Ethics Observations On Justin Trudeau’s “Brownface” Scandal

Other than “Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!” that is.

News item:Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, wore brownface makeup to a party at the private school where he was teaching in the spring of 2001. TIME has obtained a photograph of the incident. The photograph has not been previously reported. The picture was taken at an “Arabian Nights”-themed gala. It shows Trudeau, then the 29-year-old son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, wearing a turban and robes with his face, neck and hands completely darkened. The photograph appears in the 2000-2001 yearbook of West Point Grey Academy, a private day school where Trudeau was a teacher.”

Also: “The re-election campaign of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada was thrown into turmoil on Wednesday when a photograph surfaced of him wearing brownface makeup at a 2001 private school party….Speaking with reporters aboard his campaign plane, Mr. Trudeau, who has long championed the rights of racial minorities in Canada, confirmed that he was in the photo and that he was dressed as Aladdin.

“This is something I shouldn’t have done many years ago,” Mr. Trudeau said. “It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do, and I am deeply sorry.”

Observations:

1. Wearing make-up to create an image along with a costume is not “racist.” Either Trudeau is just pandering  and grovelling to political correctness, or he’s not every bright. I’ve written about this before, most notably here (the post that got Ethics Alarms banned from Facebook). How is that make-up a negative commentary on the inferiority or inequality of a race? Not being sensitive to the hair-trigger offense reflexes of minorities and activists looking for a “gotcha!’ is not racist. It is not being sensitive to hair-trigger offense reflexes by minorities and activists looking for a “gotcha!” Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/30/2019: Post Rugby Edition

This just has to be a better day than yesterday.

And I’m not even referring to the Yankees beating the Red Sox 17-13 in the first MLB game ever played in Europe.

Also, much thanks to the many readers who sent their condolences to me and my family. It helped.

1. Keepin’ a-goin’!  Believe it or not,  having to say farewell to our sweet, vocal and witty Jack Russell terrier  was not necessarily the worst part of our Saturday. This makes today another ethics challenge, that being the theme of the intentionally simple-minded poem used by comic actor Henry Gibson on “Laugh-In,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and later as a country music song in Robert Altman’s “Nashville.”

The ditty was “Keep A-Goin,” and Gibson, unethically, left the impression that he had written it. He hadn’t: the poem was written Frank Lebby Stanton (1857-1927), now forgotten, and Henry (who died  in 2009) bears some of the responsibility for that, though the poem was ripe for stealing since the copyright expired long ago.. The “Nashville” credits claim Gibson was the author of the song. Wrong. Here it is:

Ef you strike a thorn or rose,
    Keep a-goin’!
  Ef it hails, or ef it snows,
    Keep a-goin!
  ‘Taint no use to sit an’ whine,
  When the fish ain’t on yer line;
  Bait yer hook an’ keep a-tryin’—
    Keep a-goin’!

  When the weather kills yer crop,
    Keep a-goin’!
  When you tumble from the top,
    Keep a-goin’!
  S’pose you’re out of every dime,
  Bein’ so ain’t any crime;
  Tell the world you’re feelin’ prime
    Keep a-goin’!

  When it looks like all is up,
    Keep a-goin’!
  Drain the sweetness from the cup,
    Keep a-goin’!
  See the wild birds on the wing,
  Hear the bells that sweetly ring,
  When you feel like sighin’ sing—
    Keep a-goin’!

Since around 4:30 pm yesterday, I have felt like doing absolutely nothing other than grieving and helping the rest of my family deal with the sadness that engulfs us. But, as another poet memorably said, I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

So do we all. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Smorgasbord, 6/8/2019: Yes, Double Standards Are Really Bugging Me Today

Goddagens!

1. I’ve been trying to find away to fit Reps. Ocasio-Cortez. Tlaib and Omar into a parody of Abraham, Martin and John. “AOC, Omar and Tlaib” almost works... An investigation by Minnesota’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board into Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has determined  she violated campaign finance laws dating back to when she served a single term in the State House of Representatives from 2016-2018. The report also reveals that Omar filed joint tax returns in 2014 and 2015 with Ahmed Hirsi, even though she was married to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi from 2009-2017.

Nice.

Let me know if you hear about this from any mainstream media outlet.

2. Individually, there are a lot of wonderful, funny, brilliant and admirable theater people. As a group, however, it is a cowardly, biased, intellectually lazy herd with the political sophistication of third graders.

