Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/30/17: A Vicious Professor, Pazuzu, And Kathy Griffin Revokes Her Apology

[ Just to remind you how good Debbie, Gene and Donald were. Note that these dancers skipped the staircase..]

GOOD Morning…

I’m changing the Warm-Up headlines to reflect the topics covered. I may even go back and revise the old headlines. It took a while, but I realized that having dozens of essentially identical post titles with only a date as the distinction made archive research harder than it had to be.

1.I would have headlined the story of now fired visiting University of Tampa professor Ken Storey “Vicious, bigoted and possessed by the Demon Pazuzu is no way to go through academia, son,” but so many professors have used social media to make outrageous and offensive statements that the ethics issue is getting repetitious. (I think Jonathan Turley has done a post on each one of them, and will continue to on his blog.)

The question is whether a college or university is breaching its commitment to free expression and academic freedom when it fires a professor who says that all men are rapists, or that whites should be exterminated, or, in Storey’s case,

When asked later if this theory also applied to Florida,  and Trump supporters there deserved a similar fate.the Florida college professor replied,

“Yep, those who voted for him here deserve it as well.”

The answer is no. The university or college that fires an employee like Storey is protecting its reputation as a responsible institution, by stating in clear terms that people with terrible judgment and cruel and unethical instincts who are motivated by hate and intolerance are not qualified to teach….because they aren’t. That professors increasingly have no ethics alarms beeping when the prepare to publish sentiments like Storey’s (or worse) shows how thoroughly the leftist echo chambers of most campus faculties turn academics into Pat Robertson, which is to say, rigid, mean, and dumb. Once upon a time, liberals giggled themselves silly over the evangelical huckster’s periodic pronouncement about how a disaster was God’s way of punishing the U.S. for not abusing gays sufficiently, or similar bile, Now they do the same thing, and expect their colleagues and students to applaud.

Ken compounded his ethical offense by the standards of Ethics Alarms by issuing a terrible apology that evoked the Pazuzu excuse. Realizing that he had gone too far, he tweeted,

“I deeply regret a statement I posted yesterday. I never meant to wish ill will upon any group. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly.”

Translation: “Oops. My hateful expression of glee over the tragedy afflicting Texans seems to have put my job in jeopardy. I regret that, so I have pulled down my tweet and am pretending to be sorry. I never meant to wish ill will upon any group, even though somehow my tweet wished ill on a group in the clearest terms, and I doubled down on it. Someone or something else must have been responsible. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly. (Saying that will let me keep my job, right?)”

This is a #10 apology on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, the worst there is:

An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.

Storey was fired.

Good.

2. Speaking of phony apologies, Kathy Griffin, she of the Bloody Head, went all the way to Australia to reveal that she really isn’t sorry about representing that the beheading of a U.S. President is hilarious: Continue reading

Oh, Fine. Now I have To Defend Kathy Griffin…

Hahaha! Boy, this just fractures me every time…

From LawNewz:

Comedian and actress Kathy Griffin has reportedly been interviewed by the U.S. Secret Service for more than an hour. The investigation is connected to a recent photograph which showed her holding the bloody head of Donald Trump.

Griffin’s attorney contends that the actress was just exercising her constitutional rights.

“She basically exercised her First Amendment rights to tell a joke,” Dmitry Gorin, a criminal defense attorney representing Griffin said. “When you look at everything in the media, all the times entertainers make videos or express themselves in other ways, you’ve never seen an entertainer, let alone a comedian, be subject to a criminal investigation.”

Ugh.

Griffin’s attorney doesn’t have to “contend” that she was “exercising her constitutional right” of free speech, she was exercising that right—-irresponsibly, recklessly, unethically, stupidly, hatefully, but she was still exercising it. There is no question that her disgusting photo was inappropriate and pure hate posing as humor, but never mind: people choosing to be hateful and irresponsible in their public speech should expect consequences, but not from the feds. Of course it chills freedom of expression for Griffin to be subjected to this kind of secret police-style grilling. It is a matter of public record that she is a comedian. It is a matter of public record that she is a professional jerk. Thus it is a matter of public record that she is a no threat to the President….just to a civil culture and good taste. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Observations On The ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ Trump As Julius Caesar Production”

It was a pleasure to see eloquent and thoughtful teacher/blogger Curmie back commenting after a hiatus, and his timing could not have been better, as the controversy over the nightly assassination of a Julius Caesar who appears to be President Trump’s twin has become even more relevant since an anti-Trump zealots started picking off Republican Congressmen with his rifle.

Curmie is a theater professional with keen perspective on artistic freedom and a proven facility with ethical analysis. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Observations On The “Shakespeare in the Park” Trump As “Julius Caesar” Production:

Not surprisingly, I suppose, I’ve been thinking a lot about this story lately—enough to post about it twice on my own blog. Not having seen the production, I can’t say for certain that it does or doesn’t do X or Y. But I wonder if what we’re dealing with here is a variation on the theme of the Second Niggardly Principle.

[Ethics Alarms note: “When an individual or group can accomplish its legitimate objectives without engaging in speech or conduct that will offend individuals whose basis for the supposed offense is emotional, mistaken or ignorant, but is not malicious and is based on well-established impulses of human nature, it is unethical to intentionally engage in such speech or conduct.”]

A couple of points first. Drama, especially in the West, has always been political. I would argue (although I suspect the majority of my fellow theatre historians would disagree) that the Dionysian Festival, generally regarded as the birthplace of formal theatre (although there was almost certainly theatrical activity of some kind before that) was created less to honor Dionysus—a rather obscure demi-god worshipped primarily in Asia Minor—than to consolidate the political power of the tyrant Peisistratus.

Whether or not this is the case, it is unquestionably true that the Dionysia was used as a site for political speeches (e.g., Pericles’ funeral oration), and that the plays themselves commented on contemporary events (e.g., the Oresteia on the reforms of Ephialtes three years earlier, or Oedipus Tyrannos on the plague). Old Comedy—the plays that would have been contemporaneous with the work of the great Athenian tragedians—was explicitly political, often vulgar, and uniformly iconoclastic. These comic critiques of the powerful were seen by the state as an important part of the cultural life, much as the Feast of Fools became a staple of the medieval calendar. Similarly, Americans knew we were going to be all right after 9/11 when David Letterman started telling Bush jokes again. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The “Shakespeare in the Park” Trump As “Julius Caesar” Production

In  New York City, Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park festival this summer begins with  a version of “Julius Caesar“, in which Caesar is played by an actor made up and costumed to look like the current President of the United States, and Calpurnia (Caesar’s wife) is portrayed as a runway model with a Slavic accent. Some of the costumes include Anonymous masks and the infamous pussy hats. When Caesar/Trump is assassinated in the Senate, the murderers are women and minorities.

Oooo! Subtle!

The production has been in previews since May 23, and opens tonight at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Criticism of the concept,  theater and its financial supporters has been roiling all week, and many have compared the play to  Kathy Griffin’s severed Trump head stunt.  Fox News reported that it “appears to depict President Trump being brutally stabbed to death by women and minorities.” Well, yes, that’s right. Now some prominent corporate sponsors have publicly withdrawn their financial support, including Delta and Bank of America.

Delta’s statement:

“No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of ‘Julius Caesar’ at this summer’s free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values,” Delta said in a statement on Sunday night. Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste. We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of the Public Theater effective immediately.”

Bank of America:

“The Public Theater chose to present ‘Julius Caesar’ in a way that was intended to provoke and offend. Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it. We are withdrawing our funding for this production.”

Other sponsors, such as Time Warner and the New York Times, have stood fast. Said the Times:

”As an institution that believes in free speech for the arts as well as the media, we support the right of the Public Theater to stage the production as they chose.”

Ethics Observations:

[Do remember that I am a professional stage director, previously the artistic director of a professional theater for 20 years, and that I dealt with donors, individual, corporate, non-profit and government, all that time.] Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/8/17

[I have been pondering doing this for some time now. Literally every day there are issues and stories that arise that are either too minor for a full post, or crowded out by other issues. Often I never get to them. Also my various issue scouts (especially Fred) have been burying me with excellent candidates for discussion and analysis, and I never get to most of them, frustrating all of us. So I am going to see if I can begin every day with a set of short notes about these topics, reserving the right to expand some of them into full posts later.]

