Friday Night Ethics Lights, 10/25/2019: Signs Of The Coming Apocalypse?

Good Evening!

1. More evidence of ethics rot and educational malpractice at Harvard. The Harvard Crimson covered an “Abolish ICE” protest on its campus last month. The fact that the supposedly most prestigious college in the nation would have something as idiotic as an anti-ICE protest attended by more than a few unfortunates with closed head injuries is troubling enough, but behold:   student activists attacked  the daily student-run paper  for “cultural insensitivity” and of “blatantly endangering undocumented students on campus.” because it contacted the immigration enforcement agency for comment after the protest had ended.

The Horror.

Now hundreds of America’s alleged best and brightest have signed a petition demanding that the newspaper operate as if ICE didn’t exist.

 Crimson editors Angela N. Fu and Kristine E. Guillaume defended its practices  in the paper this week, protesting that asking for comment is a standard journalism device, arguing in part, “We seek to follow a commonly accepted set of journalistic standards, similar to those followed by professional news organizations big and small. Foremost among those standards is the belief that every party named in a story has a right to comment or contest criticism leveled against them.”

Forget it, Angela and Kristine. You’re supposed to be partisan activists, like the mainstream media.

Ethics experts from the Student Press Law Center and the Society of Professional Journalists supported the Crimson, citing the  SPJ’s Code of Ethics. That’s nice, although I would call the gesture “lip service.”

2. SkyNet is listening. Because of loopholes in their security software, hackers can use  Amazon Alexa and Google Home virtual assistants to eavesdrop on user conversations without their knowledge, and even trick users into handing over sensitive information.


For once, the American Bar Association got comparatively ahead of looming legal ethics risks created by developing technology by issuing a resolution in August urging bar associations and the legal profession to develop guidelines addressing the risks posed by attorney use of artificial intelligence. It’s a long document, undoubtedly missing many issues on the horizon, and regarding those personal assistants, it lacks an essential sentence: “Don’t let those things get within ten miles of your legal work.”

Security researchers had found dangerous phishing and eavesdropping vectors affecting Amazon’s Alexa back in April 2018; then again in Alexa and Google Home devices in May 2018 and in August 2018. Amazon and Google have taken counter-measures every time, but the hackers continue to stay ahead of them.

This week the latest weaknesses were disclosed  after being identified by two researchers at Security Research Labs.  The newly discovered  phishing and eavesdropping vectors can be exploited  via “backends”—I have no idea what this means—that Amazon and Google provide to developers of Alexa or Google Home custom apps. From ZDNet:

“The SRLabs team discovered that by adding the “�. ” (U+D801, dot, space) character sequence to various locations inside the backend of a normal Alexa/Google Home app, they could induce long periods of silence during which the assistant remains active.”


3.  Another sign of the coming apocalypse, not from rogue computers, not from zombies, but from the absence of ethics in the rising generations. In Ohio, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter stopped playing a Beethoven piece mid-concerto to ask a woman in the front row to stop recording  her with her cellphone camera.  After the woman rose to argue, she was escorted out of the hall by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s president. Other performers are becoming militant about audience members texting, web-surfing and making videos during performances. Joshua Henry, performing in the  musical “The Wrong Man,” was videoed by one patron grabbing a phone from a another audience member mid-song and tossing it under the risers. Patti LuPone once seized a phone while performing Off-Broadway. “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda refused to greet Madonna backstage because she was texting during his show, and earlier this year in Puerto Rico Miranda improvised a lyric change in the “Hamilton” number “My Shot” directed at a woman taking a video, changing “I got a lot of brains but no polish” to“Lady filming in the fourth row, please stop it.”

Incredibly, the rude and ignorant audience members who impose on others in plays and movies are protesting that being quiet, polite and non-disruptive during performances by keeping their cellphones muted and pocketed is an outdated concept. (It’s probably racist, somehow, too.) “People who wholly submit to and enforce outdated/archaic concert rituals that require insane amounts of cultural capital to begin with are going to be completely irrelevant in about 15 years’ time,” one social media wag argued.

Not imposing on the attention and enjoyment of fellow audience members is simple courtesy, and giving performer’s one’s whole attention is respect. When courtesy and respect become “outdated/archaic,” we might as well march into the ocean.

