Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/5/18: Dinosaurs, Savages, And Censors

Good Morning!

1. Jurassic World II. I can’t honestly call this ethics, but as I posted about the film’s bad reviews earlier, I feel obligated to close the loop. I saw the movie last night, and as I knew I would, enjoyed it thoroughly, beginning to end. To those who did, I feel a bit the way I do about people who don’t like baseball, Westerns, Gilbert & Sullivan, and the United States of America: I’m sorry for you. This one even has a moment that seems to be written for those who don’t to help explain those who do, when Bryce Dallas Howard talks about her sense of wonder the first time she saw a dinosaur. Of course, the original movie better expressed the same sense of wonder in the iconic scene where Sam Neill is struck dumb by his first sight of  the brachiosaurus (and the lawyer’s only reaction is “We’re going to make a fortune with this place!”), but the Howard’s speech is no less an accurate description of how we dinosaur-lovers feel when we see these creatures on-screen.

No, it’s not the equal of the first “Jurassic World,” but it is excellent for the sequel, and better, I think, than either sequel to “Jurassic Park.” A vicious mutant raptor chasing a child through Victorian mansion is the stuff of nightmares, and a new concept; the dinosaur auction to a bunch of international bad-guys was a weird cross between “Goldfinger” and “Taken,” and several scenes, including the dinosaur stampede away from the erupting volcano, were worth seeing the film all by themselves. There were also more “Awww!” scenes than in all of the previous films combined: Chris Pratt’s home movies of bonding with the raptor babies; a mother triceratops and her adorable little one, and a haunting evocation of on of Charles Addams. best, but least funny, cartoons. I’ll leave it at that.

My biggest complaints would be that there was not enough of a role for the T-Rex, some of the deliberate homages to the earlier films were ham-handed and predictable, and that there was a fatal decision by one of the villains that made no sense to me at all. These flaws were more than compensated for by the star turn of the Pachycephalosaurus,  a species that had only cameos in “The Lost World” and “Jurassic World,” a terrific fight between a new species in the series, a Carnotaurus, and a Styracosaurus, (one of my mother’s best ceramic models in my collection) and several laugh-out loud moments authored by the dinosaurs. The film’s ending also sets up a final installment that should conclude the series, unless a “Jurassic Planet” is in the cards.

There are some ethics issues in the film, as in all of the films: respect for life, cloning, betrayal, and accountability for unforeseeable consequences. Michael Crichton had no qualms in his original novel with solving the problem of living dinosaurs by nuking the whole park, but Spielberg’s ending was better.

2. An Ethics Quiz That Is Too Minor To Justify A Whole Post. Do you find anything wrong with Donald Trump Jr. parading his new girlfriend in front of cameras at the White House before he is even divorced from his current wife? Writes Ann Althouse, “He and his wife have 5 children. He should be more discreet. Which, I know, obviously doesn’t sound like a Trump concept.” Let’s have a poll!

3.  Facebook flags the Declaration of Independence as “hate speech.”  The Liberty County Vindicator of Liberty County, Texas, had been sharing daily excerpts from the Declaration of Independence in the days approaching Independence Day. “But part 10,” writes Vindicator managing editor Casey Stinnett, “did not appear. Instead, The Vindicator received a notice from Facebook saying that the post  ‘goes against our standards on hate speech.'”

Stinnett  assumes that it was a passage criticizing King George for inciting “domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages” that triggered Facebook’s bots. Fearing that sharing more of the text might trigger the deletion of its entire Facebook page, The Vindicator has suspended its serialization of the Declaration.

And THAT, my friends, is how you chill speech. (Facebook has reportedly restored the deleted post, and apologized to the paper for its “incorrect action.”) The paper’s editor was gracious in his account of the incident, noting that Facebook is a private entity that can do what it likes. He’s too gracious. Social media has too great a role in public debate and discourse for this kind of bias and incompetence to be acceptable. There ought to be no “hate speech” restrictions, because nobody can be trusted to define what “hate speech” is. Reason, meanwhile, which reported the episode, was also too forgiving, and ostentatiously politically correct to boot, writing,

“None of this is meant as a defense of referring to Native Americans as “savages.” That phrasing is clearly racist and serves as another example of the American Revolution’s mixed legacy; one that won crucial liberties for a certain segment of the population, while continuing to deny those same liberties to Native Americans and African slaves. But by allowing the less controversial parts of the declaration to be shared while deleting the reference to “Indian savages,” Facebook succeeds only in whitewashing America’s founding just as we get ready to celebrate it.”

