Insomnia Ethics Dump, 8/19/2019 (at 3:16 am): What Keeps Me Up At Night

Hi.

So depressing to observe the reactions of the Facebook Borg to my post about Elizabeth Warren’s self-outing as a lying demagogue. They couldn’t process it; they put their metaphorical fingers in their ears and hummed; they attacked the messenger (me); they channeled the generally-derided Politifact whitewashing of the “Mike Brown was murdered” lie. One lawyer friend apparent deep-dived Ethics Alarms to try to  find a post that would contradict my position regarding Warren (and Kamala Harris). She couldn’t, but pretended she had by metaphorically waving an essay in which I applauded a man acquitted of murder by reason of insanity who later admitted to others that he had killed someone when he was younger and insane. (I can’t find the damn thing myself.)  She then called me a liar and a hypocrite, because I had described the man as a murderer when he was innocent in the eyes of the law. A lawyer made this argument, mind you. I explained, not too nicely, that her analogy was idiotic, since there was no murder and no crime in the Brown case, so law prof Warren’s calling it either was dishonest and indefensible, while in the case of the recovered madman, there was a murder, a crime, and a murder victim. Though the acknowledged killer he was fortunate enough to have committed his crime in a state that holds the insane unaccountable, that fact didn’t change the act or the  crime.

I don’t know why I bothered. Warren fans, like Bernie Bros, appear to be completely immune to facts and reality.

1.  Why is there such a compulsion to corrupt the innocent, even the fictional innocent? I was hardly an admirer of those late 60s and 70s Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday Morning TV shows with people dressed in huge, garish thing-costumes and being relentlessly cheery. You know the ones: “H.R. Puffnstuff,” “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour,” “Lidsville”—those. In addition to being assaultive and unfunny, they also inspired Barney, for which the Krofts should never be forgiven.

Still, lots of kids loved the shows and characters, and they should be able to cherish those memories. Hollywood, however, seems determined to debase everything it can, especially fond memories, either by sexualizing them or making them dark, or both. (The re-boot of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Riverdale,” the series based on the “Archie” comics, are cases in point.) Now we have the new in which are re-imagined as murderous psychopaths.

Nice. Continue reading

CNN And Chris Cillizza Not Only Show How Bias Makes Them Stupid, But How Bias Makes Them ASTOUNDINGLY Stupid, And Anyone Who Trusts Them Too

This is so bad I have trouble categorizing it.

So desperate were repeat journalism ethics offender Chris Cillizza and his hopelessly biased employer CNN to find a way to turn a rumor into a new topic to mock Donald Trump with, that they displayed their collective historical ignorance across the metaphorical sky like the Northern Lights, and made those silly enough to trust them more historically ignorant than they were to begin with. (Note: journalists are supposed to make us more knowledgeable, not less.)

Apparently there has been some discussion in the White House about the U.S. buying Greenland, which belongs to Denmark. Talk is cheap, and this is, if news at all, barely news.

Asked about the non-story, economic adviser Larry Kudlow told “Fox News Sunday”  that the administration is “looking at” purchasing Greenland, whatever that means. It doesn’t mean much, since Denmark saysit isn’t selling, no talks are underway, no  offer has been made, and the U.S. can’t afford to rebuild its infrastructure, so the idea makes about as much sense as a family on food stamps deciding to go to Disney World.

Oh, by the way, I’m looking into buying a Rolls Royce. Continue reading

Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: My Upcoming Smithsonian Program on Cross-Examination

I don’t know how many Ethics Alarms readers live in the vicinity of Washington, D.C.—I suspect quite a few—but if you do and are interested in seeing me and my sister present a lively two-hour program exploring many of the legal ethics issues that I have tackled here, along with plenty of history, popular culture and trial technique (and are willing to pay $45 for the privilege as well as some take-home materials),  maybe I can meet you on the evening of October 21st.

The event is called “Courtroom Drama: The Art of Cross-Examination,” and here’s description: Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Actor Peter Fonda (1940-2019)

“I believe that one is only truly free when learning, and one can only learn when one is free.”

—-Actor Peter Fonda, Henry’s son, Jane’s brother, and Bridget’s father, who died yesterday.

Memorable ethics quotes come from unexpected places sometimes, and this is a striking example. It’s also important, wise and true. I have never heard or read of anyone putting that thought quite that way.

