Ethics Quiz: The Cancelled Coach’s Video Game Avatar

kyle-pitts

This is almost too stupid for Ethics Alarms to comment on, but as regular readers here know, very little is too stupid to interest me.

We discussed earlier the fate of Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who was always a pretty revolting character (and everyone knew it) but who was brought down when a bunch of his old emails were made public. One seemed pretty clearly racist; some were sexist, some were homophobic, and some were just politically incorrect to the Progressive Mob the NFL is kowtowing to these days. Gruden was forced out of his job, and now the woke brigade is in the process of making him a non-person, because the Soviet Union understood these things, I guess.

Now we learn that Gruden will be removed from the popular “Madden NFL 22” video game, as developer EA Sports announced last week. Gruden’s image will be replaced with a generic, imaginary coach who never sent emails that insulted Joe Biden.

EA Sports explained: “EA Sports is committed to taking action in maintaining a culture of inclusion and equity. Due to the circumstances of Jon Gruden’s resignation, we are taking steps to remove him from Madden NFL 22. We will replace him with a generic likeness via a title update in the coming weeks.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is this really “doing the right thing”?

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Introducing “Introducing Selma Blair”

Selma Blair

Ethics Alarms spends a lot of time and criticism on celebrities and the celebrity culture, so when one finds a way to use fame, even as it is fleeting, constructively attention must be paid. Meet Selma Blair, an always appealing actress previously known for her supporting roles over the past two decades. Blair was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder multiple sclerosis, which attacks the central nervous system, in August of 2018. She revealed her illness with an Instagram post in October of that year; this in itself was unusual, for revealing an incurable and progressive disease is usually career suicide. Most Hollywood actors hide maladies from bi-polar depression and alcoholism to cancer for as long as they can.

Not Blair. As a former impish ingenue now in her forties, her career was already on the wain, and she felt that publicizing her struggles could help the many people who not only suffer from MS but other chronic diseases. Blair continued to track the course of her illness on Instagram. She attended Hollywood events with a jeweled cane. She did not avoid interview, allowing the public to witness her periodic difficulties speaking and impaired movement. “She was in turn glamorous and clumsy, funny and mournful,” writes Teo Bugby in the Times. (Ethics Alarms saluted her courage here.)

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Trans Activist Ethics Train Wreck Update: The Dave Chappelle “Hate Speech” Hypocrisy

From the New York Times front page today:

“Netflix…the tech company that revolutionized Hollywood, is now in an uproar as employees challenge the executives responsible for its success and accuse the streaming service of facilitating the spread of hate speech and perhaps inciting violence.”

Observations:

1. It’s time—way past time, in fact—to emphatically define what “hate speech” is. First of all, hate speech, whatever it is, is 100% protected speech. It is Constitutional, First Amendment, lawful, beyond all argument speech. Second, I use “whatever it is” because the phase is deliberately vague and subjective so those seeking to censor discourse, advocacy, non-conforming points of view, satire and insults can place the expression of ideas by someone else into a category that suggests malign agency and intent.Then, those crying “hate speech” can advocate silencing whatever it was they are labeling.

We’re on to them, or should be by now. Calling something “hate speech” is like the Southern Poverty Law Center’s dishonest “hate group” label. It’s a cheat.

2. Hate is not a good thing in human relations (there are exceptions), but it is legal and, like all emotions, not unethical. Acting on the hate may be unethical, but not hate itself.

3. I have watched “The Closer,”Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special now under fire, twice. There is nothing hateful in it, unless one thinks that all mockery, satire and jokes with an edge are hate.

I don’t think “The Closer” is very good, especially by Chappelle’s standards. It’s not especially funny, for instance. It’s also not very smart, and Chappelle, if nothing else, is smart and usually shows it. It’s not smart because the controversy over how society should regard transgender individuals is interesting, perhaps difficult, raises interesting ethical and practical issues, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s just not as important as the attention paid to it makes it seem. This is a tiny minority: yes, these issues are important to them. But Chappelle’s show is like a deliberate employment of the Streisand Effect: he’s obviously annoyed about having to deal with trans issues, so he spends a whole, high-profile special complaining, explaining, and riffing regarding it. Since he’s a comedian, this could be justified if he mined it for comedy gold, but he doesn’t.

If he isn’t going to be funny, then he has to be profound, or he’s wasting our time. Not only is the thing not profound, it’s barely coherent. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: stand-up is a high wire act, and the best comics sometimes fall hard. But the contrived controversy over “The Closer” is giving the performance more significance than it deserves, and allowing Chappelle to accept accolades for a performance that was really subpar.

