Category Archives: Rights

From The “Double Standard” Files: Obama’s Voter ID Lie

"What? No, I think he looks just fine! He always looks fine!"

“What? No, I think he looks just fine! He always looks fine!”

This will undoubtedly be called a partisan post, and when it is, I will be ticked off. It is not partisan to object to outright lies. It is partisan to ignore and accept lies according to who the liar is. This is the bind the news media has placed itself in, and a brilliant, throbbing example occurred during President Obama’s last press conference.

Discussing his concerns about state voter ID  laws, Obama said,

“We’re the only advanced democracy in the world that makes it harder for people to vote.  It traces directly back to Jim Crow and the legacy of slavery, and it became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise. . . . we are the world’s oldest continuous democracy, and yet we systematically put up barriers and make it as hard as possible for our citizens to vote….This whole notion of election-voting fraud, this is something that has constantly been disproved. This is fake news.”

Wait, by “this is fake news,” was the President really  announcing that what he just said was fiction? That would be very impressive, and a great new standard: imagine if the news media did that, and flagged their misleading stories!  But I’m pretty sure that he was trying to make us believe what isn’t true, and a falsehood that supports the phony narrative that efforts to ensure the integrity of elections are really racist plots. Explicates John Fund:

“All industrialized democracies — and most that are not — require voters to prove their identity before voting. Britain was a holdout, but last month it announced that persistent examples of voter fraud will require officials to see passports or other documentation from voters in areas prone to corruption…In 2012, I attended a conference in Washington, D.C., of election officials from more than 60 countries; they convened there to observe the U.S. presidential election. Most were astonished that so many U.S. states don’t require voter ID…. [O]ur neighbors require voter ID. Canada adopted voter-ID requirements in 2007 and saw them reaffirmed in 2010; they have worked smoothly since, with almost no complaints. Mexico’s “Credencial para Votar” has a hologram, a photo, and other information embedded in it, and it is impossible to effectively tamper with it. …Britain is painfully learning that it too must take steps to restore confidence in its elections. Sir Eric Pickles, a former Conservative cabinet minister, warned earlier this year, in a government-commissioned report titled “Securing the Ballot,” that voter fraud had been allowed to fester in Muslim communities because of “politically correct over-sensitivities about ethnicity and religion.” Sir Eric said that the authorities were in a “state of denial” and were “turning a blind eye” to fraud cases. Last month, Theresa May’s government responded to the problem. It announced that “endemic corruption” meant that voters in certain areas will now have to show photo identification. The government may even require people to prove their UK citizenship before granting them the right to vote.”

Continue reading

20 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Wait—There Is Really Some Question About Whether It Is Ethical To Punch Someone In The Face For Holding Political Views You Disagree With?

Apparently so.

Richard Spencer, an outspoken  “alt-right” activist and white nationalist who has cheered on the rise of Donald Trump,  was punched in the face Friday, during an ABC interview, by a hooded Inauguration Day protester in Washington, D.C. The attack was caught on video, and promptly went viral on social media. There were many online discussions about whether the violence was justified, with Spencer being widely categorized as a Nazi. The majority view appeared to endorse the sucker punch.

Episodes like this make me simultaneously feel that what I do is important, since the level of ethical  literacy in the general U.S. population seems to be at a rudimentary level at best, and make me want to quit and become a paleontologist. Of course it’s wrong to attack someone physically because of his words and opinions. It doesn’t matter what they are. That is so unethical it makes my teeth hurt, and defending it is proof that you need to go live in cave.

I’d love to see a poll on the topic, but I’m afraid the results would send me into serious depression. I’m also afraid the poll would show that Democrats and progressives  favor face-punching Nazis with alarming self-righteousness, making ever more tenuous my respect for any Democrat, in the midst of the party’s embarrassing conduct since the election, who doesn’t wear a flour sack over his or her head in public and constantly mutter, “I’m sorry! I’m so, so sorry…”

I know that there are people in this country like those who used to appear on The Jerry Springer Show, whose only response to conflict is to start swinging. I assumed, however, that nobody who could name the President during the Civil War, spell “cheese” and knows where babies come from thinks that it is acceptable to walk up to someone on the sidewalk and cold cock him because his opinions are offensive. Silly me. I also assumed that there was no accepted list of punch-worthy positions, but I guess there is.

