Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/11/2020: Law School Indoctrination, The Surgeon General, And One More Mainstream Media Bias Smoking Gun

Not depressed or crazy yet!

This translated (by Mort Shuman) Jacques Brel song made my mother depressed and crazy, yet she insisted on playing it. She was like that. You know…Greek. I’m really glad that she didn’t live to see this particular ordeal through, because I would have made my folks live with us for the duration, and I would definitely be crazy by now.

I did not know John Denver recorded this; as with everything else he sung, he does a masterful job. He fought depression his whole life, which astounded me, given his public demeanor, when I first learned that. That was before I learned how common and pervasive this terrible illness is. They are not being hyperbolic when they say that a protected lockdown will eventually cause a lot of suicides.

1. One more from “Social Q’s. In the same column that triggered me regarding this issue, there was another interesting query :

Like millions, I am working from home and spending lots of time videoconferencing with co-workers and clients. My boss conferences in from his home office, where, behind his smiling face, hangs a painting of a cyclone tearing through a city. He may be so used to it that he’s oblivious to the bad message it sends. He’s not a friend, but we have a cordial relationship. Should I point out that the painting may upset people?

I am less interested in this question for its ethical issue, which is not worth discussing–“No, you idiot, you do NOT have any business telling someone forced to participate in a video conference that he has an obligation to decorate his home to please other participants  and to avoid “upsetting” the hypersensitive!”—than I am curious about how anyone would get the idea that such an obligation exists. It’s not as if he has a swastika or a Confederate flag hanging behind him, or erotic art, or a historical photograph that could fairly be called unduly provocative.

I find this to be a nascent totalitarian mindset, requiring conformity in all things, and it scares me to death, frankly.

2. The indoctrination problem. I just got the latest copy of the Georgetown University Law Center alumni magazine, and was impressed by how large, slick and professional it has become in the decades since I put together the first issue when I was the GULC Director of Development under Dean David McCarthy. Oh, they changed the name a few years ago: the Dean and I had called it “Res Ipsa Loquitur,” which should come as no surprise to any regular readers here. The real revelation, however, is what a pure progressive and partisan indoctrination factory the school has become. Justice Ginsburg welcomed the incoming class. Nancy Pelosi and Henry Louis Gates ( of Beer Summit fame) addressed  the graduating third year students. New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood successfully  sued the Trump Foundation, so she was worthy of an honorary degree.

The featured interview in the issue: Justice Elena Kagan. A new Workers Rights Institute has been launched.  Invited to serve on a panel about “Challenges to the Rule of Law,” was George Conway. The school just dedicated its “green spaces” to Democratic D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. There is a major article about our obligation to guarantee the health of “migrants,” the current cover-word of choice meaning “Illegal immigrants.” Of course, there’s a climate change activist piece, an anti-nationalism piece, and a pro-diversity piece.

Law students aren’t kids; they come to law school with relatively well developed perspectives and values. Their brains aren’t easily washed. Nonetheless, most have already experienced progressive indoctrination, so for those students, this kind of one-sided perspective just acts to lock it all in. It should not be necessary to argue this: law school is supposed to teach quality reasoning and dispassionate advocacy. Concentrating on only one side of the political spectrum is a distortion, a disservice to the students, and a betrayal of the law schools’ duty to the law, justice, and society.

3. Oh, great. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told an interviewer yesterday, “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is happening at this time. During this week we celebrate the ultimate sacrifice that was made for us. God sent His only son to die for us, and it was sad, initially, but then we saw salvation at the end of it.”

People, public figures and professionals who exploit a natural catastrophe like this to bolster theology are engaging in a conflict of interest, and allowing their biases to influence their judgment. It is inexcusable for a Surgeon General to engage in this. It ‘s bad enough when the Pope does it.

4. Segue time! And speaking of the Surgeon General: Dr. Adams stepped on political correctness landmines when he pleaded with the African-American community and other communities of color to follow the pandemic guidelines yesterday,
asking blacks to do it “for your abuela….for your granddaddy, do it for your big momma, do it for your poppop’.” He was quickly accused of pandering and condescending to the black community (of which he is a member) and told that his advice to stop drinking and smoking while carrying an antidote for opioid overdoses during the  pandemic was “offensive.”

Better, after all, to just accept the disproportionate death rate of African Americans from the Wuhan virus than to recommend steps to mitigate it. “There is nothing inherently wrong with you, ” the Surgeon General said, addressing African Americans, but he said “social ills”  may cause the death rate among them.

Ya think???

The Surgeon General defended using terms for parents, saying, “I used the language that is used in my family.” he should take a page from his boss’s playbook, and refuse to address the criticism, or defy it, saying, “If you’d rather complain about words than stay healthy, fine. It’s your choice.” (Pointer: Other Bill)

5. To post or not to post? Satire isn’t ethics, but this is commentary on the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, and it’s my blog, so to hell with it. From the Babylon Bee:

6.  Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! I was going to skip this one, a pure conservative media story that your Facebook Borg friends will deny and deride (the former Ethics Alarms commenter I addressed here always adamantly denied that the news media was anything but even-handed and fair), but the report that Willem Reese sent along changed my mind.

Last week, a number of media outlets accurately reported  that Senate Democrats had blocked a Republican proposal to offer further assistance to small businesses during the shutdown. A typical headline was this one, on the Times site:

It took less than an hour, but the word went out from Axis of Unethical Conduct headquarters (that’s the Democrats/”resistance”/ mainstream media alliance) that the proper way to describe the situation was a “stalemate.” Then it’s the fault of both Republicans and Democrats. The Times shifted to the stalemate line. CNN originally headlined “Democrats block GOP-led funding boost for small business aid program” at 10:36 a.m. Thursday. By 11:15 am, the headline  was “Senate at stalemate over more COVID-19 aid after Republicans and Democrats block competing proposals.”

Politico headlined the story, “Senate Dems to block new coronavirus relief in bid for more money.” That headline was duly changed to read “Senate fails to approve new coronavirus relief after partisan stalemate.”  Someone at the AUC must have realized that people like me would notice the suspiciously similar cover word, so now it reads, “Senate brawl derails fast push for new coronavirus relief.”

That should fool ’em!

Some of the mainstream media sources used their thesauruses. NBC News’ original headline read “Senate Democrats block GOP bid for $250 billion in small business funds amid impasse over coronavirus aid.” The same NBC News report now says “Senate hits impasse over $250 billion in coronavirus small-business funds.”

Impasse! That’s a good one! Now how about “stand-off”? Bloomberg originally headlined its story “Democrats Block McConnell Push to Boost Small Business Aid.” That  was changed to “GOP, Democrats in Standoff Over Boosting Same-Business Aid.”

Those who deny that these news organizations aren’t deliberately trying to manipulate public opinion and the political process are insulting us, and enabling the corruption of our democracy.

22 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/11/2020: Law School Indoctrination, The Surgeon General, And One More Mainstream Media Bias Smoking Gun

    • Since the vast majority of them were insincere and manipulative, yes, most were. Clarence Darrow referenced God in various ways speaking to juries, yet he was a famous atheist. Same thing. How many Presidents were genuinely men of faith? I wonder. My guess is less than 50%. Some who were, like Wilson—his father was a minister, and WW was a racist.

        • Literary flourish? Jefferson’s view of God, Providence, nature, something, is standard among philosophers of the time. Creator is pretty generic. No question, I think, that he reasonable presumed that there was a creator—that’s still a reasonable assumption. But its basic Locke and Rousseau…and remember that the declaration had to be persuasive. He was arguing against the supremacy of kings. As an advocay piece, it would have been unethical not to invoke divinity.

          • I find it difficult to imagine an atheistic society having the kind of notions that leads to a declaration even remotely similar to the Declaration of Independence. And given that the definitively atheistic polities pushed by modern man since the late 1800s have created societies not only in direct opposition to the values of the American Declaration of Independence, but actually advancing murderous and dehumanizing societies, I’d say that a basic standard of ethics cannot be invented whole cloth. But that standard of ethics derives from something, not nothing.

            I think the Founders inherently understood this and the verbiage in the Declaration is not pandering and not just against the supremacy of kings.

          • As the blogs resident *useless idiot*, I offer some disparate thoughts (free of charge!):

            Jack writes:

            Literary flourish? Jefferson’s view of God, Providence, nature, something, is standard among philosophers of the time. Creator is pretty generic. No question, I think, that he reasonable presumed that there was a creator—that’s still a reasonable assumption. But its basic Locke and Rousseau…and remember that the declaration had to be persuasive. He was arguing against the supremacy of kings. As an advocacy piece, it would have been unethical not to invoke divinity.

