Ethics Quiz: “Black’s Life Matters”


Jerry Seinfeld sends out a tweet to announce new episodes of his Crackle series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” typically with a joke involving the guest comic’s name. For example, his tweet from two weeks ago read: “New Comedians. Cars Getting Coffee! Cedric The Entertainer. No affiliation with Cedric The Regular Person.”  On Thursday, Seinfeld’s tweet used a predictable pun on the name of his guest, as you can see in the screen shot above:

“New! Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Lewis Black. Black’s life matters.”

Today’s incredibly easy Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is Jerry’s tweet insensitive and tasteless?

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The Blatant Plagiarism Conundrum: If You Make It Obvious That You Lifted Someone Else’s Work, Is That More Ethical Than Covering Your Tracks?

plagiarized essay

This episode reminds me of the Jerry Seinfeld riff–I’ve mentioned it before—on how hairpieces inherently insult the intelligence of the people the bald imposter is trying to fool, and thus the toup’-wearer should just leave the price tag on, danging in front of his face.

A student apparently submitted an essay regarding her experiences as a black woman, not bothering about the fact that she is white.

Here is the incriminating passage, unblurred:



I’m fascinated by the implications of this. Could the white student plausibly claim she was writing the essay in the voice of a black woman? Could she take the Jumbo route, and express shock that she is white, and argue that nobody ever told her that before? (Fans of “The Jerk,” raise your hands!) That might be a terrific Jumbo: “I’m white??? Oh, my God!!!” If it was plagiarism, does she deserve Seinfeld ethics points for not trying to hide it? Or perhaps she was attempting to prove that her teacher didn’t read essays, and setting a trap, risking her own academic reputation to expose a fraudulent teacher!

Then again, she might just be an idiot.

I’d bet on the latter.


Pointer: Above the Law

Facts: Legal Check

Graphics: Legal Check


Ethics Hero: Jerry Seinfeld

One wonderful thing about extreme success combined with middle age is that you can, if you have the integrity, speak unpopular truths without caring who objects. Thus it was the Jerry Seinfeld correctly dismissed as irrelevant and misguided the suggestion that seeking racial and gender balance should be an objective in his comedy shows. In response to a question challenging his Web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee“as too white and male, the comedian said:

“People think it’s the census or something, it’s gotta represent the actual pie chart of America. Who cares? Funny is the world that I live in. You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that, but everyone else is, kind of with their little calculating, “Is this the exact right mix?” To me, it’s anti-comedy.  It’s more about PC nonsense than ‘are you making us laugh or not’.”

Exactly. Not that the race and gender bean counters will let Seinfeld escape with an explanation of such obvious common sense. Here’s Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher playing his full hand of gender, race, guilt and quota cards: Continue reading