Fonda’s observation focuses nicely on the roots of today’s existential cultural peril. A vast segment of the population has grown to adulthood with insufficient or defective knowledge, making them easy prey for power-seekers, demagogues and charlatans peddling theories and nostrums that a basic comprehension of history would instantly undermine. Instead of being imbued by their teachers and parents with intellectual curiosity, a healthy and intrinsically American suspicion of authority, and a reluctance to follow mobs of any kind, they lack the intellectual defenses to fend off ideological cant, the most dangerous of which holds that society will only be made virtuous by the unthinking acceptance of approved doctrine. That requires locking in dogma early, and creating a public that is inoculated against learning by being cut off from non-conforming information. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Primal Scream, 8/13/19: Democratic Senators Tell SCOTUS, “Nice Little Court You Have Here. Be A Shame If Anything Were To HAPPEN To It…”

1. Lance, Lance, Lance...Is this the most obnoxious and desperate virtue-signalling tweet of all time?

“I can’t drop many people on a bike these days but I just blew the fuckin’ doors off Mike Pence on a Nantucket bike path. Day. Made.”

Because Lance thinks everyone hates the Vice President, he boasts about beating a 60 year-old politician as if he’s rendered some symbolic humiliation. You’re the one who should be humiliated, Lance. You. I’m no fan of Mike Pence, but he’s not a sociopathic  fraud, cheat and villain like you are.

The fact that this tweet got 108,000 “likes” shows how much damage an ethics corrupter can do.

2.  A perfect example of ignoring a real problem to avoid having to admit it exists and then deal with it...while making the problem worse in the process.U.S. Commission on Civil Rights member Gail Heriot, a lawyer and frequent protester about how her overwhelmingly Democratic colleagues on the committee  engage in “woke” insanity, attacks a new government report in her op-ed in the Washington Times. Herriott attached her dissent to the report, a routine she has become accustomed to. She writes,

Shoddy work is not uncommon for government commissions. But with its awkwardly-titled new report — “Beyond Suspensions: Examining School Discipline Policies and Connections to the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Students of Color with Disabilities” — the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights goes beyond shoddy. Its unsupported claims threaten teachers’ ability to keep control of their classrooms. No one disputes that African-American, Native American and Pacific Islander students get disciplined at school at higher rates than white students. Similarly, white students are disciplined at higher rates than Asian-American students, and boys are disciplined more often than girls. Not surprisingly, students with behavioral disabilities get in more trouble than those without. Sometimes the differences are substantial. Suspension rates, for example, have been about three times higher for African-Americans than for whites in recent years.The commission purports to find, however, that “students of color as a whole, as well as by individual racial group, do not commit more disciplinable offenses than their white peers.” According to the commission, they are simply punished more. Readers are left to imagine our schools are not just occasionally unfair, but rather astonishingly unfair on matters of discipline.

The report provides no evidence to support its sweeping assertion and, sadly, there is abundant evidence to the contrary. For example, the National Center for Education Statistics surveys high school students biennially. Since 1993, it has asked students whether they have been in a fight on school property over the past 12 months. The results have been consistent. In 2015, 12.6 percent of African-American students reported being in such a fight, while only 5.6 percent of white students did….Because minority students disproportionately go to school with other minority students, when teachers fail to keep order out of fear that they will be accused of racism, it is these minority students — stuck in disorderly classrooms — who suffer most.

What accounts for the differing misbehavior rates? The best anybody can say is, “We don’t know entirely.” But differing poverty rates, differing fatherless household rates, differing parental education, differing achievement in school, and histories of policy failures and injustices likely each play a part. Whatever the genesis of these disparities, they need to be dealt with realistically. We don’t live in a make-believe world.

As Joe Biden so sagely pointed out for us, Democrats care about their official truths, not facts. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Another Early Morning Seminar, Another Ethics Alarms Open Forum!”

As they often do, this morning’s Open Forum has brought forth a Comment Of The Day (and perhaps more than one; it is still rolling, and I haven’t read all entries yet.)  This one, by frequent Comment Of The Day auteur Chris Marschner, was written in rebuttal to an ethics  professor’s newspaper column arguing that “individualism” is  an illness. This is one more form of the general anti-American argument that socialists, communists, and, increasingly, progressives  have advanced against the core culture of this nation, which was founded on individual rights and the power of individual responsibility, accountability, power and aspiration.

I’m glad Chris saw this thing before I did, and did such an excellent, and measured job rebutting it. It might have killed me. The thought of a community college, where students often do not have the critical thinking skills or intellectual breadth of experience to be able to resist this kind of indoctrination, having a professor like the author tinkering with their brains and beliefs is the stuff of horror movies.

Here is Chris’s Comment of the Day  from today’s Open Forum:

“Several days ago an adjunct professor of Philosophy and Ethics at Hagerstown Community College penned an Op-Ed in the Morning Herald newspaper here in Hagerstown, MD., decrying Individualism as a disease of the mind which leads to racism and  mass shootings. I am sharing my rebuttal with the group.

On August 9th, under the headline “Enemies of a Nation,” Don Stevenson penned an Op-Ed telling readers that individualism is a “severing, often arrogant, disease that applauds the free-wheeling person or entity and claims the self-directing power of a sole personality or mind-set with little respect for diversity.” This is pure fiction. There is no reference to individualism as a mental disorder in the DSM-5 manual. Do not equate individualism with sociopathy and psychopathy, both of which, in my opinion, are nurtured through the self-aggrandizing processes of social media. The need for likes and followers is suggestive of a need for love and fame. The perennial lack of likes and followers reinforces a person’s dissociative mindset. This gives rise to aberrations of violence among a minute number of mentally ill people who lack the ability to process information normally.

A discussion of the effects of social media and the increasing incidence of suicide will be left for another day.

Mr. Stevenson’s piece was an ill-informed hit piece suggesting that the El Paso shooter’s motives were based  on nativist hatred of immigrants. It was obvious to me that Mr. Stevenson did not read the manifesto and relied solely on news accounts, for if he had read the text he would have quickly realized the shooter was claiming to focus on the common good for Americans. Mexicans just happened to be the target. The shooter clearly and unequivocally stated that his goal was to reduce the population because, he said, we are destroying the environment with too many people. He explained that he was unable to bring himself to kill those he considered his own countryman. He argued that Americans won’t change their lifestyle, and can’t afford to let others get used to this lifestyle. He claimed automation was going to create massive unemployment and, while universal health care and universal income would help, civil unrest would inevitably occur.  He railed against powerful corporations manipulating policy.

Readers should ask why the parts of the manifesto that did not fit the anti-Trump narrative but instead reflected the exact opposite were not as widely disseminated as the shooter’s beliefs about cultural replacement. Why have we hears almost nothing about the leftist motivations of the Dayton and Gilroy shooters? Nothing is more unethical than to have a teacher of ethics not research the subject matter beforehand, or worse, twist the facts to suit a desired narrative. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/29/19: A Meme, A Sub-Heading, And A Risky Tradition

Let’s pray for a more ethical culture…

1. Unethical meme of the last couple hours or so...Esteemed Ethics Alarms commenter Curmie (Where have you gone Curmie? Ethics Alarms turns its lonely eyes to you… Oo-oo-oo…) posted this on Facebook, I assume in a tongue in cheek mood, since I know that he has a brain:

Sadly, it was greeted with cheers from the Facebook Borg as if the message was profound. This is a good illustration, however, of the intellectual rigor of the open borders crowd, which, please note, includes almost all of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls. How can you argue seriously with people this silly and shallow?

2. And an unethical sub-heading! Socialist propaganda turns up where you least expect it, which I guess is the idea. It’s insidious, and works on young brains like that bug Ricardo Montalban put in Chekhov’s ear in “The Wrath of Kahn.”

In this Sunday’s “Social Q’s” column, a weekly trove of ethics insight and blunders, a teacher complains about moving to a region where teacher salaries are much lower than what he is used to.  The culture shock was required in order to accommodate his wife’s career opportunity to achieve her “dream job.” He says that he is obsessing about earning so much less, and even though he says he did not get into teaching for the money, and that his wife has the primary income in the family, he’s wondering if he will still be motivated to do his job at the drastically reduced salary.

Columnist Phillip Gallane’s answer is far too kind. What I would have said is that if your motivation to do the job you have contracted to do in your chosen profession is based on your compensation,  you are in the wrong field, and you are letting non-ethical considerations dominate ethical ones to te detriment of those who have to trust you.

There’s nothing quite like making a sacrifice for a loved one and then being bitter about it afterwards. Gallanes does point out that since the teacher’s salary clearly isn’t crucial, he shouldn’t “stress about it” and should take satisfaction from allowing his wife to get her “dream job.”

The sub-heading for this segment in column: “It’s almost as if Capitalism is…broken?” Continue reading