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No Professor, You Must NOT Apologize For Showing Students Laurence Olivier Playing “Othello” [Corrected]

Olivier Othello

Oh, great: a fake blackface controversy again.

Composer and musician Bright Sheng, is the Chinese-born Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan. When he received a MacArthur “genius” fellowship in 2001, the Foundation described him as “an innovative composer whose skillful orchestrations bridge East and West, lyrical and dissonant styles, and historical and contemporary themes to create compositions that resonate with audiences around the world.”

Sheng screened the 1965 film version of Shakespeare’s “Othello” in his class as part of a lesson about how the tragedy was adapted for the opera. It stars the late Sir Laurence Olivier, widely regarded as the greatest living English actor of his day and a definitive interpreter of Shakespeare, as the tragic hero Othello, a Moor. Some students who saw the film—hell, maybe all of them: they’ve all been indoctrinated into knee-jerk progressive conformity– were upset that Olivier’s face was covered in black make-up, though he was white and the character he was playing is black, so such a disguise would seem to be obligatory. This is the function of what actors call “make-up.”

Students complained to the administration that Olivier’s make-up made them feel “unsafe.” Unsafe from what? From the make-up? From Olivier, who is long-dead? From Iago, the white villain of the play?

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Thank God It’s The Friday Ethics Warm-Up For The Weekend, 10/8/2021, Dedicated To Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow

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Mrs. O’Leary’s cow may be the most unethically maligned animal in U.S. history. On October 8, 1871, something caused flames to spark in the Chicago barn of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary. The resulting two-day conflagration killed 200-300 people, destroyed 17,450 buildings, left 100,000 homeless and caused about $4 billion of damage in today’s dollars. While the fire was still raging, The Chicago Evening Journal reported that it all started “on the corner of DeKoven and Twelfth Streets, at about 9 o’clock on Sunday evening, being caused by a cow kicking over a lamp in a stable in which a woman was milking.” Then a verse to a popular song was added; pretty soon it was the only verse anyone remembered:

Late one night, when we were all in bed,
Mrs. O’Leary lit a lantern in the shed.
Her cow kicked it over,
Then winked her eye and said,
‘There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight!’

There was never any convincing evidence that a cow started the blaze. The O’Learys had five cows, and they didn’t have names. It’s not even a sure thing that the fire started in the barn, but Mrs. O’Leary was a Catholic woman and an Irish immigrant, and Chicagoans were eager to have a scapegoat, or rather scapecow. One prominent historian who has studied the inquest transcripts believes that the true culprit was an O’Leary neighbor named Daniel ‘Pegleg’ Sullivan, who hobbled into the O’Leary barn to smoke a pipe, which then fell into a pile of wood shavings and subsequently started the fire. Nonetheless, Catherine O’Leary was ostracized, and became a recluse. In 1997, the Chicago City Council officially exonerated Mrs. O’Leary and her cow, which did just about as much good for Mrs. O’Leary as for the cow.

1. A new book shows that I have not lived in vain! Yesterday, a line from a depressing movie called “Kodachrome” sent me into one of my funks. During one of the many arguments between a dying artist and his middle aged son who hates him, the father (Ed Harris) sneers that he may have been a neglectful father, but at least he would leave something of importance when he died, unlike his son, a failed rock band recruiter for a record label. By purest luck, today I received a complimentary copy of “Reginald Rose and the Journey of 12 Angry Men,” a fascinating and thoroughly researched account of how the TV screenplay and the film came to be the iconic works they are. Author Phil Rosenweig also tells the weird story of how Rose lost control of the stage version of his work, and how for years the only script one could legally perform was a hack adaptation of the movie by a writer who didn’t understand it. Well, I’m part of that weird story, as is my old theater company, “The American Century Theater,” which became the first professional theater in the U.S. to present the screenplay on stage. Many were involved in the success of that production, including my wife,Grace, who produced the script by meticulously typing the screenplay from a recording of the movie (this was before the internet), and NPR critic Bob Mondello, who traveled by bus, in the rain, to a converted school auditorium to see the production, which he gave a sensational and much circulated review. There were many twists and turns after that, but eventually Rose’s version of “12 Angry Men” became the play most theaters produce. He got the respect he deserved, the endurance of the play, which is a genuine classic (I directed it four times) is assured, and yes, I was part of the reason why. Rosenweig, who interviewed me, accurately relates my role in the off-stage drama. You can find the book on Amazon, and here.

Now I can die in peace.

