Tag Archives: alt-right

Comment Of The Day: “KABOOM! So It Has Come To This: The Book-Of-The-Month TV Commercial”

The recent post about Madison Avenue continuing its effort to coarsen the popular culture and society with gratuitously vulgar commercials, in this case Book-Of-The-Month Club believing that it is hilarious to fake out viewers into thinking they are watching a tampon commercial, was not one that I felt would ignite much controversy or varied comment. As is often the case, I was wrong. The essay generated several surprising threads, including a comment by prolix, controversial blog warrior Alizia, whose commentary here ranges all the way into another post, the article about a high school musical casting controversy and the school’s unethical response to it.

She also raises the question of whether Ethics Alarms should engage more frequently in meta-ethics and philosophy. One reason I selected her comment as a Comment of the Day is that I’m interested in other readers’ views on that topic, not that I’m interested in turning in that direction. My focus as an ethicist has always been practical ethics, and the posts here about grand ethics issues of the sort that have been debated to no productive end for centuries have been incidental and few. Frankly, those topics don’t interest me very much; certainly not enough to devote the blog to it. About a year ago an erudite young woman briefly submitted some provocative comments here but want to argue about competing philosophical theories. She was shocked, indignant and angered when I refused to engage, and after yelling at me for a while, left the forum.  For those seeking what she sought, I recommend going here.

Abstract and scholarly ethics have undermined the subject of ethics to the degree that it is not one  most people can tolerate or understand, effectively removing ethics from public education and general discourse, and thus undermined the goal of an ethical society as well. They are still relevant to the discussion; I just know from hard experience how philosophy tends to send normal people fleeing like the Tokyo crowds in a Godzilla movie.

Here is Alizia’s Comment of the Day on the post, KABOOM! So It Has Come To This: The Book-Of-The-Month TV Commercial:

One things I noticed and have mentioned a few times in respect to the Ethics Alarms blog and, naturally, the people who participate in it, is that it often clearly distinguishes a situation or event in which an ethical issue is brought out and then it successfully and interestingly provokes an examination of the problem or issue. Yet what I notice as well is that the issue is not brought out in a larger context. Or, the larger context is rarely explored. The reason why it is not explored is more interesting and it seems to me more important than what is allowed to be explored or what is acceptable. I can think of two instances and I will mention them.

In this present instance it is noticed that advertising is incorporating vulgarity. But it is really far more than that, at least as I see things. What is the real issue? The real issue is the pornographication of culture. It is, I think this is true, coming about because this is the sort of things you-plural have allowed to go on. It is certainly true (as I have scoldingly said) that ‘it is your generation that has allowed these levels of moral and ethical corruption to creep in’ and I think that this is a necessary stance to take. In my view, though it is not appreciated much here, ‘the pornographication of culture’ connects to sexual expression of many sorts and also extends to ‘the homosexualization of culture’.

There is an active agent, either in the business culture itself, or perhaps in academic culture, that has set in motion these pornographic processes. And just as media culture and Hollywood has gotten continuingly infected with this material (which I assume *you* find titillating and exciting and do not oppose), similarly one can now notice the insinuation of homosexuality into the culture-productions. It becomes visible, included, and influential thereby. Normalized. But behind these appearances, behind this increasing in-flux, stands something far more raw, far more brutal, far more elemental, far more powerful and influential, and that is ‘the pornographic’, a truly ugly and vile *world*. And what *you* do has world-scale ramifications. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Comment of the Day, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Religion and Philosophy

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/29/2017: Daring The Alt-Right

GOOD Morning, Everyone!

1 Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! report: You did not disappoint  me. I have not read all the comments in detail yet, but the various evisceration of NBC’s jaw-droppingly stupid call for an end to freedom of speech produced at least five strong Comment of the Day candidates. I won’t re-post all of them, because Noah’s inept screed doesn’t warrant that much space, frankly. Good job!

On a related administrative note, I’m really going to try to get all the Ethics Alarms Best and Worst completed this year (having fallen short the last two), and would appreciate nominations in all categories. (Some examples are here and here, but don’t feel constrained. New categories are welcome.)

Use this post, please, or e-mail me at jamproethics@verizon.net.

2. Doesn’t help…President Trump couldn’t resist tweeting this:

‘In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record,’ he tweeted from Mar-a-Lago Thursday night, where it is currently a balmy 78 degrees Fahrenheit Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!’ 

