And Today’s “Madness! Madness!” Item Of The Day: “The Unintentional Racism Found In Traffic Signals”

I didn’t make that title up. “The Unintentional Racism Found in Chex Mix,” I made up. Not  the other one.

You can read the article here.

The writer, David Kaufman, says in the article that he is black, so I’ll take his word for it. I’m not going to fisk or rebut the piece, any more than you would take the time fir rebut my Chex Mix conspiracy theory, if I really wrote it down. Both articles inhabit the special category  of “res ipsa loquitur” reserved for things that, without further analysis or explication, prove that their creator is mentally ill, or, in the alternative, trying, for whatever reason, to make people believe waht isn’t so, or, possibly engaging in satire. When you  read the article, the latter possibility is quicklyerases, and so is the second. The author is serious. He is deranged.

Here’s one section, just to illustrate:

“And there you have it: The government-approved origins of the “little White men” telling us to cross the street at corners across New York….I am now convinced that technology and necessity, rather than some anti-Black conspiracy, propelled the shift from verbal crosswalk cues to a lunar-white Walking Person. But my heart still sinks at the specter of teaching my sons to ask a White man for permission to do — well, anything. Because so much of the world already insists that we do.”

Continue reading

Warning! You Never Know What Someone Is Going To Decide Is Racist…

These four Jimmy John bozos were fooling around, playing with dough. One made a noose with the dough, except that nooses aren’t made out of dough, so it wasn’t a noose. He then looped the dough-noose over his neck, as you can see. Then they posted the hilarity on YouTube.

  • They would not have done this, presumably, if they thought it was a demonstration of racism.
  • There were no African Americans present who could decide that the dough-noose was some kind of threat.
  • Nothing in the video suggests a racist attitudes or a racial motive….

Continue reading

Tuesday Ethics Tidbits, 7/7/2020: Goodbye To “Social Q’s,” Faithless Electors And A Weenie Judge

1. I’m cancelling Philip Gallanes. The advice columnist in the Times’ Sunday Styles section has provided some interesting topic for discussion here, but there have to be some consequences for irresponsibly spreading propaganda and falsehoods, even if they are sanctioned by his employers. In response to a “Social Q’s” query from someone who was annoyed that a neighbor had posted a “Defund the Police” sign and asked if it would be ethical to eschew calling the cops if she saw her neighbor’s house vandalized (Answer: Of course not.), Gallanes had to give readers the whole set of George Floyd Freakouts talking points:

“Many of the reports I’ve read about defunding the police focus on limiting the deployment of armed police officers to situations where they may be necessary and helpful — such as violent crimes. Many activists point to the large share of state and local budgets dedicated to police services when many calls to police (about persistent homelessness or family conflicts, for instance) would be better handled by social workers. Why not redirect some police funds to affordable housing and mental health services, they ask?”

Then why not say what you mean, I ask? Defund means defund. I resent this dodge.

“Still others would like to dismantle the current model of policing, as Minneapolis has pledged to do, and reimagine community safety given the frequency with which officers kill unarmed Black men and women.

And how’s that working out so far for Minneapolis, Phil? The frequency in which officers kill unarmed Black men and women is called “infrequently,” and the frequency is decreasing. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Timing!

Remember this post about the woman who called the cops on a bird-watcher who told her to leash  her dog?

At the end of May, right before a vicious Minneapolis cop (but not necessarily a racist one) knelt on Georg Floyd’s neck and set off a series of events that are too insane and serious to describe in a long introductory clause, the pundits and social media were buzzing about Cooper vs Cooper, the confrontation in Central Park that prompted Amy Cooper to dial 911 and  say that “an African American man” was threatening her life. Christian Cooper, the black bird-watcher, videoed the whole exchange, posted it, and Amy was quickly relegated to Cancelled For Racism Hell, losing her dog, her job, and maybe getting banned from Central Park.

I assumed that Amy’s  public shaming had been truncated by the George Floyd Freakout, but no: yesterday we learned that New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.  has charged her with falsely reporting the confrontation, a misdemeanor. She was ordered to appear in court on Oct. 14. Continue reading

Still More From The Ethics Alarms “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!” Files, Double Standards Section

As various wags have noted recently, the partisan, ideologically-driven and deliberately manipulative mainstream news media isn’t even trying to hide its bias any more. It openly is taking sides, and the news media isn’t supposed to take sides when reporting events. Nor is it supposed to frame what it reports in ways that warp a reader’s comprehension of it.

