Ethics Quiz: Trevor Noah’s Joke

“Africa won the World Cup. I get it, they have to say it’s the French team. But look at those guys. You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the south of France, my friends.”

—-Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”

Noah, who is black, was immediately accused of racism. “So basically, Trevor, all the African-Americans in the US are just Africans, right?,” said one critic. “Know that as a French of Algerian, German and Spanish descent, I find it insulting. We are all French, we are one people. Ask the players,they’ll tell you they’re proud Frenchmen!”

Your more complicated-than-it-looks Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Does Noah have anything to apologize for?

I mean, other than that fact that his joke isn’t particularly funny. Continue reading

I Suppose Ethics Alarms Has To Officially Designate “Bloody Headgate” As An Ethics Train Wreck, Since Now The VFW Has Boarded

The Veterans of Foreign Wars declared that Kathy Griffin’s photo of Trump’s severed head is unprotected under the First Amendment.

They are ignorant and have embarrassed themselves. The organization doesn’t even understand what its members have been allegedly fighting to protect and preserve.

VFW National Commander Brian Duffy issued a statement that “The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. strongly condemns comedian Kathy Griffin’s incredibly revolting attack on the President of the United States . . . . What she did was not humorous nor should it be protected speech or expression. Playing to an audience with a severed head is what our enemies do. The USO should end its relationship with her.”

Actually, playing to an audience with a severed head is what Shakespearean companies performing “MacBeth” have done on stages, professional, college and amateur, in the U.S. and elsewhere for hundreds of years, you ignoramus.

This is another reason why the Left’s claims that “hate speech” shouldn’t be protected are so dangerous to our society: too many citizens of all political persuasions don’t understand what free speech is, and are too ignorant to know how to counter this threat to democracy

Let’s see: Griffin, her lawyer, the President and his punching-down tweet; Rosie O’Donnell, who announced that she had no sympathy for 11-year-old Barron Trump seeing photos of someone apparently holding up his father’s head, the mainstream media hypocrites who told audiences that Griffin’s “eliminationist rhetoric” wasn’t news or worth discussing, though a far less threatening image dominated their conversations for weeks when they tried to tie Sarah Palin’s metaphorical cross-hairs on a political race map to the madman who shot Rep. Giffords…I was wondering which organization would be the first on the Right to claim that what Griffin did warranted criminal punishment. The VFW would have been a good bet.

But wait! There’s more!... and I should have seen this one coming too. Progressive favorite Alec Baldwin, a habitual boor and Ethics Dunce, weighed- in in support of Griffin and her severed Trump head as only he can, tweeting,

“Dear Kathy Griffin, Kathy….baby…I’ve been there. The whole Henry Hyde thing [with] Conan, where we bring out an oxygen mask at the end? a joke. That’s what I thought. That’s what we intended. No one walked out of the studio and said, “No! We’re serious!” No one. But all your gutless, weasels in the GOP insisted that I actually threatened Hyde. They played the victim beautifully. Kathy…fuck them. Fuck them all. No 1 believes u meant 2 threaten Trump.Trump is such a senile idiot, all he has is Twitter fights. ignore him. Like the leaders of all the other countries in the world. Ignore him.”

Honestly, I do not understand how anyone can laugh at Baldwin knowing the anger, bitterness and nastiness that ooze out of every pore; it’s like finding Bill Cosby or Woody Allen funny. Yet that this guy passes for a wit, political pundit and truthteller by Hollywood progressive standards.

Dear Alec…
Continue reading

Bloody Head Update: The Kathy Griffin Press Conference

 

I just watched the Kathy Griffin press conference. The justification for the mdia event that Griffin is “fighting back” against “bullying” from President Trump and his family over her bloody head bit.

Ethics Observations:

1. Presidents shouldn’t “punch down” against civilians, even celebrities, even ridiculous celebrities like Griffin. It is  indeed a form of bullying. I have written about this before. It is an abuse of power and position no matter what the provocation. The public would have been more sympathetic to him and his family if he had just kept quiet. He can’t help himself, and he will not learn.

