Unethical Quote Of The Year: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

“People will do what they do.”

—-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi  yesterday, following being  asked at a press conference about her reaction to the statue of Christopher Columbus being torn down and dumped in the Bay by the usual gang of vandals and anarchists who are symbolically tearing down the United States and Western civilization, as well as its values.

I am serious about this being the Unethical Quote of the Year. I can’t imagine a worse one, once Pelosi’s status as the third ranking official in the United States Government and the leader of the Democratic Party is taken into consideration. This would be a morally, legally and ethically bankrupt statement if it came from a sociopathic teenager. Coming from a leader who people follow and trust, it is infinitely worse. Such an attitude strikes at the soul of civilized society. “They just do what they do” is a line from  “Jurassic Park,” as the paleontologist, Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) explains to the children that dinosaurs aren’t good or bad, they are just animals that “do what they do.”

But they were animals. Continue reading

Facts Don’t Matter: Academic Research Undergoes The Ultimate Integrity Meltdown

Heather MacDonald, whose Congressional testimony Ethics Alarms noted here, writes in the Wall Street Journal,

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is a peer-reviewed journal that claims to publish “only the highest quality scientific research.” Now, the authors of a 2019 PNAS article are disowning their research simply because I cited it.

Psychologists Joseph Cesario of Michigan State and David Johnson of the University of Maryland analyzed 917 fatal police shootings of civilians from 2015 to test whether the race of the officer or the civilian predicted fatal police shootings. Neither did. Once “race specific rates of violent crime” are taken into account, the authors found, there are no disparities among those fatally shot by the police. These findings accord with decades of research showing that civilian behavior is the greatest influence on police behavior.

In September 2019, I cited the article’s finding in congressional testimony. I also referred to it in a City Journal article, in which I noted that two Princeton political scientists, Dean Knox and Jonathan Mummolo, had challenged the study design. Messrs. Cesario and Johnson stood by their findings. Even under the study design proposed by Messrs. Knox and Mummolo, they wrote, there is again “no significant evidence of anti-black disparity in the likelihood of being fatally shot by the police.”

My June 3 Journal op-ed quoted the PNAS article’s conclusion verbatim. It set off a firestorm at Michigan State. The university’s Graduate Employees Union pressured the MSU press office to apologize for the “harm it caused” by mentioning my article in a newsletter. The union targeted physicist Steve Hsu, who had approved funding for Mr. Cesario’s research. MSU sacked Mr. Hsu from his administrative position. PNAS editorialized that Messrs. Cesario and Johnson had “poorly framed” their article—the one that got through the journal’s three levels of editorial and peer review.

Mr. Cesario told this page that Mr. Hsu’s dismissal could narrow the “kinds of topics people can talk about, or what kinds of conclusions people can come to.” Now he and Mr. Johnson have themselves jeopardized the possibility of politically neutral scholarship. On Monday they retracted their paper. They say they stand behind its conclusion and statistical approach but complain about its “misuse,” specifically mentioning my op-eds.

The authors don’t say how I misused their work.

In a move redolent of Soviet-style retroactive censorship, Michigan State University deleted its press release promoting the study, which had said in part, Continue reading

The “I’d Say ‘Thank God It’s Friday,’ But In A Home Office During A Pandemic Friday’s Just A Name” Ethics Grab Bag, 7/10/2020

1. Re: Privilege and bit more on the Harper’s letter fiasco. At the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein flags this tweet by New York Times reporter Farnaz Fassihi:

A few thoughts:

  • Why do I subscribe to a paper that would employ someone like this? I forget.
  • She’s a bigot. I just wrote a bit on the “privileged smear” on another thread:

I have to say again that I do not comprehend the “privilege” line of thought at all. In the hands of most who wield it, I find the tactic the equivalent of Butch Cassidy kicking huge Harvey Logan in the balls to start their knife fight….

