Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/10/17

Morning, All!

(That’s a Flat Earth sunrise! I couldn’t resist...)

1. I’m encountering Ethics Alarms ethics alarms. For example, is it unethical for me to choose not to fix the typos in a comment from an obnoxious commenter? I generally fix mistakes when they turn up in comments from regulars here, or missing words and letters in first posts by newcomers. But the other day an annoying commenter of recent vintage registered a comment that seemed as careless as it was badly reasoned, and had several typos.Yeah, I fixed them. But I didn’t want to.

Then, after a long period without any blog banishments, I banished a commenter yesterday whose first post was really poor, and whose last was insulting in response to my pointing out just how poor it was. As I told him in the exit response, he had triggered The Stupidity Rule. I really don’t allow stupid people to comment here once I determine that they are hopeless. Is that wrong? Elitist? Mean?

I don’t want to keep explaining things to people whose comments indicate that they have preconceived notions, unshakeable biases, inadequate education and training in critical thinking, and are under the impression that an uninformed opinion is worthy of publication because it’s theirs. Yesterday’s exile also made the fatal error of criticizing the blog because it was “judgemental.” Yes, it’s a blog in which we analyze whether conduct is right or wrong, or something else. That demands judgment, and being judgmental. The fact that the matter at issue was a lawsuit—you know, before a judge?—and the commenter still made that observation anyway sealed his fate, even before he wrote that I was bald and presumably “repulsive to women.”

Wait…I’m bald???

2.  The University of Missouri, aka Mizzou, is in crisis as a direct result of its administrators craven capitulation to race-based extortion triggered by general angst and the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck in 2015. Before the protests (which were based on nothing specific at the University that was ever demonstrated by the protesters, other than the President refusing to bow to demands that he condemn random reported racial incidents that didn’t involve students), Mizzou was thriving, growing, and building new dormitories. Now, in response to the nationally publicized meltdown of common sense and adult supervision (climaxed by a  protester-allied communications professor, Melissa Click, being caught on video calling for “some muscle” to prevent a student reporter from recording an ugly campus confrontation), enrollment is down 30%. The university is  closing seven dormitories and cutting more than 400 positions, including  faculty members.

Good.  But from the comments of students and remaining faculty members, it doesn’t sound as if the right lessons have penetrated the campus culture’s race-addled skull.

The protests could have been turned into a chance to celebrate diversity, Berkley Hudson, a journalism professor, told the New York Times. “I think we squandered a rare opportunity that we had to be a local, regional, national, global leader in terms of showing how a university can deal with its problems, including related to race relations.”

What was squandered was a chance for the University to be a role model for other besieged colleges and universities, by emphatically rejecting racial power-plays, political grandstanding and student demands linked to threats, hunger strikes and—the horror!—a threatened strike by the football team.

The University of Missouri’s plight can also be fairly assessed  as another casualty of the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, and the news media’s enthusiastic endorsement of the false narrative that Mike Brown was an innocent young man gunned down by racist police while he had his hands raised and was pleading for his life.

It should also be attributed to the racial divide created by the policies and rhetoric of Barack Obama and his administration, precisely the societal malady he was elected to heal.

I wonder how long it will take for the full measure of Obama’s failures to be admitted and chronicled.

3. Now THIS Is fake news: On Instapundit, the headline was “Holy mother of unhinged! Valerie Jarrett SCREECHES at marine for calling OUT her lack of respect” and the link went to the same headline at Twitchy, the right-wing twitter trends site. Several other sites repeated the line.

Click-bait in both places, as well as a lie. To “screech” one must actually employ one’s mouth. The actual story relates that Jarrett was admonished over twitter by a Marine who claimed that she had “never thanked a single service member for their service in eight years. ” Jarrett replied–via Twitter–

“I thank you for your service since I see you were a marine. Now for the facts. For 8 years I thanked our service members ALL OF THE TIME!”

Oh, I get it! Capital letters are “screeching”!

