Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/28/18: Expired Ethics, Sleeping Fact-Checkers, Ghosts, The Dumbest Ethics Train Wreck Of Them All…

It’s a beautiful morning!

1. When “Everybody Does it” isn’t just a rationalization. I was asked by a law firm to render an opinion as to whether particular conduct was a violation of the legal ethics rules.  A legal ethics opinion—bar associations issue these periodically to cover gray areas– in the jurisdiction said that it was, but the opinion was over 20 years old. The reasoning given in the opinion for declaring the conduct unethical was that the practice was “new to the jurisdiction” and might mislead or confuse the public.

Today, however, my research showed, the conduct is commonplace in that jurisdiction. Many, many law firms engage in it. What was new two decades ago is new no longer, and the reasoning for the opinion’s conclusion was based on conditions that no longer exist. Moreover, no firm has been punished for the conduct, and won’t be.

The firm was concerned that the legal ethics opinion had not been over-ruled or withdrawn. I said that it didn’t have to be. “Everyone” was engaged in the conduct it forbade, the bar had allowed “everyone” to do it, and if an issue was raised now, I am 100% certain that the old opinion would be withdrawn as no longer reasonable or germane.

2. One more human feature that makes ethics harder: the ability to simultaneously hold two contradictory and mutually exclusive beliefs.

I was watching one of the apparently inexhaustible supply of cable shows about haunting and paranormal investigations with my wife. This one climaxed in a session with a Ouija board, and the love of my life uttered, within seconds of each other, these two statements:

  • “It’s amazing how many otherwise intelligent people really believe in ghosts and demons.”
  • “Ouija boards! I wouldn’t allow one of those things in the house. I’m not taking any chances.

I have heard many other friends and acquaintances endorse both of these positions as well.

3. It is the study of how one discerns the truth, after all. Who needs it? They no longer teach ethics in our education system, and now apparently philosophy is on the way out. Claremont Graduate University in California will be closing the PhD program in philosophy and terminating two tenured faculty. Apparently the move was dictated by budget and “market considerations.” The Claremont colleges in Southern California are a distinguished and growing batch consisting of Pomona, Scripps, Harvey Mudd, Claremont-McKenna, and Pitzer. They still have a philosophy faculty, but I wonder for how long.

I was tempted to check the curriculum of these schools to see what kinds of courses were deemed worthy of support while a graduate degree in philosophy was not, but I decided that it would make my head explode.

4. Where are the fact-checkers?  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been making the rounds on the news media, and this “Face of the Democratic Party” utters one non-fact after another with total certitude and charm, and resembles, for all the world, the worst bullshitter-activist you knew in college. Here is a painful segment from “The Daily Show”…

You probably noticed that she represented the total military budget as the budget increase. Whatever.

The question is: where are the fact-checkers, who would have a field day with her pie-in-the-sky nonsense? In the New York Times today, the paper wastes type disputing President Trump’s claim that the 4.1 GDP report is “historic.” Seriously? Doesn’t everyone understand by now how this guy talks? Besides “historic” can mean anything that happened; it’s a part of history, so it’s historic. Trump uses superlatives interchangeably,  randomly, and often imprecisely. If the news media is going to dispute every politician’s use of a silly hyperbole–well never mind, they aren’t going to. Mostly just Trump’s. But Ocasio-Cortez is seriously misinforming people, and the news media has a duty to point that out. Ten days ago, PolitiFact and did rebut her especially absurd explanation of the positive employment figures but she has been spewing non-stop socialist gibberish since.

Too cute to fact-check?

5. And the The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, dumb as ever, is still rolling. I considered writing a full post on this, because it really irritates me, but this particular train wreck is fueled by sheer ignorance, arrogance and stupidity, and ethics is powerless against them.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has ordered that his players must stand for the National Anthem. It’s his team, his product, his employees, and the field is their workplace. He has every right to set their working conditions. Never mind…the athletes who presume to “make their voices heard” on complex issues “are loath to give up what many see as their right to speak freely in a public square, say they are not protesting the national anthem but trying to raise awareness about police brutality toward African-Americans and other forms of social injustice.”

