Ethics Observations On Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.)’s Mask While On The House Floor

Brandon Mask

1 This isn’t funny, ethical, brave or helpful. He should be sanctioned, but House Democrats wouldn’t dare. They know what their members got away with.

2. If Duncan wants to say “Fuck Joe Biden” on the House floor, then let him come out and say it and accept the consequences. At least I can have a measure of respect for that, though not much. Adults snickering at the “Let’s Go Brandon” game remind me of those camp songs like “Shaving cream” or “Helen had a Steamboat” where it was supposed to be hilarious that you never actually said the naughty word that rhymed. The game was just barely tolerable among ten-year-olds, and we have members of Congress who act like this? Be proud, America.

3. The Ethics Alarms position (which cost it about 40% of its readers since 2017) that the office of the President must be accorded a basic level of respect and fairness by the public must apply regardless of who is in the White House, or our republic does not work. One reason I was so critical of the despicable treatment of President Trump across the culture was precisely for this reason: I knew Republicans and conservatives wouldn’t be able resist treating Biden as unethically as Trump was treated, and, if possible, worse.

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Trans Activist Ethics Train Wreck Update: The Dave Chappelle “Hate Speech” Hypocrisy

From the New York Times front page today:

“Netflix…the tech company that revolutionized Hollywood, is now in an uproar as employees challenge the executives responsible for its success and accuse the streaming service of facilitating the spread of hate speech and perhaps inciting violence.”

Observations:

1. It’s time—way past time, in fact—to emphatically define what “hate speech” is. First of all, hate speech, whatever it is, is 100% protected speech. It is Constitutional, First Amendment, lawful, beyond all argument speech. Second, I use “whatever it is” because the phase is deliberately vague and subjective so those seeking to censor discourse, advocacy, non-conforming points of view, satire and insults can place the expression of ideas by someone else into a category that suggests malign agency and intent.Then, those crying “hate speech” can advocate silencing whatever it was they are labeling.

We’re on to them, or should be by now. Calling something “hate speech” is like the Southern Poverty Law Center’s dishonest “hate group” label. It’s a cheat.

2. Hate is not a good thing in human relations (there are exceptions), but it is legal and, like all emotions, not unethical. Acting on the hate may be unethical, but not hate itself.

3. I have watched “The Closer,”Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special now under fire, twice. There is nothing hateful in it, unless one thinks that all mockery, satire and jokes with an edge are hate.

I don’t think “The Closer” is very good, especially by Chappelle’s standards. It’s not especially funny, for instance. It’s also not very smart, and Chappelle, if nothing else, is smart and usually shows it. It’s not smart because the controversy over how society should regard transgender individuals is interesting, perhaps difficult, raises interesting ethical and practical issues, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s just not as important as the attention paid to it makes it seem. This is a tiny minority: yes, these issues are important to them. But Chappelle’s show is like a deliberate employment of the Streisand Effect: he’s obviously annoyed about having to deal with trans issues, so he spends a whole, high-profile special complaining, explaining, and riffing regarding it. Since he’s a comedian, this could be justified if he mined it for comedy gold, but he doesn’t.

If he isn’t going to be funny, then he has to be profound, or he’s wasting our time. Not only is the thing not profound, it’s barely coherent. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: stand-up is a high wire act, and the best comics sometimes fall hard. But the contrived controversy over “The Closer” is giving the performance more significance than it deserves, and allowing Chappelle to accept accolades for a performance that was really subpar.

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Saturday Ethics Romps, 10/2/21: Slap-downs, Stolen Art, Strokes, Silliness, Stupid Pet Owner Tricks, And More! [Corrected]

What do you think, hoax or not? Conservative blogs are all treating the video above as classic woke-boob self-own, but I am dubious. How did the video get posted, unless the fanatic vegetarian has a self-deprecating sense of humor, and what are the odds of that? If the video is real, it once again raises the ethics issue of dietary fanatics imposing their obsessions on helpless pets, or worse, infants.

