Ethics Breezes And Gales, 4/14/2022: The End Of A Conspiracy And The Beginning Of Conspiracy Theories [Corrected]

April 14 will always be the date that I associate above all else with Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, which occurred 157 years ago.  Lincoln and the audience at Ford’s Theater laughed uproariously, as John Wilkes Booth knew they would, at the line “Why you sockdologizing old man-trap!” in the play the Lincolns and their guests were watching, “Our American Cousin.” Booth fired a single-shot derringer into the back of Lincoln’s skull, dreew a dagger and stabbed Major Rathbone, also in Lincoln’s box along with Mrs. Lincoln and Rathbone’s fiancee, in the arm, and dramatically leaped down onto the stage, shouting Virginia’s motto,“Sic semper tyrannis! (Thus ever to tyrants!) The South is avenged!”  Booth caught his spur on a draped flag on the way down and broke his leg, but limped across the stage and out to waiting horse through a back stage exit. Lincoln never regained consciousness.

Not only was it the first and still most spectacular of the four Presidential assassinations [Notice of Correction: I originally wrote “five,” not because I can’t count, which is what usually happens, but because I was counting Reagan, because he was actually shot. Moron. Thanks to Steve-O-in NJ for alerting me, or I’d have to ban myself from the blog for passing on “misinformation”], Booth’s act and subsequent events, oddities and coincidences launched perhaps the first widespread political conspiracy theory. I wrote in 2010,

[A]s a teenager, I became fascinated by the Lincoln assassination conspiracy. A best-seller at the time was “Web of Conspiracy,” an over-heated brief for the theory that Lincoln’s War Secretary, Edwin Stanton, and others in the military were in league with John Wilkes Booth. The author, a mystery writer named Theodore Roscoe, was constantly suggesting sinister motives by asking questions like “The sealed records of the official assassination investigation were destroyed in a mysterious fire. Was the War Department afraid of what the documents would prove? Would they have implicated Stanton? We will never know.”  This tactic is on view regularly today, used generously by the purveyors of modern conspiracies…

Then again, sometimes conspiracy theories, even unlikely ones, turn out to be true. There was sure a lot of smoke around Lincoln’s assassination (after all, there really was a conspiracy, as Booth had at least five co-conspirators working on his plot for months), and it didn’t help when Robert Lincoln, Abe’s son, was caught burning his papers and told the man who interrupted him (allegedly) that he was doing so because the contained proof that a member of his father’s own cabinet was involved in his assassination. Yet none of the components of the Lincoln conspiracy narrative have held up to scrutiny, except as tantalizing suspicions.

1. First, the rest of a story...Two weeks ago Ethics Alarms covered the story of Kychelle Del Rosario, a fourth-year medical student at Wake Forest School of Medicine, who appeared to admit in a tweet that she deliberately caused pain and discomfort to a patient because he had mocked her  “preferred pronoun” pin. After her tweet was seen, circulated and attacked on social media, she deleted it in an attempted cover-up. Wake Forest suspended her pending an investigation, which is now complete. It’s conclusion: Del Rosario was grandstanding, implying that she stuck the patient a second time when she had turned the job over to a supervisor. “Our documentation verifies that after the student physician was unsuccessful in obtaining the blood draw, the student appropriately deferred a second attempt to one of our certified professionals. The student did not attempt to draw blood again,” the university stated. 

But had she deliberately missed the vein the first time to punish the “transphobic” patient? Wake Forest believed her statements that she had not, saying, “Our review revealed that the description of the patient encounter on social media does not reflect what actually occurred. We also determined that all of our procedures were followed while caring for this patient.” For her part, Del Rosarion, who expects to be reinstated, said,

“For the event mentioned in the tweet, I was performing a blood draw on a patient and during our conversation they had shown dismay at my pronoun pin,” she said. “I calmly shared my thoughts about pronouns and did not escalate the situation further. When I was doing the blood draw, I missed the first time due to my inexperience as a student, and per our policy, my supervisor performed the successful blood draw the second time….[I] never intended to harm the patient.”

She also wrote an apology to the school for her inflammatory tweet, admitting   to “poorly representing” the school and the healthcare system. [Source: Campus Reform]

2. This is no conspiracy theory…Does everyone believe me (and others) yet? The Democrats really do want to limit freedom of speech and are more and more openly sounding and acting like aspiring totalitarians. Another smoking gun: the labor secretary under Bill Clinton, Robert Reich, has written a column in the Guardian titled “Elon Musk’s vision for the internet is dangerous nonsense.” Musk, offered yesterday to buy Twitter and take it private, has repeatedly denounced Twitter’s increasingly heavy-handed and ideological censorship policies, and says that he wants to make the platform a paragone of a free speech tool for all. This prospect , as Glenn Greenwald duly notes, “has sent censorship-dependent liberals into spasms of panic and hysteria. Before the morning was over, some were even comparing Musk’s offer to . . . . . the rise of Nazism in the 1930s.”

Professor Turley, a free speech absolutist, described Reich’s argument as “Orwellian.” He writes in part,

Reich tells people not to be lured by freedom of speech: “Musk says he wants to ‘free’ the internet. But what he really aims to do is make it even less accountable than it is now.” What Reich refers to as “accountability” is being accountable to those like himself who can filter out views and writings that are deemed harmful for readers. Reich then goes full Orwellian:

“Musk advocates free speech but in reality it’s just about power. Power compelled Musk to buy $2.64bn of Twitter stock, making him the largest individual shareholder.”

Reich insists that censorship of views like former President Donald Trump are “necessary to protect American democracy.” Get it? Less freedom is more freedom….Reich cites the fact that Musk has continued to express banned thoughts as proof that he is a menace:

“Billionaires like Musk have shown time and again they consider themselves above the law. And to a large extent, they are. Musk has enough wealth that legal penalties are no more than slaps on his wrist, and enough power to control one of the most important ways the public now receives news. Think about it: after years of posting tweets that skirt the law, Musk was given a seat on Twitter’s board (and is probably now negotiating for even more clout)…That’s Musk’s dream. And Trump’s. And Putin’s. And the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth. For the rest of us, it would be a brave new nightmare.”

Concludes Turley, “That nightmare, of course, is free speech.”

3. Yeah, I think Oregon was lucky the Nick Kristof couldn’t run for Governor. Nicholas Kristof, another stalwart leftist in the New York Times op-ed stable,  quit the paper to run for Oregon’s statehouse only  to have the state Supreme Court decision  rule him ineligible because of its residence requirement, which Kristof never checked. A recent interview also revealed that Kristof is devoted to fighting drug addiction and alcoholism, and that his new passion is making and selling Pinot Noir wine. Wait, isn’t there some disconnect there? From the interview,

 “You know, I’ve lost friends to alcoholism, but I haven’t lost any to Pinot Noir alcoholism….I take your point that some people start with nice Pinot Noirs and then… But I think that is much less common, and those who die, the mortality from alcoholism, it’s driven really by working-class Americans, and it’s in kind of bulk hard liquor particularly. I don’t think that good wine…add[s] significantly to the problem.”

To be uncharacteristically brief, he does not know what he’s talking about. [Pointer: Althouse]

4. Headlines of note…

9 thoughts on “Ethics Breezes And Gales, 4/14/2022: The End Of A Conspiracy And The Beginning Of Conspiracy Theories [Corrected]

  1. Read a great book called “Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination ” by Tom Bogar. Wonderful detail about the actors and stage hands at Ford’s Theater that night.

  2. I wondered about the med-student/Twitter incident, if she was sharing an ironically-timed accident. Tweeting anything was poor judgement, but tweeting about causing deliberate harm seemed insane.

  3. “So only a third of Americans are idiots.”

    Correction: AT LEAST a third of Americans are idiots. Disapproving of Biden’s job performance does not automatically confer non-idiot status.

  4. Five presidential assassinations? Do you mean attempts? As far as I recall, the only presidents who were actually assassinated were Lincoln (RIP) Garfield (by a complete kook), McKinley (whose assassin paid the additional price of having sulfuric acid poured into his coffin to dissolve his body) and JFK (to this nation’s eternal sorrow). Reagan’s would be assassin failed and is now playing original songs. Others tried to assassinate Teddy Roosevelt and also Donald Trump when they were running but not when they were actually president. Just as an aside I wonder if this time out the “zero factor” will reassert itself and send the latest president elected in the year ending with a zero down for the “dirt nap” while still in office.

    1. No doubt she was cut a break because it was due to the liberal issue of asserting personal pronouns. If it had been some other issue she would be looking for a new career in a different area.

    2. That enough Americans are either dumb enough or such complete sheep 🐑 that they will go for whatever they say. The only freedoms they are interested in preserving are the freedom to obtain an abortion and the freedom to ask permission to do anything else. Anyone who has been around and not hiding under a rock for the last decade has seen all the things they’ve done: co-opting the media to be a de facto ministry of propaganda, undermining a dually elected president when at this time a decade ago they were calling those who tried to do the same to their guy traitors, selective political use of law enforcement, the use of mobs as a de facto party militia, and serious talk of ridiculous ideas like abolishing the Senate, packing the Supreme Court and otherwise simply stacking the governmental deck to keep them in power on a permanent basis. This is complete proto-totalitarianism, and anyone who denies it is either a fool or a party hack. By the way, one of MSNBC’s brain trust said that the proper way to deal with this situation was to “abolish billionaires,” since apparently not enough to make them pay their fair share and they will still get power out of proportion to being just one person.

    3. Unfortunately, there is no intelligence requirement, so after he’s lived there long enough, he can take his stab.

    4. I wouldn’t ask the Democrats about the cognitive abilities of their representatives. After all, they’re the same party that is still pushing the myth that Reagan was senile or suffering from Alzheimer’s while in office to diminish his legacy. They don’t want to hear anything about their own Representatives having the same kind of problems and their legacy being diminished. And how could you call Nancy senile? She dresses super stylish, adjusts her sunglasses just so, and just has no patience for nonsensical questions. At least that’s what they have the rest of us believe.

    Why am I not surprised? Phil Murphy survived re-election by a whisker, but he’s not going to change his ways even a little, he said as much. Patience, though. I think Jack Ciatarelli will get his shot eventually, since the New Jersey Democrats are not smart enough to back off on critical race theory in the schools.

    1/3 of this country is still partisan enough to cling to their president no matter how much he screws everything up. I’m surprised it’s that low and shrinking. I know far too many people who would vote for a ham sandwich if it had the letter D next to it, the same people that are apparently allergic to Fox News and who act like anyone who says anything vaguely conservative has got the cooties.

  5. 4. Since transwomen are women (although I’ve heard a woman is defined as “I don’t know, I’m not a biologist”), I presume these pregnancies were a result of immaculate conception.

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