Monday Ethics Afternoon Warm-Up, 8/6/18: Relatively Trivial Edition

1.  Facebook Conduct I Could Do Without Dept. A friend who happens also to be on Facebook just posted his opinion about a matter and added, “If you don’t agree,  don’t respond, just unfriend me.” I’m tempted to unfriend him for that. What a cowardly, lazy, arrogant stunt.

2. He’s also dead wrong in his opinion, which has to do with this “good illegal immigrant” news item. My friend thinks that the wife of a Marine should get a pass  despite being in violation of immigration laws because her husband served his country. I don’t disagree with the principle he’s espousing, but it’s not the law. If there should be law that gives some kind of leniency to the spouses of military personnel, then draft it, debate it, and pass it. The Marine fought for a nation of laws, not a nation where law enforcement makes up the laws as it goes along. This was the Obama approach: we just won’t enforce the laws against this particular group of law-breaker that we like.

3. How dumb can “cultural appropriation” complaints get? This dumb:

In women’s mag “Marie Claire,” Krystyna Chávez argues that deciding to pluck your eyebrows so that they are very thin is “cultural appropriation.” writing that she was was horrified when she saw a photo of Rihanna with her new, skinny eyebrows. Chávez writes in a piece titled “I’m Latina, and I Find Rihanna’s Skinny Brows Problematic.”  Unfortunately, as Katherine Timpf points out, a Louisiana State University student named Lynn Bunch wrote an op-ed last year declaring that  thick eyebrows that cultural appropriation:

“Current American eyebrow culture also shows a prime example of the cultural appropriation in the country. The trend right now is thick brows, and although a lot of ethnic women have always had bushy, harder-to-maintain eyebrows, it has only become trendy now that white women have started to do it.”

Boy, the outbreak of such serious statements of idiotic opinions makes me feel unsafe…because I’m afraid that I am surrounded by lunatics, in a culture that is encouraging warped values and reasoning to such an extent that for a disturbing number of Americans, no idea sets off the Stupid Alarms.

I may have to start a sister blog…

4. And you thought Trump Derangement Syndrome was silly.New York-based UMA Health, an online mental health marketplace, is providing free, confidential therapy sessions to Mets fans who are in emotional turmoil as a result of the team’s disappointing season, which cratered  is last week’s 25-4 loss to the Washington Nationals, the worst loss in Mets history—yes, even worse than any of the embarrassing drubbing the team received in its first, horrible season in 1962, when “the Amazin’ Mets” lost a record 120 games.

UMA says its tongue in cheek promotion is meant to bring attention to the important role of therapy, and to eliminate the stigma of going to a therapist.

That’s odd: I think the promotion does the opposite, suggesting that therapy is self-indulgent, useless, useless bunk, which it too often is. I have an amusing  personal story that explains my bias here, which I will leave for another time. If something is important your profession is to enlighten the world about its benefits, however, is it competent to promote it like this?

5.  You can’t make this stuff up. Most fact-checking is partisan spin in the form that purports to be objective analysis—you know, like Snopes. In this installment by one of the Washington Post’s junior factcheckers (at least Glenn Kessler tries to be fair…well, sometimes he does) Aaron Blake challenges Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ statement that members of the news media said  that she “should be choked”:

Nobody advocated for Sanders being choked. This, like the Rubin example, again relies on a quite uncharitable version of events from conservative media. MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace (whose show I have appeared on, full disclosure) didn’t call for choking Sanders, but instead asked a reporter if she ever wanted to “wring” Sanders’s neck out of frustration. Wallace apologized for the choice of words, which again was hardly a call to action.

This tell-tale garbage in every way. “Wring” means “to squeeze or twist.” To squeeze or twist someone’s neck would be to choke him (or her). The term to “wring one’s neck” is an idiom, meaning that someone is angry at someone else, just as the statement “I could strangle her!” is not usually meant literally. However, it is not a factually false for Sanders to say that Wallace said that she should be choked. What is ironic about this is that the media’s factcheckers and other journalists usually employ the reverse philosophy when doing their “resistance” best to impugn Sanders’ boss. They love to pretend that he’s speaking literally when they and everyone else knows that his “lies’ are typical Trumpian hyperbole, trolling jokes, approximations and word clouds. When candidate said the “Second Amendment people” would have a say about one of Clinton’s policies, we were told that he was calling for her to be shot…you know, like Wallace was suggesting Sanders should be “choked.”

Second, if Wallace was not suggesting violence, why did she apologize? Something is either a fact or it isn’t. Blake is saying, “Nobody said that Sanders should be chokes, and besides, she apologized! If it didn’t happen, then the apology is irrelevant. This isn’t factchecking, its defending the “team.”

