Mid-Weekend Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/19/21: Also Sprach Ethics Alarms…

1. More evidence that social media corrupts everything it touches…In an interview about her hit HBO mini-series “Mare of Eastham” (not bad, if you like being depressed), actress Kate Winslet revealed that actresses are sometimes cast in plum roles by producers because they have more social media followers than actresses who are better suited for the parts. Considering fake Twitter followers can be bought, this is strong incentive for actors to cheat. It isn’t that Twitter itself is unethical, just that it is a catalyst for unethical conduct in so many ways. Again permit me to quote the Amityville House: “GET OUT!!!

2. Speaking of actors, Frederick March has been cancelled by his alma mater. University of Wisconsin officials have removed the late, great Fredric March’s name from campus theaters. March is one of the greatest and most prolific of American film actors who also had a distinguished stage career, despite the fact that few under the age of 60 today could identify him. (His most acclaimed movie is the iconic “The Best Years of Our Lives,” and the role most would recognize is probably his performance opposite Spencer Tracy in “Inherit the Wind,” where March channels William Jennings Bryan.) March’s artistic achievements and his mastery of his craft certainly make him an appropriate figure to memorialize with a theater, except for one detail: when March was a student over a hundred years ago, he joined an organization called the Ku Klux Klan that apparently had no affiliation with the notorious racist and nativist Southern organization of the same name. John MacWhorter explains the confusion here.

Investigations into March’s beliefs and activities show that, if anything, he was a vocal opponent of racism all of his life, so tarring him as a Klansman is unfair and untrue. But in 2018, the university took his name off the Fredric March Play Circle Theater on the Madison campus, and did the same this year to a theater on its Oshkosh campus. After all, students need to fell “safe” from a dead actor’s naive conduct before anyone had heard of him a century ago because of the accidental death of a petty criminal and drug addict under the knee of a brutal cop. McWhorter quotes a Madison student actor as saying, “I cannot believe that my friends and I have been performing in a space named after someone who would have considered all of us to be lesser beings…I find it so ironic that we are sharing our intersectional stories in a theater that honors a racist.” Ah, yes, the Great Stupid, where Facts Don’t Matter.

But I don’t think the University of Wisconsin had much choice but to consign March’s memorials to Cancel Culture Hell. If the school had to spend tens of thousands to remove a giant boulder that was once called a “niggerhead” because students protested, administrators were only being realistic to conceded that they could only lose if they tried to defend Frederick March….unless and until they did a better job teaching students to think.

3. Thank God the Biden Administration has returned openness and trustworthiness to government! From the New York Times yesterday:

“The Pentagon acknowledged on Friday that the last U.S. drone strike before American troops withdrew from Afghanistan was a tragic mistake that killed 10 civilians, including seven children, after initially saying it had been necessary to prevent an attack on troops….Almost everything senior defense officials asserted in the hours, and then days, and then weeks after the Aug. 29 drone strike turned out to be false. The explosives the military claimed were loaded in the trunk of a white Toyota sedan struck by the drone’s Hellfire missile were probably water bottles, and a secondary explosion in the courtyard in a densely populated Kabul neighborhood where the attack took place was probably a propane or gas tank, officials said….”

They didn’t “turn out to be false,” they were false, and the Pentagon was lying, just as the Biden Administration has lied about so many things regarding the Afghanistan withdrawal. In this instance, journalists doing their jobs (for a change) made the convenient lies impossible to maintain, but boy, the Administration sure tried. Then again, the memo has gone out from Democratic headquarters to make sure all headlines call this fiasco a “tragic mistake” rather than using the dreaded “C word,” cover-up. How quickly and loudly would Democrats in Congress be demanding investigations and accountability for such a botch if it occurred under Trump’s watch?

4. Why do the victims of the pandemic warrant memorials more than the victims of anything else? “More Than 600,000 White Flags On The National Mall Honor Lives Lost To COVID” says the NPR headline. “Hundreds of thousands of white flags honor the more than 670,000 people in the United States who have died from the coronavirus,” says the Times. First of all, the number is false. We know that all of those people didn’t “die from” the Wuhan virus. Many of them died from other illnesses and conditions while they had the virus, but the CDC decided to call them pandemic deaths anyway. Meanwhile, in 2019, 659,041 actually did die from cancer, and 599,601 died from heart disease. Why were there no flags put up for them? It’s simple, really: there was no perceived partisan, political advantage to be gained. The Axis of Unethical Conduct, the “resistance”/Democrats / and mainstream news media, are committed to spinning the pandemic to blame the deaths on Republicans in general, and Donald Trump in particular. “I’ve been grappling with when it became OK for even one person to die of preventable illness,” the Times story quotes one doctor as saying. In what respect were pandemic deaths uniquely “preventable”?

The memorial is agitprop, and nothing more.

5. Res ipsa loquitur deja vu! my favorite example of the legal principle of res ipsa loquitur, meaning that the existence of something alone is sufficient evidence to prove misconduct, comes from a 1918 court opinion in a  lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds. The suit was brought by a  customer who had chomped down on a  rotting, severed human toe while trying to enjoy a chaw of chewing tobacco. The grossed out man first lost his case based on the theory of “let the buyer beware,” but he won on appeal when a judge ruled, among other things, that the plaintiff didn’t have to prove negligence, in such a case, because, the appellate judge wrote, he could not “imagine human toes could not be left out of chewing tobacco, and if toes are found in chewing tobacco, it seems to us that somebody has been very careless.”

Alert commenter JutGory, no doubt recalling this case (which I have mentioned here before), sent me this story out of Bolivia. A woman bit into a burger at a fast food restaurant and discovered she was eating a decomposing human finger. (She took photos!) After she reported the disgusting garnish, the establishment continued “serving customers like nothing had happened,” she wrote. After her post went viral, a company spokesperson called the discovery an “unfortunate incident” and explained that an employee had lost part of a finger while prepping the meat. He just didn’t bother to tell anybody. The company is being fined, but so far, it is unknown whether the woman will file a lawsuit. I doubt that U.S. cases are considered precedent in Bolivia.

6. Finally, Curmie has provided interesting commentary on the nursing student who was kicked out of a program for doing exactly what she was assigned to do. Ethics Alarms beat Curmie to the web on the story with this post, but only because he sent me a tip. As usual, Curmie’s insider perspective on the weird, weird world of higher education is both edifying and entertaining.

6 thoughts on “Mid-Weekend Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/19/21: Also Sprach Ethics Alarms…

  1. We know that all of those people didn’t “die from” the Wuhan virus. Many of them died from other illnesses and conditions while they had the virus, but the CDC decided to call them pandemic deaths anyway.

    Do you have a link to this?

    This pandemic has been used as a cudgel to compel obedience.

    “I’ve been grappling with when it became OK for even one person to die of preventable illness,” the Times story quotes one doctor as saying.

    I wonder what that doctor thinks of AIDS.

    On a related note.

    • Re AIDS: Remember that early-on in that crisis we were all told that everyone was equally at risk, even after that was known to be untrue.

  2. Nursing departments all over the country are apparently doing the same thing. I spoke with someone who was told they had to be vaccinated to participate in the nursing program at a state college, even though it is against state law to require this. The student protested that such a requirement was illegal and the administrator denied the law existed. The administrator also stated that the hospital the student would do clinicals required the vaccine. When the student pointed out that the hospital in question was banned from vaccine mandates, the administrator again lied. Numerous students have claimed that state college nursing programs have mailed nursing students letters claiming they have to be fully vaccinated to participate in the program, even though it is against state law.

    Why would administrators knowingly violate the law to get students vaccinated? Why can they get away with it? All answers to the first question would be considered ‘conspiracy theories’. The answer to the second question is ‘because they can’. We do not have a court system that will hold state universities responsible for violating the law. No doubt some students will sue, the schools will be found in the wrong, and the polices will be voided…months after the program starts. Those who weren’t vaccinated will be thrown out of the program and forced to reapply…and possibly denied admission next time. Many who didn’t want to be vaccinated will get the vaccine rather than give up on their dreams and even if they suffer side effects. What will the price be for the administrators and schools who violated the law? Nothing. They get much of what they want and there is no price. Why would anyone follow the law?

    • For a majority of nurses, concerns about the future ability to bear children are why they are hesitant to get newly-developed vaccines, even though they have had vaccines most people do not have.

      This same dynamic was in play in New York when the state mandated the H1N1 vaccine for health care workers twelve years ago; a nurse’s union opposed this.


      Setting aside the fact that this mandate was limited to a sub-sector of society with a greater interest in infection control than the general population, this was a law passed by a legislature, going through the normal legislative process, including debate. the nurses’ union had their say, as well as experts in disease transmission.

      Lawlessness by authority is much more dangerous than 100 million unvaccinated Americans. But this is cut from the same corrupt cloth as requiring vaccinations to patronize a bar or restaurant (something the New York legislature did not dare do in 2009) and killing rescue dogs to keep personnel from spreading COVID-19 (again, the authorities did not even claim the dogs themselves were infected).

      If the trolley problem was between one thousand COVID-19 restrictionists and a sickly dog with only a few days left to live, I know what my choice would be.

  3. #3: What are the chances that the drone strike was rushed to provide a “victory” distraction from mounting coverage of the Afghanistan withdrawal failures?
    Aspirin factory strike in Sudan, anyone?

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