    – Again, I note the unprecedented ideas that came along with the COVID-19 vaccine in contrast with other vaccines.

    Taking the vaccine has beconme formal cooperation with evil and thus unethical.

    – the only way Baldwin can defeat the lawsuit is to prove that the plaintiff actually rioted at the Capitol- or at Lafayette Square in the summer of 2020.

  4. 3. I’m a conservative and I have no use for Howard Stern. Like George Carlin and a few others he’s a guy who has made a profitable career out of being a jerk. He’s also pretty damn close to being a racist, although he always stops just short of the n-word. He’s been fired at least twice and fined for his behavior on the air multiple times, yet he lasts like the cockroach. The man is a pig, and that’s all there is to it. He’s a 14-year-old who never grew up and never wanted to.

    I guess I have to salute him as someone who got to live his dream, though. He has made millions acting like a jerk. I’m never going to get to be a great fantasy writer who buys a 1000-acre estate and builds a Grey Towers-type house that can’t be seen except from the air and is full to the brim with weapons, armor, and old books. 😀

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