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Ethics Agenda, 10/1/2021: Netflix Edition

I am finally ready to set up the first Ethics Alarms Zoom meeting. The topic will be the Netflix series “Clickbait,” which is an ethics cornucopia. I am looking at the period of October 7-21, in the evening, and need to know which days and times are preferred, as well as who and how many visitors here are interested. I’d prefer to facilitate discussion rather than have to dominate it, so I would also like to hear from you if there is a particular ethics issue raised by the story about which you would like to present your views to kick off discussion. I’m envisioning a 90 minute session, but it could be longer. You can respond on this post, or to me via email, jamproethics@verizon.net.

1. Great moments in “It isn’t what it is”…This week, a student attending an event with Vice President Harris opined that Israel was conducting “ethnic genocide” in Palestine. Harris responded, “Your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard.” For some strange reason, Israel’s press had a problem with this, and so did many American Jews and supporters of Israel. “VP Harris to student who accused Israel of ‘genocide’: Your truth must be heard,” was the headline in The Jerusalem Post. The Times of Israel said: “Kamala Harris doesn’t reject US student’s ‘ethnic genocide’ claim against Israel.” Harris’s flacks represented the episode as one big misunderstanding. Her office assured critics that the Veep’s “commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering” and that she “strongly disagrees with the George Mason student’s characterization of Israel.”

Of course she does! I know I always describe statements that I strongly disagree with as “the truth.”

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Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 9/26/2021: Down The Hole As We Vilify The Good Guys To Advance An Agenda

Hole

Well, it worked with the false Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown narratives, so why not try it again? I was about to devote a segment here to the hysterical “Border Patrol whipping poor migrants” tale neing manufactured by the administration and the media, but it warrants a full post. I’ll just note the smoking gun huminahumina response from DHS Secretary Mayorkas last week when Peter Doocy of Fox News—gee, why don’t the reporters from other outlets ask administration officials tough questions?—asked him why President Joe Biden accused Border Patrol agents of “strapping migrants.” Doocy asked, “You said on Saturday — or rather, on the 20th, ‘To ensure control of the horse, long reins are used.’ The person who took these photos of the Border Patrol agents says, ‘I’ve never seen them whip anyone.’ So, why is the President out there today talking about people being ‘strapped?'” Hmmm. Because Biden has always been a shameless hack? Because nobody tells him what’s going on? Because creating sympathy for illegals while villifying law enforcement officials for doing their jobs is central to the Left’s open borders agenda? Mayorkas babbled,”So let me, um, uh, let me correct, um, uh, the statements in your question, if I may…” When Doocy (you know, for someone who only has his job because of outrageous nepotism, he has been performing admirably) countered, “They’re direct quotes,” the Secretary of Homeland Security said, “It was on Friday when I was, uh — actually, it was on Monday, I believe, uh, when I was in Del Rio, uh, on the ground, uh, and I made the statements without having seen the images. I saw the images on the flight back, and I made the statement that I did with respect to what those images suggested.The horses have long reins, and, uh, the image in the photograph that we all saw that horrified the nation, raised serious questions about what it— about what occurred and of — as I stated quite clearly — it conjured up images of what has occurred in the past.”

That’s as close to an admission of deliberate obfuscation for political ends as you’re likely to see. What should matter is what was really happening, not what images were conjured up by confirmation bias and or what photos “suggested.”

1. The Great Stupid comes for “Lonesome Dove.” As a lifetime Western movies aficionado, I have concluded that the TV mini-series of Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” is the greatest Western ever made. Watching it again yesterday to cheer me up after I woke up with Churchill’s “Black Dog” on my head, I was nauseated to find that the streaming version now carries a warning about “Culturally insensitive portrayals.” After all, the story about cowboys moving a herd to Montana told from their perspective included some dangerous and violent Indians. Of course, for every mean Native American there were about ten cruel and ruthless whites, but somehow I don’t think the trigger warning was referring to them.

2. Speaking of the “Zimmerman murdered innocent teen Trayvon Martin” lie…New York Times drama critic Salamishah Margaret Tillet , the Henry Rutgers Professor of African American Studies and Creative Writing who is essentially an activist uninterested in fair or objective analysis, meaning that her reviews are propaganda, wrote about the re-opened Broadway play “Pass Over” by writing of the playwright,

“Nwandu originally wrote “Pass Over” in response to the killing of Trayvon Martin, seeking to channel the grief and rage that so many African Americans were grappling with. Its latest iteration, she has said, is speaking to the widespread racial justice protests of the summer of 2020. As a result, “Pass Over” is one of the few works of art that really charts Black Lives Matter as a movement responding to the racial justice needs of its day.”