Finally, Blake simpers to the conclusion, that the comment was “hardly a call to action.” Sanders stated, relatively accurately, what a reporter said, not what the reporter meant.

Verdict: biased hackery.

5. I’m sure it’s just me but I find commercials that are based on the idea that cannibalism is hilarious creepy. First we had Mr. Potato Head catching Mrs. Potato Head eating Pringles (“But…you’re a potato!”) and now this:

I know it’s ick, not ethics, but still…ick.

6. Goldfish owner ethics. It’s a simple rule, really: don’t have an animal as a pet without first learning some basic facts about that animal. Some morons get St. Bernard puppies and then abandon them because “they get too big.” Then there are the goldfish owners who know nothing about the species—the fish are carp–and the fact that they tend to grow to match the room they have to do so.  The Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife recently reminded the state’s dimmer citizens of the dangers of goldfish dumping, after pulling 31 goldfish between 6 and 11 inches at Roush Lake, near Huntington, earlier this summer. In a Facebook post, the department wrote,

The little fish “breed prolifically with other orphaned goldfish and Common Carp, becoming easily detrimental to a body of water. They can overpopulate and outcompete native fish throwing the food chain off balance, decrease diversity and allow opportunities for other invasive species….Please rethink the responsibility of owning a goldfish and what to do with it when it becomes too much to take care of. You will be doing your native fish and water bodies a huge service by doing so!”


...damn thing will take your nose off!

19 thoughts on “Monday Ethics Afternoon Warm-Up, 8/6/18: Relatively Trivial Edition

  1. Just a bit of trivia: Huntington, Indiana is also the home of the Dan Quayle Vice Presidential Museum. I visited there in 2002ish. One part of it is devoted to Quayle specifically; the rest of it to vice-presidents in general.

  2. I read the Marie Claire article referenced and the writer must be an absolute MORON.

    Chavez laments that skinny eyebrows that Rhianna wore is a sign of gang involvement and while non-Latinx might see the brows as a throwback to performers of the 20’s, Latinx persons will see the gang association. Therefore, because she is part of a marginalized population this is an affront to her culture. She fails to realize that her culture adopted the look and created the gang association in the first place and only Latinx persons see the reference. Perhaps the marginalization she speaks of is in her mind or of her own making.

  3. Re #1 The Marines Wife.

    Of course I am sympathetic, who wouldn’t be; but I can’t work out how she doesn’t at least have a Green Card, being the wife of a Citizen.

    I demonstrated the need for rules, laws if you like, to a youth group many years ago. We played the Chocolate Game. With everyone sitting around each person takes a turn at rolling a dice, a big sucker about a six inches on a side. If you roll a six you get to run to the centre, sit on a chair, put on a shirt and bib, then pick up a knife and fork with which you cut one square off a block of chocolate and then you can eat it. You get to keep going until someone else rolls a six and then you swap over. It’s always fun for Primary age kids.

    Except that I kept messing with the rules: “I didn’t SEE the six”; “No, now you have to roll a Four not a Six”; “That doesn’t count, it rolled under someones feet”, etc.

    I had the leaders baying for my blood, not just the kids!

    The discussion afterwards about why we all want rules in our world and life, and why we have to accept some rules that we may not personally like, was a fantastic teaching experience. What a shame we cant get that through to some adolts!

  4. On point 3 continued:
    A bit of research revealed that Ms. Chavez is, I suppose, a bigot as well.

    From the Marie Claire article:
    “As I walked out of the salon, admiring my new skinny brows, my mother stared at me: “They gave you chola brows!” she gasped, horrified, before immediately making me swear to never thread them that thin again.

    Because at the time, in the predominantly Mexican and Mexican-American city of Los Angeles, pencil-thin brows weren’t seen as a fashion statement—they were seen as a gang affiliation, marking you as a chola (a female gang member). Suddenly, I was the 6th grader with a hugely polarizing gang sign on her face, a sign I had been raised to fiercely avoid—and have avoided ever since.”

    “Because I guarantee had, say, J.Lo or Gina Rodriguez graced the cover of a magazine with pencil-thin brows, they would have been ripped apart on the Internet for looking like a girl from the hood at best, or a chola at “worst.” To most Mexican and Mexican-American women, drawn-on eyebrows are a look historically representative of a marginalized culture—my culture—and have become a Latinx street style viewed as “trashy” by the rest of society. That is, until Rihanna wears them.”

    The first paragraph in the MC article states that her mother was horrified at the look and used the term Cholo. From what contextual meaning is she drawing from?

    The etymology of the word Cholo(a) means a person of mixed blood and is contextually a derogatory term. Thus, the derivation of Chola to describe gang members is borne out of that derogatory meaning. See below.

