I Have To Ask: What Is Disney Doing And Why?

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been planning a long post examining what Disney’s mission and methodology need to be in 21st Century America. Walt’s creation faces an important challenge and a difficult one, and I would hope that the people responsible for guiding a company whose role in shaping U.S. culture has been both successful and beneficent as well as profitable are up to the task. They had better be, for the sake of the culture, not merely stockholders.

I was well on the way to devising a post I felt would be perceptive and provocative when I saw the video above. That stopped me cold. I wasn’t exactly optimistic about Disney, which has been a major positive influence in my own life, being able to safely navigate around the cultural icebergs in the roiling societal seas ahead before I watched the thing, but now I am as confused as I am depressed.

The classic starting point for ethical analysis is “What’s going on here?” In this case, it is more appropriate to ask, “What THE HELL is going on here?”

I’m open to suggestions.

Trump-Related Ethics Notes…

1. Geraldo Rivera is an Ethics Dunce (but we knew that). Geraldo actually tweeted this nonsense: “Biden pardoning Trump-the way Ford pardoned Nixon- IS a good idea. This clemency to include inciting the violence of January 6th, the Mar-a-Lago documents case & any other federal allegation. Clemency would require a pledge by Trump that he will no longer seek the presidency.”

Ugh. A quid pro quo pardon is called a “bribe.” This one would be even more direct than when Bill Clinton pardoned fugitive Marc Rich in exchange for Rich’s ex-wife giving a fortune to Bill’s library. In addition, the metaphorical ship has sailed as far as Biden pardoning Trump is concerned. The time to do it—and I once thought that it would be a unifying and wise move by Biden—was before any indictments or court decisions came down. Now, such an action would be widely regarded as government elites agreeing across party lines to place themselves above the law.

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Yeah, I’d Say This Pretty Much Destroys Tara Reade’s Credibility, Wouldn’t You?

Well, there goes my head.

I honestly though this was a hoax.

From the New York Times:

Tara Reade, the former Senate aide who accused President Biden of sexual assault as he ran for president in 2020, said on Tuesday that she had moved to Russia and was seeking citizenship there, according to Sputnik, a Russian-government-run news site.

Ms. Reade told Sputnik in a news conference that while her “dream is to live” in both the United States and Russia, she might reside only in Russia because that is where she feels “surrounded by protection and safety.”

I know when I want to feel “safe,” my first impulse is to defect to Russia….

This officially validates critics who accused Reid of being a fake #MeToo accuser with a political agenda, and even supports the claims that she was part of a pro-Trump “Russian disinformation” campaign. I don’t know what to think, other than I’m sorry I ever heard of her.

Next I expect to learn that Juanita Broaddrick has moved to Iran….

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D.-NY)

Amazingly, this is the first time New York’s communist wacko Congresswoman, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has been designated an Incompetent Elected Official of the Month. Since her election, re-election and re-re-election, she has been honored here with (let’s see…) two Ethics Dunces, two Unethical Quotes, three Unethical tweets, and an over-all assessment as an ethics villain when she could have scored an Unqualified Elected Official, Ethics Dunce, Unethical Tweet, Unethical Quote, and a KABOOM! with a single blazingly moronic tweet. Ethics Alarms did award her a special Incompetent UNelected Official Of The Month in July of 2018 when she was first running for office. This was after she uttered the kind of brainless nonsense we are now accustomed to, saying that “Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs.”

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Ethics Quiz: The Rehabilitated Manson Cult Murderer

The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles ruled 2-1 yesterday that Leslie Van Houten, one of the Manson cult members who murdered Leno LaBianca, an LA grocer and his wife, Rosemary in 1969, should be released from prison on parole. The ruling reverses an earlier decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who rejected parole for Van Houten in 2020. Van Houten was 19 at the time of the LaBianca murders. She has been recommended for parole five times since 2016. Newsom’s predecessor, former Gov. Jerry Brown, rejected the first set of paroles; Newsome has continued the pattern.

Now Van Houten is 73, still serving a life sentence .Newsom has said that she still poses a danger to society, which seems ridiculous. The court stated that there is “no evidence to support the Governor’s conclusions” about Van Houten’s fitness for parole. “Van Houten has shown extraordinary rehabilitative efforts, insight, remorse, realistic parole plans, support from family and friends, favorable institutional reports, and, at the time of the Governor’s decision, had received four successive grants of parole,” the judges wrote. “Although the Governor states Van Houten’s historical factors ‘remain salient,’ he identifies nothing in the record indicating Van Houten has not successfully addressed those factors through many years of therapy, substance abuse programming, and other efforts.”

