Ethics Quote Of The Month: The Foundation For Individual Rights In Education

Yale intimidation

Following through on its criticism of Yale Law School administrators’ attempts to threaten student Trent Colbert and intimidate him into signing a pre-drafted apology for an email that violated no policies and was both benign and constitutionally protected, The Foundation For Individual Rights In Education (The F.I.R.E.) has offered its own pre-drafted apology for the offending individuals [Director of Diversity Equity & Inclusion Yaseen Eldik and Associate Dean of Student Affairs Ellen Cosgrove (above)] and Yale’s leadership to sign and present to Colbert, as well as any other students who have been treated similarly but who weren’t as careful as Trent and did not surreptitiously record their meetings:

Pre-written apology

Over And Behind The “Insensitive Racial Rhetoric” Line [Updated]

Welcome Mat

Race-baiters, ruthless activists and cancel culture bullies are lurking and waiting to pounce on any public figure whose public statements (or revealed private ones) can sustain accusations of racism. Two recent examples from the world of sports help define when such comments are signature significance for an individual who is racially biased, and when they should be excused with little more than a raised eyebrow.

Over the Line: The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden sent an email in 2011 came that attacked NFL Player’s Association head DeMaurice Smith, an African-American, by writing to Bruce Allen, who was the GM of the Washington Football Club, then called “The Redskins,” “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.”

Nice. At least Gruden recognized what he would be facing once the Wall Street Journal reported on his leaked email, and shot out an apology, though not a credible one. He said he was “really sorry” and suggested that it was all a big misunderstanding. You see, Gruden refers to liars as “rubber lips.” Sure he does. You hear that phrase all the time in reference to Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo, and James Comey. Rubber lips! Makes perfect sense. “I don’t think he’s dumb,” Gruden protested to the Journal. “I don’t think he’s a liar. I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”

I’m not sure what a “racial bone” is, but I assume he means that he isn’t racially biased and has proved it by his conduct. As we have discussed on Ethics Alarms often, racist beliefs and racially biased conduct are distinct in many ways, and one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. One distinction is that racist beliefs are legal, and if an individual is adept at recognizing that bias for what it is and not letting it govern his or her conduct, it isn’t unethical. Maybe Gruden hasn’t engaged in obviously racist or bigoted conduct in his life, but color me skeptical. A man claiming that that he isn’t racially biased who uses an ad hominem insult referring to a black man’s lips has as much credibility as that same man saying that he referred to someone as “Dumboriss” but doesn’t think he’s dumb. Ironically, Gruden’s excuse marks him as dumb and a liar who can’t keep his dishonest excuses straight. “I wasn’t making a racist comment when I said his lips looked like black inflated tires, I just use ‘rubber lips’ to mean liar, but…but.. I don’t believe he’s a liar either!” is the epitome of trying to dig one’s way out of a hole.

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Saturday Ethics Booster, 8/7/2021: Looking For A Hero…

I hate to inflict that song on you (the singer/composer was the late Jess Cain, once the most popular disc jockey in Boston) but I have limited options. The 2021 Red Sox, who were sailing all season to what looked like a certain play-off slot , are suddenly in freefall,  with the hitters not hitting and the pitchers not pitching. They face a double-header today, and a double loss would be disastrous. After the 1967 Red Sox “Impossible Dream” season, the best summer of my life, when a team of virtual kids won the closest pennant race in baseball history by a single game after finishing in a tie for last place the year before, WHDH, which then carried Boston’s games, put out the cheesy but wonderful commemorative album above, containing clips from broadcasts of the most memorable games and Cain’s song, tied together by Sox play-by-play announcer Ken Coleman reciting one of the worst pieces of doggerel ever heard by human ears. At one point, Ken recounted a desperate point in the team’s underdog quest, and, having set up the rhyme with “zero,’ intoned, “We have to have a hero.” Cue the Yaz song!

I’ve been thinking about the need for a hero, indeed more than one, quite a bit lately, in matters more consequential than the Red Sox season (well, for normal people anyway.) The Sox sure need one today. If he shows up, maybe it will be an omen…

Incidentally, Yaz deserved the song. Modern metrics show that his Triple Crown, Gold Glove, MVP 1967 season was the second best of all time. (Babe Ruth had #1, naturally.) Anyone who followed that 1967 season knew it before the numbers were crunched.

