The Scott Rudin Reckoning

Rudin

If you are not a active follower of show business, you may not recognize the name Scott Rudin. Heck, I am an active follower of show business, and I only began actively registering his name in my RNA lately because of the sudden shift in his fortunes. Rudin, in case you’re normal and barely noticed, has long been one of the most celebrated and powerful producers in Hollywood and Broadway. His productions have made billions; he has created too many stars to list, and his work has earned an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and 17 Tony Awards. The problem, except that it wasn’t a problem until recently, is that Rudin is a toxic, bullying, abusive jerk who makes working with or for him a living hell. He’s not a sexual predator, like Harvey Weinstein, so his misconduct has not been strictly illegal. Moreover, while he is an extreme case, his obnoxious type has hardly been rare in show business. One could say it is closer to the norm.

Yet suddenly, Hollywood, Broadway and the entertainment business have begun a cultural shift. It was undoubtedly spurred by #MeToo, but in the end it may be more significant that #MeToo. This highly influential industry is beginning to reject the King’s Pass. As much as I hate to say anything good about show business culture, this is an unquestionably ethical development that could have wide reaching effect far beyond movies, plays, TV shows and music.

The King’s Pass is described in the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List thusly:

11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?” One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.  In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust.

It is one of the most pervasive of all ethical perversions, and throughout human history, as reliable as an aspect of human nature. If you are successful and valuable to organizations and people, you can get away with bad, even terrible conduct that ruins lesser mortals. The rule reigns in business, academia, politics, government, sports and, of course, entertainment. One can speculate on why Scott Rudin’s unexpected fall has become a possible catalyst for weakening the iron grip of The King’s Pass, but for the moment, let’s focus on the fact that he has.

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Ex-Salt Lake County GOP Chairman Scott Miller For Governor Of NY!

Scott Miller

I jest.

Sort of.

Salt Lake County GOP Chairman Scott Miller has resigned his post after brushing off complaints from women in his party regarding Salt Lake County Republican Party communications director Dave Robinson’s pattern of harassment, body-shaming and more.

Miller, who was running for the state Republican chair, had trivialized the allegations as petty squabbling. It was pretty obviously more than that. For example, after Salt Lake County Council candidate Laurie Stringham created a campaign video for donors in which she said, “Support Laurie Stringham for Salt Lake County Council, so when Mayor [Jenny] Wilson says ‘more, more, more,’ we can say ‘no, no, no!’,” she said that Robinson called her to complain about the spot.

“You sound like you’re having an orgasm!” Robinson shouted at her over her car’s speakerphone. He then repeated her “more, more, more” catchphrase with obscene grunting sounds., and told her that if she wanted to “whore herself out, that was her choice.” Then, Stringham said, Robinson shouted, “I will make sure you never get elected! I will ruin you! And I will make sure the party never works with you! Get your shit together!’” and hung up.

Robinson, who is openly gay, was accused of similar abuse by several women, who said he referred to them in demeaning, derogatory and sexual terms, attempted to bully them, and even withheld important campaign resources unless they wrote opinion pieces about his favorite issues. Yet the party chair, Miller, refused to investigate or take their concerns seriously. To the contrary, he attacked Robinson’s critics on the county party’s official email last week, naming all of the women coming forward and questioning their motives.

“Are these persons and possibly their special interest backers attempting to embarrass and cancel me and our volunteers?” Miller asked in part. “I will not be CANCELLED.” Hilariously, after these remarks received condemnation from everyone (including Utah’s Republican governor) but Robinson, Miller performed a spectacular if unconvincing flip-flop, and tweeted,

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The Plague Of Corporate Weenies: Crackerbarrel Strikes Again!

cracker-barrel-noose

When last we left Cracker Barrel restaurants, the chain’s management was flip-flopping like mad as it tried to figure out which “principles” would alienate the fewest customers.

In 2013, reacting to A&E’s craven PC punishment of Phil Robertson of cable’s Duck Dynasty clan for expressing the basic religious convictions of millions of Americans regarding homosexuality in response to an GQ interviewer’s question, Cracker Barrel pulled its products with Phil’s likeness, saying in a statement,

Cracker Barrel’s mission is Pleasing People. We operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people. These ideals are the core of our corporate culture…. We removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests while we evaluate the situation.”

My translation of this weaselly screed: :

‘We at Cracker Barrel have no principles whatsoever. We are a blank slate; we go with the flow. There is no right or wrong for us: whatever position we feel we have to hold to get the most people to buy our products, you can count on us. If 51% of America begins worshiping Baal, hey, sacrifice a goat for in our name, because we’re all in. If the majority want to ban, hey, anything or anyone, we’re in full agreement. We aim to please, in any way that helps our bottom line.’

Sure enough, as soon as it looked like the tide of public opinion was turning against GLAAD and other LBGTQ activists in their effort to “cancel” a member of a large religious community for expressing his beliefs, Cracker Barrel turned on a dime, and bleated,

When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done. You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened. Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores. And, we apologize for offending you.”

