From The Archives: “Ethics Quote of the Week: Moses (Charlton Heston) in ‘The Ten Commandments'”

Seven years ago, while  watching the annual showing of “The Ten Commandments ” on ABC, I realized how advanced its civil rights message was for its time, and what an interesting and instructive ethics movie the epic was. This post was the result. I’ve edited it a bit.

The movie hasn’t been shown yet in 2020 ; it’s scheduled for the weekend before Easter, which is late this year.  I never miss it, and if you watch the film with your ethics alarms primed, you might see it in a whole new dimension.

_______________________________

“That evil that men should turn their brothers into beasts of burden, to be stripped of spirit, and hope, and strength – only because they are of another race, another creed. If there is a god, he did not mean this to be so!”

—-Moses, as played by Charlton Heston and scripted by seven writers, in Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments,” answering the Pharoah Seti’s question, “Then why are you forcing me to destroy you? What evil has done this to you?”

“The Ten Commandments” is so extravagantly fun and entertaining that, I must confess, I never watched it as an ethics film until tonight, as ABC once again broadcast the Biblical epic on an Easter weekend. This quote especially struck me as remarkable for a film made by an infamously rigid conservative, DeMille, in 1956.

Less that a year earlier, on Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus. The next twelve months were tense, difficult days in which the entire U.S. population was undergoing a wrenching cultural debate regarding human rights.  On Dec. 6, 1955, the civil rights boycott of Montgomery city buses, led by Rev. Martin Luther King , began. January 1956 saw Autherine Lucy, a black woman, accepted for classes at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, the first African-American ever allowed to enroll.  On Jan. 30, the Montgomery home of Martin Luther King, Jr. was bombed. February 4 saw rioting and violence on the campus of the University of Alabama and in the streets of Tuscaloosa. Lucy had to flee the campus, and the university’s Board of Trustees barred her from returning. On the 22nd of that month, warrants were  issued for the arrest of the 115 leaders of the Montgomery bus boycott. A week later, courts ordered Lucy readmitted, but the school expelled her. Continue reading

Movies To Keep You Happy, Inspired And Optimistic , Part I

This is a very subjective and personal list. The main requirement was that they all must be, in the final analysis, upbeat. I also have seen all of them more than once.

I left out some obvious choices that I have already devoted full posts to on Ethics Alarms, like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas.” Some of the films on my ethics movies list appear here, but not for the same reasons. Obviously, I encourage you to see those movies too.

Below is approximately the first half of the list. The rest will be along eventually.

Rocky (1976)

It still holds up as one of the most exhilarating sports movies of all time.

The Natural (1984)

Great score and a happy ending, unlike the novelette it was based on.

True Grit (1969)

This is the John Wayne version, with two of the go-to scenes I’ll play when I want to feel better.

E.T. (1982)

Other than the unforgivable rainbow at the end, a near perfect feel-good film.

Stand By Me (1986)

One of two Stephen King movies on the list. Does anyone not love this film?

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

And the other King movie. has any suicide in a film been quite this satisfying?

Erin Brockavich (2000)

More or less a true story, which makes it especially inspiring.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

If Donald O’Connor walking up walls doesn’t get your heart pumping and your mouth smiling, nothing will. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Life Competence Note: There Is No Way You Will Look Smart Or Competent Quoting ‘Imagine'”

I can’t fully express how gratifying it has been to see so many among the commentariat enthusiastically participating in a mass trashing of “Imagine,” John Lennon’s grandstanding ode to faux ethics Karl Marx-style. As I have mentioned here periodically, I have detested the song since I first heard it, and have had dire suspicions about the brain pan depth of any acquaintance who teared up when the thing played. Inspired and encouraged, I put “Imagine” torture among the punishment options in today’s poll on the best way to wreak societal vengeance on the teens deliberately coughing on supermarket produce,   and it’s doing surprisingly well:

A major assist for this Comment of the Day goes to Mrs. Q, who wrote,

Living in Portland it’s almost impossible to not hear this piece of shit song in every coffee shop, restaurant, and wherever else you’re trying not to loose your lunch. Once I was so aggravated at hearing it, I unethically told a fib to our waiter, that my (non-existent) sister committed suicide to the song. He turned it off and I enjoyed the rest of my meal…until Yellow Submarine came on. Karma indeed.

Imagine there’s no Imagine.

