Ethics Observations On Justin Trudeau’s “Brownface” Scandal

Other than “Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!” that is.

News item:Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, wore brownface makeup to a party at the private school where he was teaching in the spring of 2001. TIME has obtained a photograph of the incident. The photograph has not been previously reported. The picture was taken at an “Arabian Nights”-themed gala. It shows Trudeau, then the 29-year-old son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, wearing a turban and robes with his face, neck and hands completely darkened. The photograph appears in the 2000-2001 yearbook of West Point Grey Academy, a private day school where Trudeau was a teacher.”

Also: “The re-election campaign of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada was thrown into turmoil on Wednesday when a photograph surfaced of him wearing brownface makeup at a 2001 private school party….Speaking with reporters aboard his campaign plane, Mr. Trudeau, who has long championed the rights of racial minorities in Canada, confirmed that he was in the photo and that he was dressed as Aladdin.

“This is something I shouldn’t have done many years ago,” Mr. Trudeau said. “It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do, and I am deeply sorry.”

Observations:

1. Wearing make-up to create an image along with a costume is not “racist.” Either Trudeau is just pandering  and grovelling to political correctness, or he’s not every bright. I’ve written about this before, most notably here (the post that got Ethics Alarms banned from Facebook). How is that make-up a negative commentary on the inferiority or inequality of a race? Not being sensitive to the hair-trigger offense reflexes of minorities and activists looking for a “gotcha!’ is not racist. It is not being sensitive to hair-trigger offense reflexes by minorities and activists looking for a “gotcha!” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/3/2019: “Thing’s Are Seldom What They Seem…”

Good afternoon!

1. Today’s source of maximum irritation. Remember those California wildfires at the end of last year that the news media kept reporting as proof of climate change and that prompted Democrats and talking heads to sneer in disdain at anyone, especially President Trump, who suggested that electrical equipment just might have been the cause? From NPR:

Pacific Gas and Electric says it’s “probable” that its equipment caused the Camp Fire in Northern California, the deadliest and most destructive in the state’s history.

California has not finished its investigation into PG&E’s culpability in last November’s fire that killed at least 85 people, destroyed about 14,000 structures, displacing tens of thousands of people and destroying the town of Paradise. However, the state’s largest utility, which filed for bankruptcy last month, said Thursday it expects the investigation will find that its damaged infrastructure sparked the fire.

Please let Ethics Alarms know how many of the news shows this morning mention this development.

2. Spring Training ethics note: Good news! Ethics Alarms has been campaigning for robo-umps at home plate to call balls and strikes for several years. Now MLB announces that it has finalized a three-year deal with the independent Atlantic League to have the league test rules innovations and equipment for the Show. This will include computer calling of pitches. Not so good news: it will also reportedly include moving the mound back, which is heresy.

3. Concern for Popehat’s Ken White.  There is not a smarter, more passionate, better blogger on the planet than lawyer Ken White, and while we have had our disagreements, his commentary on law and justice especially is a blessing for all Americans, even though most don’t have the sense to benefit from it. One of many reasons I admire Ken is that he has been candid about his battle with depression, a killer illness that too many people don’t understand. That malady runs in my family (or as Mortimer Brewster says in “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Runs? It practically gallups!”), and has been responsible for more than one suicide. Popehat once was a collective, but now it’s almost entirely Ken, with occasional drop-ins from the acerbic Mark Randazza. The blog’s last entry was January 4, almost two months. I’m worried, as are most of Ken’s fans I’m sure, and I am officially sending Ethics Alarms best wishes and love to one of the really good people in multiple roles: lawyer, blogger, public educator. Get back as soon as you can, Ken. We need you. Continue reading

Observations On The Justin Trudeau Groping Allegation

Canadian progressive rock star and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now dealing with his own #MeToo crisis, and, as you will see, not that well. These are old allegations, first appearing in a tiny community paper called the Creston Valley Advance in 2000 An unsigned editorial related that Trudeau, then a 28-year-old teacher, groped a young, female Advance reporter covering the Kokanee Summit Festival in Creston, British Columbia. The Creston editorial did not include details of the alleged groping incident, but wrote that the reporter involved felt “blatantly disrespected” and that Trudeau allegedly apologized a day later for “inappropriately handling” her.

Nobody cared. After all, Bill Clinton had just ducked impeachment because American Democrats and the news media successfully sold the narrative that a President using his intern as a personal sex-toy was “private, personal, consensual conduct.” The story was quickly forgotten.

Then came the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, and suddenly any male in power is vulnerable to having their career and reputation undone because of a recovered or re-evaluated memory they did that everyone winked at decades ago, but is now proof positive of a dark and irredeemable soul, or something. (This is the point where, if you are Prof. Paul Butler, you shout “Oh come ON!”)  The episode resurfaced recently when popular political commentator and Trudeau critic Warren Kinsella tweeted a picture of the editorial last month with the hashtag #MeToo. His tweet was later picked up by various conservative outlets. This is suddenly a problem for liberal leader who has proclaimed his feminist credentials. He has said that he has no tolerance for any kind of sexual harassment or unwanted touching.

And now this. Observations:

  • Here was Trudeau’s response to the allegations: he initially said that he did not recall the event. Then he said, well, he remembered the event, but not the incident. “I remember that day in Creston well. It was an Avalanche Foundation event to support avalanche safety. I had a good day that day. I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all,” he said. The next day,  he told reporters that he apologized to the alleged victim for the incident he doesn’t remember “in the moment,” but said he is confident he “did not act inappropriately”…but respects ” the fact that someone else might have experienced this differently.”

Translation of this self-contradicting double-talk:

Let’s see now: He doesn’t remember the event, which he remembers well, but not the incident, though he remembers that he apologized for it, though he is certain he did nothing that required an apology, but he can certainly understand how someone might see it differently.

All righty then! Continue reading