Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/8/17

[I have been pondering doing this for some time now. Literally every day there are issues and stories that arise that are either too minor for a full post, or crowded out by other issues. Often I never get to them. Also my various issue scouts (especially Fred) have been burying me with excellent candidates for discussion and analysis, and I never get to most of them, frustrating all of us. So I am going to see if I can begin every day with a set of short notes about these topics, reserving the right to expand some of them into full posts later.]

1. Stacy Lockett, a teacher at Anthony Aguirre Junior High, has been fired after she gave out facetious awards to students such as “Most likely to become a terrorist” and “Most likely to blend in with white people.” Good, I think. These are too sensitive issues to expect middle-schoolers to laugh at, and the ‘awards”  show terrible judgment. Still, I am thinking back to comments made in class by some of my favorite 7th and 8th grade teachers, some targeting me. I thought they were funny, and the teachers knew I would think so. All of them would have been fired today, according to the Lockett Standard (Pointer from Fred)

2. By not disciplining Reza Aslan, the host of its “Believer” program who called President Trump a “piece of shit,” “an embarrassment to humankind” and a “man-baby” CNN has made it clear that it has abandoned any vestiges of professionalism or regard for journalism ethics. Well, perhaps “even more clear” is more accurate. CNN allowed Carol Costello to gleefully mock Bristol Palin for getting emotional over being battered; it has allowed Don Lemon to get smashed on the air two New Year’s Eves in a row, and shrugged off Anderson Cooper speculating about the President taking “a dump on his desk,” to give just three examples. Its excuse for Aslan was especially weird, claiming in a statement that he was a host but not an employee. Aslan apologized, but it was a dishonest apology, claiming that the tweets were impulsive and “not like me,” but in another tweet on May 9, he wrote,

“Oh the joy when this lying conniving scumbag narcissistic sociopath piece of shit fake president finally gets what’s coming to him.”

It’s sad to see what CNN has become since Trump’s election. I am embarrassed for the network. but more than that, I am in sorrow for the public. It is not being served by this kind of amateurish, biased and unprofessional journalism.

3. I finally decided that this law suit was too stupid to write about: a ridiculous woman named Holly O’Reilly has found some lawyers—not just any lawyers, either, but the First Amendment Institute at Columbia University—-willing to file a lawsuit claiming that President Trump cannot block her on his Twitter account because doing so is a First Amendment violation of her rights of free speech. The institute’s executive director, Jameel Jaffer, said in a statement that Mr. Trump did not have a right to exclude his critics from engaging with his posts. Does anyone think this is anything but nonsense? Anyone but the New York Times, that is, which wrote, ” The request raises novel legal issues stemming from Mr. Trump’s use of his Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, to make statements about public policy,” and the Washington Post, which published the woman’s silly  op-ed .

When did “novel” come to mean “absurd”? The President blocking a Twitter user on the social media platform isn’t “government action” any more than not taking her phone calls or not reading her letters. She can still say anything she wants on Twitter. Next she’ll sue because she isn’t allowed to ask question at White House press briefings. Columbia University should be embarrassed, but when the anti-Trump  hate virus melts your brain, embarrassment is often the first casualty.

4. Senator Al Franken finally issued his position on Kathy Griffin, saying

“That was unbelievably wrong and out-of-bounds, what Kathy did,. Kathy has done USO shows and Kathy is a funny comedian and a generous person in all kinds of ways, and she just made this monumental, monumental mistake, and that was an incredibly inappropriate image and that should not be in our national discourse. I called her and told her it was a terrible mistake. She apologized for it and she begged for forgiveness and she’s devastated by it. I think her strong suit, any good comedian’s strong suit, which she is, is your sense of humor.And she just lost it and I think she needs to take some time off and come back with an ‘I effed up tour.’”

Observations:  a) “Effed up” means “fucked up,” and thus is just as vulgar. Are there any Democrats who don’t say “fuck” and “shit” in public any more? and b) No, she did not apologize, since she never apologized to the man whose severed head she was folding or his family. Apparently this detail never occurs to Trump-haters: an apology that doesn’t include the primary individual harmed by the conduct being apologized for isn’t a complete or credible apology.

5. This is essentially the same story as the transgender wrestler, and my conclusion is the same: the only way out of this mess is to eliminate gender divisions in sport. A  transgender high school freshman sprinter, born a male,  identifying as female, won two  100-meter and 200-meter dash state championships in all-female fields.

“Kate Hall — who last year won the girls 100-meter dash Class M state title as a sophomore — came in second to Yearwood at this year’s 100-meter race and was tearful in the aftermath, the Hartford Courant reported. “It’s frustrating,” Hall of Stonington High School told the Courant. “But that’s just the way it is now.”After finishing third in the 200 — and watching Yearwood cross the finish line first in that race as well — Hall told the Courant, “I can’t really say what I want to say, but there’s not much I can do about it.”

What she wants to say is “This is unfair,” but she doesn’t want to be attacked as transphobic. Nonetheless, it is still unfair. Yearwood is expected to slow down some when she starts taking female hormones, so there is hope.

6. Finally, the conservative Washington Times came up with this unethical headline:

Eric Trump — rightly — slams vicious left as ‘not even people’

Incredibly, the article is about the liberal news media distorting quotes to make conservatives sound hateful.  “Sigh. It’s such a cycle of hatred we live in right now in America,” writes .  [Pointer: Fred]

28 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/8/17

  1. Regarding story one. I think context matters here. Was the teacher just being stupid and giving them awards based on her opinion or was she giving them based on an inside joke? The story makes it seem like the former. If it was the latter, I have some experience with that.

    When I was in college, I got an award titled “I didn’t kill my girlfriend.” On the surface, it makes it seem like I got the award for having the restraint to not beat my girlfriend to death. I was given the award because my girlfriend (now wife) had to have a fight on top of this six-foot platform I built for the play she was in. I thoroughly tested the platform myself, jumping up and down, shaking it, but I had some doubts about my ability which I expressed to the director. He tested it, said it was fine, and after the first rehearsal, said, “Congrats JP, you didn’ kill your girlfriend.” Everyone laughed, and at the end when it was given to me no one there misunderstood why it was given.

    As an educator, I wonder if part of this is because a lot of newer teachers try to be friends with their students as opposed to authority figures.

  2. Eliminating gender divisions in sports will just do away with 99.9% of women participating. Is that a better outcome than the current situation? Why wouldn’t it be better to just go with what you were born as, and disallow taking testosterone as a performance enhancing substance?

    Of course, I admit to being woefully under-informed about the consequences of allowing or disallowing taking certain hormones while competing.

    You’d still have wild variations in natural ability, and some of it would be caused by high levels of certain hormones, but at least it would be natural variation, and not artificial introduction.

    • Regarding: Eliminating gender divisions in sports will just do away with 99.9% of women participating.

      Maybe true for those competing in the top segment of their sport. Not necessarily so for most amateurs

      • Depends on the level, I guess. Most high school teams would be an (almost) all boy varsity team with maybe a few girls on JV.

        Below that, sure, there is less, if any, disparity, but I doubt anyone would be happy with the results.

        • I think you’re underestimating the difference in physical abilities between men and women. On my son’s track team, which includes kids from ages 5-18, little girls can compete on a reasonably equal footing with little boys. But after puberty, the differences are stark. Every post-adolescent boy on the team is faster than every girl. One of the 9th grade boys on his team ran 400m in 48.0 seconds, which is only 0.2 seconds off the women’s world record, set 30 years ago in the steroids era. He would have won the women’s Olympics and world championships last year by more than a full second. And, as I said, he’s a 9th grader.

          I just looked up this year’s high school rankings in the 400m. The top 50 high school boys in the US today have all run faster than the women’s world record, and the top 537 have all run faster than the current women’s world champion. The top 5,500 high school boys have all run faster than the current fastest high school girl. (The 50 and 5,500 are actual counts; they just happen to be nice, round numbers.) That doesn’t count the fast boys who are on the football team but not the track team, or boys who are fast but not on any team.

          And the difference in abilities in some other sports is even greater. How many women’s college basketball teams could compete against an average well drilled boys high school team or against an average men’s intramural team at their own college?

          • Yes – and if you go to the story about this runner, you will find that he would have finished in last place in the men’s 100 and 200. In other words, the last place finisher in both of the men’s events had a faster time than the trans gender who won in the women’s event.

    • Eliminating gender divisions in sports will just do away with 99.9% of women participating. Is that a better outcome than the current situation? Why wouldn’t it be better to just go with what you were born as, and disallow taking testosterone as a performance enhancing substance?

      No. But if women don’t want that, they shouldn’t be knee-jerk supporters of self-identifying competitors. I demand integrity, and that’s fair. The idea behind Title IX was to give women a fair chance to compete in sports, but because feminists feel they have to adopt all left crusades, they are allowing this patently ridiculous result. I want to see acceptance that 1) each gender has some strengths that the other doesn’t have 2) there is nothing discriminatory about male basketball players, boxers, soccer players, tennis players and golfers making more money that their female counterparts 3) the remedy for that is for women to try to make it fair and square competing with the men, and 4) if that’s not fair, neither is allowing trans athletes to compete against non-trans women and beat the crap out of them.

      • But if women don’t want that, they shouldn’t be knee-jerk supporters of self-identifying competitors.

