Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/10/2021: Happy Birthday, Jimmy! [UPDATED!]

Jimmy Durante was born on this day in 1893 (“The Snozzola” died 87 years later, in 1980. He’s a semi-regular around here, because it’s Jimmy’s famous line from “Jumbo” (1935) (“Elephant? What elephant?”) that describes the Ethics Alarms offense of resolutely refusing to admit an ethic breach that cannot be denied.

My father was a lifetime admirer of Jimmy, and eventually I joined him: we had all of his albums, and as a stage director I often played his renditions of a ballad (like “I’ll Be Seeing You”) for singers to demonstrate the importance of phrasing and expression, both of which Durante excelled at despite having a distinctive but hardly euphonious voice. He also impressed me with his professionalism. When my father was handling marketing for a Boston banking association, he helped arrange for his organization to be one of the sponsors of Jimmy’s show, which came to the Prudential Center in Boston. The Snozz was over 70 then, but he always seemed ageless, and his energy in person was even more impressive than it was on TV (in fact, Durante had learned to tone down his enthusiasm on the small screen, because it became exhausting to watch). He made his entrance in the stage show rushing on from the wings while singing and flinging his fedora to the back of the stage, where it landed neatly on the head of his band’s bald drummer. My father managed to get our family backstage (though Jimmy was not available because he had a charity appearance right after the show) and I talked to the drummer. I asked him how often Jimmy landed the hat on his head. He replied, “He’s never missed.” He went on to say that his boss rehearsed that bit for hours every week and before every show. It was a split second grace note, but Jimmy insisted on doing it perfectly.

Durante had a stroke after a show when he was almost 80, and never fully recovered. My father, who was uncomfortable expressing emotion face to face but wrote beautiful and touching letters (I hated getting them because they always made me cry; still do), wrote Jimmy, who was then bedridden, a letter thanking him his long entertainment career and explained what his work had meant to Dad. Jimmy’s wife Margie wrote back to say she had read the letter to Jimmy, and he had mouthed the words “Thank you.”

1. Politicizing everything. UCLA’s star gymnast Nia Dennis is getting accolades for turning her floor routine into an ” exuberant and powerful celebration” of black culture. Says Slate, “This routine has everything. Dennis pays tribute to Colin Kaepernick (she kneels!), Tommie Smith and John Carlos (she raises a fist!), and Kamala Harris (like a soror, she strolls and she steps!).” That’s funny: the only way I would recognize a reference to Harris would be if Nia cackled and blathered nonsense. The routine is more dance than gymnastics, but it’s a diabolical gimmick (don’t blame Nia: she has a woke choreographer, Bjoya Das). Any judge that doesn’t give the routine the highest marks knows he or she will be cancelled as a virulent racist.

2. Then there’s the Jeep ad…I’m not going to bother with surveying the ethically dubious Super Bowl ads this year, since they all are unethical for supporting the NFL’s ongoing negligent homicide, but I can’t let Bruce Springsteen’s obnoxious Jeep ad pass. Here it is:

[Whoa! That video was pulled from YouTube shortly after I posted it! I also can’t find a link that has it.]

“To The ReUnited States Of America.” Right. Springsteen is hardly an honest advocate for “the middle,” as a vocal Democrat and anti-Trump shill. The country is supposedly “re-united” because a Democrat is President. The entire theme of the ad is a cynical exercise in Rationalization #64, “It isn’t what it is.” Donald Trump was “divisive” because Democrats decided to paint him as such. Enforcing immigration laws shouldn’t be divisive. Withdrawing from an unapproved treaty with no actual impact shouldn’t be divisive. Calling the biased news media what it is shouldn’t be divisive. Now, calling half the country racists , Nazis and morons IS divisive, and the party that just won control of Congress and the White House has been doing that for four years. Surveys show that that half of the country is more angry, alienated and distrustful than ever, and for some very good reasons, like the current unconstitutional impeachment trial. Got it, Bruce: when Republicans win a national election it’s divisive,and when Democrats win one, it’s unifying.

Update: Apparently Jeep has received so many complaints about Bruce that they decided it was a major gaffe. How can this happen? It happens when the entire company and its ad agency is so overloaded with Democrats and progressives that they can’t see what’s right in front of them.

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Why Freedom Of Speech In America Is Threatened: Too Many Cowards

Coward

Oh no, not this issue again so soon.

Another prominent professional has been fired for breaching political correctness rules and annoying the totalitarian Left’s censors. His crime: speaking the taboo word “nigger” while referencing it in a discussion of racial slurs. Then, as we have seen over and over again, the exiled victim of this assault on free speech apologized. “Thank you sir, may I have another?” And, as we have also seen, it did no good.

