Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/23/19: “Spring Training Games Have Started, So NOTHING Can Upset Me Today” Edition [UPDATED]

1. This belongs in the “Bias Makes You Stupid” Hall Of Fame. [ Note of Correction: the story is two years old, dating from March, 2017. It was represented by my source as current, and I didn’t check the date on the link. My error. It changes nothing in the ethics commentary, however. ]

Three Oklahoma teenagers broke into a home last week and were greeted by a homeowner with an AR-15. He mowed them down, as he had every legal right to do, and may I say, “Good!” This is the perfect reason why someone might want to have the security of a semi-automatic weapon like the AR-15. This is a good example of why the “nobody needs a semi-automatic” is such a fatuous anti-gun argument. This homeowner needed one when three people tried to invade his home.

But I digress. The grandfather of one of the dead teenagers is protesting that it wasn’t a fair fight, telling  KTUL-TV:

“What these three boys did was stupid. They knew they could be punished for it but they did not deserve to die…Brass knuckles against an AR-15? C’mon. Who was afraid for their life? There’s got to be a limit to that law, I mean he shot all three of them — there was no need for that.”

Ah, yes, that word “need” again. I guess he should have knee-capped one, winged another in the shoulder, and counted on the third to surrender in tears. How was the homeowner supposed to know the kids “only” had brass knuckles with them—which are a potentially deadly weapon anyway? Yeah, the old man is just blathering away in grief, but then most anti-gun rhetoric comes out of emotion rather than logic. I’m sure the grandfather would also argue that it would have been preferable for the homeowner to get beaten to death rather than for three young men with their whole lives ahead of them to be killed.

Side note:  Getaway driver, 21-year-old Elizabeth Rodriguez was  arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder, along with one count of first-degree burglary and one count of second-degree burglary. That’s how felony murder works. No, I don’t feel sorry for her, either.

2. Today’s Jussie Smollett hoax item. Stop making me defend Van Jones! CNN’s dapper race-baiter  is getting criticized for calling Jussie an icon in this quote:

“This is the fall of an icon and I don’t think people understand how important he has been in the black community. ‘Empire’ as a show, to have him as a beloved character, I think did a great deal to knock back homophobia in the black community. The fact that he has been celebrated and you see homophobia in the black community through his eyes on the show, this is a Jackie Robinson against homophobia.”

Writes Hollywood conservative columnist Christian Toto: “Jones just served up arguably the worst “take” on the Jussie Smollett hoax story…You almost have to read it twice to appreciate the absurdity of the comparison. If Jones, brighter than the average pundit, can sink this low, it speaks poorly of the pundit class in toto.”

I think Jones is generally a blight on TV punditry, but there is nothing inappropriate about his observation. There is a lot of homophobia in the black culture, and Smollett had begun to loosen its grip by playing a popular, likable, admirable gay character on a one of the most popular TV shows with gay audiences. Sure, the Jackie Robinson comparison is excessive, but I get his meaning. The implication of what Jones is says is that as a figure who was more than just another actor because of his symbolic effect, Smollett had an obligation to protect his status and image. Jones wasn’t excusing Smollett at all. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/7/18: Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

Good morning.

…And a good morning to remember a very bad morning in Hawaii 77 years ago today.

1. Oscar’s latest fiasco. The Academy Awards, which like all awards shows has descended into nasty political advocacy, undermining its mission and alienating its audience, decided to pick famously non-partisan black comedian Kevin Hart, who is also a successful movie actor, to host. His gig lasted just a few day. People looking to discredit him went digging into  his social media posts, and some tweets from eight years ago–you know, before Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had flipped on gay marriage?—were judged as “homophobic.” In a post on Instagram at about 11 p.m. last night, Hart said he got a call from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was asked to apologize for his prior tweets, or step down as host. He chose to withdraw, and tweeted this:

“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s….this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past. ‘m sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”

The conservative media is calling Hart another example of political correctness run amuck. That’s ignorant and wrong. To be successful, an MC has to be liked and trusted by his audience, which is, for the Oscars, the people inside the theater above all. A huge percentage, even a half or more, of the Oscar audience is gay. No one can host the Oscars while it is known that he once said, even eight years ago, that he was terrified that his son might grow up to be gay. It doesn’t matter that he may have “evolved.”  Hollywood is a substantially gay community, and the host of its biggest party of the year should neither be nor be suspected of being homophobic,

Why the Academy’s vetters and Hart himself couldn’t figure this out is a different issue: gross incompetence. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/25/2018: “Thuggery, Double Standards And Hypocrisy…Actually, I Could Use This Title EVERY Morning”

Well, I think this is an Ethics Alarms record, and not a good one: this Comment of the Day, by prolific commenter Pennagain, is more than a month old. I have no defense, only a possible explanation: the subject of the comment is an unpleasant one, and was more than a little tangential to the main post. It was prompted by a commenter’s reference to comic Eddie Murphy’s anti-gay rants that would have pretty surely ended his career had he been rising in the social media mob-dominated environment of today rather than the still largely-closeted 80’s. That would have been a shame, because Murphy is–was?–a great talent when he wasn’t being a complete jerk, which, unfortunately, was far too often.

What reminded me that I had whiffed after more than a month? An article about Murphy’s “Delirious”  was published today in  “The Advocate.” So this is timely despite my ineptitude.

Moral luck.

I apologize to Pennagain. This wasn’t just a well-written ethics comment, but an important, educational and disturbing one. Maybe it can spark some discussion anew.

Here, very late, is Pennagain’s Comment of the Day, on the post,Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/25/2018: Thuggery, Double Standards And Hypocrisy…Actually, I Could Use This Title EVERY Morning:

For the rest of you, respectfully, please understand that Eddie Murphy IS indeed unwelcome by queers everywhere. His so-called “humor,” brought to San Francisco in the mid-80s at the height of the AIDS crisis, was a no comedy show at all. It was a diatribe against gay white men in particular … but also a scarcely disguised order-from-On-High for black women (at that time finding partners in the big gay dance clubs) to get back in line behind black men … all based on perverted facts and misrepresentations – such as ‘if you go out dancing with a (gay) man, you will die a horrible death; you can never have children if you touch one of those (^!>?!)’ and assuring all black men in the audience that no black man in history had ever been, or ever could be queerhomofag, etc. The rant was preached to black audiences as gospel (Murphy was then at the height of his popularity; his every word came straight from the pulpit) and — god help them all, they believed him. His lies spread to the Hispanic/Latino community as well.

The results were apparent shortly after Murphy began his stint in the city. They are still tragically with us. The public health outreach had started to be effective across the board (including black communities) just before Murphy’s regrettable visit. Immediately afterward, AIDS/HIV education shut down wherever black people congregated: churches, groups, school speakers, distribution guidelines, and most disastrously, with many black physicians. Eddie Murphy said black men could not be gay, therefore could not get AIDS, therefore could not infect their partners (male or female … By extension meaning black children were safe from the “gay plague.” This is what happened: Continue reading

Just Trying To Get The Rules Straight…[Updated]

(That’s me on the right…)

Pardon me for being obtuse, America, but I want to make sure I understand this.

Samantha Bee, the comic who called Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt” yesterday on her TBS show “Full Frontal,” apologized today, saying on Twitter,

“I would like to sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump and to my viewers for using an expletive on my show to describe her last night. It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it.”

No repudiation of her words were forthcoming from TBS, or Turner Broadcasting, which owns that network as well as CNN. [UPDATE: After this was posted, TBS stated that Bee’s words were “vile” and “inappropriate,” and that it was their “mistake” as well as Bee’s.]

Now, Roseanne apologized for her tweet connecting Obama-whisperer Valerie Jarrett to the Planet of the Apes, yet was not only fired, but had her show, and its entire cast and crew, tossed as well. ABC, which did the tossing, explained that her tweet, which was on Roseanne’s personal Twitter account, did not comport with the network’s values. Well, did anyone think for a nanosecond that Roseanne was speaking for ABC with her obviously spontaneous, not-very-well-thought-out slur? Of course not. In contrast, Bee’s line that was “inappropriate and inexcusable” was  scripted, vetted by the network, and prerecorded, as well as previewed by network personnel . So it is fair to assume that calling the President’s daughter a ‘feckless cunt” is consistent with the network’s values. Right? Am I missing something?

Now this is confusing to me. Roseanne’s line was obviously intended as a joke, and supposedly comics need to have wide tolerance when jokes misfire. Bee’s statement wasn’t even a joke; it was just a vulgar insult. Moreover, a pre-taped, scripted TV show is obviously a more consequential forum than a single tweet, and a personal tweet is viewed as less of a representation of a network than a show on that network. Correct?

I don’t get it. Continue reading

Soccer, Civility, And Mexican Fan Ethics

During Mexico’s matches at the Gold Cup, the regional championship soccer tournament being played across the United States this month,  Mexican fans have been chanting the word “puto,” typically a slur used in Mexico to mock  gay men. The chant has become routine at Mexican national team soccer matches, and officials and many fans are embarrassed by the vulgarity and homophobic innuendo. Soccer officials of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) have warned and fined Mexico eight times already, but the chant survives. Gold Cup Tournament organizers asked players to read a pledge urging fans to set a civil a example for children. Security officials were authorized to eject fans who shouted it. They even installed a technical device to block the chant from being audible in TV broadcasts.

