Ethics Quote Of The Month: New York Times Columnist Ross Douthat

seusscancelled-header

“It was mildly creepy to hear that the custodians of Theodor Geisel’s estate, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, consulted with a ‘panel of experts’ and decided to cease publishing six Seuss titles because they ‘portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.’ But it was much creepier that so few people notionally in the free-expression business, so few liberal journalists and critics, seemed troubled by the move.”

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, one of the paper’s three token conservatives (or perhaps “non-knee-jerk Democrats” is more accurate), in his column, “Do Liberals Care if Books Disappear?”

The question is a rhetorical one. Douthat knows the answer, and so do regular Ethics Alarms readers: “Only if the books that disappear are those they agree with.” Though the column focuses on the Dr. Seuss metaphorical book-burning, Douthat properly interprets what it signifies. Of course, he is appropriately late to the party, for it was obvious well before “If I Ran the Zoo” was under attack that the totalitarian-tending Democrats and their progressive supporters and allies were in favor of “good” censorship. Never mind—Americans rushed to their mailboxes to vote an anti-free speech regime into power anyway.

Better late than never for Ross, I guess. Here are some highlights (but read his whole piece):

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Sunset Ethics Round-Up, 2/2/2021: The Narrative That Refuses To Die, The Weenie Who Whines From A Safe Distance, And Other Tales

setting sun

Pop quiz! What’s the significance of the photo above?

It’s official: last month, February 2021 was the worst in Ethics Alarms traffic in five years, and last week was the worst non-holiday week in longer than that. I am at a loss to explain it, and I am going to stop obsessing about it. The comments are among the best and most erudite on the web, and I am confident that the quality and variety of content remains as high as ever.

1. Never give up that narrative! Over the weekend the Times had a puzzling news article telling us that the FBI had “zeroed in” on a suspect in the death of Brian Sicknick, the Capitol police officer who was falsely and repeatedly cited by mainstream media sources and the Trump prosecution in the impeachment trial as being “killed” in the riot or by rioters. The great discovery was that of a video showing someone in the crowd spraying pepper spray or bear spray on officers during the melee. However, as the article itself states, neither irritant is known to be fatal, and both the officers and the crazies were using it that day. Sicknick died of a stroke after the riot, and no link between his death and what occurred while he was trying to control the crowd has been established.

The usual course is to first establish that there has been a homicide, then to look for suspects. “Let’s see if we can pin this on someone” is not considered ethical. I predict that no one will be prosecuted for Sicknick’s death—not ethically, anyway.

2. Speaking of predictions: In yesterday’s post about Governor Cuomo’s apology, I wrote,

[T]he acid test for sexual harassment (and worse) is whether there are additional victims who come forward after the first one breaks the silence. Cuomo is now up to two. It’s a safe bet there are more.

Yesterday a third accuser came forward. Three usually is the tipping point at which even the most protective mainstream media hacks will finally turn on a Democrat. For example, I doubt that Justin Fairfax, the Lt Governor of Virginia, would have survived three rape accusers, but he’s a black Democrat, so the formula is a bit different. The Babylon Bee has it exactly right. Meanwhile, Jim Treacher writes,

Late night liberal “comedians” are finally jumping on the bandwagon to criticize formerly beloved New York governor, Andrew Cuomo. Taking the media’s lead, “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert suddenly found the scandal-embroiled Democrat was an easy target, after several women came forward alleging sexual harassment from the governor.

On his Monday night show, Colbert spent roughly three minutes mocking Cuomo as an “old man” pervert for his alleged creepy comments and behavior towards young women. This after, he spent 2020 grossly promoting the Democrat’s leadership and sex appeal.

These are awful people. They were prepared to ignore the thousands of nursing home deaths Cuomo caused and covered up while praising him as a brilliant pandemic leader (unlike President Trump.) Indulging in the kind of sexual harassment and assault that Joe Biden engaged in regularly while cameras were shooting is too much to bear, however. Now Cuomo is a monster.

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Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! You’re Cancelled, You Racist.

Suess birthday

Today is Dr. Theodore Geisel’s birthday. Better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, the author and illustrator of such classic children’s books as “The Cat in the Hat,” “Horton Hears A Who,” and my personal favorite, “Fox in Socks” because it drives my wife crazy, was born this day in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1904. Geisel, who used his middle name and his mother’s maiden name as his nom de plume, wrote 48 books (even some for adults). His work has now sold over 200 million copies and been translated into multiple languages. His style of verse and illustrating have been imitated and parodied countless times. Jesse Jackson even read “Green Eggs and Ham” on Saturday Night Live.

