Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 4/28/2020: Ethics Clouds In My Coffee

Good evening.

1. Here’s an ethics quote I need to use more often…I was watching the 1941 film “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” about a jury trial to determine whether the Devil will get a farmer’s soul as contracted.  It reminded me of a quote by Kurt Vonnegut: “A soul is the part of you that let’s you know when your brain isn’t working properly.”

A better definition of an ethics alarm you could not devise.

2. So where were the souls of the judges who voted for this? Thousands of prisoners have been released from incarceration to protect them from the outbreak of the Wuhan virus inside jails and prisons.  The theory is that subjecting prisoners to this special peril is cruel and unusual punishment. The theory’s not wrong, but it’s a bit unbalanced. Their peril is not entirely  society’s fault, after all.

There are activists at the extreme end of the progressive spectrum —a division getting larger all the time, it seems—who seem to want to eliminate penal punishment completely.  Not letting a crisis go to waste, a group of them , Columbia Legal Services, began pushing for inmates over 50 years old in Washington state to be released as a compassionate act to save them from the virus.

Among the intended beneficiaries: Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, and Isaac Zamora,  serving a life sentence for going on  a shooting rampage and killing six  people. Ridgeway is one of the nation’s most frightening serial killers, eventually confessing to 71 murders. Over the three decades of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, Ridgeway captured women and girls, raped them, and  strangled them. He loved watching the life go out of their eyes as they died by his hand, though sometimes he used a  rope. Then he  would pose with the corpses. If he really liked his victim,  he’d have post mortem sex with her body. His first victims were found in the Green River, giving him a catchy name.

Ridgeway was sentenced to 500 years in prison with no possibility of parole. The victim’s families were promised that he would never be released. Ah, but poor Gary is 71 now, and thus at risk of succumbing to the pandemic, and presumed to be too feeble to be a threat. That, at least, is what Columbia Legal Services argued. (You know, I’m not much younger than Ridgeway, and I’m pretty certain I could murder someone. In fact, I’m getting ideas…)

Q13 News reported  that prosecutors protested that “the Petitioners [Columbia Legal Services] demand that 2/3 of the prison population be released into the community, a number which includes serial killers and capital murderers.” You would think that their argument would be a slam dunk. You would be wrong.

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled, it’s true, that those serial killers and capital murderers. including The Green River Killer, would have to face the Wuhan virus while behind bars.  But the vote was an uncomfortably close 5-4. Four members of the Washington State Supreme Court were ready to empty the state prisons of most of its  prisoners, including  the Green River Killer.

Strange priorities.

3. That’s okay; it’s not government censorship and suppression of information, so it’s perfectly ethical. Last week, two physicians, Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Accelerated Urgent Care in Bakersfield, California, explaining that they have administered more than 5,000 coronavirus tests, made headlines by  comparing the Wuhan virus to seasonal flus, and called for an end to quarantine measures. They presented their controversial opinion in an interview with KERO-TV , and the station  uploaded  it to YouTube where it “went viral,” eventually getting  more than five and a half million views.

So the video was taken down for “violating YouTube’s Terms of Service.”

KERO-TV submitted an appeal to YouTube about the removal, but received no response.  YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki , however, had recently said that “Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy … [removal] is another really important part of of our policy.”

Interesting. Any communication that contradicts the conclusions, advice and edicts of an international organization oddly in thrall to Communist China should be suppressed for the greater good, is that it? Erickson and Massihi certainly have a minority opinion. “Do we need to still shelter in place? Our answer is emphatically no,” Erickson said. “Do we need businesses to be shut down? Emphatically no. Do we need to test them and get them back to work? Absolutely.” Erickson said  that current virus and the seasonal flu are “similar in their prevalence and death rates.”

“If you study the numbers in 2017 and 2018, we had 50 to 60 million with the flu,” Erickson said. “And we had a similar death rate in the deaths the United States were 43,545 — similar to the flu of 2017-2018. We always have between 37,000 and 60,000 deaths in the United States, every single year. No pandemic talk. No shelter in place. No shutting down businesses.”

Then he warned  warned that quarantining could lead to weakened immune systems.

“Sheltering in place decreases your immune system. And then as we all come out of shelter in place with a lower immune system and start trading viruses, bacteria — what do you think is going to happen? Disease is going to spike,” Erickson explained.

It doesn’t matter to me whether these doctors are right or wrong. There has been so much bad information, conflicting information, mistaken information and misleading information from all sources, including the WHO and the CDC, that I have no idea who’s right. I would, however, like to be able to decide for myself without social media censors deciding what it’s safe for me to hear.

Now watch these universally left-leaning platforms–YouTube, Google, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, censor Republican campaign ads, tweets rebutting Trump Derangement screeds, and, of course, any dissent from climate change orthodoxy.

