Ethics Quiz: The Uber Driver’s Sign

This is one of those ethics quizzes where I am seeking reactions that might make me question my own. My response to Mr. Vasudevan’s tweet was reflexive: Please do wear that sign around your neck, so everyone is warned that you’re an offense-seeking, paranoid jerk to be avoided at all costs.

Back before the CDC wrecked by business and crippled my livelihood, I was often in taxicabs, and my employing some version of the “Where are you from?” question led to many of the most enlightening and fascinating conversations I have ever had. I never encountered a driver who seemed to resent the question in any way; usually they were pleased by my interest, and they always had amazing stories to tell.

I get asked the question myself in our neighborhood when I am walking Spuds in my Red Sox hat or Boston jacket. I don’t see those markers as different from an accent or a turban. The question shows that the inquirer is interested in me: thanks! When I hear a Greek or Russian accent, I’m interested because those origins relate to my family. If my question that the accent prompts causes discomfort, well, that’s not my problem.

Nevertheless, the Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is it unethical to ask a stranger “Where are you from?”

Ethics Quiz: The Vulgar Exclamation That Wasn’t

This is a weird ethics quiz, I’ll admit: it involves conduct that didn’t really take place.

In a game between the Cleveland “Guardians” (they are really the Indians) and Chicago White Sox, Cleveland had a runner on second with two outs when Owen Miller lifted an easy fly to right field, where Chicago outfielder Gavin Sheets should have easily made the play. Instead, in what is technically called a “clank,” the ball bounced right off his glove and went past him for an embarrassing error. The runner on second scored, and Cleveland’s radio color commentator, former player Rick Manning, could be heard saying Are you shitting me?” as play-by-play man Tom Hamilton described the error.

Much hilarity ensued on social media.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

What is the fair and responsible consequence for a professional broadcaster who utters a spontaneous vulgarity or obscenity on the air?

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Observations On The Great “Libs Of TikTok” Affair And Doxxing Ethics

Let me begin by saying I hate this story. I hate it because it is, in part, web nerd inside baseball, and the answer to the retort, “Oh, who cares?” is hard to get out before the person asking has left to organize their sock drawer. Yet I have to write about it, not just because the conservative web is obsessed with it (that, and the fact that the mainstream media is ignoring it, thus branding the ugly mess as a “right wing story”—you know, a fantasy”) but because it explains just a bit more about how genuinely unscrupulous and ruthless the Warriors of Social Justice have become, at least to anyone who doesn’t know that already.

I’ll try to summarize the facts efficiently.

Ethics Alarms had posted a couple of the videos highlighted by the Twitter account Libs of TikTok, but I never focused on the account itself or its purpose, and because Twitter is an unethical platform that eats brains and censors opinions, I don’t hang out there. Ann Althouse is inexplicably fond of TikTok, which is a Chinese-owned social media platform on which members post videos. Now, thanks only to the current mess, I know that Libs of TikTok posts, often without comment, outrageous, crazy, hilarious or funny videos by radical progressives who are apparently unaware that their common sense, ethics alarms, and self-awareness have, in the immortal words of the Ghostbusters, “gone bye-bye.” This exposure holds the posters of these videos, as well as the ideologies that have rotted their brains, up for well-earned ridicule among the rational population. Progressives can’t stand that. The anonymous woman who posts as Libs of TikTok has also been a frequent guest of Tucker Carlson on Fox News, causing all Carlson-haters except critics like me to react to her mission like the hysterical lady from “The Birds”:

And so it was that the Washington Post—Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!—assigned or allowed its tech reporter, Taylor Lorenz (formerly of the New York Times, which fired her as Ethics Alarms discussed here) to write and have published a furious attack on a humorous, if horrifying, Twitter account by a regular human being, even as you or I, because it regularly held ridiculous progressives up to well-deserved exposure and ridicule. An excerpt:

Libs of TikTok reposts a steady stream of TikTok videos and social media posts, primarily from LGBTQ+ people, often including incendiary framing designed to generate outrage. Videos shared from the account quickly find their way to the most influential names in right-wing media. The account has emerged as a powerful force on the Internet, shaping right-wing media, impacting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and influencing millions by posting viral videos aimed at inciting outrage among the right.

