Weird Tales Of The Great Stupid: The “Ghost Horses”

We haven’t had Sheriff Bart and the Waco Kid as guests here for a while, and this story seems like an appropriate one for their illumination. I know I keep saying that The Great Stupid has reached Peak Stupid only to find something worse, but I don’t know how one gets dumber than this. The tale out of Lake County, Ohio is even more ridiculous than Biden’s speech last night.

For some reason known only to the rogue neurons involved, the Lake County mounted police decided that it would be a grand Halloween gesture to costume their horses as “ghost horses.” Never mind that nobody knows what a ghost horse looks like. My only clue is the various versions of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” in which the ghostly Headless Horseman rides a black steed with red glowing eyes. Then there were the ghost horses in Disney’s “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” which were just horses you could see through. It would never occur to me, if I were asked to imagine a ghost horse, that one would look like a normal horse under a sheet with little eye holes cut in it. Nonetheless, that’s what those whimsical cops came up with, as you can see:

Now, since the ghostly steeds made their appearance on Halloween, I admit that was a big clue to the cognitively engaged regarding what the cops were going for.  Nonetheless, many residents, we are credibly informed, were alarmed because they thought these were Ku Klux Klan horses.

“That was poor execution for a ghost,” said one offended resident. “You go back and look at pictures of the Ku Klux Klan, it’s like the exact replica of what the horses looked like.”

Well, now, that’s not exactly accurate. It is true that the Klansmen sometimes had their horses in white sheets… Continue reading

Paging Mel Brooks! Madison, Wisconsin’s Halloween Hitler Costume Freak-Out

I don’t understand this story at all. It represents a complete loss of perspective, human, societal and ethical. I do not know how we got to this place, but we need to get out of it, and the faster the better.

On Halloween, a man was seen in Madison, Wisconsin walking down state street dressed as Adolf Hitler. We are told that horrified onlookers called the police. Oh, fine. In a college town, more than one person, who would normally be the village idiot, thinks it is illegal to dress as a historical character. The police department felt it had to issue a statement explaining that wearing the costume did not “rise to the level of a prosecutable crime” and that the faux Nazi leader “engaged in protected freedoms of speech and expression.” The statement, however, also said that the act of such costuming  justified “fear and disgust” and was “troubling.”

Well, after Ethics Breach #1 in the episode, the ignorant fools calling the police, this was Ethics Breach #2. It is not the police department’s job or function to critique Halloween costumes, especially in Halloween. “Fear’??? This was too scary a costume for Halloween? Or does “fear” mean that the alarmists legitimately felt that they would be harmed by…what, looking at the guy? Were they afraid he would invade Poland? As an ethicist, I’m disgusted that the Madison police would validate hysterical feelings of disgust. The guy was wearing a costume on Halloween! It is not the police department’s business to announce how anyone else should feel about it. Continue reading

Halloween Ethics And The Right To Bad Taste

We watch a lot of horror movies, but the inexplicably popular Netflix series “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” was too much for us, and the Marshalls bailed on the thing before the first episode was over. However, the show has spawned, among other troubling responses, the marketing of various Dahmer Halloween costumes.

Ew. That’s creepy, but then, Halloween is supposed to be creepy. What exactly is the taste distinction (oops, setting up a bad Jeffrey Dahmer joke there!) between portraying a real life monster like Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, the BTK killer or Ed Gein (the model for Norman Bates, among others) and movie murderers like Leatherface, Jason Voorhies, Michael Myers, the “Scream” slasher, and the Dahmer-like Hannibal Lector? I’ve seen Hitler and Osama bin Laden costumes; I once considered trick-or-treating as Jack the Ripper. If there’s a rule, I’ve never seen it explained. Is it that real scary people from history are taboo? Is there a statute of limitations? Jack the Ripper ripped almost a 140 years ago. That can’t be it: here are some living political figures (well, Rush is dead) whose faces are available online:

Adan Schiff? Nancy Pelosi? Dr. Fauci? I think I’d rather be Jeffey Dahmer, thanks, but that’s just me.

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Dispatch From The Great Stupid, Judicial Division

Duran

Let me preface this absurd episode by saying that it makes no sense whatsoever, not ethically, not logically, and certainly not legally.

Craig Doran, the chief judge of the region that includes Rochester, New York, has resigned from his administrative judicial duties because an old photograph turned up from 1988 when he was a second-year law student. It was, yes, from a Halloween party, and showed him costumed as a “well-known public figure of color.” We aren’t even told who in any of the media reports. In case your calculator isn’t handy, that was 33 years ago.

Since his graduation from law school, Doran has had a stellar career. Elected in 1994 to represent New York State’s 129th Assembly District in the State Legislature, he was appointed Supervising Judge of Family Courts in the Seventh Judicial District in 2006. . In 2011, he was appointed Administrative Judge of the Seventh Judicial District, making him the chief supervisor of all Courts in an eight-county region. He has also been the Presiding Judge of Drug Treatment Courts, a member of the NYS Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, has served as Chair of the Judicial Commission on Interbranch Relations, Co-Chair of the NYS Juvenile Justice Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (advising the Governor on statewide juvenile justice policy), and as a member of the Office of Court Administration Raise the Age (RTA) Task Force. Judge Doran was selected to serve on the Judiciary Task Force on the Constitution, and the Judicial Commission on Parental Representation, and has also been active as a law professor at the University of Rochester and at Keuka College. He serves as an Adjunct Professor at the former, teaching upper level classes in the Legal Studies, and with the latter in the Adult Studies Criminal Justice Bachelor and Master’s Degree Programs, and also as an Instructor Expert for the Center for Professional Studies and International Programs at Keuka.

Never mind: what’s really important is what he wore as his costume at a law student Halloween Party.

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And Still More From The Unethical World Of Academic Enforced Wokism…

Censored

1. The Georgetown Law Center scandal, the scandal being that the school has fired a professor as racist for saying out loud what the institution has known for decades (that admitting black students with significantly fewer markers of law school success that the rest of the student body means that a disproportionate number of affirmative action admittees end up on the low end of the grading curves–duh...) has been covered by none of the law profs I usually look to for their timely opinions on such matters. Even Prof. Turley, whose blog has been relentless in defending free speech on campus, has been silent. Ann Althouse, so far at least, has preferred to write about such throbbingly important topics as Eddie Izzard’s preferred pronouns. TaxProf Blog, by Pepperdine Law School Dean Paul Caron, and Prof. Jacobson’s Legal Insurrection have also, so far at least, not weighed in on the firing of adjunct Sandra Sellers and the suspension of adjunct David Batson.

What’s going on here? Please, please tell me they are not afraid of this topic. I am especially surprised at Althouse, who is retired, and has little to fear professionally.

2. At the University of South Alabama, three professors were suspended after a six-year-old photos “resurfaced” showing them in “racially insensitive” Halloween costumes. Then-Mitchell College of Business dean Bob Wood was dressed as a Confederate general, professors Alex Sharland and Teresa Weldy were seen posing with a noose and a whip…

Alabama Halloween

As they bounced around social media, the pictures prompted expressions of great harm. “That makes me feel like since other cultures are starting to come here, that they don’t want us here or we’re unwanted because they want it to stay a PWI or a predominately Caucasian institution,” said student Samantha Longmire.   “We have Black students on campus, how do you think that makes them feel? Do you care about your students,” said student Chante Moore.   

Seriously? Seriously? A Halloween costume as a Confederate soldier is a threat, but a vampire costume is fine? These rules don’t make any sense at all, and those rules weren’t even outlined vaguely in 2014. Shaland is dressed like an English judge—how does that have racial implications? He’s a hanging judge, presumably. What does the whip mean? I have no idea—it looks like a cat-o-ninetails to me. They used that on ships, not plantations. There’s one in “H.M.S. Pinafore”! Weldy doesn’t even seem to be in costume. Wood and Sharland, both tenured, apologized. They are cowards, and are enabling the erosion of our rights while supporting the rising totalitarian effort to control thought and expression. Weldy, who is not tenured, has refused to apologize.

Good for her.

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Ethical Quote, Fair Quote, Unethical Quote, Share Quote…

The ethical quote:

These words are on the outside wall of the Museum of Natural History near the Teddy Roosevelt statue that will be coming down, according to the museum.

The quote is a far better memorial to Roosevelt  and his character than the statue.

The fair quote:

The question is how soon this will dawn on the groveling, and how soon the intimidated will have the courage to speak the truth.

The unethical quote:

The Washington Post issued a justification for its widely (and correctly) criticized 3000 word story about a politically incorrect  costume that a woman wore at the Halloween party of Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles two years ago. Because two vicious social justice Furies who were guests at the party decided that the current George Floyd Freakout presented  an opportunity to humiliate the woman and contacted the paper, it published 3000 words about an old, private incident, resulting in the woman losing her job, and Toles, who had refused to identify her when one of the vengeful and self-righteous women called him to re-open the episode, was embarrassed by his own employer.

The Post’s own readership found the paper’s news journalism ethics atrocious (as do I), prompting this response from a spokesperson to Fox News:

“Employees of The Washington Post, including a prominent host, were involved in this incident, which impelled us to tell the story ourselves thoroughly and accurately while allowing all involved to have their say. The piece conveys with nuance and sensitivity the complex, emotionally fraught circumstances that unfolded at the party attended by media figures only two years ago where an individual in blackface was not told promptly to leave. America’s grappling with racism has entered a phase in which people who once felt they should keep quiet are now raising their voices in public. The story is a microcosm of what the country is going through right now,”

A simple “We’re sorry, we screwed up, the story never should have been written and we don’t know what came over us and we pledge to be more responsible and to exercise better judgment in the future” might have salvaged a smidgen of the paper’s rotting reputation. Instead we have more evidence of just how unethical and untrustworthy this rag is: Continue reading

Apparently I Don’t Understand The World Any More, Because This Story, From And About The Washington Post, Makes No Sense To Me At All (Or Maybe It Does)…

I end up defending the damnedest people on this blog.

Since 2012, I’ve put up three posts on what an unethical and obnoxious political cartoonist the Washington Posts’ Tom Toles is part of my ongoing campaign to retire the editorial cartoon completely, since  as Toles proves routinely, it  distorts facts under cover of being satire.  His commentary on the Wuhan virus has been especially despicable.

But I digress: I come to defend Toles, not to bury him.

Incredibly, the Washington Post learned this week that a guest wore a costume including blackface at a Toles Halloween party in 2018, and launched an investigation into it. This momentous event—from two years ago—was deemed so important that the Post assigned two reporters to the hot breaking story. From the result yesterday,

“At the 2018 party at the home of The Washington Post’s editorial cartoonist, [a]middle-aged white woman named Sue Schafer wore a conservative business suit and a name tag that said, “Hello, My Name is Megyn Kelly.” Her face was almost entirely blackened with makeup. Kelly, then an NBC morning show host, had just that week caused a stir by defending the use of blackface by white people: “When I was a kid, that was okay, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”

…Some of the approximately 100 guests at the home of the cartoonist in the District’s American University Park neighborhood said they didn’t notice the blackface. Some noticed it and said nothing. A few people walked up to Schafer, who was then 54, and challenged her about her costume… Nearly two years later, the incident, which has bothered some people ever since but which many guests remember only barely or not at all, has resurfaced in the nationwide reckoning over race after George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, was killed when a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Many protesters have called on white Americans to reassess their own actions or inactions when confronting violent and everyday racism alike.”

What one woman wore as a satirical Halloween costume as an obvious critical commentary, not of African-Americans but of super-white conservative Megyn Kelly’s on-air defense of wearing blackface has bothered “some people” for almost two years, the Post story says.  Wow. That’s incipient mental illness. “I just can’t sleep—I keep thinking about the blackface a woman I don’t know wore at Tom Toles’ party in 2018!” Such an assertion needs to begin a story about unhealthy race-grievance obsessions and their consequences, not a two-year old Halloween party.

Inspired by the George Floyd Freakout, one of the guests at Toles’ party, a woman of Puerto Rican heritage, decided this was the perfect time to contact Toles and complain about the Megyn Kelly costume. Got that? Because a cop killed a black man in Minneapolis and triggered protests and riots all over the country resulting in millions of dollars of property damage and hundreds of injuries and deaths, Lexi Gruber thought  the appropriate response for her was to call up the host of a 2018 party to complain about a guest’s makeup.

Last week Gruber emailed Toles, whom she had never met other than attending his party, and told him,

“In 2018, I attended a Halloween party at your home. I understand that you are not responsible for the behavior of your guests, but at the party, a woman was in Blackface. She harassed me and my friend — the only two women of color — and it was clear she made her ‘costume’ with racist intent.”

The e-mail went on to say that the incident had “weighed heavily on my heart — it was abhorrent and egregious.” She asked Toles to identify the woman.

This is where Toles’ progressive bias finally bit him. What he should have written in response was, “I’m sorry, but you should have dealt with that situation when it occurred. I am not responsible for what my guests do, nor am I responsible for helping other guests who decide two years later that they have a score to settle with one of them. Bye.” Instead, he responded by offering “apologies for your experience at the party. A lot of people show up who I don’t know, and I don’t recognize the woman you’re inquiring about.”

Ah, but as the Post’s crack investigative reporting team discovered—a team larger and more committed to justice than, say, the paper’s half-hearted investigation of Obama’s IRS’s efforts to squelch Tea Party activities during the 2012 Presidential campaign—Toles did know Schafer, who had been to his parties before and is a friend of his family. This meant the cartoonist was involved in a blackface cover-up, which is ironic since blackface is itself a coverup. And as the Post knows better than anybody, the coverup is worse than the crime, not that wearing an anti-Megyn Kelly costume with blackface at a private party is a crime. Not yet, anyway. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/4/2018 (Part II): Halloween Leftovers, Hot Yoga, And Polls

Today’s extended Warm-Up continues…

5. Halloween ethics left-overs:

  • Nah, there’s no Trump Derangement…In Hastings, Michigan, young Benny Drake wore a Donald Trump mask and costume around the neighborhood to solicit candy. At one house, the woman who answered the door threw candy at him and “asked me if she could slap me,” Drake said.

Benny should build a wall around her house.

  • Confession: I once wore a KKK-themed costume to a party. In Fort Smith, Arkansas, a Ku Klux Klan costume won a Halloween contest and a prize at the Lil’ Dude Tavern. After the photo of the costume “went viral,” the bar was attacked on social media and condemned by the local NAACP. A few points:

a) Many of the news media reports discussed the costume but wouldn’t share the photo with readers or TV viewers, presumably out of fear of upsetting some of them. This is incompetent and cowardly journalism, in the same category as writing about the Danish anti-Muhammad cartoons without showing them, or writing that an “epithet” set off a controversy without stating what the epithet was.

b) I assume the ethics issues here are the same as in the Hitler costume controversy, correct?

c) When I wore a KKK-themed costume decades ago, it was after a prominent white supremacist had been killed in a plane crash. KKK costumes always looked a lot like ghosts to me,  so I made a hybrid ghost-KKK costume and carried a travel case with the victim’s name on it and the airline’s sticker.  And I won a prize, too: for Costume in the Worst Taste.

  • I don’t understand this one at ALL.  In Vermont, a trick-or-treater received a bag of poop deposited in his candy bag. According to police, who investigated, it was just a mistake. How could something like that be a mistake? If the bag contained rat poison or an “explosive device,” would “Oops! Silly me!” still be an effective explanation? What if the kid ate the poop, and got violently ill? Same result?

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/2/18: Democratic Dinners, TV Weatherman Edicts, Truth As Racism, And More

Good Morning!

I see that the October jobs report this morning is spectacularly good, with 250,000 jobs added. It is amazing that so many Americans are going to vote against Republicans in the midst of such a strong economic surge following the end of Obama’s recovery-strangling policies. The lesson for future leaders, perhaps, is that the public cares more about a President constantly acting like an asshole than they do about what he accomplishes. From an ethics point of view, I would see that as a positive development, if I didn’t strongly suspect that the real reasons for apparent votes against self-interest are 1) that the news media isn’t reporting the economic news with anything like the enthusiasm it would if this were a Democratic administration, 2) that people really believe the ridiculous spin that this is somehow an Obama recovery, and 3) that so many young Americans have been indoctrinated into socialism that even as Venezuela crumbles, they are still buying the fantasy.

1. Next try: The Oprah-Jennifer Lawrence Dinner. This is pretty funny. Following the lead of other Democratic state organizations, The New Hampshire Democrats insulted the party’s two founders, Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, also two of the nation’s greatest leaders, by removing their names from the annual party dinner.  For 2017, the event was renamed…wait for it!…the Kennedy-Clinton Dinner! Yup, two serial sexual assaulting misogynists, assuming it’s Jack and not Teddy being honored, in which case it’s a negligent killer, for the Party of Women. What a brilliant choice! How can anyone not vote for a party capable of a decision like that? But for some reason, as the Harvey Weinstein Train Wreck rolled along, the new name came under criticism. Who could have foreseen that? So the dinner has been renamed again; now it’s called the Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner, after the cruelly-treated wife of another Democratic icon.

2. Who makes these rules? Why, Al Roker, that’s who! After he was called a hypocrite on social media for dressing up as “Doc Brown,” the Christopher Lloyd character in the “Back to the Future” films—Al, you will recall, helped get Megyn Kelly fired for saying that a white person could impersonate a black character using dark make-up without engaging in racially offensive conduct—tweeted,

“I’m going to say this one last time, but the folks who get it, understand and the ones who DON’T, won’t. I can be Doc Brown, and I wear the outfit and wig and not change my skin color if you’re white , you can be President Obama if you want. Just don’t color your skin!”

Wait: what about hair, Al? I’ve read that it’s racially offensive for a white person to wear a black-hair wig, like an Afro or Bob Marley hair. But it’s okay for you to wear a crazy old white guy wig?

Why, Al? For that matter, why isn’t wearing make-up that allows someone to actually look like the person or character he or she is portraying acceptable? Who makes these rules? Oh! Right! You do!

When I first saw that picture, I didn’t know who the hell Al was playing. I thought it might be Michael Jackson if he had lived, let himself go, and grew his nose back. Continue reading

Mid-World Series Hangover Ethics Warm-Up, 10/27/2018: Mike Tyson, Intimacy Coordinators, And The Blackface Teacher Principle

This is how my morning began…

1. To get this out of the way..I watched every  second of every inning on last night’s longest post-season baseball game in history, as any loyal, ethical baseball fan is obligated to do. It was worth it, too, even though my team lost. The game was the sports equivalent of The Odyssey, “War and Peace,” “King Lear,” “The Ring Cycle,” “The Ring Trilogy,” “Nicholas Nickleby” or “The Seven Samurai,” a complex morality and adventure tale that had suspense, disappointment, wonder, exhilaration , humor and tragedy, heroes and villains. Such games reward all of the time and suffering a fan puts into following baseball seriously. It is worth the investment.

Ironically, this epic occurred shorty after the Wall Street Journal published a truly ignorant and idiotic opinion piece called , “Our Insane Ideas to Save Baseball/Baseball has problems. There aren’t enough hits. There are too many pitchers. The games take too long. So we bullpenned our solutions. Are you ready for Strike Four?”

It is a wonderful example of the incompetent variety of criticism I call “Wanting to change what you haven’t taken the time to understand.” I get it: the authors don’t like baseball, and barely pay attention to it., or, in the alternative, they are just seeking clicks. In any event, you can’t argue with people who say that the problem with opera is that it’s too often in a foreign language, or that the problem with hip hop is that it isn’t music, and shouldn’t, or that the problem with our democracy is that people can say things that upset other people. And you shouldn’t argue with them. They don’t respect the topic enough to be educated about it.

2. Of course, baseball games ARE too long, and the overwhelming reason is TV ads, which add about a half hour to every game, and more to post-season games. The disgusting response of Fox is to stick 10 second commercials into a split screen during the game, like between batters. Here’s a slugger walking to the plate in a tense situation, and half the screen is devoted to a quickie plug for “Ralph Breaks The Internet.” I hope fans are burning up social media attacking this greedy new form of broadcast pollution.

3. How is this possible? In a #MeToo Mad era when simply being accused of sexual assault without proof is deemed by even lawyers who should know better as sufficient justification to inflict serious and permanent consequences on the accused, Mike Tyson is the star of an animated TV show, is cast in movies, and is now shopping a TV show, based on the ex-boxer’s life as a marijuana grower and marketer, starring him and called “Rolling With the Punches.” Continue reading