Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/1/2020: Gee, What A Nice, Ethical Beginning To June!

Well, the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck is a welcome change from the Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck, right?

Right? No?

1. Perhaps the major positive development from the  rioting? The news media’s complete, undeniable unmasking as a failed, corrupt, anti-American, anti-democracy institution. If you didn’t see Don Lemon’s epic example of how not to be a professional journalist, let me point you to this EA post from the weekend. But there was much more…

  • The horrible Gina Bellefante, whose ethical deficits have been highlighted here previously, was given space in the New York Times to write this, pivoting from George Floyd to once again rehashing the Cooper vs Cooper Central Park fiasco:

Ms. Cooper didn’t understand the possible consequences of her actions — that calling the police to settle an argument between a white woman and a black man in 2020 could result in his injury or death. This would imply that the news of the recent past has managed to completely elude her — from the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., to Eric Garner’s in Staten Island, to Ahmaud Arbery’s in Georgia.

Michael Brown, who was shot by an officer he was charging after trying to grab the officer’s gun. Eric Garner, the 375 pound man resisting arrest who died after being gang-tacked by police. Ahmaud Arbery, whose death didn’t involve police at all. How do these episodes indicate that “that calling the police to settle an argument between a white woman and a black man in 2020 could result in his injury or death”? They don’t.

  • Competing with epic jerk Chris Palmer, Leigh Tauss, an editor for the progressive news outlet “Indy Week” in North Carolina, tweeted out her support for the protesters/ rioters, saying “the crowd is extremely peaceful and groups and many are wearing masks and trying to keep distance.” A few hours later, when the peaceful crowd attacked her office, she wrote, “I went into the hallway. I heard someone l enter the office and what sounded like smashing inside. We are a small newspaper with a handful of desktops. I’m now hiding in the basement.” The next day, she whined, “I’m devastated. We are a progressive newspaper. Last night I was inside when the first brick was thrown.”

“We are a progressive newspaper!” How can they attack us when we are the good people?

  • As the blog Victory Girls correctly observes, all the news media reports pressed the presumption of racism on the part of Officer Chauvin and the other three police. The evidence of this is that they are white, and Floyd was black. In fact, that proves nothing. What would have been the result if Floyd were white? What if Chauvin had been black? The episode presents a prima facie case of police brutality. The presumption of racism is included in news reports because that’s what the news media wants the public to believe. From the post:

But will the media at least consider that perhaps the problem is that the United States is a huge nation with more than 300 million people, leading to a larger number of interactions with police, not that police are disproportionately targeting African Americans? Probably not. The outrage mobs don’t want to hear that 45 percent shot by police are white men, 23 percent black men, and 16 percent Hispanic men, with 54 percent armed at the time of the encounter. The outrage mobs are more worried about exploiting the anger to foment unrest, which the media will then call on the very same government accused of abuses against its citizens to fix.

2. Hint: If you don’t want to get hurt in riots, stay out of the middle of riots. The efforts by the news media to further demonize police after reporters have been injured or arrested in the various riots glean no sympathy here. The police and National Guard have enough to worry about enforcing curfews and clearing out would-be violent law-breakers without having to figure out who is a reporter.  Do reporters who get injured standing in the middle of hurricanes demand apologies from the storms? Battle field correspondents accepted the risk of injury by accepting the assignment. I heard an indignant reporter on Fox News declaring that “this” had to stop, “this” being journalists getting injured by police measures employed to restrain rioters. The way to stop “this” is for journalists, or whatever they are, to stay away from the riots. Otherwise. it’s assumption of the risk.

3. Well, the diploma is already turned face to the wall…what else can I do? Georgetown University professor and former NPR editor Kitty Eisele expressed disappointment that  the rioters  in Washington, D.C., had not attacked the Trump International Hotel. “Shame they aren’t noticing the Trump Hotel which costs more and has a more problematic clientele,” she responded to a tweet about  the vandalism of the Hay-Adams, the historic luxury hotel across Lafayette park from the White House.

Is advocating property damage and the escalation of civil violence acceptable for faculty members at Georgetown? Apparently so.

4. Gee, this seems like a tough balancing act…Even as they are promoting the unsubstantiated spin that it’s white supremacists who are doing the looting and the rioting as a false flag operation and not that nice Antifa, at least 13 Biden campaign staff members posted on Twitter over the weekend that they made donations to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which will be using donations to pay the bail fees of those arrested in the Minneapolis riots.

Of course, if they are so committed to opposing bail that they will help release white supremacists, I salute their integrity.

5. No, there is nothing unethical or unprofessional about police and law enforcement officials joining peaceful protests against police brutality. In fact, it’s smart public relations.