I wrote on Facebook about the Ethics Alarms post on D.C.’s Studio Theater cancelling a production that reveals the text messages between the “FBI Lovebirds” who dished about how the Deep State would sabotage Donald Trump. The majority of my more than 400 Facebook friends are involved in theater. None of them commented on the issue. The apparent reasons are apathy, hypocrisy, or fear of being labelled a “Trump supporter” because they don’t applaud active censorship of the truth when it is inconvenient to the plots of “the resistance.” I don’t care which it is: the response is disgraceful…and typical.

Hollywood writer Christian Toto contacted 14 theaters across the country to ask their response to Studio’s actions. None of them responded. Among the fourteen were New Neighborhood and Slightly Altered States,  theatrical groups which took part in the  dramatic readings of the Mueller Report (the attending of which is a reliable indication of late stage Trump Derangement–I presume the theaters will follow up with readings of the phone book). Christian Toto writes,

“Imagine if unseen forces threatened violence against that Mueller Report reading, an event framed as critical of President Trump. Does anyone think those same 14 theatre groups would have remained silent?”

Should I ask my Facebook friends? Continue reading

Here Is How Free Expression Is Valued In Those Wonderful English-Speaking Countries The US Should Be More Like…

In Australia

Australian Cardinal George Pell was convicted in Melbourne this week on five counts of child sexual abuse. This made him  the most senior official ever found guilty in the Catholic Church’s apparently endless child sexual-abuse scandals. The judge in the case, Peter Kidd, immediately subjected news of Pell’s conviction to a suppression order, the Australian equivalent of a gag order, on press coverage. Australian courts impose such orders to shield defendants from negative publicity that could prejudice future jurors in upcoming trials, and  Pell faces another trial next year on a separate set of abuse charges dating to the 1970s. Of course, the more the public knows about how many predator priests the Catholic Church has facilitated, covered up for, and allowed to prey on children, the safer it is. I am not convinced that this suppression of news isn’t a sop to the Church. Judge Kidd told defense and prosecution attorneys that some members of the news media are facing “the prospect of imprisonment and indeed substantial imprisonment” if found guilty of breaching his gag order

Never mind:  the web, social media and the Streisand Effect foiled the judge. Pell and the charges against him were quickly the subject of thousands of tweets and shared posts on Facebook. The posts included links to websites and blogs where the news was available, including NPR, the Daily Beast and the National Catholic Reporter.

The Washington Post reported the conviction, but the New York Times did not. The Times’ deputy general counsel, David McCraw, gave the excuse that the newspaper is abiding by the court’s order in Australia “because of the presence of our bureau there. It is deeply disappointing that we are unable to present this important story to our readers in Australia and elsewhere. . . . Press coverage of judicial proceedings is a fundamental safeguard of justice and fairness. A free society is never well served by a silenced press.”

So don’t be silent then.

The Associated Press and Reuters news services also did not report Pell’s conviction.  Both services have bureaus in Australia that could face potential liability. Tell me again about how courageous news organizations are.

In Canada…

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/25/2018: Parlor Games! [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

I know that’s a photo from last night’s Red Sox World Series victory, but thinking about this catch by Andrew Benintendi it has certainly brightened MY morning…

(Psst! Joe, you idiot: George Wallace was crippled for life by an attempted assassination.) Said Joe Biden at a political rally two days ago, “This president is more like George Wallace than George Washington!” Long before Trump came along, Joe told African Americans that Mitt Romney would but them back in chains. I know it’s unfair to focus on Simple Joe (or Hillary, or Maxine, or Elizabeth, or Nancy, or Keith…) to characterize Democrats, but according to polls, this guy is currently the party front-runner for the Presidential nomination. [Pointer: Ann Althouse, who rejoined, “Because he doesn’t own slaves?”] Joe really is a boob, but he makes for good parlor games. My favorite comments in the Althouse thread…

“He’s more like George Washington…they both got elected president.”

“Trump is more like Elizabeth Warren because they’re both not Indians.”

“Because he doesn’t own slaves?” No, because he worries about black unemployment. Washington never worried about that.

“Because Wallace was a Democrat, like Trump was his whole life until 15 minutes before he ran for president?”

2. Fake News. New York Times headline:Pipe Bombs Sent to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and CNN Offices.”

How much more dishonest can a single headline be? There were no “pipe bombs,” but hoax bombs, and the hoax bomb sent to “CNN offices” was addressed to John Brennan. The headline deceitfully aims to suggest that the target was the news media.

