Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/4/18: The Red Sox Do The Right Thing, France Does The Wrong Thing, The News Media Does Their Usual Thing, And All Sorts Of Stuff In Between…

Good Morning!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

1. The sad part is that this is newsworthy. The Boston Red Sox accepted their invitation to visit the White House and be honored for their World Series victory. In doing so, they buck the trend of the past couple years of championship teams “boycotting” what should be a unifying, purely ceremonial event of national pride (and fun, since that’s what sports are supposed to be about) in order to make some kind of incoherent statement of disapproval  regarding President Trump. Of course, this is all virtue-signalling, as if being expressly unpatriotic, disrespectful and divisive while insulting the President is a virtue. (Sportswriter love the boycotts.)

Boston manager Alex Cora is Puerto Rican, and had criticized the national response to the island’s hurricane emergency. Some thought that he would lead his team to snub the White House, but Cora is a smarter, wiser, stronger leader than that, as he showed all season long.

2. Great. France accepts government by mob rule. President Emmanuel Macron’s administration today suspended planned increases to fuel taxes for at least six months in response to weeks of  violent protests. The fuel taxes, which most heavily burden  French citizens least able to endure them, were expressly aimed at curbing climate change, though there isno evidence whatsoever that they would accomplish that. So it was a bad policy, but even bad policies should not be vetoed by mob rule. Macron’s capitulation to violent protests is cowardly—though so, so French—and undermines the rule of law, not just in France, but worldwide.

These are the times even the most hardened-Trump-hater should be grateful that the U.S. has a leader who cannot be extorted in this manner.

Should be, but, of course, won’t.

3. If they didn’t have double standards…well, you know the rest. Human rights groups say China has detained up to 2 million Uighurs, a Muslim minority in the country, to promote “ethnic unity” in the country’s far west. This week over 270 scholars from 26 countries released a statement drawing attention to “mass human rights abuses and deliberate attacks on indigenous cultures” taking place in China. “In the camps, these detainees, most of whom are Uighur, are subjected to deeply invasive forms of surveillance and psychological stress as they are forced to abandon their native language, religious beliefs and cultural practices,” the statement said.

Never mind. The news media is just thrilled that the President has called a temporary truce in the trade war with China, is meeting with its leader, and that the two countries may soon again be working together, creating jobs and wealth on both sides of the Pacific. Meanwhile, the same people cheering our efforts to accommodate China have pronounced the President a monster for not risking relations with the Saudi’s over the murder of a single journalist.

4. Facts are stubborn things, as a wise man once said. From the Examiner:A majority of “non-citizens,” including those with legal green card rights, are tapping into welfare programs set up to help poor and ailing Americans, a Census Bureau finding that bolsters President Trump’s concern about immigrants costing the nation. In a new analysis of the latest numbers, from 2014, 63 percent of non-citizens are using a welfare program, and it grows to 70 percent for those here 10 years or more, confirming another concern that once immigrants tap into welfare, they don’t get off it.”

But “Think of the children!” “They only want a better life!”  “We’re a nation of immigrants!” Facts aren’t racist or xenophobic. Open borders and porous borders hurt Americans. Arguments supporting these policies are irresponsible, and usually dishonest.

Similarly, this was largely ignored by the media. I have now heard the asertion quoted by Republicans numerous times, but it has not been reported by the New York Times, the Post, or the networks as far as I can determine.

More than 600 members of the 10,000 migrants traveling from Central America to the U.S. are convicted criminals, the country’s top security official said Monday evening. In a Facebook post defending U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s handling of a large group of people who attempted to run over the U.S.-Mexico border Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said a significant number of those migrants were known as criminals in their countries of origin.

“[W]e cannot confirm the backgrounds and identities of all caravan members which possess a national security and public safety risk to our country. However, at this point we have confirmed that there are over 600 convicted criminals traveling with the caravan flow. This includes individuals known to law enforcement for assault, battery, drug crimes, burglary, rape, child abuse and more. This is serious,” Nielsen wrote. “Additionally, Mexico has already arrested 100 caravan members for criminal violations in Mexico.”

