Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/11/2017: Boston, Racism, Morality And The Media’s Continuing Conspiracy

Good Morning!

1 That’s my town! Spotlight, the Boston Globe investigative team that was the focus of the Academy Award-winning film about its crucial role in exposing the  Catholic Church’s child-molestation scandal, has published the results of an investigation into racism in Boston. Nobody who lives in Boston or did for any length of time (like me) can find that the conclusion of the Spotlight team qualifies as news: Boston is an overwhelmingly white city—the whitest of all the major metropolitan areas—which may have softened its traditional hostility to African Americans, but that so far hasn’t changed the impression among its black residents that they are outsiders, and tolerated rather than welcome.

I love Boston, and would move back there in a heartbeat if it didn’t mean uprooting my life in unpleasant ways. The report, however, is depressing, for that ironic feature of the city was a blight on it when I lived there, and decades have failed to change it significantly.

2. Not “Morality Alarms”. Let me stick this in quickly.

A commenter on the most recent Comment of the Day on the Masterpiece Cakeshop controversy sent in a defense of the baker’s conduct based on Scripture. I stated,

I dismiss this argument out of hand.

2000 year old biases are now called ignorance. They can be justified as of their time, but pretending nothing has changed since then is indefensible and willfully obtuse. The taboos against homosexuality were a matter of common sense when procreation was essential to a tribe’s survival. Before there was psychological research and knowledge of brain chemistry, ignorance about homosexuality was excusable, and even natural. 2000 years is a long time. There is no excuse for pretending that it isn’t, that human beings haven’t learned, that knowledge hasn’t expanded, and that ancient texts are not often dangerously and cruelly out of date.

In two follow-up comments I wrote, stitching them together,

That’s not reasoning or argument, and this blog is about ethics (what’s right?) not morality (what does God say is right?)…At some point discrimination and prejudice is still discrimination and prejudice. “The Bible says I should be prejudiced” is better, sort of, than “I just hate these people,” but it also is a cover.

Needless to say, an argument that relies entirely on the Bible is just an appeal to authority. That’s not a reasoned argument, but a declaration. Nor is it possible to argue with God, who works in mysterious ways, meaning that “but that makes no sense!” doesn’t work.

This isn’t a morality blog, and never has been. Simple as that.

3. And the beat goes on...On Facebook, arguably the most far Left of my leftist friends posted a link to the Newsweek article, Trump Wants You to Tip Restaurant Owners, Not Servers.

This was all “Let’s hate Trump” chum, as his leftist followers dutifully registered comments about what a monster Trump was. I pointed out,

“The Labor Dept. is an executive branch department, but saying “Trump wants” this is a smear, though a typical one. I don’t recall the press, or Newsweek, saying, “Obama tied up tea party groups by withholding non-profit status before the 2012 election.” Or “Obama hired an incompetent company to set up Healthcare.gov.” There is no evidence that Trump “wants” every policy his appointees hand down. It’s called delegation. This is misrepresentation, designed to deceive.”

The article is also misleading. The argument for allowing restaurant management to control the ultimate use of tips is to permit the option of tip-pooling, or sharing tips with more of the staff, including kitchen staff. Nobody wants diners to “tip restaurant owners.” This is fake news, and fake news designed to create distrust and dislike of the President. Naturally, my smart, compassionate lawyer friend swallowed the smear whole, because he wants to believe the President is a monster, and because bias makes you stupid.

4. “Did you know Trump is an idiot?” I thought I had a hard choice last year, but in 2020 I’m really going to be torn about how to vote. I am not going to change my position that a President who conducts himself like this one does lasting damage to the nation, the office and the culture no matter how Great he makes America Again. Yet I also believe that it is imperative that the news media’s democracy-corroding conspiracy to undermine an elected President by slanting and manipulating news reports not only fail, but fail so spectacularly that they never try to do it again. That would require Trump’s re-election.

Here’s Ann Althouse this morning:

There’s news of an explosion in the subway in NYC. I saw the report in the NYT and turned on the TV to get some immediate, on-the-scene news. I rarely switch out of print media to watch the news on TV, but there are some events that have a live quality that makes me think I should be watching television. (I sat at my dining table reading the paper NYT on the morning of September 11, 2001).

So I went straight to CNN — which I still imagined was the right place to encounter the live news — and there was some over-made-up lady teasing a story about how President Trump, according to The New York Times, watches TV for 4 hours a day. The NYT story about Trump watching TV appeared on the NYT website on Saturday, and I blogged it at 7 a.m, yesterday. So much for switching on the TV to get the news of what’s happening right now!

Ah, but you see, the point of that Times article, which I read yesterday, was to make the public distrust and have contempt for the President, and it’s CNN’s job to make sure everybody know about it.  Here’s another blogger on the topic:

The MSM seems to think it’s a good idea to give us a daily dose of “Trump’s an idiot” stories. Today’s appears to be a report that Trump watches TV 4 hours a day or more, according to the trustworthy insider informants at the NY Times. And this, despite the fact that he claims he doesn’t watch much TV:

…During his trip to Asia last month, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he doesn’t watch much television at the White House because he’s busy “reading documents.”

“Believe it or not, even when I’m in Washington or New York, I do not watch much television,” Trump said. “People that don’t know me, they like to say I watch television — people with fake sources. You know, fake reporters, fake sources.”

If you read that in light of yesterday’s CNN blooper/whopper (take your pick as to which it was, error or lie), it’s actually rather amusing. The dilemma for the reader is: who do you believe, Trump or the NY Times? I tend to believe my own observations, which tell me that Trump seems to get a lot of work done. If he’s watching that much TV and gets as much accomplished as he seems to, more power to him.

I also think he gets a lot of work done, and you know what? I watch more TV than Trump supposedly does, and have all my life. I get a lot done too, believe it or not.

