Broadway’s “Funny Girl” Fiasco’s Conflicted Agent

You can be forgiven if you haven’t followed the massive Broadway crack-up saga of the “Funny Girl” revival; after all, Broadway is an elite, increasingly culturally irrelevant dinosaur where 80% of those on stage are gay, 90% of those in those in audience can afford hundred dollar tickets, and half of the shows first premiered when Joe Biden was in braces. You can be excused even more if you missed the massive ethics scandal at the crack-up’s core; after all, most theater reporters have no ethics alarms, just like most theater professionals. Still, to quote a character in an ancient Broadway classic that had an significant ethical impact, “Attention must be paid.”

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Comment Of The Day: “On ‘Decertification,’ Everybody’s Wrong (Or Lying)…”

Ethics Alarms is about ethics, not politics, but politics, especially in recent years, has increasingly been about the defining and flagging of unethical conduct. Typically elections have been an area in which both parties revel in accusing each other of dishonest and unethical conduct that they also engage in when it suits their needs; we recently saw, for example, the report on Democrats using “dark money” in the 2020 election cycle after condemning Republicans for their lack of transparency regarding campaign contributions, and either party climbing up on a metaphorical high horse over gerrymandering is laughable.

The accusations over the 2020 Presidential election are materially different, in part because 95% of the news media has taken a side the constitutes aggressive partisan activism: the claim that suspicions about the fairness and legitimacy of the vote count—in the absence of many safeguards that previous elections had made standard practice—were “disproven” and “groundless.” The use of ballot drop boxes, for example, raise the immediate specter of voter fraud, and one that is difficult to dispel. Did the actual voter drop off the ballot? Did that voter mark the ballot with his or her name on it? How secure is the box against tampering? The existence of such dubious devices in any close election guarantees public distrust, and should. Yet the news media is pushing the left’s false narrative that laws that ban drop-off boxes are “voter suppression.”

Here is Null Pointer on the matter, in the Comment of the Day on the post, “On ‘Decertification,’ Everybody’s Wrong (Or Lying)…”

One tip before you read: what is being described regarding elections is the condition Ethics Alarms dubs “Bizarro World Ethics.”

***

Let’s just look a some truths about the 2020 election and see if we cannot deduce what might be going on.

Truth #1: The Democrats got up to shenanigans in the 2020 election, and if the exact nature of those shenanigans were laid out to the people, the people would probably nearly unanimously agree the shenanigans amounted to cheating. The people would not unanimously ADMIT it was cheating, but they would know. The Democrats do not want the people on the left to know that they engaged in behavior that essentially amounts to cheating.

Truth #2: The election is not going to be undone. It was never going to be undone. Everyone who isn’t a complete moron knows it cannot be undone. Everyone who knows it cannot be undone is not going to admit that they know it cannot be undone, however, because a lot of people hate the Democrats and like to piss the Democrats off. Polling is useless.

Truth #3: The Democrats cheat. The Democrats have always cheated, at least at the regional level. Everyone on the right knows the Democrats cheat. Everyone on the left thinks a majority of people agree with them about everything, rendering cheating unnecessary. The people on the left would be shocked to find out that a huge percentage of the population does not agree with them.

Truth #4: The Republicans let the Democrats cheat. The Republicans have always let the Democrats cheat because political calculations produced an equation that said it was more politically expedient to let the Democrats cheat than to call them on it. The Democrats have escalated their cheating over time because they can. The Democrats accuse everyone else of cheating to keep the political calculations in their favor by confusing their base. Continue reading

It’s A “Ripley”! Oregon High School Grads No Longer Have To Know How To Read, Write, Or Do Math At High School Levels

believe-it-or-not 2

No, I’m NOT making this up. I wish I were.

I saw this story yesterday, and I refused to read all of it until today after I had wrapped my head to guard against an explosion that would have taken out the whole cul de sac. It’s really getting this bad. It really is.

