Pre-Thanksgiving Ethics Warm-Up, 11/23/2022: Dead Ethics Alarms, Good Ethics Advice From An Unexpected Source, And Other Appetizers

I know my wedding to Grace Bowen Marshall 42 years ago was important because virtually nothing else genuinely significant in world history happened on November 23. The date is amazingly weak on important birthdays too: the most impressive are Franklin Peirce, our tragically weak 14th President (just when the nation needed a strong one), and, in 1921, Jack Marshall, the Hollywoord musician, arranger and composer who wrote the theme music for “The Munsters,” among other things.

The calendar this year is, as it happens, like it was the year we got married. We had changed the date from the 22nd to the 23rd because neither of us wanted Kennedy’s assassination on our minds. After a wedding presided over by Grace’s dad, a Methodist minister, we enjoyed a wild reception highlighted by a performance by the combined talents of the two musical revue groups I had performed in and directed, The Showstoppers and the political satire group, The Music Lobby. Then it was off to a romantic evening at the historic Hay-Adams hotel, across the park from The White House. The next day was Thanksgiving, which we celebrated by having a turkey picnic on the floor of our just-purchased, unfurnished home in Alexandria, Virginia. Then it was off to Zion’s Crossroads, near Charlottesville, for a brief honeymoon at an inn converted from an old plantation. They had a honeymoon cottage, and today we would be expected to be horrified by its history as the slave overseer’s residents. We weren’t then, and I’m not now.

As Gus says to Woodrow call as he dies in “Lonesome Dove,” “It’s been a hell of a party.” And we still haven’t opened all the presents…

1. When Ethics Alarms don’t ring: Fashion company Balenciaga has withdrawn a really oogy advertisement campaign featuring children with sexualized teddy bears, but such an ethics botch is signature significance. In one photo, one of the little girls poses on a sofa by one of plush bear bags, surrounded by wine glasses and branded bondage gear.

A sharp-eyed viewer spotted a copy of a Supreme Court opinion declaring pornography protected speech in another photo with a child. Here’s another one in the series:

The company’s apology as it abandoned the ads also doesn’t suggest familiarity with basic ethics alarms. “We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms,” the apology posted on its Instagram page read in part. “We take this matter very seriously and are taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our Spring 23 campaign photoshoot. We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children’s safety and well-being.”

Someone just sneaked those ads into publication without the company’s knowledge, eh? Sure.

2. But why would their warped and rudimentary ethics alarms sound, when journalists like this guy poison the culture daily? Veteran NBC reporter Ben Collins actually said this as part of the media effort, now sputtering because of what are called outside of the American journalism bubble “facts,” to blame the shootings at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub, on criticism of the LGTBQ-led effort to sexualize children at an early age:

An all ages drag brunch..that a child might go to meet a drag queen, just to show them they’re human beings & people. They go there and they read Dr. Seuss..It is not some hypersexual event, but that’s what it’s viewed as on the far right.

Well heck: why not have pole dancers, lap-dancers, strippers, S&M aficionados, man-boy love enthusiasts  and porn stars strut their stuff for the kiddies too? After all, aren’t they human? If you prick them, do they not bleed? Do enlighten us, Ben!

I confess, the Left’s sudden obsession with drag shows as children’s entertainment mystifies me, and ought to worry progressives that what they assumed was liberal thought has mutated into lunacy.

3. Ann Althouse does a brilliant and hilarious job of mocking a puff-piece on the faddish Twitter alternative (needed because Elon Musk isn’t assisting Democrats with their censorship efforts) Mastodon. Read it.

4. Shut up and knock someone’s teeth out with a stick. The National Hockey League, or whatever woke dummy they put in charge of their Twitter feed, declared:

“Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Nonbinary identity is real.”

Because, as we all know, playing hockey makes one a master of biology and sexual categorization. this is called “unethical crossing out of one’s lane” as well as abuse of authority. It’s also pandering and nauseating virtue-signaling when there is no virtue involved. I am now sorry I fixed that “Booby Orr” typo.

