Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up: On Bans, Taboos, And Dreams


Good afternoon!

1. Answer: I’m thinking about it. A kind commenter asks when I am going to put up a full post about Facebook’s censorship of Ethics Alarms, which had harmed the blog’s traffic and, what is worse, made it increasingly difficult to carry the message of ethics over bias and rationalizations to the greater public.  One reason I haven’t made a bigger deal about this is that I am still unsure what’s going on, and why. Another is that this  all came down on me at the same time as this lingering cold/flu thing  that has required more rest and sapped more energy than is convenient, and in the grand triage of life, fighting with Facebook has had to yield to other priorities. I’m considering putting up a supplemental site to share Ethics Alarms essays. I’m thinking about launching an Ethics Alarms Facebook site. As I have said before, suggestions are welcome.

2.Happy Birthday, Tom! This is Thomas Edison’s (1847-1931) birthday, and celebrating it in the wake of the deranged “Green New Deal’s” plan to take us back to the Stone Age while financing the needs of those “unwilling” to work would be prudent. Edison personified the kind of creativity, industry, and risk-taking that America’s core values are designed to foster. He derided the label of scientist, insisting that he was “only” an inventor, meaning that his mission was to develop commercially viable advances in technology that made human lives better, richer, and more productive. Do they teach kids about inventors any more? My father made sure that I watched both “Edison the Man,” Hollywood’s biopic starring Spencer Tracy, and “Young Tom Edison,” starring Mickey Rooney, before I was twelve. I found the films inspirational then, and I find them inspirational now.

3. Another canary dies in the mine. Columbia University, long ago one of the cauldrons of student protest and defiant expression, followed the rest of academia by taking another alarming step toward constraining non-conforming student speech. It has substantially defunded the student band for defying the administration’s ban on “Orgo Night,”a Sixties tradition in which the students disrupted the sanctity of the library to lampoon the school’s oppressively serious culture. By itself, this is trivial. As part of a trend in American colleges, it is not. Many feel, I would say with justification, that the sudden squashing of the band’s irreverence  was sparked because it was “a liability in an age of heightened political sensibilities.” In other words, thoughts and ideas that the Left can’t control threaten the cause of enforced consensus.

4. More on The Green New Deal, unfortunately. Rather than do its job and have adults explain why the Green New Deal is juvenile idiocy, the mainstream news media tried its damndest yesterday to fool the public into believing there really were two sides to the issue, with objective expertise explaining why the document is irresponsible being notably absent. “Meet the Press” stooped so low as to bring on Markos Moulitsas, the “Kos” of the Daily Kos, to explain the Green New Deal’s virtues. He told Chuck Todd,

Yeah, I think this is aspirational. This is actually popular. And if Trump thinks that this is going to hurt us politically, he’s absolutely not really paying attention to the pulse of the country. This is aspirational. Like, like you said, it’s not a bill. The details would have to be worked out. And this is so ambitious that these details would have to be worked out over decades. This is a broad, aggressive, bold agenda. And it’ll take time to implement. But at least it shows people where the Democratic Party is going on the issue of climate change…I think we’re looking for dreamers at this point. I mean, Trump is going to accuse us of being socialist no matter what. It doesn’t matter what the agenda is. He’s going to use the same playbook. It didn’t work in 2018. It’s not going to work in 2020. And so, I think it’s important to really think aspirationally, to give people a sense of where the candidate wants to be. “Yes, we can,” is actually a very positive messages as opposed to saying, “No, we can’t.”

It is irresponsible to present this kind of utopian blather as serious civic policy discourse. It’s essentially Lennonism (as opposed to Leninism), substituting naive wishes and idealism unmoored to history and reality for actual problem-solving. “The details would have to be worked out” is a disingenuous dodge, especially when the details would have to includes an oppresive expansion of government power over individual choice and free enterprise. The news media holds to the principle that presenting Holocaust deniers and creationists as legitimate advocates of a dishonest and unsupportable position is bad journalism, and such guests must be challended, but what Moulitsis is selling is at least as offensive to reality.

The shocking aspect of this is how gullible reporters are. Guest Kimberly Atkins, WBUR news correspondent, appeared to be uplifted by Moulitsis’s gibberish, saying,

It’s something that people understand and connect to…. And I think that is an issue that moves. And I think the aspirational aspect of this, I actually think it was pretty brilliant to not put in a bunch of details that people can immediately start taking down…

Wait, what? Brilliant not to put in details—you mean like “we’ll need a dictator and concentration camps to accomplish this, or course”? I’d call eliminating air travel for high speed rail a detail. Does she mean the real hidden detail in that goal–like, “it can’t be done”? It’s only “brilliant” not to include details if your objective is to con everyone. Why is a journalist saying that this is acceptable? Aren’t journalists supposed to insist on details?

5. Today’s blackface note: Coleman Hughes writes,

We should also recognize the fact that “blackface” is an umbrella term. It covers everything from a white adult performing a nauseatingly racist caricature of a black person, to a pair of 12-year-old girls — who had probably never heard the word “minstrelsy,” much less studied the history of minstrelsy — having fun with makeup at a sleepover. That the same word is used in the media to describe both scenarios should not obscure the fact that, ethically speaking, they belong in separate universes.

And that is because blackface no longer has anything to do with right and wrong, ethics, context, or intent. It is, as I have argued in various threads here, now a taboo. It is absolutely wrong because an authority—in this case, black victimization activies, race-baiters and political correctness hustlers–have decreed it so.  Ethics Alarms covered this before Governor Northam’s  escapades came to light, here and here.

In case I haven’t been clear, taboos are primitive and have no place in a thinking, civilized society.

6. “Galentine’s Day”? Feminists killed such promotions as “Ladies Day” at baseball stadiums as demeaning, but now some retailers are pandering to “woke” anti-male bias by promoting February 13 as an all-female celebration without the pollution of y chromosomes. Like Festivus, this faux holiday began as a TV sitcom joke. Is the double standard on display here not screamingly obvious? Old boy networks and fraternities are tools of an oppressive patriarchy, but encouraging women to spend a day in gender apartheid is harmless fun? And I thought “gal” was considered sexist.

Integrity is clearly the most disposable of ethical values among activists.

28 thoughts on “Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up: On Bans, Taboos, And Dreams

    • How can you claim to have an all girl boy scout troop if you cannot ban boys. If I were 12 thats the troop I would join. Will male leaders be banned?

      • There are apparently a lot of them now. Quite a few of them seem to be Girl Scout troops that are actually acting as Boy Scout troops as well to ‘double dip’. Male leaders are banned. You didn’t really think the progressives wanted equality did you? They just want to subvert or destroy all traditional institutions

  1. Your Post says: “And I think the aspirational aspect of this, I actually think it was pretty brilliant to not put in a bunch of details that people can immediately start taking down…

    Wait, what? Brilliant not to put in details—you mean like “we’ll need a dictator and concentration camps to accomplish this, or course”? I’d call eliminating air travel for high speed rail a detail. Does she mean the real hidden detail in that goal–like, “it can’t be done”? It’s only “brilliant” not to include details if your objective is to con everyone.”

    Reminds me of SanFranNan …when Pelosi famously said (9 years ago?), “We have to pass this bill before we can know what’s in it.” That (ObamaCare) was certainly a huge, 2000+ page (?) con job against the entire country !!! This new GND is just another fraud intend to secure a power grab to the harm of our great republic!

    As POTUS Trump would say… “so sad.”

  2. I can’t believe that those on the far left would use the phrase “unwilling to work” unless they are a lot dumber than those on the far left here in New Zealand. Here they are more likely to find some ‘reason’ for people to be ‘unable’ to work. It may well have been inserted by someone trying to sabotage the document to make it less acceptable to the public.

    • Did someone insert the phrase regarding making air travel obsolete becayse of hi speed rail, or retrofitting every building in the country.