1. Stacy Lockett, a teacher at Anthony Aguirre Junior High, has been fired after she gave out facetious awards to students such as “Most likely to become a terrorist” and “Most likely to blend in with white people.” Good, I think. These are too sensitive issues to expect middle-schoolers to laugh at, and the ‘awards”  show terrible judgment. Still, I am thinking back to comments made in class by some of my favorite 7th and 8th grade teachers, some targeting me. I thought they were funny, and the teachers knew I would think so. All of them would have been fired today, according to the Lockett Standard (Pointer from Fred)

2. By not disciplining Reza Aslan, the host of its “Believer” program who called President Trump a “piece of shit,” “an embarrassment to humankind” and a “man-baby” CNN has made it clear that it has abandoned any vestiges of professionalism or regard for journalism ethics. Well, perhaps “even more clear” is more accurate. CNN allowed Carol Costello to gleefully mock Bristol Palin for getting emotional over being battered; it has allowed Don Lemon to get smashed on the air two New Year’s Eves in a row, and shrugged off Anderson Cooper speculating about the President taking “a dump on his desk,” to give just three examples. Its excuse for Aslan was especially weird, claiming in a statement that he was a host but not an employee. Aslan apologized, but it was a dishonest apology, claiming that the tweets were impulsive and “not like me,” but in another tweet on May 9, he wrote,

“Oh the joy when this lying conniving scumbag narcissistic sociopath piece of shit fake president finally gets what’s coming to him.”

It’s sad to see what CNN has become since Trump’s election. I am embarrassed for the network. but more than that, I am in sorrow for the public. It is not being served by this kind of amateurish, biased and unprofessional journalism.

3. I finally decided that this law suit was too stupid to write about: a ridiculous woman named Holly O’Reilly has found some lawyers—not just any lawyers, either, but the First Amendment Institute at Columbia University—-willing to file a lawsuit claiming that President Trump cannot block her on his Twitter account because doing so is a First Amendment violation of her rights of free speech. The institute’s executive director, Jameel Jaffer, said in a statement that Mr. Trump did not have a right to exclude his critics from engaging with his posts. Does anyone think this is anything but nonsense? Anyone but the New York Times, that is, which wrote, ” The request raises novel legal issues stemming from Mr. Trump’s use of his Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, to make statements about public policy,” and the Washington Post, which published the woman’s silly  op-ed .

When did “novel” come to mean “absurd”? The President blocking a Twitter user on the social media platform isn’t “government action” any more than not taking her phone calls or not reading her letters. She can still say anything she wants on Twitter. Next she’ll sue because she isn’t allowed to ask question at White House press briefings. Columbia University should be embarrassed, but when the anti-Trump  hate virus melts your brain, embarrassment is often the first casualty. 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

On Misandry, Keith Olbermann, “Mansplaining,” And The Bloody Head

Heads, we lose…

What a day. First I have to defend Bill Maher, and now I have to defend Keith Olbermann.

Ethics is hell.

Yesterday, the former winner of the Ethics Alarms “Asshole of the Year” tweeted to Kathy Griffin and her lawyer…

To @kathygriffin and @lisabloom: you could not be doing more to help Donald Trump if you were Putin. Please stop this selfish nonsense.

I love this tweet! For one thing, it confirms what I have been saying regarding the “resistance’s” supposedly principled objection to Griffin holding up a fake bloody head of the President of the United States. It isn’t because she “crossed the line,” or because, in their insatiable hate for the President, they didn’t enjoy the implications of the gruesome image. Democrats, progressives, “never Trump” conservatives and “the resistance” recognized that the backlash harms their mission, by making its supporters look exactly as vicious and ugly as so many of them are. Olbermann is a prime example, in fact, as this typical Trump-related tweet from the MSNBC jerk-in exile illustrates…

Classy guy, that Keith! 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

Ethics Dunce: Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Ralph Northam

Current Lieutenant Governor Northam is the “establishment candidate” in the Democratic Party as it tries to hold on to the Governor’s mansion. He is being opposed in the primary by Tom Perriello, a populist, Bernie-backing candidate. Thus Northam is pandering to the leftist, “resistance,” “not my President” hard progressive base by indulging in ad hominem attacks while endorsing incivility and demonizing as the new standard Democratic modus operandi, which it is rapidly becoming.

