Category Archives: Education

Fake News Ethics: A Quick Audit

fake-news

There is…

(1) fake news,

(2) misleading or incompetent reporting,

(3) news that some people call fake because they don’t like its likely effects or implications, and

(4) news that people want others to think is fake so they can peddle their own fake news.

Did genuine, unequivocal fake news affect the 2016 election—that is, the first kind, the kind peddled by hoax sites like The News Nerd, and the Macedonian junk like the story about the Pope endorsing Trump?  There’s no evidence that would suggest or support that. Many voters are naive, gullible, ignorant fools, but still: how many actually changed their votes based on complete fiction? It’s impossible to tell, but stating that this was the case is itself a form of fake news.

Democrats and partisan pundits had been using the “fake news” device to mute the voices of journalists who didn’t follow in lockstep to the mainstream media pro-Democratic march. The IRS scandal, which is real and damning, has been largely ignored by the mainstream news media and called a “nothingburger” in Obama Administration talking points.The assertion that it is a myth that the IRS is using its power to suppress conservative dissent is …..fake news.

Because Fox is the only major news outlet (I do not count the slimy Breitbart websites) that was consistently critical of the Obama administration when it deserved it (and sometimes when it did not), Democrats not-quite-successfully-enough set out to marginalize Fox, calling it “faux news” and pushing the Obama narrative that it wasn’t even a legitimate news source. Obama, in an interview with Rolling Stone (speaking of sources of fake news!), blamed Clinton’s loss in part on “Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country.”

Isn’t that amazing? What gall. It isn’t the fact that the debt (that Obama promised to reduce) is now just short of 20 TRILLION dollars, with Obama adding a record $7.917 trillion to it, it’s that the one news source that actively exposed that fact was available to middle class voters that led to Hillary’s loss.  It wasn’t that the Affordable Care Act didn’t let Americans keep their health care plans as Obama repeatedly swore it would, it was that Fox News kept reminding its viewers of that (as the rest of the news media soft-peddled it) , while also publicizing that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, one’s health care insurance was less affordable unless the government was paying for it. It wasn’t that Hillary Clinton had lied about her e-mail tricks for over a year, the problem was that Fox was responsibly reporting that she was lying, unlike CNN, NBC, and the rest.

You know. Fake news.

As part of an organized effort up and down Democratic groups, ranks, allies and media operatives to de-legitimatize Donald Trump’s victory, the definition of “fake news” has been conveniently expanded. The Washington Post published a jaw-droppingly sloppy, partisan piece last week alleging that

The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.”

Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Rights, Social Media, The Internet

No Charges In The Keith Scott Shooting, And An Ethics Test For Black Lives Matter

stephanie-clemons-thompson-fb-post

Yesterday,  Mecklenburg, North Carolina District Attorney Andrew Murray announced that the investigation into September’s fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott had found no legal wrongdoing. This meant, in addition to the fact that officer Brently Jackson, who is black, would not face trial, that the two-days of riots inflicted on Charlotte after the Scott’s death were even more inexcusable than riots generally are. People who claimed on social media that they had seen the shooting and that Scott was unarmed admitted to investigators that they hadn’t seen what they said they saw. Evidence in the case showed that Scott stepped out of his SUV  holding a gun—his DNA was retrieved from the weapon found at the scene—and ignored at least ten commands from the five officers on the scene to drop it. Individuals who behave like that are likely to get shot, and deserve to be. No case, no outrage, no systemic racism.

Following the shooting, however, this was a Mike Brown encore, complete with angry, loud, false accounts and social media rumors focused on making Scott’s death another rallying point for race-hucksters, politicians who felt they could benefit from dividing the country by color, and irresponsible pundits.

From the Ethics Alarms post on September 21: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz Follow-Up: Signature Significance And Kind Words For Castro

Look at the good side!

Look at the good side!

Democrats and progressives have been “otherizing” the President Elect by incessantly referring to the fear he inspires in so many, including young children. This, as I hope to explore in another post, is part of a wide ranging  and dangerous de-legitimizing strategy, as wrong as calling Barack Obama by his middle name, or claiming that he isn’t a citizen. In the weekend’s Ethics Quiz, I answered answer to the question of whether Trump’s unequivocal condemnation of Fidel Castro in response to his death was ethical in the affirmative, and I concludeed with this:

Rather than using the occasion to find another excuse to attack Trump, Democrats should think about why it is that so many Castro admirers are in their ranks.

Now let me be more pointed: everyone surveying that national political scene should be concerned and alarmed that so many Castro admirers and apologists are in the ranks or progressives and Democrats….especially progressive and Democrats.  It is signature significance. No one who is committed to liberty, the Constitution, the democratic process and basic principles of autonomy, respect, fairness and free speech can seriously praise Castro.  The ominous turn of the increasingly radicalized Left in the United States to an “ends justify the means,” totalitarian methodology-endorsing philosophy is something to watch carefully.  You want genuine fear? I am genuinely frightened of liberals who say that Castro “did some good things” on the way to shrugging off how he did those things, and how many lives it cost.

A good friend of mine and a nice, smart, man who is also an extreme liberal wrote on his Facebook page,

RIP, Fidel. A huge figure of the 20th century, one with faults and virtues. Believed his island belonged to all its people and not just the rich. A better man than the one who was just elected…

Res ipsa loquitur. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Rights

Short Takes As The Left’s Unethical Post-Election Freakout Continues

freakoutI admit it. I can’t keep up with all the progressive/Democrat/Hillary Corrupted/journalist and pundit freakouts over Donald Trump’s election, and I don’t want to. There is more to ethics and life than pointing out how completely so many have abandoned reason, fairness, proportion and their own previously stated principles because Donald Trump won the election. Well, that’s another beneficial effect of the result: Trump has inadvertently exposed how thin the veneer of decency and fairness was for a large number of institutions, occupations and individuals. Among the examples about which I could and probably should write complete posts, but won’t, are these:

New York Times columnist Charles Blow, he of the anti-Mormon slurs against Mitt Romney before the 2012 election. Remember how Rush Limbaugh was excoriated by journalists, progressives and Democrats for saying, after Obama’s election, that he hoped the new President would fail? Here is Blow, in my print Times this morning, declaring in advance his irrevocable hate:

I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, but rather to speak up for truth and honor and inclusion. This isn’t just about you, but also about the moral compass of those who see you for who and what you are, and know the darkness you herald is only held at bay by the lights of truth….

So let me say this on Thanksgiving: I’m thankful to have this platform because as long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze.I’m thankful that I have the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary. No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn.

This is the theme of the unethical response of the Angry Left—which increasingly appears to include everyone on the that side of the political spectrum. The double standard reigns. Conservatives should accept election results with grace and patriotism in the interests of national unity, but liberals can scream, protest, attack the system and claim fraud indefinitely. Republicans shouldn’t use fear as a political weapon, but Democrats can. Americans should give elected leaders a chance to  progress beyond the uncivil and excessive rhetoric on both sides during a campaign, with the exception of this President. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Rights, U.S. Society

KABOOM! Did A School Really Try To Brainwash A Second Grader? [UPDATED]

kaboom-red

The comments to a perfectly sane article about the value of teaching logic and critical thinking in elementary school are fascinating, terrifying, aggravating and all too typical in some ways. For example, it takes just 25 comments or so before some of the participants start calling each other names based on their assumed political views. The entire thread is enlightening reading, but the most provocative part is the discussion sparked by this comment:

If you teach your kids logic they’ll have conflicts with their teachers lol. I know because all of mine have had issues and it should not be this way. My youngest corrected a teacher in the 2nd grade because she was teaching something wrong. My daughter ended up going to ISS(in school suspension). I was called and they said while your daughter was correct, she cannot correct a teacher. They had put my daughter in ISS and wrote on the whiteboard 4=eight and as soon as my daughter agreed with that statement she could go back to class. She was in ISS all day. I was proud of my daughter and disgusted with everyone that would treat a 2nd grade little girl the way they treated her. Was glad that she wasn’t in that school very long.

This is also the source of the KABOOM!, as you can see. North Korean brain-washing methods have apparently penetrated some parts of the American teaching establishment. My head exploded in protest, but I can’t say I’m surprised.

Some random observations, and then I’ll leave the reactions to you: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Kaboom!, U.S. Society

Ethics Zugswang And The Vicissitudes Of Moral Luck: The Rutgers Prof’s Scary Tweet

Careless tweets matter...

Careless tweets matter…

Rutgers University lecturer Kevin Allred tweeted,

“Will the 2nd amendment be as cool when i buy a gun and start shooting at random white people or no…?”

The University had him arrested and sent to Bellevue mental hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

His defenders, and of course Allred, say that his tweet was just a rhetorical question to make a point. The University says that he left them no choice, or no good ones, anyway.

They both are right. This is what comes of being in Ethics Zugswang, when one is thrust into  a position where no course of action is fully responsible, fair, and ethical.

The university decided that it could not responsibly assume that the tweet was benign and not a threat. What if the school did nothing, and Allred took high ground and became Charles Whitman 2016? Having him arrested, however, looks unfair and like a punitive reaction to free speech. There was literally no course the university could take that was completely ethical. Rutgers sacrificed its  teacher’s dignity for the safety of the students and to protect the institution’s liability.

The other alternatives—talking to him, shrugging it off as a poorly considered social media gaffe—placed the fate of the school and perhaps many students at the mercy of moral luck. These would seem like reasonable  decisions only if the moral luck dice did not come up snake eyes. Allred didn’t say “if” I buy a gun, he said when. He added race to the equation, and there are a lot of people who seem to be losing their grip in the wake of the election. What were the odds that he meant what he wrote? 100 to 1? 1000 to 1? 5000 to 1? Is it worth the remote chance that this was a warning of an impending catastrophe not to take the safe route, and have him arrested and examined? Is it worth gambling with students’ lives? Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Health and Medicine, Race, Rights, Social Media

Ethics Dunce: Iowa Student Kaleb Vanfosson

dragged-off

Iowa State student Kaleb Vanfosson accepted the job of introducing Bernie Sanders at a pro-Hillary rally last week. Instead of doing what he agreed to do, he used his moment at the microphone to rant about how awful Clinton was, saying in part before he was escorted off the stage (above) by a guy that looked like the principal in “Back To The Future”…

“The only thing she cares about is pleasing her delegates, the billionaires. The only people that really trust Hillary are Goldman Sachs, Citigroup can trust Hillary, the military-industrial complex can trust Hillary.”

There has been a lot of this kind of unethical conduct lately, notably from performers hired to sing the National Anthem who then do a Colin Kaepernick impression instead. What are they teaching in Iowa? It is never ethical to make a commitment to perform one task and not perform it as agreed. It is even worse to do the opposite of what was agreed, and to embarrass and undermine the objective of the enterprise.

Just because something is styled as a protest doesn’t make it fair, responsible or right. Vanfosson was grandstanding, and he was cheating. Sanders takes questions, and in a Q and A session was the time and place to make his points. He used misrepresentation to do it from center stage.

The interesting ethics question is whether the student’s conduct gets a pass because his victim, Bernie Sanders, embraces such guerilla protest tactics, or did when he was that age. The answer is no. The ethical approach would have been to ask Bernie himself if he would accept an anti-Clinton rant as his introduction. Vanfosson didn’t, perhaps because he knew what the answer would be.

 

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics