Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/12/2019: “Seeing If I Can Function After Seeing That Fox News Video” Edition

Well, it was a good morning…

…until Arthur in Maine sent me THAT.

1. Record ethics. Kansas City Royals second-baseman Whit Merrifield is a fine young rising star, but the nation will never turn its lonely eyes to him.Playing against the Mariners this week,  Merrifield beat out a squeeze bunt that not only tied the game, but also extended his hitting streak to 31 games. That set a new franchise record, beating Hall of Famer George Brett’s 30 game consecutive hitting streak set in 1980. That seems unfair, you say? Most of Merrifield’s streak was last season, you say?

I agree with you. Baseball takes the position on consecutive game streaks of all kinds that the six months between seasons don’t matter or count. I see the logic, a bit: why should a player’s chance at a record be arbitrarily ended because the season runs out? I also have the answer: tough noogies. There is a material difference between hitting in consecutive games over a single grueling season and doing so with a vacation in the middle. I guarantee that if Merrifield’s record got close to Joe DiMaggio’s iconic 56 games, set in the single, famous season of 1941 (when Ted Williams also hit .406), Major League Baseball would have rushed in and disqualified Merrifield for the consecutive game record because it wouldn’t be set in a single season. THAT, of course, would have been redolent of the controversial asterisk put after Roger Maris’s 61 home runs in 1961, which broke another iconic record, Babe Ruths’s 60. (Maris’s record was set in a 162 game season, Ruth’s in a 154 game season.)

Fortunately, Merrifield’s record chase was stopped at 31 the very next day.

This is as good a time as any to mention that the player who got me hooked on baseball, former Red Sox shortstop Eddie Bressoud, whose 87th birthday is coming up (May 2), had a knack for hitting streaks at the start of season. he hit in 15 straight in 1962, his first with the team, and set the team record for a consecutive streak at the start of the season in 1964, with 20.

2.  “Don’t be evil” a distant memory. R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. , the founder of mainstream conservative magazine “The American Spectator” announced that the publication had been blacklisted by Google, following an investigative report by The Daily Caller that revealed,

Google does manipulate its search results manually, contrary to the company’s official denials, documents obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller indicate.

Two official policies dubbed the “misrepresentation policy” and the “good neighbor policy” inform the company’s “XPA news blacklist,” which is maintained by Google’s Trust & Safety team. “T&S will be in charge of updating the blacklist as when there is a demand,” reads one of the documents shared with The Daily Caller….The purpose of the blacklist will be to bar the sites from surfacing in any Search feature or news product. It will not cause a demotion in the organic search results or de-index them altogether,” reads the policy document obtained by the Caller. What that means is that targeted sites will not be removed from the “ten blue links” portion of search results, but the blacklist applies to most of the other search features, like “top news,” “videos” or the various sidebars that are returned as search results.On the blacklist are a number of conservative sites, including Gateway Pundit, Matt Walsh’s blog, Gary North’s blog “teapartyeconomist.com,” Caroline Glick’s website, Conservative Tribune, a property of The Western Journal and the website of the American Spectator.

Amazon bans books, Twitter bans whoever they feel like banning, but always conservatives; Facebook bans Ethics Alarms, and Google has a secret blacklist. The Left employs its Big Tech allies to manipulate, rig and constrain civic discourse as a way to clear its route to power. Does that sound conspiratorial? Give me another analysis.

3. Mona Lee Brock, Ethics Hero Emeritus. So many people we seldom hear about, doing so many wonderful things! Mona Lee Brock, who died at 87 on March 19 at her home in Durant, Oklahoma, was such a person.When the farm crisis of the 1980s forced farmers into bankruptcies and foreclosures,  farmers committing suicide became an escalating crisis. Mrs. Brock offered herself as a counselor  to farmers at the brink. Eventually she was taking  thousands of calls at all hours, talking to desperate farmers and working with them to devise strategies to save their farms.

Her calls were sometimes interrupted by a gunshot, and then silence. She was often the first to find the body of a farmer who had given up. Yet Mona was credited with saving untold lives, perhaps hundreds of near-suicides.

When the Oklahoma Conference of Churches wanted to set up a suicide intervention hotline, it contacted Mrs. Brock, who then moved her counseling operation from her home to Oklahoma City where she established a statewide hotline there. The program evolved into a grass-roots network across the nation.  Willie Nelson, the country singer and driving force behind Farm Aid, called Mrs. Brock “the angel on the other end of the line,” and sent her personal contributions to support her work.

