Insomnia Ethics Dump, 8/19/2019 (at 3:16 am): What Keeps Me Up At Night


So depressing to observe the reactions of the Facebook Borg to my post about Elizabeth Warren’s self-outing as a lying demagogue. They couldn’t process it; they put their metaphorical fingers in their ears and hummed; they attacked the messenger (me); they channeled the generally-derided Politifact whitewashing of the “Mike Brown was murdered” lie. One lawyer friend apparent deep-dived Ethics Alarms to try to  find a post that would contradict my position regarding Warren (and Kamala Harris). She couldn’t, but pretended she had by metaphorically waving an essay in which I applauded a man acquitted of murder by reason of insanity who later admitted to others that he had killed someone when he was younger and insane. (I can’t find the damn thing myself.)  She then called me a liar and a hypocrite, because I had described the man as a murderer when he was innocent in the eyes of the law. A lawyer made this argument, mind you. I explained, not too nicely, that her analogy was idiotic, since there was no murder and no crime in the Brown case, so law prof Warren’s calling it either was dishonest and indefensible, while in the case of the recovered madman, there was a murder, a crime, and a murder victim. Though the acknowledged killer he was fortunate enough to have committed his crime in a state that holds the insane unaccountable, that fact didn’t change the act or the  crime.

I don’t know why I bothered. Warren fans, like Bernie Bros, appear to be completely immune to facts and reality.

1.  Why is there such a compulsion to corrupt the innocent, even the fictional innocent? I was hardly an admirer of those late 60s and 70s Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday Morning TV shows with people dressed in huge, garish thing-costumes and being relentlessly cheery. You know the ones: “H.R. Puffnstuff,” “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour,” “Lidsville”—those. In addition to being assaultive and unfunny, they also inspired Barney, for which the Krofts should never be forgiven.

Still, lots of kids loved the shows and characters, and they should be able to cherish those memories. Hollywood, however, seems determined to debase everything it can, especially fond memories, either by sexualizing them or making them dark, or both. (The re-boot of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Riverdale,” the series based on the “Archie” comics, are cases in point.) Now we have the new in which are re-imagined as murderous psychopaths.


2. Here’s more stuff my Facebook friends can deny. A study published last week in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine  examined firearm ownership  state-by-state  from 1990 to 2016, and found that while gun ownership was associated with higher rates of homicide involving intimate partners and other family members, there was no significant association between gun ownership rates and the rates of other kinds of gun homicide, such as those involving friends, acquaintances and strangers. This was an anti-gun study that didn’t find the smoking gun it sought, though the results seem logical and what I would have expected. The researcher, Aaron Kivisto, an associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Indianapolis and the lead author of the study, managed to come up with a woke, anti-gun conclusion anyway, though. “It is women, in particular, who are bearing the burden of this increased gun ownership,” he said.

Absent evidence that domestic partners killed by guns would not have been killed by other methods had guns not been available, that statement is an unsubstantiated opinion, triggered by bias.

3. When did guilt by association become acceptable again? I thought it went out with Joe McCarthy.

Joi Ito, a New York Times board member and the director of MIT’s prestigious Media Lab,  issued an abject  public apology for associating with billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and through him, attracting a $50,000 gift to MIT.

“I take full responsibility for my error in judgment. I am deeply sorry to the survivors, to the Media Lab, and to the MIT community for bringing such a person into our network,”  Ito’s  statement, titled “My apology regarding Jeffrey Epstein,” said. “In all of my interactions with Epstein, I was never involved in, never heard him talk about, and never saw any evidence of the horrific acts that he was accused of,” the apology continues.

Then you have nothing to apologize for. Stop groveling and virtue-signaling to your Times and MIT progressive colleagues, and stop validating the false ethical principle that we must share the disgrace arising from  the conduct of our family, friends and associates when we had no involvement in their misdeeds.

And that $50,000 is perfectly good, as is the money that Epstein invested in Ito’s tech start-ups. Ito has pledged to return Epstein’s tech investments, which is just silly. Epstein didn’t make his money selling girls. after all.

4. On an Epstein-related note: the news media seems  hell-bent on killing any speculation that his suicide has any sinister implications. Why is that? Most reports say that the autopsy’s conclusion that he killed himself should end suspicion of foul play. That does not compute. The man was suicidal and on a suicide watch for good reason. He didn’t have to be murdered. All anyone who wanted him dead had to do would be to make sure his watchers stopped watching long enough for Epstein to do the job himself. His watchers did, in fact, stop watching. If it involved anything other than incompetence, and their neglect was induced, that’s foul play.