Two details are notable in the items above. First, the Post report refers to the individuals as vandals or engaging in vandalism rather than as protesters, as was the apparently agreed upon terminology when describing various statues being defaced or toppled. This was a typical report:

CNN: Protesters tore down a George Washington statue and set
a fire on its head: A crowd of protesters gathered around a statue of George Washington in Portland, Oregon, on Thursday night and lit a fire on its head before…

Second, the race of the protesters is never mentioned unless they are white…and, as the previous post demonstrated, sometimes the report attempts to make the reader think a white-supremacy minded  individual engaged in wrongful conduct even when the miscreant wasn’t white.

There was a third bit of sinister misdirection in the evidence above; at least it fooled me. Slogans painted in block letters on a street do not constitute “murals.”  When I read the media reports, I assumed that artwork was destroyed.

This is a mural:

This  (in D.C.) is government propaganda:

The definition of “mural” specifies that it is on a wall or ceiling

Streets don’t count, yet somehow multiple news media sources deci—all on their own!—to use a word that was  misleading, and made the act seem like something other than it was. What a coincidence!

It did nor require an artist to create this “mural, “or to design it;  it took a few government employees with yellow paint and big stencils. In fact, I’d be tempted to call painting political slogans on public streets vandalism by the government. Legal vandalism.

The stories also demonstrate that the city governments and the news media are allied, which should make fans of democracy nervous. Police aren’t looking for those peaceful protesters who tore down the Christopher Columbus statue in Baltimore’s Little Italy and threw it in the bay, but the police have the bloodhounds out for the pair of white vandals who painted over “Black Lives Matter.”

Final notes:

  • It’s all vandalism, unless those destroying public property allow themselves to be arrested and charged. Neither the white vandals nor the raceless protesters who protest by engaging in vandalism but the media won’t call it that because they approve of tearing down the statues of Founders, Presidents and others had the guts or integrity to  accept the consequences of civil disobedience.
  • City governments should not be plastering the political views and biases of its elected officials on city property. “Black Lives Matter” is no more legitimate than “Vote For Biden,”  “Eat at Joes” or “Mayor Muriel Bowser is God” (no, not mural. Cut that out!) I hope lawsuits against this ominous trend succeed: giant block letters telling us what to think is in the same noxious category as giant portraits or Lenin, Stalin or Mao.
  • Increasingly. “Fact Don’t Matter” to the news media: the “movement” does, the “resistance” does, social justice “by any means necessary” does. This means that, also increasingly, we have no news media, just partisan agents. The Founders whose statues are being toppled believed that democracy was impossible without a free (and responsible) press.
  • They were right.

 

Unethical Tweet Of The Week, “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!” Files: ABC News

When ABC posted this today, the name and identity of the driver of the car was known. He is African American. The New York Times and others had the complete story.

ABC deliberately used “luxury car” to suggest a wealthy white racist. If you really think that choice of words, without the name of the driver who bears that good, old Anglo-Saxon name of Dawit Kelete, wasn’t deliberately chosen to mislead readers, you are  among the perfect victims of mainstream media manipulation.

Fox News pundit and wit Greg Guttfield tweeted, fairly and appropriately,

Your social media followers, friends and relatives who still say that mainstream media bias is a conservative conspiracy theory are insulting you and undermining your rights as a citizen. You should not, must not, passively accept this. If you do, you are  enabling the deceptions and the effort to manipulate public opinion for partisan gain.

Of course, there is always the explanation that your social media follower, friend or relative is a gullible dolt with the analytical ability of a hunk of cheddar.

In which case, I urge  you to ponder your questionable taste in associates.

Comment Of The Day: “Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 3…Ethics Fireworks (and Duds)!,” Item #5

Extradimensional Cephalopod lassoed itself a Comment of the Day (I love the image of a cepalopod using a lasso!) with his musings on why races were designated “black” and “white,” since the white/black dichotomy is so frequently used to describe good/evil.

Here is his—its?—Comment of the Day on the fifth item (about Twitter banning such words as “whitelist” and “blacklist”) in the post, “Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 3…Ethics Fireworks (and Duds)!”

I’ll be back at the end with a rather lengthy discourse of my own on this subject, because it’s a favorite of mine.

I actually find it annoying that on the one hand, human races (groups of humans who share some similarities in appearance) have historically been identified by colors associated with their skin, while on the other hand, completely independently and before meeting humans from other continents on a regular basis, Europeans started to use colors to indicate whether things are good or bad.

This etymology likely came about because when things rot they often turn black, and because blackness implies darkness (the absence of light), which most humans use to evoke ignorance, fear, or bad luck because they can’t see in the dark. (I use the metaphor of darkness in a much more neutral/benevolent sense, but that’s quite rare.) Interestingly, the color white is associated with death and mourning in many Asian cultures.

