Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/23/17

Good Morning!

(BOY, there are a lot of especially stupid ethics stories today…)

1. This:

That’s right: an Asian-American broadcaster who never fought for the South during the Civil War has been robbed of a job assignment because his virtue-signaling, grandstanding mega-corporation wants to side with the statute-toppling Left. ESPN regrets that the NAME of one of its broadcasters has become an issue? Who made it an issue? ESPN, that’s who.

Nah, there’s no slippery slope! Nah, this is just about Civil War generals! Nah, the people behind the historical purge or reasonable…they won’t just keep looking for more ways to claim they are being offended!

Can you tell I am losing patience with the defenders, enablers and rationalizes of this toxic nonsense?

2. Or is this dumber? From issue scout Neil, who writes, “Watch the video. [Trump] gestures for the crowd to look up at the sky, then makes a show of looking himself (though CLEARLY not actually trying to see the eclipse). I must have seen at least a dozen other  people yesterday scan the sky in a similar fashion before accidentally getting blinded by an eye-full of rays. The man is inept beyond belief, but he’s not wearing a bib. God this  irritates me.”

These are the ways that that the newsmedia signals to anyone with an open mind and not drooling, gnashing and recoiling at the sight of water from end-stages Anti-Trump Brain-Eating Virus infection that it cannot be trusted, and has traded of its integrity, honesty, fairness and objectivity to lead the “Destroy the Elected President of the United States” effort. No, the President did not actually look directly into the sun and blind himself. In fact, I did exactly the same thing he did when I glanced up at the sun sideways for a nanosecond wondering why so many idiots were lying on the ground wearing 3-D glasses. This is the epitome of fake news—fake, because the intent of the item is to mislead, and because it is no more news than “President uses wrong fork at State Dinner.” No other President, ever, under any scenario, would be covered this way, and no news publication would ever print anything so dumb unless it was certain that its readers were gullible, deranged, and even dumber.

Prof. Glenn Reynolds:If the press and the political opposition — but I repeat myself — were just sober, straightforward, and honest they could beat Trump easily. But then, if they were capable of that, we wouldn’t have gotten Trump to begin with.”

3. My wife reminded me that I have been flagging deception in obnoxious ways since long before ProEthics and Ethics Alarms.  When we were dating, she had a bowl of soup at a Georgetown campus hangout called The Tombs, and I had a cup of the same soup, for $1.50 less. I asked the waitress for a clean bowl and cup,  and poured water into the cup until it was at soup-level, and then poured that water into the empty bowl, which it filled. Then I asked her to get the manager, whom I asked to explain why a bowl cost more than a cup when the amount of soup was the same. he had no explanation of course.

You’ll be amazed how many restaurants do this.

4. Salil Mehta, Adjunct professor at Columbia and Georgetown who teaches probability and data science was banned by Google last week, meaning that  his email, blog, university pages and other Google-linked accounts were suspended with no explanation but a statement that he has somehow violated its User Conditions. He has told his story online,  culminating in this emotional plea…

The NYT has a popular print article this weekend and they cited my Google blog, but alas it not links to an embarrassing malfunction, for many to see:

This doesn’t look good.  Now instead of mathematics, reporters have turned to this latest circus nightmare from Google as an example of how they are compounding bad decisions on good people anywhere and at any time. 

Can they not differentiate me from an evil person?  Can they not see the large and reputable people and institutions that have relied on my work?  Do they have better people who can coach them on how to make decisions with much better taste and finesse?  What’s next, all CEOs and professors and politicians are going to be shut down from social media whenever it is least expected?  Overnight hi-tech lynching squads are a thing of the past.  We can’t have kangaroo courts and hope to lead with moral authority.

There is a lot of energy being spent right now thinking about how this happens to your best customers, just like that.  Fear is running wild about who is next and on what other social media platforms.  Have used Google for 11 years with no issue.  Have driven enormous free traffic to your products and properties.  But now that’s been severely damaged as the trust/reputational value has been crushed, and I have to re-emerge quickly elsewhere and deal with this fall-out.  I have many students, family, coworkers, etc who typically send me e-mails each day and all of it is vanishing with a kicked-back “user doesn’t exist” error.  And that’s totally unacceptable.  Through my many companies have business accounts on different social media and have no issue getting a marketing line, but one needs to know who they are dealing with and not treat them this badly.  The wrongs here are not being done by me.

