Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/3/2019: “Thing’s Are Seldom What They Seem…”

Good afternoon!

1. Today’s source of maximum irritation. Remember those California wildfires at the end of last year that the news media kept reporting as proof of climate change and that prompted Democrats and talking heads to sneer in disdain at anyone, especially President Trump, who suggested that electrical equipment just might have been the cause? From NPR:

Pacific Gas and Electric says it’s “probable” that its equipment caused the Camp Fire in Northern California, the deadliest and most destructive in the state’s history.

California has not finished its investigation into PG&E’s culpability in last November’s fire that killed at least 85 people, destroyed about 14,000 structures, displacing tens of thousands of people and destroying the town of Paradise. However, the state’s largest utility, which filed for bankruptcy last month, said Thursday it expects the investigation will find that its damaged infrastructure sparked the fire.

Please let Ethics Alarms know how many of the news shows this morning mention this development.

2. Spring Training ethics note: Good news! Ethics Alarms has been campaigning for robo-umps at home plate to call balls and strikes for several years. Now MLB announces that it has finalized a three-year deal with the independent Atlantic League to have the league test rules innovations and equipment for the Show. This will include computer calling of pitches. Not so good news: it will also reportedly include moving the mound back, which is heresy.

3. Concern for Popehat’s Ken White.  There is not a smarter, more passionate, better blogger on the planet than lawyer Ken White, and while we have had our disagreements, his commentary on law and justice especially is a blessing for all Americans, even though most don’t have the sense to benefit from it. One of many reasons I admire Ken is that he has been candid about his battle with depression, a killer illness that too many people don’t understand. That malady runs in my family (or as Mortimer Brewster says in “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Runs? It practically gallups!”), and has been responsible for more than one suicide. Popehat once was a collective, but now it’s almost entirely Ken, with occasional drop-ins from the acerbic Mark Randazza. The blog’s last entry was January 4, almost two months. I’m worried, as are most of Ken’s fans I’m sure, and I am officially sending Ethics Alarms best wishes and love to one of the really good people in multiple roles: lawyer, blogger, public educator. Get back as soon as you can, Ken. We need you.

4.  “Law and Order SVU” Rape Ethics. While lying around in a stupor after my drive home yesterday, a seven-year old episode of teh astoundingly long-running “Law and Order SVU” flashed before my eyes. “Ripped from the headlines,” the 2012 episode, called “Twenty-Five” acts was obviously a rip-off of the then-sensational novel “Fifty Shades of Gray.” The show starred grown-up “My Girl” actress Anna Chlumsky as a best-selling sex novelist who advocates wild sex, promiscuous sex, rough sex and S&M. She appears on a TV talk show with slimy host, and they spend her interview flirting with each other.  She agrees to have dinner with him, and she slides off her panties in the restaurant and offers them to him. Yes, I’d call that an overture…

Back at his apartment, their sex turns violent, with the TV star slapping her, choking her from behind with his belt, and raping her. Questioned by the police—the author has not yet decided whether she will press charges, in part because she feels to do so will hurt her book  sales—the talk show host says that he assumed that the woman consented, because the exact behavior he engaged in was extolled in her book, as was men understanding that “no” meant “yes.” You can read an extensive summary of the episode here.

2012 was during the Obama-Romney Presidential campaign with Democrats cynically framing it as “The Year of the Woman”—after all, Bill Clinton was the rock-star speaker at the convention! Feminism, don’t you know. Law & Order SVU often carried (and carries) water for the Left, so the theme of the show was obvious from the start: was a strong woman going to be punished for advocating kinky sex after she was raped?

As is often the case, producer Dick Wolf cheated her. I would have liked to see him leave the plot as it was and see if a jury would find mens rea by the accused under the circumstances presented. I’m not sure I would. But Wolf has the talk show host, who is portrayed as a bully and a pig, perhaps evoking Bill O’Reilly, rape the young woman a second time, when there is no question that the sex isn’t consensual. He also includes the twist that the woman didn’t write the book with her name on it—she was paid by a professor to pretend to be the author—and her own sexual inclinations and preferences are quite restrained (which doesn’t quite jive with her removing her panties at the restaurant, but never mind.)

