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Comment Of The Day: “Your NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck Update: Incompetent Quotes”

…or, in the alternative, are you ready for some vague, annoying protest by a scattering of players during the National Anthem, and THEN some football?

This Comment of the Day is from me, Jack Marshall, blog proprietor and moderator. 

I just finished writing it in response to a comment that I almost described as another incompetent quote; my comment begins with it. But that’s not really fair. What prompted this indeed is a spectacularly wrong quote, but still a useful one. This is the value (I hope) of discourse here. Even wildly misguided debate points can enlighten. This one enlightened me: now I know that the supporters of the NFL Kneelers are, beyond question, not processing reality, either out of confusion or ideological fervor. Their position does not make sense; it’s as simple as that.  I have to read a clear, purposeful expression of a bad argument sometimes to understand what exactly is so wrong with it.

This is a depersonalized version of what I just wrote in the comment thread, which was a bit mean. (It also had some typos, which I think I fixed, and a couple of other edits.) Luckily, I know that the recipient, unlike some people, won’t sue me for hurting his delicate feelings, if in fact I did.

Here is my Comment of the Day on the post, Your NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck Update: Incompetent Quotes:

“Since when do one’s “deeply held convictions” give one the right to force others to live by them? No NFL viewer’s deeply held convictions are meaningfully threatened by this silent protest. They remain free to show respect to the flag in whatever way feels right to them. You are the one advocating for a restriction of the NFL players’ freedom of expression. And while that restriction is legal, it is neither ethical nor necessary. It is, in fact, petty and stupid.”

This is, honestly, willfully or naively obtuse.

The NFL players ARE restricted by the nature of their work and the business they work in. This is so simple.

I am a perfect example of the problem you seem incapable of grasping. I am the Customer. I go to entertainment, like everyone else who does, to be entertained. I do not go to be involuntarily shamed, “Woked”, harangued, persuaded, bitched to or proselytized, silently, verbally or symbolically. I’m not paying for that, and it interferes with my enjoyment, both substantively and as a matter of principle. If said entertainment advertises that “before the game/show.performance, the captive audience will be subjected to a brief but heart-felt statement by the players/actors/performers regarding [IT DOESN’T MATTER], I appreciate the candor, and I’m not buying a ticket. If establishments that grants me admission in exchange for my attention, patronage and hard-earned cash,  pollutes my entertainment by allowing  this non-entertaining content without notice, I regard it as a breach of our deal.

Remember, I ran a professional theater company, successfully, for 20 years. And the nice, often progressive actors, board members and staffers were always asking that we have a “curtain speech” urging the audience to contribute for this cause or that crisis, AIDS research,  to help a member of the theater community who had been attacked by wolves or something equally terrible, or even to raise money for my company. My answer was always the same.

NO. NEVER. We do not take advantage of our audience that way, and exploit the fact that they are seated expecting a performance to force a lobbying effort on them, and it doesn’t matter if I agree with the cause or not. It’s wrong, It is in fact, the Saint’s Excuse. (Everybody Does It was also often cited.)

I wasn’t limiting anyone’s freedom of expression then, and no one is advocating restriction of the NFL players’ freedom of expression now. They can say and write whatever dumb (or not) thing they choose when they are not doing the job their employer is paying them to do. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/17/2017: Comey, Eminem,”Hustler”… And Cognitive Dissonance

ARRGH! I thought this was posted hours ago! Verizon is doing it to me again, going on and off every ten minutes. This is war.

 

Good Morning!

1 Nicely dovetailing with last night’s Ethics Alarms post, Christian Toto put his finger on the tragic and narcissistic delusions of Hollywood celebrities and athletes, without specifying what is really going on: a complete failure to comprehend the Cognitive Dissonance, and the perils of defying the scale. His post is called, “Celebrities make it official: Pick Trump or Us!”

He relates…

Eminem appeared at the BET Awards this week to do more than plug his new album. He unleashed a four-plus minute rap against President Trump…

That’s hardly worth a news item alone. Virtually every player at every level of the entertainment world is against this Commander-in-Chief. Trump…A few have wished him dead in colorful ways. Eminem didn’t go that far. Instead, he turned some of his ire against Trump towards those who support the president:

“And any fan of mine who’s a supporter of his

I’m drawing in the sand a line: you’re either for or against

And if you can’t decide who you like more and you’re split

On who you should stand beside, I’ll do it for you with this:

Fuck you!”

