Ethics Quote Of The Week: Actress Glenn Close

“Nixon was pardoned, and the gut punch to our body politic turned into a festering cynicism about our leaders, which has only grown in the years since. Nixon should have been held accountable. And so should Donald Trump. Another gut punch may prove fatal.”

—-Esteemed actress Glenn Close, who was raised in a cult, whose only jobs have involved performing before and after college (where she majored in theater), and who has no more expertise or authority on these issues than anyone else, including my favorite Harris Teeter check-out clerk, in a letter to the editor  that was given op-ed opinion status by the New York Times….because, you see, she’s a great actress, so of course her opinion is special.

Boy, am I sick of writing versions of this post.

Hollywood “resistance” culture and cant notwithstanding, there are no parallels between President Richard Nixon and President Donald Trump, other than the fact that most journalists hated both of them. Even in that respect, there are material differences: the journalists who hated Nixon at least made a pass at objective reporting, though they were thrilled when he provided them with an opportunity to attack. As has been documented here so often that even I’m bored with it, the tactics of the resistance/Democratic Party/ mainstream media regarding Trump was to assume he had committed heinous acts, and to see their task as removing him from office (or making sure he never again runs for office) by searching for some justification. This was the strategy that led to the two weak and unconstitutional impeachments and that produced the list of Big Lies fed to the public throughout Trump’s term in office (and after). It is an unethical and sinister strategy, and the approach of various prosecutors—“Let’s search for something we can get this guy on!” is a breach of legal and prosecutorial ethics as well.

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Ethics Dunce (But FUNNY!): Alyssa Milano…

…who tweeted,

I was going to include poor Alyssa’s tweet in a post under construction about the Elon Musk Twitter take-over freakout, but this is so special it deserves special attention. The former child-star turned full-time social media-obsessed Hollywood has-been embarrassment  really outdid herself this time. She added even more evidence to the already air-tight case that progressives, the Hollywood left and mainstream media regarded Twitter as their own propaganda organ and a crucial tool in censoring opposing views while indoctrinating the public to achieve their partisan goals. She again illustrated the truism that celebrities typically have little of value to contribute to public policy discourse. When one is biased, ignorant and ill-informed, it is best not to widely distribute your incompetent and irresponsible analysis of current affairs.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/7/2022: Approaching Dread Edition

Speaking of threats to democracy: this is the anniversary of the day in 1944 that voters elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt to a fourth consecutive term. There is little question in my mind that had FDR been healthier, he was perfectly capable of deciding to run for fifth and sixth terms too; this was a looming American dictator who wasn’t hiding it, and Americans still blithely voted for him. Everything about Roosevelt made him the template for a democracy-busting, cult-of-personality Big Brother USA, including his ruthlessness. We were lucky: another of the many examples proving Bismarck right when he said, “There is providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children, and the United States of America.”

Oh, he probably didn’t say it, but I’ve taxed quote maven Tom Fuller enough for one week…

1. For my own mental health, I’m going to eschew reading the pre-election freak-outs by New York Times pundits showing up today with titles like “Republicans Have Made It Very Clear What They Want to Do if They Win Congress” and “Dancing Near the Edge of a Lost Democracy.” Still, I couldn’t resist starting to read “What Has Happened to My Country?” but quit when Margaret Renkl made me read, “…Right-wing politicians and media outlets have turned American democracy upside down through nothing more than a lie. They put forth Supreme Court candidates who assure Congress that they respect legal precedent but who vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade the instant they have a majority on the court….”

There is nothing inconsistent about respecting precedent while deciding that a particular case precedent is too misguided and destructive to uphold, Margaret.

“…They endorse political candidates who openly state that they will accept only poll results leading to their own election….”

No candidate has stated that, openly or otherwise, Margaret, you hack.

“They denounce calamities where no calamities exist…”

That was it! I quit. A mouthpiece for the party claiming that electing Republicans will destroy democracy, whose #3 ranking official in Congress compares the U.S. today to Germany in the 1930s when Hitler was on the rise [Pointer: Other Bill], that thinks “The Handmaiden’s Tale” is about to become reality because of the Dobbs decision, and that has gone all in on speculative climate change doomsday predictions does not get to say that about Republicans and be taken seriously.

2. Dangerous slippery slopes ahead….NBA superstar Kylie Irving shared a tweet that promoted the “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” documentary and book. Both are, by all reports, pretty vile, with familiar anti-Semitic tropes like Holocaust denial and claims of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy. There is nothing inappropriate about employers disciplining employees who put their organizations in unflattering light that might hurt reputations and profitability, nor with the Brooklyn Nets suspending Irving for “at least five games” without pay over the controversy. That’s reasonable, even a bit lenient. He responded with a publicist-drafted apology. Then Nike announced that it is suspending its relationship with Irving and will not release Irving’s highly anticipated new shoe, the Kyrie 8, which was scheduled to be released this month.

That’s also fair. A celebrity who represents a corporation and its products can’t engage in high profile prejudice and expect to keep the gig. The loss of the Nike deal will cost Irving many millions of dollars, and that’s what happens when you embarrass a business partner. However, now the Nets have given Irving an ultimatum of sorts: in order to rejoin the team and start collecting his salary, he must.fulfill six requirements:

  • Apologize and condemn the film he promoted
  • Make a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes
  • Complete sensitivity training
  • Complete anti-semetism training
  • Meet with the ADL and Jewish leaders
  • Meet with team owner Joe Tsai to demonstrate an understanding of the situation

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Tardy Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/8/22: A Rigged Beauty Pageant, A Celebrity’s Lament, And Other Annoyances

Sorry…late start today. One reason was that I had to call perhaps my best and longest-lasting friend to wish him a happy birthday, then discovered that I missed the actual date by three days. And learned that he had celebrated a rather significant birthday by taking himself to dinner alone.

I’ve always been terrible about birthdays, indeed dates in general, a serious deficiency for someone as devoted to American history as I am. I never quite mastered my parents’ birthdays. At this point, the list I am certain of include mine, my sister’s (because it’s the day before Halloween), a dear freind whose birthday falls on Halloween, my son’s birthday, because the Red Sox broke their 86 year World Series Championship drought on the same day, Lincoln’s birthday, Washington’s birthday, and that’s about it. My friend whose birthday I missed was very gracious about my stupidity, but the fact is that I had it within my power to make a lonely day for him less so—he is prone to depression as it is—and failed.

1. From the “Celebrities are ethics corrupters” files: Sharon Osbourne is a cut below the miserable “people who are famous for being famous” level of celebrities. She is someone who has exploited being married to someone who was famous, and he, aging B-list heavy metal rocker Ozzie Osbourne, only became really famous to non-acid-heads due to a sad reality show exploiting his drug-addled stumbles through family life. Sharon is neither smart, wise, worldly or witty, but eh parlayed that show into multiple lucrative celebrity gigs, including a “The View” rip-off in which she offered her inexpert opinions on politics, mores and world affairs. Now back in Great Britain, Sharon just made the news again yesterday by offering a defense of “Ye,” aka Kanye West’s wearing of a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt at a Paris fashion show. West defended himself later by declaring Black Lives Matter as a scam, which, as we all know by now, it was and is.

“We gave $900,000 dollars to that,” Osbourne sais in response week, “and I’d like my money back! I wish [West] could have said that before,” she added, laughing, according to TMZ. Hahahahaha! Osbourne can give $900,000 to a Marxist, racist organization so it can finance riots and other disruptions in the United States just to signal her virtue to the idiots that are influenced by useless figures like her and Ozzie. She didn’t research the group or think very much about what its leadership was or how they represented themselves on its website. The money helped BLM scam others, but she can just laugh it off: it’s just money, after all, and she can always earn more because she’s famous.

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Our Arrogant, Ignorant, Corrosive Celebrities

Hollywood blogger Christian Toto can be forgiven for perhaps—perhaps—over-estimating the influence of celebrities on public opinion; he does live in Tinseltown, after all. But if he’s off in his alarm, he’s not off by much. Reacting to superstar Jennifer Lawrence’s political rants in a new Vogue interview, Toto writes in part,

There’s no reason for Lawrence to get political in a Vogue feature story….Lawrence mentioned politics to gin up support from her fellow progressive stars. It’s a career choice, and arguably a smart one considering the state of the industry. It still hurts the country, and apparently she doesn’t care.

Conservatives will blast her comments. Liberals will either nod in agreement or think she’s gone too far. Everyone, though, will acknowledge the obvious. It’s another sign of a country teetering toward a breakup.

Yes, Lawrence is just one celebrity. And no, celebrities can’t stop climate change, gun crimes or other maladies. They can’t even pull off an Oscars ceremony without a physical altercation …

They do have bully pulpits, though, and when their interviews go viral the messages reach the masses. For better and worse.

Lawrence’s message is clear. Hate half of the country that doesn’t align with your political party, even if they’re your own flesh and blood…she’s so intolerant she can’t share empathy with her family.

Where does that leave the rest of us?

Well, unless we recognize that in most cases celebrities don’t know what they are talking about when they delve into topics unrelated to their specialized niche, and have been made stupid by bias, narcissism and living in an echo chamber (if they weren’t stupid already), it leaves us being influenced by fools.

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Who ARE These People And Why Don’t I Recognize Them?

Well, this is profoundly depressing.

I work hard at keeping current on all aspects of the culture, including the popular culture. I believe, and have written here frequently, that cultural illiteracy is a crippling problem in a democracy, and that citizens have an ethical obligation to avoid it by proactively informing themselves. I also agree with the thesis of E.D. Hirsch, who posited in his best-seller “Cultural Literacy” that the generations becoming estranged and unable to communicate with each other was a formula for societal disaster.

