A Brief Message From Your Host

Before we get into the Memorial Day weekend and I start obsessing about the sharp dip in traffic that always triggers (What’s the matter, too busy for ETHICS???), I want to convey my appreciation, admiration and gratitude to Ethics Alarms commenters, who have shined even more brilliantly than usual in the last couple weeks.

I just trashed a comment under moderation that said,

As soon as I saw what Gianforte did here in kaliforniah I went to his website and donated $50.00. I wish someone would slam Rachel Mad-dike. I was very happy to see him win in spite of the commie collective of main stream news commies.

This is the kind of comment I don’t allow here, and yet it is typical of most of the discourse I read on all but a few websites and blogs. Contrast that with the varied, substantive, perceptive and serious comments that appear here every day, as exemplified, though not exclusively, by the recent flood of Comments of the Day by Extradimensional Cephalopod, Mrs Q, Glenn Logan, Spartan, crella, Humble Talent, texagg04, fattymoon, Zoltar Speaks!, and Steve-O-in-NJ. This was all in 10 days, and some of these contribution prompted over a hundred comments themselves.

I envisioned Ethics Alarms as an ongoing participatory pan-ethics conference or colloquy, never as a monologue. For that ambitious concept to work requires a lot of passion, thought and commitment from more than just the moderator, and recent days have proved that, thanks to all of you, Ethics Alarms has these and more in abundance. Few other online forums are so fortunate.

Thank you.

Bravo.

9 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, The Internet

In Denver, A Cautionary Tale: Absolute Devotion To Unethical Partisan Doctrine Corrupts Absolutely

All right, maybe he’s got a bad temper, but only a xenophobe wouldn’t want him as a neighbor…

Time was when this story would have made my head explode. Not any more. Progressive and Democratic fanaticism regarding the rightness of facilitating and honoring illegal immigrants has been driving that side of the ideological divide farther and farther away from reason and responsible citizenship. This, as horrible as it is, now is just one more incremental step toward madness.

The Left’s strategy of tarring all principled objections to illegal immigration as “racism” and “xenophobia” has mandated that to them all immigrants, legal and illegal, are just immigrants. Thus their furious battle to keep deserving illegal immigrants from being deported (all illegal immigrants deserve to be deported, though it is impractical at this point to do it) slides easily into a passion for preventing deserving legal immigrants from being deported. What legal immigrants—non-citizens who are U.S. visa holders and legal permanent residents do our laws and common sense dictate do not deserve to stay here? The answer is those who commit serious crimes, of course. Non-citizen aliens are guests here. When a guest in your home is caught stealing a vase, or sexually assaulting your daughter, you kick him out, and rightfully so. If America’s guests can’t respect out laws, they can’t be trusted, and if they can’t be trusted, we don’t want them here. We certainly don’t want them to become citizens.

Yet the Denver City Council agreed this week to change to local sentencing guidelines specifically to shield legal immigrants from deportation proceedings when they are convicted of domestic abuse. In a 12-0 vote, council members reduced criminal penalties for several “low-level” crimes, reducing the maximum sentence to less than 365 days in jail because under federal law, a legal alien resident who is convicted of a crime resulting in a sentence of a year or more can be deported.

Can’t have that! Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

A GOP Candidate Wins A House Seat In Montana Despite Attacking A Reporter The Night Before The Election. What’s Going On Here?

Yesterday, in an Ethics Alarms post pointing out that nobody should vote a person who physically attacks reporters, or indeed, who attacks anybody, into Congress, I wrote,

What kind of person would vote for Gianforte after last night’s display? The kind of person who argues that character doesn’t matter in elected officials, only their positions.

And idiots, of course.

Candidate/Thug Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate, won the election nonetheless with over 50% of the votes. Rob Quist, the Democrat, received only 44%. Does this mean that over 50% of Montana voters are idiots? No, that wouldn’t be a fair conclusion. An estimated 60% of voters had turned in their ballots already, so the Gianforte voters in that batch weren’t necessarily idiots. (As I implied in the post yesterday, the advocates for voting before election day, thus allowing late-arriving information about the candidates—as in, “Hey! This guy is an unstable, volatile jerk with the judgment of a bar room goon!” to have minimal effect on  election results, have embraced an irresponsible, idiotic even, policy.)

