Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/23/2019: Post Emmys Edition [UPDATED]

I’m kidding; I  didn’t watch the Emmys, have not watched a second of the Emmys in decades, and can’t imaging a greater waste of time than watching the Emmys, and that includes the time I spent watching “Tusk,” the Kevin Smith black comedy in which a madman played by Michael Parks traps a jerk podcaster played by Justin Long and surgically transforms him into a human walrus. I kind of liked it, to be honest.

That’s Billy Porter above, by the way, the first openly gay actor to win a performing Emmy, after the many, many non-openly gay actors who have won over all these years. Making a big deal out of this diminishes his honor, since it suggests that his sexual orientation had something to do with his winning the award. I don’t see any reason why who an actor chooses to have sex with should have any relevance to an acting honor.

[UPDATE: Not that it matters, but the Emmy broadcast ratings hit an all-time low. What? People voluntarily passed up a chance to see actresses use their podium time to lecture about acceptance of trans individuals, and basing industry pay levels on gender  equity rather than value?]

1. Country music’s Jackie Robinson. Ken Burns’ documentary “Country Music,” on PBS now, convinced me that Charlie Pride, the first black country music star, deserves more accolades than he has received, as do the white producers and allies, like Chet Akins, Jack D. Johnson, and Louis Allen “Al” Donohue, who made it possible for him to break that culture’s color barrier.

Inspired by Robinson, Pride resolved as a teen to escape the cotton fields. He played minor league baseball, and sang in bars to make extra cash. Then he was “discovered” by two country music figures and advised to go to Nashville.

It’s an amazing story (why Pride’s life hasn’t been made into a movie, I don’t know). Apparently at the beginning of his career, stations played his records without noting his race. In the documentary, Pride describes a Detroit concert where he was introduced to an all-white audience of nearly 20,000 that roared and applauded when he walked out, and then suddenly became silent when they saw his skin color. Do you think that scene might have inspired Richard Pryor to write this one?

2.  Jerk of the Year? Just being the NFL Jerk of the Year is an achievement (there is so much competition), but Antonio Brown, the star receiver signed by the New England Patriots (in their own bid for NFL Jerks of the Year) after he had jerked his way off his previous two teams, then released after two sexual misconduct allegations against him surfaced, went out in a blaze of jerkness.

Immediately after being ditched by the embarrassed Pats, Brown unleashed a torrent of attack tweets, attempting to position himself as a victim. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/11/19: September 11, 2001, And Other Cataclysms

The flag is still there…

Good morning.

1. A question that shouldn’t even have to be asked.  The New York Times asks if the “right thing to do” is for films and TV shows to edit out the Twin Towers in pre-2001 productions so as not to “trigger” sensitive audience members. Productions debuting in 2002, soon after the 9/11 attacks, are a special case: several films re-shot scenes to avoid references to the disaster, and that was just common sense. The suggestion that historical airbrushing is appropriate for works release before 2001 is disturbing, however, and symptomatic of the current belief that historical records cand and should be manipulated and censored for “the greater good.” Taking out the Twin Towers is a close unethical cousin of removing Robert E. Lee statues and references to slavery.

Director Michael Bay, who had a shot of one of the towers burning (from a meteor strike) in “Armageddon,” made an appropriate “slippery-slope” argument to  the Times, saying,

“Movies are shot, edited and finished for the world to see. They don’t get re-edited because history changes. If we go there, that means every movie must change. Every book, every short story, every painting of New York in the past 30 years. It would never end.”

I would add that it will be difficult to remember the September 11. 2001 attacks if we try to eliminate visual records of the Twin Towers.

2. Meanwhile, here’s how the New York Times wants us to remember the attackers: Continue reading

Funky Winkerbean vs. The NFL [CORRECTED]

The National Football League is moving inexorably toward another brain-wrecking season with scant resistance from the mainstream media or the ethics-blind public. It is heartening, therefore, to see comics section stalwart (since 1972) “Funky Winkerbean,” drawn and written by cartoonist Tom Batiuk, try to educate society, especially children, regarding the perils of football.

One of the rare comics that allows its characters to age and even die, “Funky Winkerbean” is beginning a 10 week story involving the deterioration of a regular character who once played in the NFL, as the symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, take over and destroy his life.

Such enlightening of the nooks and crannies of our culture is vital if the public is ever going to stop enabling this unconscionable sport, in which, on the professional level, the disabling of young athletes is monetized by paying them to risk a slow, early, horrible death that is far enough in the future that they can rationalize their choice to accept the deal.

The New York Times article about the strip’s latest story arc is odd, as well as suspicious. It never mentions the NFL. It refers to CTE as the result of “sports-related concussions” that “in extreme cases, can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a form of degenerative dementia.”

