Category Archives: Social Media

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/27/17

Good Morning!

1. Explain to me, Oh Ye Defenders of the Biased and Incompetent Media, why it’s unfair to call this “fake news.”

A Facebook friend whose entire output of late is posting links to anti-Trump screeds posted this one, which appeared on the feed as “Donald Trump’s behavior is abnormal”—ah, I see the “resistance” is transitioning again to the 25th Amendment approach to overturning the election, because the news on the impeachment front isn’t good–with a cut-line that referenced him “calling immigrants ‘animals'” at yesterday’s rally in Ohio.

No, Trump didn’t refer to immigrants as animals. Unlike most of those in my friend’s left-wing, Trump-hating echo chamber (she’s an artist and arts organization executive), I checked the speech. Indeed, it’s an ugly, undignified, over-heated, un-presidential mess that makes Trump’s Boy Scout speech look like Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. BUT HE DID NOT SAY THAT IMMIGRANTS WERE ANIMALS! He did say this;

“One by one we are finding the illegal gang members, drug dealers, thieves, robbers, criminals and killers. And we are sending them the hell back home where they came from. And once they are gone, we will never let them back in. Believe me. The predators and criminal aliens who poison our communities with drugs and prey on innocent young people, these beautiful, beautiful,innocent young people will, will find no safe haven anywhere in our country. And you’ve seen the stories about some of these animals. They don’t want to use guns, because it’s too fast and it’s not painful enough. So they’ll take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15, and others and they slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die. And these are the animals that we’ve been protecting for so long. Well, they’re not being protected any longer,folks.”

Now, I don’t like that rhetoric. It is typical of  President Trump, but inexcusable in a public appearance. However, as muddled and incoherent as he often is, this section could not be clearer: he is calling violent and criminal ILLEGAL ALIENS animals, meaning that they lack respect for human life, are uncivilized, and dangerous. I hate that terminology, but violent illegal immigrants are not the same as illegal immigrants generally, and illegal immigrants are not the same as legal immigrants, aka, immigrants.

The column in question does quote the passage from the speech I just did, so the Chicago Tribune’s summary isn’t even accurate about the article it describes, though the pundit still writes,

“The intent of the tale that Trump told his rabid fans in Ohio was simple: foment hatred for immigrants. You present the innocent characters who are part of the “us,” and you have them ravaged and destroyed by the murderous “them.” You call them animals, something peddlers of hate have done for ages.”

False, and unquestionably false. An editor on a fair and ethical paper wouldn’t permit this to get into print. Trump’s intent is to demonstrate how dangerous and irresponsible it is to allow illegal immigrants to cross our borders confident that they can stay here. He’s not fomenting hate for violent criminals: who needs assistance hating violent criminals, whether they are illegal immigrants or not? He was, in a particularly inflammatory way, pointing out how irresponsible it is to allow illegal immigrants easy access to our streets, especially since some of them—the “animals”— are dangerous. That’s clear as a bell, and intentionally misrepresented by the Tribune, the columnist and my friend to foment more hatred for the President of the United States.

THAT’S perfectly all right, though.

2 I point out this blatant misrepresentation to my friend, who responds, “Argue with your friends on your own page; I have no intention of arguing with you on mine.” Oh, no you don’t. You post your virtue-signaling fake news as a substitute for making your own argument—appealing to authority, and the authority, Rex Huppke, is a partisan hack by the evidence of his column—making your little echo-chamber erupt in “likes” and seal flipper applause. Then this lazy excuse for an argument  it shows up in my Facebook feed, polluting it, and I’m not permitted to point out that the linked story is dishonest, misleading crap?

This is the epitome my dad’s favorite rejoinder to such people: “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with facts.” Then she went off on the President’s “using lies to obscure the truth”—you know, like the column she posted just did. Yet she could write this with no sense of the irony and hypocrisy at all. This is smart woman, and The Anti-Trump Hate Virus has her IQ points and integrity dripping out of her ears.

I don’t aspire to being the Facebook police, but if you just want echo-chamber cheers for dishonest and biased assertions, keep them off of my Facebook feed.

You are warned.

3.  The criticism of John McCain’s plea for a return to comity, compromise and bi-partisanship in Congress  was met with embarrassing criticism from the Right, some of it appearing on Ethics Alarms, authored  by people who should know better. Criticizing that speech is criticizing ethical government and a functioning democracy, and embracing  the “Everybody Does It,” “They are just as bad,” “They started it,” “They have it coming,” “It can’t get any worse,” “It’s for a good cause,” “These are not ordinary times,” “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now” rationalizations for wrongful conduct rather than agreeing that it’s time to start reforming the culture to reward responsible and professional conduct. This is, in short, adopting the state of war mentality promoted by the Ace of Spades in this revolting post, which I have condemned more than once. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Workplace

Unethical Quote Of The Week: San Diego State University Political Science Professor Jonathan Graubart

I find myself annoyed at the groundswell of good wishes for John McCain after his diagnosis of glioblastoma…McCain is a war criminal and, more to the point. someone who as a politician has championed horrifying actions and been lousy on state commitment to public health…But ultimately what troubles me is the urge to send such well wishes to an utter stranger as it reinforces the notion that some lives are more important than others. There are lots of people with glioblastoma and who have died from it (including my mother twenty years ago)….

San Diego State University Political Science Professor Jonathan Graubart on Facebook, prompting some calls for him to be fired, and others on campus to second his opinion.

Is this an Ethics Quote or an Unethical Quote? I could call it  an Ethics Quote because it raises many ethical issues, and mere statements of opinions, even stupid and vicious ones, are not usually unethical in themselves. This quote strongly suggests that the speaker is unethical in  than one respect; it is also, at very least, irresponsible in its context, which is that he is a teacher, and represents the institution.

Jonathan Turley flagged this episode, as he reliably does any time a professor comes under fire for controversial speech. As always, he supports his fellow academic:

“Graubart’s comments are hurtful and hateful. It is a reflection of the incivility that has taken hold of our social and political dialogue. It is always sad to see a fellow academic rush to the bottom of our national discourse. However, we have free speech and academic freedom to protect unpopular, not popular, speech. Popular speech does not need protection. Graubart is expressing his deep political and social viewpoint on social media. He should be able to do that just as his critics have a right to denounce his views.”

San Diego State University is a government institution, and thus subject to the First Amendment, in addition to the principles of academic freedom. However, even a state institution  has a right to protect itself from harm. This isn’t just political speech; it is bona fide asshole speech, signaling that the speaker is not a trustworthy teacher, and that any school that would have someone this intolerant, doctrinaire, vile and contemptuous of kindness and compassion educating, aka indoctrinating students isn’t trustworthy either. Universities, public or not, should be able to insist on a minimal level of professionalism from faculty in their public behavior and pronouncements so the institution isn’t permanently discredited, embarrassed, and harmed.

Here is Graubart’s whole Facebook rant: Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Professions, Rights, U.S. Society, War and the Military, Workplace

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Observations On The Florida Teens And The Drowning Man”

My old friend Mark drops in to comment just a few times a year, but always delivers his trademark optimism, fairness, and perception. When he talks, I learned early on in our relationship, attention should be paid.. His was one of several excellent comments on the horrific episode in Cocoa Beach, where five teens stood by watching a handicapped man drown, and seemed to enjoy the sight mightily as they recorded his death on their cell phones. In response to another commenter’s query, “Are “kids” that are so disconnected that they’d do something of that magnitude rehabilitatable?”, Mark leaped k took the discussion to a related topic that I had found myself thinking about a lot while I was trapped in a lobby and two airports yesterday with nothing to do but wait and silently curse. What are electronic devices and social media obsession doing to our social skills and ability to relate to the world? At what point to we start sounding the ethics alarms…or the societal survival alarms? [ I’m going to include the last part of Mark’s earlier comment on the story, because it is a helpful introduction to the rest.]

Here is Mark’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Observations On The Florida Teens And The Drowning Man:

…The natural human reaction to observe has been enhanced by our ability to record, and it now seems to be the first response in almost every situation – the more harrowing the better. I’m sure there is some personal thrill involved in being able to post the result, garnering comments and ego-gratifying oohs and aahs.

The situation in Florida is only the most horrible of them, right up there with the guy who posted pictures of himself with the corpse of his step-father, whom he had just murdered. Like everything else, this is a tiny part of a much bigger picture of who we are becoming as a culture. The 21st century ability to remain safely behind a screen while still feeling a full participant in life (Internet commenting a prime example) frees us of the necessary empathy (or simply humanity) to come from behind that screen to behave in ways that might be heroic or even civil. I have little difficulty seeing that behavior manifesting in children raised viewing life through a cell phone.

The much larger question – at least for me – remains “Am I my brother’s keeper?” It’s a nagging question, versions of which swirl in and around almost all the major political issues of our day and, now, into our personal dealings with one another. It is always there, but we come up with more and novel ways to avoid actually answering or acting on it. Clearly, it never occurred to these boys. Cain didn’t want to answer the question. And, I suspect, neither do we.

***

 I carry two cell phones, absolute wonders of technology, which remain in my briefcase most of the time although I’ll take one of them with me to a picture-taking occasion. My friends grit their teeth at receiving responses to texts that are weeks old. My relationship with my cellphone(s) was cemented when I had the opportunity to whale watch off of Maui. I realized that I was so concerned about my precious iThing getting wet or falling into the water that I wasn’t watching the whales. I put the phone away and decided that watching the real world with both eyes was more interesting and that’s what I try to do. I hope sincerely that that attitude would ensure that I offer whatever aid I can in a dire situation rather than wondering what it will look like on Facebook later on. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Science & Technology, Social Media, The Internet

Great…Now I Have To Defend ANOTHER Complete And Utter Jerk [Updated]

University of Central Florida student Nick Lutz set out to humiliate his ex-girlfriend after she sent him a letter (above)  apologizing after their breakup, so he graded it like a school paper, and instead of keeping the exchange private and between them as a responsible, decent, fair adult would, he tweeted it to the world, where predictably, since the Twitterverse is populated by a lot of people like Nick, it went viral, with hundreds of thousands of like-minded jerks “liking” it.

Nick is, at this stage of his life, a toxic creep without properly functioning ethics alarms. However, his school had no legitimate interest in this matter. Yet it placed him on two semesters of suspension and probation as punishment for this entirely non-school related conduct. (No, the badly treated ex- is not a student.) UCF sent Nick two letters, the first stating that he may have violated the law (no, he didn’t), while the second stated that he had violated the university’s student rules of conduct regarding disruption and cyber-bullying.

Baloney. Read the rules; I did.  Even though the rules are unenforceably broad, they wouldn’t apply to his conduct: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Romance and Relationships, Social Media

Now THIS Is An Untrustworthy Legislative Staffer…And Incidentally, We’re Doomed

In March of 2016,  Stacey Plaskett, the delegate to the United States House of Representatives from the United States Virgin Islands’s at-large congressional district. entrusted her iPhone and its password to staffer Juan McCullum, who copied nude images and videos of legislator after offering to take the phone to an Apple store for repairs.

After he left Plaskett’s office, McCullum created a Hotmail account and “sent at least eleven e-mail messages to multiple persons, including politicians, members of the media, and other persons known to [Plaskett].” The e-mails contained “one or more of the nude images and videos,” according to this week’s indictment against McCollum. He also created a Facebook account, uploaded the visual content, and then Facebook-friended people in Plaskett’s district to spread the nude images far and wide.

A few questions: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Science & Technology, Social Media, U.S. Society, Workplace

Case Study: When You See Racism Where There Is None, I Really Don’t Care What Else You Say Is Racist

I’m shocked, shocked that this embarrassing and ridiculous episode emanated from a Black Lives Matter leader!

Deray McKesson, one of the most visible and vocal  leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement, announced on Twitter that he was personally offended by the costuming  in the new “War for Planet of the Apes” movie. Some of the conquering apes were wearing vests like the one he always wears! Obviously the film was making a racist statement about Deray McKesson! Why, this was like the Donald Trump clone being assassinated in “Julius Ceasar”! The activist tweeted,

He really did. Here is a movement that has sparked violence, divided college campuses, prompted attacks on police, caused deaths and NFL grandstanding, and one of the key individuals at the center of it is so conditioned to see racism behind every shadow, cloud and wisp of breeze that he thinks a science fiction movie is targeting him personally.

(Psst! Deray! The movie isn’t insulting you, because most people don’t know who you are, and as your conduct here demonstrates, have no reason to , because you are a silly, divisive, racist and race-obsessed narcissist with an outlandishly inflated view of your own importance.) Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Leadership, Popular Culture, Race, Social Media

CNN’s Fake Lincoln Quote [UPDATED]

Oh, hell, I might as well keep kicking CNN while it’s down in the hopes that it stays down and its rotting corpse frightens the mainstream news media into repenting, reforming, and practicing journalism again.

Around the same time that CNN was tracking down a harmless social media troll and threatening to ruin his life if he didn’t grovel for mercy and promise never to displease CNN again, the news network tweeted out a series of notable Americans for the Fourth of July. The above was one of them. It was fake history, and worse than that, it was fake history designed to cover for CNN’s own repeated refusal to allow the people to know the facts, using an appeal to the authority of a President who believed that the press was a menace during times of crisis and who imprisoned a newspaper editor without a trial because Lincoln didn’t like the “facts” he was printing.

The supposedly apolitical tweet was widely interpreted as  another CNN attack on President Trump, much as the sudden appearance of the new Washington Post motto “Democracy Dies in Darkness” was aimed at sending the message that the President obscures the truth and attacks the Bringers of Light…you know, like the paper that treats serious journalism like this. The Independent, for example, ran a story about the Lincoln tweet headlined, “CNN taunts Trump on July 4 with Abraham Lincoln quote on facts: The post did not mention the President, but it was obvious who it was directed at.”

After receiving an inquiry, Quote Investigator reported that the alleged Lincoln quote was both mis-stated and out of context. It found the old, 1865 newspaper article that related a conversation the reporter had with Lincoln in which he was discussing the public’s war weariness, and apparent willingness to allow the Confederacy to leave the Union. Lincoln, said the reporter, stated that he believed that the public’s opinion was based on misinformation. The full (hearsay) quote: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Social Media