Comment Of The Day : “Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns”

Today’s wet market special: bats! Yum-yum.

Let me introduce the Comment of the Day by once again acknowledging the consistently excellent contributions to Ethics Alarms made every day by the commentariat here. I know a lot of people who don’t read the comment sections of blogs and websites; heck, I usually don’t, and the reason I don’t is that they are almost uniformly horrible and depressing. Horrible, because even in the cases of some superb blogs, they are reliable pits of name-calling and hackneyed talking points I have read elsewhere, full of poor reasoning and biased, lazy opinions lacking support or genuine understanding. Depressing, because I know they are representative of the general public, perhaps even positively so, since the real mouth-breathers don’t read about substantive topics at all, and couldn’t write about them literately if they did.

I know I complain too much about the traffic here. Since what has been called “The Great Exodus,” when those slowly succumbing to Trump Derangement left in a huff because I insisted on refusing to join what is tagged here as the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, and Facebook arbitrarily and mysteriously knocked the pins out of a major source of circulation and growth by banning links to the blog, my hopes of reaching a sufficient audience  to allow some income-producing activities here have been dashed. I don’t do this for profit (obviously), but some income would help–as you might expect, this is especially on my mind now. I was this close to topping the 5000 views a day level that is the minimum required to monetize a blog at the end of 2016, then our angry progressive friends left, and even 4000 a day is usually a faint hope. Still, I can’t complain about the quality of the comments, which, if anything, is stronger than ever, as is the variety of views and topics that arrives through them. I really should be grateful for that, and stop bitching. Together we have a superb product, getting better after a decade.

Humble Talent is one of the reliable stars here, with a unique outlook and a no-nonsense style. Before I started annually failing to deliver The Best and Worst of Ethics Awards (2019 was the third straight flop; maybe next year…), he had been a recipient of Commenter of the Year.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, : “Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns”:

We don’t have any conception under God how many people are actually affected. We don’t know the morbidity rates. We don’t even know the number of people who have died from the Wuhan Flu.

I used to say that we knew the numerator when it came to deaths, and that the percentages that we were hearing were worst case scenarios, because the denominator was always going to be much, much higher, so the rate was almost certainly artificially inflated. That remains true when talking about cases coming out of first world democracies… We know, roughly, how many people died from Flu related complications, but we don’t know how many people have had the Flu. For weeks now, Canadians have been told that if they’re experiencing symptoms, but those symptoms are not serious enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room, they need to stay home. Either they have it and we don’t want it walking around outside, or they don’t have it and we don’t want them bringing exciting new complications into our medical centers. The massaging in the states has been mixed, but there’s a lot of similar sentiment out there. The vast, vast majority of people who think they have the Flu won’t be tested, and there is a large slice of the pie that get the Flu but never develop symptoms.

And then you have third world, tin-pot communist dictatorships like China, Information Black Holes like Russia and places that don’t have sufficient medical facilities like most of Africa. Who knows what the numbers are out of places like this? I’ve seen chilling images and video coming out of China, pictures of of cremation packages stacked up outside of funeral parlors because they ran out of room inside. I don’t know if that’s representative, but I think it’s likely. 40 million cell phone users have been cut off from the rest of the world in the heart of China, and China has not reported a single Flu related death in a week. Continue reading

Some Time Of Day Ethics Warm-Up, As All Temporal Distinctions Blur Into A Single Gray Miasma…

Wait…where the hell did she get that mask????

Oh, what’s the point?

1. When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring Dept. Frannie Skardon of the University of Virginia Law School Class of 2022 serves in the New York National Guard.  When it  was called up by Governor Andrew Cuomo on March 17,  UVA was offering its course online courses and her unit allotted her six hours a day to commit to law school studies. But, as she explained in an online petition she has posted,

To my surprise, the [UVA] administration  stated that I am in violation of Academic Policy I.H., which deals with employment while attending Law School. This policy states that “students may not engage in employment in excess of what is compatible with a full-time commitment to the study of law.” As a result of my unit’s activation, the administration has determined that I cannot complete the remainder of the semester.

The school refused to  issue a waiver because Skardon is being paid by the Army while activated, and said she would have to retake all of her classes in Spring 2021. Not only was this spectacularly dumb from a public relations perspective, it was also contrary to what other law schools have done in similar situations. However, after Skardon’s petition was flooded with signatures, and various web sites and, of course, social media excoriated the school, it reversed its decision.

Skardon informed the public in a letter to the editor of Virginia Law Weekly, saying:

“I would like to thank every person who signed my petition, wrote a letter, or shared my story. I am very moved at the outpouring of support and cannot thank each one of you enough. In less than a day, I received over 140 emails and 5,700 signatures.”

Unfortunately, there is a material difference between behaving ethically from the outset and only doing so after being metaphorically pummeled for a wrongful decision and reversing it out of self-interest. Continue reading

From Idaho, Common Sense Measures Regarding Transgender Competitors In Women’s Sports

Naturally, the common sense measures are being condemned as bigoted and unethical.

