Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! You’re Cancelled, You Racist.

Suess birthday

Today is Dr. Theodore Geisel’s birthday. Better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, the author and illustrator of such classic children’s books as “The Cat in the Hat,” “Horton Hears A Who,” and my personal favorite, “Fox in Socks” because it drives my wife crazy, was born this day in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1904. Geisel, who used his middle name and his mother’s maiden name as his nom de plume, wrote 48 books (even some for adults). His work has now sold over 200 million copies and been translated into multiple languages. His style of verse and illustrating have been imitated and parodied countless times. Jesse Jackson even read “Green Eggs and Ham” on Saturday Night Live.

Nobody ever thought of Dr. Seuss books as “racist” until recent fads, events , cancel culture and The Great Stupid washed over the land. Well, OK, not “nobody.” Ethics Alarms had a post about the Seuss Museum in Springfield cutting a piece out of a Dr. Seuss mural because three prominent children’s authors who had been invited to attend the Children’s Literature Festival at the Museum threatened to boycott the event on the theory that the mural, painted to replicate a scene from Dr. Seuss’s first book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,”  was, they claimed, offensive. It had, said one of the grandstanding hysterics, a “jarring image” of a man with slanted eyes and a coolie’s hat using chopsticks to eat rice, because, apparently, Chinese people never wore such hats, don’t use chopsticks and hate rice. I wrote, while awarding the museum an Ethics Dunce designation (I’m thinking about adding a “Weenie of the Week”…what do you think?):

There is nothing racially jarring about Geisel’s painting of a “Chinaman” except to someone already looking for offense. Dr. Seuss’ drawings can be fairly termed cartoons. The definition of a cartoon is “a simple drawing showing the features of its subjects in a humorously exaggerated way.”  What are these juvenile children book authors asserting…that all cartoons are racially insensitive? That only cartoon of non-whites are offensive?…Normal Americans, meanwhile, understand the cartoon art form, recognize that features are exaggerated, and thus do not take drawings like those by Dr. Seuss (or Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons) as literal or malicious.

Well, silly me. I thought this was just a one-off moment of woke insanity: I have since learned that the Woke never sleep. In the post, I referenced “The Simpsons” and the fact that nobody had called for the elimination of Apu. Apu has since been cancelled as “racially insensitive.” The show also decreed that white voice actors can no longer portray black characters, so Dr. Hibbard has a new sound. Presumably “The Simpsons” will eventually seek a low IQ hick to voice “Cletis the Slack-Jawed Yokel” and a socially awkward MIT PhD. to do the voice of Prof. Frink.

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Ethics Heroes Of The Great Stupid: University Of Texas Alumni Donors

Back in October of last year, this Ethics Warm-up related the truly ridiculous story of how the University of Texas’s school song, and a beloved Texas folk song as well, was being called “racist,” and some of the schools football players were calling for it to be “cancelled.” University President Jay Hartzell reacted with Authentic Frontier Gibberish: who knows what he was saying? He outlined steps UT would take to “recruit, attract, retain and support Black students,” while his statement said that he preferred to “acknowledge and teach about all aspects of the origins of ‘The Eyes of Texas’ as we continue to sing it moving forward with a redefined vision that unites our community.” What he should have said was that there is nothing whatsoever racist about the song, and his university was not going to be bullied and race-baited into changing revered school traditions just so social justice warriors and woke mobs can add another notch to their metaphorical belts.

You see, the claim that the song has “racist undertones” is simply false. You will search for them in the lyrics fruitlessly:

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Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/27/2021: Confusion And Irony

Doomscrolling” is a relatively new term to describe the habit of constantly checking one’s smartphone for bad news. Jeffrey Hall, professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, has spent over 10 years studying technology use in conjunction with relationships. He says that the mass media is intentionally triggering the habit:

“People tend to have what’s called negativity bias when it comes to information. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s related to the idea that we needed to be more alert to threats. If things are not particularly surprising, we can reside in a very low energy state, but as soon as we see something that’s potentially threatening or worrisome, it piques our attention. The algorithms are picking up on what we engage in, and our attentive processes tend to focus on the more negative information….”

The professor recommends filtering social media as a remedy:

“You can also take active steps to recognize if there are people who are a part of your social network that seem to be fueling your sense of doom and gloom. You may want to consider unsubscribing or muting them. People are very loath to actually unfriend or stop following a person altogether. However, there are ways to not get that content. Oftentimes we’re very upset about content we see, but we don’t do anything to change what we see.”

I dunno, professor! The people on Facebook seem to revel in shared, if imaginary, gloom and doom. Most of them “muted” me when I pointed out that the false narratives about the President being some kind of a traitorous Nazi racist monster trying to end American democracy were media-driven, partisan scams. That should have been good news, and it happened to be true. Instead, my Facebook friends crawled back into their comforting imaginary crisis bubble and, from what I can see, virtually no one there reads any EA posts that I put up. Trump Derangement was (in fact, is) a fad, a pastime, and sort of a club that eventually metastasized into a mindless mob.

