The New York Times Wordle Ethics Zugzwang

Boy, did the Times deserve this.

The paper acquired the online game Wordle earlier this year after it became a viral hit. Answers to the puzzle game are assigned months in advance. In a pure coincidence reminiscent of the London crossword puzzle incident that almost derailed D-Day, yesterday’s Worldle answer happened to evoke the current freakout over the draft Supreme Court opinion that suggests that Roe v. Wade may finally be going down for the count. The answer was “fetus.”

Can’t have that! The Times moved quickly to de-trigger the game for sensitive (and virtuously woke) devotees, writing,

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The Dishonesty And Desperation Of “Pro-Choice” Advocates In The Wake Of The Dobbs Leak, Part I: Anything But The Issues

Another one of the ironic boons from the despicable Supreme Court leak of Justice Alito’s draft majority opinion portending that Roe v. Wade is about to be overruled is how vividly it has exposed the intellectually dishonest and unethical nature of “pro choice” arguments. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has been following the abortion debate diligently, but in their fury and panic, abortion advocates are revealing just how weak their case is. They are also revealing that those who are willing to sacrifice nascent human lives for other objectives tend to have no compunction about using rationalizations, ad hominem attacks, classic logical fallacies and fearmongering as well as outright lies, when they finally have to defend their positions.

The reappearance of the costumes from “The Handmaiden’s Tale” is a neat symbol of the whole phenomenon. (How many of such protesters haven’t read Roe, the Alito draft, or Margaret Atwood’s novel? My guess: most of them.) To be fair, prominent Democrats like this guy endorsed the hysteria:

That delusion was apiece with the suggestion that women could force men to support abortion on demand by going on a sex strike. Similarly ducking the issues are the illegal demonstrations at the homes of Justices before it is even known who voted to end Roe, and President Biden’s moronic declaration in response to the leak that “this MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that’s existed in American history—-in recent American history.”

Since Roe v. Wade has been almost unanimously regarded in legal and academic circles as a badly reasoned opinion (even Ruth Bader Ginsburg conceded it was a botch), the epitome of flagrant judicial activism and legislation by judges, those trying to defend the decision now have had to resort to distractions, diversions, straw men and fictional slippery slopes. “Next those fascists will ban inter-racial marriage and Brown v. Board of Education!” more than a few Democratic officials and pundits have proclaimed, apparently forgetting that just a few weeks ago they were demanding that Justice Thomas, the dean of the Court’s conservatives, recuse himself because of the activities of his very white wife.

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The No-White Men Allowed MBA Programs: An Ethics Inquiry

I was considering making this an ethics quiz, but it would be too easy: of course graduate programs that practice gender and racial discrimination in admission are unethical, though the dead-ethics alarms administrators who approve such monstrosities apparently don’t think so. Thus this is an inquiry into who, what, when, and why, all addressing the question of how this could happen?

Perhaps I should rephrase that slightly: How the hell could this happen?

Yum! Brands, which owns Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC, operated a franchise owner training and business degree program at two universities, the University of Louisville (where Jack Marshall Sr. attended college until he transferred) and Howard University. The Yum! Franchise Accelerator MBA was limited, according to its materials, to “underrepresented people of color and women.” Following a federal investigation, the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education announced in a letter last week that the two universities had agreed to make the “Yum! Franchise Accelerator Fellowship is open to all eligible students regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age.”

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbid discrimination on the basis of race at institutions that receive federal funding. Did the two institutions miss it? It was in all the papers. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 forbids discrimination on the basis of sex. This, I thought, was also rather well-publicized. Not enough, apparently.

And yet here we are, or were.

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End Of A Bad Ethics Week Sign-Off, 5/6/2022: Espy, Psaki, Chappelle, And Terrible Movies

Is it unethical to make really bad movies? I’m talking about irredeemable garbage, not inspired lunacy like Ed Wood films, so mind-blowingly terrible that they are hypnotic as well as unforgettable. Isn’t it irresponsible to spend money and mislead audiences when you have no talent whatsoever?

I’ve been thinking about this ever since we tried to watch “Birdemic: Shock and Terror,” which we were counting on to be amusingly bad, and it was, instead, bad beyond all expectations. Though it was obviously modeled on “The Birds,” no birds appeared until half-way through the film, and they may have been the worst special effects I have ever seen anywhere. The sound quality was poor, and the writer-director makes Wood seem like Orson Welles by comparison. The movie also makes Mystery Science Theater 3000’s “Manos, the Hands of Fate” seem like “Casablanca.” (That famously awful film, at a $19,000 budget, was still almost twice as expensive to make as “Birdemic.”) We had to bail on the film when the birds appeared, because screeching woke up Spuds and put him in a panic.

