Trans Activist Ethics Train Wreck Update: The Dave Chappelle “Hate Speech” Hypocrisy

From the New York Times front page today:

“Netflix…the tech company that revolutionized Hollywood, is now in an uproar as employees challenge the executives responsible for its success and accuse the streaming service of facilitating the spread of hate speech and perhaps inciting violence.”

Observations:

1. It’s time—way past time, in fact—to emphatically define what “hate speech” is. First of all, hate speech, whatever it is, is 100% protected speech. It is Constitutional, First Amendment, lawful, beyond all argument speech. Second, I use “whatever it is” because the phase is deliberately vague and subjective so those seeking to censor discourse, advocacy, non-conforming points of view, satire and insults can place the expression of ideas by someone else into a category that suggests malign agency and intent.Then, those crying “hate speech” can advocate silencing whatever it was they are labeling.

We’re on to them, or should be by now. Calling something “hate speech” is like the Southern Poverty Law Center’s dishonest “hate group” label. It’s a cheat.

2. Hate is not a good thing in human relations (there are exceptions), but it is legal and, like all emotions, not unethical. Acting on the hate may be unethical, but not hate itself.

3. I have watched “The Closer,”Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special now under fire, twice. There is nothing hateful in it, unless one thinks that all mockery, satire and jokes with an edge are hate.

I don’t think “The Closer” is very good, especially by Chappelle’s standards. It’s not especially funny, for instance. It’s also not very smart, and Chappelle, if nothing else, is smart and usually shows it. It’s not smart because the controversy over how society should regard transgender individuals is interesting, perhaps difficult, raises interesting ethical and practical issues, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s just not as important as the attention paid to it makes it seem. This is a tiny minority: yes, these issues are important to them. But Chappelle’s show is like a deliberate employment of the Streisand Effect: he’s obviously annoyed about having to deal with trans issues, so he spends a whole, high-profile special complaining, explaining, and riffing regarding it. Since he’s a comedian, this could be justified if he mined it for comedy gold, but he doesn’t.

If he isn’t going to be funny, then he has to be profound, or he’s wasting our time. Not only is the thing not profound, it’s barely coherent. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: stand-up is a high wire act, and the best comics sometimes fall hard. But the contrived controversy over “The Closer” is giving the performance more significance than it deserves, and allowing Chappelle to accept accolades for a performance that was really subpar.

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Ethics Alarms Officially Designates Trangender Activism An Ethics Train Wreck [Updated And Expanded]

dc-dave-chappelle-closer

An ethics train wreck is an ethics-fraught situation or event that manages to make virtually everyone involved, on all sides of the issues, behave unethically or express unethical positions. I should have identified the Transgender Activism Ethics Train Wreck much earlier, of course: I was asleep at the switch.

The tipping point that prompted this is the Dave Chappelle Netflix special, “The Closer,” the latest in a series of stand-up concerts by the talented, often perceptive and intentionally politically incorrect comedian. (I haven’t watched it yet, but I will, possibly tonight.) The show is under attack by LGTBQ activists because Chappelle jokes at the expense of transgender individuals, and this is, they say, hate speech. As I said, I haven’t seen this concert, but I have seen others, and Chappelle has targeted trans people before. I can’t say his anti-trans material isn’t sometimes funny: a lot of his jokes provoke the dual “I can’t believe he said that!”/ “Ha! Oh, no, I hate myself for laughing!” response. This is because he is good at what he does. Nevertheless, I regard such jokes as punching down. Chappelle should be better than that.

I also have two transsexual friends, one a former neighbor, the other a young man I have known since he was a child. I find nothing funny or ridiculous about either of them.

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Now We Know Who Simpson College Is Named For, I Guess.

It must be Homer, because that appears to be the level of cognition being  taught to its students, by equally dunder-headed faculty.

I’ll try to make this short, because we’ve had the same discussion recently. I have made a vow, however, to remark with disgust on such idiocy every time it raises its hole-riddled Homer-shaped head.

John Bolen, a retired professor of religion working part-time at  Simpson College, uttered the dreaded shibboleth “nigger”  during a class. He used the word to discuss the word, of course, and not as a racial epithet, but Homer and similarly handicapped students can’t make such nuanced distinctions. Bolen was using the word to make the hackneyed, stale and simplistic analogy with the Washington, D.C. pro football team’s nickname “The Redskins,” but he triggered mass outage by not using baby-talk (“N-word”) or Pig Latin (“Iggernay”) instead of English as if his audience consisted of  adults and could hear a word used to describe itself without having a psychotic episode because of the color of the speaker. Continue reading

Policy Clarification: If The Subject Of An Ethics Story Is The Use Of The Words “Nigger” Or “Fuck,” Ethics Alarms Will Appropriately Use Those Words And Not “N-Word” And “F-Word,” Because To Do Otherwise Will Be To Enable The Language, Speech And Expression Censors…

…whose real goal is to control thought.

