Oh, Shut Up! There Is Nothing Wrong With “Go the F*** to Sleep”

If they think "Go the F*** to Sleep" is bad....

The guilt-mongers and Child Over-Protection Patrol have set their sites on “Go the F*** to Sleep,” Adam Mansbach’s children’s book parody, a cranky, profanity and obscenity-laced release for frustrated and sleep-deprived parents of small children everywhere.

“Imagine if this were written about Jews, blacks, Muslims or Latinos,” intones Dr. David Arredondo, quoted by CNN. He is an expert on child development and founder of The Children’s Program, in the San Francisco metropolitan area, which provides consultation and training for those working with troubled youths. Yes, Dr, imagine. Then it wouldn’t be a humorous satire for the amusement of perfectly loving parents.

“Nobody is suggesting that there’s a connection between Adam Mansbach’s book and child abuse or child neglect,” writes Karen Spears Zacharias, whose essay suggests that there is a connection between Adam Mansbach’s book and child abuse or child neglect. “Still, there’s no denying the reason “Go the F*** to Sleep” should be kept out of reach of children is because of its violent language and because of the way it demeans children.”

OK, there’s a book that is an inside joke for parents that relieves their guilt over the occasional horrible thoughts they have about their children, and children shouldn’t read it, because they wouldn’t understand. So what? Since when was there something inappropriate about enjoying books that shouldn’t be shared with children? I wouldn’t let my child read Dr. Spock, either. Continue reading

“Are You a Flake?” Ethics

"Are you Michele Bachman?"

With only four well-chosen words, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace accomplished several objectives Sunday, all of them in the best tradition of ethical, objective, responsible journalism.

The words were “Are you a flake?,” posed to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who is running for President.  The question…

1. Properly forced a conservative darling to address her most striking weakness, belying Fox’s well-deserved reputation for bias toward figures its viewers admire…

2. Was a near-perfect example of the “off-the-wall” question technique, which has exposed more than one pretender to high office (Hello, Mike Dukakis!) as less than desirable.

3. Simultaneously gave Bachmann an opportunity to show how quick she could think on her feet while demonstrating important leadership traits like self-awareness, humor, wit, and grace, or, in the alternative, demonstrate the opposite.

How did she do? Well. Judge for yourself: Continue reading

OH NO! Political Correctness Got Me!

Late last night as I was battling worry and insomnia, my TV remote transported me to the Cartoon Network where I encountered, for the first time  in 40 years, a minor Hanna-Barbara animated series called “The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.” Like all Hanna-Barbara shows, but especially the Saturday morning variety, “Penelope” was crudely drawn and aimed its humor at the lowest common denominator: compared to it, Woody Woodpecker is Faulkner. Drawn in by the comforting sounds of great vocal artists of the era like Mel Blanc and Paul Winchell, however, I watched about ten minutes of the show and realized, to my horror, that I now found it offensive…and not for the reason that I found it annoying in 1970 (it is, after all, moronic).

The plot of  every episode of “The Perils of Penelope Pitstop” (a spin-off of H-B’s more successful but just as repetitious and silly “Wacky Racers”) was the same. A female auto racer who is also a blonde, helpless bimbo with a Southern accent is stalked by a villain called “The Hooded Claw,” voiced by the great Paul Lynde.  The Hooded Claw, for no discernible reason,  concocts elaborate plots to kill Penelope, but is foiled, at the last second, every time. The cartoon is an obvious riff on “The Perils of Pauline,” the famous Pearl White silent movie cliffhanger serial in which each segment ended with the heroine tied to a railroad track or falling to earth dragging a collapsed parachute. Yet I found it impossible to appreciate the cartoon’s meager charms because of the loud clanging of  ethics alarms in my brain. Why is the only woman in the show portrayed as a walking, talking Barbie Doll? And why are kids being encouraged to laugh at a woman being stalked by a homicidal maniac? Because he’s an inept homicidal maniac? What could possibly be funny about stalking, an insidious phenomenon that every year leads to multiple murders?

“Oh my God,” I thought. “I’m politically correct!Continue reading

Trump’s Lament

Can't you read the sign, Donald?

Was Donald Trump treated rudely and unfairly at the White House Correspondents Dinner, where he was made the target of sharp barbs by both President Obama and MC Seth Myers?

Trump thinks so, telling Fox and Friends, “Well, I really understood what I was getting into — I didn’t know that I’d be virtually the sole focus. I had no idea it would be to that extent, where you know, it was just joke after joke after joke. It was almost like, is there anyone else they could talk about?”

Trump is a poor sport, a whiner, a humorless fool, and deluded to boot. He spent the previous month accusing the President of the United States of being a liar, a fraud, a usurper, a poor student, and an illegal alien, appealing to the worst instincts of the most extreme Obama-haters and political foes. His conduct was most charitably and frequently defined as “a joke,” though it was worse than that. He comes to the Correspondent’s Dinner where the President has his one chance to skewer others the way comedians regularly skewer him, having provided by his own boorishness and hucksterism enough material to supply ten stand-up routines, not only claims to be surprised at the extent of his roasting, but is offended that he has to take his medicine. Continue reading

So Let me Get This Straight: Tera Myers Has To Quit, But This Jerk KEEPS His Job?

