Is There A “Naked State Legislator Principle”? [Updated]

 

I guess we may find out.

In a profile of Virginia’s new House of Delegates member Lee Carter, one of the Ocasio-Cortez school socialists that snuck into the Virginia’s House under the Democratic Party banner, the New York Times quotes him as tweeting this as part of his (smart) efforts to get all of his dirty career and personal laundry out and in public before the next election:

“Just like everyone else under 35, I’m sure explicit images or video of me exists out there somewhere. That’s just a reality of dating in the smartphone era.”

I could concentrate on the statement itself, which does not bode well for Carter’s ethical decision-making in the future. It is, after all, an appeal to the biggest rationalization of them  all, #1 on the list, “Everybody does it,” as he is suggesting that if “everyone else” exposes their naughty bits inline, it’s a responsible thing to do. Carter also evokes #41 (I HATE #41),  The Evasive Tautology, or “It is what it is” as well as 1A, Ethics Surrender, or “We can’t stop it,” claiming that there is no choice other than to go full-Weiner to court the opposite sex.  In fact, there are other choices, like being modest and responsible, and not sending your crotch into cyber-space where it can get into all sorts of mischief.

While we are here, I also have to ask what “explicit images or video” means. Explicit how? Is Carter really saying that it doesn’t matter whether an explicit video shows him flexing in the mirror of going full Louis C.K.?

The statement itself suggest to me that Carter is neither especially ethical, trustworthy or bright, but then I don’t consider socialists ethical, trustworthy or bright. They want to constrain personal liberty and autonomy, and advocate increased government  incursions on our freedom based on their presumed superior priorities and values. They also are either unaware of how routinely socialism has failed, or dishonestly choose to pretend otherwise.

But I digress. The issue at hand is whether in this “smartphone era” an elected official should be able to maintain that his (or her) explicit photos or videos in no way reflect on fitness to serve.

Back in 2010, when Scott Brown was running for his brief tenure in the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, his Democratic opponent and others tried to make an issue of the fact that he had posed for a semi-nude  Cosmo fold-out  when he was young, hot, and needed cash. This was before the Brett Kavanaugh theory became popular among Democrats, which is that anything a Republican does as a student, or ever, can be dredged up and used to condemn him. Massachusetts voters reasonably saw no character deficiencies or lack of responsibility in Brown’s youthful vanity, and I doubt it lost him a single vote. (Maybe it should have)

On the other side of the issue, we had the misadventures of the ridiculously named Krystal Ball. In 2010, she was a 28-year old, almost credential- and experience-free Democratic Party nominee for United States Congress in Virginia’s 1st Congressional district who eventually lost to Republican incumbent Rob Wittman. During the campaign, old photographs surfaced of Ball and her then-husband at a college Christmas party, showing her dressed as “bad Santa,” leading her husband, dressed as a reindeer, around S and M style by a leash, and sucking on his long, fake, phallic red nose.  Like this:

Krystal Ball 5

Krystal Ball 1

 

Because one never gets a second chance to make a first impression, this almost certainly DID lose Krystal votes, though she would have lost anyway. Thereafter, she complained that she was subjected to a double standard, and cited Brown’ fold-out as evidence:

“He had pictures from the same age as those pictures of me, only he was completely naked, in the centerfold of a national magazine, and it was not even a bump in his campaign; in fact he has even said that it helped him a little bit in his campaign. And I’m not holding anything against Senator Scott Brown… that’s as it should be, in my view, because those kinds of things to me are not relevant to the campaign trail. And I do think there’s a double standard.”

As I pointed out at the time, there are explicit photos and there are explicit photos, and context is everything (her stripper-like name also didn’t help):

When a candidate has nothing positive to run on but her gender, is only 28 and has to convince voters that she is wise, responsible and mature beyond her resume and years, yes, a photo of her acting ridiculous and salacious, whatever it is, will hurt….A photo of a male Congressional candidate sucking a phallus at a Christmas party would hurt an equivalent male candidate just as much, arguably more. Scott Brown’s fold-out for pay is not comparable in any way. When he ran for the Senate and his modeling career surfaced, he was a veteran, a lawyer and had served six terms in the Massachusetts State Legislature: he had credentials besides his man-things.  Using a modeling gig when he was 22 to discredit him looked and was silly and desperate.

There are many double standards, but the “Candidate For Congress Who Is Photographed Sucking The Phallic Red Nose Worn By Her Reindeer Attired Husband At A Christmas Party Principle,” or the CFCWIPSTPRNWBHRAHAACPP for short (a distant cousin of the “Naked Teacher Principle”), which holds that if a candidate for Congress has photos depicting the candidate sucking phallic reindeer noses and leering turn up on the web, that candidate cannot credibly protest when the public concludes that said candidate’s judgment may be faulty, is gender neutral.

Now back to Carter. He’s an elected Virginia legislator now, and that’s the context. Unless his “explicit” photos and videos date from after his election (The Weiner Scenario) or involve him engaging in objectively illegal or obscene acts (making love to an elk), then his online indiscretions won’t and shouldn’t be held against him.

[ Notice of correction: Somehow I misidentified Carter as a member of Congress, when he is but a lowly Virginia legislator. Why he warranted the huge prgile in the Times, I have no idea. Thanks to Phil Alperson for flagging the error.]

22 thoughts on “Is There A “Naked State Legislator Principle”? [Updated]

  1. Jack – Lee Carter is in the VA House of Deiegates. Not Congress. I would I’d be surprised if he has ever met AOC.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. “I don’t consider socialists ethical, trustworthy or bright.”

    Just an ‘opinion’ or does this count as an admission of bias? What, all socialists?

    Would you have to recuse yourself if you were a judge with a socialist appearing before you? Could he get a fair trial?

      • But bias makes you …. um (?) Actually I’ve never accepted that. Only the truly ignorant can claim to be totally free of bias and who cares what they think. True stupidity only lurks with those who refuse to modify their bias in the light of relevant new experience.

        I recommed Bayesian thinking. Honest introspection as to the sources and extent of ones preconceived opinion (or bias) is in my view essential for decent analysis.

        • No, bias does make you/me/everyone stupid. The trick is recognizing it and knowing how to moderate the bias and get past it when necessary. One experience: a car full of black teens stopping to ask me if I needed a lift in a rain storm. My “don’t be biased” instincts had me in a middle seat in the back when the doors locked, and immediately wondering if I was going to die. And I could have. But the nice, kind young men dropped me off at my destination. And I vowed never to jump in a car like that again….

        • I had to look up Bayesian Thinking and I found this communistic lesbian, indoctrinated at Berkeley, California*, who expounds on it. Here.

          Honest introspection as to the sources and extent of ones preconceived opinion (or bias) is in my view essential for decent analysis.

          What I noticed — it is something I often notice — is that while this introspective mode surely has benefits, it depends on an assumption that one has enough information with which to make any decision at all.

          She describes a situation in which a workman appeared to ‘case’ her house and the thought arose that perhaps he might come back and rob it. But applying Bayesian analysis she proved it unlikely. Fair enough.

          But when it comes to larger and more consequential decisions this ‘mode of thinking’ might eventuate in a nullification of good analysis. If the thing to be decided is large and consequential one will have to retreat from the temptation of even deciding it, and return to research.

          I would of course mention that we are at a juncture in history where — to all appearances — the question of decisiveness has definitely come into the foreground. Any example that I would here choose will be a ‘hot’ one. Say ‘white replacement’, or issues having to do with race, ethnicity and culture, or issues having to do with sexual liberalism.

          Or what about a really giant one? Say *the events of 9/11* and *the War on Terror*? The minute that you have broached a large topic, and a consequential one, you are not really in an area where Bayesian analysis can work. You are in an area where you really cannot make any decision at all!

          However, bias if defined as ‘not having enough information’ and ‘working from impulse’, then Bayesian analysis could be helpful.

          I have not ever been quite sure what ‘bias’ really means. When someone with oppositional political or social ideas exclaims “You are biased” this usually only means that they do not accept and possibly do not accept your *terms of analysis*.
          ____________________

          *This is a joke of course. Huar huar huar.

          • Embedded in Bayes’ theorem is a moral message: If you aren’t scrupulous in seeking alternative explanations for your evidence, the evidence will just confirm what you already believe. Scientists often fail to heed this dictum, which helps explains why so many scientific claims turn out to be erroneous. Bayesians claim that their methods can help scientists overcome confirmation bias and produce more reliable results, but I have my doubts.

            Scientific American. (What other sort is there?)(Huar huar huar).

          • Thank you Alizia. Bayes theorem on conditional probability is well known but the implications of his thinking are often missed. Your Berkeley quote ‘remember your primes’ is good advice, but I’d add ‘and remember to review and adjust them’.

