Observations (And A Poll!) On The Lizzo-Jillian Michaels Bodyshaming Controversy

“The Biggest Loser” trainer Jillian Michaels was being interviewed on the Buzzfeed series “AM to DM” when she opined, “We should always be inclusive, but, you cannot glorify obesity. It’s dangerous. It kills people.”

Well, of course she believes that. She’s a trainer. Her business is fitness, so it would be hypocritical if she said that it didn’t matter if people aren’t fit.

Interviewer Alex Berg , however, cited the  example of African American singer Lizzo, who is unquestionably obese and who flaunts her fat.  Michaels was unimpressed, saying,

“Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? Why aren’t we celebrating her music? ‘Cause it isn’t going to be awesome if she gets diabetes,” Michaels said. “I’m just being honest. I love her music, like my kid loves her music, but there’s never a moment when I’m like, ‘I’m so glad she’s overweight.’ Why do I even care? Why is it my job to care about her weight?”

Berg later tweeted,

What I was going to say here is that Lizzo has been incredibly important in giving so many of us a possibility model for accepting our bodies as we are and celebrating bodies that are normally ridiculed. Had to restrain myself from defending Lizzo’s honor!

Now Michaels is being flamed on social media as a fat-shaming bigot. Oh–and a racist of course, because she is white and Lizzo is black. I’m not even going to address that, as there is no question in my mind that if Berg had mentioned an overweight white singer like Wynonna Judd or Adele, Michaels would have said the same thing.

I will observe, however… Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/9/2020: As Fact Begins To Imitate Outrageous Fiction, For Some Reason

Be careful out there…

People appear to be going nuts….in many cases, the exact same people who have, in the recent past, pressed Impeachment/Removal Plan E, ”Trump is mentally ill so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.” Ironic.

This week I stumbled across a comedy now playing on Netflix starring Stephen Yeun, most memorably seen on “The Walking Dead” with half his head caved in and his eyeball hanging out. The movie is called “Mayhem,” and is about a kind of flu that removes people’s impulse control, causing them to do and say whatever they feel like doing or saying, no matter how inappropriate or illegal. The illness strikes a BIgLaw firm, which is quarantined and locked down while its employees go bananas. It’s an excellent metaphor for what is going on right now, but much funnier.

And so far, at least, bloodier.

So far.

1. And now for something completely stupid...Even after being warned at the Golen Globes by Ricky Gervais that they know nothing about the real world and should avoid making political pronouncements, Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix announced after the award show that in order to help save the planet from climate change, he would wear the same tux to all the awards shows this year. He really said that. No, seriously, he really did, and he was not engaging in satire (but if the Babylon Bee used that as a story, everyone would assume it was satire.) Then designer Stella McCartney company, also apparently seriously, tweeted (because that tux the actor will be wearing is one of theirs), “This man is a winner… wearing custom Stella because he chooses to make choices for the future of the planet. He has also chosen to wear this same Tux for the entire award season to reduce waste. I am proud to join forces with you.”

I’ve worn the same tux for ten years. Phoenix doesn’t even pay for his tuxes (I pay for mine!), like his female colleagues who get their designer gowns free. There have been some funny jokes about the actor’s ridiculous virtue signaling, many involving underwear, but never mind: what I want to know is, how can anyone take people who think like this seriously, or respect anyone who solemnly nods when they hear about such pompous nonsense, “Hey, right on, man. Save the planet”? Yet a substantial chunk of an entire political party appears to be this far gone.

2.  Wait—are they trying to make our heads explode like those robots and computers that Captian Kirk would destroy by making them think about a contradictory statement? Is that their plan? I admit: I don’t understand this at all. A “Saved by the Bell” reboot, sequel, whatever you want to call it, is on the way. Starring original stars Mario Lopez (who now hosts celebrity gossip shows) and Elizabeth Berkley (whose career never recovered from her starring in the camp classic “Showgirls,” the plot sounds nauseatingly ‘woke,” as it involves now California Govetnor Zack Morris (the gown up character in the original played then by Mark Gosselaar, who actually has a career and doesn’t need to stoop this low) being criticized for closing too many low-income high schools, so he announces that the affected students will be sent to the highest-performing schools in the state, including  his old stomping grounds, Bayside High. Hilarious! I smell a hit! But here’s the beauty part: playing the role of the cutest, most popular cheerleader at Bayside, the role originally played by Tiffany Amber Thiessen, will be played by Josie Totah, a transgender female ( transgender male? I’m still unsure of the right terminology. She began life as a male). Isn’t this just a stunt? On one hand, I’ll fight to the death for the right of any actor to play any role, wear any make-up, use any device, as long as the vehicle itself doesn’t suffer. On the other hand, by casting a transgender actress who has made a point of publicizing her biological origins, the production guarantees that nobody will be able to watch “Lexi” without thinking about things that have nothing to do with “Saved by the Bell.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/8/2020: War, Defamation, Bias, Abortion…What Fun.

ARRGH!

Another day, another “crisis”…

Current reports indicate that Iran regards its casualty free missile strikes last night as a sufficient “tat” for the killing of their master terrorist “tit.” If so, the “ARRGH! WORLD WAR III!!” anti-Trump hysterics were, as usual, wrong, and just embarrassed us, nothing more.. Meanwhile, Iran is refusing to hand over the black box of the Ukrainian airliner that just coincidentally crashed right around the time the missiles were flying. The fact that so many Democrats have allowed their brains and loyalty to rot to the extent that they defend  this awful place in order to attack their own nation’s President is all we need to know about the trustworthiness of their party.

1. Wrapping up the Golden Globes’ ethics issues…Michelle Williams is getting predictable hosannas from her acceptance speech at the Goldden Globes, in which she thanked abortion for her success. She said she wanted a life “carved by my own hand” and “wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose.” The New York Times called these words “potent.” I call them deceitful. I’ll praise an equivalent speech when the woman has the integrity and courage to thank the human being who involuntarily gave up his or her chance to carve out a life with their own hand. The use of “choice” as euphemism for “I get to kill someone who stands in my way” is self-deception.

2. Thinking about Trump’s threat...The President backed down from his threat to target Iranian cultural cites in retaliation for any attacks on Americans after being informed that this would be a war crime under international law. I confess, I did not know this was prohibited, and I am not certain what to think about that. I knew the destruction of ancient architecture and important cultural cites became an issue for the Allies in World War II, but this has yet to make sense to me. The whole concept of the “nice” war is ethically incoherent. The idea of war must be to win as quickly as possible, minimizing deaths and chaos on both sides, especially one’s own. If the prospect of losing a nation’s treasured cultural structures is a deterrent to war, then to say that has no “military value” is simply not true. If you can’t tolerate risking your cultural treasures, don’t get into wars.

The values involved in this controversy are also incoherent. In “The Monument Men,” George Clooney’s sort-of accurate account of the special forces whose job was to track down and rescue great artworks stolen by the Nazis, the question is asked repeatedly, “Was retrieving this painting or statue worth sacrificing a human life?” I have no problem voting “Sure!” If the question is changed to refer to a thousand lives, or 10,000, I’m not so sure. Continue reading

Babylon Bee Ethics

The Babylon Bee, as you should know by now, has taken over from “The Onion” as the hot political satire website, in part because its writers are excellent, and in part because its orientation is conservative. This is discomforting for progressives, who believe that the proper state of political humor must be all-conservative/Republican/Trump bashing all the time.

This, of course, not a healthy state of affairs, but for Democrats and progressive it is a useful one. How many network and cable comedy TV shows are there that essentially target only non-progressive positions and figures?  Seven? More? How many are balanced, or chide the liberals and Democrats as their main prey? I count…none. Comedy, at least what remains of it after the scourge of political correctness and metaphorically castrated comics cowed into their place by the “cancel culture,” is now part of the Left’s indoctrination machine.

The allies of the Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream media collective, what Ethics Alarms calls “the Axis of Unethical Conduct,” or the AUC, are annoyed by the very existence of a satire site that deftly points out its hypocrisy, lunacy and ugliness. Thus Snopes, the dishonest and partisan “factchecking” site, has repeatedly checked the facts on Babylon Bee stories that anyone with a functioning cerebrum should know were gags. This weak, a particularly deft Babylon Bee story really annoyed the AUC:

Perfect. Perfect. The embarrassing efforts by Democrats and media voices to falsely represent a murderous terrorist as a “revered foreign official” (as the Washington Post described him) is objectively revolting, and shows the depth of insane Trump hate, as I explained here. Because of its sharp and revealing..and funny… message, the piece was retweeted a half-million times. Naturally, it immediately came under attack by—“Surprise, surprise, surprise!“as Gomer Pyle used to say—CNN. Two reporters complained that “Some family members just called [because] their Republican friends on FB are circulating it like it’s legit.”

First, I don’t know how someone can circulate obvious satire as if it’s “legit.” Second, out of a half million or more people, it is inevitable that some will believe anything. Third, when observing the AUC reaction to the completely justifiable droning of this evil man, Poe’s Law applies in triplicate. The reaction of some of the Trump-deranged defies parody. Bernie Sanders, for example, called it the equivalent of Putin assassinating a political rival.

Then there’s the irony of news organizations like CNN, which have been flamboyantly trafficking in fake news during the entire Trump administration, complaining about satirical news stories that, unlike theirs, are not meant to deceive.

On one hand it’s annoying when another writer beats me to the punch on an issue; on the other, it does save me time. Here is The National Review’s David Harsanyi: Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Ricky Gervais’s Performance At The 2020 Golden Globes Awards

The fact that Ricky Gervais’s slashing MC performance at last night’s live telecast of the Golden Globes Award is actively competing with the US-Iran confrontation for media attention once again shows our society’s charming (and sometimes healthy) preference for trivia over substance.

