Afternoon Ethics Wind-down, 11/17/2020: Greenwald, Kelly, Typical Irresponsible College Professor, And “Name Withheld”


1 Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias… Glenn Greenwald, the gadfly journalist who was cut off at the metaphorical knees for not supporting the media black-out of the Biden family influence peddling story in the waning days of the campaign (Hey! It worked, so it must be ethical!), is apparently just warming up in his campaign to expose the mainstream media’s hypocrisy and bias. Here’s a recent thread on Twitter.

Of course, it’s just a matter of time before Twitter suspends his account…

2. I LOVE this guy! He’s the perfect example of so much that’s wrong with academia, Black Lives Matters, and the entire race-baiting phenomenon! (But why is he allowed to teach anyone?) Bucknell University will be featuring a scholarly debate over the new film “What Killed Michael Brown?,” with participants considering “whether the idea of systemic racism today is a truth about what needs to be addressed in shaping a just America, or a ‘poetic truth’ that as a strategy exacerbates social division in America.” (Strange…it is beyond question that what killed Michael Brown was his fatal and perhaps drug-aided decision to resist arrest, try to grab an officer’s weapon, ignore a lawful order to stop, and to direct his entire bulk in a charge at a police officer. It will be a short webinar.) Roosevelt University journalism Professor John Fountain, one of the participants, asserts that “questioning the existence and impact of systemic racism in the United States is itself offensive and racist.”

3. Whew! I almost lost this one. From an October 6 column by “The Ethicist.” “Name Withheld” writes:

Over the past few years, my sister-in-law has experienced unusual problems with her eyesight for which she has seen several ophthalmologists and neurologists… The condition seems to be getting worse and more complicated with time. [She]was recently advised to call a doctor whom many believe to be the leading authority in neuro-ophthalmology, [but] the first available appointment was four months out. …A friend happens to be a close colleague of this physician. I know that he could easily get my sister-in-law in to see the doctor tomorrow if I asked.

So, what am I to do? I cannot stand seeing my sister-in-law literally writhe with anxiety… Her future is up in the air. But so, too, seem to be my lifelong principles [She has “spent my life eschewing preferential treatment that might arise from anything other than my own hard work”]. Which response is the best one for both of us?

“Name Withheld” is grandstanding. Her helping her sister won’t make the system any worse, will help someone she has a family obligation to, and would only be unethical if there were any coherent and justice -based rules by which appointments were allocated. This is the brain rot created by the utopians who believe that we should torture human nature to eliminate the basic, random, chaotic injustices of life, when we know, or should know, that such in justices can’t be eliminated. Society works because of relationships, contacts, mutual favors and networking. That’s what society is. Building social capital that can be spent in such situations is a life competency.

The Ethicist gets this one right, responding in part,

Your responsibilities to your sister-in-law are specific to your relationship with her. You have what philosophers call “special obligations” to her — obligations that you don’t have to people in general. Special obligations are a feature of friendship and kinship. Your concern to avoid taking advantage of your social capital in this case — your concern for social fairness — is different: a general ethical commitment without specific roots in your relationships…you can both be committed to a society that fairly allocates medical attention and acknowledge the special demands of your relationship with your sister-in-law — and your friend’s relationship with this doctor. You can give weight both to the general principle, as a citizen, and to these particular concerns, as an intimate of this patient….
In a perfectly fair world, where medical resources were allocated by a proper evaluation of needs, your sister-in-law might or might not have to wait many months for her appointment. But in the actual, imperfect world, your taking advantage of a connection you happen to have doesn’t obviously make our society worse: The doctor can be doing what he’s entitled to do, and the system’s unfairness is not worsened by your act. “Her tears echo mine,” you say. If you secure special treatment for your sister-in-law, you may think that someone has done something wrong. You don’t need to think that this someone is you.

4. In this situation, at least, everyone should be like Megyn Kelly. During this week’s broadcast of her podcast, “The Megyn Kelly Show,” Kelly said that she received a letter from the administrators of her two young sons’ NYC school that explained a plan to implement an extreme racial social justice agenda focusing on “reforming” white children who are inherently racist. The school had previously circulated an article that argued in part,

“There is a killer cop sitting in every school where white children learn. They gleefully soak in their whitewashed history that downplays the holocaust of indigenous native peoples and Africans in the Americas. They happily believe their all-white spaces exist as a matter of personal effort and willingly use violence against black bodies to keep those spaces white… As black bodies drop like flies around us by violence at white hands, how can we in any of our minds conclude that whites are all right?” the article added. “White children are left unchecked and unbothered in their schools, homes, and communities to join, advance, and protect systems that take away black life. I am tired of white people reveling in their state-sanctioned depravity, snuffing out black life with no consequences…Where’s the urgency for school reform for white kids being indoctrinated in black death and protected from the consequences? Where are the government-sponsored reports looking into how white mothers are raising culturally deprived children who think black death is okay?

She’s pulling her children out of the school, and leaving the city.

13 thoughts on “Afternoon Ethics Wind-down, 11/17/2020: Greenwald, Kelly, Typical Irresponsible College Professor, And “Name Withheld”

  1. I’m sorry: I’m posting this one without tags or categories because I just want to get the damn thin UP. Thanks to the %#$@!&*%% WordPress “Improved” editor system, which I thought I was finally mastering, posting this took 45 minutes. Formats were jumping around, I was getting locked into stuff I didn’t want…i started over six times. Damn them, damn this “improvement” damn software that they keep tinkering with. I will want that time back on my deathbed. I’ll get the tags and the rest in after I cool off.

      • When your harebrained conspiracy theory involves Trump you get to spread disinformation as much as possible, for years, with no fact-checking, and you can even force the Feds to “investigate” your fraudulent claims for political theater.
        And when the useless investigation turns up nothing, you can just report, “I guess he got away with it” and they won’t fact-check that, either.

      • Michael,
        I can foresee a day where people who stand accused by the law will have their statements carry a disclaimer that their claims of innocence are disputed but will carry no such disclaimer on the accusation.

  2. The day he announced is departure from The Intercept, I subscribed to Greenwald on Substack. He’s far too progressive for my tastes overall, but the man has courage and recognizes the pathetic state of modern media. Anyone with the cojones to do that is, in my view, worth fifty of my bucks a year.

    • If you’re serious, The Daily Wire is actively making a bid to become a new media mogul. I’m in agreement with your attitude about anyone who is going to stomp on as he calls it “the chokehold of mainstream and social media” is something I’ll thinking of buying into.

  3. When someone writes a psychotic screed like #4, they should be immediately committed to an inpatient psychiatric facility. That is all.

    • “White children/kids/people” vs. “Black bodies/life/death.” I’m shocked no one’s called a false flag on this kind of dehumanizing language.

  4. 3. I don’t find this one so easy to answer! My first instinct is the same as Name Withheld’s: I generally hesitate to use relationships to skip the line at a restaurant, share employee discounts or whatever.
    On the one hand, where is the line between something like this and flagrant nepotism in hiring or admissions?
    On the other hand, I do see that this situation is less of a pure zero sum game, and can be looked at as a favour that hurts nobody except the doctor who has to squeeze an extra appointment in.

  5. Re: 3: Like you, Tony C., I don’t find this one easy at all, and I agree with your assessment.
    Re: 4: “‘reforming’ white children who are inherently racist.” Chilling just to read. Who has the power to determine that a white child is inherently racist, and what, if any, criteria do they use? Oh, as I write this I realize the criterion is simply having white skin. Call me slow.

    • The same people who get to decide what ‘disinformation’ and ‘hate speech’ is. They are more progressive than you, therefore they are better than you, therefore they have power over you. It is just like being a Duke or a Baron, really.

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