I was tempted to take up the challenge and compose an “Imagine There’s No Imagine” parody, but that would have required me to carefully listen to the song more than once, and I’d rather get the Wuhan flu.  Chris Marschner beat me to it, saving my sanity and earning his Comment of the Day on the post, “Life Competence Note: There Is No Way You Will Look Smart Or Competent Quoting ‘Imagine'”:

I have begun rewriting the lyrics and ask all to assist and improve.

Imagine there’s no Seven-Eleven
It’s easy if you try
No Big Gulps for the thirsty
Just whole wheat and rye

Imagine all the people
Living for today
So what else is new (ew ew)

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to plan or hope for
It’s just a fuckin zoo

Imagine all the people
Living life on the streets
They do (hoo hoo hoo)

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
the Bernie bros will welcome you
And the world will be covered in pond scum

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
that means no one can steal from you
Cause your home’s under the bridge span

Imagine all the people
Huddlin to stay warm
(hoo hoo ooh ooh)

You may say that I’m a dreamer
I’m not the only one
There are other nuts among us
Just put your possessions in that box over there
and I will dispose of them when I can.

How I Boarded The “Richard Jewell” Ethics Train Wreck

It is unusual to see an ethics train wreck continue to  roll along to the extent that it affects the movie about the ethics train wreck, but that was what happened with the Richard Jewell saga. Remember the definition of an ethics train wreck: an episode in which virtually everyone who becomes involved in it, however tangentially, becomes entangled in ethics mistakes and misconduct. The  “Richard Jewell” Ethics Train Wreck (or the Richard Jewell Ethics Train Wreck) even yanked me on board.

I’ve already written about the film, directed by Clint Eastwood and a 2019 holiday bomb (no pun intended). My focus then was on the single unethical feature of the screenplay, its unfair portrayal of the real-life Atlanta-Constitution reporter, the late Kathy Scruggs, who broke the FBI leak that the security guard who had become a national celebrity by detecting the deadly pipe bomb that had exploded at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics  was suspected of making the bomb himself. Though film reviewers usually register few rejections when films smear the deceased in pursuit of a more compelling narrative, “Richard Jewell’s” claim that Scruggs traded sex for the leak walked into the #MeToo buzzsaw, and on that basis alone, Clint’s movie was trashed  by reviewers and pundits alike.

Me Too, and I hadn’t seen it. I wrote in part,

I strongly doubt the average viewer passed on the film because it may have been unfair to a dead reporter. Who had the genius idea that releasing a film about the press’s abuse of a strange, sad, fat man played by an unknown actor would be a Christmas season hit? I had no interest in seeing the movie, and I’m an admirer of Eastwood and will cheer on any further proof of how rotten our journalism has become, but why pay to see the news media falsely try to destroy a security guard in 1996 when the same institution has been trying to destroy the President of the United States for three years?… So the news media was incompetent and vicious to Richard Jewell? That’s supposed to get me to the movie theater?

Nevertheless, let me be clear: I hate what the movie did to Kathy Scruggs, just as I detest it every time an individuals can’t defend themselves are lied about in a movie, misleading audiences and scarring their reputations….

Unless Eastwood had strong evidence that the reporter was trading sex for information, he should not have used her name. He owes the Scruggs family an apology, and I’m glad his movie is tanking.

Gee, the seats on the “Richard Jewell” Ethics Train Wreck are so comfy, and the fare on the snack car is excellent! Continue reading

No, There’s Nothing Unethical About Performing Holograms Of Dead Singers…

…as long as they don’t materially misrepresent the performer or the performance. They may be icky, but they aren’t unethical. This is in ethical contrast with the Ethics Alarms position on zombie performers in films, as examined here several times, most recently upon the unveiling of zombie James Dean.

The issue has arisen because a holograph of Whitney Houston, mercifully in a form before her physical and vocal decline due to drug abuse, is touring the country. Here’s a review of one of the performances; Zombie Whitney will make her debut in the US soon. Big plus: she doesn’t have to worry about the Wuhan virus, just holograms of the Wuhan virus. Fans have been less than ecstatic, as much because of the quality of the image as the ickiness of the concept. Here’s part of one review: Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 3/17/2020: Wuhan Virus-Free Zone. Well, Almost…

Good morning.

Stir crazy yet?