The players can see protesting in their uniforms before a stadium full of people who paid to see them give each other concussions and not presume to play politics as their right all they want, just as they can believe the world is flat and that the moon is made of cheese, but the fact is that they have no such right. The fact is that the workplace, in their case a football field, is not “the public square.” The fact is that if you pick the playing of the National Anthem as the time to stage your meaningless protest, you cannot claim that you are not protesting the anthem—especially when some players say that they are protesting the anthem.

Meanwhile, the players have moved the metaphorical ball not one inch in explaining how their knee-fest raises “awareness about police brutality toward African-Americans and other forms of social injustice.”  It’s been almost two years, and the protest remains incoherent. What “other forms of social injustice”? What specific policy changes are the players advocating? How does their weekly stunt help inform, or build consensus? The answers are “none,” “none,” and “it doesn’t.”

One of the more articulate and outspoken kneelers, Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles, called Jones a “bully.” Are all employers who tell employees how they want their business run “bullies”?

“I think it’s unfortunate that you have owners like him that use his position to intimidate and intentionally thwart even the idea of his players thinking individually or having a voice about issues that affect their communities daily, which is unfortunate,” Jenkins told reporters.

Oddly, no reporter asked, “How has Jones stopped you from thinking or speaking about anything? He just requires that you do it on your own time, like every other American.”

Then there is Kenny Stills, a wide receiver on the Miami Dolphins, who said the league didn’t need an anthem policy and that players should be able to “do what they wanted.” No, employees can not “do what they want” while they are collecting a salary. Has any group of employees in labor history articulated a weaker, more ignorant, less justified position? The NFL players’ union has told the NFL now that it will fight what it sees as limits on the right to free speech. There’s that “sees” again. It’s not a limit on free speech.

That is a fact.

Why should I care about the political views of people who don’t know what they are talking about? Why should anyone?

53 thoughts on “Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/28/18: Expired Ethics, Sleeping Fact-Checkers, Ghosts, The Dumbest Ethics Train Wreck Of Them All…

  1. #3 “I decided that it would make my head explode.”

    You best read no further, then…

    This restructuring allows students to commodify their…um…identity, weepily identify their rungs on the Grievance Ladder, and pursue the Diversity Leviathan.

    And if you think THAT ain’t the place to be, guess again!

    Glenn Harlan Reynolds fleshes it out a tad The Higher Education Bubble. While you bear in mind this was published in 2012, using figures from before that, ask yourself: have things gotten better (bullshit reduction), stayed the same (bullshit static), or gotten worse (bullshit increase).

    “Even as the once-mighty University of California system slashes programs and raises tuition, it has created a new systemwide ‘vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.’

    “This is on top of the already enormous University of California diversity machine, which, as Heather Mac Donald notes, ‘includes (but likely isn’t limited to):

    *the Chancellor’s Diversity Office,
    *the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity,
    *the assistant vice chancellor for diversity,
    *the faculty equity advisors,
    *the graduate diversity coordinators,
    *the staff diversity liaison,
    *the undergraduate student diversity liaison,
    *the graduate student diversity liaison,
    *the chief diversity officer,
    *the director of development for diversity initiatives,
    *the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity,
    *the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues,
    *the Committee on the Status of Women,
    *the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion,
    *the Diversity Council,
    *the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center,
    *the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and,
    * the Women’s Center.”

    “While the UC system loses top cancer researchers to Rice University, it is creating new chaired professorships in, you guessed it, diversity studies.

    “Likewise, in North Carolina, UNC-Wilmington is combining the physics and geology departments to save money while diverting more funding to campus diversity offices.”

    We’ve gone from bad to diverse!

      • Quick google search suggests a range for the head honchos of the diversity departments as between $70 and $130K. Of course, you can bet they have support staffs etc., so one could expect a not-phenomenally-large school to spend close to a million per year on this nonsense.

        And we wonder why tuitions keep going up…

          • The cynic in me says that your answer boils down to supply and demand. Remember, cisgendered white males need not apply, which pre-disqualifies a large chunk of the population.

            More practically, given that these are highly visible – and fairly powerful – gigs, one presumes that the jobs pay at parity with other second-tier administrative positions. And if they paid less than others in that grouping, there would be a shitstorm. Because racism, misogyny and transphobia.

