Tag Archives: stereotypes

Observations On The La Jolla High Cartoon Controversy

I was going to make this an Ethics Quiz, but category that  can’t quite encompass the issues involved, and the more I considered it, the more certain I became of what should have happened. Here is the story:

A student-drawn cartoon was  published last month in the La Jolla High School’s “Hi-Tide” newspaper. It depicted eight ethnic groups in a blatantly stereotypical manner ( which is to say, it was a cartoon), with each figure pictured wearing T-shirts with messages  reinforcing the stereotypes. The cartoonist’s purpose was to lampoon the controversial H&M ad that caused the company to pull the ad and apologize:

Here was the student’s cartoon…

The requisite number of sensitive students and /or their sensitive parents complained about the cartoon to compel the school principal to grovel an apology, saying that the decision to publish the cartoon was an “error in judgment and a breach of all the values we hold dear at La Jolla High School,” since the cartoon depicted multiple ethnic groups as “ugly racial stereotypes.”

Observations: Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/7/2018: Something In This Post Is Guaranteed To Send You Screaming Into The Streets

Good Morning!

1 Oh no! Not my permanent record! My wife gave a small contribution to Mitt  Romney’s campaign, and has been hounded by RNC robocalls and mailings ever since. GOP fundraising started getting really slimy under the indefensible Michael Steele’s leadership, and continued to use unethical methods after Steele went on to job at a bait shop or something. Last week my wife got an envelope in the mail with a block red DELINQUENCY NOTICE! printed on it. A lie, straight up: there was no delinquency, just a my wife’s decision that she would rather burn a C-note than give it to the fools and knaves running the Republican Party. She registered an official complaint with the RNC, and received this response from Dana Klein, NRCC Deputy Finance Director:

“My job as the Deputy Finance Director is to communicate with supporters to let them know the status of their NRCC Sustaining Membership. Unfortunately, I have bad news for you. As of right now, you have a delinquency mark on your record for your failure to renew your membership. But, I have some good news. You can remove this delinquency mark if you renew by the FEC deadline on Wednesday.”

Both my wife and I were professional fundraisers for many years. This is deceptive and coercive fundraising, and anyone who voluntarily supports an organization that uses such tactics is a victim or an idiot.

Or, I suppose, a Republican.

2. Another one…This is another one of the statements that I am pledged to expose every time I read or hear it: a Maryland legislator, enthusing over the likelihood that a ballot initiative will result in legalizing pot in the state, ran off the usual invalid, disingenuous and foolish rationalizations for supporting measure. (Don’t worry, pot-lovers: I’m resigned to this happening, not just in Maryland, but nation wide. As with the state lotteries, our elected officials will trade the public health and welfare for easy revenue every time. Minorities and the poor will be the most hurt, and the brie and pot set couldn’t care less.) Only one of his familiar bad arguments triggered my mandatory response pledge: ” to legalize a drug that is less harmful than alcohol.”

This is the bottom of the rationalization barrel, “it’s not the worst thing.” Alcohol is a scourge of society, killing thousands upon thousands every year, ruining families and lives, wrecking businesses, costing the economy millions of dollars. Just yesterday there was a report that fetal alcohol syndrome was far more common that previously believed. There is no question, none, that U.S. society would be healthier and safer without this poison accepted in the culture: unfortunately, it was too deeply embedded before serious efforts were made to remove it. Now pot advocates want to inflict another damaging recreational drug on society, using the argument that it’s not as terrible as the ones we’re already stuck with. Stipulated: it’s not as harmful as alcohol. It’s not as harmful as Russian Roulette or eating Tidepods either. I have a bias against taking seriously advocates who use arguments like this; it means they re either liars, and know their logic is absurd, or idiots, and don’t.

3. Riddle me this: What do you get when you cross casting ethics, weak and lazy school administrators, political-correctness bullies-in-training with “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”?

Answer: a cancelled high school musical, and per se racism supported by the school.

New York’s Ithaca High School was beginning production of the Disney film-based musical “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” but made the unforgivable error, in the eyes of student activists,  of casting of a white student as a Romani heroine Esmeralda, played in the classic film by that gypsy wench, Maureen O’Hara, and in the Disney version by a Toon.  Several students quit the show in protest,  and formed an activist group to reverse the decision. It sent a letter calling the casting “cultural appropriation” and “whitewashing,” calling the student the “epitome of whiteness.” The letter admitted that she was also “a stellar actor, singer and dancer” that any stage would be “lucky to have,” but what is the talent, skill and competence required for a role compared to what really matters, her skin color? The students demanded that the school either choose a different show or recast Esmeralda a black and brown actress. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/31/18: The State Of The Union Speech Didn’t Stink Edition

Good Morning.

1 About the President’s speech. In yesterday’s Warm-up, I yearned for the honesty of Gerald Ford, who had the courage to by-pass the usual State of the Union happy talk and admit that the nation was not in a good place. Now that President Trump has delivered his first State of the Union message, I have to admit that being positive, or as my late father would have said, quoting his favorite poem, keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, is a good approach too.

