Insomnia Ethics Dump, 8/19/2019 (at 3:16 am): What Keeps Me Up At Night

Hi.

So depressing to observe the reactions of the Facebook Borg to my post about Elizabeth Warren’s self-outing as a lying demagogue. They couldn’t process it; they put their metaphorical fingers in their ears and hummed; they attacked the messenger (me); they channeled the generally-derided Politifact whitewashing of the “Mike Brown was murdered” lie. One lawyer friend apparent deep-dived Ethics Alarms to try to  find a post that would contradict my position regarding Warren (and Kamala Harris). She couldn’t, but pretended she had by metaphorically waving an essay in which I applauded a man acquitted of murder by reason of insanity who later admitted to others that he had killed someone when he was younger and insane. (I can’t find the damn thing myself.)  She then called me a liar and a hypocrite, because I had described the man as a murderer when he was innocent in the eyes of the law. A lawyer made this argument, mind you. I explained, not too nicely, that her analogy was idiotic, since there was no murder and no crime in the Brown case, so law prof Warren’s calling it either was dishonest and indefensible, while in the case of the recovered madman, there was a murder, a crime, and a murder victim. Though the acknowledged killer he was fortunate enough to have committed his crime in a state that holds the insane unaccountable, that fact didn’t change the act or the  crime.

I don’t know why I bothered. Warren fans, like Bernie Bros, appear to be completely immune to facts and reality.

1.  Why is there such a compulsion to corrupt the innocent, even the fictional innocent? I was hardly an admirer of those late 60s and 70s Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday Morning TV shows with people dressed in huge, garish thing-costumes and being relentlessly cheery. You know the ones: “H.R. Puffnstuff,” “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour,” “Lidsville”—those. In addition to being assaultive and unfunny, they also inspired Barney, for which the Krofts should never be forgiven.

Still, lots of kids loved the shows and characters, and they should be able to cherish those memories. Hollywood, however, seems determined to debase everything it can, especially fond memories, either by sexualizing them or making them dark, or both. (The re-boot of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Riverdale,” the series based on the “Archie” comics, are cases in point.) Now we have the new in which are re-imagined as murderous psychopaths.

Nice. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/9/2019: “I See Unethical People!” Edition

S-s-s-s-stretch those ethics muscles!

(although, to be fair, the items today don’t require much stretching…)

1. Rosie Ruiz, unethical icon, has died. Rosie Ruiz got her 15 minutes of fame—well, infamy—by briefly fooling officials and the media into believing she had won the 1980 Boston Marathon. “She jumped out of the crowd, not knowing that the first woman hadn’t gone by yet,” a source who Ruiz had confessed to told The Boston Globe. “Believe me, she was as shocked as anyone when she came in first.” She wasn’t even a skilled cheater.

Nonetheless, Ruiz maintained publicly that she had been robbed of a genuine victory, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. She even displayed her first place medal whenever possible.

Ruiz is an excellent example of how signature significance works. It would be nice to report that she went on from this one, impulsive, foolish scam and became a beloved and tireless worker for the common good. Uh, no. Cheating in a major athletic competition isn’t something anyone does who has functioning ethics alarms. Ruiz was charged in 1982 with grand larceny and forgery, accused of stealing cash and checks from the real estate firm where she had been a bookkeeper. This got her a week in jail and five years’ probation. In 1983,  she was arrested on charges of attempting to sell cocaine to undercover agents at a hotel in Miami and spent three weeks in jail. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/31/2019: Some Ethics Notes As I Run Out The Door…

Hello, I must be going…

I got my prep done faster than expected, so I have time for a shorter than usual warm-up…

1.  “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” It’s going to take a while for me to go through last night’s debate, which the Red Sox saved me from having to watch live. I can say this right now, however: responsible parties should not permit completely unqualified, publicity-seeking wackos like Marianne Williamson (and, as I argued in 2015 and 2016, Donald Trump) to enter primaries and participate in debates. This is how you get “A Face in the Crowd”; this is how you set up democracy to fail. There will always be a critical number of idiots in the electorate, and parties have a duty to fulfill a critical gate-keeper function to prevent the grifters, con artists, cult leaders and amateurs from using them to warp elections and the government.

Williamson was babbling about “dark psychic forces” and “emotional imbalance” last night.  Democrats should ding her right now, and tell her she is welcome to run under the banner of the Crystal Party, or something similar. Continue reading

Thank You, FaceApp!

Were you aware of FaceApp? It was a suddenly popular mobile face-editing application for your smartphone that would take your photo and show how might age over the next half century. It was all the wave, until there was a contemporaneous story about law enforcement going into facial recognition software big time. Oh oh…”Minority Report”! Suddenly someone read the app’s privacy policy. The company was based in Russia! It could sell your face to be used in subway gonorrhea ads, and there was nothing you could do about it! The Democratic National Committee freaked, and sent out an alert imploring those who work on presidential campaigns to delete the app from their phones because FaceApp’s creator, Wireless Lab, is based in St. Petersburg, Russia. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer then went overboard, as Chuck is wont to do, and demanded that FBI and the Federal Trade Commission  investigate FaceApp, because the company could pose “national security and privacy risks for millions of U.S. citizens.”

ARRRHHHHH!!!!

The app’s creators rushed to contain the damage. FaceApp’s CEO swore that the company’s servers are not based in Russia,  that no user data is sent there, the photos will not end up in  facial recognition databases.  FaceApp does not, it is told, “sell or share any user data with any third parties.”

Google also swears that it won’t read our email. And don’t get me started about Facebook…

FaceApp’s privacy policy asks for “irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully paid, transferable sub-licensable license” for the pictures of your face. That should set off ethics alarms, or better yet, privacy alarms, for anyone who reads it, which means virtually nobody. I’m hardly any better: many years ago I used a Simpsons app to convert my photo into Simpsons Jack… Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/29/19: A Meme, A Sub-Heading, And A Risky Tradition

Let’s pray for a more ethical culture…

1. Unethical meme of the last couple hours or so...Esteemed Ethics Alarms commenter Curmie (Where have you gone Curmie? Ethics Alarms turns its lonely eyes to you… Oo-oo-oo…) posted this on Facebook, I assume in a tongue in cheek mood, since I know that he has a brain:

Sadly, it was greeted with cheers from the Facebook Borg as if the message was profound. This is a good illustration, however, of the intellectual rigor of the open borders crowd, which, please note, includes almost all of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls. How can you argue seriously with people this silly and shallow?

2. And an unethical sub-heading! Socialist propaganda turns up where you least expect it, which I guess is the idea. It’s insidious, and works on young brains like that bug Ricardo Montalban put in Chekhov’s ear in “The Wrath of Kahn.”

In this Sunday’s “Social Q’s” column, a weekly trove of ethics insight and blunders, a teacher complains about moving to a region where teacher salaries are much lower than what he is used to.  The culture shock was required in order to accommodate his wife’s career opportunity to achieve her “dream job.” He says that he is obsessing about earning so much less, and even though he says he did not get into teaching for the money, and that his wife has the primary income in the family, he’s wondering if he will still be motivated to do his job at the drastically reduced salary.

Columnist Phillip Gallane’s answer is far too kind. What I would have said is that if your motivation to do the job you have contracted to do in your chosen profession is based on your compensation,  you are in the wrong field, and you are letting non-ethical considerations dominate ethical ones to te detriment of those who have to trust you.

There’s nothing quite like making a sacrifice for a loved one and then being bitter about it afterwards. Gallanes does point out that since the teacher’s salary clearly isn’t crucial, he shouldn’t “stress about it” and should take satisfaction from allowing his wife to get her “dream job.”

The sub-heading for this segment in column: “It’s almost as if Capitalism is…broken?” Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Cooler, 7/21/2019, Because The Last Thing We Need Is A Warm-Up: “Oh, Just Bitching About Stuff” Edition

Hot enough for ya?

