More Amazing Tales Of The Great Stupid: The Racist Anti-Racist Pro-Diversity Film Feature [Corrected]


Maybe this kind of thing bothers me more than it bothers most people, but the internal contradictions and racial issues pretzeling in a recent Times puff piece on Marvel’s latest superhero film, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” had my brain short-circuiting like one of those computers that Captain Kirk would disable on “Star Trek” by feeding them self-contradictory statements.

Consider these quotes from the article, which was authored by Robert Ito. Apparently diversity means that only Asian American reporters can write about Asian-American super-hero movies. Or do you think it was just a coincidence? Sure it was. But I digress…

  • “Known property or not, the movie is a cause for celebration: It’s Marvel’s first and only superhero film starring an Asian lead, with an Asian American director and writer, and based on a character who was actually Asian in the original comic.”

Why is any of this true? Why does the race of a comic book character matter at all? Does race make the character of the story more entertaining? To whom, other than racists? Can only Asian directors and writers create such a movie? Does that mean they can’t work on movies about non-Asian superheroes, or just that it’s not desirable to have a white (or black?) director and writer for movies like this one? I’m so confused… Continue reading

Sympathy For The Stupid

I have a problem of long-standing: I just can’t muster a lot of empathy for people who hurt themselves doing incredibly stupid things. I just can’t. Stupidity causes so much death and destruction in the world, and the more competent among us spend so much precious time and treasure trying to mitigate the damage wreaked on society by idiots.

Even when the idiots involved are children, I have difficultly time feeling too sorry for their self-inflicted misfortunes if the cause was sufficiently dunder-headed…like in this case.

In Bolivia, three Marvel Comics-loving brothers, ages 12, 10 and 8, forced a black widow spider to bite them, theorizing that the bites would turn each of them into Spiderman. First of all, if you are going to try something like this, know your comics. Peter Parker wasn’t bitten by a Black Widow—where did they get that idea? —which has venom 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s bite. Black widows are one of the most feared spiders in the world, and the most venomous in North America. Now, Spiderman got his Spidey powers after being bitten by an ordinary spider that was radioactive. If the brothers were such fans of the Webslinger, they should have known that. If you aren’t sure what kind of spider confers super-powers, you don’t take a flyer on the deadliest spider around as your first candidate.

Yeah yeah yeah they are just kids. So were the idiots who jumped off of roofs using a blankets as capes when The Superman TV show was hot. I didn’t have any sympathy for them, either.

Finding the  brothers crying in pain, their mother rushed them to a nearby health center, which transferred them to a nearby hospital suffering from fevers, tremors and muscle pains. They were treated and discharged  almost a week after they were bitten. They were lucky. They may not be so lucky next time.


“Should Bystanders Have a Legal Duty To Intervene?” Of Course Not, But It’s Worth Thinking About Why It’s A Terrible Idea

The real mystery is why a law professor would ever conclude that it was a good idea.

Amos N. Guiora, a professor at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, has authored The Crime of Complicity: The Bystander in the Holocaust, In it, he addresses the   bystander-victim relationship, focusing on the Holocaust. He comes to the remarkable conclusion that a society cannot rely on morality, ethics and compassion alone to move its members to come to the assistance of another human being in danger. He insists that it is a legal issue, and that society should make the obligation to intervene a legal duty, and  non-intervention a crime.

Wow. Here is a shining example of how bias can make smart people not only stupid, but blind. I have not read the book (I did listen to this podcast), because his contention is self-evidently anti-ethical, and typifies the attitude that has led to the criminalizing of so much in U.S. society that rigorous enforcement of the law would make the nation a police state. The Holocaust is the worst possible starting point for this issue: to state the most obvious absurdity, if the government is the victimizer, who would enforce the laws against not assisting victims? I get it, though: the professor is angry and bitter that the international community and Christians didn’t forcefully intervene before Hitler was on the verge of liquidating Non-Aryans from the face of the earth. But no law within imagination would have prevented this unique catastrophe. Nor would the kinds of laws he advocates improve the fate of most victims, or be practically enforceable.

