In ancient Greek mythology and drama, the state of hubris inevitably led to disaster, usually at the hands of an annoyed god. If only we had appropriately annoyed gods on a mountain somewhere who would tale aim at Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, James Corden, Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel and Trevor Noah. All are alleged comedians who have been gifted with long-running platforms on television, supposedly to make Americans laugh. All have also, with the exception of Corden, spent the past five years or more using their platforms to mount a one-way attack on approximately half the nation and its values, as well as, of course, the previous President. In doing so, these six (again, Corden really has tried to be apolitical) have spread misinformation and hate, exacerbated national division, and deliberately made topical comedy unbearable for millions of people who desperately needed a laugh.
To put it in technical terms, they suck. I wouldn’t cross my yard to meet any of them, and the sooner every one vanishes from the American scene, I don’t care how, the healthier the country will be. Their primary error is confusing being smart with being smart alecks. It’s an easy mistake to make…if you aren’t very smart.
In a statement that would be right at home in a satire of U.S. government cretinism like “Lil’ Abner” or “Mars Attacks!,” the Biden State Department expressed “concerns” over the composition of the new interim Afghan government announced by the Taliban. There’s just not sufficient diversity, you see.
The statement noted that the list of names announced by the Taliban earlier in the week“consists exclusively of individuals who are members of the Taliban or their close associates and no women.”
In a related statement, the State Department also expressed its shock and dismay that all the members of the interim government appeared to be Muslims, and no African-Americans were included.
OK, I’m kidding about that. But it would be no more ridiculous than the real statement. Maybe the diabolical strategy of the Biden Administration is to cause the Taliban to perish from laughing so hard their hearts explode, or something, like in Monty Pythons’ “Killer Joke” sketch. If the U.S. government has ever made an official statement that more embarrassing weak and pathetic than this one, I’d like to see it. Did the Hayes administration, after the corrupt deal in 1876 giving Rutherford B. Hayes the Presidency in exchange for pulling Federal troops out of the former Confederate states express its concern that former slaves were not being accorded the full rights of American citizens? That would be close.
This is one of the best examples of where ethics estoppel applies, easily surpassing Hillary Clinton condemning sexual harassment and demanding the female accusers of powerful men must be believed. When the U.S. abandoned the people of Afghanistan in a manner that evoked another Python classic moment…
…it forfeited all rights not to be mocked mercilessly if it dared to make any demands or express any “concerns” about what the known radical, brutal Islamists it left in power to do whatever they wanted did, which everyone knew would include treating women like a lesser species.
The Taliban talibanned women from participating in sports yesterday, and the Biden State Department thinks it is going to react to the expressed “concern” that it won’t allow women to participate in its government with anything but hilarity and derision? Who ARE these people? Does diversity and inclusion mean that our State Department has to be run by alumni of Madam Louise’s Home for the Bewildered?
What is this? Could the Biden experts we now have running our foreign policy really be this stupid and tone deaf? Or is it the public the Biden hacks think is so gullible that such hollow virtue signaling will prompt Americans to respond, “Good for us; that’s telling ’em!”? Is it women and feminists this bunch of desperate incompetents have such contempt for?
I don’t understand. What are they doing? What do they think they’re doing? What’s going on here?
The Biden Presidency is now officially an Ethics Train Wreck.
Tomorrow at 9 am, I’ll be launching the latest ProEthics musical CLE (Continuing Legal Education) seminar for the New Jersey State Bar. It’s called “Legal Ethics Serenade,” and is being zoomed. As with my other musical presentations, the great Mike Messer accompanies himself on guitar and occasionally other instruments as he belts out parodies of rock and pop classics retooled to raise complex legal ethics issues. Mike has been my muse for more than a decade. This time, he’ll be doing versions of “I’m a Believer,” “Oh Darling,” “Hello Mary Lou!,” “50 Ways to leave Your Lover,” “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing,” “Why Don’t We Di It in the Road?,” Elvis’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight?,” “You Were Always On My Mind,” and “Take Good Care of My Baby,” all followed by legal ethics musings by me, and, I hope, lively debate.
If any readers are New Jersey lawyers in search of ethics credits, the information is here.
Harry Truman liked to say “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” That applies in a lot of fields, but perhaps nowhere more than in the field of humor and satire in these days where would-be censors and race-baiters slither across the landscape. If you are going to venture into these dangerous environs (what they endanger is free speech, expression, and freedom itself), you better have the courage of conviction and willingness to fight the adventure requires. If not, you will make things worse. You will become part of the problem, and it is a big problem.
Gene Weingarten is a longtime columnist for the Washington Post, I’ve written about one of his serious pieces here (also here) and had debates with him via email on occasion. He often writes humorous columns, and it was one of those that unjustly made him the target of the social media mobs.
I assume Gene was a little stuck for a topic, because his theme, foods he won’t eat, is a pretty hoary one. I have read very similar joke essays by other writers, going back to Robert Benchley. Clarence Darrow used to riff on foods he didn’t like: he once said, “I don’t like spinach, and I’m glad I don’t, because if I liked it I’d eat it, and I’d just hate it.“ Another of Darrow’s was “I don’t like turnips, and I don’t like anyone who does.”