Continue reading

Jennifer Williams’ Three Questions

Harpers’ “anti-cancel culture” letter, discussed here was instructive, but not in the manner that its sponsors intended. It excluded most conservatives (except Stockholm Syndrome types like David Brooks) and all of those who had been damaged by progressive cancel-mobs, making the exercise suspect as Left-wing grandstanding. Worse, an alarming number of progressives who didn’t sign the letter expressed disappointment that others did, because they fervently believe that expressing opinions that vary from woke cant should be punished, and that (though they won’t come right out and say it) free expression is undesirable. Hate speech, you know—makes people feel “unsafe” to have to associate with the unenlightened.

For some reason the criticism centered on Vox, the website begun by Washington Post reporter Ezra Klein when pretending to be anything but a partisan shill became  too much for him. Vox is as biased leftward as Breitbart is biased in the other direction, which is why I seldom use, and never trust, either. Several Vox employees publicly objected to the fact that their colleague Matt Yglesias signed the letter, apparently forgetting that Yglesias, “by any means necessary” fan that he is, once admitted.

In response to the uproar, senior foreign editor Jennifer Williams tweeted,

What a fascinating set of ethics questions!

Let’s examine them, shall we?

Question #2, the one Williams answers, is apparently not as obvious as she seems to think it is. Tufts University history lecturer Kerri Greenidge demanded  to have her name  removed from the list of signers, claiming that her name  was used without her knowledge or consent. “I do not endorse this @ Harpers letter,” Prof. Greenidge tweeted. “I am in contact with Harper’s about a retraction.” The Tufts historian’s sisters, novelist and New York Times opinion writer Kaitlyn Greenidge and playwright Kirsten Greenidge also asserted  that Kerri was included among the signatories without her consent or knowledge.

Prof. Greenidge was lying—to the public, and to her family. Harper’s quickly produced an email exchange from late June in which Greenidge agreed to sign. “Yes, I will add my signature. It reads well,” Greenidge wrote from her Tufts email address. “Let me know what more you need from me.”

“Oh, just a promise that you won’t cave like a wet cardboard box and start blaming us if some of your progressive pals and family members complain, I guess,” is what Harper’s should have responded. Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Corrupt And Cowardly Colleges Files: Marquette And Penn State

I’m sorry. I really am. These stories get worse and worse, far beyond anything I could have imagined just  a few years ago. I am so relieved that my son decided long ago that for him, college would be a waste of money and time. This has spared me the chore of explaining to him that it would be a waste of his values and mind as well.

First, let’s look at the latest chapter in the Marquette debacle involving Samantha Pfefferle, the incoming freshman who became an object of revulsion and terror because she dared to post a harmless, infantile video proclaiming her support for President Trump. The first part of the story dawned on Ethics Alarms this morning, here. Now we know that Mike Lovell, the president of Marquette, sent an email to Marquette’s Board of Trustees about the incident. The email was a dishonest, dastardly misrepresentation that would fully justify his firing for cause if the trustees had the curiosity and integrity to investigate the facts. Here I’m going to send you to John Hinderaker’s blog, Powerline, to read his expert vivisection of Lovell’s slimy machinations. I’m leaving it to him for two reasons. First, Hinderaker is a a skilled legal mind, and he does a superb job. Second, his blog is specifically mentioned, and denigrated, in in the president’s email.

The last time Marquette was mentioned critically here was in 2015, through the attentions of MIA Ethics Alarms commenter Rick Jones, aka “Curmie.” Rick, who used to give out his annual “Curmie Awards” for outrageous conduct in academia, nominated Marquette for firing a tenured professor who wrote a blog post that criticized a graduate student teaching assistant for telling a student that his opinion opposing gay marriage was homophobic and would not be permitted in her class.

Curmie was right and Marquette was wrong: a court later reinstated the professor and held the university liable for breaching his  “contract’s guarantee of academic freedom.”  The latest episode show that the school’s progressive intolerance for non-conforming view has metastasized since Curmie’s nomination.