1. On the question of canceling artists of bad character…A note that on this date in 1936 Shirley Temple, who was all of seven years old, signed a deal paying her almost a million dollars per picture in today’s currency reminded me of this horrible story: when Shirley was an attractive teen seeking to transition away from child roles, she met with MGM’s legendary movie musical chief, Arthur Freed. He exposed himself at the interview, and Shirley’s mother decreed that she would have no further dealings with MGM.

First, how sick to you have to be to expose yourself to Shirley Temple (the term “scumbag” comes to mind)? Second, would that justify refusing to watch and enjoy all of the classic musicals he was responsible for at the studio, like “Singing in the Rain,” “The Bandwagon,” “Wizard of Oz,” “Gigi,” the Mickey and Judy films, “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and many more? How about all of the songs he wrote, including the ones used in “Singing’ in the Rain”? I love that movie, but it is presented as a celebration of Arthur Freed, as is another favorite, “That’s Entertainment!” And the guy exposed himself to Shirley Temple!!!

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Delayed Morning Warm-Up, 2/26/21: The Good, The Bad, And The Deranged…

Sorry-For-The-Delay

I just completed my ethics legal seminar, and wow, Trump Derangement runs deep. I kept getting these off topic questions about whether Trump’s lawyer in the impeachment trial was sanctionable for “lying.” Lawyers know better than that: unless you present false evidence (like, just as a wild example, claiming the rioters “killed’ and officer when they did not), advocacy for a client is immune from prosecution, liability or professional discipline. Finally an attendee messaged the group to say, “Can we please stop wasting everyone’s time with these Trump Derangement political questions?”

1. Good! As discussed here, country music superstar Morgan Wallen was suspended indefinitely by his record label and removed from hundreds of radio stations across the country after he used a “racial slur” that no news reporting organization would tell us what it was. OK, I did and will: he was captured on camera saying “nigger” in banter with his friends outside his home, and a malicious neighbor posted the video to social media. Now, I am happy to report, the efforts to “cancel” the singer appear to have largely flopped. The Times reports,

[H]is breakthrough release, “Dangerous: The Double Album” to No. 1 once again. It has held the top spot on Billboard’s album chart for six weeks in a row now, the longest run in the peak position since Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” last summer, and the only country album to spend its first six weeks at No. 1 since Garth Brooks’s “The Chase” in 1992. In its sixth week out, “Dangerous” had the equivalent of 93,000 sales in the United States, including 112 million streams and 10,000 copies sold as a full album, according to the tracking service MRC Data, which is owned by Billboard’s parent company. So far, “Dangerous,” which has 33 tracks in its “bonus” version, has logged just short of one billion streams in the United States.

Meanwhile, a country music station in Knoxville reversed its ban on Wallen’s records after polling listeners, who voted more than 9-1 to have them played again. Other stations are sure to follow, and not because the audience is full of racists who like to use that mysterious word, whatever it is, that the New York Times won’t specify, but because art is distinct from artists, and it is ignorant and foolish to confuse them. Art enriches our lives, and the more of it the better. Unfortunately, there is no correlation between virtue and talent.

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Tuesday Ethics Torture, 2/23/21: Stevey’s Going, Peter Suprises, Ian Shrugs, And California Dictates…

Torture of Brinvilliers, 17th Century

I spent a half-hour searching for ethics stories that made me feel good. All I found was more sources of gloom and depression. I have a headache, and no matter how many times I play, “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart!,” it doesn’t male me want to laugh, gambol and frolic….

1. Normally the baseball season’s impending approach would cheer me up, as it has for more than 50 years (and that’s another damn thing—I can’t possibly be that old), and this time, nothing. It’s like I’m dead inside. The twin curses of the Boston Red Sox pandering to Black Lives Matter and the team’s rehiring of a proven, and as far as I can see, unrepentant cheater as manager have apparent sucked all of the joy out of what has been a lifetime passion. Now I’m bothered more by the flaws that once I would have shrugged off, like this one: Ian Desmond, a 35-year-old outfielder with the Colorado Rockies, has “opted out” of playing for the second straight season.

“For now, I’ve decided to opt out of the 2021 season,” Desmond wrote on Instagram. “My desire to be with my family is greater than my desire to go back and play baseball under these circumstances. I’m going to continue to train and watch how things unfold.” Between the two seasons, the player has now walked away from a combined $13.56 million. He was owed $8 million this year and was set to make $5.56 million of his prorated $15 million salary last season, though the Rockies have a $2 million buyout for 2022.

