Sunday Ethics Insomnia, 11/29/2020: No Wonder I Can’t Sleep!

1. I hate 99.9% of the petitions offered at but I’m signing this one . It reads,

Professor Dorian Abbot, a tenured faculty member in the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, has recently come under attack from students and postdocs for a series of videos he posted to YouTube expressing his reservations about the way Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts have been discussed and implemented on campus.
In these videos Prof. Abbot raised several misgivings about DEI efforts and expressed concern that a climate of fear is “making it extremely difficult for people with dissenting viewpoints to voice their opinions.” The slides for each of Prof. Abbot’s videos can be found here, and his own account of events and his opinions can be found here. Nowhere in these materials does Prof. Abbot offer any opinion that a reasonable observer would consider to be hateful or otherwise offensive.

Shortly after uploading the videos, Abbot’s concerns were confirmed when 58 students and postdocs of the Department of Geophysical Sciences, and 71 other graduate students and postdocs from other University of Chicago departments, posted a letter containing the claim that Prof. Abbot’s opinions “threaten the safety and belonging of all underrepresented groups within the [Geophysical Sciences] department” and “represent an aggressive act” towards research and teaching communities.

[Pointer: Pennagain]

2. “Hello, Newman...” According to the Postal Service’s own records, more than 150,000 mail-in ballots were not delivered in time for them to be counted on election day. This is, of course, as I and anyone else who was paying attention expected and predicted, because the USPS is undependable

I am surprised that the number was that low.

3. Yesterday’s bad ethics anniversary: the Tawana Brawley fiasco begins. I was going to post on this, but was stuck on my laptop most of the day. The combination of caring for an ill spouse, fending off a big dog that constantly wanted to climb into my lap, and WordPress’s %$#@ “block” system which still doesn’t work right anywhere but especially on a laptop, defeated me.

On 11/28/1987in Wappingers Falls, New York, a black teenager named Tawana Brawley was found covered with feces smeared on her body and wrapped in garbage bags. Some of her hair had been hacked off, and “nigger” was scrawled on her body. Brawley’s horrifying story: she had been kidnapped, held against her will for four days and repeatedly raped by a gang of white men, one of whom she claimed was a police officer.

Muckraking attorneys C. Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox along with a flamboyant community activist named Al Sharpton took up Brawley’s cause, alleging that there was a cover-up by the police. But Brawley had made the whole tale up. She had staged her abuse, writing the racial epithet on herself, apparently to escape punishment from her parents for staying out all night. Unwilling to abandon the media circus they had created by exploiting Brawley’s hoax, Sharpton and the others began making unsubstantiated and irresponsible accusations, claiming, for example, that Assistant District Attorney Stephen Pagones had been one of Brawley’s (imaginary )rapists and that Special Prosecutor Robert Abrams had masturbated to photos of Brawley. Proving that the acorn hadn’t fallen far from the tree, Brawley’s family joined her in refusing to testify or cooperate with the investigation.

In October 1988, a grand jury held that the only crime had been committed by the alleged victim. Mason and Maddox were disciplined by the New York State Bar, and Pagones filed and won a libel suit against Mason, Maddox and Sharpton, Al hasn’t paid a cent of it. Meanwhile, he parlayed the publicity into a lucrative career as a race-baiting huckster at the national level, and was even consulted repeatedly by Eric Holder and the Obama administration.

The fact that MSNBC presents Sharpston as the host of a news and commentary show tells you all you need you know about that network. As for Brawley, she has never apologized or explained her actions. Her legacy, in addition to the curse of Al Sharpton, is the tactics of activists in the Black Lives Matter-fueling controversies over the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown, among others.

4. Are you alarmed yet? Why the hell not? Here is the message that greeted Twitter users who tried to share links to lawyer Sidney Powell’s lawsuit relating to alleged voter fraud and illegal ballots in the 2020 Presidential election:

Twitter censorship

A consistent standard for Twitter would have mandated the same warning regarding any links to documents in the House’s impeachment of President Trump. Twitter is censoring facts it doesn’t want the public to have access to. Powell’s allegations aren’t facts, but their existence is.

5. I guess it’s finally time for a personal boycott of Starbucks stores and products. Past time, in fact. Remember this story (item #2), in which the EEOC filed a complaint against Kroger for forcing employees to wear a rainbow heart symbol on their uniforms and firing those who refused? This is worse.

In New Jersey, former Starbucks barista Betsy Fresse has filed suit against Starbucks, claiming she was wrongfully terminated for refusing to wear the official company LBGTQ Pride T-shirt, which she told her bosses violated her religious beliefs. Starbucks can legally require its employees to help promote anything the company promotes within reason, because the First Amendment prohibition on compelled speech only applies to the government. However, Fresse claims that when she began working as a barista at a Starbucks in 2018, she informed her managers of her religious beliefs. When she transferred to a Starbucks in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, her new manager told her that she would not be required to wear the Pride T-shirt during her shifts. Then she was contacted by Starbucks’ ethics and compliance helpline several weeks later, and although she again explained that she did not want to wear the Pride shirt “because her religious beliefs prevented her from doing so,” she was fired. Starbucks said “her comportment was not in compliance with Starbucks’ core values.”

It doesn’t matter what kind of virtue-signaling and public indoctrination a business engages in. It is coercive, disrespectful and obnoxious. When it it is aligned with the demands of the state, it’s also ominous. As for Fresse, if she was told that wearing the Pride shirt would be a condition of employment and still accepted the job, she should have no legitimate complaint. However, if she was assured that the company would respect her religious convictions, it was unethical for the company to do otherwise.

I’ll be going somewhere else for my obscenely over-priced coffee from now on.

