Mid-Day Ethics Warm-Up, 11/29/18: Slime, Blather, Theft And Trolling

Good Afternoon…

For me, anyway: I woke up feeling healthy for the first time in 17 days.  Now the day’s ethics stories will make both of us feel sick. I’m sorry.

1. The Sliming. The news media is determined, in the absence of any verified or verifiable evidence, to continue sliming Brett Kavanaugh. The Washington Post placed the story about his return to coaching  girls’ basketball in its “Public Safety” section. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

This below-the-belt innuendo that the Supreme Court Justice is a threat to the young women on his team was caught, criticized, and the Post claimed it was an accident. You know, if journalists played it straight, and  had any credibility as objective, fair commentators, such an explanation would be credible. But they don’t, and it’s not.

Then there was the Huffington Post and AOL, which ran this story, headlined “Ford Is Still Receiving Death Threats, Kavanaugh Is Back To Coaching Basketball.”

The innuendo here is that there is some kind of injustice that the accused gets to resume his life while the accuser’s life is still disrupted. No, one who is accused should always be able to return to his life if the accusation is unproven and unconvincing, though that’s often not the case, and not the case with Kavanaugh as his continued sliming by the Left-wing media demonstrates. As for Blasey-Ford, no one should endure death threats. This is, however, a false dichotomy. There is no evidence that Kavanaugh did anything wrong, much less that he is a sex offender. My view is that Blasey-Ford, for political reasons, raising a high school episode that she could not confirm and didn’t recall herself for 30 years in order to discredit an adult judge of sterling reputation and credentials was unethical, irresponsible, and unfair.

2. The Sliming, cont.: Mark Twain Prize Division. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, inexplicably awarded the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize as the individuals who has “had an impact on American society in ways similar to” Twain—Julia Louis-Dreyfus? Seriously?—-used her acceptance speech to display her Twain-like rapier wit and take cheap shots at Justice Kavanaugh. (They are too idiotic and unfunny to warrant repeating.) It takes a lot of gall for someone to be accusing a public figure of sexual assault at any event sponsored by the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Center, or with Kennedy anywhere in the name. Indeed, it took some gall for Dreyfus to even accept the award. I searched her resume to find any evidence that she ever wrote a funny line or witticism of her own, which should be the criterion and usually has been, even with wan selections like Tina Fey, a minor wit if there ever was one. The precedent for Louis-Dreyfus would be Carol Burnett, who also is just a comic actress whose wit comes from other artists, though she bestrides the like of Fey and Louis-Dreyfus like a Colossus. Sad and politically incorrect to admit, but comedy just isn’t a field where women seem to excel, so once again, the quest for diversity involves a compromise in values.

Male actors who have been improperly honored when they couldn’t create a witty riposte if there was a gun to their heads include Will Ferrell—he perfected a mean impression of George W. Bush, you see—and Bill Murray. All of the rest before Dreyfus were genuine social commentators and wits, even, indeed especially Bill Cosby, whom the craven Prize Committee striped of his 2009 award this year, though his sexual misconduct does not reduce his cultural and comic contributions one whit. The real question is, if non-comedy-related issues cancel out a comic’s contributions to the culture, why does the late Richard Pryor, a drug addict, sexual harasser, abuser of his wives and girl friends, father of multiple illegitimate children, arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, still have his honor. The answers are 1) he’s a hero of the counter-culture Left, and Cosby was deemed a conservative,  2) the Prize Committee was just virtue-signaling, and 3) the Mark Twain Prize has no integrity or credibility. If it had any of these, it would not be honoring Fey and Louis-Dreyfus while Christopher Guest, Martin Short, Eugene Levy,  Jon Stewart, Chuck Lorre, Lewis Black, Mel Brooks, Chris Rock, John Landis, the Wayons brothers and many more have been ignored.

3. And the 2018 John Lennon Award for imaginary national policy advice goes to..the Pope. Referring to the problem of migrants trying to force their way into countries because they “want a better life,” He Who Presides Over A Culture of Child Molesters lectured world leaders, calling for “broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally.” He also said that the human rights and dignity of all migrants had to be respected regardless of their legal status, whatever that means. I respect them, as long as they don’t break our laws and claim that its their right. “The principle of the centrality of the human person … obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over national security,” the Pope said. I don’t know what that means either, but then, John hadn’t really worked out the practical problems of having “no countries” either. That’s the beauty part of making irresponsible generalizations about problems requiring tough trade-offs. You don’t have to live with the results, or even make specific recommendations. Francis declared “alternative solutions to detention” for illegal immigrants and said “collective and arbitrary expulsions of migrants and refugees are not suitable solutions.” What are suitable solutions? He has no idea.