          • ”Why are they being paid so much?”

            Because it requires the special…um…talent of pretending you’re trying to eliminate something whose presence determines your continued employment?

    • Diversity officers and similar positions are one of the most insidious developments in all of education.

      Consider that they serve no purpose and are literally are out of a job if there is not enough racial tension and oppression in the culture.

      Then consider that these are the people advocating in intellectual spaces AGAINST “color blindness” and claiming that judging people as individuals is in fact racist, as opposed to judging people based on surface characteristics.

      Then consider that these are also the same people creating convoluted formulas for racism that allow for racial hatred to continue instead of healing (racism is prejudice plus power! Only Whites can be racist!)

      There is now an army of educated idiots (the worst kind) whose literal job is to keep racial and inter-gender tensions inflamed. Most of us want fewer neo-nazis around, fewer Black activists wanting to kill cops, and fewer riots and racially-charged police incidents. But for the diversity officer, these things are good for business. It was in fact one of these professional race-warhawks who schemed to get two women needlessly fired from a Portland bakery. Even in the most progressive city in America in a hipster bake shop, they can sniff out nonexistent racism and oppression. It’s their full-time job.

      • Issac, great post. I would like to pose a question to those who fill such positions. Do diversity officials believe that their positions are needed because the college’s administration is racist or xenopbobic and denies access to certain populations or are certain populations more worthy and underrepresented thus it is necessary to push for higher rates of inclusion for more worthy underrepresented populations. Then we can ask them if they still beat their spouses.

    • After I retrieved my jaw from where it hit the ground, I’ve copied your list, Paul, for future use(s), with attribution, among those of my acquaintance who argue that this attention to oversight (rather than to what it is overseeing) has any merit whatsoever — this has the added benefit of being able to mention Ethics Alarms as well, something that has been raising hackles as well as auto-rationalizations since it was first introduced (watch my smirk) to them. Something like this will get through simply because it is so wastefully stupid, or vice versa.

      I will, however, reserve your punchline for a larger audience. As a word-play enthusiast, I am, as the kids say, hella jealous; it’s a beaut. Thanks.

  2. “…she has been spewing non-stop socialist gibberish since.

    But it’s authentic frontier non-stop socialist gibberish.

  3. 2. I believe that it is impossible to hold two mutually exclusive beliefs as true. It is possible to state that you hold those beliefs, but only your actions will show your true beliefs.
    My true belief always comes out in action, which may or may not have any relationship to what I say.
    From my observation, this is true for everyone. My belief can’t be hidden or even revealed by words, because my belief will always come out in my actions.
    One President was a pleasant speaker, one was a “word-cloud” generator. Only their actions show their beliefs.

    • Is this consistent with your approach.
      President Trump is a facist who will destroy oue democracy. And, We have to get in their faces and tell them if they support Trump they have no place in our society.

      • A1) President Trump is a fascist who will destroy our democracy.

        A2) And, We have to get in their faces and tell them if they support Trump they have no place in our society.

        James Burnham (‘The Managerial Revolution’ among other titles) wrote:

        “When the rural population becomes “radical” in large numbers, it does not turn typically to liberalism in the modern sense but to less polished, wilder and more violent doctrines and programs: to cheap money panaceas, rural anarchism, communism, vigilantism, racial and religious “hate” movements, and for that matter fascism.”

        Avant propos: I think it is rather funny that you use the term ‘democracy’ as if it is a real thing and as if it really exists. You are certainly not alone in this projection of stark illusion. America is in only a very minor sense a *democracy*. Any person with two eyes in their head should be able to distinguish that in all the major areas — the important areas — decisions are taken and make not ‘democratically’ as you seem to indicate, but through other processes (that are anti-democratic and, I guess you’d be forced to apply your own term: that are fascist).

        Seeing clearly, telling the truth: Why is this so very hard?

        If ‘our democracy has been destroyed’, and it has most definitely been substantially undermined and altered well in advance of Monsieur Trump, it would seem important to be able to at least begin to distinguish what happened. To examine causation. To be able to think freely and probingly about *what happened*. To be able to say something about it.

        I would venture to say at this point that the reasons *the New York Intellectual establishment* has determined to see Trump and the flyover underclasses and their dangerous clamoring as a threat, is that their reactions are not unsound at all if one understands what they are *seeing*. They are seeing, because they have good reasons to see, just what Burnham refers to: “wilder and more violent doctrines and programs: […] cheap money panaceas, rural anarchism, communism, vigilantism, racial and religious “hate” movements, and for that matter fascism”. But they are also seeing through the eyes of those who struggled against and were deeply affected by the events of Europe.

        Consider for a moment the *belief systems* of Randy Weaver, David Koresh, Louis Beam, David Duke and about 100 others.

        “Millennial dreams, apocalyptic nightmares populated by agents of the Antichrist, space aliens, and acolytes of the New World Order”. (Michael Barkun)

        Thus James Burnham is making a true and also a useful statement.

        The issue is not with Trump but rather the specific class that voted him in. According to many, and certainly the New York Intellectual Class, it is that class and their notions that very definitely represent a danger to the liberal system that has been engineered in the postwar era. The Americanopolis.

        There is no doubt that they understand their struggle against this dangerous class as necessary and also as good. In fact, they must either crush it and destroy it (I mean its activism) or be destroyed by it. Defeating it, they must assert their own guiding ideas into its mentality. It is social engineering so defined. They do not direct events, they are molded and formed by those with superior vision.

        This is how the narrative is taking shape as people within each pole define themselves, define their position, define their interests, and define their roles and their plans of action.

        The curious thing really is that that ‘wild and dangerous flyover class’, or at least some of its representatives, are startlingly more eloquent now than at any former time. They are articulating a position and a stance that is gaining influence and the New York Intellectual Class (to use a general term) is recoiling into reactive stances which are harder to define and defend. What then begins to become apparent is that the conflict begins to materialize out of the idea-realm and into the tangible sphere of direct struggle.

        • This is an idea thoroughly explored by ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy, and the end result of the conflict if the New York Intellectual Class wins: virtual slavery for the producers while the ‘masters’ play ever more insipid games.

        • Here in today’s NYTs is a piece that very nicely displays the fear and apprehension of the ‘New York Intellectual Class’.

          This is, more or less, a repeat of the basic trope that the Times originally set out when Trump was running: that of the untrustworthiness and the dangerousness of the rural class, those without a proper ‘university education’.

          To understand the present conflict, which seems to be a gulf opening between certain classes (?), one has to understand how each group defines the other.

          • So how do the coastal progressive overlord expect to eat? Do they no know where their food comes from? Where the actual production occurs?

            They would have to force their serfs to produce.

            Remarkably like the Hunger games.

            • First, I have a question: What happened to Chris? (And Charles). Haven’t noticed them here…

              Suddenly, I came across that seems right now to be *key* to understanding Our Present. The Managerial Revolution:

              The ‘overloards’ are, if Burnham is correct, the managers of our society, those who ‘revolve’ from the corporate world to the governmental world. It is this class that has super-ceded the class-division between the bourgeoisie and the proletarian. The reason it is, in many senses, a mental farce to imagine a *democracy* in the original sense (the Founder’s sense) is because this new management-system has super-ceded the significant core of the ideology that explained and defended 18th and 19th ideologies.

              This ‘class’ requires, therefor, a New Ideology, and if I am not mistaken this ideology is presented and explained through the *business school*. Given that the managers have taken control of society, and that these managers are also the same people who run countries, it is not some 18th or 19th century political ideology that has weight, but rather the ‘efficiency’ of the manager’s approach.

              To understand the now-manifesting resistance among different groups of people in America and in Europe, one might have to see their opposition as one of opposition to the bourgeois-managerial-liberalist scheme which has come so to dominate the *management* of society. If what I suggest here is so the resistance to the popular opposition (that is, the New York Intellectual Class’s resistance to the popular revolt-dissatisfaction) takes place among the ‘cultural managers’ which includes, naturally, academia, the *think tanks*, the media, and Hollywood (and/or ‘Tin Pan Alley’: those who manufacture social-ideological content).