    “The term’s use is first recorded in a Peruvian book published in 1609 and 1616, the Comentarios Reales de los Incas by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. He writes (in Spanish) “The child of a Black male and an Indian female, or of an Indian male and Black female, they call mulato and mulata. The children of these they call cholos. Cholo is a word from the Windward Islands; it means dog, not of the purebred variety, but of very disreputable origin; and the Spaniards use it for insult and vituperation”.[3] In Colonial Mexico, the terms cholo and coyote co-existed, indicating mixed Mestizo and Amerindian ancestry. Under the casta system of colonial Latin America, cholo originally applied to the children resulting from the union of a Mestizo and an Amerindian

    “Cholos, cholas and cholitas are used as informal slang terms in parts of the USA, to refer to people of Latin American descent, usually Mexican, who are low-income, “tough” and who may wear stereotypical clothes”.[1]

    “Racial and cultural status, along with social class are reflected in the term cholo itself, which was adopted in California in the 1960s by youth following the pachuco tradition, as a label for that identity (Cuellar 1982).

    In 1571, Fray Alonso de Molina, in his Nahuatl vocabulary (Vocabulario en Lengua Castellana y Mexicana Y Mexicana y Castellana), defined the word xolo as slave, servant, or waiter. The Porrúa Dictionary defines cholo, as used in the Americas, as a civilized Native American or a half-breed or mestizo of a European father and Native American mother. The word has historically been used along the borderland as a derogatory term to mean lower class Mexican migrants, and in the rest of Latin America to mean an acculturating Indian or peasant”.[2]

    It should be noted that Cholo culture as she describes was created by persons of Mexican descent in the United States who adopted the look of various hipsters of their day and is not of Mexican origin. In the 40’s it was the Zoot Suit look, and later the greaser look of the 50’s. The look is different today which is merely reflective of the combination of myriad branded consumer goods and the tough guy look. Conceptually, the Cholo look is to convey money and strength. Not much different than jeans and leather jackets from bygone eras or Rolex watches and high priced cars or layers gold chains and fancy “grills” today among other upper and lower income sub groups.

    If racial and cultural status and social class are associated with the term that means that Latinos have a perceived hierarchy of superior status. That itself demonstrates a certain level racial or social prejudice – ie racism, for lack of a better word – is alive and well within the Latino community.

    According to Ms. Chavez she never wanted to be associated with a lower status. Thus, she is marginalizing the Cholo socio-economic sub-segment of Latinos herself. The irony is on one hand she claims the pencil thin eyebrows are a sign “[she] had been raised to fiercely avoid—and have avoided ever since”, and on the other she says “To most Mexican and Mexican-American women, drawn-on eyebrows are a look historically representative of a marginalized culture—my culture—and have become a Latinx street style viewed as “trashy” by the rest of society”. To that I say, which is it, “your culture” or the one you fiercely try to avoid?

    The marginalization of the Cholo culture appears to occur only among Mexican and Mexican American women and she conflates that group with society at large.

    Additional research indicates “the term Cholo was turned on its head and used as a symbol of pride in the context of the ethnic power movements of the 1960s.[4]

    So it seems that the entire concept of cultural appropriation is used to diminish any use of any behavior by anyone other than the political identity for the sole purpose of ensuring that the political identity and its power are not diluted through assimilation.

    1. “The rise of the ‘cholitas'”. BBC News. 2014-02-20.
    2. Cuellar, J. (1982-09-21). The Rise and Spread of Cholismo as a Border Youth Subculture. Southwest Border Regional Conference’s Third Annual Binational Border Governors’ Conference, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico:
    3. de la Vega, Garcilaso, Inca, (1609). Los Comentarios Reales de los Incas. pp. ME. “Aqui el escribe “Al hijo de negro y de india, o de indio y de negra, dicen mulato y mulata. A los hijos de éstos llaman cholo; es vocablo de la isla de Barlovento; quiere decir perro, no de los castizos (raza pura), sino de los muy bellacos gozcones; y los españoles usan de él por infamia y vituperio.””
    [4] Cummings, Laura L. (2003). “Cloth-Wrapped People, Trouble, and Power: Pachuco Culture in the Greater Southwest”. Journal of the Southwest. 45

  5. Regarding cultural appropriation, it just dawned on me that if cultural minorities lose their hereditary monopoly over things like food and fashion, they lose the only things that make them special. Without those traits, they’re just common, everyday, garden-variety humans, just like “white” humans. Of course, most of them want to be a part of regular society and be treated like regular humans, but they also want exclusive rights to something that makes them unique. Sort of… “equal but separate”, if you will.

    If they had no desire to blend in to society, they would fall into one of two categories. One is the enclaves of purists who keep tradition alive and disdain the outside world because they have everything they want. The other is hipsters, who were keeping tradition before it was mainstream but use the tradition to distinguish themselves from others rather than for the tradition’s own sake. They disdain the outside world because that disdain is all they have.