4. Goodbye to Civil Forfeiture? Let’s hope. All those justices who aren’t Trump or Obama judges (According to Chief Justice Roberts) heard oral argument in the case of  Timbs v. Indiana, which involves the constitutionality of state laws  permitting he seizing of property allegedly associated with criminal activity. Such laws are notoriously abused by police departments. At issue is whether the state of Indiana was justified in seizing plaintiff Tyson Timbs’s 2012 Land Rover, or whether the forfeiture violated the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits “excessive fines.” The state claims that the Supreme Court “has never held that the States are subject to the Excessive Fines Clause.”

From The Washington Free Beacon:

Prior to the passage of the 14th Amendment, it was broadly understood that only the federal government was bound by the rights language of the Constitution. What section one of the 14th Amendment means has been the subject of some contention, but it created the legal grounds by which rights enumerated in the Constitution—free speech, keeping and bearing arms, a jury trial, etc.—had to be respected by the states. The technical term for this is “incorporation” of rights against the states. The Supreme Court has found itself in the position of having to incorporate rights piece-by-piece. The Second Amendment was only incorporated in 2010, in McDonald v. Chicago…

…During oral arguments, Non-Trump Judge Justice Neil Gorsuch berated Indiana’s Solicitor General when the latter argued that the Eighth Amendment wasn’t incorporated. Gorsuch was joined by Non Obama Judge Justice Sonia Sotomayor, with the two arguing that Indiana was defending a “star chamber.”

5. Trump Tweets. I initially didn’t believe that the President actually retweeted this meme. I don’t even have words to describe what’s wrong with this, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, I shouldn’t need them. Ugh.


28 thoughts on “Mid-Day Ethics Warm-Up, 11/29/18: Slime, Blather, Theft And Trolling

  1. Justice Stephen Breyer hypothesized about the limits of Fisher’s argument. Could the state, he asked, seize a “Bugatti, Mercedes or a special Ferrari, or even jalopy” if the driver was speeding 5 miles an hour over the limit?

    “The answer,” the pained-looking Fisher replied, “is yes.”

    That is really all you need to hear.

  2. #1– Do we really know if Ms B-F is still getting death threats, or even got them at some point? I read elsewhere that she has called for the closing of her Go-Fund-Me account, claiming among other reasons that she is scaling back her security as the need is less… or something.

    If I were getting death threats to the point I needed to hire a security detail (I’m more of a DIY type) and I thought that the security was the reason I am alive today, I would not publicly announce that I was shutting it down. If it really happened.

    The whole accusation thing was a political attack of pure BS and apparently continues as such… Justice Kavanaugh did nothing wrong and will suffer for it endlessly.

  3. 3: I would be more impressed and willing to listen IF the Vatican had an open border too. Let those 10k refugees bunk up in the Vatican, find jobs, set up schools, deal with socializing in a new culture and tolerate their differences in religion, custom, and language. They are a rich society, too compared to Europe and the US (rich in wealth, even if not in salaries or estates). They can afford to import food and resources if they cannot grow their own. Let other countries with no sympathy for Catholic traditions decide how many and who can come, and let them throw rocks at the protective Swiss guard and famous art as a side effect as they move into the Sistine Chapel…

    Really. Advice on so many issues should be what you can live with if you had to follow it. If you can’t, shut up. The golden rule can be hard to follow, but this should be a no-brainer. Reminders and encouragement to be kind would be fine, but why haven’t we heard about a huge influx of refugees in the Vatican? Especially how well they treat ath aggressive rock-throwing who won’t even stop to get papers correctly? [I had such hopes for Francis]

  4. 4)Oh let us devoutly hope that the Supreme Court reins in this abhorrent practice. I am sure that civil forfeiture sounded like a good idea at the time, but surely the framers of these laws had no idea how severely they would be abused.

    • Oh, they certainly expected the laws to be abused, there’s a long history there. It’s just they also expected the people doing the thieving would at least limit their activities to the high seas and hold valid letters of marque and reprisal.

      • Oooh, haven’t heard anyone mention letters of marque and reprisal, so of course I had to check it out. It would seem that the United States hasn’t issued any for about 200 years, even though we are not a signatory to the treaty prohibiting them. However, it has been suggested as a possible method of fighting Al Qaeda and ISIS — that could be interesting.

        I do think the civil forfeiture laws are a bit more recent than the last privateers that flew the stars and stripes.

    • I was hoping Trump would abuse these laws so shamelessly that they would be repealed in record time. I was hoping Trump would sweep through California, Colorado, and Washington State, seizing every marijuana dispensary. Distribution of marijuana violates the Controlled Substances Act and is punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $1 million fine. Since they ADVERTISE that they are doing this, everything is fair game for confiscation. They can confiscate the property, everything in it, the houses, bank accounts, vehicles, and other property of not only the owner but the employees as well. No one would contest the seizures as long as they weren’t being charged because you read the penalties for a conviction. I had hoped an army of federal agents would descend on the West Coast, converting the marijuana economy into national debt reduction. Of course, this would spur a rapid realization that these laws really violate due process and constitute illegal seizure of property. The result would be a slightly lower debt and a removal of these horrible laws. In other words, a win-win.

  5. The default position, if any person in the public eye claims to be receiving “death threats” is that they are lying, unless they produce the actual text of the messages, which is what people do when they are actually threatened online.

    The reason is simple; it is now routine for anyone facing public criticism to claim to be receiving “death threats,” even if what they are really receiving are just mean tweets , nasty emails, or just really strong polite criticism. There’s no downside to lying about death threats; media outlets never ask for proof of them, and it reframes the offender as a victim and makes jerks seem sympathetic. PR guys and spokespeople do this as a matter of course now when their job is to reform someone’s public image.

    A person who gets actual threats online would do exactly what you or I would do: expose them and shame them, in detail, along with the parties making them, as loudly and publicly as possible, getting that person booted from whatever forum they used in the process (even veiled threats are against everyone’s policies.) See actor James Woods for an example of how someone acts when a physical threat is actually made against them online. People are way too naive about how often folks lie about this.

  6. In cynical news, good man George Bush the Elder is about to be portrayed by the Left wing media for the first time ever as a good president the likes of which we’ll never see again, a president America could use now.

      • Media eulogies will be an integrity check. Wait and see what kind of guarded language and we’ll chosen words are used as the media masks it’s absolute disdain for a Republican. Others of course will gush with praise as is culturally appropriate for the deceased. But let’s see who bites their tongues and sweats a little as they use the most guarded phrases in their comments about dad Bush.

        Yeah he wasn’t a great president. But he was a good man. He came in an era that he could afford to coast in on the exceptional efforts of Reagan.

        Never forget he did oversee the final collapse of the Soviet Union, even if 95% of the credit is due to Reagan.

        • The idiot Times: Mr. Bush, part of a new generation of Republicans, was often referred to as the most successful one-term president.

          Presumably by the same people who said that Hillary was the most qualified Presidential candidate ever, and that the same party never wins the Presidency three terms in a row.

          One term Presidents don’t have a lot of competition, but Polk laps H.W. about four times. No contest.

          • Can’t argue with you about his term in office, but looking at his resume — he’s got to be in the running for most qualified candidate for President.

            Not to mention, I was thinking of the life span of most American torpedo bombers in WWII — it is pretty amazing that he survived the war at all.

            • Just noted that about his resume. That was the only reason he seemed to want to be President—to top off the list. It was said that there are two kind of Presidents, those who want to BE something and those who want to DO something. Bush was the first type, most like Buchanan. Others in the “Be” group: Adams 1 and 2, Madison, Monroe, Van Buren, W.H. Harrison, Pierce, Grant, Hayes, Harrison 2, Taft, Harding, Nixon, Clinton, W., Obama, Trump.

          • Perhaps they meant to say the most successful one-term president since Carter.

            Looking back, he had the one solid accomplishment and even that can be considered flawed in retrospect. I don’t know that his coalition would have survived had it conquered Iraq, but certainly Bush’s administration miscalculated the prospects for Saddam to survive in office. One can also make the argument that we promised aid to the Iraqi rebels and then reneged.

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