Tag Archives: culture

“A Nation Of Assholes” Update: Wait, I Thought TRUMP Would Be Teaching Our Kids To Be Vulgar And Boorish Jerks

Politico informs us of this charming development….

With children on stage behind him, Perez told an audience in Las Vegas this weekend that Trump “doesn’t give a shit about health care.”
Perez, President Barack Obama’s former labor secretary, made similar comments earlier this year. “They call it a skinny budget, I call it a shitty budget,” Perez said in Portland, Maine.

Wow. I assumed that it would be the President, the man who set new lows for uncivil discourse during his campaign, who would vulgarize the American culture, teach our children that rudeness and gutter language is appropriate, and generally coarsen our society further, when in fact it needs to move in the opposite direction. Nope: it’s the official leader of the Democratic Party.

Says Ann Althouse,

“Derangement syndrome. I can’t believe they think this is a good idea.”

Oh, I absolutely can. After all, the Democrats think undermining democracy and the institution of the Presidency is a good idea. They think advocating the impeachment or removal of a duly elected President based on their certainty that electing him was a mistake is a good idea. They thought trying to over-rule the Electoral College was a good idea, and setting new records for hypocrisy by refusing to accept the results of the election after excoriating Donald Trump for suggesting that he might do the same.They thought making certain that the filibuster option for opponents of Supreme Court candidates would be eliminated was a good idea. They think going out of their way to ensure that a dangerously divided nation becomes more divided is a good idea. Deciding to take the lead in making “shit” normal public discourse, soon to be followed by “fuck,” “motherfucker,” and “cocksucker”? That’s nothing. Not to these people.

That T-shirt is for sale on the party website, by the way. But of course the* makes it all genteel, right?

Glenn Reynold writes,  “It was just a few months ago they were going to the fainting couches over Trump. Remember?,” noting the hypocrisy in light of Hillary’s “Our Children Are Watching.”

Ethics Alarms already identified what this is. In March, I wrote,

“The Democratic Party has turned itself into the Asshole Party. Depressing. Disgusting. Despicable.”

However, even then, I did not anticipate that the party would lead the way to destroying any semblance of dignity, decorum and civility in our government.

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics

Willful Amnesia And The Great Cat And Dog Massacre

Did you know that animal-loving British families killed an estimated 400,000 household pets—cats and dogs—in the first week after Great Britain declared war on Germany in September, 1939? Neither did I, and now a new book by Hilda Kean, “The Great Dog and Cat Massacre,” sets out to remind us of that ugly episode.

As the New York Times review of the book notes and Kean explains, the mass euthanasia was “publicly lamented at the time,” but has since been erased from memory.  But why has it been erased from memory, and how? This is a disturbing cultural phenomenon that Ethics Alarms has covered before, notably in the post about dance marathons in the U.S. during the Depression. One of the definitions of culture is what we choose to remember and what we choose to forget. Forgetting, however, while often psychically soothing and an easy way to avoid guilt and accountability, is a pre-unethical condition. That which has been forgotten can no longer teach us, and a society that collectively decides to pretend something cruel, horrible or traumatic didn’t happen risks allowing it to happen again.

This, of course, is one more reason why the recent progressive mania for historical airbrushing is dangerous, irresponsible and unethical. Keep that statue of “Joe Pa” on the Penn State campus. Leave  King Andy on the twenty dollar bill.  Don’t take down that bust of Bill Cosby in the TV Hall of Fame. All civilizations have fallen heroes, moments of panic, times when they forget their values and betray their aspirations. Of course it is painful and embarrassing to remember these things, but also essential if human ethics are going to progress instead of stagnating, or even going backwards. We associate the elimination of cultural memories with totalitarian regimes, and for good reason, for they are blatant and shameless about it.

No nation is immune from the process’s appeal, however. When I was going to grade school and studying the Presidents of the United States, Jackson and Woodrow Wilson were routinely hailed by (mostly Democratic) historians as among the greatest of the great. The first Jackson biography I read barely mentioned the Trail of Tears. I read four well-regarded biographies of Wilson that ignored his support for Jim Crow, and the degree to which he deliberated reversed advances in civil rights, being an unapologetic white supremacist. The influenza epidemic that killed millions was excised from my school’s history books. Thomas Jefferson’s concubine, Sally Hemmings? Who? Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Education, History, Race

From The “Saint’s Excuse” Files:The Catholic Church, Penn State, and Now Choate…What Have We Learned?

