Weekend Ethics Frolics, 5/9/2021: Birthing Persons Day Edition

Frolicking

Surely you have heard by now that a few addled Democrats in Congress have begun using the hilarious term “birthing people” to describe mothers. This is in order to pander to the trans population, because the special problems of this tiny minority are worth turning the entire culture inside out and upside down. So far it’s three certifiably silly people on the Hill whose credentials as ethics dunces are unusually strong, even for Congressional Democrats (the links go to signature significance EA posts: Senator Cory “Spartacus” Booker , certifiable Rep. Ayanna Pressley, previously heard arguing that “girls” have a right to attack other girls with knives “uninterupted”, and the spectacularly unqualified Rep. Cori Bush, who was supposedly on Biden’s short list for VP, which is terrifying—yes, even more terrifying than Kamala Harris:

birthing person tweet 1Birthing person 2

This is fascinating from an ethics perspective, specifically the slippery slope. The Great Stupid that has descended over the land, with special focus on progressives, has led to vocal support for so many ridiculous ideas—defunding the police, paying people more to stay out of work than to have jobs, open boarders, electing Joe Biden, packing the Supreme Court, and more—that the once fairly bold line between “progressive” and “batshit crazy” appears to have been erased. At some point, and maybe “birthing people” is it, even left-tilting Americans will wake up and say “Whoa! These are wackos!”

And indeed they are.

1. Also from the “What an idiot!” files…On baseball and Giants’ Hall of Fame immortal Willie Mays’ 90th birthday last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Twitter account posted a picture of Willie McCovey. Willie Mays is a national icon, probably the greatest African-American baseball player of all-time, and any American, especially any American elected official, who does not know what he looks like is too ignorant of America’s culture and history to serve competently. (I’m only exaggerating a little.) Not only is this an insult to the Say Hey Kid (What does that nickname mean, Nancy? Huh? Come on, you represent San Francisco!), it’s the kind of “they all look the same to me!” mistake that white officials are typically savaged for, as when Senator Rubio mixed up Rep. John Lewis with Rep. Elijah Cummings. At least Cummings and Lewis looked a little bit alike. McCovey, who was also a Hall of Fame slugger and who also played for the Giants,

Willie McCovey Holding Baseball Bat

looked nothing like Willy Mays…

Willie-Mays-US-2155529

…and to make the distinction easy for baseball ignoramuses, Willie McCovey is DEAD.

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From The Increasingly Fantastic Annals Of The Great Stupid: Norton And The Philip Roth Biography

One more time I have to remark, “I don’t understand this at all.”

Last week, publisher W.W. Norton sent a memo to its staff announcing that it will permanently take Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth out of print, as a result of allegations that Bailey sexually assaulted multiple women and also behaved inappropriately toward his students when he was an eighth grade English teacher.

If that sentence makes sense to you, The Big Stupid has you by the brain stem.

“Norton is permanently putting out of print our editions of ‘Philip Roth: The Biography’ …Mr. Bailey will be free to seek publication elsewhere if he chooses,” the email said in part, and was signed by Norton’s president, Julia A. Reidhead. Reidhead later said that Norton would make a donation in the amount of the advance it paid to Bailey in a mid-six-figure book deal to organizations that support sexual assault survivors and victims of sexual harassment.

What’s the theory here? That the book is eeeevil? The late Philip Roth did nothing to justify banning his book, and besides, since when did we ban autobiographies of bad people anyway? Reviews of the biography were mostly positive: in The New York Times Book Review, novelist Cynthia Ozick called it “a narrative masterwork both of wholeness and particularity, of crises wedded to character, of character erupting into insight, insight into desire, and desire into destiny.” The Washington Post described it as “a colorful, confident and uncompromising biographical triumph.” The book quickly landed on the New York Times best-seller list.

As for Bailey, he is an acclaimed literary biographer of writers like Richard Yates, John Cheever and Charles Jackson, and the author of a memoir of his own. He received the Guggenheim Fellowship and was a Pulitzer finalist for his Cheever biography. Philip Roth handpicked Bailey to write his biography after meeting with him in 2012.

In addition, the allegations against Bailey have nothing to do with his profession as a writer or his professional output. It’s not as if he was running for President and was accused by a former staffer of raping her while he was serving as a U.S. Senator. More importantly, the allegations are unproven and untested. Bailey denies them, saying in a statement, “I can assure you I have never had non-consensual sex of any kind, with anybody, ever, and if it comes to a point I shall vigorously defend my reputation and livelihood.”

Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive of the writers organization PEN America said that Norton’s action risked establishing a new, troubling norm that could narrow the range of ideas and information available to readers.

Gee, ya think?