5. Wow! Woke lawyer-advice columnist Phillip Galanes got one right! I quit visiting the Times “Social Qs” advice column because Galanes’ reflex wokism was reaching epic proportions, but he got an ethics query right this month. An insufferable daughter wrote,

My father is celebrating his 60th birthday next month. He and my mother are teachers; they live modestly. But he came into a chunk of money unexpectedly, and they are turning his birthday — combined with their 30th wedding anniversary — into an irresponsible money pit. Rather than adding to their retirement account, they are chartering a private jet to take them, my brother and me to a tropical island for an over-the-top vacation. The problem: I am truly stressed about climate change and object to private jets. Using them is selfish and destructive to the environment! (Meanwhile, my brother and I have student debt.) I have shared my objections with my parents, but they are committed to this vacation. Can I refuse to go?

I was sure the climate change hook would guarantee Galanes’ support, but amazingly no! He wrote, almost entirely rationally except for the very end,

I respect your objection to private jets and supersize carbon footprints. But two lifelong public servants taking one blinged-out holiday to celebrate their milestones, and briefly emulating the daily life of Taylor Swift, is small potatoes (environmentally speaking). Let them see how the superrich live — once!

I assume your parents understand the ramifications of not funding their retirement now. They have supported themselves and their family for 30 years; I see no reason to question their fiscal responsibility. No, I prefer to be happy for their windfall (and a little disappointed that you linked it to your student debt, as if you and your brother should reap the benefits instead of them). Is it possible for you to lean on rationalization here? (A slippery business, I know!) The private jet is taking off in any event; one more passenger will not increase its ill effects. Or perhaps you can join your family by traveling commercially. You may refuse to go, of course, but it seems a shame to skip your parents’ celebration because of one excess. Maybe they would agree to buy carbon offsets from a company that plants trees?

My parents, who also lived frugally and amassed an amazing nest egg, once offered to take my sister and me on a final family trip to Greece, First Class all the way. It never materialized, but the daughter’s complaint never crossed my mind, and never would. The reference to her own financial needs was particularly repulsive; Gallanes didn’t chide her enough for that, but at least he mentioned it.

20 thoughts on “Pre-Thanksgiving Ethics Warm-Up, 11/23/2022: Dead Ethics Alarms, Good Ethics Advice From An Unexpected Source, And Other Appetizers

  1. Happy Anniversary!
    “The date is amazingly weak on important birthdays…”
    Well, one November 23rd birthday is pretty important to me: my own! Today I’m celebrating my 69th trip around the sun!
    All the best to you and Grace!

  2. Jonathan Paplebon was born on the day of your wedding. November 23 is also the birthday of Luis Tiant, so it is a good date for Red Sox fans.

  3. Happy Anniversary!

    And Balenciaga has wiped clean its entire instagram account with over 14M followers. Maybe, just maybe, people are finally paying attention.

  4. … In one photo, one of the little girls poses on a sofa by one of plush bear bags, surrounded by wine glasses and branded bondage gear.

    How did you know it was bondage gear?

    My parents, who also lived frugally and amassed an amazing nest egg, once offered to take my sister and I [sic] on a final family trip to Greece, First Class all the way…

    • 1) Others helpfully pointed it out. Normally I would never see ads by that company.
      2)Ugh. I write too quickly. Thanks for the [sic]. I first encounter [sic] reading a history of the Lincoln assassination when I was 12….

  5. 2. Anyone’s obsession with drag queens and drag shows has mystified me since I first heard of such things when Mrs. OB’s gay high school, Harvard grad friend excitedly insisted we attend a drag show at Kowloon, a Chinese restaurant on Route 1 in Saugus Mass., of all places, in 1974. Sorry, I just don’t get drag.

  6. 5. My advice to the parents: Leave the insufferable little bitch home. These children who feel compelled to “call out” their parents should have been drowned at birth, or better yet given the daughter’s lefty bona fides, simply aborted. Think of all the carbon that could have been avoided had she not lived! And her mother would have kept men’s hands off her body and exercised her constitutional right ot choose! But I have to agree that chartering the private jet is way over the top. Flying first class commercial should be sufficiently fabulous.

    And let’s not forget. If these parents have worked in teaching in a public school for thirty years, I’m sure they have amassed very healthy public pensions that will, at a relatively early age, provide them a perfectly fine retirement compliments of the over-burdened taxpayers of their state.

  7. Happy Anniversary! May Grace be able to refrain from employing the brick for many more years!

    Our anniversary date (50, this year) is quite significant 🙄, being both Cherry Popsicle Day and Dog Day (and something called the “Battle of Crecy” [Yay, English!]). My birthdate is historic, but unfortunate… Ides of March.

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