Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 3/6/2019: Evil On The Web


–just had to change the title from “morning” to “afternoon..

1. Pro sports team owners behaving badly. In the span of a week, one NFL owner, the Patriots’ Bob Kraft, was embarrassed by an arrest while seeking “happy endings” in massage parlor dabbling in illegal prostitution, and the President and CEO of baseball’s San Francisco Giants, Larry Baer, was videoed having a public battle with his wife over possession of his cell phone that ended with her screaming and on the floor of a restaurant. Kraft is being charged with solicitation, and Baer is taking a leave of absence after apologizing to fans.

Should private misconduct unrelated to team affairs warrant league discipline in cases like this? Absolutely. Pro sports sell heroes to the culture, and the leaders of any organization sets the ethical tone and molds the culture. If you aren’t equipped to be an ethical exemplar for your players and its fans, especially its young fans, then don’t buy a team.

2. In the “Hoisted by their own petard” files: Constantly woke Google, seeking to burnish its social justice credentials,  conducted a pay equity analysis for 2018 to make sure it was paying women equal pay for equal work. Surprise!  The study found that the company was underpaying men for doing similar work as their female counterparts. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) The company emphasized in a blog post that despite this pay discrepancy, deeper structural issues can continue to lead to pay disparities between men and women.

Elephant? What elephant?

3.  To be fair, Google did retire its “Don’t be evil” motto. Google will reportedly reject  calls from US lawmakers and human rights activists to remove a Saudi government app that allows men to control where women travel. The ap offers alerts if and when women leave the country. Saudi law says every woman must have a male guardian. The app, called Absher, has been condemned members of Congress and human rights groups.

4. ‘The solution to discrimination and prejuduce is more discrimination and prejudice…’ Bumble, the feminist dating site, is launching a women-only filter for its professional networking tool, Bumble Bizz. The new Women in Bizz feature, which can be turned on or off in app settings, excludes men from a user’s pool of potential connections. The idea is to help a traditionally underrepresented workforce connect and build support systems outside the office. Bumble is claiming that this is just an extension of Bumble’s core women-first mission. The  dating app lets women make the first move and message their romantic matches first. Now, Bumble claims,  it’s helping traditionally outnumbered female employees build a women-only network.

The problem with this analogy is that there is nothing unethical against women asking out men. Exclusion from job and career opportunities on the basis of gender (and race, age, ethnicity…) endorses discrimination in order to oppose it.

5. Saw this coming a mile away… On the same day Christian baker Jack Phillips won his 7-2 decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, overturning his conviction for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, a lawyer targeted his Masterpiece Cakeshop by demanding that he  bake a gender transition cake that was pink on the inside and blue on the outside.

Then, when he refused as the lawyer knew he would, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s decision again found probable cause that state law required him to bake and design the cake when doing so would go against his religious beliefs. Phillips responded by filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. I considered writing about this at the time, but decided to wait until the Commission again got slapped down, or it withdrew its complaint. Yesterday it withdrew its complaint, and Phillips dropped his law suit.

The first time around, I found Jack to be a Jerk by refusing to bake the wedding cake, though I felt he had a plausible case that he couldn’t be forced to do so. This time, however, he was targeted by a far bigger jerk, and I salute him for being willing to go back onto the battlefield. Too many advocates for LGBT causes have become the intolerant bullies they once opposed, seeking to punish and destroy anyone who doesn’t think as they do, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission proved that it has become an agent of such bullying. Like most bullies, however, it backed down when confronted with the prospect of losing.

6. And speaking of the frightening totalitarian tilt of today’s Left...Or, if you prefer, the way big tech companies are illicitly using their power to favor the interests of progressive-favored groups by stifling dissent, Amazon is now in the business of viewpoint censorship and deciding which books are fit for public perusal. The online retailer owned by the publisher of the Washington Post—you know, “Democracy dies in darkness”?  has just dropped the book “Mohammed’s Koran” by the controversial British activist Tommy Robinson and Peter McLoughlin.

Coauthor Peter McLoughlin states:

[T]his is the twenty-first century equivalent of the Nazis taking out the books from university libraries and burning them. Can you think of another scholarly book on Islam that has been banned by Amazon? “Mein Kampf” is for sale on Amazon. As are books like the terrorist manual called “The Anarchist Cookbook.”…[They] refuse to reinstate the book and refuse to explain why it has been banned. So they have banned the No.1 best-selling exegesis of the Koran. I can’t get my head round it. Every few weeks for the past 18 months they had emailed me asking to put it into special sales programmes, as it was selling so well. For 18 months they sought to profit even more from the sales. As dark as my vision is. I thought we were 10 to 20 years away from dissenting books from being banned.”

In related news, Facebook still won’t allow Ethics Alarms posts…



16 thoughts on “Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 3/6/2019: Evil On The Web

  1. 4. I’m sorry, I’m too distracted by the idea that someone thought that “Bumble” should be used for a site name that doesn’t involve bees or stop-action cartoons that I can’t process anything past that, except that their judgement should automatically be considered suspect.