It costs hundreds of dollars to buy tickets to some of these performances, and if one cannot control a device addiction sufficiently not to create a distraction and nuisance, then rapid ejection is the only reasonable response.

Even debating this issue is giving it too much legitimacy.

4.  Then again, it’s amazing what social theories are being taken seriously these days. Prof. Asao B. Inoue offered a teaching seminar earlier this year to members of the American University faculty explaining his theory that grading on merit and clear writing was racist, and that colleges should reward labor rather than excellence, because the latter was a racist construct. Now he’s back with more woke educational nonsense, and naturally,  educators are listening.

At Ball State University, Inoue was engaged to give a lecture  on “the question of how English language practices in college classrooms contribute to white supremacy.”

“Freeing Our Minds and Innovating Our Pedagogy from White Language Supremacy” was the title of his 75-minute guest lecture given on October 14.   Inoue is a professor and the associate dean of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University.

That’s right, he’s a dean. Think about that.

“We are all implicated in white supremacy,” Inoue said during his presentation, co-hosted by Ball State’s  Office of Inclusive Excellence. “This is because white supremacist systems like all systems reproduce themselves as a matter of course. This includes reproduction of dominant, white, middle-class, monolingual standards for literacy and communication.” The Authentic Frontier Gibberish (AFG) continued as he declared that white language supremacy is “the condition in classrooms, schools, and society where rewards are given in determined ways to people who can most easily reach them, because those people have more access to the preferred and embodied white language practices, and part of that access is a structural assumption that what is reachable at a given moment for the normative, white, monolingual English user is reachable for all.”

Right. I’d like to see a list of the most destructive, deranged and dangerous left-wing concepts being advocated by progressives compared to a similar list of those advocated by the Mad Right. I suspect it would show that the craziest conservative ideas were confined to the lunatic fringes, while many of the most outrageous positions on the Left are considered mainstream, like open borders. The worst right-wing delusions, such as white supremacy, are considered ugly outliers among conservatives, while progressive insanity like Inoue’s are given the legitimacy of university sponsored symposia.


17 thoughts on “Friday Night Ethics Lights, 10/25/2019: Signs Of The Coming Apocalypse?

  1. The worst right-wing delusions, such as white supremacy, are considered ugly outliers among conservatives,

    Only if you don’t include “White Supremacy” to include such things as standard English, mathematics, marriage, individualism, objectivity, long-term planning, and capitalism, all of which I’ve heard described as instruments of White Supremacy in recent years.

    • Anything uttered or written by self proclaimed victims in any manner is now acceptable. It is the intentional dumbing down of our society.

      • Because when everything is White Supremacist, nothing is!

        Very great point.

        I have been told that the OK symbol and the Betsy Ross flag and the Gadsen flag are white supremacist.

        This will incite people to question whether white supremacism is really wrong, since so many good things are being called white supremacist.

    • ” ‘White Supremacy’ (should) include such things as standard English, mathematics, marriage, individualism, objectivity, long-term planning, and capitalism,”

      You damn skippy!

      Other…um…externalities of White Supremacy should include, but not be limited to: halitosis, knock-knees, ED, toe jam/toenail fungus, MFOS (Multiple Ferret Ownership Syndrome), premature ejaculation, hammer toe, male pattern baldness, the Freshman Fifteen, early onset middle-age spread, WAHvalanche Activity, student loan debt, and (as if this is a surprise) Global Warming…

  2. 3. I’m not arguing that the audience should interrupt performances, but also the performers should also not interrupt performances in fits of pique or political browbeating, that has been brought up multiple times here. Deliberately disrupting performances either direction should be criticized. But some now are oversensitive and prefer making a fuss than performing for the entertainment of deplorables. I know there are always hecklers and jerks and it’s the theater management’s responsibility to handle it- that’s their job. Allowing the show to come to a screeching halt for a performer meltdown/rant is far more disruptive.

    I would have dearly loved a discreet recording of concerts I was in for people who could not attend or my own memory. Not being an auteur, my mother’s smartphone would have rested low against to not get in the way of people behind her seeing. But that was many years ago and the memory of those performances is almost nothing today when it was such a joy at the time. I don’t think you can close that barn door, people can and will record the bits of their lives, the only thing you can demand is discretion for the other patrons’ views too.

    • I confess: as a dinner theater performer I once walked into the audience and confronted a patron who was talking loudly. The idea is that you sacrifice a bit of one show to discourage future interruptions. I think it’s a legitimate trade-off. For example, I don’t think anyone is going to text during a Patti LuPone show again.

    • I proof read a LOT. I’m just lousy at it. There are also just some mistakes I have made all my life, and I still have trouble catching them. Sorry to annoy you, but I’m also pretty sure you never doubted what I meant for a second. And I was so proud of getting the plural of symposium right!

      Thanks for the typo alert. I appreciate them more when they omit the snark. One man operation here,1500-4000 words a day, in limited time that would amaze you. You try it.

  3. 3. Is the problem with audience members recording the performance on their phones because of (a) the potential economic loss from consumers not buying tickets or licensed copies of the performance; (b) the distraction the phone creates to other audience members; (c) the distraction the phone creates to performers; (d) heightened anxiety/discomfort for performers who prepared for a live performance not a recording (is this a real thing for professionals – it is for me as a complete novice trying to learn a musical instrument); or (e) is it something else altogether? If (a), then some might think their ticket gives them the right to record to enjoy the performance later as long as they don’t share it. I’m not saying such behavior is justified, but I could this as a social/ cultural understanding that could change. If (b) or (c), then would surreptitious recording be wrong if for done for private, personal viewing? (D) makes the most sense to me, but I don’t know if this is a real thing for professionals. If something else, please, enlighten me.

    • I’d say all of the above, but as a director and performer, especially b) and e), the latter being the distraction to the performers of having a light or a device visible when they expect to be looking out on a sea of attentive faces only. And, of course, patrons on Broadway are told that recording and photographs are not allowed.

  4. #3–The closest I ever came to doing something edgy like that was snapping a quick picture just past the No Cameras sign on Disney World’s Space Mountain ride; pretty wild, am I right?

    Perhaps worthy of note: While I’m now a former Lefty (we sufferers refer to it as non-participating at the meetings), at the time (1975) I was a card-carrying practitioner.

  5. The worst right-wing delusions, such as white supremacy, are considered ugly outliers among conservatives, while progressive insanity like Inoue’s are given the legitimacy of university sponsored symposia.

    The Left-Progressive term is ‘white supremacy’, and it is used in the same way as ‘Nazi’ or ‘racist’. Once it is used the one it is used against has no defense. One is forced into a defensive posture and in that way one is controlled and, of course, silenced or rendered mute.

    As I have been saying — for some years now — it is imperative to get out from under the structures of definition used by (those we generally refer to as) progressive leftists (though a fuller definition of who and what they are is certainly needed). Therefore, it is imperative to take possession of and even to a degree to recover and reclaim the sense of the terms that are used by progressive radicals against those who think, and conceive, in different terms.

    The notion of white supremacy is linked to anthropological concepts, and cultural chauvinism, that began in the Age of Exploration. It is also linked up to some essential Christian categories. So, the one’s who held to the Christian definitions (which are anthropological, cultural and metaphysical) imposed their categories on primitive peoples who were (as those Christian did indeed say, and still believe fundamentally) steeped in barbarism and nature-spirit idolatry. White Supremacism of the former, anthropological sort, as an ideological position, as a position of rulership, has its roots in rational categories. Those categories still operate today. They are expressed through our sense that intellect and reason give a person authority and also lead one to rulership and power.

    So, Eurocentrism and a specific recognition of and respect for hierarchical orders and categories — say for example the valuation of Greek rationalism and Greek-Christian philosophical and religious categories over pagan superstition and witch-doctorism — is still *operative* in our present, and is still (I would submit) a category of the way we think. True though that in a power-conflicted present there are people, perhaps the witch-doctors themselves, who take issue with categories and categorical impositions which, they feel, are disadvantageous. And of course we notice these people *clamoring* in our present and taking issue with these *impositions*. For example that of proper grammar and even ‘the grammar of assent’ (‘Grammar of Assent’ is John Henry Newman’s seminal book on the philosophy of Christian faith).

