Category Archives: The Internet

“Drunk Girl In Public”: This Trend Will Ruin Trust, Spontenaity, Kindness and Fun, and There Is Absolutely Nothing We Can About It Except Complain

I guess it all began with Allen Funt.

If Allen knew what he would be starting, he would have opened a deli.

If Allen knew what he would be starting, he would have opened a deli.

Back in the Fifties, he came up with the idea of using a hidden camera to record the reactions of innocent bystanders “in the act of being themselves.” He staged situations, sometimes Twilight Zones set-ups like a door that opened for everyone but the target, and filmed the results, first for a guest segment on TV talk shows and finally on his own, long running hit, “Candid Camera.” Funt would never have dreamed of using actors and faking the reactions, because first, he didn’t need to; second, if he was caught, it would ruin him; and third, he was an honest professional. The idea, however, has thoroughly metastasized in all directions, to “practical joke shows,” reality shows, and such monstrosities as ABC’s “What Would You Do?” and James O’Keefe. Perversions were limited as long as the shows were restricted to television, but now YouTube makes everyone a potential producer, and among the thousands trying to create a viral video, there are many, perhaps most,  who are not decent, ethical professionals like Allen Funt, but just greedy jerks who will gladly cheat, lie to and humiliate others to gain fame and fortune. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Popular Culture, Research and Scholarship, The Internet, U.S. Society

Sexism, Feminists, and The Scientist’s Shirt

Offensive shirt

The European Space Agency’s probe managed to land on a hurtling comet millions of miles away to collect scientific data, and  has begun sending images from the surface of the body, known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. However, Dr. Matt Taylor, one of the scientists responsible for the Rosetta probe mission found himself at the center of a feminist uprising after he appeared on television earlier this week….because of his choice of shirts.

Here’s a good view:

new-gunner-girls. shirt

Taylor, who appears to superficially fit the template of clueless scientific geniuses  presented in the hit comedy “Big Bang Theory,” appeared live wearing a garish Hawaiian-style shirt with a design made up of Heavy Metal comic book images of busty women in various states of undress, carrying guns and generally enacting the fantasies of 14-year-old boys. This somehow managed to overwhelm the astounding scientific achievement he has been part of, and angry feminists attacked:

“No no women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt,” tweeted Atlantic journalist Rose Eveleth. Astrophysicist Katie Mack said, “I don’t care what scientists wear. But a shirt featuring women in lingerie isn’t appropriate for a broadcast if you care about women in science.”

So furious was the reaction of some feminists and others on social media and elsewhere that Taylor felt constrained to apologize, which he did during another televised update regarding the mission, saying, as he choked back tears, “I made a big mistake and I offended many people and I am very sorry about this.”

Then came the backlash from the men. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Popular Culture, Professions, Science & Technology, The Internet, Workplace

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Andrew Barovick

"What? Can't you take a joke?"

“What? Can’t you take a joke?”

Lawyer Andrew Barovick  resigned his leadership position with the New York City Bar Association after sending the following tweet about Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss, a Republican who had just lost the election and who happened to be black

 “In light of election loss, [Sheriff Moss is] mulling offers to be new spokes model for either Cream of Wheat or Uncle Ben’s rice.”

Oh, nice. Continue reading

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Filed under Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Professions, Race, The Internet, Unethical Tweet

Unethical Website Post Correction Of The Decade: Breitbart

EXCLUSIVE: Speaker John Boehner’s Head Falls Off, Breaking Paul Ryan’s Nose [Corrected]

Correction: Boehner’s head didn’t fall off and Paul’s nose is fine.

The above apparently illustrates the Breitbart style book policy when the conservative web site publishes a story that is 100% untrue.

Over the weekend, Breitbart published an exclusive story revealing  that President Obama’s Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch was on the legal team that defended President Clinton during the Whitewater investigation. That was a different Loretta Lynch, however. This would, with a conventional new site that knew the difference between ethics and a pangolin, mandate 1) removing the false story and 2) replacing it with a separate post explicating the error. But no. Here is how Brietbart handled it: leaving the story and the headline up in all its misrepresentation with a parenthetical “correction” added, which was explained only if you read all the way to the bottom of the story, where you would find the italicized information that everything you had just read was baloney. Such “Correction” notices usually explain that a detail was wrong or a name was misspelled. I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen one that said, in effect, “Never mind”…like this:

Bad CorrectionThis kind of keen ethical judgment is why is why I stopped reading, relying on or referring to Breibart. If a story link reveals Breitbart as the source, I ignore it. I suggest you do the same.

_________________________

Pointer, Source and Graphic: Talking Points Memo

 

 

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Filed under Journalism & Media, The Internet

Brad Paisley and Jon Stewart: The “It Was Just A Joke” Follies

Joker04Once again, we visit the ethically murky realm of jokes, near-jokes, misfired jokes, fake jokes, the ‘it was just a joke’ excuse and things the purveyor of non-jokes wish were jokes after the fact. Interestingly, by my estimation, the real and non-offending joke among our twin set today was the one delivered by a non-comedian, and the dishonest joke excuse was employed by a professional comic.

Case A: Jon Stewart

Appearing on CNN election day with Christiane Amanpour to talk about the  midterm elections, the host asked Stewart if he voted. The comic/pundit/news anchor/progressive hit man responded “no” saying, “I just moved. I don’t know even where my thing is now.” Said Ann Althouse:

“The epitome of apathy. And this is the man who shows the young folks how to think!”

She was not alone. Later, as he hosted a special live election night edition of “The Daily Show,” Stewart  apologized, saying:

“…to set the record straight, I did vote today… I was being flip, and it kind of took off, and you know what, I want to apologize. It sent a message that that I didn’t think voting was important. I shouldn’t have done that. That was stupid.”

This was flagged to me as a solid and ethical apology, and I agree, if that’s what it was.  I don’t think that is what it was, though. I think it was damage control, and a lie. Maybe Stewart voted and maybe he didn’t, but he’s a professional comic. His “flip” dismissal of voting to Amanpour didn’t read a s a joke, and she didn’t seem to take it as one. He’s one of the highest paid and popular comedians in the country, and doesn’t know how to make it clear when he’s joking? Or can’t tell when a joke misfires, and he has to backtrack so people don’t think he’s serious? I am dubious. Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Race, The Internet

No, I’m Not Going To Write About Ethics And #Gamergate

Whatever.

Whatever.

I keep getting emails asking when I’m going to discuss Gamergate on Ethics Alarms. Several readers have sent me extensive links to bring me up to date. I’ve read them, or at least tried. Not since I was assigned the tome Peace and War by Raymond Aron has any text bored me more.

Gamergate appears to have all the markers of an ethics train wreck, but to me, at least, the train might as well be in Mongolia. I can’t contribute anything of value on this topic, because gaming is not part of my life, skill-set or interests in any way. This is a culture I don’t understand, and frankly, don’t have the time or interest to understand. I make a yeoman effort to keep up with popular culture, because I think once it gets too far ahead of you, your ability to understand the world around you is severely limited. But triage is essential. Just a few years ago, I knew who all the celebrity contestants on “Dancing With The Stars” were; this year, I never heard of half of them. More than half the stories on TMZ lately are about “celebrities” that are completely off my radar screen. I am confident, however, that in about six months, most of these stealth celebrities will be where Snookie and “The Situation” are now, which is obscurity, has-been Hell, or maybe jail.

There are ethics lessons to glean from this endless gamer scandal, but Ethics Alarms will just have to glean them elsewhere. For those who feel neglected, I highly recommend the recent post by Ken at Popehat, along with his links. It hits most of the salient ethics issues, and Ken, I gather, follows this stuff, as do his Popehat colleagues. My hat’s off to him, and them. But #Gamergate is one ethics controversy that I am not qualified to explore, and don’t want to be.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, The Internet

American Journalism’s Integrity Death Spiral, PART III: The Biased Rationalization for Liberal Media Bias Of Biased Liberal Blogger Josh Marshall, Who Doesn’t Understand the Concept Of “Bias” And Thus Both Excuses, Enables And Embodies It

computer-created_spiral

There wasn’t going to be a Part III to this theme until I stumbled upon a stunning post by popular liberal blogger Josh Marshall (no relation, I think, though my Dad claimed that all Marshalls were related) that 1) defended CNN Carol Costello’s despicable glee at a tape of Sarah Palin’s daughter describing what she said was an assault by a man, and 2) added an explanation for news media bias that blames Fox News, a neat, if stupid, piece of logical pretzel-making.

It’s an amazing post, one which should make any objective reader wonder how deep a rational writer could be sunk into ideological cement to author this and not realize how self-rebutting it is. Marshall shoots himself in the groin at the very beginning, using Costello’s unprofessional attack on Bristol Palin as an example of how paranoid the right is:

“So now, liberals, the media, Democrats, apparently anyone who thinks Palin is a buffoon of almost world historic proportions (which gets you to something like 80% of the country) are all abominable hypocrites for ‘laughing’ at what is now fairly preposterously portrayed as a violent assault against a woman. If you listen to the police interviews, which occurred just as the brawl had barely ended, all the witnesses beside Bristol said she attacked the homeowner. Indeed, even Bristol’s younger sister Willow backed up the these other witnesses’ account. She just said Bristol missed with her punches.”

The buffoon here is Marshall, and he’s misrepresenting what Costello did. She didn’t introduce the tape by pointing out what other witnesses said. She may not even have known about the police reports (which I have read, and they are not at all conclusive, which is why no charges were filed.) She just introduced an emotional recording of a young woman recounting how she was attacked, and said it was so enjoyable that her audience was obligated to thank her. It doesn’t matter what the facts were or turned out to be. What was outrageous was Costello displaying enjoyment at another human being’s distress, because it was Sarah Palin’s daughter. Marshall’s defense is also ignorant of context, not that he cares. Last month, Costello had angrily encouraged ESPN to suspend commentator Stephen A. Smith because he had suggested, in light of the Ray Rice-Janay Rice brawl video, that women who attack men in part bring abuse upon themselves. Now Marshall is saying that Costello’s lack of sympathy for Bristol Palin is justified because she allegedly tried to punch her assailant, but missed. Janay Rice didn’t miss, you know. Then again, she isn’t the daughter of a political figure Marshall and Costello detest.

Thus even before he offered his denial of left-media bias, Marshall had outed himself as a practitioner. Then he wrote this:

“Conservatives in the ’70s and ’80s looked at the mainstream media and saw it as liberal and against them. That was largely bogus but not entirely. The mid-late 20th century elite ‘media’ did generally buy into a series of cosmopolitan assumptions about public and private life. That worldview generally aligns more with liberalism than conservatism, but the two are by no means identical. And this did shape coverage in significant ways. But many conservatives genuinely believed that most people in media were and are little different from Democratic political operatives writing propaganda. So when they went to create “their” media, that’s basically what they created, a propaganda network.”

Marshall’s hallmark is making nonsense sound reasonable, and he outdoes himself here. Do you know what “buying into a series of cosmopolitan assumptions about public and private life” is called? Bias, that’s what. Marshall, true to his liberal-biased soul, frames this as just intelligence, education and sophistication, which is what the liberal elite use “cosmopolitan” to mean. It’s not bias! It’s just the truth, as smart people understand it, and dumb, redneck hicks don’t!

As Marshall appears not to grasp—and who knows? Maybe he doesn’t—bias arises from the acceptance of prior assumptions that prevent objective analysis and fair balancing of objectives, facts and opinions. Conservatives looked at the mainstream media and saw news content, news coverage, punditry and opinion journalism being determined by a profession that was over 80% registered Democrats and otherwise liberal, and dominated by people like Costello and Marshall, who were so far left that everything right of them, including moderate political positions, looked deranged and illegitimate. Conservatives (and objective liberals too)  saw bias, because bias is what there was. Marshall seems to think that bias has to be intentional and malicious to qualify as bias: he doesn’t understand the concept, which may explain why he doesn’t see how biased he is. The reason bias is so insidious is that the sufferer is often completely unaware of the bias, especially when, as in most mainstream journalism organizations, everyone suffers from the same biases. Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post