To the American Colonists, based on experience,, “savages” was a fair description. There were many Indian attacks and massacres, and mutilating American bodies was not uncommon. The term was not racist, but in the context of the times, descriptive: the Native Americans were frequently “savage,” and Jefferson was referring to specific instances when they were. Native Americans were not part of the Colonies or under the rule of England, as they would have been the first to point out. Criticizing 250 year old political rhetoric as “hate speech” by today’s non-existent “standards” is kowtowing to brainless political correctness.

Reason writer Christian Britschgi should be ashamed of herself.

4. As I have said: progressives and Democrats are increasingly hostile to the First Amendment. This isn’t a partisan statement, but fact. The New York Times was kind enough to proclaim that fact in a recent article by Times legal writer Adam Liptak, titled, “How Conservatives Weaponized the First Amendment.”

That this didn’t set off ethics alarms for the writer and the Times is the main take-away from the article. “Wait…what am I saying? When the First Amendment protects liberal positions and objectives it’s good, but when it protects conservative activities and values, it’s not? Do we really want to admit that his is our view of the First Amendment?”

Apparently so. Well, thanks! It’s good to know!

Here’s one section of the article:

“The Citizens United campaign finance case, for instance, was decided on free-speech grounds, with the five-justice conservative majority ruling that the First Amendment protects unlimited campaign spending by corporations. The government, the majority said, has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters responded that the First Amendment did not require allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace and corrupt democracy.”

The dissenters claimed that the government could ban books and films during a political campaign, such as the film at the center of the case, which was critical of Hillary Clinton. Four liberal justices actually thought such censorship of political speech was acceptable. The Right didn’t “weaponize” the First Amendment in Citizens United, it called for it to be followed as its authors intended.

And thus, Liptak admits, the Left doesn’t like the First Amendment so much any more…

As a result, liberals who once championed expansive First Amendment rights are now uneasy about them.

“The left was once not just on board but leading in supporting the broadest First Amendment protections,” said Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment lawyer and a supporter of broad free-speech rights. “Now the progressive community is at least skeptical and sometimes distraught at the level of First Amendment protection which is being afforded in cases brought by litigants on the right.”

Many on the left have traded an absolutist commitment to free speech for one sensitive to the harms it can inflict.

Take pornography and street protests. Liberals were once largely united in fighting to protect sexually explicit materials from government censorship. Now many on the left see pornography as an assault on women’s rights.

In 1977, many liberals supported the right of the American Nazi Party to march among Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Ill. Far fewer supported the free-speech rights of the white nationalists who marched last year in Charlottesville, Va.

…as Ethics Alarms has been pointing out regularly, and being called biased and partisan for doing so.



41 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/5/18: Dinosaurs, Savages, And Censors

      • Facebook, which I’m not all that eager to defend–ever–used an algorithm. Sloppy vs aggressively stupid MAGAts. But I repeat myself.

        Now that you mention it though. If any person on one side doesn’t get invited to dinner parties or asked to leave a restaurant does that balance out babies in cages or grab them by the pussy?

          • Seems like most people were irritated by the sheer number of tweets, one even mentioned their alerts specifically. There were only a couple of comments related to MAGA. I think the headline was deliberately misleading.

            • Not the least bit surprising. When a link is being passed around in the manner of valkygrrl’s, the first and necessary step is to find out how much, if any of the headline is even legitimate. There’s a 50/50 chance that even engaging just makes dupes of us all.

              • Members of the Make America Great Movement did the same thing last year.

                So it’s not as if this is a one off.

                Is it typical? Nope. Most don’t listen to NPR because it’s elitist, globalist, and college educated, thus communist. The same way that their political opponents tend to ignore InfoWars.

                • People on the right can be and are college educated. Millions of us are, we just didn’t lose our common sense or values during the college indoctrination attempts.

                  NPR has changed significantly since my youth. I don’t listen to them anymore because they lean so far left, it gives me a headache. I don’t know who you’re talking to on the right, but the vast majority of us aren’t seeing communists around every corner. We don’t get our undies in a knot over every bit of drama. Sure, there were probably a few people who freaked out over the Starbucks cups, the NPR Twitter feed, etc. I think common sense says there are always a few people who freak out over nothing. Let’s chat when those people flip cars over and burn down their neighborhood gas stations.

                  Poor, silly, white, stupid people in fly over country…eatin’ cornbread and speculatin’ on UFOs, too dumb to get to one of the smarter coasts, and too slow to even realize how dumb they are.

                  • Sue is great at false analogies and false equivalences.

                    Any one time anyone who is not progressive makes a aggressive post is the same as Antifa rioting. They are all the same, you know?

