Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/15/2017

Gooood Morning, Ethics Alarms!

1. And the grandstanding goes on. CNN’s HLN repeatedly played the Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon’s undoubtedly heartfelt and gratuitous “very special episode” where he condemned racism and bigotry and saluted the victim of the vehicle attack by James Fields, saying that she was standing up for “what was right.” I’m sure she thought she was. She was, however, in a group that stood for the suppression of free speech and political views they have decided don’t deserve First Amendment protection. That is NOT “right.”

Shut up and be funny, Jimmy. You haven’t been given that show to make half-baked and ignorant political pronouncements, That’s Stephen Colbert’s job.

2. The President came out yesterday with an unequivocal condemnation of racism, bigotry, violence and white nationalism. The Times headline today notes this, but that “some say it was too late.” Of course “some” do.  And besides, says my allegedly rational liberal former Democratic Congressman staffer Facebook friend, it is obvious what he really believes. And besides, even if his statement hadn’t been too late, there were “dog whistles” in it, and his body language was suspicious.

I have to keep reminding myself that these people are ill, in the grip of a powerful mob mentality  and to “hate the sin, never the sinner,” as Clarence Darrow said (but probably didn’t believe).

3. Related: from Investor News Daily, via Instapundit:

“Obama never mentioned the anti-cop sentiment fomented by Black Lives Matter — with an assist from Obama himself — in his brief statement after five police officers were assassinated in Dallas. Obama did find room in those remarks to mention racist cops. Did anyone on the left complain?”

Wait—is it too late for Obama to condemn anti-white racism now? Continue reading

First Lady Ethics: Sorry, Michelle Obama Fans, But This Is Way Over The Line

I was silent the first time this happened, because I was trying to provide the benefit of the doubt with an assumption that the First Lady would realize why it was inappropriate. I was wrong.

I can predict the “Get off my lawn!” retorts, the “Things have changed!” excuses and the “Lighten up!” deflections already, but this has to be said. The leadership of the free world and the office of the Presidency of the United States demands the assumption and maintenance of a basic measure of dignity, decorum, prudence and restraint. I realize the erosion of these qualities, not just in the White House but in society generally, is ongoing and that this will trigger the usual rationalizations.

Nevertheless, the First Lady represents her husband and his office. She is not a clown, an entertainer, a red carpet celebrity or a comedian’s sidekick, and every time she acts like any of these, no matter how pleasantly or charmingly she does so, it diminishes the prestige of the office and the nation. I don’t want to hear about how a majority of a public that wears tank tops on airplanes and flip-flops to the theater think it’s just wonderful for the First Lady to cavort with Jimmy Fallon in a manner indistinguishable from what we would expect from the latest flavor-of-the-month pop-tart.  Part of her job is modelling conduct for the clueless and unmannerly, and not sinking to their warped conduct of dignified professional conduct.

I am well-aware that this ethics verdict will be mocked. Never mind. I’m right.

Back to rationalizations: I’m expecting at least 17 of them from the Ethics Alarms list. None justify Michelle’s televised antics: Continue reading

Well, Now We Know What Kind Of Bandleader The New “Tonight Show” Will Have…

"Welcome to the show, Congresswoman!"

“Welcome to the show, Congresswoman!”


Meanwhile, in the headline to the relevant excerpt from his autobiographical book,  Salon inaccurately quotes Questlove as blaming his victim, Rep. Michele Bachmann, for the fact that his uncivil, cowardly and disrespectful stunt nearly got him fired. Score one unethical headline for Salon. Questlove blames himself. He obviously feels no remorse for being unfair and disrespectful to Bachmann, but he doesn’t blame her.

I wrote about the incident when it occurred: Continue reading

Jay Leno, Age Discrimination, And Our Cultural Hypocrisy

Jay Leno, when he was talented.

Jay Leno, when he was talented.

One of the purposes of laws is to point the culture toward more ethical awareness and eventually, conduct. In the case of age discrimination, however, this isn’t working very well, and the recent foofaraw surrounding Jay Leno’s forced exit from the “Tonight Show” gives us some hints of why this is so.

NBC and the TV reporters covering the situation (in case you have a life: Leno has been forced to give up his 30 year reign at NBC’s flagship late night show in favor of his current follow-up on the NBC schedule, the lighter-than-air Jimmy Fallon) do not disguise the reason for Leno’s ouster: he is old, or at least considerably older than Fallon. Never mind that Jay still leads in the ratings over the despicable David Letterman, the Hell-spawn Jimmy Kimmel, and Jay’s former victim, poor, betrayed Conan O’Brien at TBS. Leno is 62, so he and his gray hair are being jettisoned by NBC in its fear that Kimmel, recently installed as competition by ABC, will siphon off more and more of the younger demographic that sponsors crave. I would think it would be much easier to tell Leno to start encouraging parents to torture their children too, but hey, what do I know?

What is telling is that nobody seems to see anything wrong with this. Old guys are a drag, we all know that, I guess. How many MSNBC hosts and Democratic Party flacks have loudly proclaimed that the Republican Party’s problem is that it is run by old guys? Old guys are trouble, sooner or later, so it certainly makes sense that anyone running a business or an organization figures out ways to dump them in favor of new blood, unless that pesky law stuff gets in the way. Then, of course, age discrimination is bad, bad, bad. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Jimmy Fallon and The Roots

Why is this Be Unfair To Michele Bachmann Month? Because everybody knows when you don't agree with someone, its OK to be unfair to them..

Late night NBC talk show host Jimmy Fallon’s band, The Roots, has developed a habit of choosing “walk-on music” for Fallon’s guests that contain editorial comment on the guests themselves. The practice is not original, but the degree to which The Roots choose titles that are direct insults is, and it’s an unethical practice. Guests are guests, and playing the music of a song with lyrics that intentionally insult a guest is still atrocious manners, not made any less rude because only those who know the song get the message.

When Rep. Michele Bachmann came on Fallon’s show this week, the band played Fishbone’s “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.” Foul. In ethical terms, this is the equivalent of the band standing up and shouting insults at Bachmann on camera, except that it’s more cowardly. Bachmann didn’t know that she was being insulted, and it was a sure bet that she wouldn’t: I doubt anyone expects Fishbone to be on Michele’s playlist.

Kimmel’s band was proud of itself; Roots drummer Questlove alerted his followers  on Twitter before the ambush, tweeting:

   “Aight late night walkon song devotees: you love it when we snark: this next one takes the cake. ask around cause i aint tweeting title.”

Fallon owes Bachmann an apology, and The Roots need to have basic professionalism explained to them.

UPDATE: Fallon and Questlove both apologized over Twitter.

More Ethics Lessons from Tiger and His Friends

The fact that a story is tabloid fodder doesn’t  mean  it can’t carry ethical wisdom along with its titillation content. As the number of alleged Woods mistresses continues to climb ( fifteen, the last I checked, but that was three hours ago), the Woods saga is casting light on more ethics issues than most. Such as… Continue reading