Nobody ever thought of Dr. Seuss books as “racist” until recent fads, events , cancel culture and The Great Stupid washed over the land. Well, OK, not “nobody.” Ethics Alarms had a post about the Seuss Museum in Springfield cutting a piece out of a Dr. Seuss mural because three prominent children’s authors who had been invited to attend the Children’s Literature Festival at the Museum threatened to boycott the event on the theory that the mural, painted to replicate a scene from Dr. Seuss’s first book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,”  was, they claimed, offensive. It had, said one of the grandstanding hysterics, a “jarring image” of a man with slanted eyes and a coolie’s hat using chopsticks to eat rice, because, apparently, Chinese people never wore such hats, don’t use chopsticks and hate rice. I wrote, while awarding the museum an Ethics Dunce designation (I’m thinking about adding a “Weenie of the Week”…what do you think?):

There is nothing racially jarring about Geisel’s painting of a “Chinaman” except to someone already looking for offense. Dr. Seuss’ drawings can be fairly termed cartoons. The definition of a cartoon is “a simple drawing showing the features of its subjects in a humorously exaggerated way.”  What are these juvenile children book authors asserting…that all cartoons are racially insensitive? That only cartoon of non-whites are offensive?…Normal Americans, meanwhile, understand the cartoon art form, recognize that features are exaggerated, and thus do not take drawings like those by Dr. Seuss (or Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons) as literal or malicious.

Well, silly me. I thought this was just a one-off moment of woke insanity: I have since learned that the Woke never sleep. In the post, I referenced “The Simpsons” and the fact that nobody had called for the elimination of Apu. Apu has since been cancelled as “racially insensitive.” The show also decreed that white voice actors can no longer portray black characters, so Dr. Hibbard has a new sound. Presumably “The Simpsons” will eventually seek a low IQ hick to voice “Cletis the Slack-Jawed Yokel” and a socially awkward MIT PhD. to do the voice of Prof. Frink.

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Why Freedom Of Speech In America Is Threatened: Too Many Cowards

Coward

Oh no, not this issue again so soon.

Another prominent professional has been fired for breaching political correctness rules and annoying the totalitarian Left’s censors. His crime: speaking the taboo word “nigger” while referencing it in a discussion of racial slurs. Then, as we have seen over and over again, the exiled victim of this assault on free speech apologized. “Thank you sir, may I have another?” And, as we have also seen, it did no good.

The New York Times fired its #1 science and health reporter Donald McNeil Jr., after The Daily Beast reported that he had used racist language while on a 2019 trip with students to Peru. He did not use “racist language,” however, and there is no evidence at all that he displayed racist attitudes or opinions. What he did is to speak a word that speech censors have decided is itself forbidden, even if it is necessary in order to discuss the issue of racism, censorship or linguistics. This is, I note again, punishing or even criticizing such conduct is unethical, idiotic, juvenile, and sinister. Nonetheless, it is rapidly becoming the norm, and it is becoming the norm because so many individuals of power and influence lack the integrity and fortitude to oppose an indefensible position loudly and unequivocally.

(See the previous post. It is very relevant here.)

McNeil, formerly the Times’ top reporter on COVID-19,was fired because six students or their parents claimed he had made racist and sexist remarks throughout the trip. An investigation inicated that none of his remarks were sexist or racist, but that he had used words employed by sexists or racists to talk about sexism or racism, rather than using the approved poopy/ pee-pee/woo-woo baby talk codes (n-word, b-word, c-word) demanded by language censors. Initially, the Times’ editor tried to be fair and to uphold what the Times is supposed to respect—the Bill of Rights—but eventually capitulated to his woke and anti-free speech staff, as he has before.

So here are the cowards in this nauseating drama:

Coward: Dean Baquet. The Times Executive Editor initially said McNeil should be “given another chance” (Chance to do what? Conform his speech to oppressive conformity with progressive dictates?).”I authorized an investigation and concluded his remarks were offensive and that he showed extremely poor judgment, but it did not appear to me that his intentions were hateful or malicious,” he said. But anti-white racist and liar (but Pulitzer Prize-winning racist and liar!) Pulitzer Prize-winner Nikole Hannah-Jones threatened to call the parents and students on the trip to determine what McNeil had said and in what context (all of which would be hearsay, and thus unreliable except to an ideological hack like Hannah-Jones). Then a group of over a hundred staffers, mostly “of color” or female, signed a letter demanding serious sanctions.