6. I did not see this coming: since I posted the Charles Mackay poem “You Have No Enemies” two weeks ago after I heard it recited by Margaret Thatcher (played by Gillian Anderson) on “The Crown,” it has been the most read post on Ethics Alarms.

15 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Insomnia, 11/29/2020: No Wonder I Can’t Sleep!

    • I thought the same thing but changed my mind. We need fewer hyphenated peoples in America. The left thrives on division which pits one group against another. Every damn hyphenated group has some grievance against another and that wastes time and resources. We are but one team and when we played as a team there was nothing we could not accomplish.

      The last thing we need now is Republican-Americans and Democrat-Americans. It is bad enough as it is without codifying it into law.

      • I propose, just like antifa says that you are either with them or you are a fascist, we call the new movement Antitre, for anti-treason. There are only two positions with us, and treason. Kill a traitor today!

        • I would like someone produce a documentary showing how true fascism takes hold in a society and how its allies in business help maintain it. Then compare it to the lefts current behavior and the actions of silicon valley and the media.

          I bet most of these ANTIFA idiots would not recognize a fascist if one bit them in the ass. Jack Dorsey comes to mind.

    • HERE’S what went haywire! The damn “block” system leaves me with about ten “Start writing or choose a block” messages at teb end of every post, because every paragraph deleted or shifted leaves you with one. I sometimes copy a whole source article into a draft when the source is NBC, because NBC doesn’t let you cut and paste. So I need to “select all” and am stuck with all the junk on the sides. THEN I can copy part of a sentence or name and take it into then draft. All the stupid “start writing” messages vanish in the final, but that one NBC piece was at the end of a string of about 25, and I didn’t see it.

      THAT’S what went haywire. At about 5:30 am.

  1. 2. “Hello, Newman…” According to the Postal Service’s own records, more than 150,000 mail-in ballots were not delivered in time for them to be counted on election day. This is, of course, as I and anyone else who was paying attention expected and predicted, because the USPS is undependable

    I am surprised that the number was that low.

    I think the operative word in that is “in time” and based on personal experience I completely agree that the 150,000 number is likely false.

    As reported in the Business Insider

    Kim Frum, a USPS representative, told Business Insider in a statement, “The Postal Service is required by law to deliver all mail that is deposited in our system. We cannot control when voters choose to mail their completed ballots, but we implemented extraordinary measures to ensure ballots were, and continue to be, delivered to the boards of elections as quickly as possible. More than 97% of the ballots in question were delivered on-time pursuant to our service standards.”

    “The post office’s target for on-time ballot deliveries is 97%, but in Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia the on-time rate was just 84.6%.”

    Let’s extrapolate that 97% expected delivery rate to this presidential election where 154,022,830 people voted and there was only 6,185,406 votes separating the two candidates.

    What if the entire nation had gone to mail-in ballots for the 2020 election and the mail in rate continued at 97%, that would mean that the ballots of 4,620,685 people would not be delivered on time.

    Now lets insert reality into the equation and use the actual delivery rate of Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia which was 84.6%, that would mean that the ballots of 23,719,516 people would not be delivered on time. Yes that’s over twenty-three million ballots that would have been uncounted because of the United States Postal Service is incompetent.

    I raised the problems I’ve been seeing with the United States Postal Service (USPS) for the last 10+ years when the subject of mail-in voting became irrationally popular with Democrats but the Democrats did not, and still do not, see a problem with the USPS delivery rates or any other problems that arise with switching to mail-in voting at the 11th hour.

    Something else I’ve noticed; I think is interesting how the political left reacts, they call something as simple and innocuous as long lines at polling stations and requiring voter ID voter suppression, neither of which is actually voter suppression, but they don’t call the USPS not delivering mail-in ballots voter suppression. The political left is bastardizing everything calling almost anything voter suppression and racist voter suppression especially initiatives by Republicans to ensure the integrity of elections, why aren’t they bastardizing what the USPS did as voter suppression and racist voter suppression when the USPS acknowledges that they didn’t deliver 150,000 ballots on time?

    • Simple, because they only called things racist and voter suppression when they make it harder for them to wait until the large Urban Democratic areas are the last to be counted, and then manufac…ah, count enough votes to put their guy over the top.

  2. (1) The situation is far worse than you suspect. The NSF and NIH now requires DIE essays on all grants. You may have the solution to today (or tomorrow’s) problems, you may hold the key to new discoveries, but it you have too many white or Asian guys in the group, you can’t get funding. Huh, notice how incompetent our response to coronavirus has been. I wonder if there is a connection.

  3. …fending off a big dog that constantly wanted to climb into my lap…

    I suppose this isn’t any of my business but…

    Are you training your dog? My dog understands it’s not okay for her to get up on me anytime she wants. She has to have permission. I teach this to my clients as it’s not just about discipline but safety. There are times it’s simply not safe or in my or her best interest to just do whatever she wants like, getting into my lap, for example.

    Creating a signal by using a release word for your dog to proceed will help you both have less stress.

    Also I hope Grace feels better soon!

    • Thanks. It’s a trade-off. Spuds was neglected, and in addition to a natural inclination to be a lap dog (at 60+ pounds), he’s also in need of security after over a year of neglect and rejection. He’ll stand down if we demand it. I’m just a sucker for needy animals.

  4. A consistent standard for Twitter would have mandated the same warning regarding any links to documents in the House’s impeachment of President Trump. Twitter is censoring facts it doesn’t want the public to have access to. Powell’s allegations aren’t facts, but their existence is.

    Or claims that Russia “hacked the election”.

    These claims perpetuated by mainstream sources, not just siome random crackpots, led to eighty percent of Democratic voters beluieving that the Russians hacked the vote totals.

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