Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/19/2019: Conflicts, Hypocrisy, Censorship, And Creeping Totalitarianism…Praise The Lord.

1. I love headlines like this. The Times tells us (in its print edition) , “Party Hosted By Drug Company Raises Thorny Issues.” Really? A group of top cosmetic surgeons had all their expenses paid to attend a promotional event in Cancun for a new competing drug for Botox. The doctors were fed, feted, invited to parties and given gifts, then they went on social media and gushed about the product. The “thorny issue”: Should they have informed their followers that they had just received all sorts of benefits and goodies from the drug manufacturer to encourage their good will? (Because none of them did mention this little detail.)

Wow! What a thorny issue! I’m stumped!

Of COURSE it was unethical not to point out that their sudden enthusiasm for the product had been bought and paid for. This is the epitome of the appearance of impropriety, and an obvious conflict of interest. The Times article chronicles the doctors’ facile, self-serving and disingenuous arguments that they didn’t have such an ethical obligation, but the fact that these are unethical professionals in thrall to an infamously unethical industry doesn’t make the ethics issue “thorny.”

2. The Assholes of Taylor University. Vice-President Mike Pence was the commencement speaker at Taylor University, and when he moved  to the podium, thirty or so students rose and walked out on him, in a smug and indefensible demonstration of assholery. The University should withhold the diplomas of every single one of these arrogant slobs until they each author a sincere letter of apology to the Vice-President, who was the school’s invited guest.

Note that Pence did not walk out on the unethical “Hamilton” performers who ambushed him after their show, at which the Vice President was a guest, an audience member. He sat and listened to their obnoxious attack politely, though he had no obligation, ethical or official, to do so. Members of Taylor’s graduating class who didn’t want to listen to the Vice President could have simply not attended the ceremony. Instead they chose to insult him and his high office, and embarrass their institution.

3. Whose business is it that Steve Mnuchin billionaire father spent more than 90 million dollars on a sculpture of a rabbit? OK, it’s a legitimate oddity, or art trivia, or a “How about that?” gossip item. Does it have anything to do with Mnuchin whatsoever, except for socialists and communists who believe wealth is the equivalent of evil?

No, it doesn’t, but an astounding number of pundits and journalists have used this non-story to focus their hate on the Trump administration. Here’s my favorite, a disgusting, ignorant hate piece (though Facebook wouldn’t call it that) by the Root: “Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s Father Just Blew $91 Million on a Stainless Steel Rabbit That Doesn’t Even Vibrate”:

Now we know Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gets his balling from his father…his dad just blew $91 million on a fucking stainless steel rabbit and not even the kind of rabbit that women enjoy. According to Bloomberg, Mnuchin’s papa, art dealer Bob Mnuchin, opened his wallet all the way up to buy the Jeff Koons creation at Christie’s auction house, making it the largest payout for a living artist…The rabbit that doesn’t vibrate was estimated to be worth some $50 million to $70 million and was a part of a group of works from the family of late media mogul Si Newhouse, Bloomberg reports……Bloomberg notes that the rabbit, which doesn’t have a pull string so that it can say, “What up, doc?” was a hit from the time it was created in 1986 and fetched $1 million in 1992; a large sum, even then. Bloomberg notes that the sale brings Koons back to the top of the art world, which is funny, considering he was caught copying another artist’s work just a year ago and was forced to pay $168,000 to the artist he stole from. Further proof that whiteness always falls forward.

Stupid, vulgar, unfair, ignorant, hateful AND racist. Nice.

4. Reason writes about what I also find interesting, that the mainstream media is applauding social media censorship. One would think, wouldn’t one, that the guardians of free speech and discourse would be standing up for more speech, rather than silencing unpopular speech, as the democratic remedy for social media posts that many find “offensive”? Well, one would think that if one still believed, contrary to all evidence, that the mainstream media is still a defender of free speech, and hasn’t become a partisan advocate that wants to have a monopoly on the ‘manipulation of public opinion for a partisan agenda’ business, and that it doesn’t regard the big social media companies as valuable allies.

