Susan LiautaudArmchair Expert with Dax Shepard
- 1,333 views
- 25 Mar 2021
Dr. Susan Liautaud (The Power of Ethics) is an author, teacher of ethics at Stanford University, and founder of Susan Liautaud & Associates Limited. Susan joins the Armchair Expert to discuss ethics: the six forces present in all ethical dilemmas, why we can’t look at things in a binary manner, and how we’re only as ethical as our last decision. Susan explains that there’s no place for blame, shame or guilt in ethics, what incentive people have to make ethical decisions, and the need to make ethics accessible to everyone. Dax & Susan discuss the need to think about the consequences that could happen, not just the consequences that will happen and in the fact check, we have a visit from the man whose simulation we are all living in.
Welcome, welcome, welcome to armchair expert experts on expert. I'm joined by resident expert expert Mouse. Hello, Expert Schepper.
How are you? I'm great.
It's a sunny day in Los Angeles. No sad for you today. No, it's happy. It's a happy day. We have a really fantastic expert on today, Susan Liotard. Or if you're in France, Susan Lettow.
I think you did that right. You think so? Yeah, it's hard for me. It's hard. There's a couple of hundred vowels in her name.
Let's count them.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven vowels out of 13 letters. Wow, that's impressive. That's a heavy proportion.
I like that. The vowels. Now, who is Susan? She is the founder of the Liotard and Associates Ltd., a consultancy in Ethics Matters International. Susan also teaches ethics courses at Stanford University and founded a non-profit, independent, cross-sector laboratory and collaborative platform for innovative ethics called the Ethics Incubator. She has a new book out now called The Power of Ethics How to Make Good Choices in a Complicated World. I think you'll find her refreshing. Like I think when you think of an ethicist, you think of someone telling you like, that's wrong, that's wrong.
She's the opposite. That's right. And we get to reference Chadi from the good play. We sure do. The only other ethicists we know. So buckle up for Susan Liotard.
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He's not adoption's. Charles. So sorry, Susan, we're brand new to this, we've never done this before. Oh, well, first of all, it's really nice to meet both of you, but Rob has had to deal with me on the sound check. I am the most technologically inept person you will ever speak to.
Well, I would implore you to meet my mother. You might get an ego boost.
He was awesome. So thank you for that.
Do you think there's an added layer of insult to injury when you're a Stanford professor?
Well, I think there are two added layers of insult to injury for me. One is that I do ethics of tech, OK?
The other is that I have five children who decided one year that my New Year's resolution was going to be that I was going to become technologically independent.
And 12 months later, they retracted it and said that they needed to give me New Year's resolutions that had some hope of actually overcoming truths that were actually grounded in reality.
It sounds like you came to the common problem of aiming way too high on a resolution.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Baby steps gave them up after that. Yeah.
Let's just start with the idea that you have five children as someone who owns two of them. I mean, I just really I can't hop into your mindset. Can you tell me how you ended up with five children?
Well, first of all, they're adults now with the youngest just turned 18. And so it's kind of you made it that. Yeah, that's kind of it's kind of crazy. But no, the second and third were twins, OK? And then it was sort of like it was always one against two. So I really wanted to have a fourth. Just I feel so grateful and I just really love kids. Yeah. And, you know, survived kind of I mean, there they are adults now.
Well, can you help us understand? I know there's a fluctuating ratio. So one is one kid and then two is like feels like for all of a sudden you think it's a double but like quadruples then I've heard three. It kind of diminishes because it's already a shit show. What happens at five. Well, let's just say there's a general lowering of standards, what qualifies as matching socks or a nutritional meal? And I developed a very open mind.
Yeah, I always noticed that, like the fourth and fifth kid have the helmet on because their heads so flat out of the crib nearly as much.
The other thing that happens and this is actually really true, is that the fifth child, actually, they sort of learn to fend for themselves. So my youngest son cooks. He's a really great cook. And you sort of figure that he would just get forgotten if he didn't learn some skills yet.
Really, it really makes you question the whole approach because, yeah, generally that fifth one is like the most competent human being on planet Earth because they got no help completely.
So first most interesting thing about you when I read about you is that you've lived just everywhere for long periods of time. And I think for a lot of us that seems scary or, you know, adventurous, but perhaps lonely. I wonder what it was that made you curious to live so many places.
So first, it was about the fact that my husband's French and he was there. So after law school, it was I was going to move to Paris or I wasn't going to get married. So I pretty much settled that. And it was a little scary because I started I was working at a law firm and I really needed that job. And there wasn't, you know, at the time, you didn't as an American lawyer, you didn't just go get another job at an American law firm in Paris.
You had to be sent from New York. But, you know, it was great. And then we moved back to California for a while because of his job. So I'm from the Bay Area. And then we moved to London. And, you know, honestly, I thought London was going to be a lot like the US. You know, people speak English, Anglo-Saxon, etc.. Yeah, way more different from the US even than Paris, other than language.
In what way? Just sort of attitude towards how we interact with each other. Like, for example, you know, we had neighbors and we just nobody talk to each other, you know, and even sort of food and just sort of social norms just way less relaxed. I found that at least in France. And maybe that's, you know, in fairness, maybe that's because I was kind of coming into my husband's group of friends. Yeah, but people are really social, really friendly, really open minded about a lot of things.
Yeah, London's phenomenal. But I guess it was also that I expected it to be more like the US.
Yeah. This has been an ongoing debate on this show for three years now because I learned in an anthropologist class that there were all these war babies. Right. Right. You know, about the phenomenon of the World War two war babies. So now an inordinate amount of female English citizens became pregnant by American GIs and disproportionate to the amount of American female servicewomen that were there, they did not become impregnated at all by the Englishmen or very low percentage. So, wow, OK, anthropologists studied this.
I cannot find this article I read in college, hence the debate.
It's an elusive article. But what the conclusion of that was, is that culturally in England, men have the brake pedal and women are the pursuers. And here, of course, it's reverse. So you had two people with a gas pedal and no brake pedal, and then the man and the American female had no shot of getting past first base because they both had the brake pedal. We've read other explanations since that because in England, Kissin is like step 18 out of 20 before sex, whereas in America kissing is like number two.
So the women felt like they were much further along on the progression towards sex.
So that's a really interesting. Yeah, it is fascinating because I agree. I think. Oh yeah, we all like the same music. It's all interchangeable.
We're virtually the same speak the same language. Mm hmm.
So when you were a lawyer, when you went into it, I'm curious what mindset you had, because I find myself regularly debating with Monica and my wife when we watch any kind of legal documentary. Well, generally, if they don't like the defendant, then they're very suspicious of the defense's tactics, say, like the O.J. defense team walking them through the house and having put up certain photos on the wall and whatnot. And you're already bristling if you don't like my dad.
I don't think that's unethical, in my opinion. I don't think that has to do whether I like O.J. or not. I think if I liked him, I still would think that.
But see, I thought there was stuff in the making, the murder trial. And we love those defense attorneys that I thought they did stuff that appeared to me to be the same. I guess my point is I'm regularly arguing from the point of view of. There are no ethics when you're the defense attorney, you're only ethical directive is to give the best possible defense ever for your client. That's your ethic. And of course, that then bumps up against many other ethics that lawyer may hold or not hold.
And I wonder what your opinion on that is and how you felt about it when you were involved with law.
So I was never a criminal lawyer. I was doing corporate law. But I have to admit to being a bit of an addict to documentaries like that or even like, you know, David Kelley, TV shows like Back in the day there was a show called Boston Legal. I was a total addict or suits or whatever. So I'll confess to, you know, I'll share an opinion, which is I agree with you. The idea that you can do whatever is legal that is in the interest of your client is a problem for me, because one of the reasons I got into this whole thing and got so fascinated by it is that the law falls short so often and sometimes it falls short, like this story in the book about an abused woman, and sometimes it falls short because it doesn't protect someone until after they're hurt and sometimes it falls short.
Like fast forward to technology. It's just lagging so far behind the technology that it's not protecting anybody from the ills of social media or from what we don't know about A.I. or whatever. So it's sort of the same thing there. The law just isn't enough because you can do an awful lot when you're a defense attorney. That is Monica saying is not necessarily what anyone would consider ethical. Oh, yeah. Prosecution do I'm not just putting up the defense.
Yeah, generally, I'm more I'm more angry when the prosecution does because they have the full weight of the government behind them. And they're also working in concert with the law enforcement agents. So it's already so stacked against the defendant that I, generally speaking, am far more critical of the prosecution side than I am the defense I am to just because, you know, we all have this innocent until proven guilty and the consequences of somebody going to jail who's innocent.
I mean, I'm sure you've seen these things in particularly the horribly disproportionate number of times that happens to black Americans. And oh, yeah, literally makes my stomach turn. Yes.
Or the people who are put in an interrogation room for 11 hours and they are not equipped to endure that.
You know, as many humans are just not you know, nobody's equipped to ensure that you have fantasies, that it's me. And I keep telling them to fuck off and go ahead, bring it longer. Let's go till 10:00 a.m.. So but you're probably right.
At some point I was like superhuman stamina for you.
Well, no, it's more that I live to defy authority. I think so. I think I would be driven. Yeah, I would be so driven to to be keep giving them, you know, there's a lot of different ways to skin that cat. Right. But I have a great personal example. So we let this kind of campaign to stop paparazzi from taking photos of children, the children of famous people, obviously selfishly motivated because I didn't want my children to be photographed and we debated some paparazzi, those on television, and we kept getting the circular thing right, which was, well, the First Amendment protects.
And I was always like, yes, I fully recognize that the First Amendment protects your right to do that. I'm not making a rights plea. I'm making an ethical plea. Do you think it's OK for a four year old to be crying as men jump out of a bush like that's what I'm here to debate the ethics of it and the ethics of the consumer.
So what do they say to that? Because honestly. So I saw that. I thought that was fascinating and I thought it was great that you did that. And I have to say, like, there is no world in which it's OK to photograph children. Right. It seems pretty self-evident.
For one thing, if we want to put it in more formal ethics terms. For one thing, children can't consent any more than they can consent to medical treatment or sex or anything else. Right. And you the parents, you're not consenting. So there's no consent. You don't get to do things to other people's children, and especially in a social media world. Like, to me, that's just there's just no way that that's OK. And I think it's really interesting that you're trying to get a law to make it so.
But like, why should you need a law to make it?
Well, and I was never under the illusion we would get a law to make it so. So there was another campaign simultaneous to our lead by other actors, and they were super well intentioned. But I was like, this is just never ultimately this will end up in the Supreme Court. It'll never they're not going to make an exception in the First Amendment for this. This has to be like an entirely different plea. But England, oddly enough, where you're at, they are really they have, you know, great rights to protect the press.