Here’s Mona…

4. Back To Google...Those busy beavers at conservative websites—doing what the mainstream media should be doing and would, if they were really interested in journalism, uncovered this revolting development:

Yes,  Google has suddenly invented a new, pejorative category for the popular anti-abortion film called “propaganda.” It never placed this description on any of Michael Moore’s agitprop documentaries, or Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” or “JFK,” or “Wall Street,” or “Vice,” any of the large number of politically slanted films that come out every year, just an anti-abortion film, at least so far. Google is trying to spin its way out of this, but the episode is just one more example of the big tech companies allowing their mask to slip, showing the nascent totalitarians beneath.

5. Which nicely segues to this…In a hearing this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked representatives of Facebook and Twitter if a pro-life meme quoting Mother Teresa constituted “hate speech.”  Here is the meme:

Of course, everyone knows this sentiment is propaganda, (according to Google) but is it hate speech? Twitter took down tweets including the meme, then relented after catching flack.  “Here is a tweet that says, ‘Abortion is profoundly anti-woman,'” Cruz said, pointing to the meme above. “”Do either of you agree with the proposition that Mother Theresa is issuing hate speech?” Cruz asked.

The social media execs would not answer the question. After an uncomfortable pause, Carlos Monje Jr., Twitter’s director of public policy and philanthropy, said, “Susan B. Anthony List is currently an advertiser in good standing.”

“You’re very good at not answering questions,” Cruz said. “Is this hate speech?”

“Every tweet has a context behind it,” Monje insisted.

“That’s a full tweet. There’s no more context. This is it,” Cruz replied.

“Um… I can tell you that we have actioned tweets on both sides of this debate,” Monje added. And that was it. Facebook Public Policy Director Neil Potts also refused to give an answer. (No, it’s not hate speech. It’s speech, the freedom of which is being undermined  and deliberately smothered by allied ideological entities, many of which falsely pose as neutral, independent and trustworthy.)

17 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/12/2019: “Seeing If I Can Function After Seeing That Fox News Video” Edition

  1. Regarding 4: Side are chosen. Lines will form. This is march to oblivion seems irreversible. Completely sick to my stomach.

  2. I heard a short sound bite from the director of that Unplanned movie testifying in the Senate about Twitter’s obviously biased tampering with their promotional Tweets. I don’t have more details than that right now, but it sounded like the censorious behavior of social media platforms is becoming a subject of interest in very high and public places. A quick search (to confirm it was actually the Senate before I posted something I heard, half-awake, as I drove to work) showed that even NPR had a piece on the subject, slanted almost upside-down as the language in the sample text may be.

        • I am glad that I could be of assistance. I use YouTube a great deal. It is a unique and I think very useful research tool. When reading up on the American ‘culture wars’, I was reading a book about it describing events and episodes from well prior to my birth … and I could look them up and actually see them. Really, amazing.

          When I read Soderberg’s Doctor Glas he makes many references to different marching music songs and I could pull hem all up on the iPhone and listen to them right there. It’s amazing what you can see. I was interested in the psychedlic era and you can find videos of people high on LSD rambling about what they are seeing.

          One example comes to mind of the Culture Wars: the famous ‘crypto-Nazi’ exchange between Gore Vidal and WF Buckley.

          [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY_nq4tfi24 ]

          [Strange, that today, what Buckley says about our success as a society is because “we exclude certain things” is, today, coming to the fore all over again! (You have to get to 10:00 before the ‘threats’ begin).]