Here’s the whole film. The “birds” appear at the 47 minute mark, but the acting and dialogue really has to be experienced to be believed:

There is a sequel.

1. Is Jen Psaki the worst weasel ever to serve as a Presidents paid liar? It’s hard to say, but her exchange with Peter Doocy on the doxxing of the Supreme Court justices is truly despicable. (No wonder MSNBC wants to hire her.)

Doocy: “[Y]ou guys spent some time…talking about what you think are…extreme wings of the [GOP]. Do you think the progressive activists that are now planning protests outside of justices’ houses are extreme?”

Psaki: “Peaceful protests? No. Peaceful protest is not extreme.”

But the question wasn’t about peaceful legal protests. It was about illegal protests that violate the privacy—how’s that for hypocrisy?—of Suprem Court members and their families.

Doocy: “Some of these justices have young kids. Their neighbors are not all public figures, so would [Biden] think about waving activists that want to go into…neighborhoods in VA and MD?”

Psaki: “Peter…our view is that peaceful protests, there is a long history…of that.”

What? A long history of harassing and trying to intimidate SCOTUS justices at home? Even if that wasn’t an outright lie, the fact that there’s a long history of misconduct doesn’t excuse the misconduct. She could have given the same answer regarding tar and feathers.

Doocy: “Is [protesting outside the homes of justices] the kind of thing [Biden] wants to help your side make their point?”

Psaki: “Look, [his] view is that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness…We want people’s privacy to be respected.”

Translation: “Emotion justifies everything, and I don’t want to answer your question.”

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When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: Casey Scott Shows Why Florida’s Parental Rights Law And Equivalents Are Reasonable And Necessary

When ethics fails, the law steps in. In teaching, like a whole range of human endeavors, just a modicum of functioning ethics alarms would make restrictive laws superfluous and even unneeded. But too many people in positions of authority, power, influence and with the opportunity to do harm don’t possess functioning ethics alarms.

And here we are.

Trafalgar Middle School (in Cape Coral, Fla.) art teacher Casey Scott is a proud pansexual. I don’t see why that’s something to be especially proud of, any more than being left-handed or being a Yankee fan, but OK. Casey says her students were curious about her sexual orientation. This was none of their business, and her response should have been along those lines, but no: she felt inspired to explain to them that she was pansexual during a lesson in March, and that she was sexually attracted to pots and pans. Or something. It doesn’t matter what being a pansexual is, she wasn’t hired to teach students about it. (Pansexuals are attracted to all categories of people regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.)

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“Curmie” Comment Of The Day Double-Header #2: “DeSantis Strikes Back: Ethics Dunce Disney Gets The Legal And Ethical Consequences It Deserved”

No “echo chamber” we, so it is appropriate to include as a Comment of the Day Curmie’s vigorous dissent on the current conflict between Disney and Florida, particularly its ambition conservative governor Ron De Santis.

So here it is…in response to the post, DeSantis Strikes Back: Ethics Dunce Disney Gets The Legal And Ethical Consequences It Deserved…

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Unlike you, Jack, I am neither a lawyer not an ethicist. The closest I’ve ever been to the former was being unofficially “pre-law” for about the first two and a half years of undergrad; the closest I’ve ever been to the latter is that you’ve called me ethical a couple of times. So forgive me if I have trouble discerning the line between that which is legal and that which is ethical.

Perhaps the terms of the agreement between the state and the corporation are akin to trademark laws: that Florida must aggressively defend its prerogatives or be in danger of losing them. But this doesn’t seem like something any corporate CEO would agree to. And I think we can take as given that Governor DeSantis would not be criticizing any corporation that publicly supported his position because they didn’t stay in their lane, even though the level of interference in public policy would be the same. No, it would be the progressives who’d have their collective skivvies in a twist in that case.

More to the point, Disney began their dissent, at least, while the bill was still under consideration. They were, in fact, arguing in favor of the status quo—when there was no law—a position that can hardly be regarded as interfering with the state, only with one party’s agenda. That they didn’t suddenly change their position when the bill became law doesn’t seem very problematic.

