Stop blaming my favorite animal, the pangolin, or the so-called “scaly anteater,” for the pandemic!
That’s a tree pangolin above in a defensive posture. Ever since the nexus for the outbreak of COVID-19 was traced back to a wet market in Hubei province, scientists have been looking for the virus’s heritage. It’s possible that the virus emerged in a colony of horseshoe bats in Yunnan, a province that borders the south-east Asian country of Myanmar. But some fingers are also pointing at the pangolin, which was once believed to have bats in its ancestry. The animal, like others that American wouldn’t recognize, is the most trafficked beast in the world due to the supposed health benefits of its scales, with most of that traffic ending in China. A search for the “missing link” in the chain of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has uncovered two close cousins of the variety of coronavirus that started the pandemic in Wuhan in pangolins smuggled into China. Not THE virus, however. Here’s a photo of a pangolin unfurled:
1. It is outrageous that a U.S. newspaper would include this sentence…From an article about the joys of Randolph Scott Westerns by Times film critic Ben Kinegsberg: “The depiction of Native Americans as horse-eating, husband-killing savages doesn’t sit well in modern eyes, and the name of Henry Silva’s character in “The Tall T” is so offensive it cannot be printed.”
Well, it has to printed somewhere, or the information itself has been permanently erased! If a newspaper is going to start purging words, names, history and facts, where does it stop? I’ve been trying to imagine what name could justify the Times refusing to reveal it, other than “Voldemort.” What could it be? Let’s check the Internet Movie Database (the film is “The Tall T“)…
Oh come on! The name so offensive that it can’t be printed is “Chink.”
2. Fake News Report…Ugh. Headlines! I have noticed that conservative websites are increasingly misrepresenting facts in their headlines, yes, just like the mainstream media does. Here’s a headline from the conservative Minding the Campus: “Court Rules Free Speech Must Yield to ‘Woke’ Speech.”
That’s not what the news story says (even as it is falsely presented in the text); it’s not even close. At Shawnee State University in southern Ohio, Prof. Nicholas Meriwether, who is tenured, called upon whom he thought was a male student(registered in class under the name Alena Breuning) saying at one point, “Yes, sir.” The student approached Meriwether after the class and told him that she was transgender and wanted to be referred to with female titles and pronouns.
You can read about the whole mess here, but in the end, the professor sued the school, after resisting the student’s request. The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Roberta Milliken, informed him that “Every student needs to be treated the same. The policy seeks to ensure that what is done for one student is done for all to avoid issues of discrimination.” She informed the professor that the school viewed his disparate treatment—that is, not calling the student by the gender pronoun she requested, as having created a “hostile environment.”
Meriwether asked her if he would be in compliance with the school’s policy if he were to 1) refer to all students “by their self-asserted gender identity” but also 2) include on his syllabi a disclaimer stating that he did so under compulsion and explaining his personal and religious beliefs about gender. Milliken told him that that would not be acceptable.
A formal investigation of Meriwether ended with a decision by the provost that he had violated university policy by continuing to address the transgender student differently than other students “based on a trait that is protected under our nondiscrimination policy.” A warning letter was then placed on Meriwether’s personnel folder stating that if “such behaviors” recur, he would face the possibility of “further corrective action.”
Professor Meriwether claimed that the letter in his file could prevent him from obtaining any future academic position and violated his rights. He brought a lawsuit against the university late in 2018, aided by Alliance Defending Freedom, arguing that the university violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments by punishing him for his speech by forcing him to “lend credence to cultural ideas Dr. Meriwether does not share or wish to advance.”
On September 5 of last year, U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz, to whom the case had been assigned, dismissed Meriwether’s complaint. “Universities may sanction professors whose pedagogical attitudes and teaching methods do not conform to institutional standards,” she said. This past February, U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott upheld Judge Litkovitz’s dismissal of the case. Meriwether’s attorneys are appealing the dismissal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The case is interesting, but not now, here. The point is that the Court ruling had nothing to do with “woke speech” being favored by the Court over free speech, but simply that a college can have certain standards of conduct, like “don’t be a jerk and just call students by the existing gender designating pronoun they choose within reason, ” and if a professor is required to follow them, that doesn’t mean he’s being abused.
3. On that other hand, here is usually sensible Amy Alkon on the matter of people becoming indignant or worse if you inadvertently refer to them by a pronoun they do not prefer:
Personally, I’m disturbed by the whole notion that we “include” people through calling them the right pronoun, which requires all this “homework” about a person before you say one word to them. This new requirement for doing this seems to be a sort of religion that allows people to have power over others — to push them around and deem them thought and speech criminals, even if they simply forget to use somebody’s requested “pronoun.”
This also seems to be a way for people to feel special without earning it — to require people to find out all sorts of information about them, on penalty of being accused of a thought or speech crime and then cancelled. It seems outrageous to me that some stranger would be required to prep for conversation by investigating my history — that my family are Eastern European Jews, that old friends call me “Flamey” or “Flame-o,” that I eat keto, that I blah, blah, blah, blah, blah — and that they would be seen as disrespectful and even bigoted for failing to find out all the ways I’m (heh) unique and special.
But that’s what we’re requiring people to do with this notion that we have to ask “what is your preferred pronoun?” And again, this is done now with threats embedded — with the threat that you will lose your job and be deemed a bigot if you don’t make this “What’s your pronoun?” business a priority.
Oh, and I will be very clear on this again: If you want me to call you “zhe” or “they” or “lemon pie with a slight dusting of confectioner’s sugar on top,” I will do my best to remember that and do it, because it’s kind. But I think the considerations above are important, and I think it’s too easy to just accept the demand to ask people for their “pronouns” as a requirement for being considered decent — with the possible penalty of losing everything as the penalty for failing in some way, even by forgetting.
4. On that “most cases” stat…You can mark down any pundit (or Facebook friend) who gloats about the official U.S. tally of Wuhan virus cases making it the most infected nation in the world as fitting neatly into the topic of this recent post. (Paul Krugman’s latest column does this. Of course. Res ipsa loquitur.) This is the price the US pays for being a transparent society with a large population that is also the most mobile and free in the world. Nobody knows what the real tally is in China, or Russia. The outbreak is just getting started in India. Meanwhile, the partisan use of the virus to impugn leadership is the ultimate boomerang: all of the cites with the worst level of infections are Democratic-run. As one unkind pundit on the right pointed out with a map of case clusters, Deranged Washington Post pundit Jennifer Rubi’s prediction that more Republicans than Democrats would die in the pandemic (because, she said, the Republican were following Fox News) seems like longshot. At this point, the most cases per capita are in New York, Massachusetts, Washington State, New Jersey and Louisiana, with the highest concentration in cities run by Democratic mayors.
36 thoughts on “Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns”
2. It is important to try to be considerate of others regardless of the sensitivity or hate speech traps they appear to be laying for you. Many right of center sites are punching back in visceral reactionary fashion before thinking things through. Their critical thinking skills have grown dull from having to cut through so much leftist crap. It is no good for our society for the right to try to out outrage the left.
4. Is the utterly fake conservative Ms. Rubin opining or hoping? I’m convinced it’s the latter. The enemies of civilization doing their thing 24/7.
4)Let’s put it this way. We’re ramping up testing and we still have a pretty awesome economy compared to most countries.
We end up testing, let’s say, 2/3 of all our citizens and have X number test positive, including severe, mild, and insignificant levels of illness. Another country (#2) tests 5% of their citizens and has 1/10th X number test positive, all serious to severe cases.
Who, then, actually had the worse outbreak? Country #2 looks like they have a less severe outbreak, but they will undoubtedly have many less severe cases that occurred but weren’t tested and therefore weren’t confirmed. On the other hand country #2’s death rate (as in deaths per 1000 cases) will likely be much higher than ours because they only identified the seriously ill, who are more likely to die.
So our absolute number of cases — especially right now — isn’t terribly meaningful (and how many cases were there really in China?), nor is the idea that it’s going up each day. We’re probably not quite to the point where you can have scientific validity to the total numbers and percentage rate of increase. We have more cases because we’re testing more people. Simple as that.
Of course, eventually we will run out of people to test. Then, I suppose, we’ll have to start over…..
“and how many cases were there really in China?”
I did see a news item but I can’t remember if it was Spain or Italy where they had imported a lot of test kits and found them to be of poor quality missing a lot of positives. Therefore there is likely a lot of people in China who had mild symptoms not counted in the total.
Yeah, if we had a fair and balanced media, the Chinese would be getting excoriated in all of this.
China expels our reporters on the ground and a day later their “case load” miraculously flat lines.
I read somewhere China when it was “accurately” reporting, was only counting people who died *in* hospitals…and didn’t count people who died outside of them such as the poor families who were locked in their homes and left to die.
An interesting report tracking economic data, has also noted that there are 21,000,000….read that twenty-one *million*…fewer cell phone users in China. A drop that occurred from December to the present. The report has tracked seasonal drops and growths in China and none ever even remotely compare to the drop of 21 MILLION. Read that, a 21 followed by six zeroes. This means, while I don’t think there are 21 millions deaths in China due to the Wuhan Virus, I do think the loss in cell phone usage is an aggregate number of dead people and people whom China is desperate to shut up that might report on what is likely an unimaginable death toll inside that Communist hell hole.
I don’t believe them either. They tried to bury the story until it was WAY beyond their borders, thus ensuring we would get decimated by this, so why would we believe them now? Besides, there’s 10^37 of them, and they live on top of one another.
And Friday I read that there’s a widely circulating consensus in the Chinese party to oust Xi.
Xi….who was wildly popular and likely to be the leader for the foreseeable future. Now an internal coup potentially setting up to oust him.
It could be any number of reasons, but odds are it’s because of an ever growing fiasco with the Wuhan Corona Virus, that Xi would have us believe is under control.
If it’s under control, why would there be an attempt to get rid of Xi?
There are plenty of indicators beginning to add up that, individually could be flukes, but taken together, point to something really really ugly in China right now (obviously past the fact that they still have an economic worldview that American Leftists would love to bring here).
I think the WHO acknowledged that China numbers are unreliable because they don’t count those unsymptomatic in their totals.
Oh, and Russia only has 8 cases and only 1 death. Who believes that?
WHO? I don’t trust the WHO. They’re part of the U.N. and thus suspect, doing the bidding of the tyrants that run that place, mostly with U.S. contributions.
Agreed. The U.N., and anything associated with it, is corrupt, biased, and ineffective. Here, we have the problem of trusting the WHO or China. Talk about a Hobson’s choice.
“Another country (#2) tests 5% of their citizens and has 1/10th X number test positive, all serious to severe cases.
Who, then, actually had the worse outbreak? Country #2 looks like they have a less severe outbreak, but they will undoubtedly have many less severe cases that occurred but weren’t tested and therefore weren’t confirmed.”
Of the population that gets tested, testing is good for determining who *does not have the Wuhan Virus* in terms of telling them to go home and ride out whatever it is they do have. Of those that do test positive, many will be sent home anyway for not having a bad form of Covid-19.
Of the population that does NOT get tested, anyone with a severe case of any respiratory disease – flu, bronchitis, Covid-19, anything, is going to the hospital *anyway* because they feel like they are dying.
Testing numbers do not increase or decrease the rate of people dying from Covid-19.
Testing is good, because it sends away people who aren’t actually sick with what could become bad; and because it gauges exactly how deadly the disease is in relation to total actual cases.
Country #2, in your hypothetical, looks better by “confirmed case” load, but ends up looking about the same as all other countries in terms of actual *death load*, all things being equal*.
* All things being equal here, assumes that the hospital capacity for the *severe* cases that need hospitalization do not get overloaded from a lack of good societal practices, such as social distancing and temporary local quarantines and shut downs.
All true. But the starting point was people gloating that we had more cases than any other country.
We won’t have definitive numbers until after this is all over (if then).
1. Sorry, but only the Chinese (that I know of; correct me if I’m wrong) torture sharks by cutting off their fins for soup and then toss them back to drown), and use the scales of adorable mammals for some health benefit as yet unproved. Forgive me, but at this point, I tend to disbelieve anything coming from a nation that is simultaneously both neolithic and 21st century totalitarian.
2. Professor (using the term loosely) Meriwether is clearly more than ready for retirement. Meantime, I think we should ban all pronouns. That would solve the problem pretty neatly.
Socialist societies are notorious for being incapable of producing enough calories via traditional means to keep their populations fed. I can understand the perverse incentives of the subjects of socialism to find calories in any manner of unthinkable ways…
Re: China and its Stupidity.