Gianforte’s victory illuminate  other ethics issues, hwoever:

1. Addressing supporters in his victory speech, Gianforte apologized to the reporter he body-slammed, the journalists who witnessed the attack, and Montanans, saying “When you make a mistake you have to own up to it. That’s the Montana way.”

Ugh, yecchh, gag, petui!

If that’s the Montana way, why did Gianforte sit back and allow his campaign to blame the episode on the reporter? Remember, the statement from Gianforte’s staff, which is to say Gianforte,  said that the reporter,

“entered the [campaign] office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions….After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

That isn’t owning up. That’s covering up, spinning and lying. Does the new Congressman’s apology mean that he acknowledges that his campaign was lying? When will he own up to that?  An apology now is cheap, cynical and meaningless, for Gianforte won, and Montana is stuck with him for two years.

2. A Montana TV station refused to inform its viewers that Gianforte had assaulted and battered a reporter. NBC affiliate KECI, recently purchased by the conservative media conglomerate Sinclair Broadcasting, adamantly kept the report of the attack and the audio of the incident,  arguing that “The person that tweeted [Jacobs] and was allegedly body slammed is a reporter for a politically biased publication.”  That “biased publication” was the Guardian, and the tweeter was Ben Jacobs, the victim. His account was confirmed by reporters from Fox News…you know, that liberal network that is always trying to make Republicans look bad. The anchor of the evening newscast, Laurel Staples, read a statement that said, in part, “NBC Montana takes pride in reporting only verifiable facts from an independent, reliable sources.”

 NBC News, including the Today show and affiliates across the country, played the audio of the altercation between Jacobs and Gianforte, who was charged with misdemeanor assault, indicating that reports of the episode were reliable. Continue reading

53 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Comment Of The Day (2): “Comment Of The Day: ‘Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: Old Town Sport And Health in Alexandria,VA. Why? Because White Nationalists Have A Right To Work Out Too’”

This is the second Comment of the Day on the post about the Alexandria, VA gym that kicked white supremacist, aka “Nazi”, Richard Spencer out because a Georgetown professor found his presence there, in town, in the universe, offensive.

Here is Extradimensional Cephalopod’s Comment of the Day on the post, Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: Old Town Sport And Health in Alexandria,VA. Why? Because White Nationalists Have A Right To Work Out Too”:

Stipulated: This person believes things that we think are wrong, and we want him, ideally, to stop believing them.

I assert that shunning him is counterproductive with regards to getting him to stop believing these things. He is almost certainly aware of the public opinion of Nazis, and he evidently doesn’t care, so peer pressure is already shown not to work. Besides, truth is not determined by a majority vote, so if we act like our numbers are the major argument against the Nazi ideology, or whatever similar ideology this person subscribes to, it not only weakens our position in his eyes, but also leads us to forget the real reasons for what we believe.

We have at least four options:

Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Rights, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

The Good Hoax

Frequent readers here know how much I detest hoaxes, even ones just designed to be funny. News hoaxes are especially vile, as they are often designed to fool people and news outlets. These cause false rumors to spread, and send disinformation through the web and into brains, especially mushy brains. Hoaxes that consist of sufficiently ridiculous components that anyone should know they are not to be believed aren’t really hoaxes at all; they are more akin to satire. They are benign and often illuminating.

What does one make of a hoax that is simultaneously ridiculous and designed to fool people who need to be fooled in the public’s interest? I regard that as an ethical hoax. NYU physicist Alan Sokal designed and pulled off  just such two decades ago, as he described here:

For some years I’ve been troubled by an apparent decline in the standards of intellectual rigor in certain precincts of the American academic humanities. But I’m a mere physicist: if I find myself unable to make head or tail of jouissance and différance, perhaps that just reflects my own inadequacy.

So, to test the prevailing intellectual standards, I decided to try a modest (though admittedly uncontrolled) experiment: Would a leading North American journal of cultural studies… publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions?