Never mind. Fans are still bellowing the anti-gay slur at opposing teams and players, maybe more enthusiastically than ever. What’s a soccer federation to so?

For the Confederations Cup in Russia last month, the FIFA tried to get tough and announced a three-step program to discourage the chant. The first response to “Puuuuut000o!” was  a public address announcement at the stadium, warning fans to stop or else.  If the chant continues, which it will and did,  the referees can stop the match until the chants subside. That won’t work either. I know fans. They will think that letting the game start and then having to be halted again because of what someone yells is hilarious. Finally, if all else failed, the referee can go nuclear and stop the match completely, sending everyone home. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Hillary’s “Basket Of Deplorables”

basket-of-deplorables

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

—-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a fundraiser—just as Mitt Romney’s infamous “47%”  comment in 2012 was made at a fundraiser!—the LGBT for Hillary Gala in New York City on Sept. 9, 2016.

One of the consistent features of both Clintons is that they engage in so much problematic conduct that often one incident worthy of serious criticism will be knocked out of the headlines by another.

Hillary’s 9/11 “over-heating, well, dehydration, well, ok, since it’s on video, she has pneumonia” fiasco,  demonstrating that suspicions that she and her campaign aren’t being truthful about the state of her health are not “conspiracy theories,” effectively muted discussion about her “basket of deplorables” classic, complete with an imaginary word, “generalistic,” that if it had been uttered by George W. Bush would have been mocked far and wide.

I categorize this as an ethics quote rather than an unethical quote, because it is both ethical and unethical simultaneously. (The Clinton’\s seldom say things that aren’t adaptable to multiple interpretations; this allows them to leap from one to the other, like they are ice floes, when one meaning is justly condemned or found to be false.)

On the ethical side, it is completely fair and accurate to diagnose Trump supporters as deplorable, defined as “lamentable, or deserving censure or contempt.” This doesn’t apply to those conflicted potential voters who have reluctantly decided that in the terrible binary choice Americans have had shoved down their civic gullets by the two incompetent political parties, Donald Trump is preferable to Hillary Clinton. That is not the most responsible choice—it can’t ever be responsible to give such power to an unstable and ignorant boor—but it is an excusable mistake, given the horrible dilemma.

Supporting Trump, however, as in actively wanting him to become President, is as good a definition of “deplorable” as I can imagine. In this respect, Hillary was too generous. 100%, not merely 50%, of Trump’s supporters are deplorable. They lack the values, civic responsibility, understanding of their own nation and its history, or sufficient intelligence to be competent voters.

You know: deplorable. Continue reading

Apology Not Acceptable: The Pastor, The Cake, And The Whole Foods Scam

This guy takes the cake...

This guy takes the cake…

Jordan Brown is the openly and presumably obviously  gay pastor at Austin’s Church of Open Doors. You will remember him if you saw his video last month explaining how an employee at the local Whole Foods, in an inexplicable burst of baker suicidal tendencies, had written in icing the legend “Love Wins Fag”—whatever that means—on a cake he had ordered there.

“When I got into my vehicle, I looked inside and saw they had wrote ‘Love Wins F–‘ on it,” Brown says in the video, in apparent emotional anguish. “You can see it nice and clear. Also, it is still in a sealed box. As you see, I have not opened up this box yet.” He also held a press conference, describing his feelings of humiliation when he finally got home with his cake and read the icing attack.

Then he sued the groceries giant, claiming that Whole Foods knew or should have known that cakes prepared by mad homophobic bakers in its employ might have “slurs or harassing messages” written on them and then be “presented to a customer without any oversight or prior warning.” Ah, if only Whole Food had said, to Brown, “We have to warn you, sir, we’ve written a homophobic slur on your cake. Have a nice day!”

Naturally, as with so many recent examples of members of frequently harassed and victimized groups, especially on campuses, creating their own racist, sexist or homophobic “hate crimes” and inventing  entire incidents, like Rolling Stone’s “Jackie,” the initial reaction of the news media was gullible acceptance, and the immediate response of social justice warriors was fury. Whole Foods was a cultural villain, and facing significant, business-threatening consequences.

Whole Foods did not turn the other cheek, however. It denied the allegations and countersued, stating that Brown “intentionally, knowingly and falsely accused Whole Foods and its employees of writing the homophobic slur … on a custom made cake that he ordered from WFM’s Lamar Store in Austin.” Whole Foods, ominously for Brown, said that it had video evidence proving that Brown had tampered with the cake.

Suddenly contrite in the face of resistance, the good pastor said, in effect, “Ooopsie!” He issued an e-mail, withdrawing his lawsuit and his story: Continue reading