Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/13/2020: “Hail To The Thingamajiggies!” Edition [Corrected]

How.

1. When late is worse than never. Reports say that the Washington Redskins will officially announce that they are changing their name, to what nobody knows, not even them. The team’s obnoxious owner, Dan Snyder, who has run the once cultishly popular and successful NFL franchise into the ground during his incompetent stewardship, had memorably said that he would never change the controversial team name, unquestionably the most politically incorrect in all of sports. That pledge did not anticipate his league going nuts and supine before the George Floyd Freakout, to the point that there may be mandatory kneeling by the time the 2020 season opens.

The attack on the Redskins name was always about power, as has been the decades-long assault on all team nicknames with ethnic references. Survey after survey has shown that the vast majority of Native Americans don’t care; the idea is to bring corporate interests to heel, and then aim at the next, more substantive objective. The competent way for a team to handle this problem is to quietly retire a problematic name like “Redskins” (or a anachronistically provocative logo like the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo) when the heat is off, making it clear that the change is volitional and not compelled. Then the social justice mob members can’t puff out their little pigeon chests with pride and think “I did this! What’s the next target?”

I don’t care what the D.C. team’s name is. I do care about dishonest and illogical arguments, which is what have been mounted against this name for as long as I can remember. That’s why the Redskins and related matters have so often been a topic here.

I did laugh yesterday when I read a comment predicting that Snyder would announce that the new name would be “the Washington Murderous Savages”… Continue reading

The Ethics Mess That Is US Race Relations, Chapter I: The Killingly Redmen Fiasco

In Killingly, Connecticut, the local high school’s mascot has long been  a Plains Indian, and its athletic teams have been called the Redmen. Then, in 2019, the Nipmuc Tribal Council across the state border in Massachusetts complained that the name and mascott were offensive. [There’s an interesting discussion of the association of the color red with Native Americans here.]  Once the complaint was made, other Native American groups decided, “Yeah! We’re offended too!” along with usual gang of offended-by -proxy political correctness zealots. (Does this all sound familiar? It should.)

As typically happens in such situations, the people in charge decided to take the path of least resistance—this is how political correctness and expression suppression take hold, as you know–and in July, the Killingly  school board voted to eliminate  “Redmen” and the mascot and change it to “Redhawks.” It’s just a name, right?

Well, not this time. The uproar was so great that restoring “Redmen” became an election issue. Supporters of the old name and mascot took  control of the school board in the November 2019 election. However, while the new members had enough votes to eliminate the “Redhawks” name, they couldn’t muster enough to restore “Redmen.” “There is no mascot at this point,” said Craig Hanford, the new Republican board chairman, and he sent the dispute to a committee.

Fans of the football team, it was reported, shouted “Go Redmen!” during games during the rest of the season, wore Redmen jerseys and hats, and told anyone who asked that there was nothing racist about the name. One fan wore the grammatically perplexing sweatshirt, “Born a Redmen, Raised a Redmen, Will Die a Redmen.Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/7/2018: Something In This Post Is Guaranteed To Send You Screaming Into The Streets

Good Morning!

1 Oh no! Not my permanent record! My wife gave a small contribution to Mitt  Romney’s campaign, and has been hounded by RNC robocalls and mailings ever since. GOP fundraising started getting really slimy under the indefensible Michael Steele’s leadership, and continued to use unethical methods after Steele went on to job at a bait shop or something. Last week my wife got an envelope in the mail with a block red DELINQUENCY NOTICE! printed on it. A lie, straight up: there was no delinquency, just a my wife’s decision that she would rather burn a C-note than give it to the fools and knaves running the Republican Party. She registered an official complaint with the RNC, and received this response from Dana Klein, NRCC Deputy Finance Director:

“My job as the Deputy Finance Director is to communicate with supporters to let them know the status of their NRCC Sustaining Membership. Unfortunately, I have bad news for you. As of right now, you have a delinquency mark on your record for your failure to renew your membership. But, I have some good news. You can remove this delinquency mark if you renew by the FEC deadline on Wednesday.”

Both my wife and I were professional fundraisers for many years. This is deceptive and coercive fundraising, and anyone who voluntarily supports an organization that uses such tactics is a victim or an idiot.

Or, I suppose, a Republican.