Let’s see: shark fin soup; Tiger claws; rhino-horn aphrodisiacs; elephant tusks used for who knows what purpose; theft of corporate trade secrets, patents, and technology; currency manipulation; failure to contain and tell the truth about Corona virus, and island hopping in the South Pacific/China Sea.
Yeah. Russia is the biggest global threat to peace and security.
In fairness, Russia is a huge threat, because they threaten some of the most important geopolitical actors in the world- Western Europe.
China, is the biggest threat in many ways, but isn’t completely the biggest threat, and won’t be until they get their navy up to speed. (Which won’t be long, if we don’t start applying some pressure).
Their belt and road is a good land based threat for gaining dominance on the Eurasian land mass, but even then, countries once properly threatened can easily cut that off.
Nations that China has tried to dominate through duplicitous contract agreements or debt purchasing that feel properly threatened can also repudiate all those debts and contracts and run under our umbrella.
So while they are working on positioning themselves to be dominant, it’s not there yet. Especially since their economy is actually a bigger house of cards than anyone even remotely pretends that ours is.
In fairness, Russia is a huge threat, because they threaten some of the most important geopolitical actors in the world — Western Europe.
I suspect this is a near-total lie.
China, is the biggest threat in many ways, but isn’t completely the biggest threat, and won’t be until they get their navy up to speed.
The thing about China is that, all of a sudden, *they* (the US) are turning the narrative around. Who created the China of today? The United States created the China of today. Who gave this communist monster the power they now have? This is the brainchild of American governmental and industrial planners. These are the people who *sold America out* and this shows you that the enemy of America is within America.
All these decisions were made without one iota of consideration for the effect it would have on the health and well-being of the US nation. But all on the sudden, when *their* interests are affected, China is made to be *the enemy*. (And based on what little I know of China I would say that it is definitely an enemy or put another way: in no sense a friend).
Within this issue, what I have just described, you can locate a unique pathology-of-power that is 100% and totally American.
My analysis based on several distinct facts, may or may not be accurate analysis (it is closer to accurate than not), but in no ways can it, even in error, be called a lie.
Get lost you useless idiot.
Well, time will tell who is a *useless idiot* and who is a *useful idiot*!
You misunderstand what I think about lies. I think that we are surrounded by different sorts of lies, and we often internalize them for peculiar, psychological reasons. You made a mistake in thinking that I believe you (or you-plural) lie deliberately. I think that you *get involved in lies* and this is different. Many of your opinions and perceptions about America’s wasteful and destructive wars in the Middle East — in which if I remember correctly you have a personal investment — are structured through huge lies, misrepresentations and distortions. Yet you *believe* these and get angry when you are challenged to reconsider them or question them.
I think that if we could really see and understand the systems that we live in accurately our definition of who is our friend and who is our enemy would change. I think that our more substantial enemies are among us.
Additionally, I think that we are entering a time with the pressure of political and social and health events when we will see people more and more turning in anger and *biting* people around them. Just like you did here now, and just as so many have when I (in some instances) challenge their *certainties*.
What I said was non-offensive: I do not think that Russia is *our* enemy. And I definitely do not think that Russia poses a threat to any nation in Western Europe. To say so is to have internalized a poignant lie. And those sorts of lies usually have beneficiaries.
I think that our more substantial enemies are among us.
So far, speaking generally about this blog, many only focus their attention on ‘progressives’ and ‘democrats’ without realizing that the entire establishment has over the years sold out the nation. Those that *sell out the nation* are those who are among us. Especially a good example of this is to state that those who created China are *among us*, and those who did astounding levels of harm to the nation and the people of this nation are among us, not *over there*.
This idea is utterly unintelligible to you and numerous other *patriotic thinkers*. You-plural fail to understand this substantial and important point and thus misdirect your superficial and temporary ire at the wrong problem.
But saying what I just said, calmly as I just did, only infuriates you all the more! It is intolerable to you that someone say such things!
But the Russians are ‘white’. Any opposition to the practices of the celestials can only be down to racism.
Two excellent books by Lothrop Stoddard. This one: Revolt Against Civilization.
And Racial Realities in Europe.
