Tag Archives: diversity

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/20/17: Harvard Hypocrisy, Homely Actors, Horrible Apologies, And The Head Of Apple’s Diversity Program Lands On A Pike

Good Morning.

1 And The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck rolls on…The Harvey Express ran over several more notables in various ways last week (like Lena Dunham…). Although Senator Al Franken got most of the publicity. One was actor Jeffrey Tambor, the long-time character actor turned star of the streaming show “Transparent,” about a transgender woman. Tambor’s former assistant, eager to pick up her #MeToo brownie points even at the risk of throwing the entire “Transparent” cast and staff out of work (this is another reason why these matters are more ethically handled privately), accused the actor of lewd comments and in one case “pressing up against her.” Now Tambor, and almost certainly the hit show, are, as Jeff Flake would say. “toast.”

This weekend I crafted the apology Franken should have offered, but as bad as the one he actually offered was, it was arguably better than what Tambor came up with:

“For the past four years, I’ve had the huge privilege — and huge responsibility – of playing Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman, in a show that I know has had an enormous, positive impact on a community that has been too long dismissed and misunderstood.

I know I haven’t always been the easiest person to work with. I can be volatile and ill-tempered, and too often I express my opinions harshly and without tact. But I have never been a predator — ever.

I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone. But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express.”

On the Apology Scale, this combines the worst features of a #9, a “non-apology apology,” with #10, an “insincere and dishonest apology,” with some other obnoxious features thrown in for bad taste.  Tambor begins by patting himself on the back–-I’m the star, and it hasn’t been easy, but look at all the good I’ve done!—then moves on to Rationalization # 19. The Perfection Diversion: “Nobody’s Perfect!” or “Everybody makes mistakes!”

Next, he engages in deceit, stating that he’s never been a predator, which is like saying he’s never been a race car driver or an antelope. He’s accused of sexual harassment and one incident of sexual assault. What his statement amounts to a non-denial denial: “I never did what she’s accused me of doing more than once!”

Yecchh.

2. “Because sometimes they say yes…” It is no coincidence that Tambor, Franken and Weinstein all come from the performing arts world and all are very homely men. I have observed in my own theater experience that the most aggressive violators of the boundaries of restraint and decorum in interactions with women in a theatrical settings are frequently the guys who are unattractive and feel  that it they don’t take chances, they’ll die a virgin. It is astounding how aggressive some of them are, and how resilient they remain after rejection and even physical abuse. If they fail a hundred times and succeed once, that’s positive reinforcement enough. If, through talent, hard work and luck, such individuals reach a level of power in the performing arts profession, sexual harassment is an established behavior pattern that doesn’t set off their ethics alarms at all.

3. It’s NOT OK to be white? Denise Young Smith, Apple’s first vice president of diversity and inclusion and an African-American, was part of a  panel discussion on fighting racial injustice eat the One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia. At one point she said,

“Diversity is the human experience. I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT…there can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.” 

Apple fired her, six months into her new role after 20 years successfully running Apple’s international Human Resources department. Smith did not have the integrity to stand by her words, and instead tried a desperate Pazuzu grovel, apologizing and saying that her words “were not representative of how I think about diversity.”  It didn’t work. Continue reading

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KABOOM! Brandeis Cancels A Play About Political Correctness Because Students And Faculty Protested That It Wasn’t Politically Correct

I do want to thank Curmie, our esteemed drop-in commenter who is a drama teacher and chronicler of ethics outrages from the world of education, for ambushing me with this head-exploding story from Brandeis University. And my head had been doing so well.

Playwright Michael Weller had received a Creative Arts Award from Brandeis, and when he wrote a  a play, “Buyer Beware,” that satirized the political climate on U.S. campuses the University scheduled it to make its premiere there. The satire concerns a student who discovers the works of  iconic 50s era comedian Lenny Bruce, and attempts to stage a  production in the spirit of the taboo-challenging comic. The production offends  students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Brandeis-like university, which worries that the controversy will offend a crucial donor. The script, channeling Bruce (think George Carlin but more abrasive, and not as funny) called for a white character to use “nigger” in several instances. The play quotes Bruce’s famous manifesto against strictures against mere words: “Imagine if we just kept saying these words over and over again, sooner or later they’d become meaningless noise.”

Without reading the script, it appears, so many students protested that Brandeis administrators, proving that their spines and principles were noodle-flexible, capitulated and cancelled the production, when the statements of the protesters should have made it obvious that such a play was desperately needed. For example, Andrew Childs is an Undergraduate Department Representative for the Theater Arts Department and a member of the season’s play selection committee, told the student newspaper,

“The issue we all have with it is that [Weller] is an older, straight…, able-bodied and white man. [ Wait! Isn’t it okay to be white?] It isn’t his place to be stirring the pot.”

What are they teaching at Brandeis? Only certain genders and races can “stir the pot”? Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz: “The Stickering”

More than a dozen handmade stickers reading “It’s okay to be white” were posted around overnight in Harvard Square earlier as well as around the nearby Harvard Law School campus.

Law School Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells, who is black, wrote an email to law students in the wake of what Stephen King might call “The Stickering”:

“It seems likely that these anonymous postings, made in the middle of the night, were provocations intended to divide us from one another HLS will not let that happen here. We live, work, teach, and learn together in a community that is stronger, better, and deeper because of our diversity and because we encourage open, respectful, and constructive discourse”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Dayand watch your step!—is…

Do you think posting the stickers was unethical? Do you think the Dean’s response was responsible?

Continue reading

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“Why Is Madeleine Leader Still Employed?” And Related Puzzles

That was an email from Democratic National Committee Data Services manager Madeleine Leader, announcing that the Technology Department is looking to fill several positions and asking interested parties to forward the openings to their colleagues.

Note the last sentence:

“I personally would prefer that you not forward to cisgender straight white males, since they’re already in the majority.”

Nice.

Seven questions bubble up to the surface as I ponder this:

1 Why is Madeleine Leader still employed by the DNC? I can answer that one: her email accurately reflects the culture of the Democratic National Committee, and the Democratic Party. If she wasn’t completely confident that such an open expression of prejudice and discrimination would be acceptable, she would not have dared to put such a sentiment into print.

Even so, if the Democrats had an ounce of sense or even aspired to decency, they would have fired Leader with expressions of horror, and proclaimed her a rogue employee. However, the party apparently believes that its base and perhaps even the typical Democrat will read Leader’s message and say, “What’s the matter with that?”

2. Do progressives and Democrats really think there is a difference between saying “no white, straight males need apply” and “no black lesbians need apply”? I can answer that one too. Of course they do. They really think the latter is despicable, racist, sexist homophobia, and the former is just virtuous diversity at work.

They really do. No, seriously. They do.

3. Why was this story first reported at the Daily Wire, a conservative website, then at several other conservative websites, then on Fox News, and finally at The Hill, a political website that tilts left, but not yet at any mainstream media sources?

See #1 above. One reason the DNC thinks it can pretty much duck this embarrassment is that it knows the mainstream media will cover the party’s  tracks by not reporting the story. “Democracy dies in  darkness,” pompously proclaims the Washington Post on its front page. Right. The Post doesn’t want independents or anyone who isn’t in lock-step with whatever the Democratic Party does or says to know how low the party of Jefferson, Jackson and FDR has sunk, and how much it has abandoned democratic ideals. It has been three days since Leader’s email became public. The Post has kept the story in darkness.  So has the New York Times, apparently because blatant bigotry at the DNC isn’t news fit to print. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “The West Point Communist, How Cultures Rot, And The Whistleblower’s Letter…”

I was hoping one of the Ethics Alarms military vets would on the issues raised by the recent West Point scandal, and frequent commenter Steve, among others obliged.

Here is Steve’s Comment of the Day on the post, The West Point Communist, How Cultures Rot, And The Whistleblower’s Letter…

These issues are the result of the PC culture that civilian leadership has foisted on all things military. Results are demanded, not those of honor and integrity but of achievement of feminist and progressive goals.

I am retiring from the Marine Corps, things have changed and in terms of accomplishing the mission only a few changes have been good. The core of our military is the infantry, the best of the best of our officers strove to become infantry officers, the most demanding and dynamic job a young officer can have. To be successful you have to be in the top 10 percent of physical performance, be mature, have heart and character. The service academies strove to develop those types of leaders, the type that could be successful infantry officers. With that as the bar, our academies, all of them, have provided the nation with some of the best leaders has given the nation a steel core that helps strengthen the whole country and provides us with resolve and honor that has helped to drive the nation during times of strife.

Civilian control of our military is essential but is also the cause of the rot. Many of the issues such as DADT and the official acceptance of gays in the service doesn’t matter much, the fight and dissent on this issue was due to concerns of political correctness and social engineering effecting the performance of the military, creating a distraction from, in terms of gays in the military it has never hurt us and we have all know some, as a leader I don’t give a shit who you sleep with so long as conformity and uniformity is achieved where it matters most, that the chemistry of the unit is stable. That is that issue in a nut shell.

Now the issue that is very much hurting our academies and the military is the unattainable push for equality, again the core of our military is the infantry, the pinnacle of being a good soldier is to be an infantryman, it is where the bar is set the highest, success requires achieving and maintaining peak mental and physical condition. The infantry is the essence of the military and women can only be artificially successful as an infantryman.

Over the last couple of decades the push has been focused of the individual achievement of women, for achievements sake, not as a multiplier of available manpower or enhancement of performance but to be able to lay claim to being just as effective soldiers as men, it is a desire to be able to make a claim, not to realize it. Standards remain different, there is an acceptance that requirements must be flexible to the individual so as not to become the focus of ire from civilian leadership. It all flows from the top, civilian authorities select generals not solely based on merit or performance but more and more on politics, those who are willing to tow the political correctness line are promoted, those who focus on effectiveness and strive to be apolitical are shown the door or are passed over. Continue reading

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The West Point Communist, How Cultures Rot, And The Whistleblower’s Letter…

West Point graduate and infantry officer Spenser Rapone recently caused a sensation through his advocacy and support of communism, while being an “official socialist organizer” of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Rapone recently posted a photo of himself as part of a declaration of support for professional football player Colin Kaepernick, including the phrase “Communism will win” with the tag “Veterans for Kaepernick.”  Rapone later posted a second photo of himself in uniform with a Che Guevara T-shirt underneath his jacket.That led to scrutiny of the hundreds of pro-Communist tweets by the former cadet, including one  calling Defense Secretary James Mattis “evil” and “vile” and another saying he will “happily dance” on the grave of Sen. John McCain.

This was not extensively covered by the mainstream media—After all, what’s the matter with Communists, as long as they don’t help Donald Trump?—though some attention was paid when Senator Rubio demanded that the Army remove Rapone. The Army said last week is it investigating and that the posts “in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army.”

I sure hope not!

Now the military community and others are asking how this is possible, and how West Point could produce a  graduate like Rapone.  In response to the episode, retired LTC Robert M. Heffington has written an open letter about what he sees as the deterioration of the culture at the storied military academy. Heffington was an assistant professor at West Point for several years, until this past August.

Note, please…

I. This is how one blows a whistle.

II.  Heffington describes how cultures rot: inattention,  poor leadership, refusal to apply standards, corruption from political agendas, silence from within.

III. Desperate and politically driven efforts to achieve diversity at the expense of integrity and quality are a major factor.

IV. West Point is a part of the higher education community. It would be surprising if it were immune from the same deterioration that the rest of America’s colleges and universities are suffering from. Thus this passage…

“…an entire semester of military history was recently deleted from the curriculum (at West Point!). In all courses, the bar has been lowered to the point where it is irrelevant. If a cadet fails a course, the instructor is blamed, so instructors are incentivized to pass everyone. Additionally, instead of responding to cadet failure with an insistence that cadets rise to the challenge and meet the standard, the bar for passing the course itself is simply lowered. This pattern is widespread and pervades every academic department.”

V. Before I read the letter, I guessed that it would have a passage like this one, and sure enough:

“The plebe American History course has been revamped to focus completely on race and on the narrative that America is founded solely on a history of racial oppression. Cadets derisively call it the “I Hate America Course.” Simultaneously, the plebe International History course now focuses on gender to the exclusion of many other important themes.”

VI. Repairing a broken culture is a long and difficult process. It involves…

Exposure

Acknowledgement

Intervention

Investigation

Transparency

Resolve

Punishment

Dedication to standards and values

Measurable goals

New leadership

Oversight

Refusal to compromise

Routine Assessment of progress

 Robert M. Heffington is an Ethics Hero. Here is his remarkable and remarkably disturbing letter: Continue reading

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“U.S. Race Relations Have Finally Reached The Point Where They Make No Sense Whatsoever” Sunday #2: The Ol’ Miss Banana Peel Saga

Honestly, I thought this was a hoax story. I still hope it might be, and if it isn’t, it should be. If it is true, the episode all by itself is signature significance proving that the U.S. race problem has turned into cultural insanity.

Last weekend, leaders from the University of Mississippi’s Greek Life group held  a three-day at Camp Hopewell in Lafayette County, designed to “build leaders and bring the campus closer together.” It went spectacular wrong as a result of a banana peel. It really did.

The group included student members of the Panhellenic Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council. The retreat was organized by Fraternity and Sorority Life and the national group IMPACT,  a campus-based leadership institute designed to foster improved relationships among campus leaders through such events. Saturday morning, the participants ate breakfast together, and the breakfast options included various fruit, including bananas. Breakfast was followed by a discussion session on race relations at Ole Miss.

Shortly thereafter, three students noticed a banana peel in a tree. This was taken as intentional racist symbolism. and the rest of the day was occupied by heated debate regarded racist symbols. Senior accounting major Ryan Swanson eventually stood up and admitted that he put the banana peel in the tree when he could not find a trash receptacle nearby.

[Aside: I once did exactly the same thing on a Boy Scout hike.]

Never mind. It didn’t matter that this was not a racist act. The banana peel continued to be the focus of intense debate.  Like a good social justice patsy, Swanson fell on his sword. “I want to sincerely apologize for the events that took place this past weekend,” Swanson told the college paper afterwards. “Although unintentional, there is no excuse for the pain that was caused to members of our community.” Continue reading

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