Observations On The Times Review Of “Apropos Of Nothing”

Woody Allen in “Manhattan” with a 16-year-old Mariel Hemingway (playing a 17-year-old)

To be clear, I haven’t read Woody Allen’s autobiography, “Apropos of Nothing,” and I won’t. I found myself unable to endure anything related to Allen after he married his own quasi-daughter following a sexual affair with her while they were both living with Mia Farrow, Allen as her supposed lover and domestic partner, Sun-Yi Previn as her adopted child. While I maintain that the works of artists should be kept separate from the character flaws and misdeeds of their creators, that’s an intellectual and ethical position, not an emotional and gastrointestinal one. The latter are non-ethical considerations, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore them.

If I were a professional book reviewer, however, I would be forced to put my revulsion aside, or refuse the assignment of rendering a verdict on “Apropos of Nothing.” It is undeniable that the New York Times book reviewer, Dwight Garner, couldn’t or wouldn’t do that. To be fair, the Times no longer enforces the core journalism ethics principle that journalists shouldn’t allow personal biases to infect their reporting, but that is an explanation, not a defense. Some observations: Continue reading

From The “Stop Making Me Sort Of Defend Joe Biden!” Files: Oh, Look..As Soon As Democrats Finally Conclude That Joe Will Be A Disastrous Candidate, A Woman Accuses Him Of Sexually Assaulting Her 27 Years Ago. How Unexpected!

Seriously, how long will it take women and feminists to realize that repeatedly and transparently using sexual assault and sexual harassment accusations as suspiciously timed political weapons undermines the credibility of legitimate victims and their cause generally?

In fact, why has it taken this long?

We have now seen this scenario so many times: accusers haul out old and unsubstantiated alleged episodes of sexual misconduct conveniently timed to do maximum damage to an individual who has become a problem for the Left. Chris Matthews. Brett Kavanaugh, the most obvious example. Now, the same week in which President trump’s ratings rise, Joe Biden’s bunker broadcasts have even the most dedicated deniers wondering about his acuity, and New York governor Andrew Cuomo is being whispered about as a promising last ditch replacement for Joe if only there were some way to pull it off, and this happens (From Reason):

Despite his public pronunciations on the subject of never touching women without their explicit verbal consent, Biden has previously faced accusations that he was too handsy with people. But now the former vice president is facing a much more serious accusation of sexual assault, from an alleged former staffer named Tara Reade…Reade says she worked for Biden in the early 1990s and asserts that she was unambiguously assaulted by him in 1993. According to Reade, he began kissing her without her permission, pushed her against a wall, reached under her skirt, and penetrated her with his fingers.

“He said ‘come on man, I heard you liked me,'” Reade recalled to Halper in the interview. “For me, it was like, everything shattered. I looked up to him, he was like my father’s age, he was this champion of women’s rights, in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it was happening. It was surreal.”

…She said she once tried to talk to a supervisor about what had happened, but this person shut her down before she could tell the whole story. She also said she filled out an official form detailing her assault, but does not know what became of it.

A year ago, Reade—who supported the campaigns of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.)—attempted to come forward with stories of sexual harassment in Biden’s offices. As detailed in an Intercept piece, she reached out to Time’s Up, a project of the National Women’s Law Center that provides support to alleged #MeToo victims. Time’s Up declined to assist Reade; the organization’s official excuse was that a feud with a national political candidate could jeopardize their status as a 501(c)(3) non-partisan group. But as The Intercept also notes:

“The public relations firm that works on behalf of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is SKDKnickerbocker, whose managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign. A spokesperson for Biden declined to comment. The SKDK spokesperson assigned to Time’s Up referred questions back to the NWLC.”

Hey, nothing to see here, move along! Continue reading

Stop Making Me Defend Woody Allen! And Another Victory For The Illiberal Mob…

This blog certainly forces me to defend some  unsavory characters.

Woody Allen is one among the small group of artists who I find so personally repellent that I can’t enjoy their work even while recognizing and appreciating its excellence. That does not mean, however, thatAllen’s work is not important nor that his life and career lack cultural significance. As I wrote here,

“I found myself unable to enjoy any of Allen’s films after he cheated on his de facto wife with his de facto daughter. I also don’t believe in enriching, even indirectly, horrible people in their professional endeavors if I can conveniently avoid it.”

That, however, is a personal choice that I would never impose on others, nor on the arbiters and trustees of culture, as it would be unethical to do so. Thus I wrote, just a few days ago, of Ronin Farrow’s demand that his publishers refuse to hand Allen’s memoirs because he believes his sister’s account that Allen sexually abused her when she was a child,

“I yield to no one in my contempt for Woody Allen as a human being, but he is a major figure in film and cultural history, and his memoirs are of obvious value and interest. Farrow’s publisher’s obligation is to readers and stockholders, not the sensibilities of one author.”

Now we learn that the publishers have been intimidated into dropping Allen’s book after all:

Hachette Book Group on Friday dropped its plans to publish Woody Allen’s autobiography and said it would return all rights to the author, a day after its employees protested its deal with the filmmaker“The decision to cancel Mr. Allen’s book was a difficult one,” a spokeswoman for the publisher said in a statement. “We take our relationships with authors very seriously, and do not cancel books lightly. We have published and will continue to publish many challenging books. As publishers, we make sure every day in our work that different voices and conflicting points of views can be heard.”

But she added that Hachette executives had discussed the matter with employees and, “after listening, we came to the conclusion that moving forward with publication would not be feasible for HBG.”

There are those pesky rationalizations again! Oh, it’s a hard decision, so that excuses it from being a bad decision. This is 19 B. Murkowski’s Lament, or “It was a difficult decision” again, which I reviewed yesterday. Next, we get this nauseating sequence, which perfectly embodies 64, Yoo’s Rationalization, or “It isn’t what it is!”

The statement says that “We have published and will continue to publish many challenging books. As publishers, we make sure every day in our work that different voices and conflicting points of views can be heard,’ and follows it up by saying that it will not publish this “challenging book” and thus this different voice and conflicting point of view  will not be heard. Seldom does such complete hypocrisy define itself in the span of so few sentences.

The “difficult” decision that contradicts the company’s stated values results from nothing better than cowardly capitulating to a mob carrying out the goals of cancel culture. In this case, those goals include infringing on free speech and the public’s right to know, if they want to know. Our democratic ideals and the principles enunciated in the Bill of Rights have no chance of surviving if those who own and run companies like Hachette emulate the spineless administrators of educational institutions and dissolve into pools of passive submission every time holding to those ideals and principles threatens to entail a risk of sacrifice or adverse consequences. Continue reading

Noonish Ethics Warm-Up (But It’s Morning To Me!), 3/6/2020: Bill Clinton Returns, And Other Amusements

Morning already, Sea Dog?

I guess I have to admit that I don’t bounce back from travel like I used to…incidentally,the original voice of Captain Crunch was the great Daws Butler, who was Hanna-Barbara’s answer to Mel Blanc, and every bit as versatile as the voice of Bugs, Porky and Daffy. He was Fred Flintstone, Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw (and Baba Looey) Yogi Bear and Elroy Jetson, just to name a few of his 459 characters.

1. Enemy of the people…the Coronavirus situation is a perfect example of how the news media’s inability to avoid partisan bias does tangible harm. It is literally impossible to get straight reporting. The left-biased news media wants to make the situation seem as dire as possible, wants disruption of the financial markets, wants to undermine trust in the federal response, all because they so, so want to see President Trump defeated in November and they can feel that objective slipping away. The conservative media is determined to bolster the administration, and give the cheeriest spin on the pandemic possible. You either have to choose what you want to believe, or, like me, resign yourself to uncertainty because we have a corrupt and unethical journalistic establishment.

After the head of the World Health Organization (WHO)  estimated the global mortality rate of the coronavirus to be 3.4%, President Trump said on Fox News that his “hunch” was that it was much lower.

“I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number, and this is just my hunch, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this because a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly, they don’t even see a doctor, they don’t even call a doctor. You never hear about these people.”

He was immediately attacked in the press and mocked on social media, because, you know, he lies, he’s an idiot, and he doesn’t believe in science. His “hunch,’ however, is almost certainly right, and for exactly the reason he talked about. From The Hill:

“Experts warn that the figure from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus comes full of caveats and is likely to change as more people get tested and undergo treatment for the virus. ‘I think it’s lower because we are missing mild cases,’ said Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. ‘We should be preparing for [the worst] cases, it’s true, but also going out to see what the real number is….Folks want to be able to understand what the true risk is. They want to know just how deadly is it, how deadly is it to me? The challenge is, we don’t totally know.'”

Joe Biden, meanwhile, noted that the outbreak occurring during The Great War made it hard to separate the Real McCoy from the malarkey.

Oh, lighten up! I’m just having a little fun. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/3/2020: Super Tuesday Edition

Excited?

1. The Super Tuesday tragedy. I can’t find it online, but this supposedly crucial day in the 2020 Democratic Party nomination race yanked out of my mental archives a cartoon in the old National Lampoon that ran in 1972. It showed Richard Nixon saying, “Vote for me! I’ll make Southeast Asia look like the bottom of a used Shake ‘n’ Bake bag!”, and on the other side, showed George McGovern saying, “Vote for me! I have a spine like a wet bed of kelp!” That was the first election in which I could vote, and I refused to do so as a matter of principle. I had good friends who were passionate about McGovern, and I felt sorry for them. He was decent man, but so obviously not a rational choice for President of the United States.

