Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Here Is How Free Expression Is Valued In Those Wonderful English-Speaking Countries The US Should Be More Like…

In Australia

Australian Cardinal George Pell was convicted in Melbourne this week on five counts of child sexual abuse. This made him  the most senior official ever found guilty in the Catholic Church’s apparently endless child sexual-abuse scandals. The judge in the case, Peter Kidd, immediately subjected news of Pell’s conviction to a suppression order, the Australian equivalent of a gag order, on press coverage. Australian courts impose such orders to shield defendants from negative publicity that could prejudice future jurors in upcoming trials, and  Pell faces another trial next year on a separate set of abuse charges dating to the 1970s. Of course, the more the public knows about how many predator priests the Catholic Church has facilitated, covered up for, and allowed to prey on children, the safer it is. I am not convinced that this suppression of news isn’t a sop to the Church. Judge Kidd told defense and prosecution attorneys that some members of the news media are facing “the prospect of imprisonment and indeed substantial imprisonment” if found guilty of breaching his gag order

Never mind:  the web, social media and the Streisand Effect foiled the judge. Pell and the charges against him were quickly the subject of thousands of tweets and shared posts on Facebook. The posts included links to websites and blogs where the news was available, including NPR, the Daily Beast and the National Catholic Reporter.

The Washington Post reported the conviction, but the New York Times did not. The Times’ deputy general counsel, David McCraw, gave the excuse that the newspaper is abiding by the court’s order in Australia “because of the presence of our bureau there. It is deeply disappointing that we are unable to present this important story to our readers in Australia and elsewhere. . . . Press coverage of judicial proceedings is a fundamental safeguard of justice and fairness. A free society is never well served by a silenced press.”

So don’t be silent then.

The Associated Press and Reuters news services also did not report Pell’s conviction.  Both services have bureaus in Australia that could face potential liability. Tell me again about how courageous news organizations are.

In Canada…

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/15/2018: A Good Firing, A Good Trend, A Bad Law, An Unethical Complaint, And A Tardy Confession

Rain rain go away; come back another day; Jackie wants to GET THE %$#^&@!!! Christmas tree up and start the annual  10 hour HELL of decorating it!

1. Is Facebook blocking Ethics Alarms? Several readers have reported that their efforts to share posts have been foiled. I can’t post links to it; my last several tries on two different posts have gleaned an error message. No one has shared a post to Facebook anywhere for nine days, which is very unusual. The last Ethics Alarms post with any shares was the “Kiss the Girl” post, which had quite a few.

I also have no idea what to do if Facebook is blocking the blog, and not much motivation to do it. Increasingly I am finding that my Facebook friends are making me lose respect for them with their constant virtue-signaling to the Left and refusal to accept any contrary opinions without stooping to personal insults. The “Facebook community” standards are incompatible with ethics commentary? I’m not surprised, and it can bite me.

I have literally never written anything that would justify social media censorship, assuming fair, responsible and free speech-respecting social media.

2. “The best people.” Ryan Zinke is finally leaving the Cabinet, and the President will be looking for a new Interior Secretary. The former Montana congressman and Navy Seal had an ethically tone-deaf and politically controversial tenure, facing nearly 20 federal investigations ― one of which his agency’s inspector general recently referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal violations. Like Trump himself, Zinke was incapable of recognizing that when you embark on a controversial policy mission, you have to stay squeaky clean, or the news media bring you down. This is simply stupid, arrogant and self-destructive.  Zinke should have been fired months ago.

3. Hooray!The NFL isn’t as criminal as it used to be! I guess that’s something. It was reported that “only” 36  incidents occurred in 2018 that ended in the arrest of an NFL player, down (so far) from 49 last year, and 80 a decade ago.

I guarantee that you can count the parallel incidents in Major League Baseball on one hand, every year.

4. Obamacare was declared unconstitutional in federal court, whatever that means.  I don’t know at this point whether the decision has a prayer of surviving. I do know that the legislation is and was a fiasco, and that this is what one gets when a party decides to rush major legislation through while by-passing the other party, a President repeatedly lies about it to get public support based on misinformation, and the bill is voted on with few, if any, legislators actually reading the law.

