My Mistake! I Thought Having Trump As President Would Teach Our Kids To Be Uncivil, Vulgar Assholes…I Didn’t Foresee Anderson Cooper Helping Out

[The title above is a reference to this post from last year, in case you missed it despite my linking to it just about every other day since…]

On the May 19, 2017 edition of Anderson Cooper 360, the CNN host became frustrated with President Trump’s flack Jeffrey Lord—consider him this President’s less slick version of Lanny Davis or less repulsive version of Paul Begala—-as Lord defended the President’s alleged description of former F.B.I. Director James Comey as a “nut job,” leading to this immortal exchange.

Cooper: If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.

Lord: What? [Starts laughing.]

Niiiiice! So professional! So respectful to the President of the United States and any CNN viewers left who have a shred of civility, decency, and sense of  etiquette in public discourse!

So disgusting.

As we know, a back-up weekend weatherman who said this about the  previous President or any before him would have been fired before he finished the 7 day forecast. Cooper, however, is permitted this gutter level breach of courtesy and professionalism, because 1) as CNN’s star, he is held to a lower standard (The Star Syndrome) than weekend weathermen, as we saw in when Cooper smirked and joked with Rachel Maddow about the gay term “teabagger” in order to mock the Tea Party movement,  2) CNN has normalized blatant partisan gestures and outbursts by its talking heads, and 2) this President of the United States  has been found  unworthy of respect and courtesy, or professional journalism standards. CNN will do nothing to discipline Cooper or send te message that his conduct is unacceptable, because the dirty little secret is that as long as President Trump is the target, it is acceptable. At this point in its devolution, CNN is cheerleading what has been accurately called a slow-motion attempted coup by the one-time news network’s party of choice. A Harvard media study released last week showed CNN to be the most unbalanced of all major news outlets in its reporting on the President’s first 100 days, with 97% of its coverage negative in substance or tone.

Cooper later apologized to Lord in the segment, saying, “I like having your voice on here and I think you’re an important voice to have, so I’m sorry I was a little crude. And you defend the president very well, and that’s your job.”

A little crude? Continue reading

The Kevin Pillar Suspension: What Exactly Are The Current Societal Standards Regarding Homophobic Slurs, Civility, And Free Speech? I’m Confused.

In the seventh inning of the Atlanta Braves’ 8-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, Braves reliever Jason Motte “quick pitched”  Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar, striking him out. Quick-pitching isn’t illegal except in extremes, in which case it is called a balk.  It is, however, considered a bush-league tactic. Tempers were flaring in this game already, and Pillar was so upset by the pitch that yelled “Faggot!” at Motte. A “benches-clearing incident” ensued, called such because baseball players seldom really fight.

Nobody in the stands heard what Pillar said,  and most of the players didn’t either.  It was later lip-read off of the videotape of the game. There is no evidence that Motte is gay, so this was just a spontaneous utterance intended to mean “I don’t like you,” or something. If Motte were gay, and Pillar called him a faggot, this would be personal denigration based on a characteristic.

I mention this because calling a woman a bitch is not sexual harassment in the workplace; it’s just uncivil. Calling a man a bitch, however, has been found to be sexual harassment, as an innuendo about sexuality rather than character. It seem pretty clear  that Pillar was not making a sexual allegation.

After the game, sensing what was to come, Pillar issued an apology to Motte, saying, “It was immature, it was stupid, it was uncalled for. It’s part of the game.” Is there any doubt that athletes saying vulgar things to each other (and umpires) on the field is part of the game? I have seen players, managers and coaches clearly say “fuck,” “shit,” and “son of a bitch” for decades, too many times to count. One of my all-time favorite players, hippie former Boston lefty Bill Lee, was once caught by a face-on camera as he sparked a real baseball fight by pointing at the Yankees’ Greg Nettles and articulating, “HEY FUCKHEAD!” Lee wasn’t suspended or fined, and this was thirty years ago.

