Tag Archives: boycotts

The Unethical, Un-American, State Travel Bans

Recently various states have decided to punish their fellow members of the United States of America for daring to adopt laws of which they do not approve. The method: bans on government employees traveling to those states on business and the state dime, with the hope that the state’s lead will discourage private travel as well. Why are they doing this? Oh, many reasons, I suppose, all of them insufficient to justify the conduct, which is unethical.

Some of the state legislators who pass these bans, and the governors who sign them, want to place economic sanctions on the other states, even if the effects are limited. After all, they can’t stop the citizens of the states from traveling, only government employees. But pressure is pressure, and the limited measures are an attempt to meddle in the democracy of those other bad states. Another reason is virtue-signalling, as a state seeks to show that it supports a group that is politically strong in that region against another state’s policies that displease it. A third reason is the related motive of grandstanding. Finally, a state might use a travel ban to strike back at another state that is banning state travel there. An eye for an eye, a voucher for a voucher.

Yes, this will end well.

I wish I didn’t have to say this, because I know everyone thinks I pick on liberals, progressives and Democrats, but it’s the Democratic majority states that are using this weapon, especially…well, can you guess? Oh, come on, guess. Yes, the major offender is California. Others are New York, Minnesota, and Washington state.

“Our country has made great strides in dismantling prejudicial laws that have deprived too many of our fellow Americans of their precious rights,” says the public statement of California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California, who has been instrumental in getting the Golden State to limit trips to Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. You know, those conservative bad places, where people with sub-normal IQ’s cling to their guns and Bibles. His quote is a classic of arrogant, doctrinaire, narrow-minded, elitist self-righteousness. Continue reading

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From The “Why We Can’t Trust The News Media” Files: The Megyn Kelly- Alex Jones Interview Fiasco

Here is the sequence of events:

1. Newly minted NBC “star” Megyn Kelly announced that she would be interviewing infamous right wing political troll and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on a segment of her new show.

Jones is a fringe media figure and a proven liar, but he has been cited positively by President Trump, and has successfully caused some wide-spread comtoversy and offense, such as when he claimed that the Newtown massacre was a hoax. There is nothing wrong with interviewing such figures; indeed, it is important to interview them. provided ethical journalism standards apply.

Unfortunately, as this episode demonstrates, journalists no longer know what those standards are.

2. In order to persuade Jones to agree to the interview, Kelly promised him—Jones had a tape—that he would be treated fairly. Note: when you tell someone they will be treated fairly in order to have him trust you, your definition of “fair” must be his definition of “fair.”  If he is thinking, “Ah! She will be neutral rather than adversarial, and will not be looking for gotchas!,” but she meant, “It’s fair that I fillet you like a trout, you bastard!” then the interview subject has been deceived.

3. The parents of the victims of the Newtown shooting, as well as their sympathizers and allies, protested the interview, as I wrote about here, saying that NBC was giving Jones a platform. Sympathy and grief are not excuses for censorship. The fact that the parents hate Jones suggests that they shouldn’t watch him be interviewed. They should not seek to interfere with my right to see how he presents himself, and companies (like J.P Morgan) that responded to the threatened boycott by pulling their ads told me that they will go as the winds blow, no matter how totalitarian the direction it might be.

Good to know. To hell with them.

4. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking of progressives with muddled values,  wanted NBC to pull the segment.. The NBC affiliate in Hartford refused to air the episode because the “wounds of that day that have yet to heal.”

Yes, by all means, journalists should never report news or do stories that might upset anyone.

5. Showing the integrity of a sneak-thief, NBC and Kelly furiously re-cut the interview and added a segment in which some Newtown parents could attack Jones.

6. Before the interview aired, Alex Jones released audiotape showing how egregiously Kelly misled him.

7. The interview aired last night, and reviewers were satisfied that Kelly was “tough enough” with Jones, and signaled with her voice, facial expressions, tone and questions that she thought he was scum. “Short of waterboarding him,” one critic wrote, “I don’t know what more Kelly could have done to expose Jones’ dark methods.”

Ugh.

Ethics Observations: Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/13/17

1.  The controversy over the Central Park “Julius Caesar” casting Donald Trump–his stage clone, really—as Caesar continues to be ignorantly argued. What’s worse, Fox News constantly calling the Shakespearean classic an “assassination play” (it’s not, not even close), or people who really would love to see Trump assassinated arguing that there’s a double standard because some professional productions of  “Julius Caesar” in recent years cast a black actor as the targeted emperor? Does anyone for a second believe that if a high-profile theatrical production depicted a character as clearly intended to symbolize Obama as the New York City production styles its Caesar as Trump being assassinated in a scene like the one below, there would not have been equivalent, indeed greater outrage?

The most cited production with a black, modern business-suited Caesar had an actor with a shaved head playing the role, clearly signalling that this was NOT Barack Obama. This, however, is “Donald Trump”:

My question is: Does the audience cheer? I bet they do, and I bet that’s exactly what the director wanted. I support the production, and reject efforts to pressure donors into pulling support. Theater is often political, and outrageous, and should be. But the play’s defenders who cite versions that evoked a black leader as equivalent are arguing that people are more upset at a faux Trump assassination than they would have been if “Obama” were slaughtered in Central Park, and that is absurd.

