Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/25/2020: Dumb And Dumber

Good morning, I guess.

It is clear, if it wasn’t already, that everything hinges on whether the American public is as stupid and inattentive as those seeking to manipulate it think it is.

1. Mobs? What mobs? I just listed to CNN’s health expert, Dr. Gupta, list the reasons there has been a surge in Wuhan virus cases. Notably absent from his list were the mass, no social distancing demonstrations/protests/riots that began two weeks ago as a prominent part of the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck. These, as you may recall, were largely supported by the health experts (though I don’t have a record of Gupta being among them) as they apparently decided that Black Lives Matter matters more than all the black lives that would be put in danger by ignoring the safety measures we shut down the country to install.

I also have yet to read a single news story about the new cases of the virus that highlights the completely predictable effect of the mobs, which are still roaming, as a factor in the so-called “surge,” though I can’t check everything.

Is the news media really certain that if they don’t report this connection, it will never occur to most of the public? I’m already reading accusations that opening up the states is “racist” because of the evidence that African-Americans have contracted the virus and died from it at a higher rate than the rest of the public. By that logic, encouraging the mobs of George Floyd protesters was also racist.

To re-phrase Wilford Brimley from his great scene in “Absence of Malice”: “American Public, are you that dumb?” So far, it seems so. Continue reading

Actress Kristen Bell Confesses To Engaging In Animated Mixed-Raceface

This is how cultures become insane, make terrible decisions, and destroy themselves: prominent people say stupefyingly stupid things that would have been mocked mercilessly in rational times, and everyone nods and says, “Wow. Cool.”

Actress Kristen Bell announced that she would be stepping down from doing the voice  of a mixed race character, she says, it was wrong for her, as a white woman, to take the role. As an established star for whom such a gig is minor supplementary income, this is cheap, if idiotic, virtue-signaling by Bell, but she has made the statement that a struggling white actor—but not a black one, I’m sure—is a selfish racism enabler to take such a role.

Bell was voicing the character of “Molly” on the animated show “Central Park” on Apple TV+. Here is her statement. Grab the Dramamine. Continue reading

How Bad Is The Madness? This Bad… [Corrected!]

Trust me, that’s appropriate for this post. So is this:

What’s the connection? Well, as part of the effort to declare virtually all Western  culture racist to justify tearing it down, Black Lives Matter activist Fiona Onasanya, a former member of the UK parliament, argues that Rice Krispies are racist because the three elves who are the spokeselves for the Kelloggues cereal are all white. Moreover, she argues, “Coco Pops and Rice Krispies have the same compòsition (except for the fact CP’s are brown and chocolate flavoured)… so I was wondering why Rice Krispies have three white boys representing the brand and Coco Pops have a monkey?”

And you thought banning “Eskimo Pie” was loony.

Her first contention is mind-meltingly stupid, but also ominous. I have no doubt that the extreme and essentially racist logic of the George Floyd Freakout will eventually reach this point if it hasn’t already. Any group, even as small as three (or two?) that doesn’t include a black member, or at least, in this case, an “elf of color,” is prescriptively based on discrimination and thus racist.  We are seeing evidence of this trend taking root in such weird developments as “Jake from State Farm” suddenly changing color. Soon the Three Stooges will have to be colorized to show a black Stooge, and it will have to be Moe, since he’s in charge. It can’t be Larry, who’s submissive, or Curly, who’s an idiot. No, it has to be Moe, and the sight of him abusing the white Stooges will suddenly make the old comedy shorts popular again.

I’m kidding, but just barely. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/22/2020: Let’s Stop Moping Around! Get Up! Get Out! Attack The Day! [Now With Leonard Bernstein!]

 

Update: I decided we needed a less pokey version, so now we have Leonard Bernstein’s, and the whole thing. THAT should cheer you up…

Boy, am I sick of everyone telling me how depressed they are.

1. Translation: “I’m an idiot.”  Now Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is saying  that the city will close the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.” It turned out to be exactly what anyone with any sense predicted it would be, with three shootings so far and a rape, along with a leader ( war lord?) who had the gall to complain when the Seattle EMTs didn’t immediately respond when shots rang out. The mayor  had said that the anarchist outpost would lead to a “summer of love,” marking her as a Sixties-romanticizing dolt, but now she says she was obviously joking-–yes, the Joke Excuse. She never said it was “in jest” before the completely predictable violence broke out.

I apologize for not highlighting her as an Incompetent Elected Official of the Month, but she was competing with Bill De Blasio.

2. Fearmongering. It should be apparent by now that the news media does not want the country to re-open, does not want the economy to begin recovering before the election, and is pushing its anti-reopening goal through fearmongering, in part by focusing on isolated cases of individuals getting hit by the Wuhan virus particularly hard.

This morning HLN kept repeating a long feature about a thirtyish Broadway star who has been disabled by the virus for 80 days, and another man not in a high-risk group who has been suffering for 100 days. The Times and the Washington Post are full of apocalyptic reports about the number of cases rising. Another news outlet said, “The U.S. reported more than 33,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday – the highest total since May 1 – while the surge of infections in several states is outpacing growth in coronavirus testing.”  ARRRGH! We;re DOOOMED!

One commentator called this “needless” frightening the public. Wrong. It is  needed because it is a part of the ongoing effort to defeat President Trump.

The Centers for Disease Control predicted that cases would increase as the country reopened, not that it has much credibility at this point. Remember? The lock down was never intended to stop the spread of the disease, but to slow it down,  flatten the curve, stock up on supplies, fix the CDC’s testing botch, and find treatments. That was mostly accomplished. The nation cannot continue to let the economy deteriorate: depressions kill people too.

Meanwhile, the death rate is declining even as the number of cases spike, and there’s a reason for that. In all outbreaks, a disease claims the most vulnerable first. This is known as Farr’s Law, named after William Farr,  a British epidemiologist and early statistician  who recognized the importance of death statistics and identifying causation. Not only has the current epidemic claimed many of the most vulnerable in the U.S., thanks in great part to the catastrophic decision of states like New York to send infected seniors to nursing homes, millions of Americans have antibodies.

The combination means that even if there are lots of new cases going forward, the death toll is likely to be far less severe than it has been. Do not hold your breath waiting for the media to explain this.

Just for fun,  check and see how many news organizations have mentioned Farr’s Law. Continue reading

Ethical Quote, Fair Quote, Unethical Quote, Share Quote…

The ethical quote:

These words are on the outside wall of the Museum of Natural History near the Teddy Roosevelt statue that will be coming down, according to the museum.

The quote is a far better memorial to Roosevelt  and his character than the statue.

The fair quote:

The question is how soon this will dawn on the groveling, and how soon the intimidated will have the courage to speak the truth.

The unethical quote:

The Washington Post issued a justification for its widely (and correctly) criticized 3000 word story about a politically incorrect  costume that a woman wore at the Halloween party of Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles two years ago. Because two vicious social justice Furies who were guests at the party decided that the current George Floyd Freakout presented  an opportunity to humiliate the woman and contacted the paper, it published 3000 words about an old, private incident, resulting in the woman losing her job, and Toles, who had refused to identify her when one of the vengeful and self-righteous women called him to re-open the episode, was embarrassed by his own employer.

The Post’s own readership found the paper’s news journalism ethics atrocious (as do I), prompting this response from a spokesperson to Fox News:

“Employees of The Washington Post, including a prominent host, were involved in this incident, which impelled us to tell the story ourselves thoroughly and accurately while allowing all involved to have their say. The piece conveys with nuance and sensitivity the complex, emotionally fraught circumstances that unfolded at the party attended by media figures only two years ago where an individual in blackface was not told promptly to leave. America’s grappling with racism has entered a phase in which people who once felt they should keep quiet are now raising their voices in public. The story is a microcosm of what the country is going through right now,”

A simple “We’re sorry, we screwed up, the story never should have been written and we don’t know what came over us and we pledge to be more responsible and to exercise better judgment in the future” might have salvaged a smidgen of the paper’s rotting reputation. Instead we have more evidence of just how unethical and untrustworthy this rag is: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Statue-Toppling, The Ethics Incompleteness Principle, And Calvin Griffith, Part Two”

Having just banned a commenter for a useless and obnoxious comment on this same post, it it is a wonderful tonic to be able to post  JutGory’s masterful Comment of the Day critiquing the Minnesota Twin’s statement explaining their removal of Cal Griffith’s statue. It is a fine fisking of the kind of disingenuous babble we  have been getting from organizations of late.

The poll on Cal’s statue so far:

Here is JutGory’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Statue-Toppling, The Ethics Incompleteness Principle, And Calvin Griffith, Part Two”:

Jack: “Taking all of that together, I believe that the Twins are justified in taking down Griffith’s statue, and that it would have been unethical for the team not to.”

Apart from the whole statue-removing thing, here is my problem with this:

Their statement said:

“When we opened Target Field in 2010 in conjunction wit h our 50th season in Minnesota, we were excited and proud to welcome fans to our ‘forever ballpark.’”

Fair enough. Good start. Then:

As such, we wanted to pay permanent tribute to those figures and moments that helped shape the first half-century of Minnesota Twins baseball.

PERMANENT. That is a strong word. But, that is what they intended. Permanent Tribute.

– including a statue of Calvin Griffith, our former owner and the man responsible for moving the franchise here in 1961.

Including the man who moved them to Minnesota. Seems fitting. But for him, they wouldn’t have moved to Minnesota. And, why did he move the franchise? Because of the same racist attitudes that they condemn.

“We cannot remain silent and continue ignoring the racist comments he made in Waseca in 1978.”

I see. So, the permanent tribute was made while ignoring the racist comments you knew about. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones, staff writer at The New York Times and lead essayist in The New York Times Magazine’s “1619 Project” tweeted that she finds the common rebuttal of presentism—the popular practice of condemning those of different times and cultures for not magically acquiring the evolved beliefs and values that those who have had the advantage of decades and even centuries of experience, observation and enlightenment—that those criticized were of their time “offensive.”

“I mean, Hitler was a man of his time. Bin Laden was a man of his time,” the Pulitzer Prize winner tweeted. “It’s a justification and unnecessary.”

This is the quality of analysis and thought we now receive from the best of American. journalists, one who has been deemed worthy of the occupation’s highest honor.

First, it is profoundly unrealistic and unfair to expect those raised in a culture with long-established values to determine on their own that such values are flawed or based on faulty assumptions and information. This should be intrinsically obvious to anyone capable of critical thought. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, Father’s Day Edition Though There’s Absolutely Nothing Here About Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day.

On YouTube, the first comment on this video is from someone who writes, “It’s a grate song.” Yeah, THAT guy had one hell of a father…

1. Bored with statue-toppling and honor stripping yet? Obviously the Hun and Vandals aren’t. Here in the D.C. universe, George Preston Marshall the original owner of the Washington Redskins who was the NFL’s version of Cal Griffith, lost his statue two days ago when the D.C. government pulled it down after protesters had vandalized it. Mayor Bowzer is one of the Democratic mayors who are actively enabling the protests. Of course, with statues being indiscriminately being toppled now, the gesture is increasingly less meaningful. Woodrow Wilson, the white-supremacist, racist President who spread the Spanish flu around the world by sending infected troops into Europe when he  sent the U.S. into The Great War for no discernible reason, and who then planted the seed for World War II by sitting by and allowing the victorious English, French and Italians inflict devastating punitive  term on Germany as long as he got his pet project, the League of Nations, into the Versailles Treaty, will have his name removed from buildings by Monmouth University and  Camden, New Jersey. A private college in West Virginia announced last week that it is removing the name of the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd from its health center. The Democratic Byrd may have been a reformed KKK member, but he also brought many millions of dollars into rural West Virginia, thus explaining the proliferation of his family’s name there. Surely you heard that protesters in Liverpool, England, want to rename Penny Lane of Beatles song fame, because a Liverpool man with the last name of Penny was a slave-trader. Was the street actually named after him? No, there’s no indication that it was, but hey, any association with the name Penny now has a “connection” to racism, so let’s see how far this goes. Penny candy! Penny arcades! Penny loafers!  Penny, Sky King’s niece on the old TV show!

Meanwhile, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, the owned of Eskimo Pie, now says the name is “derogatory,” and that it will be changing the product’s name and marketing. The head of marketing  told CBS News. “We are committed to being a part of the solution on racial equality, and recognize the term is derogatory.”

This is yet another example of the Niggardly Principle. The term Eskimo, according to the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, actually came from the French word esquimaux, meaning one who nets snowshoes, like what  Arctic peoples do. Never mind: the rumor started that the term was racist because racist Europeans used it. I highly doubt any native Inuit people are offended by the name of the ice cream bar. In fact, many Native Alaskans still refer to themselves as Eskimos, in part because the word Inuit isn’t part of the Yupik languages of Alaska and Siberia. Is it racist when they use it?

Losing its famous brand will almost certainly eliminate the product, costing business and jobs, but apparently it’s worth it for the company to signal it’s virtue with a move that can’t possibly have any salutary effect on racial equality whatsoever.

“Madness. Madness!” Continue reading

Statue-Toppling, The Ethics Incompleteness Principle, And Calvin Griffith, Part Two

Where Cal Griffith’s statue once stood…

Here is what Calvin Griffith said in the 1978 remarks that led the Minnesota Twins to remove his statue in from of the team’s stadium, Target Field.

Griffith was invited to speak to the Lions Club in Waseca, a small city in southern Minnesota. Taking questions from the audience after his planned speech, someone asked Griffith  why he brought the Twins to Minnesota from Washington, D.C., in 1961. Griffith lowered his voice, asked if there were any blacks around, and  looked around the room. Apparently confirming that his audience was all white,  Griffith said,

“I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don’t go to ball games, but they’ll fill up a ‘rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. It’s unbelievable. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking, white people here.”

It’s hard to get more racist than that, at least short of a Klan rally. I’ll poll this at the end of the post, but I believe that this is a case where the Ethics Incompleteness Principle applies, and the usually valid ethical objections to pulling down the statues of problematic, controversial or subsequently disgraced historical figures have to yield to other considerations, which are these: Continue reading