1. More free speech threats in the Biden Era, but Donald Trump was a threat to democracyThe Baltimore Symphony fired Emily Skala, 59, the orchestra’s principal flutist for more than three decades, because she shared social media posts expressing doubt on the efficacy of vaccines and facemasks. Fellow musicians, audience members and donors complained, so it was bye-bye Emily. Skala, no weenie she, will challenge her dismissal, and accuses the orchestra of creating a hostile environment where she was being attacked for expressing unpopular views. I’d say that is likely. Musicians as a group are about as progressive and open to conservative views as college professors.

Skala angered many of her colleagues for sharing posts questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election—Oooh, can’t have that! She was also criticized for saying that black families needed to do more to support their children’s classical music studies. Wow, this woman is a veritable Nazi! Amusingly, the New York Times cites as among the examples of social media “disinformation” that got her fired were “false theories suggesting that the coronavirus was created in a laboratory in North Carolina” and posts “raising concerns about the safety of vaccines.”

That’s funny: it wasn’t too long ago that suggesting that the virus originated in a Wuhan lab was considered disinformation. And didn’t Joe Biden and other prominent Democrats raise “concerns” about any vaccine produced under the Trump Administration?

I’m just spitballing here, but if only we had some heroic organization that defended free speech, regardless of what side of the political spectrum it came from. It could call itself…let’s see…the National Civil Liberty Protection Alliance, or something like that…

2. Believe it or not, this Russian lawsuit isn’t frivolous, just mind-meltingly stupid. Thanks to Curmie for passing along the saga of Ksenia Ovchinnikova, an Orthodox Christian in Omsk, Russia, who is suing McDonald’s on the theory that its ads made burgers seem so yummy and irresistible that they made her break her fast for Lent in 2019 after years of successfully avoiding meat. She wants 1,000 rubles ($14) as damages for “sustained moral damage.”

The reason this isn’t frivolous (at least not in the US) is because a lawsuit clears the bar if it seeks a new interpretation of existing law, no matter how wacky. Of course, a heroic lawyer would tell the woman, no matter what she offered to pay, “You’re out of your mind, and I’d rather eat my foot than disgrace my profession by taking such a ridiculous case. By the way, would you like this  corndog?” Continue reading

The Eastman Kodak Affair’s Lesson: Corporations Only Signal Their Imaginary Virtue When It Doesn’t Cost Anything

Wack

Eastman Kodak issued an Instagram post featuring images of Xinjiang, a western Chinese region where the government of China has committed horrific human rights violations

The post promoted the work of French photographer Patrick Wack, who made several trips to Xinjiang in recent years and has collected his damning images—all shot on Kodak film— into a book. Kodak shared 10 of his images with its 839,000 Instagram followers. In the Kodak post and on his own Instagram account, Wack described his images as a visual narrative of Xinjiang’s “abrupt descent into an Orwellian dystopia” over the past five years.

Oh-oh! As the disgraceful U.S. complicity in China’s Wuhan virus cover-up (also Orwellian) has shown, you don’t dare call China’s brutal regime what it is or demand accountability. Chinese social media users attacked Kodak, but Kodak, staying true to American principles of freedom of expression and refusing to bend a knee to tyranny, held its ground as it continued to support Wack and his work.

KIDDING!

I was just messing with you…of course Kodak deleted the post and grovelled an apology for “any misunderstanding or offense” that it might have caused. China, you see, is a big market.

So while our corporate giants have no hesitation in bombarding the gullible with nostrums during “these difficult times,” and announce their fealty to #MeToo, “antiracism,” and Black Lives Matter to pander to various consumers, never think that they really care about anything but their global profits.

Capitalism confers many benefits on society, but courage, integrity, and ethical values are not among them, and never have been.

A Follow-Up, An Apology, And A “Bite Me, Daily Wire!”

Charliebrown-1-

The previous post was one of the relatively few in which Ethics Alarms was suckered by bad information. As always when this happens, I am awash with regret and shame. Here is how it now begins, in bold:

“This is the revised part. The retraction is that despite the headline and what I wrote below, Twitter didn’t suspend New York Times columnist Bret Stephens account for violating Twitter’s rules with his recent op-ed calling anti-white measures showing up in the Biden Administration and elsewhere what they are: racism. The Daily Wire, a conservative website that was founded by right wing gadfly Ben Shapiro, wrote the post based on “a Twitter user” as its source,” and I foolishly assumed that the site would have checked out the claim before posting on it. It turns out the Stephens’ account says it’s “suspended” because he suspended it himself, in 2019.