2. Another looming boycott is the effort to punish NBC’s Megyn Kelly for interviewing InfoWars’ Alex Jones, the professional conspiracy theorist and right-wing liar. Because he famously suggested that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax—an instant IQ test for anyone deciding to ever pay attention to this jerk again—Sandy Hook parents and their allies are condemning NBC and Kelly for “giving him a platform,” and have succeeded in getting one sponsor, JP Morgan, to drop its ads. How long before both ends of the political spectrum start routinely pushing boycotts of any journalists who “give a platform” to someone their “side” has pronounced as evil?  The Sandy Hook victims’ families continue to abuse the sympathy their tragedy evoked by using it to attack core rights using appeals to emotion and little else. Some quotes from the Washington Post story: Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On The “Shakespeare in the Park” Trump As “Julius Caesar” Production

In  New York City, Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park festival this summer begins with  a version of “Julius Caesar“, in which Caesar is played by an actor made up and costumed to look like the current President of the United States, and Calpurnia (Caesar’s wife) is portrayed as a runway model with a Slavic accent. Some of the costumes include Anonymous masks and the infamous pussy hats. When Caesar/Trump is assassinated in the Senate, the murderers are women and minorities.

Oooo! Subtle!

The production has been in previews since May 23, and opens tonight at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Criticism of the concept,  theater and its financial supporters has been roiling all week, and many have compared the play to  Kathy Griffin’s severed Trump head stunt.  Fox News reported that it “appears to depict President Trump being brutally stabbed to death by women and minorities.” Well, yes, that’s right. Now some prominent corporate sponsors have publicly withdrawn their financial support, including Delta and Bank of America.

Delta’s statement:

“No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of ‘Julius Caesar’ at this summer’s free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values,” Delta said in a statement on Sunday night. Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste. We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of the Public Theater effective immediately.”

Bank of America:

“The Public Theater chose to present ‘Julius Caesar’ in a way that was intended to provoke and offend. Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it. We are withdrawing our funding for this production.”

Other sponsors, such as Time Warner and the New York Times, have stood fast. Said the Times:

”As an institution that believes in free speech for the arts as well as the media, we support the right of the Public Theater to stage the production as they chose.”

Ethics Observations:

[Do remember that I am a professional stage director, previously the artistic director of a professional theater for 20 years, and that I dealt with donors, individual, corporate, non-profit and government, all that time.] Continue reading

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“What’s Going On Here?”: The 8th Grade’s Speaker Of The House Snub

It is fair to say that no primary school class of any grade level would have snubbed a Speaker of the House by boycotting a scheduled meeting with him or her ten years ago, twenty years ago or ever. That this happened last week is worth paying heed to, and worthy of careful consideration. It is another symptom of a seriously ill culture, society and democracy.

Half of the D.C. field-tripping 8th grade from South Orange Middle School, about a hundred students, rejected their photo op with Speaker Paul Ryan, and were allowed to wait in the parking lot while Ryan greeted the other half.

What’s going on here?

What’s going on here should be easy to diagnose. The vicious, anti-democratic partyism, partisan incivility and hatred that has poisoned public and private discourse that has moved the United States toward governmental paralysis and the worst societal division since the Civil War is being passed on to the next generation. Anyone who cheers this as a positive development is a lousy, unethical citizen. It’s that simple.

The snub is 100% the product of irresponsible and ignorant parents, aided and abetted by incompetent teachers, seeded by the open warfare and excessive rhetoric of political leaders, though not, ironically enough, by Paul Ryan. Ryan has always comported himself, in this office and his previous one as an ordinary House member, by traditional statesman standards. He is polite and respectful, indeed was too much so  when Joe Biden snorted, rolled his eyes, sneered and interrupted him repeatedly during the 2012 Vice-Presidential debate. Ryan is a gentleman and a professional. He has also dedicated himself to public service and the best interests of his country as he sees it, like all honest elected officials, at great personal sacrifice. As Speaker of the House, a job he did not seek but accepted because he was needed by the institution, Ryan has immense responsibility and daunting challenges. Nobody has to agree with his political views, support his initiatives, or hesitate to criticize, lobby, advocate or vote against what he does or tries to do. Every responsible and civil American, however, should respect him for serving the nation as best he can. As for children, and that is what 8th graders are, they have only one duty: be respectful to the elected leaders of their towns, states and nation. Yes, every single one of those leaders.  Children have neither the standing nor the knowledge nor the wisdom to be otherwise.

Matthew Malespina, one of the grand-standing 8th graders who waited in the bus, was interviewed by ABC about why he snubbed the Speaker of the House. “It’s not just a picture,” the indoctrinated, arrogant kid told the reporter. “It’s being associated with a person who puts his party before his country.”

Gee, I wonder where he learned that empty phrase? What do you mean by this, Michael? Members of both parties belong to them because they believe their party’s governing philosophy is in the interests of the United States. Give me an example of Ryan “putting his party before his country” that doesn’t mean “if Republicans cared about the country, they’d be Democrats.”

