Another Monty Python Cultural Ethics Check: Is This Satire Now Offensive?

I almost added the above scene from the Monty Python troupe’s masterpiece “The Life of Brian” to the previous post.  Has sensitivity to the demands and travails of the LGBT community rendered this satire offensive? Should it be considered offensive? If satire targeting people who demand that they have a right to do the impossible is offensive, is satire doomed in a woke world?

Following in the tradition of this recent post, with the intent of clarifying the political correctness rules so I know what I am defying, Ethics Alarms presents the following poll based on the video clip above:

 

Satchel Paige Would Approve: From The Ethics Alarms Slippery Slope Files

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?” said Leroy “Satchel” Paige, the greatest Negro Leagues pitcher of them all, and —who knows?—maybe the  greatest pitcher of all time, in any league. Imagine: Paige wasn’t allowed to play against white players in the Major Leagues until 1948 when he was over 40, and he still was hard to hit. Satch is a great symbol for the ageless and those of us in denial: he pitched in his last Major League game in his 60’s, throwing three scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox. Paige’s whimsical  idea that age is just a state of mind has now been carried to its illogical conclusion by Dutch citizen Emile Ratelband, a “positivity trainer” who  calls himself a “young god,” and who has asked a local court to legally change his birthday from March 11, 1949 to March 11,1969, the BBC reports.

Heck, why not? If someone with a Y chromosome and all of their original external organs can say they “identify” as a female and use the ladies room, join the Girl Scouts, and have the protection and support of the law and the woke, why not declare age simply a matter of attitude and mind over matter? It’s just the next frontier in the politically correct realm of reality denial, and I would say, and I know Satchel Paige would say, if  how someone feels is sufficient to legitimize that defiance of concrete reality, treating age as similarly flexible is more than reasonable. Just a stroke of a pen by a judge, and poof! You’re as young as you feel. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Fate of Rachel Dolezal

dolezaltoday

I hope you remember Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP branch president who falsely claimed to be black, double-talked and lied about her racial origins, and was defended by the “race is just a social construct” crowd on the left, as part of the same ideological fantasy that holds that a man can be a woman by just deciding that she is one. Ethics Alarms discussed her strange story here, here, and here.

Following her 15 minutes of fame, Rachel was somehow unable to manage a book contract or a speaking tour, perhaps because she is a walking, talking Achilles heel for several beloved progressive myths, Now she’s jobless and living on food stamps, and facing foreclosure and expects to be evicted next month.

“There’s no protected class for me,” she told The Guardian. “I’m this generic, ambiguous scapegoat for white people to call me a race traitor and take out their hostility on. And I’m a target for anger and pain about white people from the black community. It’s like I am the worst of all these worlds…I do think a more complex label would be helpful, but we don’t really have that vocabulary. I feel like the idea of being trans-black would be much more accurate than ‘I’m white.’ Because you know, I’m not white.”

Of course, she is.

Dolezal says she’s been rejected for  over 100 jobs. She has had offers on the freak show circuit,  in porn and reality TV. But Dolezal is not uneducated or dumb. Surely there are many jobs that she could perform, and well.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day is this…

Would you hire Rachel Dolezal?

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The Last Word—Words, Really—On The Ridiculous Rachel Dolezal: “Signature Significance”

Rahcel-Dolezal-plagiarized-painting

From the Ethics Alarms “Concepts and Special Terms” page:

Signature Significance: The concept is the creation of baseball statistics genius Bill James, who applied it to baseball performance. Signature significance posits that a single act can be so remarkable that it has predictive and analytical value, and should not be dismissed as statistically insignificant. Thus, in James’ example, certain outstanding pitching performances can prove that the pitcher involved is an outstanding one, because average pitchers literally never reach such levels of excellence, even as a one-time fluke.  Ethics Alarms employs the term to describe an extreme ethical or unethical act that similarly reveals the true character of the individual responsible for the conduct, and that can be reliably and fairly used to predict future conduct and trustworthiness.

My immediate assumption about now-ex NAACP executive Rachel Dolezal’s charade as a black woman her conduct was signature significance, that anyone who would construct and benefit from such an audacious deception was unreliable, untrustworthy, and a likely sociopath. My posts never got into this issue, in part because I was waiting for a unanimous consensus that the woman was lying–sadly, a lot of stubborn progressives, civil rights advocates, celebrities and culture warriors either ducked the issue or, to their eternal discredit, denied that she couldn’t be black is she said she was. I was waiting for the “she just made a mistake” arguments, and the “anyone can get confused about what race they are” rationalization by playing the signature significance card, and never got to play it.

