1. Roger Stone’s arrest. a) Stone is a thoroughly loathsome individual—the man has Richard Nixon’s face tattooed on his back, for heaven’s sake—but like the Mueller investigation generally, his arrest seems more like continued politically-motivated harassment of anyone connected to Donald Trump in order to isolate and impede his Presidency rather than part of a legitimate and independent investigation. Stone’s indictment is substantially made up of the now-familiar “obstruction of justice” bootstrap regarding an investigation of a non-crime charge. In Watergate, there was a crime. In the Clinton impeachment, there was a crime (a President lying under oath). In the Valerie Plame fiasco, there was at least a sort-of crime. Even Martha Stewart’s “obstruction of justice” conviction was related to the crime of insider-trading. “Collusion” isn’t a crime, and if Stone lied to Congress about the degree to which he was communicating heads-ups to the Trump campaign about what Wikileaks had and was about to release, that has no implications of wrongdoing for the Trump campaign at all. Stone telling the Trump campaign, “Hey, Wikileaks has a bunch of DNC emails that show Hillary’s campaign was sleazy and that the Clinton Foundation is an influence peddling scam!” isn’t illegal, it isn’t unethical, and I doubt that this sort of communication is unusual for any campaign in any party. b) CNN cameras were on the scene when Stone was arrested, which means the FBI or the Mueller team leaked to CNN. Now THAT’s unethical, and possibly illegal. c) Once again, President Trump’s persistent failure to avoid close contact with obvious slime-balls has caused problems. “Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas” : It’s not a hard concept to grasp, but for a man who was raised and rose to wealth and power in the dog-dominated worlds of real estate, hotels, casinos, show business and now politics, I suppose its hard to imagine NOT being surrounded by the metaphorically flea-infested.
2. Integrity watch: OK, I no longer know what a “movie” is. Netflix is streaming “Roma,” which was just nominated for a “Best Picture” Oscar. It has sold no tickets, and as far as I can see, is indistinguishable from any movie-length TV program, like the Christmas drama that spawned “The Waltons,” “The Homecoming.” I though movies were things shown in theater with big screens by projectors. Netflix’s “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” (which is terrific) also got some Oscar nominations. Are Hallmark Christmas weepies now eligible for Oscars? To me, those are “TV shows.”
3. Althouse falls into the false equivalency trap, and boards the Covington Catholic Students Ethics Train Wreck. Ann Althouse’s strength as a blogger and cultural commentator is her ability to keep an emotional distance from almost every topic. It’s also her greatest flaw, allowing her to go off on trivializing tangents about stray words a subject used and other diversions as if the main issue was just as trivial. She really botched things up with this post on the Covington School mess, when she wrote,
“Both Phillips and Sandmann were ordinary people living private lives in obscurity. They each did something that got them into the spotlight, but neither really asked or was at all prepared to be inspected and judged by millions. We should be charitable toward both of them. Ideally, they would never have been a news story at all. It is the media — mainstream and social — that deserve criticism.”
While it is true that the crux of the story was the eagerness with which the news media and “the resistance” rushed to impugn Catholic school students whose crimes were wearing a cao supporting the President, demonstrating against abortion, and “smiling while white,” the suggestion that both the activists targeting the students and the students themselves were equally blameless is one more distortion. To their credit, Althouse’s commenters protested her spin. From multiple comments…
“Both Phillips and Sandmann were ordinary people living private lives in obscurity.”
After Nate Phillips served time in Lincoln, he camped out on the Mall in DC; in a teepee. More recently he was at Standing Rock, ND. He’s been on TV and in the newspapers many times. Sandman, on the other hand, is a high school kid in a flyover state….
Yes, Phillips didn’t look for media spotlight at all. Exactly for this reason, he had somebody in his entourage record everything, then publish the video…
True. Phillips assumed his little stunt would result in the kids — and only the kids — being “inspected and judged by millions.” He didn’t count on a much longer video exposing his shameful behavior…
Aside from showing up and camera-hogging at every nationally prominent protest, appearing in a music video, and touting himself as a “tribal elder” and Vietnam veteran, poor Nathan was just trying to live a life of quiet anonymity…
Phillips is a serial agitator, liar, and perpetrator of stolen valor, as he has repeatedly presented himself as a Vietnam combat veteran, instead of the mechanic who never left Nebraska while in the service he was. He also went AWOL 3 times. Phillips was trying to provoke an incident. The boy did not take the bait, so the Democrats and their lapdogs in the Lame Stream Media© manufactured an incident.
You are better than this Ann….
And much more in the same vein. The problem is that Althouse doesn’t really care about the episode itself; she just wanted to use it as an entry into a discussion of abstract “principles of charity.”
4. Preparing a new rationalization. Especially on Facebook, many have tried to duck responsibility for their biased and unfair attacks on Sandmann and his fellow students by retreating to an “everyone was at fault” and “there was blame on both sides” shrug. I hate the “a pox on both their houses” dodge—maybe that’s what I should call it. The new rationalization will probably be filed under #2, Ethics Estoppel” or “They’re just as bad.” Retreating to false equivalency is lazy and dishonest, and I have seen more of it in this Ethics Train Wreck than usual, though it was also a feature of the Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck: “Sure, the Democrats falsely accused him of being a sexual predator and called him a rapist, but he was at fault too for getting so angry about it.”
5. What’s “toxic masculinity”? Courses on how to deal with “toxic masculinity” are popping up on college campuses. College Reform reports that it interviewed Georgetown University students after the anti-male Gillette ad debuted, and found that students were not sure what “toxic masculinity “is. Oh, I can explain it to them: it’s a tool being shrapened to justify anti-male bigotry and discrimination against men. Attributing negative conduct to an entire groups is bigotry, and the ethical response to courses on “toxic masculinity” would be to regard them exactly as one would a course on “silly girlie behaviors” and “black anti-social behavior.”
We should expect that as any group acquires power, it will abuse that power and use it to marginalize other groups, especially groups that have marginalized them. Expecting it doesn’t mean we should excuse it or tolerate it. Here’s a social media meme that makes that point nicely, in a parody of the Gillette ad mocking SNL writer Sarah Beattie’s “joke”: