Sunday Evening Ethics Nightcap: Not Watching The Olympics Edition

TV off

Happy birthday Louise Joy Brown, the world’s first “test tube baby” conceived via in vitro fertilization in Manchester, England, on this date in 1978 to parents Lesley and Peter Brown. The bioethics controversies that flowed from this landmark event and subsequent scientific advances have not stopped yet.

1. When the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck meets the Olympics, this is the sort of garbage you are going to get, at least from Kurt Streeter. He’s the black New York Times sports columnist who really appears to believe that the main function of sports is to raise racial and gender grievances. Woke sports commentary isn’t just bad sports journalism, it’s also boring. Politics makes sports less fun and less of what it was intended to be, entertainment, not crusading. By “this” I mean columns like his most recent titled “The Olympics Rely On, but Don’t Support, Black Girl Magic.” Never mind that the headline is racially offensive at the outset—nobody should care what color bodies athletic “magic” comes from, and only bigots like Streeter view sports that way.

Streeter’s brief supporting his obnoxious thesis is based on selective facts and personal bias. Here are his examples:

“Simone Biles is one of the most brilliant talents at the Games. But if recent history holds and she tries her most stunning moves in Tokyo, gymnastics officials will place an arbitrary limit on her score. Some say this is meant to discourage other competitors from attempting similarly dangerous aerial maneuvers. I say the sport’s regulators cannot deal with her sheer audacity.

And what does this have to do with her being black? Nothing, and nobody has alleged that it is otherwise, though if Biles does not win her expected gold, I’m sure Streeter will be among the first to cry “racism.”

Naomi Osaka is …perhaps the most widely known female athlete on the planet…will get tossed under the bus if she is not polite and pleasant in her interviews with the news media, a backlash prompted by her withdrawal from the French Open because she did not want to participate in news conferences there. That pressure exists alongside the dread that she’ll be derided as either too Black or not Japanese enough if she does not win a gold medal.

Whose “dread”? Apparently Streeter’s, the race-baiter. Meanwhile, any athlete who is not polite and pleasant in interviews always gets criticism from the news media, and deserves it. She didn’t withdraw from the French Open because “she did not want to participate in news conferences,” she quit because she wanted special privileges to break the tournament’s rules, and was foiled. None if this has anything to do with race either, except that Osaka may have thought that her appeal to the King’s Pass might be especially hard to turn down since people like Streeter would be quick to call enforcement of the same rules for all “racist.”

“Gwen Berry is one of the most powerful hammer throwers in the world and one of the boldest athletes in protesting racism and injustice. But the Olympic overlords have made clear she’d better behave on the medal stand — or else.”

Those “overlords” have the same rules for everyone. Berry is bold in protesting what she isn’t in the Olympics to protest; she’s a narcissist and a lousy citizen who should have been kicked off the team once she proclaimed that she didn’t regard herself as representing the nation that is honoring her by giving her a chance to compete. Streeter thinks her “Black girl magic” isn’t being supported because she won’t be allowed to embarrass her team and act like an asshole on the world stage.

2. From the “Blind Squirrel Finds Nut” files…Criminal justice reform activists and some lawmakers are upset the the Biden Justice Department is inclined to follow through on a Trump-era memo by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel requiring inmates who were allowed out of stir to reduce the spread of the pandemic in prisons and whose sentences lasted beyond the “pandemic emergency period” to go back behind bars. Awww! How mean. Criminals will actually have to serve their sentences! Systemic racism, of course. But the Biden legal team concluded that the memo correctly interpreted the law, which applies to about 4,000 nonviolent inmates. There are still plenty of fanatics and anti-incarceration extremists among Joe’s minions, so they might get the policy reversed yet.

Continue reading

Observations On The “567 True-False Question Multiphasic Personality Inventory”

Scoring test

The first observation is that I am amazed that I never heard of this thing before very recently. I am pretty certain that I never encountered it in my psychology course in college, nor in my criminal law courses in law school, nor in the ridiculous number of movies and TV shows I have watched that would seem to be natural places for the test to be referenced. The large and seemingly random holes in our knowledge of the world makes each or us less competent to deal with life, and ethics, to a great extent, is a matter of life competence. I should have learned about this a long time ago, and I don’t know why I didn’t.