2. Anyone who doesn’t think Griffin was counting on, praying for, a twitter war to break out between her and POTUS over her visual attack on him (and the office, and the country) by holding up an effigy of his severed head really is too innocent and naiive to talk about this issue. Thus her protests—tearful protests!—over her stunt backfiring have to be seen for the sham that they are. She didn’t just ask for this, she was counting on it. What she didn’t foresee was having no defenders except Jim Carey and a few others.

Did you have any doubt that the photo would prompt a tweet from Trump? Did anyone? Continue reading

Update On Stephen Colbert’s “Cock Holster” Slur: Questions Answered Regarding The Comic, CBS, His Fans And Supporters…And The News Media

As discussed here yesterday, Stephen Colbert strung a gross, vulgar, precedent-shattering string of ugly ad hominem insults against the President of the United States this week, a volley that included the homophobic slur “cock holster,” insinuating, because such an image is so hilarious, that the leader of his country fellates Vladimir Putin. Last night he answered the collective criticism. Here is what he said, and said with the repulsively smug “aren’t I clever and amusing!” smirk that has always made this comic hard to watch for me (Samantha Bee does the same thing). As a professional director, I think it’s bad technique, and hackish. But I digress…back to Colbert:

“I’m your host, Stephen Colbert. Still? I am still the host? I’m still the host!!…Now, if you saw my monologue Monday, you know that I was a little upset at Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine. So at the end of that monologue, I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight…While I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.”

Then he pandered to the critics who condemned his “cock holster” joke as homophobic by blathering briefly about how anyone who expresses love for any human being is a “hero” [Translation: “I love you all, Gay Progressives! Don’t be mad at me! Remember when you got mad at Alec Baldwin for calling a photographer a cocksucker? You forgave him because he votes for the right party, and so do I! “], and introduced gay actor Jim Parsons, who plays the uber-nerd in “Big Bang Theory” to prove it.

What did this moment tell us about Stephen Colbert?

Stephen Colbert doubled down on using the phrase cock holder on the air in a high profile network show. He did not apologize or retract the worst vulgarity that has ever been allowed to go out to millions on a pre-taped network show, and that record-worst vulgarity was directed at the President of the United States, who, like it or not, is the representative of our democracy world-wide and who, like it or not, carries the mantle of all who preceded him.

Colbert’s  justification for this is that the President insulted Colbert’s “friend,”  “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson [if you believe that Colbert and Dickerson are any more real friends than Colbert and the CBS cafeteria ladies, I have a bridge to sell you], so this justified exporting obscenity, uninvited, into millions of American homes, and further polluting political discourse and civil society.

This is signature significance. Stephen Colbert is an irresponsible, hateful, fame-addled, unprofessional asshole without the decency or ethical awareness to know when he has crossed a big, bold, long-standing cultural ethics line, or the courage to accept responsibility for it. His ethics ignorance was on display in his scripted–scripted! Like “cock-holster,” somebody was paid to write this garbage—comments. He expressed or embraced the unethical logic of Rationalizations #2, 7, 13, 14, 19A,  52,  and more.

Revealingly, Colbert, an alleged comedian, did not cite #54, The Joke Excuse, though as a holder of the Jester’s Privilege, that one was properly available to him. This signaled that Colbert was NOT joking, but being genuinely and intentionally hateful and insulting the President of the United States in as gross and demeaning a manner as he could, and that he meant it. Well, that’s an abuse of his position and the platform provided to him by CBS.

Meanwhile, Colbert stacked all of his chips on  Rationalization #11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?” He knows he can get away with conduct that would get lesser lights suspended or fired, so, like all organization high-performers who double as ethics corrupters, Colbert acted accordingly. Not only that, he gloated about it. “See? Can’t fire ME!”

There needs to be a special word for “contender for king of the assholes.”

On the plus side for Ethics Alarms, Colbert did give me a new Rationalization for the list, which I will add today: “The Pest’s Justification.” That’s when misconduct and abuse is justified because the abuser is less powerful than the abused. Abuse is abuse. “He can take care of himself” is not a justification.