After Google summarily fired an employee for pointing out that it was a hive of political correctness and oppressive conformity, it is increasingly clear that Google cannot and should not be trusted to decide who the “evil persons” are. It has a political agenda, and it power over speech, information, communication and influence is too great to be treated as merely “these are private companies, so they have no obligation to let anyone use their services for free,” which is the mantra of those defending other ideologically slanted platforms like Twitter. Google, however, is too big and powerful, and, as we have learned, agenda driven, to be allowed to crush citizens who rely on it because comparable alternatives are scarce or unavailable. It is abusing its power.

Mehta’s accounts were restored eventually, but it doesn’t matter. The company has to be forced to to adhere to principles of process, fairness, non-partisanship, ideological neutrality and respect for all.

5. Oh, great, there was jury nullification in the Bundy ranch standoff trial:

A federal jury in Las Vegas refused Tuesday to convict four defendants who were retried on accusations that they threatened and assaulted federal agents by wielding assault weapons in a 2014 confrontation to stop a cattle roundup near the Nevada ranch of states’ rights figure Cliven Bundy. In a stunning setback to federal prosecutors planning to try the Bundy family patriarch and two adult sons later this year, the jury acquitted Ricky Lovelien and Steven Stewart of all 10 charges, and delivered not-guilty findings on most charges against Scott Drexler and Eric Parker.

Jury nullification is unethical, but this result shows how thoroughly the federal government’s conduct has eroded the public trust. That’s a far greater problem than one set of defendants going free.

6. I wonder what it will take to convince readers that the progressive/Democratic/leftist alliance is hostile to free speech, or that pointing that out is not evidence of a conservative agenda or a pro-Nazi soul?

The Washington Post published a KABOOM!-worthy op-ed by alleged Skidmore professor Jennifer Delton. Its title is “When ‘free speech’ becomes a political weapon,” which translates into “Maybe free speech isn’t such a good thing after all because it stops the unquestionably wiser and better people who believe as I do from imposing their values, priorities and policies on everyone else.” It is a badly reasoned, badly motivated, badly written piece that the Pots shouldn’t have given the prestige of publication in a national newspaper, and wouldn’t have, if it didn’t think her argument had some colorable virtues. It doesn’t. She’s essentially justifying censorship and  speech suppression by other means. Of course, free expression allows her to say whatever stupid and misleading things she wants to, but the Post has to have some standards. This woman writes that college presidents need to “figure out” whether the First Amendment protects “conservatives’ right” to free speech because it “creates political spectacle and instigates violence” —you know, like the white nationalists “instigated violence” by forcing the antifa thugs to attack them. This is a college professor and the “Douglas Family Chair in American culture, history, and literary and interdisciplinary studies” (just kill me now), and she literally doesn’t understand the First Amendment. Instigating violence, as the Supreme Court has said repeatedly, does not mean expressing opinions or opinions that make others angry, or that they use to rationalize violence. Her argument is that people should only be allowed to speak to the extent that the passions on the Left can tolerate it.

7. And now, a poll:






44 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/23/17

  1. # 3- “You’ll be amazed how many restaurants do this.”

    Or stadia, like Qwest Field:

    But that’s the least of the Seahawk’s worries, they haven’t signed Colin Kaepernick, or even had him in for a try-out; RACISTS!!!!!

    ‘Course why would they, they have former U.W. QB (GO BADGERS!) and SB winner Russell Wilson under center.

  2. Based on the first definition of “ridiculous,” I voted for the Trump/Eclipse fake news: deserving or inviting derision or mockery. Emphasis on “deserving.” The out of control media is a nearly existential threat to the democracy.

    • I know right? I was like… Robert Lee or Anti-Speech. Settled on Robert Lee, that was the one that I mentioned to a co-worker after reading it. I think that one is pretty close requiring a fourth niggardly principle.

      When someone has [close to] the same name as someone who is infamous, we should not treat that person as if they were the infamous one

      Kind of sad that needs to be said, thought that was just a give

      Just because Barack Hussein Obama’s name sounds a lot like Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, we should not treat Barack Obama like a terrorist or admonish him for being the tyrannical dictator of Iraq.