            Obviously, there is a strong link between the Founding Generation and ‘Enlightenment thought’. And Enlightenment thought is, of course, Protestant thought. And Protestant though is a rebellion against — going to the essence here — Scholastic thought. In many ways Protestant thinking amounts to a *swerve* [clinamen] away from scholastic terms:

            Harold Bloom [literary critic] defines this as “poetic misreading or misprision proper”. The poet makes a swerve away from the precursor in the form of a “corrective movement”. This swerve suggests that the precursor “went accurately up to a certain point”, but should have swerved in the direction that the new poem moves. Bloom took the word clinamen from Lucretius, who refers to swerves of atoms that make change possible.

            So, it is indeed ‘literary flourish’ in a certain sense. But especially interesting — potentially fruitful to us in a time of metaphysical crisis — is the term ‘misprision’ insofar as it has to do with ‘erroneous judgment’ and an error in determining value. The obvious example is quite simple. If there was no real and tangible and factual sacrifice made by ‘the Creator’ in this tangible and real world, then the entire notion is a poetic trope, and the poetic trope therefore requires a revision through *swerve*: climamen.

            Protestantism is a series of fracturations away from a central ‘literary trope’ (if you will). But it is also, in certain of its manifestations, a first step toward an outlook that is thoroughly ‘atheistic’. But this is not to say that Protestantism must inevitably produce atheism. But what it has done, and demonstrably so, is undermine the metaphysical understanding on which Christianity is based.

            It is important to state it, because it is true, that both America and The Founders are products of ‘revision’ and rebellion in many different senses. It is also wise to notice that when these trends are traced out — the trend away from solid, established and agreed-upon metaphysical notions — that the result is the establishment of religious consciousness [sic] within a sort of vague netherworld: a shadow world that is neither completely real nor completely unreal. America has to be seen not as a ‘religious country’ nor as a Christian country (it is largely not a Christian country in classical senses), but is rather a country in which these processes of ‘fracturation’ have gone — allow me interject — ‘unchecked’. If you need a concrete example of this look no further than Mormonism: a uniquely modern invention. Seventh Day Adventism and Christian Science are uniquely examples of American clinamen taken, as thing often are in innovative, rebellious, head-strong America to almost unbelievably weird levels.

            But then in the end — I think this is fair to state — the solidity of belief simply vaporizes, because the solidities of metaphysical definition had been undermined. It is a curious problem. It is a very modern problem. And America (and the Americanopolis) is tightly bound up in this problem.

            When ‘solid and metaphysically-based belief’ collapses — this is where Jack stands fundamentally — there is no longer a *world* of metaphysics. Because there is no such thing as reality above and beyond the pure physical. But this is, of course (this should be obvious but it is not to many people) an inevitable result from living in intellectual and mental realities where such metaphysics have been thoroughly undermined. The end result? A purely mechanical world of determined matter. And the sole arbiter in that world in man and his personal view and his decisions: his decisiveness. Eventually (this is my view) man’s view — quite literally his mind — is transferred or extended to machine (AI) and then there is an imposition of *law* into man’s world that is not un-similar to mechanistic management. The so-called ‘managerial revolution’ was, indeed, a real thing. And it extends itself, logically, into mechanized systems that eventually track men down to the last hidden detail of their existence. And this is what we see developing right before our eyes.

            How many Presidents were genuinely men of faith? I wonder. My guess is less than 50%. Some who were, like Wilson—his father was a minister, and WW was a racist.

            I would mention here — I base this on a close reading of Pro-Slavery Thought in the Old South by William Sumner Jenkins, Peter Smith Press, 1960 — that despite any kind of historical revisionism, and despite any intrusion of contrary and condemning ideology or doctrine, that Christian were and could be *profoundly racist* and *racialist* in their views, and yet thoroughly moral.

            Christian thinking is not incommensurate with thinking that involves itself in defined hierarchies, and even strict respect of them. The ‘ethnological justification of slavery’ and the ‘moral philosophy of slavery’ are (were) positions which in no sense exclude profound moral consideration nor a ‘moral soul’ if I can put it that way.

            Without going any further, without citing some examples of this sort of thinking — mere mention of these things evokes suspicion and misunderstanding — one thing that I have found, and it is now an axiom of my approach and thinking — is that you cannot rely on Americans to get an accurate report about much of anything, and especially not in those *contentious areas*. So, the only way to get an accurate picture is to read the original source material your self! And when you do a radically different picture emerges, one substantially different from the *revised histories* that we live in now and through which our present views are inculcated.