            The example I keep top of mind is as follows :

            Much to your surprise you have just failed a routine medical. Apparently a new blood test shows you positive for ‘X’ with the prognosis that you might well die a painful death in the next few years.

            Google tells you the blood test is unusually accurate and it is right in about 99% of cases.

            So your first thought is that you must be about 99% likely to have the dreaded ‘X’, which is quite depressing. You reach for your bucket list and start drafting your resignation letter to the office.

            Fortunately you talk to a friend who has lots of experience with ‘X’ and also understands Bayesian thinking. His opinion is that you are highly unlikely to have ‘X’, in spite of your positive blood test and the test’s high accuracy. Far from you being 99% likely to have ‘X’ he reckons you are more than 99% likely NOT to have it. He advises you not to panic.

            Your friend is ‘biased’ by his experience. He is not open minded. He believes ‘X’ is relatively rare, affecting about 1 in 100,000 of people like you. This new element, his opinion as to the relativity rareness of the disease, transforms the analysis. Please note, he does not in any way take issue with the two facts you were dealing with : that you failed the blood test, and the test is 99% accurate.

            He explains his thinking to you as follows. Imagine taking a sample of 100,000 lives. I’d expect there to be one ‘X’ case. I put all 100,000 through this new blood test. Being 99% accurate, there are 1000 incorrect results. There is only one real ‘X’ cases so I assume 999 false positives and one accurate positive. Thus I reckon that the chance you (having failed the blood test) have the disease is about 1 in 1000.

            Note that he identified his prior, which was that you had a 1 in 100,000 chance of having ‘X’; he has taken on board that you failed the blood test; and he has adjusted his opinion.

            I recommend the mental exercise of extending this example. Still being somewhat nervous, you take a second blood test, and again you fail it. If you accept you friend’s opinion as to the relative rarity of the disease in the population, how ‘doomed’ do you feel?

            Text book Bayesian statistics suggest a rational opinion might be that you then have about a 1 in 10 chance of having the disease. Not good news, but nowhere near as grim as most people would think.

            • I have to admit I don’t quite get it.

              Fortunately you talk to a friend who has lots of experience with ‘X’ and also understands Bayesian thinking. His opinion is that you are highly unlikely to have ‘X’, in spite of your positive blood test and the test’s high accuracy. Far from you being 99% likely to have ‘X’ he reckons you are more than 99% likely NOT to have it. He advises you not to panic.

              If the test is truly accurate in 99% of the cases, and if you test positive once, and then again, it seems to me that you likely have the dread disease.

              I am unsure how a different way of thinking about it can change that!

              If it turns out that it is not 1 in 100,000 that have the disease, but 1 in 1,000,000, this would not have bearing on the result of the test.

              Everything hinges on the accuracy of the text. If it happens that you take the test twice, and it gives a wrong result and you are in fact not ill, then the accuracy of the test needs to be revised.

              Also, how could this Bayesian Thinking be applicable to larger meta-issues? Except to suggest that you ‘examine your primes’. Which means ‘examine your predicates’ unless I am mistaken).

              • Yes, Alizia, it all seems so cut and dried at first. You must be 99% doomed. I have used this at recruitment interviews and been shouted at by very frustrated and well qualified candidates. It has been most useful in helping me weed out those I’d find it most hard to work with : those who can’t calmly consider there might be other points of view and who can’t reverse out of their previous certainties.

                We started this as being about ‘bias’. Bias is normally considered to be all sorts of irrelevant prejudices and opinions. Many take pride in their readiness to consider only ‘facts’ and to block everything else. Imagine now that you consult with one of these proud intellects, say ‘Spock’’, and you give him only the two ‘facts’: you’ve failed the blood test, and the test is 99% accurate. You can be confident he won’t be distracted by tittle-tattle at the Vulcan bar or other speculation. He is likely to tell you that his calculator confirms you are 99% doomed.

                You put Spock and your friend together to try to determine why their conclusions are so different, and of course you zero in on the fact that your friend has mobilised his opinion (his prior) that ‘X’ is a rare disease.

                So you ask Spock, ‘what did you assume about the prevalence of the disease?’

                ‘I made no such assumption’ says Spock.

                ‘Given how significant such an assumption proves to be, shouldn’t you have’, you say?

                Your Bayesian friend then intervenes : ‘By not making any such explicit assumption, I think Spock by implication adopted a prior that ‘X’ was quite prevalent, affecting about half the population.’

                Bayesian thinkers tend to emphasise probabilistic statements as opinions rather than the output of exact calculations. They use new results to modify their previously held opinions ( their priors). Not surprisingly, with differing priors, there are differing resultant opinions.

                The disease ‘X’ story is not completely fictional. In my case (it affected me) I found out that ‘X ‘ was relatively uncommon and I came to the view that the initial quite disturbing prognosis was suspect. I didn’t give up work (at age 38). And I gained a new interest in medical underwriting.

                I’m sorry I can’t address you question as to how Bayesian thinking can be applicable to ‘larger meta-issues’. I followed your lead in asking Google what a ‘meta-issue’ is and got thoroughly confused : even after a 2nd cup of coffee I can’t handle this :

                “The term meta-discussion means a discussion whose subject is a discussion. Meta-discussion explores such issues as the style of a discussion, its participants, the setting in which the discussion occurs, and the relationship of the discussion to other discussions on the same or different topics.”

                Maybe this reveals my bias?

                Regards. Andrew

                PS. It might help you get your head around the ‘X’ conundrum to think not about whether you have the disease, but whether your blood test result is a false or true ‘positive’. Good luck.

                • Excuse my neologism! I come up with them often. I thought ‘meta-issue’ would be understood as ‘larger-issue’ or ‘grand-issue’. In any case, I meant such issues as pertain to race & culture, sexuality & gender (all the matters of the Culture Wars), that sort of thing. My understanding is that these ‘larger questions’ are not of great interest to you. Or, I seem to remember that you have rather *calm* answers to them and about them.

                  We started this as being about ‘bias’. Bias is normally considered to be all sorts of irrelevant prejudices and opinions.

                  Interesting. I would not have defined it in that way. It is not the ‘irrelevant’ judgments that have importance, but rather the relevant ones! I see intellect as requiring decisiveness. But everything hinges on what information it has and what criteria it mulls to then become decisive.

                  Bayesian thinkers tend to emphasise probabilistic statements as opinions rather than the output of exact calculations. They use new results to modify their previously held opinions (their priors). Not surprisingly, with differing priors, there are differing resultant opinions.

                  If that is its essence, it can be seen as a good cognitive strategy. It is a way of holding oneself back from the (rather natural) tendency to jump to conclusions. I sense though that it could be used as a mental manoeuvre to hold one back from making any necessary decision at all. But you should understand that the questions and problems that I am involved with are ‘meta-questions’ and ‘meta-problems’. As with meta-politics.

                  In the intellectual world in which I live and with the predicates that I am trying to develop and to rationally explain, I feel I have to stop, examine, and think through the ‘priors’ that are provided to me by the general culture. The ones that are interwoven with our sense of *what is* *what should be* *what is best*. These have been established as ‘constructs’ and have been sent out to be absorbed by people without question. (In case I am not clear I do mean: multiculturalism, the equality of races and cultures, the normalization of homosexuality, and a dozen other ‘hot’ topics).

                  So, I could take your quoted statement and, perhaps, see it as an affirmation that I am employing a Bayesian thinking already.
                  ___________________

                  I still admit to not being able to understand the X example. I would repeat again what I had last written.

                  • Yes. I guessed ‘meta-issues’ meant the big stuff you write about. I’m sorry, none of that appeals much to me.

                    Perhaps all you should take from Bayes is that ‘bias’ can be very important. Although we frequently accuse our opponents of being ‘biased’ we should not think necessarily this makes them wrong …… or stupid. We should be conscious of our own biases, and of their possible origins, and make sure we revise them with new experience. It is 50 years since my wife was bitten by a Jack Russell terrier and we have met some sweet ones since.

                    In the ‘X’ example, your friend’s ‘bias’ in thinking the disease to be relatively rare turns out to be highly relevant in determining his opinion as to your prognosis. He might of course be right or wrong but at least you know where now where to do your further research. Spock, on the other hand, may seem logically more hygenic, only dealing with the given facts, but his prognosis is almost certainly quite misleading.

                    Another take for me is to try to be more understanding when others differ from us. We all have different experiences, and so can be expected to carry different priors. We all carry ‘stories’ with differing views as to the ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’. Your ‘brave strikebreaker’ may be a hero to you ( asserting his right to work) and a treacherous villain to me (undermining the solidarity of his mates).

                    May I try one last attempt to convince you on ‘X’.?

                    Start with an area with 100,000 spots and mark one with a cross. This represents the population of 100,000, one of which (the cross) is the infected individual. Put all 100,000 through the blood test and colour in all those who show positive as being infected. Keeping the model simple assume the one infected individual will show positive : he probably will (99% so) as it is a pretty accurate test. But in addition a further 999 lwill show positive (or maybe it is 1,000) as they represent the 1% errors.

                    Having failed the test, you are one of the coloured in markers. What is the chance that you are the cross?

                    Andrew

              • ….those who can’t calmly consider there might be other points of view and who can’t reverse out of their previous certainties.

                I have a few areas for examination of ‘priors’:

                1) The certainty that National Socialist Germany was a certain and definite ‘enemy’.
                2) That the US allied with Britain was a certain and absolute ‘good entity’ representing salvation of Civilization.
                3) That the war in general, as it played, was good and necessary.
                4) That the *world* constructed as a result of this war was necessarily a ‘good’ and ‘sound’ one.
                5) That Jews, seen as the complete and thorough victims of these events, were completely free of complicity.
                6) That the relationship between the Soviet sphere and the Allied Powers was a necessary alliance and resulted in a ‘greater good’ than, say, allowing National Socialist Germany to utterly destroy the Soviet Union (and to have aided them in that).
                7) That the result of *all this* — the Americanopolis — is really to be considered the best outcome.

                I could go on like this with 100 more *questions* of the sort that cannot be asked and cannot be thought about in the present dispensation.

                They are questions that go right to the very core of *established priors*.

                  • The point is to consider the advantages of Bayesian Thinking and its predicate that we have to ‘examine our priors’. I deliberately chose the most outrageous example and the one that would require an examination of one of the most fundamental ideas that undergird perception in our present.

                    Naturally, I push a given assertion to its final point. (I have been doing this all my life. It is a part of my psychology).

    • To be a socialist, you must be a totalitarian, a fool, or a liar. To distrust such people is not a sign of bias, it is a sign of wisdom.

  3. The statement itself suggest to me that Carter is neither especially ethical, trustworthy or bright, but then I don’t consider socialists ethical, trustworthy or bright. They want to constrain personal liberty and autonomy, and advocate increased government incursions on our freedom based on their presumed superior priorities and values. They also are either unaware of how routinely socialism has failed, or dishonestly choose to pretend otherwise.

    I wonder if a posed question about people who think like this, that is, if we could discover what that thinking is and what has caused it, might be the area where one where research will prove fruitful? It requires though the assertion that *people do not think well*.

    It seems certain that today there are many many people who want to constrain personal liberty, and who seem comfortable with ‘government incursions’ based on their presumed superior priorities and values. But is this because of a specific ‘socialistic doctrine’?

    I would suggest that with some of these people it is a question of lack of good information, and lack of desire to get that information. It is a form of *lazy thinking* but is also *conformist thinking*.

    But then — to be truthful — such *conformist thinking* is more or less the standard of the day. Shouldn’t we start from the assumption that *conformist thought* is the norm, and then attempt to define what a ‘free thinking’ might be?

    In order not to be a *conformist thinker* one has to be trained not to be one. And that will likely mean turning against giant structures of thought that have been pre-established.

    But all of this presupposes some sort of grasp of ‘the true’ and that one is established in it. Also, the presupposition that one desires to serve ‘the true’ and to work from ‘principles of truth’.

  4. Now back to Carter. He’s a elected Virginia legislator now, and that’s the context. Unless his “explicit” photos and videos date from after his election (The Weiner Scenario) or involve him engaging in objectively illegal or obscene acts (making love to an elk), then his online indiscretions won’t and shouldn’t be held against him.

    Hell will be a hockey rink before either party will take that advice, but it is good advice nonetheless.

  5. My son was, periodically, subjected to ‘internet safety’ talks at school. Sadly, they are mostly ‘stranger danger’ screeds for the digital age and numerous warnings against cyberbullying. I think there is a need for a talk, from about middle school on, on the real dangers of the internet. If I was able to run it, it would go something like this:

    1. The internet is forever.
    2. Here are all the idiotic ways in which people have lost jobs, become nationally vilified, and/or arrested because they forgot that.
    3. In conclusion, the internet is forever.

    Seriously, if you are under 35 and don’t know that then I would question your judgement to be a legislature.

    • My kids have been regaled with this little talk since grade school, whenever they wanted social media access.

      Today they are thanking me for the protection. They have less stress, less drama, and much more self confidence that their social media using friends.

      Social media is evil

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