      Don’t underestimate the ability for some to be dumber than Kiwis.

    • Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by stupidity. And some of these people, especially those in the new crop of freshman Congressional representatives, are breathtakingly stupid.

      The document wasn’t even properly proofread, so I have no problem believing it was just sloppily thrown together and released by some of the most perfect examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect you will ever see, who were counting on it being received as the brilliant document they just know it is.

  3. #4: The ‘aspirational’ dodge is first of all mendacious, as AOC’s FAQ on the resolution insists “this is the plan to build that new economy and spells out how to do it technically.” Secondly, to call it ‘aspirational’ is essentially a euphemism for admitting it’s virtue-signalling with the intellectual depth of an elementary school student.

  4. Here is another ethical issue to consider.

    Or, it did. Last week, the payment processing company Square pulled its service from 1776, a source close to the move confirmed to Slate, and while a spokeswoman said Square does not comment on individual accounts, she wrote in a statement, “Square does not tolerate our products or our platform being used for hate. When we determine accounts violate our terms of service, we take swift action.” JPMorgan Chase’s Chase Paymentech also previously provided payment processing services for the, and a source close to the decision confirmed it had stopped. By Tuesday of this week, the site had switched to a PayPal button. PayPal then yanked the account used on, a source close to the decision said—not the first time PayPal has pulled the plug on Proud Boys–affiliated accounts. As of publication, 1776 once again has a field for shoppers to enter a credit card number, but it’s unclear if it works or if any vendor is powering it.

  5. Re Edison

    I have seen the films with Tracy and Rooney.

    Tracy’s portrayal was historically one sided depicting Edison as merely a slave to his inventiveness. I dont recall it showing him as an egotistical tyrant who put real meaning into unbridled competition with Nikolai Tesla.

    I believe the director conveniently left out the part when Edison electrocuted an elephant to show alternating current was dangerous.

    Edison’s inventions are ubiquitous and spawned the growth of the American economy but I would suggest his understanding of ethics would be on par with Harry Reid.

    • The movie was a Hollywood hagiography, no doubt about it. Like most who reach the absolute top of a field or profession, he was absolutely obsessed with one single mission, and was an indifferent father, husband, and friend. That’s the sacrifice such people make; yes, ethics is not on the agenda. Nonetheless, they are essential to the advancement of civilization. He was a great inventor, not a great man….and he would have never claimed otherwise.

      Electrocuting the elephant was among the least of his ethical missteps.

      • Agreed. It’s just a shame that Tesla’s inventiveness was ommitted completely from my early public school education and it was almost like Edison single handedly invented all things electrical. Without Tesla showing that AC overcame the voltage drop problem associated with DC we might not be as far advanced and productive.

        • Tesla was the perfect example of a pure scientist who was more interested in discovery than profit. Those really are the dreamers, and the world is often not kind to them. Edison was ruthlessly practical. My favorite inventor, Walter Hunt, shelved inventions when he thought they would put people out of work. As a result,others made millions from inventions he developed first, the jobs were lost anyway, and Hunt died broke.

          But his safety pin endures, essentially unchanged from what he invented…

    • It’s a little more complicated than that: Economic reasons and Edison’s misguided belief that AC current was inherently dangerous motivated his decision to arrange for an elephant to be electrocuted. Still, he was open to new ideas and recruted rivals to be part of his team.

      • It doesn’t stop with the great scientists and inventors. A lot of the great leaders, political, military, business, arts, and otherwise, were TERRIBLE at human relations and dreadful even as colleagues. A random sampling might include:


        1. FDR – a sociopath and an adulterer.
        2. Churchill – a heavy-handed functional alcoholic.
        3. Clemenceau – anti-clerical bully who married one of his students.
        4. Ataturk – Brute, racist, alcoholic, looked the other way on genocide.
        5. Bismarck – “blood and iron.”