Is 600 an accurate number? Gee, I don’t know. It would be nice if journalists acknowledged the statement, and inquired, since that’s their job, or once was. Maybe it’s 300. Maybe it’s 50.

One is too many.

5. Here is a needlessly confusing but interesting essay on a simple ethics problem. Literary Hoaxes and the Ethics of Authorship, in the New Yorker discusses when it considered acceptable for an author to misrepresent his or her identity, life, or what the author represents as fact in a book. Tied in with these issues are whether an author’s background, ethnicity and conduct should matter, or if all that a reader should care about is what is on the printed page.

I don’t think most of the supposedly difficult ethical issues raised are all that difficult:

  • It is unethical for an author to intentionally deceive readers, either regarding the truth of what he or she writes, or his or her identity and credentials.
  • Fiction should be presented as such. An author who knowingly represents that events have occurred that did not, or who uses experiences of others as his or her own, is engaging in indefensibly unethical conduct.
  • In memoirs, if the author honestly remembers an event as occurring a certain way, such an account is not dishonest, as long as it is made clear that this is a recollection, not a statement of facts.
  • The author’s identity and experiences can legitimately change the value and impact of a book on the reader, so misrepresentations are material.

6. About those “shut off your ad-blocker” demands. The Daily Beast, which I have used often here as a source of stories, particularly those of a leftward slant, now requires that I shut off my ad-blocker or pay a premium to read the site. Many websites are doing this now, like Forbes, Fortune, and several local newspapers. “These ads support the free content you enjoy” I am told. These ads also make using these sites an obnoxious experience, and I say to hell with them. Sell ads if you want, and put them permanently in the margins or between paragraphs. That’s fine. Programming endless, and I do mean endless on some sites, pop-up ads that block the text and require closing is unnecessary, assaultive, and a waste of my time. I wouldn’t do that to my readers.

Almost as annoying are the screens that make turning off the ad-blocker optional, but you have to click on a statement like, “No, I don’t want to support high-quality journalism,” or “Sorry, I’m a worthless free-loader.”

Goodby, Daily Beast.

30 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/4/18: The Red Sox Do The Right Thing, France Does The Wrong Thing, The News Media Does Their Usual Thing, And All Sorts Of Stuff In Between…

  1. The author’s identity and experiences can legitimately change the value and impact of a book on the reader, so misrepresentations are material.

    So when JK Rowling publishes a mystery under a different name because she wants readers to judge the story on its own and not by her reputation as the Harry Potter creator – that’s unethical? Or the times George Lucas backed movie projects uncredited for similar reasons?

    Almost as annoying are the screens that make turning off the ad-blocker optional, but you have to click on a statement like, “No, I don’t want to support high-quality journalism,” or “Sorry, I’m a worthless free-loader.”

    Oh please tell me that last one was on a site supporting socialism.

    • I was thinking along the same lines, except that my thought was about Nora Roberts starting a new series under the pen name J.D. Robb. She wasn’t really that serious about keeping her name secret — the book did say copyright Nora Roberts, but it was a departure from her previous work. It was obviously well received since she’s written over 50 in that series.

      Lots of authors use pseudonyms for lots of different reasons. George Eliot is one famous example. Hal Clement from the science fiction field.

  2. This is wonderful:

    “These ads support the free content you enjoy.” Orwell would be proud.

    I am surprised you didn’t mention Joy Behar’s most recent abuse heaped on Meghan McCain while they were eulogizing George H.W. Bush yesterday. Behar demonstrated once and for all that she is a God awful, loathsome individual. This is a link to RedState (yeah, I know but I am too lazy to find another once) that contains the whole vicious exchange:

    Come to think of it, there is not much ethics to discuss other than “why is Behar employed there?” Or maybe, “is it ethical to employ someone so vicious, so brain dead, so devoid of any redeeming qualities?”


    • This hilarity from The Daily Mail:

      ‘Can we focus on the president, please. I don’t want to talk about Trump, we’re honoring a great president,’ McCain interjected.

