High Noon Ethics Shoot-Out, 10/21/2020: Religious Bigotry Vs Anti-Gay Bigotry! “Whitewashing” Vs Anti-Semitism! Google Vs Trust!

As you may (and should) know, the classic Western “High Noon” was and is regarded by some conservatives as anti-American. I think it is, as excellent as it is. The ending, where the heroic law man (played by Gary Cooper in an Academy Award-winning performance) throws his star in the dirt in disgust (imitated by “Dirty Harry” for very different reasons in that conservative film years later), is widely seen as a rejection of American society as hypocritical. (The fact that the screenwriter, Carl Foreman, was a Communist doesn’t help.)

My favorite scene in the movie, where Cooper begs the church congregation to help, plays like a “Twilight Zone” episode, with the whole town rationalizing furiously to avoid helping the desperate law man minutes away from having to face, alone, vengeful thugs determined to kill him. (The whole scene is not on YouTube; I searched.) “Rio Bravo,” one of the best John Wayne Westerns and a personal favorite, was devised by director Howard Hawks as a direct rebuke of the selfish and craven America “High Noon” posits. In the Duke’s movie, the lawman, Wayne, constantly rejects the offers of help he receives, though he knows hired killers are massing to free his prisoner. Yet people go out of their way, at great personal risk, to help him anyway, time after time. “High Noon” is a better movie (maybe), but “Rio Bravo” is a fairer depiction of American values and history.

1. This is why I tell lawyers and government employees that it’s unethical to use Google for professional communication and client matters. Mac programmer Jeff Johnson has discovered that if you set Google Chrome to eliminate all website cookies and site data when you close the browser, the data remains un-erased for YouTube and Google itself.

What a coinkydink!

“Perhaps this is just a Google Chrome bug, not intentional behavior, but the question is why it only affects Google sites, not non-Google sites,” Johnson says. “I’ve tested using the latest Google Chrome version 86.0.4240.75 for macOS, but this behavior was also happening in the previous version of Chrome. I don’t know when it started.”

Bottom line: Don’t trust Google. Like I’ve been saying….

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Yes, We Have Another New Rationalization! Welcome #20 A: “Everyone Deserves A Second Chance!”

Cora

No, in fact everyone doesn’t.

I encountered this inexplicably omitted rationalization—“inexplicably” because we all hear it so often, yet its obvious rationalization character had not occurred to me—today while reading a post by a friend, a Boston Red Sox sportswriter. My friend was answering a query about who the Sox, just off a terrible season, might tap to become the new manager, since the team had unceremoniously dumped poor Ron Roenicke, who literally never had a chance to do anything but fail. The inquirer wondered if Alex Cora, the Sox manager in 2018 and 2019, might return though he had been fired before the 2020 season since he was serving a year-long suspension for his part in the Houston Astros cheating scandal while he was a Houston coach in 2017. My friend, who has made this same argument to me in private conversations, wrote,

I’m not an oddsmaker, but if I was making the decision, I would bring Cora back in a heartbeat. Players responded well to Cora in his two-year stint managing the Red Sox, and it would obviously be well-received in the clubhouse if he comes back. Cora is also popular among Red Sox fans as many of them have been pining for his return. Bringing Cora back could help to rejuvenate a fan base that was discouraged by the 2020 season. As for the detractors who say he was part of a sign-stealing scandal with the Astros? Everyone deserves a second chance.

Ugh. This was not my friend’s finest hour—wait, that’s a rationalization too (19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.”). Okay, the statement was awful:

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Observations On The Hunter Biden Emails Ethics Train Wreck

train wreck - b

That’s democracy falling over…

  • Lawyer/blogger Ken White, in his new incarnation of Popehat, has a useful, informative but misguided post about the misunderstanding of the law as it applied to Twitter and Facebook manipulating the news to push Joe Biden over the finish line. Yes, it’s true: there is nothing illegal or unconstitutional about the social media platforms choosing to censor communications they don’t like, even if its objective is to “rig”—in President Trump’s term—the election. It is still, however, wrong. Ken is usually a bit more nuanced in recognizing the critical law vs ethics problem. Okay, I got it” members of Congress and conservative pundits arguing that Section 230 requires social media platforms to be fair and unbiased are wrong. They, are, however 100% right that the current conduct of those platforms threatens to undermine democracy. You can’t, as one of the links White points readers to does, call Section 230 “the internet’s First Amendment” and then complain that politicians think the law ought to prevent partisan censorship.