Joining in the looting, burning and rioting, however, would be wrong.


33 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/1/2020: Gee, What A Nice, Ethical Beginning To June!

    • Hmm, let me try some spin.

      The tweet isn’t advocating violence or promoting destruction. Rather, it is calling attention to the fact that destroying a historic hotel is off message and distracting from what the rioters are trying to accomplish, that their point would have been better made, and perhaps alienated fewer people, if the target had been the Trump Hotel. The text regarding the price and the clientele was mainly to bemoan that, if the rioting is truly a catharsis as so many are indicating, it would have been far more cathartic if the target had been one of Trump’s properties, since Trump’s racism has been fomenting much of this discord. Furthermore, point out that…

      AAARGH!!! I can’t do it! My brain won’t cramp the right way!

  1. One of the things I am seeing a lot of on Facebook are video snippets demonstrating police engaging in unjustified violence. How dare the public question their integrity. For instance, shooting people standing on their own porch with paintballs to enforce curfews. Police standing by themselves casually trying to break a window into a building. A group of 15 officers pulling people out of a car (don’t know what the person in that car had done previously) with violence and pepper spray. Cop cars gratuitously sprayin tear gas out the window at non-violent protestors as they drive by.

    Some of them may have context to explain it, but urban police all over the country are demonstrating why the public can’t trust them. Judging all police by the actions of a few is wrong, but large groups of police seem to be intent on proving that they really are assholes.

    • I think its wise to question all video “snippets,” unless the full context of the police response is clear. Moreover, as with the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, that IS the kind of situation where police excesses require some public tolerance. The consequences of riots rest with the rioters. That was the lesson of the Boston Massacre, and what I observed in Harvard Yard in 1968. The whole idea is to make police over-react.Police have to have the benefit of the doubt. Look at your examples: “shooting people standing on their own porch with paintballs to enforce curfews” People who are supposed to be inside are supposed to be inside. “Police standing by themselves casually trying to break a window into a building.” Why? do you know? “A group of 15 officers pulling people out of a car (don’t know what the person in that car had done previously) with violence and pepper spray.” If you don’t know, why do you assume the cops are in the wrong? “Cop cars gratuitously spraying tear gas out the window at non-violent protestors as they drive by.” Context? You’re assuming bad motives with inadequate evidence. I assume it’s difficult to do the right thing in the middle of chaos.

      • “People who are supposed to be inside are supposed to be inside.”

        Wait, are you saying that stay at home orders that are meant to mitigate public safety concerns should be followed without question? Because if you are I think some of your readership is going to strongly disagree if recent history is any indication.

        • False dichotomy. A riot is an ongoing law enforcement matter and the directives of lawful authority must and can be enforced. Ordering citizens inside indefinitely based on debatable public health concerns are a different matter, dealt with under different jurisprudence and sections of the Constitution.

          Why not try to contribute something enlightening rather than hurling lame “gotchas!” from the sidelines?

          • It’s not a gotcha – it’s blatant hypocrisy. I couldn’t care less about jurisprudence because that’s not what’s shaping people’s opinion on these things. The principle is the same – people who feel like they don’t have to follow the rules because they think they’re special or they know better. If someone looks at the situation and hails one group as some sort of freedom fighters and another as getting what they deserve then call it a gotcha if you want, I call it horseshit.

            • Then you either intentionally or negligently are incapable of making material distinctions. What’s “bullshit”? In riots, people are throwing projectiles and actively interfering with law enforcement. The job is to get everyone inside and quiet. In a health emergency, standing on one’s own porch doesn’t even violate stay at home orders.

              So you distorted fact, law and logic to make a fake point that doesn’t make sense, because it supports a partisan orientation that you can’t defend honestly but have an emotional attachment to. Now THAT’S bullshit.

              What’s especially amusing is that the hypocrisy is spraying the other way—the same people who condemned citizen protests over abuses of power in state and city restrictions of citizen liberty–because of the pandemic–defend protests/riots that present the same health dangers, and have no practical value whatsoever except to grandstand for “justice.”

              • For fun sometimes I like to go back and read things you wrote about Obama when he faced the various issues of his administration, and compare those posts to how you cover Trump. Today, I searched the term “leadership”. What a ride. Frequent posts about his perceived lack of leadership, and insistence that leadership warranted no excuses. Know what I found on Trump and “leadership”? Not a whole hell of a lot. Found a lot of blame though. It’s the media’s fault! It’s democrat’s fault! It’s the deep state’s fault! And (yes, still, even now) it’s Obama’s fault!

