Tag Archives: “black lives matter”

KABOOM! Brandeis Cancels A Play About Political Correctness Because Students And Faculty Protested That It Wasn’t Politically Correct

I do want to thank Curmie, our esteemed drop-in commenter who is a drama teacher and chronicler of ethics outrages from the world of education, for ambushing me with this head-exploding story from Brandeis University. And my head had been doing so well.

Playwright Michael Weller had received a Creative Arts Award from Brandeis, and when he wrote a  a play, “Buyer Beware,” that satirized the political climate on U.S. campuses the University scheduled it to make its premiere there. The satire concerns a student who discovers the works of  iconic 50s era comedian Lenny Bruce, and attempts to stage a  production in the spirit of the taboo-challenging comic. The production offends  students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Brandeis-like university, which worries that the controversy will offend a crucial donor. The script, channeling Bruce (think George Carlin but more abrasive, and not as funny) called for a white character to use “nigger” in several instances. The play quotes Bruce’s famous manifesto against strictures against mere words: “Imagine if we just kept saying these words over and over again, sooner or later they’d become meaningless noise.”

Without reading the script, it appears, so many students protested that Brandeis administrators, proving that their spines and principles were noodle-flexible, capitulated and cancelled the production, when the statements of the protesters should have made it obvious that such a play was desperately needed. For example, Andrew Childs is an Undergraduate Department Representative for the Theater Arts Department and a member of the season’s play selection committee, told the student newspaper,

“The issue we all have with it is that [Weller] is an older, straight…, able-bodied and white man. [ Wait! Isn’t it okay to be white?] It isn’t his place to be stirring the pot.”

What are they teaching at Brandeis? Only certain genders and races can “stir the pot”? Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz: “The Stickering”

More than a dozen handmade stickers reading “It’s okay to be white” were posted around overnight in Harvard Square earlier as well as around the nearby Harvard Law School campus.

Law School Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells, who is black, wrote an email to law students in the wake of what Stephen King might call “The Stickering”:

“It seems likely that these anonymous postings, made in the middle of the night, were provocations intended to divide us from one another HLS will not let that happen here. We live, work, teach, and learn together in a community that is stronger, better, and deeper because of our diversity and because we encourage open, respectful, and constructive discourse”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Dayand watch your step!—is…

Do you think posting the stickers was unethical? Do you think the Dean’s response was responsible?

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A Popeye And An Unethical Quote Of The Month For The Times’ Lindy West

Popeye’s Quote:

“That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands no more!”

Lindy’s Quote:

“[Megyn] Kelly happily trafficked in racist tropes for profit…asking repeatedly whether the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown were necessarily related to race..

Nope. I can’t let this pass, and will never let this pass again. The context doesn’t matter: Lindy West’s statement above is a lie, and deliberately perpetuate a falsehood to mislead Times readers, or perhaps to encourage them to mislead others. The New York Times editors should not allow lies the paper’s pages, not in news stories, and not from pundits. West can, if she chooses, state the factually untenable opinion that she believes the deaths of Garner and Brown were based on race. She cannot state that the position that their deaths were not based on race is a “racist trope,” which requires facts and evidence showing that either or both deaths were race-related.

There is no such evidence in either case. None, Not a shred, not an iota. Lindy West is calling Megyn Kelly a racist based on an assumption she holds because it is cant within her circles despite no evidence whatsoever. That is unethical punditry, and no responsible newspaper should allow such falsity in print. Continue reading

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Your NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck Update: Incompetent Quotes

The more NFL players, owners, brass, and other fellow travelers on the NAPETR talk about this fiasco, the worse it gets.

Incompetent Quote #1:

“What I see with the N.F.L. owners is a bunch of good old boys telling the players: Stay in your place.”

 ——Black Lives Matter demonstrator outside NFL headquarters.

Comment: “In their place”  in this context means“doing the job for which they are paid millions of dollars and not undermining the business of their bosses by irresponsible non-football activities on the field. “ Yup, telling employees to stay in their place is what all employers do,  must do, and have every right, indeed an obligation to do.

Calling such employers “good ol’ boys” is bigotry and race-baiting, which is what racist organizations like BLM do.

