Tag Archives: stage directors

Sunday Ethics Reflections, 8/5/2018: Abdication, Arrogance, Airbrushing

1. If you want to seed a civil war, this is how you do it…Why is this incredible story just an item on the daily ethics potpourri? For one thing, I don’t see why much commentary is necessary, or should be. I don’t typically  write about robberies or murders, or other outright unethical acts that all but the worst sociopaths can recognize in a trice as unethical.  I feel the same way about this, from the Wall Street Journal:

A mob surrounded ICE’s office in Southwest Portland June 19. They barricaded the exits and blocked the driveway. They sent “guards” to patrol the doors, trapping workers inside. At night they laid on the street, stopping traffic at a critical junction near a hospital. Police stayed away. “At this time I am denying your request for additional resources,” the Portland Police Bureau’s deputy chief, Robert Day, wrote to federal officers pleading for help. Hours later, the remaining ICE workers were finally evacuated by a small federal police team. The facility shut down for more than a week. Signs called ICE employees “Nazis” and “white supremacists.” Others accused them of running a “concentration camp,” and demanded open borders and prosecution of ICE agents. Along a wall, vandals wrote the names of ICE staff, encouraging others to publish their private information online.

Federal workers were defenseless. An ICE officer, who asked that his name not be published, told me one of his colleagues was trailed in a car and confronted when he went to pick up his daughter from summer camp. Later people showed up at his house. Another had his name and photo plastered on flyers outside his home accusing him of being part of the “Gestapo.”

Where were the police? Ordered away by Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler, who doubles as police commissioner. “I do not want the @PortlandPolice to be engaged or sucked into a conflict, particularly from a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track,” he tweeted. “If [ICE is] looking for a bailout from this mayor, they are looking in the wrong place.”

The phrase, “particularly from a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track” mandates impeachment on its face. It is not the mayor’s proper role to decide who deserves the protection of the city against lawbreakers. “There is no place for personal, political bias when it comes to providing public safety services to our communities,” Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner said in a statement on Facebook. “In that respect, our Mayor, who is also our Police Commissioner, has failed miserably.”

Also:

  • How many readers of Ethics Alarms saw broadcast news accounts of this incident and the Portland mayor’s conduct? It is the tendency to set out to bury and hide the worst examples of progressive and resistance excess that is the smokiest of smoking guns showing the degree to which journalists are actively attempting to indoctrinate and mislead rather than inform.
  • Do the citizens of Portland really condone this?

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/7/2018: Something In This Post Is Guaranteed To Send You Screaming Into The Streets” [Item #3]

Curmie is one of my favorite bloggers, and also a fellow stage director, a teacher, and a learned man with a keen understanding of ethics. As soon as I encountered the jaw-dropping story about the high school that cancelled its scheduled musical after a protest was mounted because a white student was cast in the role of the show’s Romani heroine, I knew it was in Curmie’s wheelhouse.

Here us Curmie’s Comment of the Day on the third topic in the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/7/2018: Something In This Post Is Guaranteed To Send You Screaming Into The Streets:

Re #3: I’d seen this story a few days ago, but luckily for my sanity I had too many other things on my mind to contemplate too deeply what was going on in my old stomping grounds (I went to high school a little over a half hour from Ithaca, and spent four years in grad school at Cornell).

I’m not sure I agree with you that the school is supporting “per se racism,” but I do think the decision was equal parts stupid, repressive, and cowardly. Even if we discount your entire argument, Jack (and I don’t), we still left with this: the character is Romani. The fact that a POC actor played the role in the biggest production of this particular iteration of the story doesn’t change the fact that many Romani are indeed white. What they definitely aren’t is black, although one suspects that casting such as actor in the role would have been at least condoned if not applauded. And if I’m identifying the complaining student correctly, she is far from the body type one would associate with the role. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Race

Morning Pop Quiz On Ethics And Leadership: What’s Wrong With White House Spokesman Josh Earnest’s TSA Quote?

Here’s the quote, from Earnest’s  statement on behalf of the President:

“The President does continue to have confidence that the officers of the TSA do very important work that continues to protect the American people.”

Your pop quiz:

What’s wrong with it?

(It is very wrong.)

I’ll give you a minute (It took me 3 seconds) “Final Jeopardy” style:

Got it?

Here we go…. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, Quizzes, Workplace

Being Fair To College Student Ideological Idiocy

Luckily for him, the bank president who wrote this foolishness in 1969 didn't sign his name to it...

Luckily for him, the bank president who wrote this foolishness in 1969 didn’t sign his name to it…Ah, my old college days!