Of course ground zero for the latest rot infesting Western society as we know it is Oregon, which has officially become Bizarro World, where up is down and dumb is brilliant. The state’s far, far Left governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 744 into law, so for the next five years, an Oregon high school diploma will not guarantee that the student whose name is on it can read, write or do math at a high school level. I keep reading that sentence over and over, and I still can’t believe it. If a high school diploma does not certify that the student receiving it has minimal proficiency in what a high school is charged with teaching, then what does a diploma stand for? Why go to high school at all?

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Baseball Has A Cheating Problem That Is Old, Was Supposedly Addressed Decades Ago, And Is Strangling The Game. It Is Relevant To More Than Baseball (Part 1: Introduction)

Baseball sticky

Since about four other readers pay any attention to my baseball ethics posts, let me say right up front why this a mistake. Baseball’s current pitchers using foreign substances on the ball problem is, ethically, exactly the same as our nation’s election cheating scandal, or the illegal immigration crisis. It arises from the same dead-headed rationalizations, intellectual laziness, and self-serving deception. We can and should learn from it. But we won’t.

If you want to ignore the latest baseball ethics scandal as a niche problem unrelated to greater ethics principles, be my guest. You will be missing an important and still developing lesson.

Baseball’s hitting is way down this year, and pitching is more dominant than it has been since the mid-1960s. There is a reason: almost every pitcher is using some kind of sticky substance on the ball. This increases “spin rate,” which before computers and other technology was impossible to see, much less measure. The faster a pitcher can make a ball spin, the more it moves, curves and dives at higher speeds. Sticky substances allow a pitcher to do that. Using them is against the rules; it’s cheating. But for years now, the same kind of ethics-addled fools who allowed Barry Bonds and other cheats to use illegal steroids and wreck the game’s home run records as long as they lied about it have let pitchers illegally doctor the ball.

This week, the whole, completely avoidable ethics train wreck became an engine of destruction for the National Pastime.

Unfortunately, one has to understand the context to comprehend what is going on now, and that means looking backwards, in this case, to 2014. Here, with some edits, are two Ethics Alarms essays that provide the context. The first was titled “The Abysmal Quality of Ethical Reasoning in Baseball: A Depressing Case Study.” The second, Pineda-Pine Tar, Part II: Baseball Clarifies Its Bizarro Ethics Culture, appeared 13 days later. Yes, what is happening now was foretold by conditions that were evident seven years ago. The remaining parts of this series will bring you, and the train wreck, up to date.

***

What happened was this: During last night’s Red Sox-Yankee game in Yankee Stadium, the Boston broadcasting team of Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy noticed a glossy brown substance on New York starting pitcher Michael Pineda’s pitching hand. It was very obvious, especially once the NESN cameras started zooming in on it.   “There’s that substance, that absolutely looks like pine tar,” play-by-play man Don Orsillo said. “Yeah, that’s not legal,” color commentator and former player Jerry Remy replied.

Indeed it isn’t.  According to rule 8.02(a)(2), (4) and (5), the pitcher shall not expectorate on the ball, either hand or his glove; apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball; [or]  deface the ball in any manner.

The Red Sox, who probably knew about the gunk on Pineda’s hand, didn’t complain to the umpires, and just went about their merry way, losing the game. Asked about the stuff on his hand, Pineda demonstrated the full range of body language indicating that he was lying his head off. “It was dirt,’ he said. Later, when the ick appeared to be gone,  Pineda explained, he had just sweated his hand clean. Right. Whatever was on his hand—beef gravy, crankcase oil, chocolate syrup…the majority of pundits think pine tar—it wasn’t “dirt.” Pineda’s manager, Joe Girardi, was brazenly evasive.

The Yankee pitcher was cheating. This isn’t a major scandal, but cheating is cheating: sports shouldn’t allow cheating of any kind, because if a sport allows some cheating, however minor, it will encourage cynical, unscrupulous and unethical individuals on the field, in the stands, and behind keyboard to excuse all other forms of cheating, from corked bats to performance enhancing drugs. Cheating is wrong. Cheating unfairly warps the results of games, and rewards dishonesty rather than skill. Cheating undermines the enjoyment of any game among serious fans who devote energy and passion to it. Any cheating is a form of rigging, a variety of lying.

