I guess I should start off by admitting that I have never found Roseanne Barr sufficiently witty, original or entertaining to make up for the ugliness of her world view, her horrible nasal screech, and her unjustified belief in her own brilliance.
I never could stand her hit sitcom or sit through an entire episode, so the reboot was about as welcome to me as most reboots (like the sad zombie version of “Murphy Brown”), but even a little less. When she managed to get herself fired and transformed into a pariah for making a racist slur against Barack Obama’s top advisor (and Michelle’s pal) Valerie Jarrett, tweeting in 2018 that Jarrett was the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes movies, I didn’t feel sorry for her. The tweet was racist, and it was a mark of Barr’s arrogance, built up over years of being excessively praised and rewarded for being “outrageous”—I file her in the same general category as similarly unfunny shock-jocks like Howard Stern—that no ethics alarms went off when she thought it would be hilarious to compare an Obama staffer to a monkey. It was also stunningly stupid. From my ethicist perspective, Barr made the offense worse by claiming that she had no idea that Jarrett was black. Sure, Roseanne. Continue reading →
There’s Hurricane Hysteria in the Washington area, with everyone freaking out and clearing the store shelves, and the news media making it sound like this is the End of Days. Did you know that BOTH Chicken Little and the Boy Who Cried Wolf lived in Washington, D.C.? Thanks to a late summer repeat of what goes on every time there’s a rumor of nascent snow flake during our winters, nobody’s working, returning emails and phone calls, or doing anything, it seems, except, I assume, trying to figure out a way to blame whatever happens on President Trump.
Incidentally, this was going to be an afternoon post yesterday, until my car blew a radiator hose on Route 395 at rush hour.
1. Yes, more on the “racist cartoon.” Reader Michael B. reminded me of some of the liberal editorial cartoonists’ attacks on Condoleeza Rice. Here was one such cartoon, from 2005, that I found online.
Here’s the real Condoleeza:
I’ve been challenged to post a poll on this cartoon too, but that’s tricky. The two cartoons are not equivalent. I don’t think either is racist, but if I were in the business of race-baiting, the Rice cartoon is worse for several reasons. To begin with, Serena really did throw a tantrum on the U.S. Open court, and it was ugly, thus theoretically justifying an ugly graphic portrayal. There was never an incident analogous to what the cartoon Condi is shown doing. Moreover, she never exhibited anything approaching the snarling, aggressive demeanor portrayed by the cartoonist, at least not in public. I think the face given Rice is also vaguely simian, and if a similar spoof of Michell Obama had been published, all hell would have broken loose.
There were some complaints about racist caricatures of Rice during the Bush years, but all from conservative organizations and commentators, none from the NAACP, and nothing on the scale of the uproar over the Williams cartoon.
My position is…
….that both the Williams and the Rice cartoon are within the acceptable range of an art form I detest and find inherently unethical, editorial cartooning.
….that the indignation over either cartoon is driven by bias toward the targets.
….that anyone who wasn’t vocal about “racial insensitivity” toward Rice in various cartoons is not the most convincing advocate for the position that the Knight drawing is racist. Yes, such a person might have changed their point of view, but he or she has the burden of proof to demonstrate that this is the case. I’m skeptical.
So here are TWO polls..
2. I find it difficult to believe that as Democrats are revealing the total ethical void in their current strategy, polls show voters favoring a Democratic Congress in the upcoming election. Of course, it helps that the mainstream news media won’t communicate to the public fairly so they understand what’s going on:
During his hearings, Bret Kavanaugh said, speaking of the position of the plaintiffs in a case, “In that case, they said filling out the form would make them complicit in the provision of the abortion-inducing drugs that were, as a religious matter, objected to.” This was immediately distorted in the news media and by anti-Kavanaugh activists as Kavanaugh referring to birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs.” Hillary Clinton (to be fair, I assume that she was reading second hand accounts—you know, like everyone criticizes Trump for doing with Fox News) then beclowned herself by tweeting:
I want to be sure we’re all clear about something that Brett Kavanaugh said in his confirmation hearings last week. He referred to birth-control pills as “abortion-inducing drugs.” That set off a lot of alarm bells for me, and it should for you, too.
[Pointer: Zoltar Speaks!]
CNN tweeted this (Pointer: Instapundit):
I think this qualifies as going beyond deceit to pure lying. The texts themselves were evidence. It’s like a defense attorney saying “The prosecution, without evidence, suggests that the murder weapon with the defendant’s fingerprints on it links him to the killing!”
A man cursing Donald Trump attempted to stab Republican Rudy Peters, running for the House in California, with a switchblade over the weekend.This kind of thing does not happen every day, nor in every Congressional race. Democrats have increasingly been suggesting violent measures be used against conservatives and Republicans, and there has already been one armed attack that nearly killed Rep. Steve Scalise and threatened other GOP officials. Yet when Rep. Eric Swalwell, Peters’ opponent, appeared on CNN host Erin Burnett’s show “Erin Burnett Outfront” last night, she never asked Stalwell about the attack or its implications. That’s journalistic negligence, and likely bias.