Newsom can still request that California Attorney General Rob Bonta petition the state Supreme Court to stop her release. The real question is whether one believes in rehabilitation or not. Hers was certainly a horrible crime. Van Houten and other cult members carved up Leno LaBianca’s body and smeared the couple’s blood on the walls of their home the day after other Manson followers, not including Van Houten, slaughtered pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in one of the most infamous mass murders in U.S. history.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is...

Should Leslie Van Houten be paroled?

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Comment Of The Day: “Depressing Ethics Notes From The Education Apocalypse, Part I”

In his Comment of the Day on today’s post about various graduation-related ethics stories, JutGory provides a veritable feast of delicious ethics morsels. It all began when he sent me an email suggesting as an ethics quiz candidate the story involving the student who had ChatGPT write the speech he submitted for approval to high school officials, intending all the while to sandbag them and deliver a different speech he knew they would never approve. I gratefully used the item but not as a quiz, judging it too easy: the Ethics Alarms position would be that using artificial intelligence to write anything one is supposed to write unassisted is unethical. Jut followed up with this COTD teeming with related ethics conundrums.


When I submitted #4, I asked if it might be an ethics quiz whether using ChatGPT to write the address.

You asked if I was being tongue in cheek.

The answer was not entirely. When I sent the e-mail, I had not finished thinking about the issues. Here were things I was mulling over:

1) Having AI write a speech for you is not as bad as a lawyer using it to write a brief.

2) It is certainly not as bad as the bait and switch in the other ethics breach he committed.

3) It was still deceptive to propose a speech you had no intention of giving; so was the wrong thing committed in the proposal of the speech, or in the drafting itself, or both?

4) It would not be plagiarism to give the speech because you are not really copying anyone.

5) This reminded me of the ownership issue of the photo taken by the monkey (you covered this); if you put in the parameters to ChatGPT, how much of the product can you claim as your own (because ChatGPT can’t really copyright it (Can it? Does it?)?

6) It also reminded me of the artist who entered an AI painting into a competition (again, covered here) and there were no restrictions on such submissions in the contest.

After I sent the e-mail, I concluded it was wrong but primarily based upon the dishonesty. Actually using ChatGPT to draft an address raises some of these other issues and the answer fits somewhere in the middle of that mess that I laid out.

Follow up question: would it be even worse if he had ChatGPT draft his negative address, as well? Does he get any credit for actually writing the address he gave? (That’s a little tongue in cheek, but still an appropriate question in this context.)


I’m baaaack….to offer my answers to the (let’s see) eight enumerated issues and the two follow-up questions at the end:

1. Rationalization #22.

2. Ditto.

3. Using any speech to deceive was the ethical breach, regardless of how it was written.

4. I agree. It’s not plagiarism, just as submitting a paper sold by a term paper mill isn’t plagiarism.

5. I expect this issue to be litigated sooner or later.

6. I wrote about that one, too. In that case, the program used can fairly be called just an artist’s tool, absent either a rule that prohibited it, though an ethical entrant would have checked with organizers before submitting the art for a prize. In this case, there is no question (is there?) that the student knew a speech written by a bot would be rejected.

7. No. The substituted speech was unethical from the first word: it couldn’t be made more or less unethical by the means of its production. I suppose the content could have made the speech more unethical, if, say, it were obscene or racist, or revealed national security secrets.

8. No. You don’t get credit for not doing something unethical.

An Ethics Alarms “Ripley” For WaPo: It Engaged In Objective Journalism (Sort Of)

[The Ripley” officially entered the Ethics Alarms lexicon in August of 2021, signifying an ethics story that so outrageous it defies belief. Admittedly, events like incorrigible left-biased mainstream media outlets like the Washington Post undermining their own agenda by publishing information that makes Democrats look bad were not the intended topics for the new category, but when I have, in the past, awarded “Ethics Hero” awards to unethical news sources that unexpectedly told the truth, readers here have objected on the grounds that doing your job ethically and professionally should not be considered heroic. I have to agree, and so episodes like this one will now be eligible for a “Ripley.”]

