Week Before The Big Day Ethics Warm-Up, 10/26/2020: Most Of All, “Thank-You!”

Thank you

The big day, of course, is October 27. That is the 26th anniversary of my son’s birth, which occurred in a genuine hell hole (I’ve been there) in Russia. For reasons Watson and Crick could explain, Grant Viktor Bowen Marshall is very different from his father in many fascinating ways: he chooses his words carefully and keeps his own counsel; he is confident in his relationships with the opposite sex; he has the magic touch with all things technical and mechanical, including automobiles and computers; he couldn’t care less about such things as politics, dinosaurs, old movies, magic and live theater. But in ways B.F. Skinner would understand, maybe he’s not so different after all in the ways that matter: Grant has always refused to be influenced by the crowd and peer groups; he is not a follower; he seeks out knowledge and information, is a risk taker, and shares some of my stranger tastes and sources of amusement.

Best of all, my son is kind, thoughtful, honest and courageous, and Grace and I could not be prouder of him. He has weathered far more challenges in the first quarter of his life than either of his parents had to, and come out of those tests a better and stronger human being who, I am certain, will be equal to anything life throws at him from here on.

October 27 is also the anniversary of the day the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 after 86 years of frustration. At the time, I told Grant that he had the Sox to thank for the fact that I would never forget his birthday, unlike, for example, those of his grandparents and mother. That landmark still means a great deal to me, even in a season where, for the first time in more than 50 years, I will not watch a single World Series game, and because of the sport’s unconscionable groveling to Black Lives Matter, my relationship with the Boston baseball team is in serious question.

Now on to the real topic of this post..

1. Thank you, everybody. Over the weekend, I received in the mail a check for over 2100 dollars, the result of the generosity and appreciation demonstrated by 47 Ethics Alarms followers. (One additional reader sent a gift directly.) The unexpected bounty was the result of a GoFundMe appeal by prolific commenter Steve Witherspoon, prompted by this whiny post written during a low point earlier in the month. I swear that it was not calculated to prompt anything but Ethics Alarms’ readers’ understanding of my state of mind, which is relevant to what topics I choose and often my analysis of them.

I haven’t felt this humble—as you might guess, humility is not one of my hallmarks—since my father helped us out with a mortgage payment during a professional crunch, telling me at the time that he admired my decision to be a self-employed ethicist rather choosing other more lucrative and secure options available to me, and that he wished that he had been able to chose a pursuit that he felt mattered for reasons other than feeding the family and paying the bills.

As it happens, your gift, like Dad’s, comes at a propitious time in the journey of ProEthics, for the lockdown has been hard on the ethics business. The gesture is most appreciated, however, as what Steve intended it to be, which was as a demonstration by readers that what I’m trying to do here does have meaning and value, something that I questioned in the referenced post.

Thanks. I needed that.

I promise to continue to strive to raise questions and prompt discussions here on the wide range of ethical issues facing us all, as well as the others that I just find interesting, and hope you will too. And I want to say that I am grateful and thankful to all Ethics Alarms readers, not just those who responded to Steve’s kind appeal.

I ended that October 4 post by writing,

“My whole life’s goal has been to try to stimulate people  and to build things that have a valuable purpose. Right now writing the blog just feels like sitting around and complaining, and little else. That makes me feel impotent, petty, and old.”

Because of Steve and the rest of you, I do not feel that way today.

(Well, maybe just old.)

Sunday Ethics Cheer-Up, 10/25/2020: A Gaffe, A Cake, A Charge, And A Check

Well, I’m trying to cheer up, anyway. It’s raining, I’m behind in several projects, including several posts, I’ve been exhausted without good cause this weekend, and I’m depressed. I even broke out my anti-depression play list (21 pieces in all), with artists noted:

  • “One Fine Day” by the Chiffons
  • “The Man on the Flying Trapeze” by Spike Jones and His City Slickers, Doodles Weaver, soloist.
  • “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody” and “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” (Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall)
  • “Only You” by the Platters
  • “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond
  • The First Act Finale of “Iolanthe” and the Overture to “The Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan
  • “I’m a Fool,” by Elvis.
  • “Neverland,” sung by Mary Martin.
  • “The Star Spangled Banner” by Whitney Houston
  • “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “When I Saw Her Standing There” by the Beatles.
  • “Where the Boys Are” by Connie Francis
  • “La Mer”by Charles Trenet
  • “The Carousel Waltz” by Richard Rodgers.
  • “Runaround Sue” by Dion
  • “Tessie” by the Dropkick Murphys
  • “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash.
  • “A Christmas Festival” by the Boston Pops

If that group doesn’t restore my spirits, it’s time to head for the bridge.

1. I know Ethics Alarms has assigned Joe Biden’s now routine gaffes and misstatements to the Julie Principle category, but you have to admit, “We have the most extensive voter fraud organization in history” is special.

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“Systemic,” A Four Part Ethics Alarms Depression, Part III: Higher Education’s Systemic Rot

Not excused.