2. Another one…This is another one of the statements that I am pledged to expose every time I read or hear it: a Maryland legislator, enthusing over the likelihood that a ballot initiative will result in legalizing pot in the state, ran off the usual invalid, disingenuous and foolish rationalizations for supporting measure. (Don’t worry, pot-lovers: I’m resigned to this happening, not just in Maryland, but nation wide. As with the state lotteries, our elected officials will trade the public health and welfare for easy revenue every time. Minorities and the poor will be the most hurt, and the brie and pot set couldn’t care less.) Only one of his familiar bad arguments triggered my mandatory response pledge: ” to legalize a drug that is less harmful than alcohol.”

This is the bottom of the rationalization barrel, “it’s not the worst thing.” Alcohol is a scourge of society, killing thousands upon thousands every year, ruining families and lives, wrecking businesses, costing the economy millions of dollars. Just yesterday there was a report that fetal alcohol syndrome was far more common that previously believed. There is no question, none, that U.S. society would be healthier and safer without this poison accepted in the culture: unfortunately, it was too deeply embedded before serious efforts were made to remove it. Now pot advocates want to inflict another damaging recreational drug on society, using the argument that it’s not as terrible as the ones we’re already stuck with. Stipulated: it’s not as harmful as alcohol. It’s not as harmful as Russian Roulette or eating Tidepods either. I have a bias against taking seriously advocates who use arguments like this; it means they re either liars, and know their logic is absurd, or idiots, and don’t.

3. Riddle me this: What do you get when you cross casting ethics, weak and lazy school administrators, political-correctness bullies-in-training with “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”?

Answer: a cancelled high school musical, and per se racism supported by the school.

New York’s Ithaca High School was beginning production of the Disney film-based musical “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” but made the unforgivable error, in the eyes of student activists,  of casting of a white student as a Romani heroine Esmeralda, played in the classic film by that gypsy wench, Maureen O’Hara, and in the Disney version by a Toon.  Several students quit the show in protest,  and formed an activist group to reverse the decision. It sent a letter calling the casting “cultural appropriation” and “whitewashing,” calling the student the “epitome of whiteness.” The letter admitted that she was also “a stellar actor, singer and dancer” that any stage would be “lucky to have,” but what is the talent, skill and competence required for a role compared to what really matters, her skin color? The students demanded that the school either choose a different show or recast Esmeralda a black and brown actress. Continue reading

The End Of Chief Wahoo

The Cleveland Indians will yield to political correctness and ditch the team’s 70 year-old logo, Chief Wahoo. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred pressured Indians chair Paul Dolan into making the change, which had been demanded by Native American activists for decades. A version of the red-skinned, hook-nosed caricature of a Native American first appeared on the Indians’ uniforms in 1948, when the team won its first American League pennant after many frustrating years. The logo caught on in part because the team’s fans had good associations with the image—the cognitive dissonance scale strikes again!—and then grinning indian became part of team tradition.The various groups that bullied other teams to change or eliminate names or logos with any hint of ethnicity on spurious grounds made banning Wahoo a priority, along with the Atlanta Braves “tomahawk chop” and especially the Washington Redskins nickname.

Apparently Manfred used the 2019 MLB All-Star Game as leverage, telling the club that either Chief Wahoo goes or the All-Star Game would end up somewhere else.

I have no affection for the logo, which is grotesque and anachronistic, but as with the Redskins, the protests were part of a power play by the Left and not the result of genuine, widespread offense affecting Native Americans. Nobody was made into a racist or caused to hate Native Americans because of Chief Wahoo, and sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon. There was no racist intent: people do not associate names and images that represent what they hate with teams they love. (The cognitive dissonance scale again. Is there anything it can’t explain?) As with the Redskins name, I feel as if the Cleveland Indians logo needed to stay as a matter of principle. Again, the attack on team names and symbols is about power, and bending others to their will.  Polls and surveys showed that most Native Americans didn’t care. But this is just another brick in the wall, and the censors of art, history, tradition, thought and language will never stop. Continue reading

The Supreme Court Rules Against Government-Enforced Political Correctness

The Supreme Court affirmed today that a Trademark law’s restriction on registration of disparaging marks violates the free speech guarantees of the US Constitution. In the case of Matal v. Tam, the Court (as Ethics Alarms predicted over a year ago) ruled that the government cannot legally  deny a trademark to companies or other applicants solely on the basis of the name being regarded as “offensive.”

Good.

