Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/2/18: Those Tricky Things Called “Standards” [Updated]

Goooood MORNING, Cape Cod!

(I miss you, but I miss your clams more.)

1. It is amazing the amount of publicity the Manafort trial is getting. I actually heard a Fox News correspondent argue that Manafort’s indictment proves that the Mueller investigation isn’t a “witch hunt.” I see my anti-Trump Facebook friends making the same claim. Bias makes you stupid. No aspect of the charges against Manafort relate to “Russian collusion,” and if the news media were not determined to convince the public that proof of impeachable offenses were just over the horizon and that Mueller was getting closer, closer, CLOSER, this would be a minor news event, if a news event at all. In fact, the Manafort trial is evidence that the Mueller investigation, whether the special prosecutor intends it to be or not, is functioning like a witch hunt. Any associate of the President past, present or future is on notice that he or she is a potential target, involving potential expense, embarrassment, and smears by the media. The political objective of the investigation is to make governing impossible, by causing widespread fear of guilt by association among those who might assist the President.

Virtually any past President you name had shady friends and associates who would be at risk from a Mueller-style “see-what-dirt-we-can-dig-up” operation. The GOP planted the seeds for this tactic with Whitewater. Republicans have no standing to complain, but Trump does.

2. THIS must be impeachable, somehow. CNN headline: “Donald Trump has no earthly clue about how real people buy groceries.”

The crux of the complaint is that the President used buying groceries as an example of basic requirements of life that involve the uses of IDs, as part of a riff on the need for voter identification laws. The “he doesn’t buy his own groceries!” accusation was last used against George H.W. Bush, when he expressed “what will they think of next?” amazement at computer checkout devices. “[The President] has no earthly clue what the average person, living paycheck to paycheck, making ends meet, is dealing with day to day. Going to the grocery store is not about presenting identification, but it can be about figuring out how you’re going to pay for groceries,” bleats Jen Psaki, Obama’s former communications director, so we know she’s unbiased.

Virtually NONE of our national elected officials have bought their own groceries in years, and probably decades. The significance of this is so infinitesimal that it would escape detection by the naked eye. I hate buying groceries. I admire and envy anyone who has progressed to the stage in life where they can have some compensated minion do the job for them. Meanwhile, this is one of—what, a million? Is that too many, or two few?—examples of habitual Trump critics pouncing on one of his–what, a trillion?—careless verbal gaffes and trying to make them seem more damning than they are. Trump could have, quite accurately, cited many other normal transactions less crucial to the nation than the integrity of the ballot box that require IDs, like renting a car, checking into a hotel, getting auto registration renewed, or buying a bottle of scotch. He chose, for reasons buried somewhere in his unique mind—buying groceries, which as a mistake. I don’t care. I question the priorities and intelligence of anyone who does care.

Especially someone who tries to lie to her readers with this whopper: “In 2008, when then-candidate Barack Obama was running against Sen. John McCain, a clear turning point for the campaign came when McCain could not remember how many houses he owned. ” Sure Jen. That was the turning point! I remember it well: I said to my wife, “Oh NO! This is like Gerald Ford saying that Poland wasn’t behind the Iron Curtain! McCain is doomed! Doomed, I tell you!” And when Hillary couldn’t shake her email scandal, I remember thinking, “You know, this is just like McCain not remembering how many houses he owned!”

And the fact that the economy crashed right after McCain’s gaffe was just frosting on the cake.

3. This is defend Sonny Gray Day. In addition to being ambushed by an attempted Hader Gotcha and stinking up Yankee Stadium with a terrible performance against the Baltimore Orioles, now a minor league team, Gray is being criticized in New York because he smiled as a he walked off the mound while boos, jeers and catcalls reigned down on his head by the typically classy Yankee fans.

What was he supposed to do? Weep? Rend his garments? Booing an athlete who has done nothing to indicate that he wasn’t trying, but who merely failed, is asshole behavior. Gray’s smile meant, “Boy, these fans are ridiculous. Well, what can you do? This is New York.” Indeed. The smile was about the only thing Sonny did right yesterday.