              Whatever is happening in (certain) people — those who have been labeled extremists, of alt-right, of New Right, or Traditionalist, or what-have-you) need to be understood as resisting the managerial world-state. And this naturally means developing oppositional narratives to their managerial ideologies, devoid as they are of traditional philosophical and religious content. The ideology is a sort of non-ideology of efficiency and distribution-systems.

              However, it is these people, and this class, that literally controls the technology on which the entire world runs! There can be no substantial opposition to them, nor a turning against them, nor a doing without them, because *they* are essential to the running of all modern systems.

              That is why the conflict turns, acrimoniously, into ‘sophisticated’ emotional-ideological battle-displays and not much more (at least now). Yet the System remains virtually untouched. We are now in that (strange) phase of social-mental conflict.

              Sorry if this sounds half-cooked! It is! I hope to arrive at more clarity soon (but make no promises as to when I’ll start my World Mission… 🙂 )

              • Chris & Charles have skeedaddled in search of more…um…promising environs, or perhaps less unpromising ones.

                I suspect I’m not alone when I say I do miss CG. He sticks to his guns and’ll go mano-a-mano, and I don’t have to agree with someone to appreciate, nay respect, that.

                Heck, I even notice Chris is gone; but more in the, if you’ll forgive me, vein of those painfully aggravating piles I had removed….

              • What happened to Chris? (And Charles). Haven’t noticed them here…

                Chris banned himself by being rude to his host… and refusing to apologize. It is just as well: he had devolved to screaming, spitting, enraged demagoguery, unable to cope with a world where progressives are not in total charge. EA is a place to discuss differences, and Chris was no longer discussing. Indeed, he saw himself as attempting to enlighten our boor benighted souls, and now rationalizes that we are not worth the effort.

                Charles is taking a self imposed break, being unable to defend his party or progressive hysteria, yet really being opposed (in a ‘loyal opposition’ sort of way) to the things Trump is accomplishing. Charles really believes that Trump cheated to get elected, and could not bear the truth coming out that his beloved party was the one who cheated, and acts the way they do today.

                (They are both welcome to correct me: I am trying to be fair and objective with my observations of each)

                As to the rest of your post: it still does not answer my (mostly rhetorical) question: How will the coastal elites eat once they destroy their enemies, heartland common Americans?

                • To that I would say that my impression is that in many different ways it is always the *common man* who is (excuse the turn of phrase) preyed-upon and abused by the ruling elite to a greater or a lesser extent. The object of rulership is to either persuade the common man to serve the ideologies and outlines of the ruling class, or to trick him through sophistry.

                  We seem to live now in a time when the *common man*, at least speaking about one specific demographic, is no longer convinced by the sophistical machinations of the ruling (directing, managerial) class. This is leading to an ideological crisis and ideological war. A rebellion, of sorts, is in the works, yet the ruling class (I use the term NY Intellectual Class for purposes of a simplistic example) has to fight tooth and claw in order to convince this *common man* that what he things sees and feels is not only *wrong* but is *evil*. Therefor, this Liberal Ideologue plays a very sophisticated but really psychological game. (I also think this *explains* someone like Chris who does seem to illustrate the generalism of modern ‘SJW’).

                  But what is the relationship (to speak in Marxian terms as Burnham does)(he is a former Marxist I have gathered) between the present ruling establishment and the *means of production*? Because that is what you are asking, aren’t you? But according to Burnham this is where things get strange and complex. The ‘manager’ has super-ceded the strict (the former) class division. And our society is run by these managers who dominate in all areas. That is, a *technology manager* is necessary in all areas. I might even suggest in food production which has also become, in essence, industrialized.

                  I guess I would say that the heartland is totally dependent on the ruling elite if it is understood as an entire network of management and technology. There is really no *independent class* and no means to achieve any level of independence unless one goes completely ‘off the grid’ as they say.

                  There is no economic war (or *struggle*) afoot that I notice. It is all ideological, emotion-based, and essentially moral and moralizing.

                  (Please excuse what sound like and perhaps are many Marxian terms. Burnham uses this sort of analysis and though I do not think it is inaccurate it is a bit stark).