The next night, “Late Night host Seth Meyers praised the rapper’s “powerful” rant-rap, and then said:

“And I was inspired by that, so tonight, I say to any fans of this show who are also big fans of Donald Trump, it’s time to make a decision,” said Meyers. “Get off the fence. Do you support him or do you support this show, that constantly mocks and denigrates everything about him? I know it’s a tough call, but the time has come to make a decision. Now, I’m not much of a rapper, but here it goes. My name is Seth and I’m here to say, if you like Trump, then go away.”

Then Meyers ended by flashing his middle finger.

Nice. Also incredibly arrogant,  stupid and ignorant. Whatever Donald Trump’s status on the public’s cognitive dissonance scale

…was before November 8, it was a lot better after. The Presidency is high on the scale for the vast majority of Americans, because the Presidency, no matter who occupies it presently, carries the respect and prestige of all of the former Presidents, including Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, and yes, Obama. That yanks a new President up the scale, and hard. Part of the assault on Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Washington and Madison by progressives consciously or unconsciously seeks to counter this effect by tearing down the office—yes, “the resistance” would destroy the institution of the Presidency to save it—, but it doesn’t matter. The power of the office can’t fall far enough or fast enough to pass Seth Myers or Eminem on the lower rungs. These ludicrously confused semi-celebrities, just like the NFL stars that most people couldn’t pick out of a line-up, really think choosing between them and the President, the flag and the United States of America—you see, that is the team—and their minuscule and trivial personas is an easy choice. It is, but not the choice they think. When Trump wrongly injected himself into the foolish NFL kneeling protests, the players actually believed that if they showed “solidarity,” NFL would choose them over the President of the United States.

Brilliant.

2.  Yesterday, the FBI confirmed that James Comey indeed drafted his July 5, 2016 statement declaring that Hillary Clinton’s official and classified email machinations did not quite violate the law two months before he made it, and before Clinton had even been interviewed on July 2, 2016.

I initially was inclined to give Comey the benefit of the doubt here, but especially following on the heels of  the FBI  “discovering” last week 30 pages of documents related to the strange 2016 tarmac meeting between former President Bill Clinton and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch while the investigation of Bill’s wife was at a critical stage, I have to revise my opinion. Before the election, Comey’s FBI denied that any such documents existed. Are serious people really going to keep claiming that the President firing Comey was “obstruction of justice”? Increasingly it looks as if Obama’s keeping him in office was a travesty of justice. Or Justice.

 

The release of Comey’s prescient draft confirms information that Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of that committee, disclosed in a letter to new FBI Director Christopher Wray in August.  The Senate Judiciary Committee is reviewing Comey’s conduct as director and President Donald Trump’s firing him in May.

Some analysts are defending Comey, but that seems to be an increasingly forced exercise. “To me, this is so far out of bounds it’s not even in the stadium,” Chris Swecker, who retired from the FBI in 2006 as assistant director for the criminal investigative division and acting executive assistant director for law enforcement services, told reporters. “That is just not how things operate…. It’s built in our DNA not to prejudge investigations, particularly from the top.” Ron Hosko, an assistant FBI director under Comey, said that while drafting statements is not unusual, having such drafts include conclusions regarding matters that have not been thoroughly investigated is:
Continue reading

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The NFL Is In Ethics Zugswang, But It’s For A Good Cause

Remember this, the essay a University of North Carolina athlete submitted to one of his courses—he got an A—leaked to the news media in 2014?

On the evening of December Rosa Parks decided that she was going to sit in the  white people section on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. During this time blacks had to give up there seats to whites when more whites got on the bus. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Her and the bus driver began to talk and the conversation went like this. “Let me have those front seats” said the driver. She didn’t get up and told the driver that she was tired of giving her seat to white people. “I’m going to have you arrested,” said the driver. “You may do that,” Rosa Parks responded. Two white policemen came in and Rosa Parks asked them “why do you all push us around?” The police officer replied and said “I don’t know, but the law is the law and you’re under arrest.

I think about this when I’m reading manifestos from pro football players who think the on-field protests that they can’t adequately explain are vital to national discourse. The protests aren’t, and the protesters aren’t. All of the articles about how protests are inherently patriotic are revealed as lies when the protests they are extolling are this divisive, this costly, and this pointless. The Kneelers are almost entirely filthy rich, maleducated, pampered, narcissist dead-heads whose critical thinking skills are infantile, and whose literacy is dubious. What entitles them to a national canvas every Sunday upon which to scribble their graffitti? Nothing. And by continuing to scribble, they are gradually reducing the visibility of that canvas, as well as the viability of their own occupation, which is short-lived already.

The NFL, meanwhile, is stuck in ethics zugswang by its own incompetence. Allow the players to continue making a mindless Fall ritual of mob ecstasy over the visceral pleasures of watching behemoths in armor crush each other an exercise in cognitive dissonance, and the NFL betrays its ticket-buyers, business partners, sponsors and stock holders. Tell the players to protest on their own time, and the NFL is siding with a President who crossed a line by telling a private business how to manage its employees, and setting itself up as opposing “police brutality,” thus Black Lives Matter, thus African Americans.

Meanwhile, the liberal punditry and news media, which doesn’t give a fig about football, is cheering on the Kneelers even as it drives the NFL into cultural harikiri. It’s a little like some of the more disgusting of the anti-gun fanatics when they reacted to the Las Vegas shooting: “Well, it was a lot of conservatives, so who cares, as long as we can use it to ban more guns.” Same here: Liberals, who are far from the core audience for pro football, are quite happy to see the NFL form a circular firing squad if it furthers “the resistance” and progressive narratives, if even for a little while.

An instructive example was a column earlier this month from the Times’ latest hard left op-ed writer, David Leonardt. Called “The Choice Between Winning And Kneeling,” it purported to be a “protest smart” exhortation to the NFL kneelers, without ever articulating exactly what this foggiest of all protests is supposed to win.

Leonardt begins with five inspiring and completely irrelevant paragraphs about the civil rights protests on the Sixties. This is intended to sanctify the NFL kneelers’ grandstanding, but accomplishes the opposite. That protest movement had clear and specific goals. Blacks and fair Americans wanted an end to Jim Crow. They wanted blacks to be able to vote, as the law said they could. They wanted an end to segregation, and discrimination by public commodities. They wanted to have equal justice under law enforced.

Making the intellectually dishonest leap from Selma to the football field, Leonhardt states, “The professional athletes doing political battle with President Trump are heirs to the civil-rights movement. They are protesting government-sanctioned violence against African-Americans,” thus falling flat on his face immediately. Wait: are they opposing President Trump, or are they “protesting government-sanctioned violence against African-Americans”?  Is he suggesting that Trump favors violence against African-Americans?  Who and what is the protest about?

Well, some are protesting one, some are protesting the other, and some are just going along for the ride. By what measure does Leonardt make the factually false statement that violence against African American is “government-sanctioned”? The U.S. government encourages people to kill blacks? No,  it doesn’t.  Leonardt dishonestly links to the Washington Post data base on police shootings, as if this supports his slur.  Among other things, those statistics show more whites shot than blacks. Never mind. Leonardt is just trying to pretend the NFL players have a clue what they want.

We know what legislative and societal measures Martin Luther King wanted. What measures would address the Kneelers’ concerns? A law declaring that police must never shoot blacks when the officers felt threatened? Officers counting to five before using their gun if a suspect is black, and just to three if he’s white? Automatically pronouncing any officer who shoots and kills a black man as guilty of murder? Dispensing with juries when white officers are involved, and using “innocent until proven guilty” as the standard when black officers are involved? Colin Kaepernick thought that any officer who shoots a black man should be automatically suspended without pay, before any investigation. Is that the goal? As I have noted before, “ending systemic oppression”  is just a slogan. It is meaningless. If it is meaningless, so is the protest calling for “something” to be done about it.

Leonhardt doesn’t care. He just wants to promote societal division; it’s the Leftist Way. “From a moral standpoint, this issue is clear. The athletes are right — and have every right to protest as they have. Trump is wrong, about the scourge of police violence and about freedom of speech,” he writes. Really? What are the athletes “right” about? Even they don’t know.  The President has never said that police violence was or wasn’t a problem, but I thought Leonardt just wrote a few sentences before that the protest was about “government-sanctioned violence against African-Americans,” didn’t he? But he linked to a source about police shootings involving all races. Whatever! This is an op-ed for the choir, and not its brightest members, either: there’s no genuine analysis or reasoning, just shotgun endorsement of broad progressive cant. Blacks oppressed. Police bad. Guns bad. United States racist. Trump racist.

