Ethics Quiz: Michelangelo Porn

Oh, let’s start out this rainy weekend (here in Northern Virginia, at least) with an ethics quiz on a theme that will be recurring on Ethics Alarms today if all goes as planned (which it seldom does).

Tallahassee (Florida) Classical School principal Hope Carrasquilla was given a choice between being fired or resigning following complaints by parents over a recent art lesson in the charter school that included Michelangelo’s famous “David” statue and his Sistine Chapel “Creation of Adam” fresco painting.

After all, pee-pees were involved.

The stated mission of the Tallahassee Classical School is “training the minds and improving the hearts of young people through a content-rich classical education in the liberal arts and sciences, with instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue.” The school also maintains that “reform of American public education, to be successful and good, must be built on a foundation of classical liberal arts learning.” Presumably parents who enrolled their children in the school were aware of this orientation.

Moreover, it is fair to say that “David” is just about as iconic a symbol of the classical arts as one could name, with perhaps the Venus de Milo being the only competition. Yet after three parents complained about their 6th graders being exposed to images of “David” (and the naked Adam in the Sistine Chapel painting), the school’s principal was forced out.

Conservative Hillsdale College provides the curriculum, training, and resources for the school as well as for other public schools through Hillsdale’s K-12 support. This was not an example of parents rising up against an extreme left-wing curriculum. Yet one of the parents famously denounced “David” as “pornography.”

Your Ethics Alarms Fine Arts Ethics Quiz of the Day is….

Is it inappropriate and irresponsible to display “David” in an art course for Sixth Graders?

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Ethics Quiz: The Unmasked 97-Year-Old Driver

Some background is necessary. Last month, by far the stupidest TV show currently on the air and arguably one of the top ten most ridiculous shows in U.S. entertainment history proved that metaphorical jewels van be found in garbage. On the pile of over-produced, pablum-for-morons, steaming idiot box crap called “The Masked Singer,” the scene in the video above emerged. Dick Van Dyke, now 97, was the secret singer (and dancer) disguised in a full-body costume worthy of a Disneyland character parade. The reaction of the studio audience, judges and Van Dyke himself when he was “unmasked” was unquestionably sincere as well as moving; yeah, it choked me up (though I’m easy.)

The episode, which shows the “Mary Poppins” icon to be something of a freak of nature (but we knew that when he performed a dance routine in the sequel to “Mary Poppins” a few years ago), is relevant to the issue on Ethics Alarms. Yesterday, Dick was behind the wheel of his a 2018 Lexus LS 500 in Malibu when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into gate, sustaining minor injuries.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is it responsible for a 97-year-old to be driving, and for society to permit one to drive?

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Ethics Quiz: Axis Sally

Mediocre movies can still raise important ethics questions, and so it is with a 2021 bomb called “American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally.” The film dramatizes the bizarre tale of Mildred Gillars, a Maine-born American woman of modest looks and talents who rode her aspirations for a Hollywood career into an infamous gig as an infamous Nazi German radio propagandist during World War II. My father told me about her broadcasts from Berlin, and how she used sexy tones to tell American servicemen that they were doomed, that the Jews, not Germany, were their real enemy, and that their wives and girlfriends were cheating on them while they were in Europe fighting Hitler’s “invincible army.”

Her last broadcast was just a few days before Germany surrendered; Gillars was arrested and charged with being a traitor. In 1948, “Axis Sally” faced a very real threat of being hanged as she went on trial for eight counts of treason. Thanks in great part to a vigorous (if reluctant) defense by famed criminal defense attorney James Laughlin, played by Al Pacino in the film, the jury found her guilty of only one, and what could have been a 30 year jail term turned into ten.

Dad said that American GIs thought “she”Axis Sally” was hilarious, that no soldiers took her seriously, and that her singing was terrible. Her broadcasts were popular in the U.S., as she often relayed news of American prisoners of war to show how well they were being treated by their German captors.

Although I suspect that Pacino’s ringing closing argument in her defense was punched up considerably from the original by Laughlin and maybe even contained some arguments Laughlin did not make, the points he raises in the movie are fascinating:

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‘Ick Or Ethics’ Ethics Quiz: The Self-Repossessing Car

This one has my ethics alarms ringing, but I can’t seem to find anything unethical about it.

A recently published patent application from Ford describes a system that would lock drivers out of their vehicles for nonpayment and allow the vehicle to repossess itself.

The patent document was formally published on February 23. Titled “Systems and Methods to Repossess a Vehicle,” it outlines different methods that could be taken if the vehicle’s owner misses payments. This would trigger a”repossession system computer,” which would be capable of disabling “a functionality of one or more components of the vehicle,” including the air conditioning, and radio.” “Incessant and unpleasant sound” could be turned on “every time the owner is present in the vehicle.” Finally, the car could be placed in a “lockout condition,” unable to be driven except in the case of an emergency.

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Ethics Quiz: The USS Chancellorsville

In a final flurry of Black History Month pandering by the Biden administration, the missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville was renamed USS Robert Smalls. A US government Naming Commission reviewed military bases and vessels that appeared to honor the Confederacy and made recommendations regarding which should to be renamed. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved the commission’s recommendations in October 2022, and this was one of the results. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced that the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser would lose its previous name and henceforth would bear the name of Smalls, a former slave who took over a Confederate ship and delivered it to the Union navy.

Esteemed reader Steve-O-in NJ brought this story to ethics Alarms’ attention, and makes this argument:

It used to be we would name carriers after battles, but, for whatever reason, when these cruisers, once the most expensive and most sophisticated non-carrier vessels afloat in the US Navy, were built, they decided to name them after battles instead (with one exception, the USS Thomas S. Gates, which left active service long ago because it was not built with the vertical launch system).  I questioned this choice of names from the get-go, since as far as I know all US ships named after battles were named for US victories or at least battles where our forces gave a good account of themselves (one of the other ships in the class is the USS Chosin, another the USS Anzio).  Why did they decide to name this one after a disastrous US defeat?  Well, presumably the same reason the names USS Semmes, USS Buchanan, USS Waddell, and USS Barney found their way into the Charles F. Adams and Spruance classes of destroyers, but are unlikely to be used again.
I can think of a long list of names that would not break the class tradition, nor stick out like a sore thumb, and speak to the entire US.  Notably the names USS Saratoga and USS Lexington are not presently in use, nor the names USS Coral Sea or USS Midway.  Give me a few minutes and I’ll come up with a dozen more.  But of course this couldn’t be just a switch of names to something more universally admired, it HAD to be the name of a former slave, as a rebuke to those evil racists who dared name a ship after a legendary victory led by Robert E. Lee, and now everyone who sees it or hears the name will know of the rebuke.  

A two-part Ethics Quiz of the Day arises from this discussion:

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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

Ethics Quiz: The Icky Question

Gwendolyn Herzig, a pharmacist who describes herself as a transgender female, testified in support of the gender-altering treatment of minors during an Arkansas state Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week. The legislation, S.B. 199, being considered would prohibit physicians in the state from providing most types of such treatment to minors, including prescribing puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy, or from performing transition-related surgeries. (NBC uses “gender-affirming care,” which is both an oxymoron and cover-phrase devised by pro-transexual activists. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!)

At one point, Sen. Matt McKee, a Republican, asked Herzig if she has a penis. You can see the exchange above.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is..

Was McKee’s question unethical?

Whatever you may think of the question, Herzig handled it very well.

I could justify the question was going to credibility and bias. The other side of the argument is that it was needlessly embarrassing to the witness, as well as disrespectful.

I wouldn’t have asked it.

Ethics Quiz: Alec And The Philharmonic [Corrected]

I did not know that Alec “Quick-Draw” Baldwin, currently criminal charges in New Mexico as a consequence of his fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins while filming the film “Rust,” is and has been the New York Philharmonic’s radio host. In writing this,  I am admitting that I haven’t listened to live broadcasts of the orchestra in a long time, probably since Leonard Bernstein was waving the baton. On the other hand, if I knew I had to listen to Baldwin to hear “Peter and the Wolf” again (Lenny’s rendition was big hit when I was 10), I wouldn’t have listened anyway. I can tolerate Baldwin in older films (like “The Hunt for the Red October”) before he became a public asshole, and in more recent movies (like “The Departed,” “Pearl Harbor” and the “Mission Impossible” films) where he is only in a small supporting role: he is, after all, a competent actor (like many assholes). In any other setting, however, if Alec is connected with it, count me out; the cognitive dissonance is too great.

The New York Post reports that despite the actor facing homicide murder charges (two counts of involuntary manslaughter) , the Philharmonic will allow Baldwin to keep his role as the famed orchestra’s  radio host and will remain a member of its board of directors. “He has been an incredibly strong person on the board, and very, very helpful and I think that will probably carry us today,” Charles F. Neimeth, a fellow board member, said in explaining the organization’s decision. “He’s been a strong contributor, both financially and otherwise.” Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Marie Osmond’s Formula For Responsible Parenting When You’re Filthy Rich

Pop star Marie Osmond, seen above apparently being eaten by the same plant mass that devoured Barack Obama in his awful portrait that became a source of a scandal narrative, has announced that she will not be bestowing any of her current wealth, estimated to be about $20 million, on her 8 children or 8 grandchildren.

“Honestly, why would you enable your child to not try to be something? I don’t know anybody who becomes anything if they’re just handed money,” she said last month in an interview. “To me, the greatest gift you can give your child is a passion to search out who they are inside and to work. I mean, I’ve done so many things… I love trying. I wanna try everything,” she added.

Further parenting wisdom from Marie, whose plan is to spend what she has with husband Steve Craig and give whatever is left to charity when she goes to that big Osmond Reunion in the sky: “I just think all [an inheritance] does is breed laziness and entitlement. I worked hard and I’m gonna spend it all and have fun with my husband…” and she says she doesn’t want to set the stage for her heirs to fight over her estate. Marie has said that her role model in this conviction was actor Kirk Douglas, who reportedly left none of his wealth, estimated to be three times Osmond’s, to Michael (who was rich already).

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is… Continue reading