They also harvest organs from their still alive, still conscious Falun Gong prisoners, according to some medical professionals that escaped from that Hell on Earth. I once saw a video of a group of older Chinese men putting live dogs in these huge woks with boiling water in them, apparently to steam these poor animals to death and cook them. At one point, a dog escapes from a wok, and starts trotting away, with its skin hanging off of it. The men were laughing. I was absolutely horrified and sickened, and in tears. Tradition or not, it takes a frightening lack of empathy and a cruel streak to do this to a living creature. If this is endemic to their culture, I think they could be capable of anything. I can only hope that there is a significant number of them who object to these practices.
Just as a public service, here’s an excellent statistical breakdown of the numbers, updated hourly:
Approximately 3-5% of people returning from the US to Australia are infected.
We have 7000 people returning per day from around the world. They account for 2/3 of all new detections. All but 5% of the rest are close contacts of these returnees or earlier visitors.
That 3-5% can’t be used except as a very rough and inaccurate estimate of how many people in the US are infected. For example, in a group of 18 US tourists who came in as a group, 10 were detected due to showing symptoms, 4 tested negative, 4 others had test results delayed – and 2 of whom broke self quarantine and illegally flew back to the US. Those 2 both had positive test results.
Because numbers are so small this group of 12 cases out of 18 who were all travelling together so probably infected each other accounts for 0.3% of total infections nationwide.
That is quite interesting. While I was reading that, something else occurred to me. It seems that whenever someone asks about the corona virus slowing down when warmer weather hits, they are pointed to Australia because it’s summer there and there are still cases.
However, if many of those cases are imported, it does lend some hope that it will act somewhat similar to the seasonal flus and be less active once the cold weather leaves, which is not that far away in a goodly portion of the U.S.
Still, no one really knows yet, but we shall see.
3) Oh, and I will be very clear on this again: If you want me to call you “zhe” or “they” or “lemon pie with a slight dusting of confectioner’s sugar on top,” I will do my best to remember that and do it, because it’s kind. But I think the considerations above are important, and I think it’s too easy to just accept the demand to ask people for their “pronouns” as a requirement for being considered decent — with the possible penalty of losing everything as the penalty for failing in some way, even by forgetting.
I would want then not to ever be *kind*. Let me then be utterly cruel and “fill me from the crown to the toe top full of direst cruelty”. If someone were to tell me to refer to them by some pronoun other than the obvious, I declare am within my rights to employ my progressive-elephant tranquilizer dart-gun on them.
Then, like an evil many-eyes spider I cocoon them up in gauze and suspend them upside-down from the ceiling for as long as it takes for them to see the error or their ways. The limit of my *compassion* is to have installed a water tube through which, if they beg convincingly, I will administer some ounces of water when it strikes me as ‘fair’. (I am still debating whether to attach the earphone, perhaps with small screws? to the side of their head and then play ‘Imagine’ in a 24/7 loop, and my hesitation is a weakness I am trying to correct).
In all seriousness I have a minor solution if ever you did need to talk to one of these lunatics. Instead of any pronoun at all just us the general quasi-pronoun ‘other’:
Other wants me to administer a bit of water? What will other offer me if I do?
Other is whimpering a lot. This makes me very angry [yes, said just like Michael Corleone]. Is other prepared to accept the consequences for this behavior? Other must stop, right now.
3. Reminds me of what seems like another power/attention getting gambit: insisting you can only eat gluten free foods even though you do not have celiac disease.
We don’t have any conception under God how many people are actually effected. We don’t know the morbidity rates. We don’t even know the number of people who have died from the Wuhan Flu.
I used to say that we knew the numerator when it came to deaths, and that the percentages that we were hearing were worst case scenarios, because the denominator was always going to be much, much higher, so the rate was almost certainly artificially inflated. That remains true when talking about cases coming out of first world democracies… We know, roughly, how many people died from Flu related complications, but we don’t know how many people have had the Flu. For weeks now, Canadians have been told that if they’re experiencing symptoms, but those symptoms are not serious enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room, they need to stay home. Either they have it and we don’t want it walking around outside, or they don’t have it and we don’t want them bringing exciting new complications into our medical centers. The massaging in the states has been mixed, but there’s a lot of similar sentiment out there. The vast, vast majority of people who think they have the Flu won’t be tested, and there is a large slice of the pie that get the Flu but never develop symptoms.
And then you have third world, tin-pot communist dictatorships like China, Information Blackholes like Russia and places that don’t have sufficient medical facilities like most of Africa. Who knows what the numbers are out of places like this? I’ve seen chilling images and video coming out of China, pictures of of cremation packages stacked up outside of funeral parlors because they ran out of room inside. I don’t know if that’s representative, but I think it’s likely. 40 million cell phone users have been cut off from the rest of the world in the heart of China, and China has not reported a single Flu related death in a week.
It’s… uniquely frustrating. The rest of the world got this Chinese export in part because China lied about it. They threw doctors who tried to report on the disease into Gulags where they eventually died, and gave the virus the Voldemort treatment for months between November and February of this year, allowing it only to be referred to as a pneumonia. In the months between November and February 5 million people had been allowed to travel out of Wuhan Province, China, including 100,000 laborers who landed in Italy, which is why Italy remains the worlds third largest contagion center. In February, once the disease had basically gone global, and scientists outside of China named it the appropriately sterile “COVID-19”, China *still* tried to lie about it, calling it an American bioweapon. The useful idiots in the media are calling people racist for pointing out that China has been China for the last half year, carrying water for them in a combination of corporate greed, communist-worship, and misplaced wokeness. Now, China is saying because they haven’t had any new Flu deaths, they’re going to reopen Wuhan province, including the godforsaken Petri dishes that are their wet markets.
At some point enough is enough. China is lying, people are dying, and something needs to be done. China’s government is not responsible to it’s people, so that something might have to be foreign. Unless China’s government can dig deep and find in itself the ability to bury it’s pride, admit some culpability, stop it’s fucking propagandizing and actually contribute to at least honestly tackling the virus within it’s own damn borders… I think WWIII will be China against the world. That seems bombastic, but I think that as more and more of the truth comes out, people are going to get more and more angry about it.
Great post, and COTD. I am struck by the tendency in some countries, and maybe here, to rule the deaths of those already suffering from potentially fatal conditions as caused by the virus.
When my father died suddenly in his sleep at 89, I called his doctor and asked hat he thought the cause might have been. He said, “Oh, your father had more things wrong with him than he let on. Didn’t want to upset your mother. Cancer, heart problems,all sorts of other stuff. And he was old. He knew he could go any time. assigning it to a single cause is pointless.
I wonder how many deaths like that add to the total.
That’s a statistics problem, no? I wonder how many deaths have been directly caused by CoronaVirus and nothing else. Better stated, How many CoronaVirus deaths were not related to other health factors including compromised immune systems, underlying health issues, etc.
Almost none. It’s useful to remember, for instance, that HIV/AIDS has never killed anyone in and of itself. The disease wrecks the body’s immune response system, but doesn’t have anything even close to a life-ending symptom. Nevertheless, HIV/AIDS is attributed to most deaths involving a patient that has it.
It’s strange. And I don’t understand the logic. Someone presenting with congestive heart failure and the flu dies from the Flu, Someone presenting with AIDS and the Flu died from AIDS complications. I expect there’s some kind of flow chart trained into doctors on which COD’s are listed first, but it’s not immediately apparent to me.
That sounds right. So, the number of COVID-19 related deaths is not completely reliable.
My father was similar, at 68 he was on borrowed time. He had lymphoma, and had a heart attack we think his chemo treatments contributed to. Suffering from almost total congestive heart failure, he was shifted to the Health Science Center in Winnipeg. We didn’t know at that time that his case was terminal, but as more tests came back, it was obvious that it was. The family was gathered, we said our goodbyes, and then two days before he passed away, the doctors told us that he had “Influenza” and he would have to be moved to the isolation ward. After the family had the chance to say goodbye (and the image of his sister reading the Home Hardware flier to him while he was comatose will remain with me forever) the family opted to turn the dialysis machine and ventilators off (he was DNR, the hospital staff had already overstepped, and it was time).
It bothered me that despite a chart that was almost as thick as the King James bible, the cause of death was attributed to the Flu. It hit me then as a car-crash victim’s death being attributed to the gout in his big toe, but we didn’t really care. I’d wager this is not an uncommon experience.