And yet, this clear instance of cheating, caught on video, primarily sparked the sports commentariat, including most fans, to cite one rationalization and logical fallacy after another to justify doing nothing, and not just doing nothing, but accepting the form of cheating as “part of the game.” I’ve been reading columns and listening to the MLB channel on Sirius-XM and watch the MLB channel on Direct TV since this episode occurred. Here are the reactions:

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Bizarro World Ethics: A Vicious Young Jerk’s Unethical Act Is Celebrated And His Victim Vilified In A Cautionary Tale Of What Happens When Society Allows Its Values To Be Turned Inside Out. Part II: The Times And Its Readers

Mimi

In Part I, describing the horrific personal destruction of 18-year-old Mimi Groves (above)–the antiseptic term “unethical” does not adequately convey the pure viciousness and wrongfulness of the act—I attempted to clarify what the entire scenario represents, a near complete distortion of values and ethical norms with ominous implications. I mostly left out the enthusiastic participation of the New York Times in this destructive process, first, because it was not directly involved in Jimmy Galligan’s hateful and pernicious conduct, and second, because of space considerations. Thus we have Part II.

The Times signaled its sentiments and objectives in the headline of its feature, written by reporter Dan Levin: “A Racial Slur, a Viral Video, and a Reckoning.” “Reckoning” means, in this context, a settling of accounts, a judgment, or earned punishment. In the view of the Times writer and the editors who allowed it to be published, Mimi Groves was justly punished by her black classmate, who plotted–plotted is a fair description—to derail her education and future prospects, and did so. What was the conduct that earned the “reckoning”? Groves used a word, in a general context, that the social justice establishment has ruled, on its own authority, can never be uttered for any reason, or published in print—unless the individual responsible is black, in which case it may be rude or less than desirable, but otherwise it’s OK.

At the time the word “nigger” was used by Groves in a three second video on social media, and today, popular songs embraced by her age group and peer group used the same word repeatedly, and made millions of dollars as a result. At the time the word “nigger” was used by Groves in a three second video on social media, popular movies showed black characters calling other black characters that same word in jest, or affectionately, or for shock value.The actors playing those characters, notably Samuel L. Jackson, who has earned a bundle as the spokesperson for a major credit card,while using teh word “nigger” more times on screen that any actor in film history, have not faced any “reckoning.” The screenwriters who put those words in his mouth faced no “reckoning”; the directors who permitted the dialogue to be read and the studios that sent the wave of “niggers” into theaters and streaming services faced no “reckoning.”

Just this month, Netflix premiered an adaptation of August Wilson’s play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” directed by acclaimed social justice warrior director George C. Wolfe, an African American. When a stream of “niggers” was unleashed about ten minutes into the fim, never to stop, I was genuinely confused. How could this be, when I have a file of professors and teachers who faced sanctions, protests, suspensions, and professional destruction, not by referring to any black individual as a nigger, but by using the word in the context of discussing legal, ethical and cultural implications of language.

Yes, I was confused, and I am a lawyer, a writer, an ethicist and a teacher with more than four times as much experience in life as Mimi Groves when, as a child, she mistakenly thought a casual use of the word in a social media message wouldn’t upset anyone, much less put a dedicated life assassin on her trail.The the New York Times holds that Mimi deserved her “reckoning,” and made sure that if anyone inclined to tar her as a racist unfit for human association on this woke culture we are breeding didn’t know that she had to be punished and why, a major feature in the nation’s most read, circulated and quoted newspaper would spread word of her disgrace. The paper’s verdict is clear: Jimmy Galligan struck a blow against “systemic societal racism.” He’s a hero, even though literally nothing he did was ethical, fair, or just:

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In The Twitterverse, Like Bizarro World, Right Is Wrong And Wrong Is Right, As The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck Keeps Rolling Along

This would have made my head explode, except that nothing involving Twitter can make my head explode any more. This is, however, a troubling indication that the United States may be turning into Bizarro World, where right is wrong, wrong is right, smart is stupid, and stupid is smart.  (The ascent of Bernie Sanders is another indication.)

