Grovel Of The Year: Matthew J. Mayhew, The William Ray And Marie Adamson Flesher Professor Of Higher Education at Ohio State University

This is pathetic.

When I read the Grovel of the Year—presumably you know what a banner year 2020 has been for grovels, as executives, academics and whole companies and organizations desperately try to mollify the Black Lives Matter mobs—-I instantly thought of the Monty Python skit above, as the brilliant Michael Palin portrayed a certified public accountant attempting to be bold and assertive, only to dissolve into a puddle of blubbering doubt the second he was challenged to follow through on his decision.

We are told that Matthew J. Mayhew, the William Ray and Marie Adamson Flesher Professor of Higher Education at Ohio State University, has published more than 75 peer-reviewed articles and is a co-author of How College Affects Students: Volume 3. He recently co-authored an admittedly fatuous piece for the Journal of Higher Education  called, “Why America Needs College Football” that was published on September 24. The cancel/race-baiting/ progressive bully mobs attacked, and it took only four days for poor Mayhew to issue a Palin-worthy grovel, begging for forgiveness and rejecting what he had written just days before.

“Weenie” doesn’t begin to describe the deficits of integrity and character his capitulation represents.

Here are examples of what he and co-author Musbah Shaheen wrote ( Shaheen is an Ohio State Ph.D. student, and hasn’t been heard from. I assume he is on the run, has changed his name and is off the grid, and will soon be sharing an apartment in Antartica with Salman Rushdie):

Essentializing college football might help get us through these uncharacteristically difficult times of great isolation, division and uncertainty. Indeed, college football holds a special bipartisan place in the American heart.

and…

College football reminds many Americans of the community values that underscore higher education and by extension America itself.Americans have lost the united sense of who we are as a nation.

and…

This election season has demonstrated how stifled, polarized and dangerous our political differences have become, and college football can remind us of respect — even in the wake of deep disagreement. We can root for different teams, scream at the players, argue with the refs and question the coaches, but win or lose, at the end of the day, we leave the stadium, watch party or tailgate with a sense of respect for the game and the athletes that train so hard, leaving it all out on the field every time.

and…

Deep difference doesn’t have to lead to disrespect.

The Horror! Continue reading

Proportionality And The Cancellation Of Thom Brennaman

“Proportionality” is an ethical principle, one that has been recognized for centuries.  In the Josephson Institute’s “Six Pillars of Character,” it is included under the “pillar” of Fairness. Plato explained that he concept of ethical retributive justice must be  committed to  three principles:

  • That those who commit wrongful acts deserve to suffer a proportionate punishment;
  • That it is intrinsically morally good if a legitimate authority gives such wrongdoers the punishment they deserve; and
  • That it is morally impermissible to intentionally to punish the innocent, or to inflict disproportionately large punishments on wrongdoers.

This brings us to the case of Thom Brennaman, play-by-play broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds and the son of retired and revered Marty Brennaman, also a veteran baseball announcer. Last night, Brennaman the Younger was caught on an open mic describing someplace as the  “one of the fag capitals of the world” after the Fox Sports Ohio feed returned from a commercial break in the top of the seventh inning in the first game of a doubleheader at Kansas City. This led the Reds to pull Brennaman off the air after the fifth inning of the second game, and the announcer was quickly suspended.

The team quickly released a statement:

Note “horrific.” That “horrific” word can be heard near the beginning of the famous song above from “Company,” lyrics by Broadway icon Stephen Sondheim (who is gay). To my knowledge, no audience members have ever walked out of a performance upon hearing it. Sondheim, now in his eighties, did recently concoct an alternate lyric for those productions that are determined to be politically correct. He’s a prudent man, I guess. I wish he hadn’t.