Trump, of course, is completely correct about freedom of speech in this matter: employees don’t have a right to turn the workplace into their own, personal Sixties college campus. But, you see, Trump is intrinsically “wrong,” so even when he’s right, it’s wrong. Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz: Branding Ethics And The Weinstein Scandal [Updated]

I’m lounging in Richmond’s wonderful Jefferson Hotel, watching the hilarious and despicable parade of actors, actresses and Democrats—Hillary, the Obamas–rushing to condemn Harvey Weinstein now that his use to them is probably ended, and they see safety in numbers. Many of their statements—I was just listening to Mira Sorvino—mouth the same platitudes about how “this is no longer conduct that can be tolerated”—pssst: It was never tolerable behavior; your industry and colleagues just tolerated it anyway—and how it is essential that such sexual predators be stopped—pssst again: why didnt YOU do anything to stop it?– while saluting the courage of victims who come forward, without any adequate explanation in many cases of why they, or others, didn’t come forward for years and even decades while  other actresses were victimized and even raped. (The alleged rape total is now up to three.)

Angelina Jolie said today that she was harassed by Weinstein a decade ago, decided not to work with him, and “warned other actresses she knew not to do so as well.” This dovetails nicely with another harassed non-reporting actress’s tale, that of Gwyneth Paltrow—years late, of course, that she was attacked by Weinstein, and her boy friend at the time, Brad Pitt, confronted him. Presumably Pitt also later  knew about Jolie’s experience,being married to her and all. Brad Pitt was afraid to expose Harvey Weinstein? Sorry, I don’t believe it. I don’t believe George Clooney’s statement either, or long-time stars like Glenn Close. I also don’t understand Paltrow, whose father was himself an influencial producer. Her father wasn’t willing to stop Weinstein? Why not?

[CORRECTION: an earlier version of the post conflated Sorvino with Paltrow. Thanks to Spartan for the alert.]

This was a conspiracy of silence, abetted by Weinstein’s wallet. As long as he was a useful ally to ambitious actresses willing to exchange their ethical duties as citizens and human beings for parts and pay-offs, and liberal politicians employing wilful ignorance to keep money flowing to their campaigns and causes, Weinstein had a free pass to molest and abuse, and knew that he had a free pass.

The posturing by so many powerful people who could have made Weinstein a pariah at any time—but just not during the current campaign at the time, or while the latest promising Miramax project was being produced—is nauseating.  Even if one excuses the struggling starlet—and I don’t, not when she’s struggling and afraid, and definitely not years later, when she knows what happened to her is still going on but she’s now a Hollywood power herself—there is no way to excuse the community. This isn’t sort of like inner cities that have a “no snitch” culture that allows crime, drugs and murder to rot everything while innocent victims are terrorized, it is exactly like them. Victims still have ethical duties as citizens and human beings. Of course it’s hard. If being ethical was easy, we wouldn’t have to keep talking about it.

Of course, the most complicit of all may have been Harvey Weinstein’s business partners, including his brother. There is no reasonable possibility that some, most, or all of them didn’t know that their meal-ticket was a sick, sexual predator. Certainly Weinstein’s brother, now running The Weinstein Company. Now I read in the Wall Street Journal before me that the company is planning on rebranding, taking the Weinstein name off of the company. The idea is that after a few successes and maybe some convenient amnesia,  people will begin trusting the company again. Hey, let’s call it “Trust Entertainment”! (That’s my idea, not theirs.)

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is this ethical? Continue reading

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When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: “Ethics Dunce” Is Inadequate For Dove Soap [UPDATED]

 

What the hell?

The above jaw-dropping ad for Dove soap debuted to so much outrage and controversy that it was almost immediately taken off the web. Dove apologized by the ad had “missed the mark.” WHAT mark? What could an ad that shows a black woman transforming herself into a white woman under the influence of Dove soap have been intended to convey?

That Dove is so amazing that it turns a black woman into a white one (actually a gorgeous black woman into a sort of cute white one)?

That inside every black woman is a white women trying to get out?

That race is only skin deep?

That white and black women are essentially interchangeable, given the right soap?

That black women are like caterpillars, and eventually emerge from their shell as white women?

This is a level of incompetence that one seldom sees, even in Washington, D.C. Nobody in the chain of command as this ad was created and launched, from the ad agency to the company’s executives, had sufficient cultural awareness to say, indeed to scream, “Wait, are you kidding? We can’t use an ad like that! Don’t be ridiculous!” How can that be?

I am perplexed.

UPDATE: I am only somewhat less perplexed. Here is the original ad in its entirety: all I could find last night was the screen shots.

Thanks to texagg04 for passing on a link to the actual video. Contrary to the arguments of some, it doesn’t change the dead ethics alarms diagnosis. It’s an add for soap. The implication that enough soap can turn a black girl white is obviously going to be offensive, whatever happens afterwards.