I was surprised—silly, idealistic, cockeyed optimist me—that so many journalists, news outlets and Facebook friends—not Democrats, though, for I now expect them to applaud totalitarian measures–approved of New Zealand’s censorship after the Christ Church terror attacks. I was not as surprised when the news media attacked the Trump administration for  refusing to sign The Christchurch Call, another one of those virtue-signaling non-binding pledges, this one  “to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.” I wasn’t surprised because if the Trump Administration does it, the media narrative is automatically that it’s wrong. The document has been signed by online service providers and the governments of New Zealand, France, and 16 other countries, because, you see, none of those places has a First Amendment. Concludes Reason:

it should be deeply worrying to anyone who believes in free expression that governments and corporations are openly working together to decide what is and is not acceptable speech. Does anyone really trust the wisdom and sagacity of Twitter’s Jack Dorsey or Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg—much less President Donald Trump or the leaders of Singapore (ranked 151st out of 181 countries for press freedom by Reporters Without Borders)—when it comes to defining good speech?

Between threatened crackdowns by Republicans and Democrats and European Union bureaucrats and cave-ins by tech giants trying to preserve market positions, the era of the open internet is almost certainly over. But that’s no reason to go gentle into that good night and allow free speech to be snuffed out like a candle, sacrificed in the name of fighting “online extremism.” We need to rebuild a consensus and a culture that answers bad speech with more and better speech, not voluntary “bans” and fear that our neighbors are too easily gulled into hatred and violence.



7 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/19/2019: Conflicts, Hypocrisy, Censorship, And Creeping Totalitarianism…Praise The Lord.

  1. 3. The love of bunnies is the root of all evil.

    But seriously, while I wouldn’t pay even $1 million dollars for that thing, I do find it kind of fancy, in a “how did he make it?” sort of way.

    4. Be careful news media, Censorship is like an affair, if they’ll do it with you, they’ll do it to you.

    • The thing is, the rabbit is an investment. The fact that you have to be wildly rich to make it doesn’t make it a bad one. Somehow, I doubt there would be all the flack if the art had been, say, a Vermeer.

  2. Fellow Hanoverian Mike Pence is a class act. Always has been. Always will be. Good for him, again.

    Taylor University might want see what or who the common thread among the indoctrinate assholes is.

  3. 3. I am continually frustrated by the tendency, among the left currently, to construe almost any administration action (or, even an un-related action) as proof the president is evil. The practice was employed by the right during the Obama administration, as well, and it was not a new practice then. The frustration occurs when I seek to correct something false, or even just to get more up-to-date information. I am immediately pegged as a supporter of Trump/Obama/Bush, or whoever.
    Case in point — I questioned an FB post by a close relative which linked to an article by The Intellectualist which said human action has led to the extinction of a million species. Just raising the question (A million, really?) (Trump’s fault, really?) got me a somewhat hostile response. A few years ago, I questioned an anti-Obama post that was “fact-deficient” and got a similar response (from a different cohort). These are not stupid people, but they sure as hell have their minds made up, and they cannot tolerate differing views, nor even facts that go against their beliefs. Like “The assholes of Taylor University,” they stick their fingers in their ears and sing la la la la … .
    So, why bother? Why encourage them to seek facts, to listen to differing opinions, to consider arguments they hadn’t considered?
    When I taught high school students, especially for those who were very sure of their beliefs, I tried to create in their minds a little uncertainty, a little questioning, a desire to know more. But outside that environment now, I find more and more closed minds who seek only the ‘likes’ of clapping seals. So, why bother?

  4. (4) Your Facebook problems could be that you are on their list of ‘hate agents’. At least you don’t appear to be in the ‘extra credit’ section (employees get extra credit for taking down Candace Owens).

    The mainstream media seems to not care than an independent journalist’s house and office were raided by a SWAT team after he refused to reveal a source. They seized pretty much all of his equipment and files ($30-$40,000 worth). They broke into his safe to find the report.

    Nothing to see here. One of the driving forces of this online censorship is the declining viewership of the MSM. Only Fox is maintaining their viewership. Conservatives have left everyone else in droves for independent news on social media sources. CNN cannot continue, the NYT cannot continue, MSNBC cannot continue if they have to compete for an audience. The alternative media has shown the country that the media has been lying to them for 100 years. The MSM is trying to put that genie back in the bottle by getting rid of the competition.

    Remember, all those countries and companies are willing to support a murderous terrorist because his ideology is the same as theirs. He killed all those people to get conservatives censored.

    • What progressives do to their opponents today will be done to them in the future by the survivors. It is inevitable, being human nature.

      See: nuclear option in the Senate

  5. 1. This is simply business as usual in the medical field these days. We treat diabetics with drugs that make sure they stay on a slow road to death, since we can milk the profits along the way.

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