The Easter Ethics Basket: 4/17/2022. Yes, There Are Some Rotten Eggs…

Turner Movie Classics decided to kick off Easter with an abject lesson in art and life for us all. The movie is 1965’s “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” One of the very greatest of American film directors was George Stevens, who specialized in smart comedies (the Hepburn/Tracy classic “Woman of the Year”), light-hearted adventure films (“Gunga Din”) and musicals (“Swing Time,” the best in the Astaire-Rogers canon). Then, as wonderfully told in the documentary “Five Came Back,” he joined fellow directing greats John Ford, John Huston, William Wyler and Frank Capra in documenting World War II for the public, the troops, and posterity at the high cost, for all of them, of their emotional and mental health. (Wyler and Ford also suffered serious service-related injuries).

Stevens, though, drew the assignment of filming the horrors at the liberated extermination camps. When he returned to Hollywood, he didn’t feel light-hearted any more. From then on he directed dramas with serious themes, and they were his best films, like “Shane,” “Giant,” and “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Finally, he took on his most daunting challenge, filming the life of Christ with an all-star cast befitting of the project’s importance. “The Greatest Story Ever Told” is terrible; I find the film  unwatchable, and I’m not alone. Imagine the embarrassment of titling your movie “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and watching to turn out to be one of the worst movies ever made.

The bomb even has a special kick at the end when John Wayne appears as a Roman centurion staring up at Jesus on the cross, and says in the Duke’s trademark drawl, “Surely this man was the son of God!”

The Duke could shrug off, after all the resulting mockery; he had been more embarrassed playing Genghis Kahn throughout an entire film, Howard Hughes’ camp classic “The Conqueror.”

George Stevens, however, wasn’t used to bombing. The movie was a critical and box office bust, and the fiasco sent Stevens into retirement for five years. When he finally tried again, the director’s heart not only wasn’t light, it wasn’t in his work any more. “The Only Game in Town,” with Elizabeth Taylor and Warren Beatty, was an even bigger disaster than “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” though it’s easier to sit though. After all, it’s an hour shorter, and John Wayne doesn’t show up as a centurion.

The life lessons? Hubris and humility…don’t get cocky. Next: Nobody is too good or talented to fail, even at what they are best at. Finally: Aim for the stars, but be prepared to crash and burn.

1. Speaking of Stevens’ “The Diary of Anne Frank,” there was a weird episode on Ann Althouse’s blog. In one post she quoted David Mamet in his just-published book, as saying in part,

“Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich… took an adolescent girl’s diary and raped it into “The Diary of Anne Frank,” a sitcom….”

Anne has many and large holes in her cultural literacy, especially regarding film. Her commentary left it open to question whether she really believed that Hackett and Goodrich had written a comedy based on Frank’s diary (They wrote a Tony Award-winning drama as well as the acclaimed film based on it), and passed on several comments by readers who took Mamet literally as well. An example: “Joan Rivers did an interview once about what things should never be the fodder for humor….Perhaps, younger people today are distanced enough from it for a sitcom about a Jewish family hiding in an attic for over two years who are then found and killed by the Nazis to not be in poor taste.” Another  “Turning the Diary of Ann Frank into a comedy is a pretty loathsome thing to do. Things like Hogan’s Heroes worked because the Nazis were the main objects of the jokes. The victims of the Nazis aren’t.” There are others. Why would Ann let those comments through to make the commenters look like fools, especially since she helped lead them astray? Or is she, as I very much suspect, unfamiliar with the movie (which is moving and excellent)? 2. Well, I think this tells us who the Times thinks is its core readership…On Good Friday, the times thought it appropriate to publish an op-ed piece condemning God to coincide with Passover and Easter.

Excerpt:

Perhaps now, as missiles rain down and the dead are discovered in mass graves, is a good time to stop emulating this hateful God. Perhaps we can stop extolling his brutality. Perhaps now is a good time to teach our children to pass over God — to be as unlike him as possible.

3. And the same can be said of Fox News...There is no reason for proselytizing and sectarian religiosity to be part of a news broadcast, but Fox News increasingly includes gratuitous invocations of God in its news programming. On Good Friday, my wife started screaming about an endless infomercial mid-newscast about the tourist trap Noah’s Ark. This morning, I watched in amazement as the network’s Sunday morning show devoted ten minutes to the “news” that a Fox staffer’s baby had been blessed by the Pope in Rome, and that the staffer saw it as a “sign from God.” News!

4. The rest of the story...A year ago, Ethics Alarms covered the travails of Shawnee State University philosophy professor Nicholas Meriwether, who refused to address a male student “identifying” as female by the student’s preferred pronouns. Instead the professor referred to the student as “sir,” saying that his evangelical Christian beliefs were behind his actions. The college threatened him, and, no weenie he, sued. He lost at the trial level, but a three-judge panel from the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, revived the lawsuit and sent it back to the lower court.

Last week, he settled the suit with his employer agreeing to pay him $400,000 in damages and to promise that he will never be forced to use pronouns.

Good. Most professors in his situation grovel apologies, and that makes the creeping woke totalitarianism worse—bolder and more contemptuous of personal liberty. Meriwether is a hero for progressives and conservatives alike; it’s just that the former don’t realize it.

5. That’s enough good news, now back to the relentlessly unethical colleges and universities, which are re-segregating to protect students from those evil whites. More than three dozen colleges are hosting 2022 graduation events limited to students of designated races, gender, or sexual orientation.  Some universities are holding multiple segregated ceremonies. California Polytechnic State University , for example, has a long list of minority-centered graduation ceremonies, focusing on for Native Americans, Jews, Asians, LGBTQ+,  disabled, “Chicanx/Latinx”, African-Americans, and Southwest Asian Northwest Africans. Its website even promotes an event titled “Monarch Commencement Ceremony,” which “recognizes and uplifts the accomplishments and success of undocumented students.” There is also a”Black Commencement Ceremony” featuring “[d]istinguished speakers, special student awards, live performances, and the tradition of wearing Kente cloth stoles hand-woven from Africa, all add to the vibrancy.”  A similar event at the University of California Davis are will present graduates with a “Kente stole.” The University of Texas at Austin describes its “Spring 2022 Black Graduation” as “an annual program that gives graduates the chance to commemorate the challenges they’ve overcome and the memories they have made throughout their college years with their classmates, friends, families, professors, and other UT Black community members.” Ohio State UniversityColumbia UniversityHarvard UniversityIllinois State University, the University of North Texas, and the University of La Verne all offer race-based ceremonies.

It is clear that “E Pluribus Unum” is being unraveled by an increasingly tribal and divisive campus culture.

11 thoughts on “The Easter Ethics Basket: 4/17/2022. Yes, There Are Some Rotten Eggs…

  1. Just for the record, I hate arrogance. I hate it when people have way too high opinions of themselves, especially when those opinions are not based on any substantive merit. In this case, Stevens had lots of merit, but he let his pride get away from him, and it ended his career. It’s things like that that keep my faith alive, because they let me believe that there is a God up there who, when life fails to do it, will take the arrogant down a few pegs.

    1. Well, that will teach you to comment on things you know nothing about. More effective than saying STFU everyday of the week and twice on Wednesday and Sunday.

    2. Of course they know who their core audience is. Their core audience either gets up at the crack of 10 on Sunday to go to brunch and Pottery Barn or gets up saying how much they hate white, believing men and how much better the world would be if we all vanished. The thing is, that screed, which I won’t dignify by calling it an article, isn’t terribly scholarly, or insightful, or anything. It’s just confirmation bias of the writer and readers’ hatreds. Fighters really nothing all that impressive either, he was raised an Orthodox Jew, fell away, and now makes his living writing bitter humor.

    3. Also true. And a staffer talking about the blessing of their child is tmi, the same as Anderson Cooper blathering on about his newborn for about 10 minutes before getting to the actual news.

    4. Nicely done. Unfortunately, he represents the exception rather than the rule. As you point out, most professors in the same situation would simply grovel apologies.

    5. I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise, when most universities divide from day one into Chinatown, the Black Hole, Eretz Israel, Mecca, Curry Alley, South of the Border, Estrogenland, The End of the Rainbow, and…the rest of the stuff.

  2. I came across something disturbiong whiole reading through the comments section of a Quora answer.

    (I had long intended to post about this Quora answer in an Ethics Alarmas post)

    First, here is the answer in question,

    http://www.quora.com/Can-a-gun-store-refuse-to-sell-a-gun-to-a-gay-couple-Does-First-Amendment-cancel-Second-Amendment/answer/Chris-Everett?comment_id=254074861&comment_type=2

    So, this isn’t really a first or second amendment issue.

    By largely unwritten agreement, FFL’s (e.g., gun stores) have almost unlimited authority to refuse sales to anyone for any reason at all.

    Absolutely nobody is willing to end up in a place where a gun store feels that the law obligates them to sell a firearm if things feel “off”.

    Normal protected class issues just go away when one is selling guns. The ATF and justice department will, um, clarify that for anybody that they need too.

    Now, to be clear, this idea that gun stores are all just bastions of social-conservatism isn’t really true. While I don’t doubt that exceptions exist, nearly any gun store is going to be happy to take your money regardless of who you like to fuck. This all seems to be some trope, but specific examples seem to be few and far between, at most.

    – Chris Everett
    Here is one of the comments in response

    The ATF policy, whether written or unwritten applies to…the ATF and only the ATF. So, if you deny a sale…you won’t have an issue from them. But, the hypothetical discussed someone bringing a federal LAWSUIT for discrimination against a protected class. The ATF you see, isn’t the decision maker in a federal lawsuit. ATF and “justice department” policy concerns CRIMINAL law, not CIVIL law. That litigant would have to prove that he (or she) was a member of said protected class (likely the easy part) and that denial of sale occurred solely for this reason, which would likely be harder to prove…unless said vendor was recorded saying so or had a written policy as discussed. It would be a high bar to clear. Nevertheless, the threat of litigation is an effective deterrent to such discrimination because 1. Litigation is always expensive and 2. Bad publicity often makes business bad.

    Such cases exist in case law already. In the linked case, note that the store owner won because he demonstrated that he did not discriminate…not because he was allowed to discriminate

    – Daniel Emrick

    Now here is the dsturbing part.

    There won’t be a lawsuit, not for long, because the ATF and justice department will have a quiet talk with the judge in question and the case will promptly be dismissed.

    Obviously, it’s generally a bad idea to discriminate. But federal firearms licensees have, by unwritten agreement, nearly unlimited right to stop a sale for any reason.

    – Chris Everett

    The text I bolded refers to an ex parte communication.

    Chris Everett, of course, could be making this up in his zeal to claim that gun stores are somehow immune from state and local anti-discrimination laws.

    However, this is true, this is a major scandal, for it is very unethical to use ex parte communications to interfere with litigation. It would violate separation of powers, as well as federalism if this is state litigation.

    How common is this? Do federal executive agencies routinely have “quiet talk[s]” with judges to get outcomes in litigation or prosecution that they prefer? Would they go so far to have a “quiet talk” with a Supreme Court justice to ensure a federal criminal defendant is executed?

    I would not stand for this, not even if the intent was to ensure Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev was executed, for it is more dangerous that a gun store denying the sale of a gun to someone for being gay, or straw purchases, or even the Boston Marathon bombing.

    Why would Chris Everett support such conduct?

    (Scott Longwell made some very good comments on his answer.)

    • There’s a lot of sweat beading down regulators faces right now because the ATF has been enforcing that a firearm’s fire control components constitute the regulated parts of a gun, while the combustion-control components are unregulated and freely sold and possessed without the usual background checks.

      Charges of unlawful possession are being appropriately dropped if they don’t include the regulated parts, but there’s this perspective that a judge presented with a prohibited person possessing a partial gun (i.e. trigger, sear, hammer and frame) might declare the current regulatory landscape as not complying with the written federal definition of a firearm and causing a huge mess.

      https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/11/us/ar-15-guns-law-atf-invs/index.html

      • I would like to think that the ATF having a “quiet talk” with a judge to rule in their favor would be so farfetched.

        Given the past thirty plus years’ history, I can not credibly say this concept is farfetched.

  3. RE 5:
    I wonder if these students understand that the Kente cloth stole was worn by the ruling Ashanti elite in what is now modern-day Ghana whose income was derived from gold and the slave trade. The Ghanian empire became quite large through its domination of tribes in the interior by virtue of its access to large deposits of iron and copper for weapons and gold to pay its armies. They were oppressors by or nationalists by today’s definitions.

    “The Ghana Empire dominated central West African trade in the upper valley of the Niger River from the 6th or 7th century CE. Control of regional trade was a lucrative business for the kings of Ghana who passed on goods like gold, ivory, hides, ostrich feathers, and slaves to the Muslim merchants (particularly the Sanhaja Berbers) who sent camel caravans that crossed the Sahara from North Africa and which brought much-valued salt to the south. Goods were often taxed twice, once when they came into the country and again when they left it.”

    “. . . The kings of Ghana once again illustrated their supreme position by prohibiting anyone else but themselves from owning gold nuggets; merchants had to be satisfied with gold dust.”
    (Can we say they invented inequality in wealth?) https://www.worldhistory.org/Ghana_Empire/

    From wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Ghana#Ashanti_Empire
    “The supply of slaves to the Gold Coast was entirely in African hands. Most rulers, such as the kings of various Akan states engaged in the slave trade, as well as individual local merchants.[38] A good number of the Slaves were also brought from various countries in the region and sold to middle men.

    The demographic impact of the slave trade on West Africa was probably substantially greater than the number actually enslaved because a significant number of Africans perished during wars and bandit attacks or while in captivity awaiting transshipment. All nations with an interest in West Africa participated in the slave trade.[55] Relations between the Europeans and the local populations were often strained, and distrust led to frequent clashes. Disease caused high losses among the Europeans engaged in the slave trade, but the profits realized from the trade continued to attract them.[38]

    The growth of anti-slavery sentiment among Europeans made slow progress against vested African and European interests that were reaping profits from the traffic. Although individual clergymen condemned the slave trade as early as the 17th century, major Christian denominations did little to further early efforts at abolition.[56] The Quakers, however, publicly declared themselves against slavery as early as 1727. Later in the century, the Danes stopped trading in slaves; Sweden and the Netherlands soon followed.[38]

    In 1807, Britain used its naval power and its diplomatic muscle to outlaw trade in slaves by its citizens and to begin a campaign to stop the international trade in slaves.[57] The British withdrawal helped to decrease external slave trade.[58] The importation of slaves into the United States was outlawed in 1808. These efforts, however, were not successful until the 1860s because of the continued demand for plantation labour in the New World.[38]

    Much of the information that indicts the Ashanti rulers complicity in the slave trade is carefully omitted in recently published historical narratives.

  4. 2. To be frank, I find it refreshing.

    I belong to an internet page for Christian Star Trek fans. Every so often, I have to dive into a mess and explain that, just because Captain Kirk, once told a group of aliens that humans don’t believe in multiple gods and just find the one sufficient, doesn’t mean that Star Trek’s creator or showrunners are/were Christians or even believe in God. There are so many fans who love the show and looking for any proof that Star Trek acknowledges a Creator God and even Christianity (by virtue of the one episode where they end up on a planet that emulates the Roman Empire and a religious believer they thought was a Sun Worshipper was actually a Son Worshipper with Uhura explaining to the crew at the end that he worshipped the Son of God). Star Trek pushes the religion of secular humanism if it pushes any religion at all. Any bones thrown to Christians because network censors in the 60s were skittish or because a random writer managed to hide behind a metaphor are proof of nothing. If anything, Star Trek’s showrunners are hostile to religion. We can still like the show so long as we watch with eyes open to that fact.

    So the NYT can now openly express hostility to God if it means there is no more lip service, or watered down theology that pretends Christianity is only about being nice to each other or a misrepresentation of it that tries to push social justice. Let the Christian readers know exactly what the Times thinks of us so that there will be no more attempts to rationalize what they’re reading.

  5. Here’s a doozy of an attempt to recast the Easter story – by self-proclaimed non-Christian, Michael Harriot. The man also claims to be an expert on “white” culture. Which, if the rules make any sense, he cannot have any opinion on, since he hasn’t had the lived experience of a white person.

    The following is a perfect example of morons who try to contextualize the Passion as something it isn’t to score a political point:

    • The man thinks his satire is incisive. But for it to be well thought out satire it has to be internally consistent with itself. Which is isn’t. So, really its more disjointed than a middle schooler’s attempt at parody.

      Here’s the tweet thread consolidated:

      “Breaking News:

      In a 5-4 decision, the conservative judges on the Supreme Court reject the final death row appeal of a Nazarene minister convicted of teaching Christian Race Theory.

      Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson issues blistering dissent, calling it a “crucifixion.”

      “I told you she was soft on crime,” says Josh Hawley.

      “We can’t have these people teaching these sermons on public mounts, said Galilee Governor Ron DeSatanis. “Telling children to repent for their sins makes kids feel bad.”
      Michael Harriot

      33-year-old community organizer and protest leader Yeshua bin Yusuf, who went by the street name Jesus, was convicted by an all-white jury after his violent arrest resulted in at least one officer losing an ear, according to the police report.

      Authorities said his protest organization was really a front for his gang activity. While Jesus confessed that he had about 12 friends who were disciples, he claimed he was not gang affiliated.

      “That’s what they all say,” explained Sen. Marjorie Taylor Greene. “He also claimed he was ‘saving’ prostitutes but if you read the message boards, it’s clear he was a sex trafficker. Why else would Mary Magdalene always be around? What do you expect? He was an anchor baby, too!”

      At his latest Make Judea Great Again rally, King Herod praised the decision, saying he was glad they got rid of the so-called “King of the Jews,” while renewing the call for Mary & a Joseph to produce a birth certificate for their deceased son.

      While some cautioned that Jesus could still get a reprieve from the Most High, Rand Paul said he would filibuster any legislation to forgive the convicted felon.

      “It’s over, he’s dead” said Tucker Carlson on Friday night’s show. “Good riddance to another immigrant!”
      Michael Harriot

      “Unless you fly with me to Cancun, you’ll never to hear the name Jesus again,” said Ted Cruz.

      “I doubt it,” said Thomas.”

      I feel embarrassed for the guy if he thinks this was clever.

      • I shouldn’t be though – he knows his audience isn’t knowledgeable enough to understand so he didn’t really have to craft anything clever. It’s enough for his non-thinkers to know he’s mocking conservative Christianity for them to laugh – never mind it doesn’t work.

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