Tuesday Ethics Afterthoughts, 3/29/2022: A Cheat Sheet, Mask Mayhem, And More


The 29th is another of those ill-starred days in U.S. ethics, topped off in 1973 by the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, the half-way war that was an ethics train wreck for decades. Two years earlier, on the same date, Lt. William L. Calley was found guilty of premeditated murder by a U.S. Army court-martial at Fort Benning, Georgia. Calley, a platoon leader, had led his men in a massacre of Vietnamese civilians including women and children on March 16, 1968. Ten years before Calley’s conviction, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of espionage for their role in passing atomic secrets to the Soviets during and after World War II. They were executed in 1953, a flashpoint in the schism between the American Left and Right that still is a sore point. (Ethel appears to have been a genuine villain.)

1. I thought this was a hoax. It’s not, unfortunately: someone got a photo of the cheat cheat for “talking points” that President Biden was holding when he massacred his explanation for his Russian regime change outburst in an exchange with Peter Doocy.

This does not fill me with confidence. You? The ethical value at issue is competence.

2. The propaganda and misinformation continues. Though some recently departed here could never grasp it, honest and trustworthy newspapers shouldn’t be publishing falsity and partisan propaganda in house opinion pieces. That’s when the opinion is offered using misleading or incomplete facts—deceit–and the New York Times does it almost every day. I can’t trust a group of editors who permit that. Examples:

It’s incredible how quickly we’ve normalized the fact that the last president tried to retain power despite losing the election and that a mob he incited stormed the Capitol. Many people took part in the effort to overturn the election — among them, we recently learned, the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice, who hasn’t even recused himself in cases about the attempted coup.

The President in question wanted to challenge the results of an election he believed was the result of illegal manipulation, and as President, he had a duty to do that. I know Krugman isn’t a lawyer, but incitement is a term of art and a crime, and Trump did not “incite a mob” by addressing a crowd. Saying Justice Thomas “hasn’t even” recused himself because of the completely legal communications of his wife falsely implies that doing so is required or the justification for him to do so is undeniable. It isn’t. Editors should not allow such deliberately confusing and misleading opinion material.

  • As usual, Charles M. Blow is blowing smoke up Times readers’ hoo-has, but this column is actually useful: it demonstrates vividly how blatantly Times columnist  further Big Lies, little lies, deceit and confusion to advance an ideological agenda.  Here’s one example from that column, which is crawling with them:

Just take a look at the things that DeSantis has done since the 2020 elections.

He signed a voter suppression law, during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” no less, that included more restrictions on drop boxes and granted new authority to partisan poll watchers.


On that “voter suppression law,” which does nothing to suppress voting or voters, here is the relevant section on poll-watchers. Having poll-watchers representing the concerns of both parties is a genuine reform; it would make sure, for example, that a Bill Clinton couldn’t wander around the voters shaking hands in an election involving his wife, like he did in at least one locale in 2016. (It was illegal too, but the Hillary-smitten volunteers at the voting place didn’t dare stop Bill.) Blow deceptively implies that the “partisans” will be Republicans.

3. I’m going to do a whole post on the deceptively labeled “Don’t Say Gay” bill that Gov. DeSantis signed into law today, but here are two vivid examples of why the parents and conservatives have ethics on their side in their insistence that government schools should not expropriate parental authority in deciding how and when their children should be introduced to sexual topics.

  • In the Eau Claire, Wisconsin school district, parents were alarmed to see this poster hanging on a classroom wall:

As well they should have been. [Pointer: Misplaced it. You know who you are!]

  • Internal messages from a 4th grade elementary teacher in Austin, South Dakota revealed that she was upset that more than an entire week wasn’t dedicated to LGBTQ matters. She also said that 20 of her 32 4th graders   have “come out” to her, which is about what one would expect after being taught that being gay or whatever is “cool.” It doesn’t matter if this episode is unusual, or not typical. The fact that it can happen is reason enough to tell schools that matters of student “identity” at young ages, and maybe any ages, is none of their business. [Pointer: Willem Reese]

4. On the question of whether it is damaging and abusive to force children to wear masks in school, we have this story:

…Belle Lapos’…freshman year started in 2020 with a mix of learning from home and in-person school in Stillwater, Minn. Now a sophomore, she has been full-time at school for months, with everyone in masks. So when her school lifted its…mask mandate a few weeks ago, she and her friends had a lot of processing to do.

They worried they may be deemed less attractive. They worried about acne that had been exacerbated by face coverings. They worried about getting sick or getting family members sick. And they worried about whether wearing, or not wearing, masks might align them with certain political beliefs.

Ultimately, Belle, 16, and her friends decided to keep their masks on for now, “not because of their views on the pandemic, mostly because of their views on themselves and how they think people are going to judge them,” Belle said. “Only seeing half of someone’s face for two years straight and then completely opening up to them, like, ‘Oh, here’s my face’ — you know, it’s a lot.”

Well, it’s not supposed to be “a lot,” ever. It’s a face. Our culture has implanted a crippling neurosis in these children, and the longer fearful or “woke” parents keep them masked, the more emotionally damaged they will be.

5. One Oscars note unrelated to—you know. In a discussion of the ups and downs of the ceremony, Times reviewer A.O. Scott’s rating of an “up” began,

Its victories — especially [deaf] Troy Kotsur’s supporting actor win, a wonderful Oscar-night moment — are part of the academy’s continuing efforts to present a more diverse, inclusive face to the world.

And it’s worth pointing out that the 94th Oscars were not so white, or so male, as most of their precursors. For the second year in a row — and the third time ever — the best director is a woman. The best picture was directed by a (different) woman. The best documentary feature is the work of a Black filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. The best supporting actress, Ariana DeBose, is the first openly queer woman of color to win an acting Oscar.

Gee, that’s funny; I thought the idea of the Oscars was to designate the best in various movie production categories. But no! It is apparently to “present a more a diverse, inclusive face to the world.” It is all white “cis” male rejecting- affirmative action, and who or what was objectively “best” is way down the list of priorities. That certainly seemed to be the criteria for last night’s awards, and the Times critic were thrilled. “The movie industry is changing and is no longer the citadel of white male power that it once was,” gushed another critic.

I assume that everyone will figure out, if they haven’t already, that deaf or otherwise handicapped performers, black, Hispanic, gay and female artists will now have metaphorical thumbs on the scales in their favor whenever Oscar voting comes around–and veritable fists on the scales when a nominee ticks two boxes. The awards never had much integrity when they were just about movies. Now that they aren’t about movies but social justice, they have no integrity whatsoever.

4 thoughts on “Tuesday Ethics Afterthoughts, 3/29/2022: A Cheat Sheet, Mask Mayhem, And More

  1. Re 5
    I have never given any thought to any of the Hollywood award shows. I don’t care who is wearing whom and could not care less who is “Best” of anything.

    Movies are entertainment. If I like the theme of a particular film I will watch it. One of my favorites is routinely panned by “experts”.

    In my opinion far too much of the populace’s limited attention span is focused on the entertainment industry at the expense of working to understand the complexities of current events that will impact their lives.

    Industry awards events that market the event to the public cannot be expected to honor outstanding work by those in the industry because the target market for the event indirectly drives the agenda and who is picked to win or lose.

    Industry awards should be private events for industry participants.

    • It has been addressed here.

      An interesting exercise would be to review the winners (and losing nominees) to determine whether they would even qualify under these rules.

      The Godfather, for example.

      Any historical movie (Gladiator?) would likely have trouble.

      The whole idea is stupid.


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