                You once wrote this:

                “The issue is that no matter who else may be to blame, the President of the United States is ultimately responsible and accountable for any disaster that occurs while he is in power. His duty is to accept this, and act accordingly.”

                I read that, thought about how you’ve covered the ethics of the Trump administration – the impeachment, COVID, and now these protests; and I came to the conclusion that the little good I get from this blog is no longer worth it to me. Comments like this solidify it – you’ve put words into my mouth and have repeatedly inferred that I am sort sort of loony left-wing radical without justification. Political sniping against the left from other commenters (and a lot of it really dumb, and you know it is) happens regularly without you batting an eye. You don’t like being challenged – though you really need to be sometimes. I get it. But I’m not going to stick around for it.
                Cheers Jack.

                • I don’t feel the need to even rebut this garbage. You never responded to the specific points I made, and just shifted to, of all things, Obama vs. Trump, which has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

                  The context of the Obama quote was, of course, his reflex of blaming his predecessor for what occurred on his watch, such as his failed recovery policies. Of course, I cannot predict the future, or unprecedented conditions like an entire political party and the news nedia setting out to bring down an elected administration. No, the President is not accountable for THAT, nor a foreign-bred pandemic, nor contrived impeachment efforts. I don’t hold JFK responsible for the disaster of his assassination, either. I did not hold Bush responsible for Hurricane Katrina.

                  Your MO has been to deliberately misconstrue analysis into versions that support your cheap shot attacks. Too bad. You obviously have the capacity to do better.

                  Challenges will be missed; your “gotcha!” style won’t.

                • For the record, this is joey’s self-banning exit. “Cheers” is better than “good day, sir,” but only marginally. Future comments will be spammed, absent an email apology and appeal to be reinstated.

        • It was 1969, in the Spring, 1968-69 academic year, which is where I got the date wrong. Started in April–I don’t remember much that year before the takeover, riots and strike.

          Completely pointless and destructive fiasco, and yes, my views of protests and demonstrations were greatly influneced by waht I saw and especially, the asinine conversations I had with student activists at the time.

    • Some of them may have context to explain it, but urban police all over the country are demonstrating why the public can’t trust them. Judging all police by the actions of a few is wrong, but large groups of police seem to be intent on proving that they really are assholes.

      But notice that you are ‘novelizing’. You spin some examples as if it is proof of what you are emotionally asserting. By asserting *Can’t trust the police* you undermine their work, which is anything but easy. This is the beginning of a division in belief and appreciation of the police power given to police.

      These are sociological-psychological moments. It has to do with larger currents in which structures are undermined. They have to be *seen* as illegitimate. And that seeing eventually gets extended to the police themselves. They begin to see themselves as illegitimate.

      Floyd George, despite the cruelty of what he suffered, was a man involved in a criminal wave. The police must face this all the time. Certainly they are heavy handed but their heavy hands come into play against criminal resistance, not ‘out of the blue’ and without cause.

      There is also something like *transference* going on here. One can genuinely sympathize with George Floyd. But the larger harm being inflicted on our culture, on the stability of the nation, arises in a host of areas but one large on is Black rebellion: a will not to cooperate with the structures of society. Yet they say that they are oppressed. Some aspects of that cannot be denied. But the wave of general Black criminality was not caused by that.

      In any case, these are things that have to be looked into more carefully.

    • By your measure of what undermines trust I should never trust an….well…anyone again. I could assemble a set of snippets to make you have the same opinion of any set of people or animals. Snippets with a denigrating purpose are not representative of a body of work in anything. You’re just exposing your bias.

  2. RE: #1. Sadly, I think you’re being overoptimistic here. Some folks have recognized the slide for quite some time, and in these minds, the only thought is “they’re getting even worse.” But plenty of others still think the media is on the up and up, and don’t recognize how outrageously it’s now behaving.

  3. 5. No, there is nothing unethical or unprofessional about police and law enforcement officials joining peaceful protests against police brutality. In fact, it’s smart public relations.

    The more that I examine the actual incident, the more it looks *truly cruel* and completely unnecessary.

    But the far greater violence, and the far greater crimes, are perpetrated by Black criminals acting within a current of general Black rebellions and resistance. And what will now increase is not white violence directed against Blacks, but outrageous forms of black violence against Whites. But these will be non- or under-reported.

    I suggest that this is what *insight* reveals here.

    So, and with no doubt, the specific act of kneeling on that man is criminal, murderous and also sadistic (but that is my interpretation of his challenging look to those watching, as if to say “See? I can do this and so what? You can’t stop me.”)

