The New Fascists Among Us, Part II: The American Medical Association

The tweet above is the smoking gun that proves the attitude toward freedom of thought, opinion and expression in the American Medical Association, a group that most Americans believe is dedicated to the area of expertise of its members: health and medicine. The tell-tale words of the fascist are right there: “harmful podcast and tweet,” because words that challenge the required orthodoxy must not be allowed, and “We are taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” meaning intimidation, punishment, indoctrination, and censorship. These are the tools of those who fear free speech, and who demand compliance with mandated beliefs.

Once the damning tweet was exposed by, among others, Campus Reform, the American Medical Association took it down. There is no reason to do this unless the group realizes that it reveals too much. This tweet, however remains:

That tweet exposes the AMA for what it is: a political ally of an ambitious rights-repressive regime, and an organization that is abusing its perceived authority and the public trust. As with a similar recent proclamation by the CDC, firearms and the Second Amendment are not the proper concern of the AMA. Using the power of a collective professional organization to lobby publicly or privately for restrictions on American rights unrelated to medicine is an abuse of power and a misrepresentation. (The American Bar Association, and many, many others, engage in the same insidious mission creep. It is why I refuse to belong to the ABA.)

In past posts on this topic, I have noted that if my doctor started questioning me about whether there is a firearm in my home (there is), I would a) end the discussion, b) leave the office and c) find a new doctor, just as I would if he quizzed me about how fast I drove or what kind of dog I owned. Physicians are authoritarian by nature, and I suppose it is to be expected that they would gravitate toward totalitarian government and its methods. Expected, I say, but not tolerated or excused, at least by me.

Nobody else should tolerate or excuse it either.

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Sunday Ethics Peeps, 3/28/21: “Hey, Everybody! Free Gym Memberships!”

Peeps

1. Speaking of useless awards shows: Here are the winners of the NAACP Image Awards, presented by Black Entertainment Television, which raises questions all by itself. Now someone explain to me how such awards are helpful, productive, and justified in the United States of America in 2021. As hard as I try, I cannot think of any words but hypocrisy, apartheid, and double standards.

I’d really appreciate an argument from an African-American reader.

2. An ethical firing at USA Today. After Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa shot up a supermarket in Boulder, Hemal Jehaveri, who held the Orwellian post of “Race and Inclusion Editor,” proved her qualifications by tweeting “It’s always an angry white man, always.” This did not go over well, for several reasons.

Race tweet

First, “it” isn’t “always” a white man. Second, this particular shooting appears to be based on religious and ethnic hate, not race. Third, for a “race and inclusion” editor to announce racial bias of her own on social media would seem to be immediately disqualifying. Fourth, as a journalist, she needs to be trusted, and not tweet out false information on a whim.

Fifth, she’s a biased idiot.

She was fired. Good. Now she’s claiming that her firing was race-based:

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up I Expected Not To Get Posted In The Morning, 3/26/2021: “Ouch!” Edition

Dentist

Therein lies a tale

I arrived at the appointed time for my triple tooth extraction to be told that I would be required to pay the entire cost of my surgery on the spot, and the amount was a cool $4000. This, despite the fact that I had been told (by the doctor) that I could wait before deciding on the various treatment options, and having not received clear (to me, at least) information that the office took no general medical coverage at all, just dental insurance, and my dental insurance was not among the blessed. (Raising the related issue of why my dentist would refer me to an oral surgeon who did not accept the insurance that the dentist did, without alerting me in advance. “We tried to call you,” the snotty desk staff said. Really? I had no messages on my home or office lines. “We only call our patients on their cell phones,” I was told. Then why do you ask for the other numbers? If you have essential information to convey, and you can’t reach a patient by cell, why wouldn’t you try the other contact options? Where on the form does it say that the only number you will use is the cell phone? I only included the cell number because it was asked for: I use cell phones when traveling, period, and during the lockdown it is usually uncharged. If I am going to be expected to hand over 4 grand on the spot, I need to be told, and the information I provided gave an easy means to tell me. What I suspect is that the 20-somethings behind the desk, living on their smart phones themselves, would never dream that anyone wouldn’t do the same. It wasn’t a policy, it was an unwarranted and incompetent assumption.

I informed the staff that its conduct was unethical and unprofessional, and that its attitude was arrogant and obnoxious. Then I walked out. I don’t care if the next oral surgeon costs as much or more: I don’t trust people who treat me like this. Screw ’em.

1. It’s a banner day in the history of “the ends justifies the means” medical ethics! On this date in 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announced on national radio that he had successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes polio. Salk had conducted the first human trials of his vaccine on former polio patients, on himself, and his family. The general consensus among ethicists is that self-experimentation is ethical: as one scholarly paper put it, “Organizational uncertainty over the ethical and regulatory status of self-experimentation, and resulting fear of consequences is unjustified and may be blocking a route to human experiments that practicing scientists widely consider appropriate, and which historical precedent has shown is valuable.” But using one’s family as guinea pigs? Unethical, absolutely. The researcher, in this case Salk, has undue influence over such subjects, and consent cannot be said to be voluntary.

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Ethics Dunce: Plastic Surgeon Dr. Costanza, I Mean Scott Green

Dr. Scott Green, a plastic surgeon, tried to appear before a judge during a remote video-conferenced traffic trial last week from his operating room, while he was working on a patient. This was not a reality show stunt: Green really attempted to do this. Saved time, you know. Busy, busy, busy. Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner Gary Link, presiding over a virtual courtroom at the Carol Miller Justice Center, couldn’t believe what he was seeing: a defendant in surgical scrubs, with his patient just out of view.

“Hello, Mr. Green? Are you available for trial?” asked a courtroom clerk. “It kind of looks like you’re in an operating room right now?” “I am, sir,” Green replied. “Yes, I’m in an operating room right now. I’m available for trial. Go right ahead.” The doctor had his head down, talking as he replaced a nose, pumped up some breasts, or something. Link was dumbstruck.

“So unless I’m mistaken, I’m seeing a defendant that’s in the middle of an operating room appearing to be actively engaged in providing services to a patient. Is that correct, Mr. Green? Or should I say Dr. Green?” Link asked. The video is on YouTube, and one can hear the sounds of medical devices at work, pumping and beeping.

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Ethics Quiz: Positive Devlopment Or Slippery Slope?

This ad will run on the NBC Golden Globes Award broadcast:

A similar commercial had previously been rejected by ABC.

Cowabunga! Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:.

Is presenting this commercial on a prime time broadcast network a positive development for society?

Or, in the alternative, is it feminist grandstanding by NBC? Will it inevitably lead to graphic male enhancement ads?  If women can be topless in this commercial, on what basis will anyone be able to argue that breast-bearing shouldn’t be routine in entertainment programming?

Midnight Ethics Terrors, 2/17/21: Trump Attacks! Fake Law! Fake News! Fake Science!

nightterrors-orig-crop

Okay, I started this at midnight, then got the night terrors, and waited until (almost) daylight to finish…

1. Who didn’t see this coming? Yesterday, Donald Trump unloaded with both metaphorical barrels on Mich McConnell as no President, former or otherwise, has ever attacked his party’s Senate leader before. McConnell asked for it, got it, and deserved it. His post impeachment trial acquittal was a foolish attempt to turn the President’s vindication into a defeat, and a pretty transparent example of the “now that the guy who was never one of us is out of power, we can strike at him with impunity” syndrome. Is McConnell really that deluded and incompetent? He must be. He apparently doesn’t understand the cognitive dissonance scale. Amazing. See, Mitch, nobody really likes you. You have the charisma of a scrub brush. As controversial as Trump is, he’s so much higher than you on the scale…

Cognitive Dissonance

… that attacking him just drags you lower still. Don’t you get that? Now Trump has double the effect. Some prime excerpts:

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A Powerful Anti-Abortion Message From A Disgraced And Cancelled Messenger

Back before it was all discarded to elect a serial harasser and accused rapist President, #MeToo saw to it that comic Louis C.K. was condemned to wander in the metaphorical wilderness for a particularly disgusting variety of harassment. He is indeed what is clinically defined as a “sick fuck,” but C.K. is intelligent and perceptive too. If anyone is listening, he is capable of conveying wisdom beyond “don’t masturbate in front of female colleagues who you have invited up to your hotel room.”

The clip above is from 2018, I think, when a post-cancellation Louis extolled in grand (if vulgar) terms the wonder of life, and how even the worst lives were a marvel. (The Thornton Wilder classic “Our Town” carries the same message, and I’m sure it is on the verge of being cancelled too, since it is about, yechh, white people. Actually it is about all people, but never mind, that won’t save it.)

And I found myself thinking, as I listened to C.K.’s routine on the radio yesterday by purest happenstance, how can anyone ethically deny life, this gift, this wonder, to another human being who would have it without outside interference, for any reason other than literal survival. Those invalid reasons include, “I have a legal right to do it,” as well as “that future life will interfere with my career,” and “it’s just not convenient right now.”

Sunday Ethics Reinforcements, 2/7/21: The “Don’t Watch The Concussion Bowl” Edition

Brain Damage football

Ethics Alarms has been chronicling the mounting evidence that pro football condemns a large percentage of its players to future dementia and premature death for a long time, often in conjunction with what a Georgetown professor friend calls “The Concussion Bowl.” Many of those posts are here, under the CTE tag. Incredibly, the NFL has done little to stop the carnage, perhaps because seriously addressing the inherent damage to brains caused by a necessarily violent sport would end football as we know it, and that would cost owners, TV networks, colleges and merchandisers billions. Can’t have that.

Equally amazing, the public and the news media have allowed the NFL to get away with distracting from its unethical priorities with the flagrant and cynical virtue-signalling of pandering to Black Lives Matter. I’m pretty sure that when it is all tallied, the NFL will have killed more innocent black men by far than all the brutal police officers over the same period. But most people just don’t care. If they cared one hundredth as much about athletes getting permanent brain damage for their Sunday (Monday, Thursday) TV viewing as they do about a single ugly incident where an overdosing lifetime petty crook died under the knee of a Minneapolis cop, there would be action. Not riots and take-overs of public property, but serious, effective action, including safety regulations.. Football would have to change, evolve, or vanish. The public and the media (and government officials) don’t care, and neither do the NFL executives. If Colin Kaepernick had performed his on-field protests against CTE, he would have been suspended and eliminated from the sport faster than Deion Sanders running for the goal line.

Talk about conspiracies….

1. False Narrative Dept. Now dishonest anti-Trump propaganda is showing up on Turner Classic Movies, which has been generally exemplary in avoiding partisan pandering over the last four years. Today, Eddie Muller, TCM’s film noir maven, pointedly showed the 1950 move “The Killer Who Slaked New York,” about a potential smallpox outbreak that was shut down by New York City health officials in 1947. Ultimately only 12 people were infected, and the threat was a single contagious smallpox victim who had to be found and contained. As you can see, this is a perfect analogy for the Wuhan virus outbreak in 2020. Noting that New York City quickly launched a mass vaccination effort (because there was already a smallpox vaccine, another close parallel), Eddie raised an accusing eyebrow and said,voice dripping with contempt, “That’s how we did things then.”

It’s Eddie’s show. I don’t think he should be fired or suspended. He’s welcome to his ignorant and obnoxious opinion. But he’s part of a disinformation campaign and an effort to distort reality, He’s also annoying TCM’s generally mature audience members who have been paying attention, and who presumably watch old movies to get a break from political BS, not to be subjected to more of it by movie nerds driving out of their lane.

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Saturday Morning Ethics Update, 2/6/21: Day Before The Super Bowl Edition

CTE brain

This was a Friday morning warm-up that kept getting bumped, with my investigation of the TIME article that dropped yesterday finally bumping it all the way to now. As several have noted in the comments to that post, when real conspiracies rear their dark and slimy heads, it makes suspicion of other conspiracies not just more likely, but reasonable. In my case, for example, as Big Tech has joined social media in squashing news and opinions unpalatable to our rising progressive masters, Ethics Alarms, for no reason that I can see, is suffering through its worst non-holiday week in traffic in years. Meanwhile, I am suddenly getting email after email telling me that my blog isn’t turning up in Google searches the way it should. Hmmmm.

Stop it, Jack. “That way madness lies.

1. Sometimes the profit motive helps, sometimes it doesn’t. One more note about TIME’s piece: there have been many articles recently about how journalism ethics are a a myth and need to be regarded as such, because the major news organizations are chasing clicks, ads and dollars, not truth, justice, or the American way. This argument has some obvious truth in it, but it is often used to exonerate journalists from pushing the political agendas of the Left, which they obviously do. The country is still very conservative in many ways; the Fox News model was spectacularly profitable; why doesn’t the profit motive inspire more balanced coverage, especially since there is a market for it? Is it just a coincidence that news rooms (even Fox News’) are nearly exclusively made up of Democrats and socialists? TIME was the perfect candidate to break ranks: an iconic mainstream media name, quickly fading into irrelevance and obscurity. Desperation topped loyalty to the team, and, ironically, betrayal led to an ethical result, even though it was motivated by non-ethical considerations.

2. “Cancelled” or put out to pasture? Fox News has cancelled the Lou Dobbs show, even though it is the top rated show on Fox Business News. “There is only one-way to look at this announcement…. corporate U.S. media is in the tank for the cancel-culture policy against all things President Trump related” writes the conservative blog “The Last Refuge.  “P.e.r.i.o.d.” I’m not so sure. I thought Dobbs was losing it several years ago when he suddenly appeared on the air with his previously white hair died caramel brown, and his enthusiasm for Donald Trump has often crossed the line into unprofessional cheer-leading. He’s 75, and Fox New may well have wanted to get him off the air before he had to be pulled. (Why won’t any of these guys retire?) Dobbs is also one of the three Fox News hosts named along with the network after voting software company Smartmatic filed its $2.7 billion defamation suit.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/30/2021: Oh, The Usual…Race-Baiting, The Pandemic, Betrayals, Journalism

SCOTUS Morning

Late reflections on this morning’s first post:

  • The story of how the only official to be referred for criminal prosecution as a result of the illegal Justice Department machinations to cripple the Trump administration was reported on page A20 of the New York Times front page this morning. Thirty stories were considered more important for Times readers to know about, including the discovery of  200-year-old fort built by indigenous Alaskans.
  • From the Times report: “The Justice Department has said it no longer believes the full range of evidence available to it by the final two extensions met legal standards to invade Mr. Page’s privacy.” This is deceptive: the purpose of the FISA warrant was to surveil the Trump campaign. meaning that the surveillance was illegal. Page was a means to an end, and the end being sought was redolent of the Nixon dirty tricks that spawned Watergate. The Times is burying the significance of what Clinesmith did. Similarly, the headline “Ex-F.B.I. Lawyer Who Altered Email in Russia Case Is Sentenced to Probation” is deliberately deceptive. The objective of the “collusion” claims were to sink the Trump Presidency, not to punish Russia.
  • A single day’s riot that breached the Capitol and had no tangible effects of the government at all is being routinely labelled an “insurrection,” while a two year effort to cripple a Presidential administration using false evidence and involving the Justice Department, the FBI and news media  is reported as an inconsequential legal matter.

1. Finding systemic racism where it wasn’t. Cicely Tyson died at the age of 96. Like Charlton Heston, the African-American actress became an icon by playing iconic roles. She had by any standards an acting career an actress should be proud of, and most performers would envy: she appeared in 29 films; at least 68 television series, mini-series and single episodes; and 15 productions on and off Broadway.  She  was honored with an Oscar, three Emmys, many Emmy nominations, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Tony, and accomplished it all while being a non-beautiful woman in a profession that values beauty above all, mostly limiting her to character and historical roles.

Yet Times critic Wesley Morris, an African-American who  has a narrative to advance, writes in an appreciation, “Let’s face it: the great parts were always headed to someone whiter anyway… Consider the parts she could have played if the movies were fairer.” This is approximately equivalent to saying, “Imagine the parts Mickey Rooney could have played if the movies were fairer.” Tyson was unique and talented, and the movies were sufficiently fair for her to play major roles in major projects throughout a long career. There are undoubtedly African American actresses who consider it unfair that when a black female character was being cast in a hsitorical film, Tyson was ha the right of first refusal.

Might she have been cast in “The Jagged Edge” in place of Glenn Close? Sure—so could Faye Dunaway. Or Ellen Burstyn. The difference is that those actresses can’t use racism as the reason they weren’t cast.

In addition to her stellar career and reputation, Tyson died with an estate worth at least 10 million dollars. Hollywood has been racially biased for decades, but Cicely Tyson shouldn’t be cited as a victim. Like so many of the individuals she played, she rose above racism by strength of character and ability. Continue reading