Ethics Quiz: “Black’s Life Matters”

seinfeld-tweet

Jerry Seinfeld sends out a tweet to announce new episodes of his Crackle series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” typically with a joke involving the guest comic’s name. For example, his tweet from two weeks ago read: “New Comedians. Cars Getting Coffee! Cedric The Entertainer. No affiliation with Cedric The Regular Person.”  On Thursday, Seinfeld’s tweet used a predictable pun on the name of his guest, as you can see in the screen shot above:

“New! Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Lewis Black. Black’s life matters.”

Today’s incredibly easy Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is Jerry’s tweet insensitive and tasteless?

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Déjà Vu Ethics Dunce: Steve Martin (Coward, Too)

martin-tweet

Comedian Steve Martin posted the heartfelt tweet above after the announcement of the death of “Star Wars” star Carrie Fisher yesterday. Some internet Political Correctness Furies were lying in wait, however, eager to find someone to bully for thoughtcrime, and pounced. In addition to the shaming tweets Martin’s reflection generated—Objectification! Objectification!—a New York Magazine writer named Claire Lansbaum scolded Martin on its affiliated website, The Cut. Martin, compliant progressive weenie that he is, deleted the tweet.

He’s pathetic. Martin is a skilled and literate writer and should stand up for the words he uses. “Creature” includes human beings among its accepted and traditional definitions. There was nothing inappropriate or in any way condescending about his use of the word, accept to those looking to be offended and to bend a victim to their will. Nor was an honest memory about how Fisher made Martin feel as “a young man” anything but truth—though we know that fanatics believe that truth they don’t like should be hidden and distorted. When young Martin saw Fisher, she was dressed like this…

leia-slave

…which was an appearance designed to make young men see her as a “beautiful creature,” to use one of the more restrained descriptions. Landsbaum writes about how Fisher fought against her image as a sex symbol. Well, of Carrie’s many admirable and provocative public positions, that was the least credible. The reason Fisher was an icon, the reason anybody cared about what she thought, and the only reason her death is being publicized like she was Katherine Hepburn, was in part because she excited young men as Princess Leia. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Steve Martin (Coward, Too)

Life imitates art.

Shame on Steve Martin. He is a comedian. He tweets jokes. He tweeted a joke that was not racist in the least. (Everything that comments humorously on cultural quirks isn’t racist.) The political correctness bullies jumped on him too, because they nailed Phil Robertson and destroyed Justine Sacco. Martin, a novelist, a playwright, a TV writer, a comic and an actor, should have the integrity to stand up to this suffocating and unethical phenomenon. He has the stature to make a difference. He doesn’t have that integrity. He took the path of least resistance. He is a coward. He groveled. He apologized. The Blaze headlined that he “had to apologize,” No he didn’t. What he had to do was show some principle and strength of character when being manipulated and unfairly attacked, and he wasn’t up to the task.

By giving them what they crave, Steve Martin made the censors, bullies, cyber mobs and political correctness dictators more powerful, and hungrier still.

Without champions who will fight for free thought and expression, we will lose them. Martin and people of his intelligence and credibility have an obligation to be such champions, and he failed us all.

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Spark and Pointer: The Blaze

Dan Savage’s Curse on Rick Santorum: Funny! But Wrong.

Former Senator Rick "Frothy Mix"

Rick Santorum, the former GOP senator and stalwart of social conservatives, recently announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Santorum’s chances of becoming president are somewhere between Newt Gingrich’s White House prospects and an ice swan’s odds of being a centerpiece in Hell, but they aren’t helped any by the results of a devastating prank inflicted on his image by syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage.  When you Google “Santorum,” the first result listed is this:

Santorum 1. The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex. 2. Senator Rick Santorum. Continue reading

“True Grit” Ethics

I haven’t seen the remake of “True Grit,” but I know I will, and like many other fans of the original 1969 version, I’m trying to conquer my biases. The latest effort by the usually brilliant Coen brothers creates ethical conflicts for me, and I am hoping I can resolve them right now. Can I be fair to their work, while being loyal to a film that is important to me for many reasons?

The original, 1969 “True Grit” won John Wayne his only Oscar for his self-mocking portrayal of fat, seedy law man Rooster Cogburn, 

who is hired by a young girl to track down her father’s murderer. I love the film; I saw it on the big screen nine times, in fact. Remaking it with anyone else in the starring role feels like an insult, somehow, as if the Duke’s version was somehow inadequate.

Intellectually, I know that’s nonsense. Artists have a right to revisit classic stories and put their personal stamp on them, and they should be encouraged to do it. Every new version of a good story, if done well, will discover some unmined treasure in the material. Why discourage the exploration? Continue reading

Ethics Dunce and Apologist for Cultural Rot: New York’s 92nd Street Y

Complete cultural and intellectual rot in America gets ever closer, thanks to people who think and act like the honchos at New York’s 92nd Street Y.

It sponsored an evening of conversation between art critic and New York Times Magazine writer Deborah Solomon and Steve Martin, who is many things: a comedy writer, a wit, a banjo player, a slapstick comic, a serious actor, a novelist and a playwright. (Also a second-rate Inspector Clouseau.)  In this case, it was the novelist Martin who had come to chat; Martin’s new novel, An Object of Beauty, has just hit the book stores to rave reviews. But the sold-out audience of 900 and pay-per-view television audience apparently didn’t want or expect to hear THAT Steve Martin…they wanted the one with the arrow through his head and “happy feet.” So many of them complained, some in e-mails send during the event, and after the subdued and erudite session was over, that the Y sent them refunds, with this note: Continue reading