Incompetent Quote #2:

“We need to be above petty attacks from anybody, because racial and socioeconomic inequality has existed in this country for too long,”

 ——- Jed York,the chief executive and co-owner of the San Francisco 49ers, which started this mess. Continue reading

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THIS Is CNN. How Embarrassing…For You, Me, Ted Turner, James Madison, Gutenberg, Australopithecus, Everyone

I watched this jaw-dropping exchange this morning on CNN’s New Day, unable to process what I was seeing. An alleged debate between two evidently paid CNN commentators, moderated by Alisyn Camerota, supposedly a professional broadcaster, the exchange was neither enlightening, informed or vaguely like anything the Founders could have recognized as “the press.” The level of logic and expression has been exceeded on multiple Jerry Springer episodes. The Kardashians could top it.. on a lucid day. Throughout the interminable segment, the “moderator” made no effort to control the rhetoric, correct screamingly obvious errors,or insist on decorum.

I think the best approach is to have you read it, if you can. When the transcript became available, I realized that what I had seen was even worse than I thought at the time. I was going to challenge you to pick out the most idiotic statements, but that’s too easy: closing your eyes and pointing at the screen would work. Here’s a more worthy test: see if you can identify an intelligent statement, one that wouldn’t be out of place in a bar debate between a soused kindergarten teaching assistant and truck driver recovering from a closed head injury.

But first,a word about Ana Navarro. When CNN started using her as its token conservative in studio panel discussions, I assumed it was one more example of the mainstream media stacking the deck to ensure that the liberal message prevailed by finding the lamest conservatives possible. She’s wishy-washy, inarticulate, and smug. Then Trump was nominated, and CNN found it had a Trump-hating Republican representing the Right on every issue: perfect! Navarro doesn’t even try to hide her hatred of Trump—the CNN anchors don’t try very hard, but they do a better job than Anna.

On the other hand, she not a persuasive advocate for anything, and ridiculous more often than not. As you shall see:

7:38 a.m. ET

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You have a right to do a lot of things in this country, and there are consequences, and the NFL got it wrong. The NFL got out and tried to play both sides of this issue. And then they tried to say, “Oh, we’re America’s team, we’re America’s game, we’re America’s sport,” while allowing their employees to disrespect this country. You have the right to do it — there’s consequences. The NFL boycott is real —

ALISYN CAMEROTA: Listen, I just want to be very clear. They say they’re not disrespecting the country. They say that their protest is about the treatment —

FERGUSON: Well, that’s what they say.

CAMEROTA: They’re the sources. They’re doing the protesting. They’re the protesters.

FERGUSON: I have the right to disagree with them. I’ll say this. I think many of the NFL players are frauds. Most of them did not go and vote in the last election, including Colin Kaepernick who’s never voted in an election — while coming out and claiming —

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Voting is not a requirement to protest. Voting is not a requirement to voice a political opinion.

FERGUSON: If you’re going to be the leader of a political statement, as Colin Kaepernick was —

NAVARRO: Donald Trump’s children didn’t vote, and they are advisors in the White House!

FERGUSON: And I criticized — and I criticized them for that. I’m consistent.

NAVARRO: Well, fine, you criticize them for everything, but don’t tell me, then, that they don’t have a right to protest when the senior advisors in the White House didn’t vote.

FERGUSON: Colin Kaepernick comes out and says, “I’m going to lead this group.” When was the last time he went to a Black Lives Matter — the guy saw a bunch of TVs and a bunch of cameras and said, “I’m going to kneel right now, but I’m not going to back it up.”

CAMEROTA: That’s his right.

FERGUSON: He has a right, but it also means you’re a fraud.

NAVARRO: Can I tell you something, Ben? Ben, how white of you to think that going to a Black Lives Matter rally —

FERGUSON: It’s not white — don’t even go there. Don’t even — I’m sorry — that’s absurd.

NAVARRO: No, no, who are you to tell a black person what makes them black — what makes them have black credible?

FERGUSON: Again, it has nothing to do with race.

NAVARRO: Look at yourself in the mirror. What he is saying might be more significant than what — than going to one of the rallies.

FERGUSON: If I go out there every day and I champion a cause and I never do it in real life, I’m a fraud.

NAVARRO: Who died and made you the judge of blackness — to tell Colin what’s’-his-name that the fact he voted or not allows him to have a political opinion?

