2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck Ethics Dunce: Jan Chamberlin…It’s The Golden Age For Irrelevant Grandstanding Jerks!

"Pssst...is that HITLER in the audience?"

“Pssst…is that HITLER in the audience?”

Jan Chamberlin, a singer for the 360 member Mormon Tabernacle Choir, sent a resignation letter to the choir president and choir members. Who is Jan Chamberlin, and why is this by any stretch of the imagination news?  She is no one of special note, except that she crafted her resignation an insult to the President Elect of the United States, ignorantly and absurdly. That, according to the news media, and that alone, makes her today’s 15 minute star. She wrote in part:

“Since ‘the announcement,’ [ that is, the cataclysmic announcement that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would perform as part of America’s celebration of Inauguration Day on January 20 ] I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot, talked with family and friends, and searched my soul . I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in the choir for all the other good reasons. I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be all right and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.”

But Jan is thoroughly infected by whatever virus it is that has led so many left-leaning Americans to conclude that all previous standards of respect, honesty, decorum, fairness, civility, common sense and civic duty have been suspended because a manipulative, corrupt and incompetent Democratic Party nominee for President defending the awful record of the current Democratic President somehow managed to lose an election.  Thus the singer concluded that a sensible course was to make a play for historical footnote status, and metaphorically spit on the country, the public and its chosen leader before he has spent a second in the Oval Office.

Naturally, the news media, bidding to be even more roundly distrusted and reviled than its performance during the last year has  made it, responds like Sea World seals. Continue reading

Dear Rockettes: You Are Professionals And Americans…Act Like It.

rockettes

Asked about whether he would perform at the January 20 Inauguration or its subsequent official celebrations in Washington, D.C., country music super-star Garth Brooks said, simply, “It’s always about serving. It’s what you do.”

Right answer. This marked him as a professional, a patriot, and an adult (or perhaps as a lying hypocrite, since for whatever reason, he is not performing). The opposite reaction of so many of his show business colleagues mark them, in contrast, as divisive, arrogant, ignorant and unprofessional jerks.

Performers fit all the requirements for being regarded and respected as professionals, who are those who use their skills and talents for the benefit of humankind and society. The traditional definition adds that professionals do this service at some personal sacrifice, a virtue that most doctors and many lawyers can no longer claim. Performers, however, are largely impoverished, devoting their lives to making people gasp, laugh, weep, cheer or most important of all, think, because they love what they do, and understand the importance of art to society and civilization.

It is as unprofessional for a singer, dancer, juggler or actor to refuse to entertain audience members whose politics or character they oppose as it is for a doctor to refuse to treat them, for a lawyer to refuse to represent them, or a clergyman to  withhold from them spiritual guidance. The problem unique to performers as professionals is that they are not educated to appreciate their responsibilities like typical professionals, nor do their professions exercise any ethical oversight. As a result, we get the current display of divisive and ignorant grandstanding over performing—or not performing— at Donald Trump’s inauguration.

In Honolulu, Hawaii, yet another partisan and bigoted establishment has ordered anyone who voted for Trump to take its business elsewhere, as a local cafe posted a sign that reads: “If you voted for Trump you cannot eat here! No Nazis.” It has become clear that if many progressives have their way, their efforts to divide the nation into the Good and the Bad, with the fairly elected President of the United States as the defining feature of the latter, will shatter societal bonds coast to coast like nothing the U.S. has seen since the Civil War. The sooner the Angry Turned Vicious Left comes to its senses, the safer and healthier we all will be.

Performers, as professionals, are supposed to understand that they have a higher calling than restaurant owners. They are here to bind society together, for what we all experience in a diverse audience brings us closer in sentiment, emotion, empathy and enlightenment. For performers to decide to excise certain audience members from that process is madness, as well as a betrayal of their mission and art. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Late Nominations For 2016 Jerk Of The Year: Lena Dunham And Daniel Goldstein, Ivanka’s Jet Blue Harasser”

 

Bill Maher, role model...

Bill Maher, role model…

Steve-O-in-NJ‘s reaction to the JetBlue flight harassment of Ivanka Trump by a lawyer could just as easily been written as a comment on this Ethics Alarms post, from shortly after the election, which began..

