Ethics Observations On The Political Punishment Of Kathy Zhu

20-year-old Miss Michigan Kathy Zhu was stripped of her title because she tweeted against the mandatory wearing of hajibs, and the about the problem of black-on-black violence.

MWA Michigan State Director Laurie DeJack announced the measure, writing Zhu,

“It has been brought to the attention of Miss World America that your social media accounts contain offensive, insensitive and inappropriate content, and in violation of MWA’s Rules and Conditions, specifically the contestant requirement of ‘being of good character and whose background is not likely to bring into disrepute Miss World America or any person associated with the organisation. Therefore, and effective immediately, MWA does not recognize you as a participant of any sort or in any capacity as it relates to any and all events of MWA. Furthermore, let this communication serve as official notice to remove any mention of yourself as a participant in MWA from all social media platforms (including photographs of you wearing the MWA Michigan sash and/or crown, and any text claiming to be a participant of MWA events).”

What were the messages that led the organization to conclude that Zhu exhibited bad character that  brought “disrepute” on the pageant group? Last year, Zhu tweeted critically  about a “Try a hijab” booth on campus, writing “So you’re telling me that it’s now just a fashion accessory and not a religious thing? Or are you just trying to get women used to being oppressed under Islam?” Later, Zhu tweeted, “Did you know the majority of black deaths are caused by other blacks? Fix problems within your own community first before blaming others.”

Zhu is refusing to apologize, and has gone on offense, writing back in part, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/11/18: As They Read The Names Of The Twin Towers Bombing…

Sad morning….

1. Serena ethics updates An indignant Facebook friend appeals to authority by telling me that  Chris Evert and Billie Jean King are defending Williams, and that they know more about professional tennis than I do. That’s a classic appeal to authority, and a very lame one. What a surprise that female tennis superstars have each others’ back! Chris and Billie Jean sure aren’t ethicists. I’d love to interview them. “So you believe that coaching from the stands, even though forbidden by the rules, should be allowed? Do you think that an unknown player who behaved like Serena did would have been treated any differently? Do you think that anyone would be supporting her if she were penalized? Since the record shows that Ramos does not treat men any differently than he treats women on the court, doesn’t Serena owe him an apology? Can you comprehend why calling a ref, whose reputtaion depends on being regarded as fair and unbiased, a “thief” is worse that calling him a “four-letter word”?

I can play the biased expert witness game too: here’s Martina Navratilova’s op ed, which is comparatively ethically astute and tracks with my post in many respects.

The polls about Mark Knight’s “racist and sexist” cartoon has these results:

85% side with Knight. I’d love to hear the explanation of the one voter who said the cartoon was sexist but not racist.

The reason I made the issue an ethics quiz is because I’m really torn in the issue. Yes, cartoons of blacks employing exaggerated features naturally evoke Jim Crow and minstrel show racist images. But political cartoons exaggerate features, often in unflattering ways. That’s the art form. Does this mean that blacks are immune from ever being portrayed cruelly in a political cartoon? I think that’s what the anti-Knight contingent is arguing.

My view is that double standards are destructive and unethical. By the by, were Jimmy Carter’s lips that big?

Continue reading

The Epitome Of Organizational Incompetence: The Miss America Pageant Decides Not To Be The Miss America Pageant

The ever-popular Miss America talent competition!

Now, don’t get me wrong: I believe the Miss America Pageant should have been euthanized decades ago. An  anachronism from the heyday of the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the beauty pageant seemed clunky, demeaning and embarrassing when I was a kid, when we had to watch the smarmy Bert Parks sing “There she is, Miss America!” while the winner’s tears washed her make-up down her cheeks. The talent competition was ridiculous; the answers to the judges’ questions were beyond parody. The women, however, did look smashing in their gowns and swimsuits. At least that was something.

But it was essentially a meat show, as my college roommate indelicately put it. The Miss USA and Miss World contestants were hotter, if dumber, and I always felt embarrassed for those women too. And don’t get me started on the Miss Teenage America pageant.

If you are going to have a Miss America Pageant, however, then you have it, and accept the fact that it’s wince-producing. If you don’t want to have such an event any more, then you kill it, that’s it. You don’t suddenly announce, “From today on, the Miss America Pageant is a trout fishing contest!” Isn’t that obvious?

Apparently not. Continue reading

Miss America Ethics: Know Your Place, Stupid Beauty Pageants!

Public policy experts all…

Your place, as anachronistic, culturally embarrassing meat shows, is to be as unobtrusive as possible while feminists and people of taste figure out a nice, fair way to wipe you off the face of the United States. But until that happens, you have a duty not to be deliberately annoying, not to wave your ignorance like it is a bloody shirt, and also not to make the undeniably stupid people who watch you even dumber than they already are.

Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself..

Two nights ago, we were treated to the finals of the inexplicably still-televised Miss America beauty pageant, the grandmommy of them all. The traditionally risible interview portion of the competition, which has for as long as there were turnips on earth featured open-ended general questions conducive to virtue-signalling blather, usually features puzzlers like (from a list of such queries)

What do you think is true beauty?

What would you do differently if you could start your life over?

Who is your greatest role model or hero?

What does it mean to be a beauty queen?

If you could be granted one wish, what would it be?

What is the greatest challenge facing humanity?

What makes you happiest?