    • Yes, I’d like to choose Trump and the Robert Lee issue.

      This type of Trump coverage is becoming more and more typical. Looking at a time stamp of the video, it would probably be shown as being minutes before the full eclipse…it’s probably like the video that went around recently claiming that Trump didn’t shake hands with someone, where if you go to watch the full video, he shakes hands with them (I think it might have been Merkel), or the one where they said he ignored a child in a wheelchair. They keep doing this, even though it’s easily to prove false. You can take a freeze frame out of a video at any point, but it’s a no-brainer that it doesn’t mean that’s all that happened. This type of coverage is so childish.

  3. 1. We have to find out if announcer Lee didn’t instigate his own removal. It’s an impressive achievement for any national announcer to wiggle out of broadcasting a William and Mary game.

    2. “The man is inept beyond belief, but he’s not wearing a bib. God this irritates me.”

    I used to call this “monkey grooming.” Not really intended to be making a point, but just designed to continually reassure, “I’m still part of the troop.” Agreement answers, “I’m still part of the troop, too.” The less significant or even less true the original statement is, the better. If you agree that the sun rises in the east, you might be with me, or maybe you just know some basic astronomy. If you agree with the opposite, then I know you’re still part of the troop (unless you’re just really ignorant, and that’s good, too).

  4. This whole Lee thing was far and away the most ridiculous for me. Lee is such a common surname for asians and other nationalities (e.g. Spike Lee, Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee, Tommy Lee, etc. etc.) that is mind-numbingly amazing to me that this would even be a thing. It seems that in the idiotic world the left has us living in that asinine is now the norm. Very sad.

  5. Jack,

    “No other President, ever, under any scenario, would be covered this way, and no news publication would ever print anything so dumb unless it was certain that its readers were gullible, deranged, and even dumber.”

    You think they’re manufacturing scandals? How could they be when there were FIFTY SEVEN OUTRAGES STATEMENTS during his speech in Arizona last night. Don’t believe me? Luckily CNN counted:

    My favorite:

    “6. ‘We all share the same home, the same dreams and the same hopes for a better future. A wound inflicted upon one member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all.’

    The second sentence of this is verbatim from his speech on Monday. But as the rest of Trump’s speech shows, these are just words to him. He reads them but doesn’t understand them. Or believe them.”

    How DARE he repeat himself! Honestly, the list reads exactly like the “corrected” letter that kid posted online which was sent to him by an ex-girlfriend (except with even more snark). I’m not sure we’re becoming a nation of assholes, so much as we already are one …

    • Is this supposed to be sarcasm? I took a look at the CNN article you posted, that is just blather… Trump by no means is a good speaker, but the things they are reporting to be “outrageous” makes me wonder if they understand what that word means.

      * there aren’t too many people outside — This is an outrage? Seriously, you are outraged by the president noting the side of a crowd?

      * We all share the same home, the same dreams and the same hopes for a better future. A wound inflicted upon one member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all. — How is this an outrage? This kind of sounds like a message intended to bring people together, that is outrageous now?

      Just admit that do very much dislike Trump, and no matter what he says, outrageous or not, you are going to feign outrage.

      • Rusty:

        Yes, it was COMPLETE sarcasm. Of course nothing he said was “outrageous” (at least not any more than his usual, meandering blather), it was just CNN finding things to pick nits over.

    • Did you get a chance to watch Don Lemon and his cast of critics after Trump’s Arizona campaign rally? They were horrified. James Clapper even declared that Trump is a danger to the country and the international community because he has his fingers on the nuclear button. It was amazing to watch these people melt down after the speech, which seemed to be the kind of speech Trump has given for the past year- nothing substantive just repetitive blatherings on how wonderful he is.


      • I just saw the headlines, John. I wish Clapper would just go away. He’s a total hack. Don Lemon is outrageous.

        CNN also gave fairly top billing to the comments of the Democratic mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton. At least they identified Stanton as a Democrat.

        The entire top page of was nothing but anti-Trump propaganda.