    So, the work involves an attack on, a challenge to, and an attempt to undermine established hierarchy, but this also involves challenging and overturning intellectual categories. Indeed it involves an attack on and an attempt to defeat rationalism and intellectualism if one really examines the issue closely. And all of this *attack* and *undermining* leads to and devolves into a dumbed-down condition. But this ‘dumbing-down’ is also supported by an array of powers within society who seek to disempower the thinking, sovereign individual so that it can ‘have its way with man’: that is, to turn man into a victim to its power over him. These processes are also part of ‘dumbing-down’ and thus: dumbing down is ultimately an attack against Logos in the highest and purest philosophical (and spiritual) sense.

    So far so good?

    No one in the Alt-Right movement or in the serious Dissident Right movement(s) are speaking of or advocating an aggressive white conquest or rulership over other people, or the brown people of the world. However, they do advocate for — and I certainly advocate for — a renovation of the understanding of the relevance and power of ‘European categories of thought’. I can present a solid example: the essays contained in the book published in 1921 titled The Legacy of Greece (edited by RW Livingstone). In every category that we value, and indeed that has enabled our civilization to achieve power within its own categories, this ‘legacy’ is visible (to one who has eyes in their head, which means: one who is not dumbed-down): Religion, philosophy, mathematics, natural science, biology, medicine, literature, history, political thought, architecture et cetera.

    In this sense recover of self — recovery and strengthening of ‘proper self-identification and self-valuing’ — is a recovery of intellectual categories. But tied to this process — and if one is involved in European categories and if one is, oneself, of European extraction and a member of a European-derived culture — is also a process of resisting destructive, undermining influence. Be that ‘Cultural Marxism’, Marxism, cultural undermining, the battle of cultures, and also the battle of different races within cultures.

    The idea of white ‘self-preservation’ — the preservation of ethnic homogeneity and very simply one’s own *existence* and the categories of value that one holds to — is in numerous ways under threat in our present. One who is blind to this could well be described as a fool.

    In any case, and certainly against the common currents of thinking, into which we have been subsumed, I suggest that recovery of these categorical valuations is not only *highly relevant* but necessary and, as well, totally ethical. I go further and say that not thinking in these terms is unethical.

    White supremacy is not the issue nor is it the ‘category’ to be considered and no one writing on this theme is dealing in the ideas that the term ‘white supremacy’ connotes. (But in order to know that you’d have to read their works and, as for example with Noam Chomsky, here everyone disclaims him, and no one has ever bothered to read him: quite common in a dumbed-down intellectual culture: the mind grows small and retracted, and the mouth grown proportionally!) (No offense AdImageJim 🙂 )

    To use that term, to think through that term, is to accept the definition of the opponent or even *the enemy* who shows himself so active in other. obvious and destructive ways. That is, if one can or does recognize an assault against ‘whiteness’ (and what this really means when profoundly considered).

    Time to wake up. Time to begin to *see clearly*.

  6. 3. The other night I went to see author George Packer talk about his new book Our Man (a 600 page bio about Richard Holbrooke) and instead of a phone, it was a smart watch a nearby audience member kept looking at that annoyed a few of us. The guy looked at his glowing screen in the half dark so many times, I was wondering if he was expecting something to pop out of it.

    I almost said something but once the anti-Trump tirade of Packer began, with all the resulting self congratulating clapping the audience engaged in, the guy stopped looking at his watch to clap (and also pick his nose and after roll the booger between his index finger and thumb for the rest of the event). Yes another lovely night out in Portland.

    4. Why doesn’t this dean cut to the chase and simply say he thinks people of color are incapable of learning and writing in English well. For all the progressive talk of white supremacy, it seems Reagan’s low expectations statement continues to ring true regarding extreme leftist attitudes towards racial minorities. Lowering the bar for academic merit crystalizes the concept of minority helplessness and inability to function fully at college and elsewhere. It’s racism cloaked in the language of supposed anti-racism.

  7. #3 Full disclosure: I am a theater geek; both as a performer and attendee.

    There is an intimacy to live theater (or any live performance), an exchange and a relationship between audience and performer(s). Live theater is meant to be experienced in the moment. It requires a suspension of disbelief. You may see or hear something that makes you sit up straighter in your seat, your heart beat faster, your breath escape your lungs. To become fully engaged with the magic and wonder of it all; THAT is how live performances are meant to be experienced. That can’t happen with your phone in your hands.

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