FERGUSON: If you go out there every day and you fight for something that you say is so near and dear to your heart, and then I find out in reality you’re never involved in the issue other than being on national TV, you’re a fraud. You’re a fraud and a fake.

NAVARRO: Well, then talk to Ivanka Trump! Talk to Ivanka Trump who didn’t vote!

FERGUSON: Again, we’re talking about Colin Kaepernick.

NAVARRO: No, no, because you want to hold this one standard for this one set of people and another one for another set of people.

FERGUSON: I did. I said this. I said this. You should have voted in an election.

NAVARRO: Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are frauds because they didn’t vote in the Republican primaries!

FERGUSON: They should have voted in elections. I said that. You also voted for Hillary Clinton, and you say you’re a Republican, so that’s a little bit of a fraud, isn’t it?

NAVARRO: No, no, no, there’s a lot of Republicans who did.

FERGUSON: By using your standard. You come on here and say you’re a Republican. You say you’re a Republican, and you voted for Hillary Clinton. So you’re not a Republican, by your standard.

NAVARRO: You voted for a man who was a Democrat and then an independent, and then when he was an opportunist, he became a Republican. So, really, don’t go there for me because I have been supporting Republican candidates for President probably when you were still in diapers!

FERGUSON: Again, you voted for Hillary Clinton, and you say you’re a Republican.

NAVARRO: I voted for Hillary Clinton because I refuse to vote for a racist, misogynist, even though he was a Republican nominee.

FERGUSON: And you have every right to do that.

NAVARRO: And it was the first time in my life that I did not support the Republican nominee because I found him absolutely disgusting, and I was going to put country over party! And you are nobody to question Colin Kaepernick what’s-his-name’s blackness or my Republican credentials, okay? You are not judge and or jury! You can do whatever you want for yourself — you cannot judge me — you cannot judge whether he is black enough!

FERGUSON: I can judge Colin Kaepernick. It doesn’t have anything to do with his blackness. This the weakest argument — let me finish, though —

NAVARRO: Oh, you’re saying — you’re saying he’s not black enough because he didn’t go to Black Lives Matter.

FERGUSON: Again, I’m going to finish my point here because it’s really important.

NAVARRO: And you are black because you went to a Black Lives Matter rally!

FERGUSON: Let me finish – let me finish — again, let me finish. Colin Kaepernick coming out and saying this is a big issue to him, but he never goes out into the community and is involved in it — doesn’t even care enough about the issue which he says everyone else should care about to go register to vote and vote. That is hypocrisy — it has nothing to do with being black or white. It’s called being a hypocrite.

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The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part Two

The overview of our latest Ethics Train Wreck continues from Part One

  • Slate published an essay by African-American musician John Legend that itself makes an excellent case against the protests while supposedly glorifying them. Never mind the standard anti-Trump spin at the beginning about “Islamophobia” and the rest, though it is nice for any author to state up front that he’s completely biased and his opinion should be discarded as such. Legend and Slate have the audacity to evoke actual protests that were clear and targeted in comparison the all-purpose “knee”:

“Protest is patriotic. Protest has played a critically important role in elevating the voices of the most vulnerable in our nation. Protest in America has been essential to ending war, to demanding equal rights, to ending unfair practices that keep citizens marginalized. If we quell protest in the name of patriotism, we are not patriots. We are tyrants.

Would there have been a Civil Rights Act without the Birmingham protests? When Bull Connor unleashed his fire hoses and dogs on the schoolchildren taking to the streets, racial disparities and the violence facing people because of the color of their skin became the issues of the times. With savage images of the brutal attack in the news every day, President John Kennedy had little choice but to push for a Civil Rights Act that demanded equal services and equal rights.

Protests in Selma, Alabama, changed the trajectory of this nation and catapulted the Voting Rights Act into being.”

A recipe for tapioca would be as germane to the NFL protests as the Selma march. There is no definable law, principle or position these protests bring into focus. Let’s check the Ethics Alarms Protest Ethics Checklist against the NFL grandstanding:

1. Is this protest just and necessary?

No. How is it just? How is it necessary?

2. Is the primary motive for the protest unclear, personal, selfish, too broad or narrow?

Unclear and too broad by definition, since no two protesters make the same argument.