The anonymous account’s impact is deep and far-reaching. Its content is amplified by high-profile media figures, politicians and right-wing influencers. Its tweets reach millions, with influence spreading far beyond its more than 648,000 Twitter followers. Libs of TikTok has become an agenda-setter in right-wing online discourse, and the content it surfaces shows a direct correlation with the recent push in legislation and rhetoric directly targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

Now, a responsible, ethical editor would stop reading right there and send the proposed article to the shredder. What is doing all of the dastardly things Lorenz is shouting “Fire!” about is not the account, but the deranged people who post the videos highlighted by the account. Libs of TikTok doesn’t call for action, or legislation, or anything but a smile or a slap to the head from those who watch what she found. Her posts seldom, at least the ones I’ve seen, include any commentary at all.

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From The “It Doesn’t Quite Speak For Itself” Files…

This sign was apparent seen on the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis campus. 

What’s going on here?

Is Purdue taking a stand against the miserable treatment of free speech on so many other campuses? Is this a student prank? Is it satire? Should we find it depressing or encouraging? If it is the work of students, will Purdue remove it? If it is a statement by the school, will students or faculty protest?

Ethics Quiz: Terms Of Affection And The Second Wife

Ever since I dropped my subscription to the Washington Post in disgust (yes, the Times is better), I have been neglecting Carolyn Hax, the most consistently ethical advice columnist in captivity. I stumbled upon her latest column today, and my wife vociferously disagreed with my reaction to a question posed to her. I decided to make it an Ethics Quiz.

“Resentful” wrote that her father was widowed five years ago and remarried. She’s resentful that he keeps calling his second wife “Love of my life” in front of his adult children and his grandchildren. The daughter has “minimized contact with him as a result.” He’s hurt, and she wants to know what to tell him. “Quit [dumping] on the memory of my mother in my presence and you’ll see us more than twice a year” is what I WANT to say.”

The Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is the daughter being fair to her father?

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Ugh. Masks Again. My Breaking Point Is Getting Nearer…

Last night in Northern Virginia, I waited to be served at a SubWay behind a young, apparently well-to-do mother and her two children, no more than 5 or 6 years old. All three were tightly masked, though in the cloth variety that are—yes they are— virtually useless. The two women behind the counter were masked, of course, for business and PR reasons. I wasn’t. Also in front of me was a young African-American woman (who ordered a BMT with cucumber, mayo, mustard, oil and vinegar) who also wore a cloth mask, while two young men behind me were unmasked.

For about the tenth time in recent weeks, I had to wrestle my tongue to the floor to avoid asking the masked women in line, “Pardon me, but why are you wearing those things?” and the mother “Why are you forcing those tiny children to walk around with half their faces covered? (I also wanted to ask the woman in front of me, “Mayo, mustard, oil and vinegar all on an Italian sub? What are you, nuts?” But that’s another issue.) Once again, I resisted the urge, but I can feel myself nearing the point where I’m going to do it. In fact, I’m nearing the point where I think it is the duty of Americans who care about the culture, societal values and future as a democracy to challenge the maskers, especially those who are abusing and warping their children.

These people should be made to defend their conduct. It’s not a private matter, not when masks carry a message and send messages to others. There appear to be two varieties of masked Americans, one pathetic and the other sinister: those who wear masks as a symbolic show of solidarity with the statist, totalitarian Left that wants the government to train the “little people” to do and believe what they are told, and those who have been turned into lifetime germaphobes and agoraphobes by media scaremongering, inflated death statistics and incompetent health officials. Every day, in tiny, incremental ways, these two, sometimes overlapping groups are tearing down American individuality, liberty, and the quality of life.

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Ethics Observations On The Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Senate Hearings, Part 2

The Post editorial was so ethically awful that it warranted special attention. The rest of the story…


1. As I so sagely predicted, the Republican attacks on Jackson have been declared racist by Woke World, democrats and the news media. Here are some of the comment on the Post editorial:

  • “I am reminded of what Jackie Robinson had to go through in 1947 when he broke the color line in baseball. How he had to take every shot, every insult, every racist thing thrown at him without complaint. And now, in 2022, Judge Jackson had to sit there and just take every insulting, despicable, racist and sexist thing thrown at her without being able to call out those who treated her with such bigotry, such callous disrespect.”

  • “Graham, Blackburn, Cruz and other GOP inquisitors know retention of the racist vote is crucial to the election of Republican candidates. They are intent on pandering to that component of Trump’s populist base. The senators’ disrespectful treatment of Judge Jackson doubtlessly did much to retain that base support.”
  • “Come on. “Not all Republicans are racists” is so 2016. ANYONE and I mean anyone who votes for a Republican in 2022 is a racist. Period. Maybe not fully racist meaning gee, they might have concerns about inflation or whatever, but racist in the end. R = RACIST.”

Nothing any of the Republicans said to or about Jackson was racist, but it doesn’t matter. The tough questioning served no purpose, but helped bolster the “Republicans/conservatives are racists” Big Lie. The justification was “tit for tat.” It is incompetent politics, particularly at a time when minorities are increasingly open to conservative candidates. Continue reading

Is It Fair To Say Kamala Harris “May Be The Dumbest Person Ever Elected Vice President In American History”?

[ Forgive me for using the above clip in the jokey context in which it was presented: It was the best I could find on YouTube, meaning that I could embed it easily. ]

During remarks she made in Sunset, Louisiana this week on a stop to highlight the value of bringing high-speed broadband internet to communities, Harris got herself stuck on the phrase “the importance of the passage of time” in between her usual inappropriate giggles. Then, today, yet another Harris staffer fled the coop, moving former Speaker Newt Gingrich to say,

“You know, he [Biden] may or may not have cognitive decline problems at his age, but at her age, she’s just dumb. Let’s be clear, Kamala Harris may be the dumbest person ever elected vice president in American history and that’s why people keep resigning.If you were her national security advisor, and you were competent, and you’d worked hard, and you knew what you were doing, and you watched her in Poland break up laughing when she’s asked about Ukrainian refugees, you had to feel a sense of total humiliation. So I’m not surprised that that particular advisor resigned because it’s very clear that Kamala Harris should never, ever be allowed to leave the country.”

Is that a fair thing to say?

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Unqualified House Candidate Of The Year: Abby Broyles (D-OK)

I don’t know if it’s possible for a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives to prove herself less trustworthy and responsible than Oklahoma “Congressional hopeful” Abby Broyles.

Let’s see…while dropping in to visit a friend holding a sleep-over for eight girls aged 12 or 13, Broyles…

  • drank wine and got smashed
  • swore at one girl
  • made fun of another’s acne
  • made a derogatory remark about one girls’ Hispanic heritage along with other abusive remarks
  • vomited in one girl’s shoe, and
  • vomited in a hamper.

Was that wrong? Continue reading

“Democracy Dies In Dickness”*: The Washington Post’s Racism

This article in the Washington Post yesterday, authored by two “reports of color,” Cleve R. Wootson Jr., a White House reporter for the Post, and Marianna Sotomayor (no relation to that other Sotomayor) who now covers the House of Representatives for the Post after coming over from NBC, gained quite a bit of notice from the conservative news media (and none at all from the much larger other side, for this passage when it was first published:


Nice! The two post reporters managed to insult Thomas by reducing his legal opinions to knee-jerk bias, and to attack conservatives based on their race. The obvious rejoinder to this slur would be whether the Post would tolerate an article that criticized, say, Justice Kagan as issuing opinions that are in lockstep with the advocacy of “black progressives.” What does race have to do with either observation, the actual one or the hypothetical reverse negative?

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