          • This is as glorious a find as ever. It’s confounding how identical the positions are in some ways but different in others. While the Buckley side of today has fewer symbols of civil society left to defend, it still holds that same line. Vidal’s side fights the same war for a Relativist (his own words, even) world but now it employs the same tools for which it derided its opponents as Nazis for using. I think it’s a fitting show of the direction in which the tracks of relativism lead. The Right was right (this was bad, but shamelessly intentional on my part) to defend its own substance, even with threats of physical violence against journalists on television. [To be sure, an unwarranted attack on a man’s honor, in a fair and just society, is no less actionable than an unwarranted attack on a man’s person. It is a sign of how far we’ve fallen that we reflexively think the opposite. Our honor should be defended with greater zeal than our lives. No man who substantively believes such could be capable even of a war crime while every act of the converse man is criminal]. The Relativist’s attack on the means employed are, in retrospect, simply a use of a tool at hand which he, as the progression of time proves, would be pleased set down again at his convenience. The absence of all principle has this effect on a man. Everything he says against his enemies is devoid of substance. His attacks are all lies, projections of narratives against his enemies’ surface features which sow public doubt as to their substance (leveling the playing field somewhat). Vidal grinned devilishly as Buckley threatened to defend his own honor. Had Buckley actually, rightly, punched him, he still would have advanced the destruction of American society immensely; perhaps we would have caught up to Europe in this regard. Attempting to deal with such as Vidal reminds me of the warnings against dealing with demons. Even when you think you’re winning, you’re playing into their hands.

            Now the men permitted a platform against our better judgment but in keeping with our pluralist ideals are deplatforming everyone else. Buckley’s tomatoes were not only insufficient, they reinforced the enemy’s opposition narrative. The best course for dealing with lying demons is simply to disregard everything they say – with gusto. A novice of St. Francis’s First Order told him that an apparition claiming to be Christ persisted in appearing to him claiming that it wasn’t his will that the novice receive sanctifying grace, that he should leave the order and live a life of dissipation. St. Francis told his novice to reply in the next instance he encountered this false Christ not with high-minded rational debate or deep, penetrating, and subline theology but the words, “Open your mouth again, and I will shit in it.” No doubt, St. Francis’s discomfort with such language is even greater than mine. “To everything,” it seems however, “there is a season.” Therefore, and &c.

            This was my takeaway, anyway. I wonder, though. Buckley did exhibit some elements of that postwar narrative you’ve decried. Do you suppose there was a conscious collaborative forward-Democrat-guard and rear-Republican-guard, or do you suppose there was an unconscious, death-by-1000-cuts effect of that forward-guard on those who resisted but, piecemeal, in vain? I suspect the latter, aided by the post-Enlightenment abandonment of foundational philosophical principles, myself. I don’t suppose that’s news, though. Sometimes I wonder if I just say the same things in a loop.

            • This was my takeaway, anyway. I wonder, though. Buckley did exhibit some elements of that postwar narrative you’ve decried.

              My view is that at the precise moment that America began its neo-imperialist wars (I have mentioned Cuba and The Philippines as the starting point), it began the process of ‘going off the rails’. Those wars were hotly debated at that time and many people predicted what would happen. These are historical and political-philosophical issues and they can be looked into. When the United States took the path of conquest and occupation, it ‘self-contradicted’ its own stated values. When one gives over the power to make crucial political decisions to one’s military-industrial class one commits the error long ago foreseen by Plato. Corruption results. My view is that there should be a highly conservative/constitutional opposition to these corruptions. Now, Buckley defines the more or less classical American Conservative position. I suggest that it is not real conservatism but has more in common with statism and the general world-order that the US was setting up after its military, industrial and political successes after WW2. To understand all of that, is to consider not ‘constitutional values’ but business values and strategies for dominating markets, extending markets. That is a branch of conquest and occupation, and for this reason the business class, the political class and the military class work together.

              As I understand things, the classical American Conservative position is bound up in these sorts of ‘projects’. But, these are not the projects of populism nor are they necessarily ‘socially progressive’. There certainly was a popular party in the US that opposed the interests of giant business conglomerates. It was rural and farm-based (back in the day). ‘The People’ in their communities, on their land, in their families and communities, have very different interests than those that they recognized were ‘Big Money’ and the Wall Street crew. The point? That people have different and distinct interests from the governmental, industrial, financial factions that now totally dominate the political, economic and social landscape.

              The opposition to the war (again, if I understand correctly) began through the Ban The Bomb movement. It was in the inception ‘personalist’ and also Catholic. The core of Christian personalism is, of course, in the recognition of the sanctity of ‘the individual person’.