The New York Times fired its #1 science and health reporter Donald McNeil Jr., after The Daily Beast reported that he had used racist language while on a 2019 trip with students to Peru. He did not use “racist language,” however, and there is no evidence at all that he displayed racist attitudes or opinions. What he did is to speak a word that speech censors have decided is itself forbidden, even if it is necessary in order to discuss the issue of racism, censorship or linguistics. This is, I note again, punishing or even criticizing such conduct is unethical, idiotic, juvenile, and sinister. Nonetheless, it is rapidly becoming the norm, and it is becoming the norm because so many individuals of power and influence lack the integrity and fortitude to oppose an indefensible position loudly and unequivocally.

(See the previous post. It is very relevant here.)

McNeil, formerly the Times’ top reporter on COVID-19,was fired because six students or their parents claimed he had made racist and sexist remarks throughout the trip. An investigation inicated that none of his remarks were sexist or racist, but that he had used words employed by sexists or racists to talk about sexism or racism, rather than using the approved poopy/ pee-pee/woo-woo baby talk codes (n-word, b-word, c-word) demanded by language censors. Initially, the Times’ editor tried to be fair and to uphold what the Times is supposed to respect—the Bill of Rights—but eventually capitulated to his woke and anti-free speech staff, as he has before.

So here are the cowards in this nauseating drama:

Coward: Dean Baquet. The Times Executive Editor initially said McNeil should be “given another chance” (Chance to do what? Conform his speech to oppressive conformity with progressive dictates?).”I authorized an investigation and concluded his remarks were offensive and that he showed extremely poor judgment, but it did not appear to me that his intentions were hateful or malicious,” he said. But anti-white racist and liar (but Pulitzer Prize-winning racist and liar!) Pulitzer Prize-winner Nikole Hannah-Jones threatened to call the parents and students on the trip to determine what McNeil had said and in what context (all of which would be hearsay, and thus unreliable except to an ideological hack like Hannah-Jones). Then a group of over a hundred staffers, mostly “of color” or female, signed a letter demanding serious sanctions.

“Our community is outraged and in pain,” the signees wrote. “Despite The Times’s seeming commitment to diversity and inclusion, we have given a prominent platform—a critical beat covering a pandemic disproportionately affecting people of color—to someone who chose to use language that is offensive and unacceptable by any newsroom’s standards. He did so while acting as a representative for The Times, in front of high school students.”

Baquet, publisher A.G. Sulzberger, and Chief Executive Meredith Kopit Levien responded that they welcomed the letter, saying, “We appreciate the spirit in which it was offered and we largely agree with the message,” they wrote in masterpeice of weasel-wording. Then Baquet reversed himself and fired McNeil, saying, “We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent.” Really? So if a news story involves a racist or sexist statement, the Times can’t write about it and use the langauge that makes the episode a story? If the Supreme Court holds that “nigger” or other words are constitutionally protected (as indeed they are), the nation’s ‘paper of record’ won’t be able to quote the opinion?

Baquet had an opportunity to take a crucial stand for freedom of expression and against the criminalizing of language and the retreat to the primitive logic of taboos. He proved himself to be more interested in Leftist agendas and his job than the principles of democracy.

Coward: Donald McNeil Jr. He could have articulately objected to the warped logic of the Times mob, and explained, as he was equipped to do, why we must never cripple expression by banning words, legally or culturally, and why this episode is a perfect example why. Instead, he wimpered an illogical and craven apology, telling the staff in part,

McNeil grovel

Well hello Galileo! He went on to say, “I am sorry. I let you all down.” He let a newspaper down by using a word in a discussion with students in Peru to examine the use of the word. He let a newspaper down by being clear and describing the matter under discussion… because at the New York Times, progressive agendas trump the truth.

Well, I guess we knew that.

Since he was going to sacked anyway, was obligated as an American to go down fighting for free speech and against the censorship of expression. Nah. That might interfere with getting his next job with an ideological indoctrinating institution or publication.

Coward: Ann Althouse. This is disappointing. She says the right things in her post on this fiasco:

In the old days, a big deal was made of the “use/mention” distinction. It doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Even McNeil, defendinghimself, asserts that he “used” the word.
I understand wanting to say that “intent” shouldn’t be decisive, because it presents evidentiary problems. What went on in a person’s head? Did he somehow mean well? But the “use/mention” distinction doesn’t require a trip into someone’s mind. If you have the outward statement, you can know whether the speaker/writer used the word as his own word or was referring to the word as a word. 
You don’t need to know whether I think Dean Baquet is a coward to distinguish the statement “Dean Baquet is a coward” from “I can imagine someone saying ‘Dean Baquet is a coward.'”