Thus I am made an accomplice to this confirmation bias chain reaction, and I resent it. This is the kind of crap I experienced more than once from Breitbart and The Gateway Pundit, both of which are no longer cited as sources on Ethics Alarms, and whose stories I will not believe unless I find a credible source that independently confirms it. Now I’m adding the Daily Wire to that blacklist. There are plenty of left-leaning sites on that list as well, but since it is virtually impossible to ensure that a story that reflects poorly on the allies of progressive propaganda hasn’t been obscured or deliberately distorted by the mainstream media, conservative media has to be trustworthy and professional, and far too often, it just isn’t. Situations like this make it easier for the mainstream media to call every report they wish would disappear “conservative disinformation.”

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/28/2021: Memorial Day Weekend Edition

Jack Marshall Sr Army portrait

I’ll be visiting the Major (and Mom) at Arlington National Cemetery this weekend.

1. Well, let’s start the morning and end the week with evidence of progress…Mickey Callaway, the former manager of the New York Mets and recently fired pitching coach of the California Angels, has seen his baseball career implode because of what appears to be a habit of harrassing women in his workplace, which is Major League Baseball. Callaway, who has been banned from the game at least through 2022 after an investigation of the complaints made by more than five women, released a statement that is as close to a Level One apology on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale as one is likely to see. That’s this one:

An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.

Here’s Callaway’s version:

“My family and I fully support MLB’s strong stance against harassment and discrimination and are grateful to the Commissioner and his office for their thorough investigation. I apologize to the women who shared with investigators any interaction that made them feel uncomfortable. To be clear, I never intended to make anyone feel this way and didn’t understand that these interactions might do that or violate MLB policies. However, those are my own blind spots, and I take responsibility for the consequences.In my 25 years in professional baseball I have never taken for granted the privilege of being even a small part of this great game of ours. To say I regret my past poor choices would be an understatement. I remain hopeful that I can return to baseball when eligible at the conclusion of next season, but for now, I plan to work on my own shortcomings and repairing any damage I have caused with my colleagues and, particularly, my family.”

Joe Biden could have made that exact apology, without the baseball reference, of course. He never had to.

2. Incompetent question, perfect answer:

Monica tweet

Those are eye-roll emojis. Monica also gets points for brevity. She just missed tying author Victor Hugo for the record for shortest published message, in his case, a telegram to his publisher regarding the fate of his submitted manuscript for “Les Miserables.” Hugo wrote “?“. The publisher replied, “!“.

I won’t even take away ethics points from Monica for pandering to the Worst of the Woke by listing her preferred pronouns.

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More On The Andrew Yang “Racist” Cartoon: Some Perspective From The Ethics Alarms Archives…

In contrast to the political cartoon discussed in the previous post, THIS is a racist cartoon. Below is the Ethics Alarms post from 2014 titled, 9 Observations On The Boston Herald’s ‘Racist’ Cartoon”:

1. I’m adding this new #1 right at the beginning—there were originally only 8 observations—because some of the early comments suggest that I over-estimated some of my readers’ scholarship, historical knowledge and/or sensitivity on this issue, so let me be direct:  the reference to any African- American having an affinity to watermelon is about a half-step from calling him or her a nigger, and maybe even closer than that. Clear? This is not a political correctness matter. If the reference is intentional, there can be no debate over whether it is racist or not. It is. The President of the United States should not be subjected to intentional racial slurs.

2. I’m amazed—I just don’t know how this could happen. How could this cartoon make it into print? Cartoonist Jerry Holbert explained that he came up with the idea to use watermelon flavor after finding “kids Colgate watermelon flavor” toothpaste in his bathroom at home. “I was completely naive or innocent to any racial connotations,” Holbert said. “I wasn’t thinking along those lines at all.” Is this possible? In a political cartoonist? On one hand, since the racial connotation is so obvious and so predictably offensive, it seems incredible that a cartoonist for a major daily would dare offer such a cartoon unless he really didn’t perceive the racial stereotype it referenced. On the other, the man is a political cartoonist, not a Japanese soldier who’s been hiding in a cave for decades. How could he not know this? How could his ethics alarms, racial slur alarms, survival alarms not go off?

