More On The Andrew Yang “Racist” Cartoon: Some Perspective From The Ethics Alarms Archives…

In contrast to the political cartoon discussed in the previous post, THIS is a racist cartoon. Below is the Ethics Alarms post from 2014 titled, 9 Observations On The Boston Herald’s ‘Racist’ Cartoon”:

1. I’m adding this new #1 right at the beginning—there were originally only 8 observations—because some of the early comments suggest that I over-estimated some of my readers’ scholarship, historical knowledge and/or sensitivity on this issue, so let me be direct:  the reference to any African- American having an affinity to watermelon is about a half-step from calling him or her a nigger, and maybe even closer than that. Clear? This is not a political correctness matter. If the reference is intentional, there can be no debate over whether it is racist or not. It is. The President of the United States should not be subjected to intentional racial slurs.

2. I’m amazed—I just don’t know how this could happen. How could this cartoon make it into print? Cartoonist Jerry Holbert explained that he came up with the idea to use watermelon flavor after finding “kids Colgate watermelon flavor” toothpaste in his bathroom at home. “I was completely naive or innocent to any racial connotations,” Holbert said. “I wasn’t thinking along those lines at all.” Is this possible? In a political cartoonist? On one hand, since the racial connotation is so obvious and so predictably offensive, it seems incredible that a cartoonist for a major daily would dare offer such a cartoon unless he really didn’t perceive the racial stereotype it referenced. On the other, the man is a political cartoonist, not a Japanese soldier who’s been hiding in a cave for decades. How could he not know this? How could his ethics alarms, racial slur alarms, survival alarms not go off?

I don’t get it.

3. Hence the quotes around “racist.” The only way the cartoon makes any sense to me is if Holbert is amazingly, wonderfully non-racist, and completely color blind. The flavor of the toothpaste is innocuous if one doesn’t think in racial terms at all. Maybe he just thinks about the President as the President. If so, isn’t that terrific? Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was like that? Wouldn’t it be swell if a dumb detail like the flavor of the toothpaste in a cartoon that has nothing to do with race OR toothpaste wasn’t even noticed?

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/26/2017: Witch Hunts, A Missing Witch Message, A Too-Gleeful Dodger, Racially Offensive Breakfast Cereal…[UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1 Sigh. Driving home from Maryland via the Capital Beltway for the first time in many years, I saw the white and gold spires of the D. C. Mormon Temple (above), a local landmark, rising in the distance, and remembered that an an upcoming overpass had long been famous for the inspired bit of graffiti scrawled on it decades ago, perfectly placed to compliment the fantastic structure. It read SURRENDER DOROTHY!,” in script, for decades.  I don’t know when it was painted over, but it’s gone now.

Why would they do that? It was a part of area lore, it was clever, and it was always good for a smile. Some humorless bureaucrat decided to make the world a little less fun for no good reason. Of such small, heartless gestures is life drained of joy, drop by drop.

2.  Last night, in the 11th inning of a memorable, back and forth World Series Game Two between the Astros and the Dodgers,  Charlie Culberson of Los Angeles hit a two out home run to narrow the score from 7-5 Astros to 7-6. Nonetheless, Culberson’s team was one out away from losing a game they appeared to have in the bag when they were leading 3-1 in the 9th. (Indeed, the Dodgers did lose after the next batter struck out.) Despite his team’s plight, Culberson celebrated his home run like he had just won the game, or at least tied it. He screamed, he raised his hands, he high-fived everyone in sight. Joe Buck on the Fox broadcast speculated that Culberson might have had the score wrong, and believed that his home run tied the game.

No, said Culberson. He knew the score. “I never would have imagined hitting a home run in the World Series, and I did that. I pointed to my parents in the stands and pointing to my wife,” Culberson explained. “I was just having fun out there, nothing more than that.”

Except you’re not supposed to be having fun when your team is facing a devastating loss, Joe. That was bad form, bad taste, selfish, and obnoxious. The Fox cameras even caught a Dodger coach in the dugout turning around, disgusted , and saying to the still ebullient Culberson, “Come on!”

3. 

That’s Ellen Degeneris ogling Katy Perry’s breasts.  Ellen is gay, as we all know. Explain to me why this conduct is funny, acceptable and harmless, but a male heterosexual behaving similarly, for exactly the same reason, would be sexual harassment. You have 30 seconds…

Time! What’s your answer!

Continue reading

Wait…WHAT? What Are You Implying, CNN?

CNN tweet

 

So let me get this straight: Donald Trump is a fool for trying to court black voters without understanding that they equate themselves with felons? Really sensitive people like journalists realize that “blacks” and “felons” are synonymous?

Boy, this racism thing is a lot more complicated than I thought…

File this one under: “Bias makes you stupid,” and I’m not referring to Donald Trump

_______________________

Pointer: Instapundit

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.

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Andrew Barovick

"What? Can't you take a joke?"

“What? Can’t you take a joke?”

Lawyer Andrew Barovick  resigned his leadership position with the New York City Bar Association after sending the following tweet about Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss, a Republican who had just lost the election and who happened to be black

 “In light of election loss, [Sheriff Moss is] mulling offers to be new spokes model for either Cream of Wheat or Uncle Ben’s rice.”

