Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/25/19: The Rotten Standards Edition

I feel like hearing my favorite hymn this morning.

1. How TV makes the public ignorant and unethical. On a 2008 “Law and Order” episode, “Knock Off,” a New York Assistant DA tells a lawyer that since his former client is dead, attorney client privilege no longer applies. “The privilege does not survive the client,” he says, authoritatively. This is exactly 180 degrees wrong. Privilege and client confidences do survive clients; lawyers are bound by them forever, with some rare exceptions.

The show had legal advisors.  There is no excuse for this. What were Law and Order’s standards? Would it deliberately misstate law and regulations just to accommodate the plot? Apparently so.

2. According to the New York Times, we’ve been mistaken. People don’t kill people, Guns kill people, apparently all by themselves. One of the infinite ways news organizations practice unethical and biased journalism is by falsely framing facts and issues to encourage a particular public perception. The “paper of record” just went for a new record in this event with a piece titled “One Handgun, 9 Murders: How American Firearms Cause Carnage Abroad.”Incredibly, the article personifies a gun:

She came to Jamaica from the United States about four years ago, sneaking in illegally, stowed away to avoid detection. Within a few short years, she became one of the nation’s most-wanted assassins. She preyed on the parish of Clarendon, carrying out nine confirmed kills, including a double homicide outside a bar, the killing of a father at a wake and the murder of a single mother of three. Her violence was indiscriminate: She shot and nearly killed a 14-year-old girl getting ready for church.

With few clues to identify her, the police named her Briana. They knew only her country of origin — the United States — where she had been virtually untraceable since 1991. She was a phantom, the eighth-most-wanted killer on an island with no shortage of murder, suffering one of the highest homicide rates in the world. And she was only one of thousands.

Briana, serial number 245PN70462, was a 9-millimeter Browning handgun.

The thrust of the rest of the article is that the terrible murder rate in Jamaica and other third-world counties is the fault of the U.S. for guaranteeing its citizens gun rights, and not the corruption, weak government, poverty and rotten cultures, not to mention the killers they produce, in those nations themselves. “Law enforcement officials, politicians and even gangsters on the street agree: It’s the abundance of guns, typically from the United States, that makes the country so deadly,” the article says. “And while the argument over gun control plays on a continual loop in the United States, Jamaicans say they are dying because of it — at a rate that is nine times the global average.”

That’s right: all those murderous Jamaicans would become as harmless as lambs if the United States would just get with the program.

This isn’t news reporting, it’s anti-gun propaganda.

3.  I would be cheered by “I’m not the only one, ” but its a rationalization. Apparently Facebook can do anything it wants to individual users, and whether it is by bias, mistake or malice, there is no recourse whatsoever. As regular readers here know, this is of special interest to me because Facebook has effectively banned Ethics Alarms, with serious consequences to the blog’s traffic, readership and influence. Links to any article or the home page are blocked. No reason has ever been given, and I have complained and inquired repeatedly.

I learned today, from a recitation of the experiences of individual Facebook users who have been blocked themselves that this is how Facebook operates: no process, no appeal, no customer service.

In Facebook’s version of a justice system, users are told only that their accounts have been disabled for “suspicious activity.” If they appeal — via a terse form that will accept only a name, contact information and an image of an ID — a mysterious review process begins. The wait can be endless, and the inability to contact a Facebook employee maddening.

One victim found phone number to call,and tried it:

“For customer support, press one,” said a voice recording. [He] pressed 1. “Thank you for calling Facebook user operations,” he heard. “Unfortunately, we do not offer phone support at this time.” Then his line went dead. (This is still the message a caller receives.)

Another user named Reeves  got so frustrated that he went to the Facebook headquarters:

[Five receptionists sat behind a counter in the lobby. “My account got disabled, and I need help,” he said. The workers told him no one could assist him. “What if my account doesn’t get reactivated?” Mr. Reeves asked, desperate. A receptionist advised him to make a new profile. (That’s against Facebook’s terms of service, which specify that users “create only one account (your own).” Mr. Reeves created a new account, but it was disabled within hours; when he made yet another one, it was disabled within minutes. It’s now been three months, and he has no idea why he’s still unable to log in.

The term for this is Kafkaeseque. It is classic totalitarianism. Imagine: a company this openly unethical presumes to tell me that my ethics blog violates its standards.

4. OK, explain to me why this isn’t illiberal and hypocritical.  “Why doesn’t anyone want to live in this perfect place?” the headline asks. The perfect place, or rather places, we learn, are a series of segregated residential communities restricted to lesbians only. Apparently the separatist movement was once thriving, but now it is having difficulty attracting younger lesbians. Good. But again, by what kind of mental and ethical pretzeling can progressives celebrate a group of like people deliberately ruling that nobody unlike them is welcome in a community? If a group of whites creating a whites only community is universally condemned as un-American and racist, how can a self-segregated community of lesbians be labelled a “paradise,” as the article does?

