1. From the Moral Luck files:
What you just saw is a bald eagle landing on Seattle Mariners starter James Paxton’s shoulder during the National Anthem before yesterday’s Mariners-Twins game. Here’s a closer look…
The eagle got confused: it is supposed to go to his trainer, in one of the more spectacular Anthem displays that has ever been devised: I’ve seen this performance several times. After the game, Paxton was asked why he didn’t try to escape. His answer:
“I’m not gonna outrun an eagle, so just thought, we’ll see what happens.”
Heck, he had already endured the horror of Dessa’s incredibly off-key rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” what’s a mere bald eagle attack? Seriously, Paxton’s quote is an ethics guide: Don’t panic, don’t act on emotion, assess the situation, see what happens, and act accordingly. Of course, the fact that this strategy worked out well helps: if the eagle had ripped his eyes out, everyone would be saying Paxton was an idiot not to run.
How I would have loved to see this happen to Colin Kaepernick!
2. How the President gets himself into ethics trouble. I just watched a clip of Trump speaking yesterday about California’s sanctuary cities. “The thing is that these cities are protecting bad people,” he said, with emphasis. Naturally, this will be characterized as racism. It’s not racism, however. The statement is just overly simplistic, and exacerbated in its inflammatory elements by the President’s rudimentary vocabulary, in which the only operable adjectives appear to be great, bad, horrible, wonderful, terrible, sad, and a few more. It is impossible to communicate about complex issues competently and fairly with such meager tools. Illegal immigrants have broken our laws and willfully so. That is not good, but it does not make all of them bad people….though many are.
3. How the news media gets itself into ethics trouble. In a front page New York Times story yesterday that began,
“Facebook on Wednesday said that the data of up to 87 million users may have been improperly shared with a political consulting firm connected to President Trump during the 2016 election — a figure far higher than the estimate of 50 million that had been widely cited since the leak was reported last month”
…the story went on to say, two paragraphs later, that,
“Facebook had not previously disclosed how many accounts had been harvested by Cambridge Analytica, the firm connected to the Trump campaign. It has also been reluctant to disclose how it was used by Russian-backed actors to influence the 2016 presidential election.”
- The “linked to/connected to” trick is often misleading and unethical, as here. While Cambridge Analytica had been hired by the Trump campaign, the evidence so far is that whatever it harvested was not in fact used to benefit Trump.
The same device has been a staple in the reporting of the Mueller investigation, where “linked to Russian nationals” is used to imply sinister activities in the absence of any evidence of such.
- “how it was used by Russian-backed actors to influence the 2016 presidential election,” is fake news. The statement implies, indeed states as fact, that Russian-backed actors did influence the 2016 presidential election, also known as Hillary’s Fantasy. There is no evidence of that at all. None has been presented, none has been found. The argument in this theory’s favor is pure “post hoc ergo propter hoc,” a logical fallacy: Trump won, he shouldn’t have won, he won after Russian efforts to undermine Hillary, ergo he won because of them.
Such false assumptions do not belong on the front page of the New York Times. It is fake news, misleading, and in my opinion, deliberately so. The Times has passed the point where Hanlon’s Razor is a defense. Editors exist to fix this kind of sloppy reporting.
4. Good charity, bad founder, hence bad charity. (Well, that’s how the President would describe it.) Many foundations and charities founded or funded by individuals who have since been revealed as, or accused of being, sexual harassers or abusers are losing contributions and facing ruin. Along with their sacrifices on the altar of #MeToo will be much collateral damage of the innocent and needy.
The Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation helped pay for art and dance classes for thousands of children and gave young black artists of color a chance to to showcase their work. It’s co-founder, however, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, has been accused of multiple rapes. He has denied the allegations, but his charity seems to be doomed. This is cognitive dissonance in its purest form. Even though the foundation does important and important work, the name of its benefactor is so low on the scale that potential contributors feel their own prestige and reputation will be reduced by supporting a cause connected to such infamy. The same fate has befallen the Kevin Spacey Foundation, which mentored and trained young performers. At the end of February, the charity announced it was shutting down after trustees deemed it “no longer viable” because Spacey’s reputation is no longer viable.
From a logical and ethical perspective, this makes no sense. It is also a standard that has seldom been applied before. The Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundations and Carnegie Foundation, among others, all were established with “dirty money” by robber baron founders who did a lot worse things than harass women, though they almost certainly did that too, since sexual harassment was the rule, not the exception. Then there is the Kennedy Center Honors, named after, and partially funded by, a family that made a fetish and a hobby out of sexual harassment. So far, no one has turned down such an “honor.”
5. And speaking of the Kennedys...”Chappaquiddick” is out, eight full years after Ted Kennedy’s death, and more than 50 years after Mary-Jo Kopechne was allowed to die in a submerged car by a U.S. Senator because his name was Kennedy. That it took this long for Hollywood to make a movie about this made-for-cinema mystery/crime/ sex scandal is all the evidence anyone should need to prove how the film industry is in thrall to the Democratic Party and progressive agendas. The good news is that the film finally being released seems to show that the Kennedy family’s power to protect the “Camelot” myth is waning. As a kid, I watched Ted’s outrageous live explanation of the accident while my father alternately hooted and shouted at the TV. I confess: I never recovered from the disgust of seeing the liberal/progressive/Democratic Party hypocrisy in such full bloom, nor forgot how my humanist, Harvard community, Adlai Stevenson-idolizing, Richard Nixon-hating neighbors were able to ignore the fact that their junior Senator had killed a young woman and allowed his wealthy family to cover it up, and then continued to vote for him.
Pointer and Facts (#4): New York Times