Protect the hive. Always protect the hive…

The renowned private boarding school school Choate Rosemary Hall, alma mater of such luminaries as John Dos Passos, Edward Albee, Glenn Close, multiple Kennedys and dozens more of the rich, famous and powerful, , just revealed that at least twelve former teachers had sexually molested, and in one case, raped, students without the crimes being reported to police. The pattern continued over decades. In some cases, teachers were allowed to resign after being confronted with evidence of abuse, and administrators wrote still letters of recommendations for them after they were fired. The predators then went to other schools, sometimes in positions of power and authority.

After the similar institutional conduct revealed by the Catholic Church and Penn State, does anyone believe that this is a rare occurrence in institution, including the most prestigious—and virtuous!—ones? The lesson is that established, powerful, iconic institutions are programmed to protect themselves above others, and regard their own missions and continued vitality more precious than any single individual, even a child.

Revisiting one of the most important of the Ethics Alarms’ 92 rationalizations:

13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

This rationalization has probably caused more death and human suffering than any other. The words “it’s for a good cause” have been used to justify all sorts of lies, scams and mayhem. It is the downfall of the zealot, the true believer, and the passionate advocate that almost any action that supports “the Cause,’ whether it be liberty, religion, charity, or curing a plague, is seen as being justified by the inherent rightness of the ultimate goal. Thus Catholic Bishops protected child-molesting priests to protect the Church, and the American Red Cross used deceptive promotions to swell its blood supplies after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Saint’s Excuse  allows charities to strong-arm contributors, and advocacy groups to use lies and innuendo to savage ideological opponents. The Saint’s Excuse is that the ends justify the means, because the “saint” has decided that the ends are worth any price—especially when that price will have to be paid by someone else.

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Education, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Religion and Philosophy

Dear Madison Ave: As Long As TV Commercials Keep Getting More Gratuitously Vulgar, Ethics Alarms Will Keep Objecting To Them. I’m Sure You Are Trembling In Fear.

It is tragically clear now that Madison Avenue has decided there is a cultural consensus that it is incredibly funny to imply vulgar words and make sexual allusions in TV commercials. Objections to this as juvenile, culturally degrading and gratuitous from this quarter have no effect, accept to attract the usual “lighten up” comments from applauding vulgarians. Well, I don’t care. Ethics Alarms will keep pointing out what wrong anyway. You want a President who boasts about the size of his penis during a debate? THIS is how you get a President who boasts about the size of his penis during a debate. You want a President who uses  a menstrual reference to  attack a female journalist? This is how you get that too.

The only satisfaction, I suppose, is the same uncivil vulgarians who most object to the results of this cultural pollution are also the ones sending the “lighten up” comments.

Since August of last year, the Kraft Heinz Company’s newest frozen meals brand, Devour, has been advertising its products with a TV ad in which a boss catches  his employee becoming sexually aroused by his lunch,  to  which he applies a sexy spank with his fork. The ad’s tagline: “Food You Want to Fork.”

Nice.

Kraft says the ad is aimed at men aged 25-35, so I guess that’s okay then. Everyone knows that demographic is made up of assholes—is that the theory?—and the best way to please them is to make the kind of juvenile sexual innuendo that we had in naughty songs like “Shaving Cream” about when I was 12. It’s so hilarious when people use a word that sounds like a dirty word in a context where it is obviously intentional, but don’t really say the word, because, see, its, like, not polite.  Got it. My sides are splitting. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture

Reflections On My Final Visit To “The Greatest Show On Earth”

The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus will bring down its metaphorical Big Top for the final time in May. Its business model simply does not work any more, as an executive of the arena entertainment company that owns it said recently—especially since the circus capitulated to animal rights activists and fired its performing elephants. (Ticket sales dropped by almost a third.) This was an iconic cultural institution vanishing, so I had to say farewell, and did so last weekend, when the circus came to Washington, D.C. for the final time.

Observations:

1. It is still an entertaining show, even though  the Ringling brothers would never have recognized it as a circus. Several of the acts were worth the ticket price (in our cases, about 75 bucks) all by themselves.