My attention has been drawn recently to two essays by college students, both presumably sent to me on the theory (or hope) that reading them would kill me. The first, published in the Drexel Triangle (the student paper), argues that stage directors should be prevented from casting actors who look the way the playwright envisioned them. The second, published in the Harvard Crimson, makes an even more disturbing assertion: its author asserts that Harvard should stop guaranteeing professors and students the right to advocate controversial views or pursue research that challenges liberal views and assumptions.

I don’t want to devote the bulk of this post to rebutting these two essays, which are, I think self-rebutting. In the theatrical essay, student actress Alyssa Stover argues that a stage director shouldn’t have the right to decide that, say, casting an Asian dwarf as black boxer Jack Johnson in “The Great White Hope” would lead to a less effective production (that is my example, not hers—she objects to a director of “Cabaret” refusing to cast African-Americans as a matter of historical accuracy):

“These arguments are fundamentally flawed. What the audience wants is almost impossible to measure because the “audience” is composed of anyone who can get a ticket. A director or producer’s right to deny someone a role due to their appearance is debatable because this is a judgment based on one person’s preferences and may not actually create something that is stage worthy. The current status quo allows people to be barred from the stage due to physical “flaws,” as determined by the direction. These judgments are not harmless, and when the issue of race is involved, the problem only gets bigger.” Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race, The Internet, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Schadenfreude, Ethics, and Those Fanatics Inside Us All”

Maybe "The Broadcaster" was all Harry had inside...

Rick elaborates nicely on the theme of my post on handling those fanatic personas that reside in each of us, and in the process takes the ethical measure of an iconic baseball broadcaster whose charms always escaped me…the late Harry Carey.

“It strikes me that there’s another part of the equation, which you only hint at here, but which you have mentioned in other posts. That’s the “ethics alarm” (to coin a phrase) that goes off, or should, when the director or the Red Sox fan or whoever That Guy is says or does something unethical. Part of it is “heat of the moment” stuff: the egoism that slips out in a moment of excitement. No, of course you didn’t want Thurman Munson to die, but yes, he did play for the hated Yankees, and their team just got worse. You’re forgiven the fist-pump. Once. And provided you (Jack, as opposed to Red Sox fan) didn’t mean it.

“I was watching a Cubs game on WGN sometime in the mid-1980s when news came over the wire that Montreal Expos infielder Hubie Brooks had suffered a season-ending injury. Brooks had been a favorite of mine when he’d played for the Mets (“my team”), and I continued to follow his career with some interest, so the news was doubly sad for me: a player had been seriously injured, and that player was Hubie Brooks.

“In contrast, Cubs announcer Harry Carey proclaimed “well, if it helps the Cubs win, it’s OK by me.” I remember the exact words 25 years later. What struck me was not that they were uttered, but that no one—not Carey himself, not his broadcast partner, no one—made the slightest attempt to walk them back. That was the official verdict: a season-ending injury (Brooks was never the same again, by the way) was a good thing if it happened to somebody in a different uniform. I mentioned the incident to a couple of friends—Cubs fans—and they laughed and said “oh, that’s Harry.”

“Everyone understood that Carey was a Cubs fan first and an announcer second. That was, I am told, part of his charm—I never saw it, but others did. Still, I was sort of hoping that there would be a human being in there somewhere. On that particular day, at least, I was disappointed. We lived in WGN country for another seven years. I never watched another Cubs game without turning off the sound.”

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Schadenfreude, Ethics, and Those Fanatics Inside Us All

NBC baseball blogger Craig Calcaterra recently raised the sensitive issue of sports fan Schadenfreude*, something that I have been afflicted with from time to time. The occasion was the recent injury to San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey in a particularly gruesome collision at home plate. His comments made me think about the obsessed and narrow personas in all of us, and how we should regard their occasional callousness.

Posey was the 2010 National League Rookie of the Year; he is also a cornerstone of the Giants’ recent success: the team is the reigning Major League Baseball World Champion. The collision with Florida Marlins’ Scott Cousins simultaneously broke Posey’s leg, ended his season, jeopardized the career of an exciting young player (players often return from such injuries permanently diminished) and dealt a serious blow to the Giants’ chances of returning to the World Series in 2011.  Reacting to a blogger who suggested that the injury caused most non-Giants fans to  give “a little fist-pump”… because “their team’s chances of dethroning the Giants as World Series champions just got a little bit better,” Calcaterra wrote… Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Sports, The Internet

Fashion Ethics: Stealing Is Good

Where is it ethical to be unethical?

In the Bizarro world of high fashion, apparently, where making knock-offs of famous name designer dresses is a huge industry, and the original designers get neither recognition not profit from the illicit use of their creations. The practice is obviously unfair and dishonest, but not so obviously, good for the health of the fashion industry, according to an article by law professors Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman on the Freakonimics website. They write: Continue reading

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