Saturday Afternoon Ethics Stimulus, 5/26/2018: The Sad Part Is That None Of This Is A Surprise

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

1.  From the “Bias makes you UNBELIEVABLY stupid, especially, apparently, if you’re a journalist” files: Ann Althouse posted this screen shot of memeorandum, an excellent  news aggregator page:

I wrote earlier about how many of the anti-Trump mob, in the news media and out of it, appeared to be actively rooting for the President’s diplomatic efforts with North Korea to fail, and how his Negotiation 101 move of symbolically walking away from the planned summit would probably be misunderstood and misinterpreted because of the current toxic combination of bias and ignorance, but this is ridiculous. Writes Althouse—who despite multiple polite requests refuses to put Ethics Alarms in her links despite its covering a lot of parallel territory, despite the many frivolous or largely inactive blogs she does link to, and despite the multiple plugs and links I give her, but hey, I’m not bitter

“But the process isn’t over, and I assume it’s a dealmaking dance in which breaks like this a part of the process. Isn’t that what Trump wrote in “The Art of the Deal” and has talked about innumerable times? Trump haters shouldn’t exult over his failure until they see how this ends. And maybe even then, they shouldn’t exult. Don’t we all want a better, safer world? Or is seeing Trump fail better?”

  • Exactly.
  • Yes, indeed for these awful Americans, seeing the President of the United States fail at resolving a dangerous international threat IS better than a safe world, for this is how deep the hate is…
  • Worse than sick and vicious, however, this deep bias leads to flagrant examples of incompetence like this. Why would anyone trust the analysis of journalists so dumb or naive that they don’t understand the basics of high-stakes negotiation?

Naturally, this was the news today.

2. Grocery store ethics.

  • Nice. A woman using food stamps came up short in the checkout line, and a decent, ethical, compassionate American behind her offered to pick up the difference. The check-out employee refused to allow it, saying that supplemental food grant recipients weren’t worthy of such charity: “‘No! You’re not going to do that. She has WIC. She gets her free stuff.'” According to a social media post by the foiled Good Samaritan, the unidentified woman left without the addition items.

(Why didn’t somebody call a supervisor? Don’t supermarkets want to sell stuff?

  • Publix I. A Charleston, South Carolina Publix censored the graduation cake message that was supposed to celebrate a high school student’s summa cum laude class standing. Even though she explained the significance of the Latin phrase (the Washington Post story felt it was necessary to translate it for its readers, which is just sad), the cake was delivered with the icing message, “Congrats Jacob! Summa ___ Laude class of 2018.”

You know, I knew the meaning of summa cum laude about twenty years before I learned the vulgar spelling that apparently people can’t have on a cake they pay for. What business does a supermarket have telling customers what they can or can’t have on a cake—especially when the management of said store is illiterate as well as presumptuous?

  • Publix II. The Supermarket That Never Heard of Latin cravenly capitulated to one more stunt by self-righteous social justice monster David Hogg and his fellow props of the anti–Second Amendment movement, moments before his “die-in” protests–how original!—commenced at several stores. Publix announced  that it would suspend its political contributions to Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for Florida governor, because of his support for the National Rifle Association.

    “We would never knowingly disappoint our customers or the communities we serve,’’ the chain said. “As a result, we decided earlier this week to suspend corporate-funded political contributions as we reevaluate our giving processes.’’ I hope sufficient numbers of Publix customers are sufficiently disappointed in any company that encourages the  tactics of the Parkland Avengers by dignifying them with a response. Who knows who they will try to vilify and extort next? Contributing to political candidates is also a right.

3. Heads-up…I suspect this is the beginning of a serious trend that may even give some civil libertarians—the ones with integrity—pause.  Legal Insurrection, the conservative commentary site  founded by Cornell Law professor William A. Jacobson, had its Amazon Associates partnership terminated in April for no discernible reason. Since the justifications for the action were contrived, contradictory and counter-factual, the site believes, and Jacobson makes a strong case, that the action was pure ideological warfare (my term , not his.) The Big Tech communications companies—Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon—-appear to be increasingly brazen in discriminating against users based on their political viewpoint, as a means of doing its their part to subvert free speech and association.