With the exception of finance (black ink marking positive numbers and red ink marking negative numbers), most historical evocations of the color black indicate evil, corruption, morbidity, or otherwise something negative. “Black heart,” “blackguard,” “black magic,” “black hat,” “black market,” “blackball,” “blacklist,” “black mark,” “black day,” “black comedy/humor”… Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Archives: Remembering The Amazing Elfego Baca

The previous post was discussing the topic of great Americans, and commenter valkygrrl asked about the statuary in the Capitol, where each state is allotted two statues to honor its past notables. This, in turn reminded me of my favorite New Mexican historical figure (who is not honored in the Capitol) and one of my favorite figures of the Old West, Elfego Baca (February 10, 1865 – August 27, 1945). There’s a post about him (with 11,621 and counting, there’s a post here about just about everything), and I decided that this was a good time to re-visit it, and him.

Baca is not only a Mexican-American, it could be argued that he’d be a more worthy member of the President’s Garden than a number of the “heroes” currently on the list…more fun, definitely.

Here’s the lightly edited post from 2013…Meet Elfego!

As frequent readers of Ethics Alarms know, I fervently believe that history is important, and that we all have a duty to remember and honor the remarkable Americans who have gone before us, their exploits, triumphs, struggles and achievements, both for our sake—for we can learn much from them—and theirs. I am constantly discouraged by the inspirational stories and fascinating historical figures who have nearly been forgotten. The schools don’t teach our children about them, and popular culture ignores them. This weakens the flavor and the power of our shared culture: it is wrong, that’s all.

I want to do my part to help keep alive the name and the story of a Mexican-American who may have faded from memory because the events of his life seem more fictional than real. Indeed, for most of my life, until a couple of years ago, I thought Elfego Baca was a creation of Walt Disney’s creative staff, who wrote a ten episode mini-series  called “The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca” for the “Disneyland” show (“Now…from Frontierland!”) in 1958. I loved that series, but it never occurred to me that the tales of a gunslinging, lawyer-sheriff in Old New Mexico could possibly have any connection to reality.

But they did. The real Elfego Baca was, if anything, even more improbable than his fictionalized counterpart, portrayed by a very young and athletic Robert Loggia, who is best known as the toy magnate who plays “Chopsticks” on the giant keyboard with Tom Hanks in “Big.” Loggia was one of my favorite character actors; he was also the drug lord killed by Tony Montana in “Scarface,” and the tough general in “Independence Day,” among many other memorable roles in a long career

Elfego Baca was born in Socorro, New Mexico in 1865. Elfego’s father was a gunfighter, and he wanted to be one too, though on the side of the law, so he would be less likely to go to jail, like his father did, for winning gunfights. The New Mexico territory was soon in the middle of a silver rush, bringing many outsiders into the region, a lot of them pretty wild. Baca acquired a sheriff’s badge through a mail-order house, and also bought two six-guns, which he taught himself to use with deadly precision.

A cowboy named Charley McCarty got drunk in the town where Baca was working as a store clerk, and did all the things you remember from old Westerns: whooping it up, shooting in the air, breaking windows, harassing townspeople, and bullying Mexicans by making them “dance” as he shot at their boots. Elfego Baca, then 19 years old, deputized himself by pinning on his fake badge and by the authority invested in himself, by himself, arrested McCarty at gunpoint. Continue reading

The President’s “National Garden of American Heroes” Is A Guaranteed Flop. Doesn’t Anyone Do Any Research Any More?

“So today, under the authority vested in me as President of the United States, I am announcing the creation of a new monument to the giants of our past. I am signing an executive order to establish the National [Garden] of American Heroes, a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live.”

President Donald J. Trump, in his otherwise superb July 3, 2020 Mt Rushmore speech.

Ugh. I winced when I read those words, and I’m sure I was not alone. Did the President just come up with that hare-brained idea on the spot? I hope so. I hope his staff is better than  to endorse or, worse, support such a terrible, half-baked idea. It is incompetent and irresponsible, and guaranteed to be divisive. Here are three unsolvable problems:

I. The project exposed itself as ill-planned and poorly conceived immediately. The initial list of “great Americans” looked as if it had been assembled by throwing darts at a poster, with someone coming in later to try to make politically correct additions. Here is the (incomprehensible) list, in alphabetical order:

• John Adams
• Susan B. Anthony
• Clara Barton
• Daniel Boone
• Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
• Henry Clay
• Davy Crockett
• Frederick Douglass
• Amelia Earhart
• Benjamin Franklin
• Ulysses S. Grant
• Billy Graham
• Alexander Hamilton
• Thomas Jefferson
• Martin Luther King, Jr.
• Abraham Lincoln
• Douglas MacArthur
• Dolley Madison
• James Madison
• Christa McAuliffe
• Audie Murphy
• George S. Patton, Jr.
• Ronald Reagan
• Jackie Robinson
• Betsy Ross
• Elvis Presley [2]
• Antonin Scalia
• Frank Sinatra
• Harriet Beecher Stowe
• Harriet Tubman
• Booker T. Washington
• George Washington
• Orville and Wilbur Wright

To only mention some of the choices that make no sense: How can the first group include Douglas MacArthur, who was justly fired for insubordination by President Truman, rather than Dwight Eisenhower, who coordinated the victory over Hitler in Europe, or his boss, General George Marshall? Why would Dolly Madison make the cut, while two far more important First Ladies, Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt, be omitted? I am an admirer of Davy Crockett, but he didn’t do much of anything except create the model for media-hyped celebrities and manage to get himself killed at the Alamo. There are, oh, I’d say several hundred more substantial “great Americans,” including almost every President, than Davy. If there is going to be an inventors on the list, why only the Wright Brothers? Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Alexander Graham Bell all were of equal importance.  Henry Clay’s naive compromises on slavery really did enable the slave trade. He’s a better choice than John C. Calhoun, but less deserving than Daniel Webster. Frank Sinatra? FRANK SINATRA? Ol’ mobbed-up Blue Eyes, leaving off Bing Crosby and Elvis, to name just two equally important pop singers? I’d have Sam Cooke, Buddy Holly, and Chuck Berry planted in the Garden before the likes of Sinatra. Meanwhile, why singers but no songwriters? Where’s Irving Berlin? Rodgers and Hammerstein? The Gershwins?  Hank Williams? Why singers but no dancers? Continue reading

Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/6/2020: Updates On Baseball, The Pandemic, The News Media, And The Little Girl Who Sang “Tomorrow” When We Needed To Hear It…Like Now

Chin up, everyone!

“Annie” opened in the gloom of the Carter Presidency and the Watergate hangover, and it’s hit ballad, “Tomorrow,” sung by a relentlessly optimistic orphan with her scruffy dog at her side, , became a sensation until everyone got sick of it.

Unlike so many child phenoms, there was a bright tomorrow for the original Annie, Andrea McArdle, the 12-year-old with the freakish belt.  She never made the leap to movies, but she has had a steller stage career that’s still going strong, aided by the fact that puberty was good to her, and her voice mellowed without losing its clarion strength. 

After “Annie,” McArdlehad starring roles on Broadway in  “Starlight Express,” “Les Miz,” “State Fair,” and as Belle in “Beauty and The Beast.” For the last 20 years she’s continuously starred in regional production and tours, national and international, of such shows as “Cabaret,””Gypsy” (as Mama Rose), “Mame” and “Hello Dolly,” and several times in “Annie,” though now, in middle age, she plays the little girl-hating comic villain, Miss Hannigan (third photo, first row).

But she can belt out “Tomorrow”…as should we all.

1. Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck update:

  • Apparently the memo has gone out to the mainstream media that highlighting the George Floyd Freakout/Black Lives Matter mob’s anti-America rampage isn’t helping the cause of getting rid of President Trump. Thus it’s back to fear-mongering about the pandemic. Sunday’s Times was filled with giant, scary maps with big red blotches, and the headline was “Virus Inundates Texas, Fed by Abiding Mistrust of Government Orders.” The only non-editorial content in that headline is “Texas.” Further down on page one, another headline about a story that literally has nothing to do with the virus begins, “As Virus Rages…”

In contrast, there was no mention of how protesters danced on the American flag and chanted “America was never great!” during D.C.’s Fourth of July celebration, or how D.C.’s BLM flack mayor Muriel Bowser allowed the mob to block traffic returning to Virginia after the fireworks.

  • When I saw this story last night, I predicted that it would receive far more publicity than the death of a relatively little known 41-year-old Broadway actor normally would warrant. The reason is that  Nick Codero died from a series horrific complications after being infected–a series of strokes, heart failure, lung failure, the necessary amputation of his leg.

The severity of his reaction without having any underlying conditions is obviously an anomaly, but I see on my Facebook feed that friends are already hyping it to argue that America should remain in lockdown until everyone is living on the dole and wearing rags.

  • It’s not going to work now. People are right not to trust “government orders,” since the states and cities have abused their power with arbitrary restrictions and inconsistent enforcement, made fatal miscalculations (like Gov. Cuomo’s dumping of infected seniors in nursing homes), and the waffling CDC, including Dr. Fauci, has no credibility at all. (Rand Paul’s criticism of Fauci in the Senate hearing last week was  fair and appropriate.) Major League Baseball, having committed to the season starting this month, is noting infections among players, getting them quarantined,  and moving forward, in contrast to the NBA cancelling its season after a couple of infections in the Spring.

Good. Play Ball! Continue reading