What awful ethics stories have happened in April!
Today, for example, we note the anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, south of Denver, in 1999. At approximately 11:19 a.m., Dylan Klebold, 17, and Eric Harris, 18, dressed in trench coats, began shooting students outside the school before moving inside. Klebold and Harris murdered 12 fellow students and a teacher, while wounding 23 more. Then they killed themselves. The tragedy opened the chapter of school shootings for the nation and the culture, inspiring other maniacs, began the devolution of high schools into fortresses, and galvanized anti-Second Amendment activism. As is now routine, the news media distorted the tale to its own needs. For example, it was initially reported that one female student was asked by one of the shooter if she believed in God. When she said, “Yes,” she was shot to death. It was an inspiring human interest tale that led her parents to author a Christianity-centered book titled “She Said Yes,” while Klebold and Harris were pigeon-holed as anti-Christian bigots. We now know the question asked of another student who had already been shot. When that victim answered “Yes,” the shooter walked away. Nah, makes the killers seem less evil. “Print the legend.”
1. More “Mikado” political correctness desecration (and another reason to boycott my reunion). The Harvard Gilbert and Sullivan Players (which I and four other students saved from collapsing in 1971), rewrote the script of G&S’s greatest operetta, they claimed, “to avoid featuring Japanese stereotypes and racist interpretations.” The new plot is about, I kid you not, goat-herding in a future Chinese-dominated London. As a director, I applaud and encourage creative efforts to re-interpret classics, but to presume to improve upon Gilbert by a wholesale re-write is the height of hubris.
I would also expect an organization that has interpreted the works of the brilliant Victorian team since the 1920s to be able to explain to the knee-jerk cultural revolutionaries that there is nothing “racist” about “The Mikado,” which is a still funny satire on Victorian British society, set in a typical Gilbertian fantasy-land where characters behave absurdly, but oddly logically.
I would expect that, but I would be tragically wrong. [Pointer: Steve-O-in NJ]
2. Mask ethics update!
- By now you know that a federal judge struck down the CDC’s transportation mask mandate, for the rather obvious reason that it didn’t have the power or authority to inflict it without going through the proper steps, which it did not. It doesn’t matter whether the rule is wise or not: lawmaking and rulemaking still have to follow due process. The Left no longer believes that, as we have seen repeatedly in recent years, notably in the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates debate, when Joe Biden was chided (by Kamala Harris among others) for rejecting a policy that he viewed as illegal.
- Here is the New York Times headline this morning: “Masks Ditched To Jeers, Fears And Confusion.” That’s deliberate obfuscation: the most reported reaction on board planes to the announcement of the mask requirement’s demise was cheers. (The Times resorted to a fairer headline on its website.)
- A telling snippet from the article: “Brooke Tansley, who was flying with two children too young to be vaccinated, said she felt scared as the passengers around her slipped off their masks. “All I could do was hope it’s going to be OK,” she said.” This is what two years of media fearmongering, political hyperbole and CDC incompetence has done to gullible and vulnerable Americans, and it will take longer to recover from this than the pandemic.
- Broadway, meanwhile, is still making its audiences mask up to watch unmasked performers (except in “Phantom of the Opera,” of course). Anyone who would pay 100 bucks or more for a ticket to sit in discomfort, glasses fogging up, in unregulated cloth masks that are mostly useless is….well, I guess he or she is a rich progressive, which is who Broadway caters to. This edict is, I assert, more political than health-related.
Live theater is on the endangered species of entertainment list, and professional theater is in denial.
- This relates to the previous post about the intellectual limitations of journalists…here is Slate journalist Mark Stern’s brilliant analysis:
Experts! You know, those health officials who said, in dizzying combinations, “masks not needed,” “wear masks,” “no masks if vaccinated,” “Masks don’t really do much good,” and “Never mind masks if you’re rioting for social justice, but better wear them at weddings.” Judges, meanwhile exist, and are trained, and are by definition experts in what is legal and what is not, no matter who appointed them, or how old they are.
3. Here is all you need to know about the wisdom of getting involved in cryptocurrency: Jordan Belfort, the stock scamster and incurable Fick who was amusingly profiled in Scorcese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” has reinvented himself (again), this time as a cryptocurrency guru. Belfort has openly attributed his ability to con and steal to the amazing gullibility of the greedy, and he keeps proving how right he is. Anyone who is fooled by his latest scheme deserves exactly what they get.
4. And now for something completely stupid...I’ve been holding on to this head-exploder for months, and I want it out of my sight. In a feature last fall on “bold” and creative new ideas to make the U.S. better, Lyman Stone, a demographer who specializes in family policy, argued that we should have no age requirement on voting, and should allow children to vote. I read it twice looking for the tip-off that it was satire. He was apparently serious, writing such twaddle as “The voting age should be “at birth,” and parents should be able to provide whatever degree of assistance is necessary to enable their children to have their interests represented. That a child is too young to speak or walk is no argument against child voting, since many other nonverbal, immobile people who need daily assistance are also allowed to vote.” His argument is a collection of rationalizations (“If we allow this dumb practice, why not allow this one?”) and sophistry. It was irresponsible of the Times to publish such mind-rot; by doing so, it was giving credibility to a bad idea that deserves non. Moreover, really terrible ideas do real damage. They are like contagions, and there are millions of stupid people who hear or read one and think, “Hey! Great! Let’s do it!” This one isn’t even a close call, or shouldn’t be.
Then again, ten years ago I could not have imagined Disney advocating the teaching of sex-change option to 5 year-olds….
5. Once again, allowing group-pandering to wag the dog and distort communication… The Great Stupid strikes again! Students at California State University, Fullerton, who fall below a 2.0 grade point average this semester will no longer be put on academic probation, because the term is too mean, or something. Failing students will now be placed on “academic notice,” though it will signify exactly the same thing: if your grades don’t improve, you’re in big trouble.
University officials instituted the euphemism primarily to make potential flunk-outs of color feel better about themselves. The school feels the word “probation” had a negative connotation and feed into stereotypes of criminality, as it evoked law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
I wonder how many students will flunk out because they got a gentle nudge to avoid making them feel inadequate rather than the metaphorical slap in the face they needed to motivate them? [Pointer: Curmie]