I’m Not Exactly Saying Shut Up And Sing, Shania, But If You Are Going To Talk About U.S. Politics, A) Know What You Are Talking About, And B) Don’t Back Down When The Thought Police Arrive

Canadian Country music superstar Shania Twain told  The Guardian that she “would have voted for” President Trump if she was an American citizen  “because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest.” She added,  Do you want straight or polite? Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bullshit. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?”

This off the cuff answer roused the social media anti-Trump Furies, and a hashtag, #ShaniaTwainCancelled, was born. Fearing that allowing a non-conforming opinion that the thought-policing Trump-hating Left had decreed was impermissible would harm her income stream, Twain instantly collapsed like the filling station in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”

As Ann Althouse amusingly put it, “By evening poor Shania — the erstwhile lover of no bullshit — had apologized.” She tweeted,

“I would like to apologise to anybody I have offended in a recent interview with the Guardian relating to the American President. The question caught me off guard. As a Canadian, I regret answering this unexpected question without giving my response more context I am passionately against discrimination of any kind and hope it’s clear from the choices I have made, and the people I stand with, that I do not hold any common moral beliefs with the current President. I was trying to explain, in response to a question about the election, that my limited understanding was that the President talked to a portion of America like an accessible person they could relate to, as he was NOT a politician ”

Observations:
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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/16/2018: First They Came For Wonder Woman….[CORRECTED and UPDATED]

Good Morning

… to end a frantic ethics week…

(An unusual number of the items this morning deserve a free-standing post. I’m not sure what to do about that; it’s been happening a lot lately.)

1 Not fake news, just a false news story that everyone ran with...Oops. All the angry condemnations of new CIA director designate Gina Haspel and President Trump (for nominating her, along with existing) were based on a mistake. From ProPublica:

On Feb. 22, 2017, ProPublica published a story that inaccurately described Gina Haspel’s role in the treatment of Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaida leader who was imprisoned by the CIA at a secret “black site” in Thailand in 2002. The story said that Haspel, a career CIA officer who President Trump has nominated to be the next director of central intelligence, oversaw the clandestine base where Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding and other coercive interrogation methods that are widely seen as torture. The story also said she mocked the prisoner’s suffering in a private conversation. Neither of these assertions is correct and we retract them. It is now clear that Haspel did not take charge of the base until after the interrogation of Zubaydah ended.

ProPublica, unlike, say, CNN, knows how to accept responsibility for a bad journalism botch. Stephen Engelberg, editor-in-chief, sums up the episode after explaining how the story was misreported:

A few reflections on what went wrong in our reporting and editing process.

The awkward communications between officials barred from disclosing classified information and reporters trying to reveal secrets in which there is legitimate public interest can sometimes end in miscommunication. In this instance, we failed to understand the message the CIA’s press office was trying to convey in its statement.

None of this in any way excuses our mistakes. We at ProPublica hold government officials responsible for their missteps, and we must be equally accountable. This error was particularly unfortunate because it muddied an important national debate about Haspel and the CIA’s recent history. To her, and to our readers, we can only apologize, correct the record and make certain that we do better in the future.

Perfect. This is a news source we can trust.

2. That was ProPublica. This is CNN (The Chris Cuomo post was here originally, but it got so long I posted it separately.) Continue reading

Curse You, Political Correctness Bullies! Now You’re Forcing Me To Defend Lena Dunham!

Dunham2

A downside of running an ethics blog is that you have to defend really disgusting people from time to time: Harry Reid, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump…and now Lena Dunham. In fact, this story rescued the “Girls” creator from a different post here, as she recently had to apologize for an online newsletter rant that attacked the character of NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. and attributed various sexist attitudes to him based purely on the fact that he showed no interest in her when they were seated together at a recent function. ( Legitimate reasons why he may have ignored her: he had other things on his mind, she’s not his type, she’s a professional jerk, she’s Lena Dunham).