"You gave your students WHAT????!!!"

I write this not only aware that the story might be a hoax, but hoping against hope that it is.

Teacher Frank Rozanski gave the students in his advanced placement psychology class at Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens what he called “The Sexual Tension Quiz.”

The test, which was given to the class for a grade, is a sophomoric gag quiz in which sexually suggestive questions have innocent answers. Har. Har. As humor, it is something that one might expect to see in a college magazine (for a not-so-great college), or maybe Playboy in a weak month. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ronbo” on His Own Previous “Frivolous Complaint of the Month”

Ron Barbour, Tea Party warrior, has a priceless post on his website in response to Ethics Alarms’ flagging of his letter “demanding” that the Secret Service arrest the director of the Missoula “Mikado” for updating “The Lord High Executioner’s” gag list of societal irritants to include Sarah Palin.

I would normally post highlights at this point, but everyone should check out his website to see the face of hateful extremism first hand, and how it burns up IQ points like kindling. This is political activism mutated into a total war mentality, where fairness to the perceived enemy is translated as proof of alliance with the enemy. Ron thinks I am a Leftist, which is tied only with “New York Yankee fan” as the thing I have most seldom been accused of being.

Don’t miss this…you will find it here.

Frivolous Complaint of the Month: Ronald Barbour

I considered several possible titles for this: Unethical Abuse of a Government Employee’s Time of the Month, False Accusation of the Month, and the like. I considered calling it Most Unfair Attack on the Missoula Community Theater of the Week, but I’m not even sure that is true. I even considered, Document That Almost Makes Me Regret That I Ever Opposed Unfair Attacks on the Tea Party, but that is a bit off topic.

This published letter by “Ronbo” Barbour completely fooled me; I really thought it was satire,  which reveals a truth: the less one understands satire, the more likely one is to unwittingly emulate it without ever getting the joke.

I will say this: W.S. Gilbert would love this.

And now I present the actual letter sent to the Secret Service by Mr. Barbour, a Montana Tea Party official, relating to Sarah Palin’s inclusion in the classic comic song, “I’ve Got A Little List” [ Scroll to the end of the post for two versions of the song, the original and a Monty Python adaptation ] in the Missoula Community Theatre’s production of the 125 year-old operetta, “The Mikado.” I wouldn’t make this up; this is an ethics blog… Continue reading

Ethics Train Wreck Report: Lessons, Ethical and Otherwise, of the Missoula “Mikado” Mess

Much of my weekend was occupied by reading, writing, thinking, and talking about the bizarre controversy over a community theater production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado,” which, by a series of misunderstandings, misdeeds, hypocrisies and journalistic malpractice, has created much anger and unhappiness for no legitimate reason at all. If you are late to the story and want to catch up, you can do so here, here, here, and here.

For the first and perhaps only time I can honestly say that Ethics Alarms is the most reliable source on a story. There may be plenty of ethicists who are more knowledgeable, scholarly, prudent and experienced than I am regarding ethics theory, but none of them knows this topic—Gilbert and Sullivan and “The Mikado”, like I do. I have 50 years experience performing, directing, studying, parodying and laughing at the works of these Victorian geniuses. The second I read the astoundingly wrong-headed interpretation being attached to the Missoula Community Theatre’s inclusion of Sarah Palin in Ko-Ko’s famous song “I’ve Got a Little List,” I surmised exactly what was going on, and my assessment has been confirmed by everything that has come to light since.

I will summarize what we now know in brief (well, briefer than reading all the posts) form:

Continue reading

Unethical Journalist of the Week: Aaron Flint, of The Northern Broadcasting Network

Well, why not…before all-Mikado Saturday comes to an end, I might as well highlight this astounding example of spectacularly incompetent journalism by the Northern Broadcasting Network’s Aaron Flint, who actually posted this hilarious idiocy on his “Flint Report” (I will have to comment on the text as it goes, since there is too much nonsense to take in all at once.)

His headline: “Palin Beheaded in Missoula Play” Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Next: A Version of “The Mikado” Without Execution References”

I promise I won’t do this often, but this Comment of the Day is by me, a reply to a comment by Ichneumon, which you will find at the end. I have been involved in this debate elsewhere, and a common “gotcha!” being employed against me is the argument that I jumped the gun defending the production of “The Mikado,” because I didn’t (and don’t yet) know what the exact lyrics were. I think this is worth expanding on, since Ichneumon and others have accused me of being “unethical” for calling the critics of the Palin lyric, whatever it was, ignorant.  Saturday is usually quiet, and this seems to be all that is going on other than the Middle East blowing up; by tomorrow I’m hoping to be able to move on to issues having nothing to do with Sarah Palin, Missoula, or “The Mikado.” So here is my reply to Ichneumon, with sample verses, on the original post, “Next: A Version of “The Mikado” Without Execution References”:

“The fact is, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to local websites to conservative commentators have been slapping around the production without an exact quote from the production. I am in touch with someone in the cast, and am hoping, waiting, to learn exactly what the lyric was. So what, exactly, would you have me do, when the vast majority is citing this, and only this, as the basis for its condemnation: the production put Sarah Palin, by name on Ko-Ko’s list, and this constituted a declaration that she should be killed? Continue reading