I didn’t watch the show live because I couldn’t care less what the Hollywood Foreign Press Association thinks about anything, and because the Hollywood community culture makes me retch. I did follow the thing online, as several sites were gleefully streaming blow-by-blow descriptions of Gervais’s routine.

I can’t conclusively rate the ethical nature of his pretty much non-stop attacks on the attendees without knowing what his job was: to entertain them, to entertain the TV audience, or both. If it was both, then the comic would have been restricted to the kind of generic humor we have been accustomed to at the Oscars and Tonys. Yet why would anyone hire Gervais to do that? (Remember the outrage over Seth McFarland’s Oscar hosting gig when he delivered exactly what one would expect the politically incorrect creator of “The Family Guy” to bring to the party?) In the end, we have to assume that since this was the fifth time Gervais got the assignment, both the Golden Globes producers and the glitterati who were paying attention consented to what they got. Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/4/20: Abortion, Ann Althouse, A Big Lie And The Big Stupid

Good morning!

We’ve started a year without a dog enriching each day for the first time in over three decades. Don’t like it much.

1 . Lobbying the Supreme Court against abortion.  207 members of Congress — 39 senators and 168 House members from 38 states — filed  an amicus  brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold a Louisiana anti-abortion law when it hears the case in March, stating they “have a special interest in the correct interpretation, application and enforcement of health and safety standards for elective abortion by the people of the states they represent.” In the brief, the mostly GOP legislators (two Democrats also signed on) implore  the Supreme Court to uphold a lower court’s decision to let stand a Louisiana statute that requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of where the procedure is being performed. SCOTUS declared virtually the same law unconstitutional in Texas; the argument for this law is that Texas is bigger than Louisiana.

I’m serious.

The Center for Reproductive Rights argues that the Louisiana law is really an effort to “regulate abortion out of existence,” claiming that only one physician in the state would be able to  provide abortions if the law is allowed to stand.

Oh, I think it’s pretty obvious what’s going on.

2. Another Big Lie. When I went to a local cineplex to see “Ford vs. Ferrari,” I was stunned at how few employees were in evidence at a movie house with 18 screens and hundreds of people buying tickets. There was one human being selling tickets, the rest were dispensed by automated kiosks. There were no ticket-takers at all; we figured out that we could have just walked into any of the theaters without showing a ticket to anyone. To buy drinks and snacks, I  had to stand in a line for over 20 minutes, because only one person was filling orders. Continue reading

Poll: “Unafraid and Unashamed”

Artist Julian Raven (that’s him on the right above) wants to force the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery to include his “Unafraid and Unashamed,” which you can see above. On the artist’s website  can be found links to his Supreme Court petition and  other documents related to his Free Speech suit “to force the gallery to add a portrait of President Trump to its collection of images of people of remarkable character and achievement.” Raven notes that the gallery has displayed artwork from Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign since 2009, and in his 39-page filing with SCOTUS, argues that gallery’s refusal to hang his portrait is based on an anti-Trump bias.

Raven’s crusade has been treated as an oddball saga and a joke, as in a  profile in the Washingtonian Magazine.

Some conservative writers are taking his cause seriously, however. Here’s Lawrence Jarvik:

Raven’s challenge dramatizes how national cultural institutions established to serve all the American people, such as the Smithsonian, have been hijacked by dangerously partisan factions which seek to exclude, marginalize and erase  “Others.”

As his brief demonstrates, the Smithsonian had accepted campaign posters for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in addition to huge oversized paintings of Bill Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama. It had a special exhibition for the Obama Inauguration, and maintains a sort of shrine to the Obamas to this day. 

Raven’s case likewise provides evidence that decision-making at the Smithsonian is arbitrary and unfair. He was never provided a written decision on his application. Instead, he received only a phone call from the director, which from his account sounded conclusory, partisan, and unfair.

As he points out, as an American citizen—Raven is entitled to due process. Yet, to this date, he has no idea as to how his work was evaluated, nor what rubric was applied to his submission…versus that used for pictures of Obamas or Clintons.

Although “Unafraid and Unashamed” may not be the most beautiful portrait ever painted, Raven’s legal brief makes clear that the official criterion for display by the National Portrait Gallery is historical significance. No reasonable person could deny that Donald Trump’s election in 2016 had historical significance.

That’s true. It is also likely, certain, even, that the selection criteria used at the Smithsonian, as in every other art museum, is subjective and thus certain to be biased in one respect or another. Since the question involves pro-Trump art, and it would be hard to find an artist or significant arbiter of the arts in Washington, D.C. or anywhere else who doesn’t loathe President Trump, the issue of bias is not an insignificant one. Continue reading