But Major League Baseball launched an investigation of Pillar. Of words. On a baseball field.   Pillar issued a more complete apology on his Twitter account:

He apparently guessed what was coming, or had been tipped off. Yesterday, the Toronto Blue Jays suspended Pillar for two games. Pillar isn’t yet in the highly-paid star category: he makes “only” $521, 000. A two game suspension will cost him about $6433 for a one syllable expletive. MLB has not taken any action, and apparently won’t.

Now, the Blue Jays, like any employer, can make any rules it chooses regarding the workplace. Obviously slurs cause bad feelings and are not the kind of things a professional sport wants its young fans to associate with its heroes. Still, any time people get punished for mere words my ethics alarms go off, and they also go off when so many people don’t seem to have ethics alarms regarding chilling speech and expression. Therefore I have some questions: Continue reading

“Cockholster” Update: Still Unethical, Not Illegal

Or to put it another way, Stephen Colbert’s ugly, vulgar and uncivil slur against President Trump may have been unfunny, biased, demeaning to the audience and the network (CBS), and corrosive to political discourse and the culture—it was all of these—but he didn’t violate any regulations or laws.

Yes, it’s always legal to be smug, pandering, hypocritical jerk.

The FCC spokesman confirmed the commission was not launching an investigation regarding the episode in which Colbert broke new ground in gutter language on network TV.For one thing, the “Late Show With Stephen Colbert”  is exempt from the FCC’s policies on profanity and indecency because its indecent rules only apply to TV and radio shows airing between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.,  when children are supposedly not in the audience.

That would not save Colbert if his words were judged legally obscene (and thus not protected speech), but Colbert’s comments would not be found obscene under established court standards. Concludes Constitutional law expert (and Supreme Court appointee-in-waiting) Eugene Volokh:
Continue reading

UPDATE: More Ethics Notes On The Comey Firing Meltdown

In this matter, at least, President Johnson was right…

1. In 1867, the Radical Republican dominated Congress passed The Tenure of Office Act, an unconstitutional breach of the Separation of Powers that took away the President’s ability to fire his own Cabinet members without the legislature’s approval. President Andrew Johnson, extremely unpopular in the victorious North and more so with his own party (Johnson was a Democrat, added to Lincoln’s ticket as Vice-President to bolster Lincoln’s desperate bid for re-election in 1864), deliberately defied the law by firing War Secretary Edwin Stanton, a Lincoln appointee and an ally of the Radicals. In response, Johnson’ own party led a n effort to impeach him, and he was narrowly saved from conviction by a single vote in the Senate. The Act was soon ruled unconstitutional, as Johnson said it was. As lousy a President as he was, Johnson had every right to fire someone who served at his pleasure, and doing so was not an impeachable offense.

2. The Democrats and journalists who are—absurdly, irresponsibly, embarrassingly, hysterically—calling for President Trump’s impeachment for firing James Comey neither know their history  nor respect democracy. Just check off the names of anyone, including your friends and colleagues, who make this argument, as hopeless, deranged partitions without perspective or integrity. I’m making my own list, with early entries like Maxine Waters and Vox, which beclowned itself by writing that a President’s lawful firing of a subordinate who clearly deserved it raises the  possibility of impeachment. At least the Radical Republicans had an unconstitutional law to back that theory: Vox has nothing but, of course, the Left’s hate campaign against the President of the United States. Then there are Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Mark Pocan (D-WI)  who also think a firing for cause is grounds for impeachment. Gallego:

“We are certainly moving down that path. There is a lot of runway until we get there, but the president is not helping himself by firing the person investigating him. … We don’t have the numbers to do something right now, but when it comes to a point when we feel there is no other recourse, you’d have — I think — we’d have the full support of the Democratic caucus.”

Pocan said that impeachment might be possible “if there was obstruction of justice by firing [the] FBI director … We’re seeing Democrats and Republicans concerned with timing of this decision … We would first need a majority in Congress or some Republican votes … but we need to keep every tool available to make sure the President follows the law.”