“Our community is outraged and in pain,” the signees wrote. “Despite The Times’s seeming commitment to diversity and inclusion, we have given a prominent platform—a critical beat covering a pandemic disproportionately affecting people of color—to someone who chose to use language that is offensive and unacceptable by any newsroom’s standards. He did so while acting as a representative for The Times, in front of high school students.”

Baquet, publisher A.G. Sulzberger, and Chief Executive Meredith Kopit Levien responded that they welcomed the letter, saying, “We appreciate the spirit in which it was offered and we largely agree with the message,” they wrote in masterpeice of weasel-wording. Then Baquet reversed himself and fired McNeil, saying, “We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent.” Really? So if a news story involves a racist or sexist statement, the Times can’t write about it and use the langauge that makes the episode a story? If the Supreme Court holds that “nigger” or other words are constitutionally protected (as indeed they are), the nation’s ‘paper of record’ won’t be able to quote the opinion?

Baquet had an opportunity to take a crucial stand for freedom of expression and against the criminalizing of language and the retreat to the primitive logic of taboos. He proved himself to be more interested in Leftist agendas and his job than the principles of democracy.

Coward: Donald McNeil Jr. He could have articulately objected to the warped logic of the Times mob, and explained, as he was equipped to do, why we must never cripple expression by banning words, legally or culturally, and why this episode is a perfect example why. Instead, he wimpered an illogical and craven apology, telling the staff in part,

McNeil grovel

Well hello Galileo! He went on to say, “I am sorry. I let you all down.” He let a newspaper down by using a word in a discussion with students in Peru to examine the use of the word. He let a newspaper down by being clear and describing the matter under discussion… because at the New York Times, progressive agendas trump the truth.

Well, I guess we knew that.

Since he was going to sacked anyway, was obligated as an American to go down fighting for free speech and against the censorship of expression. Nah. That might interfere with getting his next job with an ideological indoctrinating institution or publication.

Coward: Ann Althouse. This is disappointing. She says the right things in her post on this fiasco:

In the old days, a big deal was made of the “use/mention” distinction. It doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Even McNeil, defendinghimself, asserts that he “used” the word.
I understand wanting to say that “intent” shouldn’t be decisive, because it presents evidentiary problems. What went on in a person’s head? Did he somehow mean well? But the “use/mention” distinction doesn’t require a trip into someone’s mind. If you have the outward statement, you can know whether the speaker/writer used the word as his own word or was referring to the word as a word. 
You don’t need to know whether I think Dean Baquet is a coward to distinguish the statement “Dean Baquet is a coward” from “I can imagine someone saying ‘Dean Baquet is a coward.'”

But there’s something oddly missing from her post. As one commenter coyly asks (and to her credit, Ann allowed it to be posted): “What word are you talking about?”

In this case, Althouse is a hypocrite as well as a coward. I can expect her to be on the sidelines with the mob when they haul me off to in the tumbrils because I write the word “nigger” when the topic is using the word “nigger.” Such reticence—I guess she’s worried her University of Wisconsin law school pals will shun her–does not help the cause of freedom of expression, which Ann knows damn well is under attack

Ethics Dunce: Santa Claus

In a video that has “gone viral,” a mall Santa, socially distanced of course, engages in conduct that by Ethics Alarms standards triggered a duty to confront on behalf of the mother of the child he mistreated.

I wish we could determine when and where this episode occurred; I half expect to find out that it was staged by Breitbart or James O’Keefe. Assuming the video is genuine, howeverit is an example of a Santa Claus seriously abusing his authority.

In the video, a little boy is seen sitting across a table from Santa who asks, “What do you want for Christmas?” The child inaudibly asks for a toy gun, and Santa responds, “No guns.” Even after the mother clarifies that her son only meant a Nerf gun—you know, these sinister playthings…

Best-Nerf-Guns-for-Toddlers

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Confession: I Wimped Out

Our longest-lasting neighbors, now approaching their 80’s, are as nice a pair as I could imagine. When we moved into the cul de sac 40 years ago, we were the neighborhood’s young blood. Their two children were pre-teens; our son was 15 years from existing at all. Through the years, Red and Beth have helped us in every way imaginable. Red’s old pick-up truck hauled the set of my theater company’s first production. Beth has provided barbecued chicken, home harvested honey and pickles. We’ve dined together and partied in each others’ homes. Now their Husky-German Shepard mix ( a designer breed with the ridiculous name “Gerberian Shepsky”), Peaches, is Spuds’ best playmate.

I was sitting with Red in our neighbor’s back yard watching the two dogs run and frolic, when for no discernible reason, he launched into a diatribe about about his cousin’s wife. “She’s ‘an intelligent, educated woman with 6 grandkids, and yet she just thinks Donald Trump is wonderful. She actually voted for him! This is a woman, and she supports a man who has been charged with all these sexual assaults and even rape, and who cheated on all his wives and paid off mistresses and porn stars. Jack, I just can’t understand it.”

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Yes, Fire This Teacher, Make Sure He Never Teaches Again, But That’s Just The Beginning…

Stanton

Tacoma, Washington sixth grade technology teacher Brendan Stanton needs to be fired, but that’s only the beginning. His conduct needs to be widely publicized, and the consensus needs to emerge that the kind of conduct he engaged in…

1. Is unacceptable.

2. Is abusive

3. Is indoctrination rather than education

4. Is all too frequently allowed, enabled, and even surreptitiously encouraged in the educational system

5. Must stop.

Those who are inclined to defend Stanton should also be flushed out, condemned and declared to be what they are, and what they are is not reasonably disputable. They are deliberate enemies of American values and democracy. They should have a metaphorical red E, not on their chests, but their foreheads.

Now that all of that is out of the way, and I’ve had a stiff drink, here’s what Stanton did.

Each day, Stanton asks his remote learning students at Perry G. Keithley Middle School students a daily question, requiring students to write their answers in the online chatroom. According to a screenshot, one boy  wrote:

“I admire Donald J. Trump because he is making America great again. And because he is the best president the United States of America could ever, ever have. And he built the wall so terrorists couldn’t come into in the U.S. Trump is the best person in the world. And that’s why I admire him.”

Can’t have American students professing admiration of the President of the United States now, noy when a virtuous and woke teacher runs the class! Stanton kicked the vile child t out of the chatroom, deleted what he wrote lest it corrupt others whose brains and opinions he was assiduously molding to his personal specifications, and proceeded to attack the President and the student.

Incidentally, according to Gallup’s annual poll, President Trump tied with Barack Obama in 2019 as the most admired man in America. Parenthetically, he wouldn’t make my top hundred (neither would Obama).

“The example that was shared in the chat, which I went ahead and erased for us, was not appropriate right?” Stanton told his class. Especially as that individual has created so much division and hatred between people and specifically spoken hatred to many different individuals, ok? Again, that individual has spoken hate to many individuals and I don’t think is an appropriate example for a role model that we should be admiring.”

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A Popeye For John Lewis And His Fans

This post was in my head and keeping me awake all night, so I had to get out of bed and get it out

I was just about to let the late John Lewis go, when a Facebook friend inflicted the late Congressman’s  so-called “final words” on me with a post in Facebook that garnered bushels of likes and teary faces, immediately putting me into a quandary. The guy’s a lawyer, and should know better than to extol such transparent grandstanding, varnished over with dishonesty.

I almost—almost—wrote a searing rebuttal and reprimand. I didn’t, and it’s keeping me awake tonight. More on that in a moment.

First, regarding Lewis: I didn’t want to read his op-ed in the Times, knowing, as I knew Lewis’s routine well, that it would either make my head explode or make me want to blow it up. Writing such a thing itself is pure narcissism: Lewis was shuffling off this mortal coil with words designed to make those who do not know him, except by the dated accolades with which he has been celebrated by the fawning media, think he was a better man than he was, while making his detractors face being called racists if they call his piece  out for what it is. This, for example, was nauseating:

In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

This is the same John Lewis who  told NBC audiences the day before Martin Luther King Day and less than a week before the Inauguration that President-elect Donald J. Trump was “an illegitimate President.”  In 2017, Ethics Alarms pronounced this “an unprecedented act of vicious partisanship and unethical public service.”  I understated it. Lewis deliberately triggered the perpetual anti-democratic unrest that has led directly to today’s riots, toppled statues, and self-righteous hate. He isn’t the only public figure accountable for this, but he is the only one who assisted in tearing the nation apart while patting himself on the back as someone who has “done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love.”

“All,” Congressman? How about serving as an honorable example for citizens by accepting the leader chosen by our system as it has done for more than two centuries, and  not deliberately encouraging an insurrection? How about that? How does creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that requires citizens and businesses to support a Marxist movement or risk being “cancelled” let freedom ring?

I had to wrestle my rebellious gorge to the ground and place my violently rolling eyes back in their sockets when I read this at the start of Lewis’ screed: Continue reading

“Now What?” #2, But No Quiz. Just NOW WHAT?

I admit—perhaps you could tell?—I was very irritated at the former commenters here who treated me like I was Alex Jones because early on it became clear to me that the Russian Collusion coup attempt was a partisan plot, carried out by entrenched members of federal law enforcement agencies in the U.S., enabled by the Democratic party, and perhaps even Barack Obama. I remain very troubled by that experience, and am waiting for one—just one would be satisfying—to come back and have the courage and decency to write, “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to believe it. You were right.”

I have a couple of candidates who might show such integrity, and I still have hope. I will not, however, hold my breath,

I have been reluctant to write about the obvious (it seems to me) conclusions recent declassified documents point to regarding Obama’s overt and sinister efforts to undermine the Trump administration and seed the beginnings of the collusion narrative before the President had even been sworn in. The fact is, I have neither the time nor the skill to follow all those breadcrumbs and be a reliable analyst—at least not reliable enough. I have been waiting for a thorough investigation to be launched by a news organization, like the Post did on Watergate, or the Indianapolis Star did to expose the Larry Nasser/ Michigan State/U.S. Women’s Gymnastics scandal. Those things win Pulitzer prizes and enhance reputations, don’t they? Why hasn’t there been a thorough, published indictment of Obama’s perfidy? Wouldn’t there be, if the evidence is what it seems to be? Maybe I’m wrong.

It is suspicious, I have to say, how the major mainstream media outlets have been almost silent on the clear indications that Obama and Biden met with various Justice Department and FBI personnel and discussed how to “get” Michael Flynn. For one thing, the notes taken by Peter Strzok tell us that Joe Biden is lying. Don’t they care? Isn’t  that important? Doesn’t democracy die in darkness? Oh, the Daily Caller and the Federalist and other “conservative” news organizations have written about it, but you know, they’re conservative. It’s all lies The claims are being fabricated by “Trumpers.”

The reactions of my Facebook friends tell me what the wider reaction would be to my connecting the dots publicly. These people are supposed to be my friends, and it is astounding how vicious—and irrational–most of them are any time I, or anyone though few now are so audacious, challenges “resistance” Big Lies and the “likes”-fertilized cant that metastasizes in their cyber-bubble.  I’ve just about reached my limit, in fact. Some of these people really are friends, or I thought they were, and they are acting like, to be crude, assholes. I’m about ready to de-friend about 400 of them, including some relatives. Not only are they being crummy friends, they are bad citizens too.

Which is much worse.

I have a measure of sympathy, I suppose,  because they are being misled by propaganda and the news media’s complete corruption, and are reacting to the natural human impulse to be with the “in-crowd,” like gang members and “mean girls.” But just a measure, and I’m about out. These people are smart; I don’t have many dumb friends—some, more than I thought, definitely, but not a lot.

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Invasion Of The Body Snatchers: “Cult Programming In Seattle,” And the Duty To Confront

This—the George Floyd Freakout, the indoctrination in schools and colleges, the submissive endorsement of the irredeemably dishonest, racist and Marxist Black Lives Matter and its fellow travelers, the Red Scare-reminiscent punishing and shunning of dissenters, the political and partisan enforcement of laws as journalists remain silently complicit—you know, this, has  begun to make me think I’m in another remake of “Invasion of the Body-Snatchers.” What never made any sense in any of the versions (the original, with Keven McCarthy and directed by Don Siegel of “Dirty Harry” fame was the best) is that aliens could take over the minds and bodies of millions of Americans across the country without anyone figuring it out, and without the news media warning the world with front page headlines and “how to stop the pod people” features. It  also seemed absurd that only McCarthy and his friends (or in the much grosser but less creepy re-make, Donald Sutherland and his friends) were the only humans who appeared to have the will and the gumption to try to resist the invasion.

I also have found myself pondering the end of “Three Days of the Condor,” when Robert Redford tells a horrified CIA official that he has passed on evidence of the agency’s lawless and murderous ways to the New York Times. Who or what can be trusted today to blow the whistles when it is the increasingly totalitarian Left moving to take over minds and destroy democracy? Continue reading