Continue reading

122 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Rights

Women’s March Ethics: Now THAT’S Ad Hominem!

ashley-judd

Ashley Judd, indulging her inner Trump.

I often have to correct commenters on Ethics Alarms who accuse me of engaging in the argument fallacy of ad hominem after I pronounced them jerks, fools, or idiots based on their comments. (I shouldn’t do that, but sometimes I can’t help myself, and if it stops me from going crazy from all the stuff I have to  read every day to decide what gets published, we all benefit. well, I do, at least.) No, I explain, with more or less patience, that’s not ad hominem. It would be ad hominem if I wrote, “Your argument can be safely ignored because you are an idiot.” Then I would be using an author’s presumed character, intelligence or acumen to discredit his or her opinion. That’s unfair and illogical. An argument derives its value and persuasiveness from its contents, not its messenger. It would also be an ad hominem attack if I responded to a comment with a stream of vile insults.

If, however, I read a comment, determine it to be based on bad facts, bias, poor reasoning and faulty logic, I may justly conclude that only a dolt would express such an opinion in public, and say so, as in, “You are a dolt.” That is a diagnosis—an insulting one, to be sure, but still just a diagnosis.

Now, thanks to actress Ashley Judd’s performance today at the Washington, D.C. version of “The Women’s March,” I can use her as an illustration of what an ad hominem attack is, and why it should be avoided.

Judd read a poem by an angry 19-year-old, that contained the lines..

“I am a nasty women.’I’m not as nasty as a man who looks like he bathes in Cheeto dust…I’m not as nasty as your own daughter being your favorite sex symbol, your wet dreams infused with your own genes…”

Stay classy, Ashley.

You see, mocking someone’s appearance—it is a cardinal sin if it is a woman’s appearance that is being mocked, of course, adding hypocrisy to the mix—is pure, unadulterated ad hominem. It is also gratuitous meanness that has no communication value other than to say, “I hate you.” “I hate you” is not an argument. In fact, “I hate you” is a statement of bias. I can’t trust the assessment of an individual regarding what another individual says or believes if the critical individual hates him.

Additionally, the denigration is pure tit for tat, Rationalization 7.  That’s Donald Trump’s favorite rationalization. Stooping to Trump’s favorite method of debate, name-calling, isn’t persuasive or helpful. I’m sure it feels good, though. I guess that’s enough for Ashley and all the protesting women who clapped and cheered.

Morons.

See, now that isn’t ad hominem, because by behaving like this, Judd undermines the whole protest. And that’s just plain stupid. Continue reading

48 Comments

Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Rights

Self-Driving Car Ethics: Who Do They Decide To Kill? You?

av-choice

CBS’s “Bull,” a drama about a jury consultant (played by “NCIS” alum Michael Weatherly) is an ethics mess…but then, so is the former jury consultant Weatherly’s  character is loosely  based on: “Dr.” Phil McGraw. The show does find some interesting ethics issues, however. A couple of weeks ago the story involved the programming in an experimental self-driving car. The issue: is it ethical for such a car to be programmed to kill its passenger if it has to make a life or death choice?

The ethical conflict involved is the so-called “trolley problem,” which is, as the name suggests, over a hundred years old. British philosopher Philippa Foot developed it into series of hypotheticals in 1967. In 1985, American philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson scrutinized and expanded on Foot’s ideas in The Yale Law Journal. Here is one of Thompson’s scenarios:

“Suppose you are the driver of a trolley. The trolley rounds a bend, and there come into view ahead five track workmen, who have been repairing the track. The track goes through a bit of a valley at that point, and the sides are steep, so you must stop the trolley if you are to avoid running the five men down. You step on the brakes, but alas they don’t work. Now you suddenly see a spur of track leading off to the right. You can turn the trolley onto it, and thus save the five men on the straight track ahead. Unfortunately,…there is one track workman on that spur of track. He can no more get off the track in time than the five can, so you will kill him if you turn the trolley onto him.”

The problem: Now what, and why?