              Definition of Personalism

              Personalists regard personhood (or “personality”) as the fundamental notion, as that which gives meaning to all of reality and constitutes its supreme value. Personhood carries with it an inviolable dignity that merits unconditional respect. Personalism has for the most part not been primarily a theoretical philosophy of the person. Although it does defend a unique theoretical understanding of the person, this understanding is in itself such as to support the prioritization of practical or moral philosophy, while at the same time the moral experience of the person is such as to decisively determine the theoretical understanding. For personalists, a person combines subjectivity and objectivity, causal activity and receptivity, unicity and relation, identity and creativity. Stressing the moral nature of the person, or the person as the subject and object of free activity, personalism tends to focus on practical, moral action and ethical questions.

              The counter-movements and the resistance movements that developed in the Postwar Era arose out of a ‘personalist’ perspective that was socially-oriented and populist. They developed as a response and as resistance to the ‘machinations’ (in the Heideggerian sense) of the military and industrial factions. They seemed to recognize that if those powers had dominance, that they would not create a peaceful, humanist and personalist world, but something else. Therefore, these personalists were in the early days profoundly spiritual people with a spiritual social vision.

              How these movements became corrupted, as indeed they did, is something that must be looked into. But I suggest that the root of this opposition had pure elements. In my view, a true conservatism must have ethical and moral commitments: to persons. To the degree that it has this, it has validity and meaning. To the degree that it swerves away from this central concern, is the degree that it serves ‘statist’ purposes (if you accept that industry government have become embarrassingly enmeshed).

              The Vietnam Anti-War movement had good and proper philosophical roots. But, so did all the war-opposition movements going back to the Cuban and the Philippine adventures. It is always the same: people do not desire to have their lives affected and disrupted (and destroyed) by the machinations of corrupt power. See for example Randolph Bourne who defined a populist anti-war position in 1918 in “War is the Health of the State”:

              With the shock of war, however, the State comes into its own again. The Government, with no mandate from the people, without consultation of the people, conducts all the negotiations, the backing and filling, the menaces and explanations, which slowly bring it into collision with some other Government, and gently and irresistibly slides the country into war. For the benefit of proud and haughty citizens, it is fortified with a list of the intolerable insults which have been hurled toward us by the other nations; for the benefit of the liberal and beneficent, it has a convincing set of moral purposes which our going to war will achieve; for the ambitious and aggressive classes, it can gently whisper of a bigger role in the destiny of the world. The result is that, even in those countries where the business of declaring war is theoretically in the hands of representatives of the people, no legislature has ever been known to decline the request of an Executive, which has conducted all foreign affairs in utter privacy and irresponsibility, that it order the nation into battle. Good democrats are wont to feel the crucial difference between a State in which the popular Parliament or Congress declares war, and the State in which an absolute monarch or ruling class declares war. But, put to the stern pragmatic test, the difference is not striking. In the freest of republics as well as in the most tyrannical of empires, all foreign policy, the diplomatic negotiations which produce or forestall war, are equally the private property of the Executive part of the Government, and are equally exposed to no check whatever from popular bodies, or the people voting as a mass themselves.

              Obviously, you will notice that my *concerns* intersect populist concerns and that I must necessarily oppose ‘vast concentrations of power’ that have usurped constitutional government. How to define where Buckley stood in relation to *all this* could be an interesting project. How to define where Vidal stood, well, that is also an interesting undertaking.

              It has to be brought out into the open for genuine, unstructured conversation.

              The Right was right (this was bad, but shamelessly intentional on my part) to defend its own substance, even with threats of physical violence against journalists on television.

              I am not sure what spect of ‘the Right’ you are referring to. I realize that the documentary Hearts & Minds was specifically intended to educate people about the immorality of the Vietnam War. Basically, I accept that this was so. That War therefore was one of the elements in the destruction of ‘good and proper’ civil society. It fractured the nation. The fracturation still goes on because these ‘machinations’ still go on. The fracturation will not stop until the root cause(s) is addressed. This is social mathematics.

              The whole documentary is good but the part I wanted to refer to is at minute 49:00.

              [Video is posted below]

              It’s confounding how identical the positions are in some ways but different in others. While the Buckley side of today has fewer symbols of civil society left to defend, it still holds that same line.

              How would you define ‘the Buckley side’? As you gather, I do not see him as a ‘true conservative’. I agree with a great deal of the position of Robert Bork in his critique of Sixties America, but I find that I cannot side with the ‘statist’ collusion.

              Our honor should be defended with greater zeal than our lives.

              And how should this be defined now? I always refer to ‘machinations’ because — as we all see clearly — our ‘world’ is on the verge of being, literally, controlled or administered by machinery. Intelligent machinery, so-called.