The word is apparently so horrific that I had to search all over the web to find out what it was. Most accounts said that the announcer used an “anti-gay slur,” and left it to readers’ imagination what was said. This is crummy, craven, virtue-signaling and incompetent journalism. If the story is about the uproar over a word, a news reporter is obligated to say what the word is. When the ESPN report only said that the word used was “horrific,” I thought it was something I had never heard before. It’s a slur, that’s all. It’s a word. Continue reading

Monday Ethics Mixture, 8/17/2020: Let’s See What I Can Concoct Today…

1. Is this fair? Houston-based freelance photographer Bill Baptist shared a meme on his Facebook page that parodied the Biden-Harris campaign logo. It read, “Joe and the Hoe.”

Former WNBA star Sheryl Swopes saw Baptist’s post, shared it on her own timeline and demanded that the NBA to fire the photographer. So he was fired. Baptiste tried the inevitable grovel, writing,

“I deeply regret posting on my Facebook page a phrase that I saw and copied from others as a sample of some people’s reactions to Biden’s selection of Senator Harris as his choice for VP. The phrase I posted does not reflect my personal views at all. I should not have been so insensitive to post the statements by others. I sincerely apologize to all of those who have rightfully been offended and I have taken the post down from my FB page. It was a horrible mistake on my part.”

It didn’t save his job.

Observations:

  • Does sharing a tweet or a meme necessarily mean “I agree with this”? Can’t it mean, “Look at this”?
  • What kind of person actively seeks to have people fired for words or conduct that have nothing to do with their jobs? My answer: cruel people.
  • In this episode, Sheryl Swopes showed herself to be  a worse human being than the photographer.
  • Kamala Harris  exploited a sexual relationship with power-broker Willie Brown to advance in her career.  The meme could be considered legitimate satire if she were white. Is it illegitimate because she is sort of black?

2. And the Ed Wood Award goes to...The Orpheum Theater in Memphis. Ed Wood, bonkers director of such camp classics as “Plan Nine From Outer Space,” was creative, courageous, indefatigable, and passionate.  He was also completely incompetent, and not smart enough to realize it.  That brings us to the Orpheum, which installed a nine-hole miniature golf course on its stage to  create a revenue stream during the pandemic. Continue reading

Lunchtime Ethics Warm-Up, 8/11/2020: The “Preparing To Welcome A New Dog” Edition

My wife and I will finally be welcoming a new dog into the family tomorrow. It’s been more than a year since we lost Rugby, and it was time–for me, way past time. We met “Spuds” yesterday, who was being cared for by a wonderful woman who rescues and fosters abused and neglected dogs. Poor Spuds was given up to one rescue organization by his owner as a puppy, then adopted by a horrible woman who kept him in a tiny room and seldom fed him. A month ago, when he was removed from this monster’s home, he was about 20 pound underweight and suffering from malnutrition. You wouldn’t know it to meet him. Spuds is all white with a brown spot over one eye and flip-over ears, obviously some kind of pitbull-terrier mix.  He’s 2 and a half year’s old, and, incredibly, trusting and eager to make friends with all dogs and people. He still has some rehabilitation to go through, but he’s a lively, athletic, loving dog with a sweet temperament, almost Rugby-like, but twice the size. Perfect.

1. “Nah, teachers aren’t out to indoctrinate children!”  Matthew Kay, who teaches English at Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy, wrote on Twitter that he is concerned about parents over-hearing their children’s Zoomed instruction from teachers like him:

“So, this fall, virtual class discussion will have many potential spectators — parents, siblings, etc. — in the same room. We’ll never be quite sure who is overhearing the discourse. What does this do for our equity/inclusion work? How much have students depended on the (somewhat) secure barriers of our physical classrooms to encourage vulnerability? How many of us have installed some version of ‘what happens here stays here’ to help this? While conversations about race are in my wheelhouse, and remain a concern in this no-walls environment — I am most intrigued by the damage that ‘helicopter/snowplow’ parents can do in the host conversations about gender/sexuality.” And while ‘conservative’ parents are my chief concern — I know that the damage can come from the left too. If we are engaged in the messy work of destabilizing a kid’s racism or homophobia or transphobia — how much do we want their classmates’ parents piling on?”

