Sunday Ethics Infusion, 17/15/2020: “Run Away!”

1. To channel Scarlet O’Hara…If one more Trump-Deranged individual accuses me of  adopting right-wing media conspiracy theories, I will get angry, and they won’t like me when I’m angry. I accept analysis from no one, especially from the likes of (the former version of) Fox News, Breitbart, Mark Levin and others of note. If I like a legitimate authority’s analysis (like, say, Andrew McCarthy, Ann Althouse or Jonathan Turley), I will credit them for it. “It sure is suspicious that your points agree with theirs” I was told today. It’s no more suspicious than the fact that their stated analysis agrees with mine. I’m not tolerating this insult. I’m at least as informed, educated and intelligent as those I am accused of “parroting,” and I’m considerably more informed, educated and intelligent than the typical knee-jerk progressive water-carrier who tries to win arguments they have neither the wit nor the facts to support by calling me incapable of forming my own opinions.

2. An update! The original collection of movie clips that Ethics Alarms uses repeatedly to illustrate certain points has been expanded considerably.

3. “Run away!” I see that conservatives are “fleeing” Facebook and Twitter for the allegedly more accommodating and less censorious environs of Parler and MeWe. EVERYONE should bolt from Facebook and Twitter if they have any concern about the social media platforms manipulating public opinion and possible tilting the election by partisan censorship, not to mention the mendacity of both platforms’ CEOs and their basic lack of trustworthiness.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/30/2020: Zoomed Out

Zoom

Why is it that running a Zoom seminar from my office is far more exhausting than standing up and talking for three hours?

On the positive side, I was actually allowed to post an Ethics Alarms link today! I wonder if Sean Lennon reads Ethics Alarms…

1. And this woman was an early participant in the Democratic primary debates, in case you’re wondering how the party ended up with Joe Biden. New Age guru Marianne Williamson tweeted,

Williamson debate

Oopsie! Missed that “Thou shalt not steal” thing. So she came back with, “Actually, ‘Thou shalt not steal’ is of course in there. But my point about priorities remains the same.”

Wait, what point would that be? A) It sounds a lot like Rationalization #22. So because stealing isn’t as bad as murder, stealing is OK? B) Is she making a technical legal point that a man waving a knife around and refusing to drop it is “innocent” because he hasn’t been proven guilty? Or is her point that because the victim in the Philadelphia shooting may have been out of his mind meant that he couldn’t form the “mens rea” to be technically guilty of a crime? By these calculations, nobody who is shot by the police is ever guilty, because they are resisting the arrest that would eventually put them on trial.

2. Actual quote from Joe Biden yesterday: “Spending! We’re gonna roost. And we are gonna reduce prescription drug crisis experts acknowledge.”

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“Systemic,” A Four Part Ethics Alarms Depression, Part I: Systemic Propaganda And Facebook

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I know who Bret Weinstein is; maybe you don’t. He’s a biologist, evolutionary theorist, and, of late, a free speech activist. The fact that you may not remember him is my fault: he was the hero in the Evergreen State College (in Washington State) racist fiasco in 2017, where the school decided it should order all whites off campus for a day. He was the sole professor on campus with the guts and principles to refuse to leave, resulting in his vilification, harassment, and ultimately, his resignation. Why I didn’t highlight his courage in an “Ethics Hero” post, I don’t know: I didn’t even give his name a tag in the sole post where he was mentioned.

Fast-forward to 2020, and Weinstein found his Facebook account suspended because he wrote something that the Thought Police there felt was inappropriate—you know, like all of Ethics Alarms is inappropriate on Facebook for daring to explain that performers who have worn dark make-up are not all racists or advancing racism

“I have been evicted from Facebook,” he tweeted to his 400,000 followers. “No explanation. No appeal. I have downloaded “my information” and see nothing that explains it. We are governed now in private, by entities that make their own rules and are answerable to no process. Disaster is inevitable. We are living it.”

Later,Weinstein revealed, Facebook told him it had “already reviewed” the suspension and the decision “can’t be reversed.”

Ah, but among his 400,000 followers is John Lennon’s articulate, contrarian and often conservative-sounding younger son, Sean. He tweeted to his friend’s rescue, writing,

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Another Morning Ethics Warm-Up Delayed Until Afternoon By Exigent Circumstances, 10/22/2020: Three Weird Stories That May Indicate That Everything Is Spinning Out Of Control

I would have mentioned tonight’s debate in the headline, but I’m not fond of thinking about the future of American democracy resting on the ability of Donald Trump to speak coherently and to control himself. Who came up with this script anyway?

Then again, God works in mysterious ways…

1. In Alaska ethics news…Here’s an ugly ethics train wreck, and one of the best examples I could imagine of the old adage, “Don’t sleep with anyone crazier than you are,” except it doesn’t seem like there was sleeping involved.  

The mayor of Anchorage, Ethan Berkowitz, resigned last week after admitting that he had engaged in an “inappropriate” “consensual messaging relationship”— I’m not even sure what that is”—with an Anchorage news anchor.  

Berkowitz’s resignation followed an unsubstantiated claim in a video posted to social media by the news anchor, Maria Athens, promising viewers an “exclusive” story showing that the mayor engaged in sex act with underage children. When the mayor responded by calling the allegations “slanderous” and false, Athens posted what she said was an image of the mayor’s bare backside, and added a laughing emoji.

Yes, she is apparently insane. The Anchorage Police Department said it had worked with the F.B.I. to investigate the allegations about the mayor and “found no evidence of criminal conduct.”

Before Athens posted her video online, she had left a voice message for him in which she engaged in an emotional rant, made  anti-Semitic references and promised that she would be exposing the mayor as “a pedophile.” “I’m going to get an Emmy, so you either turn yourself in, kill yourself, or do what you need to do,” Ms. Athens said, according to the audio clip. She then said she would personally kill him and his wife.

That must have been some messaging relationship.

Athens, 41, is—well, was– the main news anchor for two outlets, KTBY and KYUR. The station owner said the video she posted had not been approved. After her video went up, Athens was arrested following a physical altercation with her boss at the station, and was charged with misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

So remember, kids, never engage in an inappropriate messaging relationship with someone crazier than you are.

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Sohrab Ahmari, New York Post Op-Ed Editor

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This episode should alarm ­every American. A very few people can unaccountably shape what you read. This is how freedom dies.

—–Sohrab Ahmar, New York Post op-ed editor, regarding the mainstream media’ and social media attempting to embargo the Post’s story today suggesting Joe Biden’s participation in his son’s Ukrainian influence peddling.

Ahmar was writing about the events described in this Ethics Alarms post.

You should read his entire column here.

Particularly striking is his list, though far from complete, of instances in which the mainstream media didn’t hesitate to report what Twitter termed in this case “the lack of authoritative reporting on the origins of the materials included” in the report. The Post editor begins by echoing what Ethics Alarms has been emphasizing regrading the news media’s descent into unprincipled partisan propaganda over journalism: “This is what totalitarianism looks like in our century…”

“Enemy of the people”? The President was correct, if impolitic, with his blunt assessment, and each succeeding month has made that more evident.

Facebook, Meet The Slippery Slope. Slippery Slope, Facebook. Public, PAY ATTENTION!

censorship

This issue doesn’t need a lot of exposition—I hope, at least not among this enlightened and educated readership— but it is important.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday that his platform will now block posts and inks that argue that the Holocaust didn’t happen or has been exaggerated. , Facebook  is increasingly a taking action to undermine what it considers  conspiracy theories and misinformation, using the approaching U.S. presidential election as justification.