3. I figured this out when I was 17 years old. A new book called The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing, by Merve Emre, (Doubleday, 336 pages, $27.95) explains that the iconic personality test is junk science. I first took the test in high school, when my parents paid a psychologist to advise me where to apply to college. He complained that the battery of tests I took had contradictory results. Yes, that would be because it was so obvious how to manipulate them, and also how insulting they were, since any fool could see the little pigeon holes the tests were trying to stuff you into. Essentially, the test was designed to create bias on the part of employers. Writes Reason,

“This book is a useful study of how a dubious idea can gain traction if it arrives at the right time.”

There’s another parlor game: which dubious ideas are gaining traction now, supported by junk science, junk research, or false assumptions? Continue reading

When The Anti-Liberty Mobs Attack, Courage And Character Are Paramount, Part II: “Slav”

Betty Bonifassi in “Slav”

Fortunately, not every artist has the jelly-spine of Scarlett Johansson when the political correctness, anti-liberty mobs attack.

In Montreal,the Montreal International Jazz Festival immediately did its best imitation of the artist bowing out of her planned role as a transgender male when it cancelled  the show “Slav,” by the acclaimed Quebec theater director Robert Lepage. The production called itself a a “theatrical odyssey” inspired by “traditional African-American slave and work songs,” but–oh-oh!–it also features a nearly all-white cast performing “black” music. Silly me, I never realized music was colored.  Lepage, is white, as is “Slav’s” star Betty Bonifassi.  Only two of the seven cast members are black.

The show was immediately attacked for its “cultural appropriation” and by black activists for “stealing” “their” songs.

The jazz festival , emulating most organizations that ironically tend to have even fewer spinal columns than individual people, canceled the show after only two performances, even though the production had sold more than 8,000 tickets for its scheduled for 16 performances. The craven festival organizers said it had been “shaken” by the criticism, and grovelled, saying.in a statement, “We would like to apologize to those who were hurt. It was not our intention at all.”

Yecchhh.

As I wrote in the Part I, as Johansson essentially killed a film project because she didn’t have the wit or the guts to stand up to unethical bullying by transgender activists, “What is desperately needed when groups misbehave this way and abuse their influence and power is for their target to say no. Unfortunately, doing so requires unusual levels of principal, character, responsibility, intelligence and courage.”

Scarlett obviously doesn’t have them. Roger Lepage, however, does, especially after several leading theater directors in Quebec rallied behind Lepage this week, pointing out that closing the production could have a chilling effect on artistic expression in Canada. At least four theaters are now proceeding with productions of “Slav,” and preparing to metaphorically spit in the protesters’ eyes. Continue reading

Observations On The Justin Trudeau Groping Allegation

Canadian progressive rock star and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now dealing with his own #MeToo crisis, and, as you will see, not that well. These are old allegations, first appearing in a tiny community paper called the Creston Valley Advance in 2000 An unsigned editorial related that Trudeau, then a 28-year-old teacher, groped a young, female Advance reporter covering the Kokanee Summit Festival in Creston, British Columbia. The Creston editorial did not include details of the alleged groping incident, but wrote that the reporter involved felt “blatantly disrespected” and that Trudeau allegedly apologized a day later for “inappropriately handling” her.

Nobody cared. After all, Bill Clinton had just ducked impeachment because American Democrats and the news media successfully sold the narrative that a President using his intern as a personal sex-toy was “private, personal, consensual conduct.” The story was quickly forgotten.

Then came the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, and suddenly any male in power is vulnerable to having their career and reputation undone because of a recovered or re-evaluated memory they did that everyone winked at decades ago, but is now proof positive of a dark and irredeemable soul, or something. (This is the point where, if you are Prof. Paul Butler, you shout “Oh come ON!”)  The episode resurfaced recently when popular political commentator and Trudeau critic Warren Kinsella tweeted a picture of the editorial last month with the hashtag #MeToo. His tweet was later picked up by various conservative outlets. This is suddenly a problem for liberal leader who has proclaimed his feminist credentials. He has said that he has no tolerance for any kind of sexual harassment or unwanted touching.

And now this. Observations:

  • Here was Trudeau’s response to the allegations: he initially said that he did not recall the event. Then he said, well, he remembered the event, but not the incident. “I remember that day in Creston well. It was an Avalanche Foundation event to support avalanche safety. I had a good day that day. I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all,” he said. The next day,  he told reporters that he apologized to the alleged victim for the incident he doesn’t remember “in the moment,” but said he is confident he “did not act inappropriately”…but respects ” the fact that someone else might have experienced this differently.”

Translation of this self-contradicting double-talk:

Let’s see now: He doesn’t remember the event, which he remembers well, but not the incident, though he remembers that he apologized for it, though he is certain he did nothing that required an apology, but he can certainly understand how someone might see it differently.

All righty then! Continue reading