But there’s something oddly missing from her post. As one commenter coyly asks (and to her credit, Ann allowed it to be posted): “What word are you talking about?”

In this case, Althouse is a hypocrite as well as a coward. I can expect her to be on the sidelines with the mob when they haul me off to in the tumbrils because I write the word “nigger” when the topic is using the word “nigger.” Such reticence—I guess she’s worried her University of Wisconsin law school pals will shun her–does not help the cause of freedom of expression, which Ann knows damn well is under attack

Observations On Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s House Speech In Her Own Defense

Watch the whole speech. It’s only ten minutes long. Do not rely on media characterizations of it. For example, here is the despicable CNBC web headline: “Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene expresses some regret about conspiracy claims ahead of vote to punish her.” Tell me if you think that’s a fair characterization of what she said.

1. It is a well-delivered, seemingly sincere, sympathetic and appealing and effective speech for anyone with any objectivity at all, designed to appeal to strong conservatives, and to send a message to progressives that she is not ashamed of her values and will not be intimidated into backing down from them

Good for her in that respect.

2. Her practical and ethical problem, however, is that she did not make this speech before the prospect of losing her committee assignments began looming. Why didn’t she say than that she was not a believer in the QAnon garbage? Why did she attack the messengers that revealed her other conspiratorial social media posts, rather than admitting what she had advocated and retracting it, with an explanation? This calls into question her honesty now. Yes, we now know she possesses at least one major asset for a politician: the ability to defend herself in a political crisis—like Bill Clinton. The ability to lie under pressure is another talent she might have.

3. I am troubled by the shadow of possible deceit in her choices of words. She never claimed the 9-11 attacks didn’t happen; she seemed to agree that it was “an inside job.” Saying now that the disaster happened is a non-sequitur..or just rhetorical carelessness. Her comments about school shootings are similarly ambiguous.

4. The fact, if true, that she has not met any of her Democratic colleagues is a terrible reflection on House leadership, and Nancy Pelosi in particular. How can that be defended? Not even a meet and greet for the entire freshman class? That’s rank incompetence.If you want a divided and dysfunctional body, that’s how you get one.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/3/21: Cold Day Reflections [Corrected]

Shining Frozen

1. Wait, what? Ann Althouse revealed this week that she doesn’t read all of the paragraphs in articles she blogs about. She was caught doing this is a post I didn’t read, since it involved her weird concern about the sounds ice makes in a glass. The law professor had asked a question that was answered in the article, but Ann didn’t read that far.

I have found that blogging inherently requires doing opinion and analysis with less than all the facts, or, in the alternative, writing only an article a day. The Ethics Scoreboard, now online, was an ethics website, not a blog, and I spent easily three times the research and consideration on each post that I do now on Ethics Alarms. I also had a webmaster who caught most typos. I eventually decided to switch to blog, because I couldn’t come close to covering the field in only a post a day (if even that), and because I wanted to have an ethics forum with participation from commenters. I sympathize with Ann: blogging is time consuming even if you write as quickly as I do. Then you have the proofing, tagging and administrative stuff. I can see why she would get in the habit of skimming articles.

But it’s still reckless, and guarantees mistakes and an erosion of trust. To her credit, she admitted that she does this in her post, but didn’t seem to say that she was about to change.

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Sunday Ethics Irony, 1/24/2021: Now Remember, It’s The Trump Voters Who Are Deplorable

In “Utopia,” the strange and violent Amazon series about a mysterious graphic novel that turns out to be both true and a coded guide to an upcoming pandemic, the diversity propaganda is so heavy-handed that it could knock out Godzilla with a left cross. Let’s see: all the good couples are mixed race. A middle -class black woman takes in troubled white children. A white husband and wife have a family including multiple black and Asian children, which you would think violates the good couples are mixed-race rule, but it’s a trick: that white couple is villainous, and their white children are too, tough the minority kids seem to be OK. A group of assassins appears to include only whites, and the main heroine is black, though her character in the graphic novel that everyone is chasing after is white. Her female mentor is white, but she is so covered in grime that she looks black. (Why isn’t that blackface?)

At what point does this become so forced and absurd that audiences object to it? None of the race obsession adds a thing to the story except weirdness, and trust me, “Utopia” needs no more of THAT.

1. Welcome to my world! Here is a submitted comment to this post: the proud idiot “RidenwithBiden” (Oooh, clever!) writes, “My God, an entire website dedicated the the sanctimonious and bottomless brainwashed hypocrisy of traitorous right wing nut jobs.”

