As The NYT Charles M. Blow Desperately Searches For A Topic Worthy Of His Brilliance Now That He Can’t Attack Donald Trump In Every Column, And Settles On A Cartoon Skunk…

pepe

Of course Charles M. Blow quickly jumped on the “Cancel Dr. Seuss” bandwagon. I’m sure he was ticked off that he didn’t think of it first. The really woke publications have to include a race-baiter niche (or several) on their staffs, and Blow occupies that prime slot at the New York Times. Blow is an anti-white bigot in general, but he’s versatile: for the four years in which the Times enabled his virulent Trump Derangement, Blow proved he was also adept in pushing almost all of the anti-Trump Big Lies, not only the one that asserts that he is a racist. His columns were like crack for Trump-Haters. For everyone else, they were, like Blow himself, staggeringly repetitious, predicable, pompous, and boring.

Now, with Trump only intermittently in the news, Blow has a problem, being addicted to anti-Trump crack himself, and he’s clearly foundering. In his anti-Seuss screed—if you’re white like Theodore Geisel, Blow will presume you’re a racist (incidentally, he begins his columns by writing, “As a child, I was led to believe that Blackness was inferior.” That’s odd: I wasn’t!)—he also attacked Warner Bros. cartoon character Pepé Le Pew for contributing to “rape culture,” which is hilarious wokism self-parody.

Pepé Le Pew is one of the lesser Warner Brothers animated stars, an amorous French skunk whose cartoons consisted of a single gag: an incurable romantic obsessed with the pursuit of amorous conquests, Pepé kept mistaking cats and other creatures as female skunks (they somehow got white stripes painted on them in various accidents, hence the species misidentification), whereupon he would aggressively woo them, including hugging and kissing them without their consent.

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Ethics Quiz: The Sixth Grade Dance

A furious mother is making an issue out of a Utah middle school’s policy requiring sixth-graders to agree acquiesce when a classmate asks them to dance.

Alicia Hobson’s 11-year-old daughter, Azlyn was asked to dance by a boy she thought was icky. She “politely” refused, but the principle at Rich Middle School in Laketown, Utah,  intervened, telling the couple to get out onto the dance floor. Was the boy short, fat, covered with acne, bad-smelling, a bully, afflicted with Down Syndrome? Was he poor, have a lisp, or Muslim? Was there a cool boy Azlyn was waiting to play Prince Charming? Never mind: As the principal, Kip Motta, later explained in a letter to Alicia Hobson, the school has a policy requiring students to accept dance invitations, and sticks by it. Motta wrote,

“We do ask all students to dance. It is the nice thing to do and this will continue to be our policy. There have been similar situations in the past where some students have felt uncomfortable with others, and, as stated prior, the issues were discreetly handled. This allowed all students to feel welcome, comfortable, safe, and included.”

Hobson equates the policy with “rape culture,” and is prepared to take the issue to the Utah Board of Education. “Girls HAVE to learn that they have the right to say no and that those around them have to respect that,” Hobson wrote on Facebook. “I’m not going to quietly stand by while my daughter and all of her classmates are being wrapped up in rape culture. No way.”

Ethics Alarms dealt with a similar issue in a different context in this post, about children accepting kisses and hugs from repulsive family members.

Before I pop the quiz question, I have three observations. The first is that that the principal’s fad use of the word “safe” has just got to stop. That’s not what “safe” means, and if we keep using “safe” to mean “insulated from any event, feeling or experience that someone might prefer to avoid,” the word will cease to have any communication value. The second is that equating the social obligation to accept an invitation at a supervised dance with “rape culture” is a hyperbolic crock, and should be identified as such immediately.

The third observation is that the “Today” headline is intentionally misleading and unfairly supports the mother’s inflammatory framing. “School policy forbids kids from saying ‘no’ when asked to dance” presumes the conclusion Hobson wants. “School policy requires students to be kind and considerate when asked to dance” promotes  the school’s rationale. An ethical and responsible headline would be, ““School policy requires students to accept an invitation to dance.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz today :

Is the school’s policy wise and ethical?

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Unethical Mother Of The Month: Feminist Writer Jodi Allard

Send two of these to Ms. Allard's sons. Maybe add, "by my mother."

Send two of these to Ms. Allard’s sons. Maybe add, “by my mother.”

There’s nothing quite like using a nationally followed publication to declare your own sons misogynist, insensitive pigs because they have not properly absorbed the feminist cant they have apparently been fed their whole lives. Jodi got her revenge by publicly attacking them in a Washington Post column.

Allard writes in part…

I never imagined I would raise boys who would become men like these. Men who deny rape culture, or who turn a blind eye to sexism. Men who tell me I’m being too sensitive or that I don’t understand what teenage boys are like. “You don’t speak out about this stuff, mom,” they tell me with a sigh. “It’s just not what teenagers do.”My sons are right about that much. Teenage boys, by and large, don’t speak out about slut-shaming or rape culture. They don’t call each other out when they make sexist jokes or objectify women. It’s too uncomfortable to separate themselves from the pack so they continue to at least dip their toes into toxic masculinity. In their discomfort with action, they remain passive, and their passivity perpetuates the same broken system that sentenced Brock Turner to only six months in jail…No matter how often my sons remind me that they are good men, they don’t understand that being “good” is an action. You don’t earn the honor by simply shaking your head when you hear about Turner and other rapists being given lenient sentences. You earn it by acting to end rape culture, and by doing it even when it’s awkward and uncomfortable as hell.

The rest of her column proceeds accordingly. One of her sons, we learned in a previous article, is clinically depressed and has been suicidal in the past. I bet being called out by his mother in a newspaper read and quoted coast to coast is just what the doctor ordered. Both sons are teenagers—minors. To their mother, however, they are just convenient symbols of woman-abusing mankind, and fair game for shame and denigration. Continue reading

When The Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: The Serial Killer Cocktail

Pickton

Rebecca Brass, who who works with victims of sexual assault, was stunned to see an alcoholic beverage called “The Willie Pickton” on the drink menu of a British Columbia restaurant called “Surrey Wings.” It wasn’t the drink itself, which contains  blue curacao, blackberry, melon, orange juice and cranberry and sounds yummy, that troubled her, but the fact that the name honored local serial killer Robert “Willie” Pickton, currently serving a life sentence at Kent Institution in the Fraser Valley.

Though Willie was convicted of killing only six women,  the remains and DNA of 33 more were found on his farm. He also confessed  that he had murdered 49 women total, many of them Vancouver prostitutes. Brass, in her role as a sexual assault counselor with Women Against Violence Against Women, personally knows people with family members murdered by Pickton. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Now THAT Was A Rape Culture…”

Blogger and esteemed commenter here Rick Jones shares my passion for theater and is also, like me, a stage director, but seldom has a chance to weigh in on that topic. My post about the troubling lyrics in “Standing on the Corner,” the best known song in Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella” gave Rick a chance to swing at a pitch in his wheelhouse, as the baseball broadcasters like to say, and he didn’t disappoint.

I want to clarify something from the original post. Having noted the lyrics, I was no way  criticizing them or the song, or the musical itself. Older shows are valuable and fascinating in part because they serve as windows on past cultural values and attitudes—that was one of the reasons for the ambitious, important and doomed mission of the theater I have been artistic director of for the last two decades. Such politically incorrect references should never be excised in performance.

“The Most Happy Fella” is a slog, however. Ambitious, sure, but too long, too sentimental, and with too many unavoidable “wince points,” as I call them, to make the show worth the huge investment in talent, money and time that it takes to produce competently. Any time the best songs in a musical are the ones that have nothing to do with the plot (“Standing on the Corner,” “Big D,” and “Abondanza!”, which in in the clip above) it’s ominous. The 1925 Pulitzer Prize-winning hit play this pseudo-opera was based on, “They Knew What They Wanted” by Sydney Howard, is much better.

Here is Rick’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Now That Was A Rape Culture…”: Continue reading

Now THAT Was A Rape Culture…

I just happened to be surfing past the  Broadway Channel on Sirius XM, and found myself startled at the tone of the lyrics of that Hit Parade smash from the 1956 musical, “The Most Happy Fella,” by the great composer/lyricist Frank Loesser, “Standing on the Corner (Watching All The Girls Go By)”—especially at the end:

Saturday, and I’m so broke
Haven’t got a girl, and that’s no joke
Still I’m living like a millionaire
When I take me down to Main Street and I review the harem parading for me there..

Standing on the corner watching all the girls go by
Standing on the corner underneath the springtime sky!

Brother, you can’t go to jail for what you’re thinking
Or for the “Woo!” look in your eye
You’re only standing on the corner watching all the girls
Watching all the girls, watching all the girls
Go by!

Nobody saw anything wrong with these sentiments in 1956. It was fun, it was cute, it was innocent! A bunch of guys hanging out, leering and ogling women as they walked on the sidewalk, with “woo”—that is, lust— in their eyes and illegal thoughts in their brains, and periodically wolf-whistling at “the harem.”

Sometimes we forget—sometimes women especially forget—that our culture’s ethics regarding sexual etiquette and respect does advance, and has, as much as self-serving activists would have us believe otherwise.

 

Unethical Tweet Of The Month (Or Eternity?), “Jackie’s” UVA Gang Rape Ethics Train Wreck Division: Melissa McEwan

Melissa McEwan's profile photo. I'm not going to say a thing. No, really. Not a thing.

Melissa McEwan’s profile photo. I’m not going to say a thing. No, really. Not a thing.

“I can’t state this more emphatically: If Jackie’s story is partially or wholly untrue, it doesn’t validate the reasons for disbelieving her.”

Melissa McEwan,  feminist proprietor of @Shakestweetz, an-all tweet blog, responding to the meltdown of the Rolling Stone story accusing a University of Virginia fraternity of gang rape.

Look, I’m not going to insult you by explaining what’s wrong with the assertion that those accusing others of horrific crimes shouldn’t be held to strict standards of credibility.

What is more significant than McEwan or her tweet is that this frightening and dangerous state of denial is moving from the status of self-evidently insane to acceptable. As I suggested in the previous post about the Rolling Stone retraction of its explosive story by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the Ferguson demonstrators, the “Hands up!” protestors, the Congressional Black Caucus, and  pundits like Eugene Robinosn who are still arguing that Officer Wilson should be indicted are doing essentially the same thing. Having decided that the Ferguson narrative pressed by civil rights activists communicated a deep truth about America, they refuse to accept that it was false even in the face of overwhelming evidence because they are intellectually and emotionally committed to that “truth.”

The tweet also forces me to upgrade the Rolling Stone fiasco to Ethics Train Wreck status. Continue reading

Cover Art Ethics: Sexism, “Rape Culture” or Just Marketing

If you had asked me thirty-five years ago whether we would still be debating what is the appropriate and ethical use of women as sex symbols—or “objectification,” if you like—in non-sex trade publications today, I would have answered, I think, “Are you kidding? By 2014 we will have hashed all this out. Either the combination of consensus  political correctness and the increased influence of women in business in general and publishing in particular will have reformed standards of acceptable practices, manners and taste, or emerging feminism will embrace the power of sexuality as a source of influence and power over the male of the species. The battles over this are too hot now to keep going on indefinitely! Either using sexy women and models in “take me” poses will be considered shameful and unappealing in 2014, or they will be accepted as part of an “anything goes” culture.”

No, I’m not very bright.

Case Study #1: The Golf Digest Cover

Paulina-Gretzky-on-cover-of-Golf-Digest

The cover of the latest issue of Golf Digest caused a stir by featuring Paulina Gretzky, who plays a little golf but who is primarily a model, and obviously there for other reasons. Until the Gretzky cover, the only woman to appear on the magazine’s cover without having won a pro or major amateur event was Golf Channel personality Holly Sonders, in May 2013. From the New York Times: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: Targeted Dress Coding”

Yoga-PantsThe ethics quiz on banning leggings and yoga pants for some female students and not others produced several excellent responses. I was surprised that the majority here supported selective enforcement, which is normally regarded as per se unfair. This response is especially remarkable considering that the selective enforcing will be done by the kinds of geniuses that punishe little girls for shaving their heads to make cancer victims feel better.

Here is the Comment of the Day by the intriguingly named “The Wednesday Woman” (whose comment arrived on a Sunday) on the post Ethics Quiz: Targeted Dress Coding, which answered the quiz query, “Is targeted dress coding ethical?”

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