Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/27/2019: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Good Morning!

1. Covington Catholic Students Ethics Train Wreck update. I’ve decided to cover this topic in the Warm-Ups because it will be repetitive if I don’t: this, like the Kavanaugh debacle, has signature significance. Attention must be paid and the American public’s dangerously short attention span has to be overcome. Imagine: pundits, elected officials, academics journalists and celebrities from the Left—and don’t quibble over that label, because that’s where they are, and from that source oozes the increasingly unethical values that are driving them—are deliberately denigrating and attacking a teenager by name for doing absolutely nothing wrong by any objective standard. The non-objective standards—bigotry and racism—that are being applied, however, find him guilty of supporting a President the Left hates and a cause, the rights of the unborn, they find inconvenient to think seriously about; not retreating when an obnoxious  activist began beating a drum in his face; being caught smiling in a manner they chose to link to all manner of subconscious and malign motives, being male, and being white. And, incredibly, these vicious, vicious people are being defended, when they should be, and must be, shamed and shunned. This is not a partisan or an ideological position Ethics Alarms is taking here. It is a civilized, non-partisan and ethical mandate, if we want to live in a free, decent and civil society.

  • On Friday’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO, Maher, an alleged adult operating under the protection of the First Amendment, with a weekly platform and an audience of knee-jerk hooting fools, called the randomly selected child victim of Native American activist Nathan Phillips, student Nick Sandmann,  a “prick” and a “smirkface” with a “shit-eating grin” :

I don’t blame the kid — the smirking kid. I blame lead poisoning and bad parenting, and, oh yeah, I blame that fucking kid. What a little prick — smirkface. Smirkfaces. Please, I mean, like that’s not a dick move, stick your face in this elderly man’s (face).

As anyone who watched the video knows, Sandmann didn’t “stick his face” anywhere. He left it where it was when Phillips stuck his drum in the students’ face, but then Big Lies and repeating false narratives is one of the partisan tactics on ugly display. Classy as ever,  Maher ended his attack with, “I don’t spend a lot of time — I must tell you — around Catholic school children, but I do not get what Catholic priests see in these kids.”

Here’s a definition of “punching down”: A nationally known comedian using a cable show to call a high school student names in public. I cancelled my HBO subscription in part because I refuse to support a company that tolerates conduct like that from a prominent employee. 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

UPDATE: Bill Maher, Hypocrite And Coward…HBO Too

I guess no good deed really does go unpunished: I stand up for the vile and hateful comedian’s legitimate use of “nigger” in a witticism on live TV, and the former host of “Politically Incorrect” caves to political correctness, which he has sworn repeatedly that he will never do.

What a spineless, hypocritical weasel.

In 2011, when Maher was asked about calling Sarah Palin “a cunt” and “dumb twat,” Maher was bold and unbowed:

“Well, you know, I’ve been through this so many times. There’s a lot of people in America who have, of course, nothing to do except look for something to get mad at. And I’ve been a frequent target and I’m happy to provide that service. So, you know, I always say, as I’ve said many times in these kind of situations, if I hurt somebody’s feelings, I’m always sorry about that, I’m not trying to hurt somebody’s feelings. But if you want me to say I’m sorry what I said was wrong, no, sorry, I can’t go there.”

I guess what he meant is that he can’t go there when he’s only using vile language to denigrate conservative women who feminists and NOW don’t regard as worthy of their alleged principles, in attacks that make his ideologically sympatico crowd secretly snicker and chuckle because those twats deserve it.

This time, however, he offended the all-powerful race grievance lobby by calling himself—himself! a “house nigger,” in a “Gone With The Wind” reference prompted by a Republican Senator asking him if he’d do field work. Lacking the integrity and fierce belief in the Jester’s Privilege that he has proclaimed before when it wasn’t progressives carrying the torches and pitchforks, Maher capitulated like Galileo, even though in this case, he had been neither vicious nor insulting, just “offensive” to those who want to ban words—you know: liberals.

The hypocrite said, Continue reading

Oh, Great, Now I Have To Defend Bill Maher, The “House Nigger” [UPDATED]

When Bill Maher participated in the lowering of civil political discourse and the escalation of hate and ad hominem rhetoric in the culture by calling female Republican figures “cunts” and “twats’ as his leftist studio audience squealed with delight, there was no significant objections from NOW or other feminsits entranced by his anti-conservative fervor, nor were mainstream media liberals in the pundit ranks overwhelmingly indignant. After all, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann didn’t deserve  civility, and besides, it was just a joke! Maher’s pass on breaching basic rules of decorum in public speech greased the slippery slope that led us to “cockholster” and beheaded Presidents today. In addition, the double standard was established that vulgar and gross gutter language was acceptable when aimed at conservatives, but only conservatives. Is there any question whether Maher would still be leaving his slime trails at HBO if he had called Hillary Clinton, Diane Fienstein, or Michelle Obama a cunt?

Nevertheless, the principle at issue is that we all have an ethical duty to extend basic human respect to our fellow dwellers on this planet, or civilization rots and falls apart in chunks. Indeed, this is the duty too many progressives and Democrats have been breaching in their treatment of the President of the united States for the past six months. Entertainers and comedians get some special dispensations, but they need to be sternly rebuked when they abuse the privilege by using it to express hatred and to spread intolerance. We do not ban words in the United States. We do reserve the right to regulate conduct in the interests of out democratic and pluralistic ideals, often by expressing vocal disapproval.

Which brings us back to Bill Maher. On Friday’s edition of Maher’s “Real Time,” Maher was verbally fencing with Republican Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse. At one point—the context doesn’t matter—Sasse facetiously invited the host to “work in the fields.”

“Senator, I’m a house nigger!” Maher said , quickly adding, in response to some audible gasps, “It’s a joke.” Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Bill Maher’s Incest Joke About Ivanka Trump

This is my favorite photo of Bill Maher. It captures the essence of his charm, his manners and his wit so perfectly…

Following the (much deserved and still not sufficient) criticism of Fox News’ Jesse Watters’ leering “joke” about Ivanka Trump’s handling of a microphone, HBO’s Bill Maher gave conservative critics an opportunity to trot out the  “we have standards, where are yours?” accusation against liberals when the host of “Real Time” made suggestive gestures while talking about how the First Daughter “helps” President Trump.

“What do you make of Ivanka and her efforts to sort of humanize her father?”, the comic asked guest Gabe Sherman ( a writer, book author, Fox News critic and a vocal one regarding Watters’ incivility). “We see all this misogyny at Fox News [ KABOOM!, incidentally. If there is anyone on earth other than the President more ethically estopped from accusing someone else of misogyny, it’s Maher, who flings “cunt” and “twat” at women he disagrees with and who cheered Bill Clinton’s exploitation of Monica Lewinsky on the grounds that “he works hard, and he deserves it”); we see it in Donald Trump himself. A lot of us thought, Ivanka is gonna be our saving grace.” Then, as he mimed Ivanka masturbating her father, Maher continued, “When he’s about to nuke Finland or something, she’s gonna walk into the bedroom and—”Daddy, Daddy…’Don’t do it, Daddy!”‘

This most recent vulgarity by Maher as his audience of hateful left-wing boors hooted on cue even moved the progressive tool Daily Beast to complain that “if liberals are going to castigate Donald Trump for his boorish, sexist behavior, they shouldn’t behave in a similar fashion” —a point that is too little and far too late in the case of proudly boorish, sexist Bill Maher.

Ethics Observations: Continue reading

Ethics Note To Bill Maher: Be Funny Or Be Accurate, Otherwise You’re Just Being A Divisive Asshole

Stop! Stop! You’re killing me!

I used to watch Bill Maher regularly during his Comedy Central days, before he decided he was such an insightful political pundit that he could afford to eschew comedy and just engage in full-time conservative and Republican smearing. On his HBO show Bill is only useful now to remind us of the ugliest tendencies of the Young Angry Left, as Maher will engage in such “comedy” as calling Sarah Palin a cunt, while his audience of fawning dim bulbs clap and bark like hyper-active seals. All Maher does is try to fan the flames of societal division and hate, and HBO is apparently satisfied with that, since there are enough progressive fans of societal division and hate that being funny isn’t deemed essential.  Maher’s weekly partyist ranting has even spawned imitators on other networks, like Samantha Bee and John Oliver. Both are funnier than Bill.

Still, millions of people see this poison and spread it around the internet, so I guess it’s past time to point out how Maher is either ignorant or determined to spread stupidity via confirmation bias. We can stipulate that he’s no longer funny, and seldom even attempts to be.

At the end of last week the latest episode of “Bill Foams At the Mouth” debuted, with the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch the primary object of Bill’s wrath, I mean “wit.”  He began with his monologue.

If anyone senses a joke, raise your hand.

“I don’t know why you’d be happy today. Today is a day Republicans are happy. They got their two favorite things — a right-wing asshole on the Supreme Court and Trump finally blowing some shit up.”

Please note:

  • Bill assumes that only one side of the political divide watches him. He’s right, but it’s not healthy for the culture, and he’s one of the reasons comedy and the arts now divide rather than unite us.
  • Maher calls a dedicated jurist and legal scholar an “asshole” simply because he’s conservative. This is bigotry. Denigrating, stereotyping and demonizing whole categories of people based on their priority of values is no different ethically from denigrating them based on their religion or ethnicity. It’s unfair, disrespectful, irresponsible and undemocratic.
  • Did you raise your hand? Maher, a professional comedian, gets laughs by using words like shit, asshole, and cunt. There was a guy I knew named Larry who did that quite successfully too.

Of course, we were in the 5th grade…

Then Maher, as usual, moved on to calling Republicans racists.

In 2013, 98 Republicans signed a letter saying bombing Syria in response to a chemical attack was unconstitutional without congressional authorization. But this is different because Obama was President then. That would have involved bombing while black, and you can’t — can’t do that.

In the wake of the embarrassment and the exposure of President Obama by President Trump’s decisive handling of an issue that his predecessor made into a trademark display of his weakness, fecklessness  and dithering, the desperate Obama Fan Club has virtually made Maher’s spin a talking point. Almost all media accounts bolstering their narrative leave out the actual sequence of events, which was… Continue reading

Revelations From The John Oliver Video Post: What I Have Learned

light-bulb PREFACE: I have just returned from a crazy three day odyssey that had me lecturing on Massachusetts legal ethics in Boston, Washington, D.C. legal ethics in the nation’s capital, and, professional ethics, legal ethics and accounting ethics in Tucson, Arizona. Keeping pace with ethics developments was even more difficult than it usually is when I’m on the road, because I had almost no time in between flights, meetings and various hassles to get to a newspaper, surf the web, or watch TV. And my browser kept crashing.

I wrote the John Oliver post, frankly, as low-hanging fruit. His performance was vile and hateful, barely funny, self-indulgent, and disrespectful in a damaging way, and I didn’t think, and still don’t, that there should be much disagreement on that assessment. I expected the usual “lighten up,” “he was only joking “[he was NOT only joking], and “he has right to free speech” comments, because I always get those any time I point out that a comedian has been unfair and irresponsible. I did not expect,for the post to get more single day traffic than all but one previous Ethics Alarms entry, and so many comments, many of which with troubling social and political significance. I returned to my office to find more comments waiting for moderation than have ever been there at one time, and I apologize for that: I try to get them cleared withing hours if not minutes. Of course, a disproportionate number of them were garbled nonsense, or just invective with no point whatsoever. They didn’t make it.

I also had some tough calls, with repetitious comments that misrepresented the post, made irrelevant or factually mistaken assertions, and also were abusive. I fear that I may have been inconsistent, and perhaps less tolerant than usual, and I’m not referring to the occasional comment I allowed to be published just to show the kind of comments that weren’t being posted. The problem is that this site is a intended to be a colloquy, and poor quality comments just make the threads hard to read, and also undermine the site.

I may have to be more ruthless in moderating comments in the future. I’m thinking about it.

Ethics is all about processing new information. Here are some useful things I learned, or re-learned, from the reaction to the post, “Ethics Dunce: HBO’s John Oliver”….

1. Otherwise reasonable, fair, smart people really do think that Donald Trump justifies unethical conduct and that makes it okay. Continue reading