      Behar shot back: ‘Excuse me a second, please. I want to talk about – ‘ before McCain cut her off again saying: ‘We’re honoring a great president who passed and I’m not interested in your one-issue voting.’

      Behar fired back: ‘I don’t care what you’re interested in. I’m talking!’

      McCain countered: ‘Well I don’t care what you’re interested in either, Joy!’ before Whoopi quickly called for a commercial break.

      Behar was then seen slamming her cue cards on the table and turning to sound off on McCain just as producers cut to break. Producers muted Behar’s microphone so that her expletives would not be heard on air.

      But the source told that Behar threw her hands in the air, yelled ‘My God!’ and ‘Get this b***h under control.’

      ‘If this s**t doesn’t stop I’m quitting this damn show. I can’t take this much more,’ Behar allegedly fumed.

      Producers ran to the stage in an attempt to deescalate the situation, but Behar continued to rant, the source said.

      ‘I’ve tolerated a lot of s**t on this show but I’m at my wits’ end with this entitled b***h. Enough already! Enough already! I’m not playing nice any longer,’ Behar shouted, despite the studio audience being able to hear it all.

        • Hah! I wondered about that as well. Come on, Jack. The only good Republican president is a dead Republican president. And they’re all George Washington and Lincoln combined compared to … TRUMP!

          I just hope I don’t outlive Obama.

      • And it’s all so ridiculous considering that Joy Behar doesn’t care a whit about George Bush nor do most of the pundits publishing reverent praises of Bush now that he’s dead that they would never stomach doing while he was President. As with Joy, a great many of these articles praise Bush only as an opportunity to bash Trump.

  3. #4: 63% Is an amazing number for me to accept. I work for a massive international conglomerate, and employee movement is quite fluid. The foreign born out number the native born people at my location. We joke that we’re like the UN, we have people from every continent except South America. Nobody here is even close to being on any public benefits.

  4. 1. Good for the Sox!

    2. France is a bunch of cheese eating surrender monkeys, so this is no surprise. That the people had the cohones to buck the government IS a great surprise. Seems even the french know that man-made climate change is bullshit, and are not willing to pay money to rich one percenters that will not impact the fantasy.

    3. Those camps are just fine: templates that all socialists use when they get into power. This sort of incarceration is what progressives wish upon conservatives… this is the inevitable result of socialism.

    4. I thought they were only here to work, to strive for the American dream! Seems they are only coming for the free ride. As conservatives have said all along, that being human nature. The progressive immigration narrative is once again proven to be a lie.

    I have been hearing that up to one third of the caravan is sick. HIV, tuberculosis, and a host of other nastiness. Where do YOU think they believe they can get healthcare? WHO do they think will pay for it? Got a mirror, oh great and generous American taxpayer?

    Remember several years ago, when we had a bad flu season, because the strain of flu that was not covered in the vaccine? That particular strain WAS expected in Central and South America. How did it wind up here? Obama was allowing illegals to spread to American cities.

    Hear of all the ‘strange’ and unheard of illnesses impacting and sometimes killing children across the country the past few years? Amazing that you can trace the clusters to cities Obama was shipping illegal minors to.

    No, I don’t think Obama was trying to spread disease. But I bet he did not shed a tear at the unintended consequence of his illegal policies.

    5. Many of those ads in recent months are trojan horses that can infect your computer even if you do not click on them. Keep the ad blocker enabled!

  5. 2) The French are revolting.

    As you clearly indicate that this is no ethical way to govern, but it is an old-world way of governing. Since all the European nations do it, we should also…isn’t that the logic?

    Side observations: despite of what wine-sipping leftist intellectuals would have us believe about Europeans and their advanced attitude on the environment, this episode tells us, clearly, that whatever words are used to describe European attitudes towards environmentalism, their ACTIONS clearly show they don’t really believe climate change is a dire threat.