Explain the complexities of fixing the evident flaws of Obamacare while not creating unacceptable risks to the health care system. Tell us how you would have negotiated the ethical dilemma of either supporting your party’s Presidential candidate whom you believe to be unqualified, or risking splitting your party and giving control of the government to an opposition party that you believe is pushing the nation in dangerous and untenable directions.

Go ahead, you’re 13, you know everything. What’s your plan? Tell us how you would begin fixing the crumbling infrastructure, a multi-trillion dollar task, without raising taxes to crushing levels or pushing the national debt over the brink. Tell us how the U.S. should help its poorest citizens without making them permanent government sycophants. Tell us how society can take away money earned by corporations and wealthier citizens without destroying the incentive to innovate, take risks, create jobs.

You know nothing. It’s very likely that the parents who have been programming you know nothing as well other than party-fed talking points, but at least they are adults in a democracy, and empowered to be part of government even though our broken news media and education establishment has left them below the minimal level of civic literacy for the process to work as designed.

“The point was, ‘I don’t want to be associated with him, and his policies and what he stands for,'” said Elissa Malespina, Matthew’s mother, a smug hyper-partisan fool who undoubtedly agrees with the attitude of the Georgetown professor who refused to work out in a gym that had a member whose views she found offensive. No, Elissa: a photo is a photo, not an endorsement, just like using the gym didn’t make the professor an honorary white supremacist. But I’m sure you’ve carefully discussed the competing issues of shunning, pluralism, democracy, the political advocacy system, governmental theories, Locke, Rousseau, Jefferson, Hamilton, Burke with your impressionable son, right?

Just kidding. We know what you have been doing since November is telling your child along with anyone else who would listen that Donald Trump is an illegitimate President and anyone who supports him in any way has enlisted in Evil’s Legions, which of course includes the Republican Party and Paul Ryan. Nice work.

It is not damaging enough that progressives are trying to turn the U.S into an ideologically segregated society where citizens of varying opinions can’t work and play civilly together, and where every citizen respects the leaders chosen by our elections, as they must if democracy is to function. They are determined to spread this cultural poison to the next generation before they have the ability to think for themselves.

This is what the conduct of the South Orange Middle School’s 8th grade means, and that’s what’s going on here. It is one more ugly, harmful and perhaps permanent side effect of the “resistance”—including much of the media and Democratic Party—rejecting democratic principles and institutions because they didn’t create the results the Left wanted this time.

Now that’s putting party before country.

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Comment of the Day:”Unethical Website Of The Month: #GrabYour Wallet”

boycotts

Should I regret when readers explain my positions better than I do? I don’t. It is one of the great advantages of the Ethics Alarms symposium format: very smart people often refine my views and make them clearer for me, as well as others.

An example is Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day, on a topic that has come up her before, boycotts. Every time it has, someone has countered my ethical conviction that boycotts are intrinsically wrong with the argument that we all have a right and often good reasons to refuse to patronize a business, so why is it unethical to urge others to follow our lead? Glenn does a better job answering that question than I ever have.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post “Unethical Website Of The Month: #GrabYour Wallet.”

This is how I see boycotts, and I’ll explain by responding to parts of [reader Spartan’s] comment:

Assuming people have X amount of dollars they are going to spend, those X dollars will just go to other companies. Every time I buy a GM car (I only buy GM cars), am I hurting someone from Ford, Nissan, BMW, etc.?

Are you buying the car for its value, or in order to hurt other companies? Presumably, most people buy cars for their perceived value, or their styling, or some other characteristic that pushes the correct buttons of their personal taste in cars.

But if the only button GM presses is related to politics/religion/etc. then yes, it would be unethical.

I have a Mormon colleague who will only stay at Marriott hotels because it is a Mormon-owned chain. Is he boycotting other hotels?

Let me answer this question with another question: Is it ethical for a white person to patronize white-only restaurants because of the race of their ownership? Is it ethical for a gay person to patronize only gay-owned establishments? How about Catholics using a religious test for their patronage? Continue reading

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Unethical Website Of The Month: #GrabYour Wallet

trump-boycott

Boycotts are almost always unethical, but the vicious partisan tactic of boycotting businesses because they or their owners  support or contributed to the duly elected President of the United States make usual boycotts seem saintly in comparison. Spite, vengeance, an attack on political speech and individual autonomy, call it what you will, there is no other side to this tactic. It is wrong. It undermines democracy. It punishes speech. It is the heating oil seller who tells Trump voters to freeze, and the yarn shop owner who tells Democrats to feed their knitting elsewhere, but on a grand, self-righteous, societally destructive scale.

#GrabYourWallet is a website whose operators  aim to hurt, injure and punish not only business owners who dare to have a different political view than they, but also their businesses employees, families and customers. This is the invidious outfit that bullied Nordstrom into dropping Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, because we must punish a young woman for supporting her father, who half the country chose to be President. This in turn led Kelly Ann Conway, the President’s spokesperson who is as much in over her head as a he is, to fall into the trap of violating the law by using her position to promote a product, because she chose an inartful way of telling decent Americans to reject the boycott.

Let me be as clear as Ethics Alarms can be. Continue reading

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