Category Archives: The Internet

Unethical Comment Threads: Slate’s Soulless, Cynical Hillary Enablers

The-Soulless

Hillary Clinton wiped her server clean of emails after a congressional committee had been established to investigate matters that she knew her e-mails related to and would be requested to investigate. She also made this decision after the Department of State belatedly asked her to return her e-mails for the public record as the law requires.

Destruction of documents after they have been requested by an official body authorized to do so is called spoliation. That’s intentional destruction of evidence to hide the truth: it can be illegal, and is always unethical. Moreover, spoliation supports the rebuttable presumption that the individual in charge  is attempting to cover up wrongdoing.  For an ex-government official to do this is damning; for a potential presidential candidate to do it is disqualifying…or should be, if the partisans of the party she belongs to have a shred of integrity, decency, civic responsibility or common sense.

Based on the comments on the Slate report on Clinton’s spoiliation, they may not have. Continue reading

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Filed under Law & Law Enforcement, Government & Politics, The Internet, Leadership, Citizenship, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks

Now THIS Is An Unethical Lawsuit!

chuck.chuck_

A New Mexico appeals court has refused to overturn the summary judgment dismissal  of Arthur Firstenburg’s five-year-old lawsuit against his neighbor Raphaela Monribot, whom he had accused of causing him excruciating pain and discomfort by using her iPhone, a Wi-Fi connection, dimmer switches, and other electronic devices in her own home. Firstenburg says that he suffers from electromagnetic sensitivity, or EMS, an acute sensitivity to electronic radiation that doctors and and scientists almost unanimously (but not quite) believe doesn’t exist.

Because Monribot had the misfortune to live next door to this guy, she had to defend against a $1.43 million lawsuit that has racked up court costs of over $85,000, and heaven knows what in legal fees. Firstenburg is not paying for any of it because he is broke; his lawyer, Lindsay Lovejoy, had taken the case on a contingent fee basis. She decided the appeal was a lost cause: the plaintiff handled it himself.

This case will, I assume, become the new poster child for those favoring a “loser pays” system, a bad idea that would be godsend in abuses of the system like this one. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Science & Technology, The Internet, U.S. Society

Some Hillary E-Mail Ethics Test Results: Dowd, Carville, Maher, Whitehouse, Boxer, Huffington

F minusLast week I pointed out that the controversy over Hillary’s secret e-mail server and the various deceits and lies she has employed to justify is invaluable, not merely as further evidence of the character of the woman Democrats seem determine to stuff down America’s throat as the next President, but also as an integrity and values test for the politicians, elected officials, pundits and journalists who choose to publicly defend her…or not.

So it has been, and continues to be. Unfortunately, Republicans and reliably conservative pundits are disqualified from the test, as they would be condemning Hillary whether there was an ethical defense of her e-mails or not. They will end up on the right side of this issue by simply following their ideological proclivities, and thus deserve no credit for being incidentally correct.

Here is what you have to remember, however: the fact the Republicans and conservatives who reached their position on this issue without giving it any thought detest and distrust Hillary Clinton and are being, in some cases, unattractively gleeful about the scandal does not make Hillary’s defense any stronger. As I explained in the earlier posts, she has no legitimate defense, just spin, rationalizations and deceit. That’s why the e-mail incident challenges the non-Hillary haters to exhibit integrity.

I was tempted to exempt Democratic strategists and Clinton consultants from the test as well, since they are, in essence, paid liars. For anyone inclined to believe them, however, the fact that these people—Karen Finney, Donna Brazile, Lanny Davis, David Brock, James Carville— will go on national TV, look an interviewer and the American public in the eye and say what they know is false should prove that their level of trustworthiness is below sea level.

Carville, for example, gave a tour de force of rationalizations on ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, making the recently popular argument that the Clinton’s just can’t get away with fudges and sneaks that other politicians do, and that this is so, so unfair.  Let’s go to the Rationalizations List! This is the Golden Rationalization (“Everybody does it”) squared by the #39. The Pioneer’s Lament, or “Why should I be the first?” (That argument is disingenuous, because the Clintons are not like everyone else. They have a long, ugly record of deception and rule-breaking. At this point, they cannot credibly claim, “We just made a mistake” —# 19 and #20. There is a pattern. Once a pattern is established, you have to be especially careful not to repeat it, or there is a rebuttable presumption that you can’t help yourself. Is it unfair to an alcoholic to make a bigger deal out of him coming home drunk than when an occasional drinker does the same thing?) Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Quotes, Science & Technology, The Internet, Workplace

Should Google Be Trusted To Censor Websites According To What It Determines To Be “True”?

Here's irony for you: when Google says it can develop software to decide who's not telling the truth, it's lying.

Here’s irony for you: when Google says it can develop software to decide who’s not telling the truth, it’s lying.

Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil.” It’s well-debased by now: agreeing to help China censor the internet modeled  a non-existent distinction between “don’t be evil” and “don’t assist evil.” I’m not ready to call Google’s looming truth algorithm “evil,” but it is certainly sinister and dangerous.

Google’s search engine rose to dominate the field by using the number of incoming links to a web page to determine where it appears in search results. Pages that many other sites link to are ranked higher. “The downside is that websites full of misinformation can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them,” says Newscientist.

Now a Google research team is altering the system to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its web popularity. Instead of counting incoming links, the proposed new system would count the number of “incorrect” facts within a page. “A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy,” says the team. Each page will get its computer-determined Knowledge-Based Trust score, which the software will derive by tapping into Google’s  Knowledge Vault, a repository of what Google’s claims is Absolute Truth based on web consensus.  Web pages that contain contradictory information will be bumped down the rankings, so fewer minds will be warped by non-conforming information.

