Tag Archives: accountability

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Good Hoax?” (2)

rape-on-campus

 

I still can’t sleep.

This is the second Comment of the Day on this October 18 post, a surprise one for Pennagain, since I didn’t even flag it at the time. Again, I’m sorry. I don’t know what was up in October; it also ended with the worst traffic here of any week for more than two years. Obviously, it was a protest over my dilatory posting of the fine work by my commenters.

This one is a triple COTD, made up of three by Penn, who properly raised the specter of Samantha Erdly in the context of hoax research. Erdley is the Rolling Stone journalist who inflicted the “Jackie” tale of an imaginary gang rape at the University of Virginia, an earlier assault of truth and due process by the “believe all women” crowd. (Ethics Alarms covered the episode in a series of posts.). I just re-read Pennagain’s comments, made in a discussion with Alizia Tyler, who earns an assist. Excellent observations, and a valuable assist in making sure this journalistic outrage is never slipped down the memory hole, as so many would love it to be.

Here is Pennagain’s Comment of the Day on Ethics Quiz: The Good Hoax?:

As far as hoax articles appearing in either reputable journals or popular publications (rarely the same thing), if I weren’t an atheist, I would damn them all to hell. What I have in mind as an example that should need no further elucidation here is the piece knowingly published by Rolling Stone that included the false rape stories and statistics responsible for poisoning much of a culture, not to mention its politics….

“In November 2016, a federal court jury found Samantha Erdely was liable for defamation with actual malice” and that “Erdely and Rolling Stone failed to engage in “basic, even routine journalistic practice”

Her background reveals a start in college, when her colleague Stephen Glass ‘threw a righteous fit’ after she and a another student “concocted a funny and obviously made-up travel story” for the school magazine.” [Glass, you may not know, later became nationally notorious for inventing false stories published as factual journalism in the highly respected The New Republic, seriously harming its reputation.] Erdely was obviously already toxic before she left school. If you’re curious, her Wikipedia bio contains descriptions of six other major rape stories she invented out of whole cloth and used to smear real people and institutions, articles that in at least two cases went up for major journalism awards. As a self-appointed expert in rape and bullying, her work went into GQ, The New Yorker, Mother Jones, Glamour, Men’s Health, Philadelphia, among other lesser magazines. She was believed. The more she got away with, the greater the lies she invented … until, after twenty wonderful years of conning millions of people, she got over-confident and lazy, and plagiarized a previous article of her own. Until someone finally noticed that the Rolling Stone piece bore too many similarities to another one to be coincidental.

For twenty years, from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, Seattle to Florida, she built a reputation for being the go-to journalist on the subject of rape. No one doubted her. Witnesses later spoke out using her writing as statistical evidence — women (and so many men who had been falsely accused) and feminists in particular — had absorbed every precious word – even against the evidence of their own knowledge and experience in the times and places Erdely was writing about.

A month ago, September 21, 2018, Rolling Stone was also found “liable for defamation.” It was noted in the case against Erdely that the magazine hadn’t been doing too well before they glommed onto that gem of Samantha, aka “Jackie,” the fictional rapee.

Last week’s headline: WaPo Reporter Is Tired of Being Reminded He Fell for Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s Hate Hoax So Badly He Called for Burning Down UVA Frat Houses

I now amend my description of the poisonous piece: It is a “hate hoax.”

No, Alizia, poisons do not, in general, lead to death. They lead to minor discomfort in some, and major permanent damage in others; some knock you on your ass right away, and some creep insidiously into your brain over months or years. The public remembers things they read and hear. They (I won’t say “we” because I became skeptical reader at the age of 12 after a defamatory article was published in a local newspaper concerning a friend of my family concerning something that happened while I was present and knew to be a lie. I had been visiting one of their children, a classmate, at the time the incident took place, or rather, didn’t take place. My testimony was taken down, along with his, not discounted, but the editor of the paper would not print a retraction because, he said, “we don’t want to confuse our readers; they expect the truth, and that is what we give them.” Our parents wanted that in writing; naturally, he refused.

I am convinced that what is presented in a plausible manner from an authoritative source (which could be the 10 o’clock news or a magazine with a reputation for having its journalistic thumb on the pulse of young America) is frequently taken in without the auditor, viewer or reader later recalling the source. If they didn’t question it in the first place, they not only don’t question it later, but, when challenged, they will deny or dismiss any correction out of sheer embarrassment, egotism, mental laziness or, in the case under discussion, because they want to believe it.