4. Now that the G -20 summit is over, let it be recorded that never before in the history of the United States has a U.S. President participated in a meeting of World leaders with most of the national news media actively prepping the public for a disaster, hammering at his lack of fitness for the task, and laying the foundation for more attacks once the meetings are underway. Never. Never.

A tradition of decency, respect. national loyalty and fairness has always been observed, through which a United States President must be shown the symbolic support and confidence of the public and the nation’s news media as he goes into the lion’s den of international intrigue, politics and maneuvering. This isn’t just a meaningless gesture. It is a crucial asset to any President for foreign leaders to know that the nation he represents is united behind him, at least for the purposes of the summit. it is also unquestionably in the best interests of the United States for a President to have the benefit of such support. Yet the U.S. news media and its pundits could not muster the patriotism and the common sense to do it. Once the meetings, began, moreover, the news media took pains to treat the President’s every gesture, word and move negatively, and usually contemptuously.

Two points:

  • If, by some miracle, President Trump manages to have even a mildly successful term while being denied the basic support his office has always been accorded by the news media and the public as a matter of course, he will deserve grudging respect and admiration from even his most committed detractors—the ones who have any integrity, that is.
  • If the Trump Administration provides the news media with anything beyond minimal cooperation, it will be behaving magnanimously.

41 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/10/17

  1. I usually try to keep abreast of world events by noting what the media is covering. By doing this, I know that G-20 is happening. Beyond that, the media is on mute. I don’t trust what they report, nor do I have the time to properly investigate every claim to see if that claim was fair or not. That’s why the media has little sway with a silent majority of Americans. We note what’s happening but not what people think is happening. Congrats national media, you’ve created your own echo chamber. (Now local news, local stories on the other hand, gets quite a bit of my attention.)

  2. “If, by some miracle, President Trump manages to have even a mildly successful term while being denied the basic support his office has always been accorded by the news media and the public as a matter of course, he will deserve grudging respect and admiration from even his most committed detractors”

    I’m not sure he can do it, but as much as I think he’s crude and narcissistic he will deserve admiring respect. To co-opt a quote he will figuratively have done it “backwards and in high heels.”

  3. The media also played a complicit role in the University of Missouri fiasco. If anybody cares go back and look how the Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and ESPN covered this — it was entirely uncritical of the strike threat, with fawning analogies to Muhammad Ali, among others. “Mike and Mike” in particular were ridiculous, and I say that as a fan of the show. I don’t recall any mainstream outlet seriously questioning the threatened boycott or the premises behind the threat.

    • I did ! I did!
      Thanks for the memories, Dan. This media reaction was also indirectly Obama;s fault: he created the mission and the environment, with the news media acting as loyal footsoldiers.

      The episode was obviously ridiculous.Racial insults allegedly shouted from the back of a pick-up truck off campus. Some drunk, also not a student, gets on stage a makes a racist slur, Claims of “microaggressions.” Why didn’t the news media pointedly note that the entire things was contrived? The sense that the protester had public opinions (and the President, of course) in their corner is what freaked the noodle-spined leaders at Mizzou.

      • You should read one of the demands the students made.

        Enforcement of mandatory racial awareness and inclusion curriculum for all faculty, staff and students, controlled by a board of color.

        Do these people even think about what they are demanding?

        Now let us see this editorial about American University.

        At AU, African American and other students demanded a “sanctuary space” be established for minority students at a campus cafeteria; a policy granting extensions for final exams to minority students; and an open-door policy for outside groups such as the NAACP to investigate hate crimes and racial incidents at the university.

        The editorial was actually praising sanctuary spaces for minorities.

        You know, back in the 50’s the city of Montgomery in Alabama had sanctuary spaces for certain minorities in their buses. I wonder why Rosa Parks refused to relocate to the sanctuary space that the city was generous enough to reserve for her and her kind.

  4. Interesting that a mid-western state university would suffer while places like Dartmouth and Yale and UC Berkeley and the Claremont Colleges just keep turning away the vast majority of their virtually countless applicants. May tell us something about the common sense of mid-western parents.

    An interesting essay on common sense in America and the American academy:

    • That essay goes a long way to describing what I have been attempting to articulate here a EA: the elites have forgone common sense realism in favor of fairy tales.

      Some striking excerpts:
      “The core idea of common sense realism is that there are self-evident truths. Common sense realists would say it is only because we can know self-evident truths that we can know anything at all. Self-evident truths are the foundation of human understanding, and we know self-evident truths by means of our common sense. The philosophy of common sense realism is all about self-evident truths…. Ordinary Americans are for the most part still common sense realists, even if they have never heard of the philosophy of common sense realism and especially if they have never been to college… One final point: common sense realism disappeared because it lost a political battle, not because it lost an intellectual battle. It is still as powerful intellectually today as it was when it was politically powerful because it was the philosophy of the Founders and the philosophy of America for long after the Founding. Above all, it is still powerful because it is the truth. It is up to us to recover it.”

      Great read!

      • You’re welcome, sw. Thanks for excerpting some of the article. I was too lazy. The article really expands upon what I’ve been bemoaning as the forces that have brought the American academy so low. Which I consider a terrible tragedy.

      • Thanks for the last point. It IS powerful for just that reason. Every person who isn’t seeking power over others is seeking common sense realism solutions for themselves and their families.

    • I would be careful about using “common sense realism” because it doesn’t have a clear epistemological basis. I strongly suspect that the flat Earth people think they are using “common sense realism”. The minute you start thinking things are self-evident beyond a certain point, you start being unable to interact with people who think different things are self-evident.

      I do agree that the sophistry on the left is being used to erase meaningful distinctions along with the meaningless ones, for the purpose of assuaging the feelings of those who feel powerless and excluded. It is due to “politician noises”, as I call the phenomenon. People on all sides are saying “I will validate your complacency!”, so that the conservatives don’t have to accept aspects of people they don’t understand, and the liberals don’t have to modulate their behavior or deal with consequences. They both have good points, but the complacency aspect causes more harm than good on both sides.

      I’ll stick to my existentialism and critical thinking, thanks. It does everything common sense can do, and more.

  5. “he will deserve grudging respect and admiration from even his most committed detractors—the ones who have any integrity, that is.”

    This isn’t going to happen. His detractors see impeding him as the right thing to do. If the nation is in about the same condition, they’ll credit it to themselves for keeping him in line. If it’s in a better place, they’ll be busy bemoaning their failure on progressive goals and finding reasons to credit the improvements to progressive governors, congressmen, and to echoes from the Obama administration. No matter how well he does, Trump literally can’t win with the left.

    Now, if he’s lucky and successful, he might be able to get some of his detractors on the conventional right to tip their hats. Though I’m not sure that’s integrity so much as the right hoping to hold on to power.

    …why is it impossible for me to imagine politicians with integrity?

    • Because there have been so few examples in our lifetimes?

      Politicians are crooks, especially at the national level. No other way to get 10 times your salary in government service.

  6. Regarding questions in para 1, I suggest:
    It is not unethical to be kind to regulars and new posters but less kind to others, in terms of correcting typos. We all have limited time and attention and need to use them wisely.

    It is not unethical to ban commenters who do not reach your standards, however you set them. Everyone knows that without proper housekeeping internet forums all turn into slashdot-type dystopias. Also, the exercise of judgement is a vital part of being an adult. I shudder to think of the consequences of teaching a generation that it is wrong to use judgement.

    Oh, and on 3, allcaps on the internet is often referred to as ‘shouting’, and is regarded as bad manners (bad manners on the internet, whatever next!), but I agree Instapundit overstepped the mark, as he does sometimes. Making instant comments is bound to bring that about from time to time, in fact it seems to me there’s an ethical point about the rush to ‘say something, anything’ as promoting ethics rot.

  7. “criticizing the blog because it was “judgemental.””

    Why has judging, and by extension shame, become such taboo concepts? Like many other aspects of life, there are ethical ways to judge, and shame can be a healty, beneficial, and effective way to inspire change away from self destructive behavior; judgement can also be misused, and shame can be personally destructive.

    Rather than take the time to highlight the nuance, and admit the positive benefits, some people would rather just claim, “if it ever makes you feel bad, then it’s wrong, wrong, wrong!”. And then people begin thinking of self-restraint as an antiquated notion. “How dare you suggest to me moderation? I do what I want, when I want!”

    And then we have 75% of black babies born out of wedlock.

    • “Why has judging, and by extension shame, become such taboo concepts? “

      Moral relativism and a general desire to avoid accountability.

      “It’s a free country man, so whatever I do is non of your business”, which for most conduct is a perfectly legitimate attitude to have. But the attitude bleeds over into conduct that legitimately needs to be judged because it violates standards reasonably held by the community.

    • Why has judging, and by extension shame, become such taboo concepts?

      Perhaps because people associate judging with bigotry. You hear ‘You shouldn’t be so quick to judge someone.’

      But judging people, things, and situations is what we all do, every day. It’s one thing that separates adults from children, part of what we mean when we label someone immature.

      We all know this famous quote: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

      An excellent illustration of judgment vs. bigotry.

      • But judgment is distorted by bigotry, like water is polluted by lead. The idea is to have pure and fair judgment, and to perfect the way to attain it. Calling judgment per se polluted is like condemning water.

  8. Jack, I can tell you from first-hand experience that one need not be bald to be “repulsive to women.”


    P.S. . . . but it helps.

    • Dwayne, having been bald for the last forty-five years or so, I’ve found, ironically, it’s other guys who are horrified by baldness. It’s just not that big a deal to women. The vast majority of women aren’t blind and can see a toupe or hair plugs and a reconstructed hairline as easily as anyone else.

  9. …I banished a commenter yesterday…

    Jack, if you get rid of readers, traffic levels will never recover 🙂

    …a threatened strike by the football team…

    I remember thinking at the time that the correct answer was “You are here to play football (not get an education, obviously) and when you refuse to play football, we will revoke your scholarships and get someone who will. We will suit up the first 25 students who line up for your positions to play the pending Bowl game.”

    Then watch the snowflakes blink, and fall in line.

  10. I’m hearing that there are other problems at Mizzou, as well: compliance with federal regulations, that sort of thing. I don’t know details, but I trust my source.
    Even as loyal Jayhawk, I take no joy in this.

    • Curmie, I have to ask. Is the (presumably) NON-compliance with federal regulations part of a shake down by hold over Obama administration officials in the Dept. of Ed. or just garden variety financial tinkering or something else politically less fraught?

  11. isolumikko
    “Oh, and on 3, allcaps on the internet is often referred to as ‘shouting’, and is regarded as bad manners…….”

    I agree, but sometimes when talking you NEED to accent something and you do that by changing inflection, rather than shouting. I’m not sure how else you can do that on a blog without using capitalization, but I’m open to suggestions?

    Chris Bentley, you ask: “Why has judging, and by extension shame, become such taboo concepts? ”

    That’s a damn good question, especially on a blog run by a lawyer. In a similar vein, I’m ticked of by people that don’t like ‘discrimination’. As an old communications tech I am well aware that without discrimination your TV can’t pick one channel from all the others, and that similarly throughout life we need to make discriminating choices constantly.

    Judging and discriminating, and occasionally shaming, are vital to a healthy society, as is courtesy and consideration.

    To all here who occasionally ‘suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ for presenting and arguing your point, and keep coming back to do it again; thank you and keep it up!

  12. “the national news media actively prepping the public for a disaster”

    Yes, indeed, and when it didn’t happen, CNN’s blaring headline yesterday (enormous letters!) was “Trump returns to chaos”.


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