    Also, the United States, widely vilified by ALL other nations for leaving the Paris Accord, has, on it’s own lowered carbon emissions MORE than all other nations involved whose nanny-state centric solutions have failed to do so. Also, none of those nations ever plan on *actually* taking action to lower carbon emissions because they know that fossil fuels are the backbone of economic development and all those nations want to stay competitive on the world stage. They’ll talk a good game about the environment but not a single one of them will ever reduce their competitive advantages.

    As usual, most of this international climate jabbering by the other nations are just an attempt to stifle American economic competitiveness, and true to American good faith attitudes (another oft derided attitude) we actually HAVE reduced our emissions.

    Joke’s on us!

  6. 6) I’m not sure it’s cut and dry. I agree with slick’s assessment regarding trojans, that all effort should be made to protect your computer, but I can’t get 100% on board seeing pop up ads as unethical (unless they are of the truly burdensome type). Commercials on TV before the modern era are the analog. You basically HAD to watch them, almost every channel ran them at the same general time in a show, so changing the channel was ineffective, leaving the room was an option, but they were ON anyway and in the way of what you wanted to see.

    The content you are receiving HAS to be paid for. On a website, ads on the side are just noise I don’t even notice anymore…if a website becomes contractually obligated to ensure you see an ad that pays for that website’s existence, then pop-ups, annoying as they are, are really the only option.

    And yes, I hate pop-ups also, for those who plan on piling on what will inevitably be seen as an unpopular take.

  7. Remember, France was under a State of Emergency from November 2015 until November 1, 2017. During the State of Emergency, warrants for search and seizures are not needed. The government can censor the press. radio, films, and theater productions, and investigative powers of the government are greatly increased. They ‘ended’ the state of emergency by basically granting those powers to the government permanently. In France, they can search your property and legally confine you to your home without judicial oversight. The police can set up ‘search perimeters’ where they can search everything within an area without permission. They can shut down houses of worship if they deem the preaching problematic. It allows the government wot eavesdrop on all communications. It may allow press censorship (this seems unclear).

    France has serious economic and cultural problems. They have a stagnant economy due to their union and socialist infrastructure. They have a culture that is under attack by Islam and a government of Europe that is instituting anti-blasphemy laws to protect Islam (or to protect the religious peace, as the court put it). They have withering civil rights as the government becomes more totalitarian. With all this going on, the government decides to insist that the people in the countryside must use public transit (that doesn’t exist) to reduce carbon emissions for global warming. That seems to have caused a tipping point in public opinion. This wasn’t just another tax, it was an attack on the ability of the common person to travel freely in their own country.

    Yes, it was a tone-deaf thing to do. The reason Macron backed down was that he was about to cause another French Revolution. This was an indicator that the people of France have just about had enough. This wasn’t a typical union-led protest. This was an unorganized, spontaneous riot of people all over the country. At least, that is what I can gather from what little press gets out of France.

      • I did like the fact that the state of emergency authorized them to seize people’s guns, but they had there were very few left. Well, except the select-fire military weapons the terrorists have that the govenment can’t find.

        • Let’s never forget how troublingly comfortable the people of Boston were to be placed under practical martial law (with NO actual declaration of such) in the search for the surviving Tsarnaev brother, where police were entering and searching homes methodically with no warrant.

            • I get their willingness to submit, and maybe had some more proper channels been pursued (by at least declaring martial law) I could see it being slightly more palatable. I get the local scare being a major non-ethical consideration, and I wonder if given the circumstances that I wouldn’t do the same thing. I hope I wouldn’t, and as you coach us, those emotionally involved in a situation can’t be relied upon to give a well thought out ethical response to the situation. I just can’t bring myself, from the outside perspective, to think it was at all OK for the warrantless searches (many of which occurred without enough time to even ask and gain consent from home owners). I think if police are searching for a terrorist threat, I can be reasonably trusted as a member of the community to honestly answer “No, he isn’t in my home. Carry on.”

