Tag Archives: cognitive dissonance scale

Ridiculous, Fanatic And Incompetent Is No Way To Go Through Life, PETA

I wrestled with posting this; mocking the People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals is too easy, and it’s getting easier. On the other hand, it’s too easy, and easy can be fun. Plus there is a lesson worth emphasizing; even if your organization is fanatic, full of wackos, and without any sense of proportion or common sense, it it accepts contributions, you have an ethical obligation a) not to be flagrantly incompetent, and b) not to make donor feel like they need to wear bags over their heads, or wish they had just chucked their money into a swamp.

And I am always looking for opportunities to honor my favorite line from “Animal House.”

Here is PETA’s latest auto-fiasco: It tweeted out…

Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it. Here’s how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations…”

Yes, the theory is that using animal imagery, references and metaphors is somehow unethical.  There’s no explaining this logically; it makes no sense. Acknowledging the actual characteristics of animals in discourse or referring to them in metaphors advances the critical task of human communication, and does no conceivable harm to the animals involved whatsoever. Nor does it pollute human respect for goats to say, “That got my goat.” Anyway, here is PETA’s best effort—they got all their most creative, clever minds together—at retooling some common phrases for vegan sensibilities, I presume, because it would be irresponsible for a group that seeks to persuade to put forth a product created by its worst and dimmest rather than  it’s best and brightest:

Yeah, I’m sure these will catch on.Was it “Visit mommy or daddy’s office day” and PETA let the kids handle the job? Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Animals, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, language, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

Observations On The Kanye West Episode

Writes Professor Turley:

“In one of the most bizarre (and frankly demeaning) moments for the White House, President Donald Trump invited Kanye West into the Oval Office for what became an unhinged and profane rave sessions in front of the world’s press. As with the high-level visits with a Kardashian to talk policy, these sessions have a freak show quality more fitting a reality show than the Oval Office. For anyone who reveres that office, West raving about how he is a “crazy motherf***er” is an utter disgrace.”

Meanwhile, back in the land of “nah, there there’s no mainstream media bias,” CNN was being pretty disgraceful itself. Leading up to the visit, Don Lemon hosted a segment on CNN Tonight that declared West to be “mentally ill,” ” the token negro of the Trump administration” and an “attention whore” showing the perils of  “what happens when negroes don’t read.”  Then, after West’s performance, Lemon went on Wolf Blitzer’s show and demonstrated what he considers a good rant:

“What I saw was a minstrel show him in front of all these white people — most white people — embarrassing himself and embarrassing Americans, but mostly African Americans because every one of them is sitting either at home or with their phones, watching this, cringing. I couldn’t even watch it. I had to turn the television off because it was so hard to watch. Him sitting there, being used by the President of the United States. The President of the United States exploiting him and expl — I don’t mean this in a disparaging way — exploiting someone who needs help, who needs to back away from the cameras, who needs to get off stage, who needs to deal with his issues and if anyone around him cares about him, the family that he mentioned today or whomever, his managers, maybe some other people who are in the music business who know him, they need to grab him, snatch him up and get Kanye together because Kanye needs help. And this has nothing to do with being liberal or a conservative. This has to do with honesty and we have to stop pretending, sitting here on these CNN panels or whatever network panels, and pretending like this is normal and let’s have this conversation about Kanye West. Who cares? Why are you sending cameras to the Oval Office for Kanye West? Did you send cameras to the Oval Office and carry it live when Common visited the White House? Common visited the White House and did a beautiful poem, spoken word, talked about how black people are kings and queens, how we need to rise up and do better. He didn’t disparage anybody. He didn’t speak in non-sequiturs. He didn’t do anything awful and, you know, the only people who criticized him, the only people who really covered it were Sean Hannity and his band of hypocrites who are now — who are now applauding Kanye West, the same people that many in that group called the n-word because of Taylor Swift and because of George Bush and now all of a sudden, he is the person who represents the African-American community? He doesn’t. We need to take the cameras away from Kanye and from a lot of this craziness that happens in the White House because it is not normal and we need to stop sitting here pretending that it’s normal. This was an embarrassment. Kanye’s mother is rolling over in her grave. I spoke to one of her friends today or texted with one of her friends today from Chicago. Donda’s friends. I used to live there. I know him. She said Donda would be — would be embarrassed by this. She would be terribly disturbed by this and Kanye has not been the same since his mother died. He kept talking today about oh, “I put the hat on and the hat made me feel strong and wearing a cape.” He needs a father figure. He needs someone to help him and to guide him and he needs a hug more than anything. Kanye, back away from the cameras. Go get some help and then come back and make your case. Nobody — if you want to be conservative, if you want to support Donald Trump, that is your business. But as you’re doing it, have some sense with it. Make sense. Educate yourself.”

Believe it or not, calling West a “token negro” and referring to his appearance as a “minstrel show” was not the lowest that CNN could go. After showing video of West animatedly discussing a variety of issues in the Oval Office (Note”: Fox News played only West’s coherent moments, CNN played exclusively his most bizarre), the CNN anchor went to its reliably unprofessional correspondent April Ryan, who was standing on the White House lawn. She immediately referred to singer Ray J during her analysis, saying, “I talked to someone who is very familiar with the Kardashians, or used to be, text messaging with Ray J. You know who Ray J is, he was once close with Kim Kardashian.”

Nice. The only reason anyone knows Ray J is because he made the infamous sex tape with West’s now-wife, Kim Kardashian, that launched the whole Kardashian phenomenon.

Asks Turley, “Is this seriously what CNN considers responsible journalism?”

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race

On The Disapproval Of President Trump

Talk about cognitive dissonance…

The recent barrage of  anti-Trump stories, self-inflicted Presidential wounds and media smears has the President’s approval ratings down again, back to his unshakable 37% or so core, presumable the American who, as he so memorably joked, would support him if he shot someone in Times Square. It has also been as high in some polls as 50% in the not so distant past, and substantively, not much has changed, except that the economic news keeps getting better. “There’s Never Been a President This Unpopular With an Economy This Good,”writes Bloomberg, and I’m sure that’s true. There was also never an individual as unpopular as Donald Trump elected President of the United States before he was.

The “disapproval rating” of his performance is incoherent, of course, because it is an undecipherable mis of apples, oranges, and wooden shoes.  Some disapprove of Trump because of his almost completely revolting character. Some disapprove of him because they disagree with his policies, since they are socialist, statist  One Worlders who believe, against all evidence, that Barack Obama was a great leader. Some are Republicans who are embarrassed to have such a man representing their party, no matter what policies he pursues. Some are conservatives who regard Trump as not sufficiently conservative, for indeed he’s not a conservative at all. Some are classist snobs. Some are morons who just believe what social media and the mainstream media tells them to believe. I’d love to know how this group breaks down, but we’ll never have that information.

Still, I find it encouraging that Trump remains unpopular despite his many positive achievements, some arguable, some not. It is good that the idea that there is more to being a respectable and admirable President than presiding over positive economic times, strong foreign policy, and military success. It is especially encouraging to see Democrats and progressives being driven to that position after stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that the character of a national leader is important during the Bill Clinton years, and after nominating Hillary. The President of the United States is not a CEO, and not a mere policy wonk (Yes, I recognize the absurdity of calling someone like Donald Trump a “wonk” of any kind). Leadership is as much a symbolic role as a pragmatic one. Leaders shift cultural values and norms; they define, or should, what a nation and its public regard as good, bad, right, wrong, admirable, and unacceptable. This was the basis of my initial, long-held, endlessly expressed, and unyielding opposition to his leadership style and personal demeanor, perhaps most forcefully explained here.

The importance of a President’s character goes far beyond being an automatic role model, however. A President, while he is in office, defines the Presidency itself. If he defines it in negative terms and values, everything connected to the Presidency suffers as well (See: the Cognitive Dissonance Scale): our system, democracy, the separation of powers, constitutional government and its institutions. A President has a duty to strengthen his office for future occupants, and to uphold the highest standards that his predecessors set. Donald Trump does not understand this aspect of his job, and never has. The reasons for this can be debated; he is obviously not a student of history, and as someone who has succeeded by breaking rules and defying conventional wisdom, he would be unlikely to understand why this role should be regarded as different from any other executive post. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, History, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Leadership, U.S. Society

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up That Is Turning Up in the Afternoon Because I Looked Up At The Clock And Discovered I Had Missed Three Hours…

Good something.

(Damn job…)

1.  Police state, or stupid state? The Boston Globe reports :

Federal air marshals have begun following ordinary US citizens not suspected of a crime or on any terrorist watch list and collecting extensive information about their movements and behavior under a new domestic surveillance program that is drawing criticism from within the agency.The previously undisclosed program, called “Quiet Skies,” specifically targets travelers who “are not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base,” according to a Transportation Security Administration bulletin in March.

The internal bulletin describes the program’s goal as thwarting threats to commercial aircraft “posed by unknown or partially known terrorists,” and gives the agency broad discretion over which air travelers to focus on and how closely they are tracked.

But some air marshals, in interviews and internal communications shared with the Globe, say the program has them tasked with shadowing travelers who appear to pose no real threat — a businesswoman who happened to have traveled through a Mideast hot spot, in one case; a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, in another; a fellow federal law enforcement officer, in a third.

Look at these guidelines regarding what kind of conduct and clues could justify investigating a traveler:

I am less concerned with the civil rights implications of such idiocy than I am with the fact that the policy makers responsible for airport security appear to be morons.

