A Janet Jackson movie is playing on cable, so of course we’re going to hear, again, how poor Janet was unfairly and cruelly blamed for “Nipplegate,” when the supposedly family-friendly Super Bowl half-time show featured an uncleared rapey bit of choreography in which Justin Timberlake “tore” Jackson’s costume, revealing her breast. It all happened on this date in 2004. CBS got fined and the NFL got in trouble. Timberlake lied, wink-wink, calling it a “wardrobe malfunction,” which everybody thought was cute. Historical revisionism has Janet as a victim of a sexist culture because she was the focus of most of the criticism and not the man in the plot. But it was her breast, after all. She also lied, and has been lying for almost 20 years.
Here is what I wrote about it in part on the Ethics Scoreboard the year it happened. I had forgotten: Janey Jackson got the very first Jumbo!
Janet Jackson has now appeared on the David Letterman Show to deny that her infamous Super Bowl breast-baring was anything but an accident. Before we discuss what a ridiculously transparent lie this is, let us also ask, “Why bother?” The damage, whatever it is, is done. Nobody is going to believe her. This was a fine opportunity for Jackson to stand up, admit an error in judgment, and use her celebrity to endorse some ethical values, like honesty, taking responsibility for one’s actions, and contrition.
Janet wants us to believe the incident was an accident, completely unchoreographed or planned. Never mind that:
- Justin Timberlake’s move uncovering Ms. Jackson’s breast occurred on a musical beat, corresponding to song lyrics referring to his “having her naked by the end of this song.”
- Her costume conveniently had a detachable flap that would expose the breast without doing any damage to the rest of her outfit.
- Her breast had a large, uncomfortable-looking decoration of some kind stuck to it, raising the obvious question of what it was doing there if it wasn’t intended to be seen.
- Timberlake’s comments immediately after the show confirmed that the moment was choreographed
Oh, just never mind. If this were a crime, any jury would find Jackson guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Even the most dishonest people, when confronted with undeniable proof of their misdeeds, will usually confess. Not Janet Jackson.
Here’s your elephant, kid. This Jumbo’s for you!
1. Who can you trust? Justice Breyer was reportedly angry that his plans to retire at the end of the current SCOTUS term was leaked. Only close staff, family, his Supreme Court colleagues and the President had been made aware of his decision. He did not want to be a lame duck justice, and had asked his confidantes for confidentiality. Now the mystery of who betrayed Breyer’s trust is solved. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters yesterday that President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, spilled the metaphorical beans.
If I were Breyer, my reaction would be to do what Donald Trump has done several times with leaks: make the leaker and the news media look foolish by changing course. I would not retire, after a betrayal like that, and make Democrats wait another term. Justice Breyer, however, doesn’t think this way Too bad.
2. And speaking of the Biden Supreme Court Pick Ethics Train Wreck, commenter sooner8728 shared with EA the Facebook post of a former college prof on the controversy:
“Brief rant (re: language and critical thinking skills). “Biden shouldn’t be choosing a SCOTUS candidate based on race, gender…it should be based on qualifications…”
This bit of laziness that passes for clear thinking in some circles is making the rounds, and it relies on a missing premise to sound “fair.” Put simply, there are dozens of qualified candidates, and so Biden is not choosing JUST based on race/gender. He begins with a field of candidates who are all qualified, and then he moves to the next criterion in the selection process, and that narrows the field, so that tertiary and quaternary factors are the determining factors because the primary and secondary factors — education, qualifications, expertise — are already a given.
From that perspective, choosing a Black woman makes perfect sense because representation matters, and in a field of qualified candidates, a heuristic like “who’s never been represented on the nation’s highest court?” makes more sense than “pick the most qualified candidate.” There is likely no such thing as “most qualified candidate,” but Americans have been conditioned to think every category has a “champion,” so Biden is working against sloppy assumptions and the missing premise (bias) that requires the conservatives say the quiet part out loud: “whichever Black woman Biden chooses won’t be as qualified as the (likely White) person we prefer.”
I’d say a wretched and dishonest opinion like that is more worthy of firing than anything Ilya Shapiro tweeted. Critical thinking skills, eh?
- Biden has limited his pool unethically and unnecessarily. The professor is using a straw man: nobody has said that being black and female is the only criteria Biden will use, or the nice night nurse at Alexandria Hospital I met last week would be on his list.
- How does he know Biden is beginning with a pool that is “all qualified?” He chose Kamala Harris using the same limiting filter, and she was unqualified for VP.
- Biden committed himself to picking a black woman before he had any idea what his options would be. How can this guy claim that those were “tertiary and quaternary factors” when they were the first factors to be considered?
- “Representation matters” is never supported in the post, because in Woke World, it is just accepted on faith. Group identification, however, is nearly impossible to defend on a crucial body where what matters most is objective, perceptive, learned and serious legal analysis.
- “Who’s never been represented on the nation’s highest court” makes more sense than “pick the most qualified candidate”? Whatever you say, buddy. That’s an intellectually dishonest way to reach a desired conclusion without support or evidence. Bad judges work that way.
- “There is likely no such thing as “most qualified candidate.” Utter nonsense.
- Finally, he ends by race-baiting, because that’s what current progressives default to when they don’t have legitimate points to offer. He even does this when the most prominent critic of Biden’s racial discrimination, Illya Shapiro, explained in his infamous tweet that he believed an Asian-American female judge was the best option. You know…a “(White)” judge.
3. Here’s a bad solution to a genuine problem…Arguing that the lawyer discipline process has been “weaponized” as a political tool, Republican Arizona State Sen. Vince Leach of Tucson has proposed SB 1566, which if turned into law would mandate that if someone files a complaint with the Bar and the investigation does not result in discipline, both the Bar and the person who brought the complaint not only have to pay the lawyer’s legal fees, but also any “loss of future earnings and damage to the attorney’s reputation.”
I agree that the disciplinary process has been politicized (Rudy Giuliani is a prime example) but discouraging citizen complaints and bar investigations would gut the profession’s ability to week out the bad apples, too many of which get away with unethical lawyering as it is.
4. Apparently being on “The View” too long has made Whoopi stupid. It was bound to happen. The #1 opinionated panelist on the long-running ABC blight on TV branded herself an ignoramus by saying,
The Holocaust isn’t about race. No, it’s not about race. It’s about man’s inhumanity to man… It’s how people treat each other…. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white because black, white, Jews, Italians, everybody eats each other.
This would be a shock to Adolf. Apparently nobody told Whoopi about all the “master race” stuff. You would think she had at least seen “The Producers.” Guess not.
Her various apologies and explanations suggest she is sincerely sorry that she upset so many people (Many of whom want her fired), but the real issue is that her discussion of the issue indicates that the actress just isn’t very competent or informed, certainly not sufficiently informed for her opinions to be worthy of broadcasting. She really said, “I think of race as something I can see.” She really did.
5. A legally unethical call in Ahmaud Arbery case. Federal judge Lisa Godbey Wood of U.S. District Court rejected identical plea deals worked out between the Justice Department and the two of Arbery’s three killers, Travis McMichael, 36, and his father, Gregory McMichael yesterday. The judge was so moved because the family of the victim strongly opposed the deal. Prosecutors made the plea deals to guarantee that the men would face serious prison time for the death of Arbery, even in the unlikely possibility that their state murder convictions were overturned on appeal. Their federal sentence would have run concurrently with their state sentences of life without the possibility of parole. The arrangement would also bar the men from appealing their federal guilty pleas, and Travis McMichael agreed to sign a confession that his part in the crime was triggered by racism.
The family wanted more. Well, too bad. The victim’s family in a murder prosecution isn’t the client; the State is, and the public. “The People,” remember? I have long felt that such sensitive innovations as victims having the chance to scream at defendants before sentencing seriously warps the criminal justice system and the public’s understanding of it.
I guess the focus on the family of victims confuses judges too. The men were going into prison for good, and the trials that the family is forcing will cost millions, just so it can experience “closure.” Families almost never derail plea deals. This is a bad precedent.