            But it is a very interesting question (turning back to what Jack wrote, quoted above). Who at the height of government, and at the height of mass-management in a ‘pluralistic’ and certainly a post-Christian nation, can be said to ‘carry forward a faith’. Take for example the interesting figure of Mike Pence and numerous others who sit at or near the helm-of-state. What a strange confluence! Fairly obvious Jewish Zionists (I assume Jared to be such) in close association with Christian Zionists who have a substantial influence within American state affairs at such a laden point in history.

            Suite à la prochaine I always say! Who can predict what will appear next?

  1. Don’t feel alone on the Georgetown issue. The Maxwell Perspective from Syracuse’s top notch public administration and policy school is much the same. Filled back to front with leftist garbage. Even worse is my alma mater’s Hanoverian with an alumnus as Vice President and barely an acknowledgement of him while the editorial calendar is filled with one left leaning article after another. Sickening.

  2. 4. That was Yamiche Alcindor who claimed people on her twitter acct had just expressed offense at the SG’s statement. That was less than 30 seconds after he uttered those words and she began by opening her question with ” . . . Many on social media are offended by ….”

    My immediate reaction was to have him say to her “Are you for real? I am trying to reduce the disproportionate effects of covid 19 on communities of color that the race baiters like you are focused on. I could say stop eating all thay high fat salty soul food. You know what I mean. Those deep fried lake trout and fries you can buy on almost and street corner in West Baltimore or all that Popeyes fried chicken. And while you’re at it buy some green leafy vegetables, whole potatoes and meat instead of all those frozen factory prepared meals. By the way all those energy drinks yall consume are’t helpin your blood sugar or pressure levels . I’ll say it any way you want as long as it gets into people’s heads they are killin themselves with their own lifestyle choices.

    Hey, but that’s me. I am not that diplomatic.

  3. 3- If he had said that someone who disagreed with him would drown in a lake of fire or some such I might agree. Atheism is as much a religion as any other, the 1st amendment is an amazing achievement for the Founders.
    4- The NPR reporter who asked about the offensive words has been almost as upsetting as Acosta. She tweeted during the conference and then did the “Some folks are offended” trick. I was honestly impressed by the Surgeon General’ reply…chase down and watch the relevant part of the press conference….as usual the editing and spin are impressive….

      • “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
        I spent time, blood, and sweat to make damn sure even a fool or a religious person has the opportunity to prove his foolishness, his piety, or both. I definitely don’t like what many public officials say or do, but I truly believe that the US Constitution in recognizing humanities freedom is a document I am thankful for….

        what is that Darrow quote again, Jack? I respectfully disagree with you….

        • Wait, how? Citizens have a right to say anything. Employees, never mind government officials, simply do not. The law is clear, and the ethics are clear. The Surgeon general has no business using his position to proselytize. None. It’s no different from company executives expressing racist opinions or politically inflammatory statements in public that harm the employer. First Amendment right to say it, no right to avoid being punished for it. In my case, correctly stating that the SG should shut up is not the same as saying he has no wright to make an ass of himself. He does, but he’s still accountable for misusing his position.

          • Did you see the network? Christian Broadcasting Network. Length of interview, 8 and a half minutes. 6 plus minutes of him rationally discussing, One or two sentences, then a couple minutes of how to worship and do the best you can in this time of crisis. That the news media chose to focus on the couple of sentences is their bias.

            • If you’re a public official, it doesn’t matter where your comments are made. They are public comments. Come on, you know that. Why doesn’t he know that? How many officials have lost their jobs pandering to a niche audience? If you say it in public, assume you’re speaking to everyone in the world.

    • I went through a whole spectrum of reactions to this, starting with resistance to the thought that an event could never be considered a divine chastisement at all, followed by agreement with a more particularist opinion that this first-world-problem plague is hardly the death of Egypt’s firstborn.

      Then, I laughed thinking that this pope certainly has said that our present inconvenience is the judgment of some pantheist’s “nature”, and that he’d be reduced to “authentic frontier gibberish” at the question.

      Never mind, sir. Please go on with my blessing and well-wishes.

  4. #6: If we still had a properly functioning free press, at least half of the major players would still be digging into the pork-barrel schemes inserted into the previous Wuhan virus legislation, and how the democrats use of the process to push their own political agendas delayed the legislation and harmed the country. If they had done so, it could well have deterred Nancy & co. from employing the same trick in the current situation.

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