        I imagine that very few, if any, women who actually compete are supporters. Or at least I can assure you that the parents of women who actually compete are not supporters, knee-jerk or otherwise. I would bet that 90% of the parents of my son’s team are liberals. But when the topic of this Connecticut kid came up at our last gathering, opinions ranged from, “This is the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard of,” among the more moderate parents, to near apoplexy among the more extreme ones.

  3. Eric’s “not even human” comments seem designed to distract from the revelation that same day that his charity diverted funds from kids with cancer to his daddy’s golf resort.

      • slickwilly, I see you use this term a lot, but I don’t believe Democrats ever had a monopoly on dehumanizing the opposition. These are dirty political tactics; they aren’t “Democrat tactics,” and calling them that just seems like a way of shifting some of the blame.

        • Nice and respectful call out, Chris. I appreciate the opportunity to explore this topic with you!

          First, I never said this was an exclusive tactic of the Democrats. While you know I agree that politicians are crooks by nature, as a rule of thumb, and I will call out a conservative one who crosses the line, progressives have made an art form of the politics of personal destruction as used by the Democratic Party since Bill Clinton was in office.

          The GOP is just barely catching on to how this game is played, and are hamstrung by the fact that their base will not tolerate this behavior. The GOP will throw their own under the bus rather than look like they are rude, in many cases. Very few felons can get elected as a Republican, heck, they even get outed for not paying their taxes! (Note that the alt right is beginning to embrace these tactics as well, but they have not been elected to office as yet. Trump is not alt right, he is an older variety of Democrat ala’ JFK that has begun to look conservative versus what the Democratic Party has become)

          Not so with the Democrats. They have convicted felons sitting in Congress, reelected as Mayor of prominent cities, and prominent personages routinely not paying their taxes while castigating the wealthy for not paying more! Democrats can lie to the public and are not called into account most of the time, and they know the media will cover for them and their base will reelect them. Name a Republican who has spouted the hate coming from a Maxine Waters, or even Hillary Clinton, and gotten reelected! (Trump excepted: he is my case in point)

          No, Chris, this is NOT a case of ‘they all act the same’ because the GOP is not allowed to get away with the utter crap routinely spouted by (name a Democrat here.) The media jumps them (as we learned today, the media with MAKE THINGS UP to go after Trump and the GOP) and their own base will disown them.

          If the playing field were level, meaning Democrats were more subject to constituent outrage and electoral defeat, or the GOP got the same pass progressives get from media, then you would have a leg to stand on, Chris. But the playing field has not been level since Jimmy Carter was in office, and has tilted to the progressives getting away with things a conservative would be arrested for, as the rioting and ‘punch a Nazi’ phenomenon has proven.

          Thank you for your indulgence.

  4. Regarding #3: Trump Block on Twitter

    I’ll have to disagree for a specific reason. When you “tweet”, you’re creating a thread, and the thread essentially becomes a public forum where everyone is making comment with each other. By “Blocking” he’s removing certain people from participating, which amounts to censoring them and their views.

    Specifically – there’s another option. Instead of “Block” he can “Mute” which will mean that he doesn’t see what that person writes but that person can still engage with the thread and the other people.

    Now, is limiting a person’s avenues for speech a form of censoring? I don’t know. Obviously if she went to any other website or twitter feed, she could still speak. She can speak as herself, but she won’t draw the same “attention”. She can delete her account and start again with a new handle, but that seems onerous.

    I’m in favor of everyone on the “block” list being moved to the “mute” list. That should resolve the problem instantaneously.

    • I agree that’s better. But the President’s actions on twitter are not “government action” no matter how you look at it, any more than a Senator telling a restaurant to remove a waiter who’s haranguing him about health care.

      • Does it make a difference whether we’re talking about the @RealDonaldTrump account or his @POTUS account?

        I think the analogy of a senator at a restaurant is weak. Trump doesn’t use his @RealDonaldTrump account to share pictures of his grandchildren or retweet funny memes. He uses it to communicate his message as president. It’s all politics all the time; his tweets are political speech, and might (I stress that word) be considered official government speech. How is that similar to a senator going about his business at a restaurant being harangued about a political topic?

        Note that I don’t know if I agree that the president blocking people from either account is a first amendment violation; I am just saying your analogy doesn’t really apply to this situation.

  5. Reza Aslan’s Twitter is a remarkable fountain of stupidity and impotent rage, filled with such daily gems as “u R dumb.” He makes Trump’s Twitter look like Ben Franklin.

  6. I saw this morning that Resa Aslan’s show was not picked up by CNN – was it not picked up because of his statements re: Trump or was there some other reason. Can’t really tell from the CNN statement that I saw.

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