Boy, I sure hope Trump Derangement hasn’t gotten Ken too…

  • Imagine if the Hillary Clinton server story was buried by the news media the way it is trying to run out the clock on the Joe Biden/Hunter Biden influence peddling story. That tells you just how far the news media has deteriorated in four years (and also how much more certain journalists were that Hillary would win no matter what they reported).

I’ll wait to see what kind of coverage the story gets on the CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox Sunday shows, but even if it is adequately covered, those programs have a relatively select viewership. By past standards, the Hunter Biden emails should be front page, above the fold material, and yet only a conservative New York City tabloid and its ilk are making it so.

And one more time, this should not be pigeon-holed as a “conservative” lament. All Americans of any ideological persuasion should fear and loathe the news media trying to slam its heavy fist on the electoral scales this way. Why don’t they? Are that many citizens really willing to see elections “rigged” if their favorite party wins? If so, theRepublic is lost no matter what happens in 2020.

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The Annoying 70th Rationalization: The Idiot’s Proof, or “Some Say…”

moronic-idiot

There I was, half-asleep, drinking my second cup of double caffeine coffee, considering how I had already missed the window for Saturday blog posts (if at least two posts aren’t up by 12:30 pm., the day’s traffic will be pathetic), and watching the Smithsonian’s educational and attractive “Aerial America” series, where a staid narrator waxes on abut various locales as a we see them from a lying camera above. (Did YOU know that “penitentiary” is a word devised by William Penn, who designed Pennsylvania prisons to cause criminals to be penitent (by making them spend their sentences in solitary confinement? I didn’t, and now I feel really stupid.)

Suddenly, as the airplane flew low over Central Park in Manhattan, I heard the narrator proclaim, “Some say that more gunpowder was used to make the ponds and landscapes in Central Park than was used during the Battle of Gettysburg.”

ARRGH! THAT again!

And there it was.

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Columbus Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 10/10/2020: Dumb Tweets, Rigged Reviews, Insane Academics, And Police Conduct Worth Protesting

Is it that time again already? Great, now we have to listen to more Statue Toppling rants from anti-Columbus zealots who don’t think changing the world unquestionably for the better and setting in motion the chain of events that allowed the United States to exist is worthy of a day of recognition.

1. I confess. Although I bailed out of following baseball this “season” when MLB’s groveling to Black Lives Matter became too much to bear, I do check the scores now and then, and thus am taking some pleasure in the fact that the New York Yankees were eliminated in the best of five Divisional Play-offs by the Tampa Bay Rays, making it eleven straight years since the Bronx Bombers got to the World Series.

2. Idiotic tweets that did not come from the White House. Whether one believes the Doomsday Polls or not, it is beyond question that President Trump’s prospects this November would be far brighter were he able to resist sending out dumb tweets, many of which I have highlighted here. (There is a Trump Tweets tag, if you want to reminisce. Like so many of his regrettable proclivities, this one is apparently contagious. Powerline recently flagged three head-exploders:

  • From Washington governor Jay Inslee:

Inslee tweet

  • From former CIA director and Deep State Trump saboteur John Brennan:

Brennan Tweet

Those who visit here often know that by Ethics Alarms standard, quoting “Imagine” as if this infantile doggerel by John Lennon is profound automatically wins any “Dumbest” competition.

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Ethics Alarms Translation: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Explains It All

NBA I cant breath

In a recent interview, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gave a useful and predictable, if disheartening, response to a question about the National Basketball Association’s crashing ratings, and the widespread (and surely accurate) belief that many fans have been alienated by the league’s endorsement of aggressive Black Lives Matter propaganda in the arenas, on the courts, on players’ uniforms, and in other aspects of the sport.

Rachel Nichols on NBA Countdown asked the businessman, and I use that term pointedly,

The NBA has certainly been the most visible billion-dollar organization championing social justice and civil rights. As you noted in your press conference the other day, though, that has not been universally popular. How committed are you to being that going forward?

I have to interject here: “not universally popular” is craven equivocation by the interviewer, echoing several Ethics Alarms rationalizations like, 19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.” I hate that crap; as I get older, I hate it more: “It wasn’t everything we hoped for” used to mean, “It was a complete disaster,” and similar weasel words to avoid being direct and honest. The NBA’s Black Lives Matter boot-licking wasn’t “not universally popular,” it was unambiguously unpopular. Such deliberate avoidance of the truth is deceit, and is a variety of fake news.

Silver responded,

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Yes, Fire This Teacher, Make Sure He Never Teaches Again, But That’s Just The Beginning…

Stanton

Tacoma, Washington sixth grade technology teacher Brendan Stanton needs to be fired, but that’s only the beginning. His conduct needs to be widely publicized, and the consensus needs to emerge that the kind of conduct he engaged in…

1. Is unacceptable.

2. Is abusive

3. Is indoctrination rather than education

4. Is all too frequently allowed, enabled, and even surreptitiously encouraged in the educational system

5. Must stop.

Those who are inclined to defend Stanton should also be flushed out, condemned and declared to be what they are, and what they are is not reasonably disputable. They are deliberate enemies of American values and democracy. They should have a metaphorical red E, not on their chests, but their foreheads.

Now that all of that is out of the way, and I’ve had a stiff drink, here’s what Stanton did.

Each day, Stanton asks his remote learning students at Perry G. Keithley Middle School students a daily question, requiring students to write their answers in the online chatroom. According to a screenshot, one boy  wrote:

“I admire Donald J. Trump because he is making America great again. And because he is the best president the United States of America could ever, ever have. And he built the wall so terrorists couldn’t come into in the U.S. Trump is the best person in the world. And that’s why I admire him.”

Can’t have American students professing admiration of the President of the United States now, noy when a virtuous and woke teacher runs the class! Stanton kicked the vile child t out of the chatroom, deleted what he wrote lest it corrupt others whose brains and opinions he was assiduously molding to his personal specifications, and proceeded to attack the President and the student.

Incidentally, according to Gallup’s annual poll, President Trump tied with Barack Obama in 2019 as the most admired man in America. Parenthetically, he wouldn’t make my top hundred (neither would Obama).

“The example that was shared in the chat, which I went ahead and erased for us, was not appropriate right?” Stanton told his class. Especially as that individual has created so much division and hatred between people and specifically spoken hatred to many different individuals, ok? Again, that individual has spoken hate to many individuals and I don’t think is an appropriate example for a role model that we should be admiring.”

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Rationalization #3A, Pollyanna’s Mantra, or “Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining”

pollyanna

Not only is the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List getting its first new addition since April, it’s also finally up to date. I had neglected to add the two most recent rationalizations, Rationalization 25C, The Romantic’s Excuse, Or “I care so much!” and #52A, Kennedy’s Stall,  or  “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”  to the main list after introducing them in posts

I think today’s addition is the 104th Rationalization, and I’m as surprised as you probably are that there are so many. Most of the recent additions have been close relatives of previously entered ones, indicated by the letters A,B, and C, and also making counting them difficult, especially for me, since I count only slightly more accurately than I spell.

Pollyanna’s Mantra, named after the 1913 children’s literature classic by Eleanor H. Porter (and the now more famous 1960 Disney adaptation of the novel that made a sensation out of child actress Hayley Mills, above) about a little girl who was determined to see the good in everybody and everything, is another in the sub-rationalization category, stamped 3A to mark its close relationship with #3, Consequentialism. “Every cloud has a silver lining” carries on the deception of #3, which takes advantage of a quirk of human nature that wants to confer credit for the accidental and unintended benefits of an unethical decision or unethical conduct on the individual responsible for the decision or conduct. Pollyanna’s Mantra seeks to mitigate accountability for unethical conduct that has had predictable negative results by trying to shift attention to some positive consequences, real or contrived.

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