The President has managed to find an excellent speechwriter. That is an admirable and responsible thing. These were not, unlike his Inaugural speech was, Trump’s own words, but he gets credit for them, or should, just as much as Ronald Reagan got credit for Peggy Noonan’s soaring rhetoric and  Jack Kennedy deserved the accolades he received for Ted Sorenson’s justly famous scripting. [The full text of last night’s speech is here.] The SOTU was also well-delivered. I know a lot of people would say that any speech this President delivers was horrible and he looked like an ass even if it was the equivalent of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and delivered with the skill of Tom Hanks, but that’s their problem. Not to be repetitive, but  such people need to understand the effects of confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance if they are going to venture outside their little bubbles and echo chambers.

In fact, this is a good test of your Trump-hating friends’, or your own, integrity. If you can’t concede that the speech was at least pretty good, then you are no longer able to perceive reality where this President is concerned. In no way can that be a good thing. Fix it. Continue reading

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The End Of Chief Wahoo

The Cleveland Indians will yield to political correctness and ditch the team’s 70 year-old logo, Chief Wahoo. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred pressured Indians chair Paul Dolan into making the change, which had been demanded by Native American activists for decades. A version of the red-skinned, hook-nosed caricature of a Native American first appeared on the Indians’ uniforms in 1948, when the team won its first American League pennant after many frustrating years. The logo caught on in part because the team’s fans had good associations with the image—the cognitive dissonance scale strikes again!—and then grinning indian became part of team tradition.The various groups that bullied other teams to change or eliminate names or logos with any hint of ethnicity on spurious grounds made banning Wahoo a priority, along with the Atlanta Braves “tomahawk chop” and especially the Washington Redskins nickname.

Apparently Manfred used the 2019 MLB All-Star Game as leverage, telling the club that either Chief Wahoo goes or the All-Star Game would end up somewhere else.

I have no affection for the logo, which is grotesque and anachronistic, but as with the Redskins, the protests were part of a power play by the Left and not the result of genuine, widespread offense affecting Native Americans. Nobody was made into a racist or caused to hate Native Americans because of Chief Wahoo, and sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon. There was no racist intent: people do not associate names and images that represent what they hate with teams they love. (The cognitive dissonance scale again. Is there anything it can’t explain?) As with the Redskins name, I feel as if the Cleveland Indians logo needed to stay as a matter of principle. Again, the attack on team names and symbols is about power, and bending others to their will.  Polls and surveys showed that most Native Americans didn’t care. But this is just another brick in the wall, and the censors of art, history, tradition, thought and language will never stop. Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: Toni Van Pelt, President Of The National Organization for Women

And while I’m on the subject, to hell with you and your hate group too, Wonder Woman…

“We could ask all of the men in Congress to resign, is that what you’re asking me? You know that mostly all men do this kind of thing to women. It’s like saying there’s a good airline or a good bank, saying there’s some entity out there that is not sexist. They all should resign, every man in every industry. Maybe that’s a good thing because then women can take those positions and then we’ll finally get equal pay.”

Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Organization for Women, explaining why she feels it’s useless to demand Senator Al Franken’s  resignation following credible allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault in 2006.

Oh, nice.

You know, I don’t think I ask for too much. I just expect the champions of equality, fairness, mutual respect and civility to believe in and live by the principles they claim so indignantly and self-righteously to be fighting for. Is that an unreasonable expectation? Is it unreasonable to expect activists and advocates to hold themselves to the same standards they demand of others?

There need to be real and dire consequences for the head of NOW for making such an ugly, vicious, bigoted and hateful statement. That’s gender bias and stereotyping of the most egregious kind, and until and unless her organization retracts it, repudiates it,  and sheds this anti-male bigot from its leadership, I will not abide any of its supporters or members, and fully intend to do all I can to ensure that as many decent citizens as possible shun them as well.

Every candidate put forth by the Democratic Party, which courts NOW as part of its core constituency, needs to be read this statement and asked, yes or no, whether they endorse it or condemn it.

Under the definition of “hate group” used by the Southern Poverty Law Center— “any group with beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people”—Toni Van Pelt, speaking on behalf of her organization, has demonstrated that the National Organization for Women belongs on its list. NOW should be placed there, right next to such organized bigots as the KKK, as long Van Pelt is its leader or among its leader. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/17/17: Boy Scouts, “Will and Grace,” An Actress Whines, Wedding Cakes, And (I’m Sorry!) More Hillary

Good Morning!

1 I’m giving an ethics talk to a Boy Scout troop this afternoon. Figuring out how to use example that are appropriate to ages 11-14 while avoiding hot-button issues like race, sexual orientation, police, guns and politics in general is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. What pop culture reference points will work is also a conundrum. What movies are they likely to have seen? In the Sixties, I could have referred to Westerns, many of which routinely embodied ethics lessons. But they also often involved shooting people, and kids don’t see Westerns now. In the Eighties, I might have sent Boy Scouts to episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which was virtually all about ethics. But Patrick Stewart is just an old guy doing commercials now, and there have been four TV incarnations of the franchise since Data packed it in, not counting the movies. Pixar movies are usually ethics-rich, but a lot of kids will bristle at being presumed to be cartoon fans. Superhero movies? The ones that raise ethics issues usually do so badly, or the issues are too complex—or too dark– for a Boy Scout Troop. Here we see the serious cultural problem of declining cultural literacy and deteriorating cross-generational communications as a result of the loss of common experience. and interests.

Well, it’s early. I’ll figure out something.

One approach I considered was to suggest they practice ethical analysis by reading the newspaper, picking out the ethics dilemmas and controversies that appear, thinking about them and arguing about them. Of course, that was foolish: they would probably ask, “What’s a newspaper?” However this morning’s Sunday Times is a perfect example. I could teach a four hour ethics seminar based on the stories in this edition alone. Look…

2. The baker who refused to sell a cake to a gay couple is back on the front page, thanks to the case winding its way to the Supreme Court. This time, the focus isn’t on Freedom of Religion (in this case, freedom to act like a jackass using your religion as an excuse), but Freedom of Speech. The government cannot compel speech, nor will the law compel specific performance of an artistic nature. The baker claims that his cakes are artistic creations, and he doesn’t have to make them for anyone or anything if he doesn’t want to.  The gay couple says that they weren’t asking for him to create an artwork, just to sell them a wedding cake. If the cake is a commodity, then the bake shop should be a public accommodation, and subject to applicable laws. Then the baker has to sell his cakes to anyone. If the cake is an “artistic creation” made specifically for the couple, then the law cannot force the baker to make it, or punish him if he refuses. Art is speech.

I hate these kinds of cases, and I’m sure the SCOTUS justices do too. A cake is sometimes just a cake, and sometimes a work of art. The confrontation should have been handled with ethics rather than law. The baker is a bigoted jerk, that’s all. I think he has a right not to make a cake for a gay couple, but exercising that right is cruel and insulting. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/14/17: Reed College…Fired For Mentioning Grits?…Stupid Protests…The DNC Lies To Democrats…And The Times Clarifies Its Double Standards

Hi there!

1 There is another one of those hybrid ethics stories coming out of Oregon. Cross oppressive political correctness with racial-offense hypersensitivity with Lena Dunham-like totalitarian-minded progressives itching to report “wrong-thinkers” to authorities with organizations punishing individuals for private speech they did not intend to make public and what monstrosity do you get?

This: a white conductor and festival artistic director fired by a music festival after he was overheard talking to a black friend in a fake Southern accent and saying, “Do you want some grits?” or words to that effect.

I’m not going to explain in any detail what and who are unethical in this fiasco, because I shouldn’t have to. Halls is a victim. The woman who reported him after eavesdropping is worse than merely unethical: she is an evil-doer, someone who sets out to hurt other people to feel powerful. She either never heard of the Golden Rule or doesn’t accept it. (Maybe she IS Lena Dunham!) The festival’s conduct is unfair, uncaring, cowardly and irresponsible. It deserves to have its artists boycott the festival in support for Halls, but since artists tend to be leftists of the knee-jerk variety, addicted to virtue-signaling and with the depth of analysis exhibited by the typical dachshund, I wouldn’t expect any colleagial  support if I were the conductor.

If you have functioning ethics alarms, it will be obvious that the episode was disgusting and unjust, and why. If the festival’s conduct  makes sense to you, then I’m afraid you’re hopelessly corrupted.

2. Morning Warm-Up may yet morph into “stories that are so irritating I can’t stand writing full posts about them.” Take this one, for example: at small liberal arts school Reed College,  a mandatory humanities course on ancient Mediterranean civilizations was canceled after student protesters kept  interrupting the class to protest “Eurocentrism.” Western culture has been, like it or accept it or not, the beacon of world civilization, and even those who (idiotically) choose to deride or reject it need to understand the history and forces that brought us to where we are today—where we are today being a time when weak and incompetent college administers refuse to assert the indispensable fact that students are there to learn, not dictate to their elders.

My favorite part of this story: to accommodate protesters, the Reed administration agreed to allow adverse students to stand surrounding lecturers in the course. “The general understanding was that the protesters would be allowed to continue as long as they didn’t interfere in the lecture period”…as if forcing lecturers to teach under such circumstances isn’t inherently interfering, as well as intimidating to the teachers and other students.

Colleges and universities that cannot respond more effectively and professionally to such unethical bullying by extremists don’t deserve to exist at all. If you don’t want to learn about Western civilization, go to another school, probably in California. If you disrupt the learning experience of other students, you should be expelled. Continue reading

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