I posted that idiotic thing above on Mark Zuckerberg’s Monster after reading that the Fake Australia conspiracy was a “thing” among flat-earth types—you know, morons. Although I yield to no one in the strength of my conviction that stupidity lies wide, long and deep upon this nation (see today’s earlier post), there must be limits, so I shared it with my alleged Facebook friends with the question, “Is it possible that some people really believe this?” while adding that my sister honeymooned in Australia, or at least I thought she did. Facebook promptly slapped this on my post and took it down.
The British political commentary magazine “The Spectator” has published a nearly1400 word explanation for why the cover above was rejected for a Facebook advertisement (an “advert” in Brit-talk) as not complying with the platform’s policies, while these covers…
Strangely, many of the same people who are claiming that democracy is hanging by a thread or two are also trying to fray a rather obvious thread, the right to free expression and free speech. Since that First Amendment thingy is a bear, they have to find ways around it that will stifle ideas, opinions and arguments that interfere with the “greater good”.”” (as they see it, natch). Or pretend the First Amendment “isn’t what it is” (#64).
The last week has demonstrated clearly, I think we can all agree, that 1) there is an urgent need for Twitter to be de-politicized, stripped of partisan censorship, and become a trustworthy platform for the unfettered distribution of news, information and opinion to the public, and 2) Elon Musk is too much of a loose cannon to be the manager of Twitter’s reform.
Yesterday almost qualified as a meltdown, or a tantrum, or something. Maybe a joke. Who knows with him? He teased his withdrawal from the daily management of the reeling social media giant. He hinted that the company was teetering on bankruptcy. He put his continued tenure as CEO up for a vote, pledging to abide by the results.
Chaos. Musk is quite a bit like Donald Trump, which shouldn’t be surprising: the successful entrepreneur/ CEO/ autocrat/narcissist is a well-understood personality type, and management by chaos is a management style that can be very effective for the short term in a private company (but not the U.S. government). I worked for a chaos manager for seven years, and he was brilliant at it, but I decided then and there that I could never operate that way. It is hard on subordinates, employees and stake-holders; only the chaotic manager enjoys the pressure. It is a non-Golden Rule management style that relies entirely on utilitarianism as its ethical justification. Yes, the methods causes breakdowns, anxiety and constant crisis, but if it “works,” it’s worth the pain. That’s what Musk has been doing.
This week, three Democratic members of the House, Adam Schiff, André Carson, Kathy Castor, and Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, sent a letter on Congressional stationery to Meta’s President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, urging, pushing and pressuring his company (Meta is the re-branded Facebook parent) to continue to block former President Donald Trump from communicating his opinions, positions and thoughts. The entire letter’s text is below.
It is a smoking gun. Sure, the letter isn’t exactly official, and yes, the four Democrats do not say they speak for Congress as a whole, and yes, it isn’t technically a First Amendment violation, because there is no law involved, and the signers of the letter have no immediate power to make Meta do anything. The letter however, carries an intrinsic veiled threat, and its message is clear: “We can’t censor Trump, so we want you do do it for us.” That is a disgusting violation of the spirit and intent of the First Amendment, making it shockingly clear once again how little respect this corrupted party has for basic individual rights, and how far it is tilting in the direction of totalitarianism. I’m anticipating the sound of a large BOOM emanating from downtown D.C. when Professor Turley reads the letter; presumably he will find it as disturbing as I do. Imagine a similar letter to a major network urging it not to cover the speeches of a prominent critic of Democratic policies, and to ban him from being interviewed as well. I see no substantive difference.
(Just to be clear: “election denial” is protected speech, and Democrats have engaged in it frequently and freely for 20 years.)
The letter follows…It is addressed to Nicholas Clegg President, Global Affairs Meta,1 Hacker WayMenlo Park, California, and begins, ” To Mr. Clegg”:
Keep it up, guys. With every effort to deny that what happened was what happened, the corrupted U.S. journalists and their employers erode public trust in their profession further, and with it their power. Eventually, there will be a breaking point and an ugly reckoning. Good. They have been asking for it. Yeah, keep up the gaslighting and denial. The fools really think they can bury the story. Even at Memeorandum, which is usually an objective news aggregator, the tweeted revelations by Bari Weiss and Matt Taibbi are invisible. (Top story as I write this: a soccer reporter has died.) Very disappointing: I thought they were better than this. Still, the site’s bias is worth knowing about. I will not trust it as I have in the past.
Here’s a smoking gun: look at the transcript of an NPR interview with Newt Gingrich. Newt is unethical slime, but he’s very intelligent unethical slime, and when his personal agendas don’t interfere with his analysis, he is worth listening to. (I learned more in a private two hour seminar with young Newt when he was a Congressman than I learned in many full Government courses at Harvard.) Pay special attention to the NPR interviewer’s refusal to deal with reality that implicates NPR:
Just as Ethics Alarms was flagging the frantic efforts among the left-biased news media and others to deny the obvious and accurate implications of Twitter’s Hunter Biden laptop story censorship—the social media platform deliberately used its power to mislead the public and bolster Democrats— New York Times refugee Bari Weiss dropped the next metaphorical shoe, reporting on more newly released Twitter documents that show its pre-Elon Musk regime was “creating blacklists, preventing disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limiting the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users” and all based on an anti-conservative, pro-progressive agenda.
Bari Weiss revealed her conclusions from studying the evidence sent to her by Twitter Avenger Elon Musk in a Twitter stream like the one employed by Matt Taibbi in the earlier revelations—you know, about how the Hunter Biden laptop facts were censored, which the New YorkTimes, Washington Post and the news networks shrugged off as “a nothingburger” because it was “old news,” Hunter Biden didn’t matter, and the laptop story wouldn’t have changed the result of the election anyway, so who cares if was censored by Twitter, and yes, them too?
This was a test of integrity for the mainstream news media, and they, most predictably, flunked it, and outed themselves as the shamelessly unethical propaganda-spewing hacks they are. Depressing, but good to know, as if we didn’t know already.
As an exemplar of the whole, ugly, revolting effort to dismiss evidence that a biased and partisan Twitter staff deliberately buried a news story that might have harmed Joe Biden’s prospects of winning the 2016 election, Phillip Bump’s “analysis” in the Washington Post could hardly be more damning. Its very headline is an unethical rationalization and an appeal to consequentialism: “No, limiting the Hunter Biden laptop story didn’t cost Trump the election.”
I can’t decide whether it is completely predictable that the richest man in the world has a 5th grader’s comprehension of ethics and integrity of principles, or whether it should alarm us all. I do know that those of us hoping that Musk could transform Twitter from the censorious, leftist propaganda organ that it has become into a fair and valuable platform for public discourse are probably going to be disappointed.
Musksaid on Twitter yesterday that he was reinstating former President Donald J. Trump to the platform, and poof!, Trump was back on the site. That’s fine: Musk should have reinstated him immediately as soon as he had the metaphorical reins of Twitter in hand. His banning in 2021 was both partisan and political; as the immediate former President, Trump’s ability to express his opinions and positions on the most used social media platform was essential to the national dialogue, regardless of what he had to say, or how obnoxiously he might say it. The principles that supposedly led Musk to spend billions of dollars buying Twitter demanded that Trump be reinstated.
But what did Musk do? He put the matter up for a vote on Twitter. How does that compute, as the robot on “Lost in Space” might say? Allowing a group to vote to decide whether an individual gets to speak or not is the epitome of censorship. Stifling free expression by those who are unpopular or who have unpopular opinions is the antithesis of the First Amendment. Doesn’t Musk understand that? Apparently not, or, perhaps more likely, he does understand it to the extent he has thought about it in his brilliant but weirdly wired brain, but doesn’t care. The vote was good publicity. The vote would get headlines. The vote would attract new accounts. Principles, shminciples; ethics, shmethics. I own this place and I’ll do what I want.
That’s basically the Donald Trump approach to ethics. Great.
Over on his blog, Prof Turley was sufficiently disgusted by this that he has devoted two posts to eviscerating it in his usual professorial fashion, here and here. I encourage you to read both, though this is another one of those incidents where if it has to be explained to you what’s wrong, you probably are beyond help anyway. Still, Turley’s brief is impressive, and Ethics Alarms will just add a few (well, may be more than a few) points:
A really stupid tweet is typical of Swalwell; this one isn’t even his worst. In 2018, the same year he had the gall to announce he was running for President, Swalwell tweeted that any effort by gun owners to oppose gun confiscation by the federal government would be met with nuclear bombs. In another tweet, he wrote sarcastically, “It’s not like separation of church & state is in the Bill of Rights or anything…” This year, he tweeted, “The Republicans won’t stop with banning abortion. They want to ban interracial marriage.”
When I wrote last week about how there were so many unethical people running for office in 2022 that I couldn’t possibly narrow the list of the most unethical down to a mere dozen as I have in the past, I forgot to mention Swalwell. This the only member of Congress who somehow managed to have a sexual affair with a Chinese spy (in 2015, before he was elected to the House). Nonetheless, he was re-elected in his California district by a landslide. What Swalwell misses in all aspects of life and logic cannot be catalogued without devoting volumes to the task.
It’s astounding that anyone, even Democrats, would dare to evoke “experts” after the still unfolding pandemic fiasco and the near total failure of health “experts” to give competent advice.
As Turley also notes, the analogy matching teachers to doctors is absurd, though the professor is nicer about it than I am. Teachers aren’t “experts,” they aren’t professionals in the classic sense, and, to be cruelly blunt, like journalists they are nor recruited from among the best and brightest. There is no regulation of the teaching craft, just bars to entry. Professionals—those who devote themselves to the public good at personal sacrifice, also don’t have unions, which by nature place the welfare of their members above the public’s interests…and no union has done this more flagrantly than the teachers’ union. The lawyer-client analogy is equally foolish. Lawyers are necessary because the have special training in laws and procedure. Children need to learn about how to navigate life, and parents have as much expertise in that subject as teachers.
Parents have been the primary teachers of their offspring, and successful ones, for eons. Comparing teaching to self-surgery is…well, it’s about what one would expect of a collectivist dim bulb like Swalwell.
Swalwell knows nothing about schools and little about parenting: his oldest child is just entering kindergarten, and probably at a private school. He has some nasty surprises waiting for him.
The educational institution culture has rotted through, with large numbers of teachers being motivated by peer pressure, ideology, and their own flawed education. It is easy to see this, unless the observer is deliberately ignoring the condition, or wants the condition to continue.
Parents passively and irresponsibly allowed schools to indoctrinate their children because they served as convenient child care after women finally could pursue ambitious careers. It was trust conferred by perceived necessity, not careful analysis. Now, perhaps not too late, parents are waking up and taking control.
Some teachers are genuinely intelligent, outstanding, capable adults who do justify parental trust. The problem is that 1) far more are not (yes, it’s anecdotal , but I find it telling that the most famously dumb member of my grade school class, with the lowest SAT scores I have ever heard of to this day, became a career history teacher at the same school), 2) it is difficult to determine which, and 3) the administrators and school structures are overwhelmingly corrupt and incompetent, minimizing what even good teachers can accomplish.
That so many teachers and school administrators accepted the ideologically advanced revisionism that slavery was the primary motivation for the United States’ creation, and have engaged in the revolutionary endeavor of teaching young children to distrust other races while deploring their own nation is strong evidence that these “experts” cannot be trusted, and that their judgment is terrible.
Teaching and public education has lost its way, and urgently need to be reformed and re-imagined. Those with the strongest ties to the well-being of rising generations must be the main architects of any reform, and that group is parents.
Finally, when someone of Rep. Swalwell’s amply demonstrated intellectual and ethical deficits declares anything “stupid,” the Cognitive Dissonance Scale comes into play. [ADDED: This principle should also apply to any journalist or publication who resorts to Swalwell as an authority or source. For example, we have Vanity Fair writing today, “The chamber under Kevin McCarthy, and with an emboldened right flank, may ‘exist exclusively as a vessel state of MAGA nation,’Rep. Eric Swalwell tells Vanity Fair.” ]
Ethics Dunce? Incompetent Elected Official? Unethical Tweet? Unethical Quote? Bad analogies? The Great Stupid exemplified? All these and more apply to Swalwell’s outburst. And this man is a lawmaker. Re-elected by a landslide.