And yet it is illegal to photograph kids in England.
Yeah, the freedom of the press and free speech in England is even more liberal than it is. And, you know, and that isn't to say that the British press, especially the British tabloid press, as I'm sure you know very well, behaves well. But, you know, the other thing about it is who's buying these photos? Like, if people are taking them, it's because there's a market for them. Yes. Publications are buying them online or otherwise, and people are looking at them.
And so I always sort of look at all of the different parties to who's responsible. And there are some that are more direct, like the photographers. But, you know, if there was no place to sell them, would they really be taking those pictures?
Oh, I couldn't agree more. And again, I was also sympathetic to the ultimately at the end of the down river, the consumer who buys the magazine, I don't fault them. A who's not curious to see what Brad Pitt's kid looks like. I'm not judgmental of that. I get it. And if the photo is one of the kids smiling, I have no way to know how it was garnered. I don't know what you know. I don't know how many pictures of him crying before I see the one of him smiling.
So, you know, that's a lot to ask the consumer to recognise. So, yeah, part of it was just like educating people who like that stuff, like, hey, it's a little darker than you might think. There's guys living in bushes outside of our house and they follow us everywhere. Yeah, but it's a whole process. And then, yes, ultimately we had to go to the picture houses and say, like, here's a coalition of people who will never do an interview for you again.
You got to play ball like there has to be a financial incentive. And that's ultimately what I think worked well.
I've done a lot of work recently looking at where can consumers make a difference? And I think there are places consumers can make a difference. And then there are places where you still need regulation. There are never going to be enough people who come off of Facebook that, you know, you're just going to clear up all social media addiction and online bullying and all the other things we've seen lately, everyone has to play ball, as you say, like the regulators, the company, the people who use it, et cetera.
So let's get into that one, because that one, again, to the frustration of everyone that loves me as a hobby, I really, really try to make an argument for the other side. So first and foremost, I recognize Facebook is is making everyone feel terrible because most of the social media is I think it's polarizing everyone. I think it's driving people to rabbit holes. I think it's radicalizing people. I think there's so many things you could say about it.
Now, the way we're in this problem is you would know the name of the bill. I have forgotten it. But basically, it was decided early on that these social media platforms would not be considered publishers and that the content on there would not be their responsibility. And so that is what has led to all this trouble ultimately and why it's so hard to regulate, if I understand it correctly. So because YouTube is a self publishing platform, YouTube can't be held responsible for some knucklehead putting a silly video up on there.
And now the argument I understand and I recognize is valid is like you couldn't have had any of these things. If they're being held responsible as publishers, they just simply wouldn't exist. So the option was really they don't exist at all or they're going to exist with no legal liability. So that's a really interesting way to put it. And there are a couple of things. First of all, I should say I am very pro technology when it's societally beneficial and when it's ethically deployed.
So I'm Protech. I'm pro innovation. Look at all the good that Facebook is doing. Look at all the people in the world for whom, like, it's tantamount to the Internet or being able to connect with families and that would be their only way. Or Google is giving them access to search or whatever or even organ matches.
There's crazy stories of people's lives being saved. Yeah, totally.
So I think we need to make sure we keep the positive. And I think we're in a really tricky bind with the law that you mentioned this section 230. I mean, I think the issue is that we can't have binary. They're not liable at all or they're liable for any old thing. I mean, these companies are increasingly capable of controlling the really awful stuff. And they do. I mean, they've made progress. They just need to make more progress.
They need to approach it as if they're going to get outpaced by their competitor, like put that same level of investment and power behind that aspect.
No, exactly. Because they can do it for child pornography. They can do it for inciting violence. Right now, I'm not a technical person, as we established at the very beginning of this call when I put my batteries in backwards. OK, but nonetheless, they are doing it for certain things, which means they can do it for more things. And I think a lot of what we hear from the companies is they just don't want the slippery slope.
They don't want to touch this law at all because they think if they touch it at all, it's going to be the slippery slope to the binary that you described. I think everybody needs to take a deep breath and say we're not going binary here. We're going to try to maximize the opportunities of these platforms. We're going to try to mitigate the risks and the risks are really serious.
OK, so I'm with you in that and I am a proponent of that approach, but I immediately see a very legitimate concern for people that are not in my party but on the right, because seemingly most of the proposed regulations would disproportionately affect the free speech of people on the right. If we're being dead. Honest, I mean. Q And on the inciting violence, these are all all the ones that are currently in the news are pretty much right.
Issues, would you I mean, can we agree on that a little bit? I know it's not. No, I see where you're going with it and it makes a lot of sense. And it's a really, really important question. I think anybody inciting violence and by inciting violence, I mean, like in a really direct let go here and do this now kind of way doesn't belong on these platforms. And you know how you take them off.
Do you take the person off? Do you take just the offensive speech off? An offensive is not the right word. You take just the inciting violence speech of how do you do it? That's a different question. You know, it appears that now a disproportionate amount of the speech is coming from one side of the political spectrum. Yes.
And again, I have to force myself to imagine I'm on the right and I'm watching the BLM protests and I'm seeing a ton of violence and I'm seeing deaths and I'm seeing destruction. And I on the left, I'm saying, well, you're confusing and conflating looters with peaceful protesters. So you're you're trying to make that one group. And that's how I can easily delineate that. But I'm sure on the right they're looking at the knuckleheads who stormed the Capitol and going, well, no, those are just anarchist idiots and they don't represent the thing I'm talking about.
And so, yeah, but I would agree with them.
I think most people who are logical would agree, would say, yeah, those are just regular run of the mill Republicans, they're extremists. And if we call it what it is, which is that that should be fine, you should be happy that we're saying that that like actually we don't think they're like you. We think they're their own fringe thing and they need to be controlled.
Yeah. I just imagine if the right and all the tech companies, which they don't the left owns them all, that they would have had a different opinion of what should be policed as far as promoting BLM rallies. And that makes me nervous.
Yeah, it makes me nervous, too. I mean, I really think that we need to make sure that when we talk about free speech, we're not protecting inciting violence, no matter what the political views are of the person inciting violence. So Monica says, I totally agree with the way Monica just put it, like extremists. Doesn't matter what your political party is, you don't get a platform.
But if I fall honestly, if I'm being dead honest, I actually will excuse stuff on the left that I would never on the right, which is I hear people being very critical of riots in black neighborhoods where they burn down buildings. And I say, yeah, I don't agree with burning down buildings. But I'll tell you what the news is in Ferguson now, and it is national and you have not created a system by which you're going to listen to them if they play ball.
So this is their last option. And guess what? You're now listening, so you can't argue it's ineffective. So I just know how skewed and biased I am because I believe in that movement. And I'm very quick to explain why that's the only political option for a lot of people.
Yeah, so do I. And I think I'm probably guilty as well. And the thing that is the most exasperating for me in all of that is that how is it possible that it takes burning down buildings to see racist police?
They knelt during the night and they actually there was an attempt to do it peacefully and no one listened. And in fact, they penalize those people. So, yeah, but all that to say emotionally, that's how I feel about it. I have to imagine there's people on the right that are saying you're not listening unless we act like idiots. And I totally disagree. But I just I think it's always worth challenging that I completely agree with you.
I want to make sure that we're listening to the right. I don't have a lot of space for extremists, no matter what their political party. Absolutely. Want to listen to all parts of the political spectrum, because the reason we are where we are is that we are not listening to all parts of the political spectrum.
Yes. So let's get into the binary thing, because you have six forces in your book that are present in every ethical dilemma. And then the first is banish the binary.
And this is something that Monica and I are on our high horse about all the time or so critical of all binary thinking.
The vast majority of issues will have to confront. They're not black and white. They're great. It's a sliding scale. Yeah. Tell us about the complexity of really what most things are. Yeah.
So, you know, I loved your tag line, the messiness of being human. And for years I've been starting my classes by saying, you know, welcome to Ethics on the Edge. We're going to muck around in uncertainty. You know, students look at me like, what are we in for here? But there are a couple of things about this, Gray. One is that the world is moving so fast. So what binary does is it sort of says, you know, this is ethical or it's not ethical.
And by the way, I don't allow the words ethical or unethical in my ethics classes. It's just too easy. The other thing it does is it is a sort of a and we are definitely at a historic. Moment of taking sides. Everybody's got to be on a side, and so that destroys all kinds of potential for really seizing opportunity. It also destroys potential for things we can talk about later, if you like, like healing, connecting.
But the biggest problem is that, you know, you just miss out on so much. And so in terms of our ethical responsibility, we really want to shut down social media when so many people are dependent on it. Do we we really want to shut down facial recognition technology completely when it might help us find a terrorist or a lost child. We don't want the police using it in any old way. We certainly don't want biased facial recognition technology being used by police that can then end up where we started the conversation, which is innocent people going to jail.
Yeah, but we also want the upside. So, you know, I think that the world is so complex that in most of these cases and in particular a lot of cases around technology or gene editing, we want it to help cure cancer. We don't want to see what happened in China with the rogue scientist Janeway, who, you know, if he did what he said he did, you know, edited embryos to make them impervious to HIV, which which was already on top of being potentially unethical, also completely unnecessary.
But, you know, when you call somebody ethical in a way, you're sort of giving them a pass forever. We're only as ethical as our last decision.
I couldn't agree with you more. I also think that labeling ethical there's another way to look at it, which is like good and evil. Those to me are the most dangerous things, because if we label Hitler evil, well, we're done thinking about that. There's no other causality needed to explain that. So then when we don't investigate how he came to be, we cannot prevent it from happening again. So evil or good to me is always so incomplete and then there's nothing to gain from it to apply to anything.
Right. And also you're kind of stuck in it. So the other thing is that as much as I don't think anybody deserves a life pass and a little sticker that says ethical, I don't think anybody or few people deserve to be condemned as unethical. Right. And so one of the things I talk a lot about in the book is sort of resilience and recovery. And, you know, and we can talk about that is sort of national healing at the moment.
But I just think that by calling somebody unethical, you just miss all kinds of opportunity for recovery. The final piece of it is that I'm an ethics optimist, but I'm also an ethics realist. And I tell my students all the time, you can do your ethics in theory. You can cherry pick what you like and do your ethics outside of reality. But reality is always going to come back to bite you. Reality is messy, like you guys say in your tagline.
Yeah, so OK, great. This will open up something I've been ruminating on for a while, which is I read the Moses' book about Robert Moses, who built virtually all of New York City. He built the freeways. Highly unethical things were done. You know, poor people were were kicked out of their neighborhoods, all kinds of wreckage that he created. And also he built the freeway system and he made New York the greatest city in America. And I look at our current society where everything's binary.
So it's good or bad and everyone has a voice and everyone can start a boycott and everyone can get on the news. I wonder, is there an appetite for anyone to do something that is unpopular but necessary or that is only 52 percent beneficial to society? Forty eight percent not great. I wonder how we would do any of these public works projects in our present day. Does that make any sense?
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. So I haven't read the book, but certainly, I mean, when we look at things, I think we need to ask. So I asked the question when and under what circumstances would you do something? And I think we don't do enough considering how we go about something. You know, there are a lot of ways to do something and get to the same end. And very often we sort of see only one route.
Well, there are a lot of ways to move less privileged families and get that freeway. You know, there are really humane ways of doing it and they're really awful ways of doing it. Now, they may not like getting moved, you know, and that may be a risk and that may be a downside. That is for the betterment of society worth taking. But I don't think we spend enough time thinking about how we get to the results that we want to get.
And again, I just wonder if we could just do it theoretically.
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So if they were going to build a highway here in Los Angeles that was going to or let's even make it better, it's an all electric thing that's going to be great for the environment, going can do all these things, but it has to be built somewhere. And then people say, well, why don't you build it through Beverly Hills and then you go while the reality of a marketplace is that is unaffordable for any nation to undertake. OK, so there's a roadblock, one where can you afford to build it?
While unfortunate, it's going to be the people that have already been cheated on. That's who that's where you can build something. That's a very hard proposition to make. And I think currently it would just be like, well, we can't do it. No, I think you're right.
I think there's very little appetite for things that are difficult and for things that are politically incorrect. I mean, look at covid, whoever it is, in many ways, the individual making the sacrifice for the good, you know, everybody wearing a mask, everybody respecting social distancing so that for the good of society or having a certain vaccine rollout mechanism, that is for the good of society, even though lots of people who are in their 40s really need to be out and about working and taking care of children and really want to get vaccinated.
Right. So we have these that we have this, you know, individual versus society and a lot of cases. But I think you're absolutely right. I think we've gotten to a point where the really tough decisions I think I think that that would sit on the back burner.
So covid. So the thing my current frustration is, and there was actually a pretty good New York Times piece semi addressing this, which is because of our binary identity. Left, right. Both sides are completely painted into a corner. So if you're right, you're almost obligated to host a no masks party. You have to do that, which is insane. And then in my opinion, if you're on the left, you have to spend your days going through other people's social media and trying to shame them for a situation you deem unsafe that you don't really know a fucking thing about.
So I look at both those sides and I'm like, I don't agree with either of you. I think people are sometimes evaluating their mental health against their physical health. You know, there's a lot going on.
What I try to do is to extract covid, even though it is, especially in the US, a very politically charged reality. I find that very, very unfortunate. But the person is so embarrassing. You know, the first thing is, you know, we start with science, right? We'll listen to people like, you know, people I have heard on your show, Vivek Murthy or, you know, Sanjay Gupta. Right. I mean, we don't get to have our opinions about the science.
We we get you know, opinions are very important. Facts are very important. They are not the same thing. So parties with no masks kind of a non-starter for me, not because that's my opinion, but because I listen to Dr. Fauci and Sanjay Gupta. Right. So non-store. And on the other hand, that the same thing. So I always say, like, there is no place for blame, shame or guilt and ethics. And it's not just that there's no place for it.
They are actual creators of drivers of unethical behavior. And the worst I ever saw was in London. We were told that the government there was actually a minister and I won't mention her name, who was telling the citizens of London to actually shame your neighbor, like if you were supposed to be quarantining. But, you know, maybe you had an emergency. So you put 12 masks on and you ran to the pharmacy to get a prescription. Yeah.
You know, the next thing you know, you'd be all over social media. It's ridiculous. People have no idea what they're saying. They don't know if somebody has been tested or is having an emergency or who knows. I mean, and by the way, like, why would that be a constructive step? It drives me crazy.
I almost hate that more than I hate the Marceau's party, which is absolutely bonkers.
It's a no no, but it's not that bonkers because, you know, this quest to shame people. I mean, shame is just so toxic. And it's something that all of us feel at one point or another in our lives for different reasons. But the idea that you're going to make somebody else feel that that you're going to intentionally try to create that awful feeling and even worse publicly on social media. Yeah. Is, you know, again, non-starter.
I do like that about your approach is kind of you start by saying perfect is not even the goal I'm not aiming for. I mean, maybe I'm aiming for perfect. I have no illusion that you can be perfectly ethical. And within that, in my opinion, there's a lot of room for understanding and forgiveness and recognition that, yeah, we're all you know, we're given a shot some better than worse. And yeah, because as you say, it leads to actually more and more unethical behavior that cycle.
Yeah. Actually, do you mind if I take a crack at slightly rephrasing what you just said?
I agree with it completely because I wrote it down and I couldn't find it. No. It's so important to me, so, you know, as you say, perfection is not possible, and in my view, it's also not a laudable goal. But here's what perfection does in sort of ethics terms. I mean, since it's not possible, there only two reactions that can happen. One is people are going to cheat to try to achieve it. Mm hmm.
So perfection can take a lot of different forms. It can be like an unrealistic sales target. It can be like unrealistic looks. So you have this epidemic of teenage girls trying to have plastic surgeons create what they want, their manipulated selfie to look like really dangerous things, but so, so cheating to try to achieve it. But the other thing is the epidemic of mental health issues. We have, especially with teenagers, university students, doesn't matter what socioeconomic situation, et cetera.
It's so terrifying and it's largely because of that. And it's sort of like, you know, so many young people especially feel like, well, if I don't just get this next thing, whether it's get into this school or get this one school or get this one job, that life is kind of over and there's no joy in that. Yeah, I have this really inexpensive guitar sitting behind me that I have, because this is going to sound crazy to you, I'm sure.
But about three or four years ago I was watching something and Bill Gates said you should learn something new every week. So I decided I was going to do something. Now, if you're Bill Gates, you can learn everything there is to know about malaria nets in an hour because you're Bill Gates. I was not trying to get a Ph.D. in mosquitoes. I just figured I'm going to take something that's like half an hour a week. I've always wanted to play the guitar.
It's going to be no pressure to be good. Just half an hour of learning something new. So fast forward three years. I still have my guitar and I know more about the guitar than I did, but I am terrible and that's fine. Yeah, it was all about you don't have to be good.
I'm going to go further. I don't want to really be around anyone. That's perfect. What fucking stories. Although I have my favorite stories are when people shit the bed, make a mistake, do a dumb parenting decision. Are a terrible husband at one point, you know, all that stuff is what is attractive to me about people. Funny enough. Yeah. If I sit down and you do a classical guitar performance, I'll dig it for five minutes.
I'll be like, OK, great. You're, you're perfect nuts that we're done with that.
Yeah. I mean my five children are the experts on how imperfect I am. That's something that's so important to me and especially when I'm working with young people. If there's one thing you learn in my class, I don't care what you take away from this class or what grade you get. If there's one thing you learn from this class is that you need to banish the word perfection from your vocabulary.
Yeah, yeah, I'm with you. Let's start with a question I should have asked right out of the gates, which is and it's it'll sound offensive maybe or dumb, but why would people even have an interest in being, quote, ethical? What is the incentive for people to explore ethics in making ethical decisions?
I actually think it's a really, really great question, because for many years when I started studying this and started working with it, the reaction was always the same. It was almost like an allergy. People thought ethics is going to be really inconvenient. Yeah. So first we had all these kind of let's just take a box. Let's just say if we're a company that we have a code of ethics and that we've had this training and we've had that review at the end of the year.
But actually, the way I see ethics, it's really about being much more conscious of the impact you have on people around you and the consequences that you're creating for yourself and for the world around you. So you use the word story stocks. And for me, it's that it's, you know, how well or not so well we integrate ethics into our decisions, determines our stories, and it determines our influence on everybody else's stories. So it's really about how we're connecting with other people and how we're having an impact on the world around us.
I ultimately think everything's selfish. So for me, the incentive to try to be as moral as possible is that I like myself more, which is ultimately what I'm striving to be is someone that I look in the mirror and I'm proud to be. So for me, that's my incentive. And I don't know what other people's incentives would be. I think for my wife, where she's just genuinely, intrinsically concerned about everyone in the world, I'm not for her.
That's easy. You know, she really wants to have an impact on the whole world around her. I'm more I'm coming from maybe I guess the the individualist point of view, which is I just don't want to hate myself and I don't want to live with myself when I act shitty.
The starting point of this is sort of who do you want to be? Right. And you don't need to be the person you want to be all the time. That's the perfection thing, right? I mean, we think we know who we want to be and maybe that. Involves also so I think it's a lot about that, it's a lot about how do you want to define yourself and present yourself to the world and who do you want to be for yourself?
And ethics isn't about what you have to be spending all day, every day worrying about. Have you been as nice as possible to Person X or whatever? Yeah, it's really about just being thoughtful. I talk about listening to what people are really saying and not listening to what you expect to hear or I want to hear or even what you think they should be feeling.
So your book, The Power of Ethics, How to Make Good Choices in a Complicated World, your hope is to democratize ethics. And so here's one thing. As a self admitted, I just said selfish person. I do sometimes I'll make an excuse for people because I also think. Thinking about what's ethical is a bit of a privilege, like if my hour to hour thought is how the fuck am I paying for the rent, how am I bringing home food to my kids?
I'm not then thinking, oh, is the food I'm bringing home to my kids also supporting factory farming? There's no room for that. You know, I'm pretty sympathetic to like it does feel like a little bit of a luxury, at least in my own life. I found that as my needs were met, I had more bandwidth to think about these things.
You is such an important point and I completely agree. So when I talk about democratizing ethics, the first thing I mean is making ethical decision making accessible to everybody, like almost a habit. It's not that there's some perfect process, but I have this framework in the book and it's like it just becomes sort of how you deal with the world. Then we look at the choices. There's no question that if you don't know how you're going to put the next meal on the table, you're not worried about organic.
Right? Right. And if your only way to communicate with someone the other side of the world is Facebook, you're just not going to be all that worried that there's all the kind of stuff that we saw on the social dilema going on, because that's the only way you're going to be able to communicate with your family. But the other thing I mean by democratizing ethics is that the world has gotten so complicated and in particular things like artificial intelligence and gene editing and all of that, that we have this really complicated expertise that is lodged in the brains and the power of a very few people.
Yeah, and what I really want to say is we can't have a society where only people who really understand gene editing get to make the decisions about how that's unleashed on society. And we ought to be able to have a voice about these things. I don't need to understand how an algorithm works. To have a voice. I should be able to have a voice whether or not we're using potentially racially biased facial rec technology by police. So it's one thing to monopolize social media, it's one thing to monopolize search.
It's a whole other thing to have people in power or people with very, very sophisticated knowledge monopolizing our ethics.
Yeah, what an unforeseeable experiment that's happened where we're all sharing a language, whether you think so or not, we're sharing ones and zeros. We're sharing a binary platform and way more than we're beginning to think in the way it guides us to think, which is so unimaginable. It's quite scary.
It is really scary because some of it is not human intervention, even that's making it happen. And tell me if this is if I'm right about this because I'm not an anthropologist, do you feel more in control? If you knew that humans were making decisions and you could then deal with those humans, with these algorithms are kind of putting us in bubbles or polarizing us, etc.?
Yeah, it's really, really interesting to try to comprehend motive in a situation where it's a computer who has no ego. It only has a directive. Get people to consume more of this media for longer without any concern over what the media is or why it's more appealing. Yeah, it's quite scary. And then I of course, we we had Tristan Harrison and we're all we're all alarmed by it. But the notion that we've, you know, in many ways created things that even the creators have no idea what the end result will be and that they do end up with a momentum of their own and they kind of just wake up going, oh, wow, all that increased viewership came at this price.
We miss that.
You just hit on something that I think is so important. So one of the things I think about with ethical decision making, especially with people who do have the time and creators of this technology, do have the time, is that we should be thinking about the consequences that could happen, not just the consequences that we know will happen. And the other thing is we need to be thinking about, particularly with technology, short, medium and long term consequences all the time of the decision.
And kind of what's happening is we've become like serial short term. It's like, well, I'm going to make a decision that suits me for this week and then I'll come back on Sunday and I'll make the decision for the next week. But the problem is exactly what you just described is that the longer term consequences, it was like, how did that happen?
I do believe most those people were like good folks. I don't think there was a twirling mustache person at YouTube.
No, I think no, these people are not going to work thinking, how can I be unethical?
Yeah. You say that you want people to recognize the power that they have over their ethics and societies at large. And I'd be curious to hear how you think that works, because I'm a little bit of a pessimist sometimes. So I would love to hear how we do have power and choice and how that can affect the people around us in our society at large also.
And again, it's not about sort of having a. Sit down for an hour and put your dilemma through, is it Plato or is it Aristotle? I just think every little thing adds up. So to read an article and express a view or think twice before you post a photo of a baby on social media. Not that there's any problem doing it, but just make sure that it's right for you. Yeah. And by the way, as I say in the book, I never tell people what to do because I'm not going to be the ones living out the consequences.
And I certainly don't know anybody else's life as well as they do. But I think that decision by decision, we really can have an impact on bigger things, like just thinking about do we take the car keys away from an elderly grandmother that someone who could potentially do harm and yet is taking away their independence just thinking through, OK, how do we handle this?
I regret not doing philosophy. I love the ones where it's almost I don't know, you know, I'm just so certain of things. But I love the ones that are like, you know, the hypothetical one about sleeping with a sister on a vacation.
Yeah, that's Jonathan Hights, thought experiment, dumb, dumbfounding experiment.
You present something that you really can't make an argument against, but your gut is certainly telling you it's wrong that you will find many, many ways to explain why it's wrong, even though there isn't really any kind of logical attack. Yeah, I mean, I think so.
Those are really interesting. And the thing is, though, that what we see is that a lot of these dilemmas have actual real potential consequences, like whether or not you take the car keys away from an elderly grandmother. Yeah. Could have serious know. It might not. This person might drive and be fine and everything's great.
They might pull over and save a motorist. Exactly. Now, let's talk about the fun fact that Mike Shoura, who created the television show, My Wife was on good place, loves you and has spoke highly of your work numerous occasions. The thing I liked about the show where it went is that it attempted to explain the deep complexity of the twenty first century. I just got into a debate the other day in our kitchen about this. It was like someone was talking about the poor wages that some company is paying the people in Vietnam or whatever country the manufacturing facilities in and how it's unacceptable and it needs to get shut down.
And then I raise the point. Yeah, I mean, it's fucking terrible. There's no two ways about it. But I don't know that when you talk to the person that's getting 20 cents a day, they're not going to be pissed. You took away the 20 cents a day like it's it's it's not easy. It's not just. Yeah, clearly that's unethical. They're paying them that. I agree on that part, but I don't know that the solution is to remove it.
That's that's complicated. And I thought the show did a good job. And I think he was modeling a lot of what he wrote after your work, just pointing out how increasingly complicated the world is.
And how hard the decisions we have to make are, yeah, so I mean, I first of all, I have to say, I think he's just brilliant. And if you ever needed a cure for regretting not being a philosophy major, Sheedy should be the cure total stress case. Like of all of the characters in that, you know, he's going through John Stuart Mill and Bentham and all of these things. Everything has to be just so and I episode I just watched recently.
He says something like, I and I'll get this wrong. So Monica, with your brilliant fact checking, you know, but he says something like, I can turn any situation or any place I encounter into a living hell. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I just thought that was the most brilliant I mean, that's typical. Like that's the most brilliant line. And actually the people who are actually figuring stuff out, like that character that Kristen place, it's like street smart or like actual thinking.
That's what I mean by democratizing ethics. Like you don't need six degrees from an Ivy League school. You don't need to have been raised in any kind of place like anybody can do this. Anybody can think a little more about how am I affecting someone else? So I thought it was brilliant for that. But the other thing is this idea that at one point in this show, they keep getting reset. If they don't know if they're like the one hundred and eighty seventh version of themselves or the fifth or sixth version of themselves.
And I just thought that was so brilliant because I think it's really important in today's world that we realize that we don't get to a race. We can learn, we can recover, we can heal. But to me, one of the most dangerous things about the assault on truth is that it distorts memory, it distorts history. So that whole thing really, really resonated with me.
Well, you were in a very unique time where all of our secrets are now encapsulated in this device that could always be referenced is a little bit of a danger. I feel like one of two things are going to be the outcome. Either everyone gets so fucking good at lying or we all acknowledge we all have a ton of warts and fucked up relationships and broken promises and we all finally take a breath and go, oh yeah, we're all pieces of shit, but we're going to be OK.
We're going we're going to strive to not be I just don't know which which direction it's going, but it does feel unique to me.
Yeah, no, I think you're right. But I think it would be really great if we all could take a deep breath. Now, again, I go back to some things are binary, you know, I mean, sexual assault and racism like it. No, I'm not taking any deep breaths there. But in terms of just like the kind of stuff you describe, like we all didn't have the best moment in a relationship kind of thing. I mean, first of all, how does it happen that it's everybody else's business?
Yeah, like nothing happens in private anymore. So so I think that's really complicated. But, you know, you raise a really, really great example with workers in a foreign country and their low salary and how they're treated at all. And is it all right if we just come back to that for a minute? Yeah. Yeah, I would love I'd love to hear your opinion on it. Yeah.
OK, so this came up with Bangladesh with these terrible stories a few years ago where one of the factories there was fire and another one collapsed. And as you might expect, all of the workers inside were women. And then there was some also very bad behavior, like trying to trap the women in these things and the companies that were involved. And there were many there were many clothing manufacturer companies. They all said, well, you know, the supply chain, it's like one hundred units down.
It's this one outsources to this one outsources to this one. And we can't know. And the exact question you raised came up, which was, do we shut these things down? But that's the only source of income for these women. And this goes back to my when and under what circumstances are my how do you do it? Question my responses to the companies is you can know your supply chain if you just spend some more money. This is not impossible to know.
This is not like science. We haven't discovered. This is a chain of contracts and you can treat those workers better. You don't have to shut down. It's not binary. You just have to do a little more to make sure you know who you're dealing with. And by the way, it's not good enough to sign a contract. You have to actually inspect what people are doing everywhere along the way. Yes.
So I totally agree with that end of the equation. I think we have a right to demand now. Now, my fear is that there is a slight hint of what we would call naive relativism, where because I want a microwave, I assume everyone wants a microwave. I don't love when we have this kind of moral imperialism. It would be wrong for me to accept fifteen cents an hour. So I'm going to tell this person over there that it's wrong for them to have fifteen cents an hour.
But I'm not asking that person what would be your choice? Would you like me to, on your behalf, get this place shut down or keep your fifteen cents an hour? I would feel better if I knew what that person's. Perspective was and I wasn't just over here deciding what everyone else's standards. Yes, I completely agree with that. So I do think there's a difference between being the creator of a deadly fire or factory collapsing and sort of arguing about wages or whatever.
Yeah, but yeah, I mean, I think your fundamental point is so important. And it comes back to what I said earlier about listening, you know, and this is the whole democratizing ethics thing. We don't get to decide their ethics for them.
Right. And we might find them reprehensible at times. But I have to also then respect other people's cultures and points of view and how they want to do things. So it's very tricky.
I love it's very it's very, very tricky. Very tricky.
But I'd say, like, let's take a more nuanced one is so much more juicy. And we just had Dr. Michael Eric Dyson on who said he ended up coming to the defense of the Virginia governor who was found to have been in blackface when he was in medical school or, you know, right on the surface, I haven't done blackface. I can't agree with that decision. And he said despite that history, look at the body of work that the man has done since then.
And he's got policies that are going to help. And so you could pick the guy with no skeleton in his closet, but he has no plan to help black communities. Or you could pick the guy with the skeletons in his closet who I believe has a real platform or rather a policy.
So so I look at the question in a slightly different way, which is I don't think we get a net ethics score. It isn't like you were bad here and you're good here. And the good is is 10 and the bad is five. So your net score is five. So like to give you a corporate example of that, it's like we manipulated the foreign exchange rate. But we give women in particular a developing country a savings and loan program.
I mean, so I think we have to be careful that we don't get to net out our ethics course. But on the other hand, I you know, like I said, I'm really about resilience and recovery. So to me, what matters is three things. Does the person tell the truth? I did this. It was racist. So the example of that is Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau. Like, I don't know if you've seen any of this footage, but actually was there's this video of him on an airplane talking to the media where he says, I did this.
There's no question it was racist. I should have known it was racist then. I'm not telling you it wasn't racist then. Yeah. And, you know, and so the first thing is tell the truth. The second is to take responsibility. So he clearly did that. And then the third is to have a plan so that you are going to have it happen again. Completely different from saying, well, I like his policy now. So we're going to just, like, give him a pass for you know, I think that, you know, ethical resilience has to start with truth and responsibility.
I think that is the key. I think that's so the key. I think it's more about how you react to the thing than the thing quite often. Yeah, well, I mean, we have to give people space to recover from the all air ethically, I mean, in different ways.
Stay tuned for more armchair expert, if you dare.
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The example where it really didn't work is I don't know if you saw the news footage of Harvey Weinstein in the in the courtroom being convicted and he's saying, but I didn't do it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's a case where you could make this case. It's it's intellectually possible to make a case where he goes, hey, look, these people want a job. They are willing to be with me to get this job. I'm being honest about it. I don't think there's a huge moral imperative about prostitution. If someone wants to sell their body for sex, I'm in favor of that as long as they are in full control of that and they have consent.
So you can make this intellectual argument. Oh, well, is that some form of an agreement, an arrangement in exchange? And then as you hear the cases, it becomes incredibly obvious. That was evident to not be the case. People were terrified. They weren't making that arrangement with them. It was not a transaction.
You know, all even if they were, it was an abuse of power. So, like, regardless, I mean, I know that's a different maybe the whole conversation, but even if they wanted the job and they were super happy to be there, he's abusing his power and all these situations.
Yeah, it's an abusive power. But is is it an abuse of power? If a John has money and a prostitute needs money, there's a there's a power imbalance. One person has money. The other person doesn't. Yeah, I mean, I do think they're getting taken advantage of yeah, I do, yeah. I don't I don't think all some I think some prostitutes are obviously getting taken advantage of. There are people who are held against their will.
But I do believe there's a world in which someone decides they're going to be a prostitute, male or female. And that's a decision, I think.
And it's genuinely you're talking about cases where it's genuinely free choice. Yes. Yeah. And I think I mean, I think, Monica, you you know, you raise an interesting point. You know, you talk about abuse of power. You use the word fear. I mean, all of these things drive the spreading of unethical behavior, pressure, fear. And he had it like a supercharged version of fear because it wasn't just you're not going to get in this movie and, you know, this industry a million times better than I do.
But it was like you're not going to get in any movie ever. Like he just had such, you know, such influence over the industry, apparently.
Yeah. He's he's a disgusting monster. That's my assessment of him. Can't disagree with you. Yeah.
Yeah, it's pretty. The verdict is in on that. It becomes very interesting when you switch genders. So a comedian pointed out if his son came home from a meeting with a female executive and she said, you have to sleep with me to be in the superhero movie, he'd say, oh, my God, what superhero you're going to be like it does all of a sudden. And again, I understand the context, which is it's a patriarchy and they have the power and it's being exploited quite often.
And when you flip it, it is not the same.
But just to tell you, like when I work with companies, there are plenty of cases where women managers, for example, will invite a bunch of guys who are more junior to a totally inappropriate place and they don't really want to be there, but they're there. The women are not understanding that it's not because they're women that it's OK. So, you know, so your scenario actually does happen like in the mainstream corporate world, like I've seen it.
Right, right. I guess I'm only pointing that out just to say, like, once again, it's this very complicated. I think each individual case is so complicated and we want the cookie cutter solution to all this stuff. And sadly, it's just going to take more work and more brainpower and more patience and time.
But what do you guys think about the what do you guys think about the question about, OK, we have somebody who we've decided is a total creep like Harvey Weinstein. And as you say, Monica convicted, like literally convicted. So what do you think about what do we do with all of his works? What do you say to people who say we should just get rid of it?
All is interesting. I mean, my favorite movie ever is a Miramax movie, which was run by them. So but but it's not fair for me to say, well, that's my favorite movie. So we should keep it. Just out of curiosity, what is it? Good will hunting so good? I think that's a personal choice. I don't think The Cosby Show should be removed from TV, but I totally understand if you don't feel comfortable watching The Cosby Show, because all you can see is him and all the stuff he did to all those women when you're watching it and say was like Michael Jackson, like, I think it's OK if you're like, you know what?
I just can't listen to him anymore. But also, should it be taken off the radio? Probably not. I don't know.
I have less of a hard time. I think that it's an absurd proposition that a monster like Michael Jackson, who created so much pain and damage that we would then punish him by not enjoying the thing he did that was good. So he's dead and I'm going to penalize myself for his crimes. That, to me, seems absurd. I love off the wall also Quincy Jones. I'm going to penalize Quincy Jones, who produced that album because this guy was a monster.
I mean, I see all of your points unless unless it's a stand up, we're literally there's one human being involved. You have to also recognize you're punishing everyone involved. There's people that are mad at your author of a Harry Potter, Rowling, J.K. Rowling. And my thought is, OK, so boycott Harry Potter. So who does that hurt? It doesn't hurt her. She's already got a billion dollars. So you're not going to inflict any pain on her for that opinion.
It's just it's not going to happen. So now you're going to deny the immense pleasure that it has given Monica's life. It's her favorite series of books she's ever read. It accounts for a decade of her life. And so I'm going to we're going to punish her. It doesn't make sense, you know, I think so.
You both make so many good points in the book. I talk a lot about what you just said about so many other people were involved in these movies, like we're going to destroy the careers and the ability of these people to have their work seen and appreciated. Because this one guy I have a really, really hard time with it, I totally see your point, Monica, that like everyone chooses for themselves, for some people, like I had someone tell me the other day that, you know, he just can't watch a Woody Allen movie.
Sure. Because Woody Allen is in the movie and it's like, you know, but probably if Woody Allen wasn't in the movie, he might be able to enjoy it. So I think you're totally right. But the other thing is that I'm obsessed with truth. There's no alternatively factual ethics. So in a way, if we start erasing bits of the artistic history, we're erasing truth, you know, and I and I have a really hard time with that.
I do, too. I don't know why people are afraid of these things as being a conversation starter, like, oh, that's interesting. Things have really changed. Haven't they all show them movies in the 80s? You know, most movies in the 80s have a guy pursuing a girl in a way that certainly wouldn't be cool today. And I say that that's weird. That guy didn't listen at all when she said she wants to get out of here.
Huh? I don't need to get rid of it. In fact, I think it's a great example of instead of me telling her in theory, well, it can look like I can show you this is what it look like and that's how it used to be. And doesn't that suck? And here's where we're going.
Yeah. And also, I think, you know, the further back you go, the more you would have to just iRace. I mean, it's like, how far back are you going to go and how are you going to draw the line and who is going to draw the line? Yeah, like who? You know, who's going to decide that Michael Jackson is? You draw it there, but not with, I don't know, somebody else.
I think that's a really problematic situation.
Well, that's the unavoidable one to talk about. Truth is, it's all proportional to how talented the artist was. So it's like no one's got trouble throwing certain artists away. Picasso's a hard one to throw away. Exactly. You know, and you got to be truthful about that. They add some value to humanity that is so immense. It deserves some are easy, some rapper. I've never heard more than two songs from me. You know, kidnap someone else, get rid of it.
Now, Michael Jackson is, by all accounts, was a monster. It gets harder.
I mean, a different way of saying what you were saying about other people's work is affected. These pieces of art, you know, influence the arts more generally. So like Michael Jackson had an influence on dance, had an influence on videos, had an influence on all these things. It would be like saying, you know, I've spent some time for crazy reasons the last week, like reviewing lyrics of Wu Tang Clan, huh? I mean, these guys are like they're not perfect people either, but God, are they cool?
And a lot of ways and, you know, I'm just looking at this going how do they get in the same song? Chinese sword fighting chess. The Emancipation Proclamation comes down like relationship with your girlfriend. I don't know how you do that all on one song. You know, like, I don't have that talent for sure. But I was just looking at it. It was similarly like thinking about, OK, this really iconic group that defined that genre.
Can you imagine if you just said, OK, well, we're just going to take them away?
Yeah, no. You know, I tried to make this argument a couple of years ago.
I think what it's more telling of is how much we value art versus science, because if we found out tomorrow Einstein had raped three hundred and fifty women, we would hate Einstein, but we would not throw away the theory of relativity. It would be insane for us to do that. It benefits us. So in my opinion, what people are really saying is, well, art's just not as valuable, because if it were, we would never consider throwing it away.
We would never consider getting rid of Picasso's art if we thought of it having the same value as science.
Right. But I think, you know, just to come back to truth. Well, first of all, science people think of it as fact and you can't sort of discard fact.
I'd argue that Thriller is a fact. The whole world loved it.
A billion people like I don't think it is a fact that it existed, that it had this influence. The numbers you just cited. Yeah. I mean, Thriller was like, you know. Yeah. But, you know, like more than one thing can be true. Michael Jackson can be this amazing artist and be a total creep in certain ways and also be incredibly generous in other ways, like we're complex people and I'm not in any way. And I want to be really clear about this.
I have zero tolerance for sexual misconduct.
Yeah, same. Yeah. Also, if Michael Jackson songs were about having young boys to his room, it would be easy. We would be like, yeah, there's songs about falling in love with women, which is horseshit, or getting Billie Jean pregnant. You know, they're not even in the Bill Cosby episodes, not about him, quote, mentoring young aspiring actors, you know.
Yeah, that's a really good point. It's complicated, but I don't know about that because there's there are songs about being horrible to women and treating women horribly and they're playing and we're not taking those off either or talking about like even if those songs were about that. There are other songs that also a. Just about and those for me are hard to hear. So the one the other day I was listening to it's on rock radio. I love it.
You know, Delta always used to sing it. The chorus is, you know, if I could fly, I'd pick you up. I'd bring you into this show. You will love that. You never knew.
So everyone knows the chorus of that song, the opening line of that song. I just realized that the other day was she was 16 years old.
And I'm like, oh, this whole song is about wanting to show this young girl what an adult love is. This is disgusting. And because it's in the song, guess what? I don't really like the song anymore. Now, if I found out the dude was just a weirdo, but the song wasn't about that, it would be different for me.
I guess that's what I mean, again, I just think it's personal, I think it's what you can tolerate, what you associate with and yeah, no, it is personal.
And also we cannot engage with it personally. We can decide we're not going to watch a movie or listen to the music, but still not remove it from, you know, from access, so to speak.
Well, yeah, making it a resident from the archaeological record and making the decision for everyone else. I'm a little hesitant to do that.
Even the song 16 years old is not for me anymore. But, you know, I'm not. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And again, when I heard it, the first thing I said to my is because she always sings it. I was like, you know, that song's really weird. The guy singing it's like 30 years old and it's about a 16 year old like it's so gross.
Yeah. Because you do end up it becomes almost it can get close to like, well, don't talk about Hitler or the Holocaust because that's bad. And that was a bad thing. But really, no, you do have to talk about it because you have to prevent that from happening again. You have to tell people that was horrible. So I guess keeping it out there helps the conversation continue. I think so.
Well, I certainly think that conversation continuing is such a great point, Monica. I mean, and actually, Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize speech talks about we can't forget. Now, that doesn't mean we have to turn everything into this really, really difficult conversation. You know, this is this thing that existed in this time. And, boy, we have a different view of that today. And how great is that to handle it that way?
Yeah, well, Susan, you're radical. I'm so glad we got to talk to you. Everyone should buy the power of ethics, how to make good choices in a complicated world. If you loved the good place, you will love this book because Mike loves this book. And we love Mike and we love. Well, yes.
Monica and Kristen are deeply in love with Mike. Yeah. And so I'm threatened by Mike, but I recognize the brilliance.
OK, well, it's important to clarify that I want to. On all my biases.
Well, so fun talking to you. I really appreciate it. Yeah.
No, thank you both so much. Such a really such an honor to speak to you both. Thank you. All right. We'll talk again.
All right, Mike. And now my favorite part of the show, the fact check with my soul mate, Monica. OK, we we have a special guest on today's Fact Check for just a few minutes, hopefully hours. Oh, my God.
But yes, we have we have the only person that's been talked about more than Aaron Weekly on this show is you ASHOKE You come up quite a lot.
Yeah, I'm not sure what you're talking about. I understand the simulation.
I tried to explain it to him yesterday, but I said it's part of the he's not supposed to understand it because it's his.
OK, I'm going to walk Ashoke through it. First of all, welcome. I'm so excited you're on for real tonight.
My W oh, Jesus. Oh, let me walk you through the simulation. OK, well, of course you saw the Matrix, right?
Know of course he is not. You're the only person in America that didn't see the Matrix. Wow. So we got an uphill battle then. But you're familiar with the idea, right, that maybe in the future people will be able to plug into a computer and in their mind they'll be having this full experience, but in real life, they would just be hooked to a computer. Yeah. So here's our theory. We believe that you are somewhere you are hooked to a computer and you are living this incredible simulation because your life is suspiciously wonderful.
Would you agree? Yeah, I can't complain.
This story is too good to not be a simulation. How old were you when you moved? Twenty five. Twenty five. And in your wildest dreams, what did you think America was going to be like?
You know, came as an engineer, you know, thinking it's going to be everything about technology, but shocked a little bit. When I first came in, I watched the wrestling and I said the very first time I saw that within a week I said this is not real wrestling. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. I said, this can't be happening.
So it states, you know, it's still the same bond we need.
Scoot your chair because it's hitting that thing, going to make noise.
So this is great. So I wanted to watch wrestling the same rules on wrestling, on TV. So I started watching it within the first thirty seconds. I know this is not real.
Oh, right, right, right, right. So you OK, so you did watch like big time wrestling and realize, oh, this is all it's a show.
And the United States, I was not expecting that. And prior to coming, you had seen, I assume, movies that were set on your and your idea of America maybe was kind of from movies.
Yes. Movies. And, you know, the textbooks we studied and all that mostly came from the United States. Also, the author, university professors from United States wrote our textbooks for engineering and all that.
And so you came here and you thought, OK, I'm going to be an engineer and my life will be like, what? You know, I'm going to have a wife and I want to have children. Did you have a plan of where you wanted to live? Did you think you were going to end up in Atlanta?
No, no, no, no. I had no plan. I came to Chicago because my sister was there. And then, you know, I got a job in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Three months after I moved here, I got another job at Kansas City, Kansas.
Well, I think the stereotype is that most parents that are Indian first generation, their children, there's this tremendous pressure on them to become a doctor or some kind of higher education, master's degree PhDs, all that. And you didn't pressure Monica or Neil to do that now?
Probably because of my engineering background, because in this country, many of the people who came from India who are engineers because of the ups and downs of the economy, recessions and getting, you know, getting laid off and jobs and all that, many just left the profession and started owning motels and all kinds of other businesses, dairy, dairy Queens and whatever.
You know, I'm sure many of them started working late engineers, many of them they started doing that and then became very successful. You know, initially they were looked down upon, you know, the professions. But then there, man, a lot of money.
My dad really only cares about money when all that's made to pay tax only cares about money. Guess the only thing that matters.
So, you know, then, you know, you come to realize, you know, there are many different ways of making a good living or whatever they want to do it. But Monica's case and the logic in this case, even if you wanted, we don't have much choice.
You know, they're going to do what they want to do anyway, especially in Monica's case. Yeah. So we got in a fight. Well, first of all, I need to thank you. We have a very successful show in the whole reason we have a successful show is because of you and Monica, because you guys argue all day long. And so she's great at it. And all Monica and I do is argue all day long. And when I saw you guys together, I was like, oh, I get it, this is why Monica knows how to get along with me, because she just argues all day long.
So I have you to thank for this dynamic relationship that has been successful. But was she a brat? Because we fought about this a couple of days ago now.
No, she was not. And you can answer truthfully, truthfully, I don't think she was spanked. I don't think she was ever right.
What about when she was screaming for her mother to make her milkshakes?
I don't know the number that you don't think that's Braddy.
He wasn't paying very much attention. My mom might have a different opinion on that. Is she a brat? Question?
She was. Thanks. Whenever I don't think we ever question at the core of what you did in school or anything like that, I don't even know what classes she took.
And this is great. There was nothing you know, it was just she was on autopilot. There was no question about how she was going to do. You know, it was a little shocking for us when she said I was going to major in drama as a drama.
That was not a great night.
Yeah. Point one percent unemployment rate of zero point zero zero point one.
Yeah, because while you never told us we need to be doctors or this or that, you definitely told us to get a secure job. Yes. And so I did the opposite of that.
Then in our own minds, we decided, well, you know, if you can do anything, you can always go to law school, you know?
Right. That was in our area and in our own minds.
I said, well, you know, she she's going to do with this worst case scenario that she can go to law school.
Yeah. She'll get this out of her system and then and then be a trial lawyer. You never fall into any of my imagination of it. So I'm sure this won't work out either. But when I have this fantasy of I, I raised my children in a much different culture. I just wonder what it's like for you to have had this daughter who is a cheerleader in America, like watching that where you're just like, oh, wow. I mean, she is an American.
Look at this. She's a cheerleader.
Well, in my case, next to me, you know, if I have to be honest with you, my wife grew up here. She was six years old. I told her and she came. So I've already seen that part very closely. It's not like, you know, if I had traditionally married somebody from India who grew up there, it would have been very different. In this case. It's half in almost three quarters. She you know, she her parents were Indian, so she had a lot of that.
But still, you know, she grew up here, went to school, college and everything here.
So she even got a Southern accent, which Monika didn't know. Yeah. So it's a Southern accent, you know.
So she wasn't like a cheerleader or any like all of it. I really leaned in hard to very late in life.
She was almost trying to say is my thing was not a direct from me to her that was in between. She was not like Monica. What was not like a traditional Indian. You grew up in India so far. My transition from well, in there, there was an immediate thing. And then you when she said she was going to do a cheerleading, I didn't know what it was, says she. Sure. What?
Even if you know what it is, it doesn't make a ton of sense. But yeah. Yeah. What's going on there then. Authority you have have gymnastics and all this and she was going to go try out. She is not going to make it so that she can go.
Right. No confidence she can drive or that she'll be a lawyer.
She said you have to have a lot of gymnasts. She never had any gymnastics or anything like. Yes, I did a little. You, you know, they were I remember. Know that heavy duty.
Well, yeah. I wasn't ready to gymnastics.
Is you familiar? If I reference that picture of you in the white dress, does he know which one that is? No, there's a picture of me.
Yeah. I remember we were looking at it earlier. I'm in a white dress and I look for. But I'm actually too and I'm touching some ground.
You do not look far. You look eighteen months.
I look for even my mom agreed. She said Indian babies look oh they look mature and their hair, brown hair and facial features.
She says they look old and then at some point it balances out, oh well I don't know if I agree with this assessment, but that's fine. This is your real story. Not like this picture of her has provided so much happiness in our circle. When people are sad, we send them the picture of Monica in that white dress. My best friend Aaron Weekly, we had covid. He was so depressed, he was miserable. Monica sent them that picture and he was immediately in a good mood and I just always think how in love with that little girl were you?
Oh, I mean, she was the cutest also, you know, being the first being the girl.
You know, we were pretty close that, you know, have a lot of pictures know hanging around me were going to this place. Yes. That is now. Yeah. That I don't know if she tells you I'm 16. That's a different story, I'm sure. Well, that's the bradie years I'm talking about. What was it like when you flew to Chicago and you were sitting in this audience with 5000 people? And then that little girl in the white dress came out on stage and the place went insane.
Obviously very proud, I mean, you know, feeling I can believe this, you know, who could believe it? We can't believe it, of course, that you can't believe it.
Yeah, and even after the show, people saying, you know, coming after that rating, after the show and then telling us we don't want to be alone, Monica. And there's some people they don't even know. I mean, you know that, you know.
Yeah, obviously, it was they kind of not expected that because we know we're going to the show. But, you know, you're sitting there and oh, boy, this is unbelievable. No other way of explaining.
We've done a lot of live shows, maybe twenty or twenty five. And that is by that'll be the best show of all time to see you guys afterwards was so fun and wonderful.
Really enjoyed it. I mean, it was just kind of, you know, it took a while to sink and you know, the feeling is like, yeah, we had it happen. It's hard to comprehend. It is for us.
Well, you know, in your case, you know, you're being you know, you're not nothing new for you to these things. I mean, you had a set of authority. You've done movies and all kinds of stuff. So it's not the same.
It's still silly. It's like this doesn't happen to people. There's always that feeling.
Well, this doesn't happen to people, especially, you know, for us with Monica. I think if I recall she said she was going to do with you. I'm going to do a podcast. I don't I didn't even know what a podcast was. Of course not. Yeah.
How about last call about you and Dag's open up a law firm instead? Because you know that podcast we're not that no writes no.
We're the luckiest two human beings in America. Yeah, for sure. So that brings us to dissimulation. So, you know, this story is I find it impossible from your perspective, the fact that you didn't even arrive here until twenty five and then you had this wonderful career, which still continues as an engineer, and then you have this little cheerleader, she becomes rich and famous. That's that is all impossible. This doesn't happen. So obviously it's your simulation.
And I'm unfortunately I'm not even real. I feel real. But I'm not. I'm, I'm just a computer algorithm to Cilenti. Your fantasy. You do. I know you're the only real person here. You're the only real person on planet Earth.
But he also kind of a character like this version of him is a character because his his real self is potted up. Right, and we don't know where that is like, we don't even know if this geopolitical stuff even exists where you're hooked up to the computer. I don't know. I told Monica the other day that you might be like a six foot eight basketball player.
