The Andrew Yang Affair

Andrew Yang, as of this week the front-runner for mayor of New York City, did nothing unethical.

Well, allow me to modify that. Allowing yourself to be placed at the mercy of a stranger while being videoed is political incompetence. And his fake laugh was too convincing.

The video above, since the news media no longer allows the public to hear or read essential aspects of such stories because journalists regard themselves as public censors, is confusing, so here is what transpired.

The whole, unblurred, unbleeped video is on TikTok, and WordPress won’t let me embed TikTok. Someone the candidate to let him take a phone video as another stranger, a smiling and giddy black man, asks Yang whether a man, “while he’s fucking bitches, can he keep his Timbs on?.” — a reference to Timberland boots. Yang’s answer, under the circumstances, is pretty deft: “I think it’s purely up to your partner.”

Then the classy New Yorker asks Yang whether he “choke[s] bitches,” and Yang laughs—convincingly, I must say— and leaves.

Gotcha!

Yang’s polite engagement with the man after he used the word “bitches” and his apparently hardy laughter after the “choke bitches” line made him an inviting target of feminists and his rivals.

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When Ethical Is Also Smart: The D.C. Statehood Dilemma

DC statehood

The introduction of a bill for D.C. statehood seems like a good time to consider this.

The GOP opposition to statehood for the District of Columbia is a genuine example of the kind of voter suppression that the Left is unfairly and dishonestly accusing Republicans of pursuing elsewhere. The proof of this is stunningly simple: Does anyone believe that if Washington, D.C. had an overwhelmingly conservative population that could be counted on to put Republicans in office, the party wouldn’t be insisting that the city should become a state? (Does anyone believe that if this was the case, Democrats would not be opposing their position?)

The District’s largest racial group is black, with whites slightly behind. But Democrats make up more than 75% of the registered voters , while only 6% are registered Republicans. About 95% of all voters can be relied upon to vote Democratic in any election, regardless of the candidates.

Therefore Republicans don’t want the District to be able elect two Senators and a voting House member. This isn’t racial voter suppression: you know that if black voters in the District were reliable Republicans, the alternate universe I posited above would exist. But it is still voter suppression. The fact that U.S.citizens living in the nation’s Capital lack representation in Congress is a national scandal that has persisted too long.

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Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/28/21: A Missing Part 2, And More…

“Never on a Sunday” was a surprise international hit film in 1960, a romantic comedy starring Melina Mercuri as a choosy Greek prostitute. The actress also recorded the film’s title song, which had a, er, slightly different meaning in Greek, as my mother, who spoke Greek, delicately explained to me at the time. “Kiss,” mom said, doesn’t exactly mean kiss. Nevertheless the song was covered by lots of singers. including the pre-“Downtown” Petula Clark, and was ubiquitous for months. It was also the first song I ever wrote a parody of, #1 of hundreds.

1. It’s comforting to know that the conservative media is trying to be just as unfair to President Biden as the progressive news media (also known as “the media”) was to President Trump. Yesterday i read many stories about how Biden had a complete meltdown during a speech, didn’t know where he was and asked, “What am I doing here?” As you can see for yourself, that’s a false representation. Joe looks vague and unwell, but he merely got lost momentarily reading a list of names. I have said out loud, “What am I doing?” on more than one occasion while speaking.

2. And this is why it’s important to have a conservative Supreme Court: The Supreme Court ruled on February 26 that Santa Clara County may not enforce a complete ban on indoor religious services as part of California’s draconian pandemic measures. (Wait, I’m confused: who are the fascists again?) Earlier, the Court told California that indoor church services could not be banned because of the pandemic, but allowed the state to cap attendance at 25% capacity and to prohibit singing and chanting.

Santa Clara argued that its ban and limitations on any indoor gatherings should be allowed to stand because its restrictions for churches were the same as those imposed on other establishments where people can visit but not gather in groups. The Justices’ unsigned order last week said that the earlier order “clearly dictated” that Santa Clara’s ban could not stand. Chief Justice John Roberts had written at the time,

“The state has concluded, for example, that singing indoors poses a heightened risk of transmitting COVID-19. I see no basis in this record for overriding that aspect of the state public health framework. At the same time, the state’s present determination—that the maximum number of adherents who can safely worship in the most cavernous cathedral is zero—appears to reflect not expertise or discretion, but instead insufficient appreciation or consideration of the interests at stake.”

Showing their insufficient appreciation of the interest at stake—the right to worship—were the three liberal Justices, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer.

3. I was going to post a follow-up to this post about the film “Denial” (hence the “Part I” in the headline) and other issues intervened. (Sorry). To summarize briefly, Part 2 was going to recount my own run-in with Prof. Lipstadt at the time of her defamation trial when she was sued for defamation by a Holocaust-denying British historian in 2005. In my previous ethics website, the suddenly returned Ethics Scoreboard, I gave C-Span an Ethics Dunce award based on Prof. Lipstadt’s account that it had insisted that the Holacuast denier’s arguments be presented on video as a condition of her appearance on its broadcast. I wrote in part,

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Cancelled For A Single Word

And spoken outside his home, to friends.

Country music superstar Morgan Wallen was suspended indefinitely by his record label and removed from hundreds of radio stations across the country yesterday. The reason? He was captured on camera saying “nigger.” TMZ posted a video this week showing Wallen loudly returning home with friends. A neighbor started recording the scene and the video included Wallen using the word. If you can tell the context of his words, please explain it to me. Was “nigger” meant as an insult, or was it used playfully? Was the target white or black? There is no evidence that he “hurled” the word, because that suggest that it was hurled at someone.

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Comment Of The Day: “From The Law Vs. Ethics Files: This Controversy Has Everything—Fine Art, Nazis, Lawsuits, Sheep…”

hitler-art

Genie Baskir, who has commented on Ethics Alarms since 2011 and averages about two entries a year, makes her latest comment count: it’s an unusually tough and moving Comment of the Day, on the post, From The Law Vs. Ethics Files: This Controversy Has Everything—Fine Art, Nazis, Lawsuits, Sheep…:

Everything was stolen from Leone and her own children and grandchildren. The painting represents the hole in her life and that of her descendants whether obvious or not. The University of Oklahoma’s insistence on keeping the spoils of Holocaust looting represents the continued suffering of every victim of massacre and mass murder since WWII. Overcoming this trauma does not absolve offspring collaborators of their offenses and, let me make this clear, the University of Oklahoma is an offspring collaborator. It knows that Leone Meyer was in the subordinate position in this negotiation and now it wants to continue it descendant collaboration in mass murder and looting because it thinks it can just like the first Nazis held their collective victims’ feet to the fire 80 years ago.

The majority of Holocaust survivors are dead now but their children know and remember the hole in their collective lives as they are collateral victims themselves. We know and remember. Leone Meyer knows and remembers.

My own mother died not ever knowing what happened to her parents and brother. Both of my parents were sole survivors of large extended families. Imagine having no grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or any close blood relations. Imagine being a child processing that everyone of immediate consequence has been murdered. I claim no uniqueness. Massacres and the resulting survivors are still a common occurrence. What’s missing is the empathy and compassion of those who have not that knowledge.

When my mother, aged 15, returned to her home after walking across Poland in late 1944 the next door neighbor, stunned that she survived, reported that the home had been looted by all of the neighbors. He then returned to her a doll and her movie star picture albums. The neighbor then told her to get out of town or she would be murdered by her other neighbors who were complicit in the disappearance of the Jewish families.

The back of the returned movie star pictures had my mother’s mother’s handwriting on them. This handwriting is the only extant evidence that Augusta Pecenik Fischer ever lived at all. Lucky for me that no one is fighting me for these artifacts.

If possession is 9/10ths of the law and the painting is still in France then let France continue to atone for its own collaboration in mass murder. Who will enforce the Oklahoma District Judge’s Order anyway? Who does he or she think they are? After everything that has happened to us, we are afraid of a contempt order from a Judge with no enforcement ability anyway? This Judge is another offspring collaborator if he or she thinks those of us with knowledge care about the ruling.

The burden is on those of us with the knowledge of such tragedy and trauma to try and relieve the suffering of those who are continuing victims. The Judaicide of the 20th century is unique only in that its surviving victims had the strength and wherewithal to demand wholeness in the aftermath. No one was ever made whole but the ability to continue the struggle was rejuvenating as was the ability to start again with new families and offspring and new wealth.

Anyone who knew my mother in the United States without knowing what happened to her would never have guessed what was taken from her when she was just a little girl. Her suffering was never an exterior mien burdening all who met her. She channeled her efforts at wholeness into amassing her own impressive wealth and living well as her revenge. Leone Meyer is struggling for wholeness as represented by this great work of art and she is already the winner.

Offspring collaborators like the University of Oklahoma are empty vessels of opportunity mixed with ignorance and hatred for their moral obligations. We must pray for them to realize the errors of their ways.

From The Law Vs. Ethics Files: This Controversy Has Everything—Fine Art, Nazis, Lawsuits, Sheep…

stolen painting

The painting above is “La Bergère,” or “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep,” by Camille Pissarro, a renowned French Impressionist. The 1886 painting, like so many other priceless works of art, was stolen by the Nazis in 1941, when they looted the French bank where the Jewish family who owned, the Meyers, it had placed the painting for safe-keeping. Dr. Léone Meyer, whose mother, grandmother, uncle and brother died in Auschwitz, searched for her family heirloom ever since the end of World War II. Finally, in 2012, she traced the painting to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma.

In 2016, she negotiated a compromise to trade the painting back and forth between the university and a French museum, but the controversy was re-opened when Dr. Meyer decided that she wants the painting permanently dispalyed in France. Now the courts are involved, on two continents. A judicial tribunal in Paris is deciding whether to block the work from being shipped out of France, and ordered Dr. Meyer and the university to meet with mediators. A federal judge in Oklahoma, meanwhile, has threatened to hold Dr. Meyer in contempt if she continued to pursue litigation in France. A trial is scheduled for January 19 in Paris to hear Dr. Meyer’s arguments for keeping the work there, and a second hearing is set for March on whether to prohibit the painting’s trip back to where the the wind comes sweeping down the plain.

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Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/14/2020: Last Week Before Getting Freaked Out Over Christmas Edition

Anxious Santa

1. American companies doing China’s censorship for a buck. The Chinese government pulled the American film “Monster Hunter” from theaters because a childish pun was deemed racist. “Look at my knees!” says an American soldier played by a Chinese-American rapper known as MC Jin as he rides in a military vehicle. “What kind of knees are these?” Then he answers his own question: “Chi-nese!”

Based on that, the movie was attacked and censored, so the line was removed, and German production company that co-produced the film (Sony is the U.S. distributor) apologized.

I am increasingly convinced that the media edict that it was racist to refer to the Wuhan-originating virus as the Wuhan virus was entirely motivated by corporate media interests in Chinese revenue. If U.S. companies won’t represent U.S. values in their dealings abroad, then the role of the U.S. as a beacon of democracy and human rights in the world is a sham.

I intend to call the pandemic the Wuhan virus forever.

2. Are absurd gay stereotypes unethical? Late night talk show host James Corden is being pilloried for his performance in Netflix’s musical The Prom. He plays an openly gay Broadway actor who describes himself as “gay as a bucket of wigs” in the Broadway musical’s film adaptation that premiered last week. I haven’t seen the film, but I know what gay stereotypes look like, from the Flaming gay director (and his even more flaming assistant) in Mel Brooks’ original “The Producers” to Martin Short’s event planner in “Father of the Bride.” The new name for this kind of performance is “gayface,” an obvious reference to blackface.

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The Long And Messy Ethics Saga Of Jim Thorpe’s Olympic Medals Continues

Jim Thorpe

Whatever it is that is being sought for the late Native American athlete and icon Jim Thorpe, justice isn’t the right word for it.

My father told me about Jim Thorpe in one of his dinner table discourses when I was about 8. The story sure seemed unfair to me then. Thorpe (1887 – 1953), a full-blooded member of the Sac and Fox Nation, had finished first in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics pentathlon and decathlon events, becoming the first Native American to win a gold medal for the United States. Thorpe also played collegiate and professional football and professional baseball to earn a still current reputation as the most versatile great athlete in U.S. sports history. But Thorpe was stripped of his Olympic titles after it was discovered that he had been paid for playing two seasons of semi-professional baseball before competing in the Olympics, thus violating the strict amateurism rules that the Games then embraced.

How technical of those mean Olympics people. This misfortune for Thorpe has always been represented as a horrific injustice and an example of anti-Native American bigotry, but neither is true, and was never true. Thorpe wasn’t eligible for the Olympics under the rules then in place, and in place for what was then believed to be good reasons: the Olympics were for amateur athletes only. Thorpe wasn’t one. All of the arguments for why it was unfair for him to lose his medals (the silver medal winners in both events were bumped up to gold and the official records altered), including the way the story was told in the film biography of Thorpe starring Burt Lancaster, are based on sentiment and flawed ethical reasoning.

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Ethics Dunces: Apparently 30% Of Democratic Voters

Rasmussen Tweet

We must begin with the fact that polls of all kinds have the approximate credibility of palm readers. Rasmussen, however (and Gallup) disgraced itself rather less than its competitors in measuring the election trends before November. The verdict of Ethics Dunces would still hold if the percentage was 20%, 10% or 100%, however. The polling results above were published on November 20; maybe fewer people are convinced now that the election was stolen, since the various challenges filed in court have been failing. The statistics above still prompt these observations:

1. If Democrats think that their party steals elections, making it a threat to Democracy, why do those Democrats continue to identify with a party that cheats? The only explanation can be that they do not support Democracy, and believe that their will should be imposed on their fellow citizens by illegal means, They are totalitarians by philosophy and nature.

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List Ethics Case Study: “The 25 Greatest Actors Of The 21st Century (So Far)”

Lists are fun (that’s why “The Book of Lists” was a runaway best seller); they also drive me crazy. Unless the lists are based on incontrovertible statistics and identifiable features (American League batting champions since 1900; states that begin with the letter “N”) they are essentially a stranger’s arbitrary opinions misrepresenting themselves as facts. I’ve posted about this a couple of times, first in 2011. That one concluded (in part), “I know these lists are all intended in good fun. When one is dealing with history, however, fun doesn’t excuse advancing misinformation at the cost of enlightenment.”

The list in question today involves subjective aesthetic judgments, not history, but it still has ethical problems. It was compiled by the New Your Times film critics—you know: experts!”—and purports to show us the “25 greatest actors of the 21st Century (so far).” That’s a lie. I guarantee that the authors themselves do not believe these are the 25 greatest actors by any standards.

Let’s look at the list:

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