Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/8/2020: War, Defamation, Bias, Abortion…What Fun.


Another day, another “crisis”…

Current reports indicate that Iran regards its casualty free missile strikes last night as a sufficient “tat” for the killing of their master terrorist “tit.” If so, the “ARRGH! WORLD WAR III!!” anti-Trump hysterics were, as usual, wrong, and just embarrassed us, nothing more.. Meanwhile, Iran is refusing to hand over the black box of the Ukrainian airliner that just coincidentally crashed right around the time the missiles were flying. The fact that so many Democrats have allowed their brains and loyalty to rot to the extent that they defend  this awful place in order to attack their own nation’s President is all we need to know about the trustworthiness of their party.

1. Wrapping up the Golden Globes’ ethics issues…Michelle Williams is getting predictable hosannas from her acceptance speech at the Goldden Globes, in which she thanked abortion for her success. She said she wanted a life “carved by my own hand” and “wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose.” The New York Times called these words “potent.” I call them deceitful. I’ll praise an equivalent speech when the woman has the integrity and courage to thank the human being who involuntarily gave up his or her chance to carve out a life with their own hand. The use of “choice” as euphemism for “I get to kill someone who stands in my way” is self-deception.

2. Thinking about Trump’s threat...The President backed down from his threat to target Iranian cultural cites in retaliation for any attacks on Americans after being informed that this would be a war crime under international law. I confess, I did not know this was prohibited, and I am not certain what to think about that. I knew the destruction of ancient architecture and important cultural cites became an issue for the Allies in World War II, but this has yet to make sense to me. The whole concept of the “nice” war is ethically incoherent. The idea of war must be to win as quickly as possible, minimizing deaths and chaos on both sides, especially one’s own. If the prospect of losing a nation’s treasured cultural structures is a deterrent to war, then to say that has no “military value” is simply not true. If you can’t tolerate risking your cultural treasures, don’t get into wars.

The values involved in this controversy are also incoherent. In “The Monument Men,” George Clooney’s sort-of accurate account of the special forces whose job was to track down and rescue great artworks stolen by the Nazis, the question is asked repeatedly, “Was retrieving this painting or statue worth sacrificing a human life?” I have no problem voting “Sure!” If the question is changed to refer to a thousand lives, or 10,000, I’m not so sure.

3. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! I am still annoyed by the obtuseness of a friend who spread this piece, which I referenced yesterday, on Facebook. The Washington Post, which the article ranks the #3 most ethical and trsutworthy news source, has been boiling over with bias and incompetence of signature significance (as in “no trustworthy publication does these things.”

In the process of smearing our President’s Trump’s actions in killing Soleimani, one Post reporter, David Nakumara, wrote,

“Trump did not mention Obama in brief remarks about the Soleimani operation Friday. But days earlier — as an Iraqi militia aligned with the Iranian general breached security at the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in protest of an American strike on the group’s facilities in Syria and Iraq — Trump made a clear reference to his predecessor by threatening Iran over the incident and declaring the situation the “Anti-Benghazi” on Twitter. He was alluding to a siege on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya in 2012 in which two Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stephens, were killed — a tragedy for which Republicans faulted Obama’s administration for not securing the facility and for a muddied public accounting of what happened.””

Four Americans, not two, died in the Benghazi attacks. Do you suppose this error had anything to do with the reporter’s desire to minimize Obama’s botched response in this episode? Why would you think that? The casualties were well publicized; i remembered it was four deaths, but if I were writing about it I’d check my facts. Doesn’t ethical journalism require checking facts? How about your own newspaper?

The Post was also complicit in advancing Obama and Hillary’s false cover story at the time, that the compound attack was a spontaneous one triggered by YouTube video.

Then there was this tweet that was deemed re-tweetable by Missy Ryan, Washington Post national security reporter:

It portrays the  large crowd in Tehran mourning the death of  Soleimani side-by-side with a picture of Trump’s inauguration crowd in January 2017. That’s an anti-Trump cheap shot, a meaningless comparison, and proof positive of bias.