But if the play, which involves a white cop called “master” threatening and menacing them was a response to Martin’s death, it was a response based on media lies and deliberately divisive warping of facts to vilify whites and police. That rage and grief was manufactured for political ends, and the investigation and the trial exploring Martin’s death had to be deliberately ignored for Tillet to write such a paragraph and for the Times to publish it.

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“The View’s” Joy Behar, Making Americans Ignorant And Unethical From Coast To Coast

Behar

Freedom of speech guarantees citizens a right to express idiotic opinions, but it does not ensure the opportunity to spread stupidity far and wide using network TV news shows. The fact that ABC lets idiot loudmouth Joy Behar out of her cage every week to issue opinions from a place of authority that actively make viewers less informed and more ethically obtuse is irresponsible beyond contempt. Behar’s only value, and it is substantial, is to provide a prominent profile of how millions of addled citizens think. It’s bad enough that a C-level comedienne thinks like Behar, but there are millions like her. She should not, however, be allowed to make drooling clones with the assistance of the American Broadcasting Corporation.

Yesterday, the ladies of “The View” were discussing the Clinton-Lewinsky TV mini-series—I would watch a Hungarian-dubbed version of “Pootie Tang” before I would spend a second viewing that—whether Monica Lewinsky should be considered a victim, and whether Clinton faced sufficient consequences from his actions. [Of course Lewinsky was a victim, one of a powerful sociopath and sexual predator who exploited a star-struck intern while neglecting his duties and betraying his wife.] Warning was supplied, I guess, by the presence of the spectacularly ridiculous Ana Navarro, who let viewers beware that violent head explosions were coming by her fatuous statement that today’s Democrats would have impeached Clinton because they “tend to hold themselves and their own accountable and to a higher standard.” 

Yes, she really said that, as the White House still is occupied by Joe Biden, whom Democrats put there despite his having photo albums filled with Joe groping, sniffing, kissing and pawing wincing girls and females as he served as Vice-President and U.S. Senator. High standards!

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“The Queen’s Gambit” Gambit

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In the final episode (mercifully) of the inexplicably popular Netflix series“The Queen’s Gambit,” an announcer delivering chess commentary while the show’s annoying fictional heroine, portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy (above right), competes in a climactic tournament in Moscow says,“The only unusual thing about her, really, is her sex, and even that’s not unique in Russia.There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never faced men.”

That wasn’t true. Nona Gaprindashvili, the first woman to be named a grandmaster, faced and defeated many male players. Now 80 years old and living in Tbilisi, Georgia, Nona is furious about the false representation of her career. She’s suing Netflix in Federal District Court in Los Angeles, seeking millions of dollars in damages for what her lawyers claim is a “devastating falsehood, undermining and degrading her accomplishments before an audience of many millions.”

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Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 9/16/2021: On Idiots, The Donner Party, Statistical Reparations And The Evil NFL

Frozen Statue

I had to get out of bed to write this; I’ve been exhausted all day. I better not be getting old. That will really tick me off…

***

I’m working on a post called “Cannibal Ethics,” and this obviously led me to the Donner Party, the group of doomed pioneers who had to eat each other to survive when they were caught in a storm in the Sierra Nevadas in 1846. If I knew that they had come to their fate because of a negligent author, I had forgotten it: a fake expert named Lansford Hastings had written “The Emigrant’s Guide to Oregon and California” recommending a short-cut (which actually increased the trip’s mileage) to the Promised Land (this was before the two areas were ruined by reality-free politics)He had never actually traveled the new trail when he published the book. He did finally do it shortly before the Donner party set out, and helped sealed its fate by leaving paper notes along the way that further misled them. One told the already desperate wagon train they could cross Utah’s Great Salt Lake desert in a faction of the time it actually took. The group ran out of water in the middle of the salt plain about half-way across.

If I compiled a list of U.S. Ethics Villains throughout history—I’ve considered it—Hastings would be on it. After he left the U.S. for Brazil following the Civil War, he wrote a sequel of sorts to the book that killed so many of the Donner Party: “The Emigrant’s Guide to Brazil.” (1867).

1. Tales of The Great Stupid, Headline Division. From the Boston Globe: “How did Boston miss its moment to elect a Black leader?” The reporter, Stephanie Ebert just can’t imagine why he three Black candidates in the mayoral primary were eliminated in favor of Michelle Wu, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and Annissa Essaibi George, whose father was a Tunisian Arab Muslim. But, Ebert complains, there won’t be “any candidate who knows the weight of being Black in a city with deep racial scars.”

Maybe the three black candidates were not seen as skilled, experienced, or qualified as the primary’s winners. Or is Ebert saying that being black should be enough to qualify someone to be mayor?

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