Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2021: To Boldly Go…

Shatner in space

1. William Shatner didn’t die. It doesn’t matter. People really don’t get moral luck, do they? Of course, only a tiny percentage of the public reads Ethics Alarms. 90-year-old William Shatner flew into space yesterday aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company. The former “James T. Kirk” and three fellow passengers boldly went to an altitude of 66.5 miles over the West Texas desert in the fully automated capsule, then safely parachuted back to Earth. The flight lasted just over 10 minutes. I had previously and correctly pointed out that Bezos had violated basic Kantian ethics, the Categorical Imperative, by exploiting Shatner and placing the old egomaniac at risk in order to promote Blue Origin. “But Shatner consented!” Bezos apologists kept telling me. So if someone consents to being used as a means to an end, that makes using a human being as a means to an end ethical?

Well, sometimes—Kant was an absolutist, and there are no absolutes. However, Shatner’s exploitation doesn’t qualify as an exception. What if the stress of the flight had killed him? Then many would be questioning Bezos’s motives, but the ethical problem is the same whether Shatner survived or not. That the flight didn’t end up looking like an elaborate grand suicide for an iconic actor who knew his time had almost run out anyway was pure moral luck.

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Over And Behind The “Insensitive Racial Rhetoric” Line [Updated]

Welcome Mat

Race-baiters, ruthless activists and cancel culture bullies are lurking and waiting to pounce on any public figure whose public statements (or revealed private ones) can sustain accusations of racism. Two recent examples from the world of sports help define when such comments are signature significance for an individual who is racially biased, and when they should be excused with little more than a raised eyebrow.

Over the Line: The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden sent an email in 2011 came that attacked NFL Player’s Association head DeMaurice Smith, an African-American, by writing to Bruce Allen, who was the GM of the Washington Football Club, then called “The Redskins,” “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.”

Nice. At least Gruden recognized what he would be facing once the Wall Street Journal reported on his leaked email, and shot out an apology, though not a credible one. He said he was “really sorry” and suggested that it was all a big misunderstanding. You see, Gruden refers to liars as “rubber lips.” Sure he does. You hear that phrase all the time in reference to Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo, and James Comey. Rubber lips! Makes perfect sense. “I don’t think he’s dumb,” Gruden protested to the Journal. “I don’t think he’s a liar. I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”

I’m not sure what a “racial bone” is, but I assume he means that he isn’t racially biased and has proved it by his conduct. As we have discussed on Ethics Alarms often, racist beliefs and racially biased conduct are distinct in many ways, and one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. One distinction is that racist beliefs are legal, and if an individual is adept at recognizing that bias for what it is and not letting it govern his or her conduct, it isn’t unethical. Maybe Gruden hasn’t engaged in obviously racist or bigoted conduct in his life, but color me skeptical. A man claiming that that he isn’t racially biased who uses an ad hominem insult referring to a black man’s lips has as much credibility as that same man saying that he referred to someone as “Dumboriss” but doesn’t think he’s dumb. Ironically, Gruden’s excuse marks him as dumb and a liar who can’t keep his dishonest excuses straight. “I wasn’t making a racist comment when I said his lips looked like black inflated tires, I just use ‘rubber lips’ to mean liar, but…but.. I don’t believe he’s a liar either!” is the epitome of trying to dig one’s way out of a hole.

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Ridiculously Unethical Quote Of The Month: LinkedIn

LinkedIn

“While we strongly support freedom of expression, we recognized when we launched that we would need to adhere to the requirements of the Chinese government in order to operate in China.”

LinkedIn, explaining to American journalists in China why their accounts had been blocked by the social media company for having “prohibited content” in their profiles.

It is rapidly becoming evident that if I am going to be consistent about quitting unethical social media platforms, I will quickly be unable to participate in social media. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft, whose founder, Bill Gates, periodically lectures us all about right and wrong. These are all toxic hypocrites.

LinkedIn is one of the few American social media companies that comply with Chinese government censorship demands. It blocked the accounts of several American journalists this week, citing “prohibited content” in their profiles while not explaining what that content was or why it was prohibited.   Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, the China reporter for Axios, announced on Twitter that her profile had been blocked in China, although it remains visible outside of the country. Other journalists reported the same action taken against them. “A U.S. company is paying its own employees to censor Americans,”she tweeted. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Miami Beach City Commission Candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez

“Well, I’m perceived as being Hispanic. I’m perceived as being Hispanic by all of the Hispanics in my community. I’m their girl. My last name is Hispanic. I know I’m not Hispanic… I’m sorry I probably oversold myself. If you want to nail me to the cross, go ahead. Make me look foolish.”

—-Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, a Democrat running for the Miami Beach City Commission, upon being questioned about claiming to be Hispanic when she bears the name “Gonzalez” only because of her marriage to a man with that name, whom she divorced eleven years ago.

Oh, you’re perceived as being Hispanic, so that mean it’s OK to say you are Hispanic! Sure, that’s consistent! It’s like the progressive rule that if you say you are female you are female, and if you say you are black, you’re black!

This may be the ideal template for a 2021 Democratic candidate. She does have a still-active role model of sorts: President Biden’s current climate czar, John Kerry, who early in his political career in Massachusetts used shamrocks on his campaign materials to suggest that he was Irish. There was no Irish in his lineage whatsoever; his paternal grandparents were Jewish. But even Kerry, who is far from the sharpest knife in the cutlery rack, never tried to justify his deception. (He was never called on it either.)

This woman—I assume she really is a woman—referred to herself as “the most high-profile Hispanic Democrat in the City of Miami Beach.”  It was an outright lie. When she was called on it, the best she could do was to justify an intentional misrepresentation by arguing that because her last name fooled people into thinking what wasn’t true was true, it was acceptable to perpetuate the misconception.

Why hasn’t this ridiculous woman withdrawn from the race yet? Why isn’t she hiding her head under a bag? Who finds these people?

The quote above gets worse as it goes along. It’s nice that she knows that she’s not Hispanic—I suppose being a liar is marginally preferable in a commission member than being insane—but she says she’s probably “oversold herself”? She’s falsely convinced all the Hispanics in her community that she’s one of them! What’s “probably” about that? And “oversold” in this case means lied. Nothing else, nothing better. Lied. Then, in a masterpiece of ethics jujitsu and gall, she actually tries to make herself the victim by comparing herself to Jesus Christ!

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Let All Good And Objective Americans Deride And Mock San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Those Who Voted For Her, And Anyone Who Dares To Defend Her…

SF-Mayor-London-Breed

What a ridiculous excuse for a mayor.

What an embarrassment to her city and party.

What an arrogant, silly, clueless fool.

The usual Ethics Alarms tag I would consider in this kind of story, “Incompetent Elected Official of the Month,” just doesn’t do San Francisco Mayor London Breed justice. Letting her astounding explanation for why she violated her own mask mandate simply brand her as incompetent would be a cruel insult to all previous incompetent elected officials. Previously, Ethics Alarms wrote about Breed being videoed unmasked, singing, and dancing with a largely unmasked crowd inside a jazz club in the Tenderloin last week. This made her the latest Democratic mayor, governor or other official—and there have been a ridiculous number of them— to regard themselves as immune from their own pandemic restrictions on “the little people” they deign to govern. However, none of these hypocrites have come within miles of Breed’s mind-melting hauteur. Here’s what she said:

“We don’t need the fun police to come in and micromanage and tell us what we should or shouldn’t be doing. My drink was sitting at the table, I got up and started dancing because I was feeling the spirit and I wasn’t thinking about a mask.”

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A “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!” Spectacular: Glenn Greenwald’s Ethics Quote Of The Month…[Updated]

Screen shot MSNBC

“This is a perfect microcosm of the Russiagate fraud that the country endured for four years. Hoaxes were repeatedly cooked up by private intelligence operatives working for the DNC or anti-Trump factions within the CIA and FBI, and then fed to friendly reporters, who laundered the falsehoods by publishing whatever they were given, without the slightest concern for whether they were true….”

—Independent reporter Glenn Greenwald in a searing and definitive essay titled “The Indictment of Hillary Clinton’s Lawyer is an Indictment of the Russiagate Wing of U.S. Media.

Greenwald goes on to say in this passage, which occurs towards the end of his thorough, detailed, infuriating essay,

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: Dr. Mary Rudyk [Corrected]

“I think we have to be more blunt, we have to be more forceful, we have to say something coming out, you know you don’t get vaccinated, you know you’re going to die. I mean, let’s just be really blunt to these people.”

—-Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center Dr. Mary Rudyk, formerly the North Carolina’s Chief of Medical Staff, in a leaked Zoom discussion with a colleague about how to persuade vaccine resisters to get their shots. [ Notice of Correction: the original post included a shot from the Zoom recording that was not Rudyk, but the colleague she was talking with. Commenter Zanshin flagged the mistake. That is Rudyk above.]