2. The Verizon Center was about a third filled for the final show of the legendary Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. The Center itself was sparsely staffed; it took 20 minutes in line to buy popcorn. Americans, as a group, don’t care about history, culture and significant changes in it landscape any more. The circus and its components gave us imagery, lore, metaphors—“walking a tight rope,” “three ring circus,” (this one is now a two-and-a half ring circus at best), “ringmaster,” “dog and pony show,” “the big tent,” “side-shows,” “clown act,” —and “The Man on the Flying Trapeze.” The nation is a little poorer and less colorful without it.

3. The public also increasingly sees little value in the mass audience experience. Live entertainment, especially family friendly varieties, were traditionally seen as an important and natural way to strengthen community ties, by bonding disparate members of society through a shared experience involving witnessing something transforming and memorable.

4. Assisting in the death of this experience is the trend of making sure all arena and stadium events  are filled with loud, never-ending, pounding electronic music that would make Phil Specter grab ear plugs. Once,  the circus’s dramatic  music consisted of drum rolls, bands and soft calliopes. If you watch the Cecil B. DeMille movie “The Greatest Show On Earth,” you will see spectators talking to each other during the acts, or shouting out to performers. Either is virtually impossible now. Conversation consists of screaming a few words repeatedly until your companion nods. This continues the cultural trend of making meaningful interaction with fellow human beings passe. How can this possibly be a healthy development for society?

I did see a lot of people texting….maybe to those sitting next to them.

5. Almost no venders were walking among the seated. A single snow cone from one of these cost $12.00.

6. This is how unintended cultural pollution takes place. The conglomerate that owns the circus also owns various ice shows, like Disney on Ice. To cut costs, it decided to employ performers from the ice shows in the circus too, meaning that instead of a sawdust path around the rings, the track around the performing areas are ice. Everyone is on skates half the time. It isn’t a bad effect: it’s faster than the old-style parades. But now the circus is an ice show. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Family, History, Humor and Satire, language, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture

Penn State Trustee Al Lord Says He’s Running Out Of Patience With Jerry Sandusky’s “So-Called Victims”

Do you still wonder how and why beloved Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and his superiors contrived ignorance while child predator Jerry Sandusky was using their facilities to trap his defenseless young prey? If so, you have a definitive answer in the recent statement of Penn State trustee Albert L. Lord, in an e-mail  to The Chronicle of Higher Education. that he’s..

“Running out of sympathy for 35 yr old, so-called victims with 7 digit net worth. Do not understand why they were so prominent in trial. As you learned, Graham Spanier never knew Sandusky abused anyone.”

Spanier is the dismissed Penn State president who was convicted of one count of child endangerment last week for his handling—non-handling, really— of complaints about Sandusky. The verdict was correct: Spanier, like Coach Paterno, intentionally failed to investigate repeated claims that Sandusky was molesting young boys on campus, because he didn’t want to know if the allegations were true, That would have endangered Penn State’s beloved football program, which meant more to him, and obviously Paterno, than crime, truth, education, or harm to innocent children. Spanier probably was certain the Penn State board would endorse his priorities. Based on Lord’s jaw-dropping message, it still might.

Some of the victims of Sandusky, Penn State, and the tactical apathy of Paterno and Spanier  have “seven figures” because Penn State is estimated to have paid out about $93 million to more than thirty Sandusky victims over twenty years. Lord—a moron— seems to think they got the benefit of the bargain. After all, what’s a little sexual molesting when you’re ten? Hell, he’d take a little diddling for three million bucks! Who wouldn’t? Go Nittany Lions! Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Sports

Comment Of The Day : “Incident At Big Bowl”

John Billingsley has been participating here for less than two months, and this is his first Comment of the Day. He explores some of the broader labor, management and cultural  issues behind the curtain in my rueful account of  inept service at an airport fast food restaurant.

Here is John’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Incident at Big Bowl.”

I believe this is an issue that goes much deeper than it appears on the surface and Son of M and Tom M in their analyses have identified some of the issues at the root of the problem. Son of M said, “I don’t know that people at this level of employment have EVER cared or are ever going to.” There are some who care, and they can be identified when you are served by them, but I agree that most them appear not to. I think this is because our culture overall is not respectful of the people who do those jobs and so they have no reason to respect themselves as a person who performs that work.

I had the opportunity to live in Japan for about two years. That was over 40 years ago, and I still remember the complete professionalism of just about every service worker I encountered. Of course, it is a cultural thing. I wish people who provide services here could develop the attitude that it is not demeaning to be a service worker.

Tom asks, “Why is all of the blame on the employees?” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, U.S. Society, Workplace