The 567 True-False Question Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), for those of you who don’t know already, is apparently the most widely used and researched clinical assessment tool used by mental health professionals to help diagnose mental health disorders (above is an excerpt from list of problems it is designed to flag and the number of questions that allegedly identify them). It has been used since the late 1930s, and has been revised and updated several times to improve its validity.

As you review its details here, you will immediately see the relevance to ethics. There are many scales used to evaluate the responses to the test, which takes 30-50 minutes to complete and involves the subject answering “true” or “false” to each of 567 questions. The survey may be used to assess hypochondria, psychosis, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hysteria, sexual identities, paranoia, schizophrenia, introversion, and to identify psychopaths. There are also sub-scales that measure “the test taker’s belief in human goodness, serenity, contentment with life, patience/denial of irritability, and denial of moral flaws.”

I don’t have a lot to say about the test, which more or less speaks for itself. It reminds me of several things, like those trick questions they used to ask you when you checked your luggage at airports before 9/11: “Did anyone pack your suitcase for you? Did you accept anything from a stranger before you came here? Are you carrying any explosives or weapons?” How inept a hijacker did someone have to be to answer “Yes! I mean no! Damn, you caught me!” to that last one? A lot of the questions are like that. They are a bit cleverer, in that the whole reason there are so many questions is that the incriminating ones are randomly hidden among benign and distracting True-False assertions like ” I think I would enjoy the work of a librarian” and “I like poetry.” You’re rolling along for half the test and getting bored and suddenly you get hit with “It does not bother me particularly to see animals suffer.” Dingdingdingdingding!

The MMPI also reminded me of a bad Elvis Presley movie called “Follow the Dream” that has its climax in a courtroom where Elvis and his con artist father are fighting to keep custody of two twin boys the family adopted. In court, a suspicious psychiatrist gives Elvis’s father a “word association test” to prove whether he would be a fit parent, and the doctor interprets everything he says in the worst context imaginable.

And the test reminds me of what failures the fields of psychiatry and psychology have been since Sigmund Freud was going to save the world a century ago with his new science. If this list is a “primary tool” for metal health professionals, then I have a better understanding of how a Yale psychiatrist could go on MSNBC and insist that Donald Trump should be removed from office based on her assessment of his statements. It also explains how Woody Allen could spend decades in analysis and still be, you know, like Woody Allen.

One final observation, before I leave the rest to you, is that the list suggests that the current “antiracism”/Critical Race Theory/ Black Lives Matters assault on U.S. society and culture may be making African-Americans mentally ill. For example,#71 states, “These days I find it hard not to give up hope of amounting to something.” Being angry is also obviously a marker in the test.

At least now you’ll know about the 567 questions. Here they are:

Continue reading

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Rose Valland (1898-1980)

Rose-Valland

The remarkable 2008 documentary “The Rape of Europa” tells the story of the Nazi plundering of fine art across Europe. It is full of many accounts of heroism, none more impressive than that of Rose Villand, a meek-looking librarian out of central casting, who is as perfect and example of how ordinary people can rise to extraordinary levels of courage and innovation in times of crisis.

Rose Valland was born in Saint-Étienne-de-Saint-Geoirs, France on November 1, 1898. She earned two degrees in the arts from the École des Beaux-Arts in Lyon and also studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, then added degrees in art history from both the École du Louvre and the Sorbonne. Her academic credentials, however, did not immediately advance her career, as Valland began work at the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris as an unpaid volunteer.

In October 1940, during the Occupation of Paris, the Nazis commandeered the Jeu de Paume Museum and converted it into the headquarters of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, the Nazi art looting organization created by frustrated artist Adolf Hitler. There The Nazis stored paintings and other works of art stolen from private French collectors and dealers, including thousands of works taken from Jewish-owned galleries. The museum’s collaborating curator, Andre Dézarrois, fell ill in the summer of 1941, and in a stroke of fate for civilization, Valland became the de facto director of the museum. Jacques Jaujard, Director of the French National Museums including the Louvre, gave Valland a daunting assignment: she was to use her post in the museum to spy on the Nazi art theft operation.

The Germans, as explained in “The Rape of Europa,” took scant notice of the “little mouse” of a woman who kept her head down, seldom spoke, and appeared to follow orders. They didn’t even realize that she spoke German, but under their noses she was acquiring crucial information from the conversations of drivers, guards, and packers relating to the looted art treasures…60,000 of them. Villand witnessed the frequent shopping trips of Nazi Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering as he made more than twenty separate visits to the Jeu de Paume to select works of art for Hitler’s planned Führermuseum in Linz, Austria, and his own personal collection. Possessing a remarkable memory for details, she recorded her discoveries regarding the movements, names of the victims, number of pieces and where they were going, names of the agents responsible for transfers, names of the carriers, brands of the boxes, numbers and dates of convoys,as well as the names of the artists and the dimensions of the pieces that passed before her. She relayed the information to Jaujard and the French Resistance while keeping her own meticulous records. She warned the Resistance of convoys containing important artworks so that they would be spared, all while knowing that she would be executed as a spy if her activities were discovered by the Nazis—and at least twice, they nearly caught her.

Continue reading

Clemson Must Fire Two Ethics Dunce Administrators, But It Has To Do A Lot More Than That…

Trick Clemson

Clemson administrators Amy Burke and Sharetta Bufford manipulated the university’s pandemic limitations on attendance at events to limit the number of available tickets as conservative group Turning Point USA’s local chapter hosted conservative speakers Tomi Lahren, Brandon Tatum, and Graham Allen for an event on the South Carolina campus in April 2020. Not only did the two women reserve a batch of tickets that they had no intention of using, they boasted about it on social media.

Financial aid counselor Burke wrote, “i’ve reserved my two. and then two for pippi. and two for my work email. and two for my business account. i just realized i have plans though, dang it…” Bufford, who serves as assistant director of recruitment and inclusive excellence, said, “I just reserved 10. I JUST might show up to see what all the fuss is about!”

Obviously “inclusive excellence” doesn’t include students with non-conforming world views.

Continue reading

Dress Code Ethics (Again) From The “Oh, Come ON!” Files: The Immodest Fitness Model

bodybuilder-1

Two days ago, American Airlines denied boarding for Deniz Saypinar, a Turkish-born fitness model traveling from Dallas-Fort Worth to Miami because, the carrier explained to her, its conditions of carriage require all customers to dress “appropriately,” and her outfit wasn’t appropriate.

Ya think? That photo above shows how she presented herself at the gate.

“The customer was advised of our policy and was rebooked on a subsequent flight. The customer has since arrived in Miami,” the airline’s rep said.

Deniz is in great shape; I wonder why, if she was going to grandstand like this, she didn’t just wear a g-string and pasties and go all the way with it. I do not believe for a second that she expected to be allowed on the plane dressed like that. She wanted to set off a controversy and win herself Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame, while giving feminists something to shout about.

“You will never believe what happened to me at Texas Airport,” first non-American citizen to win the US National Bikini Fitness Competition in 2021 wailed to her 1 million followers on Instagram as she posted her attire.

Oh yes I will!

“I am an athlete, and now I have to wait here until the morning,” she wrote. “I like to wear feminine clothes that reveal my femininity, but I never dress in a way that will offend anyone. I’m mature and civilized enough to know what I can and cannot wear. I don’t deserve to be treated like the worst person in the world for wearing denim shorts What separates us from animals if humans can’t control even their most primitive impulses? I feel insulted. They wouldn’t let me on the plane because I wore these shorts in the United States.”

Uh, I wouldn’t call that an exactly fair description of what happened. She wasn’t treated “like the worst person in the world,” although she should have been treated as a narcissist and ruthless self-promoter who deliberately wasted the time of airline staff and caused a pointless controversy just to get her name and figure publicized. And she wasn’t rejected as a passenger for “wearing denim shorts.”

” What separates us from animals if humans can’t control even their most primitive impulses? ” has to win an irony award: it is the model who can’t control her primitive impulse to display herself in places where such displays are rude and disruptive. Decorum and manners in public also separate us from animals. Wearing reasonably modest clothing in public is basic civility, showing respect for others.

What do you want to bet that she wears that kind of outfit and then, when some little fat guy stares at her, gets indignant?

Continue reading

The Hunter Biden Ethics Time Bomb

Hunter Biden painting

How long before the sad and seamy saga of President Biden’s desperate, influence-peddling son blows up in Joe’s face? It would have and should have already, but the mainstream news media has scrupulously refused to publicize, much less investigate, the many hints of family-level corruption emerging from the First Family Black Sheep’s emails. The latest development is Hunter Biden, the Acclaimed Artist. No, that isn’t a microscope photo of the Wuhan virus above—that’s a Hunter Biden masterpiece. How much would you pay to have that hanging in your living room? (How much would you pay NOT to have that hanging in your living room?)

A New York gallery owner, Georges Bergès, is planning to offer Hunter’s artwork to buyers for prices ranging from from $75,000 to $500,000, despite the fact that art critics have described Hunter’s paintings as “not bad” at best, and “generic post zombie formalism illustration” at worst, which was the assessment of art critic Jerry Saltz in Artnet News. Scott Indrisek, the former editor in chief of Modern Painters magazine and a former deputy editor at Artsy, said: “I would call it very much a hotel art aesthetic. It’s the most anonymous art I can imagine. It’s somewhere between a screen saver and if you just Googled ‘midcentury abstraction’ and mashed up whatever came up.”

So why would anyone pay so much for paintings by someone who has no professional training and has never sold art on the commercial market? You know why.

Continue reading

“Is We Getting Dummer?” Res Ipsa Loquitur!

veitone464

Above is the mug shot for 31-year-old Bridgette Frank, arrested in California last week on a felony bad check charge and for failing to appear in court in a misdemeanor case. her record includes convictions for drunk driving, assault with a deadly weapon, child cruelty, and narcotics possession.

Note her shirt, which appears to be an incredibly inept knock-off of a Louis Vuitton T-shirt, since it, you know, spells “Vuitton” wrong. That’s Stupid Level One.

Stupid Level Two is that the knock-off was still not so stupid that it couldn’t fool Frank. Oh, you may choose to argue that Bridget is just full of sly, ironic humor and is wearing the self-identifying moron shirt for laughs. Go ahead. She strikes you as a P.G. Wodehouse aficionado, does she? That conclusion might qualify as Stupid Level Three, but it’s not.

This is: after the Smoking Gun’s article about the shirt concluded with “Public records do not indicate whether, at the time of Frank’s arrest, she was wearing a Rolez watch or carrying a Channel handbag,” commenter Thomas D Fitzpatrick asked, “What is a Rolez watch?”

Sigh.

The Ethics Alarms motto that “Bias makes you stupid” has its corollary in “Jack’s Observation” that “Stupid makes you unethical,” leading to the depressing but undeniable Ron White’s Law, “You can’t fix stupid.” How much of America’s ethics crisis flows from that sequence?

I don’t want to think about it.

Dispatch From The Great Stupid, Judicial Division

Duran

Let me preface this absurd episode by saying that it makes no sense whatsoever, not ethically, not logically, and certainly not legally.

Craig Doran, the chief judge of the region that includes Rochester, New York, has resigned from his administrative judicial duties because an old photograph turned up from 1988 when he was a second-year law student. It was, yes, from a Halloween party, and showed him costumed as a “well-known public figure of color.” We aren’t even told who in any of the media reports. In case your calculator isn’t handy, that was 33 years ago.

Since his graduation from law school, Doran has had a stellar career. Elected in 1994 to represent New York State’s 129th Assembly District in the State Legislature, he was appointed Supervising Judge of Family Courts in the Seventh Judicial District in 2006. . In 2011, he was appointed Administrative Judge of the Seventh Judicial District, making him the chief supervisor of all Courts in an eight-county region. He has also been the Presiding Judge of Drug Treatment Courts, a member of the NYS Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, has served as Chair of the Judicial Commission on Interbranch Relations, Co-Chair of the NYS Juvenile Justice Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (advising the Governor on statewide juvenile justice policy), and as a member of the Office of Court Administration Raise the Age (RTA) Task Force. Judge Doran was selected to serve on the Judiciary Task Force on the Constitution, and the Judicial Commission on Parental Representation, and has also been active as a law professor at the University of Rochester and at Keuka College. He serves as an Adjunct Professor at the former, teaching upper level classes in the Legal Studies, and with the latter in the Adult Studies Criminal Justice Bachelor and Master’s Degree Programs, and also as an Instructor Expert for the Center for Professional Studies and International Programs at Keuka.