4. There’s a spate of defamation suits against websites in Massachusetts, for some reason, not just the one against Ethics Alarms. Jonathan Mullane, a former law student living in Somerville, sued over an a 2018 article by Elie Mystal on “Above the Law” referring to Mullane as “an idiot, “a little entitled ponce;” “a little brat who with a USAO internship;” and, because his father is a lawyer who mostly paid his son’s way through law school and, Mystal theorized, possibly had something to do with him getting an internship, “a dauphin.”  Mullane sued the site and Mystal for libel per se, tortious interference with contractual relations, tortious interference with advantageous business relations, tortious interference with prospective economic advantages, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unfair and deceptive practices in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, and § 9, joint and several liability for the republication of libel per se, and civil conspiracy. Mullane also alleged that the article  ruined his life, and ultimately forced him to drop out of law school.

Uhhhh, NO. As in the recently dismissed suit against Ethics Alarms, the judge wrote that none of the uncomplimentary langauge alleged facts, just opinion. The judge even cited the same cases I used in my memorandum, writing,

[R]idicule and simple verbal abuse” do not give rise to liability for defamation. See Fleming v. Benzaquin, 454 N.E.2d 95, 100 (Mass. 1983). Many of the challenged statements – such as those referring to Mullane as “rude,” “dumb,” “unethical,” a “little entitled ponce,” or a “dauphin” – are mere “epithets” that are “insufficiently fact-based” to ground a defamation claim.

5. Elie Mystal update…Mystal, the most prominent voice of the legal gossip site “Above the Law” and a repeat Ethics Dunce (Full disclosure: last year the site published a typical hit job on me; if anyone other than me and a handful of people read the thing, I’ve not seen any evidence of it.) has quit the website. Good, although the remaining writers are little better. Mystal is a perpetually outraged race-baiter who finally jumped Fonzie’s shark (especially for a lawyer)when he announced that all black jurors should refuse to convict black defendants no matter what the charge. That his judgement and objectivity were both so seriously compromised that he can’t be trusted as a pundit, a reporter or a legal professional was, not for the first time, demonstrated by his explanation for his exit:

I will be leaving the day-to-day safety of Above the Law because, well, Brett Kavanaugh broke me. Sitting here and watching an alleged attempted rapist get installed on the Supreme Court — with the shocking support of most of the elite legal institutions, at least initially — while most of the mainstream media missed all the other ways that man is unfit to judge even the Rose Bowl parade, did something to my brain. I was in on the sordid dishonesty of Kavanaugh from the day he was announced as Anthony Kennedy’s replacement. I understood that, like Trump, Kavanaugh is not a cause so much as he is a symptom: in this case a symptom of the Federalist Society’s wholesale reduction of judicial credentials to “Republicans win always.” 

Yup, Mystal thinks that a single, unsubstantiated, conveniently timed accusation of high school misconduct should derail a distinguished judge’s SCOTUS nomination. I know others, some prominent, who make this argument: it’s proof of a character or IQ deficit, In Mystal’s case, it is just another example of how he allows his furious partisanship to obliterate his judgment, if he ever had any. He links to his “other ways,” and they are  self-indicting; most of them relate to now debunked fake accusers who popped up after Blasey-Ford, hearsay, or hearsay.

Elie Mystal is a cautionary tale about how ideological obsession and lack of self-control can lead the brightest of us into permanent darkness.Bias makes us stupid, and sometimes, it makes us crazy.


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Isn’t social media censorship wonderful?

33 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/8/2020: War, Defamation, Bias, Abortion…What Fun.

    • Have we ever seen the funeral of a “martyr” in an Arab (islamic) country produce anything less than a full-bore screeching riot scene? It’s what they do.

      • Ever notice any women in those crowds on the Muslim street? Me either. Don’t those guys have anything else to do? I’m pretty sure they’re paid to show up by their local party bosses or military brass. I also suspect they are paid to be there. Don’t these sorts of questions ever occur to journalists?