What’s going to stop them?


Source: The Blaze

18 thoughts on “Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 4/28/2020: Ethics Clouds In My Coffee

  1. 3. You asked recently if this seems like something bigger is coming.

    Something is. We’re being prepared for it. We’re being prepared for being told what we can and cannot do, what we can and cannot buy and what we can and cannot say. And anyone who questions it is labeled an enemy.

    Legislation that never would have been considered two months ago is being suggested with all seriousness.

    We have a major political party with a vested interest in dragging this out as long as possible, regardless of how many rights are trampled upon, how horribly the economy is destroyed and how unreasonable its agenda is (see 2 in your entry) and they seem perfectly willing to take it to its catastrophic conclusion so long as it means they’re sitting on the throne at the end. Their war against the POTUS and the U.S. Constitution continues unabated every day during a global emergency.

    Hearts are hardening. We’re becoming more vicious, more selfish, more intractable. People are becoming incapable of seeing their neighbor as a fellow citizen if that neighbor doesn’t toe the ideological line.

    Whether it’s in a few weeks or a few months, next year or ten years from now, I don’t know. Something huge is coming.

    • ” People are becoming incapable of seeing their neighbor as a fellow citizen if that neighbor doesn’t toe the ideological line.”

      People always like to say “Both sides are at fault’ here. I would like to be tolerant of my neighbor’s opposing views. However, the views that oppose mine more and more are that I need to be subjugated. Why should I tolerate the view that my rights need to be stripped from me? Why should I tolerate people who insist they get to tell me what I can say, what I can think, what job I can hold, where I can go, etc? The views opposing them don’t want to put many (if any) mandatory restrictions on them. The opposing viewpoints currently seem to be freedom and slavery and I am told that one is wrong and not allowed. Guess which one it is.

      The elite left has always wanted to be an aristocracy. They have always despised ‘self-made’ men and people who benefitted from the ‘meritocracy’, decrying them as ‘uncouth’ and undeserving the money and power they wield. They resent that people don’t defer to them and give them the respect they deserve. They have been putting themselves in places of power for decades and the only obstacle seems to be Trump. This coronavirus really seems to be their next plan to neutralize Trump.

      The doctor’s statistics are close to right (they have it qualitatively right, probably not quantitatively). Without the flu vaccine, we would see between 90,000 and 250,000 deaths each year from flu. The experts can’t seem to explain this virus’ spread and the severity of the lockdown, ‘social distancing’, and quarantine seems to make no difference. It is looking more and more like the ‘experts’ can’t explain this virus because in many states, it has been rampaging though for several months. Several months when no one took not of this virus. If is was ‘substantial’ and a ‘major threat’, how could it go unnoticed for all that time? It is because it is within the standard deviation of what is normal, that is why.

      The big question that no one is asking is “What is wrong with New York City and New Jersey”? What is wrong with Detroit? Some places have been hit hard, but they are exceptions and it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the policies that have been put in place. I suspect this has to do with mass-gatherings and initial viral load at infection, but someone should be looking at this if they really care about the healthcare crisis and not the opportunity to be autocratic.

  2. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki , however, had recently said that “Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy … [removal] is another really important part of of our policy.”

    Ah, the World Health Organization.

  3. Re #2: We now know that the upper limit to #MeToo does NOT include death by covid.

    Re #3: I was rather shocked that in terms of deaths, Wuhan covid and Flu were neck-and-neck (50-60K deaths and 500K hospitalizations each). Scarily, the total seasonal respiratory illness death is double this year due to both diseases. It must be the two diseases that are overcrowding hospitals, although interestingly, we have not run out of respirators on a national level. I believe some regions with a surplus did have to share to reinforce local shortages. But nowhere did they resort to triage.

    We still do not know the total infection rate for covid. Flu has a 0.1% death rate (50K deaths/50M cases), while covid has an observed 6% (60K deaths / 1M confirmed cases). It is tempting to assume that similar totals means similar rates of infection and deaths. However, there seems to only be annecdotal evidence that covid total infections are similar to that of the flu. This is only the second source that I’ve heard the claim that significantly more than 1 million people have caught the virus (thus potentially pushing the real death rate significantly below the observed death rate.

    However, if the total infection is higher, this would be hopeful. Flu would be much deadlier if not attenuated with vaccines and antivirals. If uncontrolled covid is similarly viral as controlled flu, a covid vaccine has great potential to knock the disease down if not out altogether.

    • Here in New York City, the first widespread testing of Wuhan virus antibodies suggest that about 20% of the population have already been infected. That would be about 1.6 million people. So far, we have had over 17,000 deaths from the virus, which would be more than 1% of those infected. That is a much higher rate than seasonal flu.