Almost as disturbing as this trend is the attitude in response to Jacobson’s post, expressed by many  progressives’ comments, which I would characterize as, ‘Good! This site is conservative, meaning it is racist and fascist, and Amazon was right to sever ties with it.’


18 thoughts on “Saturday Afternoon Ethics Stimulus, 5/26/2018: The Sad Part Is That None Of This Is A Surprise

      • Nah, I don’t think so. I wouldn’t presume to know everything about international diplomacy, defense policy, nuclear weapons, military tactics and strategy, economics, business, government, health care, and so forth. But if I worked for a newspaper I could kibitz on any and all of those, and more, with impunity.

    • Sure. And yes, it was the computer program initially, but the mother also wrote an explanation in the space provided, and a human being read, and ignored, that.

      And people program computers. It’s no excuse.

  1. Publix should have just ignored Hogg’s latest cry for attention. No more than a handful of actual teenagers would have shown up, as the average supporter of Hogg’s anti-gun movement is like 55.

    It’s one thing to get teens to go along with a free trip to be on television standing around City Hall when they would otherwise be sitting in class, but a Publix “die in” would have consisted of a few retired, old-Lefty activist earth-mothers, their 3rd husbands, and maybe a couple of their embarrassed-to-be-there kids.

    • Check out the silly photos. Teenagers lying on the floor while people are trying to get to the tomatoes and asparagus while stepping over them. There were probably not more than eight or twelve kids on the floor. Pretty pathetic but Hogg’s PR flacks did a great job getting media coverage on site and in the news.

  2. The Summa Cum Laude case is somewhat different from your summary here, Jack. The woman in question ordered the cake online, through an automated system, and it refused to allow the phrase. When she noticed the automated censoring, she wrote a note, to be attached to the order — which she noticed stated “Summa — Laude” in the captioning field — correcting it.

    When the (assistant) manager was made aware of the situation, he gave her a refund and gift card.

    This isn’t about the management being illiterate, or even about the employees. It’s about the automated system — as the Post’s replication attempt demonstrates. It’s also possibly about Publix employees ignoring the note — or maybe their use of a robotic cake-decorating system.

    Either way, your analysis is flawed and your summary notably incomplete (as it didn’t even note the electronic/automated aspect of the affair).

    • The computers don’t program themselves, and the cakes don’t deliver themselves, Humans with rudimentary education were involved at every stage, and “Summa —-Laude would be a gimme on Wheel of Fortune. There’s no excuse for this happening. That’s the bottom line. Saying “it was the computer’s fault is a silly cop-out.

      I included the link for anyone who wanted the details, which change the post not one iota. I include the links, and my interpretation is consistent with the expanded faacts, I view this as a “gotcha” comment, and pedantry at best. Bottom line: A women ordered a cake with a standard academic term in it, and the system was programmed to 1) recognize it as obscenity, and 2) censor what they had no business censoring in the first place. Reason: ignorance, disrespect for consumers, lack of oversight. If you want to write about how this illustrates the negligence of letting computers do work without proper human quality control, be my guest. That’s another issue, though.

      I left out the after-the-horse-has-left details because they are irrelevant. The post isn’t about money. It’s about ignorance. And as the mother noted in her own post, the party was marred by the stupid error, and the absent a time machine, the harm can’t be fixed.

      Your complaint is nit-picking.

  3. It seems to me that these events could open a huge market for opportunity for AMAC the conservative option to AARP which are nothing more than marketing organizatons. It may not immediately generate the commissions Amazon might but if enough people are driven to shopping conservative channels then it would have the desired result of supporting non progressive thought.

  4. i have some agreement with the cashier that gets up every day to work the register and then gets pissed off when she encounters multiple capable people getting the stuff she works hard for for free. We shouldn’t confuse ethics, decency, and compassion with personal responsibility. Maybe she motivated the person on WIC to apply for a job at the store so she could buy everything she wanted or needed… Nah probably not.

    • I, like you, sympathize with the emotion. But the customer didn’t make the social policies, and is still a customer whose status should insulate her from being insulted by the store staff. And interfering with a purchase, no matter who makes it, is a breach of duty.

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