Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Weather Lady’s Collapse”

Curmie’s typically erudite and perceptive Comment of the Day below made me happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because it is the kind of superb commentary Ethics Alarms readers excel at producing, making the site unique in the blogosphere whether a significant numbers of people take advantage of the resource. Sad, because I should have authored its equivalent in the first place, and might have come closer if I were not forced daily into squeezing posts into randomly distributed periods during the day that I don’t have to devote to earning enough money to keep the Marshalls from a future living in a cardboard box in the woods.

Curmie’s analysis also alerted me to something I had missed in the video, the mysterious statement “Not again!” from one of the anchors. This reminded me of the just-created whale in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” hurtling to Earth through space (along with a pot of petunias) that similarly thinks, also inexplicably, “Oh no, not again!”

Here is Curmie’s Comment of the Day, a deft examination of humor, ethics and human nature, regarding the post, “Ethics Quiz: The Weather Lady’s Collapse”:


I find this one fascinating for a variety of reasons. One of those is that I no doubt had a different reaction to seeing the event under the headline “BREAKING: CBS LA Weather Forecaster collapses live on air.” So I can’t say how I would have responded had I simply been watching that news show.

Part of my response is also based on the initial movement, the slow bend forward toward the desk. That seemed almost choreographed, as if she was going to pound her head on the desk as some sort of statement on the imminent forecast, described by the co-anchor as “the calm before the storm.” It’s the slide out of the chair that changes the dynamic. That’s definitely unstaged.

More importantly, I’d read your statement that she’s recovering at home before I viewed the video. This takes us very close to the notion of aesthetic distance, that unspoken understanding that what we are watching isn’t actually happening. Hence, we don’t run for cover when the bad guy in a play or a movie appears with a gun and looks threatening, and we’re not confused when the actor who played Hamlet is miraculously alive to take a curtain call even though the character is dead. Or, in this case, that she suffered an episode, but is on her way to recovery.

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Ethics Quiz: The Weather Lady’s Collapse

Let me begin by announcing that she seems to be Ok, and is recuperating at home.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is laughing the first time you see that video (as I did)  unethical, as in unkind, uncaring, and disrespectful, a violation of the Golden Rule?

Related questions:

  • Is slapstick comedy corrupting?
  • Is this a guy thing?
  • I am a physical comedy aficionado; I’ve staged it, written it, and performed it. Does that excuse me, or damn me?
  • I laughed before I knew what happened to the poor woman. Would it change your answer if she had died? (It shouldn’t, you know. Moral luck again.)

Despicable Twitter Ethics: The “Biden Showered With His Daughter” Stunt

Bill Clinton was subjected to the grossest jokes. Donald Trump was treated the most disrespectfully. But Joe Biden has triggered the most below-the-belt verbal tactics yet, beginning with the childish “Let’s Go Brandon!” jeer. This might be worse; I’m not sure. I have to take a shower first.

Greg Price, the senior digital strategist at XStrategies LLC, posted a video of diversity White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre making a fool of herself, as she does virtually every time she appears. Price, clever 7th grader that he apparently is, changed his Twitter handle to “Joe Biden Showered With His Daughter” in the posting, setting a trap that White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates walked right into. Bates retweeted Price’s tweet as he quoted Karine’s lame “whataboutism”‘” retort to criticism of Pete Buttigieg’s characteristic negligent and lazy handling of the Palestine, Ohio train derailment. (It’s not the issue in this post, but Trump’s DOT head never oversaw a derailment that appeared to be poisoning a community in its aftermath.) So Bates, one of Joe’s loyal paid liars, posted this on Twitter…

….thus further spreading the unsubstantiated tale that the once-nicknamed Creepy Joe showered with his daughter, as her abandoned diary seemed to claim.

Now all the right-side websites are snorting and sniggering like the jerks who affixed the “Kick me!” sign to George McFly.

Yes, I know. Democrats, progressives and the resistance permanently lowered the previous standards for acceptable Presidential mockery and hate. I agree: Ethics Alarms warned about how this was going to harm a lot more than Donald Trump.

That doesn’t make it any more ethical.

I’m so old, I remember this thing they used to call “The Golden Rule”….

