Afternoon Ethics Alarms, 4/19/2020: Facebook, Harvard, Broadway And You Know, Morons…

Good afternoon!

1. It’s come to this…Commenter Matthew B sent me the link to an article on Facebook, and when I clicked on, it this came up…

Yes, Facebook warned me that Ethics Alarms was a “malicious site.” I especially like the part where Facebook says to contact them if I think they were in error, but also say that they won’t do anything if it is.

2. Meanwhile, regarding my  alma mater whose diploma I already have turned to the wall, here is an illustration in the latest Harvard alumni magazine for an article about how bad home schooling is:

Yes, “Arithmetic” is spelled wrong.

I bet Harvard Magazine tries to claim that this was intentional by the artist, to highlight the inadequacy of a home schooling education. That will be, of course, a lie, but there won’t be any way to prove it. You know, when you are America’s oldest and most prestigious university, you really can’t afford to be that careless, especially to your alums, and particularly when your administration has embarrassed itself repeatedly on the last decade.

This is also a clear case of “bias makes you stupid.” Why is the home schooled kid locked in the house? I’d guess that home-schooled children get at least as much outdoor recreation as traditionally educated children: I know our son did. And the canard that homeschooling prevents children from socializing is disinformation.

3. Facebook friend-banning ethics…A long-time friend, actor-lawyer and super-mensch posted this on Facebook today, and I asked his consent to include it here:

Okay… that’s one. I have unfriended one person who objected to my insistence of civility on my wall. On the positive side, he did it in a PM, which is fine. Also on the positive side, I did not mind his disagreement with me. His wall is full of spirited debate that often veers into personal insult, which is fine by me, it just doesn’t encourage civility and society, in my opinion. What was unforgivable was that he took a superior air to me playing by my rules on my Wall, stating that I was naive, and he then insulted a mutual friend. A friend who I respect highly in many areas of life, even if we disagree sharply on many political issues. He then told me to “have a good life.” Fine: I take that as a kiss-off. I’m not going to be passive/aggressive and give the bullshit about “if you disagree, then please unfriend me.” No, with that wave of disdain coming at me, I will actively unfriend a person and take full responsibility for it. And if I reach the point of unfriending someone on facebook, i have also reached that point in the real world.
At the risk of beating a dead horse, the breakdown of civilization and society begins when we insult each other so much that we begin to believe any disagreement is hatred and return it in full. Then reactions are purely emotional, and not rational, and we dehumanize the “enemy” and begin to justify any actions taken against that enemy. Discussions are simply talking past each other, no one listening, only trying to win; to crush. And then we have lost whatever security we have, as well as our civilization. That might happen anyway, but I will have no part in furthering such destruction. If that makes me naive, so be it.
4. Unethical website watch. Yesterday, while ruing  the cultural and educational rot that led so many progressives to assume  a school  can withhold diplomas from seniors on the basis of a racist video made and shared off campus, I quoted some comments from the site blog of the left-loving website Boing Boing,  which calls itself “A Directory of Wonderful Things.” It does have some wonderful things, but the Bill of Rights understanding of the reasonably well-informed 12-year-old is not among them.
Someone linked to my post, and as reported by Ethics Alarms commenters who had the intestinal fortitude to drop in, the resulting responses were even more legally illiterate than the ones I quoted. Such as…
  • Literally incorrect interpretations of the law and the First Amendment, such as  “The point is their first amendment rights are abridged when attending school, and they can suffer penalties imposed by that school, for which they have no legal recourse.”
  • “Account suspended until April 18, 3020: Troll your “nazis should be protected” privileged rhetoric elsewhere.” I really like that one: In fact, the U.S. has had active American Nazi groups, and they have always had First Amendment protections. Meanwhile, racists aren’t Nazis, opinions you don’t understand aren’t “trolling,” and “privilege” in this context is just a generic ad hominem attack. There’s nothing privileged about understanding the Constitution.
  • Michael Ejercito reported that some commenters insisted that a public school wasn’t “the state.”

The blog moderator then took down the clarifying comments of the Ethics Alarms visitors, because “the community feels it is offensive, abusive, or a violation of our community guidelines.” It is a breach of blogging ethics when accurate and essential information is removed because “the community” is fond of it’s misconception.

5. And this, Bernie Sanders, is why most Americans don’t like unions. From the New York Times (which does like unions):

An effort to raise money for entertainment workers hurt by the coronavirus pandemic has collapsed…The charity, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, had planned an online fund-raiser [last week] at which it would stream a concert, recorded in November, that celebrated the 25th anniversary of Disney on Broadway. The concert, backed by 15 musicians, was also a fund-raiser, which brought in $570,426 for Broadway Cares.

Two major labor unions, Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, agreed to allow the streaming of the concert without fees, but the American Federation of Musicians, which has been focused on winning greater compensation for streamed content, did not.

“Members of the American Federation of Musicians are suffering from the sudden cancellation of all work as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak,” the union’s international president, Ray Hair, said by email. “During the height of this crisis, Disney Theatrical has come to us asking to stream media content without payment to the musicians involved in the production. Especially now, with zero employment in the entertainment sector, the content producers should care enough about the welfare of those who originally performed the show to see to it that they are fairly compensated when their work is recorded and streamed throughout the world.”

The 15 musicians who played at the concert had already been paid for their services.


“I understand being told no,” Tom Viola, the organization’s executive director, said in a statement. “When that happens — and it does — I can usually see why or understand the extenuating circumstances. It never feels simply meanspirited. This was different and the result, particularly now, is heartbreaking.”

Disney, which has raised nearly $20 million for Broadway Cares over the last quarter-century, was similarly unhappy. “Disney wholeheartedly supported the request from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS to AFM to waive fees for this fund-raiser, just as many unions and guilds had happily agreed to do,” Disney Theatrical Productions said in a statement. “It’s disappointing that in this case, due to AFM’s decision, much-needed funds will not be raised. We are fiercely proud to be advocates for Broadway Cares and will continue to be, especially at a time like this.”

Embarrassingly, the musicians who played at the live concert announced that they did not agree with their union’s position, and had not been consulted about it. They said they wanted the union to stop blocking to allow the streaming of the concert.

“We as an orchestra are happy to forgo any payment for the streaming of this charitable event,” they said. “Now more than ever it is essential to join with the other members of the arts community to help those in need.”

19 thoughts on “Afternoon Ethics Alarms, 4/19/2020: Facebook, Harvard, Broadway And You Know, Morons…

  1. 2. This was my favorite part of the article, I think. But it was so hard to choose:

    “The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18? I think that’s dangerous,” Bartholet says. “I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.”

    It’s like they can’t hear themselves, right?

    I wonder if anyone ever tried to write a parody of 1984. Maybe we’re all just living in an alternate-universe reality outlined by that script. If so, what I did just now constitutes a fourth-wall break.

    Hi, audience!

    • That is unreal.

      I wonder if there was ever a time in America, apart from school, when kids were taken away from their parents and placed in the care better-educated, more “capable” people. I wonder what that might have looked like.

    • Something of an aside

      I have been researching the old Christian-Catholic concept and practice of ‘penitence’. My source has been the Dictionary of Christian Antiquities (John Murray, 1908). Two volumes of the tiniest text I have ever read.

      In the early days they took penitence really really seriously. Within the early Christian communities, which were still separate from pagan culture and society, if you committed a sin or a crime (peccatum or crimen respectively) you would have to go through a penitential process that involved numerous steps. Very difficult and extensive. Idolatry, murder, adultery were considered severe. The penitence required could last 20 years. Even longer in some cases.

      The reason I thought of this in regard to “I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority” is simply to become aware the degree to which *authority* has been dismissed. The entire notion of *authority* is in question and is resisted. Today, as things have evolved (a slow evolution over time in which former structures of authority have been overturned) there is effectively no longer any standard at all on which to base *authority*.

      It might appear that I am advocating for some return to harsh authority or something to that effect. (I am but internal authority is my larger concern). You know, the way conservative-oriented people long for those ‘days gone by’ and lament that ‘no one respects authority anymore’ and no one has internal restraint. But that is not what really interests me. I am interested in what happens when the (metaphysical — I don’t know how else to put it) restraints simply no longer exist within the perception-structure of people. It is a downward-tending cycle, this I recognize, but is there an *upside*? Or does it eventually result in open chaos?

      Plus quand j’en saurai plus . . . 🙂

  2. 2. The first Sunday in March, we had lunch with a family that home-schools their children. The husband and wife have six girls ages 3-14 – and a seventh child on the way. The teen was reserved and more introspective (as you might expect teen-aged girl to be when being engaged in conversation by a middle-aged man she doesn’t know well), but the younger girls were outgoing, incredibly social, and well-behaved. And smart! Holy buckets, all the children were intelligent!

    My experience is my own, and it’s fraught with peril to project it over all “home-school families”, but based on what I saw, our culture could do with a whole lot MORE home-schooled children…or a lot more parents like these two.

    I think the writers of the Harvard magazine are playing to the stereotype that home-schooled children are awkward, socially inept, and steeped in the religious traditions of their parents while lacking the “real-world” education of a public system. The entire illustration is set to create that notion. The poor child in home-school prison is trapped, forced to subsist on the basics of reading, writing, “arithmatic”, and religion. Meanwhile, all other children are allowed to actually be children, free from any shackles. The home-schooled child is, in effect, being robbed of her childhood. This grossly understates the quality education that home-schooled students may be receiving, while (potentially) grossly overstating the positive effects of a public-school education.

    • It’s not even up for debate anymore. Homeschooled kids are not only better-educated, they are also more socially healthy. There has been plentiful research into this (and believe me, if any of it favored public school, that Harvard article would have cited it. It doesn’t, thus the article appeals to the authority of, “dude, trust me.”

  3. 2. All about cowing as many as possible into turning their children over to the public indoctrination factories, demonizing parents who won’t or don’t, and finally branding their children as anti-social misfits.

    A leftist hat trick!