“Donald Trump is a narcissistic maniac, and I will do all I can to keep his hate out of Virginia.”

I think we can all agree that Trump is a narcissist. So is Obama; so is Bill Clinton; so was  Lyndon Johnson, JFK and both Roosevelts. Many excellent leaders are narcissists. None are maniacs (synonyms: madman, lunatic, usually meaning “dangerous”), however, and neither is Donald Trump, except that anyone who doesn’t embrace political positions the left embraces is subject to being called and judged insane. This is why the Soviet Union locked up dissidents in mental hospitals, and increasingly U. S. progressives are looking to Stalin’s play-book: censorship, marginalization, slander.  Ironically, it is the anti-Trump obsessed who have shattered all rules and traditions of civilized political speech, advocacy and opposition in a democracy, and who are in the grip of mania.

Nothing the President has done or proposed justifies the maniac label, but current anti-Trump politics has nothing to do with justice, or fairness, or responsible rhetoric.  Northam says he wants to keep Trump’s “hate” out Virginia, whatever that’s supposed to mean, but he is branding his own hate, which I suppose is his party’s hate, by calling the President of the United States a foul name designed to wedge fear and alienation between the public and the man whom they chose to lead us.

Notham has disqualified himself for leadership by this alone.

If a maniac was running amuck, do you think Ralph Northam would favor beheading him? Do you really think people who denigrate our nation’s elected leader the way Virginia’s leading Democrat does were offended by Kathy Griffin’s art?

_________________________

Source: Slate

The Resistance Thinks This Is Appropriate Political Humor. This Tells Us All We Need To Know About The Resistance [UPDATED]

After the shooting of  Rep. Giffords in Tucson, Democrats and the news media attempted to blame the tragedy on the “eliminationist rhetoric” used by Republicans, citing Sarah Palin’s use of cross-hairs on an electoral map to point to Democrats being targeted for defeat. At one point, CNN’s John King even chastised a guest for using the term ‘”in the crosshairs” in talking about the candidates. “We’re trying, we’re trying to get away from that language,” King solemnly inveighed.  “Andy is a good friend, he’s covered politics for a long time, but we’re trying to get away from that kind of language.”

Eighteen months later, the producers of “Game of Thrones” thought it was a hilarious inside joke to place a model of George W. Bush’s head  on a pike in one scene showing multiple severed heads.. Alluding to his beheading was wonderful, at least to Hollywood liberals. Putting Obama’s head on a pike would have been, of course, unthinkable, and proof of racism.

I wrote at the time,

“Criticism, satire and humor regarding any U.S. President, living or dead, is fair, ethical and within the realm of the freedom of expression that makes America great. Incivility, disrespect, denigration, hate and incitements to violence directed against any President, living or dead, is wrong. However any of these men performed in office, whether their policies were popular or not and whatever the consequences, good or bad, of their decisions were, every one of them was a patriot and a public servant who made significant sacrifices to attempt to meet the challenges of the most difficult job in the nation, and to do what he thought was in the best interests of the nation. Eight of the 44—that’s 18%—were shot at. Five of the 44—-11%—were shot, and four of them died.  The acceptance of the responsibility of the President is itself an act of courage. Evoking the intentional killing of a U.S. President in any context is irresponsible, and to mock a former and living President in the manner of barbarians and terrorists of other lands, to treat him as the terrorists treated Nick Berg, is as offensive an act of disrespect as I can imagine.”

Now Kathy Griffin, who hosts New Year’s Eve for CNN, has posed for the photograph above. I’m sure the “resistance”—you know, like Hillary—thinks it’s just hilarious, and that Griffin is getting high-fives from her pals at the network and Hollywood.

These are objectively hateful, ugly, irresponsible people, and their depravity becomes deeper and sicker almost daily. They really think behaving this way toward the nation’s elected leader will return them to power. In that belief, they are insulting all of us.

UPDATE: I almost forgot: this is the second controversy over beheaded Trump art. In half of one year in one term, Trump has been graphically murdered twice, while no other President since Lincoln had been beheaded in any high profile forum once.