By the way, I wasn’t offended by the ad; I was offended by the incompetence of anyone in business and who lives in the US, especially post-Obama’s racialized 8 years, not immediately seeing how the ad was running over land mines. Now I must presume that the commenters who shrug it off aren’t ad executives and don’t make soap. They have an excuse. Dove doesn’t.

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Hollywood’s Unethical Aging Leading Man Tradition

[Let’s see, I tried to get everyone off the silly NFL kneeling protests (just because I write a lot about something doesn’t mean I don’t think its that important), and a simple pro-civility post turned into a donnybrook. Hmmm...how far can I get from both issues? Maybe this will work…]

The Business Insider has an article about something that has bothered me for decades: Hollywood’s embarrassing addiction to pairing young actresses with aging male stars, even when it’s ridiculous. There is nothing wrong with a 60 year old man romancing a 25 year-old woman, just as there was nothing wrong about the romance between an elderly woman and a twenty-something male in “Harold and Maude.” However, the appearance of such pairings is unavoidably sexist, and cuts hard against Hollywood’s posture that it is a force for liberalizing the culture.

The article, by Meg Shields, says in part…

“American Made” premieres this week, bringing two reunions with it: Tom Cruise and “Edge of Tomorrow” director Doug Liman, and Tom Cruise and his ever-growing age gap with his female co-stars. Sarah Wright (who plays Cruise’s wife in the film) was born in 1983 just a couple months after the premiere of Risky Business, making her 22 years Cruise’s junior. 

…It’s a well-known fact that Hollywood likes to pair older men with younger women. And to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with an age gap between two consenting adults. According to the 2013 US Census, 4.8 percent of heterosexual married couples included a husband 10-15 years his wife’s senior. The problem, rather, is that Hollywood doesn’t really care about showcasing the stories of that 4.8 percent so much as normalizing the expectation that women are only romance material when they’re in their mid-20s/early-30s, whereas men are free to age and remain conceivably f—able.

… I crunched the numbers for every single Tom Cruise movie, comparing his age relative to that of the actresses playing his love interests over time. All told, Cruise’s age gap mirrors, and indeed confirms, the larger critique of Hollywood’s bias against older actresses. This isn’t just anecdotally-sourced rhetoric, by the way. There’s more and more statistical evidence showing how women age out of Hollywood. Time and The Pudding, for instance, do a great job at visualizing how more roles and dialogue are available to men as they age, where the opposite is true for women.

I was intrigued by this article because I just saw Cruise’s remake of “The Mummy” (and a more ludicrous spectacle it would be hard to find). Tom looks great for his age, at least a decade younger than he is, and he is inherently youthful, so it is a bit unfair to use him to make this point. How about the oogy pairing of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery (above), looking every inch of his 69 years in “Entrapment”? When Cary Grant at 60 was paired with the gamin Audrey Hepburn in “Charade,” Cary’s fans weren’t bothered, but he was: he said that he felt uncomfortable playing the romantic lead at an advanced age, and began planning his retirement. John Wayne was never a comfortable romantic lead, and while Howard Hawks made the by-play between the Duke at 52 with 28 year-old Angie Dickinson in the great “Rio Bravo” work, teaming Wayne with much younger women didn’t seem right; a few movies later, he was back with Maureen O’Hara. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Gender and Sex, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

Hold Websites Responsible For False Advertising And Fake News

I had noticed last week that several supposedly respectable websites I check on had a news link that claimed that Michael Douglas had died. It was so pervasive I googled the news. Nope. Completely false. Total clickbait and a lie. Still, those fake headlines stayed up for days.

On The Daily Beast right now, looking exactly like one of the left-leaning news aggregator’s features, is a story headlined “Rush  in Total Ruins.” Then we have the revelation that Facebook profited from accepting links to false stories, paid for by Russian organizations seeking to undermine public faith and trust in democratic institutions. Facebook also has delivered to my page death hoaxes involving Clint Eastwood, Tiger Woods, Diana Ross, Raquel Welch, and Brad Pitt among others. Many of these are phishing schemes.

Websites that claim to be trustworthy and credible cannot agree, for whatever price, to place lies under their banners. They have a duty of due diligence. If they breach it, they should be liable. Even if the law can’t punish them based on  content, it should be able to punish such sites for aiding and abetting fraud for profit. How hard would it have been to check whether Michael Douglas was alive or not? How much time would it take to have an intern check to see whether Rush Limbaugh’s career is endangered? Newspapers have always excised discretion regarding ads, accepting their responsibility to keep their readers from being scammed. From what I am seeing now, websites accept no similar responsibility.

There have to be consequences. Continue reading

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