    • I was going to say the same thing. The imagery in the picture cannot be missed. How many things that are bad for you are advertised as fun and wholesome? In government schools the kids play and laugh. In home schools the kids are imprisoned. It’s like selling sugar to kids or crack to addict.

      • They somehow became bad guys from the Pinocchio movie while pushing FOR school attendance. Couldn’t have been easy to pull off.

        “Don’t be like those losers learning math and reading the books. Come to school where you’ll do nothing but play! And watch movies while the teacher takes a 50-minute smoke break.”

    • Yeah, I saw commentary on this on Lehto’s Law. The scary/funny thing is that the Sergeant put in his report that he threatened to take them to jail if she didn’t delete the post. They are so used to doing things like this that they don’t realize this is something you shouldn’t admit in writing. I was not happy that the 4 lawyers involved were not smart enough to put “the school district will pay for the private schooling at a school of the plaintiff’s choice for all the couple’s children until they graduate high school’ as part of the lawsuit. Win or lose, the teachers and administration are going to retaliate against these children. That should be standard remedy for any of these cases where the school districts violate a child’s Constitutional rights.

  4. A comment made by a teacher friend of mine; about thirty years ago:

    “Mass education is an experiment of the last two hundred years which has never been proven to be successful.”

  5. This is also a clear case of “bias makes you stupid.” Why is the home schooled kid locked in the house? I’d guess that home-schooled children get at least as much outdoor recreation as traditionally educated children: I know our son did. And the canard that homeschooling prevents children from socializing is disinformation.

    One of the reasons that so many parents want to home school is because they lost confidence in public education.

    In many schools, the only education provided is hands-on sex ed from teachers to underage students, like this example.

    Literally incorrect interpretations of the law and the First Amendment, such as “The point is their first amendment rights are abridged when attending school, and they can suffer penalties imposed by that school, for which they have no legal recourse.”

    By that logic, public schools could forbid students from attending Catholic Mass, marching in support of gay rights, or criticizing the President of the United States.

    Michael Ejercito reported that some commenters insisted that a public school wasn’t “the state.”

    I wonder if these people ever think of the implications of their arguments.

    If public schools were not the state, then they would not be restrained by the Fourteenth Amendment, which means that they could institute racial segregation, or expel students who have had abortions.

    • If public schools were not the state

      I wonder how many ways there are to have fun with this premise. If public schools were not the state, then that separation of church and state judicial decree from the 1940s wouldn’t apply. They could mandate the Catholic Mass! In fact, what would the difference between religious education and public education even be? And what does ‘public’ mean in ‘public education’?

      Rarely is the the question “what was that moron thinking?” this entertaining.

      Still, to spoil the fun, we all know it was an exercise of making whatever sound he wants to achieve whatever means he was after. There’s a huge portion of the populace who are functional barbarians that way. That’s the only lesson they really teach in public schools anymore: the ones with real power will say whatever they can to justify whatever they want, and you’d best get with the program. And then democracy dies just like Plato says it would.

      If only they taught Plato.

  6. I like how they’re not even pretending that school offers any sort of basic education anymore.

    Every single alternative to public school has lapped the public schools so definitively that they’re reduced to saying, “Well, have you considered our excellent athletic fields and tetherball poles? You can’t get those anywhere else! And yearbooks- can’t raise well-adjusted kids without yearbooks! Wait, where are you going?”

    They’re like the Monty Python cheese shop. “Well, it’s very clean.”
    (Except the schools aren’t clean.)

  7. 2. The resistance to and denigration of homeschooling by academia is a source of constant irritation to me. It is another case of “our minds are made up, don’t confuse us with the facts. It’s like they just can’t stand a parent who declines letting the dysfunctional village raise their children. The current societal shut-down due to the Chinese flu has made homeschoolers of many parents who are enjoying the experience. (This is based on conversations with my extended family and fellow church members, your mileage may vary.) My niece’s two girls, ages 6 and 9, exiled from their regular school, have easily kept up their school work, completed several art and STEM projects, and learned how to plant a vegetable garden. They are outside every day, weather permitting. My daughter’s homeschooling process continues without a hitch with her boys. The article’s undercurrent of opposition to parents actually raising their own children is ominous.
    The hubris of many academics is maddening. A few decades ago, one of my professors told me the following story. I don’t know if it was original to him, but I never heard it anywhere else:
    It seems that long ago a society located in an arctic region decided to start a school. In accord with the needs of the society, they taught igloo building and ice fishing. The school’s reputation grew, so that people from far and near sent their children to the school. The school mastered the teaching of these skills and became the undisputed leader in the teaching of these subjects. But slowly and surely, the climate of the region began to change. The snow pack melted and the rivers thawed. They area was now tropical. Still the school taught igloo building and ice fishing. One day a group of parents and students called for a meeting with the school’s administration.
    They asked, “Why do you continue to teach igloo building and ice fishing when we need to learn grass hut building and spear fishing?”
    The school administrators looked aghast! “What, do you want us to become a, a, vocational school?
    Different idea, but same attitude.
    4. “It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere. -Voltaire

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