So Weingarten whipped off a lazy column joking about all the foods he says he hates; remember, actually hating them isn’t an ethical requirement. The idea is just a platform to justify snarkiness and to make silly comments like ” Balsamic vinegar likely broke up the Beatles.” Among his targets: Old Bay seasoning (hate it), hazelnut (I agree), anchovies (it depends), blue cheese (yecchh), pizza with more than two toppings (I think that’s about right), “garbage sushi,” meaning junk like California rolls (not worth hating) and sweet pickles (absolutely). It should be obvious to a spaniel that all of his laments are tongue in cheek, but that spaniel might object to “Drowning good food in wildly disparate other tastes is — I do not mean to exaggerate — like drowning puppies in a toilet.”
Let’s play the ever more popular quiz show, ” Is It Racist?”!
Today’s topic: Late-night television host James Corden has long featured on his show a food-centered “Truth or Dare” variation called “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts.” Celebrities choose to either answer personal questions or take a bite of a food that most viewers would deem nauseating or not properly food at all. Recently the cherubic British comic employed a table in the bit filled with Asian delicacies like chicken feet, pig’s blood and thousand-year eggs.
Kim Saira, 24, a Los Angeles activist who organized the petition, told an interviewer, “James Corden is a white person and is actively using ingredients from Asian cultures and profiting from it and showing it in such a negative light. There’s a way to not like foods and still be respectful about it.”
The New York Times interviewed Lok Siu, an associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley who agreed that Corden’s joke is indeed racist because it disrespects people’s cultures. The choice of Asian foods to highlight as disgusting to typical Americans makes Asian Americans feel more vulnerable or marginalized.
Oh yes indeed! “You use food as a metaphor to describe that distance, the kind of strangeness between a group of people that you don’t understand and their habits, the way they’re eating, the smell that comes with the spices,” she said. “There’s something around the way we discuss food, the way we think about food in our acceptance or rejection of it, it’s a rejection of a culture and the people that’s associated with it.” Siu regards the food as a metaphor for Asians not qualifying as “normal.”
I’m up at 3:30 am writing an ethics post because a nightmare woke me up. I don’t want to talk about it…
1. Breaking! American citizens are not as stupid as progressives thinkthey are! At least in this instance…the first wave in the Democratic Party’s unethical push to eliminate safeguards agaiants fraudulent voting was the campaign during the Obama administration to label voter ID requirements as “racist’ and “voter suppression.” The argument that it made sense not to require voters to present the same level of identification necessary to rent a car, cash a check or get on an airplane when the integrity of our elections is involved was intellectually dishonest, but the with the degree to which the news media carried the message for their favorite party, I assumed this particular brainwashing exercise was a success. But in the wake of the failure of that party’s attempted take-down of election security last week, the Monmouth University Poll revealed that 80% of the public, approve of voter ID. I know, polls. But that’s a pretty convincing margin:
Even Democrats favor ID, though not by a large enough margin to generate any respect. The big surprise was that Monmouth shows whites splitting 77/21 in favor of ID and nonwhites favoring the measure even more strongly, at 84/13.
The American Left, wherein the One-Worlders dwell, always like to cite the United States’ failure to emulate European governments—which the U.S. decided at its origin not to follow by design—as an argument for various measures like banning capital punishment, nanny states, , and gun ownership restrictions, but have been adamantly mute on the fact that 46 of 47 European countries require government-issued photo ID to vote. The one exception has been Great Britain (although not Northern Ireland), and last month Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government said it would make photo IDs mandatory in response to a Royal Commission report.
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s Australian wing applied to be formally recognized as anon-profit charitable entity, but was rejected on the grounds that the purported religion is nothing more than a “hoax.” Ya think? This is the deliberately ridiculous parody religion devised to mock all organized religions and those who believe in them. Pastafarians, as “believers” call themselves, have extended a gag web post ridiculing the logic of every other religion to the point of diminishing returns. Its “heaven” has a Stripper Factory and a Beer Volcano; its argument for the existence of the deity with noodely appendages involves the world distribution of pirates. Very funny. Now stop wasting everyone’s time. Ethics Alarms discussed two abuses of process by Pastafarians here and here, but as with the career of Jimmy Kimmel and the persistence of tofu, I assumed that this joke would have run its course by now. Sadly, no.
Adelaide, Australia’s Tanya Watkins is a self-described “captain” of the church (like on a pirate ship, see) , has made repeated attempts to have the “church” be granted incorporated association status. After her latest attempt was scoffed at by the Corporate Affairs Commission, Watkins sought a review by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT), claiming the movement was formed for a “religious, educational, charitable or benevolent purpose”, thereby meeting the criteria of South Australia’s Associations Incorporation Act.