I have to adapt, with acknowledgement, a long-running gag wielded by Prof. Glenn Reynolds on his iconic conservative website Instapundit thus:

“I wrote if Donald Trump was elected President, we’d have a nation of assholes, and I was RIGHT!”

The problem is that the joke isn’t funny in this case. It’s tragic. What I am seeing in the news, watching on social media and reading on the web and in editorial pages shows me that the last eight years have done even more damage to American unity and ethics than I had realized.

Here is Steve-O-in-NJ‘s Comment of the Day on the post, “Late Nominations For 2016 Jerk Of The Year: Lena Dunham And Daniel Goldstein, Ivanka’s Jet Blue Harasser,” and I’ll have a few comments at the end:

The left seems to be perfectly ok with raising jerkiness to a profession – I decline to call it an art form. I’ll be the first to admit sometimes I don’t use my brain and turn to vicious attacks. Jack was absolutely right that I am not helping myself in my lucid moments when I do that, and, in all fairness, he isn’t the first. Actually a judge here in NJ has seen both sides of me, and said to me once, in a rare ex parte discussion (as part of a “breakout” settlement conference) that “there are two of you, apparently, the thinking Steve and the angry Steve. I would request that only the thinking Steve appear here.” I’d also say that some other people here aren’t helping themselves with the same approach, BUT, that’s for Jack to say more about.

There are plenty of scholars and pundits on both sides politically, and they are of varying quality, from the very erudite to the not much more than trash talkers. Most of us, when we are in our thinking mode, can tell the one from the other, and would place more value on Victor Davis Hanson’s perhaps overly sonorous pronouncements than on Michelle Malkin’s near-rants, and more value on Alan Dershowitz’s legal analysis than on Jonathan Alterman’s self-important poking.

Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Kanye West

kanye-west-meadows-2016

I need a new designation for people like Kanye West, and am open to suggestions. Noting that in any specific episode that West is an ethics dunce is entirely superfluous and stating what was undeniable and generally known long ago. This is a man who accused George W. Bush of wanting to see black citizens suffer in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and did so on national TV. This is a man who interrupted a fellow entertainer’s acceptance speech for an industry award to announce to the world that she didn’t deserve it. This is a man who has inflicted the names “North” and “Saint” on his helpless children. He, like Donald Trump (whom I would vote for as President over Kanye West, so don’t say I’m #NeverTrump), belongs to that rare but growing class of celebrities for whom  civil descriptions are inadequate. Only labels like “asshole” come close to describing them. In the West’s extreme case, even that is an insult to assholes.

West gave us another view of his near total ethics vacuum when he abruptly ended his October 2 performance at the Meadows Festival in Queens, New York City. He had just learned that his wife, Kim Kardashian, was robbed at gunpoint in her Paris hotel room. West, who was headlining the festival, went onstage (late, as usual) at a little after 8:45 p.m. He was scheduled to perform until 10 p.m., but walked off the stage at 9:40, halfway through the song “Heartless,” announcing, “I’m sorry, family emergency, I have to stop the show.” Continue reading

The Black Lives Matters Effect, Part I: The Tenor And The Blogger

Singing the right lyrics also matters, you boob...

Singing the right lyrics also matters, you boob…

One thing you have to say for Black Lives Matters: it is good at making people make asses of themselves. “Late Night” host Seth Myers was yesterday’s example, but there are oh-so-many-more, and much worse.

For example, in the pre-game ceremonies of the Major League Baseball 2016 All-Star Game in San Diego, a Canadian tenor, apparently driven to distraction by the reverential treatment given to a group that promotes race hatred and a color-based standard for law-enforcement, snapped while performing the Canadian national anthem. Remigio Pereira, a member of  the vocal group The Tenors tapped to sing the anthem, held up a handwritten sign that read “All Lives Matter” altered the lyrics in the line “With glowing hearts we see thee rise. The True North strong and free” to “We’re all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great.”

This doesn’t fit the music, and is even worse than the real lyrics, which is quite a feat. Of course, Remigio was unethical to do this, expropriating an event that had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter, nor race, nor politics to make his own grandstanding statement (come to think of it, baseball does have something to do with grandstands. The stunt was disrespectful of everyone—his hosts, Major League Baseball; San Diego; the captive audience in the stadium, the TV audience, Canada. It was also a breach of trust that directly and perhaps fatally wounded his group, which immediately suspended him (Can we say F-I-R-E-D, Tenors? Sure we can) and issued an abject apology.

The statement was not unduly disrespectful to Black Lives Matter, however, which has shown itself to be unworthy of respect, as all divisive hate groups are.

The Black Lives Matters effect is wide-ranging, however, as this episode shows. It not only makes Canadian tenors irresponsible, but sportswriters too. Over at NBC Sports online, baseball blogger Craig Calcaterra couldn’t perceive the unethical nature of a performer hijacking a paid gig for his own purposes, but lectured his readers on the sin of using the term “All Lives Matter,” writing,

This may not seem terribly controversial to some, but in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement that has risen over the past few years, “All Lives Matter” has come to be seen as a reactionary response which fundamentally misunderstands — often intentionally — the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement. And is used to belittle and marginalize the Black Lives Matter Movement. The phrase “black lives matter” does not mean that “black lives matter more than any other lives.” If it did, sure, maybe “All Lives Matter” would be a reasonable response. But “Black Lives Matter” is a response to a society and, particularly, police, which treat blacks as lesser persons and who do not face repercussions for harming and in some cases killing black people through excessive force. It’s “black lives matter too” — a necessary statement, sadly — not “black lives matter more.”

Sigh. Continue reading

Double Standard Chronicles: Why Is Mocking The Rolling Stones For Their Appearance More Ethical Than Fat-Shaming Kelly Clarkson?

Rolling Stones

It isn’t. It is just as wrong.

Fox’s Chris Wallace has apologized for making a gratuitous and unkind crack about pop singer Kelly Clarkson’s weight on a conservative talk radio show (he was suckered into it by the host, Mike Gallagher, who has also apologized to Clarkson.)

Today I have seen the above graphic circulating on Facebook with many “likes” and snarky comments about Mick and Keith’s faces.

My restrained reply is “Shut up, jerks, and show some respect.

Original members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts are over 70 now. Nevertheless, they are embarking on another North America tour. They can still play, in some ways better than ever; Mick can still sing, and can still dance like a chicken. The Stones show passion and professionalism in every performance; those who have seen their concerts leave amazed. The Stones are not like the Beach Boys or the Turtles, croaking out 50-year-old hits to grandparents at county fairs. The Stones can still rock, still have musical integrity, still give their audiences their money’s worth and then some.

I wonder how many of the Facebook trolls writing about how the Stones, who are going to be 73 this year, look old—they are old, and so what? What exactly are they supposed to do about that?—know how hard performing at a professional level is, how exhausting it is, how it impossible to get to sleep for hours after a show because you are soaked with adrenaline, and how much wear and tear it places on the body, emotions and mind.

My guess? Very few. And very few of these obnoxious critics will be able to walk upstairs quickly at the age that the Stones are still rocking arenas. I give three hour, interactive ethics seminars, and I’m a lively speaker. After about two seminars in a week with the related travel, I am fried—and the Stones are expending more energy, more often, then I am. They are also a decade older than I am. I can’t be certain I’ll be able to do my Ethics Chicken Dance when I’m 73. They are an inspiration. Continue reading

No, There’s No Comparison Between Bill Cosby And Woody Allen And No “Double Standard”

One of these things is not like the other....

One of these things is not like the other….

Newspapers should make us more informed and smarter, not less informed and dumber. Thus a Washington Post feature this morning qualifies as journalism malpractice, incompetence exemplified. Its theme: “Gee, why is Woody Allen signing a new deal to do a streaming comedy series for Amazon, while Bill Cosby lost his deal with NBC?” The print edition sub-heads: “Crisis responses may explain…”

No, they don’t. This is a false comparison based on superficial similarities: two comics who initially peaked in the same era, both in their seventies, shadowed now by sex scandals. The effort to use one to question the treatment of the other is either intellectually dishonest or so analytically unsound that it should forfeit the authors’ privileges of being assigned to write anything for mass consumption (the Post piece is by Stephanie Merry and Amy Argetsinger, and shame on them). The question of why Allen and Cosby are being treated differently in the court of public opinion isn’t worth asking, but since they asked, here are the obvious answers:

1. Woody Allen’s art, comedy, and persona have never had anything to do with virtue, stable families or being any kind of a role model. As a performer, he has presented himself as perpetually horny, neurotic, obsessed with sex and masturbation, prone to lying, and open to adultery, betrayal, stealing friends’ lovers; in “Manhattan,” he happily romanced a virtual child. In real life, he says things like “The heart wants what the heart wants,” which is a  rationalization for any act unethical or illegal, involving sexual or romantic desire. If you were ever a fan of Woody Allen after the age of 13, you were so because he was funny, accepting the fact that he is at best a sexually obsessed, maladjusted creep.

None of this is true of Cosby, who has always aimed his comedy at innocence, functional families and traditional virtues, and represented his own values as consistent with these when speaking for himself. Sex was not any part of Cosby’s art or image. He was an iconic good guy. Continue reading

Ethics Quote: Sid Caesar (1922-2014)

Sid Caesar

“I remember a satire we did on ‘High Noon.’ The townspeople were supposed to abandon me and return their deputy badges to me by pinning them on my chest. I was supposed to have a sponge inside my shirt. But I didn’t have time to change. So they kept coming, saying, ‘Sorry, Sheriff,’ and pinning on the badges. After it was over, I went backstage, and somebody said, ‘Hey, you did real good pain takes.’ I told him the pain was for real.”

—-Comedy great Sid Caesar, who died yesterday at the age of 91, recounting for the New York Times an example of a how he suffered for his art, which was, always, making us laugh.

Caesar’s anecdote is as perfect a description of professionalism as I have ever seen, or ever will see.

Thank you, Sid Caesar, for devoting your life, body and soul, to laughter.

Bob Newhart, Legatus And GLAAD: “What’s Going On Here?” Is Tricky To Answer

"Hey, Bob---What's going on here?"

“Hey, Bob—What’s going on here?”

The news item about comedian Bob Newhart cancelling an appearance for the Catholic executives networking group Legatus under pressure from GLAAD is fascinating.

From the perspective of Ethics Alarms, it illustrates a peculiar phenomenon I experience often, where a prominent story seems to have been designed by the Ethics Gods specifically to combine and coalesce several issues that have been discussed here recently. For Bob’s travails neatly touch on the issues of pro-gay  advocacy groups attempting to restrict expression they disagree with( The Phil Robertson-A&E Affair, Dec. 19), a comedian being pressured to alter the course of his comedy (Steve Martin’s Tweet Retreat, Dec. 23) and an entertainment figure being criticized for the activities of his audience (Mariah’s Dirty Money, Dec. 23). You would think I could analyze the Newhart controversy by just sticking my conclusions from those recent posts, plus some of the more illuminating reader comments, into my Ethics-O-Tron, and it would spit out the verdict promptly.

It doesn’t work that way, at least in this instance, and that prompts the other observation. In most ethics problems, the starting point is the question, “What’s going on here?”, which forces us to determine the factual and ethical context of the choices made by the participants. Here, the question can be framed  several diverging ways, leading to different assessments of the ethics involved. Thus, asking “What’s going on here?” in the Bob Newhart Episode, we might get: Continue reading

The Ethics of Singing For Muammar…No, Wait, I Mean José

Mariah-CareyIt is seldom that an ethics controversy repeats itself so exactly that I am tempted to re-run a previous post word for word with just a couple of names changed, but the flack Mariah Carey is getting from human rights activists and others for accepting a million bucks to perform for Angola’s dictator is just such an instance.

I wrote about this situation in 2011, when Nelly Furtado (and Carey) were under fire for performing for the late Muamar Gaddafi, when he was dictating to Libya.  I officially incorporate said post into this one, in full.  Just read it here, with “Mariah” substituted wherever I wrote “Nelly,” “Carey” for “Furtado,” and the name of Angola’s president, José Eduardo dos Santos, wherever the dead Libyan leader’s name appears.It all still applies. To sum up for the large percentage of people who, surveys say, can’t be bothered to click on links, it’s completely bogus criticism. Continue reading