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.