I don’t get it.

3. Hence the quotes around “racist.” The only way the cartoon makes any sense to me is if Holbert is amazingly, wonderfully non-racist, and completely color blind. The flavor of the toothpaste is innocuous if one doesn’t think in racial terms at all. Maybe he just thinks about the President as the President. If so, isn’t that terrific? Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was like that? Wouldn’t it be swell if a dumb detail like the flavor of the toothpaste in a cartoon that has nothing to do with race OR toothpaste wasn’t even noticed?

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Dear Hawaii: Aloha! You Can Be A State, Or You Can Be A Country. Pick One.

Surfer Hawaii

This was news to me: in the World Surf League and in international surfing competitions generally, surfers from Hawaii can represent island, or the United States. If they represent Hawaii, they are not regarded as representing the U.S.

Surfing will be an event in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and the option of just representing Hawaii will disappear. Hawaiian surfers will represent the United States, since, after all, Hawaii is a state. This, believe it or not, is causing outrage and consternation in the Aloha State. Two of the four Americans on the team, John John Florence (above) and the four-time world champion Carissa Moore, were born and raised in Hawaii and are accustomed to competing under the state flag. Moore is doing so again this month as the global tour holds major events in Australia.

Across the islands, on cars and on porches, Hawaii flags fly upside down, signifying distress. “Hawaii has had so much erased history,” said Duane DeSoto, the 2010 longboard world champion, told the New York Times. “Surfing prevailed against the possible suppression into oblivion. It endured the challenge of being exterminated at one time. And now it needs to be a source of Hawaiian pride.” Another surfer said, “In surfing culture worldwide, everybody looks at Hawaiian surfing as different. Even California surfers look at Hawaii different. But the Olympics see us as the same.”

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Most Ethical Quote Of The Month Apologized For After Being Called Unethical

Singing Conductor

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys!”

—A British railway conductor to his train’s passengers. After a “non-binary” passenger complained, the London North Eastern Railway apologized profusely.

The complaint, via Twitter, stated, “As a non-binary person, this greeting doesn’t actually apply to me, so I won’t listen.” As is now the pattern, the railway’s management grovelled,

grovel2

The better response would have been, “Thank-you for alerting us. In the future, we will have all our conductors greet the passengers with “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, and assholes!” so you feel included.”

I’m kidding…but barely. The presumption by extreme minorities that they have justification to claim mistreatment if society does not distort its traditions, customs and procedures to include every variation of the norm, no matter how exotic, is pure narcissism and imaginary entitlement. The railway’s management’s response would have been appropriate for a conductor who spewed obscenities and blasphemy, not a cheerful welcome that conservatively applies to 99.9% of the population, and those who it does not apply to are in such outlier category based on a conscious choice: intersex individuals once did the practical thing and picked a gender. That was before they realized that power and victim status lay waiting for them by remaining ambiguous.

Did non-English speakers on the train complain bitterly that the conductor’s greeting wasn’t repeated in their language? Were deaf passengers offended that the conductor didn’t sign? I wonder if an expectant mother felt that her unborn child was being snubbed because the conductor didn’t welcome fetuses…

“Laurence” set out to get an innocent conductor disciplined or fired so in the future conductors would be less welcoming to everyone.

Maybe I wasn’t kidding.

Introducing The Ethics Alarms “Weenie Of The Week”! The First Recipient: Jay Leno

edible dogs

“The Weenie of the Week” will recognize those who enable censors, political correctness mobs, totalitarians, cancel culture terrorists and the rising fascist tide in America by prostrating themselves and groveling for forgiveness when in truth they have done nothing wrong.

Although the term “weenie” is light-hearted in its terminology, the conduct earning the title is serious and despicable. These are not only pathetic cowards, though they are certainly that. They are the modern, domestic versions of “good Germans,” who, for their own self-interests and nothing more, are willing to reject our nation’s core rights and liberties, weaken them, and indeed join the increasingly ominous effort to suffocate free expression, dissent, creativity and humor.

Comedian and former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno begins what I fear will be a long line.

Yesterday he issued an apology for making jokes in the past about Koreans eating dog meat after a 15-year campaign by the activist group Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA).

“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno said in a joint press release with MANAA leader Guy Aoki: “I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.”

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