…and so on. The idea once was that anyone with a mouth is capable of answering these questions relatively competently, and they are not traps or invitations to attract criticism. Oh, once in a millennium a finalist might answer “What would you do differently if you could start your life over?” with, “Well, I would sure skip all those years I was a crack whore,” or “If you could be granted one wish, what would it be?” by saying, “I’d wish for boobs the size of El Capitan!,”  but these are pretty easy questions to ace. They are also well within the intelligence levels and expertise of the pageant administrators, judges and the contestants, so employing them isn’t political, or divisive.

A beauty pageant should not be divisive or political, just like an NFL game shouldn’t be divisive or political. I shouldn’t even have to write that.

Miss America 2018 decided to ditch the tradition of one question per finalist in the final round of competition, and ask two questions of each. The final five questions to the last five finalists were all “serious,” we were told.

Here they are, with the answers they evoked, and my observations. Continue reading

Beauty Contest Ethics, Diversity Ethics, Bizarro Word Ethics: The Miss Teen America Pageant

Teen USA finalists

Bizarro World Ethics is a useful if mind-melting concept. Since Superman Comics’ Bizarro World contains a backwards—literally—civilization in which everything is the opposite of the way it is on Earth, the ethics are necessarily backwards too. What is right, in a culture where the populace not only says hello for good-bye, but also eats the plates while throwing away the food? Can wrong be right in such a weird place? Does right become wrong? Or is the whole idea of ethics impossible in Bizarro World?

Beauty contests today are like Bizarro World. They are inherently anachronistic, embodying the correctly discredited concept that beauty equals virtue. They also are based on the fiction that beauty can be objectively qualified and compared with sufficient precision that a decision holing that  gorgeous Contestant D, who is Asian and brunette, is objectively more beautiful than gorgeous black Contestant C, gorgeous Hispanic Contestant B, or gorgeous white Contestant A isn’t arbitrary and completely subjective. Bodybuilding competitions and dog shows have the same problem, as do the Academy Awards. For pure, obvious stupidity and dishonesty, however beauty contests beat them all. This is why the topic has inspired some terrific film satires, like “Smile,” “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” and even “Little Miss Sunshine.”

We all know—don’t we?—that beauty contests are really just excuses to give guys a chance to gawk at scantily dressed pulchritudinous women. This is what makes Miss Teen America the most icky of the breed: the contestants are scantily dressed women who consent to being lust-objects for men the age of the their fathers and grandfathers. What is ethics in such a spectacle? The whole enterprise is constructed of unethical components.

The Miss Teen USA pageant was pronounced ethical, for example, after announcing they would discontinue the swimsuit segment of the competition, replacing it with a parade of the contestants in athletic gear, because the swimsuits made the young women look like sex objects and eye candy.  You know…not like this:

missteen outfit

Muuuuch better. No dirty old man is going to be salivating at that.

But over the weekend all that good publicity for pretending to be about something other than rewarding lovely teens for being walking pin-ups on national television collapsed when this diverse. multi-color, multi-ethnic  group of beauties..

2016 Miss Teen

…was narrowed down to these five finalists, the best of the best, the fairest of them all, after all the numerical scores were tallied and checked and double-checked:

Miss-Teen-USA-2016 five

This caused some unhappiness among the diversity police, as you might imagine. Tweeted super-model Chrissy Teigen, who looks like this..

Chrissy-Teigen---SI-Swimsuit-2015--15-662x968

“Wow how can we choose from such a diverse bunch”

Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Miss America Contestant Theresa Vail

theresa-vailMiss Kansas, also known as Theresa Vail, would be a standout in current 2014 Miss America pageant just based on her unusual set of experiences and talents: the 22-year-old student at Kansas State is a member of the Kansas Army National Guard’s Medical Detachment, a serious bowhunter, a former motorcycle racer, an  M16 marksman, a boxer, an auto mechanic, and an opera singer.* What is ethically of interest, however, is that she wore a bathing suit that  revealed her two tattoos.

This just isn’t done in beauty pageants, not that many contestants are the tatooing sort. Tatoos have traditionally been regarded as ruining a contestant’s “perfection,” and aesthetically, I have to agree: a beautiful woman is still beautiful with something scribbled on her side, but it is hardy an enhancement. But Vial, in announcing her decision on her blog, made a compelling ethical argument for letting her tats show:

“What a hypocrite I would be if I covered the ink. With my platform, how could I tell other women to be fearless and be true to themselves if I can’t do the same?…But I am who I am, tattoos and all.”

That is as good a definition of integrity as you will find. Brava.  Where integrity lies, you can usually find honesty, trustworthiness and courage as well. Continue reading

Hold On, Taylor Bigler: First Get Into A Bikini And Answer The Question, THEN We’ll Discuss Whether It’s Fair To Mock Miss Utah

By all means, her views on social policy should determine her place in the MIss USA competition...

By all means, Miss Utah’s views on social policy should determine her place in the Miss USA competition…

Every year some columnist or internet wag attempts to perpetuate the dumb bimbo stereotype and get cheap laughs in the process by calling attention to a beauty pageant contestant’s incoherent or fatuous answer to a question in the interview round. On rare occasions, the ridiculed response is jaw-dropping and genuinely funny, appropriately triggering fears that “Idiocracy” is upon us. However, the nonsensical curvy-contestent answer flagged by Daily Caller entertainment editor Taylor Bigler had a perfectly good excuse: the question was impossible to answer. Continue reading