        1. Rockefeller – intentionally drove competitors out of business, monopolist.
        2. Henry Ford – anti-Semite, conspiracy theorist, Nazi sympathizer.
        3. Andrew Carnegie – anti-religious bully, deliberate indifference to poor conditions on his watch.
        4. George Pullman – tried to set himself up as king as well as boss of his workers.
        5. James “Diamond Jim” Brady – glutton, playboy.
        6. Howard Hughes – one word: Yikes!


        1. Douglas MacArthur – the only difference between him and God was that God didn’t think he was MacArthur.
        2. George Patton – a warrior who couldn’t live in peacetime, his own staff despised him.
        3. Joseph Joffre – indifferent, borderline incompetent, very little regard for the lives of his men.
        4. Horatio Nelson – extremely poor treatment of his wife, who never did him wrong.
        5. Joe Stilwell – “Vinegar Joe.”


        1. Richard Wagner – tenth-rate human being all around.
        2. W.A. Mozart- tortured genius who sometimes tortured others.
        3. Johannes Brahms – dark genius who was more at home with music than relationships.
        4. Anton Bruckner – macabre, possible pedophile.
        5. Rimsky-Korsakov – nasty drunk.

  6. 1 Facebook censorship

    Two ways this can be handled: a Facebook business page or a meta-blog that serves mainly as a link to Ethics Alarms. If Ethics Alarms itself has fallen afoul of the Facebook censors, then a FB business page that links to it will have trouble has well.

    A meta-blog (a separate site that serves as a sort of digest to the main site, which would circumvent an EA entry in FB’s algorithm) is also a possibility, although it would be more work.

    If you have some “friend” out there determined to silence you, neither of these approaches will work for long.

    3 Canary in the coal mine

    Many feel, I would say with justification, that the sudden squashing of the band’s irreverence was sparked because it was “a liability in an age of heightened political sensibilities.” In other words, thoughts and ideas that the Left can’t control threaten the cause of enforced consensus.

    I have a feeling Columbia is about to be introduced to a never-ending stream of successful civil suits. Never a more deserving institution.

    4 The press and the Green New Deal

    To quote David Burge (AKA Iowahawk) on Twitter:

    Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.

    Using a journalistic credential to con the public is an ancient, time-honored unethical practice that has become ethical by rationalization. After all, the Washington Post spiked the Virginia Lt. Governor Fairfax sexual assault story.

  7. How can you claim to have an all girl boy scout troop if you cannot ban boys. If I were 12 thats the troop I would join. Will male leaders be banned?

  8. On Galetines day. How long can we expect this to go on before they begin to complain that they are paying inflated prices for their galentines day brunches and lunches.

    Can someone tell me what a dudurus or a brovary is? Apparantly other things come before them.

    • Dudurus = Dude uterus, Brovary = Bro ovary?

      Can we really call this the English language anymore after we’ve made up as many new words based on political nonsense as were in the original dictionary?

  9. #3: One particularly fond memory of mine is the 2009 World Series (and likely to not be one of yours!). I was hung up in the library on the final game, and did not get a chance to check the score.

    My question was soon answered, when a roaming mob of Yankee fans took over the lobby for 5 minutes, cheering and chanting, before spreading their merriment elsewhere.

    I was quite pleased.

  10. Regarding Facebook:
    Your business is being damaged by Facebook suppressing your speech.
    Obviously this harms you, and I think it harms the public too, since your business mission of promoting ethics among the legal profession is clearly of public benefit.
    It is at least a ‘rebuttable presumption’ that this suppression is being done on political grounds, based on your criticism of Democratic Party politicians when they behave unethically.
    You are very far from being the biggest Facebook threat to Democratic Party politicians, which raises another rebuttable presumption, that the speech of thousands of others, more important than you politically, is also being suppressed on political grounds.
    The conclusion is that Facebook is right now seeking to influence the next election in favour of Democratic Party politicians, by supressing speech opposing them.
    It is hard to think of a worse threat to democracy.
    Accordingly, I hope you fight tooth and nail.

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