Naturally, the Left, assuming that its view of the universe is the unassailably correct and virtuous one, loves this idea. That should put that”climate change denialists” in their places–at the bottom of web searches. Says Salon, which never met a conservative argument that wasn’t a lie (NEVER met? Oh, oh. There goes Ethics Alarms down the search results!), “Even though the former program is just in the research stage, some anti-science advocates are upset about the potential development, likely because their websites will become buried under content that is, well, true.” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, The Internet, U.S. Society

Unethical App: Yik Yak

The cute Yik Yak mascot, hanging out at a fraternity, where ethics go to die.

The cute Yik Yak mascot, hanging out at a fraternity, where ethics go to die.

Yik Yak is a suddenly surging social media app that is running viral on college campuses. The app allows users to post anonymous messages (“yaks”) that only appear to users within a 1.5-mile radius. The New York Times called it “ a virtual community bulletin boardor maybe a virtual bathroom wall at the student union.”

Yik Yak is unethical.

There.

Yik Yak was created in late 2013 by Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, fraternity brothers (and based on their names, escapees from a Dickens novel) who came up with the idea after seeing that there were only a handful of popular Twitter accounts at Furman College, where they were frat brothers, almost all belonging to campus big shots and athletes. With Yik Yak, they say, they hoped to create a more “democratic social media network” where users didn’t need a large number of followers or friends to have one’s thoughts read widely. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Popular Culture, Rights, The Internet

Hillary’s Defense: An Ethics Mess

  • I’m going to go rely heavily on links here. I have written a lot about this story already, and there are many other issues to cover. I’ll summarize the content in the pieces linked to, but the thrust is this: Hillary’s explanation in her 20 minute press conference was deceitful, dishonest, and unbelievable. Of course it was.
  • I would declare Hillary’s e-mail fiasco an Ethics Train Wreck, and still might, except that so many are refusing to buy a ticket. Even Bill is afraid to go near the tracks.
  • There are a few who are disgracing themselves—I don’t count paid Clinton cleaners like Lanny Davis, or Media Matters—but one head-exploding performance I saw today was that of Van Jones, the former White House Czar turned CNN pundit, in a “New Day” discussion this morning paired with CNN’s resident conservative pundit—because heaven forbid we examine Clinton’s conduct based on truth, honesty, and principles rather than as political gamesmanship. The two (Ann Navarro for some reason is the only Republican CNN can usually find in the morning) were asked about the phony “Colin Powell did it!” defense dreamed up in the Clinton bunker. Navarro, like anyone else who has examined that argument, found it to be bunkum, simply because the use of e-mail, its regulation in government and what we know about e-mail security has changed so much since Powell referred to it as “new-fangled.” Here’s what Jones said, after first saying that he couldn’t argue with Navarro on her reasoning, emphasis mine:

“Again, she’s playing to the heartland. If you say, listen, I did what Colin Powell did. I’m trying to do a good job. I want convenience. You know, the average person in the heartland, if you hate the Clintons, no answer is good enough. But if you’re — if you’re an honest person, well, geez, maybe this makes sense. I actually do agree, though, that we are in a different world from the Colin Powell days. I think the Colin Powell excuse sounds really good from a press point of view. I hope she keeps saying it. But I do think that, at the end of the day, we are in a different world.”

That’s Jones; that’s the Democratic spin machine, that’s the “the ends justify the means” crowd, and that’s who the networks are asking for analysis: ‘Yes, it’s just designed to confuse the yokels, and it’s not true, but it works,and I hope she keeps saying it.’

Kaboom.

Exploding head

There goes the old skull, exploding again.

Have I ever heard such an open, shameless admission that politicians not only do deceive the public, but that these horrible people like Jones think it’s fine if they do? Fire him. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Family, Government & Politics, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, The Internet

Sooner Ethics Quiz: Abuse Free Speech Rights, Or Ignore Them?

David Boren, the president of the University of Oklahoma, announced that two students would be expelled from the school for leading a racist chant that was preserved on a video and went viral on YouTube. The video shows tuxedo-clad men from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity  on a bus chanting :

There will never be a nigger at SAE
There will never be a nigger at SAE
You can hang him from a tree
But he’ll never sign with me
There will never be a nigger at SAE

Who would want to be in a house with these assholes?

 The national fraternity apologized and closed the OU chapter. That was a proper response. (Tell me again what’s good about fraternities.) First Amendment specialist Eugene Volokh, however, pointed out on his blog that the expulsion was unconstitutional:

First, racist speech is constitutionally protected, just as is expression of other contemptible ideas; and universities may not discipline students based on their speech. That has been the unanimous view of courts that have considered campus speech codes and other campus speech restrictions …The same, of course, is true for fraternity speech, racist or otherwise…Likewise, speech doesn’t lose its constitutional protection just because it refers to violence — “You can hang him from a tree,” “the capitalists will be the first ones up against the wall when the revolution comes,” “by any means necessary” with pictures of guns, “apostates from Islam should be killed.”

To be sure, in specific situations, such speech might fall within a First Amendment exception. One example is if it is likely to be perceived as a “true threat” of violence (e.g., saying “apostates from Islam will be killed” or “we’ll hang you from a tree” to a particular person who will likely perceive it as expressing the speaker’s intention to kill him); but that’s not the situation here, where the speech wouldn’t have been taken by any listener as a threat against him or her. Another is if it intended to solicit a criminal act, or to create a conspiracy to commit a criminal act, but, vile as the “hang him from a tree” is, neither of these exceptions are applicable here, either.

Hey, Oklahoma…Rodgers and Hammerstein just called. They’re officially changing the name of the musical and the song to “North Dakota!”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz:

Which is the greater ethics breach: the students abusing their First Amendment rights, or the University of Oklahoma violating them?

Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, The Internet