The Speed Museum’s Breonna Taylor Exhibit: When Art Museums Become Propaganda Agents, It’s Time To Stop Supporting Art Museums

Taylor exhibit

The propaganda, of course, is being nurtured by false narratives elsewhere. NPR, for example, begins its story on the Speed Museum (in Louisville) exhibit “Promise, Witness and Remembrance” this way: “It’s been nearly 13 months since Louisville Metro Police officers shot and killed Taylor in her home.” No, it’s been 13 months since Breonna Taylor was accidentally shot in a gunfire exchange initiated by her boyfriend, after a botched raid on her home triggered by Taylor’s illicit drug activities. The news media and BLM narrative has deceived the public into believing that that an ordinary, innocent medical worker was shot by police because she was black and they were white. This, in turn, has justified false and inflammatory demagoguery by the go-to lawyer for such exploitable cases, Ben Crump, and others, like Al Sharpton.

It is beyond question that Taylor did not deserve to die, and that the Louisville police were at fault, much as George Floyd did not deserve to die. But as with Floyd, the victim of this tragedy should not be sanctified and mythologized, nor should the facts of her death distorted to promote a political agenda. For a non-profit art museum to use its funds and influence for that purpose is beyond unethical: it is an abuse of charitable and public funds, as well as its tax status.

Here is the New York Times gushing over the exhibit:

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Ethics Dunce: NYT Columnist David Brooks, Weaving A Web Of Conflicts

Weave-logo

I figured out a long time ago that David Brooks, one of the alleged conservative voices among the New York Times’ swollen gang of knee-jerk Angry Leftists, was a hypocrite and fraud with barely a hint of genuine integrity. Now comes the proof.

In 2019, Brooks introduced Times readers to his vision of “Weavers,” a movement to fight social isolation by “building community and weaving the social fabric” across the nation. In a Times column called “A Nation of Weavers,” Brooks wrote that he had launched Weave at the Aspen Institute, a prominent think tank based in Washington, DC. Brooks went on to author several columns to praise and promote Weave. He also had other columns mentioning, positively, Facebook, its founder Mark Zuckerberg, andFacebook’s products and activities.

Facebook, unreported by Brooks or his paper, had contributed $250,000 to the Aspen Institute to help launch Weave in 2018.

Now, thanks to Buzzfeed, we learn that Brooks has been drawing a second salary for his work on Weave, meaning that he is being paid at least in part through the largess of Facebook. He has not mentioned any of this in his columns. Thus, when David Brooks promoted the good work of Weave, he is using his Times column to do work that he is being paid for by someone else, and secretly advancing the interests of Facebook and the Aspen Institute, not because the columnist objectively has concluded that they warrant it, but because he benefits financially when they benefit.

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Ethics Hero: Ada First United Methodist Church

ADA church

This is the sort of thing we should expect from tax-exempt religious organizations.

In Ada, Oklahoma, First United Methodist Church partnered with RIP Medical Debt to purchase and forgive $3.8 million in medical debt owed by Oklahoma residents. The debt was owed by 1,327 residents in Coal, Garvin, Hughes, Pontotoc, and Seminole counties. Organizers targeted households that were at least 200% below the federal poverty level, insolvent, or going through serious financial hardship.

Krystina Phillips, who coordinated the mission for Ada FUMC, said,

“Medical debt doesn’t discriminate—anyone can get sick or be involved in a serious accident. I hope our church and others in the community can revisit this mission in the future, particularly when it provides such tangible benefits to our neighbors.”

An Ethics Alarms Reader Challenge: Is Time’s Up A Scam, Or Is It Doing What It Is Supposed To Be Doing?

times-up

This is really a journalism ethics matter. On November 28, The New York Post announced that Time’s Up, the #MeToo inspired Hollywood organization, had misused and wasted its funds. Yesterday there was a follow-up piece, headlined, “The Sad tale of Time’s Up and Hollywood’s failed activism.”

Taken together, the two articles are contradictory, confusing and raise as many questions about the reporters’ competence as they do about Time’s Up. If there is anyone who can decipher this mess, please do. I have a headache.

Following the fall of Harvey Weinstein and the vigor of the resulting #MeToo movement, the Time’s Up organization was formally launched on January 1, 2018. At that year’s Golden Globes a few days later, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Emma Watson, Michelle Williams and others arrived on the red carpet with women’s rights activists in tow. Oprah Winfrey gave an impassioned speech on the broadcast, saying, “I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! . . . The time when nobody ever has to say ‘me too’ again!” Her speech sparked talk of her running for President.

#MeToo has become a rueful joke with the blind endorsement of Joe Biden, sexual harasser and accused workplace sexual assault purveyor, by most of its most prominent advocates. Time’s Up, however, includes a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and has formal and legal obligations, not just ethical ones. The Time’s Up organization consists of the Time’s Up Foundation and Time’s Up Now Inc., a 501(c)6. There is also a Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.