Yeah, we don't even know what you look like in real life. OK.
Have you ever listen to an episode of the podcast? Yes. Not very many, maybe. Yeah, of course. Four or five.
I prefer you to keep that number low.
Yeah. Yeah. Do you remember who one of the episodes while she was a guest I guess, of the host. Oh right. Right, right, right. Was there.
And then Hillary, you have not what I know. Might have just been that one.
Monica the worst one for you to listen.
I think that song was. Oh yeah. Yeah. That's a Manaj.
Oh ok. OK. Yeah. And Kumail Nanjiani and Ozzy Osbourne. Yeah.
We've had a disproportionate amount of Indians on actually if you add it up, we've had way more Indians than our represented in the population or dare say Dessy is you saying it right. They say they see, they see this. Yes. They see simply it's native. I got to get better at that.
I sometimes want to correct him, but I'm glad you did. Well, also, I don't think you really knew how to say it.
I don't. Yeah, she does have any I don't know. I don't think Monica don't even know a single word of it in, you know, not a single oh.
Oh. Who is mad at you about your last name.
Monica Pool party is always mad at me about it. Yeah. Party. He's a neighbor in our neighborhood and he really doesn't like that.
My last name's Padman tell your father he's Indian, so this is why he has such a strong opinion. He says Padman is not a name in India and he's very frustrated and should have been changed to what do you want it to be. Change do.
He says if you're going to change, you should have made it. Padma Padma is a female name.
I know he well. Look, he has a lot of opinions.
It's a short name. It's not. I did not do it. My father did.
What was the original name? The origin of it's Padmanabhan.
Oh, I like that.
But Nubbin is the original name. And my father, he was in Borneo, in Singapore, that area. Then he was dealing with a lot of the British people and then he changed his name from Padmanabhan to Paddon, put them on is what's called in India. You know, padman here.
But Monaca, you probably would not want me to pronounce that correctly because I don't think that sounded like an Indian accent. You could try it if I said Monaca padman.
Yeah, I see. You got it.
So you don't like it, right? Look at the look on her face. She's a madman as he's triggered padman. OK, my last question. This is my last one for real. Can I go with you to India someday? Yes. Yes, you would take me. Especially if your daughter paid for all of us.
What do you want to say? But yeah, you know, we'll go. I want to go for real. I want to go to Kerala.
Really bad. Yes. It's a beautiful place. It's a beautiful place. It's a unique state in India. It's got the highest literacy anywhere and interest rate is almost one hundred percent.
No wonder I'm so good at reading. Wow.
Very especially some parts of Kerala. The females have power from a long time ago. That was originally the system itself is designed was designed that way. Oh wow. Matriarchal society. Oh that's so cool.
So if so if you go back to the history of Kerala gave them many, many, many years ago, you see a lot of high. Ministers, chief justices and all that female from a very, very long time, that's state women have always had a lot of power. That's true.
Dad, I have one more question. Did you think grandma was hot when you first met? When you first met mom?
I came from an Indian background. You don't think that your mother loved you? No. I know how hard I want to stop me.
I've lived here so many years, but coming here, some of my Indian thought processes doesn't go away. So you don't you don't even think that.
Do you think in India they are less sexual now getting one point three billion people?
The numbers don't lie. The numbers don't lie. Monica. Well, you're saying you didn't think like that. Well, maybe more respect thing.
Yeah, relatives and all that. You don't think sexual objects or anything like that.
I just I don't think that's Indian. I think that's most people. They probably don't sexualize their relatives. But DACs is an anomaly.
So we had to you know, I think that's pretty common for my area of Michigan. I'm going to claim cultural influences for that. Well, this has been awesome. I'm so happy that you let us talk to you. Oh, pleasure. In my view to this show. Yeah. You'll have to listen to this one. This will be the second one you listen to.
All right. Thanks. Great seeing you. I can't wait to see you again. Take care.
I'm going to stay because I have to finish.
Don't fall down. I can hear my mom in the other room questioning, oh, really interrogating. Yeah, she's jealous. Oh, well, that's.
Not now. Next time. Next time.
Oh, she thinks so. For real. Yeah. I think you caused a big fight.
Oh. Oh no.
That was so fun.
That's my father. I love him and I really respect them. Where you said he didn't answer it truthfully about my grandma.
There's no fucking way he didn't think she was hot. It's not I don't care what cultural parameters he's claiming. He's our eyes, faces or faces.
Sorry, Susan. My dad really commandeered your fact check. Yeah.
So maybe even the whole week is probably people are going to be so excited about that. He didn't really give us any answers about the simulation.
I really think we have to talk to David Ferrer about this. I mean, I think this is part of it. I think if it's you you don't even know about simulations. You don't even see the Matrix like you don't know.
And if you find out, you implode, I don't know. Everyone in your life dies.
Well, you didn't watch Westworld, did you know? OK, so there's this fascinating thing about Westworld, because the characters inside of it are A.I. robots, and they're acting out basically these people who come to this tourism destination to live out fantasies. And it's an old west town and everyone's a and when they show like the aaya photo, because the A.I. is they think they live in the old West. But if they show that I like a photo of someone getting on an airplane and they'll say, what do you what do you see here?
And they'll go, well, I don't really see anything. They're like they've they somehow figured out how to prevent them from even being able to see a photo of present day.
So I think that's what happened to my dad seeing my grandma.
Well, no, I think that's what happened when I was the whole time I was talking to your dad about the simulation. He's like, I don't know exactly what you're talking about. They've put a block around him, even really entertaining it. It may be is just like white noise. Everything I was saying, he probably was just barely got through that. He's probably I hope he was getting attention.
Yeah, it's really funny because some of our first arguments were I think you should tell your dad you love them more and you're like, that's not really what he's saying he's in the market for. And I was like, that can't be humans are this way. And then as I've come to know him, you know, I'm dead wrong. And yeah, I want him to tell me that he can't believe this little girl is doing that. The little girl from the white dress.
But it's not how he communicates love. He does it in so many ways. He's so available to you and endlessly taking care of you and trying to help you with anything you would ever ask him to do, he would handle for you. But he doesn't want to take that that sentimental walk with me.
And it's not because trauma is like, you know, it's not something to get over. I think that's the thing that's hard. And this is really cultural relativism. I think a lot is yeah, there probably are plenty of Indians who are very emotional and whatever. Expressive.
But it's not like my dad like isn't emotional and he's got to get in touch with his feelings more like it's not causing a problem of pathology at all.
Yeah. Yeah. I think some westerner's specifically have this idea of love, what love looks like that is not universal and is not better.
Not worse. But it's not better. It just is different. I like that I, I know it can look different and like really know it.
I have no question. I'm never like God like I wonder if my parents love me.
I mean it's just so obvious they do everything they've done has proven that but but yeah. It's not in an emotional way.
Don't even like you know I was thinking so I watched Contagion for the last time. Well I don't want to commit to that. But for the last time during the pandemic, I really look and see.
I don't know. I don't know. You might have one left in you. We were watching it, me and my mom, my dad.
And there's a lot of seizures that happened in that movie. And you see them and they're pretty gruesome, like they look really bad and you see all the foam and it's very scary. And I could feel like kind of a shift in energy in the room when that happened and I was like, oh, they're definitely like in their head about it with me. And I thought, like, oh, should I say something? Should we address it to make them feel better or should I?
And then I was like, no, we don't do that. We just don't do it. And it's OK.
I think trying to put this square peg in a round hole, sometimes it's just not necessary.
I agree. Yeah. Yeah. One upside of it, I would argue, is there are a lot of parents that are at Grady's saying, I love you, but then their actions don't necessarily prove that. Yeah. And I guess if I had to pick, I think I'd want the actions to prove it. Oh, yeah. The lip service of it all. It can be a bandaid of sorts, definably of true dedication and sacrifice for someone.
Well, yeah. And even in my circle like Kenny can Kennedy, he will say, I love you, but maybe not as overtly or as frequently as, say, Ryan or Eric would. But if anyone in my friendship group is proven that they love me time and time again, it's Kenny. When my dad was dying, I was like, I want to take him to the house. Now he's in a wheelchair and he wants to go to the house.
I don't know what to do their steps. And I mean, literally for hours, Larry calls me. It's like there's a ramp I built around.
Sweetest boy. I know exactly like acts of service.
I didn't even say I didn't even, like, say, oh, I need a ramp or would help me. Nothing. Just he heard that that was my problem and he dropped everything and solved it.
Yeah. I love you, Ken Kennedy.
I love you, Ken Kennedy to me and I'm not afraid to say it. So I guess we should talk about Susan.
It's a ding, ding, ding, actually.
Oh, Dingle's. Because one of the facts is a quote from Chiddy. And we just interviewed William Jackson Harper, a.k.a. Bill Aika eight minutes ago.
OK, so she says a quote, a cheat quote, Susan does something like, I can turn any situation or any place I encounter into a living hell.
I'm actually having a hard time finding this quote. But there are so many good quotes from the good place. And one that I thought was relevant was when Michael tells Chiddy, if soulmates do exist, they're not found. They're made.
Oh, that's nice. It is nice. That's my desert island example that you hate.
Yeah. Why do you like it in this case?
Well, no, I like it because Mike wrote it.
I like proving my initial theory that anything I say, if it came out of my mouth, it would be really.
No, Mike's not saying that's. Who isn't saying you can find your soulmate in any person.
That's what your theory is, that it's saying it's made. Yeah, but it's not saying every person could be your soulmate. That's what you think. I mean, that's what you've said.
All that was said was it's made like that. You're extrapolating now that he didn't say X, Y or Z. What he said.
I don't think I can extrapolate that. He didn't say because he didn't say that's true.
That's true. It's not an extrapolation. But but but in doing that, you're kind of doing a null hypothesis where you're suggesting that he doesn't believe that. But we don't know that because that's not in the sentence. Correct.
OK, I don't know what he believes, but I know what you believe. Which is that you mean. No, I don't think soulmate status can be found on an island with anybody, but I think you could love. Yeah. Deeply any human you put in the time to love. Yeah.
I mean, I think that's a beautiful theory. I don't think it's hicky. OK, you're not pooh poohing it. It's not boogie and it's not a poo poo.
It's it's something to strive for definitely. Anyway, so I'm really sorry I can't find that quote.
Oh Dingding somebody will find it in the comments de motherfucking ding. We just interviewed your father who comes from a country with a long history of arranged marriages and those things often work out at a higher percentage.
And when you go, yeah that's true, the arranged marriage is being locked on an island with one person and you have no option. And they really divorce I'm sure now in India is the same is rampant and everywhere.
