Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Butt-Head


Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) achieved the rare and near impossible yesterday: he issued an unethical but presumably sincere apology.

You see, prior to his issuing a statement apologizing to Michelle Obama for saying that she had a big butt, I

a) …didn’t know that Sensenbrenner had said this, because I, like most people, couldn’t care less what Sensenbrenner says.

b)…never had given a moment’s thought to the size of the First Lady’s butt, just as I never thought about Laura Bush’s butt, Ladybird Johnson’s butt, or Pat Nixon’s butt. I don’t think about First Lady butts. Frankly, I worry about anyone who does.

Apparently on two occasions Sensenbrenner regaled small groups with unflattering comments about Michelle’s rear end, on the ridiculous theory that her campaign against child obesity was somehow hypocritical because the First Lady isn’t built like Zooey Deschanel. You see, this is why most people pay no attention to Sensenbrenner: he says things this dumb with some regularity. What does Mrs. Obama’s figure have to do with the health risks of child obesity? Even if she looked like Newt Gingrich in drag, how would that make her campaign hypocritical? Overweight people can’t express concern for the health risks of being overweight? Overweight people know the health risks better than anyone; the fitness advocates that you want to slug are the natural ectomorphs who can eat all day and not gain an inch. So the Congressman’s wisecracks were 1) rude, 2) mean, 3) boorish, 4) uncivil,  and 5) stupid. Also 6), untrue, because there is nothing wrong with Michelle’s butt, now that I’ve done some research. Great—now I’m thinking about First Lady butts. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Sports Grid Blogger Dan Fogarty

Civility is doomed. Civilization is doomed. Propriety is doomed.

What's the concerned father of the injured cheerleader thinking about? Why, what any cool dad would think about---how good her butt looks!

And Taylor Young, a cheerleader for the Michigan State Spartans, may well be doomed, as it is impossible to tell how badly her character, values and common sense have been warped by being brought up in a household containing her father, Charles. After Young took a hard fall during the halftime show in a game against Florida State, requiring her to receive medical attention (she was OK), her father posted this astounding Facebook comment, which, naturally, has gone viral:

“I’m glad to see your booty isn’t gettin big ….. no one likes a chick with a big butt ….. love you.”

Idiotic? Check. Sexist? Check. Insulting to women? Check. Embarrassing to his daughter? Double check. Demonstrating a stunning lack of understanding of the internet? Check. Displaying a disturbing tendency to sexualize his own daughter?

Check, and Yuck.

But to Dan Fogarty, writing on Sports Grid, this offensive post proves that Young is a “cool Dad,” and Young goes on to cite other “experts” who believe this is “quite possibly the funniest ‘Dad Moment’ in Facebook history.”

Really? Is this really the current state of the culture? A father makes salacious comments about his daughter’s “booty,” suggests that “chicks” without similar booty quality are unloved and unlovable, and that’s cool?

If Fogarty is in step with the culture and I’m not, 1) then American society is coarsening faster than I thought, and 2) which way to Mars?

My condolences to Taylor Young for the boorish conduct of her father, and if she sees nothing wrong with it either, she has my intense condolences—because she has been severely damaged.

As, perhaps, have we all, if Fogarty is right.

Ethics Dunce: Melissa Leo

Give the soap to Melissa, Ralphie...

That certainly settled it: Melissa Leo is an inexcusable boor after all.

Winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Leo blurted out, “Really, really, really, WOW” and then,“When I watched, it looked so fucking easy!”

And thus do tasteless, disrespectful, uncivil so-called professionals degrade our language, public standards of decency and respect for others. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ronbo” on His Own Previous “Frivolous Complaint of the Month”

Ron Barbour, Tea Party warrior, has a priceless post on his website in response to Ethics Alarms’ flagging of his letter “demanding” that the Secret Service arrest the director of the Missoula “Mikado” for updating “The Lord High Executioner’s” gag list of societal irritants to include Sarah Palin.

I would normally post highlights at this point, but everyone should check out his website to see the face of hateful extremism first hand, and how it burns up IQ points like kindling. This is political activism mutated into a total war mentality, where fairness to the perceived enemy is translated as proof of alliance with the enemy. Ron thinks I am a Leftist, which is tied only with “New York Yankee fan” as the thing I have most seldom been accused of being.

Don’t miss this…you will find it here.

Frivolous Complaint of the Month: Ronald Barbour

I considered several possible titles for this: Unethical Abuse of a Government Employee’s Time of the Month, False Accusation of the Month, and the like. I considered calling it Most Unfair Attack on the Missoula Community Theater of the Week, but I’m not even sure that is true. I even considered, Document That Almost Makes Me Regret That I Ever Opposed Unfair Attacks on the Tea Party, but that is a bit off topic.

This published letter by “Ronbo” Barbour completely fooled me; I really thought it was satire,  which reveals a truth: the less one understands satire, the more likely one is to unwittingly emulate it without ever getting the joke.

I will say this: W.S. Gilbert would love this.