    • From an Argentine blog: Quartz:

      Are the yellow vests modern Jacobins fighting contemporary tyranny—or are they something entirely different? Quartz spoke with Danielle Tartakowsky, a history professor at Paris 8 university who recently published a book about the French state, about how to contextualize the yellow vests within France’s history of protest movements. According to Tartakowsky, the current demonstrations are unlike any other, marking an important shift in France’s political landscape.

      A grassroots movement

      Unlike in previous large-scale protest movements in France, the yellow vests began as an organic, grassroots movement, born of the frustration of a small group of individuals who organized the protests entirely on Facebook. Tartakowsky says that’s one way in which these protests are unique. Typically, French protests on the left have been organized or supported by major labor unions, and protests on the right (such as the marches against the legalization of gay marriage in 2012) were typically organized by Catholic groups.

      The lack of institutional framework is one of the things that sets the yellow vests apart from previous political movements and give them independence from any particular party, politician, or political leaning. That is one of their strengths, says Tartakowsky, since it gives the movement broader appeal (link in French). But it is also a major weakness, since the movement suffers from a lack of coherent message and leadership. Even its elected representatives disagree with one another about the future of the movement.

      And while the yellow vest movement began as a protest against the French government’s planned increase in fuel taxes, its demands have since grown to encompass all sorts of grievances against the government of president Emmanuel Macron, from gender inequality to the funding of public services and immigration policies. These factors have made it difficult for the government to engage in dialogue with the yellow vests.

      An unusual coalition

      France’s previous blue-collar movements were traditionally affiliated with left-wing parties and workers’ unions, while its socially conservative movements have been linked to the right and religious groups. But the yellow vests are an amorphous group of people from all different political leanings in France, including socialists, communists, conservatives, far-right extremists, anarchists, and even centrists who identify as former Macron supporters.

      As Tartakowsky pointed out in the French magazine Les Inrockuptibles, the movement has defined itself in opposition of Macron, a man who self-identifies as “neither right nor left,” and so it is neither on the right or left itself. “We can see that our categories are disrupted,” she told the magazine. Instead, the yellow vests have coalesced around what can broadly be described as a working- and middle-class agenda—and a complaint that they have seen their quality of life and purchasing power dwindle in recent years.

      Writing in The New York Times, Alissa Rubin writes that the protestors are “men and women who rely on their cars to get to work and take care of their families,” including “small-business owners, independent contractors, farmers, home aides, nurses and truck drivers” who “live and work primarily in rural towns and in the suburbs or exurbs of France’s big cities, many earning just enough to get by.”

      A reflection of France’s changing political system

      Tartakowsky says we can’t understand the yellow vests without looking at the disintegration of France’s traditional left-right divide. Macron himself represents a type of political insurrection; when he created his own party La République En Marche, and beat every established party in France to win the presidency in May 2017, he caused a reorganization of French political structures. This geopolitical trend didn’t start with Macron; the traditional, two-party system is under siege in many countries. But he has embodied this process more than any other single politician in France.

      Tartakowsky argues that the leaderless, grassroots yellow vests are a logical continuation of this reorganization of political and institutional life. “The terms of our social and republican compromise was generated throughout fifty years of our history,” she told daily newspaper Le Figaro. “But there is not much left of it now. A new social compromise remains to be born. In my opinion, the yellow vests are a serious symptom … of a problem whose outcome nobody seems to be able to control.” And the problem is a daunting one: How can governments help the people left behind by a rapidly-changing, globalized economic system?

      That’s why she explains that, even if the yellow vests disband, economic inequality, the urban-rural divide, and the anti-globalization backlash that led to the protests will not go away. As she told Quartz,”I think this is a moment that will be crucial … for the future of the country.”

    • Well, if you tax people to death there will be fewer people. You can also institute government programs that will make people’s lives miserable and decrease life expectancy. The Affordable Care Act is a good example. By increasing the amount of money people pay for healthcare and increasing their access to health professionals, we have decreased life expectancy (really, look it up). If you have fewer people, they have less of an impact on the environment. Another way to have fewer people is to have a highly industrialized capitalistic society with a great standard of living (population naturally decreases). I guess which approach you take depends on how sadistic you are.

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