3. Please explain this to me. Anyone? Karen White, a transgender man “transitioning” to female, was accused of repeatedly raping a woman in 2016 and had been previously been jailed in 2001 for a sexual assault on a child. After telling the authorities that he identified as a woman, Karen, who still has her penis, aka her weapon of choice when engaged in sexual assault, was remanded into HMP New Hall near Wakefield, West Yorkshire, an all female facility.
She then sexually assaulted four female inmates a few days later. Who could have predicted such a thing? The prison’s spokesperson said: “We apologize sincerely for the mistakes which were made in this case. While we work to manage all prisoners, including those who are transgender, sensitively and in line with the law, we are clear that the safety of all prisoners must be our absolute priority.” Continue reading →
1. What did you expect? Following close on the heels of Scott Pruitt’s firing from the EPA as a result of blatant ethics violations, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last week that he would sell all of his stock holdings to “maintain the public trust” after the Office of Government and Ethics pointed out that his financial transactions could get him into legal trouble.
“I have made inadvertent errors in completing the divestitures required by my ethics agreement,” Ross said in a statement. “To maintain the public trust, I have directed that all of my equity holdings be sold and the proceeds placed in U.S. Treasury securities.”
To maintain that public trust. Right.
The culture of CEOs and business executives is so alien to ethics that this kind of thing was assured as soon as Donald Trump was elected President. I wouldn’t say the business culture is necessarily more unethical than the political culture, it is juts unethical different ways. However, President Trump brought this brand of malfunctioning ethics alarms with him, and we shouldn’t expect it to abate until he leaves the White House.
Then we will get back to the good old-fashioned political versions of unethical conduct we’re become numb to. Ah, those were the days!
2. A question of degree. Professor Brian McNaughton, a former professor at Colorado State University, is facing a felony charge for fabricating an outside job offer to get a higher salary. This meets the technical definition of fraud. Apparently he presented the school with fabricated offer letter from the University of Minnesota. McNaughton resigned his position and apologized, and returned the fruits of the ill-gotten raise, about $4,000 per year over four years.
He also says that he was urged to use the tactic by other faculty members, who said it was a standard ploy. When does the “I have other job offers” gambit cross the ethics line into fraud? Clearly when you use a forged letter, but short of that, it’s just lying—unethical, but not criminal.
…if an employee is performing a job and is good at it, that person should be compensated for it accordingly and in line with individuals within the same organization at an equivalent level professionally (ideally pay should be bench-marked against similar-sized institutions in states or parts of the country with comparable income ranges). Does a job offer and the suggestion that the employee is desirable to another organization change how well that person is performing? Promotions and rewards should be directly related to performance and an individual’s contribution to the organization and to science.
Well, yes, but competition and reality interferes with this nice, fair but overly simplistic and impractical theory. In fields where employees are not fungible, basic economic theory comes into play: you can’t deny the influence supply and demand. The fact that there is competition for an individual’s services does increase that individual’s value. Just saying “it shouldn’t be that way” doesn’t change reality. That’s what makes McNaughton’s lie fraudulent: he’s misrepresenting his value, and using false means to do it.
3. Would you fire Dan Coats for this?
Naturally the anti-Trump mob loved it, and that was the director of national intelligence’s intent: he was playing to the mob and virtue signaling to the detriment of his boss. Either than, or he’s thoroughly unprofessional and can’t be trusted to be on TV. Washington Post reporter Dan Baltz is either foolish, naive or dishonest when he writes:Continue reading →
Pardon me for being obtuse, America, but I want to make sure I understand this.
Samantha Bee, the comic who called Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt” yesterday on her TBS show “Full Frontal,” apologized today, saying on Twitter,
“I would like to sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump and to my viewers for using an expletive on my show to describe her last night. It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it.”
No repudiation of her words were forthcoming from TBS, or Turner Broadcasting, which owns that network as well as CNN. [UPDATE: After this was posted, TBS stated that Bee’s words were “vile” and “inappropriate,” and that it was their “mistake” as well as Bee’s.]
Now, Roseanne apologized for her tweet connecting Obama-whisperer Valerie Jarrett to the Planet of the Apes, yet was not only fired, but had her show, and its entire cast and crew, tossed as well. ABC, which did the tossing, explained that her tweet, which was on Roseanne’s personal Twitter account, did not comport with the network’s values. Well, did anyone think for a nanosecond that Roseanne was speaking for ABC with her obviously spontaneous, not-very-well-thought-out slur? Of course not. In contrast, Bee’s line that was “inappropriate and inexcusable” was scripted, vetted by the network, and prerecorded, as well as previewed by network personnel . So it is fair to assume that calling the President’s daughter a ‘feckless cunt” is consistent with the network’s values. Right? Am I missing something?
Now this is confusing to me. Roseanne’s line was obviously intended as a joke, and supposedly comics need to have wide tolerance when jokes misfire. Bee’s statement wasn’t even a joke; it was just a vulgar insult. Moreover, a pre-taped, scripted TV show is obviously a more consequential forum than a single tweet, and a personal tweet is viewed as less of a representation of a network than a show on that network. Correct?
1. Too soon? On June 6, “Active Shooter” will be released. The video game allows players to take part in a simulated school shooting scenario, assuming the role of either the shooter, a SWAT team member, or a student trying to survive. the simulation’s developer is Rival Games, and it be sold on the Steam online store. Naturally, the game is being condemned, and there are even calls to ban it.
I see nothing unethical about the game at all. Depending on how well it is constructed, I can even see some benefits of it. A simulation on-line makes more sense that silly active shooter drills in schools, which only increase student anxiety and create the illusion that such an event is more likely than it is.
Promotion for Active Shooter has a disclaimer stating: “Please do not take any of this seriously. This is only meant to be the simulation and nothing else. If you feel like hurting someone or people around you, please seek help from local psychiatrists or dial 911 (or applicable). Thank you.” This is a CYA message, of course. The company is considering removing the option of playing the shooter; I think this would be wise.
Yes, of course the game is offensive and upsetting to many, especially those whose family members and friends were involved in these tragedies. They definitely shouldn’t buy the game. But let’s take a poll:
2. Pantsgate. In what must be the longest running stupid legal ethics story ever, the District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility is recommending a 90-day suspension for former judge Roy Pearson Jr., who sued his dry cleaners for $67 million for allegedly losing his pants in 2005. I wrote about this crazy story on the old Ethics Scoreboard, which is currently off line, but will be back soon, I swear.
Pearson first sought $1,150 as compensation for his lost Hickey-Freeman pants, but when the dry cleaners refused to pay, he escalated his litigation, finally reaching what the board called “the absurd” $67 million claim. The board, like an earlier hearing committee, found that Pearson violated ethics rules barring frivolous claims (Rule 3.1) and serious interference with the administration of justice (Rule 8.4). The board disagreed with the hearing committee’s lenient recommendation of a stayed suspension. Continue reading →
1. It is possible, after all, to revile Roseanne Barr’s gratuitously vicious “joke” about Valerie Jarrett, and to question the extended reaction to it. I feel especially emboldened, perhaps because you couldn’t have forced me to watch that show or anything associated with Barr had you been credibly threatening to blow up Fenway Park unless I tuned in. One of the ways the enemies of free discourse and thought further their agenda is by setting up these dilemmas, where to even suggest that a genuine miscreant’s punishment has exceeded reasonable bounds is to risk shunning and other serious cultural consequences—it’s the Cognitive Dissonance Scale again. “See, then we make them defend someone who would tweet something like that, and we’ve got em! Then they look like racists too! Bwahahahahaha!”
2. No, I don’t think ABC and Disney were looking for an excuse to cancel “Roseanne” 2 because it was perceived as pro-Trump. The show was making money, and corporations place money above politics. However, there is no doubt that a conservative show has less margin for error in today’s biased media environment. It was up to Roseanne to understand that and moderate her conduct accordingly. This recent post is relevant.
3. I was not aware, until ethics alarms reader Sue Denim pointed it out here, that Barr may have physiological reasons for her lifetime addiction to ugly humor: Continue reading →
(This post was all set to go up before noon. I just had the last item to finish..and then all hell broke loose here. I’m sorry. Now the meal is cold…)
1. Not whataboutism, but rather whatthehellism…It’s a trap, of course. A blatant racist tweet like Roseanne’s yesterday would get CEO fired, a Cabinet member fired, and I suspect, a tenured professor fired, though equally racist tweets have been survived by profs as long as they denigrated whites. Still, the media’s double standard is palpable, as well as undeniable. Thus I was amused when a sudden surge in visits to a post from last September led me to rediscover this, authored then by Keith Olbermann:
Can we assume, therefore, since it was recently announced that ESPN, like ABC owned by Disney, is bringing back Olbermann for a prominent role in its sports broadcasting, that the company does want to be associated with his kind of vulgarity, incivility and hate? Continue reading →
An earlier classy career high for Roseanne...mocking the National Anthem.
And you thought Spike Lee had established an unapproachable low point in celebrity, self-indulgent, arrogant irresponsibility by trying to tweet George Zimmerman’s address (all the better to get him killed), and inadvertently siccing the sickos on an elderly Florida couple who were minding their own business? How charmingly naive of you! For remember, no matter how ignorant and unethical a celebrity may be, there are always, always, bigger, more ethically clueless jerks and fools with an entry in Wikipedia and an itch to get back in the limelight.
A celebrity like…Roseanne Barr! She lapped Spike’s mean-spirited Twitter idiocy in his own chosen medium by… Continue reading →