But it really, really, really was not right for my parents. It was not an option. The really bad stuff could be happening and that would not even come up on the table. Yeah.
Until probably recently. You know, the mentality of, oh, there's just no option. I have to make it work. I have to find something. I love it. This person is what arrangements?
I feel like an arranged marriage can almost only get better and a long marriage can almost only get worse.
In an arranged marriage I think you're like, OK, well, here's a person and then you start learning about them, then you start finding things you like. And yeah, I do think it's kind of the opposite in. Love marriage like I love this person so much in finding out more things, like I'm actually in the chemicals where and who has it right. I wonder what the middle road is. It's a Sweden road.
It's all right. Nothing's wrong. It's just different ways of doing it.
This is so unromantic. But I am a little bit of a proponent of not leading with the passion for, say, the white hot flame. I think that's a little more addictive than, say, picking someone who you admire or thinks has integrity that that be the leading because it's lasting.
Those are like character driven and not chemically driven.
Yes, it's not as exciting, but I do think it's probably a more sustainable approach.
Yeah, I just really this episode is really fun because it's about ethics and I feel like we could argue this and do for hours and hours and hours. So I liked that we got to talk to her about it.
Is the most fertile ground for argument because there isn't an answer. There's not an objective measuring of anything. I want to try. I'm tempted to dance because it's so set up right now. Do I love this song by Anderson? Pat called Swade Uses Bitch a lot in the song. Now, if I call you a bitch, yeah, it's because you're my bitch. And as long as no one else calls you a bitch, then there won't be no problem means.
And so I sent you this song and I just can't stop listening to it. And even when I sent it, I said, well, the messaging is a little problematic, but maybe you can enjoy the song and you completely understandable. You were like, yeah, the lyrics are a little rough. And I'd be worried about a young dude listening to this and thinking that's how you should be talking about women. Really solid argument. What has occurred to me a little bit or the way I've been trying to think of formulating my thoughts on it to you is when black people first took the N-word back and they started saying it, the biggest chorus against them saying it was white people, white people were the ones saying, you shouldn't say that.
It's a really derogatory thing. It's bad for your people. They were the ones that were on this kind of moral high ground about that. They shouldn't say the N-word. And I like that they took that word and it's their word and they made it empowering, and I like that what I think is that white people never should have had a fucking opinion about that note, nor say nor a moral high ground. And I think culturally, the world that, Anderson, that comes from is so different than the one you and I come from.
And the women in that culture are so different from the women in the culture you grew up in, that not unlike the N-word, it is very conceivable that the women in his life, in the women, in his culture and the women in his community think of that word as they think of the N-word and that they're cool with this culture. And it's you guys that are not like, we're fine, but I'm a woman.
You're not a black woman. You're not a black woman that grew up in the ghetto.
But the analogy is flawed. If it was a black female artist singing and they were saying it, then they they do.
She's taking it back. But we're talking about this song, which is a man, you know, but it's the black female artist.
They use it a ton, too. So I think culturally, Anderson, back calls all black dudes N-word and he calls all black women the B word. And they both have taken this word back and they're using it how they want and they're comfortable with it. And I think when people get really critical of it, like, oh, the black music is so misogynistic, it's like, well, why don't you ask a black woman first if if that's the case or the people that buy that music, if that's the case, I just think there's potentially a little bit of a similar dynamic going on where it's like we're claiming a moral high ground about a topic misogyny.
In a culture that we're not from what if they surveyed every single black woman in America and then the survey came out that one hundred percent of them love that song and don't feel like it disparages them. If that were the result of that, would you honor it?
Is it to be consumed only by black people? Because, I mean, he's not singing about you. He's not. And he's when he talks about all these other words, he's not saying about me. He's singing about his black friends in black dudes, he's not saying it's not about me, none of his music is about me and none of those songs are not about you either.
But Bitch is not specific to that culture. It is a general word about women. It's not. They may use it just like white.
Yeah. And I think like everyone, they might use it differently in their culture. Like for you to get called a bitch means a very specific thing from your culture, from Duluth, Georgia. If you get called a bitch, it's very derogatory. It is very misogynistic. And that is a fact. And if you pulled every white woman in America and said, would you like to be called a bitch in this song and only referred to as a bitch and they all said no.
Well, yeah, I would know that their culture, that's not their thing. But in a world where if you could if you could pull every single black female and they all said, we don't give a shit about that, that's your thing. Would you at that point be OK with it?
I guess if that were really the case, I would have to be OK with it. It's so blanket to say in that culture, I mean, there's black people everywhere, you know, and it's not like like pop culture to make it more specific.
Where the dude's only call each other the N-word, of course, lawyers at law firms that are black are calling the other lawyers the N-word every time they talk about them. But in the hip hop culture, they're saying, my N-word, this man with this, that's my N-word. That is the culture.
I can't speak on the N-word because I am not black, but I do feel that I can speak on the word bitch because I'm a woman. And that is a word that is widely used to disparage women.
I see what you're saying. It does extend to you. It is used against you as a woman. But I'm saying if it's not about you or any of the people outside of that hip hop culture, you would then be choosing to think it's about you, wouldn't you?
Well, that's what everyone does when they listen to music. I'm saying there can be a subgroup. So, yes, you're a woman and the word bitch is applied to all women. But also within that there are black women and black women have a different culture than women per say at large or there are variation.
I don't think that's fair to black people to say black women have a very specific culture. No black women to live in this area have a specific culture. Black women who live in this like Joy doesn't have that. Probably the same opinion as every black.
I'm not saying that. You know, I'm not saying that. I am not saying that. I'm proposing the question that if the community, the culture in the people who make the music, consume the music and enjoy the music, are all on board with it. And there's no victim and no one feels disempowered by it. Are we allowed from the outside? What we can agree upon is we are definitely not in any one of those communities or cultures.
We're not we're not black and we're not in the hip hop world and we're not in the inner city world. We're not in any of those. So is it our position to be able to judge his music that's for him in his community and his. Fans. With the standard of our thing, that's that's my that's kind of what I've been mulling over. Yeah, it's it's a really good question. I think it's I think it's hard to say.
I mean, I brought up to you when you first were texting me about this. To me, this is in some ways similar to Afghanistan and the way women are treated there. Is it our place to say that's a problem if the women, they're going along with it and they're fine with it and it's part of the culture. We do condemn that behavior. It's to me is similar. It's from outside saying that's a problem.
Yeah, I would. There's two distinctions to be made there. One is there is a very, very loud and vocal cadre of women from those countries that say, I want to be able to drive, I want to be able to go to school.
I want like vocalese saying I am the victim of this. Yeah, and I think a lot of black women would say the same thing about a lot of those songs. My hunch is they don't listen to that if that's not their thing. But they would they have an opinion that it's probably not helping? I'm sure that yeah, I'm sure that's an opinion. But there are and a lot of liberals have fallen on this. This is a big Sam Harris issue, is that a lot of liberals will defend the hijab because a lot of the women, some percentage of the women do like the hijab or they do like how they're.
Exactly. Yeah. And so it's very dicey for us to say, well, because we don't want our face covered. That's that's a universal human. Right. Exactly.
That's my point. I think you stand on the side with Sam. You stand. I mean, you've said it before. Maybe you've changed your mind. But that is something we need to take issue with the treatment of women in those places. But but, yeah, many of them are totally fine and great with it.
Well, I think both exist. I'm not on either side of that. I'm on that where they're saying this is restrictive and I have no options and no life, then those people need to be freed from that.
But the people that are saying, I absolutely fucking love this, I don't think those people should be forced to not live that way if they are enjoying it.
So I'm of both minds. It's very much, I think, in keeping with just having majored in anthropology like. But there are lines to be drawn. Female circumcision. No, because that's a child. And the child can't even tell you they're grateful that they don't have a clitoris anymore.
Yeah, but we we do it to males and I think it's preposterous.
I've been very vocal about that. It's a biblical answer to not having soap. It's it's ridiculous.
I mean, I personally agree, but it's also cultural that people, when they think of female circumcision, they get really hot and bothered. They get very upset. But but if you said, well, is your son circumcised, most of them would say yes. Right.
And this is where intention's incredibly important. So the full intention of the circumcision has always been cleanliness so that you don't get an infection in your dick and die of it. The full intention of female circumcision is so women will never experience pleasure during sex so they won't cheat on their husbands. So one is a very, very Blayton objective of controlling women and the other one has the objective of preventing infection.
But it's still genital mutilation to a baby who doesn't get to decide. Ultimately, it is crazy. I'm not for circumcision, but I do think there is. We can acknowledge there's a huge difference in the motivation for female circumcision and male circumcision. I don't really know how he got on this, I'm just but here's the other thing with the song and I don't know, like I think I'm not saying people shouldn't listen to it or they should do whatever you want, but like you are listening to it.
Yeah, I love it and you love it. So it's not just consumed, but the community that you are talking about that it was made for, it's consumed by every. Well, anyone who likes it. Sure. Anyone who likes it. But some people who like it are in that community. So if you're singing in. And I'm sitting there, I am not someone who likes a green, but that's an issue between you and I like you.
Tell me, hey, I don't like hearing you say bitch every other word. And I go, oh, my God, absolutely. I'm sorry. I'm more questioning whether we are entitled to lay a judgment on Anderson PAC for the song.
I'm not I'm not judging anyone. I just I don't think it's helpful to women to have more songs where they're being referred to as a bitch or someone's property.
I don't either, unless those women have taken bitch back in a way that black people have taken the N-word back. If that has happened for them. And that's an empowering thing. And they like their girlfriends to call them bitch and their boyfriend, then I'm I'm super anyway. I don't think the word is objectively good or bad. I think it's all about the intention and context and all that stuff.
Yeah, but I guess that circles back to what I was saying at the beginning. If it was a female artist, black artist saying it, I could buy into that market. I'd be like, well, yeah, that they took it back. Don't care. They're making it theirs. That's great. But it's a man like it's it's still a man I know.
But black female artists also refer to men in that hip hop community as the N-word every time because that's what they want to be called. And so the girls are doing it to the guys. So if the if in fact, the girls like being called bitch, I don't I'm not I don't actually have a position. I don't I've not interviewed enough people. I read a poll. But if, in fact, the women want to be called that in the black, do you want to be called the N-word?
I think that's cool for them. Yes. Everyone's feeling good about it.
I don't think they are. But if they are great, really.
Well, that was a fun dance. I liked it. Do your feet hurt? Oh, I can dance for hours. Put your dad back down here. I want to talk to him about it. All right.
Well, I love you. I can't wait for you to get home tomorrow. Tomorrow, tomorrow. Tomorrow. I love you, bye bye.