Monday Ethics Madness, 5/24/2021: Ramalamadingdong

1. Headline from The Great Stupid: In today’s New York Times, front page, before the fold: “Crime Surging, Cities Reassess Policing Limits.” Wow! Who could have seen that coming? There’s plenty of stupid in the main body of the article too. For example, it quoted LA citizen Helen Jones, an African-American woman, thusly: “I don’t care how bad it gets — no one wants more cops. We don’t need tougher police, we need more alternatives to help people thrive.”

This is yet another example of what Homer Simpson called “Ramalamadingdong”: meaningless blather (like “Give peace a chance”) that people just say as if it communicates anything coherent, when it doesn’t. Laws have to be enforced. Law enforcement requires police, and sometimes force. There is no alternative to law enforcement if people are going to “thrive.”

It’s unethical to advocate for policies that are in defiance of reality, Helen. Shut up. You’re not helping.

2. Ah, yes, the old “I’m only human” defense. If Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s dictatorial governor who has distinguished herself with multiple arbitrary restrictions on personal liberty using the pretense that she was fighting the pandemic, wasn’t such a proven hypocrite and phony maybe her apology for being caught red-handed violating her own protocols might be a little more credible. But Whitmer is a weasel, so when photos surfaced showing her openly violating her mandated social distancing guidelines at a restaurant, happily socializing with a large group of unmasked friends—you know, the Special People— at the Landshark Bar & Grill, her mea culpa can’t be taken seriously. “Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been committed to following public health protocols,” Whitmer said in a statement reported by the Detroit News.  “Yesterday, I went with friends to a local restaurant. As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn’t stop to think about it. In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize.”

Her “mistake’ was getting caught. She has been among the most obnoxious Wuhan autocrats in the nation: how could she “not think about it”? Elected officials don’t get to use the “I’m only human” dodge. They are entrusted with power because voters believe that they are exemplars, and have the self-discipline and ethical commitment to avoid the misconduct that tempts typical “humans.” Moreover, Whitmer is just the latest in a long line of Democratic elected officials to show their sense of entitlement, among them Nancy Pelosi, The Worst Mayor In America, Lori Lightfoot, The Second Worst, Bill deBlasio, Austin, Texas Mayor Steve Adler, California Governor Gavin Newsome, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl (“ZELDA!”); San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo; Sen. Dianne Feinstein; Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; Governor Andrew Cuomo (of course); and D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser (Third Worst Mayor in America). They may all be human, but the real commonality is that they are all Democrats with the classic attitude of totalitarians: laws and rules are for the underlings, not their rulers.

3. A half-victory for enemies of anti-American disinformation. On April 28, it was reported that Nikole Hannah-Jones, the force behind the discredited “1619 Project,” had been awarded, with tenure, the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Then, after considerable criticism from academics, alumni, historians and others, UNC-Chapel Hill’s board of trustees withdrew that offer and replaced it with an offer of a five-year appointment as a “professor of practice.” Well, Hannah-Jones is just as unqualified for that teaching position as she is for the Chair: she lies. She makes stuff up. She is a race-obsessed political activist, not a scholar. She’s in the business of indoctrination and disinformation, not education.

Oh, I understand why the University took this half-way measure: it was afraid of being called racist, since that what Hannah-Jones and her supporters do to all critics. The fact remains that the school’s actions make no sense. If the woman isn’t qualified to be tenured because she’s a lying, untrustworthy fraud, why is she qualified to pollute young minds for five years? She isn’t, and the teaching offer is irresponsible, incompetent and cowardly.

The usual woke propagandists, those who brushed aside the fact that the “1619 Project” was based on imaginary history, lies and anti-American Critical Race Theory cant, attacked the decision to withdraw the tenure offer, but more disturbing was the argument by Reason’s Robby Souve, who wrote, “Hannah-Jones is eminently qualified to teach race in journalism, and while all the details are not known, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that she was punished for expressing a politically disfavored viewpoint.”