  6. #6

    Fortunately, her reasoning is being ripped to shreds, almost unanimously, in the comments section. And oddly enough, she penned a (seemingly right-wingish) paper about 10 years ago, arguing that equating diversity of looks with actual diversity (in hiring practices) is detrimental.

    Geez lady, pick a side!

  7. 1. I voted for the Robert Lee story, and I’m glad that as of now most seem to have chosen that one as well. I thought it was fake news when I first heard about it yesterday. What idiocy.

    2. I have to admit I had some fun with the pictures of Trump looking at the sky.

    But it was mild ribbing–I didn’t take the story seriously, and news networks and papers shouldn’t be giving it a collective minute of coverage. I assumed it was a brief snapshot in time, and I thought it was funny. But it says nothing about Trump as a person unless you want it to.

    4. Why was Mehta banned by Google?

    5. Agreed.

    6. I agree that parts of the left are anti-free-speech. Antifa and those who advocate for hate speech laws in the US (or, my favorite, those who think hate speech laws already exist here) are absolutely a threat to the First Amendment. But I didn’t read that WaPo article as arguing for censorship–in fact, the author says a few times that’s not the answer. She seemed to be calling for social shunning. At the same time, I did find her argument hard to follow, and she did invoke the “these are not ordinary times” rationalization a few times, so I can see why one might come away from her article thinking she was advocating censorship. I would have to read it again to get a sense of her main idea, as I found the piece pretty scattered.

    • I thought I had replied to this with a link to one of his blog posts. Mehta noted some flaws about the way justice statistics are reported involving blacks, and after James Damore’s firing, the idea that some SJW staffer banned him for it isn’t implausible. His blog has been reinstated, but Google never explains bans. They just point people to their terms of service and expect you to figure it out.

  8. It took me a while to figure it out, but I like the idea of calling Jeff Bezos’ paper (where “democracy dies in darkness”) The Washington Pots. Or simply “The Pots.”

  9. I’m going to have to try this at a seafood restaurant that I go to and is well known for their manhattan style clam chowder. Great idea Jack!!

  10. #7. The Poll.

    All four of your poll choices are so equally ridiculous that I have to choose #7 is the most ridiculous of all 7 items in this blog just because it asked me choose between four equally ridiculous choices.

    Here’s four spoons…

    Tell me which spoon is more of a spoon.

    😉 😉 😉

  11. 3. Clearly they have more cups than bowls, or a greater demand for bowls, so renting a bowl to eat out of costs more than renting a cup. Why, the last time I ordered a cup for a soft drink they asked me if I wanted to upgrade to a bowl. …No, not really.

    Well, either that or they priced the soup as a beverage when it was in a cup.

    …Yeah, I can only come up with hypotheses that sound silly to me, but I’m not willing to bet there’s an intelligent-sounding answer to this.

    • Oh there’s an intelligent answer, it’s just not an honest one. The cheaper price is their price for that quantity of soup (not their cost, but their market-based price to generate profit). the human eye is bad at comparing volumes in different shaped vessels, so they are then able to charge more for a different vessel of soup that makes the same volume of soup appear to be a larger volume.

      You see a similar technique in shady bars that have glasses with incredibly thick bottoms/walls, making their servings appear large when they’re actually quite small.

  12. I voted the Lee removal as the most ridiculous, especially considering that there are about a billion Asian-Americans named Lee and they could have called him “Bob,” for example, if they were so concerned about it. Would a black announcer named “Lee” or “Washington” been bumped? I assume now that everyone with a surname that has anything to do with slave-holding founders or Civil War generals ought to assume they are ipso facto unemployable. I know a few — and some with an illustrious if slave-holding heritage — who ought not to have jobs either, I guess, just because of the new-found sensitivity to names, and names alone.

    I didn’t vote for the Skidmore article because it’s not ridiculous: it’s absolutely terrifying.

    • Earlier this year a story popped up in a local watering hole about where the patriarch of my family got his wealth.

      He showed up just after the Civil War with a wife and 4 small children, from back east (and we are not sure where, and that is suspicious itself) with his family and began farming. He bought each child a substantial section of farm land adjacent to his own. A farmer in those days did not have the money to buy land this way, so he had money from somewhere.

