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?

Continue reading

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

On Dress Codes, Modesty, Utilitarianism, And The Golden Rule [CORRECTED]

 

There were a lot of ethical considerations being ignored or scuffed in a strange conflict in Utah County, Utah.  Rebecca Ortinez, a regular plasma donor to BioLife Plasma Services, was told by managers at the facillity that she could not donate and had to leave the premises because of her immodest attire. According to Ortinez, who issued a detailed account of her treatment on social media, she was told, “We have a lot of RMs [Mormon Returned Missionaries] that donate and how you’re dressed is very distracting, so you are going to have to leave.”

Ortinez added a selfie of her outfit, chosen, she said, because she expected to have to wait outdoors and it was “95 degrees in the shade”:

When she was told she had to leave, Ortinez refused and demanded that the request be put in writing, which the manager refused to do. Then the manager elaborated on her objections to Oridnez’s appearance: she informed Ordinez she was distracting because her “nipples were poking out” and added  that she should be ashamed of herself. Ortinez reacted to that by refusing to leave unless the objections were put in writing and she could see the plasma center’s dress code provisions. The managers threatened to call the police and did so, telling them that they wanted Ortinez banned for life from all Biolaife Plasma Centers

After she finally left the property and received a copy of the police report, Ortinez sent out a Facebook post “For Donors, ACLU, ACLU Utah, Fox News, KSL 5 TV, KSL Newsradio, KSL.com, KUTV 2News,” telling the tale and announcing,  “Now I’m blasting BioLife on my extensive social media platforms!”

You go girl!

Analysis: Continue reading

A Popeye For John Lewis And His Fans

This post was in my head and keeping me awake all night, so I had to get out of bed and get it out

I was just about to let the late John Lewis go, when a Facebook friend inflicted the late Congressman’s  so-called “final words” on me with a post in Facebook that garnered bushels of likes and teary faces, immediately putting me into a quandary. The guy’s a lawyer, and should know better than to extol such transparent grandstanding, varnished over with dishonesty.

I almost—almost—wrote a searing rebuttal and reprimand. I didn’t, and it’s keeping me awake tonight. More on that in a moment.

First, regarding Lewis: I didn’t want to read his op-ed in the Times, knowing, as I knew Lewis’s routine well, that it would either make my head explode or make me want to blow it up. Writing such a thing itself is pure narcissism: Lewis was shuffling off this mortal coil with words designed to make those who do not know him, except by the dated accolades with which he has been celebrated by the fawning media, think he was a better man than he was, while making his detractors face being called racists if they call his piece  out for what it is. This, for example, was nauseating:

In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

This is the same John Lewis who  told NBC audiences the day before Martin Luther King Day and less than a week before the Inauguration that President-elect Donald J. Trump was “an illegitimate President.”  In 2017, Ethics Alarms pronounced this “an unprecedented act of vicious partisanship and unethical public service.”  I understated it. Lewis deliberately triggered the perpetual anti-democratic unrest that has led directly to today’s riots, toppled statues, and self-righteous hate. He isn’t the only public figure accountable for this, but he is the only one who assisted in tearing the nation apart while patting himself on the back as someone who has “done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love.”

“All,” Congressman? How about serving as an honorable example for citizens by accepting the leader chosen by our system as it has done for more than two centuries, and  not deliberately encouraging an insurrection? How about that? How does creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that requires citizens and businesses to support a Marxist movement or risk being “cancelled” let freedom ring?

I had to wrestle my rebellious gorge to the ground and place my violently rolling eyes back in their sockets when I read this at the start of Lewis’ screed: Continue reading

“Now What?” #2, But No Quiz. Just NOW WHAT?

I admit—perhaps you could tell?—I was very irritated at the former commenters here who treated me like I was Alex Jones because early on it became clear to me that the Russian Collusion coup attempt was a partisan plot, carried out by entrenched members of federal law enforcement agencies in the U.S., enabled by the Democratic party, and perhaps even Barack Obama. I remain very troubled by that experience, and am waiting for one—just one would be satisfying—to come back and have the courage and decency to write, “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to believe it. You were right.”

I have a couple of candidates who might show such integrity, and I still have hope. I will not, however, hold my breath,

I have been reluctant to write about the obvious (it seems to me) conclusions recent declassified documents point to regarding Obama’s overt and sinister efforts to undermine the Trump administration and seed the beginnings of the collusion narrative before the President had even been sworn in. The fact is, I have neither the time nor the skill to follow all those breadcrumbs and be a reliable analyst—at least not reliable enough. I have been waiting for a thorough investigation to be launched by a news organization, like the Post did on Watergate, or the Indianapolis Star did to expose the Larry Nasser/ Michigan State/U.S. Women’s Gymnastics scandal. Those things win Pulitzer prizes and enhance reputations, don’t they? Why hasn’t there been a thorough, published indictment of Obama’s perfidy? Wouldn’t there be, if the evidence is what it seems to be? Maybe I’m wrong.

It is suspicious, I have to say, how the major mainstream media outlets have been almost silent on the clear indications that Obama and Biden met with various Justice Department and FBI personnel and discussed how to “get” Michael Flynn. For one thing, the notes taken by Peter Strzok tell us that Joe Biden is lying. Don’t they care? Isn’t  that important? Doesn’t democracy die in darkness? Oh, the Daily Caller and the Federalist and other “conservative” news organizations have written about it, but you know, they’re conservative. It’s all lies The claims are being fabricated by “Trumpers.”

The reactions of my Facebook friends tell me what the wider reaction would be to my connecting the dots publicly. These people are supposed to be my friends, and it is astounding how vicious—and irrational–most of them are any time I, or anyone though few now are so audacious, challenges “resistance” Big Lies and the “likes”-fertilized cant that metastasizes in their cyber-bubble.  I’ve just about reached my limit, in fact. Some of these people really are friends, or I thought they were, and they are acting like, to be crude, assholes. I’m about ready to de-friend about 400 of them, including some relatives. Not only are they being crummy friends, they are bad citizens too.

Which is much worse.

I have a measure of sympathy, I suppose,  because they are being misled by propaganda and the news media’s complete corruption, and are reacting to the natural human impulse to be with the “in-crowd,” like gang members and “mean girls.” But just a measure, and I’m about out. These people are smart; I don’t have many dumb friends—some, more than I thought, definitely, but not a lot.

They should be ashamed of themselves. Continue reading

The Court Ruling I’ve Been Waiting For Since 2011

In a June 30 decision, B.L v. Mahanoy Area School District, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  ruled that a Pennsylvania  high school violated a cheerleader’s First Amendment rights when it kicked the young woman off the squad for a message she had posted on SnapChat. A distruct court judge had ruled last year for the ex-cheerleader, whose  post pictured the teen and her friend holding up their middle fingers accompanied by the eloquent sentiment , “fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything.” She was  upset because she had only made the junior varsity cheerleading squad, rather than the varsity team.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania argued the case for the girl, so at least sometimes the organization  still puts its partisan politics aside to do its traditional job of looking out for the First Amendment. The group called the ruling a “landmark decision,” finally barring schools from policing students’ off-campus speech using the claim that it might disrupt school activities.

The Supreme Court decision on campus speech, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, did not apply to off-campus speech. Tinker held that student speech could be regulated by schools only if it would substantially disrupt school operations or interfere with the rights of others. That case involved a school disciplining students when they wore black armbands to class as a protest against the Vietnam War.

The 3rd Circuit majority ruled .“We hold today that Tinker does not apply to off-campus speech—that is, speech that is outside school-owned, -operated or -supervised channels and that is not reasonably interpreted as bearing the school’s imprimatur,”

Because the teen’s speech was outside the school context, Tinker did not apply. The cheerleader’s speech “lies beyond the school’s regulatory authority,” the court said.

The ACLU’s  press release stated that the decision was important “because it recognizes that students who are outside of school enjoy full free speech rights, not the diluted rights they have inside the schoolhouse.”

Bingo.

Finally. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Reflections, 6/28/2020: For The Defense….

Greetings from the Ethics Alarms bunker…

1. I’m current reflecting on a personal and professional ethics conflict. A colleague and long-time professional competitor—I would never call him a friend—has been ousted from his leadership position in the very successful organization he founded as a result of unproven allegations of sexual harassment and assault. It was a “believe all victims” situation, as well as what feels like a successful coordinated effort to “get” someone who had accumulated a lot of enemies, resentment and envy in a notoriously nasty industry once his power was waning.

On one hand, I feel like I should reach out to him and offer my guidance and support (as an ethicist and sexual harassment trainer, not a lawyer, and gratis, of course). On the other, I am pretty certain that he is guilty of at least some of what has been alleged, based on confidential accounts I have recently heard from reliable sources. Ethically, however, his ousting (it appears that he was given the option of “retiring”) lacked due process and fairness, and the organization was guided by public relations motives rather than legal or ethical ones.

Whose side should I be on?

2. Stop making me defend Facebook! As if there wasn’t enough to worry about, the aggressive pandering mode of corporations right now is being exploited by would-be censors of political speech. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced updated election policies and stricter “hate speech” rules in response to employee protests and pressure from activists, whose transparent objective is to silence or constrict any political views antithetical progressive positions and goals. In a message last week, Zuckerberg  outlined plans to police disinformation relating to voting and elections, to flag certain content that risked triggering violence (I wonder what  that standard is like today?) and concluded,

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “If You Present Me With Appeals Like This, You Will NEVER Have My Support”

I’m grateful to JP for making the connection between the insulting, shaming marketing ploys I wrote about in the post and the similar techniques I see on Facebook. Not all of them involve virtue-signaling, as in the “Share this appeal for X charity and prove you care, or we’ll know you’re a cheap unfeeling bastard.” Just as bad are the “prove you’re really my friend by writing a sentence about where we met, because I’m going to unfriend everyone who doesn’t” posts. I’m not your validation monkey. Grow up.

A pretty good summary of obnoxious Facebook posts is this article, which observes,

Annoying statuses typically reek of one or more of these five motivations:

1) Image Crafting. The author wants to affect the way people think of her.

2) Narcissism. The author’s thoughts, opinions, and life philosophies matter. The author and the author’s life are interesting in and of themselves.

3) Attention Craving.
The author wants attention.

4) Jealousy Inducing.
The author wants to make people jealous of him or his life.

5) Loneliness. The author is feeling lonely and wants Facebook to make it better.

Notably absent from the piece is the obnoxious conduct my Facebook friends are addicted to: searching for and posting every anti-Trump news item or opinion piece they can find day after day.

Here is JP’s Comment of the Day on the post, “If You Present Me With Appeals Like This, You Will NEVER Have My Support”:

For a while now I have noticed that there is a trend (especially among evangelicals) to share religious or faith-based content on Facebook that state something like: “I bet this won’t even get one share,” or “Share if you like Jesus, skip if you want Satan to win.”  As a Christian and a minister, 100% of the time I will not share it or like it at all. That does not make me a bad or callous person. As a human, I am emphatic and sympathetic about the plight of the sad kid in a third world country  shown on the post. As a Christian, not only do I not want Satan to win, I know he has already lost. So what’s the problem? Why won’t I share?

Well, before I answer that, I want to back up here.

Why do people share things on Facebook? A survey done by the Fractl marketing agency said 48% of posts were done because others will find them interesting.  52% focused on things the posters were thinking or feeling. Only 11% of posts are intended to educate others (and we all know how well that is going). While it wasn’t mentioned in the survey, it was clear that 100% of posts were about the people themselves posting them. Therefore everything being stated by the person  related to the person in some way. I don’t think that is a bad thing, in fact, I’m pretty sure that is Facebook’s sole purpose. So when a person shares that picture, in some way they are saying they themselves are Christian, or “hey this is an issue I care about!” However, I find this  highly problematic.

The first way relates to the Blaze offer. One of the reasons this marketing campaign is so successful is because people are gullible, weak-minded, or proud. You challenge them on an issue that attacks them in someway, and they feel like they have to respond. It reminds me Marty McFly’s self-destructive flaw  in the “Back to the Future ” movies. He couldn’t back down when someone called him “chicken.” It was Doc who had to tell Marty that if he didn’t learn to walk away, he was going to suffer the consequences. The second movie shows us the future where Marty’s  life will be ruined after he gets in a car accident by accepting a drag race challenge after being called a chicken. This fate is erased in the third film after he finally learns to resist the trigger.

While I doubt any of our sharing or agreeing will have any lasting consequences (other than a flooded email box), I wonder if this pattern builds up to something bigger — (I know: slippery slope!). Continue reading