“Bringing out a book should signify that a publisher believes there is something edifying, worthwhile or elucidating contained in the volume,” Nossel said. “It should not be construed as an endorsement of the ideas or narrative purveyed, nor of the personal conduct of the author.”

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One More Time: It Is Unethical For The News Media To Present Idiots As Commentators

In the case at hand, the appellation “idiot” is neither unfair nor ad hominem. For some mysterious reason, CBS News anchor Lana Zak decided to feature former U.S. professional soccer player Lori Lindsey as an authority on the issues involved in transgender participation in female sports. Lindsey rapidly demonstrated that she lacked the knowledge, analytical skills and rhetorical ability for the role, as she defaulted to woke buzz-words that had nothing to do with the topic. Asked about various bills being considered around the country that would ban transitioning biological males from competing against girls and women, Lindsay babbled,

“These bills do uphold white supremacy under the guise of protecting women’s sport when we actually know that women’s sport, protection of it, would be to have more funding and to have more women in leadership positions and equal pay. But the reality, though, is that these youth just want to participate with their friends and play sports like everyone else.”

What? How is “white supremacy” involved in trying to keep trans competitors out of women’s sports?

Not able to resist endorsing this gibberish, Zak asked, “I want to circle back to something you said earlier about these bills are trying to perpetuate supremacy. I imagine that there are parents at home who have genetically, or who have daughters who were assigned a female gender at birth, and that are concerned that their child is not going to get a fair shake in competing against other people, against a trans girl and they’re not thinking this is a supremacists position. How do you appeal to that parent that feels it is just about the sports to see that there’s actually a greater debate that is a proxy for?”

Feel that pressure building in your skull yet? The reason such parents don’t feel that it is a “supremacists position” is that the issue has nothing to do with race, other than the fact that race is the default argument for every progressive position when it runs out of legitimate arguments.

Answering like the 10-year-old she reasons like, Lindsay’s reply was this:

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Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2021: No Good, Good, Good, No Good, and Good

Some baseball ethics notes in italics, since a lot of you don’t care:

  • The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) issued Major League Baseball an overall grade of C+ , with a B+ for racial hiring and a C for gender hiring. (There was nothing about competency and qualifications hiring, for some reason.) The report also praised MLB’s decision to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta, proving that the organization is a partisan political group using “diversity” as a prop. Baseball should pay no attention to TIDES whatsoever. It is the Southern Poverty Law Center of sports.
  • There was a wonderful example of why baseball needs robo-umps in Wednesday’s game between the Red Sox and the Twins in Minneapolis. At a critical moment in a tie game with the bases loaded for the Twins, Sox pitcher Matt Andriese struck out the last Twins batter for out number three, ending the threat. The umpire, however, said the ball had been fouled into the dirt before bouncing into the Boston catcher’s mitt. The video showed that the bat had missed the ball by several inches, and no foul had occurred. When Red Sox manager Alex Cora came out to protest, the home plate umpire, also the crew chief said, “There’s no way I’ll be over-ruled on that call.” What he apparently meant was that the other three umpires would back him up even though he was obviously wrong, and after briefly caucusing, that’s what they did. Cora was thrown out of the game. Luckily for the umpires, Andriese struck the batter out with next pitch, so the mistake and cover-up didn’t matter. Moral luck!
  • Also Twins related: Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons issued an articulate tweet about why he was declining to be vaccinated like his teammates, after considering the risks. He tested positive 24 hours later. Also moral luck!

1. NOW you’re telling us???. At 6:57 pm on April 15, I stumbled across this:

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Feminist Popular Culture Progress Report: Women Weenies Mostly Banished; Now About That Screaming…

It is remarkable how frequent the “women as helpless weenies” appears in movies and TV shows. A man is engaged in a life-and-death struggle with a criminal, a murderer, a maniac, a wild animal or a monster, and the woman, often a young and healthy woman, just crouches in terror doing nothing more useful than wimpering. I remember this bothered me when I was a child. My mother wasn’t like that; indeed, I’ve never known a woman like that. It’s not just cowardly to be a bystander, it’s stupid. If “her man” loses the fight, what does she think will happen to her?

Over the last several decades of this trope has faded away, and thank goodness for that. It was insulting to women, and to the extent that popular culture influences gender roles in society, the representation of women as helpless damsels who could only wait and pray that their champion prevailed was archaic. The cliche was also boring. One of the better feminist role-models was Marion (Karen Allen) in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” She could throw a punch and knocked out a German (using aircraft wheel blocks) when he was about to shoot Indiana Jones as he fought off a Nazi goon. Now the woman coming to the rescue of an imperiled man is pretty much standard, even very young women, as in the “It” and the Netflix movie, “Enola Holmes.”