Finally, the statement that he would change “a few words” is cowardly and slimy, displaying the character of a banana slug. Why would you change those words, Asshole? Because they got you in trouble? Why were they “cruder than they needed to be”? Needed to be for what purpose? If you won’t apologize for using those words, then say what the words are, again, right here, so we don’t think  you meant “Pricktator.” Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: “Late Show” Host Stephen Colbert

“The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.”

Comic Stephen Colbert, in the climax to an anti-President Trump hate-rant, on CBS’s “Late Night”

Ten points regarding Colbert setting several new lows for network fare, in entertainment, in comedy, and in political discourse:

1. “Cock holster,” needless to say, all by itself and without context, is gutter language. It does not belong in network TV monologues. It does not belong at the dinner table. You would not, if you had an atom of respect, common sense, dignity or decorum, use the term as a guest in a home,  in the workplace, in a conversation with your mother, in a conversation with a stranger, or in an exchange with someone within earshot of a child. There is no excuse for using such a term in public, and anyone using such a vulgar phrase in metaphorically littering our civic and cultural environment.

2. Colbert is a performer on a network TV show. The fact that it is on late at night is no mitigation of the ugly conduct here, just a rationalization (#22): at least it wasn’t on “Sesame Street.” Once, the four major TV networks, especially CBS, the Tiffany Network, the network that fired the Smothers Brothers for being excessively disrespectful to President Lyndon Johnson, had departments of standards and practices whose job it was to keep their bonds of trust with the American public that once invited into the collected homes of the nation, they would not abuse the privilege.

Stephen Colbert abused the privilege, and did so deliberately and flagrantly.

3. CBS, as a (once) respectable, responsible cultural leader and communications icon was obligated to suspend Colbert immediately.

If he had made such an ugly comment about Barack Obama, CBS would have done so. If a late night host had made such a comment about any previous President, it would have done so. (If he had made such a comment about President Hillary Clinton, Colbert would have been fired.) It should make no difference to CBS’s assessment of its obligations that it may calculate that a sufficient number of CBS audience members are poisoned with hate and have the manners and tastes of crude lowlifes. The network’s role in society is to maintain and even elevate our cultural standards, not to accelerate their degradation. 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

Ethics Dunce Collective: The American Music Awards

I can make this uncharacteristically short. Just re-read the post on John Oliver’s nasty full-show, post-election anti-Trump rant, and substitute “American Music Awards.” Also worth reviewing is the list of rationalizations used to justify Oliver, which I posted here, especially since so many of them are also being trotted out to excuse the ambushing of Mile Pence when he dared to exercise his right to enjoy “Hamilton” on Broadway without being personally called out and attacked by the cast.

It can be argued that the American Music Awards’ insults to the duly and lawfully elected POTUS—who has yet to do anything as President— last night were even worse than Oliver’s disrespectful ad hominem barrage. At least Oliver, a skilled satirist, was occasionally amusing. The two AMA hosts from Saturday Night Live were juvenile, desperate and amateurish, counting on their Trump-hating demographic for laughs they didn’t earn. If we ever see a more inept impression of Donald Trump than Jay Pharoah’s, be it in four years or a century, I’ll be shocked. Worst of all, however, was Gigi Hadid’s unfunny, mean and hypocritical imitation of Melania Trump, for the crime of existing.  The principle, just for application to Republican First Ladies, now, is apparently that having an accent  makes you ridiculous and an idiot.

If anyone, anywhere, on a live television show had dared to do such a grotesque mockery of Michelle Obama when she was the incoming First Lady, they would have been tarred a boor, a racist, and a virtual traitor.

I wonder which of the rationalizations will be used to defend Hadid? Whatever they are, the real defense is just this, the same that is being used to defend “Hamilton”: We hate these people, and they don’t deserve to be treated fairly.

Got it.

One clarification: Green Day is a political band, and their decision to shout No Trump / No KKK” during their performance of the catchy and tuneful  “Bang Bang” is as fair as it was predictable…also moronic, but what do you expect? It’s a band.