5. Trying to eliminate anti-white racism and discrimination on campuses is like playing Whack-A-Mole, but not as much fun. From Campus Reform:

A diversity orientation presentation for law students at the University of South Dakota encourages non “minitorized” voices to consider whether or not they are “taking up space” when they contribute to a discussion….Students are encouraged to first ask themselves if their comments will “be representing a relevant minoritized identity.” As they make their way through the chart, it continually encourages them to defer to “minoritized” voices in cases where such voices are present in the conversation, and ask themselves questions such as whether their involvement in the conversation works to “prevent the exploitation of relevant identities.”

Near its conclusion, the chart asks “is there something you’re uniquely capable of offering that will help the goals of the space?” but even students who can safely answer “yes” to that question are then told to make sure that their contribution is “being sought out by minoritized voices.” If it isn’t, students are told that they are “probably taking up space.”

Here’s the chart. It’s a little foggy, but then so is the logic that concludes that discouraging class participation based on race is anything more than unlawful discrimination:

32 thoughts on “Insomnia Ethics Dump, 8/19/2019 (at 3:16 am): What Keeps Me Up At Night

  1. Those who accuse the justice system of being two-tiered are busy laying the predicate for another intentional two-tiered system where justice, as imperfect as it is, is replaced with social justice, which is imperfect by design.

  2. #2: Based on this study, women should own and train with a gun. There is no reason for women to “bear the burden of increased gun ownership”. Rather, women should reap the benefits and protection afforded by gun ownership.

    • Men are 10 times as likely as women to be murdered. Women are much safer in society than men. It is hard to look at those numbers and come to the conclusion that “It is women, in particular, who are bearing the burden of this increased gun ownership”. That statement was also very sexist since it suggests that it is the men who are murdering women in such circumstances.

      Of course, feminists are going to call this ‘soft sexism’, that women don’t get murdered as often as men. Are they going to propose a program to equalize the numbers?

  3. If you say higher rates of homicide among intimate partners why is the assumption that women are more often the victims?

    • If anything, a gun is an equalizer. Most men can kill most women with their bare hands. It happens with depressing regularity. A woman’s only hope in facing a homicidal man is a weapon.

      • Well, not “only.” I can recall several homicidal men who have been bludgeoned, stabbed, and poisoned by their threatened spouse.

        But that’s pedantic, I know. The best way a woman can defend herself against a larger and more powerful man is with a firearm for several reasons, not the least of which it provides stopping power at range, before the would-be killer can close into dangerous proximity. And to the point, in places where firearms are common, that would seem to be the most likely resource by far that a woman would use to defend herself.

    • If you read the methodology they use a proxy for gun ownership. By incorporating only firearm suicides/ suicides + hunting licences as a proxy for ownership it leaves out a considerable number of gun owners – illegal gun owners and owners that do not hunt. In doing so the coefficient of correlation is artificially higher in calculation. More importantly, domestic violence among those with illegal firearms inflates the number domestic homicides by gun while deflating the number of guns possessed regardless of legality.

      If one compares homicide by firearm to firearm ownership without having any other factors considered you do not need a study to link the two.

      These proxy measures for reality reflect the biases of the people creating the proxies. As such, the results of that which was studied is questionable.

  4. A lot of Uggh today, reaffirming my opinion that FB is a swamp for anything other than keeping up with relative’s milestones.

    1) is the most obnoxious to me as it shows the rot in the larger culture that predates the millennium. Is there a psych term for people why break other people’s happiness for their jollies? Supposedly hip people have been systematically destroying things that annoy them for being sentimental or boring for too many years. They claim reimaginings are a tribute or bring it into a new era. (Occasionally they may do that when the characters are kept believably consistent even in changed settings and the fans of the original are respected and not attacked in media, Archie comic changes and Karate Kid fall here– but that is a tiny minority)

    However almost all of these projects are in the hands of people who demonstrate no understanding of the original’s setting and core values. (I’m not convinced they have values from what they produce) They pretend they do respect the source, until the release confirms they don’t, and the claws come out when the audience gets mad their disrespectful savaging of things other people love, warts and all. The list of reboots/reimaginings that brutalize the original and its fans grows on almost a weekly basis, but I suppose these people think it’s never too late to destroy someone else’s childhood memories. (would these people do this to Bob the knight or PAW patrol if they could? I think the answer is yes)

    All this seems to be a quest to make icons edgy and ‘relevant’ by making it more progressive. But really, outside a very few items like Hitler Donald Duck, materials for kids is kept more basic for kids because they are not mature enough to see the subversion in Tom and Jerry scatting to old jazz. They need the obvious humor and solid values, legend and myth is timeless..

    This is as designed, and why the Spongebob and the original Loony Toons are still funnier decades later than the more sanitized and recent Bugs and Daffy. Learning about the problems from greed and lying makes the Aladdin Bugs and Daffy a good lesson seven decades later, every generation needs to learn this. You do not want edgy too young, they are not ready, they need heroes to give them something to aspire to. Edgy versions can live in streaming or cable, but the big bucks come from tradition. The heroic tradition is thousands of years old and destroying other people’s heroes right and left does not prove the strength of progressive views, it only proves how tiny and petty they are. And how much they hate things that brought other people happiness. They’ve brought down icons from the 50’s(animation and Lone Ranger) and 60’s(Trek and Dr Who), now they’re working on the 70s and 80’s(Star Wars and Ghostbusters) too.

    They want the easy money of nostalgia, but cannot keep their piddies off the cores of what made the original great. I think it’s becoming a rule that reboots and sequels lose too much. The Trek movies and 1st wave of sequels to 2008 did okay overall, some were no worse than “Spock’s Brain.” Likewise, the Star Wars brand kept an element of timelessness, speaking in allegory not heavy-handed pistons, up through the animated Rebels. But ‘updating characters for social relevance instead of making new ones is both lazy and cruel. They cannot understand that the characters and their struggles already were universal and did not need fixing. Updates should be fixing technical issues or new characters not touching the existing characters core, like an animation having Leia bitchslap Luke on the Death Star when they’re escaping because he fumbles. I wish progressives would make their own virtuous original characters and prove to the money people they’re full of it. (RIP Barnabus Collins, and sorry to ramble)

      • Thank you. I do see all this through a creative geek lens, and it took longer for progressives to make serious inroad there until the last decade, and a lot of geeks are pushing back in many of the healthier franchises listed above. The Star Wars and Comicsgate ones are especially vocal and loud, but they all overlap and support other groups. Boycott of toys and petitions to HBO are starting to get traction despite media hiding and spin.

  5. “So depressing to observe the reactions of the Facebook Borg to my post about Elizabeth Warren’s self-outing as a lying demagogue.”

    I particularly liked this statement from on commenter; “But the fact is that an unarmed Michael Brown died at the hands of an armed police officer” without even mentioning the intentional violent actions taken by Michael Brown, the criminal, who intentionally attacked that police officer trying to take his firearm and that attack was witnessed by others. The commenters implication is 100% clear; the evil armed police officer gunned down an innocent unarmed person, also known as murder. I consider this to be a willfully equivalent lie to outright saying that the police officer murdered Michael Brown, the commenter is intentionally lying by omission.

    That same commenter followed that up that statement with this little gem “You can certainly argue that the circumstances didn’t fit the legal definition of “murder”, but to do so really misses the larger social point.” and then the commenter failed to tell readers what that larger social point was. His “misses the larger social point” is nothing but a nonsensical platitude much like the crap that is spouted by hoards of stupid social justice warriors.

    • I wonder what would have happened had Sweet Lil Michael gotten his hands on Officer Wilson’s gun.

      Would Wilson be dead? Would Michael have shot someone else down the street? Would the good residents of Ferguson care if Michael had shot another black youth?

      • Been there, done that….. but crime partner got shot. There is no way to describe the thought process during the encounter. All you know is that you know the names of those who have lost that battle.

        Yes, odds are that Officer Wilson would have died and a good possibility that some of the responding officers could have been shot. With Wilson’s stolen gun.

  6. Regarding Facebook, I think it’s a good working hypothesis that most people we encounter on Facebook are not really interested in changing their minds on anything while “In the Facebook Moment.” Even if people we encounter on Facebook are amenable to discussion and give-and-take conversation face to face, Facebook is not where that can happen. Facebook creates a mood that works against it.

    Sanctimonious doubling down on a current position feels good. That’s what Facebook promotes.

    This is true even for people we have known socially or professionally for decades, and who we believe to be open to evidence that might lead them to soften their current beliefs. Here’s an imperfect analogy: Facebook feels a bit like the junior high school cafeteria where you sit at a particular table, and some of the tables have cliques that are opposed to other cliques.

    The event that sometimes erupts spontaneously in the junior high school cafeteria is not a seminar discussion–it’s a food fight!

    I make this assertion based on my own experience. If circumstances prove me wrong, that would be great.

    = – = – = – = Change of Topic = – = – = – = Change of Topic = – = – = – =

    Generally speaking, the model of human behavior that makes more and more sense to me is the logical mind as an analytical rider atop an emotional elephant that is more powerful and hard to control.

    The analytical rider can get control–but this is not an automatic outcome.

    Methinks this metaphor (elephant and rider) can be traced to Jonathan Haidt and was elaborated by Chip and Dan Heath.

    = – = – = – = = – = – = – = Change of Topic = – = – = – = Change of Topic

    Another analytical frame is from Arnold Kling’s “Three Languages of Politics.” The new edition is on its way. This might work for the discussion of gun violence.

  7. 1. Postmodernism’s only value is cynicism. Cynicism can have no heroes and no good. Everything has to be flawed. And within a cynical age, flaws must become increasingly dark to out do the previous.

    • That is why everything must be a grittier reboot than the last. With each cycle into ‘grittiness’, more colors are lost. We are currently at the point that about the only colors left are black and blue. I propose to make the grittiest reboot ever by getting rid of blue. My movie will feature a completely black screen for the entire movie. It will be an action movie, so most of the sounds will be running, panting, explosions, gunfire, squealing tires, and screaming. There will be very little dialogue. I will sneer with disdain at anyone who questions the artistic merit or criticizes the difficulty in following the plot of my masterpiece.

      Any backers?

      • No, you need lots of monologue. But it has to be full of self-doubt and questioning his/her upbringing and laced with angst over having no value-set anchored in anything that could help guide his/her decision making.

        • Yep, you got it. That is the joke. The ultimate ‘gritty movie’ would be a radio drama. It should end with “The Shadow knows…”.

  8. 1. Because Hollywood and the TV industry have long since run out of new ideas. Therefore, they just endlessly recycle old classics with a slightly different “spin,” usually bereft of the innocence of the original.

    We have all moved on past that last-century idealism, don’tcha know.

    2. The only people doing gun studies these days are those with an agenda, usually to get rid of them. That includes the federal government.

    3. When did guilt by association become acceptable again? I thought it went out with Joe McCarthy.

    I have the exact date: April 3rd, 2014, the date that Brenden Eich was fired for having supported Proposition 8 in California (a move to ban gay marriage) to the tune of $1000, for which he has become a pariah to this day.

    From then on, merely being associated with causes that scandalize the perpetually offended became sufficient cause for dismissal and a scarlet letter.

    4. On an Epstein-related note: the news media seems hell-bent on killing any speculation that his suicide has any sinister implications. Why is that?

    Because he was a threat to many people that the Left, and by extension the media, revere. His death, whatever the cause, was a gift to them, and they know it. That’s why their cheerleading for a suicide determination and a quick reason to stop reporting on it.

    4. Anti-white racism isn’t racism to the Left, so…

  9. Jack: “I don’t know why I bothered. Warren fans, like Bernie Bros, appear to be completely immune to facts and reality.

    If we contextualize this and include ‘a larger picture’ perhaps what seems irrational can be made more intelligible. It won’t make it less irrational but we might be able to understand it better. I will make this attempt.

    Those who subscribe to the Times will have noticed a new string of articles under the heading 1619 Project. Here is how it is described:

    The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

    It is worthwhile to read the encapsulation offered for each article they present in the series. These are amazing rhetorical essays and as such they can be studied. This is not ‘journalism’ exactly though it definitely mimics the form. I try to be fair in saying that this style of psychological-historiography seems to have a good deal in common with Maoist propaganda techniques. I forgot the name of the Times journalist who stated openly that the struggle against the enemy he perceived would require a radical tack (soon after Trump’s election). It is fair to say that we are seeing this — brazenly and openly — in almost all of the main articles in the Times.

