Ethics Quiz: National Anthem Ethics

You can’t really blame Frank Drebin for massacring “The Star Spangled Banner” in “The Naked Gun”—after all, he had to impersonate an opera singer so he could get on the field and protect Queen Elizabeth from being assassinated by Reggie Jackson. Rosanne Barr’s rendition, however…

…was something else again, an obnoxious, deliberate and unfunny insult by any ethical standards.

But what is your ethics verdict on this rendition of the National Anthem sprung as a surprise on the packed Busch Stadium in St. Louis, when the Cardinals’ veteran starting pitcher of 17 years, Adam Wainwright, now entering his final season, stepped to the microphone in uniform on Opening Day and sang…

…one of the most off-key, pitch-shaky versions of the song ever heard outside of a saloon, or “The Naked Gun”?

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is it ethical to sing the National Anthem as a solo in public when you can’t do it well?

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“Ick” Or Ethics? Michael Crichton’s 1981 Film “Looker” Is Coming True…

In “Looker,” a 1981 science fiction thriller starring Albert Finney, James Coburn and Susan Dey, involves a high tech research firm that concludes that real, live models, even after cosmetic surgery, can’t approach the physical perfection that will optimally influence consumers. Models are offered a contracts to have their faces and figures scanned to create 3D computer-generated avatars, indistinguishable from them, which are animated for use in commercials. Once their bodies duplicated digitally, they get lifetime paychecks (though not for as much as Miguel Cabrera, currently at $400,410,623 and counting, gets) and can retire, since their computer-generated, more perfect dopplegangers will be doing their work for them. For some reason, the evil tech firms has all of the models murdered, but that part of the plot is irrelevant here.

42 years later, Levi Strauss & Co. announced in a press release yesterday that it is partnering with an AI company to “increase the number and diversity of our models for our products in a sustainable way.” Yeah, those digital models in “Looker” were also “sustainable,” even though the models’ flesh and blood models were disposable. Levi’s will test the use of AI models to “supplement” real-life models later in 2023.

“While AI will likely never fully replace human models for us”, “—-yeah, tell it to Susan Dey—-we are excited for the potential capabilities this may afford us for the consumer experience,” said Dr. Amy Gershkoff Bolles, global head of digital and emerging technology strategy at Levi Strauss & Co, sounding a lot like James Coburn, the evil advertising genius in “Looker.”

Meanwhile, in arguably related news, Levi Strauss & Co. will be laying off 800 employees — almost 20% of its corporate jobs.

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The “Shizzle My Nizzle” Saga

There are a lot of angles that I was tempted to apply to this Weird Tale from The Great Stupid about a longtime, popular talking head for a Jackson, Miss. news broadcast. It is obviously a “when ethics alarms don’t ring” story, for example. It could be used as evidence of persistent racial insensitivity in Mississippi, or the South, or the nation. The episode might be cited as more evidence that public apologies are usually meaningless, and that after-the-fact trainings for employees who utter words that suggest they have, let’s say, racial, gender and ethnic biases are window dressing and just about useless.

However, I’m going to cite the episode as an example of how broadcast journalists are hired more for their non-intellectual assets than any genuine talent in analysis and reporting, and also to illustrate how incomprehensible the current rules are regarding who can say what during The Great Stupid.

Barbie Bassett (above) was a popular news anchor, weather lady and a traffic reporter for WLBT, an NBC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi. The former beauty queen—beauty queens are innately talented as journalists, did you know that?—has been a fixture at the station for 23 years, but hasn’t been seen on the air since March 8 though the station hasn’t make any official announcement. She has apparently been sacked, since her image and any traces of her have been purged from the station’s website.

Bassett’s demise was triggered when she participated in a segment on a new variety of wine from Snoop Dogg’s Snoop Cali Blanc wine collection. (Now there’s news the public has a right to know!) Barbie was chattering away and quoted Snoop’s trademark gibberish, “Fo’ shizzle, my nizzle!” “Nizzle” is Snoop for “nigga.” Even though the rapper is featured in national TV ads for a couple of products and treated as a cute and harmless celebrity, white people aren’t allowed to say “nizzle,” though heaven knows why they would want to.

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Ethics Quiz: Michelangelo Porn

Oh, let’s start out this rainy weekend (here in Northern Virginia, at least) with an ethics quiz on a theme that will be recurring on Ethics Alarms today if all goes as planned (which it seldom does).

Tallahassee (Florida) Classical School principal Hope Carrasquilla was given a choice between being fired or resigning following complaints by parents over a recent art lesson in the charter school that included Michelangelo’s famous “David” statue and his Sistine Chapel “Creation of Adam” fresco painting.

After all, pee-pees were involved.

The stated mission of the Tallahassee Classical School is “training the minds and improving the hearts of young people through a content-rich classical education in the liberal arts and sciences, with instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue.” The school also maintains that “reform of American public education, to be successful and good, must be built on a foundation of classical liberal arts learning.” Presumably parents who enrolled their children in the school were aware of this orientation.

Moreover, it is fair to say that “David” is just about as iconic a symbol of the classical arts as one could name, with perhaps the Venus de Milo being the only competition. Yet after three parents complained about their 6th graders being exposed to images of “David” (and the naked Adam in the Sistine Chapel painting), the school’s principal was forced out.

Conservative Hillsdale College provides the curriculum, training, and resources for the school as well as for other public schools through Hillsdale’s K-12 support. This was not an example of parents rising up against an extreme left-wing curriculum. Yet one of the parents famously denounced “David” as “pornography.”

Your Ethics Alarms Fine Arts Ethics Quiz of the Day is….

Is it inappropriate and irresponsible to display “David” in an art course for Sixth Graders?

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Ethics Quiz: The Unmasked 97-Year-Old Driver

Some background is necessary. Last month, by far the stupidest TV show currently on the air and arguably one of the top ten most ridiculous shows in U.S. entertainment history proved that metaphorical jewels van be found in garbage. On the pile of over-produced, pablum-for-morons, steaming idiot box crap called “The Masked Singer,” the scene in the video above emerged. Dick Van Dyke, now 97, was the secret singer (and dancer) disguised in a full-body costume worthy of a Disneyland character parade. The reaction of the studio audience, judges and Van Dyke himself when he was “unmasked” was unquestionably sincere as well as moving; yeah, it choked me up (though I’m easy.)

The episode, which shows the “Mary Poppins” icon to be something of a freak of nature (but we knew that when he performed a dance routine in the sequel to “Mary Poppins” a few years ago), is relevant to the issue on Ethics Alarms. Yesterday, Dick was behind the wheel of his a 2018 Lexus LS 500 in Malibu when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into gate, sustaining minor injuries.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is it responsible for a 97-year-old to be driving, and for society to permit one to drive?

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Ethics Hero And “Bite Me!” Déjà Vu: San Jose Sharks Goalie James Reimer [Corrected]

You may not believe this, given how often it is I have to do it, but I hate repeating myself. This post is essentially identical to this one, from January: same issue, same pandering, power-abusing sports league (the NHL), same awards (Ethics Hero and A “Bite Me!”), same despicable news media coverage; different team (the Sharks in place of the Flyers) and different player (Sharks goalie James Reimer replacing the Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov…during the game against the Islanders,).

As in the case of the Flyers two months ago, the Sharks hosted a Pride Night (what someone’s sexual activities have to do with hockey and why they are something to be proud of remains a mystery to me), and announced that, in addition to offering silly LGTBQ+ themed, “Great Stupid”classic items like these…

…during the game against the Islanders,and promoting it with pandering blather like this…

…the team also committed its players to wearing special pride-themed jerseys during pre-game warm-ups. Well, you can’t do that, not ethically. It’s compelled speech by an employer with a threat of negative consequences for any employee who doesn’t comply. I would (and have) refused to go along with such edicts as an employee in the past even when I happened to agree with the sentiments I was ordered to endorse.

Like Provorov, the Sharks goalie declined to be pushed into endorsing something he chose not to, stating,

“For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian — not just in title, but in how I choose to live my life daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and follow him. I have no hate in my heart for anyone, and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness. In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life,”

He should not have been placed in a position where he had to make such a statement. (I would have preferred to see a shorts statement about compelled speech and political endorsements in general, but that’s just me.)

Predictably, and just as in the case of Reimer, the Woke Borg, Mainstream Media Division, attacked. One hockey writer described Reimer as “absolutely a homophobe” and beclowned himself by writing, “Here’s also what I believe, Jesus would unequivocally love and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. He’d be the first to wear a rainbow.” Another sports writer wrote that Reimer is “hiding behind the Bible to refuse to endorse gay people having rights and existing.” A bit less mainstream, a newsletter about sexism in sports spat out, “Under the umbrella of disingenuous bullshit, you can fuck right off with this statement. If you truly believed the queer community is welcome in hockey, you’d wear the shirt. You do not get to have it both ways. Jesus is not impressed.” More assumptions about that well-known hockey fan, Jesus of Nazareth!

The NHL and the Sharks are the ethics villains here for putting their players in this position.

The NHL and the Sharks are the ethics villains here for putting their players in this position. The Sharks tried to both double down and weasel out, issuing this:

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Bad Shakespeare Ethics

Off-off Broadway, in Brooklyn, a small professional theater company in Brooklyn called Target Margin Theater is presenting, it claims, “Pericles,” one of William Shakespeare’s less-celebrated dramas, and I’m being kind. The play is a mess, and one might wonder why a 1608 play that only survives because Shakespeare’s name is on it keeps getting productions at all.

Well, to ask the question is to answer it: “Pericles” gets produced now and then because Shakespeare’s name is on it. It’s the cognitive dissonance scale at work: the Bard is so high on the scale that he even elevates the worthless junk he wrote, kind-of wrote or badly wrote like “Timon of Athens” and “Titus Andronicus” out of deep, deep negative territory on the scale because he is held in such high regard. Surely something produced by a genius must have redeeming qualities, directors and producers reason, and maybe we can be the ones to find them after all these centuries!

It is a bit like recording a cover of “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?” because it’s a Beatles song.”

But the Target Margin Theater production of the Bard’s Bomb tries some things. For example, the convoluted plot of “Pericles” gets started with the revelation that a nasty king, having lost his wife, has turned to his beautiful daughter “with whom the father liking took and her to incest did provoke.” However in this production, that line is rendered as, “The dude sleeps with his daughter.”

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What A Happy Coinkydink! In A DEI-Obsessed Year, The Most Deserving Artists For Oscars Just Happened To Be Asian And Black!

The 2023 Academy Awards seemed determined to test just how gullible and naive movie fans are. Integrity? What’s integrity? Just as complaints about the dearth of “enough” Oscar nominations being bestowed on African-American actors and designer magically resulted in “historic” numbers of awards to blacks in subsequent years, recent publicized complaints about how “Asian actors have been underrepresented” in the awards just happened to be addressed by “historic” numbers of Asian winners in multiple categories at the 2023 Oscars.

All because they were the “best,” of course. What, you don’t trust Hollywood?

Yes, yes, I’m sure they were all “deserving.” Well, all but Jamie Lee Curtis as “Best Supporting Actress,” perhaps, since her award was pretty obviously that hoary Oscar tradition, a well-liked veteran performer nearing the end of the line getting a prize for participation and good sportsmanship having little to do with the performance. (See: James Coburn, Hellen Hayes, George Burns, Don Ameche, etc.). But seriously, how long can the Oscars maintain the charade that its nominations and awards are anything more than calculated political virtue-signaling calibrated to match the progressive obsession of the moment after this?

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Time-Warp Ethics: Observations On “The Cher Show” (1975)


  • The song “I’m a Woman,” by famed songwriting duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, was written in 1962 and was once considered a standard. Is it politically incorrect today, since the entire definition of “woman” has been thrown into ambiguity and disrepute? I would say that it can’t be performed today. Is that reversible? Should it be?
  • The opening “girl-talk” between Welch and Cher is truly cringey. It’s hard to imagine U.S.culture returning to a point where that would be considered cute, except as satire. Both Raquel (who died this year) and Cher were famously capable and tough pros–maybe they were engaging in satire at the time…satire that reinforced sexist stereotypes while mocking them.
  • Brava to Cher for being willing to appear in that costume next to Welch. That’s generous performing and the mark of an ethical (and confident) host. She was willing to highlight her guest’s assets even they overshadowed her own. Many divas then and now would never tolerate such an unflattering comparison.
  • The Citizen Free Press, which dug up this clip today, fatuously introduced it by asking “Does Raquel have a better voice than Cher?” Morons. Talk about no good deed going unpunished: This is what Cher gets for picking a number for the two to perform that has a tiny range right in Welch’s vocal wheelhouse. Again, Cher was letting her guest shine at her own expense. No, Raquel Welch did not have a better voice than Cher, or one that was nearly as good. However, the video shows that she was capable of filling more than the sex symbol pigeon-hole she was stuck into by Hollywood for most of her career.
  • She could dance, too. (Cher could not.) This clip of Raquel giving her all to entertain the troops in Vietnam is a reminder that she too could be generous: