Category Archives: Education

A Sudden Impulse Poll On Cultural Literacy

I am increasingly depressed by the widespread cultural illiteracy of the public, and not just the younger generations. I do believe it is an ethics issue, because, as Prof Hersch wrote decades ago, a lack of historical and cultural perspective makes competent citizenship, critical thinking and effective participation in society difficult if not impossible. It is a life skill that we all are ethically obligated to acquire, and that society is obligated to help us acquire for its own health and survival.

In a comment today, slickwilly wrote,

You are both mad.

“Oh, you can’t help that. We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

It suddenly occurred to me, with horror, that a majority of the public probably can’t identify the origin of those quotes. I wonder how many Ethics Alarms readers can. Here’s a couple of surveys/poll. No cheating, now. You’re on an ethics blog.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Literature

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/13/18: The Mob, Bizarro World, Mid-Air Pedicures, And Robert E. Lee [UPDATED!]

1. Things fearmongers say...A Facebook friend, smart, a lawyer, good guy, wrote this: “The confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh will go down as one of the darkest days of the American experiment.” He really wrote that, and an astounding number of the Facebook leftist echo chamber “liked” the statement. Apparently Kavanaugh is going to resuscitate the Dred Scott decision, Korematsu v. United States, child labor and end women’s suffrage. He’s going to engineer from the Supreme Court chambers the equivalent of the American Civil War, or Pearl Harbor. Right. If Kavanaugh turned out to be a stealth combination of Jack the Ripper, the Marquis de Sade and Dr. Fu Manchu his confirmation couldn’t possibly rank in the top hundred “darkest days.”

That kind of rhetoric is hysterical and irresponsible, an abuse of free speech designed to make gullible and intellectually lazy people irrational and ignorant.

2. “Stop  making me defend Donald Trump…AND Robert E. Lee!”  Last night, as President Trump was speaking in front of a rally, NBC News tweeted out,

WATCH: President Trump says “Robert E. Lee was a great general” during Ohio rally, calling the Confederate leader “incredible.”

A few points to note on this: How is that observation and opinion news by any definition of the word? Lee was regarded as a “great general” well before the Civil War: that’s why Lincoln offered him the  command of the Union army when the war started. There are many, many books written by military experts that express and justify that assessment. Ghengis Khan was also a really great general, along with Julius Caesar and Curtis LeMay. This is a rare variety of fake news, joining more common varieties that have become routine of late like potential news, future news and psychic news,called past news, a new oxymoron. As for “incredible,” this, everyone conscious should know by know, is generic Trump-speak like “great,” “tremendous,” and “sad.” Who knows what it means here? It doesn’t mean Lee was an incredible human being, or at least there’s nothing in the context of NBC’s tweet that suggests that. He had an incredibly good beard for that period, at least compared to say, Longstreet, who looked like a member of ZZ Top. He was incredibly conflicted over which side to fight for. He had incredible guts.

Incredibly, though not really, because the mainstream news media has established that there are no depths to which it will not stoop in its unethical bias and incompetence, NBC tweeted that to bolster the long-running false narrative that President Trump is a racist, which he must be to extol Robert E. Lee,  the object of a particularly vile historical airbrushing and statue-toppling movement, a part of the Left’s Orwellian indoctrination and mind control effort as it slowly but surely embraces totalitarianism.

But if one actually knows the context of Trumps’ remarks, he was not praising Lee, though there is no reason why he shouldn’t, but making the point that despite Lee’s credentials and reputation, it was unheralded Ulysses Grant, denigrated as a joke when the war started, who defeated Lee. Trump was, as he usually does, talking about himself, and NBC’s tweet was intentionally misleading, and just more pandering to Trump-haters, attempting to further divide the country.

3. Floss! Floss! One of the very first posts on Ethics Alarms was about the ethics of people flossing their teeth in public. Having read this story, about a woman who began giving herself a pedicure during an airplane flight, I hereby officially proclaim that the conclusion in that post applies:

Manners and public etiquette are always evolving, and society determines what it will and will not endure. The passive, “mind your own business” theory always espoused by the least respectful, rudest and least considerate among us is a prescription for an endless deterioration in the quality of public life, and a greased slide into culturally-endorsed bad conduct. Every citizen has an obligation to his and her community to confront conduct that he or she feels does not belong in public, confront the offender, and support others who do so. Doing otherwise is not “minding one’s business,” but endorsing and entrenching bad conduct, abdicating the public duty of cultural preservation.

On a related note, there’s this.  Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

REALLY Late Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/12/18: The Mean Edition!

Okay, it’s way past morning. Couldn’t be helped.

1. You know, like the Democrats and feminists didn’t like Brett Kavanaugh…In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a group of five high school girls confessed to targeting a boy with false sexual assault allegations just because they “don’t like him.” Now the boy’s parents, Michael J. and Alicia Flood, have filed a lawsuit claiming that Seneca Valley High School students in Pittsburgh “conspired in person and via electronic communication devices to falsely accuse [their son] of sexual assault on two occasions.”  They are suing the girls’ parents, the school district and the Butler County District Attorney’s office. Why the DA? Because it has refused to charge the girls, and why should it? They should have been believed, right?

2. Pssst! LA? This is unconstitutional. I guarantee it. In Los Angeles, the City Council passed an ordinance requiring city contractors who have ties to the National Rifle Association to disclose them. “Are you now or have you ever been a member….?”

3. Tales of the Slippery Slope. Hey, if high school conduct is fair game, why not the third grade? The Hollywood Reporter published a tell-all by White House advisor Stephen Miller’s third grade teacher, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Nikki Fiske. She told tales out of school about when Miller was her student at  Franklin Elementary School, revelations designed, of course, to show that a weird kid grew into a Trump-abetting monster. He ate glue! He was messy!

Fiske was pulled from her classroom and is now on paid leave until the school district decides what to do with her. The  concern is “about her release of student information, including allegations that the release may not have complied with applicable laws and district policies,” district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said.“This has been picked up by other digital publications and blogs, and some issues have been raised.”

Ya think? Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/8/2018: Weenies, Dummies, Hypocrites And Creeps.

Good Morning!

1. But before we get into the ugly part..I want to recommend an article called “Rationalizations for Unethical Behavior in Tech” over at Medium. The writer, April Wensel, is the proprietor of the Compassionate Coding site.

Her article specifically employs several of the rationalizations on the Ethics Alarms list, quotes me with attribution, and does a terrific job demonstrating what the list is there for, and how it can and should be used. Thanks, April!

2. And here is another reason you can’t trust the media: journalists often aren’t very bright or well-educated.  NBC reporter Ken Dilanian opined on Twitter after Kavanaugh was confirmed that…

It may not happen in our lifetimes, but the idea that North Dakota and New York get the same representation in the Senate has to change. “Senators representing less than half the U.S. are about to confirm a nominee opposed by most Americans” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/06/senators-representing-less-than-half-us-are-about-confirm-nominee-opposed-by-most-americans/ 

To begin with, quoting that Post piece is signature significance for a partisan media hack.  “Most Americans” have insufficient information to oppose or support Kavanaugh on a substantive basis, and uninformed opinions are worthless at best. If “most Americans” opposed him, it was because they were misled, propagandized and fear-mongered into ignorance and bias. This is why we don’t elect Supreme Court justices. The complaint about the Senate that Dilanian glommed onto can be translated as “The Senate is the Senate.” It was designed not to represent the population as a whole, but the states, their interests and their cultures. “It may not happen in our lifetimes” is a statement of ignorance of what it would take to fundamentally change one of the three branches of government from its original form. I’d suggest to Ken that he try reading the Constitution, especially the formula for amending it. The chances that two-thirds of the states will accede to a new Senate construction that lets the big states dictate to the small ones are exactly zero, or essentially the same as the chances that the Electoral College will be abolished.

Dilanian is NBC’s intelligence and national security reporter and frequently appears on MSNBC, and now we know that the network’s intelligence reporter doesn’t understand his own country.

3. Be proud, Democrats! A Democratic Senator I had been blissfully unaware of  until the Kavanaugh nomination stepped up during the  hearings to reveal herself as exemplifying the ugly side of the partisan divide. Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono said that the fact that Kavanaugh was conservative was all she needed to determine that he was lying, for example. She’s a virulent bigot. Yesterday, she was asked twice by CNN’s Dana Bash about whether she thought harassing Republican senators in restaurants was inappropriate. She wouldn’t say “Yes,” sending a clear message that her real position is “No.”

Here’s the exchange: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Science & Technology, Social Media

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/7/18, Part II: Fake Satire, Fake Racism, Fake Harvard

Good Morning AGAIN!

My OTHER favorite hymn when I’m feeling blue..

3. If I were the producer of Saturday Night Live…I would strongly push the show to do what satirical shows are supposed to do: make fun of everyone. It is just good business, as well as comedic integrity: make everyone watch to see who gets skewered.  But no: despite the over-abundance of potential and indeed near mandatory targets of parody and mockery, SNL took sides—the same one it has been taking now, virtually exclusively, for years. There was no Spartacus sketch, despite the preening of the absurd Cory Booker, and a skit that virtually writes itself. Lindsay Graham was cruelly mocked, but not Kirsten Gillibrand, nor Diane Feinstein. Ah, but Senator Susan Collins, who made a brave, clear, invaluable speech about her choice–women get choices, I hear—to buck the #MeToo bullies and lynch mobs and confirm Brett Kavanaugh, was mocked for THAT last night, aan portrayed as weak dupe. Yet despite the mannered, baby-talking, confused presentation by Blasey-Ford, whom I would deem a satirist’s dream, the show’s writers didn’t have the guts to touch her.

4. Speaking of jokes…Georgetown prof C. Christine Fair, who the college thinks can be trusted to be neutral and fair to white men in her classroom despite her racist and violent tweets, had an explanation after her Twitter account was suspended. She had written, you will recall,

“Look at [this] chorus of entitled white men. All of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps. Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine? Yes.”

Come on! Don’t you get the joke? She was kidding! Fair told the Washington Post, whose reporter didn’t have the integrity to respond, “How stupid do you think I am?”…

“Maybe this was not my most eloquent attempt,” Fair said. “And I will certainly concede I was attempting to make people feel uncomfortable,” but  “this idea I’m somehow calling for actual violence is preposterous.”

Gee, why can’t white supremacists and racists excuse their “jokes” the same way?

The Post’s writer, however, completely accepts Fair’s alibi, and impugns anyone who took offense at it as “extreme right wing.”  Read the article.

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Race

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/7/18, Part I: Signature Significance Meets The Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck

Good Morning!

That hymn always makes me feel better. I’m not sure whether that’s because Sir Arthur Sullivan wrote the music, or because it makes me think of “Mrs. Miniver”…anyway, there’s lots to cover today, so this is a two-part warm-up…

1. Is this signature significance, or was Jordan Peterson just having a bad day? The cultishly popular Canadian clinical psychologist  and the author of “12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos” raised eyebrows across the land when he tweeted that if Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed, the ethical thing for him to do was to step down. His comment came in response to a jaw-droppingly foolish thread of tweets by brothers Eric and  Professor Bret Weinstein. In the thread, Prof Weinstein said any outcome of the Judge Kavanaugh confirmation was “unacceptable,” arguing that Kavanaugh had a “limited point of view,”  was “the kind of adult that entitled punks grow into” and would undermine the Supreme Court’s legitimacy.

I’d love to see the research demonstrating that assertion about the kind of adults punks grow into. One such “punk” grew into James Garfield. Another grew into Barack Obama.

But I digress. After Kavanaugh’s suggestion of how to resolve Bret Weinstein’s problem, the other Weinstein tweeted, “This position is held in varying forms by nearly everyone thoughtful with whom I’m speaking.” Have you ever seen a better illustration of the left-wing bubble? Nearly everyone this guy knows thinks that it makes sense for Kavanaugh to resign! Who are these deluded, confused people?

But I digress again. The issue is Peterson, who is allegedly  brilliant. His suggestion stunned his admirers, producing responses like

I find this bafflingly incomprehensible. Appease disproven accusers?

and

Ugh, no. Giving in to the screaming hysterics and bullying tactics won’t suddenly, magically restore sanguinity to America and sanctity to the Court.

and

Why? He should just give up and quit because of false allegations? I am really disappointed in you Mr. Peterson. Don’t you teach that Men should not be cowards?

My reaction to Peterson’s theory is best illustrated by this film clip…

Later, Peterson issued a slightly less stupid refinement, tweeting that he wasn’t sure if Judge Kavanaugh quitting now was the “right move”, but it would allow a “less divisive” figure to gain the nomination:

“I’m not certain that is the right move. It’s very complex. But he would have his name cleared, and a figure who might be less divisive might be put forward.”

Huh? How would the new Justice resigning after false allegations “clear his name”? As for the naive “less divisive” theory, here was a great comment on the Althouse thread regarding Peterson’s gaffe:

Today they’d howl over Garland. There is no less divisive candidate. That was the point of BK, he was a certified moderate conservative mainstream judge. The only way a candidate could satisfy the Left is if he strangled Trump with Thomas’s intestines. Twice.

Bingo!

Which brings me back to the original question: is it fair to recalibrate one’s opinion of Peterson based on one really dumb opinion, on the theory that someone as smart as he’s alleged to be would never make such a ridiculous suggestion? That’s signature significance. Or is the ethical reaction to give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he was just foggy for a while, or put it off on the fact that Canadians just don’t get U.S. Politics? Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Professions, U.S. Society

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Emily Yoffe

“Even as we must treat accusers with seriousness and dignity, we must hear out the accused fairly and respectfully, and recognize the potential lifetime consequences that such an allegation can bring. If believing the woman is the beginning and the end of a search for the truth, then we have left the realm of justice for religion.”

—-Emily Yoffe in her essay titled, “The Problem With #BelieveSurvivors”

More…

…in a Senate floor speech the day before the hearing, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York announced that it was unnecessary for her to hear Kavanaugh’s testimony. Gillibrand declared, “I believe Dr. Blasey Ford.” Many Democrats, in keeping with #BelieveSurvivors, are taking their certainty about Ford’s account and extrapolating it to all accounts of all accusers. This tendency has campus echoes, too: The Obama administration’s well-intended activism on campus sexual assault resulted in reforms that went too far and failed to protect the rights of the accused.

The impulse to arrive at a predetermined conclusion is familiar to Samantha Harris, a vice president at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Harris says that under Title IX, students who report that they are victims of sexual misconduct must be provided with staffers who advocate on their behalf. These staffers should “hear them out, believe them, and help them navigate the process,” she said, but added, “When the instruction to ‘believe them’ extends to the people who are actually adjudicating guilt or innocence, fundamental fairness is compromised.” Harris says that many Title IX proceedings have this serious flaw. As a result, in recent years, many accused students have filed lawsuits claiming that they were subjected to grossly unjust proceedings; these suits have met with increasingly favorable results in the courts…

…The legitimacy and credibility of our institutions are rapidly eroding. It is a difficult and brave thing for victims of sexual violence to step forward and exercise their rights to seek justice. When they do, we should make sure our system honors justice’s most basic principles.

All true, but here is my question: How did we arrive at a place where any of what Joffe writes needed to be said at all?

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Education, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society