Pre-Thanksgiving Day Ethics Wrap-Up, 11/27/2019

Be thankful tomorrow, everybody.

There’s always something…

1. On unethical misleading language, Part A: Today’s “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias” note: I was suddenly struck after reading one, two, three, four impeachment-related stories in a row in four separate news sources that they all used the phrase “dirt on Joe Biden.” Isn’t that strange? “Dirt” isn’t a description, it’s a characterization, and a deliberately  pejorative one that assumes that Biden is a victim of a dastardly action. It’s widespread use is one more smoking gun that demonstrates mainstream media bias aimed at smearing President Trump. The term “dirt” presupposes that if the President sought to persuade the Ukraine to aid the U.S. in an investigation, something it is obligated by treaty to do, it was only to assist his re-election chances. When the term “dirt” has been used in conjunction with a politition seeking damning information on Bill Clinton, either George Bush, or Trump himslef, it was always in the context of an election campaign. Few wrote that the Mueller investigation was a “dirt” seeking operation (though in truth it was). But it’s always “dirt on Joe Biden” that the Ukraine was allegedly asked/forced/extorted into looking for. When Jeffrey Epstein was being investigated, nobody said the FBI was seeking to smear him with “dirt,” because news sources accepted that an investigation was appropriate.

Yet there are many reasons and strong evidence suggesting that an investigation of Joe Biden’s alleged machinations to benefit his son by abusing his office and misusing his influence was (and is) also appropriate. The United States should not just shrug off corruption in its highest offices because a complicit individual is running for President, but that is the thrust of the current impeachment push by House Democrats. For the media to intentionally choose terminology—and slang, which is usually not in a newspaper style-book— to lead readers away from the argument that an investigation of Joe Biden was necessary and valid whether he was running for President or not shows a disturbing disinterest in fair reporting, and a preference for anti-Trump propaganda.

2.  On unethical misleading language, Part B: No, none of the soldiers President Trump pardoned last week had been convicted or even charged with “war crimes.” Yet I have read otherwise repeatedly, especially on social media. That term is a favorite way to characterize the controversial cases because it supports Big Lie #3: “Trump Is A Fascist/Hitler/Dictator/Monster,” in this instance, Hitler. Murder by military personnel, or crimes committed during war, are not automatically “war crimes,” and the military does not usually seek a conviction for war crimes against U.S. personnel. As I have written on this topic before, the whole concept of “war crimes” is ethically dubious.

3. Oh! The “Fearless Girl” people are suing each other! Good. “Fearless Girl”—you remember her, right?

—is an unethical statue as positioned, so this court-dust-up is especially satisfying: From the New York Times:

…Known as the “Fearless Girl,” the bronze statue in Lower Manhattan was intended to “drive a conversation” on the importance of elevating women in corporate roles — a feminist message amplified by replicas that have popped up in cities around the world.

But the financial services firm that purchased the original, State Street Global Advisors, is calling them unauthorized copies and waging an aggressive legal campaign against them. Critics say the fight proves that the company’s embrace of the Fearless Girl was always less about promoting female empowerment than it was about promoting itself…

State Street’s lawyers, who are seeking unspecified damages, argued in court that the replicas were a trademark violation and diluted the company’s message. David Studdy, a lawyer for the company, said that Maurice Blackburn had “used the campaign to promote itself or themselves by tying the name of Fearless Girl to themselves.”

Lawyers for Maurice Blackburn, however, argue that State Street is trying to “retrospectively assert rights” over the artwork that it did not obtain at the time of the original purchase. “The saddest part of all of this is that their actions are sullying this icon,” said Jennifer Kanis, a principal lawyer at the firm.

3. One obnoxious marketing campaign spawns another. I never wrote about it (though I referenced the ads here), but Milky Way’s “Sorry, I was eating a Milky Way” campaign that began in 2012 was another example of commercials’ glorifying (or trivializing) being a jerk. I wondered, and still wondered, if this was Donald Trump’s fault, a sub-category of the Nation of Assholes phenomenon I so sagely predicted in 2015. Today I learned that the equally obnoxious Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups TV ads punctuated by an irritating male voice saying “Not sorry!”—not sorry for WHAT? Why is being “not sorry” an presumed virtue?— came about  this way, according to Marketing Dive,

The Reese’s campaign, like the Milky Way ads, has been wildly successful, and it figures. In a Nation of Assholes, being rude and defiant is going to be viewed as charming and clever.


27 thoughts on “Pre-Thanksgiving Day Ethics Wrap-Up, 11/27/2019

  1. I never had much interest in Mister Rogers as a kid. Why he is being currently lionized escapes me: Perhaps he was the predecessor of campus safe spaces where university students are being treated like morons. Give me an old Roadrunner cartoon any day or perhaps Soupy Sales.

      • Do what I do: don’t watch the commercials (in the age of DVR and streaming, why would I EVER voluntarily watch advertising? I mean, even the Superbowl commercials suck nowadays!)

        It is your solemn duty to prevent any interruption in the delivery of chocolate covered peanut butter into your digestional tract. In my case, FROZEN chocolate covered peanut butter.

    • Same to you, Q.

      “Rocky and Bullwinkle and Warner Brothers cartoons were my daily bread as a kid.

      Our son must be in your demographic. He had a bit of a lisp for a while and his favorite show was known to him as “The Dupes of Hazzard,” as in “How ’bout them Dupe Boys?” I was not a fan, having grown up in the South. It didn’t ring at all true to me. It made “Andy of Mayberry” look like Faulkner.

      By the way, Wonder Woman, Linda whats her name, grew up in Phoenix. A lawyer I worked with, a nice Jewish state tax lawyer, went on a double date with her in high school.

  2. I made a,similar observation about misleading language when Adam Schiff started the use of the phrase “getting dirt on the Bidens” during his mendacious renditition of the call memcon. The handmaidens of the media dutifully carried his verbiage to the airwaves and editorial pages. None of these talking heads can be considered journalists. They are simply typists and wannabe activists.

    None hold any sway with me anymore on either side. At this point the only way to establish what could be the truth is to go directly to source documents and make your own judgments.

    • The “dirt” thing has always cracked me up. It assumes that if you were to look hard enough, you would actually discover some malfeasance by Joe. All you had to do was look for it. No one’s ever accused Trump of urging the Ukes to “make up” dirt on Joe. Unlike what the Clintons did in paying for the so called Trump dossier.

  3. 1. & 2. It’s my understanding that Adam Schiff now plans to reconvene his hearings after the holidays to investigate an anonymous White House kitchen staffer’s claim that Trump’s pardoning of the two Thanksgiving turkeys was conditioned on the fowls’ agreement to dig up dirt on Biden. There are suggestions that it may also have been done to shield them from prosecution for crimes they may have already committed at the president’s request.

    3. (the first #3, not the second one) Never understood how “Girl Too Stupid to Get Out of the Way of a Bull” addresses …the importance of elevating women in corporate roles… Maybe keeps them away from large dangerous animals?

  4. The Proto-Fascist Lincoln wrote:

    Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

    The first assertion I would make is that we now live in outcomes of the Civil conflict of the mid-1800s. Some historian, I forget who, said that the Civil War or War Between the States was the ‘defining event’ that frames everything. When I heard it, I didn’t understand. Now I think I understand better.

    There are many aspects to this, of course, but the one that most strongly comes to my mind is this imperious (that is how I see it) declaration made by President Lincoln which is a rhetorical marvel but, in fact, a group of powerful lies. Did the ‘glorious being’ desire that a civil war divide a people? Did the glorious being ‘give thanks’ that 700,000 men were killed as a result of an internal war that fractured the Republic? Was the ‘glorious creator’ standing behind the North in its imperious claim to define a ‘nation’ whose identity it would control? The questions could go on & on & on…

    Given what I now know — and got from reading ‘contrary narratives’ — I would not sit down to share a meal of Thanksgiving if it is predicated on these terms. But you see? That is how the Liberal Mind frames things. And that is (at least some part of) the origin of the absurd, over-weening ‘progressive certainty’ about the Righteousness of their Cause. And this very clearly demonstrates how they even claim God to their side!

    “We have decimated you. We invaded you. We destroyed your work and the civil structures on which your life had been built. We inculcated a violent, unremitting hate for you and we taught it to our young. But now, under the all-seeing eye of a Beneficent (and glorious) Being we invite you to sit at the table of Thanks with us.”

    “Because what we did was at God’s behest, we enacted God’s will. Why then do you complain? Slurp your soup in gladness, you devil!”

    Sorry, but I can’t go along with it. My view is that there needs to be — there must be and it is now being undertaken — a profound historical revisionism. Why? The roots of the problems which are coming to fruition in our present will continue on to some sort of civil conflict as *they* construct their inevitable Neo-Maoist State. Just a few short years more. But all of that and all of this has a causal history! It did not drop down out of the sky and from a cloud that blew in from somewhere else.

  5. As for adults speaking infantilizingly to children, I see a correlation between adults with good vocabularies speaking “up” to children…and the problem with adults speaking like children to children, I see correlated with adults whose own vocabularies are grossly undeveloped.

  6. #5 The new version of Mr. Rogers is a cartoon called Daniel Tiger and it basically continues the traditions of Mr. Rogers. My nearly 4 year old grandson currently loves the show, but I think he’s already growing out of it. I never liked the original Mr Rogers for my children and I cringe when I see the new Daniel Tiger version of the show. We choose to encourage real imagination with physical toys and interactions with those around him instead of TV babysitting.

  7. You can have your kiddy tv shows. Close your eyes and imagine, imagine you were there, or … you were: The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, Terry and the Pirates, Tom Mix, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Sky King, The Cisco Kid, and Red Ryder (we all wanted that BB gun).

    • we all wanted that BB gun

      WANTED it? My best friend and cousin owned one. I lived at his house as a child.. and committed acts both unsafe and now illegal with that gun…

      PS: Do NOT shoot a wasp nest with that gun. It does not have near enough range for you to be far enough away when the evil little helicopters come looking for you.

      Or so I have heard…

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