Oh, What The Hell: I’m Designating This Pizza Shop’s Owners Ethics Heroes

I view this as similar to the “It’s OK to be white” controversy. It’s a veritable Rorschach test that provokes thought, consideration and discussion, and any business that does that without being pompous and annoying (Like, say, Starbuck’s) is making a positive contribution to public discourse.

Santino’s Pizzeria hung the banner outside its Columbus, Ohio, store a few months ago, partially in frustration over new staff not taking their jobs seriously. “A lot of the people we’ve hired just don’t want to work,” Jayden Dunigan, whose familiy owns the restaurant, told reporters.“There is no work ethic behind them, so that’s the meaning behind the ‘non-stupid.”

“I had a high school student who thought it was okay to bring a Nerf gun in with another employee here,” the shop’s manager added. The other motivation for the sign was humor. Yet some critics on social media are “offended.” Is the sign a subtle shot at DEI? Is the shop saying people are stupid?

On balance, I’ve decided it’s a constructive and courageous message, especially in the Age of The Great Stupid.

Presidents Day Hangover, Jimmy Carter Edition: A Popeye, A KABOOM! And An Epic Comment Of The Day. Part I, The Popeye And The KABOOM!

I was going to post Steve-O-in NJ’s record-setting ( over 4700 words!) essay on the presidency of Jimmy Carter yesterday, and should have, but trips back and forth to the hospital (my Dad had his fatal heart attack in the midst of doing that, and now I know why) interfered with my best laid plans.

Then, last night, I read a head-exploding column by progressive Democratic historian, Kai Bird. His piece is an “it isn’t what it is” classic, as he tries to argue that Carter wasn’t the crummy President he unquestionably was. Bird can’t really do it, since the facts are so damning, the best he can muster being, “His presidency is remembered, simplistically, as a failure, yet it was more consequential than most recall.”

That evokes another terrible rationalization (“It isn’t what it is,” Yoo’s Rationalization, is #64 on the list), #22, The Comparative Virtue Excuse, or “There are worse things,” of which “It could have been worse” and “It’s not as bad as you think” are sub-categories. This statement, however, demanded a “Popeye” (“It’s all I can stands, ‘cuz I can’t stands no more!”):

“Jimmy Carter was probably the most intelligent, hard-working and decent man to have occupied the Oval Office in the 20th century.”


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Ethics Quiz: Tiger’s Sexist, Juvenile Gag

Once again, we enter the weird realm of offensive or arguably offensive jokes that become public through accident, eavesdropping or betrayal. In such cases, the audience most certain to be offended by the joke learns of it despite the intent of the jokester.

The all-time champion in this category was Nixon/Ford Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz. At the 1976  Republican National Convention (which nominated President Ford, ultimately defeated by Jimmy Carter), Pat Boone asked Butz, then in a three-way conversation with Boone and John Dean, why the party of Abraham Lincoln couldn’t attract the support of more blacks. Butz, who may have been drunk, answered, “Because coloreds only want three things. You know what they want? I’ll tell you what coloreds want. It’s three things: first, a tight pussy; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to shit. That’s all!”

As Otter told Flounder, Butz had “fucked up.” He trusted John Dean, who was at the convention as a reporter for “Rolling Stone.” Dean repeated the joke in his published story, and  the uproar forced Butz to resign.

The Tiger Woods incident isn’t anywhere near as bad as the Butz episode, but it raised some of the same issues.During the first round of tlat week’s Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club on February 16, 2023, in Pacific Palisades, California, Woods out-drove friend and competitor Justin Thomas. As they walked way from the tee, Woods surreptitiously (he thought) handed Thomas a tampon, a hoary guy-gag meaning “You play like a girl.” But cameras caught the exchange (above), and though Thomas appeared to be amused, others were not. Veteran female sportswriter Christine Brennan’s reaction was typical, as she wrote in part,

I’m guessing most of the millions of fathers and mothers who support their athletic daughters probably have long since retired all their juvenile pranks that were intended to demean the ability of those girls they love and for whom they spend so much time cheering. 

But not our Tiger. 

No, he employed basic misogyny to insult his good friend Thomas, a knee-slapper of a dig against female athletes: You hit the ball like a girl!…

[W]hen the biggest name in the sport’s history is giddily spreading misogyny down the fairway, it might just confirm a woman’s suspicions about golf and send her to any one of the scores of other sports she can play for the rest of her life without running into a dude playing a juvenile tampon joke.