I also continue to marvel at the number of otherwise intelligent Americans who continue to idolize President Obama, who is responsible for this mess and claims it as his “signature achievement”—all while the same Americans rail about President Trump’s “lies.” He has not made a single misstatement in the past two years that has been a fraction as consequential as Obama’s lie about the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

One More Reason Not To Watch “Bull”

Harassed and harasser. Guess who stayed employed?

“Bull,” the CBS legal drama starring Michael Weatherly as a roguish, brilliant jury consultant who violates so many ethics rules on behalf of the submissive lawyer who employs him that it actively makes viewers dumber, reached my boycott list almost immediately. It’s a shame, because I could get a lively post, sometimes several, out of virtually any episode, since the show’s respect for ethics, professional and otherwise is non-existent.

Now there’s another good reason to avoid “Bull.” CBS has investigators checking the depth and length of the cultural norms of sexual assault, harassment and cover-ups at CBS, where CEO Les Moonves was recently fired after it was revealed that he was a serial sexual predator. That was odd, too, because the other networks enjoyed painting Fox News as a den of sexism after founder Roger Aisles was exposed as exactly the sort of pig who would make his female talent dye their hair blonde and dress like cocktail hostesses. They also had their news reporters sneering and preaching about evil Candidate Trump boasting about “grabbing them by the pussy” while their execs and stars were actually doing it. (My guess? Every one of the major networks has corrupt, harassment-supporting cultures like Fox and CBS. Every single one.) One of the revelations was that actress Eliza Dushku, the bad vampire slayer on “Buffy,” was harassed repeatedly by “Bull” star Michael Weatherly, and when she complained about it, was fired. To cover-up, Dushku was paid nine million dollars as damages and hush money. As you know, this must have been a campaign financing violation.

The story is disgusting. Read it and retch. to summarize, Weatherly, who apparently is very much like the charming jerks he plays, pet making sexual comments to Dushku, calling her “Legs” on the set, suggesting that she participate in “threesomes” and similar comments. Soon other men on the show were doing the same. Dushku, who had been signed up play a continuing role on the show, complained—as she should have—and Weatherly had her fired. Then CBS paid to cover it up.

Nice.

It is amazing to me that even in the ethics cesspool of show business, this behavior continues to happen, and big corporations continue to allow it, indeed facilitate it. Weatherly says he was misunderstood, that he was joking—like when he said in front of the cast and crew that he would bend her over his leg and spank her, or when he said he would take . Dushku to his “rape van,” which he said was filled with phallic objects and lubricant—that this is just the way he is, that he didn’t mean anything by it and is sorry that he upset anybody.

Bull.

This is classic sexual harassment, and would have been rude, unprofessional and abusive conduct before the term “sexual harassment” was invented.

I have had many female peers and subordinates in my embarrassingly diverse career, including many who were single, attractive, and who caused my heart to skip a beat every time I saw them. I never once made a sexually suggestive comment to any of them; it would not have occurred to me to do so. The reason is that I was raised properly to be respectful to women, and because I instinctively understood that the workplace, even the confusing workplace of show business, was not a locus where basic manners and common sense were suspended. This shouldn’t be hard. That particular ethics alarm should be installed and fully functional by the time a child is 10.

Weatherly, of course, as the star of a successful, popular and lucrative show, assumed that he was immune from discipline, and he was, sadly, right. What should have happened was that the producers should have called him in to grim scene with lawyers present. He should have been told that his conduct was not only stupid and vulgar but illegal. He should have been required to apologize to the actress and to make an appropriate statement to the cast and crew. Finally, he should have been told that a single instance of this kind of conduct, or any hint or retaliation against Dushku, would result in his dismissal for cause.

Disney and ABC, you will recall, fired Roseanne Barr from her own show for a single tweet. Even a CBS show had acted decisively when “Criminal Minds” fired star Thomas Gibson for kicking a writer. Ah, but one instance was racism, and the other was violence. The tragedy is that too many organizations and powerful men, especially in Hollywood and Washington, D.C., still don’t see sexual harassment as all that big a deal. No, it certainly doesn’t help the the President of the United States also doesn’t think it’s a big deal, but you can’t blame CBS’s conduct on him.

There is no excuse for this. There was never any excuse for this.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/14/2018: PolitiFact Lies About The Lie Of The Year, And What’s This Taboo Stuff Bing is Blathering On About?

Good morning.

1. So you think baseball ethics controversies end with the season? Not at Ethics Alarms!

  • Did you know that baseball has its own Colin Kaepernick, sort of? Free-agent catcher Bruce Maxwell can’t find a team, though he was once considered the front-runner to be the Oakland A’s starting catcher.  In 2017 Maxwell,  who is white, became the first and only major leaguer to kneel during the National Anthem. The buzz coming out of baseball’s winter meetings was that taking a knee was enough to make him persona non-grata among baseball owners.

Of course, the fact that Maxwellwas arrested on a gun charge in 2017 and later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, and also played poorly last season in the minor leagues doesn’t help. “This is not a Colin Kaepernick situation, said an anonymous source at the meetings. “This is if Colin Kaepernick had knelt for the anthem and also been arrested for a gun crime.”

Except that things like gun crimes are not that big a deal in the NFL…

  • In a debate with baseball commentator Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa inadvertently gave a lesson in why conflicts of interests are a problem while simultaneously showing that he has no idea what a conflict is. Russo correctly protested that Harold Baines, recently a shock election to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a 16 member committee that included  close associates of Baines, was unqualified, and noted that several members of the committee, includiing Baines’ long-time manager LaRussa, had a conflict of interest. LaRussa’s rebuttal: “Do you think the people who know him better than the average expert, fan or even other baseball executives, have actually been teammates with him … when they speak with more knowledge about the type of player he was, I think that speaks more to his credit, not less.”

No, Tony. Those who knew and admired him are biased, and Baines should have been elected or not elected by a panel that knew him no better or less than it knew the other candidates. That Baines’ pals have inside knowledge that he, let’s say,  likes puppies, always held the door open for the manager’s mother, once bailed a team mate out of jail and often played despite a sore toe has nothing to do with his qualifications for the Hall. And LaRussa has a law degree! Maybe this explains his ultimate career choice. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, The Internet

The Rockettes Look Mostly White. So What?

In a classic cheap shot, race-baiting, virtue-signaling feature that is now standard fare in the mainstream news media, the New York Times implied that the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes are racist. The article, headlined in the print edition “Where All Your Christmases Are White.” included a cutline, “At the Rockettes holiday show I saw, there were more camels onstage than black women.” That made me read the article. I wasn’t aware that the EEOC had a camel/black woman percentage requirement. You learn something every day.

After pointing a bony finger and whispering “racist,” the author does note that while only one of the 40 dancers in the performance she saw appeared to be black, this was something of a deceptive proportion. “Among the 80 dancers who make up the Rockettes corps, 10 percent are women of color, a spokeswoman for the company told me; you are only seeing half the cast during any given show because there are so many performances to fill — on weekends, up to six a day,” Ginia Bellafante writes. Ah. So if she saw the other troupe of 40, there would have been seven black dancers. (OK,  “dancers of color,” whatever THAT means.) Not only would seven have outnumbered the camels,  it would make a percentage of  17.5.  12.3% of the population is black. Tell me what the point of this feature is again, New York Times?

Ginia also hints that the problem may be that the kickline looks too white. ” [A]ny variance in skin tone is obscured by lighting and makeup that have the effect of creating a stultifying homogeneity, which is the point and amounts, ultimately, to an eerie celebration of whiteness,” she writes. You know, I’ve seen the Rockettes many times, not that I don’t find kick-lines boring or have a single vivid memory of a performance. I never sat there, watching these impossibly tall, long-legged women kick over their heads, and spent my time counting how many of the looked white, or thought of the performance as having anything to do with race at all. Doing so would be like watching an exciting NBA game, where about 75% of the players are black, and think of it as  “an eerie celebration of blackness.” As they say, Ginia, if the only one hearing the dog-whistle is you, you’re the dog. Continue reading

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Lost Tuesday Ethics Scraps, 12/11/18: Statues, Tucker Carlson And “To Kill A Mockingbird”

Good whatever it is.