A. Throw the switch in order to maximize well-being (five people surviving is greater than one).
B. Throw the switch because you are a virtuous person, and saving five lives is the type of charitable and compassionate act a virtuous person performs.
C. Do not throw the switch because that would be a form of killing, and killing is inherently wrong.
D. Do not throw the switch because you are a Christian, and the Ten Commandments teach that killing is against the will of God.
E. Do not throw the switch because you feel aiding in a person’s death would be culturally inappropriate and illegal. Continue reading

25 Comments

Filed under Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Science & Technology

“Don’t Breathe” Ethics

I just watched the 2016 horror/suspense thriller “Don’t Breathe,” in which Stephen Lang, always excellent, plays a blind veteran whose home is invaded by three self-righteous young sociopaths who intend to rob him. The movie is the latest genre movies with ethical mind-benders concocted in the House of Raimi, as Sam Raimi, the flamboyant auteur behind “The Evil Dead,” “Xena,” the first couple Spiderman movies and especially “Drag Me To Hell,” was the lead executive producer here and Raimi’s protege, Fede Alvarez, directed and wrote the script.

How do I do this without spoiling the film for someone who hasn’t seen it? I can’t. If you intend to ever see the hit 2016 movie but have not yet, then just wait for the next post. Otherwise, read on.

“Don’t Breathe” becomes one of those monster movies where you start rooting for the monster, and even that doesn’t encompass the  ethical morass the movie creates. Imagine “Wait Until Dark”except that the imperiled blind woman (Audrey Hepburn) is replaced by a blind Steven Seagal (the younger, thinner version), or maybe Billy Jack, and he beats the living daylights out of  or kills the three middle-aged male thugs—including a creepy evil mastermind played by Alan Arkin— who get into his house.

Got that? Okay, now replace the three thugs with three attractive twenty-somethings, including a troubled young woman trying to start a new life after an abusive childhood. Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: ThinkProgress Editor Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani

A Milo protest at UCLA followed by a bomb threat that shut down his speaking appearance.  You'd think they'd want him to have a book published so they could burn it...

A Milo protest at UCLA followed by a bomb threat that shut down his speaking appearance. I’d think they’d want him to have a book published, so they could burn it…

Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani, an editor at progressive website ThinkProgress, epitomizes a real problem for progressives, and society’s ability to trust them with political power. She, like increasing numbers of others espousing her ideology, believes that citizens expressing opinions she doesn’t agree with should be prevented from doing so.

Her post is titled “We live in a world where white supremacists get lucrative book deals,” and her argument is that the “white supremacist” in question (though he isn’t one), inexplicably popular professional asshole Milo Yiannopoulos, shouldn’t be able to get a book published or be paid for writing it.

Yiannopoulos’s act is that he is forcefully and often obscenely politically incorrect, particularly regarding feminism. If he’s a white supremacist, he’s a very odd one, having a gay partner who is black. Yiannopoulos has been banned from Twitter, which regards his harassment of a black actress ban-worthy but the harassment of white male conservatives just desserts, and he has also sparked several episodes on campus last year where his scheduled speeches were cancelled by cowardly college administrators after students complained that the threat of his likely comments being made to others caused them to feel “unsafe.”

He got a book deal because he is famous in some circles, a culture war combatant, and a sometimes amusingly inflammatory writer. He got a book deal because enough people are likely to buy his book that his publisher expects to make money. He got a book deal because enough people in a free country want to read what he has to say. Varkiani believes this is scandalous, and if she and her fellow censors had their way, he wouldn’t be able to get paid to speak or write. Continue reading

98 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

UPDATE: Cyber-Zombie Peter Cushing And The Prospect Of Cyber-Zombie Carrie Fisher Remind Actors To Fight For Control Of Their Post-Mortem Acting Career

cgi

It looks like I wasn’t the only one who felt that Peter Cushing was being abused by finding himself in “Rogue One” without his prior consent. Of the late actor being digitally inserted into a role he never agreed to play and deliver lines he never contracted to deliver, I wrote…

The emerging technology raises many ethical issues that didn’t have to be considered before, but when it comes to using a dead actor in a new role, the ethics verdict should be easy. It’s unethical, unless a performer  gives informed consent for his image to be used post mortem in this fashion. Presumably, the consent or the lack of it will be part of future negotiations and standard contracts. Actors who agree to have their images used as cyberslaves will also probably want to limit the uses of their names and images.

Cushing’s exploitation and the subsequent death of Carrie Fisher with widespread speculation that she would soon be added to the “Star Wars” franchise’s army of CGI clones have now sounded the alarm loudly. But apparently many actors were already aware of the threat, and taking affirmative action to control their destinies. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Popular Culture, Professions, Rights, Science & Technology