Quite a while ago—I’m afraid to check—I asked readers to submit nominees for popular songs with an ethics theme or lesson. Lorne Greene’s one hit recording ( his vocal version of the “Bonanza” song did not fly off the shelves) was “Ringo,” a pretty blatant rip-off of Jimmy Dean’s “Big John,” was one of the first on the list. I received quite a few suggested songs but events overtook me, and I never finished the project. It is in a growing list of promised future content that I have yet to deliver, including missing parts to multi-part posts. I apologize to readers for all of them, but I also intend to make good on all of them, though the ethics songs compilation is understandably low priority. I was happy to finally finish the Ethics Guide to “Miracle on 34th Street” after it languished for a year. The top priorities on the catch-up list right now are Part II of Three Ethics Metaphors: The Rise, The Presidency And The Fall Of Donald J. Trump—that will be on the “Animal House” parade plot metaphor for Trump’s election—and, of course, the long-delayed Part III of The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear.
Back to Lorne: I met him once, on a Santa Monica beach. He was in swimming trunks, and with his family, extremely friendly, tanned and wearing his hairpiece, which was fantastic. Like several other stars I have met in person, Greene was so strikingly attractive that he would make anyone turn their heads on a street even if you had no idea who he was. Unlike most of the others, he appeared to be a genuinely nice guy.
1. Proud to be off Twitter, Reason #569: After Twitter received notice of its noncompliance with India’s information technology laws, demanding that the company remove content critical of the government’s handling of the pandemic and about farmers’ protests, including tweets by journalists, activists and politicians, Twitter pulled itself up to its full metaphorical height, puffed itself up like blowfish, and protested in part, “We are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve.”
Twitter actually said that it cares about freedom of expression! Then, last week, after Nigeria blocked Twitter, it had the gall to tweet…
This, from the platform that censored the Hunter Biden laptop story and banned President Trump. The Hanlon’s Razor question of whether these are bad people or just stupid people now becomes irrelevant. It’s unethical to operate a powerful communications platform when you are so stupid.
1. I’m adding this new #1 right at the beginning—there were originally only 8 observations—because some of the early comments suggest that I over-estimated some of my readers’ scholarship, historical knowledge and/or sensitivity on this issue, so let me be direct: the reference to any African- American having an affinity to watermelon is about a half-step from calling him or her a nigger, and maybe even closer than that. Clear? This is not a political correctness matter. If the reference is intentional, there can be no debate over whether it is racist or not. It is. The President of the United States should not be subjected to intentional racial slurs.
2. I’m amazed—I just don’t know how this could happen. How could this cartoon make it into print? Cartoonist Jerry Holbert explained that he came up with the idea to use watermelon flavor after finding “kids Colgate watermelon flavor” toothpaste in his bathroom at home. “I was completely naive or innocent to any racial connotations,” Holbert said. “I wasn’t thinking along those lines at all.” Is this possible? In a political cartoonist? On one hand, since the racial connotation is so obvious and so predictably offensive, it seems incredible that a cartoonist for a major daily would dare offer such a cartoon unless he really didn’t perceive the racial stereotype it referenced. On the other, the man is a political cartoonist, not a Japanese soldier who’s been hiding in a cave for decades. How could he not know this? How could his ethics alarms, racial slur alarms, survival alarms not go off?
I don’t get it.
3. Hence the quotes around “racist.” The only way the cartoon makes any sense to me is if Holbert is amazingly, wonderfully non-racist, and completely color blind. The flavor of the toothpaste is innocuous if one doesn’t think in racial terms at all. Maybe he just thinks about the President as the President. If so, isn’t that terrific? Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was like that? Wouldn’t it be swell if a dumb detail like the flavor of the toothpaste in a cartoon that has nothing to do with race OR toothpaste wasn’t even noticed?
Some day, in a more mature and enlightened America, we will have non-male and non-white candidates for elective office as well as elected officials whose supporters do not use the politicians’ race or gender to unethically intimidate critics by crying “Bigotry!” when there is none. Some day. Or maybe not. Right now, it is clear that such politicians and their supporters just can’t help themselves. It’s cheap, it’s unfair, it’s dishonest, but as Harry Reid ( or Niccolò Machiavelli) might say, “It works!”
It needs to stop working. I consider the routine use of that tactic to stifle legitimate criticism as an valid, if not necessarily decisive, reason not to support female or minority candidates.
The latest despicable example of the practice arrived in New York City, where a mayoral race is heating up. Evelyn Yang, wife of candidate Stephen Yang, attacked New York Daily News’ cartoonist Bill Bramhall for a characature she called a “racist disfiguration” of her husband.
Bramhall, a boringly predictable progressive cartoonist who draws Donald Trump to look like he ate Orson Welles, mocked Yang by exploiting the common complaint that he’s not a real New Yorker, but a carpetbagger who is naive about the ways of The Big Apple. Mrs. Yang, however, tweeted,
“I can’t believe my eyes. To publish this racist disfiguration of @AndrewYang as a tourist, in NYC where I was born, where Andrew has lived for 25 years, where our boys were born, where 16% of us are Asian and anti-Asian hate is up 900%.”