1.  THIS should drive my Facebook friends crazy...The latest SurveyMonkey/NBC poll out at the end of last week gives President Trump’s approval rating  at 48%. He reached 49% in a daily YouGov.com poll this month. In short, the concerted effort by Democrats and the news media to tar him as racist (again) as a result of his dumber-than dumb tweet conflating all four Democratic socialist freshmen with Somali immigrant Omar and evoking his alleged “shithole” comments about third-world countries failed (again.)

Yet a) nobody should trust polls, b) “approval/disapproval has a weak correlation at best with voting, and c) there’s a long way to go before November 2020. Still, I am tempted to post the story on Facebook just to evoke the howls of anger and protest I know it will trigger. After all, I have to keep reading, day after day, week after week,  the obsessive posting of the most ridiculous anti-Trump links imaginable. For example, who cares that some Holocaust survivor says that the U.S. today reminds him of “1930s Berlin”? That’s an idiotic, ahistorical, unsupportable opinion whether the opiner is a Holocaust survivor, Hillary Clinton or a man in a rubber room. The statement is no more respectable or worth posting than if he said the U.S. today reminds him of “Avatar,” the Gobi Desert or “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.”

It’s unethical to post things just to drive people crazy, though. So I won’t.

But I’d like to.

But I won’t.

2. Want to see a clinical example of the kind of people who can’t handle Ethics Alarms? Meet Taffy. I allowed Taffy Marchand’s comment on the Dad-drinking-daughter’s-breast- milk post, and now have had to ban or spam several insulting and/or idiotic comments that followed. Here’s what she wrote:

I am a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit. We deal with breast milk all day long. I was taken aback by your consideration that this is, in any way, incestuous. I think that may have more to do with they fact that breastmilk comes from breasts. Which, perhaps you have sexualized to an extreme. If the father was nursing from his daughter that would be in question. She is merely pumping milk and leaving it in a container for him. We drink milk pumped from other species, so why are we so freaked out about human expressed breast milk? Is it going to cure his cancer? It’s very doubtful but there is clear evidence that breastmilk has a plethora of health benefits. I explain this over and over again to families that mom’s breast milk is the ideal nutrition for her infant, followed by donor breast milk because it is species specific, followed by formula, which is essentially expressed breast milk from another species. Also, I have all the empathy for a family struggling with a cancer diagnosis. I think it lacks compassion and consideration of their circumstance to consider an incestuous label. It certainly won’t cause any harm for him to consume breast milk.

  • The post didn’t say that it was incestuous. The quote: “What do we properly call a father consuming his daughter’s breast milk? Is that too close to incest for comfort? Does it matter if it’s close, as long as it isn’t quite?” As is much on the blog, and as the title suggested, the point was to think about ethical distinctions. “Close” to unethical conduct isn’t unethical, is it? Or is it?
  • Breasts are considered sexual equipment and sexually provocative in this culture, and indeed most cultures. Accusing me of “sexualizing them to an extreme” is a cheap shot, and unethical debate tactics.
  • “We drink milk pumped from other species, so why are we so freaked out about human expressed breast milk?” Well, heck, Taffy, why not just use mom and any teenage daughters in the house as cow substitutes, and save dairy expenses?
  • “It’s very doubtful but there is clear evidence that…” Signature significance for someone who isn’t thinking before they type. I’m not going to take insults from someone capable of writing that…
  • Empathy is irrelevant to the issue raised by the post. It is also the Universal Get Out Of Ethics Problems Free card.
  • “I think it lacks compassion and consideration of their circumstance to consider an incestuous label.” No, Taffy, it is never wrong to consider anything. NOT considering uncomfortable possibilities is the path to ignorance and ideological cant. Of course, when your mind is made up and you regard anyone suggesting a different perspective as a pervert, I can see how might miss this.