The case concerned  an Asian-American band called The Slants, but the decision effectively settles the Washington Redskins’ fight to retain the trademark on its nickname. Harry Reid, also engaging in unconstitutional infringement of free speech, had his Democrats in the Senate send a threatening letter to team owner Dan Snyder, while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), taking its cues from the Obama Administration theme that race and victim-mongering  trumps basic rights, ruled that the Washington NFL team’s name was “disparaging to Native Americans,” and cancelled six of its federal trademark registrations. The team appealed that verdict, and team owner Dan Snyder has vowed not to cave to illegal bullying from the government.

Thanks to the ruling—did I mention that it was unanimous?—the PTO will begin allowing registration of disparaging marks and will not cancel Registered marks because they are disparaging.

The last time I addressed this issue, in December of 2015, I wrote,

“I would like to see Snyder fight off the unethical government speech bullies, foil the political correctness hordes, and then, after he hasn’t heard a peep about team for a couple of years quietly change the anachronistic team name on his own volition. It’s time. The message sent by capitulating to the activists trying to force him to change, however, would be the same dangerous message sent by today’s college administrators, which is that a claim of offense doesn’t have to be reasonable to effectively muzzle speech, just persistent.”

I also wrote, somewhat more passionately ,in an earlier post, Continue reading

The Redskins Native American Poll: Integrity Check For Progressives And Race-Baiters

Washington-Redskins

My Washington Post is filled with articles and columns reacting to the “surprising” poll results released yesterday—a poll taken by the Post itself— that appears to settle a manufactured controversy of long-standing. If it doesn’t, that will tell us more about those who resist than it does about the merits of the controversy itself.

The Washington Post-commissioned poll shows that 9 in 10 Native Americans are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, despite a steady tom-tom beat of complaints and insults from activists, pandering politicians, cultural bullies and politically correct journalists insisting otherwise. The poll, which was analyzed by age, income, education, political party or proximity to reservation, shows that the minds of Native Americans have remained unchanged since a 2004 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found the same result. (Actually,  Native Americans are somewhat less offended by the name than twelve years ago.)

The immediate question that the poll raises is one that Ethics Alarms has raised repeatedly as a rhetorical one. As the Post wrote today, speaking specifically of the segment of the sports media that had been so doctrinaire in attacking the name, even to the point of censoring it:

“Can they be offended on behalf of a group that they’re not part of, especially a group that appears, overwhelmingly, not to be offended by the word media figures object to?”

To ask the question is to answer it.  If the name in fact isn’t offensive to the group it is claimed to offend, then it is ridiculous for non-Native American to continue to be offended on their behalf.

Thus the poll results pose an excellent test of integrity and honesty for all of the liberals, politicians, political correctness junkies, pundits, social justice warriors and fringe Native American activists who have been so insulting and shrill to supporters of the name. Do they have the courage and fairness to admit they were wrong? Can the ideologically programmed ever do this: do facts matter, or is it essential for them to interpret the world according to cant rather than bend, adapt and compromise to inconvenient, messy reality?

Well, we shall see. The Post’s early results do not speak well for the anti-Redskins zealots. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Anti-Washington Redskins Activist’s Bob Marley Costume

The Native American in the middle is dressed as a famous Jamaican. Would it have been offensive if he dressed as Sitting Bull?

The Native American in the middle is dressed as a famous Jamaican. Would it have been offensive if he dressed as Sitting Bull?

Terry Rambler, chief of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona, has  been at the forefront of the effort to force The Washington Redskins, a privately owned NFL sports franchise, to change its name and logo of long-standing because both are allegedly racist. [ As I have made clear many times, the team’s name is not racist, as neither its origins nor current use suggest or imply racist intent, purpose or impact, and the team’s owner has a First Amendment right to call his team whatever he wants. The decades long political correctness stunt has gained more traction under the Obama administration, because the Obama Administration and Senate Democrats do not respect the Constitution or follow it when it gets in the way of its agenda. (See: drones, Obamacare, immigration, NSA domestic spying, harassment of reporters, IRS partisan activities, recess appointments, Libya bombing, selective prosecution,  putting government pressure on the Redskins to change its name, etc )

But I digress.

This year, Rambler’s Halloween costume was Jamaican musician Bob Marley, complete with dreadlocks, wig, and rasta beanie. He also wore appropriate make-up to look like Marley.

Here is what the chief looks like most days:

Terry

Here he is on Halloween as the Reggae icon…

Halloween Marley

The costume is making  Rambler the target of criticism from both sides of the controversy: Redskins defenders who view his make-up as “blackface” and thus hypocritical, and his own Team Political Correctness, which sees Rambler as engaging in the same kind of insensitive conduct they claim the Washington Redskins embody.

To make things worse for Rambler, there was another recent Bob Marley controversy in  Gaston County, (North Carolina), where a sheriff’s captain  apologized  for wearing dark make-up as part of her own Marley Halloween costume after her in-costume photo appeared online.

And thus your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Was the Native American activist’s Bob Marley make-up unethical or hypocritical?

Continue reading

Ethics Hero, I Guess: High School Runner Zach Hougland

cross country

Today got an e-mail from an Ethics Alarms participant who hasn’t been by in a while. He commented that he was finding the blog too depressing. Almost immediately after that, another reader sent me this story.

In Iowa, Davis County High School runner Zach Hougland had already won his race, thereby becoming district cross country champion, his school’s first. As he was taking congratulations from his coach and track team mates, he saw another school’s runner stumble and fall, then remain motionless. Hougland rushed back on the track, scooped him up and tried to help him to the finish line.  He said, “It was about 15 meters from the finish line.  I did it for seven meters, so he had about eight left.  I knew I couldn’t help him finish so I just gave him a push and told him ‘You can do it!'” Continue reading

Political Correctness Delusions #2: The U.S. Military Naming Its Helicopters After Native American Tribes Is A Slur

Military Helicopters 0088

The scourge of political correctness causes many kinds of damage, but the most ominous is that it intentionally greases a steep slippery slope. The effort to constrain private and public expression according to an endlessly versatile definition of “offensiveness”  is a desirable weapon for political activists, grievance bullies, censorious and debate-challenged advocates, weenies, and busybodies. Once one specious argument for strangling another small sliver of free speech succeeds, usually after capitulation in the face of relentless vilification and hounding aided and abetted by the press, this ugly and anti-American faction of the progressive movement just moves on to another target. The process  will never end, although it will get more oppressive, restrictive and absurd. That is, it will never end until a backlash and an outbreak of rationality stops it in its tracks.

The Patent Office’s politically motivated (and doomed) attack on the Washington Redskins was an example of political correctness at its worst, and sure enough, here comes another deluded censor with a related and even sillier grievance. Simon Waxman wrote a jaw-dropping op-ed for the Washington Post arguing that the military’s use of Native American names and works on its helicopters and weaponry is a “slur.” Why, you ask? Because the white man cheated and defeated the Indians using superior fire power, that’s why. Yeah, sure, we pretend to honor their bravery now, but that’s just to salve our guilty consciences.  He blathers…

The message carried by the word Apache emblazoned on one of history’s great fighting machines is that the Americans overcame an opponent so powerful and true that we are proud to adopt its name. They tested our mettle, and we proved stronger, so don’t mess with us. In whatever measure it is tribute to the dead, it is in greater measure a boost to our national sense of superiority. And this message of superiority is shared not just with U.S. citizens but with those of the 14 nations whose governments buy the Apache helicopters we sell. It is shared, too, with those who hear the whir of an Apache overhead or find its guns trained on them. Noam Chomsky has clarified the moral stakes in provocative, instructive terms: “We might react differently if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes ‘Jew’ and ‘Gypsy.’ ”

Continue reading

Five Ethics Observations On The Redskins Trademark Decision

Washington-Redskins

1. Several commenters predicted that the ruling of the U.S. Patent Office cancelling the registered trademark of the Washington Redskins would warrant a “Kaboom!” here, the Ethics Alarms designation reserved for occurrences or statements so outrageous that they make my head explode. Please. Even pre-weakened by previous cranial fireworks, my head isn’t that unstable. The decision was neither a major surprise, nor was it as momentous as the ignoramuses in the media, social media, and Harry Reid pronounced it to be.  (More on the decision here.) The Redskins retain their federal trademark registrations until all appeals have been exhausted, and that process could take years. The registrations will be canceled only if the team loses all appeals, and if I were owner Dan Snyder, I would appeal up to the Supreme Court if I had to. This should be done not to preserve the Redskins name, which is archaic and at this point more trouble than its worth, but to beat back the forces of government censorship of thought and words, of which the anti-Redskins campaign is a significant, if relatively trivial, part.

2. Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins, not a fan of the name, beat me to a column about what is really troubling about the decision, as she wrote… Continue reading