Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/7/2022: Approaching Dread Edition

Speaking of threats to democracy: this is the anniversary of the day in 1944 that voters elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt to a fourth consecutive term. There is little question in my mind that had FDR been healthier, he was perfectly capable of deciding to run for fifth and sixth terms too; this was a looming American dictator who wasn’t hiding it, and Americans still blithely voted for him. Everything about Roosevelt made him the template for a democracy-busting, cult-of-personality Big Brother USA, including his ruthlessness. We were lucky: another of the many examples proving Bismarck right when he said, “There is providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children, and the United States of America.”

Oh, he probably didn’t say it, but I’ve taxed quote maven Tom Fuller enough for one week…

1. For my own mental health, I’m going to eschew reading the pre-election freak-outs by New York Times pundits showing up today with titles like “Republicans Have Made It Very Clear What They Want to Do if They Win Congress” and “Dancing Near the Edge of a Lost Democracy.” Still, I couldn’t resist starting to read “What Has Happened to My Country?” but quit when Margaret Renkl made me read, “…Right-wing politicians and media outlets have turned American democracy upside down through nothing more than a lie. They put forth Supreme Court candidates who assure Congress that they respect legal precedent but who vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade the instant they have a majority on the court….”

There is nothing inconsistent about respecting precedent while deciding that a particular case precedent is too misguided and destructive to uphold, Margaret.

“…They endorse political candidates who openly state that they will accept only poll results leading to their own election….”

No candidate has stated that, openly or otherwise, Margaret, you hack.

“They denounce calamities where no calamities exist…”

That was it! I quit. A mouthpiece for the party claiming that electing Republicans will destroy democracy, whose #3 ranking official in Congress compares the U.S. today to Germany in the 1930s when Hitler was on the rise [Pointer: Other Bill], that thinks “The Handmaiden’s Tale” is about to become reality because of the Dobbs decision, and that has gone all in on speculative climate change doomsday predictions does not get to say that about Republicans and be taken seriously.

2. Dangerous slippery slopes ahead….NBA superstar Kylie Irving shared a tweet that promoted the “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” documentary and book. Both are, by all reports, pretty vile, with familiar anti-Semitic tropes like Holocaust denial and claims of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy. There is nothing inappropriate about employers disciplining employees who put their organizations in unflattering light that might hurt reputations and profitability, nor with the Brooklyn Nets suspending Irving for “at least five games” without pay over the controversy. That’s reasonable, even a bit lenient. He responded with a publicist-drafted apology. Then Nike announced that it is suspending its relationship with Irving and will not release Irving’s highly anticipated new shoe, the Kyrie 8, which was scheduled to be released this month.

That’s also fair. A celebrity who represents a corporation and its products can’t engage in high profile prejudice and expect to keep the gig. The loss of the Nike deal will cost Irving many millions of dollars, and that’s what happens when you embarrass a business partner. However, now the Nets have given Irving an ultimatum of sorts: in order to rejoin the team and start collecting his salary, he must.fulfill six requirements:

  • Apologize and condemn the film he promoted
  • Make a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes
  • Complete sensitivity training
  • Complete anti-semetism training
  • Meet with the ADL and Jewish leaders
  • Meet with team owner Joe Tsai to demonstrate an understanding of the situation

Oooh, that begins crossing into compelled speech territory, as well as re-education. This is a league that fully embraced the racist, violent, Marxist anti-police scam Black Lives Matter. What political and social points of view will it decide it has a right to demand from NBA players and other employees? It should be sufficient for Irving to apologize, accept a suspension and fine for disgracing his team, the league and the game, and to agree to confine his public statements to basketball. After all, the guy isn’t earning millions because he was an outstanding history, political science or sociology scholar. [Pointer: JutGory]

3. More celebrity ethics: Here is a touching photo of Disney star and pop singer/actress Selena Gomez and her friend Francia Raisa, also an actress, in 2017 when Francia donated her kidney to Gomez, who was suffering through a life-threatening health crisis. Yet this year, when Gomez detailed her health struggles in her just released documentary, “My Mind & Me,” she never mentioned Raisa. Nice. Her kidney donor unfollowed Gomez on Instagram.

That will teach her…

4. This, of course, isn’t politically motivated violence and is irrelevant to Democrat rhetoric….Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s campaign headquarters received white powder inside an envelope, according to Phoenix police and her campaign. The staff member who opened the envelope “is currently under medical supervision.”

5. What an asshole…but I repeat myself. On the veritable eve of a crucial election for Republicans, Donald Trump took a gratuitous shot at Republican governor Ron DeSantis, referring to him as “Ron DeSanctimonious”at a Florida campaign event. That’s about as clever as most of Trump’s insulting nicknames, which is to say, not clever at all. The man simply cannot be trusted to be a responsible leader, and he has proven this repeatedly.

6. And speaking of assholes... Comedian and Trump-Hater Kathy Griffin—you will recall that she held up a model of the former President’s severed head for a photo— had her Twitter account suspended for impersonating Elon Musk on Elon Musk’s new social media toy. Such fakery violated the Twitter’s terms of service before Musk too over last week. Griffin fixed her Twitter account to make it appear that it was Musk’s official page, and swapped out her photo for the same photo that Musk uses, and renamed her account “Elon Musk.” In the tweets as Musk, Griffin instructed followers to vote for Democrats in the midterm elections.

7. No, biological men do not have a right to compete in the Miss USA pageant. The opinion from the Ninth Circuit, closing the matter, one hopes forever, is here.

8 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/7/2022: Approaching Dread Edition

  1. On Number 2, I am not quite in full agreement.

    Nike was well within its rights.

    The team’s six requirement are abhorrent.

    But, the initial reaction of the NBA and the Nets is not clearly justified to me. My understanding is that this all started because Irving tweeted a thumbs up about the film. To me, that is an ambiguous statement (of course, on Facebook, the only reaction I ever give anything is a “Like.” It could be anything, I will “Like” it as a way of saying, “I acknowledge what you have posted.” I could “Like” a post about the movie, Don’t Look Up, as I found it mildly amusing in some ways, even though I thought it was misguided and overly simplistic.) However, (again, this is my understanding) that Thumbs Up led to demands that he denounce the message of the movie, apologize, etc. etc. To the extent that Irving refused to adopt the views imputed to him, I thought, “good for him.” Even if the film is completely vile, or even just erroneous (I don’t know one way or the other-it might be completely true for all I know (but I doubt it)), I do not see why he owes any accountability to anyone for his aesthetic tastes. That people think he owes someone an apology for his bad taste is incredibly presumptuous. He would be fully justified in saying “shove it”, or “Bite Me.” By trying to say nothing, he was a little more prudent than I might have been.

    So, how does that go with the NBA and the Nets. Maybe there is a clause in his contract that would apply here. However, I would look very closely at any kind of contractual provision that says, “don’t tweet anything that makes us look dumb.” After all, we are dealing with professional athletes. In addition, I feel his case contrasts very well with that of Kapernick, who made his protest while on the job; at least Irving’s tweets were done on his own time. While that distinction may not ultimately matter, it is certainly a factor to be considered. His contract with the NBA is not based upon his taste in books and movies, or his knowledge of history.


    • Valid observation, Jut. But these players are, in Bill James’ term, “paid heroes.” If they step outside their proper realm, they still better not tarnish the image they are being paid to project. Kylie also went on to debate the virtues of the documentary with a sportswriter, so he carried it beyond just a thumbs up.

      • Yes, it did get complicated. Once he got into the mode of explaining/defending his initial tweet, he was doomed.

        Of course, it is hard to remain silent in the face of serious accusations.

        However, it’s not clear to me that he wouldn’t have been penalized if he had remained silent.

        That’s a no-win situation.


  2. On 4… The first Anthrax envelopes actually contained Anthrax, back in 2001, weeks after 9-11, envelopes were sent to a bunch of Democrats. Five people died, 17 were hospitalized. No congressman, senator, or governor has ever been hurt by these, or even come into contact with fact samples, because the reality is that the people we’re talking about barely chew their own food, nevermind open their own mail. It’s not a scare tactic that effects the powerful, it just freaks out some low level staff. You’d figure after 20 years, we’d be past that shit.

  3. Well, this is actually kind of interesting. I’d always assumed that it was Bismarck that said it, and it certainly is attributed to him.

    However, the essential quote appears in the December 1856 edition of Harper’s Monthly (digitized by Google), and if I understand it correctly refers to the 1856 presidential election, to wit:

    “The agony is over, and the man whom the people – at least a majority of the people – willed to be their chief magistrate is chosen to become President of these United States. Half of the people have been very sure that if he were elected the country would come to an end, if the world did not. But we have been inclined to believe that the Union would last a little longer, and that we shall have some good times yet, in time to come. It has been said that a “special Providence watches over children, drunkards, and the United States.” They make so many blunders, and yet live through them, it must be that they are cared for, for they take very little care for themselves. So we are disposed to trust Providence and not worry.”

    Well, I don’t believe I have ever heard the election of James Buchanan put in quite those terms. But who am I to argue?

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