I guess I’m not as recovered as I thought: one high energy ethics presentation to a sluggish audience today and I was fried. This better not be encroaching old age, or I’ll be pissed.

1. Thank you for making the open forum this morning active: I wish you all had been in my audience today. I haven’t read any of it yet (I did finally get your excellent comment out of moderation, Michael R!); I’m trying to get my own posts up.

2. Stolen art ethics. No doubt: the looting of art from the Old World by American tycoons and museums is a long-time ethics scandal, and the international court battles settling the disputes will continue for a long, long time. The argument over a 2000-year-old bronze statue, known as “Victorious Youth between the Getty Villa and Italy, however, is not as clear as most. Italy’s highest court has ordered that the sculpture should be returned to Italy. Currently, it is on display at the villa on the outskirts of Los Angeles, which is part of the J. Paul Getty Museum. It was retrieved from Adriatic waters by Italian fishermen in 1964, and sold to successive collectors and dealers. After a decade-long legal battle, Italy’s Court of Cassation ruled  that the statue should be confiscated and brought back to Italy, rejecting the Getty’s appeal. Getty is not giving in.

The ethics as well as the law is murky. This is not a case like King Tut, where Indiana Jones-style archeologists and adventurers, just uncovered foreign cultural treasures and took them home. Before acquiring the prized artifact, the Getty undertook a comprehensive, five-year study of whether the statue could be purchased legally and in good faith. Their due diligence extensive analysis of international, Italian, American and California law and of Italian court decisions pertaining to the work.

In 1968, Italy’s Court of Cassation ruled that there was no evidence that the statue belonged to the Italian state; after all, it is Greek. Although the fishermen took the statue onto Italian soil, the court did not find that its brief presence in Italy transformed the sculpture into a component of Italian cultural heritage. Eventually the statue made its way to a German art dealer who put the statue up for sale. According to the Getty, in 1973, acting on a request from Italy, German police initiated an investigation into whether the German dealer had received stolen goods. The investigation was dropped for lack of evidence of wrongdoing. In 1977, the Getty purchased the bronze in Britain for almost $4 million from a gallery affiliated with the German dealer. The bronze has now been publicly exhibited, studied and cared for at the Getty for 40 years. Continue reading

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Fire Lisa Mars

I usually hesitate to call for anyone to be fired, though there have been exceptions. In this case, however, the call is mandatory on ethical grounds. It is unethical for a school dedicated to the arts to hand oversight to an gross incompetent who doesn’t comprehend the arts she is supposedly responsible for teaching; it is unethical for someone to take on this responsibility who is wildly unqualified for the job; and it is unethical for that individual to act in a way that undermines the mission of the school she heads.

I have just fairly described Lisa Mars, currently the principal at the Fiorello LaGuardia High School, the high school “of music, arts the performing arts” made famous in the movie and TV show, “Fame.”

On opening night of a school production of “The Sound of Music,” she ordered all Nazi-themed props and set pieces struck. They are offensive, you see. Never mind that the show is set during Germany’s take-over of Austria as the Third Reich was expanding. Never mind that Nazi Germany and its officers are major elements in the plot, or that the plot is based on the real-life escape of the singing Von Trapp family from the Nazis. Never mind that theater is a representational art form. Stage deaths are not real killings, stage rape isn’t really rape, stage racism isn’t really racism, and stage representations of Nazi symbols do not promote fascism. Most grade-school actors can grasp this basic principle, but not the head of a school for the performing arts.

“This is a very liberal school, we’re all against Nazis,” one sophomore said. “But to take out the symbol is to try to erase history.” Yes, that too. “Obviously the symbols are offensive,” he added. “But in context, they are supposed to be.”

Make him principal. Continue reading

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