Saturday Morning Ethics, 11/9/2019: ABC’s Epstein Cover-Up, Facebook’s Whistleblower Identity Censorship, And More

I started this one at 3:30 AM. 

If you can’t sleep, might as well be thinking about ethics…

1. “I’m smart! I’m not stupid, like everybody says…” While trying to find  the post I linked to yesterday (about corrupt and abusive systems of municipal funding, justice and law enforcement that “are virtual dictated by poverty and demographics that make an ethical system impossible”), I stumbled upon a post written in August, 2014, titled “Prediction: The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck.” Five years and three months later, I had no clue as to what that prediction might have been, and was curious to find out what it was. My prediction was this:

At this point, we have no way of knowing what the truth is. Maybe Wilson executed Brown. Maybe he is a racist. Maybe he is a psychopath. And maybe Brown’s conduct justified the use of deadly force by the officer, and the teen was largely responsible for his own demise. Presumably we will eventually know the truth.I confidently predict this, however, based on what occurred in the Martin-Zimmerman case:

IF the evidence supports the conclusion that Brown charged at Wilson, neither the family of the slain teen, nor the African American community in Ferguson, nor the protesters, the race-hustlers, the black and progressive politicians who benefit by preserving racial tension and distrust,  much of the news media and many, many pundits and political bloggers, will change their rhetoric, accusations or the prevailing Ferguson narrative one bit. They need for the narrative as it stands to be true, and want it to be true. Massive confirmation bias will ensure that the death of Mike Brown will be talked about, protested and regarded as an example of racist police oppression of young black men, and the truth, in the end, will be irrelevant.

I hope my prediction is wrong.

And, as we now know, it was not. Several candidates for the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination for President have referred to Brown’s “murder,” the news media has largely allowed their intentional misrepresentation to go uncondemned.

2. Democracy Dies in Darkness update: Facebook and YouTube have joined the bizarre media censorship conspiracy that is committed to keeping the name of the Ukraine “whistleblower” from as many lazy and inattentive members of the public as possible. This is happening despite the fact that his name has been thoroughly revealed in many forums: he is almost certainly Eric Ciaramella, a CIA analyst, committed Democrat and consort of Joe Biden, Rep. Schiff, John Brennan and other Impeachment Plan S architects. Ciaramella also was cited in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the now-disproven collusion between Donald Trump and Russia. It included  Ciaramella’s May 2017 email summaries of a meeting between Trump and Russian officials  that were eventually  leaked to a New York Times reporter. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)'”

Humble Talent has issued an excellent and provocative post on one of the Great Ethics Controversies: what is fair, ethical and effective criminal justice punishment in a nation with the values of the United States?

I admit that this is an ethical blind spot for me, perhaps because I worked as both a defense attorney and a prosecutor. My natural inclination is toward the Baretta theme song: “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” Or, for that matter, if you can’t pay the fine. I also believe, as Humble alludes to skeptically  in his final paragraph, that the culture of the United States, emphasizing individual freedom and encouraging self-worth measured by success, does make criminal activity more common, and its history and culture also increase the frequency of  violent crimes. I don’t trust cross cultural comparisons; I think they are all misleading, and often intentionally so. The United States is unique.

Nonetheless, all of the issues brought up in the post are complex and important to examine, carefully, seriously. I have not forgotten this post, though I needed  Humble Talent’s comment to make me track it down,  and I hereby pledge to make criminal justice issues, and especially prison,  a higher priority here.

This is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Comment Of The Day: ‘Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)’”

We’ve talked about this issue before, tangentially… And it’s something of a hot topic for me. It’s something that differentiates me from the group, I think, because it’s something I think America could do better, and it seems to be something that other right-leaning commentators are somewhere between apathetic to and actually proud of.

I think, and I could be wrong, but I think that this reaction is more of a rejection of the other side than a legitimate statement of belief. Progressives seem to no longer be content with the steady beat of “normal” progress, instead seeming to be approaching everything from politics to the personal with a militant quasi-religious fervour.

And to a point, who can blame them? If I listened and believed half of what their thought-leaders are telling them, I might be right there beside them. I’m of the opinion that people on the right feel like (and I agree with them, to an extent) they are perpetually under siege; their values, their way of life, their livelihoods, their basic understanding of the rules of the game of life. They’re given no rest, having the steady grind of not only the overt political messaging, but cultural and familial shifts happening around them in real time. And that’s worn away the dermis a little, they’re on their last nerves, and not picking their battles very well, instead opting to fight everything. Because otherwise…. The wholesale rejection of criticisms of the penal system seems… kinda shitty when you think about it. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 11/8/19: “People Who Need To Leave” Edition

1. Clean-up on the baseball aisle! Last April, I wrote a post urging Baltimore Orioles first-sacker Chris Davis to retire and save his desperate team some money, since it is clear that he can no longer play at a major league level despite being paid 23 million dollars in 2019, with a similar amount due him through 2022. At the time, Davis Davis was 0-for-23 with 13 strikeouts and  hitless in 44 at-bats since the previous season, when Davis batted .168, the worst in major league history for a regular, with a horrible .539 OPS (On base percentage plus slugging percentage), and a -2.5 WAR, meaning that the Orioles would have won 2.5 more games with a borderline major leaguer from the minors playing in his place.