I have long advocated parents auditing their child’s classes just to prevent the kind of “teaching” Kay apparently engages in. It’s a basic tenet of practical ethics that if someone is a afraid of conduct becoming known, they know what the are doing is wrong, or may be viewed as wrong. Teachers have no justification for hiding the content of their classes from parents.

When Kay’s sinister comments prompted what should have been predictable criticism, he made his Twitter account private. Of course he did.

2. I saw this, thought it was too silly for words, then reader Michael sent me a link, and now I have to flag it.   I’ve seen “Kindergarten Cop” several times; it’s one of my wife’s favorites, and one of “Ahnold’s” best. The unlikely story of a huge police detective with an Austrian accent going undercover as a kindergarten teacher to catch a criminal before he can  kidnap and harm his estranged wife and their child, it’s funny and sweet, and intermittently exciting. However police-o-phobia is rampant during The Great Stupid, especially among hysterics and anarchists. So now that benign film has been declared dangerous.

Willamette Week reported that the movie was pulled from its slot at the Northwest Film Center’s drive-in summer cinema series in Portland after it was called offensive by deranged local author Lois Leveen. “There’s nothing entertaining about the presence of police in schools, which feeds the school-to-prison pipeline” she tweeted. Yes, that’s all it takes now for spineless administrators to cancel people, art, entertainment, anything.

Leveen even provided a perfect opening to shut her down with a curt, “You need help, Lois. Really. Trust us on this. This is pathetic” when, in an email, she compared “Kindergarten Cop” to “The Birth of a Nation.”

Right, Lois. And “Toy Story” is like “Triumph of the Will.” Continue reading

Yes, I’m Blaming The Victim: Ben Gravolet Is An Ethics Dunce. And A Jerk

You may have missed it, but Ellen DeGeneris, the queen of daytime talk shows whose brand has always been her niceness, has had her once impeccable  reputation sullied lately as employees of her show have complained about a “toxic environment” that the star did nothing to address. There’s an investigation now, and Ellen is rumored to be considering leaving “Ellen,” meaning that instead of toxic employment, her staff and production crew will have no employment at all.

In the midst of this crisis for DeGeneris, sensing a cheap opportunity to grab some publicity, kick her when she’s down, and apparently seek vengeance for a slight that he has obsessed about for more than 40 years, a man named Ben Gravolet has come forward to tell the world that…..what, that DiGeneres sexually molested him? That she was secretly working for Fidel Castro? No, Ben accused Ellen of being mean to him when he was 11 years old.

We should have seen this coming, for it is the dangerous slippery slope Christine Blasey-Ford’s dubious accusation against Bret Kavanaugh greased. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/5/2020: Words, Spin, And Millard Fillmore

Because “Glibby-glop-gloopy” or whatever the hell Oliver is singing here makes about as much sense as anything else I’m hearing…

1. Today in The Great Stupid’s cancellation orgy:

  • The ABA Journal reports that the Massachusetts Appeals Court  wants the word “grandfathering” to be “canceled.” Ruling in a zoning dispute, the court said a structure built before the enactment of zoning regulations had a certain level of protection, but the court  didn’t have a good word to describe that protection because  it wouldn’t use  “grandfathering.”  “Because we acknowledge that it has racist origins,” the woke and silly judges declared.

Apparently the phrase “grandfather clause” originally referred to laws adopted by some states after the Civil War to create barriers to voting by African Americans, explained Justice James Milkey in footnote 11 to the August 3 opinion. Interesting! And completely irrelevant to how the word is used now. Now, if I were Ann Althouse, who is word-obsessed, I might spend hours looking for other words used routinely today that have unsavory origins. I don’t care what words originally meant or when  they were first used. The objective with all words is communication. “Grandfathered” is a useful word. I used it in my baseball lecture for the Smithsonian to describe how spitball pitchers were allowed to keep throwing the unsanitary pitch after it was banned for everyone else in 1920. The court’s kind of virtue-signalling makes people stupid and communication difficult, and shame on the court for indulging in it.