Woods sort of apologized… Continue reading

Critic Ethics: “The Top 10 Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas, Ranked And Rated”

Readers here know that web lists of “bests” and “greatests” regularly drive me crazy, as they are almost invariably clickbait assembled according to no real standards, usually by self-appointed mavens who don’t know what they are talking about. But what drives me even more crazy are such lists created by actual authorities, whose assessments are taken to be gospel by readers who don’t know what they are talking about.

On March 1, I will be heading a 90 minute program for D.C.’s venerable Cosmos Club, whose members over the past 144 years have included men and (only relatively recently) women distinguished in science, literature, politics, scholarship and the arts. The title is “The Enduring Magic of Gilbert and Sullivan, and 12 numbers from eleven of the operettas will be performed with my narration and commentary. This is, I believe, my 14th such production over the years, but I may be missing a few. The works of Gilbert and Sullivan have had a greater influence on the path of my life and careers than even my obsession with the Presidents of the United States and the Boston Red Sox. I’ve been enjoying them, watching them, studying them, performing in them, directing them, producing them, forming organizations dedicated to them and writing parodies of them since I was ten-years-old.

(That’s the cast of Georgetown Law Center’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s 1977 production of “H.M.S. Pinafore” above, which I directed. And that’s me, in the center, as Sir. Joseph Porter, KCB.)

In preparation for the presentation at the Cosmos Club, I decided to see how the old Victorian pair’s masterpieces were doing during The Great Stupid, as they have been subject to the predictable attacks that the shows are dated, sexist, racist, etc. (They aren’t any of these things.) In the process, I stumbled upon a post by Daniel Jaffé, a BBC music critic and classical music expert from a year ago titled, “The Top 10 Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas, Ranked And Rated.”

The piece turned out to be fascinating mess of many ethics problems such as, Continue reading

Somebody Explain To Roseanne Barr What A Double Standard Is

I guess I should start off by admitting that I have never found Roseanne Barr sufficiently witty, original or entertaining to make up for the ugliness of her world view, her horrible nasal screech, and her unjustified belief in her own brilliance.

I never could stand her hit sitcom or sit through an entire episode, so the reboot was about as welcome to me as most reboots (like the sad zombie version of “Murphy Brown”), but even a little less. When she managed to get herself fired and transformed into a pariah for making a racist slur against Barack Obama’s top advisor (and Michelle’s pal) Valerie Jarrett, tweeting in 2018 that Jarrett was the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes movies, I didn’t feel sorry for her. The tweet was racist, and it was a mark of Barr’s arrogance, built up over years of being excessively praised and rewarded for being “outrageous”—I file her in the same general category as similarly unfunny shock-jocks like Howard Stern—that no ethics alarms went off when she thought it would be hilarious to compare an Obama staffer to a monkey. It was also stunningly stupid. From my ethicist perspective, Barr made the offense worse by claiming that she had no idea that Jarrett was black. Sure, Roseanne. Continue reading

Plumbing The Depths Of The Great Stupid: I Usually Don’t Continue Reading Articles That Start With First Sentences Like This One, Missing Out On Hilarious Race-Obsessed Delusions…

Before we delve into the substance of the article at issue, let me express my gratitude to author David Kaufman for giving me another opportunity to post a brilliant cartoon by one of my heroes, New Yorker satirist/philosopher/humorist Charles Addams. If you read here often, you have seen his work highlighted periodically because it is so often appropriate. In this case, that cartoon above, which made me laugh out loud when I first saw it as a high school student, immediately leapt to mind when I read that Kaufman believes the little white figures in the “walk/don’t walk” traffic lights represent white people.

Did anyone, at the New Yorker, among its readers, among the millions of people who have seen that creepy but very funny drawing in the best-selling collections of Addams’ mordant humor think for a second that it had anything to do with race? No, because it didn’t, doesn’t, and until quite recently, before The Great Stupid spread hate, fear, darkness and toxic cretinism over the land, nobody would be so woke-mad and brainwashed to see racism in everything that they would come to such a bonkers conclusion. Continue reading