Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/21/2018: Getting The Tree Lights On In One Day Victory Lap Edition, Featuring Sports, Movies, Jerks And “Bambi”

Happy Holidays!

Seven hours, one serious needle wound, and 1300 lights later, victory! I’ll finish the decorations when I get back home, IF I get back home…

1. Itinerary…I’m heading to New Jersey via train to hook up with the brilliant Mike Messer, what we call “the talent,” in an encore rendition of the musical legal ethics seminar, “Ethics Rock Extreme,” lyrics by yours truly, musical stylings by Mike, on the guitar. Then it’s back to D.C. by air on Saturday, if I’m lucky. If I’m not lucky, I’ll be taking the New Jersey bar exam in the Spring…

I have no idea how or whether I’ll be able to keep Ethics Alarms on track once I board the train this afternoon. I’m not going to launch a second Open Forum in leas than a week, so please keep working on the current one here, now at 130 entries and counting. I will be reviewing those on the road, and I’m sure there will be some Comments of the Day to post, eventually.

2. In case I am trapped in New Jersey…Let me alert everyone that Peter Jackson’s apparently terrific (based on the reviews) WWI documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” will be playing in theaters on December 27, and after that, who knows? The American public’s ignorance about that war, perhaps the greatest human catastrophe in modern history, is a failure of education, perspective and culture. If you have kids, take them. Here is the trailer:

3. Speaking of cultural literacy and movies, TCM is offering a limited engagement in theaters for “The Wizard of Oz,” on January 27, 29, and 30.

Is there another film that so many people purport to know and love so well without actually having seen it as it was intended to be seen? When I finally saw the movie in a theater—no breaks or commercials, big screen—I was shocked at how different and, obviously, better, the experience was. It’s an artistic masterpiece and sui generis: we will never see its like again, nor talents like Judy, Ray and Burt, among others. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/26/2017: Witch Hunts, A Missing Witch Message, A Too-Gleeful Dodger, Racially Offensive Breakfast Cereal…[UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1 Sigh. Driving home from Maryland via the Capital Beltway for the first time in many years, I saw the white and gold spires of the D. C. Mormon Temple (above), a local landmark, rising in the distance, and remembered that an an upcoming overpass had long been famous for the inspired bit of graffiti scrawled on it decades ago, perfectly placed to compliment the fantastic structure. It read SURRENDER DOROTHY!,” in script, for decades.  I don’t know when it was painted over, but it’s gone now.

Why would they do that? It was a part of area lore, it was clever, and it was always good for a smile. Some humorless bureaucrat decided to make the world a little less fun for no good reason. Of such small, heartless gestures is life drained of joy, drop by drop.

2.  Last night, in the 11th inning of a memorable, back and forth World Series Game Two between the Astros and the Dodgers,  Charlie Culberson of Los Angeles hit a two out home run to narrow the score from 7-5 Astros to 7-6. Nonetheless, Culberson’s team was one out away from losing a game they appeared to have in the bag when they were leading 3-1 in the 9th. (Indeed, the Dodgers did lose after the next batter struck out.) Despite his team’s plight, Culberson celebrated his home run like he had just won the game, or at least tied it. He screamed, he raised his hands, he high-fived everyone in sight. Joe Buck on the Fox broadcast speculated that Culberson might have had the score wrong, and believed that his home run tied the game.

No, said Culberson. He knew the score. “I never would have imagined hitting a home run in the World Series, and I did that. I pointed to my parents in the stands and pointing to my wife,” Culberson explained. “I was just having fun out there, nothing more than that.”

Except you’re not supposed to be having fun when your team is facing a devastating loss, Joe. That was bad form, bad taste, selfish, and obnoxious. The Fox cameras even caught a Dodger coach in the dugout turning around, disgusted , and saying to the still ebullient Culberson, “Come on!”

3. 

That’s Ellen Degeneris ogling Katy Perry’s breasts.  Ellen is gay, as we all know. Explain to me why this conduct is funny, acceptable and harmless, but a male heterosexual behaving similarly, for exactly the same reason, would be sexual harassment. You have 30 seconds…

Time! What’s your answer!

Continue reading

The Political Correctness Snake Swallows Its Tale On The Yellow Brick Road

Looks like genocide to me!

Looks like genocide to me!

 The runner-up for the title of this post was “Consistency In Stupidity Is Not A Virtue”

Much as I enjoy seeing political correctness bullies turn on each other, the controversy over the new casino in Chittenango, New York is a nauseating mix of censorious meddling, hindsight bias and ignorance.

Not that the Oneida Indian Nation doesn’t deserve to be a victim of exactly the kind of harassment it is best known for inflicting on others. For this is the tribe that has sought publicity and skin in the victim-mongering power game by claiming that the Washington D.C. pro football team, whose name only means “the Washington D.C. pro-football team”  and that was never intended as a slur—and that nobody who isn’t looking to be offended takes as one—-should be forced to abandon its logo, mascot, team song and identity, at a cost of millions of dollars, as a pointless sacrifice on the altar of political correctness. I am speaking, of course, of the Washington Redskins, a business and sports enterprise which, in a free country, can call itself anything its owner chooses. Since it is a free country, those who are offended by its name, or, as is really the case, have chosen to claim offense for political gain, can address their own hyper-sensitivity by following another team, another sport, or the Yellow Brick Road.

Which reminds me… Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Day: Lori Palatnik

Is "ding-dong" wrong?

“In life we must know what is good and what is evil. Yes, we are commanded to remember that there is evil in the world, and not only are we allowed to celebrate when it is destroyed, we must.”

Mrs. Lori Palatnik, in an essay today entitled “Is It Proper To Celebrate Osama bin Laden’s Death?”

Writer David Sirotka at Salon, among others, has sharply criticized the jubilant reaction of most Americans to the terrorist’s death. He found the chanting crowds in front of the White House and Times Square disturbing, symbolizing a gleeful embrace of violence as the way to address problems, an instance of becoming the enemy in order to defeat it: 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