Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/16/2020: Dreadlocks, Kareem, Scrabble And “Political Slogan? What Political Slogan?”

1. This Morning’s Grovel: A white Seattle hairdresser apologized profusely for daring to wear dreadlocks. The key quote: “I have come to understand—far too belatedly—that my hairstyle is harmful.”

To lightly paraphrase Orwell: ‘She loved Big Brother.’

It’s hard to work up any sympathy for people like Irene—weak, ignorant, unwilling to stand up for basic  human rights, like being able to wear your hair any damn way you want to. This is yet another of the one-way “rules” that are being delivered by edict as an alleged remedy for “systemic racism”: Blacks can do anything they want to, whites are severely limited. The hair rules: black women can straighten their hair, dye it blonde, adopt any style the choose as a method of self expression, but a white woman who chooses dreadlocks has “harmful hair.”

Those who won’t stand up for their own liberties deserve to lose them. Irene is a fool, and betraying the values of her country. Continue reading

NBA Owner Bruce Levenson Race-Baits Himself: What’s Going On Here?

Self-flaggelation, the new NBA craze...

Self-flaggelation, the new NBA craze…

You don’t see this every day.

In a cynical, bizarre, and almost certainly dishonest act that will degrade public understanding of racism while pushing the NBA closer to certified madness and the Unites States toward speech and thought censorship, the controlling owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Bruce Levenson, announced that he is selling in interest in the ABA club because—pay close attention now—he sent an internal memo two years ago that was “racially insensitive.”

Wow. I’m all in favor of self-reporting, but this is ridiculous.

If American journalism and punditry was not race-addled and competent at its job, headlines around the news media this morning would be  “NBA Owner Exploits Donald Sterling Controversy To Get Top Dollar For His Team” or something similar. Instead, we are reading headlines like NBA owner to sell team after racist email (USA Today), Atlanta Hawks Owner To Sell Team After Racist E-mail About How to Increase White Fans (New York Post), while the left-leaning websites are salivating all over  themselves with leads like Bruce Levenson will sell Atlanta Hawks after releasing racist e-mail (ThinkProgress) and Atlanta Hawks Owner To Sell Team After Discovery Of Racist Email (Slate).

Allow me to clarify this at the start: there is nothing “racist” about the e-mail Levenson “self-reported”to the NBA,  at least, nothing racist regarding African-Americans, and last I checked, racist comments about one’s own race when one is white is regarded as a badge of honor in Progressive World. This verdict isn’t debatable, in my opinion, at least not in good faith.

Here is what the relevant section said, in a long e-mail regarding the promotion, marketing and attendance development of his team focusing on everything from the demeanor of ushers to what the concession stands sell; I have marked the significant sections with letters in red. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“Shouldn’t we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media? Didn’t we just call to task the NSA for intruding into American citizen’s privacy in such an un-American way? Although the impact is similar to Mitt Romney’s comments that were secretly taped, the difference is that Romney was giving a public speech. The making and release of this tape is so sleazy that just listening to it makes me feel like an accomplice to the crime. We didn’t steal the cake but we’re all gorging ourselves on it. So, if we’re all going to be outraged…Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on “Celebrity Apprentice” and “Dancing with the Stars.”‘

—Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in an essay pointing out some of  hypocrisies and excesses in the reactions to the Donald Sterling saga.

"Gotcha! He's screwed now...but he's a racist scumbag, so it's perfectly OK."

“Gotcha! He’s screwed now…but he’s a racist scumbag, so it’s perfectly OK.”

Good for Kareem. I was just about to make this point myself, and preparing to be pilloried for making excuses for a racist. Kareem is a lot bigger than I am, and I’m happy to stand behind him.

I watched two African-American lawyers on CNN today erupt in over-the-top outrage that has become the norm in the “finger-wagging Olympics” that Abdul-Jabbar decries in the rest of his article. One of the lawyers called Sterling’s remarks defamatory—“defamatory?” Sterling didn’t say a word that was negative about blacks; he just said he didn’t want his girl friend taking photos with them. His comments constitute smoking gun proof of racial bias, sure, but they aren’t “defamatory.” The other lawyer called them “the most vile, disgusting...” on and on and on, comments that he had ever heard.  Really? I doubt that. You know, once you award the prize to Sterling’s racist comments, you have no more superlatives left  for really horrible racist remarks. The two sportswriters, Christine Brennan and Bill Rhoden, who preceded my commentary on NPR today, did the same thing. It was a contest over who could express the most outrage.

It is a small surprise, then, in this hyper-charged atmosphere, that the conduct of V. Stiviano is getting an ethics pass, as if betrayal doesn’t matter as long as the betrayed party is despicable, and what she did was justified because she exposed a racist to the world. It’s not justified. The ends don’t justify the means, when the means are betrayal and mean-spirited vengeance, and when the methods used threaten to become a social norm, turning American homes and bedrooms into Stalinesque trap where no secret is safe. We’ve seen this practice before and I’ve condemned it before: the Harvard Law student turned into a campus pariah by a jealous rival circulating a private e-mail to the people most likely to be offended by it; Alec Baldwin’s daughter releasing private communications with her intemperate father to harm his reputation; Mel Gibson’s girlfriend doing the same; e-mail jokes being intercepted and sent to political enemies as a tool of personal destruction; clumsy suitors having their fumbles turned into national ridicule by the objects of their affection. Continue reading