Behold:

Quarterback Patrck Mahomes of the Super Bowl LIV -bound Kansas City Chiefs was attacked by the Twitter mob this week because of a series of tweets he sent when he was in high school.

Ethics Fouls #1 and #2: This is the Hader Gotcha again, described here. Some utter jerk, presumably a  fan of the pro sport a friend accurately disdains as “concussionball”—that’s unethical too, but I’m leaving that alone for now– decided to see if he could make trouble for Mahomes  ahead of the Chief’s AFC Championship game on Jan.-uary 19 by searching his Twitter feed for tweets that might spark his “cancellation.” That’s a hateful and unfair act (Ethics Foul #1 ) with a nauseating Brett Kavanaugh hearings odor.  Then, because jerkism is spreading in the U.S. faster than the Coronavirus in China, people actually attacked the quarterback online when the selected old tweets surfaced, as if what a 16  year old expressed in a tweet had any relevance to who that kid grew up to be, or football, or the Super Bowl. (Ethics Foul #2.)

Ethics Fouls #3, #4 and #5  And what were offending tweets?

Yes, It’s Bizarro World—But The Mainstream Media Anti-Trump Bias Is Still Ridiculous

The President’s master-trolling display before Thanksgiving plunged us squarely into Bizarro World Ethics territory. I cannot imagine any previous President of the United States pulling a public stunt even close to as juvenile and silly as tweeting the photo above out to his followers and, inevitably, the world. I can’t imagine another President even considering it. The leader of the free world, the dignified occupant of the White House, the leader and role model of millions just doesn’t do something like that. He just…just..doesn’t, that’s all!

Yet there it was , just before 11:00 am on November 27. And like so many other seemingly vulgar and impetuous acts and statements that President Trump has authored, the deranged foes of the President managed to make it look like a brilliant stratagem. First the Washington Post—surely there must be some perceptive people working there, wouldn’t you think?—sent out this hurrumphing tweet:

Oh, it’s doctored! Good sleuthing, Post! Quick, add this to your recent list of Trump mendacities: he tried to make the public think that he’s built like Rocky under those blue suits, the liar!

And “unclear why”!!! Unclear why? How bone-headedly biased does someone have to be to not understand why Trump would tweet out a photo of himself as “Rocky” (in “Rocky 3”, to be accurate)? Has anyone on the Post staff seen “Rocky,” or is so stuffed with culturally ignorant naifs whose idea of an ancient inspirational movie is the ten-year-old “The Blind Side” that “Rocky” (1976) and its descendants are buried in their “Irrelevant films my grandparents watched” files? Continue reading

End-Of-Week Ethics Inventory, 11/24/19: Really, Really Bad Mood Edition

Worst…Ethics Alarms…Week…Ever!

Or so it seems, anyway. Have people already started ignoring life for Thanksgiving? Or am I being punished for not being able to squeeze enough posts out while driving, flying, typing in crowds and moving in and out of various abodes while trying to work? To make it worse, there was a lot going on that required some time and solitude to research and analyze, and I just didn’t have it. I also managed to make myself sick. Tuesday and Wednesday had the worst non-holiday mid-week traffic of 2019, and Saturday had the lowest number of visits for that day in three years.

Well, as Andy Kinkaid, my late, cynic-philosopher college roommate, a ruined Vietnam veteran,  used to respond several times each day to every argument, disappointment, tragedy, catastrophe, and piece of bad news as he smiled and retreated to his darkened room to get stoned, “Fuck it, right?

1. Apparently there is a copyright battle over the obnoxious catch-phrase “OK, Boomer!,” the viral dismissive insult being hurled at Baby Boomers who dare to question the wisdom, passion, and hive-mind beliefs of Gen. Z-ers and Millenials. It looks like all such efforts to “own” the phrase are doomed, because it has rapidly become so ubiquitous as a put-down so quickly that nobody can prove it originated with them.