3. Is the means of protest appropriate to the objective?

Obviously not. What does football have to do with “racial justice”?

4. Is there a significant chance that it will achieve an ethical objective or contribute to doing so?

None whatsoever.

5. What will this protest cost, and who will have to pay the bill?

It’s already cost the NFL millions. But nobody is protesting the NFL…

6. Will the individuals or organizations that are the targets of the protest also be the ones who will most powerfully feel its effects?

No.

7. Will innocent people be adversely affected by this action? (If so, how many?)

Sure: every single fan who wants to just watch football.

8. Is there a significant possibility that anyone will be hurt or harmed? (if so, how seriously? How many people?)

The relentless politicizing of sports and entertainment harms U.S. society and frays the fabric of democracy. That means everyone.

9. Are you and your group prepared to take full responsibility for the consequences of the protest?

Clearly not: witness the constant complaining that NFL teams won’t hire Kaepernick so their season is dominated by racial politics rather than, you know, football..

10. Would an objective person feel that the protest is fair, reasonable, and proportional to its goal?

No.

11. What is the likelihood that the protest will be remembered as important, coherent, useful, effective and influential?

My guess: no chance whatsoever, unless unintended consequences count, like getting more votes for President Trump and crippling the NFL count.

12. Could the same resources, energy and time be more productively used toward achieving the same goals, or better ones?

It’s hard to imaging what wouldn’t be a better use of resources, energy and time.

Verdict: It’s an unethical protest. There is nothing patriotic about unethical protests. We have a right to protest; as with free speech, that doesn’t make all examples of exercising that right good, and certainly not “patriotic.”

  • However, let me argue in the alternative, as lawyers often do. Let’s say that, as Legend claims, all protests are patriotic. Fine. Then then Charlottesville protest against tearing down a statue of Robert E. Lee was also patriotic. Why, the, was the President attacked—by Legend and Slate, among others, for not condemning it?

The Left believes that protests are sacrosanct only when they are doing the protesting. There is nothing wrong or unpatriotic about accurately labeling a dumb, badly-conceived or destructive protest, and this one is all three.

“Football was down. The end. We, the good people who read the NYT, must say no to football. What is known cannot become unknown except by willful, immoral forgetting. No decent person can take pleasure in football. No fit parent can allow a child to take up the game. The era of American football is over. Bury it. We can end the misery through the simple and necessary refusal to watch anymore. Say no, America… or hey, wait a minute. Here’s that nasty President of the United States and he’s calling for a boycott of football…

So, watch the liberal media endeavor to save football from bad old President Trump. He’s a racist. This is his racism once again, stirring up the stupid people who voted for him. Here‘s the NYT today:

“The tweet suggested that the president, who used an expletive on Friday night to refer to players who kneel or sit in protest during the anthem — a practice that took hold last season among some African-American players after Colin Kaepernick, the now-former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, did so to protest racial and social injustice — is bent on deepening a bitter culture-war fight with the N.F.L.

It is a highly charged debate, with unmistakable racial undertones, pitting advocates of free speech who argue that professional athletes should have a right to use their positions to call attention to social issues against those who contend that refusing to honor the anthem disrespects the military and the nation, and that sports is no place for such displays.”

 Ann’s line:

“Let the brain damage continue. We’ve got a culture war to fight.”

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The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One

Ah, the post unwritten!  Just three days ago, I was considering a post about the ethics dilemma I face regarding the NFL. On September 21 I read that four  NFL players ( Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles’ Torrey Smith and former NFL player Anquan Boldin) sent a letter beseeching Commissioner Roger Goodell to make November a month of “social activism,” meaning a month of promoting Black Lives Matters, attacking as police’ and the nation whose public they protect as racist.

“Since 2016, police have shot over 300 men and women in this country. Some of the names and stories are familiar—Jordan Edwards, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, but hundreds of others are not,” the memo says. This is typical of the level of erudition much of the news media, and many voices  on the Left, including President Obama, have been enabling and praising since Colin Kaepernick began his showboating, incoherent  protest against the National Anthem last year. The officer who shot Jordan Edwards was fired and indicted. Trayvon Martin wasn’t shot by police. I can’t imagine how Mike Brown was left off the list, with a reference to “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” Probably a typo.