5. And finally, a Tom Brady ethics note, and, as usual, he’s on the wrong side of it.

Last week,  the United States Patent and Trademark Office ruled that Bardy’s (ridiculous) application to trademark the term “Tom Terrific” was without merit. Other than the original crude animated kids feature that launched the name, “Tom Terrific” has been long associated with Tom Seaver, the New York Mets Hall of Fame pitcher who was recently diagnosed with dementia. The decision said that Brady appropriating the nickname “falsely suggest a connection” with Mr. Seaver, who was “uniquely and unmistakably” the only person associated with the nickname. “Tom Seaver is so well known that consumers would presume a connection,” the office wrote.

Trying to steal another great athlete’s nickname to make money out of it. Yechhh.

But that’s Tom Brady.

29 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/25/19: The Rotten Standards Edition

    • While the blog may be slow, we still care. My family has been very busy this weekend and I’m catching up on the backlog.

    • Jack,
      I think that the sheer volume of unprecedented vitriole aimed at all things not in lockstep with progressive ideology may be part of the slowness. After awhile it becomes difficult to keep rebutting the leftist cant.

      Barr needs to conclude the investigation into the alleged coup against Trump and put to rest all the various theories from both sides.

      What I have learned from the election of Trump is that far too many think civil liberties only extend to those who espouse their preferred thinking.

      My fear is that those who are pushing the fascist beliefs that we must all be of their beliefs or we should be excised from society will soon implement an agenda that will lead to severe social unrest.

  1. I tried to find “Ethics Alarms” just now on Facebook using its search function. It came up quickly in the search box via autofill, but upon completing the search there were no relevant results(!).

    If your Facebook presence still exists, I’d like the URL so I can try reaching the page directly.


  2. ”the article personifies a gun”

    The article, written by an EVIL Y-Chromosomal Unit, also genders (verb transitive?) it:

    She came to Jamaica from the United States about four years ago” (bold mine)

  3. 2. Clearly, Jamaica and guns are the result of America’s being founded on slavery.

    4. Powerless communities are entitled to self segregate to protect themselves from white males. If you don’t have power, you can do anything.

  4. Did Tom Brady plan on wearing a tin funnel as a hat so he could toot his own horn.

    To be honest, I only associated the Tom Terrific name to the cartoon character.

  5. It’s pejorative and dehumanizing (and probably somehow racist and misogynist, too) to call Briana an illegal gun. She’s an “undocumented ballistic device”.

    I hope when they finally detained her, they didn’t cruelly separate her from her ammunition.

  6. I’m so very glad that Jamaica had taken the steps they have to restrict gun ownership. Since making sure that only criminals could arm themselves (in 1974), they have managed to bring their murder rate from 9.8 per 100,000 to only 55 per 100,000. What a wonderful testament to the power of gun control!

  7. I was humming the Battle Hymn of the Republic at Chickamauga today. Do I get credit for that?

    1. Nothing on TV happens by accident. They want viewers to think incorrect things about lawyers in the hopes that public ignorance will cause public pressure to change the rules.
    2. What? The NYT didn’t manage to tie that into slavery? I thought that was their raison d’etre.
    3. That’s why I never post about politics or social issues on Facebook. Ever.
    4. And just think…they’re such Safe Places, too.
    5. Don’t care about Tom Brady. As a Hoosier, I’m apparently supposed to hate the Patriots and love the Colts, but I just don’t care about football at all. This gives me an edge over all those friends and relatives of mine desperate to watch the Brain Damage Bowls.

  8. Jack writes: The term for this is Kafkaesque. It is classic totalitarianism. Imagine: a company this openly unethical presumes to tell me that my ethics blog violates its standards.

    It is happening on a wide scale. I do not know if you can be bothered to listen to YouTube dialogues, but this theme is dealt on in this extended conversation. I got a good deal out of it.

    • Under the spreading chestnut tree
      I sold you and you sold me.
      There lie they, and here lie we
      Under the spreading chestnut tree.

      I am sure that you will notice this in the Times of today:

      WASHINGTON — A loose network of conservative operatives allied with the White House is pursuing what they say will be an aggressive operation to discredit news organizations deemed hostile to President Trump by publicizing damaging information about journalists.

      It is the latest step in a long-running effort by Mr. Trump and his allies to undercut the influence of legitimate news reporting. Four people familiar with the operation described how it works, asserting that it has compiled dossiers of potentially embarrassing social media posts and other public statements by hundreds of people who work at some of the country’s most prominent news organizations.

      They said this:

      The campaign is consistent with Mr. Trump’s long-running effort to delegitimize critical reporting and brand the news media as an “enemy of the people.” The president has relentlessly sought to diminish the credibility of news organizations and cast them as politically motivated opponents.

      Who in their right mind could be so interiorly corrupt, so fundamentally and tendentiously mistaken, as to notice the political motivations of the MSM? My God! What has happened to us that we come to believe such lies!?! Can’t we become clean again? And see things as they really are?

      What is fascinating in all of this is that Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Visa and all manner of different entities have over the last year or two de-platformed in one way or other at least a dozen of the sites that I access to do research and to get information. Many hundreds have been eliminated I am told. Were you to have watched the first 5 minutes of the vid I linked to, you’d have noticed the declarations of their intent to prohibit access to their platforms.

      Now, the techniques that they have used, and the moral justifications they offer, are being turned around. They see themselves as being in possession of essential righteousness, therefore they do not have to self-question. They know that what they do is right and best.

      It is these ‘structures of certainty’ that interest me. They are linked to metaphysical predicates.

      I love that line: legitimate news reporting. The websites that I access have been successful in offering alternative reporting on the important topics of our day which the MSM deems as ‘illegitimate’. And beyond any doubt they have helped me to arrive at a different orientation in regard to the present. But then so has my access to a site dealing on Thomist philosophy! It is not a far step that they might think it proper to shut them down (as true totalitarians have done so in the past).

      And there we have another octave of the Culture Wars but taken to another — an epistemological — level. Who defines truth? Who defines what is important? Who controls values? And who has the power to transvalue values.

      “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

      “Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.”

      “Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed—no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull.”

      “You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every moment scrutinized.”

      “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

    • Since the theme here is ‘epistemology’, and a warring between differing visions of truth and even of ‘reality’, may I draw attention to another strange/interesting article in the Times of today? Now, I suggest that we can use the Times as a mantic tool.

      mantic (ˈmæntɪk)
      1. of or relating to divination and prophecy
      2. having divining or prophetic powers
      [C19: from Greek mantikos prophetic, from mantis seer]

      But what I mean is really that the Times is a kind of portal into the sort of mind that *they* apparently wish to cultivate. Therefore, what they bring forward for consideration, and of course what they don’t, can be paid attention to.

      Do Plants Have Something to Say? One Scientist is Definitely Listening

      Dr. Monica Gagliano says that she has received Yoda-like advice from trees and shrubbery. She recalls being rocked like a baby by the spirit of a fern. She has ridden on the back of an invisible bear conjured by an osha root. She once accidentally bent space and time while playing the ocarina, an ancient wind instrument, in a redwood forest. “Oryngham,” she says, means “thank you” in plant language. These interactions have taken place in dreams, visions, songs and telekinetic interactions, sometimes with the help of shamans or ayahuasca.

      She is not just *listening* she is *definitely listening*.

      Now, I would not discredit these means of gaining epistemological insight into our world per se. I have a girlfriend here whose grandfather goes into the forest and takes ayahuasca from time to time.

      But what interests me is that they are presented here in an important journal of opinion and at a time when, arguably, the progressive-left is resorting to a witch-hunting type of mind propelled by hysteria. What level of hallucinated material will become part of the left-progressive dialogue?

      Steve Witherspoon had some interactions with a man who professed to be able to *read* his anti-liberal tendencies through hysteric perception as it might be called. You see: they know things.

      My implication here is that once this way-of-seeing becomes common, their choices will become all the more extreme and subjective.

      Is their general epistemological base grounded in Aristotelian categories? I am trying to suggest that in general *they* are less engaged in classical thinking of the sort that has defined Occidental process, but in emoted-thinking that comes out of an over-heated mind.

      It is veeeerrryyyy strange and getting stranger by the day . . .

      I am exaggerating here of course but I do not think I am inventing what I am noticing.

      • This just in: Trump was attacked by aggressive hysterical foliage in the Rose Garden today. Minor cuts and pokes from thorns. Not too serious. But obviously the plant world also has a case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

        More when I know more . . .

  9. The term for this is Kafkaeseque. It is classic totalitarianism. Imagine: a company this openly unethical presumes to tell me that my ethics blog violates its standards.

    I would not be surprised if this provoked violence.

    I wonder what arguments Clarence Darrow would use to defend someone provoked to violence due to Facebook unjustly deactivating his account.

    The thrust of the rest of the article is that the terrible murder rate in Jamaica and other third-world counties is the fault of the U.S. for guaranteeing its citizens gun rights, and not the corruption, weak government, poverty and rotten cultures, not to mention the killers they produce, in those nations themselves.

    Jamaica has strict gun control laws.

    this is just the meme that “gun control can not work unless it is universal.”

    I did in fact post about this meme.

    These people say that state-level bans do not work because people simply smuggle guns from outside the jurisdiction, and we need national laws. We have national laws on marijuana, and marijuana is smuggled from outside the United States. In order for gun control laws to work, must the United States conquer the whole world? How many servicemen would be willing to fight in a war of conquest for the purpose of disarming Americans at home? How many foreign children would have to be killed to accomplish that objective?

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