Ethics alarm: who elects idiots like these? I have searched for any situation, anywhere, in which a legal and justifiable firing of an official was prosecuted as “obstruction of justice.”  Nor is an act that is neither a crime, nor a “high crime or misdemeanor,” nor something a President isn’t clearly empowered to do “moving down” the path of impeachment.

3. This is public disinformation, aided and abetted by the news media. The primary ethics issue in the Comey firing is that it is just another stage of an unethical, dastardly effort by Democrats, progressives, the left-leaning news media and their allies to veto a Presidential election that they lost by their collective arrogance and incompetence, and to undermine the United States’ elected leader no matter what harm comes to the nation as a result. The firing itself was legal, ethical, and responsible, indeed overdue. Representing it as otherwise is designed to cause fear and confusion among the public. Responsible citizens are obligated to counter this in any way they can. Continue reading

Update On Stephen Colbert’s “Cock Holster” Slur: Questions Answered Regarding The Comic, CBS, His Fans And Supporters…And The News Media

As discussed here yesterday, Stephen Colbert strung a gross, vulgar, precedent-shattering string of ugly ad hominem insults against the President of the United States this week, a volley that included the homophobic slur “cock holster,” insinuating, because such an image is so hilarious, that the leader of his country fellates Vladimir Putin. Last night he answered the collective criticism. Here is what he said, and said with the repulsively smug “aren’t I clever and amusing!” smirk that has always made this comic hard to watch for me (Samantha Bee does the same thing). As a professional director, I think it’s bad technique, and hackish. But I digress…back to Colbert:

“I’m your host, Stephen Colbert. Still? I am still the host? I’m still the host!!…Now, if you saw my monologue Monday, you know that I was a little upset at Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine. So at the end of that monologue, I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight…While I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.”

Then he pandered to the critics who condemned his “cock holster” joke as homophobic by blathering briefly about how anyone who expresses love for any human being is a “hero” [Translation: “I love you all, Gay Progressives! Don’t be mad at me! Remember when you got mad at Alec Baldwin for calling a photographer a cocksucker? You forgave him because he votes for the right party, and so do I! “], and introduced gay actor Jim Parsons, who plays the uber-nerd in “Big Bang Theory” to prove it.

What did this moment tell us about Stephen Colbert?

Stephen Colbert doubled down on using the phrase cock holder on the air in a high profile network show. He did not apologize or retract the worst vulgarity that has ever been allowed to go out to millions on a pre-taped network show, and that record-worst vulgarity was directed at the President of the United States, who, like it or not, is the representative of our democracy world-wide and who, like it or not, carries the mantle of all who preceded him.

Colbert’s  justification for this is that the President insulted Colbert’s “friend,”  “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson [if you believe that Colbert and Dickerson are any more real friends than Colbert and the CBS cafeteria ladies, I have a bridge to sell you], so this justified exporting obscenity, uninvited, into millions of American homes, and further polluting political discourse and civil society.

This is signature significance. Stephen Colbert is an irresponsible, hateful, fame-addled, unprofessional asshole without the decency or ethical awareness to know when he has crossed a big, bold, long-standing cultural ethics line, or the courage to accept responsibility for it. His ethics ignorance was on display in his scripted–scripted! Like “cock-holster,” somebody was paid to write this garbage—comments. He expressed or embraced the unethical logic of Rationalizations #2, 7, 13, 14, 19A,  52,  and more.

Revealingly, Colbert, an alleged comedian, did not cite #54, The Joke Excuse, though as a holder of the Jester’s Privilege, that one was properly available to him. This signaled that Colbert was NOT joking, but being genuinely and intentionally hateful and insulting the President of the United States in as gross and demeaning a manner as he could, and that he meant it. Well, that’s an abuse of his position and the platform provided to him by CBS.

Meanwhile, Colbert stacked all of his chips on  Rationalization #11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?” He knows he can get away with conduct that would get lesser lights suspended or fired, so, like all organization high-performers who double as ethics corrupters, Colbert acted accordingly. Not only that, he gloated about it. “See? Can’t fire ME!”