It is a matter of constant amazement to me how many news publications and editors choose to either keep their readers uninformed and confused (by using a vague and ambiguous term like “a racial epithet” or “a vulgarity” when the word in question is central to an episode, or, in my view worse, use the juvenile “N-word” or “F-word” euphemism as if the actual word isn’t what these codes mean, so the pretense that they are anything but the equivalent on speaking in pig-latin because the kiddies are around is an insult to adults everywhere. I wonder: would it be considered benign to use “N-word” as an insult, as in “You stupid N-word!”? Would am employee still be fired if he told his boss, “Oh, go F-word yourself you mother-F-wording  F-word head!”? If the euphemism means the same thing as the word, then why not use the word itself?

This is political correctness gaslighting, and I reject it categorically.  Here is a recent headline from the College Fix:

Another ‘N word’-in-context incident costs a university employee her job

That  headline is over a story about how absurd and anti-free speech it is to punish a professor for using the word “nigger” in a discussion about free speech, and the publication still balks at using the actual word in the context of its relationship to the story it describes while condemning the university’s decision! What sense that does that make? It’s hypocritical and incompetent, as well as cowardly.

Marlon Anderson, the janitor we discussed last month who was summarily fired for using the word “nigger” to tell a student not to call him a “nigger,” said, in the course of his defense, “So if the class is reading ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and the teacher is reading the book out loud and it gets to the part where the N-word is, the teacher gets fired?” Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Dave Chappelle

I know: just a week ago, I began the last section of the  day’s warm-up with “He’s not exactly an Ethics Hero, but…Dave Chappelle’s new concert video, now streaming on Netflix, is thought-provoking, brave, and full of ethical insights and analysis. I could do a two hour ethics seminar using just his material.” Several things have changed since then, however…

  • I am desperate for ethics heroes. We all are. If the Democrat candidates debate proved anything, it was that.
  • Chappelle is being attacked, hard, by the very same cancellation culture and political correctness dictators he has been willing to  challenge.
  • There is an organized effort to try to discourage the public from watching his Netflix special “Sticks and Stones,” not because it won’t be funny to anyone still capable of finding things funny, but because it will inspire people to think. Can’t have that…
  • Only one reader, the usually intrepid and culturally aware Humble Talent, commented on the issue last week. Sometimes I think that including a topic in the warm-up rather than devoting a whole post to it causes some Ethics Alarms readers to gloss over the issues involved, or maybe miss the item itself, as if each warm-up topic  is only 20% of a serious ethics topic because there are typically five in a post. The benefit to me of this format is that it saves time (you would not believe how long it takes to set up an individual post after the text is written) and helps me avoid an ethics backlog, but sometimes whether a particular issue is covered in a warm-up item or in a full post is arbitrary, a matter of timing, what else has occurred and my mood at the time.
  • Upon further reflection, I have concluded that Chappelle is an Ethics Hero.

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Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/8/2019, As Tumbleweeds Roll Through The Deserted Streets Of Ethics Alarms…

Is anybody out there?

1. What’s going on here? The AP deleted a tweet on September 5 tweet attributing the murders of Israeli athletes  to undefined “guerrillas.” Someone complained: it then tweeted, “The AP has deleted a tweet about the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics because it was unclear about who was responsible for the killings and referred to the attackers as guerrillas. A new tweet will be sent shortly.” Finally, this was the tweet decided upon:

“On Sept. 5, 1972, the Palestinian group Black September attacked the Israeli Olympic delegation at the Munich Games, killing 11 Israelis and a police officer. German forces killed five of the gunmen.”

2. Wait: ARE there really “AI ethicists,” or just unethical ethicists grabbing a new niche by claiming that they are any more qualified for this topic than anyone else?

From the Defense Systems website:

After a rash of tech employee protests, the Defense Department wants to hire an artificial intelligence ethicist. “We are going to bring on someone who has a deep background in ethics,” tag-teaming with DOD lawyers to make sure AI can be “baked in,” Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, who leads the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, told reporters during an Aug. 30 media briefing.

The AI ethical advisor would sit under the JAIC, the Pentagon’s strategic nexus for AI projects and plans, to help shape the organization’s approach to incorporating AI capabilities in the future. The announcement follows protests by Google and Microsoft employees concerned about how the technology would be used — particularly in lethal systems — and questioning whether major tech companies should do business with DOD.

I’m hoping that the Defense Department isn’t doing this, as the article implies, because some pacifist, anti-national defense techies at Microsoft complained. [Pointer: Tom Fuller]

3. Campus totalitarians gonna totalitary!  University of Michigan students and alumni aare demanding that the University to sever ties with real estate developer Stephen M. Ross , who is the largest donor in the University’s history. This would presumably include removing his name from  Ross School of Business, which he substantially funded. (His name is on other buildings as well) Did Ross rape women willy-nilly? Has he been shown to be racist? No, he held  a re-election fundraiser for the President of the United States. Continue reading