John Hinderaker  titled his latest post “Marquette Weasels.” If that conduct was weaselly, what do we call this, from Penn State? Continue reading

Ethics Encounter In The CVS Parking Lot

My local CVS on Quaker Lane in Alexandria, VA, scene of many human dramas….

The errand I tried to complete this afternoon (resulting in my hearing the most outrageous comedy act I have encountered  since Red Foxx and Buddy Hackett were in their vulgar primes) failed, so I had to return to my pharmacy to get four refills of various drugs. As I was getting out of the car, I heard a loud voice shouting “God DAMN you!” and realized that the expletive came from behind the mask of large African-American man  of indeterminate age. I had to ask, “Was that directed at me?”

He immediately shook his head vigorously and walked over to me, saying, “No no! I’m so sorry, I was yelling at myself! I’m so damn mad—I locked myself out of my car!”

He continued, “Hey, maybe you’re my guardian angel.” He started handing me his IDs and wallet, and showed me the pills he had just received from the same pharmacy where I was headed. The man was sweating hard.  “I’m not some gangster or anything, I swear—I’m just hot, and tired, and I have prostate cancer…” I interrupted him.

“Just tell me how I can help. Do you need a ride home?” Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Agony, 7/9/2020: I See Awful People…

Hi!

I am feeling stressed because there are a lot of Ethics Alarms projects  and commitments that are languishing: I’m trying to work out the logistics of a Zoom symposium for commenters; I have to compile the many submissions for the corporate and organizational grovels to the George Floyd mobs so we can vote on the best and worst; I am finishing the Ethics Alarms glossary of fake news categories, and I still owe Michael  West his prize from an Ethics Alarms contest he won a couple of years ago—and that’s still not all of them. The best I can say is: please be patient, because I’m not.

1. Is this a good sign, or something else? I turned on Sirius-XM’s “Comedy Greats” channel while driving to pick up some prescription and heard a segment of a Nick DiPaulo routine that was unbelievably politically incorrect, or, as many would say today, racist, misogynist and anti-trans. The audience was in hysterics; several of the jokes were so extreme—but funny!—that I nearly lost control of the car. I had to check: no, he hasn’t been assassinated yet. Neverthless, I felt like I had fallen into a parallel universe. DiPaulo makes Dave Chappelle seem like Art Buchwald.

2. How about “Lady Asshole”? Several readers sent me links to this story, telling us that the Grammy-winning vocal group  formerly known as Lady Antebellum, having decided to ditch the second half of their name to grandstand and show that they support tearing down statues, are now suing Anita White, a blues singer who has called herself “Lady A” for decades, because she wouldn’t sell  the rights to that name to them for a price the group found reasonable.

I can’t imagine anyone being sympathetic with the group, especially a jury. Nobody made them change their name, and choosing “Lady A” without doing sufficient research was negligent. The group is using wealth and fame as a cudgel, with three rich white jerks trying to bully a local (and black) artist into bending to the their will. I hope someone has started a GoFundMe page to help Anita with her legal fees.

3. Find my 2011 post on Donald Trump running for President, substitute Kanye West’s name for his, and you’ll have the Ethics Alarms position on Mr. Kardashian’s candidacy. I know a lot of celebrities and too many members of the public don’t comprehend this, having the civic literacy of gerbils, but our democracy is not a game. Running for President as an exercise in ego-massage and branding is wildly irresponsible, and threatens to distort voting and results. West is not a serious candidate, but he’ll attract attention and the support of those who vote purely on the basis of group biases.  But the news media will give him more attention than he deserves, which is none, and he could easily take votes away from Democrats.