2. Here are some Biden voters I have no sympathy with whatsoever…President Biden signed an executive order that will require institutions receiving Title IX funding to allow biological males who identify as female to compete in women’s athletic events. This should effectively kill women’s sports while making a joke out of “competition.” Women voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden, a serial sexual harasser who was accused of rape on the record by a staffer, and he was clearly going to do this. Now feminists and women’s sports advocates are whining?

Bailey tweet

What betrayal? Sorry that you weren’t paying attention, but it was always obvious that the most extreme end of the LGBTQ lobby was pulling Joe’s strings. The one who betrayed female athletes were feminist voters. Own it, ladies.

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Telling Unethical Quote Of The Week: Elie Mystal

Elie Mystal

Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address calling for unity was extravagantly praised by the news media. Were they empty words of convenience? We shall see. The first clue will be whether Democrats allow the “snap impeachment” of President Trump to continue to become the unconstitutional spite trial of citizen Donald Trump. That just might be considered divisive. The likelihood is getting stronger even as the mainstream media is reporting that the siege of the Capitol had been planned in advance, so claiming that Trump “incited a riot” is false on its face….but this is what happens when the objective is just to accuse someone without bothering to wait for a thorough investigation.

Also working against “unity”—totalitarian regimes love unity; in fact, they insist on it—is the certainty that the mainstream news media will now constantly be parading its despicable double standards before the public daily. Seldom has blogger Ann Althouse, a moderate liberal who found herself defending a President she disliked almost as much as I did over the last four years, duplicated my thoughts more exactly than she did yesterday when she wrote in part,

I’m not watching the TV, not thinking about the inauguration. I’m uninterested in hearing analysis of the speeches, the poetry, the song-belting, the executive orders, the race-and-sex firsts. Bored by social media posts about how happy this or that person I follow happens to be about all those things. …The main reason I am averting my eyes is that I don’t want exposure to all the favorable, flattering media. The media were so awful to Trump, whatever he did. The sudden shift to bathing Biden in sunlight just feels so wrong to me. It seems sappy and patronizing. But I hope Biden does well, and I’ll be giving him a chance.”

Which is more than 99% of the AUC did with President Trump.

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Pelosi’s Unconscionable “Snap Impeachment,” Part I: Welcome to Plan T

T

In Ethics Alarms’ compilation of the previous 19 attempts at removing President Trump since his election had been stalled at Plan S, the unconstitutional, cynical and non-substantive impeachment of President Trump on spurious grounds in 2019. It’s lack of validity was demonstrated by the fact that neither the news media nor Democrats mentioned the sham during the 2020 Presidential campaign. In the introduction to the list, I wrote,

When Plan S, which late novelist Robert Ludlum might have called “The Ukrainian Perversion” if it had been one of his novels, fails like the rest, or if President Trump is re-elected, the list will keep growing. As scholar Victor Hanson Davis has pointed out, the sheer number of these successive plans belies the claim that this is not an ongoing attempt at a soft coup.

As it turned, out I was more right than I intended to be. Never did I suspect that Democrats would continue to try to remove the President before the end of his term even if they won the 2020 Presidential election, but they are doing so because the other 19 attempts failed. Since this cannot reasonably be called a soft coup, since the Democrats have already won the White House, Plan T must be recognized for what it is: an act of pure hate and vengeance, and a deliberate, calculated insult to Trump’s supporters as well as those citizens who believe that that their government should not behave like third-world failed state.

The rest of this post will be added to “Presidential Impeachment/Removal Plans, 2016 to 2020”:

Plan T (added 1/9/21): Trump should be impeached for “inciting a riot” with his speech to supporters on January 6, as Congress gathered to officially approve the states’ electoral college vote making Joe Biden the 46th President. The transcript is here.

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Boxing Day Ethics Warm-Up, 2020: A Tip, An Obituary, A Prank, A Tell, And A Slug

Gifts

Now this is a dedicated grandmother: my sister, who has been risk-averse her whole life, and who is my model of a Wuhan virus phobic, bought a used Winnebago, loaded up her old Havanese, and drove from Virginia to Los Angeles to spend Christmas and another three weeks with her son, his wife, and their seven month-old daughter. On the way cross country she parked her vehicle outside the homes of a series of strangers she was connected to by friends and friends of friends. Amazing.

1. There seem to be a few of these Christmas Ethics Heroes every year. In Bartonsville, Illinois, an occasional restaurant customer on Christmas Eve morning left a 2,000 dollar tip—in cash—for the 19-person staff of the Bartonsville diner. The man didn’t even leave his full name, just “Tony,” though he is apparently the son of a regular who joined him for breakfast. “He just said, ‘Merry Christmas,'” the owner told reporters. “How generous of somebody to do that, especially somebody who doesn’t come in that often. Nobody was expecting it, that’s for sure.”