Idaho is now Ground Zero in the controversy over the ethical and equitable treatment of transgender individuals. In addition to the newly passed and signed Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which bans biologically male transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports events,  Idaho Governor Brad Little (a Republican, of course) signed a bill making it more difficult to change the sex designation on a birth certificate.

Ethics Alarms has discussed the transgender/women’s sports controversy in many posts. It’s admittedly a difficult ethics conflict that has played out in many strange ways across the country, including a female high school wrestler transitioning to male being forced to compete against females, and many instances of formerly male athletes competing as women crushing their double-X opposition while giving us photographs like this:

Female athletes who have protested the unfairness of this development, like Martina Navratalova, have been attacked as bigots, while some feminists have predicted that allowing trans athletes to continue to take advantage of their passing through puberty as males will destroy women’s sports, negating the salutary effects of Title IX, the law that made gender discrimination in sports illegal.  Idaho state Rep. Barbara Ehardt , who played basketball at Idaho State University and later coached Division I women’s teams, led the way in pushing the legislation through to law. “If I had had to compete against biological boys and men, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to play,” she told reporters. “Honestly, I know firsthand that we simply can’t compete against the inherent physiological and scientifically proven advantages that boys and men possess. We simply can’t do it, regardless of any hormone usage.”

Intersex competitors, like Caster Semenya, pose a different ethical problem. Continue reading

Yeah, “We’re All In This Together,” Except When Officious Fools With A Little Bit Of Power Have Dead Ethics Alarms, As They So Often Do.

 

….that is, if this infuriating story is true, which it might not be.

On an American Airlines flight with just eleven passengers, Yahoo! tells us, the flight attendants made all eleven sit in the last three rows, next to each other, because if they were allowed to spread out, they were told, it would be the equivalent of an upgrade. All eleven had purchased basic economy tickets. An unnamed American employee apparently revealed the episode, which occurred on March 24. That was the same day American started a new policy, specifically directing flight crew to spread out passengers to minimize the threat of Wuhan virus infection.

Now, as reported, this is mind-meltingly stupid. Some elements do need to be considered, however: Continue reading

I Have To Ask: Is This Really A Hate Crime?

Jose L. Gomez, 19,  is accused of stabbing three members of a family of four, including a 2-year-old and 6-year-old child,  that he encountered in a Texas store. The family was Asian -American, and the FBI’s report states “The suspect indicated that he stabbed the family because he thought the family was Chinese, and infecting people with coronavirus.”

Gomez has been charged with three counts of attempted capital murder and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Federal prosecutors are considering adding federal hate crime charges.

Obviously these are serious crimes, but why are they hate crimes? As I read the facts, no hate was necessarily involved, just fear and stupidity. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On A Case Study In Combining Bad Journalism With Bad Science

Yes, it’s the New York Times again. I use that paper for the majority of the Ethics Alarm unethical journalism posts for a few reasons. One is that the paper comes to my door every day, so I read a lot of articles that I might miss on the web.  Another is that the Times is the most successful and influential newspaper in the country,  and its work is more closely followed and more criticized than any other paper, and most news sources generally. The Times also advertises itself as the nation’s “paper of record,” placing itself on a pedestal with standards of integrity and reliability that it is obligated to meet….and does not. Finally, the paper is unacceptably biased in its political coverage and editorial product.

Today’s “Where America Didn’t Stay Home Even as the Virus Spread”  is far from then times at its worst. It is, however, unacceptable and unethical. I’m not even in disagreement with the piece’s main thesis, which is that the regions that have not imposed shelter at home restrictions on the public are at more risk of exploding Wuhan virus cases. That makes sense; that’s even obvious. However, the Times’s main tool in making a case was the map below, which it explained this way:

“Stay-at-home orders have nearly halted travel for most Americans, but people in Florida, the Southeast and other places that waited to enact such orders have continued to travel widely, potentially exposing more people as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates, according to an analysis of cellphone location data by The New York Times. The divide in travel patterns, based on anonymous cellphone data from 15 million people, suggests that Americans in wide swaths of the West, Northeast and Midwest have complied with orders from state and local officials to stay home.”

Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Or “What A %#$!@ Idiot!”

In more shocking news, I now have it on good authority that the Pope is Catholic…”

Kemp should resign over this.

Yesterday, Governor Kemp said he  had just learned some “new information,” and was “finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”

“Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” he said.

He added that the state’s top doctor told him that “this is a game-changer.”

He should resign too.

Game-changer? I knew that asymptomatic people could spread the disease after Dr. Fauci explained that in a press conference in late January. It was being openly discussed on television and in the news reports in early February. When I did my last live ethics seminar on March 5—in Atlanta!—the lawyers were all discussing the fact that they couldn’t be sure if they were infected, or if I was.

And this idiot goes to a podium and says;  ‘Stop the presses! I just found out that people who feel fine might still spread the virus!’ Continue reading