I classify this a deliberate misdirection, and I wonder why the Times would stoop to it. This is primarily a football problem that also can affect those who play soccer, hockey, boxing, lacrosse and baseball, but the CTE threat in pro football is hardly restricted to “extreme cases.” There is evidence that the condition may begin at the high school level of football or even earlier, and that nearly all NFL players may suffer from it to various degrees. Is the Times burying the lede here because its readers are passionate NFL fans, and in denial over their beloved barbaric sport? New York City does have two NFL teams.

When a comic strip shows more responsibility and candor than the nation’s “paper of record,” there is a problem.

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/26/2019: Bad Business And Bad Businesses

Whoa! A morning surprise!

As I commented on yesterday’s warm-up, traffic on Ethics Alarms was discouraging slow all weekend, which, as some of you know, makes me re-evaluate my priorities and ponder throwing myself into the shredder. Then, I discover, at some point last night the Mitch McConnell post was linked someplace that has a much bigger audience than I have, and just like that, the blog got more visitors in a couple of hours as the weekend weekended than it had in the previous two days. As is usually the case, it is impossible to find out where the referrals are coming from (except I know they aren’t from Facebook!), virtually none of the new visitors are commenting, and the temporary avalanche spawns few new followers, if any. I never know when this is going to happen, and it almost never occurs with the essays I am most proud of or consider especially important.

1. Of course they booed. They’re NFL football fans. This means they have the ethics of army ants. Andrew Luck, the star quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, stunned the sport with his unexpected decision to retire from the NFL, even though he is only 29 and completed a stellar campaign in 2018. The reason: he doesn’t want to end up crippled or a vegetable from the abuse his body and brain have absorbed and will continue to the longer he stays on the field. not having them anymore after the way fans in Indianapolis treated him after the  on Saturday.

As Luck began to make his way off the field following the 27-17 loss in the Colts’ preseason game against the Bears, fans at Lucas Oil Stadium started to boo their former quarterback because the news of Luck’s retirement broke during the fourth quarter of the game. Of course they booed. Anyone who watches the NFL and supports an NFL team by purchasing tickets, merchandise, or inflating league ratings by watching the games on TV has signaled that they are perfectly happy to encourage young men to ruin their bodies and minds for their selfish entertainment, safe in their seats or on their living room sofas.

2. More on the Left’s undemocratic effort to stifle free speech and opposition to its agenda…Tucker Carlson—I am not a fan, you will recall—returned to his Fox News show after a vacation that seemed more like a retreat from fire to find that the Media Matters-led sponsor boycott  of his show had taken more chunks out of his sponsor base.  Continue reading

Ethics Dunce, Determined To Be Duncier: Oakland Raiders Wide Receiver Antonio Brown

Antonio and his beloved helmet

The weird Brown saga  is useful evidence—I almost wrote “intelligence,” and it’s definitely not THAT—regarding the mystery how the NFL can get away with crippling its players by nearly guaranteeing that they will be brain-damaged early in life and demented later. True, they pay their stars a lot to give their brains and future to the game for the profit of team owners and sponsors. True, NFL fans don’t care what if their favorite human battering rams and tackling dummies can’t speak coherently in their fifties as long as they can chant, “DE-Fence!” every Sunday (and some Mondays and Thursdays) while and guzzle beer. Still, it helps that so many NFL players aren’t all that swift to begin with.

Exhibit Duh is Oakland’s Antonio Brown, who has reportedly told team officials that he will quit the game unless he is allowed to wear his old helmet in the upcoming season. That old helmet has been banned by the league, which in light of CTE research and various tests and studies, has determined that it is unacceptably dangerous, unlike the game itself, which is acceptably dangerous.  Brown has even filed a grievance with the NFL to try to get permission to wear the same model helmet he wore with the Pittsburgh Steelers. That helmet, however, is no longer certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment. Now, the NFL revels in The Kings Pass, and has allowed its stars to get away with a lot—drug use, felonies, murder arrests, cheating, domestic abuse, beating their kids, protesting the National Anthem for no coherent reason. I doubt, however, that even the NFL will cave to Brown’s demands.

All sports have safety rules, and players do not have the choice of defying them. Indy Racers can’t declare that they are more comfy without seat-belts; cyclists can’t insist that they want to wear baseball caps in the Tour de France. Interestingly, hockey goalies can play maskless, but none are foolish enough to do it. There hasn’t been a bare-faced NHL goalie since the mid-70’s, when they decided that they didn’t want to go through life looking like Terry Sawchuck…

Of course, if you’re sufficiently brain damaged, you don’t care how you look.

Brown’s determination to reduce his IQ by wearing the banned helmet is the stuff of myth and legend. Michael Silver related the tale in a long trail of tweets: Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 3/6/2019: Evil On The Web

Hi-

–just had to change the title from “morning” to “afternoon..

1. Pro sports team owners behaving badly. In the span of a week, one NFL owner, the Patriots’ Bob Kraft, was embarrassed by an arrest while seeking “happy endings” in massage parlor dabbling in illegal prostitution, and the President and CEO of baseball’s San Francisco Giants, Larry Baer, was videoed having a public battle with his wife over possession of his cell phone that ended with her screaming and on the floor of a restaurant. Kraft is being charged with solicitation, and Baer is taking a leave of absence after apologizing to fans.

Should private misconduct unrelated to team affairs warrant league discipline in cases like this? Absolutely. Pro sports sell heroes to the culture, and the leaders of any organization sets the ethical tone and molds the culture. If you aren’t equipped to be an ethical exemplar for your players and its fans, especially its young fans, then don’t buy a team.

2. In the “Hoisted by their own petard” files: Constantly woke Google, seeking to burnish its social justice credentials,  conducted a pay equity analysis for 2018 to make sure it was paying women equal pay for equal work. Surprise!  The study found that the company was underpaying men for doing similar work as their female counterparts. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) The company emphasized in a blog post that despite this pay discrepancy, deeper structural issues can continue to lead to pay disparities between men and women.

Elephant? What elephant?

3.  To be fair, Google did retire its “Don’t be evil” motto. Google will reportedly reject  calls from US lawmakers and human rights activists to remove a Saudi government app that allows men to control where women travel. The ap offers alerts if and when women leave the country. Saudi law says every woman must have a male guardian. The app, called Absher, has been condemned members of Congress and human rights groups.

4. ‘The solution to discrimination and prejuduce is more discrimination and prejudice…’ Bumble, the feminist dating site, is launching a women-only filter for its professional networking tool, Bumble Bizz. The new Women in Bizz feature, which can be turned on or off in app settings, excludes men from a user’s pool of potential connections. The idea is to help a traditionally underrepresented workforce connect and build support systems outside the office. Bumble is claiming that this is just an extension of Bumble’s core women-first mission. The  dating app lets women make the first move and message their romantic matches first. Now, Bumble claims,  it’s helping traditionally outnumbered female employees build a women-only network.

The problem with this analogy is that there is nothing unethical against women asking out men. Exclusion from job and career opportunities on the basis of gender (and race, age, ethnicity…) endorses discrimination in order to oppose it.

5. Saw this coming a mile away… On the same day Christian baker Jack Phillips won his 7-2 decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, overturning his conviction for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, a lawyer targeted his Masterpiece Cakeshop by demanding that he  bake a gender transition cake that was pink on the inside and blue on the outside.

Then, when he refused as the lawyer knew he would, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s decision again found probable cause that state law required him to bake and design the cake when doing so would go against his religious beliefs. Phillips responded by filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. I considered writing about this at the time, but decided to wait until the Commission again got slapped down, or it withdrew its complaint. Yesterday it withdrew its complaint, and Phillips dropped his law suit.

The first time around, I found Jack to be a Jerk by refusing to bake the wedding cake, though I felt he had a plausible case that he couldn’t be forced to do so. This time, however, he was targeted by a far bigger jerk, and I salute him for being willing to go back onto the battlefield. Too many advocates for LGBT causes have become the intolerant bullies they once opposed, seeking to punish and destroy anyone who doesn’t think as they do, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission proved that it has become an agent of such bullying. Like most bullies, however, it backed down when confronted with the prospect of losing.

6. And speaking of the frightening totalitarian tilt of today’s Left...Or, if you prefer, the way big tech companies are illicitly using their power to favor the interests of progressive-favored groups by stifling dissent, Amazon is now in the business of viewpoint censorship and deciding which books are fit for public perusal. The online retailer owned by the publisher of the Washington Post—you know, “Democracy dies in darkness”?  has just dropped the book “Mohammed’s Koran” by the controversial British activist Tommy Robinson and Peter McLoughlin.

Coauthor Peter McLoughlin states:

[T]his is the twenty-first century equivalent of the Nazis taking out the books from university libraries and burning them. Can you think of another scholarly book on Islam that has been banned by Amazon? “Mein Kampf” is for sale on Amazon. As are books like the terrorist manual called “The Anarchist Cookbook.”…[They] refuse to reinstate the book and refuse to explain why it has been banned. So they have banned the No.1 best-selling exegesis of the Koran. I can’t get my head round it. Every few weeks for the past 18 months they had emailed me asking to put it into special sales programmes, as it was selling so well. For 18 months they sought to profit even more from the sales. As dark as my vision is. I thought we were 10 to 20 years away from dissenting books from being banned.”