4.  Cross New York City, Sonny Gray’s tweets and news media bias, and you get this story: In February, The New York Times announced that it had hired Quinn Norton, a journalist and an essayist from Wired Magazine, as the editorial board’s head opinion writer on technology. Almost immediately, the paper fired her after someone turned up years-old tweets by Norton in which she used anti-gay slurs, and one in which she retweeted a racial slur.

I will interject here that a newspaper cannot afford to have an editor with a record of using anti-gay slurs. She is not like a baseball player, whose work has absolutely nothing to do with his social and political views, and her tweets, though old, were made as an adult working in journalism. I presume the Times just did a lousy job vetting a new hire.  I do not fault the paper’s actions., which is why I didn’t write about the episode in February.

Now, however, the Times has filled the same position with Sarah Jeong, whose old tweets make Sonny Gray look like Saint Francis of Assisi, if he used Twitter, which he probably didn’t. From The Federalist:

Far from merely retweeting a single offensive post, Jeong likened an entire race of people to “goblins,” compared their conversations to animals urinating, and declared that skin color entirely determined whether an individual was awful or not.

In one tweet from 2014, Jeong wrote that white people are “only fit to live underground like groveling goblins.”

“Dumbass fucking white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants,” she wrote in another.

In yet another post, Jeong approvingly posted a chart which indicated one’s value as a human being was based entirely on the color of one’s skin.

 

“The science is indisputable,” she wrote.

“Theoretically you can’t be racist against white people,” she wrote in a separate post before claiming that white people smell like dogs.

Contrary to Jeong’s assertion, the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

“#CancelWhitePeople” she demanded in one tweet.

“White people have stopped breeding,” she wrote in another. “You’ll all go extinct soon. This was my plan all along.”

“White men are fucking bullshit,” she wrote.

“Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men,” she claimed in a separate tweet.

“White men are bullshit,” she added later

.

Nice!

Can someone come up with a benign explanation of why these old tweets are acceptable to the Times (and its readers), but those of Norton were not? If the Times says, as I expect it will, that it made allowances to advance the cause of diversity on its editorial staff, would this not be tantamount to saying that they couldn’t find any qualified Asian-Americans who weren’t virulent racists?

UPDATE: I was right! Here is the Times’ excuse…

“We hired Sarah Jeong because of the exceptional work she has done … her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment. For a period of time she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers,” The Times said in a statement. “She regrets it, and The Times does not condone it.” The paper said it had “candid conversations” with Jeong during the interview process that included a “thorough vetting” and review of her social media history. The Times said it is “confident that she will be an important voice for the editorial board moving forward.”

I bet!

So it’s acceptable to denigrate an entire race and gender because some one has made racist comments about you.

Why does anyone trust the judgment or analysis of a newspaper run by people who think like this?

And here is Jeong’s statement:

“I engaged in what I thought of at the time as counter-trolling. While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers. These comments were not aimed at a general audience, because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns. I can understand how hurtful these posts are out of context, and would not do it again.”

She was joking!

Yeah, it’s easy to see that she didn’t mean any of that stuff..

20 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race, Workplace

20 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/2/18: Those Tricky Things Called “Standards” [Updated]

  1. Cleophus

    A little context the fake news media always left out was Bush wasn’t so much impressed by supermarket scanners as he was with a scanner that could read damaged barcodes. That actually was a big deal.

  2. Steve-O-in-NJ

    So, if someone turns up a post from over a decade ago in which I refer to “pickle-cheddar” (obscure anti-gay slur) should I be sacked?

    • Let’s be real, Steve… No one’s going to care about pickle cheddar. You’ve said much worse. 😉

      • “No one’s going to care about pickle cheddar.”

        Actually HT, a World Champion Cheese-Maker from the NW Sauk County (WI) foothills passed, at my behest, on that very name for his next creative endeavor, for reasons that shouldn’t be a mystery to anyone.

        Ended up going in a different direction; ever heard of Sid’s Dairyworld?

        I’m guessing not, but now you know why…

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Probably not, and true.

  3. Greg

    In my neighborhood in Brooklyn, you need ID to buy groceries if you want to use a credit card. Trump isn’t out of touch — he has a deep understanding of the lives of poor and working-class black people in New York.

    • Sarah B.

      I need an ID anytime I use a credit card at the grocery store too unless the purchase is under a certain dollar amount. While I hate defending Trump, he’s not that far off and this isn’t as bad of example as some claim. He could have spoken more precisely, but this is Trump. If he speaks precisely, the four horsemen of the apocalypse are gonna saddle up, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria…

    • Rusty Rebar

      Or buy alcohol, or cigarettes, or try to use a check, or…

  4. Other Bill

    Sarah Jeong is thrity years old. She’s one of eleven (or twelve?) members of the NYT editorial board. Having gone to HLS, she can’t have been in the working world for mor than four or five years, can she? And she’s one of a dozen or so people determining the editorial orientation of the nation’s paper of record? I guess newspapers really do miss the classified ad and other ad revenue. Yikes.

  5. Opal

    Sarah Jeong’s apology is that those reading her tweets were/are too stupid to realize the satire. So, we’re all good here (read with sarcasm font).

  6. Chris Marschner_

    Should she be fired for her comments. Absolutely not. We can however say that the NYT hires overtly racist persons on their editorial board and the public needs to be reminded of her bias on a regular basis. If the Times decides she is costing them more than the benefit she creates then they will do as they choose.

    If the Times credibility crumbles they may choose to replace her. If their credibility is strengthened then we can say the Times readership embraces racisim because they support giving a platform to openly racist perspectives.

    Nothing more nothing less.

    • Glenn Logan

      White athletes, who’s commentary aren’t intended as particularly meaningful or important, make vaguely racist or bigoted tweets – Fire them! Mandatory sensitivity training! Pillory and hector them off the Internet and into the unemployment line!

      Asian woman makes large number of overtly racist tweets, and gets hired by the New York Times to make what it considers to be meaningful social and political commentary – The Times defends her with “it doesn’t matter going forward.”

      Yep. Got it. Double standards are the only standards the left has, and they are downright bragging about it and asking the rest of us, “What’cha gonna do, huh?”

      As Kurt Schlichter says, they’re not going to like the new rules pretty soon…

  7. I…. Don’t mind that Jeong wasn’t fired.

    I think if the Times chose to fire her, they’d be well within their rights, but I don’t like the practise of using five year old tweets to ruin someone. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the sand for the times was racism against white people, but it will be hard for them to justify a whole lot of noise when a more marginal case comes up.

    • Isaac

      Only the Left actually wants policies of firing people for tweets. The libertarian Right is just pointing out their trickery: they don’t expect those standards to apply to fellow Leftists. They are leveraging the snitch culture they’ve created to control others and consolidate power.

      That’s why the bloggers who exposed James Gunn’s tweets are not part of the “snitch culture.” They weren’t advocating anti-speech or witch-hunt policies. They were demanding consistency. I don’t even see any other way to reverse the trend among large corporations and sports teams. Let them know that if they take this Orwellian path, NO one will be spared on either side. They clearly don’t care about what’s best for the world at large, so show them that free speech is in their own interest.

    • Glenn Logan

      I agree. It has to stop somewhere. If this is the last mob-induced firing over old tweets, I’d be very happy even if I am repulsed.

  8. Re: Sarah Jeong:

    This is her response to the twitter controversy:

    jvb

  9. I have bought groceries innumerable times over the past couple decades and cannot recall the last time I was asked for my id. However, I seldom buy liquor (and am obviously old enough to do so legally), and seldom use anything but a debit card. I do remember being asked for id frequently when I was writing checks for stuff — or, more accurately, being asked for my DL number, which I had memorized. More often than not, if I simply wrote my DL number on the check, that was sufficient, so I didn’t have to show my ID.

    In the modern era, I get asked for my DL so infrequently that on one occasion I accidentally let it lapse. I found out that I didn’t have a valid driver’s license when I went to buy a car, and for some reason they wouldn’t approve the loan without one……

    And yes, before you point it out, I probably do lead a sheltered life……

    • Either you look so innocent as to not invoke suspicion, or you look older than Methuselah.

      But I agree that in our little corner of the world (South Texas) an ID is only infrequently needed, sans buying a controlled substance.

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