It was only two days ago—less, really—that I highlighted performer/celebrity logorrhea victim Nicki Minaj’s cretinous statements about the Wuhan virus vaccine, which, naturally, have been cheered by various conservative trolls like Tucker Carlson as if Minaj ever gives any thought to what she opines before she broadcasts it to her fans. Now I have to defend the rapper whom I had the misfortune to become acquainted with when she was an American Idol judge and made poor Mariah Carey roll her eyes so hard I was afraid they might pop out of her head when Minaj offered one ridiculous thought after another.
You see Twitter, which I quit a few months ago for exactly this reason, banned Minaj for tweeting her dumb story about her cousin’s friend in Trinidad supposedly becoming impotent after being vaccinated after ”his testicles became swollen.” The theory, I gather, is that Nicki was spreading “misinformation.”
I had to get out of bed to write this; I’ve been exhausted all day. I better not be getting old. That will really tick me off…
I’m working on a post called “Cannibal Ethics,” and this obviously led me to the Donner Party, the group of doomed pioneers who had to eat each other to survive when they were caught in a storm in the Sierra Nevadas in 1846. If I knew that they had come to their fate because of a negligent author, I had forgotten it: a fake expert named Lansford Hastings had written “The Emigrant’s Guide to Oregon and California” recommending a short-cut (which actually increased the trip’s mileage) to the Promised Land (this was before the two areas were ruined by reality-free politics)He had never actually traveled the new trail when he published the book. He did finally do it shortly before the Donner party set out, and helped sealed its fate by leaving paper notes along the way that further misled them. One told the already desperate wagon train they could cross Utah’s Great Salt Lake desert in a faction of the time it actually took.The group ran out of water in the middle of the salt plain about half-way across.
If I compiled a list of U.S. Ethics Villains throughout history—I’ve considered it—Hastings would be on it. After he left the U.S. for Brazil following the Civil War, he wrote a sequel of sorts to the book that killed so many of the Donner Party: “The Emigrant’s Guide to Brazil.” (1867).
1. Tales of The Great Stupid, Headline Division. From the Boston Globe: “How did Boston miss its moment to elect a Black leader?”The reporter, Stephanie Ebert just can’t imagine why he three Black candidates in the mayoral primary were eliminated in favor of Michelle Wu, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and Annissa Essaibi George, whose father was a Tunisian Arab Muslim. But, Ebert complains, there won’t be “any candidate who knows the weight of being Black in a city with deep racial scars.”
Maybe the three black candidates were not seen as skilled, experienced, or qualified as the primary’s winners. Or is Ebert saying that being black should be enough to qualify someone to be mayor?
I love these tweets! The pop music and Broadway diva and actress has provided a cultural, political, anthropological and philosophical artifact for the ages. I could write a book about these twin tweets and what they tell us, not just about Midler, but about a society that produces the kind of celebrity who would produce them.
Where to begin? Well, taken together they are not unethical tweets: I might even argue that they are ethical, because they publicly declare to the world, “I am a complete and utter idiot, and not only do I lack the critical thinking skills of a three-toed sloth, I suffer from a near terminal level of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, being both unable to discern just how stupid I am, but also unable to comprehend the consequences of advertising my disability to the public.” Now there is no excuse for anyone considering having an interaction of any kind with Midler that involves trust—letting her baby-sit a child, for example, or even a guppy—and thus to make the mistake of relying on her judgment. She has none, and has been considerate enough to proclaim it. (Not that she hadn’t provided plenty of evidence before.) The tweets make the world safer. How many social media posts do that?
I try to keep my true rants to a minimum, as they are unseemly for one in my role. I also try, not quite so successfully, to tamp down my occasional impulse to write, “I told you so!” It really helps me a lot when a web pundit like Lincoln Brown, a former talk show host and conservative columnist, writes pretty much exactly what I am feeling.
Brown’s essay titled “Dear Leftists, I Hope You Can’t Live With Yourselves” is what I have been dreaming of posting on Facebook for my 200 or so left-biased Facebook friends, some of them real friends I once thought better of as well as a few relatives, who would write mouth-foaming screeds about President Trump’s emails but who have maintained absolute Facebook silence on the Afghanistan disaster other than to post a meek and deflecting, “I think it was time to get out of Afghanistan, right everybody?” Brown’s whole post is the Ethics Quote of the Month, but here are some highlights:
The current controversy is similar. Allie Rae, shown above, was a competent and dedicated Boston-area ICU nurse (and a 37-year-old mother of three) until she was was forced out of her medical job after employers discovered her non-traditional sideline, an OnlyFans page with a current following of more than 69,000. She says she started being sexually provocative on the web to relieve pandemic lockdown stress as well as her reaction to being on the hospital’s front lines during the Wuhan peak, sometimes working 14-hour shifts. Actually, maybe nursing was the sideline. After all, Allie says she made over $8,000 in her first month on OnlyFans, and she was making only seven a month as a nurse.
President Biden, who has been avoiding questioning from the news media over his self-made national and international crisis in Afghanistan, took the weird but telling step of sitting for an interview on the matter with a single journalist—sort of–that has yet to be broadcast. Not surprisingly, the journalist chosen was career Democratic Party operative George Stephanopoulos, who hosts ABC’s talking heads Sunday news show as well as “Good Morning America!” where he is more like a performer. As Ethics Alarms regularly pointed out until I got sick of it, George has no business interviewing political figures like Hillary Clinton, since he has a flaming conflict of interest, nor can he be trusted to cover any political story involving partisan divides. Virtually all TV journalists are Democrats, but Stephanopoulos was a professional Democrat, and has proven repeatedly that he lacks the integrity and courage to overcome that bias.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), the U.S. Senate’s most passionate libertarian, was suspended from YouTube for expressing his strong opposition to Wuhan virus mandates and calling for widespread citizen resistance. This is res ipsa loquitur: Big Tech is using its corporate power to support government policies and prevent dissent. The argument that YouTube (that is, Google) is a private entity and not bound by the First Amendment is disingenuous, just as similar arguments defending Facebook, Twitter and other social media banning President Trump as well as posts that offer opinions and positions they don’t want the public to see. When corporations use their massive power and influence to suppress speech and control the flow of information, they pose an existential threat to democracy. When they exercise this power to advance the political agenda of a specific group, individual or party, that threat is worse. When they are censoring and distorting on behalf of the government, the threat is dire.
Paul released a rebuttal and condemnation of YouTube’s indefensible action, and it was also taken down by Our Video Masters. You can view it here, on Rumble. If I could embed it, I would.
Let me turn the floor over to Professor Turley, not as an appeal to authority, but because there is no reason for me to write in different words what he has said persuasively already:
I often feel like issues and discussions fly by too quickly on Ethics Alarms, as trivial matters like an old Star Wars fanatic’s vulgar window sign and the desperate efforts to frame a celebrity gymnast’s ill-timed choke blot out the ethical controversies that are most important to ponder and understand. Fortunately the commenters here often take steps to ameliorate that flaw, as veteran reader Dwayne N. Zechman does here. His Comment of the Day amplifies a post from a week ago that came in the middle of the earth-shattering question of Simone Biles’ “twisties” and only inspired 22 comments other than mine (my replies to comments don’t count). This, despite the fact that, to evoke Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards) at the end of “All the President’s Men,” nothing’s riding on what a Federal Appeals Court ruled in the case at issue “except the First amendment to the Constitution…and maybe the future of the country.”
With this post. a follow-up to this one regarding the hypocritical and ominous Presidential attack on vaccine-related “disinformation” on Facebook, Ethics Alarms ends the suspension of George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who writes the generally excellent “Res Ipsa Loguitur” blog and who has distinguished himself during the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck for refusing to follow the unethical lead of his biased and Trump-Deranged colleagues in law and academia, and having the courage to point out many of their worst betrayals of the public trust. I suspended the professor at the beginning of June for carelessly advancing a favorite Democratic party Big Lie on his blog, that a media recount after the 2000 election showed George W. Bush had actually lost the popular vote in Florida, and thus Al Gore was the rightful winner of the Presidency. I wrote, “Ethics Alarms is giving him a month’s suspension, or until he fixes his error and apologizes.” Well, he sort of fixed the error but never apologized, so I made the suspension six weeks. I’m happy to be able to reference his blog again, and as a happy coincidence, one of his recent posts nicely supported what I had just written.
Turley pointed to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitting that the Biden administration is working with Facebook to flag “problematic” posts that “spread disinformation” on the Whan virus vaccine and related matters. She had said that the Administration has created “aggressive” policing systems to spot “misinformation” to be “flagged” for the social media companies. He wrote in part,
“Obviously, anyone can object to postings. There is a greater danger when the government has a systemic process for aggressively flagging material to be censored. The real problem however is with the censorship system itself. We have seen how there needs to be little coordination between political figures and the media to maintain controlled narratives in public debates and discussions.”
By “little” the sometimes obsessively cautious professor means “none.” He continues,
The first ethics take-away from President Biden’s attack on Facebook for “vaccine disinformation” is that the Left’s totalitarian tendencies and embrace of censorship become more obvious and less hidden every day.
The second ethics take-away is that Joe Biden, of all people, has a lot of gall complaining about social media disinformation when he is in the White House in large part because of it.
The third is that the entire Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck has been dominated by outright propaganda and intentional manipulation of public opinion by the news media, federal agencies, medical organizations and “experts,” and Democrats are particularly ethically estopped from complaining about the same process that they have been employing for more than five years to their advantage.
As he boarded Marine One for a weekend at the ol’ Presidential hide-out at Camp David in Maryland, President Biden was asked what his message was to social media platforms regarding vaccine disinformation.
“They’re killing people,” he said. “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that — and they’re killing people.”