Ugh.

  • These are the tweets that try men’s souls. It’s just never a good thing for the leader of the country to broadcast his ignorance and deficits of critical thought.
  • It would be a bit less annoying—but still unpresidential and self-destructive,  if the President were satirizing the climate change chorus, which despite the fact that the science they claim to revere so much says its nonsense to do so, still cite individual weather events as “proof” of global warming, most recently the 2017 hurricane season. Or if he were trolling his foes, which he is often masterful at doing, trying to lure them into hypocrisy. Predictably, journalists took the bait anyway, with many suddenly becoming sticklers for the key distinction between  climate change, and weather after years and years of intentionally blurring in in their interviews and reporting. Sadly, there is no reason to believe the President was doing anything but trumpeting his own scientific illiteracy.
  • I wonder what the President’s approval ratings would be if he had never sent a tweet after taking the oath of office?

Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Science & Technology, Social Media

Morning Ethics Warm Up, 11/15/17: Rush, Creepy Joe, Fake Fake News, And Yum-Yum

Good Morning!

1 Save the “Mikado”! Yesterday I was honored to be able to participate in a Smithsonian Associates lecture on the careers and operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. The Georgetown Gilbert and Sullivan Society was kind enough to invite me to sing “Tit Willow” as part of its segment at the event, which played to a full house. It’s a shame, and alarming for the future of live theater, operetta, and the vitality of the G$S canon, that the average age of participants appeared to be approximately 94, give or take a decade.

Before I warbled “Tit Willow,” once as well-known to the average U.S. adult as “My Way” (John Wayne sings the chorus in “The Shootist”) I went off-script to say, “As you all probably know, this song is from ‘The Mikado.’ It is a wonderful show, and don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.” The statement got nods and knowing looks, because they knew exactly what I was talking about.

Right now, the more than 80 Gilbert and Sullivan performance groups in the U.S., plus various opera and regional theater companies, have almost abandoned the best and most performed of the 14 sui generis shows by the great duo for fear of getting into a political correctness battle. “The Mikado,” you see, is now considered “racist,” because Gilbert had the ridiculous (and typical) idea of presenting a satire of English foibles and personalities as if Great Britain had suddenly been turned into an upside-down version of Japan. The script is self-referential on the gag (“I often wonder, in my artless Japanese way…”; “He might have had initials on his pocket handkerchief, but Japanese don’t carry pocket handkerchiefs!” ), as Gilbert was one of the fathers of post-modern humor. The show has been popular in Japan, and all over the world. A popular Broadway adaptation (“The Hot Mikado”) had an all-black cast—still in Japanese costumes—speaking and singing jive versions of the dialogue and songs. Gilbert included a song (“I’ve got a Little List”) that accommodated current events updates, so the show is arguably the most continuously topical of all the Victorian operettas—and all of them are still funny.

Never mind all that. “The Mikado” has been targeted by offense-mongering progressives, and theater companies, which are always a bad decision or two from bankruptcy, find it easier to cave and just produce “The Pirates of Penzance” instead.

“The Mikado, ” directed and performed properly, is better than 85% of all Broadway musicals. It is also cheaper, can be performed effectively by all ages, is infinitely adaptable, and is free: it’s in the public domain. It is a cultural treasure, as important to preserve as the best Shakespeare tragedies or  “David Copperfield.” The battle for “The Mikado” has to be fought, and if there is any theater company out there, amateur or professional, who has the guts to fight it, call me. I can help.

2.  Ridiculous Roy Moore defense of the week. I haven’t been listening to Rush Limbaugh for a long time: is he finally losing it? This week he appeared to be suggesting that because Roy Moore was a Democrat when he was lusting after teen-age girls, there is some kind of hypocrisy involved in the controversy over his Senate campaign, saying,

“Did you know that before 1992, when a lot of this was going on, that Judge Moore was a Democrat? Nobody said a word. When he supposedly was attracted to inappropriately aged girls — he was a Democrat.”