                    And she thinks, like most progressives, that she is the smartest person in the room -any room- when 5 minutes listening to her prove otherwise.

                    Fly Over country = stupid hicks

                    • Jack,

                      Welcome to the Church of the Holy Cornbread, and all the Acolytes: Black Eyed Peas, Pinto Beans, Ham Hocks, and the Sacrament of Eternal Butter.

                      Notice we have bilateral support for this little thread: how often does that happen?

                      Now sit back, relax, and set your oven for 350 degrees…

                    • “Cornbread Alarms”

                      My eyes are still a little foggy from cataract surgery, did you say:

                      ”Honestly, I don’t know how we get on some of these topics…”

                      Just good ol’ stream-of-consciousness-free-associating riffin’!

        • What do they put premmies in? Why do they do that? There is your answer. Protection.

          Sexual nastiness knows no gender. How often have you heard a female remark that a sports car is to make up for a males “shortcoming”. Or, they need to think with their brains rather than their d##ks. I bet if someone had a hot mic on all your personal conversations with the girls someone could find a misandristic comment. Cut me a break.

        • “If any person on one side doesn’t get invited to dinner parties or asked to leave a restaurant does that balance out babies in cages or grab them by the pussy?”

          What do you think, the most logical fallacies, rationalizations, bad analogies and false equivalencies ever baked into a single comment of less than 100 words?

          • Dunno. Why don’t you tell me how it differs from the comment I was replying to aside from taking the side you disagree with.

            • Well, I hadn’t heard about grabbing babies’ pussies before. That’s certainly not ethical.

              I miss Car Talk.

                • Wait… we ARE referring to the radio show about cars? Dudes would help folks find a car to fit their needs, and help with diagnosing repairs? Decent, funny hosts?

              • Even though I don’t know anything but the basics about cars, here’s what I’ll do for you.

                valkygrrl will back your proposal for a weekly ethics of cars symposium if you will back my petition for the Ethics Alarms genre-works book club.

            • To do that, I’d have to know what comment you think you were responding to. I honestly can’t tell. “And your biased because you flagged an objectively nonsensical comment without flagging another one” is, has been, and is always a dubious rebuttal here. I THOUGHT your comment was in response to the comment pointing out that your initial attamept at bad equivilence and a lousy analogy was rather badly flawed. There are lots of moron on Twitter….indeed, using Twitter regularly raised the rebuttal presumption (in my view) that someone IS a moron. But someone being a moron on social media has no impact on me or anyone else—they just out themselves as morons. Facebook putting its fist on the scale of civic discourse using partisan bias DOES adaversely effect the nation, politics, and speech.

      • I don’t find it mystifying at all that some people didn’t understand what they were reading. 113 Tweets! If you noticed the notifications late and read Tweet 89, or 110 isolated, would you pick up immediately what you were reading, with no context? It was ridiculous idea to Tweet the DOI…do they think people are glued to their phones all day long, and would read all 113 Tweets as they appeared? God, I hate Twitter!

        Yet another article with some full-of-themselves lefties making fun of other people for not being as enlightened as they are (‘We knew what it was right away, you didn’t, haha!’) . I was brought up that bragging about ones’ abilities, or education was gauche, and ridiculing those who are less fortunate was just..not…done… you can call people stupid all you like, but there are inborn differences in intelligence, differences in the level of education and money that people have access to. When you call someone in ‘flyover country’ (and how rude is that!?) ‘backwards’ ‘stupid’ and ‘ignorant’ you are punching down on people who’ve led, in many cases, pretty shitty lives, in some sectors the multi-generational poor, without the opportunities those on the coasts take for granted. In ‘flyover country’ also, is that part of America where people work hard to provide you with the food you eat. This attitude, and their utter lack of awareness of it (so much for being ‘woke’, hurk…) is what turns me away from liberals in general.

        Rather than thinking it hilarious that the ‘prince/tyrant’ quote was not recognized as part of the Declaration, it should be an alarm going off. The unrelenting bashing of Trump for everything from his hair and skin color to his golf game, and the endless comparisons to Hitler have gone so far that people (who didn’t see the entire posting) thought it was another Trump bash. That’s a cause for SHAME, not hilarity.

        • I’d agree with you on this. Certainly if I saw tweet 1 or tweet 113, I would immediately recognize the source — it would obviously be a quote or review from “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert A. Heinlein. 😉

          However, if I saw tweet 69 or 70 by itself, I might not be so quick on the uptake. When you are reading through the list of grievances, not every one is immediately recognizable, and I say that as someone who has read a lot of history.

          One has to wonder — if this had been tweeted five or so years ago, would some people have taken portions of it as an attack on Obama? I wouldn’t be too surprised.

  1. #2 I would say it is unethical. He’s got kids, they need to be eased into their new situation, which is horrible, no doubt about it. A bad case of the fruit not falling too far from the tree. But it’s a symptom, not a cause in our society, where marriage is just some paper you get that gives you more options on filing taxes. It’s sad, the conservatives are probably going to gloss over this, because it would get in the way of the president executing good policy (I guess, somehow this would impede him) and the liberals just have no standing in this dept. When are we going to get to the Plato’s Republic model, where no one is a parent, and the children are all of ours, to be raised to be dutiful guards of glorious state! To summarize: who cares?

  2. 4. “When the First Amendment protects liberal positions and objectives it’s good, but when it protects conservative activities and values, it’s not?”

    No better example of the “only good when it protects us” view than this, from the times article:

    Catharine A. MacKinnon, a law professor at the University of Michigan, wrote in “The Free Speech Century,” a collection of essays to be published this year.
    “Legally, what was, toward the beginning of the 20th century, a shield for radicals, artists and activists, socialists and pacifists, the excluded and the dispossessed, has become a sword for authoritarians, racists and misogynists, Nazis and Klansmen, pornographers and corporations buying elections.”

  3. 1. Once I decided to enjoy a dinosaur movie and not think about it, I liked it. It was hard to ignore the news crawl at the bottom of the television in the movie that reported the “American President doubts dinosaurs ever existed in the first place”, though. Also, I thought the end was the perfect example of why we don’t allow children to make decisions that affect thousands of lives.

    2. His first responsibility is to his children at this time. Getting used to a new dynamic, not having both of their parents together, splitting weekends and holidays, all of it is really hard on kids. Adding new public romances to the mix just makes it worse. I realize his father is Donald Trump and this was probably the life Don, Jr himself had growing up, but one can overcome bad examples if one wants to.

    3. I posted the Declaration of Independence in its entirety on Facebook yesterday, including the names of the signers. Thankfully, it’s still there. I got no Likes, though. Bummer.

    4. I don’t think the Left understands what free speech is anymore.

  4. Poll: “Who cares?” was my first choice. Then the answers to the question mark (not “who cares!” = I don’t) came flooding in. Several million people do. I don’t think they can help themselves anymore, the triggers hit their ears and their eyeballs and they jump into the classic boxing stance, ready to hit out at any shadow that moves in their limbic system. On the other side are millions more who are having a painful time being unable to distance or defend themselves from the myriad reasons for shame or offense at the brainless behavior their (our) leader flings in their faces with casual, ignorant disinterest every day.

    I continue to have confidence in the government, certainly in its form and function, though it grinds much coarser than it used to. But I am in doubt that there is enough “presidentiality” in the Oval Office to hold up its branch. At some point, if not already, the combination of wrong behavior and strong personality will affect the larger judgment.

    Tell me I’m wrong, do.

    • While I share much of your despondency over Trump’s behavior, I feel I have to ask the question:

      Did you feel the same about Bill Clinton and Obama? Both were just as corrosive of the office of the Presidency, in less showy ways (less showy, in part, because the press covered their scandals up…)

      I am not confident in our government at all, given the transparent two tiers of justice we see on a weekly basis. Case in point: the slap on the wrist for Imran Awan this week and the whitewashed coverup.

      The Establishment Elites/Swamp (both parties) are crooks.

  5. The dissenters claimed that the government could ban books and films during a political campaign, such as the film at the center of the case, which was critical of Hillary Clinton. Four liberal justices actually thought such censorship of political speech was acceptable. The Right didn’t “weaponize” the First Amendment in Citizens United, it called for it to be followed as its authors intended.

    Amazing how these people keep misrepresenting the issues behind Citizens United.

    Citizens United is what keeps President Trump from pulling NBC’s broadcast license in retaliation for releasing that Access Hollywood tape. There is no way releasing that tape would have been any more legal than Citizens United releasing Hillary: The Movie.

    Of course I note how ironic it is that all the people whining about Russian influence and Russian collusion never complained about the release of that Access Hollywood tape. They never complained about NBC interfering with the election, or asked if there was collusion between NBC and either the Clinton campaign or the Democratic Party.

    What right did anyone have to release that tape? What right did anyone have to interfere with the election? What right would NBC have in colluding with the Democrats?

    What law would protect such a right? Why should not the people who leaked that Access Hollywood tape be imprisoned for their crimes? Why should not NBC have its broadcast license revoked for interfering with the election? If only we had a special prosecutor…

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