Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/16/22: It’s Werner Von Braun Day!

This is a pretty dark day for ethics, with the lowlight occurring in 1532, when Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador, invited the Incan emperor, Atahualpa to a feast in his honor under the preetnse of peace and friendship. His force of less than 200 men then openeds fire on the unarmed Incans, killing over a thousand, After the massacre, the Spanish held Atahualpa, and forced him to convert to Christianity. Then Pizarro had him murdered anyway. This terrible episode in history did inspire the Broadway hit drama, “The Royal Hunt of the Sun” by Peter Schaefer of “Equus” and “Amadeus” fame. I guess that’s something.

Also on this date, in 1945, the U.S. made a devil’s bargain with 88 Nazi scientists, notably Werner von Braun (who Tom Lehrer famously sang about), as part of “Operation Paperclip,” aimed at speeding U.S. development of rocket technology. They cheerfully switched sides, as you would expect they would. Werner is buried less than 5 minutes from our Alexandria home, in a small church graveyard.

I have not visited his resting place.

1. The mainstream media is in some kind of an unethical headline orgy:

  • The Washington Post included in its coverage of the murderer of three UVA football players a story headlined, “Suspected U-Va. gunman had troubled childhood, but then flourished.” The shooter is black; I’m sure that has nothing to do with the weirdly sympathetic vibes of what reads like a puff piece except for that shooting spree detail. The Post took down the headline; the question remains of how it could have made it to the web at all. [Pointer: Willem Reese]
  • Here’s NPR, proudly displaying its Trump Derangement, with this headline: “Donald Trump, who tried to overturn Biden’s legitimate election, launches 2024 bid.” Stuffing unrelated negative commentary in a news story headline is truly barrel-bottom journalism. NPR managed to avoid the headline in 1979, “Ted Kennedy, who allowed a young woman to drown, launches 1980 bid.”
  • NBC News: “Trump, whose lies about the 2020 election inspired an insurrection, announces third White House bid.” No editorializing there!
  • Here’ he Washington Post again: “Trump, who as president fomented an insurrection, says he is running again.”
  • This is CNBC’s headline, a classic example of the unethical tactic called “poisoning the well”: “Donald Trump, twice impeached and under FBI investigation, launches 2024 White House bid.”

2. Diversity fanaticism! Ann Althouse’s weird obsession with Bob Dylan’s eccentric new book analyzing the lyrics of 66 songs finally paid off in an ethics lesson. Feminist music critic Amanda Petrusich complained in The New Yorker that Dylan’s list is over-loaded with songs sung by men. This apparently makes him a bigot, or a misogynist, or something. Now our personal opinions and preferences have to be guided by affirmative action, apparently. This is late stage DEI insanity. Who are these people who want to measure every list, honor and group by EEOC categories? How did they get this way? Can they be cured? If they can’t be cured, can they be isolated from the general public so they do as little harm as possible? I officially award Petrusich a brand new, shiny, Jacques Brel.

3. The attack on Elon Musk continues. After all, he is eliminating one of the great tools of progressive and Democratic Party censorship and indoctrination. The latest horror, according to the New York Times and others: Musk fired Twitter employees who criticized him publicly:

At least three Twitter employees who survived the mass layoffs that cut the company’s workforce in half have been fired after calling out their new boss on the platform. One of them is Eric Frohnhoefer, who responded to Elon Musk’s tweet apologizing for Twitter being slow in many countries. “App is doing >1000 poorly batched RPCs just to render a home timeline!” Musk wrote. Frohnhoefer responded that after six years of working on Twitter for Android, he can say that Musk’s statement “is wrong.”

It isn’t unethical to fire subordinates who air their grievances in public. It is competent, responsible, and necessary.

4. Can this be right? Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney declared a Georgia law that banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy “unequivocally unconstitutional” because the bill was passed before the Supreme Court to overturned Roe v. Wade. But if that’s true, then the legislation that SCOTUS upheld while voiding Roe in Dobbs is also “unequivocally unconstitutional,” since that legislation was also passed while Roe was in effect. What now, then: the exact same law needs to be passed again?

This looks like unethical judicial grandstanding to me.

12 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/16/22: It’s Werner Von Braun Day!