In other words, lie and engage in fear-mongering! Oh, good plan. That’s surely the way to build back the trust the health care community has squandered during the pandemic.

Moron.

Rudyk says in the now viral two-minute video that  the hospital’s messaging needs to be “a little bit more scary for the public,” so she proposes including patients she characterizes as “post-COVID” in the hospital’s case count. Actually, as the hospital tried to explain later as it desperately attempts to address public outrage over the comments, that policy would be defensible, as patients hospitalized for conditions brought on by the virus are still in danger as a direct result of being infected. However, the ethical motive for making this choice is to be more informative, not to be “more scary.’

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The Constitution Was Signed On This Date In 1787. Meanwhile, The National Archives Thinks Some May Find It “Offensive”

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That would be Democrats and progressives, presumably. They’d have this country under their thumb permanently it it weren’t for that damn thing. This whole day must be traumatic for them.

I’d vote for a different party to be in control of the White House and Congress just to stop utter crap like this.

The National Archives Records Administration placed a “harmful content” warning on all documents across the Archives’ cataloged website, including the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, labeling the founding documents of the United States as “harmful or difficult to view.” The warning:

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: Virginia Tech Instructor Crystal Duncan Lane (And There Goes My Head!)

jackheadexplosion

“I am a Caucasian cisgender female and first-generation college student from Appalachia who is of Scottish, British and Norwegian heritage. I am married to a cisgender male, and we are middle class. While I did not ‘ask’ for the many privileges in my life: I have benefited from them and will continue to benefit from them whether I like it or not. This is injustice. I am and will continue to work on a daily basis to be antiracist and confront the innate racism within myself that is the reality and history of white people. I want to be better: Every day. I will transform: Every day. This work terrifies me: Every day. I invite my white students to join me on this journey. And to my students of color: I apologize for the inexcusable horrors within our shared history.”

—Virginia Tech instructor Dr. Crystal Duncan Lane in her course syllabus

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: “Election 2020 Grassroots Canvas Report”

maricopa-county-election-center-20200826

“It is obvious to anyone that voting by mail is ripe for fraud. The US Mail is not meant to be a secure transactional system. We have all known since we were children that you don’t send cash through the mail –our voting rights are far more sacred than cash. Bipartisan and Democrat Voter studies and commissions have found vote-by-mail to have the highest risk of fraud1 and most first-world democracies, such as Germany, either ban Vote-by-Mail outright or place very heavy restrictions on its use. Banning Vote-by-mail is a very simple solution to a huge problem for our Country. We cannot give up our fundamental right to vote, upon which America was built, simply because we are too lazy to go cast a vote in person.”

—– Liz Harris, in the Executive Summary to the just issued “Maricopa County “Election 2020 Grassroots Canvass Report.”

An independent canvas of the 2020 election in Maricopa County claims to have found over 260,000 “lost” and “ghost” votes, according to a report released last week. This effort is independent of the audit being done by the state legislature, and was the work of the Voter Integrity Project, founded by Liz Harris. The canvas only visited about 12,000 voters in Maricopa county, so the estimates reported, frequently misleadingly, are extrapolations of the data actually obtained. The report is here.

What the group claims to have shown is that there were “an estimated” 173,104 “missing or lost” votes in a county that essentially gave the state’s electoral votes to Joe Biden. Of course, Donald Trump is crowing about this, and of course the mainstream media is ignoring the canvass as the work of crazy “Trumpists.” However, Harris’s opening statement to the report is, or should be, undeniable. Her assessment is identical to what others were saying before the election, in which Democrats in states across the country successfully used the combined hysteria over George Floyd’s death and the pandemic to push through relaxed voting procedures that were an open invitation to manipulation. Republicans and honest civil libertarians were caught flatfooted and were too late in reacting, so the election went forward with millions of mail-in ballots that changed hands untold times before being recorded (if they were recorded).

It was a fait accompli. There was no way to prove that the election had been “stolen” or even that a substantial number of votes had been changed, harvested, lost or faked, not in time to do anything about it. Faced with a rigged election—that it was rigged doesn’t mean it was stolen, but it was rigged—that resulted in a personal defeat, then-President Trump was obligated by his office, tradition and basic ethical principles of leadership and character to accept the results, allow a peaceful transfer of power, and allow others to determine what happened. But Trump posses no basic ethical principles of leadership and character, at least in sufficient quantity, so he claimed instead that he won the election, and even hired a bunch of incompetent lawyers to try to overturn the results without sufficient hard evidence to do so. (Now many of them are being disciplined by bars and courts.)

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