Tag Archives: racial bias

Award Ethics: Hollywood’s Casey Affleck-Nate Parker Controversy Is Ethically Simple, But Then, Hollywood Doesn’t Have Ethics

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (7734778do) Casey Affleck - Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Manchester By The Sea 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Press Room, Los Angeles, USA - 08 Jan 2017

There were several possible Ethics Alarms posts that could have come out of The Golden Globe Awards last night, the obvious one involving the continuing arts community tantrum in the wake of the election of Donald Trump over Hollywood’s sweetheart, Hillary Clinton. Meryl Streep put herself in the running for “Gratuitous Cheap Shot Of The Year ” with her acceptance speech for something or other, but I decided that in a community where Rosie O’Donnell tweets “Fuck you!” to the Speaker of the House for simply completing his duty to certify the Electoral College vote, and over the weekend tweeted, “HE MUST NEVER BE SWORN IN – DELAY INAGURATION – INVESTIGATE – ARREST HIM” as her considered analysis of the proper workings of our democracy, Streep’s shot seemed like the height of restraint.

The more interesting issue on display at the Golden Globes  involves actor Casey Affleck, Batman’s brother, who won the night’s Best Actor in a Film Drama award for his performance in “Manchester by the Sea.” Last year, it was revealed that the actor had two sexual harassment lawsuits filed against him in 2010 that alleged he had groped women on the set and created a generally hostile work environment while directing the film, “I’m Still Here.” Since during the campaign Hollywood was all-in using misogyny and sexual  harassment as one of the many accusations against Donald Trump, some claim that honoring Affleck undermines the community’s assumed condemnation of the Trump-like conduct he was accused of.

Complicating the matter is the conundrum surrounding Nate Parker, the previously unknown black artist who was the main creative force behind the 2016 slave-revolt film “The Birth of a Nation.”  As Oscar buzz was ramping up for his film—remember that the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences is more or less obligated to find plenty of nominations and awards for African Americans, regardless of objective artistic merit—  new details surfaced concerning a decades old criminal case in which Parker was accused of raping a female student while both were at Penn State.  He was acquitted,  but the facts were ugly, and the alleged victim committed suicide. Once that was known, all of the promise shown by “The Birth of a Nation” evaporated. Although the film was a smash at festivals, it received mixed reviews,bombed at the box office, and has been poison at the various awards so far, receiving no nominations.

The New York Times, among other media sources, has published several articles about the apparent double standard, saying most recently,
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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

From The “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files: The Non-Sexual Coat-Hanger Rape

coat-hanger

What’s going on here? We may not  know enough to be sure, but one thing is certain: Deputy Attorney General Casey Hammer’s brain and mouth are not connected to his ethics alarms. Maybe the whole Idaho Attorney General’s office has the same problem.

In 2015, charges were brought against  three white Dietrich, Idaho high school football players alleging that they attacked and sexually assaulted a black, mentally disabled teammate. John R.K. Howard, then 18, was charged as an adult and accused of thrusting a coat-hanger into the anus of the boy while the others held him.

Now 19,  Howard was allowed last week to avoid jail time in exchange for an Alford plea, a device allowed in some states, in which he acknowledges that he would have likely been found guilty in trial but doesn’t admit his guilt.  He pleaded to a single felony count of injury to a child, for which he will be sentenced to only two to three years of probation and 300 hours of community service. In my state, serious traffic violations can get harsher punishment than that.

Deputy Attorney General Casey Hammer “explained” that while Howard’s behavior was “egregious” and caused the victim “a lot of suffering,” it was not a really a sex crime, and so his office agreed to dropping the charge to the lesser felony. This means that in Idaho, apparently, kicking a hanger into a male victim’s rectum doesn’t qualify as rape. I wonder if any object being kicked into someone’s rectum is similarly immune from the charge. Would someone who kicked a hanger into a woman’s vagina be called rape? How about if the assailant was black and the victim was white?

Incredibly, Hemmer’s commentary got worse. “We don’t believe it’s appropriate for Mr. Howard to suffer the consequences of a sex offender,” Hemmer said. “But he still needs to be held accountable.”

Heaven forbid that that a student who does this to a disabled team mate while he is being held by two other students should suffer. We can’t have that.

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunces: Boston Red Sox Players

owens pole

Yesterday, while watching the Boston Red Sox game on NESN as I always do EVEN WHEN THE TEAM STINKS, like this year, because no summer soldier I, team broadcasters Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy pointed out that Sox rookie Henry Owens was watching the game while being taped to a pole, with his mouth taped shut as well.

This is old-fashioned baseball rookie hazing, as Remy explained (also opining that he thought it was stupid when he played and is stupid now). The theory is that this makes rookies part of the team, builds cohesion and spirit, and yada yada yada, all the same phony rationalizations that jerks have used to excuse hazing cruelty and sadism in fraternities, the military, cults and sports teams for eons. The Owens stunt was relatively mild (and mercifully short), but the practice of hazing is still institutionalized bullying, uncivilized, and, as Remy said, stupid.

Sports team players are home town heroes, and role models too. How many kids will be humiliated, tortured, injured or even killed because the Boston Red Sox thought it was funny to immobilize a 6’6″ rookie pitcher by taping him to a pole on live TV, thus teaching him that no matter how  good he may be at pitching (and Owens is going to be really good), he’s at the bottom of the pecking order until he “earns” decent treatment and respect. “In my experience, the guys who really liked hazing the rookies were the players who couldn’t play,” noted Jerry, a Sox regular in the Eighties.  They were sadistic bullies, in other words, making up for their own inadequacies by abusing others.

You can say that Owens consented, and that’s like arguing that Monica consented when the President of the United States wanted her to emulate a Bourbon Street hooker. Owens could refuse, and be regarded as a bad team mate, leading to a year or more of cut shoelaces, shredded uniforms, insulting messages on his locker and worse “jokes.” Or he could quit baseball and sell Slurpees rather than make a gazillion dollars. He had to submit, and had to smile about it.

So he did.

Even baseball players need to be better at ethics chess than this, and calculate the likely consequences of their conduct. Hazing is unethical, and glamorizing, modeling and trivializing it on TV is irresponsible.

And stupid.

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Sports

Comment of the Day: “Rationalization #30 (“It’s a bad law/stupid rule”) Chronicles: Vijay Chokalingam’s Affirmative Action Fraud”

On the bright side, Dr. Nick improves the diversity of the medical profession...

On the bright side, Dr. Nick improves the diversity of the medical profession…

Joed68 comes through with his second Comment of the Day, this one in reaction to the post here on Mindy Kaling’s brother and his proud confession that he gamed an affirmative action program to gain admission to medical school years ago.

Allowing skin color to enable a less deserving applicant to vault over a more deserving one in college is one thing—still ethically dubious, but defensible in the abstract—and letting low-lights into elite training for professions with life and death responsibilities is another. The only explanations I can mount for those who indignantly defend affirmative action in the latter (such as CNN’s Jeff Young, quoted in the post) is that they are in thrall of the ends justifies the means mentality currently infecting much of Progressive World, or they don’t know how difficult it is to become a doctor. The first malady is beyond remedy; joed68’s submission addresses the second.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post “Rationalization #30 (“It’s a bad law/stupid rule”) Chronicles: Vijay Chokalingam’s Affirmative Action Fraud”:

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Education, Professions, Race

Rationalization #30 (“It’s a bad law/stupid rule”) Chronicles: Vijay Chokalingam’s Affirmative Action Fraud

Affirmative Action

Actress Mindy Kaling, whom you might know from the sitcom she created and now stars in called “The Mindy Project,” has a brother who has exploited both his relationship to his famous sister and an ethically indefensible fraud to gain some momentary fame and perhaps a book deal. Vijay Chokalingam has revealed that 17 years ago he gained acceptance to St. Louis University’s School of Medicine by falsely representing himself as an African-American.

On his new website, Almost Black, Chokalingam explains,

In my junior year of college, I realized that I didn’t have the grades or test scores to get into medical school, at least not as an Indian-American. Still, I was determined to become a doctor and I knew that admission standards for certain minorities under affirmative action were, let’s say… less stringent? So, I shaved my head, trimmed my long Indian eyelashes, and applied to medical school as a black man. My change in appearance was so startling that my own fraternity brothers didn’t recognize me at first. I even joined the Organization of Black Students and started using my embarrassing middle name that I had hidden from all of my friends since I was a 9 years old.

Vijay the Indian-American frat boy become Jojo the African American Affirmative Action applicant to medical school….I became a serious contender at some of the greatest medical schools in America, including Harvard, Wash U, UPenn, Case Western, and Columbia. In all, I interviewed at eleven prestigious medical schools in 9 major cities across America, while posing a black man.

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Health and Medicine, Professions, Race, U.S. Society

Are Democrats Deceiving Their Supporters, The Nation, Or Themselves?

Wave

I don’t want to pick on the Democrats in their hour of crisis, but I can’t let this pass.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair the Democratic National Committee, sent a video message to party loyalists stating in part,

“Your dedication is at the heart and soul of who we are as a party — but our party has a problem. We know we’re right on the issues. The American people believe in the causes we’re fighting for. But the electoral success we have when our presidential nominee is able to make the case to the country as a whole doesn’t translate in other elections. That’s why we lost in 2010, and it’s why we lost on Tuesday. We’ve got to do better.”

What???

1. “A problem”?

2. How can anyone “know they are right” on “the issues” ? All issues? It is enough that advocates believe they are right. Saying one knows one is right presumes a level of omniscience that is the mark of the arrogant and immodest—no wonder the parties won’t compromise with each other. The opponents of the religious right mock those who base their opposition to evolution, abortion and same-sex marriage on unshakable certainty based on faith. What’s the Democratic faith that justifies similar certainty?

3. “The American people believe in the causes we’re fighting for.” This is just factually false. The majority of the public thinks climate change is a crock. The majority wants tougher immigration enforcement, not less of it. The majority wants litigation reform, which the Democrats fight to preserve trial lawyer fees. Obamacare is wildly unpopular. So is affirmative action. The majority of the public thinks that there is an I.R.S. cover-up. The majority thinks Barack Obama is a weak and feckless President. The majority of Americans think there should be some limitations on abortion, and don’t want to pay for other people’s birth control. Six in 10 American think guns make homes safer, rather than, as the Democrats see it, endangering children.

Yes, the public is in favor of raising the minimum wage, and always is. It will be in favor of raising the minimum wage one minute after the minimum wage is finally raised. The public doesn’t understand the minimum wage, and never has, which is why it is always low hanging fruit for Democrats. If that is the “cause” Schultz is referring to—and since the President mentioned it first among his priorities in multiple speeches, who knows? It might be—see #1 above—then this really is a low ebb in Democratic fortunes. I just heard a liberal radio talk-show host talk about how progressives should be excited that some states approved a higher minimum wage. That’s not “progressive,” that’s traditional. Continue reading

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Unethical Political Ad Of The Month: The Freedom From Religion Foundation

FFRF

If it accomplished nothing else, the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision is doing a dandy job of flushing out the bigots. First it was the feminists blaming the decision on the all-male majority…because, as we all know, only women can balance ethical and legal conflicts fairly and intelligently, and they are incapable of bias. This line of attack is gender bigotry, acceptable because, well, just because. Then Harry Reid, leader of the Senate majority, condemned the five justices whose analysis prevailed as white males, adding racial bias to the mix. Also stupidity, of course, since last I looked, Justice Thomas was still black. Then again, to hear Harry and his friends tell it, being a conservative and not folding up like a deck chair any time women or a minority group complains means that you must be white, meaning that you must be bigoted against women. That’s just what whites are like. And males. Says white male Harry Reid.

It’s a strange, strange world we live in, no doubt about that.

Now comes the Freedom From Religion Foundation with an ad published in the New York Times blaming the decision on the fact that the five justices in the majority were male and Roman Catholic. Anti-Catholic bigotry! I confess, I didn’t know what religion the justices were, because I don’t care. Do you? John Kerry is a Roman Catholic; so is Joe Biden. It never occurred to me to attribute their various decisions and policy determinations to their religion, or to presume that anyone’s religion is fair game for criticism. Ah, but this is blood politics as defined by today’s culture. The right people can use bigotry against deserving targets….you know. Conservatives. Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Religion and Philosophy