2. How do you write an obnoxious obituary? Here’s how you write an obnoxious obituary. The Lagacy.com. entry for Grace McDonough, who died on December 21, concludes with this gratuitous and graceless—no pun intended—text:

The actions and inactions of the United States government regarding the Covid-19 virus has caused Grace McDonough and thousands of other nursing home residents to lose their lives to the Covid -19 virus. These same residents had successfully fought and won great battles against other diseases and conditions and yet were placed in harm’s way during the pandemic. These frail, elderly, sick and vulnerable innocents were not protected by the government they supported, fought for, contributed to and now depended on. Shame on the United States government! We, as their loved ones, have the right to be profoundly sad and profoundly angry at the same time. May our loved ones now rest in peace. It is the least they deserve.

Grace was 95 years old. She lived in a nursing home, where residents are in close confinement and where pandemic infections were and are especially deadly. Attributing the death of a 95-year-old on the undefined “actions and inactions” of the government demonstrates a) a dangerous gullibility to Democratic propaganda b) denial of reality and c) the continuation of  what is probably a pattern of looking for someone to blame for every misfortune. Fark, the humorous news aggregator website infected itself with predictable leftist bias, termed the obituary “fierce.” I would call it signature significance indicating a family teeming with jerks.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/15/20: Bye-Bye Bill Barr!

bye bye

1. Bill Barr’s resignation. The Attorney General is leaving, and so would I, in his place. Unlike his predecessor, who endured unprofessional and destructive sniping from the President, Barr decided enough was enough. He issued a respectful letter of resignation, and said “bye-bye.” This was in contrast with other digruntled Trump officials like Mad Dog Mattis, who lived up to his name with a resignation letter guaranteed to give the Trump-hating media more fodder. I assume the final straw was Barr raking fire for correctly not using the Hunter Biden investigation as a GOP campaign weapon. With even half-competent and responsible news media coverage, the Justice Department’s silence about what they are supposed to be silent about would never have been an issue.

The President’s lack of loyalty, respect and gratitude toward his staff and associates is one more ugly character trait that motivates his critics.

2. Another unethical bait-and-switch. I have written about this issue too many times to devote a whole post to it again.. Yesterday Republican Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell told CNN that he will change his party affiliation to Independent because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the 2020 presidential election and

Mitchell said he has put in a request to the Clerk of the House to change his party affiliation to “independent,” in an interview with CNN, and in a letter it is “unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote.” CNN, being incompetent, did not ask the necessary question, which is “Since you are lecturing the President and your party on ethics, why do you think it is ethical to run for re-election as a Republican, get the votes of Republicans in your district, and then change your party affiliation a month later?”

The ethical way to do it is to resign, and then run again under the new banner. A few party-switchers in the past have had the integrity to follow this procedure, notably former Senator Phil Gramm of Texas.

I would support a law requiring any elected official who switches party mid-term to have to resign. As the Ethics Alarm credo goes, “Where ethics fails, the law steps in.”

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Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/14/2020: Last Week Before Getting Freaked Out Over Christmas Edition

Anxious Santa

1. American companies doing China’s censorship for a buck. The Chinese government pulled the American film “Monster Hunter” from theaters because a childish pun was deemed racist. “Look at my knees!” says an American soldier played by a Chinese-American rapper known as MC Jin as he rides in a military vehicle. “What kind of knees are these?” Then he answers his own question: “Chi-nese!”

Based on that, the movie was attacked and censored, so the line was removed, and German production company that co-produced the film (Sony is the U.S. distributor) apologized.

I am increasingly convinced that the media edict that it was racist to refer to the Wuhan-originating virus as the Wuhan virus was entirely motivated by corporate media interests in Chinese revenue. If U.S. companies won’t represent U.S. values in their dealings abroad, then the role of the U.S. as a beacon of democracy and human rights in the world is a sham.

I intend to call the pandemic the Wuhan virus forever.

2. Are absurd gay stereotypes unethical? Late night talk show host James Corden is being pilloried for his performance in Netflix’s musical The Prom. He plays an openly gay Broadway actor who describes himself as “gay as a bucket of wigs” in the Broadway musical’s film adaptation that premiered last week. I haven’t seen the film, but I know what gay stereotypes look like, from the Flaming gay director (and his even more flaming assistant) in Mel Brooks’ original “The Producers” to Martin Short’s event planner in “Father of the Bride.” The new name for this kind of performance is “gayface,” an obvious reference to blackface.

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