      • This is self-inflicted, existentially crippling cognitive slippage!

        Lefties (most, not all) have, of free will, are defending to the death a balls-to-the-wall religious, vaginal mutilating, X-Chromosomal Unit marginalizing/degrading, LGBT stoning/murdering culture because Orange_Man_Bad.

        And without a whit of self-awareness? Sheesh!! Talk about your lock-steppin’ glassy eyin’ unquestioin’ embrace of completely misplaced, irrational hatred!

  1. 2. The Iranians are not stupid and likely have thought of myriad ways to shield their military and nuclear programs, including beneath protected cultural sites. America’s position should be: if you are hiding nuclear and military facilities under cultural sites, they are fair game. Period.

    3. There is no level of ridiculousness to which they will not sink. I would simply ask, how are Joe Biden’s campaign events being attended and why don’t you report the numbers seldom break double digits. Answer: the same reason we get this childish shite from “journalists”.

  2. 3. The Allies did try to avoid damaging centuries-old buildings, such as the Coliseum, the Vatican, etc. The realities of war did sometimes make that impossible. A good book on the subject is “Saving Italy: The Race to Save a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis” by Robert Edsel. The title makes one think it’s about keeping Goering’s hands off the paintings and there is some information about that, but it’s largely about attempts to keep the cultural heritage of Italy, a country that might as well be one giant museum, from being lost.

      • Fortunate indeed. They weren’t always able to prevent destruction. The church which contained Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” collapsed, the only wall standing being the one on which the painting was made. Italians rushed to cover it with tarps and bolster the wall to keep it from falling and being destroyed.

        Upon being shown a map of Rome with rectangular blocks over everything they had to avoid, one bomber crew member quipped, “I’ve never seen so many things I’m not allowed to hit”.

          • During the Battle of Britain in 1940, St. Paul’s was hit by a bomb that went through the dome and destroyed the altar. I think the fact that later in the war it remained untouched while areas around it were totally destroyed was amazing luck. Bombing during WW II was extremely inaccurate with the exception of dive bombing.

            • And Buckingham Palace was hit several times, as well as the old Parliament building, part of which was destroyed. The Blitz seemed to be intended to terrorize so it would make sense that hitting the Cathedral wasn’t off-limits. However, I can’t write with any certainty that there weren’t orders to not target it.

              On the other hand, the book I mentioned in my earlier post relates how Hitler urged his commander on the field in Italy to do his best to preserve the historic bridges of Florence. Most were ultimately destroyed anyway for military expediency.

              Now, Hitler was a lover of art and architecture, so it makes sense that he wouldn’t been too keen on centuries-old structures being destroyed. On a visit to Italy in the ’30s, Mussolini rolled his eyes as Hitler ran around Florence like Martin Prince at the Box Factory. But he also seemed willing to accept that not everything could be saved.

      • If I recall correctly, the Allies also bombed Pompeii, mistakenly thinking it to be a military site, after getting lost. They most definitely destroyed the monastery at Monte Casino.

        Tried again on that e-mail. Thanks for the heads-up. Let me know if you get it.

  3. On 1;

    I find it *exceptionally* ironic that after Ricky Gervais said (and I’m paraphrasing); “You’re all hypocrites, you’re all idiots, you have less education than Greta Thunberg, don’t make any political speeches, just take your little award, shut up, and fuck off.”, Michelle Williams used her award to make a political speech about the joys of abortion, having dropped out of high school at 15.

  4. #2) There has to be some nuance to the protection of cultural sites. What do you call, for instance, the Taliban’s demolition of the Buddha statues in Afghanistan, if not a war crime? Terrorism? (Is terrorism not a war crime?)

    Maybe you could legitimately tell the Taliban, “Don’t want your mosques blown up? Don’t hide weapons and suicide bombs in them!” But do you tell the Uyghers? “Don’t want your 1000 year old mosques bulldozed? Don’t resist your comrades in Beijing!”