Good. It’s about time.

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The Andrew Yang Affair

Andrew Yang, as of this week the front-runner for mayor of New York City, did nothing unethical.

Well, allow me to modify that. Allowing yourself to be placed at the mercy of a stranger while being videoed is political incompetence. And his fake laugh was too convincing.

The video above, since the news media no longer allows the public to hear or read essential aspects of such stories because journalists regard themselves as public censors, is confusing, so here is what transpired.

The whole, unblurred, unbleeped video is on TikTok, and WordPress won’t let me embed TikTok. Someone the candidate to let him take a phone video as another stranger, a smiling and giddy black man, asks Yang whether a man, “while he’s fucking bitches, can he keep his Timbs on?.” — a reference to Timberland boots. Yang’s answer, under the circumstances, is pretty deft: “I think it’s purely up to your partner.”

Then the classy New Yorker asks Yang whether he “choke[s] bitches,” and Yang laughs—convincingly, I must say— and leaves.

Gotcha!

Yang’s polite engagement with the man after he used the word “bitches” and his apparently hardy laughter after the “choke bitches” line made him an inviting target of feminists and his rivals.

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Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘Monday Ethics Final, 3/8/2021: A Bad Day In The Revolution'(Item #5)”

Some might think I’m making this gem by Mrs. Q a Comment of the Day for an ulterior motive. She’s a undisputed star commenter, and she’s been MIA for a more than a month now. This was her most recent comment, but I’m not honoring it as an enticement, though I desperately want to see her unique perception and wit back on Ethics Alarms. This was supposed to be a Comment of the Day a month ago, but stuff happened: it’s my fault.

Commenters come and go, then come back sometimes. I always take it personally, which is foolish, but that’s me. When ever I go back and review essays from a few years back, I am struck and depressed by the voices we have lost. Whither wyogranny? Shelly Stow? Steven Mark Pilling? Extradimensional Cephalopod? There are so many.

I also worry about those who disappear, and often send emails to inquire after their health and welfare. Sometimes the responses are reassuring. Sometimes I get no response. Sometimes I forget to send the note. Most bloggers don’t do this, and I’m not sure it’s rational for me to do it.

Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day on the post, Monday Ethics Final, 3/8/2021: A Bad Day In The Revolution'(Item #5):

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Morning Ethics Warm-up, 4/9/21: You Know, Caring About Ethics Is Not A Psychologically Healthy Place To Be Right Now…

1. I can’t mount the intestinal fortitude to even visit Facebook lately. I’m afraid I’ll snap and write something like, “You people are all such hypocritical assholes, at least 90% of you! For four years, you barfed out post after post mocking the President of the United States, attracting boats of “likes” and “loves” for every misspelled word, every exaggeration, every off-the-cuff dumb remark, and when the mentally-failing President you elected completely blows all trust and credibility in less that three months with material lie after lie, deliberate racially inflammatory statements, and outright stupidity “on steroids,” as he would say, your response is ‘Yeah, but what about Trump?’ You’re all a disgrace to your nation, your society, your various institutions of higher education, and basic principles of logic. To hell with you.”

This week, making a case for a fake infrastructure repair bill that appears to be just another pork-laden giveaway to favored Democratic constituencies, Biden said, among other things, “We’re going to talk about commercial aircraft flying at subsonic speeds, supersonic speeds, be able to figuratively, if you may, if we decide to do it, be able to traverse the world in an hour, travel at 21,000 miles an hour…Imagine a world where you and your family can travel coast to coast without a single tank of gas or in a high-speed train, close to as fast as you can go across the country in a plane!”

The speed of 21,000 miles an hour is about Mach 28, or 28 times the speed of sound. The fastest commercial airplane flies at less than Mach 1. Remember the Concorde? A single fatal accident at that plane’s high speed was enough to kill its commercial use. All it would take is one crash of Biden’s miracle plane, where every soul on board was vaporized, and no one would buy another ticket. Think Hindenburg.

As for Joe’s magic train, it’s ridiculous. The Central Japan Railway Company is testing a train that can go a top speed of 374 miles per hour. The “bullet trains” in Japan operate at about 200 miles per hour. France has a train that has hit a top speed of 357 miles per hour. Biden’s train would go across the continental U.S. at an average speed that is 47 percent faster than the top speed of the fastest prototype trains that exist today—if there were no curves. But, of course, there would be As the New Yorker explained eight years ago:

To cope with centrifugal force, train tracks tilt on curves; the problem is that the train can only tilt so much before either it or the passengers inside tip over, so the curve must get larger and more gradual to safely carry a super-fast train. “Tracks rated for fifty miles per hour need almost no banking and can have a curve radius of fifteen hundred feet, while a train traveling at a hundred and twenty miles per hour needs a track with significant banking, and a minimum curve radius of more than a mile and a half.” A train track designed for a train going 550 miles per hour would have to have an absolutely gargantuan curve radius. Our current system and routes of train tracks would be completely unsafe for a train moving at that speed; it would fly off the tracks at the first curve.

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Ethics Observations On The Rep. Matt Gaetz Story, Which So Far Consists Of Allegations That He’s A Creep Being Pressed By The Same People Who Supported Joe Biden For President When They KNEW Joe Was A Creep

So far, the only allegations of illegal activity by Gaetz, the Florida Congressman who appears to be a prominent target because he was an aggressive supporter of President Trump, involve an investigation by the Justice Department regarding possible sex crimes involving underage women. Investigations are not evidence of anything, as the despicable Russian collusion tactic against Trump illustrated. If we are to presume innocence after charges are filed against an American, we must certainly presume innocence before any evidence of a crime has been found.

Sadly, progressives and Democrats have increasingly drifted away from the concept of presumed innocence as they flirt with totalitarianism. Men are presumed sex criminals: all that’s required is an accusation by a woman. Whites are presumed racists. Well, let me clarify that: these things are presumed true if they involve conservatives, Republicans, police officers, celebrities and teachers. If they arise in reference to leaders of the Democratic Party, the rules are different. In fact, the news media makes them up as the situation demands.

I have seen enough to conclude that Rep. Gaetz is a creep. I don’t like creeps, and as a general proposition I don’t think creeps should be in positions of influence and power, because you can’t trust creeps. They are ethically “bent.” Still, we have had a lot of creeps in our history who have, despite themselves, been, at least arguably,net positives to the nation. Thomas Jefferson was a creep, for example. Jack Kennedy. Bill Clinton. Donald Trump.

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April Fools Ethics Warm-Up, 4/1/2021: I Am Not Fooled Nor Fooling

april-fools-day-banner

I have come to detest April Fool’s Day, and cultural developments have shown me that, as William Saroyan liked to say, “I’m right and everyone else is wrong.” Early in the history of Ethics Alarms, more than ten years ago, I dared to criticize—indeed, called unethical—a blogging criminal defense lawyer who falsely announced that he had taken on a new prestigious job (as I recall: it’s not worth checking what his exact lie was), and it was then reported as fact by the New York Times’ crack reporters. The announcement was an April Fool’s joke, you see, so my assertion that lawyers shouldn’t deliberately misrepresent facts, even on blogs, even in jest, even unrelated to cases and even on April First was set upon by the lawyer’s angry defense lawyer allies, who pummeled me here from all sides. I had, in fact, over-stated my complaint (Can you imagine ME doing THAT?), and I duly apologized to the lawyer. But his pals remained insulting and vicious, and I wasn’t wrong in the principle I was asserting. Professionals shouldn’t lie, ever. Even on April Fool’s Day.

1. Hart concedes. The rest of the story: Iowa Democrat Rita Hart announced late yesterday that she is withdrawing her demand that her loss in Iowa’s 2nd congressional district be overturned, so the House Committee on Administration will no longer be seeking a justification to do so. I wrote about the Democratic Party’s attempt to de-certify an election result after it proclaimed Republican efforts to decertify the Presidential election as “an insurrection” here. Apparently internal polls were showing that there are still some levels of perceived hypocrisy that the Democratic faithful won’t cheer on. That’s encouraging…

2. The concept at play here is “deceit.” I guess after having three straight Republican Presidents who couldn’t speak clearly, it shouldn’t be a shock that the GOP has allowed Democrats to get away with flagrantly dishonest language games. Still, the transformation of the term “voting restrictions” into something sinister is quite an accomplishment for the Blue team, as well as cynical and dishonest. Unless a nation is going to allow anyone alive on the planet to cast votes in its elections, “voting restrictions” are natural, logical and necessary. It’s the “restrictions” part that the pro-voting manipulation side has weaponized. “Restrictions” are baaaad. But the right, informative and descriptive word is voting qualifications. You have to be alive and living in the district where you vote: this is why voter rolls have to be purged of dead people and those who have moved away. You have to be a citizen, and who you say you are, which is why voting IDs are necessary. You have to register before elections, because otherwise vote harvesters will just pay large groups of poor, confused, bored or drunk passive citizens to the polls to vote as they have been instructed. You should have to vote in person, because all mail-in ballots, including early voting and absentee voting, create verification problems, and increase the chances of fraud.

I have neither the time nor functioning brain cells to delve into this issue competently here and now, but I would not find the imposition of other voting qualifications odious or unethical, including requirements of the minimal civic literacy we would expect of, say, a 12-year-old.

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