Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/29/18: ‘Infuriating Stuff I Wish I Didn’t Have To Know About Or Write About’ Edition

Screaming from mountain tops does no good, I know, but this is the life I have chosen…

Good Morning.

(My beautiful Christmas tree is drooping already, despite meticulous care. (Did you know that in Philadelphia it’s called a “Holiday Tree”? Did you know they had gone mad in Philadelphia?) I’ve had some last until February first. Not this one, I fear.)

1. Like most of the journalism establishment here, only less subtle about itDer Spiegel reporter Claas Relotius was exposed this month to be that publication’s version of Stephen Glass, a star journalist who just made stuff up. He, however, made stuff up to play to anti-Trump sentiments abroad, writing multiple stories to show how bigoted and backward the town of Fergus Falls, Minnesota was, explaining why it went for President Trump in the 2106 election.

The New York Times story on the hoax shows how Relotius could have accomplished the same mission using just spin, slanted framing and old fashioned bias. Read the thing: it just drips with thinly veiled contempt for Trump voters, and the President, of course. “The election results speak for themselves,” says the Times, knowing how the typical times reader will take that. The Times reporters reveal that the town isn’t full of racist yahoos as if that is news in itself.

2. Can’t let this pass, unfortunately. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump were taking calls from young children wondering about Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve, as part of the NORAD Santa tracker (which I think is a waste of money no matter what it costs, and an example of the government being involved where it should not be), and had  this conversation  with 7-year-old Collman Lloyd which was videoed on both sides;

Collman told the President about the Santa visit preparations underway at the Lloyd household, saying “Probably put out some cookies and then we’re hanging out with our friends, so that’s pretty much all.”

The President: “Well that’s very good. You just have a good time.”

Collman: “Yes, sir.”

The President: “Are you still a believer in Santa?”

Collman: “Yes, sir.”

Trump: “Because at seven it’s marginal, right?” 

Collman: “Yes, sir.”

The trivial exchange triggered more Trump-bashing and a ridiculous amount of negative commentary. This approaches blind hate at a pathological level. The focus of the attacks were that the President’s “marginal” line supposedly destroyed the girl’s belief in Santa Clause. Ugh.

  • She later said that she had no idea what “marginal” meant. We  all know Trump can’t talk: this is Julie Principle territory. The only way one assumes that his intent was to shatter the girl’s innocent faith is if one thinks the President is a monster…which is what the news media wants the public to think.
  • If I had to guess, I would say that he was noting that not all of her friends did believe in Santa—which is, studies say, true. My son was a skeptic at 6. I. in contrast, believed in St. Nick until I was 28…
  • Collman also said that what the Evil Scrooge Trump said didn’t cause her not to believe in Santa, though this could be called moral luck.
  • Even at seven, a personal exchange with the President of the United States would have meant so much more to me than any dents in my Santa Claus beliefs that I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Of course, when I was seven it was the norm that all citizens respected and honored the President, because that was whom our democracy chose to lead us.

The relentless and apparently shameless effort to find dire fault with everything the President does and says is, again, disgusting and destructive. It is also stupid, stripping the news media and public opinion of any potential influence at all. If I were Trump—and I think this is one of the few personality traits we share—I would decide that if it didn’t matter what I did, and that the news media would find a way to condemn me regardless, then I would do exactly what I wanted to do, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. And I think that’s exactly what he’s doing.

Good for him.

3. Yes, the tech companies are trying to strangle free expression that doesn’t bolster progressive cant. Patreon became the latest internet platform to start blocking unpopular speech and conservative voices, sparking a revolt that led some undeniably moderate users to bolt, including cult philosopher/author Jordan Petersen.  Renegade former CBS reporter Sharyl Atkinson, persona non-grata among her peers for refusing to bury Obama administration scandals like good journalists were supposed to do, says that her “account’s visibility on Twitter is down 50-70% in a month though supposed followers are up by several thousand. I can’t explain it.”

Really? I can. I still can’t post Ethics Alarms essays on Facebook. When all of the most viewed communications platforms on the web are actively censoring content and opinions using highly subjective standards dictated by only one side of the political spectrum, and an extreme one, the defense that they are private companies and can do what they want begins to be a rationalization and a self-serving dodge for people who want only the positions and opinions they find acceptable to be the ones with wide circulation.

Do me a favor: try posting or sharing Ethics Alarms essays on Facebook, and let me know what happens.

4. KABOOM! I don’t understand this story at ALL. An African-American man,  a registered guest at a DoubleTree hotel in Portland, Oregon, was told to leave by hotel officials while he was sitting in the lobby making a phone call, reports the CBS affiliate there, KOIN-TV. Jermaine Massey was talking to his mother, who called him. The episode was captured on his cell phone; the hotel has apologized; the staff responsible has been placed on leave. Massey’s lawyer is calling his “offense” talking to his mother on a cell phone while black. Massey was not intoxicated, or shouting. This isn’t a case like the Starbuck’s mess in Philadelphia, where the staff involved was at least following store policy.  If Massey was registered and had a key card, how could this happen? How could there be anyone not institutionalized whose ethics alarms wouldn’t be deafening at even the thought of forcibly ejecting a black man from a hotel under these circumstances?

To adapt a quote from “The Sixth Sense”: “I see stupid people!”

5. Signature significance…for a pointless, useless, addled and bigoted “movement.” Do I even need to comment on this? Not only is it signature significance, it’s res ipsa loquitur:

EUREKA, Calif. (KRCR) — The organizers of the annual Women’s March have decided not to hold a rally in Eureka on Jan. 19, as previously planned, because they say participants do not represent the diversity of the area.

“This decision was made after many conversations between local social-change organizers and supporters of the march,” organizers said in a press release. They said organizers will continue to meet and discuss how to broaden representation to create an event that represents Humboldt County.

“Up to this point, the participants have been overwhelmingly white, lacking representation from several perspectives in our community,” the press release went on to say. “Instead of pushing forward with crucial voices absent, the organizing team will take time for more outreach. Our goal is that planning will continue and we will be successful in creating an event that will build power and community engagement through connection between women that seek to improve the lives of all in our community.”

Wait—how can the march be representative without proportional participation by men?

35 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/29/18: ‘Infuriating Stuff I Wish I Didn’t Have To Know About Or Write About’ Edition

  1. #3 When I just shared an Ethics Alarm post I immediately get a message pop up that says “Could not retrieve data from URL.” and the post is posted only with a functional link. What used to post is the title block of the shared blog post and the associated photo. It hasn’t sent me that stock message yet that it has been blocked because it violates their community standards stuff.

  2. #3: I tried to share your Arby’s story, nothing offensive about that at all. I used the debugger tool to explain why, and got verification that Ethics Alarms is blocked.

    The question is what should be done?

  3. 1. “it went for President Trump in the 2106 election.” I refuse to worry about this election, by then I will know what is in the afterlife.

    2. I took a core belief for Wellington’s ‘publish and be damned.’ Beyond a certain point, you have no influence on what idiot or evil people say about you. You need to try to live your life in such a way the lies or missteps are clearly a blip. Right now everyone, or almost everyone, is supposed to run scared that they or someone they care for will be hounded by the howling mobs.

    This is not a healthy society, even if it started a benign. Now people of nearly unimpeachable integrity are nearly broken for a case of whisper down the lane. How many of the mob have ever thought about living in a glass house as they do to others? Very few have that clean a life, maybe NO one. If people even start to get suspicious, everything the media publishes damns them as bigoted even more. This may be Trump’s motto, while he digs himself in deep as well sometimes.

    3) That censorship will long run doom the platforms. They will lose the trust the whole Agora concept depends on. Why should I make an account on either site for business, if they censor me, especially without notice or opportunity to redress? How would I even know they did something if I have only a small audience? If I want to grow a business, I’m not allowed to have opinions they don’t like? I’m extra glad I haven’t hitched my business plans to two-faced operations. I’ll grow slower, but the rug won’t be pulled out from under me…

    They did well when they stayed with neutrality to their users’ material. I really hope ISPs don’t get into this game too. Net neutrality is not a business issue, but free speech and access issues.

    5. Made me laugh. Activism is a luxury, and a very large percent of the population cannot afford to. And the ones who do, often have bees in their bonnets as to what the target groups really want. Activists are often laughably wrong. You cannot broaden attendance with people who do not agree with your goals or tactics. Wise people should think about where their strategies and goals don’t serve the community, instead of cranking up the publicity machine and the virulence machines. I’d bet a lot of men would support women too. /sarcasm.

    • The word “community” has been co-opted by lefties and it drives me nuts. Years ago, “community” simply meant a town or an area of a larger town, analogous to “commune” in French, which means, literally “town.”

      “Community” has been weaponized by the left to mean “those people who agree with me about X, as opposed to those assholes who have the audacity to not think exactly the same way I and my fellow travelers just happen to think at this point in time.” I hate, hate, hate this. It’s one of my hobby horses.

      So, when this speaker speaks of his or her “community,” he or she simply means the definition above. She’s not at all talking about the town of Eureka and its environs. Leave it to a bunch of wealthy, whacked out, old Northern California potheads to nurture and express such a moronic sentiment.

      • And don’t get me started on young customer service people who respond, “no problem” after I’ve said “thank you” to them. I want to scream, “Tell me you’re welcome! I thanked you. I didn’t say anything was a problem! Do you see a problem? I don’t. Other than your inability to speak lucid, polite, conventional, civil English.” Grrr.

        • Other Bill, it sounds like you do have a problem.

          “No problem” is a perfectly good response.

          “You are welcome” is acceptable, even though the person might not really want to have anything more to do with you and might actually want you to go away.

          “Thank you” is also acceptable on the theory that, in a free exchange of goods, both peruse are better off after the transaction than they were before. (I often use this one, along with “no problem.”)

          “It was nothing” is also acceptable, even if you believe it was SOMETHING, much like de nada in Spanish.

          “T’wern’t nuttin’,” while a variant of “it was nothing,” is too colloquial for anything but those transactions between parties of the utmost familiarity.

          “My pleasure” is also acceptable, even though you were probably not trying to please this person.

          In short, these words are formalities. There are many right answers.

          -Jut

          • Language is too often debased by moronic fads. Remember when TV chatters couldn’t say “thank you” without inserting the obsequious “so much” into the phrase. Or when rather than saying you’re welcome, saying “thank YOU.” Trendy and idiotic. Remember in the ’90s when “EXCELLENT!” was a nearly obligatory affirmative response? These sorts of trends simply demean the language. We need an Academie Anglaise.

      • I meant it simply as people who live or work in the same general area and experience a similar culture or subculture. That’s bigger than a neighborhood and smaller than a MSA, and some subgroups like prisons are not really part of the community. But saying all that takes way too long, and I will not let them steal the idiom only to abuse it. Avoiding words lets them control the narrative too much.

        • I will not let them steal the idiom only to abuse it.

          Good for you. But for me, they’ve already demolished the word’s usefulness.

      • I’m not sure the-internet-that-never-forgets wolves should be loosed on the family or roommates of the idiots. There should be penalties, but the mob will not stop even when they learn better. This is a social-death-penalty of which there is no recovery or mercy… there is no innocence project to help the over shunned. Do you see driving to suicide as appropriate for the idiots if they get picketed, doxxed, and hounded as you suggest? Evicted is really bad, they and the hotel should have consequences, but it’s not a death penalty offense.

        • Do you see driving to suicide as appropriate for the idiots if they get picketed, doxxed, and hounded as you suggest?

          Of course.

          The Japanese has this custom called seppuku.

          We should embrace it.

          The Japanese currently have a low crime rate because of their honor-based culture they developed, all but removing the stain of their atrocities seven decades ago.

          That security guard dishonored himself, and seppuku will restore honor.

          Evicted is really bad, they and the hotel should have consequences, but it’s not a death penalty offense.

          Of course it should be a death penality offense. It was a dishonorable crime.

          We need an honor-based culture. Who would have been nominated in the 2016 elections if we had an honor culture?

  4. To adapt a quote from “The Sixth Sense”: “I see stupid people!”

    When ethics fail, law must step in

    Give me one good reason why racial profiling should not be a capital offense.

    Also, that security guard’s home address needs to be publicized. People need to picket him everywhere he goes.

    When all of the most viewed communications platforms on the web are actively censoring content and opinions using highly subjective standards dictated by only one side of the political spectrum, and an extreme one, the defense that they are private companies and can do what they want begins to be a rationalization and a self-serving dodge for people who want only the positions and opinions they find acceptable to be the ones with wide circulation.

    The ethics call is easy. As Facebook nor Google nor Patreon do not advertise themselves as promoting particular viewpoints, they may not ethically engage in such, unlike the Democratic Underground or Free Republic or even Ethics Alarms.

    The devil is in how would one draft a law to ban these providers from engaging in censorship, while not effectively requiring, for example,a web site about Judaism, which has a bulletin board, from banning users who post messages denying the Holocaust. Do we require a disclaimer? Do we prohibit any bulletin board service from censoring at all, which would deter many advocacy dites from having bulletin boards or comments sections?

    • Give me one good reason why racial profiling should not be a capital offense

      Because it is hard to prove? It is hard because you have to presume what the accused’s intentions and motives were, which makes it a thoughtcrime.

      We penalize for ACTIONS, not intentions. Killing the accused is tyranny.

      • The action is question was removing a hotel guest from a room ghe paid for, based solely on race.

        It is dishonorable, and thus deserving of execution.

        Unless we start executing these people, this will continue.

        • I appreciate the sentiment. 🙂

          I just think suing them until they have to apply to welfare (thus learning the error of their ways in that arena as well) involves less paperwork.

  5. I was successful at posting the full URL into a Facebook post. However, pasting it first and trying to post resulted in the cannot retrieve data from the URL error. What worked was to make a stub post with just one letter. Then, editing that post by deleting the letter, pasting the URL and adding a return at the end of the line and then saving the edit.

  6. 4. KABOOM! I don’t understand this story at ALL. An African-American man, a registered guest at a DoubleTree hotel in Portland, Oregon, was told to leave by hotel officials while he was sitting in the lobby making a phone call, reports the CBS affiliate there, KOIN-TV. Jermaine Massey was talking to his mother, who called him. The episode was captured on his cell phone; the hotel has apologized; the staff responsible has been placed on leave. Massey’s lawyer is calling his “offense” talking to his mother on a cell phone while black. Massey was not intoxicated, or shouting. This isn’t a case like the Starbuck’s mess in Philadelphia, where the staff involved was at least following store policy. If Massey was registered and had a key card, how could this happen? How could there be anyone not institutionalized whose ethics alarms wouldn’t be deafening at even the thought of forcibly ejecting a black man from a hotel under these circumstances?

    To adapt a quote from “The Sixth Sense”: “I see stupid people!”

    This reminds me of a story I heard about a Spanish homeless man who won a big lottery prize. Despite his repeated attempts to collect it, security staff always drove him off without even letting him explain. He was only just able to collect it before his entitlement lapsed by persuading a parish priest to accompany him. This seems to be a similarly unthinking “he shouldn’t be here” response.

  7. This and your two previous posts on the media’s agit/prop left wing ‘reporting’ and ‘analysis’ is getting scarier and scarier. In spite of the Constitutional guarantees of free speech, the ‘resistors’ have taken it upon themselves to act unconstitutionally and become a bastion of little fascists by censoring everyone who disagrees with their cant. The media in general and the ‘resistors’ behavior has devolved into a real pathology: This is not just resisting, or even hate:– it’s a psychotic anti-Trump obsession.

  8. Regarding topic 5, the Women’s March organizers likely failed to recognize that Humboldt County is 74.9% non-Hispanic white. They didn’t realize (or couldn’t bring themselves to admit) the “overwhelmingly white” group was actually representative of the community.

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