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Ethics Dunces: Girl Scouts USA

Girl Scouts

I covered this episode briefly yesterday (Item , but upon reflection, it deserves more derision. The decision to pull the simple tweet saluting all of the women who have served on the Supreme Court because of indefensible tweets like these cited yesterday…

Asshole tweets

and others, like this…

Brown screenshot

…was bad enough: craven, submissive, and irresponsible. The organization’s explanation afterwards, when it had begun getting the much-deserved criticism for backing down in the face of the Woke Mob, compounded its disgrace. First it tweeted meekly,

Girl Scouts Grovel

..and when that abject grovel was not well-received, a Girl Scouts USA spokesperson so mealy-mouthed that—well it’s too early, and I can’t think of a witty metaphor—gave us this:

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Yes, Fire This Teacher, Make Sure He Never Teaches Again, But That’s Just The Beginning…

Stanton

Tacoma, Washington sixth grade technology teacher Brendan Stanton needs to be fired, but that’s only the beginning. His conduct needs to be widely publicized, and the consensus needs to emerge that the kind of conduct he engaged in…

1. Is unacceptable.

2. Is abusive

3. Is indoctrination rather than education

4. Is all too frequently allowed, enabled, and even surreptitiously encouraged in the educational system

5. Must stop.

Those who are inclined to defend Stanton should also be flushed out, condemned and declared to be what they are, and what they are is not reasonably disputable. They are deliberate enemies of American values and democracy. They should have a metaphorical red E, not on their chests, but their foreheads.

Now that all of that is out of the way, and I’ve had a stiff drink, here’s what Stanton did.

Each day, Stanton asks his remote learning students at Perry G. Keithley Middle School students a daily question, requiring students to write their answers in the online chatroom. According to a screenshot, one boy  wrote:

“I admire Donald J. Trump because he is making America great again. And because he is the best president the United States of America could ever, ever have. And he built the wall so terrorists couldn’t come into in the U.S. Trump is the best person in the world. And that’s why I admire him.”

Can’t have American students professing admiration of the President of the United States now, noy when a virtuous and woke teacher runs the class! Stanton kicked the vile child t out of the chatroom, deleted what he wrote lest it corrupt others whose brains and opinions he was assiduously molding to his personal specifications, and proceeded to attack the President and the student.

Incidentally, according to Gallup’s annual poll, President Trump tied with Barack Obama in 2019 as the most admired man in America. Parenthetically, he wouldn’t make my top hundred (neither would Obama).

“The example that was shared in the chat, which I went ahead and erased for us, was not appropriate right?” Stanton told his class. Especially as that individual has created so much division and hatred between people and specifically spoken hatred to many different individuals, ok? Again, that individual has spoken hate to many individuals and I don’t think is an appropriate example for a role model that we should be admiring.”

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: John Hinderaker

“It is almost unbelievable how ignorant and ill-educated America’s college students are. They are well below average in every material way. For all my life I have been an advocate for higher education, but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that college is generally a mistake, as young people are mostly misinformed there, rather than educated. There are a few technical fields–medicine, engineering, possibly law–where such education is actually useful. Otherwise, we and our young people would be better off if they eschewed institutions like Colgate in favor of trade and technical schools, or immediate entry into the labor market. They couldn’t possibly do worse than to pursue the typical four-year liberal arts degree.”

—-Attorney-blogger John Hinderaker, in a Powerline post about the  hostile treatment conservative  author Heather McDonald received from Colgate students when she was invited to speak there.

The reason this seems almost unbelievable to Hinderaker, and the reason I chose this as an ethics quote, is that his painful conclusion that nobody wants to admit is true. I don’t want to admit it, and I was becoming convinced of this decades ago, when I  was part of the administration of Georgetown Law Center and discovered that we had Yale graduates who couldn’t write a coherent sentence, and later, when I had Stanford interns who thought Jane Fonda was an aerobics instructor and who looked at me blankly when I mentioned the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and still later, when a smart young woman who had graduated from Hofsta didn’t know who Jackie Robinson was, and when a Skadden Arps attorney with a Cornell degree guessed that the Civil War was fought sometime in the 1930s.

This is why I was not disappointed when my son, scion of a family with three Harvard graduates and a career Harvard employee, announced that he saw no point in going to college. Continue reading

What’s A Blogging Ethicist To Do?

How would regular Ethics Alarms readers expect me to say about this story?

An Arlington High School student (in Arlington, Mass.) filed a complaint with  police. alleging that a teacher history teacher assaulted her during school hours. Sadie Earegood confirmed with NEWS 7 that the teacher involved in the incident is Bernard Arthur, though the Arlington School District has not confirmed with us that the allegations against  him are true. Earegood claims ripped a “Dream Big, Fight Hard”  Elizabeth Warren pin off of her shirt…”He grabbed it and I pulled and I tried to push his hand away and he grabbed my shoulder, just kind of put his hand there, and then he started pulling more and more and I just started backing up.” The teacher then put the pin on his own shirt, upside-down, and said it “belonged that way.”