Conservative news aggregator Citizens Free Press headlined its link to this story, “How did this get past Wash Post censors?” It’s a fair question. The Post’s feature is “Why are red states hiring so much faster than blue states?,” and it begins by pointing out what Al Gore might call and inconvenient truth, except that his inconvenient truth was mostly hooey:

We ranked the 50 states by their hiring rates and were swiftly struck by a trend so clear that — if it holds up — should be front-page news: Republican-leaning states are hiring faster than blue states.
Of the 17 fastest-hiring states, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14 voted for Trump in 2020. The top two Biden-voting states, Georgia and Nevada, are probably best classified as purple (Biden-blue Delaware is the other). The 10 slowest-hiring states all went for Biden.

The story is accompanied by this chart:

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Depressing Ethics Notes From The Education Apocalypse, Part 2: “Gee, I Wonder Why Kids Today Are So Anxious And Depressed…”

An elementary school in the Dallas Independent School District sent students home last week with a faux “Winnie the Pooh” book titled “Stay Safe.” “If danger is near, do not fear,” the book reads in part. “Hide like Pooh does until the police appear.” The distribution of the book, which came with no warning to parents or instruction or explanation from the school district, coincided with the May 24 anniversary of the Uvalde school shooting (where it was the police who hid like Winnie).

In a statement last week, the school district explained that the book was sent to student homes “so parents could discuss with their children how to stay safe” in dangerous situations at schools, such as a shooting. The district admitted that it should have given parents guidance about the book. “We work every day to prevent school shootings by dealing with online threats and by hardening our schools,” the email stated. “Recently a booklet was sent home so parents could discuss with their children how to stay safe in such cases. Unfortunately, we did not provide parents any guide or context. We apologize for the confusion and are thankful to parents who reached out to assist us in being better partners.”

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Depressing Ethics Notes From The Education Apocalypse, Part I: Graduation Follies

Let’s begin with the first of four troubling graduation tales, this one involving the rampant narcissism that social media and the popular culture imparts on our youth, aided and abetted by educational professionals.

Above is a newly-minted University of Arizona grad, known online as “Rachel Davenpole,” who donned a pair of see-through platform heels and a red thong to pose in a stripper-style split on a pole she had erected on campus for the task. Her erudite response to social media critics who found her photos inappropriate was was: “Graduated Magna Cum Laude (3.8 GPA) and received over $40,000 in scholarships … let’s get u a mirror so we can see who this tweets about babes.” Her non-sequitur defense was sufficient to inspire the New York Post—there are some good reasons why the rest of the media doubted you on Hunter’s laptop, guys—into giving Rachel even more of the publicity she craves with a news story.

Now watch Rachel be shocked when the employer who hires her for her first adult job thinks sexual harassment is appropriate…

Next, there is Marlin High School near Waco, Texas. According to a statement posted to Facebook, it has postponed its graduation after just five of 33 seniors could meet the requirements for graduation because of grades or attendance problems. The school says it will reschedule the graduation until June so students will have more time to qualify. But the problem isn’t the students, is it? Here’s a chance to re-post one of my favorite Charles Addams cartoons:

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Today’s Lesson In Life Competence: Know Your Yogi Berra Quotes

In this case, “It ain’t over til it’s over.”

How embarrassing. Palmyra-Macedon (New York) was trying to become Section V Class B1 high school baseball champion for the second straight year. The Red Raiders were facing defeat, trailing Hornell by a run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and final inning, with two strikes on their last hope batter. Palmyra-Macedon also had runners on second and third base, with no runner at first base. The umpire called the next pitch strike three, but it was a wild pitch that got past the catcher. Baseball rules hold (I hope you know this) that the batter can run to first base in such situations if first isn’t occupied, and has to be thrown or tagged out.

But instead of racing to retrieve the ball and throw to first base, the Hornell catcher ran out to the mound to start celebrating. His team did the same, and while they were jumping up and down, the Palmyra-Macedon batter ran to first and his team mates on second and third ran home, scoring the tying and winning runs.

Palmyra-Macedon had a stunning 6-5 win, and they celebrated, this time appropriately.

I’d say “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” also applies here, as well as another alleged Yogi-ism (though it isn’t), “The opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” these are important life lessons, but what a brutal way to learn them.