Several readers have emailed me asking how things turned out for Davis, who did eventually get a hit, and who was still in the starting line-up frequently enough to hurt the team. The answer is that Davis was better than he was in 2018, but he was still horrible. He batted only .179, with a -1 WAR, and an OPS of  .601. He earned more than $418,000 per hit.

He’s earned almost 119 million dollars in his career, yet appears willing to continue to embarrass himself and hurt his team and team mates for three more sure-to-be-ugly seasons in order to collect another 69 million.

Yechhhh.

2. More on Joy Behar’s terrible, no good, very bad week: The highlight of Donald Trump Jr.’s visit to “The View” came after Behar recited the typical and overly-familiar talking points about Trump Sr.: “[President Trump] called some Mexicans rapists [Correction: He referred to illegal immigrants from Mexico as rapists who were rapists] , he attacked the handicapped, [No, Joy, he mocked a single handicapped reporter, and there is some evidence that he didn’t even do that], he bragged about it” [Huh?], and “We heard the ‘Access’ tape, where he bragged about grabbing women by their genitalia.” [No, he never said that he had personally grabbed any women “by the pussy.” Boy, am I sick of THIS narrative..] Rather than quibble with her, DJT Jr, had come armed and ready, and replied, “We’ve all done things that we regret, I mean, if we’re talking about bringing a discourse down, Joy, you’ve worn blackface.” Continue reading

Two Ethics Dunce University Presidents Who Should Be Fired

Hateful!!!!

They are…

Western Connecticut State University  President John Clark, who asked for the community’s help identifying students—if they were students— who distributed what he called “hate filled flyers and inscriptions on our university property.” These were more of the 4Chan-inspired “It’s OK to be white” and “Islam is right about women” trolling devices.

“I wanted to assure you that a full scale police investigation is underway,” Clark wrote, stating that the FBI, state police and municipal police were reviewing surveillance footage iand grilling those  “who may have witnessed any of this despicable and utterly unacceptable behavior.” In full grandstanding and virtue-signalling mode, Clark declared that any WCSU community members identified as responsible for  the flyers  “will be subject to the severest disciplinary actions, including dismissal as well as possible civil and criminal actions.”  He described the flyers’ message as “disgusting,” “hateful,” “virulent,” “sick and outrageous.”

“It’s OK to be white.”

The Horror. Continue reading

Evening Ethics Update, 11/7/2019: Dr. King Is Un-honored, Virginian Republicans Are Non-Functional, Fox News Is Pro-Darkness, And Joy Behar Is Still An Idiot [CORRECTED]

Good evening…

1 . The progressive deterioration of the ridiculous Joy Behar. It’s clear the stress of engaging in issue debates for which she lacks the temperament, the education or the necessary data is stressing out Joy. On today’s edition of The View, some studio audience members who hadn’t received the memo that they were expected to only endorse the “views” of  the correct side of the political spectrum applauded guests Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle as they supported the President. Behar snapped at them, “This is not a MAGA rally!”  In such places there may be technically free speech, just not free non-conforming speech without abuse.

2. This makes no sense at all, nor is it ethical. Eric Ciaramella is the so-called whistle-blower who gave Rep. Adam Schiff the wisp of an excuse he needed to manufacture Plan S for removing the President, the supposed “quid pro quo” deal to make the Ukraine look for “dirt” on Joe Biden and his son. Lots of sources have published this—heck, I have—and no one has credibly denied it. In schoolyard terms, the cat is out of the bag. Nor is it in any way illegal for a news organization to publish what is increasingly public information. Okay, say he’s the “alleged” whistleblower.

Nonetheless, a Fox News executive sent out an email ordering Fox personnel, including hosts like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, not to mention the name on the air because the network “had not confirmed it.”

Fox News, as you know, is always so careful about the accuracy of what its talking heads say.

Fox News media ethics watchdog Howard Kurtz defended not releasing the name of the whistleblower, saying it would send a “chilling message” to whistleblowers in the future. What “chilling message?” That if you decide to fulfill your partisan goals and help your pals by trying to bring down a President with rumors and hearsay, you should have the guts to do it publicly and accept the consequences? It’s not the news media’s job to make things easy for whistleblowers, and it is especially not their job to pretend that information already being publicized is a mystery.