There needs to be a special word for “contender for king of the assholes.”

On the plus side for Ethics Alarms, Colbert did give me a new Rationalization for the list, which I will add today: “The Pest’s Justification.” That’s when misconduct and abuse is justified because the abuser is less powerful than the abused. Abuse is abuse. “He can take care of himself” is not a justification.

Finally, the statement that he would change “a few words” is cowardly and slimy, displaying the character of a banana slug. Why would you change those words, Asshole? Because they got you in trouble? Why were they “cruder than they needed to be”? Needed to be for what purpose? If you won’t apologize for using those words, then say what the words are, again, right here, so we don’t think  you meant “Pricktator.” Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Month: ‘Late Show’ Host Stephen Colbert”

I admire various regular commenters here for different qualities: eloquence, perspective, courage, perseverance, integrity, loyalty, humor. Steve-O-in NJ is a one of the commenters I admire for his honesty, and willingness to subject his own conduct, past and present, to uncompromising analysis and objective criticism. This is one of the most difficult, and most useful, skills in improving our life competency of being positive participants in society’s ethical evolution. It also requires no small amount of humility and courage.

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day on today’s post, Unethical Quote Of The Month: “Late Show” Host Stephen Colbert:

This isn’t a monologue. This isn’t analysis. This isn’t humor. It’s a rant, plain and simple, a bunch of angry thoughts and insults strung together and delivered harshly. I’m a seasoned ranter, to the point where judges, colleagues, and my family have told me I would do better if I dropped out the 20% of what I write that’s trash talking. I usually use it as spice, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s pandering to my like-minded friends who will think it’s funny if I refer to Hillary’s appearance or Bernie’s age or whatever.

I have done a lot worse in the past, the lowest point being my storming up the stairs to my office (before I was in public service) angry after a dispute over a parking space with an Indian guy. I got about a minute and a half into a rant about “these fucking dotheads, who the hell invited them over here? They don’t wash, they don’t know how to drive, they stink of curry and onions, they can’t speak the language, they take jobs away from people who were born here, someone needs to call dotbusters on them…” before a horrified colleague yelled “Steven! Listen to what you’re saying!” Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: “Late Show” Host Stephen Colbert

“The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.”

Comic Stephen Colbert, in the climax to an anti-President Trump hate-rant, on CBS’s “Late Night”

Ten points regarding Colbert setting several new lows for network fare, in entertainment, in comedy, and in political discourse:

1. “Cock holster,” needless to say, all by itself and without context, is gutter language. It does not belong in network TV monologues. It does not belong at the dinner table. You would not, if you had an atom of respect, common sense, dignity or decorum, use the term as a guest in a home,  in the workplace, in a conversation with your mother, in a conversation with a stranger, or in an exchange with someone within earshot of a child. There is no excuse for using such a term in public, and anyone using such a vulgar phrase in metaphorically littering our civic and cultural environment.

2. Colbert is a performer on a network TV show. The fact that it is on late at night is no mitigation of the ugly conduct here, just a rationalization (#22): at least it wasn’t on “Sesame Street.” Once, the four major TV networks, especially CBS, the Tiffany Network, the network that fired the Smothers Brothers for being excessively disrespectful to President Lyndon Johnson, had departments of standards and practices whose job it was to keep their bonds of trust with the American public that once invited into the collected homes of the nation, they would not abuse the privilege.

Stephen Colbert abused the privilege, and did so deliberately and flagrantly.

3. CBS, as a (once) respectable, responsible cultural leader and communications icon was obligated to suspend Colbert immediately.

If he had made such an ugly comment about Barack Obama, CBS would have done so. If a late night host had made such a comment about any previous President, it would have done so. (If he had made such a comment about President Hillary Clinton, Colbert would have been fired.) It should make no difference to CBS’s assessment of its obligations that it may calculate that a sufficient number of CBS audience members are poisoned with hate and have the manners and tastes of crude lowlifes. The network’s role in society is to maintain and even elevate our cultural standards, not to accelerate their degradation. Continue reading