And I’m not an idiot.

This anti-Trump tactic is a naked  cognitive dissonance ploy. If Trump is an idiot, then his positions and policies must be idiotic. That, however, is the ad hominem fallacy. Enforcing immigration laws isn’t idiotic; NOT enforcing them is. Refusing to submit to North Korean saber-rattling extortion isn’t idiotic, kowtowing to a dictator is, in this non-idiot’s opinion. The position of the progressives and Democrats for a decade has been that if you don’t support their agenda, you must be an idiot (or a racist).

And yes, Trump does and says an astounding number of idiotic things, and when he does, he’s called on it here. I find it hard to believe that someone who does and says such things isn’t an idiot, but that does not justify manufacturing false narratives to undermine the public trust.

19 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race, Religion and Philosophy

19 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/11/2017: Boston, Racism, Morality And The Media’s Continuing Conspiracy

  1. 4- “a report that Trump watches TV 4 hours a day or more”

    Old news. The Next Big Thing? Howse about all those diet cokes?

    https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/scott-whitlock/2017/12/11/40-minutes-after-nyc-terror-attack-cnn-obsesses-over-trumps-diet

  2. Other Bill

    Here’s my favorite, mind blowing admission against interest by a media type concerning what the media is up to regarding the Trump presidency:

    David Frum, a former George W. Bush speechwriter who frequently criticizes Trump, offered up a contorted take on the CNN correction [of the Erickson to Trump Jr. email date screw up].

    “The mistakes are precisely the reason the people should trust the media,” he said. “The worst mistakes that press organizations have made in their coverage of Trump has precisely occurred in their overzealous effort to be fair to the president.”

    Absolutely amazing.

    http://dailycaller.com/2017/12/10/cnns-reliable-sources-turns-networks-colossal-screwup-into-an-attack-on-trump-video/

  3. “Needless to say, an argument that relies entirely on the Bible is just an appeal to authority. That’s not a reasoned argument, but a declaration. Nor is it possible to argue with God, who works in mysterious ways, meaning that “but that makes no sense!” doesn’t work.”

    Jack, I for one hope that you will continue to blog about ethics while respecting a principle of separation of morality and ethics.

  4. I have read the Boston Globe article.

    Racial inequities do not necessarily arise from racial discrimination. the only discrimination cited is discrimination against ethnic-sounding names , which may very well be universal.

    • Aleksei

      I’ve read the article as well, and the gist of it to me is “Boston doesn’t have a lot of black people, thus it doesn’t have much middle class blacks, and thus black people don’t want to move here, making it less progressive”. It also has black residents comment how they feel lonely at times, because there’s not a lot of other black people to hang out with. That sounds like a tribalist argument to me, lamenting the lack of in-group people around. There is a constant thread about the lack of diversity in Boston and this this is a bad thing. I find the premise to be flawed. If diversity is the ultimate goal, is it safe to say that Detroit is black Mecca, where everybody wants to be, and where it’s at? Detroit does have like 80% black population. They also highlight how in tourism ads, they don’t show black people, and it’s problematic. I haven’t seen this ad material, but I can guess it doesn’t show Chinese, Indian, or Ukrainian people (disclosure, I’m Ukrainian) having fun in Boston, so that is problematic too. The way I see it, the lack of diversity shown in this article should be addressed as a statement of fact, and it should be a caveat for black people, wishing to move to Boston, that if they expect a vibrant black community and events in Boston, they will be disappointed.

  5. JP

    It won’t change the rest of your #2, but I wasn’t defending the baker, just trying to offer perspective and my own thoughts.

    • Got it. I know. Acknowledged and accepted.

    • Isaac

      “2000 year old biases are now called ignorance” is also something of a dodge. There are a lot of assumptions built into the premise that an appeal to scripture means “not having the capacity to understand ethics,” or that it’s just a foolish way to avoid thinking for oneself.

      If God is real, and the scripture is an account of God’s commands and teachings in regards to human behavior, and not simply an account of really old human ideas, (and this is the entire assumption behind Christianity) then using “it’s a really old book” is not an argument. That’s a feature, not a problem.

      If the ethical thinking that is now believed to be intuitive to ethically sound people was nowhere to be found prior to the influence of the scripture (and it wasn’t, neither women’s equality nor the sanctity of human life nor racial harmony were things anyone cared about back then, for starters) then “things have changed” is not an argument. The Bible is what changed them. It’s like believing that vaccines are a waste of time in today’s world because we’ve “outgrown” having to worry about polio.

      If a person is convinced by logic and experience that the scripture is correct and of divine origin, and regularly proves and tests this hypothesis with consistent results, then another person’s claim that belief in the scripture is at odds with logic fails to be an argument. It’s just a short cut to calling someone stupid without engaging with them.

      This IS an argument, and I respect it:

      “The taboos against homosexuality were a matter of common sense when procreation was essential to a tribe’s survival. Before there was psychological research and knowledge of brain chemistry, ignorance about homosexuality was excusable, and even natural.”

      But I respectfully see no evidence that supports it. The taboos against homosexuality (which in the Bible do not incorporate either bigotry or hatred, as an aside) were common sense when procreation was essential, but they AREN’T common sense in the current era when tens of millions of homosexuals just died of AIDS? When STD rates are currently 5 to 6 times higher among homosexuals? When homosexuals experience double the rate of mental health disorders, even in situations and countries where they are celebrated and fully accepted? What would have to happen for anyone to admit that homosexual activity is not healthy? Every 10th gay’s head exploding each leap year?

  6. Ash

    > (I sat at my dining table reading the paper NYT on the morning of September 11, 2001).

    Sometimes I appreciate Ann Althouse, sometimes I think WTF?

    This is definitely WTF.

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