The background and professional connections of this “whistleblower”—he’s really a leaker—are relevant to his credibility and the legitimacy of the current impeachment push. The public has a right to know, and democracy dies in darkness. Continue reading

Two For The “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files (Or Maybe “Mine Detectors” Is The More Appropriate Metaphor) [CORRECTED]

HEY! Don’t you see that? IT’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!”

These two recent stories puzzle me. There are some aspects of civil conduct and societal norms that every cognitively functioning human being who lives in this society and culture cannot possibly have failed to notice. Nonetheless, these events keep happening. Quite part from the specifics of the incidents, they represent a failure of basic life competence.

1. California: Another Teacher Uses Blackface

I have, much to my sorrow—it was one reason Ethics Alarms is censored on Facebook—defended the use of dark make-up when its objective is not to denigrate and mock a race, but to play a dramatic role in a context where such make-up is necessary. White actors should be able to play the Moor Othello. In a saner society, white kids should also be able to dress up as Barack Obama or Beyoncé for Halloween, but interpreting any use of dark make-up as a deliberate reference to minstrel show “blackface” is now part of the victim lobby’s power tool kit, and one has to be aware of and understand the risks of bucking a treasured narrative.

How could any teacher not know, following the travails of Governor Northam in Virginia and Justin Trudeau in Canada, about this cultural landmine? If these elected officials, among others, were threatened by the cancellation culture for having used black makeup as students years ago, wouldn’t it be screamingly obvious that using blackface today, before a classroom, would be professional hari-kari? (Oops! Cultural appropriation there!)

Yet a white high school teacher in Milpitas, California wore blackface in his class on Halloween  to do an imitation of the rapper Common. Of course one of the students made a viseo, of course it came to the school board’s attention, of course it created an irresistible opportunity for members to grandstand and engage in virtue-signalling, and of course such opportunities must not be wasted.

Thus Chris Norwood, the president of the school board in solemnly intoned that the behavior was “inappropriate, unprofessional and insensitive” and called for an investigation, adding,

“As an African-American man, the history of blackface reminds me of the cruelty, hatred and fear my parents and people of African ancestry have dealt with in the past and still experience today around the world. Unfortunately, blackface still permeates global society today through social media, comedy and fashion.”

Continue reading

“It’s OK To Be White” Strikes Again, And Drives People Crazy Again! GOOD!

The first Ethics Alarms post about the trolling masterpiece “It’s OK to be white” was in 2017. The message, apparently launched by those puckish trouble-makers at 4Chan,  first appeared on stickers appearing on the Harvard campus, sparking an idiotic response from an African American dean. I concluded, in part, that the sticker campaign was brilliant “no matter who came up with it or what the motive was,”;  that anyone who was troubled by the message is part of the problem the stickers are responding to, and  that the stickers would have  been harmless if they were treated as harmless, and they should have been.

The Ethics Alarms’ self-appointed Voice of the Woke at the time took umbrage, saying, “The stickers are stupid. No one disputes that it’s OK to be white….The correct response from average citizens to this display of faux persecution should be mockery and ridicule, not outrage.” Realizing a hanging curve over the middle of the plate when I say one, I replied in part, ,

“You know, it’s easy to deal with any problem if you make up your own facts. Nobody says its not OK to be white? This list took me less than 10 minutes:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/texas-am-wont-fire-professor-who-called-for-killing-white-people/article/2622810
http://www.theroot.com/college-campus-shut-down-after-professors-letthemfucki-1796334903
http://www.theroot.com/for-black-people-who-have-to-deal-with-white-people-thi-1797835711
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/10/06/opinion/ta-nehisi-coates-whiteness-power.html?smid=fb-share&referer=http://m.facebook.com
http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/38149/
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lady-gaga-the-problems-with-non-racist-white_us_59960aeee4b033e0fbdec279
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/toxic-whiteness-healing-white-people-internalised-racism-woman-sandra-kim-new-york-a7595216.html

Then there’s the Ethics Alarms anti-white racism tag…https://ethicsalarms.com/tag/anti-white-racism/ All resulting in THIS:
http://www.npr.org/2017/10/24/559604836/majority-of-white-americans-think-theyre-discriminated-against

As I may have mentioned, I was explicitly told that the only reason I was not hired as an Assistant US Attorney in DC …a life and career-altering result for me…was that I was white. Now, I think it is reasonable to assume that if I was not hired because I was white, there was something “not OK” with my being white. I’m not unhappy or bitter about this, but it happened.

The problem with being an ideologue… is that it requires distorting reality.

Continue reading