Before I have to defend Dunham, who is an awful person based on available evidence, let me make a few observations. One is that fame in the 21st Century can expose the unsavory and unethical nature of the famous far more than it did in pre-social media days. This is part of Donald Trump’s plight. Another is that Twitter and social media are literally traps for jerks, and it is amazing that so many of them keep getting caught, even with the bodies of previous trap-ees littering the immediate landscape. Finally, I wonder if there are still publicists around in the tradition of my late friend, Bob McElwaine. and if there are, why doesn’t Lena hire one to save her from herself? Bob was a Hollywood Golden Age publicist who saw his job as keeping the fact that his clients were jerks secret. He was great at it: his major client was Danny Kaye, a truly vile, troubled and nasty individual whose public persona was exactly the opposite.

All right, enough stalling.

For some reason, this Dunham tweet from five years ago surfaced, and has led a social media lynch mob to attack Dunham as being a racist…

Dunham tweet

Pop quiz: What exactly is it about the tweet that makes it racist?

The answer is “Nothing.” Racism requires attributing negative features or conduct to an individual or group based solely on racial bias and prejudice. It is not racism to base conclusions on statistical reality. Interestingly, most of the attacks on the tweet claim that the tweet is anti-Asian. It is racist to attribute virtuous qualities, like a reluctance to rape, to a race? Wow! Apparently the tweet is being condemned as a slur on Asian manhood. Since when is it manly to rape someone? Silly me: I assumed that Dunham was referring to well-documented  cultural support of respect for women, law-abiding conduct and other ethical virtues in Asian-American families.

Or is the complaint that by assuming an Asian-American is less of a threat than a male of another race, Dunham was by extension saying that other races were more of a threat? This would most fairly interpreted as an anti-white slur, however, since whites make up almost 75% of the population of convicted rapists. I thought anti-white bigotry was OK in political correctness circles! Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The University Of Washington Cheerleader Do’s and Don’ts

 

I have to admit that for me, one potential benefit of the viral political correctness malady that makes virtually any communication a potential threat to one’s career, reputation or physical well-being would be the obliteration of the embarrassment known as “cheerleading squads” from athletic events sidelines and the culture forever.

Nevertheless, this episode from earlier this week warrants examination.

The University of Washington cheerleading team posted an infographic on Facebook Monday night, giving out aspiring cheerleader audition tips.  The team said that it created the graphic “in response to a high volume of student questions about cheer and dance team tryouts.” Similar “do’s and don’ts”  had been posted by the squads at Washington State University and Louisiana State University  but this one caused a full social media freakout.

University of Washington cheerleader tryout advert.

“I can’t believe this is real,” exclaimed UW student Jazmine Perez, director of programming for student government. “One of the first things that comes mind is objectification and idealization of Western beauty, which are values I would like to believe the University doesn’t want to perpetuate,” she said. “As a student of color who looks nothing like the student in the poster, this feels very exclusive.” Another UW student complained, “I think it’s really upsetting and kind of disheartening the way it’s basically asking these women who want to try out to perform their femininity — but not too much. Such a message would never go out to men trying out for a sport.”

The graphic was taken down quickly, because university officials deemed that some might find it offensive….a standard that if followed routinely these days would preclude virtually any statement or graphic about anything. I am sure someone is at work on software right now that will devise within seconds a basis for outrage and offense for any form of expression.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz today:

Was this an unethical—as in hurtful, irresponsible, incompetent, insulting or unfair—graphic?

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The Same Students Who Defend Illegal Immigrants Appropriating American Rights And Benefits Make Clemson Grovel For Borrowing Mexican Culture

sombreros

Actually, they didn’t make Clemson grovel, Clemson chose to grovel rather than teaching the proper lesson, which is that when you live in this melting pot culture, every thing it has belongs to you, and everything you bring to the pot belongs to it. Clemson’ ethical and responsible response to two students who were “offended” by “Mexican Food Night” and students wearing sombreros should have been “Oh, grow up!”

Clemson Dining’s “Maximum Mexican” night is a regular event popular among students.  However, when two students  took to Twitter to protest that the “#CulturallyInsensitive” food fest was offensive, Clemson officials rushed to apologize. The university also has a Irish-themed night for St. Patrick’s Day, but it might survive because the Irish missed their opportunity to become political correctness bullies and dictators.

Another student objected to the wearing of sombreros, saying, “Our culture isn’t a costume and we will not be mocked!” Once again, the correct response from the University was “shut up, you’re embarrassing yourself, and if you can’t understand this country better than that, then you really should do some nation shopping. ” Continue reading