I have discovered, in my ongoing efforts to get traffic here back to 2016 levels, before Facebook banned the blog and The Great Exodus Of The Trump Deranged, that daily visits are 20% higher if I get a post up before 8 am. This has often caused me to get out of bed at 4 am or earlier to hit the keyboard. Today I couldn’t do it: I was so anxious last night about all the looming cancellations of my ethics programs that I barely got any sleep. Sure enough, I’m down about 400 visits compared to yesterday.

There are remarkably few comments on the Paige Spiranac saga. Well, I thought it was interesting. I also must confess that the post was in part for beloved long-time commenter Lucky, who I hope is still following the blog. Paige is his type.

I have concluded that a large number of my Facebook Friends block my posts from their feeds, because they’d rather read the daily wave of anti-Trump columns from the likes of Paul Krugman, Jennifer Rubin, and Michelle Goldberg without any unsettling clarifications from me. I have never unfriended anyone who didn’t personally insult me, but I’d unfriend someone for that. It reminds me of the “Black Mirror” episode where you can block someone in real life, and then they can’t see you, communicate with you, and vice versa.

I’m procrastinating finishing Part III of the Wuhan Virus ethics series. It covers politics and the news media, and the content makes me so angry I can’t see straight. Increasingly I’ve been wanting to write like Kurt Schlichter, the novelist/conservative gadfly, who writes things like,

“But the battle is really for the shriveled heart of the Democrat Party, and no one better represents the yin and the yang of that dying collection of power-hungry elitists and grasping greedos than the doddering socialist Sanders and that Biden guy who should by all rights be chasing that damn know-it-all squirrel around the park.”

I can write like that, I have written like that in the past, and I enjoy writing like that, but its not ethical. Schlichter recently wrote that a snarling Hillary Clinton would pop out of Joe Biden’s chest at the Democratic National Convention like in “Alien.”   What a great image…

1. Do you feel like you are being conditioned and brain washed against your will? In addition to Hollywood’s efforts to change the race or gender of every white male hero of yore, TV commercials are now giving sex changes and race overhauls to iconic characters in ads. “Mikey” in a new Life cereal commercial is a little girl. “Jake from State Farm” is now a black guy. I really don’t care who plays “Mikey” or “Jake from State Farm.” I do object to intrusive woke propaganda.

I’m waiting for Tony the Tiger to show up as a black panther and for a new Jolly Green Giantess…

…who goes “Hee Hee Hee!” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/13/2020: Let’s Talk About Something Other Than The Whateveryoucallit Virus [Updated!]

Good Morning!

1. Hmmmm. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Recognize those words? Might the news media have the sense and integrity to include them in stories about state governments “ordering” that there be no public gatherings of 500 or more (New York) and 250 or more (Washington state)?

Update: Massachusetts just “banned” gatherings of over 250. I’d like to see the research showing that numbers not ending in zero are unsafe.

As far as I can figure out, a state governor can’t unilaterally restrict the right to assemble even in a “state of emergency,” and whether such a draconian measure is permissible is subject to court challenge and judicial scrutiny. These two orders seem especially vulnerable. Why 500? Why 250?

I’d feel a lot better if organizations and the public would assert their rights and demand that governors, as Tom Cruise was required by Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men,” to ask nicely. This reminds me of Boston, of all places, meekly submitting in 2013 to a completely illegal demand by police that its citizens stay inside while the search for the Boston Marathon bombings was underway. Fear is a dangerous tool in the hands of the powerful, who have a nasty habit of becoming totalitarians if they sense any lack of resolve among their potential lackeys and victims.

2. Every now and then Jake Tapper’s once significant commitment to honest journalism creeps out of its post-CNN recruitment paralysis. Tapper recently opined on the air that Democratic voters were acting  like progressive  pundits:

“To be completely frank, I’m getting real 2004 vibes tonight…Democrats want to defeat an incumbent Republican so badly…that they decide which one is electable…and they decide, okay, it’s John Kerry, or in this case it’s Joe Biden… the point is that when you have the Democratic electorate deciding that they are all a bunch of Rachel Maddows and Chris Hayess and the like, that they’re just, you know, progressive pundits and they’re going to pick out who is the best one, maybe they don’t necessarily always know what they’re doing.”

“Hey! Where’s Tapper’s Kool-Aid? Get him a straw, quick!” I assume that within days, a former female guest will reveal that in 2014 Tapper complimented how she looked in her dress and asked, “Are you working out?,” leading to his immediate dismissal.

A fair point made by CNN critics: “I wonder why he didn’t say “Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo?” Continue reading