And now I present the actual letter sent to the Secret Service by Mr. Barbour, a Montana Tea Party official, relating to Sarah Palin’s inclusion in the classic comic song, “I’ve Got A Little List” [ Scroll to the end of the post for two versions of the song, the original and a Monty Python adaptation ] in the Missoula Community Theatre’s production of the 125 year-old operetta, “The Mikado.” I wouldn’t make this up; this is an ethics blog… Continue reading

Ethics Train Wreck Report: Lessons, Ethical and Otherwise, of the Missoula “Mikado” Mess

Much of my weekend was occupied by reading, writing, thinking, and talking about the bizarre controversy over a community theater production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado,” which, by a series of misunderstandings, misdeeds, hypocrisies and journalistic malpractice, has created much anger and unhappiness for no legitimate reason at all. If you are late to the story and want to catch up, you can do so here, here, here, and here.

For the first and perhaps only time I can honestly say that Ethics Alarms is the most reliable source on a story. There may be plenty of ethicists who are more knowledgeable, scholarly, prudent and experienced than I am regarding ethics theory, but none of them knows this topic—Gilbert and Sullivan and “The Mikado”, like I do. I have 50 years experience performing, directing, studying, parodying and laughing at the works of these Victorian geniuses. The second I read the astoundingly wrong-headed interpretation being attached to the Missoula Community Theatre’s inclusion of Sarah Palin in Ko-Ko’s famous song “I’ve Got a Little List,” I surmised exactly what was going on, and my assessment has been confirmed by everything that has come to light since.

I will summarize what we now know in brief (well, briefer than reading all the posts) form:

Continue reading

Unethical Journalist of the Week: Aaron Flint, of The Northern Broadcasting Network

Well, why not…before all-Mikado Saturday comes to an end, I might as well highlight this astounding example of spectacularly incompetent journalism by the Northern Broadcasting Network’s Aaron Flint, who actually posted this hilarious idiocy on his “Flint Report” (I will have to comment on the text as it goes, since there is too much nonsense to take in all at once.)

His headline: “Palin Beheaded in Missoula Play” Continue reading

Manny, Kanye, and the Farce of Self-Serving Apologies

Two habitual bad actors in the world of entertainment apologized this week, for similar reasons and with equivalent credibility.

First, baseball slugger Manny Ramirez issued an apology to his former team once removed, The Boston Red Sox, for forcing the team to trade him in the middle of the 2008 pennant race because Manny was faking injuries, refusing to hustle during game, assaulting employees, and poisoning team morale and discipline. “I think everything was my fault,” Ramirez said. “You’ve got to be a real man to realize when you do wrong. Hey, it was my fault, right? I’m already past that stage. I’m happy. I’m in a new team,” Manny told reporters. He was with a new team, all right: the Dodgers, his previous team, let him go to the Chicago White Sox for nothing because, well, he was faking injuries, dogging it in the field…same act, different stage. So what was the apology about?

Manny, or more likely his agent, realizes this most recent break with a team as the result of his habitually juvenile and unprofessional attitude might cost him a lot of money at contract time—Ramirez is a free agent after all. So contrition was called for—two full years after he laughed off any suggestions that he was at fault for the Boston debacle, and proved that he had been loafing on the field by playing in L.A. like he was on fire. This isn’t an apology; it’s damage control, and thus is a deceitful and dishonest apology that has nothing whatsoever to do with genuine regret. The big tip-off is that Ramirez felt he had to explain why his apology was so admirable. Yes, Manny, you have to be a real man to admit you’re wrong; a real jerk to fake an apology to fool a future employer into believing that you’ve turned over a new leaf, and real fool to believe anyone will fall for it.

Then there is rapper Kanye West. Continue reading

Pop Ethics Quiz! Who’s More Unethical: Mel or Oksana?

Actor/director Mel Gibson has been in a series of nasty public and private battles with Oksana Grigorieva, whom he is currently fighting in court for custody of their love-child. As part of her assault on his fitness as a father, Grigorieva secretly taped one of their emotional arguments and released it to the tabloid media. On the tape, Gibson calls her a number of names that aren’t in a gentleman’s vocabulary, but the pièce de résistance is this charming sentiment:

You look like a fucking pig in heat and if you get raped by a pack of niggers it will be your fault.”

Your question is: Which is more unethical? Mel’s ugly words or Oksana’s taping and releasing them?

[Pause for “Jeopardy” music…] Continue reading

Vuvuzela Ethics

Applied to an international soccer match, the argument that players, fans and broadcasters should be broad-minded and tolerant of the peculiar conduct of various national groups is a good one—up to a point. The point is reached when a custom begins ruining the game for everyone else. The vuvuzelas–those small plastic horns that produce an ear-splitting atonal drone like a horde of cicadas— go well beyond that point at the World Cup, and in any other sports setting are the equivalent of racist taunts, 400 pound naked men, on-field trespassers and giant fart machines. Continue reading