              The value of persons is the primary value. Because the person is a spiritual entity. If one can see that, it then directs one to defend that. If one cannot see that, one is becoming a ‘machine’ and has fallen into machination (again in the Heideggerian sense).

              There can be no discussion of ethics, and thus no accurate seeing of the problems and the issues that we confront in our present, unless all these things are put on the table. If I had to make any ‘religious’ statement it would be that ‘the demons’ desire to keep the real issues from being exposed for thoughtful consideration by real and genuine moral agents.

  3. I’m seeing youtubers posting nascent competitive sites to rotten tomatoes(deleting nPC opinions), Patreon (blocking donation subscriptions for right speakers as well as claiming copyright of patron sf subscribers), and youtube (tweaking searches to boost aligning articles). A plugin that makes commenting possible even for sites that have shut down comments, has been disabled in two browsers- the plugin people are planning their own browser with vpn and antispam. An article on Slate’s ad (I read one column for unintended humor) pointed to an article that says 80% of users don’t trust Facebook- I wonder why?

    It was nice for a few years, when the tech giants seemed to play fairly well with the public and they seemed to understand that they were only a medium, NOT the message. I think when censorship calls ramped up to include bad thoughts not just illegal acts, they blinked. Fear ate them up, that they might lose the lovely money and golden parachutes if mass hysteria made their business tank. Those who haven’t bought into censorship, want to protect their income.

    In becoming wusses, they have lost all the trust they built up. What they do not understand is that net neutrality is not just the ISPs keeping their hands off internet traffic or playing favorites with businesses that pony up, it’s also playing neutral on message boards, PMs, email, and commentary. We are catching up with China, and censorship is not a competition to win. In a shockingly fast two years, it’s getting hard to find sandboxes that aren’t censoring social content more than the old burning theater. If you want to talk about not feeling safe on the internet anymore, where will I be able to look for dragon on hippogriff pron in the future without worrying about it ruining my reputation and career?

    I’d spent ten and twenty years using some of these platforms, and they’ve decided they are a middle-school principal, to ruin my life with their pettiness. To rule by fear just like Strickland. I wish they’d put on their big girl panties and realize we’re all grown-ups here. They have totally forgotten that Bill of Rights protects you when you are a minority. The wheel keeps turning, and the harder they clench their fists, the faster it will spin. These startups will have trouble, but these are things I would gladly help crowdsource.

    • Hah! I love this. The cleaving in half of American society is so necessary that it’s certainly inevitable. I’d hurry this along with cash as well. It actually sounds like an investment strategy.

      I’m especially heartened to hear that the Youtuber (that’s a kind of electric potato) tomato competitor sites reflexively delete nPC commentary. Let it be! Deus vult!, even. I proscribed a longwinded answer to dealing with cultural subversives just a minute ago, and I neglected to see that you provided, yesterday, real-world examples of it playing out even now.

  4. Excellent post.

    The ‘wheel’ you referred to made me remember King Lear where Kent, put in the stocks, says:

    “Fortune, good night: smile
    once more; turn thy wheel!”

    “Fortune’s wheel belongs to the goddess Fortuna, who spins it at random, changing the positions of those on the wheel–some suffer great misfortune, others gain windfalls. Fortune appears on all paintings as a woman, sometimes blindfolded, “puppeteering” a wheel.”

    Now, Fortune may be an algorithm!

      • Interestingly, the idea of a Wheel of Fortune is pagan. Possibly related to the science of astrology where a planetary motion or aspect would have effect on the Earth. Shakespeare has many such references in his plays.

        From the Blog Politic Worm:

        Fortune personified as a fickle female is certainly not unique to Shakespeare, but he also shows his awareness of Fortune as an astrological concept . In the old horoscopes there is usually a symbol that represents something called the Part of Fortune, one of several non-planetary “points” that ancient astrologers arrived at through geometry. Passage of an important planet through this point in a natal chart was supposed to mean good luck for anything tried at that time. The use of this point shows the emphasis placed upon Fortune by Renaissance astrologers, because, of course, they got their living from clients who wanted to know as much as possible about their future prospects. Most telling is Fortune’s glyph, a naked woman running along the top of a spoked wheel that looks a lot like the wheel of a horoscope.

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