3. Well, there’s one more museum I can’t trust. The National Museum of African-American History and Culture by the Mall in D.C.  will be showing and old documentary on Angela Davis titled, “Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners.” After the screening Davis will be interviews and answer questions. From Smithsonian’s press release press release:

“We all recognize that Prof. Davis is a figure for the ages, as fascinating to us now as she was at the height of her incarceration and trial” (in 1972)…[hers ]“is a quintessential American story of activism,” and that “because of her activism in support of social justice, she was criminalized and named on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.”

Why, of all places, is the Smithsonian engaging in fake history? From The Bulwark (and many other sources that corroborates this):

[Angela Davis] was tried for purchasing guns for a courtroom raid carried out by her lover George Jackson’s brother, Jonathan, whose use of these guns in a shootout (while attempting to flee) killed one of the four people he had taken hostage, a man named Judge Harold Haley. The purchase of these guns was easily traced to Davis who, rather than surrendering, fled to avoid being captured. She was eventually found at a motel on 8th Avenue in New York City, where she was taken into custody, having been charged by superior court judge Peter Smith with “aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder.”

Rather than working for civil rights in the manner of Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, or A. Philip Randolph, Davis was a leader of the American Communist Party, and a member of the violent and armed Marxist group, the Black Panther Party. After her arrest, the international Communist movement declared her a martyr and Moscow orchestrated an international group of gullible Europeans who proclaimed her innocence and demanded her freedom. In Communist East Germany, school children were told to write postcards to her expressing their support and solidarity.

At her trial, the jury surprisingly found her innocent even though 20 witnesses had testified against her. Careful investigation later revealed how compromised the jury was. One of the jurors, Mary Timothy, would go on to have an affair with Communist Party member (and head of the official Committee to Free Angela) Bettina Aptheker. Immediately after Davis was acquitted, another jury member faced the reporters and TV networks and gave them the clenched-fist salute regularly used by revolutionaries. That juror, Ralph Delange, explained “I did it because I wanted to show I felt an identity with the oppressed people in the crowd . . . and to express my sympathy with their struggle.”

Great…just what we need: Communist indoctrination at the Smithsonian.


Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/26/19: Preoccupied Edition

Good morning.

I’m somber these days. Our beloved Jack Russell, Rugby, now approaching 16, suddenly went from remarkably immune to aging to feeling his age, seemingly overnight. He doesn’t seem sick, and it’s true that he has bounced back before, but Rugby’s unalloyed joy at the prospect of a walk has always been a source of great entertainment in our home, and last night, literally for the first time, he was unenthusiastic, slow and grudging, so much so that I cut our excursion short.  14-15 is pretty much the expiration date for this hardy breed; based on Rugby’s predecessor, they go full-speed until they suddenly stop. I’m trying to find my way to rationally and compassionately prepare myself and my family for the inevitable, which we were able to ignore just a week ago. So far, I’m not finding it.

1. Gee, I wonder who’s censoring me now? The last couple days have witnessed another inexplicable drop in Ethics Alarms traffic, and I find myself wondering, especially in light of Project Veritas’s recording of the Google exec, wondering if another social media platform is out to bury Ethics Alarms.

The Google tape is alarming, and should alarm progressives and conservatives alike.

The target,  Google’s head of innovation, is spinning and rationalizaing—and, it seems, lying,  at Medium. she complaining that she was duped by Project Veritas (Yes, we all know that) deflecting the real issue by playing victim, claiming that  “an enormous collection of threatening calls, voicemails, text messages and emails, from people I’d never met” have been coming her way. That’s regrettable, but subsequent unethical conduct in response to one’s revelations of unethical conduct do not excuse the latter.

The victims of Project Veritas stings literally say the same thing every time. Here is Jen Gennai’s version:

[T]hese people lied about their true identities, filmed me without my consent, selectively edited and spliced the video to distort my words and the actions of my employer, and published it widely online.

Watch the video. (YouTube, which is owned by Google, took it down almost immediately, even though Democracy Dies In Darkness, or perhaps because it does). The statements that suggest something sinister are not “spliced,” and Gennai can’t explain what the words mean if they don’t mean what they sound like they mean, statements like… Continue reading