Has it occurred to any of the smug little snots brushing aside their elders that this is nothing but a personal ad hominem attack without substance, no more fair or valid, and just as rude and bigoted, as “Shut up, bitch,” “Go home to your mother, Pee-Wee,” or “Get a job, Pedro”? As a Baby Boomer, I think we ought to agree on a standard retort to “OK, Boomer” of equal substance and wit, and I hereby nominate “Keep flailing, Dumb-Ass!”

2. Speaking of Millennials, a New York Times social columnist informs me that they have decreed that on-line the term “OK” or “Okay” is now considered rude, and the proper term is “k-k,” which sound to me like a Klan chapter short of members, or someone with a stutter. Just because you want to create ugly and pointless new conventions to metaphorically mark your cyber-territory doesn’t mean I have to assent.

And no, I never have and never will use LOL or LMAO. They’ll have to shoot me first. Continue reading

Thoughts Upon Reading The Comments To The Recent “Conscience Clause” Post

The comments on the recent post regarding the so-called conscience rule being voided in court generated the comments the topic always does. What follows is a relatively short, general post to frame the issues as clearly as possible.  Admittedly, when a post is titled “When Law and Ethics Converge,” perhaps I shouldn’t have to explicate with a post focusing on the difference between law and ethics. I strongly believe that conscience clauses undermine the law, and are unethical, as you will see.

Law and Ethics are not the buddies people think they are, or wish they were. If you look around Ethics Alarms, you see why. Ethics, as the  process by which we decide and learn what is good and right conduct, evolves with time and experience. A predictable cut of a society’s ethics are always going to be a matter of intense debate. Ethics are self-enforcing, for the most part and by nature, because being ethical should make us feel good.  Once an authority or power starts demanding conduct and enforcing  conformity, we are mostly out of the realm of ethics and into morality, where conduct is dictated by a central overseer that, if it is to have genuine authority, must be voluntarily accepted by those subject to its power.

Society cannot function on ethics alone. Without laws, chaos and anarchy result. Because chaos and anarchy are bad for everyone, no individual who has accepted the social compact may decide which laws he or she will follow and which he or she will defy—at least, not without paying a price, which is society’s punishment. In ethical terms, this is a utilitarian calculation: we accept laws that individually we may find repugnant, because allowing citizens to pick and choose which laws they will obey as a matter of “conscience” doesn’t work and has never worked. Ethics pays attention to history.

Thus it is ethical to obey the law, and unethical not to,  even if good arguments can be made that particular laws are themselves unethical. This is where civil disobedience comes in: if a citizen chooses to violate a law on a the basis of that citizen’s conscience or principle, the citizen also has to accept the legal consequences of doing so as an obligation of citizenship. Continue reading

The Cheerleader Awards

What would EVER possess someone to give out body part awards to cheerleaders?

This astounding, depressing story, out of Wisconsin, not only makes me wonder about the ethics alarms of everyone involved. It makes me wonder about whether such alarms exist in out species.

Kenosha’s Tremper High School  cheerleading squad held its annual banquet last March,  and handed out some “gag awards” to members of the squad. Among them:

  • The Big Boobie Award. for the girl with the biggest breasts. The coach giving the award joked that the girl  concussions when she ran because  her “enormous boobs” might flip-up and knock her out.
  • The Big Booty Award.  The coach presenting that one said: “We love her butt. Everybody loves her butt.”
  • The String Bean Award, given to a  freshman who “was so light and skinny.”
  • The previous year, a blonde wig was awarded to a cheerleader for being a “ditzy girl.”

The one hundred guests at the event included many parents. Apparently the coaches were surprised that many of them had problems with the tenor of the “awards.”  As this year’s awards approached, and after the school and its coaches had brushed aside the complaints, arguing that it was all in good fun, the ACLU interjected itself for some reason. (A parent sicced the civil rights group on the school.) From the Times story: Continue reading