Moreover, it strikes me that educational policy is literally everyone’s business. I’m semi-retired now and not currently scheduled to teach at all in the fall, so I have no direct personal interest in what’s being taught in 3rd grade—these will never be my students—but I hope to be around long enough to be affected by their ability to vote or even to run for office… or to become doctors, lawyers, artists, or whatever. Yeah, I care what happens in that 3rd grade classroom. Continue reading

Rep. Cawthorne And The Cross-Dressing Future Congressman Principle Question

Yes, this is a funny controversy, but not entirely trivial. And you knew Ethics Alarms would be on it like hound on a hock of ham, because examining the Naked Teacher Principle [NTP]and its real or proposed extensions, sisters, cousins and aunts, have been a periodic obsession of both Ethics Alarms and its predecessor, The Ethics Scoreboard. Add to that the fact that that Madison Cawthorn (R-NC.), is both a Christian values-spouting politician and a mega-jerk, and the photo above, showing him cavorting in lingerie, cannot be ignored (or, once seen, unseen).

The Principle states that a secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result.

It is important to remember that even the Naked Teacher Principle does not hold that teachers necessarily should be dismissed if old photos surface of them online that show more of them than parents and schools want students to see, but that it is their own carelessness that created their career crisis, and that the decision to dismiss them is ethically defensible. Most recent posts on the topic involve whether the NTP can be applied to other professions.The last time it was discussed, in 2012, involved a nurse who made money on the side by posing provocatively on a sexually themed website. The conclusion here was was that there was no “Naked Nurse Principle,” and that her firing was unjust.  The previous NTP-related post involved, almost a year before that one,  rebutting the argument that there are similar principles regarding police and firefighters. Some of the more interesting versions that have been explored on Ethics Alarms include The Female Bodybuilder Firefighter Principle, The Drag Queen Principal Principle, The Online Porn Star Teacher Principle, Naked Naval War College Professor Principle, and more.

So now we must ask, “Is there a Cross-Dressing Future Congressman Principle”? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Tune-Up, 2/22/22: A Very Special Episode…

1.  “What’s going on here?” I have not decided what exactly the article “The New Homophobia” in Newsweek (Flagged this morning by Althouse: Pointer for Ann!) means or portends: it is, after all, just one man’s opinion. However, I sense that it is relevant to the issues underlying the Disney vs. Florida controversy.

Excerpts…

I learned about queer theory, an obscure academic discipline based largely on the writing of the late French intellectual Michel Foucault, who believed that society categorizes people—male or female, heterosexual or homosexual—in order to oppress them. The solution is to intentionally blur—or “queer”—the boundaries of these categories. Soon this “queering” became the predominant method of discussing and analyzing gender and sexuality in universities…

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This might not be a concern if, by adopting these new identities, young people were merely playing with the boundaries of normative gender expression—something that gays, lesbians, feminists, most liberals and even many conservatives would welcome two decades into the 21st century. But many young boys do not stop at simply painting their fingernails and wearing dresses, and young girls do more than cut their hair short and play football. With increasing frequency, these children are given drugs to block their puberty, cross-sex hormones and irreversible surgeries, all the while cheered on first by online communities, then the mainstream media and now the current presidential administration…

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DeSantis Strikes Back: Ethics Dunce Disney Gets The Legal And Ethical Consequences It Deserved

During a special session called for the purpose, Florida’s Senate has passed a bill that would end the special autonomous tax district status granted to Walt Disney World 1967. The bill now goes to Florida’s House, where passage is expected. Gov. DeSantis will, of course, sign the bill into law.

Good.

The mainstream news media and its minions are pushing, hard, the skewed narrative that this is GOP hypocrisy, with a state government using its power to punish a corporation’s free speech. That, however, is not a correct analysis.

What Disney did, when it publicly announced that it would protest and fight to repeal the Parental Rights in Education Law (falsely and dishonestly tagged the “Don’t Say Gay” law by LGTBQ activists, including much of the news media), was to breach the implicit conditions of its 55 year-old deal with the State of Florida, and, in an uncharacteristic blunder, prompt it to do what it had an ethical and legal duty to do anyway.

By 1967, Walt Disney himself had been negotiating a sweetheart deal with Florida since Walt Disney World was just another twinkle in his eye. The planned 40 acre complex was audacious and unprecedented, and audacious because it was unprecedented. Central Florida was an under-utilized swamp, and Disney was promising to turn it into the biggest tourist destination in the U.S. This would mean publicity, tourism ,commerce, hotel construction, jobs, tax revenue and development for Florida, and Disney was a tough negotiator. (Another Disney theme park project planned for Manassas, Virginia was abruptly killed when that state was less than accommodating.) Disney had a well-earned reputation for doing things right, so Florida saw nothing but benefits in allow it nearly complete freedom to build and run the new theme park the way it chose, without meddling from regulators. When Disney wanted to build a building, fill in a lake, or pave a road, it didn’t have to seek permits or approval, allowing the place to operate and start making money for itself and Florida as early as possible. Continue reading

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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