As regular readers know, I regard Senator Warren as one of the worst of a horrifying Democratic field, an unprincipled liar and a demagogue. Still, the ethics call on this incident would be unavoidable. No teacher has a right to touch a student and steal her property, not does one have the right to mock her for a political statement, however foolish it may be. If the story is true, the teacher has behaved unethically, and probably illegally. No one should support or sympathize with the teacher, or try to rationalize his conduct.

Well, the story isn’t true…not quite. It didn’t take place at Arlington High School (my alma  mater), but at Mason High School in Lansing, Michigan. The teacher is named Paul Kato. Oh..,one more thing! The button that the young student was wearing said “Women for Trump.” Continue reading

Monday Ethics Left-Overs, 11/25/2019: Dog Dissonance, Chick-Fil-A’s Surrender, Yang, And Yar

Happy Holidays!

1 Trivial Ethics. In an old episode of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” the nautical termword “yar” came up. This was a Jeff Goldblum episode, and he remarked, in the odd, ironic, strangely reflective manner that is Jeff’s trademark, “Yar! Katherine Hepburn used that word in “The Philadelphia Story,” right? Yar? Who did she say that too?” His partner replied, with great certitude, “Jimmy Stewart.”

WRONG. Tracy Lord (Katherine) has two “yar” discussions, one with her fiance, played by John Howard, and another with ex-husband Cary Grant, who built boats. These scriptwriters are in show business, dammit. “The Philadelphia Story” is a classic. Nobody working on the TV show knew the right answer? Nobody bothered to check? This is how America’s collective minds get clogged with ignorance.

2. Now I can begin my personal boycott of Chick-Fil-A. Last week Chick-fil-A announced that next year it is officially cutting ties with the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), the charitable organizations that have sparked protests and boycotts against the chicken restaurant chain because they, and the chain’s CEO, Dan Kathy, are known to oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

According to the chain, in 2018, its foundation donated $115,000 to the Salvation Army and $1.65 million to FCA. This is a big blow to both organizations.

“We made multiyear commitments to both organizations, and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018. Moving forward you will see that the Chick-fil-A Foundation will support the three specific initiatives of homelessness, hunger and education,” a representative said.

Translation: They capitulated to viewpoint bullying, and now others will feel empowered to use totalitarian methods to extort other organizations and businesses.

This issue was deftly covered in a major thread in last week’s Open Forum: Continue reading

Property Rights, The Fan, The Baseball, And The Lesson [CORRECTED and UPDATED]

That’s Hydes in the middle. The little white round thing is the ball.

During an Angels-Tigers game in Detroit last week, California slugger Albert Pujols hit a solo home run that gave him  2,000 runs batted in for his career. This wasn’t just a round number. Only four batters in Major League History have knocked that many across the plate in their careers, three if you don’t count steroid cheat Alex Rodriguez, and you shouldn’t and I don’t. The three are Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth,  and now Pujols. It’s a big deal.

[I erroneously had Willie Mays and Barry Bonds (yechh) in the list. Thanks to Diego Garcia for the correction.]

A Detroit fan named Ely Hydes, a law student, got the ball in the stands. As is the usual practice in such situations where a ball represents a landmark achievement, and stadium  security asked him for the ball to present to the man who hit it. Hydes said no.  In an interview later with a Detroit radio station, he said that he hadn’t decided decided whether to give the ball to his brother, his father, or Pujols. The security staff offered money, and then, he said, got nasty with him, which he resented, and caused him to be more adamant about keeping the ball. Continue reading

Harassment At Starbucks: If This Were An Isolated Episode, It Wouldn’t Be Worth An Ethics Post—But It’s Not. Now What?

At a Palo Alto Starbucks this week, a man wearing a red Make America Great Again cap, minding his own business, was confronted by a furious Rebecca Parker Mankey,  an appointed member of Palo Alto’s North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan Working Group and co-chairs the Bayshore Progressive Democrats.

She began shouting that he was a”hater of brown people” and “Nazi scum,” and exhorted the other  Starbucks customers and employees to join her in shaming him, . Mankey later said she was “heartbroken” that other “white people”—like her target— didn’t join her assault.   “I called him more names and told him to call the police. Then I yelled and asked someone else at Starbucks to call the police. He wouldn’t call the police, so I called him a wimp. He got his stuff together to leave. I followed him to the register while he complained about me. Then chased him out of Starbucks yelling at him to get the fuck out of my town and never come back,” she wrote. One he was in the parking lot, she threatening  to post pictures of him on social media—which she did—along with her version of the incident. She asked the public for help finding him so she could make sure he was harassed, saying, “I want him to have nowhere to hide.” Continue reading