    6. As much as it goes against my natural inclinations, I’m more and more leaning towards the idea that tech companies whose control of certain segments of commerce becomes near-monopolistic (PayPal, Google+Bing, Amazon, etc.), and who can thereby control much of the narrative allowed to reach the public, shouldn’t be at least constrained in how far they can go in abridging the First Amendment, even though they are not government entities. Not looking for any kind of “fairness doctrine” of forced “balance”, just something to curtail deliberate, unwarranted-except-by-ideology, unbalance,

    • Re #6: I am in agreement that these guys need to be regulated; e.g. slapped down. For too long they have decided HOW information will be presented on the Internet and it needs to stop.

      • Yes, I see that point.

        I have never seen governmental regulation that did not end up being worse for the consumer, extending the unintended (or hidden intended) consequences (usually giving the government more power), and enriching the companies being regulated.

        Look at the debacles of rent control, telephone, or cable TV regulation.

        • Yeah, that’s why it goes against my initial inclination. It would have to be a narrow and focused sort of thing. The idea would be something along the lines of “There’s no requirement that you be proactively ‘fair’, but you can’t actively suppress (speech, access, etc.), in a way that would be unallowable if it were action by the government.” Or maybe “You can’t discriminate, but you don’t have have to do anything to ensure an equal outcome (affirmative action?).” In other words, they would have to be passive and neutral to a great degree (exceptions for actual illegal activity, criminal solicitations, etc.).

          I think this idea is basically where Trump is going with his new rule on (government funded) college speech..

    • I’m not sure that I recall correctly, but wasn’t “Bumble” the name of the workhouse beadle in Oliver Twist, who was so complaisantly misguided by his wife and who, in law, had to take the fall for her actions? That last prompted him to declare that “The Law is a ass”, and to wish it were married so that it should have his experience of that unhappy estate.

  2. Re 3: It is somewhat more nuanced.

    The app is actually a way to access the government services portal. The services provided include all sorts of things, like passport applications, tax reporting, etc. That one of the services provided by the government is tracking of female citizens is despicable though. I still think Google should reject the app, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on accepting it initially based on a truthful but not detailed enough description.

  3. “Diann Rice compared Phillips to those who supported slavery and the Holocaust. She said in 2014:

    I would also like to reiterate what we said in … the last meeting [concerning Jack Phillips]. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust … I mean, we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination.”

    Diann Rice, finally named here as the Colorado Civil Rights Commission member who said that freedom of religion is just an excuse for enslaving and murdering others, should be named a lifetime Ethics Dunce. If I were on the other side I would say publish her private contact information so that everyone who believes and is offended by that statement can let her know exactly what they think of it, and of her, or, even better, SWAT her, but I’m not doing that, because 1. That’s the tactic of the perma-angry and hateful, and 2. SWATing is the police equivalent of turning in a false alarm, which should be a big no-no no matter which side you are on.

    Also from the article:

    “Jessica Pocock, a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, later called Phillips a “hater.” Commission members Rita Lewis and Carol Fabrizio agreed with the Rice comparison in 2018, according to Alliance Defending Freedom.”

    Diann Rice, Jessica Pocock, Rita Lewis, Carol Fabrizio. Is the whole damn commission composed of liberal, religion-hating women, probably brought up by single moms in the First Wives’ Club, probably who’ve had abortions, whose idea of Sunday is probably brunch at which the champagne alone is the price of most meals and a trip to Pottery Barn? Yes, that’s a stereotype, but come on, here, if four members of a commission that’s supposedly charged with rendering decisions on civil rights have views like that, it’s time to reexamine the membership of that commission. In NJ commissions for labor have to have representation from both management and labor, commissions regarding fire, police, and corrections have to have both uniformed and civilian representation, and so on. A commission stacked with liberal people hostile to religion should not be ruling on civil rights.

    • What a moron. Freedom of religion wasn’t the basis on which slavery was defended (it was property rights.) It doesn’t even make sense if you DON’T think about it. How does owning slaves help you practice a religion? Who would make that argument?

      Same thing with the Holocaust, which had nothing to do with anyone demanding freedom of religion. In that case, quite the opposite. Hitler didn’t only want to take away Jews’ religious freedom, he wanted to suppress ALL religion and institute a State-approved “church” (ban Bibles, State-approved curricula, crosses replaced by swastikas, etc.) In the Nazis put it, “The State must be the absolute master.”

      Freedom of religion (and liberty in general) was and is the ANSWER to these attempts at State control, not the cause. What a creepy history revisionist.

  4. Like most bullies, however, it backed down when confronted with the prospect of losing.

    Bullshit. It backed down because the LBGT community convinced them that the case could set back their cause — which has become less about equality for LBGT people than snuffing out free speech in the name of “hate” — for decades given the constitution of the court and the disposition of the prior, nearly identical case.

    Having been found to have wronged Phillips the first time by ridiculing his beliefs, the current case had the hallmarks of a broader, more definitive ruling in favor of Phillips’ religious convictions. The LBGT community, wisely in my opinion (speaking only from their perspective), decided that a case that was clearly the legal equivalent of Alamo for their dreams of rewriting the Constitution and punishing Christians for their beliefs was not a great idea.

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