The answer, sadly, was yes. Despite being salted with copious Authentic Frontier Gibberish like “catastrophe theory, with its dialectical emphases on smoothness/discontinuity and metamorphosis/unfolding, will indubitably play a major role in the future mathematics; but much theoretical work remains to be done before this approach can become a concrete tool of progressive political praxis,”  his article, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” was peer reviewed and published in the Spring/Summer 1996 issue of Social Text.

Later, Sokal explained his motives:

“While my method was satirical, my motivation is utterly serious. What concerns me is the proliferation, not just of nonsense and sloppy thinking per se, but of a particular kind of nonsense and sloppy thinking: one that denies the existence of objective realities, or (when challenged) admits their existence but downplays their practical relevance….In short, my concern over the spread of subjectivist thinking is both intellectual and political. Intellectually, the problem with such doctrines is that they are false (when not simply meaningless). There is a real world; its properties are not merely social constructions; facts and evidence do matter. What sane person would contend otherwise? And yet, much contemporary academic theorizing consists precisely of attempts to blur these obvious truths — the utter absurdity of it all being concealed through obscure and pretentious language.”

Sokal’s exposé of the sloppiness and lack of rigor in scholarship has spawned followers, as well it should. Using academic studies and papers is the ultimate appeal to authority in social and scientific policy disputes. If the journals that publish them are lazy and biased gate-keepers, they are untrustworthy authorities, which means that they aren’t authorities at all. That makes a Sokal-style hoax, properly and fairly executed, that rarity of rarities, The Good Hoax.

As they explained in the magazine Skeptic, Dr. Peter Bogghosian, a full time faculty member in the Department of Philosophy at Portland State University,  and James Lindsay,  a Phd in mathematics and the author of four books, wrote and submitted the most ridiculous paper they could think of. The title: “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.” Here’s the abstract:

You read that right: the paper argues that penises affect climate change. Behold: Continue reading

52 Comments

Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Professions, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

Incompetent POTENTIAL Elected Official Of The Month: Montana Republican Greg Gianforte, or, Ethics Verdict: Anyone Who Votes For This Guy Today Is Irresponsible, And Probably An Idiot”

First a classroom fist fight between teachers, and now this.

Last night Republican Greg Gianforte, in a close and closely watched contest with Democrat Rob Quist to fill the open, and only, Montana Congressional seat in today’s special election, snapped and attacked Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian. You can read the account of a witness (from Fox News) here, and the recording above seems to confirm it. The aspiringg statesman was charged with misdemeanor assault.

Good.

Three newspapers, this one, this one and this one, immediately withdrew their previous endorsements of the Republican in the race.

Good.

Good.

Good.

This passage from The Missoulian’s editorial this morning is a succinct summary: Continue reading

25 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

Comment Of The Day (1): “Comment Of The Day: ‘Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: Old Town Sport And Health in Alexandria,VA. Why? Because White Nationalists Have A Right To Work Out Too’”

 

Suddenly there is a bumper crop of Comments of the Day on Ethics Alarms; two more are slated for re-publication today, both in response to Spartan’s provocative opinion that she would leave a gym that allowed white supremacist Richard Spencer work out there, even if he restrained his urge to heil. 

First up is Mrs Q, a relatively recent addition to the ethics colloquy here, and one who has distinguished her self quickly for non-nonsense posts of clarity and purpose. Her reference in this post to the “socialist shithole” of Portland was especially timely: yesterday we learned that the city’s social justice warriors had driven a local burrito business to close for the offense of “cultural appropriation.”

Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day on the post, Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: Old Town Sport And Health in Alexandria,VA. Why? Because White Nationalists Have A Right To Work Out Too”:

…In my mind I don’t see myself as a quadruple minority. Yes my skin color is brown, I’m a lady married to a lady, work from home due to disability…but I don’t think of myself in terms of “special classes.” I’m probably more like a country conservative old school hippy stuck in a socialist shithole (Portland OR). However how do you think many of the young white liberals here tend to treat me? Well some dismiss me because I don’t agree with their stances. I’m called a traitor or “uncle Tom” by those who speak “anti-racism” because I don’t see myself as a victim & have no problem with people thinking so-called racist thoughts.

Continue reading

58 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Love, Race, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, U.S. Society