The good news is that since Kanye has approximately the attention span of a mayfly, it’s a good bet that this impulse will be fleeting, just as Trump’s was in 2011. Continue reading

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers: “Cult Programming In Seattle,” And the Duty To Confront

This—the George Floyd Freakout, the indoctrination in schools and colleges, the submissive endorsement of the irredeemably dishonest, racist and Marxist Black Lives Matter and its fellow travelers, the Red Scare-reminiscent punishing and shunning of dissenters, the political and partisan enforcement of laws as journalists remain silently complicit—you know, this, has  begun to make me think I’m in another remake of “Invasion of the Body-Snatchers.” What never made any sense in any of the versions (the original, with Keven McCarthy and directed by Don Siegel of “Dirty Harry” fame was the best) is that aliens could take over the minds and bodies of millions of Americans across the country without anyone figuring it out, and without the news media warning the world with front page headlines and “how to stop the pod people” features. It  also seemed absurd that only McCarthy and his friends (or in the much grosser but less creepy re-make, Donald Sutherland and his friends) were the only humans who appeared to have the will and the gumption to try to resist the invasion.

I also have found myself pondering the end of “Three Days of the Condor,” when Robert Redford tells a horrified CIA official that he has passed on evidence of the agency’s lawless and murderous ways to the New York Times. Who or what can be trusted today to blow the whistles when it is the increasingly totalitarian Left moving to take over minds and destroy democracy? Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Hero: Michael Shellenberger”

I had two Comments of the Day to choose from to greet the morning. This one, by Lumiere, was the less depressing of the two, so you can imagine what the other one was like. However, The last paragraph in the post, a comment on the climatologist who admits in a new book that he joined his colleagues in hyping and fearmongering,  gives me hope.

My mind was already on indoctrination and the way our scientists, scholars and educators have abused the public’s trust. A truly frightening story was revealed by College Fix: an incoming freshman at Marquette, Samantha Pfefferle,  posted a (silly and obnoxious) pro-Trump video on the social media site Tik Tok, and administrators at the school began suggesting to her that her admission might be revoked because of her unacceptable beliefs. What was unacceptable about them was that, based on the video, she supported the President of the United States, ergo his policy positions. The Horror.

Pfefferle explained that following the TikTok, she was contacted by Brian Troyer, dean of undergraduate admissions at Marquette, who she said told her her acceptance to the school was far from certain.

“[He] had the heart to tell me I wasn’t a student,” Pfefferle said. “This means that my classification is still in limbo and is currently being decided by the administration. I have been accepted, I paid for my housing, I have my roommates, I even have a complete class schedule. If that doesn’t make me a student, what does?”

Some Marquette administrators also asked Pfefferle a series of questions meant to judge her morals, she said.

“They also asked me hypothetical questions regarding Dreamers,” she said. “How would I respond if a Dreamer who lived down the hall from me came up to me and told me she didn’t feel safe or comfortable with my views and me being on campus. They also asked me if they thought there was anything I could do to improve my image on campus. They proceeded to ask if I was comfortable with the reputation I have established for myself. The assistant dean asked if I put any thought into the response I would be getting from my videos.”

The “response” she was getting from her video was threats, harassment and intimidation, perhaps from Marquette students. Strange: that would seem to be the problem that administrators had a legitimate reason to be concerned about. No, they apparently approved, since the college officials decided to engage in some intimidation of their own: “Nice little college acceptance you have here…too bad if something were to happen to it..”

I would normally be skeptical that any administrators from a reputable college would challenge a student’s political opinions in the manner Pfefferle described, but Marquette confirmed that  “the admissions team did recently have a conversation with incoming freshman Samantha Pfefferle about statements made on her social media accounts.” After unwelcome publicity on several blogs and conservative websites, Marquette announced that the student’s acceptance was not in peril and had been finalized, firmly placing what the school did in the “it’s not the worst thing” category.

It was bad enough. It is unethical for educational institutions to promote viewpoint conformity among their students, yet this incident, like the confession of the suddenly remorseful climate scientist, indicates that this is increasingly how our professionals whose duty is to enlighten us see their roles: not to inform, but to indoctrinate.

Here is Lumiere’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Hero: Michael Shellenberger:

What this is? Is scary.