All four of the Democrats (sort of…two of them are pretending to be Democrats) still in the race today are just awful options for anyone with their eyes open and not overcome with hatred of Donald Trump, which, it is clear, a distressing number of once-intelligent people are.  In the end, the Democratic Party is accountable for allowing things to come to this, just as the Republican Party was accountable for allowing itself to be swamped by Donald Trump, a real estate mogul who began his campaign as just one more branding opportunity, and hit the jackpot. How can any Democrat defend a vote for Michael Bloomberg, when part of the “resistance’s”  hate for President Trump is based on his alleged autocratic ways and threat to a free press, and they know that the former New York mayor has ordered his own news agency not to criticize him and is betting that his money alone will give him the White House? How can any Democrat defend a vote for Joe Biden, after that  party has claimed for three years that President Trump is mentally unfit and sexist,  and hearing Joe Biden sound more and more like Grandpa before he was put in a home, and seeing  photo after photo of women and girls wincing as Joe exploited a photo op to kiss, hug, grope or sniff them? How can any American defend a vote for Bernie Sanders ( and if I have to elaborate, you’re hopeless)? Finally, how can any Democrats filled with hate for  the President because of his lies, real or imagined, vote for Elizabeth Warren, whose career and campaign have been built on a foundation of lies?

Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Sixth Grade Dance

A furious mother is making an issue out of a Utah middle school’s policy requiring sixth-graders to agree acquiesce when a classmate asks them to dance.

Alicia Hobson’s 11-year-old daughter, Azlyn was asked to dance by a boy she thought was icky. She “politely” refused, but the principle at Rich Middle School in Laketown, Utah,  intervened, telling the couple to get out onto the dance floor. Was the boy short, fat, covered with acne, bad-smelling, a bully, afflicted with Down Syndrome? Was he poor, have a lisp, or Muslim? Was there a cool boy Azlyn was waiting to play Prince Charming? Never mind: As the principal, Kip Motta, later explained in a letter to Alicia Hobson, the school has a policy requiring students to accept dance invitations, and sticks by it. Motta wrote,

“We do ask all students to dance. It is the nice thing to do and this will continue to be our policy. There have been similar situations in the past where some students have felt uncomfortable with others, and, as stated prior, the issues were discreetly handled. This allowed all students to feel welcome, comfortable, safe, and included.”

Hobson equates the policy with “rape culture,” and is prepared to take the issue to the Utah Board of Education. “Girls HAVE to learn that they have the right to say no and that those around them have to respect that,” Hobson wrote on Facebook. “I’m not going to quietly stand by while my daughter and all of her classmates are being wrapped up in rape culture. No way.”

Ethics Alarms dealt with a similar issue in a different context in this post, about children accepting kisses and hugs from repulsive family members.

Before I pop the quiz question, I have three observations. The first is that that the principal’s fad use of the word “safe” has just got to stop. That’s not what “safe” means, and if we keep using “safe” to mean “insulated from any event, feeling or experience that someone might prefer to avoid,” the word will cease to have any communication value. The second is that equating the social obligation to accept an invitation at a supervised dance with “rape culture” is a hyperbolic crock, and should be identified as such immediately.

The third observation is that the “Today” headline is intentionally misleading and unfairly supports the mother’s inflammatory framing. “School policy forbids kids from saying ‘no’ when asked to dance” presumes the conclusion Hobson wants. “School policy requires students to be kind and considerate when asked to dance” promotes  the school’s rationale. An ethical and responsible headline would be, ““School policy requires students to accept an invitation to dance.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz today :

Is the school’s policy wise and ethical?

Continue reading

What A Coincidence! Chris Matthews Breaks Ranks With The Far Left, And Now He’s Accused of Sexual Harassment!

Oh, I’m sure these are unrelated occurrences, just like it was a coincidence that a progressive college professor suddenly sort-of remembered a school days attempted sexual assault by teenaged Brett Kavanaugh just in time to accuse him  during his Supreme Court nomination confirmation hearings. You’re sure too, aren’t you? No progressive would be so vicious as to try to weaponize #MeToo to “cancel” an MSNBC pundit for pointing out that Bernie Sanders sounds like a crypto-Communist, right? Come on. How ruthless do you think these people are?

Hot on the heels of Chris Matthews reminding young, naive and ignorant MSNBC viewers who don’t know Khrushchev from Orange Crush that the Cold War was fought with people who have the same world view as Bernie Sanders, even comparing Bernie’s rise to the Nazis marching into Paris (THAT was a bit excessive, but Chris apologized), a progressive journalist suddenly decides that Chris’s long ago flirtatious bantering with her was, come to think of it,  really unwelcome, especially coming from someone who doesn’t trust Bernie. Continue reading