Afternoon Ethics Romp, 4/10/2019: A Swirl Of Emotions…

Ah, I feel wefweshed!

Just took a post-seminar nap—one of the bennies of a hime business– counted philosophers jumping over a fence, and now I’m awake and ready to rumble…

1. Wow. The quality of posts on this morning’s Open Forum is off the charts. Now my self-esteem is crushed , since it’s obvious that I’m keep the group back with my mundane commentary. If you haven’t dropped in on the colloquy yet, I recommend it highly.

2. This is why we can’t  have nice things, and will have fewer and fewer of them as time goes on…Related to a thread in the Open Forum, about a controversy over the way artificial intelligence screens job applicants is this news from a week ago. Google announced that it was dissolving a newly established panel. called the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC). which was founded to guide “responsible development of AI” at the tech giant (colossus/ behemoth/monster). The group was to have eight members and meet four times over the course of 2019 to consider issues and recommendation regarding Google’s AI program. The idea was to have an intellectually and ideologically diverse group to avoid “group think” and narrow perspectives.

I know something about such enterprises. I once had the job of running independent scholarly research within the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on contentious policy matters. My methodology was to invite experts from all sides of the issue, the political divide, and spectrum of professions and occupations. The method worked. Oh, we had arguments, minority reports, everything you might expect, but the committee meeting were civil, stimulating and often surprising. This, of course, requires an open mind and mutual respect from all involved. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2018: Blacklisting, Boycotts, And A Fox News Ethics Breach

Good Morning, all.

1 The blacklisting of R. Lee Ermey. Ermey, the ex-Marine turned actor who gained fame playing a Marine drill sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket,” died this week. I had thought he might already be dead, since I hadn’t seen him show up in movies or TV shows for quite a while. No, it appears that he was blackballed by Hollywood after he criticized President Obama in 2010, while he was being hired with some regularity. Speaking at a Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots rally, he said it was difficult to raise money for the charity because “the economy sucks” and went on to blame the Obama Administration, saying,

“We should all rise up, and we should stop this administration from what they’re doing because they’re destroying this country. They’re driving us into bankruptcy so that they can impose socialism on us, and that’s exactly what they’re doing, and I’m sick and damn tired of it and I know you are too.”

Ermey’s agent and the sudden reduction in his offers persuaded the tough Marine to beg for forgiveness with an abject apology for daring to critique Obama so harshly. Never mind:  His contract as a GEICO character was terminated, and the company removed Ermey’s commercial from their official YouTube channel. He later told interviewers that he had been blacklisted by Hollywood, and that he never had major film offer after he criticized Obama.

Observations:

a) I wonder when fair, decent, ethical Americans who believe in freedom of thought and expression will become sufficiently alarmed about progressives and Democrats using blacklists and boycotts  to enforce ideological conformity. This increasingly totalitarian end of the political spectrum needs to be informed that its ethics alarms are seriously malfunctioning.

b) Actors identified with products and companies cannot complain when they lose those jobs after making divisive political comments. If Ermey wanted to do commercials for anyone other than the NRA, his comments about Obama were just plain stupid.

c) As an actor in films, however, Ermey played villains and parodies of military characters.  His political views in those contexts should have been irrelevant, and certainly wouldn’t harm receipts for movies he was in. If he really was blacklisted, it was an act of punishment for refusing to accept the Hollywood community’s lockstep worship of a weak and divisive President.

d) In contrast, recall this public rant from actor Robert DeNiro in January regarding the current President of the United States:

“This fucking idiot is the President. It’s The Emperor’s New Clothes – the guy is a fucking fool. The publication of the Pentagon Papers was a proud moment for American journalism. The Times and the Post challenged the government over critical First Amendment issues. And the press prevailed. Our government today, with the propping-up of our baby-in-chief – the jerkoff-in-chief I call him – has put the press under siege, trying to discredit it through outrageous attacks and lies.’

I don’t think Bobby has lost any roles over this. To be fair, if there is a place where The King’s Pass, aka “The Star Syndrome,” rules supreme, it’s Hollywood. A major star like DeNiro obviously has more leeway than a narrow-range character actor like Ermey, and Ermey had to know that. Still, the double standard is striking. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/16/ 2017: A Kiss, A Blacklist, A Mystery, And President Frog

Good Morning!

It’s tree decorating day!

1 Fact. Last night, TCM was showing “Holiday Affair,” starring Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, and Wendell Corey. After the film, as is his wont, host Ben Mankiewicz returned with some inside trivia. He said, “Janet Leigh was not prepared at this point in her career to be on a set with such pranksters as Mitchum and Corey. At the point in the film where the actress was supposed to be kissed by Mitchum, Leigh wrote in her autobiography, instead of getting the expected movie kiss, she got a genuine Robert Mitchum kiss while the cameras rolled. The script called for her character to react with surprise, and there is no doubt that’s what audiences saw!”

This was exactly what Al Franken’s first accuser alleged he did to her in a skit rehearsal a decade ago. Now, was that “prank kiss” sexual harassment? Since that kind of “prank” by male movie stars was hardly uncommon, Mitchum was a bigger star at that point than Leigh (who was 22), and he was considered a dreamboat, and this was 1949, Leigh was a good sport about it, and presumably wasn’t uncomfortable for the rest of the shoot. Yet if the film was in made in 1999, she could hold a press conference today and accuse Senator Mitchum of sexually harassing her, and there would be evidence on film.

She could do this a) if she had shrugged the off then as an initiation to the World of Bob Mitchum, but newly “woke” realized it was sexual assault; b) if her career was flagging and she needed to get back into “Variety” headlines; c) if she had been seething all these years and waiting for a chance at revenge; d) if Senator Mitchum were a pro life conservative and her liberal daughter Jamie Lee Curtis called her up one day and said, “Mom, you know that story about Robert Mitchum slipping you a tongue during “Holiday Affair”? You can take that right wing SOB down with that!”

And there would be nothing Senator Mitchum could do about it.

Go ahead, Prof. Butler. say “Come ON!” I dare you.

2. On the other hand...Yesterday, director Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Hobbit,” “King Kong”), told reporters how Harvey Weinstein, he now realizes, made good on his threats to exact revenge on young actresses who didn’t “cooperate” with him:

“I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women [Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino] – and as a direct result their names were removed from our casting list…My experience, when Miramax controlled the Lord of the Rings… was of Weinstein and his brother behaving like second-rate Mafia bullies.”

Sorvino tweeted in response, Continue reading