The next day, we learned that Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots star convicted of murder who hanged himself in prison in April, suffered from a severe case of CTE, “the most severe case” ever seen in a former football player so young.” He was 27. Of course, not a lot of 27 year olds are in a position to have their brains dissected. CTE is the progressive brain disease caused by repeated brain trauma, and there is convincing evidence that the NFL is crippling its players.

My post was going to be about the ethics conflict I face, as one who believes that it is unethical to support the NFL’s profitable mayhem and who also believes that sports should not be made a party to the current progressive indoctrination strategy of making everything in American life a political lecture. The NFL would hasten its own demise, the post would argue, by agreeing to the ridiculous social activism proposal, thus saving brains and lives. Yet this would also exacerbate the divisive and obnoxious trend in the culture wars to politicize aspects of society that should unify us.
What’s a responsible ethicist to do? But it was a busy week, and I thought I could get the piece written over the weekend, which would have been timely if President Trump hadn’t jumped into the issue with both feet. The President ad-libbed an attack on the Kaepernickies during a rally in Alabama, saying,

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump said. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country…But do you know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem. The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway.”

This immediately turned the National Anthem protest stunt launched by the correctly-unemployed former 49ers quarterback into a late-developing ethics train wreck, and rendered my planned ethics quiz moot. So before anything else stupid happens, let me get down what I hope will be some clarifying observations.Observations:

  • This one is simple, and paramount: Nobody pays to go to sporting events to see continuations of the political disputes and debates they watch sports to avoid. Sports is entertainment, and entertainment is escapism. The same goes for music concerts, movies, plays and musicals. A football player making me watch his half-baked “protest” on the field is no more welcome than the cast of a musical making me sit still to hear its partisan ranting after the show.

Sporting events and other popular entertainment are crucial because they unite society, even if its members disagree passionately on other matters. It is dangerous and unhealthy to remove this crucial oasis of relief from debate, especially now. This should be obvious. It isn’t obvious only to full-time activists who don’t care about the purpose of entertainment or the needs of their audiences. Their objective is to achieve a political agenda by any means possible, regardless of the damage to civil society.

  • A term being used a lot lately on conservative websites is “normals,” describing the Americans who don’t regard politics as the sole focus of their waking hours, and who resent, as the Wall Street Journal termed it, The Politicization Of Everything.

It’s a useful distinction, and there is no question that the President, as misguided and inappropriate as his remarks were,  wins the argument with the many, many millions who just want to watch their favorite teams without being bombarded by political bombast and grandstanding.

  • The NFL could have and should have stopped this train wreck before it left the station by simply re-stating the same standards it had consistently maintained for decades. Players are welcome to have political views and to take part in demonstrations and other activism, but not while wearing their uniforms, and not on the field. Almost exactly a year ago, a player was told by the NFL that he could not wear cleats commemorating 9/11.

Why then did pro football allow Colin Kaepernick to make a far more divisive and incoherent political statement on the field later in the year? The answer is cowardice and abandonment of integrity in the face of race-based politics, the same reason the University of Missouri capitulated to racialist demands by its football team. Most of the players in the NFL are black, so the mostly white leaders of the NFL decided to avoid a confrontation. In doing so, it aligned itself with groups and positions that a large segment of the NFL’s fan base abhors, resulting in lost ratings and revenues. This was a breach of business ethics. The NFL’s business is football, not picking sides in the culture wars.

  • Yesterday, over a hundred NFL players “took a knee” during the National Anthem to protest…something…as the news media cheered them on. This was predictable, and the big question is whether the President prompted the reaction intentionally. I am certain he did not; we know by now that Trump  just blurts stuff out without considering consequences of any kind. The US doesn’t need any more division now, and Trump’s crude outburst was indefensible. Presidents should not comment negatively on the conduct of citizens when they are acting within their Constitutional rights. Nor should they interfere with the policies and disciplinary decisions of private businesses, which he did, and which President Obama also did when he endorsed and defended Kaepernick’s stunt last year.

Both were equally inappropriate and unethical, and abuses of power, influence and position. Of course, Obama’s statement was more dignified and articulate than Trump’s—whose wouldn’t be?—and everything Obama did was greeted with swooning and cheers from the media, while anything this President does is presumed to be an abomination.  They were still two sides of the same unethical coin. Continue reading

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