1. The stroke of ethics! On this day in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke, launching an epic government ethics breach by his wife Edith and his doctor. They kept the public and government officials in the dark about the President’s true condition: Edith signed official documents, and the doctor was brought into some deliberations. Wilson slowly recovered to some extent, though how capable he was of discharging the duties of his office for the rest of his term, until March of 1921, is a matter of considerable debate and speculation. Despite this debacle, with the nation being led by an invalid figurehead with his inexperienced wife making key decisions, it took the assassination of Jack Kennedy, not long after the previous President, Eisenhower, suffered serious cardiac events during his Presidency decades later to trigger the passage of the 25th Amendment, which lays out the procedure for relieving a disabled POTUS. [Notice of Correction: the original version of this post had the dates wrong. Thanks to valkygrrl for the note!] The 25th, in turn, then spurred an ethics foul of its own, as “the resistance,” Democrats and their allies in the media tried to warp the clear intent of the amendment to justify removing Donald Trump from office, on the grounds that he was “unfit.”

2. When does pundit hysteria cross the line into irresponsible and incompetent journalism? Whatever the line is, Rolling Stone writer Jeff Goodell charged over it with this unhinged screed. When I read something like this, I always wonder how many readers are persuaded by it, and how many are astute enough to conclude, “This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about!” Here is how the article begins: “West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin just cooked the planet. I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sense. I mean that literally. Unless Manchin changes his negotiating position dramatically in the near future, he will be remembered as the man who, when the moment of decision came, chose to condemn virtually every living creature on Earth to a hellish future of suffering, hardship, and death.” Even by the low, low standards of climate change apocolyptia, this is inexcusable. No U.S. bill can have substantial impact on the world’s climate by itself, and all but a few of the most extreme and politicized climatologists don’t claim that even the worst case scenarios would “condemn virtually every living creature on Earth to a hellish future of suffering, hardship, and death.” How can anyone trust a writer who spews out stuff like this? How can readers of Rolling Stone take a publication seriously that green-lights it? Is Twitter pulling down the tweets that link to the article? No, of course not. It’s not “misinformation,” because it’s a good lie, aimed at the Greater Good, I guess.

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In Florida, “I Eat Ass” And A Qualified Immunity Ethics Conundrum

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A policeman’s lot is not a happy one, and qualified immunity, the doctrine that exists to shield officers and other state officials from liability when they commit torts in the course of their duties, is under fire because of its role in blocking accountability for cops who engage in police brutality. But without qualified immunity, policing would become even more perilous than it already is.

Take the “I Eat Ass” controversy.

Please.

In Florida, jerk Dillon Shane Webb had a sticker on his vehicle that boasted “I Eat Ass.” (Some may disagree, but Ethics Alarms regards public display of that legend signature significance, as a non-jerk would never do it. Not even once). Columbia County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis English pulled Webb over in May of 2019 and demanded that he cover up the message. Webb refused, and he was subsequently arrested and jailed for “obscene writing on vehicles” and “resisting an officer without violence,” because he had refused to obscure the sticker. Reason, the libertarian cite that is usually more reasonable, wrote that Officer English “took exception” to “I Eat Ass.” No, the officer was under the impression that the display violated Fla. Stat. § 847.011(2), which prohibits “any sticker, decal, emblem or other device attached to a motor vehicle containing obscene descriptions, photographs, or depictions.”

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A Baseball Ethics Meets Legal Ethics Spectacular!

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You can imagine how happy this ethics mash-up makes me.

In legal ethics, a perpetual controversy involved what a law yer should do when another lawyer inadvertently sends him or her confidential information intended for the adversary lawyer’s client, and the information is a smoking gun that could win the receiving lawyer’s case. In the old days, when this involved some clerk in a law firm sending a load of documents to the opposition by mistake, the rule was simple. It was called “the Wigmore Rule,” after the famous law professor, John Henry Wigmore (above) who coined the phrase, “You snooze, you lose.”

In brief, the convention was that if a lawyer was careless enough to let this happen, he or she was at fault, and the lawyer getting the confidential documents could use them to benefit his or her client. The advent of faxes, and later the internet, and after that metadata, however, through what was largely settled law and ethics into a tangle that has yet to be settled. Technology made such errors much more common and also easier to make, and the American Bar Association’s opinions on the matter bounced back and forth like ping-pong balls, first saying that a Golden Rule approach should apply, with lawyers sending the material back to the technologically-challenged lawyer without looking it over, then concluding that lawyers should know how to use essential technology (back to the Wigmore Rule!), until the newest technological developments made them sympathetic again to lawyers who don’t get confidential metadata out of their emails. Last I checked, the state bars still don’t agree, but many are drifting back to the Wigmore Rule once again…as they should.

Now, you might well ask, how does this relate to baseball ethics?

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Ethics Dunce: Yale Law School Deputy Dean Ian Ayres

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Ian Ayres, the deputy dean at Yale Law School—I worked in the administration of a law school, and I must admit that I never heard of a “deputy dean”— decided to signal his virtue and lock-step wokeness as well as, presumably, that of Yale by submitting an op-ed to the Washington Post titled “Until I’m told otherwise, I prefer to call you ‘they’.” I welcome it, if only because the essay shows that it isn’t only Harvard among the Ivies that has been corrupted by “The Great Stupid.”

I realized, as I read this foolishness, that I have cited or thought about the Abe Lincoln riddle about calling a dog’s tail a leg (“If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Four—because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg!”) more often in the past few years than I had done previously during my entire life. This is because Rationalization #64,Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is,” which easily could have been named “Orwell’s Rationalization” except that John Yoo really deserves to be remembered as the lawyer who tried to justify water-boarding on the grounds that it wasn’t torture, has become a core operating principle of the progressive moment on a dizzying number of fronts.

One of the silliest of all, and signature significance regarding how far the left end of the ideological scale has traveled mid-air over the proverbial shark, is the Woke Wonderland’s insistence that gender is just a construct, and if you want to be a different sex than what all biological and anatomical markers say you are, “Poof!”, you are! Not only that, you are now able to condemn, and some maintain even sue, anyone who doesn’t bow to your peculiar version of reality.

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“The Queen’s Gambit” Gambit

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In the final episode (mercifully) of the inexplicably popular Netflix series“The Queen’s Gambit,” an announcer delivering chess commentary while the show’s annoying fictional heroine, portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy (above right), competes in a climactic tournament in Moscow says,“The only unusual thing about her, really, is her sex, and even that’s not unique in Russia.There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never faced men.”

That wasn’t true. Nona Gaprindashvili, the first woman to be named a grandmaster, faced and defeated many male players. Now 80 years old and living in Tbilisi, Georgia, Nona is furious about the false representation of her career. She’s suing Netflix in Federal District Court in Los Angeles, seeking millions of dollars in damages for what her lawyers claim is a “devastating falsehood, undermining and degrading her accomplishments before an audience of many millions.”

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Sunday Ethics Picnic, 8/15/2021: Afghanistan Accountability And Suicide Ethics [Corrected!]

Vessel I

1. Giving credit where credit is due, at least some of the mainstream media isn’t avoiding calling attention to the Biden Administration’s epic debacle in Afghanistan. This is only a half IIPTDXTTNMIAFB: if Trump had done something even close to this incompetent, the news media would have been in full-fledged meltdown. In fact, there are enough harsh assessments coming from places that are not conservative mouthpieces that maybe Biden will face actual accountability for a change. (Nah, what am I saying?) CNN’s Jake Tapper, who occasionally has flashbacks to his pre-CNN days when he was a fairand trustworthy journalist, grilled Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding Biden’s comments from last month, when he declared that it was “highly unlikely” the Taliban would overrun Afghanistan. That’s some intelligence work there, Joe! After some awkward huminahumina-ing, Blinken, kept trying to change the subject, defaulting to how everything was Trump’s fault. Amazingly, Tapper wouldn’t let him get away with it.