I defy anyone to make sense out of the two Post articles. To begin with, why does it only discuss the figures for 2018? 2020 is almost over; surely 2019 figures are available. Were they better? Aren’t the most recent years the most important ones? The articles say that in its first year of operation, Time’s Up spent just $312,000 of the more than $3 million it raised on sexual misconduct victims’ legal bills. It then points out that Charity watchdog groups such as Charity Navigator recommend that non-profits spend 75% of their revenues on their mission and no more than 25% on administration. “Time’s Up spent 38% on salaries alone,” it says. But Charity Navigator only “watches” charities, and those guidelines only apply to 501(c)3 organizations like the Times Up Foundation.

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No, Pete Davidson Is NOT Starring As George Bailey In A Remake Of “It’s A Wonderful Life”

toy train derailment

Here we have a fine example of that annoying American pop culture phenomenon, the teensie-weensie ethics train wreck. From beginning to end, everything about this episode evinces some lack of ethical values, but in the final analysis, the consequences are negligible.

Let’s examine the trivial Pete Davidson Casting Ethics Train Wreck:

1. Clickbait. Numerous friends and Ethics Alarms readers emailed me with the horrifying news that Pete Davidson, the slimy, possibly mentally-ill Saturday Night Live  cast member and stand-up comic, would be playing George Bailey in a “remake” of the beloved Frank Capra classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The reason for their alarm were headlines like this one, from Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller: “Pete Davidson To Take On Role Of George Bailey In ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’” The conclusion reached by those who contacted me was completely reasonable, but the headline was deliberately misleading.

2. Casting a creep like Davidson as George Bailey in any version of that movie including a Cub Scouts skit  is a slur on the film, the beloved character, James Stewart, the holidays, Capra, what the film stands for to many Americans, oh, pretty much everything. Davidson infamously mocked Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s eye-patch when he was running for Congress in 2018, and has generally proven himself to be a smug, shallow jerk of the sort that has flourished during the Trump years. Crenshaw lost his eye in combat, and Davidson has made it clear, despite various insincere mea culpas, that this warrants no respect in his world view.  For Davidson to stand in the shoes of James Stewart, a World War II veteran and hero, is nauseating, and an insult to all veterans. Continue reading

Ethics Cool Down, 8/27/2020, From A Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Day…

(I told you there would be more)

1. Kudos to luckyesteeyoreman, the venerable EA commenter who exactly predicted what Joe Biden’s ventriloquists would have him say about the riots, aka “the angry genie the progressives will never get back in the bottle”: The violence is “Donald Trump’s America.”  Lucky bested me: I never thought even the Democrats could be that incompetent. By claiming that the riots are the President’s fault, he sends exactly the opposite message from the one he needs to send,which is that the riots are not being blamed on Trump, but on the Democrats. Biden’s argument, “he made me riot” is one that the campus Left has been justly mocked for, and nobody but cowering college administrators and indoctrinated students regard it as anything but risible.

2. Speaking of things the Democrats and media are having no luck blaming on Donald Trump, Issues and Insights published five charts that nicely debunk the “The pandemic in the US is worse than anywhere!” talking point.  These are the best:

Of course, nobody in their right mind or who isn’t a Times reporter or  works for CNN believes the figures from China, Iran, or Russia.

Then there is this. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Retreat

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) endured only a day of searing criticism before it removed its racist chart on “whiteness” from  its website. The site replaced the graphic, which Ethics Alarms reproduced here and here and never wants to see again, with this statement:

At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, we believe that any productive conversation on race must start with honesty, respect for others, and an openness to ideas and information that provide new perspectives. In that context, we recently unveiled “Talking About Race,” an online portal providing research, studies, and other academic materials from the fields of history, education, psychology, and human development.Our goal in doing so was to contribute to a discussion on this vitally important subject that millions of Americans are grappling with. Since yesterday, certain content in the “Talking About Race” portal has been the subject of questions that we have taken seriously. We have listened to public sentiment and have removed a chart that does not contribute to the productive discussion we had intended. The site’s intent and purpose are to foster and cultivate conversations that are respectful and constructive and provide increased understanding. As an educational institution, we value meaningful dialogue and believe that we are stronger when we can pause, listen, and reflect—even when it challenges us to reconsider our approach. We hope that this portal will be an ever-evolving place that will continue to grow, develop, and ensure that we listen to one another in a spirit of civility and common cause.

Observations: Continue reading

Sunday Morning Alarms, 4/5/2020: After The First Two Items, You Won’t Want To Read Any More And Will Just Go Back To Bed…

….like I did…

1. KABOOM! Pennsylvanian Anita Shaffer, 19, decided to flee her York County home  a week ago for a mental health drive.  On her way back home, two Pennsylvania State Police officers stopped her about her car’s faulty tail-light. While talking with the officers,  Shaffer told them that she was just “going for a drive.” In response, they wrote her a ticket for more than $202.25 for violating the Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order.

That’s the citation above. It says Shaffer “failed to abide by the order of the governor and secretary of health issued to control the spread of a communicable disease, requiring the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses as of 20:00 hours on March 19, 2020. To wit, defendant states that she was ‘going for a drive’ after this violation was in effect,”

State police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski explained the ticket, saying, “Troopers have been encouraged to use contacts with the public as opportunities to reinforce the necessity to abide by stay-at-home orders.”

And how, exactly, does ticketing an individual who is engaged in conduct that cannot possibly infect anyone  accomplish  that?

Well, Tarkowski blathered,  being a soulless bureaucrat incapable of admitting that THE STATE is full of it in this case, “Troopers maintain discretion to warn or issue citations and the decision is specific to the facts and circumstances of a particular encounter.”

Fine. These facts do not justify a ticket by any stretch of the imagination. The officers’ discretion shows they are not qualified to wield the power they have. Indeed, the citation magnifies the extreme arbitrariness of such orders, and their danger when those charged with enforcing them have the judgment of Gestapo officers.

I’m surprised the cops didn’t slap her around a little, shoot her in the kneecap or even rape her, you know, to show the defiant prole who’s boss and not to ever, ever defy Big Brother.

Tarkowski also said Shaffer’s citation is the only one issued for violating the stay-at-home order. It’s good that the police picked a representative one to symbolize the Pennsyvania message to it’s citizens, which is apparently, “You will do as you are told, underlings.”

Well, not to be crude, but screw that.

Shaffer told reporters  she was within her rights to operate her car, and plans on challenging the citation.  Good. And again I ask, where is our vaunted American Civil Liberty Union on this issue? For three years, we have been hearing false cries of outrage about how the President is an autocrat just waiting to crush our civil rights, and now, when the civil rights of citizens are being ignored by tin pot governors all over the country, the ACLU just shrugs and sighs in its bunker, “It’s for the greater good.”

Oh..there was nothing wrong with her tail light. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/26/2020: Feeling Like Inigo Montoya

Good morning and I’m ticked off…

I know I ran that same clip recently. Never mind; when it’s appropriate, it’s appropriate. (The segment of “The Princess Bride” above is one of the top 6 ethics movie clips used on Ethics Alarms, the others being Otter’s declaration that it’s time to do something really stupid and futile (“Animal House”); “You know: morons!” (“Blazing Saddles”); the Devil speech (“A Man For All Seasons”); the Duke busting a bully in the face after saying that he wouldn’t (“McClintock”); and the Caine mutineers’ lawyer explaining that it is the duty of a crew to support their captain whether they like him or not (“The Caine Mutiny.”)

1. Do people know what “We’re in this together” means? I don’t think it means what they think it does. I just was sent an email copied in to 25 other people who I do not know, touting a 2015 Bill Gates TED Talk  about the dangers of viral contagions (as if his point hadn’t been made more vividly and earlier by Tom Clancy , Michael Crichton, and Stephen King. ) The letter also alluded to the “denier in chief” and once again flogged the Big Lie that the President  claimed that the virus was a hoax. The Pavlovian Deranged on the list immediately responded with short messages all echoing the theme of what an idiot Trump is.

I’ve had enough of this. I replied to all: Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/14/2020: Mrs. Jobs, Senator Schumer, Mayor de Blasio, And A Possum

Hi!

I’m working on Part III of the Wuhan virus ethics series, so I’m going to try to keep related matters to a minimum here. A couple links you can check out to relieve me of the necessity of commenting on them: Here’s Ann Althouse writing about her “social distancing” without, apparently, any awareness that the average American is not retired, financially well off, with a spouse, with grown children, who are happy blogging and reading all day. And here’s Ruth Marcus, long one of the more blatantly biased (and dim) members of the Washington Post’s editorial board, authoring an op ed with the head exploding headline,Why Joe Biden is the antidote to this virus.” I intend to keep this utter crap on file for the next time someone argues that degrees from elite institutions are evidence of intellectual ability. Marcus has a Yale and Harvard  Law degree.

1.  Rich people have a right to their wealth; it’s a shame, though, that their riches can’t buy IQ points, or the wisdom to know when to shut up. Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve , told the New York Times,

“It’s not right for individuals to accumulate a massive amount of wealth that’s equivalent to millions and millions of other people combined. There’s nothing fair about that. We saw that at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries with the Rockefellers and Carnegies and Mellons and Fords of the world. That kind of accumulation of wealth is dangerous for a society. It shouldn’t be this way….I inherited my wealth from my husband, who didn’t care about the accumulation of wealth. I am doing this in honor of his work, and I’ve dedicated my life to doing the very best I can to distribute it effectively, in ways that lift up individuals and communities in a sustainable way. I’m not interested in legacy wealth building, and my children know that. Steve wasn’t interested in that. If I live long enough, it ends with me.”

What a stupid, ethics-challenged, smug and selfish person. The tell is offering the non-argument that people being able to make as much money as they can and want isn’t “fair” and that it “shouldn’t be that way.” How articulate and persuasive! Continue reading