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.