    There are countless examples of heritage being held hostage to unjust ends. Wanton destruction of cultural sites and artifacts is clearly unethical. Prosecuting the special crime of cultural vandalism is worthy end unto itself.

    Engaging in it during war or peace is not ethical, but may on utilitarian balance be the least unethical.

  5. #2: Seeing some oddly elaborate entrances to railway tunnels in Germany, we were told that they had been built to appear castle-like to hopefully reduce the chance of being targeted by bombers.

    • I think we need to keep in mind how wildly inaccurate strategic bombing was during WWII, certainly compared to smart bombs. The Brits bombed at night! I think firebombing wooden Japanese cities (all of them were at the time) was much, much more problematic.

  6. Well the British and Americans had no problem fire bombing Dresden during WW2 although there was little of military significance there. It was the tragic destruction of a beautiful city as well as the firestorm which killed 100s of thousands of German civilians. However, these Germans supported Hitler’s war crimes and regime so it was justifiable.

  7. 2 Trump’s threat

    The whole concept of the “nice” war is ethically incoherent.

    I have been saying this for a long time. It makes no sense to put things like hollow-point bullets, destroying cultural sites, and etcetera off limits.

    While I agree that using chemical and biological weapons should be agreed on as forbidden (mostly because they are to random and uncontrollable), just about everything else, with the exception of perhaps torture, should be on the table. Specifying stuff like the kind of bullets used, what targets are or are not legitimate, and other minutia tends to extend wars and cost lives. Plus, it makes for confusing claims of war crimes, extending the conflict unnecessarily.

    3 Media Bias

    It portrays the large crowd in Tehran mourning the death of Soleimani side-by-side with a picture of Trump’s inauguration crowd in January 2017. That’s an anti-Trump cheap shot, a meaningless comparison, and proof positive of bias.

    As if more proof were needed. It’s incredible that the media imagines itself fair and unbiased. That shows a lack of self-awareness only a Millenial of recent vintage can match.

    5 Elie Mystal

    I’m not sure if he’s worse than Don Lemon — close call. Maybe they should get married, and thereby not pass on their corrupted genes to any more offspring.

    As to what “broke” Mystal, he’s wrong — he was “broke” the moment he got “woke.”

    Elie Mystal is a cautionary tale about how ideological obsession and lack of self-control can lead the brightest of us into permanent darkness.Bias makes us stupid, and sometimes, it makes us crazy.

    Except, well, I don’t think a rational mind would include Mystal among the “brightest of us.” Just sayin’.

  8. As for World War III, despite it lasting a day or so, I’m really sick watching how the Leftwing media spins this.

    Every single report and analysis on this is so far couching the situation in terms favorable to Iranian “brilliance” and Trumpian “buffoonery”. I’ve seen Iran’s action characterized as well thought out, measured, calculated, well designed to allow both parties a chance to deescalate. I’ve seen Trump characterized as “will he take this great off ramp that Iran has given him” and other verbiage designed to show Trump as a mere reactionary to Iran’s supposed command of the situation.

    It’s disgusting.

    I’m sorry, Soleimani was a battlefield casualty in a slow-paced conflict with Iran that we’ve been in for the better part of 4 decades. Iran’s *reaction* (Iran IS THE REACTIONARY element here) was an abject demonstration of their weakness compared to US. They intentionally missed targets…HELL THEY TOLD US VIA IRAQI PROXIES WHEN AND WHERE THEY WERE GOING TO ATTACK in order to make sure no one died. They knew they could NOT afford to up the ante. They knew they HAD to have the face saving action.

    Yet here we sit, the MSM playing propagandist for our enemies, characterizing BOTH parties as though they needed “face saving” action. Both parties needed to “uphold their honor”. Both parties needed “a narrative to spin”. No you despicable anti-Americans, we killed a man who was coordinating attacks on our interests. That isn’t about honor or saving face….that’s a battlefield objective. Iran, however, did need to “save face”.

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