Ethics Alarms has discussed the duty to rescue often and in great detail, and often notes, “when ethics fail, the law steps in.” The second stage of that statement is “and usually makes a mess of it.”  This is the compliance/ethics divide so exposed by corporate compliance rules, regulations and laws, which have done little to improve corporate conduct, and have provided cover for complainant and creative misconduct, like Wall Street leading up to the 2008 crash. Giving up on the teaching and strengthening of ethical values in society in favor of mandating what the state regards as “right” by inflicting punishment degrades society and insults humanity, treating it as if it is incapable of learning to care about others and society at large.  It also seldom works. The duty to rescue exists, but society must encourage and foster it by nurturing ethical society members, not by threatening them with punishment.

Society cannot mandate compassion—a law requiring charity?—kindness—a ticket for not rescuing an abandoned dog or helping a blind man across the street?—honesty–fines for telling a date that you’ll call the next day when you won’t?—-or courage —Sweep that child up whose in the path of a semi, or to jail. Of course it can’t. Increasing reliance on the state to force what a powerful group regard as “good behavior” is the catalyst of the current totalitarian bent of the American Left. Doesn’t the professor realize that what he is advocating leads directly to the Holocaust, and not away from it?

This is one slippery slope that needs a fence around it. Continue reading

The War Against Wonder Woman


For a lot of reasons, I have avoided commenting on this story until now. First of all, it is so stupid that if there is someone who wants to defend the conduct of the school in the matter, I don’t want to know them or read them, and I generally don’t post about the obvious. Second, we still don’t have a name of the victim of the anti-Wonder Woman attack, the school involved, or the teacher or administrator involved. Finally, I’m suspicious: a Wonder Woman movie is nearing release, and this seems awfully convenient.

The tale began with a post by someone claiming to be the parent of a little girl named Laura who was sent home is shame because her Wonder Woman lunch box violated school policy. The letter sent home with Laura, which someone supposedly photographed, is head-explosion worthy: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Once Again, Bystander Ethics, The Duty To Rescue, And The Imperiled Child

clarkkentThe free-range kids debate already raised this issue, and now my colleague and friend Michael Messer, the talented and versatile musician/singer/ actor who teams with me in the ProEthics musical legal ethics programs Ethics Rock, Ethics Rock Extreme, and Ethics Jamboree, just posted about his traumatic experience on Facebook, writing,

“I’m standing in Central Park and witnessed a tourist father grab his (approx 5 year old) child by the arm and shake him… The. open palm smack his child in the head. Hard. Twice. I screamed to him, from about 50 feet, where I witnessed it: “HEY!!! YOU DON’T HIT HIM” he looked up, startled to be called out, and waved me off to mind my business. “YOU DO NOT HIT A CHILD IN THE HEAD”, I repeated, at the top of my lungs, hoping to attract attention. The kid cried and then got himself together and went off to play. No one else in Sheeps Meadow saw or took notice. For about 5 minutes after I kept my eyes on him so he knew he was now being watched. What is the role of a bystander in this situation?”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for the day is…

What is the role of a bystander in this situation?

The answer is simple, really—its that oft-repeated Ethics Alarms mantra, “FIX THE PROBLEM,” at least as much as you can. Do something. Mike did the right thing, from a distance: show the abuser he’s being observed, protest, shame him. If one can, if one has the ability, the skill and the timely reaction and the child looks to be in genuine danger, intervene physically.

The latter course, however, carries risks, and also may be precluded by the natural reflex most humans have when they observe something unexpected and shocking. I discussed this issue when Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary was being pilloried in some publications for not immediately charging into the Penn State showers and stopping sexual predator Jerry Sandusky from sexually abusing a boy: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Knight Warrior

Knight Warrior and Knight Maiden

Knight Warrior and Knight Maiden

Actually, his first mistake was probably revealing his secret identity, but that’s not today’s topic, which comes from the little explored realm of Ethics Alarms known as “Wacko Ethics.”

For there dwells Roger Hayhurst, also known as Knight Warrior, a self-proclaimed British superhero who began fighting minor crime and disturbances near his home in Swinton, Greater Manchester. Hayhurst wears a custom-made blue and black lycra costume and even had a sidekick, his 18-year-old fiancee Rebecca. She is called “Knight Maiden.” Now, however, Roger and Rebecca may be out of the superhero business, because some young toughs in Clifton beat the snot out him while he was “on patrol.”