Desmond, 35, hit .255 with 20 homers in 140 games in 2019. He’s not special. Yet he has made so much money in a slightly above average career that he can afford to toss away millions of dollars. An industry that pays its workers so much that they have no financial incentive to work makes no sense, and any team that would keep a player like Desmond, whose attitude is, “Eh, I don’t feel like playing baseball…maybe later,” is foolish. He’s healthy, relatively young, and his risks of serious health problems from the Wuhan virus are slim: my grocery store clerks face greater risks by far. Yechhh.

2. Slippery Slope Warning! The slippery slope is both a phenomenon and a fallacy, as when someone objects to something benign by arguing that it creates a theoretical slippery slope that is not benign. Of late however, the assault of the Woke has made slippery sloping a national pastime, particularly involving slopes that lead governments to dictate all manner of conduct that should be none of its damn business.

For example, in California, good little brain-washers Evan Low and Cristina Garcia introduced Assembly Bill 1084 to require gender neutral retail departments. The bill would add Part 2.57 (commencing with Section 55.7) to Division 1 of the Civil Code, to be titled “Gender Neutral Retail Departments.” The bill would enact a regulation based on “legislative findings” that there are unjustified differences in similar products traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys. Thus the bill, on the theory that it will be easier on the consumer if similar items are displayed closer to one another in one, undivided area of the retail sales floor, mandates eliminating gender distinctions in clothing sales. In addition, keeping similar items that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys separated incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate, the bill claims/

Ah! Illegal implication. Can’t have that!

I would assume that even an idiot could see that this is government indoctrination and has zero to do with serving consumers. If a retail company chooses to market clothing as unisex, they should go for it, but it is not the role of government to dictate how merchandise is displayed.

California is a contagious carrier of terrible and infectious ideas. The other states should be wearing big masks…

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A Culture That Regards “The Muppet Show” As Offensive Is A Culture Without Humor, Nuance, Or Proportion. Thanks, Disney!

Muppets

Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, made episodes of “The Muppet Show” available to subscribers last week, and attached the disclaimer:

“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together. Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe.”

This alone will prevent me from ever considering a subscription to Disney+. How many negative descriptions apply to that disclaimer, in addition to the obvious “stupid”? Shameless woke virtue-signaling? Cowardly betrayal of a genius’s art? Grandstanding to curry favor with our new censorious and fascist Masters of the Left? Utter crapola?

Let’s see:

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Enforced Ideological Conformity: The Unethical Firing Of Gina Carano

Gina

Gina Carano, the actress who plays Cara Dune on Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” was fired by Lucasfilm. I saw the note yesterday, and the company’s explanation which was that Carano’s

“…social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

From this I presumed that the actress had posted something that was racist or otherwise bigoted and hateful—constitutional speech, but not a public opinion that an organization dependent on widespread public favor is obligated to tolerate from its employees. Then today, I saw what she wrote, which was,

“Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different than hating someone for their political views?”

She did not denigrate anyone based on their cultural and religious identities. LucasFilm’s statement is a lie, and indeed is very close to defamation. Carano should sue. Meanwhile, Pedro Pascal, who plays the Mandalorian in the same series, tweeted out this idiocy in 2018:

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From The Ethics Alarms Signature Significance Files: Andrea Mitchell’s Idiotic Tweet

Mtchell tweet

No Andrea, you arrogant, incompetent, disrespectful partisan fool: it’s Shakespeare, from one of the Bard’s most famous and best known tragedies, “MacBeth,” and perhaps the best known speech from that play, by MacBeth, in Act 5 Scene 5.

There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/10/2021: Happy Birthday, Jimmy! [UPDATED!]

Jimmy Durante was born on this day in 1893 (“The Snozzola” died 87 years later, in 1980. He’s a semi-regular around here, because it’s Jimmy’s famous line from “Jumbo” (1935) (“Elephant? What elephant?”) that describes the Ethics Alarms offense of resolutely refusing to admit an ethic breach that cannot be denied.

My father was a lifetime admirer of Jimmy, and eventually I joined him: we had all of his albums, and as a stage director I often played his renditions of a ballad (like “I’ll Be Seeing You”) for singers to demonstrate the importance of phrasing and expression, both of which Durante excelled at despite having a distinctive but hardly euphonious voice. He also impressed me with his professionalism. When my father was handling marketing for a Boston banking association, he helped arrange for his organization to be one of the sponsors of Jimmy’s show, which came to the Prudential Center in Boston. The Snozz was over 70 then, but he always seemed ageless, and his energy in person was even more impressive than it was on TV (in fact, Durante had learned to tone down his enthusiasm on the small screen, because it became exhausting to watch). He made his entrance in the stage show rushing on from the wings while singing and flinging his fedora to the back of the stage, where it landed neatly on the head of his band’s bald drummer. My father managed to get our family backstage (though Jimmy was not available because he had a charity appearance right after the show) and I talked to the drummer. I asked him how often Jimmy landed the hat on his head. He replied, “He’s never missed.” He went on to say that his boss rehearsed that bit for hours every week and before every show. It was a split second grace note, but Jimmy insisted on doing it perfectly.

Durante had a stroke after a show when he was almost 80, and never fully recovered. My father, who was uncomfortable expressing emotion face to face but wrote beautiful and touching letters (I hated getting them because they always made me cry; still do), wrote Jimmy, who was then bedridden, a letter thanking him his long entertainment career and explained what his work had meant to Dad. Jimmy’s wife Margie wrote back to say she had read the letter to Jimmy, and he had mouthed the words “Thank you.”

1. Politicizing everything. UCLA’s star gymnast Nia Dennis is getting accolades for turning her floor routine into an ” exuberant and powerful celebration” of black culture. Says Slate, “This routine has everything. Dennis pays tribute to Colin Kaepernick (she kneels!), Tommie Smith and John Carlos (she raises a fist!), and Kamala Harris (like a soror, she strolls and she steps!).” That’s funny: the only way I would recognize a reference to Harris would be if Nia cackled and blathered nonsense. The routine is more dance than gymnastics, but it’s a diabolical gimmick (don’t blame Nia: she has a woke choreographer, Bjoya Das). Any judge that doesn’t give the routine the highest marks knows he or she will be cancelled as a virulent racist.

2. Then there’s the Jeep ad…I’m not going to bother with surveying the ethically dubious Super Bowl ads this year, since they all are unethical for supporting the NFL’s ongoing negligent homicide, but I can’t let Bruce Springsteen’s obnoxious Jeep ad pass. Here it is:

[Whoa! That video was pulled from YouTube shortly after I posted it! I also can’t find a link that has it.]

“To The ReUnited States Of America.” Right. Springsteen is hardly an honest advocate for “the middle,” as a vocal Democrat and anti-Trump shill. The country is supposedly “re-united” because a Democrat is President. The entire theme of the ad is a cynical exercise in Rationalization #64, “It isn’t what it is.” Donald Trump was “divisive” because Democrats decided to paint him as such. Enforcing immigration laws shouldn’t be divisive. Withdrawing from an unapproved treaty with no actual impact shouldn’t be divisive. Calling the biased news media what it is shouldn’t be divisive. Now, calling half the country racists , Nazis and morons IS divisive, and the party that just won control of Congress and the White House has been doing that for four years. Surveys show that that half of the country is more angry, alienated and distrustful than ever, and for some very good reasons, like the current unconstitutional impeachment trial. Got it, Bruce: when Republicans win a national election it’s divisive,and when Democrats win one, it’s unifying.

Update: Apparently Jeep has received so many complaints about Bruce that they decided it was a major gaffe. How can this happen? It happens when the entire company and its ad agency is so overloaded with Democrats and progressives that they can’t see what’s right in front of them.

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Monday Ethics Overture, 2/8/21: I’m Crankier Than Usual Today

I was going to post a poll asking how many readers had watched the “Concussion Bowl.” Last night, right after the game commenced, I went to the local Harris Teeter was one of three customers in the whole store. I’m pretty sure everyone else wasn’t reading Ethics Alarms. I’m curious how many have the requisite integrity and cultural responsibility to reject the showcase of the NFL and its corporate enablers in light of pro football’s continuing profit from inducing brain damage and its nauseating pandering to Black Lives Matter.

But I couldn’t post the poll. Once again, WordPress had changed the ground rules. Now I was informed that I had exceeded my quota of “signals” in the previous polls posted here, and would have to pay a monthly fee to add any more. I had to explain to a nice WordPress agent I “chatted” with online what a “bait and switch” was. “Polls” used to be right on my “dashboard” like every other WordPress feature. No limits were mentioned, until today, when I was told, in essence, “Glad you like our polls, now you have to pay to keep using them.”

It’s not a lot of money, but the nickels and dimes add up. I wrote WordPress explaining that their conduct was unethical, and got an admission that “we should have been clearer.” That’s what all con artists and swindlers say.

1. If starting your day off with a head explosion is your thing, read this LA Times Op-Ed. I won’t comment on it because once I start, I might never stop. Just discussing the Orwellian use of the term “responsible” might take 5000 words. This is why I barely interact with anyone on Facebook now. When someone speaks like this deranged fool, and many do, revealing a distorted view of reality the equivalent of doing LSD in Oz and a comprehension of the Constitution on par with AOC’s, arguing with them is like debating Caligula or a toddler. Sure, it’s a breeze winning on points, but where does it get you?

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