“You keep changing the subject to whether or not we should be there forever. And I’m not talking about that,” Tapper told Blinken. “I’m talking about whether or not this exit was done properly, taking out all the service members before those Americans and those Afghan translators could get out. That’s what I’m talking about. And then you have to send people back in. That’s the definition of, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t have taken those troops out, because now we have to send twice as many back in.'”

On Medium, political analyst John Ellis was on fire, writing in part,

“Handing over Afghanistan to the Taliban is President Biden’s idea, if that’s the right word, and his alone. It is terrible policy, on any number of levels. “Worse than a crime, a mistake” (Talleyrand’s phrase) describes it best. Axios reports that the Administration “derives comfort from the fact that the American public is behind them — an overwhelming majority support withdrawal from Afghanistan — and they bet they won’t be punished politically for executing a withdrawal.” Given events and the likely consequences, the fact that the Administration “derives comfort” from anything regarding its decision to hand over Afghanistan to the Taliban is nauseous. That they’re “betting” they will escape political punishment is perhaps more so….”

But that’s the routine, now. The Democrats count on the news media to minimize or hide their worst botches, so the public won’t know what’s going on and will keep on voting like good littel lambs. Other notes from Ellis:

  • “Abandoning the Kurds under Trump was bad enough. But this makes that look like home leave. This is an epic betrayal and strategically foolish to boot….
  • “…If you’re President Xi, you see Afghanistan, clearly, for what it is: a humiliating defeat for the United States. He might call it “flexible humiliation.” And what he knows from history is that defeated nations have little appetite for war in the immediate aftermath of losing one. Taiwan is there for the taking….
  • “When President Biden first announced that the US would be “leaving” Afghanistan, he set September 11, 2021 as the date when every last one of our people would be out. The announcement was greeted with astonished disbelief around the world. Could it really be possible that the US would officially hand over Afghanistan to the people who made it possible for Al Qaeda to attack it 20 years ago………on the very day of that attack? The answer was “yes,” although the Administration subsequently tried to walk it back without bringing attention to the fact that they were trying to walk it back.”

Ellis concludes, “Remarkably, the American press gave the president a pass on this, which seems to be its default setting when it comes to the Biden administration. “Trump was so much worse,” is the always-applicable rationale. Not in this case. Not by a long shot.”

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Saturday Ethics Booster, 8/7/2021: Looking For A Hero…

I hate to inflict that song on you (the singer/composer was the late Jess Cain, once the most popular disc jockey in Boston) but I have limited options. The 2021 Red Sox, who were sailing all season to what looked like a certain play-off slot , are suddenly in freefall,  with the hitters not hitting and the pitchers not pitching. They face a double-header today, and a double loss would be disastrous. After the 1967 Red Sox “Impossible Dream” season, the best summer of my life, when a team of virtual kids won the closest pennant race in baseball history by a single game after finishing in a tie for last place the year before, WHDH, which then carried Boston’s games, put out the cheesy but wonderful commemorative album above, containing clips from broadcasts of the most memorable games and Cain’s song, tied together by Sox play-by-play announcer Ken Coleman reciting one of the worst pieces of doggerel ever heard by human ears. At one point, Ken recounted a desperate point in the team’s underdog quest, and, having set up the rhyme with “zero,’ intoned, “We have to have a hero.” Cue the Yaz song!

I’ve been thinking about the need for a hero, indeed more than one, quite a bit lately, in matters more consequential than the Red Sox season (well, for normal people anyway.) The Sox sure need one today. If he shows up, maybe it will be an omen…

Incidentally, Yaz deserved the song. Modern metrics show that his Triple Crown, Gold Glove, MVP 1967 season was the second best of all time. (Babe Ruth had #1, naturally.) Anyone who followed that 1967 season knew it before the numbers were crunched.