Spoiler: The rapist is convicted, and we, or at least I, are left wondering if he would have been a) today and b) if only that first rape had occurred.

5. Ick. I suppose it’s “ick” not ethics, but the efforts by advertisers to make us accept the use of nouns as trendy, stupid verbs offend me deeply. TCM’s tag line these days is “Let’s movie!”  Today I witnessed the kind of language Hell this inevitable slides to: Chilli’s is now doing the same thing, as in “Time to Chilli’s.”

6. Heh, heh, heh…Is it unethical of me to take pleasure in the fact that Justin Trudeau, the cute, smug, sunny and unqualified Canadian Prime Minister held up by progressives as a real leader a nation can be proud of (unlike that fat orange Nazi with the weird hair) is facing allegations far more serious, substantive  and potentially ruinous than anything “the resistance” has been able to pin on Trump? Former Canadian Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould testified before the Canadian House Justice Committee alleging that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others in his administration pressured her in “inappropriate” ways to reach a settlement with an engineering company that has been charged with crimes. From “The Federalist”:

It will be an astounding irony if just as the Mueller probe returns a report with no smoking gun, Trump’s adversary in Canada is engulfed in a damaging scandal. It will be another example of something that “wasn’t supposed to go that way.” But here we are. Over two years after investigations into Trump began there has still been no finding of wrongdoing by him. Just three weeks into the Lavalin scandal, Trudeau has been badly damaged.

Whether Trudeau’s leadership survives this scandal or not, it is yet another reminder that things are not always what they seem.


21 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/3/2019: “Thing’s Are Seldom What They Seem…”

  1. Maybe I am missing your point Re: #1. Without agreeing with the climate change camp, I don’t see how the utility’s apparent admission of a long standing allegation that its equipment started the fire diminishes the claim regarding climate change.

    While a weather incident could start a fire, that is not the point. I think the climate change camp is arguing that the severity of the fire is a result of climate change and not the start/cause of the fire. Fires happen all the time. This one was unusually severe and the malfunctioning equipment didn’t make the fire any worse.

    Of course there could be lots of other reasons for the severity and I don’t have the facts. The woes of PG&E have made lots of headlines here in Canada where the mainstream media is very climate change friendly.

    • JLo
      This is part of the problem with attaching climate change as the proximate cause of various events. With any fire you need three things: Fuel, oxygen and an ignition source. PG&E may have been the ignition source or not, I do not know.

      The fuel was the homes and dry vegetation. Climate change advocates point to the drought which led to the dryness which then, coupled with the ignition source, caused the unrelenting fire. Thus, it is incorrectly claimed that climate change caused the fire when in fact it was simply be a contributing factor. Without an ignition source there would have been no fire. Sure, lightning might ignite the dry timbers, but lightning has been starting forest fires long before hominids roamed the lands. In fact, forest fires are a requirement to have seed pods open in most conifers so that the forest can regenerate itself. So are these fires creating problems for the people that live there or are the people that built their homes there causing problems for the forest as it tries to regenerate itself naturally?

      Other factors could include: state environmental regulations prohibiting the removal of timbers that were dying or dead which facilitated more rapid combustion, over population and building in areas that are historically fire prone, and population densities that put too much demand on the natural water table.

      So, in my opinion the best answer for the proximate cause of the Campfire fire disaster was human decision making. The question remains was this fire really more severe, as is argued, or does it just appear to be more severe because it impacted more human beings because they decided to build in a fire prone area?

    • That climate change was responsible for the fire? You DON’T? If the fire started by faulty infrastructure, then that was the cause. Blaming the fire on climate change is just exploitation, like about 90% of climate change hype. Poverty is caused by climate change, wars are caused by climate change—the narrative, man.

      • Exactly my point. Fires occur only if caused by an ignition source. It is nearly impossible for spontaneous combustion to occur without the fuel having a flash point under 100 degrees F.

  2. I’m with you Jack on point 5. I hate the phrase Let’s Movie. This is worse than when someone refers to themselves in the third person.

  3. My wife the English major is in a complete tizzy over the noun/verb thing, with her strongest hate reserved for “gift.” “I am going to gift that toy to my nephew.” “I was gifted this property from my late father.” She gets positively apopleptic.

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