  • The University of Buffalo will remove any reference to President Millard Fillmore on its campus,though he helped found the school and served as its first chancellor from 1846 until his death in 1874. School officials said in a news release that its decision to erase the memory of an individual the university owes its existence to “aligns with the university’s commitment to fight systemic racism and create a welcoming environment for all.”

No, it aligns with craven cowering to Black Lives Matter intimidation  and statue-toppling mobs.  Millard Fillmore—-great name, crummy President—signed The Compromise of 1850, which included the Fugitive Slave Act. Since it was a compromise, the school’s logic would require “canceling” all the anti-slavery crusaders who were part of it, as everyone at the time was desperately trying to keep the United States from ripping apart. When that effort failed, we got the Civil War, and more American casualties than any war before or since. How dare Fillmore try to stop that?

I think the Fillmore-cancelers should be obligated to explain how they would have handled the growing tensions over slavery and the cultural divide between North and South. I’m sure they have a brilliant answer ready.

As the suddenly “In” Fred Rogers would  say, “Can you say ‘hindsight bias’? Sure you can!” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/30/2020: Fact Checks, Fear-Mongering, The Emmys, And Another Cancellation

Yes, it’s time again for Gene, Debbie and Donald to begin the day with the level of enthusiasm that I wish I could muster. A Jack Russell Terrier would also help.

1. “Nah, there’s no news media bias!”The New York Times costs the Marshalls $80 a week. The last two editions were essentially anti-Trump campaign brochures, front to back. Even the sports sections had gratuitous anti-Trump vibes. The Washington Post is worse than the Times, but it’s much cheaper, being a home town paper. Nonetheless, I feel badly enough paying Jeff Bezos for digital access. At least the Times didn’t smear Catholic school boys because an established Native American propagandist told them to.

Yet these are, really and truly, the best newspapers in the country. Think about that. One close relative of the hard-left persuasion subscribes to no papers, and the holes in her basic knowledge of what’s happening would fill the Albert’s Hall. (She relies on MSNBC.)

Newspapers… can’t live without them, can’t have a functioning democracy any more with them. And progressives still tell me to my face that I’m imagining it: the claim that the news media is partisan and biased is a “conservative conspiracy theory.”

2. Fact check! I saw this “fact check” of Barr’s testimony two days ago in my Times today, knew what was coming, decided I didn’t feel well enough to have my temperature raised, and then commenter Dr. Emilio Lizardo was cruel enough to send me a link and a precis.

As with so much of the news media’s fake news and biased analysis, I’d assume that savvy readers can smell the stennch of these things, but maybe not. The good doctor writes,

“This is misleading” – 4 occurrences
“This is exaggerated” – 2 occurrences
“This is false” – 1 occurrence
“This lacks evidence” – 1 occurrence

Nothing like using subjective terminology to demonstrate your objectivity.

Here was my favorite:

What Mr. Barr SAID:  “According to statistics compiled by The Washington Post, the number of unarmed Black men killed by police so far this year is eight. The number of unarmed white men killed by police over the same time period is 11. And the overall numbers of police shootings has been decreasing.”

This is misleading. Mr. Barr accurately cited a database of police shootings compiled by The Washington Post. But the raw numbers obscure the pronounced racial disparity in such shootings. (The statement was also an echo of Mr. Trump’s technically accurate, but misleading claim that “more white” Americans are killed by the police than Black Americans.When factoring in population size, Black Americans are killed by the police at more than twice the rate as white Americans, according to the database. Research has also shown that in the United States, on average, the probability of being shot by a police officer for someone who is Black and unarmed is higher than for someone who is white and armed.Nationwide, the number of police shootings has remained steady since independent researchers began tracking them — declining in major cities, but increasing in suburbs and rural areas.When Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana, took issue with Mr. Barr’s presentation of the data, Mr. Barr responded, “You have to adjust it by, you know, the race of the criminal.” But some research has shown that even when controlling for the demographics of those arrested, there are still racial disparities in the use of police force.

In other words, “misleading” means “contrary to the narrative Democrats and activists want to push.” Got it. Continue reading

Mid-Day Ethics Meanderings, 7/22/2020: Relax, The Duke Is Safe.

1 .Another shoe drops: The Boston Red Sox announced that they would “support” any players who chose to kneel during the National Anthem when The Strangest Baseball Season since World War II, when teams fielded 16-year-old infielders and one-armed outfielders, commences tomorrow. The announcement was no surprise, and this team in particular had little choice.

Boston’s AL team is forever viewed with suspicion on race issues because it was the last major league team to break the color line, and because it passed on opportunities to sign some of the early black stars. Last season a visiting player claimed to hear a racist slur hurled his way from the Fenway Park bleachers, and the Red Sox management has been ostentatiously “woke,” cancelling Tom Yawkey  from the Fenway environs  though the team owes its existence to the long-time owner’s beneficence. He was rumored to be a racist, however, and that was enough to justify erasing his name (except from his initials in Morse Code on the scoreboard).

2.  Bad service only matters for drug stores, apparently. State regulators in Oklahoma cited and fined CVS for conditions found at four of its pharmacies, including inadequate staffing and errors made in filling prescriptions. Staffing just about everywhere is unfriendly to consumers—indeed, most stores were understaffed even before the lockdown, now half-lockdown while the teachers extort the country.

Our local CVS, where I have many ethics adventures, now has minimal staff, including in the pharmacy,  because there are so few customers lately. Hilariously, the store’s auto-scan checkout option is one of the features that requires staff: the damn things don’t work half the time, or a staffer has to lead some confused senior through the process.

3. Unfortunately, it’s more difficult than ever to believe sexual harassment allegations. #MeToo so egregiously overplayed its hand and has been so schizophrenic in its standards that I have to look at any high-profile allegations as potentially motivated by politics. In an action that must have been well underway before the Washington Redskins  suddenly caved and agreed to change the team’s name (yet another poll, a new one, has indicated that the vast majority of football fans and Native Americans have no problem with “Redskins”), 15 female ex-employees told The Washington Post that they were sexually harassed while working for the organization. Shortly thereafter, a Fox News staffer and periodic on-air guest filed suit in federal court alleging they had been harassed or raped  by Ed Henry, the Fox News reporter who was fired for “willful sexual misconduct in the workplace,”  The suit also alleges harassment by  Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, the latter perpetually on “the resistance’s” hit list and the target of boycotts, and Carlson recently becoming a force as a pundit. Therefore he must be destroyed.

Do I find it hard to believe that the Redskins, or any NFL team, has a culture hostile to female employees? No. Do I think that Fox News has effectively banished its pervasive workplace sexism and misogyny since the forced exits of the late Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly?  Absolutely not. Do I think weaponizing sexual harassment allegations has become a predictable and unethical tactic on the Left, (See: Mathews, Chris) thus making the timing of both of these sets of complants suspicious?

Is Bismark a herring?*

4. More things  now as predictable as they are indefensible. The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts will remove its John Wayne exhibit as part of the school’s efforts to address “systemic racism” in society with obnoxious, shallow and foolish gestures.

The Duke graduated from USC, of course (he was raised in Iowa), and the justification for his dishonoring was an admittedly dumb interview he gave Playboy in 1971, where he was obviously (to me, anyway, at the time) trolling a liberal and hostile magazine by saying exactly the kinds of things  the Wayne haters expected him to say. (I always assumed he was drunk during that interview.) This move by USC was expected—California, universities: you know, morons. As Spiked noted, Wayne’s importance to the culture and the history of film by virtue of his on-screen portrayals should not be diminished by any interview the actor did.

As an actor and a director,Wayne was careful to portray characters who respected blacks and other minorities as human beings. In “The Cowboys,” for example, he is routinely reprimanded and shown up by his black cook, played by the great Rosco Lee Browne. In many movies, like “McClintock!,” “Hondo” and “Fort Apache,” he demonstrated sympathy and respect for Native Americans; Wayne also prominently featured Chinese-American actor H.W. Gim in his films whenever feasible from 1942 on, notably as his landlord Chin Lee in “True Grit.”

If his character was a racist, Wayne didn’t hesitate to represent racism negatively, as when he opposed his black ranch hand (Woody Strode) learning to read in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” because Wayne’s character is hostage to archaic traditions, or when he seems determined to murder his white niece (Natalie Wood) because she has lived with Native Americans and presumably had sex with a chief.

All of John Wayne’s wives were also Mexican, meaning that his four children are “Persons of Color.”

Never mind. Wayne’s legacy and hold on the culture is unbreakable. Just last week I stumbled about four of his films on cable. They’ll get Mt. Rushmore before they shoot down the Duke. [Pointer: Pennagain]

__________________________

*Cultural literacy bonus points for identifying the source.

Jennifer Williams’ Three Questions

Harpers’ “anti-cancel culture” letter, discussed here was instructive, but not in the manner that its sponsors intended. It excluded most conservatives (except Stockholm Syndrome types like David Brooks) and all of those who had been damaged by progressive cancel-mobs, making the exercise suspect as Left-wing grandstanding. Worse, an alarming number of progressives who didn’t sign the letter expressed disappointment that others did, because they fervently believe that expressing opinions that vary from woke cant should be punished, and that (though they won’t come right out and say it) free expression is undesirable. Hate speech, you know—makes people feel “unsafe” to have to associate with the unenlightened.

For some reason the criticism centered on Vox, the website begun by Washington Post reporter Ezra Klein when pretending to be anything but a partisan shill became  too much for him. Vox is as biased leftward as Breitbart is biased in the other direction, which is why I seldom use, and never trust, either. Several Vox employees publicly objected to the fact that their colleague Matt Yglesias signed the letter, apparently forgetting that Yglesias, “by any means necessary” fan that he is, once admitted.

In response to the uproar, senior foreign editor Jennifer Williams tweeted,

What a fascinating set of ethics questions!

Let’s examine them, shall we?

Question #2, the one Williams answers, is apparently not as obvious as she seems to think it is. Tufts University history lecturer Kerri Greenidge demanded  to have her name  removed from the list of signers, claiming that her name  was used without her knowledge or consent. “I do not endorse this @ Harpers letter,” Prof. Greenidge tweeted. “I am in contact with Harper’s about a retraction.” The Tufts historian’s sisters, novelist and New York Times opinion writer Kaitlyn Greenidge and playwright Kirsten Greenidge also asserted  that Kerri was included among the signatories without her consent or knowledge.

Prof. Greenidge was lying—to the public, and to her family. Harper’s quickly produced an email exchange from late June in which Greenidge agreed to sign. “Yes, I will add my signature. It reads well,” Greenidge wrote from her Tufts email address. “Let me know what more you need from me.”

“Oh, just a promise that you won’t cave like a wet cardboard box and start blaming us if some of your progressive pals and family members complain, I guess,” is what Harper’s should have responded. Continue reading

Oh, So NOW You Support Free Expression! [CORRECTED]

In Harpers, a grab-bag of pundits, artists, has-beens and assorted progressives/liberals were persuaded to sign an open letter protesting the “cancel culture” and bemoaning its suffocating effect on free expression and debate.

Tangent: Lots of people wrote that they didn’t recognize most of the names. I know 28 of them, and several, like Ron Sullivan, Emily Yoffe, and Dahlia Lithwick, have been subjects of posts here. Not only that, one signer is a college classmate (Nadine Strossen) and another, Diedre McCloskey, was a next door neighbor when I lived with my parents in Arlington, Mass.)

“Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement,” the epistle says in part.

Apparently allowing prominent conservatives to sign the letter was considered “divisive,” or the organizers could only get the leftists to join in if the righties were excluded. This restriction of expression in a letter about censorship undercuts the message, don’t you think? To make sure no dedicated conservatives agitated to sign, the letter cleverly included this poison pill:

The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.

Ann Althouse yesterday properly and vigorously flagged this as the disingenuous BS it is, writing, Continue reading