Saturday Ethics Catch-Up, 6/22/2019: “The Rifleman” Whiffs. A Paralegal Spills, The Commies Like Democrats, But Students Hate Pioneers

I am so, so far behind, both here on Ethics Alarms, and elsewhere, like prepping for some upcoming seminars, writing new programs, and trying to get the business and home budgets to work. Last week involved the car dying, getting a new one, enduring a six hour, 17 inning loss by the Red Sox, some lingering new computer glitches, and a major video shoot for which I had to write and refine the script, acquire the props and costumes, and rehearse the actors, then assist the team of seven who handled the shoot itself, all while being sick, and progressively exhausted. (This project would not have all happened without the brilliant and tireless work of my business partner and love of my life, Grace.)

Ethics Alarms was lower on the priority list this week than I would have liked it to have been. I’m sorry.

1. “The Rifleman” Ethics: As I have mentioned here before, “The Rifleman,” the 30 minute TV Western drama, starring Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain that ran from 1959-1962, was all about ethics, with almost every episode teaching an ethics lesson to the Rifleman’s son Mark, played by the charming juvenile actor Johnny Crawford.  I just watched an episode from the show’s final season that I hadn’t seen before. Guest-starring Mark Goddard (best known as the hot-headed young co-pilot in the original “Lost in Space” on ABC), the story involved a charismatic young huckster whom Mark admires but his father distrusts. This causes rare friction between father and son. Eventually, Lucas is proven right: the young man is a liar and a crook who was taking advantage of Mark’s guilelessness.

Mark shamefully but manfully tells his father, “I apologize for being wrong.”

NO! One shouldn’t apologize for being wrong. One  has an obligation to apologize for doing wrong, which includes making a bad decision because of laziness, carelessness, poor reasoning, inadequate analysis, or through some other failing. There is no shame or blame in being wrong in the kind of situation laid out in the episode, however.

Until the final moments, the audience couldn’t tell whether this would be one of the episodes where Chuck screws up, with the lesson to Mark being, “Jumping to conclusions and judging strangers harshly before you know anything about them is unfair, Mark. You were right. I’m proud of you.”

In fact, after Mark apologized, I expected his father to come back with exactly what I just wrote. This was moral luck: Mark had nothing to apologize for.

Boy, I’m never going to catch up if  I let issues jump in line like that… Continue reading

Morning Ethics Drill, 5/7/19: Unethical Headlines, A Missing Coffee Cup, And A Comment Of The Day

A morning that begins with a trip to the dentist and a referral to an oral surgeon can’t be good. Sorry.

And now I see that without warning or explanation, WordPress has removed its spellcheck feature. I’m sure those of you who are sick of my typos will appreciate THAT…

1. Stop making me defend Anderson Cooper, sort of! Here’s a cheap shot Fox News headline:

Anderson Cooper denies he’s ‘on the left,’ then rips Trump for tweeting about Kentucky Derby

Well, I’m also not on “the left” (Cooper is, of course), and I’m going to rip the President for tweeting his opinion on the Kentucky Derby, without even getting into the fact that his opinion was ill-informed and stupid.

As I wrote more than once during the Obama administration, the President is not the national arbiter of everything, and should keep his opinion to himself unless it directly and clearly involves the national interest. President Obama had a proclivity for injecting himself into controversies large and small, from the Trayvon Martin shooting to picking brackets for the NCAA college basketball tournament.  I wrote in this post,

This can no longer be called a rookie mistake, like the Prof. Gates arrest affair. President Obama has now had plenty of time to absorb the fact that the President does not have a blank check to insert himself into every local controversy and use his office to sway public opinion and the conduct of others regarding matters outside his responsibilities. Still, he continues to do it. It may seem trivial at first: the President gave an interview on TNT in which he pointedly suggested that NBA superstar LeBron James consider the Chicago Bulls as he faces free agency.  After weighing in on the most important things for James to seek from his current team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, if he was going to stay there, the President said, “You know, like I said, I don’t want to meddle. I will say this: (Derrick) Rose, Joakim Noah it’s a pretty good core. You know, you could see LeBron fitting in pretty well there.”

Now, I don’t care what Cooper thinks of Trump’s meddling in matters that don’t concern him if the CNN anchor didn’t have the integrity to knock Obama for doing the same thing, and repeatedly. Still, Anderson was on the right track—finally—to say, as he did,

“The president of the United States seems to have a lot of time on his hands And he can’t even stand some horses getting uninterrupted airtime. He’s got to be a part of every frickin news cycle. He can’t help himself!”

(I guess “frickin” is now considered professional lexicon at CNN. Stay classy, Anderson!)

Less defensible was this comment: Continue reading

Funny! But Inexcusably Incompetent : “Game Of Thrones” Ethics

Yes, somebody left a Starbucks cup on the set of last night’s much ballyhooed “Game of Thrones” episode on HBO.

It would be a good exercise to list all the rationalizations one could access to try to minimize such a massive botch, and avoid the likely consequences of making it. Without breaking an ethics sweat, I came up with…

  • 6. The Biblical Rationalizations, “Judge not, lest ye not be judged,” and “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
  • 8. The Trivial Trap (“No harm no foul!”)
  • 19. The Perfection Diversion: “Nobody’s Perfect!” or “Everybody makes mistakes!”
  • 20. The “Just one mistake!” Fantasy
  • 22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
  • 38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!”
  • 50. The Apathy Defense, or “Nobody Cares.”
  • 64A. Bluto’s Mistake or “I said I was sorry!”

As silly as that “one mistake” seems, a head, or many heads, should roll. This tweet from an annoyed fan nicely sums the situation up: “You’re telling me they had TWO YEARS to put together a decent show and they couldn’t even spot the goddamn Starbucks cup in Winterfell??!” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/16/19: Blacks With White Privilege, A Home Trump Derangement Test, Defending “Hamilton,” And More…

Got up on the wrong side of the bed today..

…and trying to recover.

1. Finally! The Ultimate Trump Derangement Home Test! This is wonderful, and we owe a debt to CNN for making this available. NeverTrump neocon Max Boot, who has been a “rseistance” ally since the 2016 election and who also writes op-eds for the Washington Post, presented this hilarious—but don’t tell anyone you are using the to test hilarious—visual aid to his recent Post screed:

Isn’t that great? I initially thought it was a Saturday Night Live parody, but how could that be, when SNL is all Trump Derangement All The Time itself? All you have to do is show this to a suspected TDS sufferer, and wait for the response. Hearty laughter followed by something along the lines of,” Wow! I didn’t think even CNN would stoop this low, but there it is!”, and you know your friend or family member has escaped the jaws of madness. If the subject’s reaction is to point and shout, “See! See! I told you the election was rigged!”, then it’s time for cold compresses and a 911 call.

Once again, I miss the fevered passion of the self-exiled Trump Deranged commenters on Ethics Alarms, to see exactly how far gone they are, if they are. Hilarity was bound to ensue.

I was tempted to do a whole post showing how every one of Boot’s “reasons” are strained circumstantial evidence at best or utter nonsense at worst, but two words, “confirmation bias,” pretty much covers it, along with a third, “desperation.” Meanwhile, just as self-amusement, I’m working on the list of reasons why Max Boot might be a Russian agent. So far I have Dilbert’s Scott Adams’ observation that while the pitiful Russian fake news on social media couldn’t divide the country, hysterical anti-Trump conspiracy theorists are doing a good job serving Russian interests by undermining the Presidency; Max’s “Boot” code name, which evokes George Orwell’s’ famous metaphor for Communist totalitarianism; and that Curly Howard hair cut, the choice of international anti-democracy villains in James Bond films,  “The Man From U.N.C.L.E,” TV’s “The Black List” and everything in between.

That’s only three, though. Suggestions welcome.

2. Is this good news or bad news? “Family Guy,” Seth McFarland’s nastier, cheaper, uglier rip-off of “The Simpsons,” has announced that it will be “phasing out” homophobic jokes. It’s certainly good news if this includes the disgusting and unfunny running gag about the old man next door to “The Family Guy” who has sexual designs on Peter’s idiot son, I guess. The problem is that the only feature of “The Family Guy” that made its intentionally tasteless and offensive humor excusable was that the show was cruel and unfair to everyone, pretty much equally. If the show is now bowing to victim-group pressure, how long will it be before its only targets are white men, conservatives, Fox News and Donald Trump?

If McFarland and the show are now afraid of being politically incorrect when political incorrectness is a career death sentence for everyone else, then it should just kill the show, rather than wander the airwaves hollowed out and submissive like the brainwashed Winston Smith at the end of “1984.”

Oh-oh. Second Orwell reference already today… Continue reading

On Political Correctness, Eye Candy, And “Deal Or No Deal”

Where are the hunchbacks? Where are the amputees? Where are the burn victims?

A friend of mine—a real one– on Facebook, in a pathetically desperate exercise in virtue-signaling to his leftist hive-mind lawyer friends, issued a naive or disingenuous post making the claim that all “political correctness” was about was “not being an asshole.” This factually and historically false assertion naturally was met with unanimous likes until I again played the skunk at the picnic by pointing out that his comment was utter fantasy. The directive from the British college that laid out guidelines for comedians was classic political correctness, and it was the guidelines-peddlers, not the comedians or those who mocked the restrictions, who were being assholes. Those who persist in calling illegal immigrants illegal immigrants (and not “undocumented immigrants” or just “immigrants”), for that, Virginia, is what they are, are not the assholes, but they are “politically incorrect.” The assholes who go searching through the Twitter feeds of young celebrities searching for politically incorrect words about gays, women or minorities are wielding politically correctness as a weapon of personal destruction. And so on. I could write volumes on similar or more nauseating examples. Maybe I have.

So I pointed out, correctly and undeniably, that political correctness has been used for decades by one side of the political spectrum—guess which!—as a tool to manipulate public discourse and hobble the expression of ideas and attitudes that end doesn’t like, while relieving them of the obligation of making a substantive argument. The immediate attack on this retort came from someone I don’t even know, who wrote, “You are so tiresome.” Yes, I’m quite aware that doctrinaire progressives find ethics, facts and logic tiresome, but there it is. That is what passed for an argument in Facebook’s hive: “Shut up.” I haven’t bothered to respond to the other attacks on me on that thread; it’s not worth my time. If you defend a manifestly false characterization of political correctness, then you are either not being honest, you have an agenda, or are no longer thinking objectively and clearly. Either way, I’d rather debate my dog.

This was a roundabout way of introducing a classic example of political correctness silliness, attacks on the appropriateness of “Deal or No Deal” returning with the same bevy of beauties whose job it is to hold and open suitcases, a job that could be performed with equal competence by the homeless, paraplegics, 9-year-olds, or robots. Writes the Times, metaphorical brow furrowed,

CNBC’s “Deal or No Deal,” which returned for a new season on Wednesday after a nearly 10-year hiatus, and features 26 female models in matching high heels and short, skintight dresses. It’s a formula that helped make “Deal” a prime-time hit when it debuted on NBC in 2005.

That was 13 years ago. But in 2018, as the culture continues to grapple with the way women have been disregarded and sometimes abused by Hollywood and its machers, “Deal” and shows like it raise an awkward question: Is this a convention whose time is up?

Series like “Deal” encapsulate the paradox of the modern game-show modeling gig: On one hand, it offers a stiletto-heeled foot in the door for many young women who aspire to careers in entertainment — Meghan Markle and Chrissy Teigen, among others, got their starts on “Deal or No Deal.” On the other hand, it is unclear whether those advantages are worth the broader message it may communicate in the #MeToo era…

“I do feel it’s a bit tone deaf,” said Nicole Martins, a professor at Indiana University Bloomington, who focuses on media and body image. “These women are used as eye candy, and it reinforces the idea that these women should be appreciated for how they look.”

Yes, Professor, that’s because THESE women are being appreciated for how they look, and for no other reason, because they aren’t doing a job that couldn’t be handled by a well-trained ape. So what? “Deal of No Deal” is moronic, but there is nothing whatsoever unethical, sexist or “tone deaf,” now or ever, about employing attractive people in an entertainment context as “eye candy,” meaning “employing attractive people to be attractive.”

Attractive women are attractive. People like to look at them. People would rather look at them than look at average, typical people they can see every day on the street, or by looking in the mirror. Is there anything wrong with enhancing a stupefyingly repetitive and boring game show with beautiful women? There is not. Nor is there anything wrong with women who are gorgeous while having no other areas in which they excel making a living based entirely on that one asset. Continue reading

“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” Ethics

Yes, it’s come to this.

The last time I had to write about attacks on the children’s Christmas song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” it involved a school capitulating to a single Jewish parent who complained that teaching students the song indoctrinated kids into Christianity. (Naturally, the school capitulated, and banned Rudolph.) This time the complaints involve the ancient Rankin-Bass Puppetoon version of the story, which invades our TV sets every Christmas season. Here’s the account of quirky blog Victory Girls, after citing various tweets and blog criticism of the show from newly woke Americans:

Santa is a big, fat jerk and a bigoted, d*ck, apparently. Rudolph’s father was “abusive”. Comet was a terrible coach. Yukon Cornelius is a gun-toting redneck who engages in animal cruelty. GASP! And who isn’t triggered by Burl Ives’ character, Sam the Snowman?! He’s ALL WHITE for crying out loud! If you sing along to any Burl Ives’ Christmas Carols, you might be a white supremacist. Delete all Burl Ives Christmas tunes from your Apple playlist STAT! Never mind, I forgot. These folks would never know how to have a Holly, Jolly Christmas if someone threw it at them and gave it to them gratis and called it a college education.

As a kid in the 70s and 80s, I would look for its listing in the TV Guide. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was one of my most beloved, go-to Christmas classics and still is. But now, in the days of woke, the story behind Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is “seriously problematic” and those who don’t see it this way have “serious problems”. Those people are, according to the hyper-vigilant SJWs, Conservatives. Whilst making tongue-in-cheek social justice commentary about Rudolph, they have neglected the key takeaways of this story from years ago. Although he was bullied, left out of all of the reindeer games, unaccepted, different-quirky even-young Rudolph was able to overcome and do something absolutely great. He saved the day! He made kids smile. And his story is magical. He didn’t stomp his hooves and whine and go to a “safe space” and resign himself to life being too hard as a red-nosed reindeer and call it quits. He didn’t blame others and become a victim. He didn’t expect special treatment or demand it from his peers because he was different. He may have shed some tears and that’s okay. When given a challenge, he rose to the occasion and excelled and proved his biggest critics and his bullies wrong.

Continue reading

My Birthday Comment Of The Day! On “Nipplegate Ethics: No, We Don’t Owe Janet Jackson Any Apology At All”

Shortly before the bells tolled twelve and my birthday/Finding Dad Dead In A Chair Day came to an end, I received not one but THREE comments on a two-year-old post. I love it when this happens—it has been happening a lot lately—because it gives me a chance to read with new eyes and accumulated wisdom past ethical verdicts to see if they measure up to my current standards. Sometimes I think I was bit too certain of myself, and sometimes I even detect some serious omissions in my analysis, but not with this post, a vivisection of a ridiculous, race-bating defense of Janet Jackson infamous breast-baring at the 2004 Super Bowl. A pop culture blather-artist named Emmanuel Hapsis,  had revisited the incident , and in the increasingly unhinged manner of the woke which we have witnesses since. declared that the episode exemplified America’s “patriarchy,” “racism” and “sexism.”  “Janet’s first crime was being a woman and the second that she was a black woman,” Emmanuel wrote.

Well, few show business scams have been as easily figured out as this one, and the question is whether those who refuse to believe what is absurdly obvious—Sure, it was just a series of amazing coincidences that Justin Timberlake, during a choreographed duet with Jackson and while singing “Better have you naked by the end of this song,” somehow and completely accidentally ripped a neatly cut portion of Jackson’s bustier to reveal her naked breast, except that her nipple was covered by an elaborate pasty—almost as if she knew it was going to be exposed.  Timberlake lied, then later admitted that the stunt was planned, though he didn’t have to, because everyone knew it was planned who had an IQ above freezing and wasn’t in line to buy shares of “Prisoners of Love”. Jackson kept to her story that it was all a big surprise. I wrote, and would write again,

“Jackson also got a career boost from the fiasco, which is exactly why she agreed to the stunt, and if she paid something for the contract breech, she could afford it. As for the public criticism of her unannounced peep show, race and sexism had nothing, zero, nada to do with it. When you have to reach this far back and distort reality this absurdly to make the case about how racist and sexist America can be, you really need to find another cause, because you’re lousy at this one.

There are real examples of racism and sexism out there. Using fake ones like this to caterwaul about it just makes it easier to deny them.

Not only does America not owe Janet Jackson a “huge” apology, America owes her none at all. Emmanuel Hapsis, however does owe America a huge apology, for trying to further divide it, and for trying to make the public more ignorant than it already is.”

When the post first ran, somebody sicced a college class on me or something, and I received numerous, almost identical rebuttals, most of which were too incoherent or idiotic to pass moderation. I also banned one persistent troll who kept writing the same comment that essentially asked how anyone could be so mad as to not believe Jackson’s contrived story? (I am a veteran stage director and choreographer, and I can tell a staged bit when I see one, not than any yahoo couldn’t recognize this one.)

So along comes someone named Troy who gifted me with one of those comments that is so fascinatingly devoid of logic, coherence or ethics grounding, and so wonderfully besotted with woke buzzwords and mirages, that I just had to post it as a Comment of the Day. First, it shows you the kind of junk that doesn’t usually get posted here. Second, it is instersectionality wackiness on brilliant display—yes, holding Janet Jackson to account for flashing a family audience to get cheap publicity for her upcoming album is linked to slavery, lynching, police brutality, and white privilege. The screed also begins with and is built around a false analogy, as are so many screeds these days. You see, Madonna is white, Madonna is a singer, and Madonna has exposed various parts of her body in a carnal fashion, so for a black performer to be criticized for similar self-exposure is a double standard, or so Troy believes.

Super Bowl half-time spectacular live in prime time with the largest TV audience of the year including children, you moron.

I wonder: how many people are out there who “think” like this? How did they get that way? Who can stand being around them? Are they multiplying? How can that be stopped? How do you reason with someone this addled? What is the critical mass of people like this that renders the nation too stupid to function at all?

Excellent, if troubling, questions all. Thanks, Troy!

Here is Troy’s Comment of the Day on Nipplegate Ethics: No, We Don’t Owe Janet Jackson Any Apology At All: Continue reading