Not just for climate science but for EVERY SINGLE THING that has been promoted or supported by the left in the name of Science. And the willingness to punish, and silence people who disagree because “How dare you reject science?”…

The problem is mostly in the narrative. What is left out? what is emphasized? What is implied? For example “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah claims to be an objective evolutionary history of humankind (it leaves out many facts and is full of many assumptions) reads totally as socialist cant, with sufficient human bashing that presents human existence as the worst thing that has ever happened to the earth. Now a person who reads that book as their introduction to human biological history would accept its postulations as facts, become indoctrinated and would have their view of humankind changed drastically for the worse.

This kind of indoctrination is the reality in many fields of human endeavour and it’s sad to see people form such emotional attachments to ideas that makes rational discourse almost impossible

One thing I’ve learnt to do is always ask myself the question “What if you are Wrong?”. I always ask myself that question on EVERYTHING. And it informs my attitude to contrary and differing opinions…

Update: The Answer To Question 13 [Updated Again!]

The above is Reddit’s new policy. It is one more example of unthinking and unethical “answers” to systemic racism.

On June 17, in this post, I concluded with a proposed answer to my Question 13, “What is the “systemic reform regarding race in America” that the George Floyd protests purport to be seeking?” That answer:

…special accommodations and benefits for African Americans in all things. Affirmative action in employment, promotions, salaries and school admissions; preference in grading, contracting and hiring; elimination of any standards that African Americans continue to lag in meeting. Reparations, of course; race-based leniency in law-enforcement and sentencing; plus  culture wide discrimination in favor of blacks and against whites in all things, all instituted by the intimidation, punishment and “cancelling” of anyone who dissents.

The accuracy of my prognostication has become apparent within a little more than two weeks. As Jeff Goldlum says ruefully in “Jurassic Park” as the T-Rex escapes,

Though the text of the “What We Believe” section of the Black Lives Matter site is so expansively vague and utopian that it could, literally, mean anything, in the rush to satisfy the explicit and implicit threats levied by spokespersons for the “movement” and the reality of the mobs, the woke, the cowardly, the terrified and the foolish have laid the following at the feet of the champions of “systemic race reform”

  • Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced plans to “correct inequalities in healthcare coverage in the state” by  expanding health care coverage to every black Kentuckian. Of course, state benefits distributed on the basis of race are per se unconstitutional, but his announcement was widely praised.

This was among the priorities he priorities he said all Kentuckians should support on moral grounds as part of his responce to the fatal shooting of a black woman during a botched house search by Louisville police, though there was and is no evidence that the accident was triggered by race or racism.

  • Students at the University of Washington and elsewhere demanded that professors to grade black students’ finals with more leniency. Students started a petition on Change.org that asks for professors to “give Black students a break!

Over 60, 000 have signed the petition. Such a policy, which some professors have implemented, endorses openly race-based grading.

  • Following through on The University of California Board of Regents vote to restore affirmative action to the admissions process, though granting preferential treatment to applicants based on their race or gender in public education or employment has been outlawed in California since 1996, the California legislature has voted to strike these words from the state constitution: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.”

The debate made it clear that the intent of the amendment is to permit discrimination on the basis of race and color. It is in open defiance of basic civil rights and equal protection under the law.

UPDATE: This is as good as a place to mention his as anywhere. Don Lemon, CNN’s second dimmest anchor, recommended that it would be salutary to add Barack Obama, “front and center,” to Mt. Rushmore. The justification would be that he’s black.

  • Nikole Hannah-Jones, the avowed Marxist who was allowed to inflict her false history “1619” project on Times readers, schools and the nation, as given a platform again (in the Times Magazine) to call for reparations. Five days later, last Sunday, the paper itself devoted a its opinion section to  “The Economy We Need” (“The America We Need” online)  a series of articles by Leftist members of the Times Op-Ed staff and academics advocating reparations for African Americans, usually while not using those words. The section was headlined throughout in inch-high red block letters.

Among the most prominent articles: “Banks Should Face History and Cancel Black Debt Now. Continue reading