    But this is not really the issue here. It is not what is at the core of the social and demographic struggles on-going in the US. What is happening is the beginning of the assertion of power by a rising non-white ethnic multitude and what stands behind it is specific capital interests in the US. These are outward manifestations of larger machinations that (it seem to me) are part of on-going social engineering projects.

    ‘Joining the protests’? I am not sure. Because the function of the protests is far larger, and far more consequential, than what they say they are about.

    The larger war against the authority of the police is now coalescing. But this is because the police represent an *authority* that is blindly fought against.

    It is not easy to keep one’s head when extreme emotionalism and sentimental hysteria are let loose.

  4. #3)

    The real motive of the civilization eating rioters comes out when those vocalizing support of the attacks pivot straight to Trump.

    Never mind literally every single elected person in Officer Chauvin’s chain of command is a Democrat, add that on top of all the elected people of the districts he operated in are Democrats.

    The riots are not about George Floyd.

    Among the best parts is the progressive journalist on twitter crying about her office being destroyed by rioters and wondering why their progressive bias didn’t save them.

    Well, you’re part of an institution that for decades has been quietly fomenting racial discord and animosity towards the very system that protects your right to do so and you’re going to act surprised when the savages wanting to bring down our system see you as part of the system. Shed those tears…don’t care.

  5. 1. Regarding Cooper, Jeez, by his own admission, the guy implied he was going to poison her dog. He’s lucky she didn’t shoot him herself. I thought she was pretty restrained. I hope she gets her life back.

    2. I agree regarding getting hurt. As long as police aren’t specifically targeting reporters, if the reporters get caught in the crossfire of legitimate, good policing, that’s just bad luck.

    As far as getting arrested, though, really, Jack?!?

    Here’s a link to the video of the arrest of the CNN reporter and his team:

    The arrest was completely unnacceptable on the part of the State Police. The reporter and his crew had press passes, identified themselves as reporters, and were calmly asking the police for instructions on where to report from. There was nothing chaotic happening around them that would excuse such a blatant violation of the First Amendment.

    I know you don’t like CNN, and I can’t say I blame you, but they still have a right to report. Shining light on events like this is a cornerstone of our democracy. I would say the same thing if it were a team from FOX, or even Drudge or Breitbart.

    • That case appears to have been a mistake. All examples of reporters being arrested are not. If they interfere with law enforcement in any way, they can be arrested, and should be arrested. The reporters in question were released, and apologies were issued.

      Police regard them as nuisances in situations like this, and, in general, they are. They are just Constitutionally protected nuisances.

    • The problem is “journalist” is not a special class that gets special rights or powers. If people are not supposed to be standing in the middle of the street, they are not supposed to be standing in the middle of the street. Identifying as a “reporter” and a “press pass” does not grant someone the right to do as they please. Also, what we don’t see is the communication before this video. The police may have told them not to stand in the street and they assumed “we’re righteous reporters, we are on the right side” and ignored what they were told. They may have been told “if you stay there you will be arrested” and ignored it.
      An no, this is not a First Amendment issue.

  6. Sorry, I meant to just put the link. I didn’t realize it would embed the video in the thread. I hope that’s not a violation of your terms of service. Feel free to remove it if needed.

  7. #2 – you mention war correspondents. That does give me the idea: Why in the heck don’t we have “embedded” reporters? Ones who ask to “ride along” with the police and present from their point of view. Some departments might not like the idea, but I do think many officers would like to have their side of the story presented and what better way than to have reporters standing on their side of the line?

    • Just a suspicion, but if you were the police, would you trust the media to accurately and fairly report your side? Or use the info they get to paint more terrible caricatures fo police? Why do you think it would be beneficial and not harmful, even if the police are doing the right things?

      • They do have a show with embedded cameras riding along. A&E has been airing Live PD for a few years now. A team of camera people ride along with various police officers in a dozen or so departments scattered around the US Every Friday and Saturday night The producers jump around to various live scenes as they happen. When it’s slow they have interesting snippets from earlier recordings they experience throughout the day.

        For the majority of departments is actually a very good public relations exercise. It humanizes officers and shows what it’s really like to deal with the day to day interactions with the public. They don’t edit out any of the live shots, obviously you tend to see them on their best behaviour knowing they’re being scrutinized. But you also catch episodes when certain officers get a little over zealous as well. The show doesn’t release any of the footage for prosecution purposes either. All in all most departments welcome the exposure and find it beneficial. Also gives a better understanding of a typical night dealing with a lot of the underbelly of society. I do believe that a lot of people don’t really realize that so much of their shifts are dealing with habitual offenders and people who have very little respect for the rule of law.

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