      The rumor my father heard in the local bar was that one of his grandchildren (my elderly great great aunt) said he was a carpetbagger. This scandalized our family, as we would rather have an ancestor who was hung for horse thieving than a carpetbagger. So we called a family reunion (it was due anyway) and my father and I asked this aunt about the story. She laughed, and said she did not know, and threw out the carpetbagger line as a joke when someone 20 years ago asked her.

      That patriarch married passed a name down in every generation of the family, which only died with my children’s generation: Lee, which is my brother’s middle name. So there may or may not have been some connection there. Maybe he like the General, or maybe he liked the name. Who knows? He was secretive about his life before Texas, and left quite a bit of documentation of his life once he was here.

      Maybe he WAS a horse thief!

  13. I typed “probability and data science” into Google and there were no results, just the message “Did you mean RACISM and OPPRESSION?”

  14. Let’s review the past few days…

    ESPN lunacy. Check.

    Kindergarten transgender lesson plan. Check.

    White protester holding a sign that says “I love my Muslim neighbor” sucker-punching a black Trump supporter. Check.

    And here’s one that will be near and dear to our webmaster’s heart: More Snopes bullshit. Check.

    Take a gander at how Snopes spins this ESPN/Robert Lee thing. They build a strawman and punch it down:

    “ESPN Fired Announcer Robert Lee Because His Name Sounds Like the Confederate General’s?

    ESPN did not ‘fire’ sportscaster Robert Lee because his name offends liberals, but they did opt to reassign him from calling a U Va. game after three deaths occurred during protests in Charlottesville.”

    What horse shit. They couldn’t stand having to confirm something that went against their worldview, so they invented a reason to avoid it. I don’t know anyone who thinks Lee was fired.

    That would be like them saying: “Was Abe Lincoln really stabbed? No, he wasn’t stabbed. But was killed by a bullet to the head. So, no, he wasn’t stabbed.”

    • Thanks, TS…I don’t check Snopes any more, because they aren’t trustworthy even though they occasionally correct a liberal ally to suck everyone back in.

      That indeed sounds like classic straw-mannery. I’m just hoping it’s out of business soon.

  15. Well after about 23 hours of back to back to back emergencies (yup they come in three’s) August 23, 2017 will be a memorable day for me for years to come; just one of those crazy days in life. I did get one brief but well needed respite at around 5:15pm for about 15-20 minutes, then back at it. Everything is “fine” now; back to a “normal” routine.

    #1. There is only one explanation for this utterly ridiculous action on the part of ESPN, shear unadulterated FEAR of social justice warriors! This problem is going to get worse, much worse.

    #2 This is an utterly transparent anti-Trump smear. Such ridiculousness has become standard fare for these anti-Trump lunatics.

    On that note; What would you call the converse of Potemkin Rhetoric? Fill in the blank; “_____________” is any rhetoric that is solely to deceive others into thinking that a situation is worse than it really is.

    #3 That’s interesting; I recently did the exact same thing in an area establishment with a couple of beer glasses. It’s Walmart sales mentality; make the customer perceive that they are getting a bigger bang for their buck when in reality the customer is getting screwed.

    #4 We are going to see a LOT more of this kind of censorship from people that either FEAR social justice warriors or are part of the “new” social justice warrior activist movement. Someone should take bets as to how long it will take before there is a major publicized court battle on this front.

    #5 After rereading #5 and the linked article I’m truly not understanding the full dynamics of what happened regarding the initial trial and this subsequent trial. I’m not a lawyer so some of it blew over my head, my personal Cranial Power Generation Potential went up. I guess I’m either not understanding the term “jury nullification” or how it applies to this. Can someone please explain all this to a non-lawyer person?

    #6 I can’t read Jennifer Delton’s entire article without paying the Washington Post and that’s never going to happen. That said; if this woman wrote anything that remotely implies “…college presidents need to ‘figure out’ whether the First Amendment protects ‘conservatives’ right’ to free speech because it ‘creates political spectacle and instigates violence’ “ then she’s an idiot! I’m dead certain that Ms. Delton wouldn’t consider her free speech “a political weapon”; these kinds of double standards need to be front and center exposing the tendencies towards complete moral bankruptcy of the political left.

    #7 I might revise my previous non-vote of the most ridiculous item after I better understand the Bundy ranch standoff trial.

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