                • SW writes: “Charles is taking a self imposed break, being unable to defend his party or progressive hysteria, yet really being opposed (in a ‘loyal opposition’ sort of way) to the things Trump is accomplishing.”

                  I see. I would have to say that I do not think this figure ‘Trump’ can or should be trusted at any level by those interested in defining and defending conservatism (or ‘conservatism’). But I admit to not understanding a great deal about how power works in American politics. I do not even know why the so-called *deep State* seems so desperately and implacably opposed to Trump. Trump seems only to be serving the interests and objects of the ruling and managing ‘elite’ (the business class essentially). And if one chooses (as a ‘common person’ or the ‘average man’) to see that class as serving our interests, well, one can do that. But the real question is What are our interests? I think that *many people* cannot define their own interests and they mouth sophistries and platitudes that are ideas and policies that in many ways operate against them! That is why I am highly critical of so-called ‘conservatives’ because what they serve is, essentially, power: the machinations of a ruling business class. A *true conservatism* would expose those sophistries.

                  The popular class, the rural class, has not even been comfortable with the designs of the American ruling elite. But they have not ever been able to organize their, shall I say, *opposition*. But what would their interests be? Those of the various popular American movements I suppose. The rural social movements.

                  Trump, I would guess, is *playing to his base* while he, rather obviously, is invested in and serves the sort of interests that are not shared by ‘the common man’. He has little or nothing in common with them (except perhaps his vulgar streak?) His pro-Zionism is simply disgusting (IMHO). But this fits into the ideological and mercantile interests of a ruling managerial elite. That is what ‘globalization’ has come to mean. It is the management of the world by tightly linked technocratics. What *ideology* does it require? In this sense it is anti-ideological.

                  Very strange indeed.

                  The ruling class of America, that essentially controls and literally owns government and thus ‘America’, is opposed to Trump because why? He obviously serves business interests. It really makes no sense to me.

      • An interesting excerpt from The Managerial Revolution by James Burnham:

        In spite of this, we must, particularly today, stress the point that political democracy and capitalism are not the same thing. There have been many politically democratic states in societies which were not capitalist; and there have been many non-democratic states in capitalist society. Political orators, war-propagandists, and others who use words emotionally rather than scientifically confuse these facts of history. The speak of ‘democracy’ when they mean ‘capitalism’ or of ‘capitalism’ when they mean ‘democracy’, or they lump the two together in such phrases as ‘our way of life’. If the fate of democracy is in truth bound up with the fate of capitalism, that is something to be proved, not to be taken for granted by using language loosely.

  4. Has anybody bothered to point out to the NFL protesters that kneeling is a position of submission and subservience?

  5. 2. Your wife’s second response is the type that always makes me wonder how many people believe in their religion only because they’re afraid it might be true, rather then actually believe in it

    3. It’s California, that was probably a smart move to prevent head explosionitis (I’m making that word up now)

    5. There are a lot of people that will never understand what freedom of speech is. I think in this case they probably don’t really care, they just want to protest. After all, they’ve heard so many times about how it’s true, whether it is or not.

    • 2. One of the letter exchanges between Adams and Jefferson in their dotage includes confessions from both that they are each hedging their bets regarding God and an after life.

  6. 2) Beliefs are ONLY exclusive if they are made in absolutes and the absolutes are opposite.

    I mean…I don’t think any intelligent person believes Canada would ever go to war with us. Yet we still don’t take any chances and have contingency plans to defend against Canadian attack.

    Maybe your wife’s belief against demons isn’t absolute, but merely looks absolute from an odds-based perspective.

  7. #5:

    “Meanwhile, the players have moved the metaphorical ball not one inch in explaining how their knee-fest raises “awareness about police brutality toward African-Americans and other forms of social injustice.””

    And they never will at this point because the protest isn’t about anything other than itself. This is now a stubborn pride fest of not backing down and the only thing being protested is “you ain’t telling me what I can or can’t do”.

    It’s another completely empty and meaningless temper tantrum to Live Action Role Play victimhood = heroicism that the progressives latch onto every chance they get.

    Take a Knee is in the same category as Dress Up in Handmaid’s Tale costumes…

    People desperate for a cause when there is none needed.

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