There has been an explosion of the use of a cheap joke at the expense of rising generations in TV and movie dramas: an older character will use a cultural reference to John Wayne, the Beatles, a Rockefeller or someone similarly significant, and a younger character, usually 20-ish, will reply, “Who’s that?” I managed never to be that kid, even as a preteen. The reverse gag is also common: a teen will mention Taylor Swift at the dinner table and a clueless parent will reply, “Oh, is that one of your new friends in school, dear?” I vowed when my son arrived never to be that boob either.

And yet today I ran one of my periodic spot checks on my pop culture literacy, and flunked. Perusing the stories in WeSmirch, a celebrity gossip aggregator, I found the names of 26 current celebrities, and endeavored to identify them (without cheating, of course). Here they are:

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: GOP Senate Candidate Herschel Walker [Expanded]

“Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then — now we got we to clean that back up.”

Yes, Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker really said those words, in that order. The gibberish is on a recently released video of an appearance he made last week at a local GOP picnic in Hall County, northeast of Atlanta, when Walker spoke, if you can call it that, about climate change. The Republican Party, desperate to take control of the Senate, actually nominated a candidate to defeat Democratic incumbent Ralph Warnock whose grasp of science, logic and language is that infantile.

Walker’s sole qualifications, if you can call them that, for the Senate are that he is a local and national sports celebrity, and black. He has no other qualifications. In addition to his obvious lack of education and erudition, he has also lied repeatedly for years, presenting himself as someone he is not. He is a neon-bright hypocrite, lecturing about the responsibilities of fatherhood while hiding the existence of his own children conceived without the security of a secure relationship with their mothers. Continue reading

Pre-Independence Day Ethics Warm-Up, July 3, 2022: What Might Have Been [Broken Link Fixed]

Typically, Ethics Alarms has highlighted July 3 with reflections on the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, for which the 3rd was the dramatic last and decisive day. I know it must be hard to believe, but I do get tired of writing the same things over and over again, an occupational hazard of being an ethicist during a mass ethics breakdown in our democracy and among the increasingly corrupt people we have put in power to protect it. I still can’t ignore Pickett’s futile charge and Custer’s charge as well, so I direct you to last year’s post on both events and their ethics implications.

However, this year I am introducing the July 3 warm-up with another crucial anniversary, one that may have had even more impact on the history of the United States, its prospects and its values than Gettysburg. July 2, 1776 is when the Continental Congress finally agreed to take the leap and forge a new nation (John Adams thought the 2nd would be the day we celebrated) and July 4, 1776 was the date the document was signed. But in-between those more noted dates the Continental Congress began debating and editing Jefferson’s draft Declaration, eventually making 86 edits that cut the length by about a fourth. 

Because the Declaration of Independence is the mission statement of America, framing and sometimes compelling what followed, especially the Constitution, the editing decisions of July 3, 1776 affected our laws and culture in many ways that are unimaginable after more than 200 years. You can read the original here. It is this deleted paragraph, however, that most inspires reflections on what might have been (and what might not):

“He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”

Now on to the present day’s ethics concerns...

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Actor Tim Considine (1940-2022)

“Thank God there’s no justice in this world.”

Disney and “My Three Sons” actor Tim Considine, who died last week at age 82, in an interview quoted in his New York Times obituary.

Considine was referring to his success and rich experiences in life, which he felt were relatively undeserved. He did not regard himself as especially talented or ambitious.

The more I ponder his statement, the more profound I think it is. Understanding that there is no justice in the world is a necessary predicate for committing to an ethical life for the right reasons. Society needs as many people as possible striving to be good, having their lives exert a net benefit on others, and being exemplars of ethical values as often as they can. These habits and objectives must be committed to while fully understanding that they only collectively and on balance result in desirable results, and sometimes not even that. Continue reading

When Jack Palance Stood Up For Ukraine Against Putin

Over at The Bulwark, culture editor Sonny Bunch reminded me of a tale of some relevance to current events, though like most pieces in The Bulwark, his account is missing crucial details.

It involves one of my mother’s favorite Hollywood villains, Jack Palance. Younger readers probably remember him only in his long, lucrative late-career self-parody period (Watch “Shane”: what’s the matter with you?), which got him one of those weird Best Actor Oscars for just doing what he had done naturally for decades, but hammier, in “City Slickers.” (He was also aided by lines like “I crap bigger than you.” (To Billy Crystal.)

The actor was born in Pennsylvania as Volodymyr Palahniuk, the son of Ukrainian immigrants. In 2004, after Palance’s final film and just two years before his death, a Hollywood celebration  of “Russian Nights” in Los Angeles ended with an awards ceremony. “Russian Nights” was a week-long film festival that celebrated “Russian contributions to the world of art,” and was sponsored in part by the Russian Ministry of Culture. Russian president Vladimir Putin endorsed the propaganda event. Scheduled to receive “narodny artyst” awards ( translated as “the Russian People’s Choice Award”) were Dustin Hoffman and Jack Palance. Hoffman, like Palance boasted of Ukrainian heritage.

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