Afternoon Ethics Wind-down, 11/17/2020: Greenwald, Kelly, Typical Irresponsible College Professor, And “Name Withheld”

windingUp

1 Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias… Glenn Greenwald, the gadfly journalist who was cut off at the metaphorical knees for not supporting the media black-out of the Biden family influence peddling story in the waning days of the campaign (Hey! It worked, so it must be ethical!), is apparently just warming up in his campaign to expose the mainstream media’s hypocrisy and bias. Here’s a recent thread on Twitter.

Of course, it’s just a matter of time before Twitter suspends his account…

2. I LOVE this guy! He’s the perfect example of so much that’s wrong with academia, Black Lives Matters, and the entire race-baiting phenomenon! (But why is he allowed to teach anyone?) Bucknell University will be featuring a scholarly debate over the new film “What Killed Michael Brown?,” with participants considering “whether the idea of systemic racism today is a truth about what needs to be addressed in shaping a just America, or a ‘poetic truth’ that as a strategy exacerbates social division in America.” (Strange…it is beyond question that what killed Michael Brown was his fatal and perhaps drug-aided decision to resist arrest, try to grab an officer’s weapon, ignore a lawful order to stop, and to direct his entire bulk in a charge at a police officer. It will be a short webinar.) Roosevelt University journalism Professor John Fountain, one of the participants, asserts that “questioning the existence and impact of systemic racism in the United States is itself offensive and racist.”

3. Whew! I almost lost this one. From an October 6 column by “The Ethicist.” “Name Withheld” writes: Continue reading

A Case Study In Intimidation: The Self-Cancelling Children’s Book Author

childrens book illustration

This could have been a standard Ethics Dunce post, but I think it warrants more attention than that category might suggest.

One of the reasons it is fair to say that the President had the election stolen from him, or, as he likes to say (and shouldn’t) “rigged,” is that his supporters have been relentlessly intimidated and indoctrinated into attitudes designed to make them doubt their own judgment and values, especially those that aligned with the President’s policies. The tactics have ranged from threatening and even physically attacking citizens for wearing MAGA hats, to forced resignations of company officials and academics for the “crime” of endorsing Donald Trump’s actions in office.

Self-censorship triggered by fear of rejection and social isolation allowed Facebook, for example, to become a progressive echo chamber with minimal dissent. (I haven’t posted on anything related to the election for a month. It’s just a waste of time, and I end up losing respect for people I would like to keep as friends while having to defend views that should require no defense.) We are also seeing the related phenomenon of self-flagellation, self-shaming and self-cancelling of the sort demanded by the “Silence is violence” mobs. Like tortured and brain-washed North Korean prisoners of war,  we are ordered to denounce our great sins, such as engaging in “systemic racism,” enjoying “white privilege,” defying the political correctness police, and daring to support the President of the United States. When Black Lives Matter terrorists burst into restaurants and demand that diners raise their fists or hands in support of the Marxist, racist, anti-law enforcement group, the photographic evidence is that they do as ordered in hopes that they be left alone. What nation’s citizens from the past, say, 85 years ago do these timid souls remind you of?

Never mind. I digress…

Adam Pottle’s children’s book “The Most Awesome Character in the World” tells of Philomena, a young deaf girl whose  deafness  has made her vibrant and  imaginative person. (The author is also deaf.)  .

Pottle did not have approval over the illustrations his publisher chose to complete his book, and with the nudging of some negative reviews online, was horrified at the illustration above.  He concluded that the single drawing was “racist,” and Pottle asked that it be changed. The publisher, Reycraft Books, refused (the profit margin on any book is small, and this would guarantee a money-losing project), so Pottle took to social media and asked people not to buy his book and retailers not to stock it. Several retailers supported him.

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Friday Night Ethics Fever, 11/13/2020 [Corrected]

1. “Then they came for Professor Turley…” Jonathan Turley, who has distinguished himself throughout the Trump years and the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck with clear, unbiased, non-partisan analysis that generally correctly identifies who is the transgressor and why, was attacked by University of Colorado Law Professor Paul Campus who compared his discussion of possible voting irregularities to Holocaust denial. Turley is measured, as usual, in his criticism, but he is obviously troubled by the continuing trend, writing in part,

“It is part of a wave of intolerance sweeping over our colleges and our newsrooms. It is therefore an ironic moment as someone who has been writing about the growing intolerance of dissenting views on our campuses and efforts to fire academic.  Some have been targeted for engaging in what is called “both sides rhetoric” rather than supporting a preferred narrative or viewpoint. Campos is arguing that it “would be appropriate to fire” any professor who stated that we should allow these challenges to be heard even though they have not and are unlikely to produce evidence of systemic fraud to overturn these results.  That is a view of academic freedom and viewpoint tolerance shared by some in academia.

I am not the first academic that Campos called to be terminated for his views. In the end, I would defend Campos in his posting such views. Unlike Professor Campos, I do not believe that he should be fired for holding opposing views or even calling for others to be fired. That is the cost of free speech. Indeed, Professor Campos is the cost of free speech.’

And yes, this is exactly what you voted for if you voted for Joe Biden.

In fact, it’s what Professor Turley voted for, as I suspect he did, when he voted for Joe Biden.

2. Regarding another favorite Ethics Alarms blogger…I respect and value Ann Althouse’s opinions and analysis, but boy does she epitomize what’s irresponsible about intellectuals.  There is a constant tone on her blog that it’s all just a big cosmic game, nothing really matters much, and all these intellectually inferior people are running around in circles, obsessing over base and minor matters. Meanwhile, Ann is preoccupied by the fact that there’s a “homophone for alibi,” the relative size of statues, and some local interviewer in Lincoln, Nebraska. These matters seem to concern her about as much as the means by which a President was finally taken down, the cracking of our democratic institutions, and the fact that our journalists have become no better than rumor-mongers and partisan assassins.

It’s that studied distance that academics and those over-educated egotists who are full-time frolickers in the playgrounds of the mind display that makes normal people—and me— suspicious of their motives and judgment.

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Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Ibram X. Kendi

Kendi tweet

Ibram X. Kendi, the proud author of this neon-bright example of Rationalization #64, Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is,” isn’t just some radical, mind-poisoning, far left ideologue pseudo-intellectual race-baiting wacko. He’s a radical, mind-poisoning, far left ideologue pseudo-intellectual race-baiting wacko who will soon have been twisting young American brains into un-American pretzels for a full decade, fueling the descent of the Democratic Party and the rest of the mutating Left into full Orwellian lunacy.

The tweet should be res ipsa loquitur; no one should have to debunk it, because it is self-debunking. I have to admit, when Andrew McCarthy argued here that the Democratic mantra of “every vote counts” would be used to claim that illegal votes should count while the party continued its long strategy of tarring efforts to prevent illegal voting as voter suppression, I regarded the claim as a bit of pessimistic hyperbole uncharacteristic of the usually-sober and analytical legal expert. Yet here is Kendi, saying it outright: It is racist to insist that votes be legal, just as it is racist to insist that immigrants don’t break our laws by coming here. What a brilliant way to deny voter fraud! There is no such thing! Stuffing the ballot box (or, in the current madness, envelopes) with phony votes is a just a means of achieving racial justice, and thus treating the practice as illegal is racist.

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Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/9/2020: A Bad Date, Pseudo Blackface, Harvard Being Harvard, And Short-Lived Integrity At The New York Post

  1. I was just checking this date in history. Wow. As if Kristallnacht wasn’t bad enough all by itself, the date November 9 seems to have been cursed. Other events on this date include:
  • Lincoln appointing the incompetent General Burnside as commander of the Union Army in 1862. Burnside made George McClellan look like military genius by comparison. He was responsible for the slaughter at Fredericksburg, where he ordered charge after futile charge up a kill into Confederate artillery. He was responsible for the blood mess resulting from a battle for a useless bridge during Antietam (anyone could easily walk across the river at that point), and was the idiot responsible for the crater fiasco at Petersburg, where a great plan was transformed into a disaster because Burnside replaced trained clack troops with untrained white troops, who promptly charged into the hole made by the Union’s underground explosion.
  • The Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge by the state of Massachusetts regarding the constitutionality of the undeclared  Vietnam War by a 6-3 vote.
  • A Sunday school teacher and Boy Scout troop leader Westfield,, New Jersey father John Emil List slaughtered his entire family,  his mother Alma, his wife Helen (in the side of the head), and two three children He then left the murder weapon alongside their carefully laid-out corpses. This was premeditated:  List had  cancel newspaper, milk, and mail delivery to his home in the days leading up to the murder, and called the children’s schools to say that the family was going to visit a sick relative out of town. By the time the bodies were, List had vanished, and he stayed missing for 18 years.

2. Well you know…Harvard. Harvard College undergraduate Joshua Conde, and editor of the school paper and a Government major (like me!)  argued in the Harvard Crimson that the school must fire professors who hold “unacceptable views” and “controversial beliefs.”

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November 5, 2020: A Date Full Of Ethics, Good, Bad, And Complicated

November 5 is one of the ethically significant days in U.S. history and, as Willy Loman’s wife famously said, “Attention must be paid.” For example,

  • On this day in 1912, arguably the most destructive and unethical President in US history, Woodrow Wilson, was elected, thanks to Teddy Roosevelt’s inability to get his ego under control. Wilson, a racist, super-charged Jim Crow; after gaining re-election by boasting that he kept America out of the Great War, he entered the war anyway, destroying the lives of thousands of young men to no discernible purpose. When he was a key member of the “Great Powers” leaders to decided on the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, he permitted ruinously punitive conditions to be imposed on Germany, seeding the anger and nationalism that led to the Second World War. He did this so that his pet project, the League of Nations, would be included in the treaty, and then couldn’t even get the U.S. Congress to approve the idea or join the body itself. Meanwhile, Wilson, against the warnings of medical experts, sent thousands of infected soldiers to Europe, spreading the deadly flu that killed millions. If our current pandemic should be laid at the feet of China, and it should, the so-called Spanish Flu by rights should be remembered as “the American Flu,” or better yet, “Wilson’s Flu.”

As a final unethical flourish, Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke while trying to get the public behind his League of Nations, and allowed his wife and doctor to hide the fact, as they illegally ran the country from his bedside. Despite all this, historians lied to the public for decades, listing him as one of the greatest Presidents, when he may have been the worst.

  • In Minnesota on Novembber 5, 1862, more than 300 Santee Sioux were sentenced to hang for their part in an uprising that was probably justified by outrageous mistreatment. A month later, President Lincoln all but 39 of the death sentences and granted a last-minute reprieve to one more, but the other 38 were hanged on December 26 in a mass execution. Lincoln is often criticized for this, but in truth he had a very difficult utilitarian ethics conflict to solve, and, as I wrote here, did his usual good and ethical job. From the post:

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Social Q’s Ethics: The Good, The Bad, And The Stupid

I mentioned earlier that I had stopped checking New York Times  Sunday advice column “Social Q’s” because its author, Phillip Gallanes, had apparently received the memo from Times brass so his advice and choice of queries were now primarily “woke” propaganda. However, reading material in our bathroom was recently in short supply, forcing me to peruse two recent Gallanes columns in which there was one interesting ethics issue raised, and two others that were a perfect examples of where Gallanes’ biases make him an untrustworthy advice columnist.

1. The photograph: The interesting issue regarded a daughter whose parents had recently died, and who was shocked that a valuable photograph was not directed her way in the distribution of the estate. It was, she said, second only to the parents’ home in value, and had appreciated in value greatly in the decades since it was given. Didn’t she have a right to get the photo, since she had given it in the first place? Wasn’t it unethical for the parents to treat it like the rest of their estate?

Gallanes properly pointed out that there was no basis for her assumptions in law or ethics. There are no strings attached to transfers of property unless they are made explicit at the time of the gift. What a cumbersome societal norm that would be: an estate is obligated to figure out the original source of every object of value and make sure they return to the original giver! What Gallanes didn’t say, and I would have, is “Who are you kidding? You want the valuable item, and have concocted a phony justification for claiming it.”

2. The vote. Another Social Q’s questioner wrote,

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Halloween Ethics Shocks, 10/31/2020: Boo!

1. There is absolutely no good reason to kill Halloween this year because of the Wuhan virus, but that appears to be what the fear-mongered flock is going to do. Children as well should know by now, are at about as much risk from this virus as any other, everyone is wearing masks anyway, and how hard is it to find ways to drop candy in bags?

Mark this down as one more little joy young lives are losing out on due to a) adult hysteria and b) partisan scaremanship. We never get many Trick-or-Treaters anyway, but I hereby announce that any costumed kids that drop by 2707 Westminster Place in Alexandria, Virginia will receive extra-generous treats for their spirit of adventure.

2. Not that they haven’t been trying to scare kids out of the tradition long before thisHere, for example, is an article that gratuitously warns us that “marijuana edibles” can look a lot like candy, so parents should be extra vigilant—never mind that pot treats are about ten times more expensive than candy, and the likelihood of any stoners slipping those into the TOT bags instead of peanut butter cups are about the same as the odd of my voting for Joe Biden next week. Poisoned Halloween candy is a hoary urban legend: there are no recorded cases of its, except the monstrous father who poisoned his own son’s Halloween haul to collect on an insurance policy. (That doesn’t count.)

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The Ethics Arguments For Voting For President Trump And Joe Biden, Part I

2020 election

I’ll start with Biden, because the conclusion is easier, the argument is shorter, and the path is clearer.

There is no ethical argument for voting for Joe Biden, or the Democrats, in the 2020 election. None. Zip.

It’s really as simple as that. He is obviously sliding down the road to dementia: nominating him is the most irresponsible and cynical act by a major political party since the same party nominated Franklin Delano Roosevelt for a fourth term while knowing that he was desperately ill and unlikely to survive two years, much less four. Like today’s Democrats, they didn’t even take care to make certain that they had a Vice President who was up to the job. Indeed, there was no reason to believe that Harry Truman, a career political hack from the Missouri machine, had the character or skills to be President even with the most generous assessment of his record. But at least he wasn’t chosen purely because he had the right skin shade and primary sex characteristics. Yes, the democrats and the nation lucked out with Truman, who was one of the cases in Presidential history where a man has risen to the challenge, surpassing all expectations and past levels of performance. Depending on that to happen again is madness.

Even if he were not too old and cognitively damaged to be President, Joe Biden’s abandonment of so many of his previously held—well, supposedly—principles to maintain the support of the far, anti-American Left would be disqualifying. He should be disqualified because he is a serial sexual harasser running under the cloud of an accusation or workplace sexual assault. After all, his party, and his Vice President, declared such a record intolerable not very long ago. The emerging facts about his evident corruption in dealings with his son’s business interests should be disqualifying.

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Georg Floyd Train Wreck Public Official “Racial Insensitivity” Controversies: Eight Case Studies

train wreck painting

It is instructive to periodically read what “America’s paper of record” represents as fair and informational reporting. Here is a fine example: an article below the fold on page 13 of the issue from three days ago. Its title in the print edition: “When Sorry Doesn’t Heal the Wounds.” The theme is small town mayors and other officials being held accountable for “racially insensitive remarks” during the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck.

Case Study #1:  Brian Henry, mayor of Pawleys Island off the coast of South Carolina, whom protesters are insisting must resign for Facebook posts that “outraged and divided much of the community.”

 What did he say? He opined that the killings of two town residents had not received national attention because the victims were white and the suspect is black, and also characterized Black Lives Matter and antifa as terrorist organizations that were destroying American cities. He is in full retreat and grovel mode, saying at a news conference last month that conversations with friends, faith leaders and his staff had given him “a deeper understanding of racial inequality and the importance of diversity sensitivity, which is very much needed to heal Pawleys Island, Georgetown and our country.”

Observations:

A. This is one more example of social media being a menace for public officials unable to keep their fingers still. Why would anyone on public office think it was wise or responsible to make either of these statements without good reason?

B. His first statement was obviously correct. People should not apologize for statements that are correct, unless the apology is for inciting controversy for no good reason.

C. His second set of assertions are also inflammatory but close enough to truth for social media horseshoes. Both groups depend on threats of violence to intimidate citizens into supporting them. Does that make them technically terrorist groups? I don’t care. They need to be de-glamorized and labeled the undemocratic and destructive organizations that they are.

D. However, again, if there was no good reason to make these observations on a little island town, it was foolish and unethical to stir up division by making it.

Case Study #2:  Boston School Committee Chair Michael Loconto, who was caught on audio in a virtual meeting mocking the Asian surnames of community members who wanted to speak. He apologized a few moments later, explaining that he was “talking about a children’s book.” (Right.) Eight members of Boston’s City Council called for Loconto’s resignation, and he stepped down,

Observations:

A. Good. He should have stepped down.

B. “After the ongoing discussion about racism in our country, that type of comment could no longer be accepted,” said Ed Flynn, a city councilor who represents Boston’s Chinatown, as well as parts of South Boston and the South End. “Society will no longer tolerate or accept inappropriate comments from a member of city government.” Wrong. Ridiculing citizens seeking to be heard was never ethical conduct. Stop making everything about George Floyd. The hanging “inappropriate” is a threat to legitimate opinions and speech. Who decides what speech is “inappropriate”?  Society should not tolerate public officials showing disrespect for the public by mocking them based on ethnicity. Be specific. Freedom lies in the balance between details and vagueness.

Case Study #3: Mark Chambers, the mayor of Carbon Hill, Alabama. He resigned after criticizing the University of Alabama’s football team’s support of Black Lives Matter.

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