    As for me, I recognize that traditions have meaning, so I don’t misrepresent my knowledge, values, or beliefs by copying a tradition I don’t subscribe to. However, I invent my own narratives, and I will use any elements or styles of existing narratives that I see fit.

    No, hairstyles do not count as a narrative. Eyebrows are signals, not symbols. Now let’s all develop some individuality of our own so that we don’t feel the need to jealously hoard the identities of dead people.

  6. 1) This is common on Facebook, particularly Hmong the set that always think they are right. Which Jack amongst our social circle is many. I find when they say things like this they don’t want to argue but to pontificate. Which is problematic in its own right.
    2) I actually agree with him in spirit. I disagree with our immigration laws as they stand. But I want them changed, undermining bad laws is a strategy but a problematic one. It is sometimes nessary, I am not sure we are there yet. My views are definitely in the middle on this one and we have extremists on both ends. You know in several states there are still laws on the books banning homosexuals from working in restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages. It is unenforceable fortunately the abc board head in Virginia realized this and refused enforcement. 30 years ago the only job I was ever fired from use this law as an excuse. The manager did not like the fact I was out.
    3) according to Corsons history of makeup this eyebrow thing has been going on for 4000 years. (Make up is one of my things) She should go talk to her mummy about appropriation.
    4) Jack I am having a bad enough summer without being reminded of my Mets. Do they have a DC area office? I might take them up on it.
    5 &5 you used it twice. A fact checker that does not know basic American idioms is an idiot that needs to be unemployed. Cannibalized jokes on food items are tasteless and hurt the product image. Pun intended. Though I remember some funny canibal joke in the vaudeville humor book that I handed you during Hellzapopin it is in you office, last I saw.
    6) I am so glad you are covering the ethics of invasive species it is a great threat to our environment that the epa needs to be working on. I count the epa one of Nixon’s greatest legacies. Someday history will hopefully remember the good things the man did, instead of just his mistakes.

  7. #1. I think stating “If you don’t agree, don’t respond, just unfriend me.” is an ignorant statement and spewed forth from within the walls of their personal echo chamber. I’d respond as you normally would and put the choice of unfriending them in their lap where it belongs.

    I know someone on Facebook that regularly posts thought provoking things, rarely are they directly political in nature, and then this person tells everyone up front that the post is only for them to think about and further stipulates that all comments will be deleted as soon as they are seen regardless of the point of view shared. I thought this was a novel approach and once in a while I’ll post a comment and do the same thing.

    I just recently has a long time close friend, a very nice lady who’s also a school teacher with very Progressive opinions that keeps her political opinions absolutely silent when face-to-face, unfriend me because I had very nicely shared an actual fact with one of our mutual friends under one of her posts who had replied with a Progressive parroting that was literally not a fact. It needed to be corrected in a respectful way and I did that. Our mutual friend thanked me for the correction and we went on, still friends, still talking. Unfortunately the fact I shared indirectly contradicted the in-your-face innuendo if her post which I chose not to comment on directly because I knew how she would react. This lady exists in an Progressive echo chamber and anyone that challenges her beliefs within that echo chamber is tossed aside like and old shoe. Our regular personal contact following that (professional volunteer setting) was barely cordial but the tension from her was terribly, terribly thick, she could no longer talk to me or look at me and in the framework of this regular contact it was unacceptable, I have moved on from that setting. I’m quite positive that friend relationship is now irretrievably broken. It’s really sad that challenging one’s echo chamber causes that kind of reaction.

  8. #2 From the link Jack provided…

    Alejandra petitioned to become a citizen in 2001, but was rejected because she was accused of making a false statement at the border when she sought asylum in 1998, said her attorney, Richard Maney. Asked about her citizenship, she had told authorities she had been a student in Memphis, Tennessee for a short time, and border officials apparently thought she was falsely claiming to be an American citizen, the attorney said.

    I think that is a terribly skewed and watered down version of what likely happened at the border when she crossed in an effort to smear the border agents involved and hide the actual truth. You do not seek asylum if you are claiming to be an American citizen. I’d like the whole story instead of this nonsense cover up.

  9. #2 From the link Jack provided…

    Alejandra petitioned to become a citizen in 2001, but was rejected because she was accused of making a false statement at the border when she sought asylum in 1998, said her attorney, Richard Maney. Asked about her citizenship, she had told authorities she had been a student in Memphis, Tennessee for a short time, and border officials apparently thought she was falsely claiming to be an American citizen, the attorney said.

    I think that is a terribly skewed and watered down version of what likely happened at the border when she crossed in an effort to smear the border agents involved and hide the actual truth. You do not seek asylum if you are claiming to be an American citizen. I’d like the whole story instead of this nonsense cover up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.