Wrong. Her “1619 Project” thesis that the United States was formed to preserve slavery isn’t a “politically disfavored viewpoint,” it’s an ideologically generated lie with no evidence to support it at all. Universities don’t hire professors who claim the Holocaust never happened, or that the world is flat, or that dinosaurs are a myth. Those may be opinions, but because no facts support those opinions, a competent school doesn’t hire teachers who will promote them.

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, does a definitive defenestration of Hannah-Jones here.

4. Amazon pretends to care about fake product reviews. About three weeks ago, Amazon purged some big brands on Amazon, including more than a dozen Chinese companies that sell electronics like phone chargers and external smartphone batteries. The sellers, analysts believe were punished for manipulating customer reviews. Amazon’s public statements support that theory. But it’s all for show.

It is impossible to police online reviews, much as it is impossible to prevent voter fraud if you allow mail-in ballots. It is an open secret that paid-for or otherwise fake reviews are common on Amazon and elsewhere on the web. A computer security recommendation website recently uncovered a database of Amazon merchants organizing payments in return for about 13 million positive reviews. This probably prompted Amazon to appear to take action against a practice it had known about for a long time.

Juozas Kaziukėnas, the founder of e-commerce research firm Marketplace Pulse, told the New York Times that it may be time to stop using reviews as a go-to way to gauge other people’s opinions on products or services. “It’s the internet,” he said. “Nothing is real on the internet.” Times tech writer Shira Ovide laments,

“Wouldn’t it be nicer if we could more confidently click “buy” without worrying that we’ve been misled? Shouldn’t we demand more from Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Rotten Tomatoes to make sure that feedback is as trustworthy and transparent as possible? We shouldn’t have to put up with fakes and frauds.”


9 thoughts on “Monday Ethics Madness, 5/24/2021: Ramalamadingdong

  1. 3–The superb Wood piece includes many marvelous ancillary links, which blast Hannah-Jones & her fact-bereft BS broadside, leaving them listing badly, to no one’s surprise, aport…

  2. 4. Anyone who believes internet product and service ratings is dumber than people who take at face value anything they read in the news rather than immediately asking themselves, “What’s this guy’s angle?”

    • Yeah, I told my wife that Amazon product reviews were useless. Then I followed that up with, “just about all internet reviews are useless.” I know I’ve said it more than once.

      • I’m most struck by people who rate very good restaurants a “one” and simply rag on the service and the food. They clearly are just ornery people who probably always cause a scene any time they’re a customer to get attention. Or maybe trolls paid by competitors. Just not sure how a service can be rated “one” by one person and “five” by another. Just doesn’t add up. Just fishy.

  3. What many people (especially those who advocate for “defunding the police”) don’t realize is that right now, the only thing that’s preventing vigilante justice being meted out to rioters is the very police force that they demonize.

    At some point, that will no longer be the case, either because the police will simply withdraw that protection, or they will be so diminished and demoralized that they will not have the resources to do the job. Either way, whether you have official law enforcement or “impromptu” enforcement, order will eventually be imposed.

    If these fools who want to see policing eradicated think the cops are brutal, wait until they see what happens when a mob of frustrated, angry citizens shows up to enforce the rules. Dark times lie down the road we’re on, and our so-called leaders lack the integrity to insist on changing course.

    • At some point, that will no longer be the case, either because the police will simply withdraw that protection, or they will be so diminished and demoralized that they will not have the resources to do the job.

      Or if there is a perception that the police, prosecutors, and courts are above the law, a perception that in some places is sadly reinforced by reality.

    • Portland and Minneapolis police have proven that even though they stand down and let the rioters have their way, they have the time and energy to go after those that stand up to rioters.

  4. 1. Helen, I don’t think you fully grasp how bad it could get. I’m pretty sure that, at some point, should you or someone you love become the victim of a horrible crime, you will demand that the police grab the guilty party off the street and throw him in prison (without due process, of course).
    2. All that thought put into mandating rigid rules for social distancing and she didn’t think about being in a restaurant unmasked? Gimme a break. There are different rules for the political elite (Democrats). They either think they’re immune from the virus or don’t think the virus is as serious as they are claiming it is. Either way, rules are for little people and Republicans.
    3. I cant argue with a thing written here. She is an ideologue, not a historian or even a journalist.

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