But we knew that, I guess. [Pointer: Amy Alkon]

2. And it isn’t just the TSA. Remember when the IRS hired the same firm that had botched the design of the Healthcare.gov website? Now a recent Treasury inspector general’s report tells us that the IRS rehired more than 200 employees fired for misconduct in a little over a year. An earlier IG report indicates that this is a pattern dating back to 2009. It occurs, apparently, because the IRS does not provide officials responsible for hiring decisions with the information about employment history, so the IRS has rehired, among others…

  • A fired worker with several misdemeanor theft convictions and one count of felony possession of a forgery device.
  • 11 employees previously disciplined for unauthorized access to taxpayer accounts.
  • An employee who was absent without leave for 270 hours—the equivalent of 33 work days.
  • An employee fired for physically threatening co-workers.
  • An employee fired for lying about previous criminal convictions on employment forms.
  • 17 employees previously caught falsifying official documents.

Two IRS employees fired for poor performance were rehired within six months. In its response letter to the Inspector General’s Office, the IRS wrote that the IRS “determined its current process is more than adequate to mitigate any risks to American taxpayers, federal agencies, and its employees.”

Oh. All righty then!

Rep. Kristi Noem, (R-S.D.) has presented a bill, the “Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act,” to the House that would prohibit the IRS from rehiring employees fired for misconduct or poor performance.

Good. (Pointer: The Daily Signal) Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, Sports, U.S. Society, Workplace

Morning Ethics Wake-Up, 7/17/2018: Swans, Nazis Kids, Rand Paul, And More Freakouts [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1. And today’s anti-Trump freakout topic is…The complete media/”resistance”/Democrat social media meltdown over whatever President Trump thought he was doing yesterday was typical of what we were talking about in the threads on Monday’s Warm-Up. It’s all so boring and predictable. It’s predictable that the President will say things he shouldn’t; it’s predictable that the people who have already made it clear that they hate is guts will erupt with over-the-top condemnation; it’s predictable that the social media echo chamber will adopt whatever unscrupulous Democratic Party talking point that is launched—yes, yes, Facebook Friend, yesterday proves that Putin “has something” on the President like Nancy Pelosi says. Did she call him “Bush” this time?—and that anyone who tries to point out that the reaction is wildly out of proportion to reality is a Trump-loving racist Nazi. I seriously don’t know how a responsible commentator who isn’t out of his mind is supposed to react. Ignore it, because some new hysteria will be right along, like Leo Slezak’s swan. (Don’t you know this story? It’s one of my favorites! Leo Slezak, a famous Austrian opera singer in the Thirties, was playing the role of Lohengrin in Wagner’s opera, which ends with the hero being carried off to Valhalla on the back of a giant swan. In one performance, the swan, pulled by stage hands on tracks, just swam right by him up stage, leaving the hero stranded. Slezak turned to another singer on stage and asked, loudly enough so the audience could hear him, “What time’s the next swan?” His son, Hollywood actor Walter Slezak, made the line the title of his autobiography.)

2. Obligatory freakout notes: a.  All that matters is what, if anything, comes of the summit. The President (obviously) has his own theories of negotiation. Sometimes they work. b. John Brennan’s statement that the Putin-Trump press conference was “treasonous” was two things: 1) the most ridiculous thing said yesterday by anybody, including the idiot who lives down the street here who said, reportedly, “Rpeterbokle?“, and 2) immediate confirmation of why the President said that he doesn’t trust American intelligence agencies any more than he trusts Putin. c. If anyone can point me to an unbiased authority who can explain how leaders holding joint press conferences help their nations by insulting each other, please do. d. John McCain should either show he can do his job, or he should resign and let someone able do it. Right now, apparently his only role is to snipe at the President. e. Gee, I wonder why President Trump doesn’t trust the FBI, after watching a smug FBI agent who texted about insurance policies against his Presidency and how “we” would “stop” him lecture Congress about his lack of bias? f. Nixon said much nicer things about China and Chou En Lai when Dick made his famous visit. FDR affectionately called mass murderer Stalin “Uncle Joe.” President Bush (absurdly) said that he had seen Putin’s soul, and pronounced it pure. JFK feted the Butcher of the Ukraine and Hungary, Nikita Khrushchev, during a visit to America without condemning him in a pres conference. President Obama whispered to Putin that, in essence, he was going to play tough but would be accommodating after the election. Conclusion: As usual, this President is subjected to a double standard, and it is wildly hypocritical. g. Yes, Trump’s comments were unpresidential and inappropriate. This, however, is no longer news.
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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Comment Of The Day: “THAT’S The Concept I Was Looking For—’Cultural Vandalism’!”

Another perspective on the question  of how the personal and professional misconduct of artists should affect our regard for their art comes from Curmie, a drama teacher, director and blogger who has as deep credentials for this topic as anyone.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, THAT’S The Concept I Was Looking For—“Cultural Vandalism”!…

Back in graduate school, I worked as a teaching assistant to a brilliant professor, Ron Willis, in his Introduction to Theatre class. Seitz’s commentary intersects with two of the concepts Ron highlighted in his course. The first of those is what Ron called para-aesthetics: those elements which affect an audience’s reception of an aesthetic event without being the aesthetic event.

These can be entirely coincidental (it’s pouring rain) or created specifically by the production company (the poster). The company many have had some, but not complete, control over the influence (there’s insufficient parking, in part because of another event in the area). The para-aesthetic influence could apply to the entire audience (the leading actor is a big star, the auditorium is freezing) or to an individual (the leading actor is your best friend, the person next to you thinks that showers are for other people, you’ve had a couple glasses of wine before the show).

The fact that a Bill Cosby’s off-camera life has been considerably short of exemplary matters in a para-aesthetic way. But each individual spectator will respond differently to each impulse. That leading actor—my best friend—is someone else’s ex. Facebook tells me that a year and a day ago I saw a play in London with a young movie star in the title role. His presence mattered to me not a bit, but there were dozens if not hundreds of his fans in the house: people who were there specifically to see him. That play was an adaptation of a script I adore and indeed directed a few years ago. The fact that the play as presented bore little if any resemblance to the original bothered me a lot; those who didn’t know the 19th-century version were far more able to accept the 21st-century revision on its own terms. Continue reading

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THAT’S The Concept I Was Looking For—“Cultural Vandalism”!

Does he still seem like God to you?

“Cultural vandalism”!

Perfect! That’s the ideal description of what artists, especially performing artists, do when they engage in such revolting conduct that it becomes difficult or impossible for us to enjoy their work the way we could before we knew they were disgusting human beings.

We owe Vulture writer a debt of gratitude, not only for identifying the conduct as cultural vandalism (a term usually reserved for acts like stealing the Elgin Marbles), but also for explaining, in his article The Cultural Vandalism of Jeffrey Tambor, clearly and powerfully, why it is a serious ethical breach beyond the misconduct itself.

He writes in part,

Once I know something like this, it makes it impossible for me to look at the actor and not think of the horrible things they’ve allegedly done. I don’t care to argue whether this is rational or not (I think it is), or whether I hold inconsistent opinions of works that are problematic for whatever reason (everyone does). The repulsed feeling is still there, and it makes a difference in how I react as a spectator…This sort of thing seems categorically different from, say, watching a film starring an actor whose political beliefs are different from yours (though there, too, a line could be irrevocably crossed). Once you believe that a particular actor or filmmaker or screenwriter is a predator or abuser, you’re aware that the environment that produced your entertainment — the film set — was engaged in a conscious or reflexive cover-up, in the name of protecting an investment. You can still be passionately interested in the thing as a historical or aesthetic document — seeing it through the eyes of, say, an art historian who can contextualize Paul Gauguin within the totality of 19th-century painting, or an African-American studies professor who’s fascinated by Gone With the Wind — but you can’t lose yourself in it anymore. You can’t be in love with it. You can’t really enjoy it in the most basic sense, not without playing dumb.

You didn’t do that to the artist. The artist did that to himself…

And it’s awful. People’s lives get ruined, their careers get interrupted or destroyed. The emotional, physical, and financial damage that problematic artists inflict on people in their orbit should always be the first and main subject of discussion…On top of all that, we also have the collateral damage of cultural vandalism. Fun, meaningful, even great works that dozens or hundreds of people labored over, that built careers and fortunes and whole industries, become emotionally contaminated to the point where you can’t watch them anymore…. in recent years, an entire wing of African-American cultural history has been vaporized by the Bill Cosby allegations and his recent felony sexual-assault trial, including the most popular sitcom of the ’80s (The Cosby Show), some of the top-selling comedy albums of all time, the precursor to the R-rated buddy comedy genre (Uptown Saturday Night and its sequels), and the first Saturday morning cartoon with a predominantly black cast (Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids). Predators’ careers are getting raptured, as well they should be. But unfortunately — perhaps inevitably — their work is getting raptured along with it, imploding into dust as the culture moves on to things that aren’t as problematic (or that might have skeezy stuff going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about yet)….

…Nobody is stopping anyone from watching these works (though they’re no longer as easy to find, and you probably have to own a DVD player). We can still talk about them, study them, write about them, contextualize them. But the emotional connection has been severed. The work becomes archival. It loses its present-tense potency, something that significant or great works have always had the privilege of claiming in the past.

That’s all on the predators. It’s not on you. None of us asked for this.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire