Tuesday Ethics Tidbits, 7/7/2020: Goodbye To “Social Q’s,” Faithless Electors And A Weenie Judge

1. I’m cancelling Philip Gallanes. The advice columnist in the Times’ Sunday Styles section has provided some interesting topic for discussion here, but there have to be some consequences for irresponsibly spreading propaganda and falsehoods, even if they are sanctioned by his employers. In response to a “Social Q’s” query from someone who was annoyed that a neighbor had posted a “Defund the Police” sign and asked if it would be ethical to eschew calling the cops if she saw her neighbor’s house vandalized (Answer: Of course not.), Gallanes had to give readers the whole set of George Floyd Freakouts talking points:

“Many of the reports I’ve read about defunding the police focus on limiting the deployment of armed police officers to situations where they may be necessary and helpful — such as violent crimes. Many activists point to the large share of state and local budgets dedicated to police services when many calls to police (about persistent homelessness or family conflicts, for instance) would be better handled by social workers. Why not redirect some police funds to affordable housing and mental health services, they ask?”

Then why not say what you mean, I ask? Defund means defund. I resent this dodge.

“Still others would like to dismantle the current model of policing, as Minneapolis has pledged to do, and reimagine community safety given the frequency with which officers kill unarmed Black men and women.

And how’s that working out so far for Minneapolis, Phil? The frequency in which officers kill unarmed Black men and women is called “infrequently,” and the frequency is decreasing. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 3…Ethics Fireworks (and Duds)!,” Item #5

Extradimensional Cephalopod lassoed itself a Comment of the Day (I love the image of a cepalopod using a lasso!) with his musings on why races were designated “black” and “white,” since the white/black dichotomy is so frequently used to describe good/evil.

Here is his—its?—Comment of the Day on the fifth item (about Twitter banning such words as “whitelist” and “blacklist”) in the post, “Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 3…Ethics Fireworks (and Duds)!”

I’ll be back at the end with a rather lengthy discourse of my own on this subject, because it’s a favorite of mine.

I actually find it annoying that on the one hand, human races (groups of humans who share some similarities in appearance) have historically been identified by colors associated with their skin, while on the other hand, completely independently and before meeting humans from other continents on a regular basis, Europeans started to use colors to indicate whether things are good or bad.

This etymology likely came about because when things rot they often turn black, and because blackness implies darkness (the absence of light), which most humans use to evoke ignorance, fear, or bad luck because they can’t see in the dark. (I use the metaphor of darkness in a much more neutral/benevolent sense, but that’s quite rare.) Interestingly, the color white is associated with death and mourning in many Asian cultures.

With the exception of finance (black ink marking positive numbers and red ink marking negative numbers), most historical evocations of the color black indicate evil, corruption, morbidity, or otherwise something negative. “Black heart,” “blackguard,” “black magic,” “black hat,” “black market,” “blackball,” “blacklist,” “black mark,” “black day,” “black comedy/humor”… Continue reading

Reddit’s Approach To Addressing “Systemic Racism”: Rig The Rules

I have  a larger post on this topic in the works, but Reddit’s recent actions deserve special exposure.

Yesterday, the platform banned the subreddit devoted to President Donald Trump based on what the company said was the influential subreddit’s repeated policy violations. A Reddit executive told reporters that the huge group allowed people to target and harass other people, and reddit does not believe in hate. “Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people,” Steve Huffman, the company’s chief executive, said. “‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that.”

Hate-hating Reddit also unveiled its new anti-hate policy yesterday, which is, the platform says, intended to protect groups from based on their race or color, religion, national origin, gender, identity, and sexual orientation, among others. Victims of “a major violent event” are also protected, as are their families.

However, “While the rule on hate protects such groups, it does not protect all groups or all forms of identity…For example, the rule does not protect groups of people who are in the majority or who promote such attacks of hate.” Continue reading

Boy, Do We Need The Third Niggardly Principle Now.

To review….

The Third Niggardly Principle , the last of three Ethics Alarms rules applying to situations where someone mistakenly takes offense at a valid and useful word, comes into play when capitulating to such sensitivity create a precedent that will do tangible harm to society, culture, individual rights and personal freedoms. It declares:

“When  suppressing speech and conduct based on an individual’s or a group’s claim, sincere or otherwise, that such speech or conduct is offensive, however understandable and reasonable this claim may be, creates or threatens to create a powerful precedent that will undermine freedom of speech, expression or political opinion elsewhere, calls to suppress the speech or conduct must be opposed and rejected.

Spineless, fearful, submissive and appeasing corporate lackeys, showing us that they can be counted on to surrender core American principles and values to keep their market share and pander to the mob, have decided in recent days to ban certain well understood, useful, common and benign words because “some” believe they imply racism: Continue reading

Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/22/2020: Lenin, Oliver, And The Troublesome Name

It would be well to consider the fate of that ultimate Sixties folk-pop group the Mamas and Papas, as we watch today’s idealistic anarchists make fools of themselves. By mid-way through their four-year run (during which they sold 40 million recordings), the group was self-destructing with inter-and extra-group sexual affairs and stage appearances where one or more of the group was too drunk or stoned to perform. The group kept breaking up and re-assembling, and fell apart for good in 1969. Mama Cass died of heart failure at the age of 34, after battling heroin addiction and other substance abuse. John Phillips, the creative leader of the group, also was a heroin addict and had emotional and substance abuse problems that he managed to pass on to his daughter, actress Mackenzie Phillips. In her memoir, “High on Arrival,” she wrote that she had a long-term sexual relationship with her father. Papa John also died of heart failure, when he was 66. Tenor Denny Doherty’s solo career flopped after the group ended. He was an alcoholic, but stayed sober for the final decades of his life. An acting career also failed; he finally got a gig as the “Harbormaster,” hosting a kids TV show that was a flagrant rip-off of “Thomas the Tank Engine,” but starring a talking tugboat. Doherty was 67 when he died from an aneurysm.

Michelle Phillips is the lone survivor of the group. She avoided substance abuse problems and after divorcing Phillips, whom she wed at 18, went on to a moderately successful acting career.

As today, these people who aspired to inspire lacked the wisdom, common sense, self-discipline, character, values or perspective to be trusted with their chosen mission.

1. Speaking of...When asked how it was that a statue of Vladimir Lenin was still standing in Seattle when protesters had toppled those of Ulysses S. Grant and others, the Human Rights Campaign’s Charlotte Clymer said, among her reasons, that “Lenin was not a slave-owner, you Confederate apologist fucks.”

To which National Review writer David Harsanyi responded with the obligatory, “Lenin created tens of millions of slaves.”

In related news, a 2015 video  of an interview with Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse Cullors shows her saying, “We actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia in particular, we’re trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super versed on ideological theories…”

Several of the tenets seen on the BLM website are redolent of Karl. Do all these companies and pandering celebrities giving lip service to the group, attaching #BlackLivesMatter to their tweets and proclaiming support, know what they are supporting? I think it’s pretty obvious that they don’t. They are signaling their virtue by ostentatiously endorsing the most simple-minded and deceptive interpretation of the slogan, as if there is anyone who believes black lives don’t matter. I bet the vast majority have never visited the BLM website and read its agitprop.

That, needless to say, is as dumb as it is irresponsible. Continue reading

The Madness Continues…

I have a feeling I may be using this clip, the final lines from “The Bridge of the River Kwai,” a lot from now on. In fact, I’m going to add it to the Ethics Alarms clips list right now. Back in a minute…I just realized that there’s another clip I left out of that post, so we are now up to eleven.

***

Back. As Lili Von Shtupp  said, “I feel wefweshed!

These are truly the crazy times. The George Floyd Freakout has emboldened the power-hungry, the self-righteous, the manipulative and the irresponsible, while those who have not abandoned their values and faculties  descend into fear and submissiveness. For example…

When…suppressing speech and conduct based on an individual’s or a group’s sincere claim that such speech or conduct is offensive, however understandable and reasonable this claim may be, creates or threatens to create a powerful precedent that will undermine freedom of speech, expression or political opinion elsewhere, calls to suppress the speech or conduct must be opposed and rejected.”

The City Council of Duluth, Minnesota, is considering stripping the word “chief” from the job titles of top administrators because the mayor thinks the word is offensive to Native Americans. It was reported  that during a press conference yesterday, Mayor Emily Larson “implored City Council members to vote to approve the change next week ‘”so that we have more inclusive leadership and less language that is rooted in hurt and offensive, intentional marginalization.”

Alicia Kozlowski, the city’s community relations officer, told reporters, “I think there are other titles that we have the opportunity to use to steer away from language that may put people down based off their race or culture.”

These women are idiots and ignoramuses, but they are virtue-signaling, and while madness reigns, facts don’t matter. “Chief” is not a Native American word: it’s Middle English: from the Old French chief, or chef, based on the Latin caput ,’ meaning “head’.’

Then we have this item from the University of Florida, where for the last two decades or so “Gator Bait!” has been a popular chant by the football team’s fans in response to a song played by the school’s band… Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/13/2020: “You Know…Morons”

Above: The obligatory clip from that soon-to-be-banned comic classic, “Blazing Saddles.”

Periodically I get a drive by comment that informs me that it is unethical to engage in “name-calling,” as when I describe someone who advocates something truly moronic as “a moron.” I strongly disagree. It is unethical to allow those who infect society with their terrible reasoning, ignorant analysis and crippling biases to do so under the guise of being trustworthy, responsible and respectable citizens. We are not talking about mere disagreements. A statement or action has to be especially dim-witted to justify such a warning label. The criminals who post their crimes on social media, for example: morons. Advocates of abolishing the police: morons. Admittedly, sometimes a moronic position—trying to reconcile the attacks on Brett Kavanaugh with the determination to vote for Joe Biden, for example–is simply dishonest, and the individuals doing so know it. They are not morons; they are liars, or just bad people. Whether these categories are better or worse than morons is a matter of debate.

I rate three of today’s four items as meeting the “moronic” standard, and attention should be paid.

1. Those who do not learn the lessons of the Beatles are doomed to repeat them. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t believe that Joe Biden, even in his advancing senility, would be so foolish as to say that the killing of George Floyd in police custody last month is having a greater global impact than the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King. Even if that was true, which I doubt, certainly over the long term, you don’t compare an icon with a contemporary figure unless you want to infuriate the admirers of the icon.  John Lennon learned this the hard way when he tossed off the observation that the Fab Four were more popular at that moment than Jesus. Lennon meant his remark ironically and self-deprecatingly, but it didn’t help: an international uproar was triggered. Biden didn’t mean his remark ironically or to point out that the reaction to Floyd’s death was excessive, which means it was just a stupid thing to say.

This is the second recent Biden gaffe likely to nettle black voters, and it’s a good bet that more are on the way. The fact that he keeps doing this and that the  conventional wisdom remains that Obama’s reflex black support will automatically migrate  to Biden shows the lack of respect Democrats have for African Americans.

2.  Wait…what are the rules again?

This op-ed was just published in the Times—you know, that newspaper that said that a U.S. Senator’s op-ed about using troops to stop rioting in the cities was “dangerous,” and that made the editor who greenlighted the opinion piece resign?

Are there any other questions about the Times’ biases?

Meanwhile,  what about all of those other opinion pieces about how defunding the police didn’t really mean defunding the police?

If you’re going to sell a lie to the American people, it’s wise to get everyone on the same page. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-U…OH MY GOD I JUST SAW THE “I TAKE RESPONSIBILITY” VIDEO AND MY BRAIN IS CRAWLING OUT OF MY SKULL!!!!!

1. This thing above. How can anyone take these people, or the entire industry they represent, seriously? Was someone challenged to come up with the most nauseating, self-indicting example of narcissistic grandstanding and virtue-signalling imaginable? Among the more recognizable celebrities are Kristen Bell, Kesha, Aaron Paul, Stanley Tucci, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Debra Messing, though I’m sure I would have recognized more if I hadn’t been retching so violently. This PSA is supposed to launch  a new project by entertainment production company Confluential Content, in partnership with the NAACP. So earnest (and as performed, manifestly phony) that it hurts, the stars—I’m assuming they are all stars—take turns reading a wildly hyperbolic and deceitful script:

“I take responsibility for every unchecked moment, for every time it was easier to ignore than to call it out for what it was. Every not-so-funny joke. Every unfair stereotype. Every blatant injustice no matter how big or small. Every time I remained silent. Every time I explained away police brutality or turned a blind eye. I take responsibility. Black people are being slaughtered in the streets. Killed in their own homes. These are our brothers and sisters. Our friends. Our family. We are done watching them die. We are no longer bystanders; we will not be idle. Enough is enough.”

Who is it who will decide what’s a stereotype, an unfunny joke (what if the joke is funny?), or a blatant injustice? You silly people? Right. Continue reading