Oh, nice. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “9 Observations On The Boston Herald’s ‘Racist’ Cartoon”

cartooning

In my post on the matter, I called out to Barry Deutsch, a.k.a. Ampersand, an accomplished political cartoonist and blogger who has graced this space in the past, for his professional reaction to the controversy over the Boston Herald’s Jerry Holbert suggesting, in a cartoon about the recent Secret Service debacles, that President Obama would use watermelon-flavored tooth paste. He was kind enough to register a rapid, and typically thoughtful, response.

Here is his Comment of the Day on my post, “9 Observations On The Boston Herald’s “Racist” Cartoon”: Continue reading

9 Observations On The Boston Herald’s “Racist” Cartoon

Obama-Watermelon-1

1. (UPDATE) I’m adding this new #1 right at the beginning—there were originally only 8 observations—because some of the early comments suggest that I over-estimated some of my readers’ scholarship, historical knowledge and/or sensitivity on this issue, so let me be direct:  the reference to any African- American having as affinity to watermelon is about a half-step from calling him or her a nigger, and maybe even closer than that. Clear? This is not a political correctness matter. If the reference is intentional, there can be no debate over whether it is racist or not. It is. The President of the United States should not be subjected to intentional racial slurs.

2. I’m amazed—I just don’t know how this could happen. How could this cartoon make it into print? Cartoonist Jerry Holbert explained that he came up with the idea to use watermelon flavor after finding “kids Colgate watermelon flavor” toothpaste in his bathroom at home. “I was completely naive or innocent to any racial connotations,” Holbert said. “I wasn’t thinking along those lines at all.” Is this possible? In a political cartoonist? On one hand, since the racial connotation is so obvious and so predictably offensive, it seems incredible that a cartoonist for a major daily would dare offer such a cartoon unless he really didn’t perceive the racial stereotype it referenced. On the other, the man is a political cartoonist, not a Japanese soldier who’s been hiding in a cave for decades. How could he not know this? How could his ethics alarms, racial slur alarms, survival alarms not go off?

I don’t get it. Continue reading

The Fojol Bros., Innocent of Racism, Political Correctness Victims

In its advanced stages, 21st century political correctness becomes a kind of delusional illness, causing sufferers to interpret  benign, harmless and even socially healthy conduct as offensive and sinister. An outbreak of this variety of political correctness is in full flower in Washington, D.C., where more than the usual number of officious defenders of that which needs no defending are trying to gin up public outrage against a creative, fun, and successful small business enterprise, Fojol Bros.

The company sends food trucks around downtown D.C. and serves strangely named hybrid ethnic dishes inspired by Indian, Ethiopian and Thai cuisines. The Fojol employees who hand out the delicious fare wear turbans, robes and fake mustaches,  claim to hail from  “Merlindia” and “Benethiopia,” and go by names like “Kipoto.” This was once called “theater” and “fantasy,” no more offensive than Disney employees in Frontierland dressing in cowboy and saloon girl garb and calling themselves “Tex” and “Lilly.” Now some are calling it “offensive,” because too many people have forgotten what offensive is. Continue reading

Burger King, Mary J. Blige and the Political Correctness Double-Bind

"No, let's give the fried chicken commercial to Donny Osmond. I don't think Mormons even like fried chicken..."

My theater company did a production of the Depression Era comedy “Stage Door,” about a group of young actresses  who stay in a boarding house. There are two roles for “domestics” in the play; the female of the two has quite a few lines. The director felt that it would be perpetuating a stereotype to cast African-Americans in these roles, though that is what the characters were supposed to be, so she cast white actors in both parts. The bottom line is that African-American actors were not cast because of their race, in parts written for actors of their race. No offensive stereotype..and no jobs.

This seems counter-productive and foolish to me. Another example: I was once told by the EEOC specialist at a New York law firm that he never took female associates on travel to meet with clients, because he didn’t want to be vulnerable to sexual harassment claims. “So you’re discriminating against women in your firm to avoid harassing them?” I asked. “Well, I suppose you could say that,” he replied.

Which brings us to Mary J. Blige. The singer was hired by Burger King to sing in a fried chicken commercial, and the result has been attacked as racist stereotyping by several black publications and critics. Burger King has pulled the commercial, muttering some cover-story, along with Blige, about the ad being released “prematurely.” How that would change the fact that she is singing “Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses with dressing!” I don’t really grasp. Anyway, Burger King has officially apologized, which, I suppose, means that just as you can’t use the term “chink in the armor” in discussing anything to do with Jeremy Lin, you can’t hire a black singer to promote fried chicken….even if a black singer wants to promote fried chicken and needs a job. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Hazing Abuse of Michael Warren”

Reminding us that one or even several incidents can’t give us the full whole measure of an organization, Hartwick College alum Fred Stoss recalls an act of courage and principle by the fraternity that hazed Michael Warren. Let Fred tell the story:

“I cannot defend the actions of what happened to Mr. Warren. I am a member of Alpha Delta Omega Fraternity, having pledged in 1969 and served as its President from 1971 to 1972. During this time our fraternity was a rather diverse community of whites, blacks, browns, Protestants (Hartwick was then a Lutheran College), Catholics, and Jewish. There is, however, a piece of ADO history (taken from the ADO FaceBook site) that deserves mention: Continue reading