It isn’t. Facebook is too powerful a platform for public discourse and communication to engage in picking and choosing which opinions and assertions are worthy of being read and heard. In addition, Facebook is not objective, unbiased or trustworthy…or competent. I know this for a fact.

It bans Ethics Alarms. Case closed.

Holocaust survivors around the world have pushed Zuckerberg this summer to remove Holocaust denial posts from the social media site. The effort was coordinated by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which used Facebook itself to promote its suppression efforts, posting one video per day urging him to remove Holocaust-denying groups, pages and posts as “hate speech.”

Once again, and this also is a fact, what is labelled “hate speech” is too often a matter of bias on the part of the hate speech accusers.

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Thursday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/24/2020: It’s “Supreme Court Day”!

Literally!

On this day in 1789, The Judiciary Act of 1789 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George Washington, thus establishing the Supreme Court of the United States. Notably, it was then designed as a tribunal made up of only six justices—an even number! (The Horror!)  President Washington quickly nominated John Jay to preside as Chief Justice, and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison and James Wilson to be Associate Justices.  You should know Rutledge: he sings that cool song about slavery and the Triangle Trade  in “1776.”  You also should recall Wilson from that show—he’s the one slandered by being portrayed as a total weenie, which he most assuredly was not.  Two days later, the six appointments were confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Nobody thought it was a big deal.

1. We knew the New York Times’ “1619 Project” was flagrant Black Lives Matter-inspired propaganda and based on lies, correct? Ethics Alarms discussed this when the Pulitzers honored the thing’s Liar in Chief, Nikole Hannah-Jones, who even admitted that it was really more about creating a useful “narrative” than accurately presenting history. Ben Crump, the serial race-hustler who gets huge damage settlements for family members of black victims of various tragedies by proclaiming the police and America as racist, cited  the “1619” project’s narrative yesterday while helping to incite riots. See? It works!

But the project is used in many school systems as “history,” and the central dishonesty was a problem, so the Times, without announcement or explanation, erased the central claim of the 1619 Project, which was that the year the first slaves were brought to Colonial Virginia was the “true founding” of the United States.

The  initial introduction to the Project, when it was rolled out in August 2019, stated that

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from the New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

Sometime this year, the text became,

The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.

The change was discovered after Hannah-Jones denied  last week that the project’s core thesis was what she and the Times  had said it was. It “does not argue that 1619 is our true founding,” she said. Well, not any more. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/20/2020: Tales Of The Great Stupid [Updated and Corrected]

1. Yes, these are the people who want to have power over our lives. Imagine: this woman isn’t mourning the death of a human being, she’s angry because that human being can no longer serve her interests. The human being in question continued to work for the public long after she could have retired with dignity and comfort, and this woman is furious that she wasn’t physically able to do so “until 2021.” Not only that, she posted this repulsive video with no apparent comprehension that it exposes her as a horrible human being. She just assumes that most who share her political persuasion are just as  incapable of empathy and compassion as she is. Maybe she’s right.

Again I must ask, “How do people get like this?”

***

Okay, I just stumbled on some timely satire. I generally hate memes, but this is genuinely funny. Forgive me.

2.  Speaking of memes and The Great Stupid, what can you say about an adult who would post this on Facebook in all seriousness, as if it was profound or true?

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Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/5/2020: Welcome To The No Nervous Breakdown Zone!

Apropos to this morning’s post: I just read a thread on Facebook entirely populated by people I knew, some of whom have befriended me. They are mostly lawyers, and after reading what was written, I could only comment that their conversation was deranged. I didn’t feel like arguing with people who could really write that if the Democrats didn’t win in November, Americans would lose their civil rights (when it is the ideological compatriots of these individuals who are stripping away the rights of free speech and association, championing race-based policies, and condemning the President for insisting that universities observe due process when a student is accused of sexual misconduct. How can they write that? What happened to them? Then there was the section of the thread in which they discussed that the President was certain to refuse to leave office if he is defeated, and my personal favorite, the assertion that those defending Kyle Rittenhouse are racists.