    The Times, its editorial board, and a huge section of American intellectuals, cultural figures, industry captains and government functionaries, stand behind a specific vision of America: what it is and where it must go. We refer to this as ‘progressivism’ or the ideology of the radical left. Can it be said to be a genuine system of thinking? I mean, is it organized as such? Is it rationally and philosophically ordered and communicable? Is it intelligible? I am not sure that it is. OK, but if it is not that then what is it? Is it a ‘mood’? Is it a mix of emotionalism and ‘hope’? A sort of religious idealism transferred to a political-social plane? To all appearances it is not amenable to rational analysis. If this is so then it has to be considered in its irrational function. And this ‘function’ is certain intelligible.

    The Michael Brown thing is especially exemplary of the irrationalism of those who are captured by a ‘mood’. So, it does not matter what the real facts of that case were. What ‘really happened’ there was determined a priori by other perceptual choices directed by emotionalism. Essentially, and I do not exaggerate here, what happened to Michael Brown is understood to be an historical repetition of what happened originally to African peoples who were hauled into the American colonial system.

    I realize that I am dealing in insinuation and speculation here. But how else could one deal with such a large cultural-perceptual phenomenon underscored by irrationalism and what seems like social hysteria? Since it is essentially (but of course not entirely) irrational, it cannot be confronted by ‘reasoned argument’. I am not certain if it could actually be brought out fully into the open because what is psychological and irrational in us always remains submerged in us. Just like a given person is susceptible to paranoid hysteria, fearfulness, suspicion and these can at times escape the control of that given person and overflow into reaction, so the present ‘progressivism’ seems to be operating. But what could stop it? Well, in an individual that is when they ‘hit bottom’. Or when there is some sort of ‘intervention’.

    I think that one has to begin to understand that what (let us say ‘we’ here in quotes, a convention of discourse), what we are dealing with here is by its nature irrational. Yet it mimics rationality just as the articles in the Times under 1619 — and so many other articles and opinion-pieces — employ rhetoric in service of ideals [sic].

    I think that the answer therefore is that you cannot ‘reason’ with these people. You can only try to understand the vast current that sweeps them along. But as I often say, and I do include myself of course, we are all in that current and yet we have a hard time seeing what it is, how it came to be, and even more difficultly we struggle to define clearly and intelligible how to oppose it. It is an issue with *metaphysical dimension*.

  10. 4. The Epstein murder stinks on ice, and everyone knows this. The likelihood that this was Arkancide is high, and everyone involved knew that they had to present a pure as the driven snow incarceration, imprisonment, and trail.

    They don’t even care anymore, not even enough to give more than passing lip service to justice.

    This pushed us further toward Civil War (the hot kind, not what the left keeps pursuing) as the right is further informed as to how they will be treated.

  11. Is that chart right? If you read the flow chart, OVER-represented minority voices are prioritized over under-represented minority voices. I also like the part where it says that if you ARE uniquely qualified to contribute something that will benefit the goals, you ARE NOT to share it unless a minority member figures it out and then asks you to share it.

    We are all going to die if this is our only source of competent people.

  12. \jvbe: No. 5: Minoritized Minority Flow Chart.

    Can some please explain what that chart is supposed to mean? I consider myself to possess an IQ slightly above room temperature but if I follow the chart, unless I am minoritizing minorities I am taking up space. Right?


  13. Re: Lizzie Warren.

    Sen. Warren issued an apology today for her past indiscretion and for all the harm she might have caused. But, she learned and will take that learning to the White House. God help us all.


  14. On point 1.
    I am of the belief that every generation tries to piss off the preceding one by pushing the boundaries of respectable behavior. Usually, this behavior stops when the younger generation faces the harsh realities of adulthood.

    In the 60’s long hair was edgy enough to get under the skin of parents and other old fogeys. The real agitators were those who tuned in and dropped out, engaged in premarital sex or, the horror, brought home a black boyfriend. Television and movies focused on relationships and adventure.

    Most of the seventies saw expansion of drugs and sex though limited by massive inflation and sitting for a third of our lives in lines to get gasoline.

    More recently we see kids opting for more piercings and ink on their bodies than the those found in old time side shows.

    Year after year the game of one upmanship in terms of “edginess” moves exponentially farther from anything resembling what was considered normal only a few years earlier. Basic violence in which good triumphs over evil – I just watched Gary Cooper in High Noon. Today, we have mass violence piped into our homes through cable or streaming services. Whose bright idea was to deliver “The Purge” to television screens.

    Ultimately the society will implode unless we redirect ourselves and demand that we not be subjected to more violence. When those who clamor for more rules preventing lawful gun ownership stop supporting all violence that is bereft of any positive messaging of good triumphing over evil.

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