Fortunately, the Dolezal saga has become its own signature significance card. William Salatan at Slate amassed an impressive list of Dolezals many fictions, scams, fudges, deceptions, false statements and deceits here, but the best is this: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: Further Observations On The NAACP’s Self-Made African-American Exec

Space Teacher would have a word with you...

Space Teacher would have a word with you…

Extradimensional Cephalopod, Ethics Alarms’ mysterious, erudite, squid-like commenter, offers this fascinating, if puzzling, perspective on the Rachel Dolezal scandal. I think he’s agreeing with my conclusion that this episode exposes the absurdity and corrupting effects of the progressive obsession with race. I don’t know that this was really told to him by a “space alien elementary school teacher,” but it may well have been said by someone who self-identified as one, and if so, what difference, at this point, does it make?

Here is EC’s Comment of the Day on the post, Further Observations On The NAACP’s Self-Made African-American Exec. Continue reading

Further Observations On The NAACP’s Self-Made African-American Exec

"I think I am black, therefor I am."

“I think I am black, therefor I am.”

When I wrote about Rachel Dolezal’s strange and provocative racial charade as my first post of the day, I had not read any other commentary on the subject. I was surprised at the degree to which the subject subsequently dominated the web, as well as the rapidity with which many, though not all, of the themes  raised in my various questions were echoed elsewhere—parallels with Elizabeth Warren and Caitlyn Jenner among them. Now that there are some other reactions, as well as some statements from the active participants in this cultural mess—and it is a mess–let me add to my commentary.

1. Some commentators, like Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, appear to think the story is a joke. The tone of some of my earlier comments was intended to be ironic, but this is no joke, and the issues it forces society to deal with, or go into denial regarding, which itself is no joke, are important and perhaps represent a cultural tipping point.

2. Rachel Dolezal represents a crisis for the sloppy thinkers of the left. (There are sloppy thinkers on the Right, too, but this story doesn’t expose them.) They need to choose their words carefully, and so far, I have seen no evidence of that. Modern progressive cant is thoroughly polluted with false constructs, hypocrisy, double standards and absurd mandated beliefs regarding diversity, tolerance and fairness, and this story exposes much of it. I wonder if the progressive activists even realize the bind they are in? It is a dilemma they created themselves by assuming that the pile of contradictions they were amassing would be ignored forever if they threatened and insulted anyone who pointed to it. Dolezal just made their shallow exploration of their own truths untenable. Continue reading

“If Caitlyn Jenner Can Identify As Female And Be Cheered For it, Why Is White NAACP Leader Rachel Dolezal Wrong To Identify As Black?” And Other Ethics Musings On A Really Strange Story

NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal, before she decided to be black.

NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal, before she decided to be black.

Rachel Dolezal, a prominent civil rights activist, the leader of Spokane’s NAACP chapter, chairwoman of the city’s Office of Police Ombudsman Commission and a professor in the African Studies Program at Eastern Washington University, has been falsely representing herself as black for years. When someone is asked if he or she is really black, and the answers he or she comes up with includes “That question is not as easy as it seems,” and “We’re all from the African continent,”  it’s fair to say the jig is up.

Or is it? Although Dolezal’s mother has spoken out about the 37 -year-old’s background, noting that there is no black ancestry that they know of in the family and that Rachel’s self-identification as black seems to arise out of the fact that she was raised with adopted African-American siblings—you know, like Steve Martin in “The Jerk”?—she may well sincerely believe she is black. Then what?

Dolezal’s actual race, if there is such a thing in her case since she sometimes identifies herself as “white, black, and American Indian,” has suddenly become an issue because she has reported alleged instances of harassment and hate crimes. An inquiry has also been opened at Spokane City Hall. “We are gathering facts to determine if any city policies related to volunteer boards and commissions have been violated,” Mayor David Condon, who appointed her to the city oversight board,  and Council President Ben Stuckart said in a joint statement. “That information will be reviewed by the City Council, which has oversight of city boards and commissions.”

Stuckart said the council will meet soon to discuss the developments and that he didn’t want to speak for the group until then. “But if this is true I’ll be very disappointed,” he said..

Is Dolezal credible? Is she courageous? Is she deluded? Is she nuts? Or is being black just, as Gore Vidal said about Truman Capote’s death, a good career move?

Some ethics musings:
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