  1. Prologue: We started watching the Apple TV series “For All Mankind”, an alt-history version of the space race. Von Braun appears in a few episodes at the beginning. It inspired me to read more. I recently read a book called “Dark Side of the Moon: Wernher von Braun, the Third Reich and the Space Race.”

  2. I’ve mentioned my position on Von Braun before. We captured him, he was a spoil of war. If a gilded cage kept him working, a cage it still was.

    He could make our rockets or he could be in prison where we’d get no useful work out of him. He made our rockets, I’m content.

  3. Those headlines about Trump’s announcement are indeed petty and, if you’re trying to help the Democrats, as those outlets are, counterproductive. Trump isn’t likely to win the general election in 2024 if he becomes the Republican nominee. Even people who voted for him twice are getting tired of his antics now. He would drive Democrat turnout to record highs. If anything, if you want to see a Democrat win in 2024, they should be encouraging his bid like they did in 2015. Yes, they miscalculated then, but that was before six years of all-Trump-all-the-time burned people out on the novelty of having him in public life.

    To illustrate my point, here’s what the NY Post published in the paper today regarding his announcement. It’s the NY Post in its purest, sassiest form:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FhsNmFIXEAIrw6s?format=jpg&name=large

    Even the Post is sick of Trump at this point.

    • I am wondering if working-class voters are tired of his antics.

      https://theliberalpatriot.substack.com/p/the-democrats-working-class-problem?utm_source=profile&utm_medium=reader2

      This showed the same pattern: college-educated voters favored Biden by 20 points, while working voters preferred Trump by 16 points. Keep in mind that working class voters are likely to far outnumber college voters in that election just as they did in 2020 and as they are likely to do this November.

      Keep in mind that this was before Trump insulted DeSantis and Youngkin.

    • From headline down, the “Post Staff” (who shall remain nameless beyond their wide circle of friends who have friends, etc.) did a bang-up job. The Post is my go-to reading practice in the morning (I always read it the second day just to see how many ways they can tip the same story). And I’m willing to bet that if the name hadn’t been neutered by its common definition, it would have overcome the original, thus: “he played his trump card” = “he lost the game.”

      But if They put up Hillary again, I will have to ….

  4. The Washington Post included in its coverage of the murderer of three UVA football players a story headlined, “Suspected U-Va. gunman had troubled childhood, but then flourished.” The shooter is black; I’m sure that has nothing to do with the weirdly sympathetic vibes of what reads like a puff piece except for that shooting spree detail. The Post took down the headline; the question remains of how it could have made it to the web at all. [Pointer: Willem Reese]
    Here’s NPR, proudly displaying its Trump Derangement, with this headline: “Donald Trump, who tried to overturn Biden’s legitimate election, launches 2024 bid.” Stuffing unrelated negative commentary in a news story headline is truly barrel-bottom journalism. NPR managed to avoid the headline in 1979, “Ted Kennedy, who allowed a young woman to drown, launches 1980 bid.”
    NBC News: “Trump, whose lies about the 2020 election inspired an insurrection, announces third White House bid.” No editorializing there!
    Here’ he Washington Post again: “Trump, who as president fomented an insurrection, says he is running again.”
    This is CNBC’s headline, a classic example of the unethical tactic called “poisoning the well”: “Donald Trump, twice impeached and under FBI investigation, launches 2024 White House bid.”

    To whom are these headlines supposed to appeal?

    Because it does not seem that these headlines would convince working-class voters (despite still being a major Democratic constituency, they have voted less Democratic in two consecutive election cycles).

    to which constituencies does Trump Derangement Syndrome appeal to?

  5. 1a. I asked a young (aren’t they all) reporter at the Phoenix Republic why they weren’t publishing a mug shot of a black suspect (I had to check another paper to see for myself) in their story about a murder. She chirpily replied the paper was observing a new policy which prohibited publishing mug shots “because it wasn’t fair to the suspects to have photos taken of them on probably the worst day of their life.” To which I replied, “Sure, sweetheart.”

  6. November 16, 1945- Werner Von Braun comes to our side!
    November 16, 2022- Artemis successfully starts its journey beyond the moon and back!

  7. Sometimes, WaPo knows that even their readers won’t buy “Mega Ultra-MAGA Trump-Inspired White Nationalist Does X” on certain pieces, and has to soft-peddle a crime story where the wrong demographics are involved.

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