Never mind: what’s really important is what he wore as his costume at a law student Halloween Party.

Continue reading

Tuesday That Feels Like Monday Ethics Clarifications, 7/6/2021

clarifications

1. What a surprise! Cheating works! Since Major League Baseball decided to enforce its 100 year old rule against doctoring the baseball as pitchers had recently begun using glue to let them throw faster and snap off devastating curve balls, the results have been obvious and significant. In a month since umpires were directed to check, the MLB batting average has gone up by seven points (it was at a record low before the enforcement). Scoring has increased, and several pitchers rumored to be dependent of “the sticky stuff,” notably Yankee All-Star Gerrit Cole, have been hit hard in recent starts. This is because, of the 35 pitchers with the highest four-seam spin rate on June 3, 33 of them saw a decline in spin rate since then by an average drop of 96 RPMs. Consequently, batters aren’t striking out as often.

2. Please clarify: Should I apply the Julie Principle to Maxine Waters? We know she’s an idiot, ignorant, partisan to the point of poisoning democracy and a race-baiting, hateful blight on Congress, her party, the nation and homo sapiens generally. Is there anything accomplished by complaining about Waters acting like Waters, since she’s obviously not going to change? [You can refresh your understanding of the Julie Principle here.] Water was in fine, typical form over the Independence day weekend, blathering as only a fool like her could,

“July 4th … & so, the Declaration of Independence says all men are created equal,” Waters began. “Equal to what? What men? Only white men? Isn’t it something that they wrote this in 1776 when African Americans were enslaved? They weren’t thinking about us then, but we’re thinking about us now!”

Of course, we know that “they” were thinking about black slaves a great deal, as anyone who reads about the debate over the Declaration in the Continental Congress knows. But why should a senior Congresswoman know anything about the founding of the nation? Maxine continued,

“Further, the Dec. of Ind. says we hold these truths to be “self-evident” yet:

– 17 states have enacted voter suppression laws

– Supreme Court gutted Sec. 5 of the Voting Rights Act

– George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice

Need I say more? #July4”

No, actually, Maxine, you didn’t even need to say that: we already knew you were a blathering, hateful dummy. But just to clarify:

  • Laws that are intended to ensure the integrity of elections are not “voter suppression laws”
  • The Supreme Court confirmed that the Federal Government should not meddle in state matters except for demonstrable evidence of racial bias, and since the standards in Sec. 5 of the Voting Rights Act were based on the conduct of Southern states through 1964 only (that’s 57 years ago) and thus did not reflect any reforms, changes or improvement, making the law out of date, SCOTUS quite correctly demanded new data and Congressional update. Get to work.
  • There is literally zero evidence that George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, or Tamir Rice met their unfortunate fates because of racial bias.

Or is it silly even to pay attention to Waters’ incurable bile?

Continue reading

Verdict: Feminists And Lesbians Need To Find Better Role Models And Heroes

Violette Morris

“On This Day She” is a book published this year dedicated to “the women whom [sic] time has forgotten; those who didn’t make it into the history books and those whom [sic] society failed to uphold as significant figures in their own right.” There is also a website following through on the premise of the book (and promoting it), from whence the misleading tweet above emanated. Though the book does admit to including women who engaged in “the bad” and who it deems unjustly ignored by history, the tweet above undercuts that admission. The hint is in the last sentence. Why was Morris killed by the French Resistance in 1944?

She was a Nazi, that’s why, and a traitor as well. Morris, a French citizen, sourced black-market petrol for the Nazis, ran a garage for the Luftwaffe, and drove for the Nazi and Vichy hierarchy. After Germany took over France, she worked to foil the operations of the Special Operations Executive, an English organization that aided the Resistance. Claims that she also engaged in spying activities and Nazi torture are disputed, but never mind: what she did do was sufficient to have her known as “The Hyena of the Gestapo” and sentenced to death in absentia. She was ultimately shot and killed—assassinated, to be technical— when her car was ambushed by the Resistance.

Good.

Continue reading