      Also, anecdotally, no doctor or nurse treating patients in NYC thinks that the Wuhan virus is remotely similar to normal flu in its lethality. One of my doctor friends told me that a patient who arrived at his clinic yesterday collapsed and died in the middle of explaining why he had come. That’s not something that he’s ever seen happen with the flu. There are hospitals that have had 100 deaths or more in a single night, and that’s not something that people working today have ever seen with the flu either.

      The virus seems to have been much less lethal outside New York. I’ve seen some speculation that we have a different strain than the rest of the country.

  4. Sue them individually for anti-trust and break them up, as I’ve said. Make them compete for audience and let actual market forces regulate their authoritarian behaviors. At the moment we have none of it. No more monolithic control of social media and internet search results. Death (figurative) to tyrants like Google and Facebook.

    • You’re not wrong; big tech communications players need a serious slap-down. I’m not so sure that the old model of breaking up their near-monopolies would work, however. They can’t realistically be divided into smaller regional units, or given only a certain percentage of the overall business. Even user market selection is unlikely to work to generate multiple players and competition in any particular service because of their very nature. I posted some musings the other day on the subject of possibly how to deal with them: https://ethicsalarms.com/2020/04/21/morning-ethics-warm-up-4-21-2020-groundhog-day/#comment-684086

      As public “forums”, each somewhat unique type of service (think YouTube for video, Twitter for brief public posts) tends to eventually self-select one provider that pulls in the lion’s share of the market, mainly because it’s convenient for people to “meet” in one place to share their ideas and consider those of others (like an actual city forum, vs random street corners in various parts of town.) People who want to hear and be heard will naturally gravitate to one main platform because that’s just what’s efficient. Even if ten versions of Twitter existed (and maybe they do), few will be willing to use all ten, and like flocking birds, will settle into one tree.

      Occasionally one giant will be displaced by another (Myspace-Facebook), but it’s rare, and usually IS a displacement rather than anything like a somewhat equal sharing. As much as I dislike the idea, I think forced neutrality for the major controllers of this market is the only thing that might prevent them from keeping a stranglehold on what information reaches the public.

  5. Point 2

    I have yet to understand why a confined population is threatened with the virus when we are all under a stay at home order.

    Is it possible that the virus offered politicians a convenient means to curb rising medicaid costs by putting the elderly and infirm at higher risk of death and thus reduce the surplus population? If this sounds outlandish why did Cuomo on March 25 order nursing homes to admit Covid 19 patients discharged from hospitals?

    I am of the belief that we are being conditioned to accept greater restrictions by government. If Trump has any culpability in this it is because he is not convening panels of experts with differing opinions on the virus. We need to hear from others beyond Fauci and Birx. I have little faith that Fauci wants the nation to reopen anytime soon. He is deriving significant positive professional exposure everyday yet his track record of being correct is questionable. It was he that as late as early March was saying all was well and we faced no threats. Then he said masks were of no use but now we all need to wear them.

    I do wonder if this is some grand experiment created by the ruling class in concert with the health care community to test American’s willingness to obey strict rules of conduct handed down by government.

    • Would it surprise anyone if, after the emergency is over, climate change pundits pointed to the cleaner air and cleaner water and say, “Now, we need to keep it this way, so we’re going to ban motorboats on lakes completely. You don’t need a motorboat to enjoy yourself, after all”.?

      It’s not too far a step from, “See? We told you that you don’t need a church building in which to worship. People all over the world do without and you did fine.”

      While the virus is real and it can be deadly, there is no doubt that there are groups of people out there that are manipulating the concern over its spread to get their agenda pushed and to see how willing citizens are to march in lockstep.

    • A significant problem with politicizing a public health situation is that all conclusions are suspect.

      Why exactly did flu deaths suddenly stop a few weeks ago while the Flu season still rages? No one, including those critiquing these doctors, seems to want to ask such questions.

      • Is the flu still “raging”? Social distancing will cut flu transmission too.

        Public school is a huge vector for all communicable diseases. Perhaps we’re discovering that cold and flu season have less to do with the weather and more to do with when school is in session?

    • In sum, the criticism claims that these two doctors’ sample size consisted entirely of visitors to their clinic, which, for various reasons, would be a self-selecting sample that is more likely to be, or have been, infected than the general population.

  6. Hospitals across the US have been laying off employees, hospital labs have had little to do. Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi are correct that there is a coming overload of the health care system. Not from COVID-19, but cancelling elective surgeries and other illnesses. Politicians and the media were equating elective surgery with optional. Elective means it’s planned ahead.

    In Alabama you can now go shopping for jewelry, but the two chair hair salon cannot cut my hair. As pointed out in the video it’s not good science.

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