These are lawyers. They were taught about the requirement that every individual has a right to a fair trial, which means that he or she must not be pronounced guilty in the court of public opinion before all the facts are known, and proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They should know, as I do, D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 (b), which says, “A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social, or moral views or activities.” Moreover, it is very likely that Rittenhouse, if he is ever tried, will be found not guilty. Did these deranged lawyer watch the video? I hope not, or they have really lost it. Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, and appears to be in the process of being railroaded by a racially biased justice system in Wisconsin, driven by the media and uninformed public opinion. I’ve seen the video. I’ve also been a prosecutor. I would not charge him, just as would not charge the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. I’ve also been a defense attorney, and  I would take on Rittenhouse’s defense confident that I had a winning case.

I also was struck by the snide comment about those who object to “Black Lives Matter” signs being obvious racists. I flagged that group as being a racist hate group when it first raised its ugly, divisive head, and damn right I object to seeing signs extolling a group responsible for riots, arson, and terrorizing diners in D.C. by demanding that they raise their fists.

Finally, these formerly rational professionals—who were once even as you or I! —-had the gall to talk about how Republicans and conservatives were promoting violence and a civil war. Yes, the end of the spectrum that includes the antifa, the rioters, and a party that has worked for four years to undermine our democratic processes, is really accusing others of seeking division and violence. This warrants FOUR standard Ethics alarms clips: This one,

…this one, of course,

…I have to use this one, though these people one were not morons…

And finally,

Get well quick, friends. Please. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/6/2020: It’s An Ethics Outrage STAMPEDE!!!

I don’t know whether to say “Good morning!” or “ARRRRRGHHHH!”

I’m not sure I have ever had so many ethically provocative events, issues and quotes on my list. I would spend all day discussing and analyzing this stuff, if I didn’t have to pay the mortgage and eat.

1. Relatively trivial, but still disgusting and wrong. The Discovery Channel is using Mike Tyson to promote “Shark Week.” The former heavyweight champion, habitual felon, convicted rapist and lifetime sociopath is having a grand time in the promotional spot, which he ends it by smiling at the camera, as his gold tooth twinkles, and saying “Someone’s gonna get BIT!” HAHAHAHA! Get it? Mike Tyson bit part of Evander Holyfield’s ear off in what should have been his last fight, getting him temporarily banned from boxing—why not permanently, nobody can explain—and costing Tyson 3 million dollars in fines. He also should have been locked up.  The Discovery Channel thinks mayhem is funny!

Next, let’s see David Berkowitz do promotional spots for the Westminster Dog Show.

2. OK, I officially do not understand what the rules are. Here is a celebratory video about Freeman Vines of  Fountain, North Carolina,  a black man who makes guitars from wood taken from a tree used to lynch blacks. His work is called “deeply moving” and is the subject of a new photography book, Hanging Tree GuitarsRyan Reynold and Ashley Tinsdale felt they had to fall all over themselves apologizing for using  a former plantation as the venue for their wedding, but this guy openly profits from lynchings—after all, there would be nothing unique about his guitars without them, and that’s OK? And Reynolds, presumably, could buy one of those guitars and have everyone dancing and clapping as he played “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead!” (but not “Swanee”!) on a musical instrument deliberately made from an instrument of racism?

The nation has agreed to a game of Calvinball with the Woke and Angry Left.

I won’t play.

3.  Golden Rule? What Golden Rule? Arlinda Johns was kicked off an American Airlines flight for boarding dressed like this:

That’s reversed, for some reason, and blurred, because the news media  treats us like children. Her mask says “Fuck 12” and the T-shirt says, “Black Lives Matter.’”

The self-described activist initially changed masks (“Fuck 12” means “Fuck the police”), but kept the shirt, and later put the obscene mask on again. The plane returned to the terminal, and she was escorted off by marshals. Continue reading