So what? Moore could have been a Rosicrucian when he was molesting girls, and it wouldn’t matter. He’s running for the U.S. Senate NOW, and as a Republican. Either Rush is deliberately making what he knows is a terrible argument that will confuse idiots in his audience, meaning that he is dishonest, or he really believes that it is some kind of mitigation to the GOP’s irresponsible support for Moore that he was a Democrat when he broke the Alabama child molestation law. This would mean that Rush is now an idiot himself. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Race, Research and Scholarship

The Lesson Of Berkeley’s “Free Speech Week” Fiasco: Jerks Make Terrible Champions And Martyrs

Conservative agitator/ campus troll Milo Yiannopoulos’s Free Speech Week in Berkeley, California was advertised as a major event, bringing some of the most Left-reviled  conservative speakers and rabble-rousers together for four straight days of speeches and events on a campus that has repeatedly disgraced itself by being hostile to speech its primarily progressive denizens consider “hate speech.”

The University of California was taking elaborate measures to avoid the violence that protesters there and at other campuses have brought to appearances by many of the featured speakers. It was rumored that as much as $600,000 would be spent on security. The prospect of the rhetoric of such professional provocateurs as Yiannopoulosas, Steve Bannon and Ann Coulter, to name the best known, echoing around the school where it was least welcome promised an instant cultural touch-point, like a right-wing Woodstock, while challenging leftists and ideological censors to reveal their ugly, totalitarian sides.

But by the end of the week, many were predicting that the event was a mirage. Speakers whose names had been promoted on preliminary schedules either pulled out, denied they had been contacted  or said they were never planning to go. The campus publication sponsoring Yiannopoulos’s circus, The Berkeley Patriot, never reserved indoor school venues. Yiannopoulos kept up the pretense, announcing on Instagram a planned march through campus tomorrow in protest of Berkeley’s hostility to free speech. “It’s time to reclaim free speech at UC Berkeley and send shockwaves through the American education system to every other college under liberal tyranny,” Yiannopoulos wrote.

Today, the day before the “Week” was to begin, UC Berkeley announced  that ‘Free Speech Week’ was officially cancelled, saying,

“Representatives of the Berkeley Patriot student organization have informed UC Berkeley’s administration that all of the events scheduled for the coming week have been canceled. It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the university was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events.”

Now there is mass confusion, with strong indications that the event was a sham from the start. Lucian Wintrich, one of the planned speakers, e-mailed Cal spokesman Dan Mogulof this morning,  to say that the event had been a set-up from the start. “It was known that they didn’t intend to actually go through with it last week, and completely decided on Wednesday,” Wintrich wrote.

“Wait, whoah, hold on a second,” replied Mogulof. “What, exactly, are you saying? What were you told by MILO Inc? Was it a set-up from the get-go?”

 

Wintrich replied, “Yes.”

An account of the chaos and miscommunications surrounding the event published by The Atlantic yesterday certainly made this development seem probable. Milo, as late as this afternoon, insisted that the intention was always to hold a real week of speeches. He has as much credibility as someone who makes his living creating controversies and infuriating his ideological foes deserves to have: none.

What’s going on here? Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Rights

That Settles It: Time To Clean House At UC Berkeley

An unacceptable percentage of the University of California at Berkeley are more committed to ideological indoctrination and political conformity that they are to American values and education. They need to be cleared out, as do their compatriots in other universities. They pose an existential threat to our democracy, and cannot be entrusted with the education of young minds, which should involve opening, not closing them.

The letter posted by 200 Berkeley faculty members calls for a boycott of all classes and a shutdown of the campus because on “Free speech day,” three conservative speakers will dare to express their blasphemy in a progressive stronghold. The Horror.

In addition to being a per se violation of the principles of a liberal arts education, the duty to give students exposure to as many ideas and views as possible, academic freedom and freedom of expression, the letter is intellectually dishonest. There is no organization known as “alt-right”; it is a description used to marginalize and discredit all conservatives by lumping them in with extremists, racists, white supremacists and neo-fascists. It’s a popular and effective tactic these days on the Left, similar to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s unethical tactic of designating churches that oppose same-sex marriage “hate groups” alongside the KKK. Ann Coulter, one of the conservative speakers who apparently maims with her words, is just a conservative, albeit an especially obnoxious and cynical one. Yet this execrable letter cites as proof that she and her fellow speakers are dangerous a cherry-picked list of isolated and unrelated incidents, none of which are connected to a single group. The exact same technique could be used, and has been used, to argue that all Muslims are dangerous. Moreover, the faculty is implying that those who would listen to Ann Coulter, Steve Bannon, and the professional conservative troll Milo Yiannppoulis, including students,  are too dangerous to co-exist with “good students.” Why? It’s not because one crazy ran his car into a crowd in Charlottesville. It’s because the faculty members believe extreme conservative ideas are too “dangerous” to allow to be expressed.

I wouldn’t move from my dining room to my living room to hear any of those speakers. Calling them dangerous, however, is an excuse to silence them and intimidate others. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Research and Scholarship, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: Old Town Sport And Health in Alexandria, VA. Why? Because White Nationalists Have A Right To Work Out Too”

My initial response to this comment by Spartan on the post about Richard Spencer being harassed while trying to use his gym membership and the gym’s response of kicking him out rather than his harasser was in part:

“A very clear and well-stated exposition of an unethical point of view that many misguided people agree with…thus imperiling our pluralistic society.”

It troubles me greatly that so many intelligent Americans are thinking this way in 2017.

Here is Spartan’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Dunce: Old Town Sport And Health in Alexandria, VA. Why? Because White Nationalists Have A Right To Work Out Too”:

This guy is a public figure and he will be recognized. He chose to be in the limelight. Gym members are allowed to quit their memberships because they don’t want to work out with an asshole. Now imagine (in liberal Old Town) that 75% of the members decide to quit their memberships at this gym because they don’t want to be around him. The business will now suffer.

I used to go to this gym, and I can tell you that I would not want to be around this man. So, although I would not circulate a petition or demand that the gym expel him, I would quit my membership. And, I probably would tell all of my friends why, so I imagine many of them would quit as well. Also, keep in mind that this gym is super tiny — you are pretty much forced to interact with other members.

In this scenario, the gym might end up closing because of lack of membership. So, this is trickier than you make it out in your hypothetical. I am not obligated, as a private citizen, to be polite or even silent around odious human beings. While I do not support a gym’s decision to terminate membership based on political (although I’m being generous here) beliefs, the fact is that people can vote with their feet.

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: Old Town Sport And Health in Alexandria, VA. Why? Because White Nationalists Have A Right To Work Out Too

Let me be clear what you are saying, Professor: when you engage in harassment and bullying, that’s good, but if the bad guys do the same thing, it’s despicable. Do I have that right?

Last week, controversial speaker and white nationalist Richard Spencer was working out at the Old Town Sport&Health gym where he is a member, minding his own business,  when C. Christine Fair, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, recognized him and got in his face.

“Not only are you a Nazi — you are a cowardly Nazi,’ ” Fair says she told him.  “I just want to say to you, I’m sick of your crap — that this country belongs [to people like you]. . . . As a woman, I find your statements to be particularly odious; moreover, I find your presence in this gym to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable.”

Spencer called for a trainer, who happened to be black, to stop Fair and allow him to go back to working out.

“Seriously? This superior race of a white man needed the help of a female African American? What kind of martial race member is he?” Fair wrote in a post about the incident. Fair continued to harass Spencer, and another gym member stepped in to defend him. Fair said she told the woman, “Right now you’re being ignorant, and you’re actually enabling a real-life Nazi.”

So, naturally, Old Town Sport&Health terminated the professor’s membership for bullying and harassing other members.

Just kidding! It terminated Spencer’s membership for having the audacity to hold different views than Professor Fair. Whether Alexandria kicks him out of town on the same theory, as Fair believes is the right thing to do, is unknown.

Boy I hate it when people make me defend racists. I especially  hate it when smug, self-righteous totalitarians and noodle-spined, unprincipled  gym owners make me defend racists. Nonetheless, Spencer was the abused victim here, Fair was the offender, and she, not he, should have been told to work out somewhere else.

I’m so weary of reading about restaurants that give discounts to diners who pray, and bar owners who declare that no Democrats are welcome and Maine propane dealers who tell their customers that they can freeze to death if they voted for Donald Trump. I’m tired of pointing out what should be obvious to everyone in a pluralistic society, but suddenly isn’t, particularly, it seems, to proto-totalitarians like the Georgetown professor, who is doubtless hard at work indoctrinating her young charges into believing that those with non-conforming views should have their rights taken away for the greater good. I detest Spencer’s views, but I consider Fair and her kind the far greater threat to the nation, in part because there are so many of them. Continue reading

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