In related news, Facebook still won’t allow Ethics Alarms posts…

 

 

Ethics Run-Down, 2/5/2019: Neeson And Nipples

I’m calling it a run-down because I’m run down.

1. THANK YOU…Ethics Alarms readers who contributed—by tuning in to the Puppy Bowl or something, anything— to the NFL’s worst ratings for a Super Bowl in a decade, and by some metrics (percentage of homes) the worst ratings ever. True, nobody knows exactly what kept viewers away—the looming Kaepernick controversy, the blah game, LA being sick of getting beaten by Boston, the prospect of being preached to by virtue-signaling corporations, the uninspiring half-time show, families being smart enough to try to steer their kids away from football—but progress is progress. Someone will have to explain to me the “boring game” theory: who does someone know the game is going to be boring without watching it?

2. Oh, Great—thanks to Liam Neeson, we are one step closer to punishing thought crimes. What possessed the often thoughtful actor to expound on a period in his life when he hated blacks?

In an interview, published by The Independent,  Neeson, who specializes in revenge fantasy action movies, that 40 years ago he walked the streets with a weapon looking for black men to attack because friend of his had been raped by a man she identified as African American. The actor said he “went out deliberately into black areas in the city looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence”.

Now he is being attacked as a racist. And he’s surprised? The governor of Virginia is being attacked as a racist for dressing up as Michael Jackson when he was a student, and he wasn’t even trying to hurt anybody. Liam, Liam, Liam. Asked what he wanted people to learn from his experience, he told ABC’s Robin Roberts today, “To talk. To open up…We all pretend we’re all politically correct in this country…in mine, too. You sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry and it’s there. ”

Fine. Everyone has unethical, even evil thoughts and impulses on occasion. If we are normal, ethical, rational and reasonable, we deal with them in a healthy way. There is nothing unethical about thoughts. Unfortunately, we are plagued in the culture right now with those who want to dictate our thoughts and punish those who do not conform in order to control our liberties, expression and conduct. Neeson just gave those people, and Hollywood, where he works, is crawling with them, an opening to punish thoughts, specifically his.

Next time, Liam, talk to a priest, a psychiatrist, a spouse, a trusted friend, anyone but a journalist. If there is a next time: I fully expect Neeson to be effectively blackballed in his profession.

3. KABOOM! The stupidest Super Bowl ethics controversy ever! Actress Abigail Breslin—you may recall her fondly  in “Little Miss Sunshine,” not so fondly as “Baby” in the beyond horrible live TV version of “Dirty Dancing”— doesn’t understand why why Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine was allowed to go topless during his Super Bowl performance when Janet Jackson was so heavily criticized for her contrived nipple flashing during the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show. “Nipplegate” got CBS a $550,000 fine.

Levine removed his shirt to show off his heavily tattooed body as he performed, and a number of social media users, including celebrities, questioned why it was OK to see his top half and not Janet’s. You know. Morons.

“I have nothing against Adam Levine whatsoever and actually am a huge fan but it’s messed up that society seems it acceptable for him to be shirtless during the halftime show and Janet Jackson was chastised because her top half was accidentally exposed at the same event. #doublestandards,” Breslin tweeted. “It’s unfair that she was ridiculed for an accident that wasn’t even her fault but a man can take his shirt off on stage and it’s no problem….I’m saying neither should be fined. Or both should be fined. It’s not fair an accidental slip is cause for a fine but a man ripping his shirt off on stage is chill. It should be a fine for both or a fine for none.”

Actress Rosie Perez—is she more or less of a hasbeen than Breslin?— tweeted “Okay. Hold up. Are they going to go in and penalize # AdamLevine for showing his t*ts like they did @JanetJackson ? Just asking.”

Ugh. As Ethics Alarms has explained before, there was nothing accidental about Jackson’s flashing, and the risible claim that poor Janet had a “costume malfunction” (wink-wink) has entered the realm of fake history, less annoying but equally as false as “Hands Up! Don’t shoot!” But never mind that: have these actresses never been to a beach? A volleyball tournament? Do they live in nudist colony? Civilized society permits some parts of the male anatomy to be exposed in public, while some parts of the female anatomy are not considered appropriate for public display. The system has worked pretty well. Are feminists really going to try to label this a form of sexism?

On multiple fronts, it is beginning to appear that progressive cant is spinning into self-parody.

Here’s Adam, by the way:

 

I don’t know about you, but I had a hard time finding his nipples.