I promised not to pile on to ridicule the CNN legal analyst who for some reason only known by him and Priapus decided to—you know—while in the middle of a well-attended Zoom meeting, on camera. This presumably rendered the lawyer a permanent laughingstock whose career as a respected—well, not by me, but by progressive ideologues—commentator on law-related current events is probably kaput. It certainly should be kaput, but many have marveled that he has not been fired, just suspended, and some even are betting that after a “cooling off period,” he may be welcomed on CNN again.

I’ll take that bet.

Progressives and pundits are working so hard to spin his outrageous conduct that you would think he’s Bill Clinton or Joe Biden, worthy of the King’s Pass because of some unique value to the public, or at least to left-biased news coverage. He’s not; if there is one kind of expert that is as fungible as jellybeans, it’s legal pundits like…the guy whose name I promised not to mention again. But never mind that: any high placed employee of a company requiring public trust would be fired after an incident like this….including, I presume, a university professor.

Yet here comes University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education professor Jonathan Zimmerman to argue that masturbating on camera in a Zoom meeting is a “pseudo-scandal” rooted in Americans’ “collective unease with masturbation.”

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Time Op-Ed Writer Bret Stephens

shhhh

“It’s a compromise that is fatal to liberalism. It reintroduces a concept of blasphemy into the liberal social order. It gives the prospectively insulted a de facto veto over what other people might say. It accustoms the public to an ever-narrower range of permissible speech and acceptable thought. And… it slowly but surely turns writers, editors and publishers into cowards.”

Bret Stephens, intermittently conservative New York Times columnist, in an op-ed condemning the acceptance of censorship and self-censorship as norms by the modern Left.

Stephens is certainly on a roll lately. His previous column (effectively and accurately) condemning the pet Times race propaganda “1619 Project” for what it is (that is to say, cultural and historical toxic waste) was not his last, as many predicted, and apparently emboldened by his survival, Stephens is determined to “let it all hang out,” as they used to say in the Sixties. Once again, he is attacking his own paper, which has doubled-down in its determination to publish only the news it feels safe to let its readers know about.

It is telling that Stephens’ column was published in tandem this week with another attempt by the Times to hide the utter corruption of the Biden family from the public, at least until the election is over. Above the Stephens piece—also telling—is the poisonous Michelle Goldberg’s screed suggesting that the discovery of Hunter Biden’s incriminating (to both him and his father) laptop is more GOP “collusion.” The Times’ truly despicable headline: “Is the Trump Campaign Colluding With Russia Again?” Note “Again”: the Mueller investigation found no evidence of “collusion” by any American citizen, much less the Trump campaign (to be fair, it didn’t investigate the Clinton campaign’s Russian dealings), and yet the Times allows that lie to lead its Editorial page. Polls show (I know, I know: polls) that over 70% of Democrats still think the President won the election by colluding with Russia, and mainstream media descriptions like this is a main reason. And it’s intentional.

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“Abducted In Plain Sight”: Maybe People Really Are Too Stupid To Be Trusted With Democracy

Abducted

If that title sounds harsh, by all means watch the Netflix true crime documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight.” Otherwise, I’m not sure the ordeal is worth it, since it may throw you into a depression from which you never recover. That’s where I am now.

With the nation facing what might be—“I do believe in people, I do believe in people,” he says in his best Cowardly Lion imitation—an existential election, I really did not need any more reason to despair of the life competency deficit and declining mental state of the nation’s voters. In fact, I decided to watch “Abducted in Plain Sight” to take my mind off of The Big Stupid, with its ongoing efforts by the news media to keep Americans ignorant of the Biden scandal, the brain-melting tale of the Zoom adventures of He Who Must Not Be Named, and polls that seem to show that most of the American public is incapable of paying attention to matters that will effect their lives, family and nation.

Big mistake. What watching the 2017 award-winning documentary did was vividly remind me that normal, decent, religious middle-class Americans like those you live and work with may well be too moronic and irresponsible to be entrusted with children, never mind make decisions about leadership and public policy that will affect the rest of us.

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Morning Ethics Wake-Up, 10/20/2020: Being Kind To Jeffrey And Other Matters

happy wake-up

1. Time to leave Jeffrey Toobin alone in his misery. I assume this will be an awful day in an awful week for poor Jeff Toobin, now that the full story of his Zoom debacle is out and being commented upon in the social media.  I would like to make an appeal for the mirth and ridicule to be cut short and minimized. It isn’t a case of “he’s suffered enough.” It’s a case of “he’s going to suffer as much as its possible for a human being to suffer without being convicted of a crime and thrown in jail even if nobody says another thing about him in public.” This hasn’t happened before to a public figure: the closest was Anthony Weiner’s sexting women, and as humiliating as that was, it doesn’t come close to what Toobin’s Zoom botch has done to the legal analyst’s career, reputation and dignity.

I hope his family is standing by him; I hope he has a group of loyal and compassionate friends who will care for him now; I hope the popular culture shows that it is capable of compassion, though my optimism on the latter point is far from high. I fear for his life. I was trying to imagine something as emotionally devastating as Toobin’s level of personal and professional humiliation, and my mind kept flipping to the end of  the ugly thriller “Seven,” when police detective Brad Pitt murders serial killer Kevin Spacey after having a package delivered to him containing Pitt’s young wife’s severed head. Pitt’s character, who is presumably on his way to a long stay in a padded room, is actually better off than Toobin: at least he is completely blameless.

It’s not a good analogy, but it’s all I can think of.

Ethics Alarms will not be mentioning the Toobin-Zoom affair again. But before we never speak of this again, let me mention that in Ann Althouse’s blog post on the topic yesterday she wrote (in addition to “This may be the stupidest thing I have seen in 17 years of blogging”), “Who believes he thought he was off camera? Even if he thought he had “muted the Zoom video,” how could he not make absolutely sure before bringing his penis out…?”

I don’t know what goes through Ann’s mind sometimes. Did she think Toobin would deliberately torpedo his life? Of course he thought he was off camera!

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Was Today’s Women’s March In D.C. The Dumbest Protest Yet?

ProtestMarch

To be fair, it’s impossible to say. Almost all protests and demonstrations, even the ones that do not deteriorate into “mostly peaceful” riots, are silly, juvenile tantrums that cost money, waste time, inconvenience saner citizens and accomplish less than nothing. You can review the Ethics Alarms Protest Check-List: today’s mass scream by hysterical progressive women protesting the vote that hasn’t been cast in a case that doesn’t exist which would undo a SCOTUS decision that is  unlikely to be undone flunks on almost all points. Marcher Cherie Craft, a D.C. community organizer, told the Washington Post, “People think, you know, is this really making a difference?” Will it cause Judge Barrett not to be confirmed? Will it change the result of that so far imaginary abortion case that threatens Roe v. Wade? Will it make those who find abortion to be an ethical and moral abomination suddenly support abortion on demand?  No, no, and no. Might it cause some extra Wuhan virus cases that marchers will carry back to their states? Well, look at that photo above. I guess that’s something.

The hypocrisy of such an event while the mainstream media is attacking the President for so-called “super-spreader” events is palpable, and one of many reasons that there will be no effective shutdowns going forward. The pandemic hysterics, fascists and Democratic mayors—but I repeat myself– have no credibility. D.C. Muriel Bowser is being sued for banning outside church services, and yet allows this sardine-fest to go forward with her blessings.

Go ahead, rationalize that. Anyone. I dare you.

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Last Ethics Forum Before The Election!

high_noon

Ethics Alarms offers an Open Form approximately every three to four weeks, so it’s time. (It’s also time because a doctor’s appointment beckons.)

Both Althouse and Instapundit do this every day, and accumulate literally hundreds of comments, but to be fair, Althouse allows comments about anything at all, and Prof. Reynolds’ free-for-all has evolved into a political gag-fest where substance is rare (and poor taste runs rampant). The topic here is ethics, and I assume a high standard will be be maintained.

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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Personal Responsibility? What Personal Responsibility? The Washington Post Explains How Aspiring Supreme Court Justice George Floyd Was Destroyed by Systemic Racism

Screen shot of George Floyd mural

You think I’m kidding, don’t you? Sadly, I’m not.

Here’s a silver lining: thanks to the parade of bizarre and illogical demands and assertions during the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck and the concomitant “Great Stupid,” my head appears to be immune from explosions. (Is head immunity anything like herd immunity? A topic for another time…)

It is amazing—I would have once said head exploding—that anyone would attempt to sanctify a long-time criminal and blight on his community like George Floyd, much less get away  with it. Nonetheless, months after Floyd died after a  cruel and incompetent (but not racist) police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck, the news media and Black Lives Matter flacks are successfully selling the tall tale that his life was a tragedy of unfulfilled potential because he had the misfortune to live in the United States of America.

[Quick review: Floyd moved to Minneapolis after being released from Texas prison for aggravated robbery. He went to jail 5 times and as a perusal of his record shows, he can be fairly described as a career criminal. Floyd was a habitual lawbreaker, involved in drug abuse, theft, criminal trespassing, and aggravated robbery, who once broke into a woman’s home and pointed a gun at her stomach while looking for drugs and money. He had probably taken an overdose of fentanyl and methamphetamine at the time of arrest, and it is quite likely that this, and not Derek Chauvin’s knee, is what killed him.]

I’m old enough, more’s the pity, to remember the Sixties fad of arguing that all criminals were victims of  their upbringing and a Hobbesian society for those who were not white and rich, and that it was heartless to punish those who were really society’s victims, not its predators. This was a very old progressive trope, notably championed by Clarence Darrow, who argued that there is no free will, and that criminals are doomed from birth, this making it an abuse of power for society to punish them. This logic was the epitome of bleeding heart liberalism, and helped make the word “liberal” a term of derision. I did not expect it to make a comeback.

Yes, I’m an idiot.

Now, however, in no less a legitimate forum than the Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Griff Witte make the argument that if the U.S wasn’t so racist, Floyd, despite all outward appearances, might have been a great American.

Read the thing, take a while to tape your skull back together, and then resume reading here. Watch out;  this is the third paragraph, and it comes up quick:

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