“My face was all swollen,” Knight Warrior sniffed. Now he’s discouraged, and confesses, “I mainly dress up for charity appearances.” Rebecca, meanwhile, has turned in her tights. Continue reading

Judging McQueary: Child Rape Bystander Ethics

You have no excuses, Kal-El. But the rest...

“It was cowardly for a 6′4″ graduate assistant to witness the rape of a child by an older man and not only take no action to stop it but also not even call the police,” writes David French in the National Review.

He is, of course, referring to Mike McQueary, then a 28-year-old graduate student assistant coach for Joe Paterno at Penn State. Others have declared that it was an “absolute moral imperative” that McQueary physically intervene to stop the sexual assault.

It is interesting that the absolute moral imperative is nonetheless linked to qualifiers. French references McQueary’s size and the fact that the alleged assailant, Jerry Sandusky, is older. Some critics have focused on his gender. Still others, making the argument that McQueary failed to intervene because he didn’t take a child rape seriously enough, have suggested that he would have acted differently had Sandusky been beating, rather than raping the child. Of all the ethical debates surrounding the Penn State scandal, the question of how much scorn should be heaped on McQueary for not acting immediately to stop the rape in progress has been the most fascinating, and to my mind, the most disingenuous. It appears that every commentator, male or female, young or old, fat or fit, is convinced that would have charged in and battled the 57-year-old former wide-receiver, pummeling him into wet submission while the child escaped. Maybe. Studies and anecdotal evidence indicate that in fact, most people wouldn’t physically intervene. Perhaps sportswriters and op-ed writers are made of sterner stuff that the rest of the public.

Yes, that must be it.

None of this is to suggest that physically stopping a child rape in progress isn’t the right thing to do; it is. For his part, McQueary reputedly didn’t take any action to stop the assault,* which in order of effectiveness would be… Continue reading

Calm Down, Hannity! Superman’s Decision is Super-Ethical.

It's all for the best.

Sean Hannity is outraged at Superman for renouncing his U.S. citizenship in the upcoming issue of Action Comics. Sean, as is often the case, just doesn’t understand.

Superman’s wrenching decision, far from being a rejection of the values of his adopted homeland, is a true sacrifice, and undeniably in the best interests of the United States. His renunciation arises from the diplomatic problems that will inevitably result when a superhero attempts to fight injustices in other nations. How can Superman continue to do what he believes is right on a world stage, when his American citizenship makes his actions appear to be official U.S. policy? Obviously, becoming a superman without a country is the remedy. Continue reading

She-Hulk Legal Ethics

One of the most creative websites around, Law and the Multiverse, discusses the legal issues that would arise in a parallel existence in which super-heroes were real. The site finally delved into the topic of legal ethics a couple of weeks ago, and the post is both fun and informative on the issue of lawyer solicitation.

She-Hulk’s alter-ego, Jennifer Walters (who, unlike She-Hulk, is not green) is a practicing attorney. (So is Daredevil, and if anyone knows why they never formed a firm, let me know.) The post involves the propriety of She-Hulk’s soliciting legal business at the scene of a rescue. The issue is pretty straightforward. It does not, however, deal with the question of whether She-Hulk can ethically practice law when she is not Jennifer Walters. Does Walters’ license still apply to She-Hulk, who looks different, sounds different, thinks differently and has a different personality? The question is similar to the issue of whether Dr. Hyde can legally. practice medicine.

Oh well, maybe they’ll take that one up another time. You can read about She-Hulk’s legal ethics problem here.

Superhero Ethics!

For the most part, Ethics Alarms is dedicated to exploring actual ethical issues rather than fictional ones, but analyzing hypotheticals is still excellent practice for dealing with the real world problems that are sure lie ahead. One of the most original, thoughtful and entertaining new blogs to burst on the scene looks like it will be generating fascinating ethics hypos for a long time. It is called Law and the Multiverse, and it explores the legal dilemmas comic book superheros ( and supervillains, not that they would care) would face if they, you know, existed. Many of these dilemmas involve ethical questions as well, such as… Continue reading