1. More free speech threats in the Biden Era, but Donald Trump was a threat to democracyThe Baltimore Symphony fired Emily Skala, 59, the orchestra’s principal flutist for more than three decades, because she shared social media posts expressing doubt on the efficacy of vaccines and facemasks. Fellow musicians, audience members and donors complained, so it was bye-bye Emily. Skala, no weenie she, will challenge her dismissal, and accuses the orchestra of creating a hostile environment where she was being attacked for expressing unpopular views. I’d say that is likely. Musicians as a group are about as progressive and open to conservative views as college professors.

Skala angered many of her colleagues for sharing posts questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election—Oooh, can’t have that! She was also criticized for saying that black families needed to do more to support their children’s classical music studies. Wow, this woman is a veritable Nazi! Amusingly, the New York Times cites as among the examples of social media “disinformation” that got her fired were “false theories suggesting that the coronavirus was created in a laboratory in North Carolina” and posts “raising concerns about the safety of vaccines.”

That’s funny: it wasn’t too long ago that suggesting that the virus originated in a Wuhan lab was considered disinformation. And didn’t Joe Biden and other prominent Democrats raise “concerns” about any vaccine produced under the Trump Administration?

I’m just spitballing here, but if only we had some heroic organization that defended free speech, regardless of what side of the political spectrum it came from. It could call itself…let’s see…the National Civil Liberty Protection Alliance, or something like that…

2. Believe it or not, this Russian lawsuit isn’t frivolous, just mind-meltingly stupid. Thanks to Curmie for passing along the saga of Ksenia Ovchinnikova, an Orthodox Christian in Omsk, Russia, who is suing McDonald’s on the theory that its ads made burgers seem so yummy and irresistible that they made her break her fast for Lent in 2019 after years of successfully avoiding meat. She wants 1,000 rubles ($14) as damages for “sustained moral damage.”

The reason this isn’t frivolous (at least not in the US) is because a lawsuit clears the bar if it seeks a new interpretation of existing law, no matter how wacky. Of course, a heroic lawyer would tell the woman, no matter what she offered to pay, “You’re out of your mind, and I’d rather eat my foot than disgrace my profession by taking such a ridiculous case. By the way, would you like this  corndog?” Continue reading

End Of Week Ethics Bombs, 8/6/21

Hiroshima

August 6, 1945 is one of the most important ethics days of all, and among the most controversial. The United States bomber Enola Gay—now on exhibit in a hangar near Dulles Airport, dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Approximately 80,000 people were killed in seconds, and another 35,000 were injured. More than 60,000 would be dead by the end of the year from the effects of the fallout. Was the launching of the nuclear age by the United States ethically justified to save American lives (an invasion of the Japanese mainland had been estimated to risk a million U.S. casualties) and end the war? Was President Harry Truman guilty of a war crime, as non-combatants, including children, constituted most of the deaths? Did the horrible results of the new weapon prevent World War III, or make it more likely? These are still intensely debated questions by scholars, historians, theologians, military strategists, philosophers and peace activists.

1. Well, I’ve been spoiling for a fight, shopping around Northern Virginia and fining myself one of the few unmasked. So far, nobody’s said a word, but anyone who does is in for it. I’ve been vaccinated twice and probably had a mild, symptom-free infection before that. I have always been unusually resistant to viruses. Mask fog up my glasses and make me miserable. If you have chosen not to get your shots, swell, that’s your choice, but your exercise of personal liberty is not going to restrict mine without a fight. And don’t tell me I have to wear a mask so phobics feel “safe.” That’s not my problem either. I am not inclined to “social distance,” either. The mask fetish is going to strangle community, society and the joy of life unless we draw some hard lines. I’m drawing.

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