As has been pointed out in Ethics Alarms before, the left, on the whole, has taken the anomalous position of being at once both victim and dictator. Thus, the concept of a Rape Culture is heaven for them: they are, collectively, the injured parties … and the ones who injure, including any who are capable of doing injury, are now at their mercy — via 30-year-old wisps of memory, anonymous join-the-conga-line #MeToo-ers, a casual touch on the shoulder, or a dirty-dirty word in their ears. They feed on lies more than on facts – the truths are painful, but the lies are more … emotional, memorable, dramatic, arousing . . . . They need to feed the addiction even when they know it is poison…

The fact in this matter is that Erdely, falsely or idiotically or crazily or not, believed she was doing something fine and high-minded “for women,” and to alert a deaf public (and via that route influence authorities) that there was “a rape problem” that needed to be addressed. In her mind, the ruining of a single man (or a whole college fraternity) was insignificant in terms of getting her message “out there.”

In other words, her cover (if you will) was in presenting these gross exaggerations as hoaxes. I may have taken you in the wrong direction by quoting the court decisions concerning malicious intent. The articles undoubtedly did “malicious” damage. So where am I? What Erdely believed (and apparently still does) has been shown to be shared by much of the public touched by it — including a proportion of men who don’t understand they are simply seeing themselves as heroic exceptions, or else thinking they are disguising themselves to live in the midst of an Amazonian tribe that wants to cut their balls off (that was an irrelevant side-bar, sorry, I do that a lot, letting off steam). Here’s what happens when someone with a cause and a vague concept of how bad the situation is gets hold of what she thinks are solid statistics, intended as a righteous hoax: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/12/06/msnbc_panelist_we_live_in_a_culture_that_hates_women.html

I rest my case.

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Comment of the Day, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship

Unfinished World Series Ethics Business

Today the victorious Boston Red Sox took their now traditional duck boat parade through Boston and down the Charles River, so even for the Sox, the 2018 season is officially done.  My job isn’t however, because there were two striking examples of moral luck and consequentialism during the World Series, and apparently I was the only one who noticed.

I. The “Bad News Bears” moment.

When Red Sox Game 4 starter Eduardo Rodriguez surrendered what seemed at the time to be a decisive three-run homer to Yasiel Puig, putting the Sox behind in the 6th inning 4-0, he angrily hurled his glove to the mound. Commentators joked about how he resembled the Bad New Bears’ combative, potty-mouthed shortstop Tanner in the Little League classic, but other than the ribbing, nobody criticized “E-Rod.” Indeed, his manager, Alex Cora, exonerated him for the home run, saying that he, the manager, screwed up by letting his tiring pitcher face the dangerous Puig.

Yet earlier this season, Boston reliever Carson Smith, regarded as an important member of the Red Sox relief squad, threw his glove in the dugout after giving up a home run, and partially dislocated his shoulder. He was lost for the season, and both team officials and Boston sportswriters blamed Smith for his injury. He injured himself you see. It was stupid and selfish, and showed him to be unprofessional and untrustworthy. Many thought Smith should be fined, or even released. Yet it was a completely freak injury. It wasn’t as if Smith had punched a wall or a water cooler. Baseball players throw their gloves all the time, and I’ve never seen it injure anyone. So why was Carson Smith treated as a pariah for throwing his glove, but Eddie Rodriguez doing the same thing shrugged off? The only reason is that Smith’s angry gesture happened to injure him , which nobody, including Smith, could have predicted. In fact, Rodriquez was more, much more, irresponsible than Smith, because he knew throwing a glove could cause an injury. He knew, because it happened to Smith. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History, Leadership, Sports

Unethical Quote Of The Month, And Also KABOOM!: Pope Francis

“Because of our sins, the Great Accuser always takes advantage – we read in the first chapter from Job – he roams looking for someone to accuse… he is accusing us strongly, and this accusation becomes persecution as well. …And there is also another type of persecution, of continuous accusations to dirty the Church: the Church must not be dirtied. The children yes, but not the mother, and the mother defends herself from the Great Accuser with prayer and penance. That’s why I asked to pray the Rosary, Our Lady, Saint Michael the Archangel. It’s a difficult moment because through us, the great accuser wants to attack the mother. And you don’t touch a mother”.  

—- Pope Francis, addressing the closing session of a synod of bishops at the Vatican yesterday, claiming that the Catholic Church has been persecuted through accusations related to the clerical child sex-abuse scandals that have undermined the credibility of the papacy and church hierarchy.

I’m really mad at my head for exploding over this. Surely it isn’t a surprise, not after the ongoing accountability-ducking and finger-pointing the Pope and his Church have been engaged in while innocent children are buggered by priests worldwide. Yet somehow I did not, and apparently my head did not, believe that the Pope would be so callous, tone-deaf and, frankly, stupid as to play the victim card when it is not only invalid but guaranteed not to work. “How dare anyone accuse us of covering up child abuse when we have been covering up child abuse for decades, and probably centuries! How dare anyone imply that the Church is accountable when its priests molest children and its leadership choose to protect the molesters instead of the victims!” This is essentially what the Pope is saying (it sounds different in Italian), and he really seems to be oblivious to how awful it not only sounds, but is. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Kaboom!, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy

A Jumbo, And It WORKS! Double Standards, “Beyond A Reasonable Doubt” And The Judge’s “Toy”

Here is a rare case where a Jumbo (as in Jimmy Durante’s desperate “Elephant? What elephant?” defense when caught stealing the biggest pachyderm alive in the Broadway show “Jumbo”) actually worked.

Judge Joseph Claps of Cook County, Illinois, was acquitted this week on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon into a prohibited area, reports the Chicago Tribune. 

You see, a gun, or what looked like a gun and sounded like a gun when it hit the floor appeared to fall out of Claps’ jacket when he was entering the courthouse. The judge was licensed to carry, but it is still illegal to bring a firearm into the building. Sheriff’s deputies testified they believed the object was a gun, but they didn’t intervene because they weren’t sure whether the judge was allowed to have the weapon, and because, well, he was a judge.

Did Judge Claps admit he screwed up and accept the consequences like a trustworthy, honest public servant? No! He went to trial, and allowed his lawyer to argue that prosecutors couldn’t prove the “object” was a gun. ( “Gun? What gun?”) Claps’ lawyer argued that the dropped object could have been a replica or a toy. “It could have been a cap gun,” Breen said. “It could have been a water pistol. It could have been a lighter, a cigar lighter. It could have been anything.” Anything that looked like a gun sufficiently to convince the security personnel that it was a gun. And really, we all know how judges sometimes carry water pistols and cap guns into court! Continue reading

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Mostly Non-Baseball Ethics Musings While Nervously Watching The World Series [UPDATED!]

1. Dave Roberts did indeed get a standing ovation from the Boston fans when he was introduced in the pre-game ceremonies. As I promised…

2. Another family has written an attack letter against a member running for office. This is the second instance of this ugly campaign tactic this election  cycle. I don’t care what party is involved, or who the candidates are. Amy family members who would do this are contemptible.  The Laxalt family members, the culprits this time, even wrote that they didn’t know their target very well. If they don’t know him, why do their opinions matter?  Have they no decency? Has no one any decency?

3. I thought my left-wing echo-chamber addled Facebook friends were kidding when they suggested that President Trump and the Republicans were paying for the herd of illegal aliens marching on our borders. No, apparently some progressive pundits and journalists are actually claiming this, with a Blasey Ford level of evidence. You know, none. So illegal immigrants, encouraged by open-borders rhetoric from American progressives, Democrats and the biased news media, set out to force themselves past our laws and borders, and because this display risks enlightening the public about just how irresponsible and dangerous the left’s romanticized fantasy about illegal immigration is, they are denying that it’s real, and blaming it on Trump. Amazing.

4. Now here’s a campaign controversy you don’t see very often: the Democratic  candidate for the Minnesota State legislature may have married her brother. I  might argue that such incest is not necessarily relevant to her qualifications as a legislature, except that there is evidence that the marriage was a factor in possible immigration fraud and student loan fraud. Continue reading

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Filed under Facebook, Family, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Sports, Workplace

Comment Of The Day: “The Attack Of The Unethical Women”

Here is William Gauci’s Comment Of The Day, his first, on the post, The Attack Of The Unethical Women: 

“Still Spartan” on September 20, 2018 at 9:26 am: quoting you: “Imagine someone you may have harmed.”

“Exactly, imagine someone YOU may have harmed. The onus is on YOU to apologize — not on her to come forward and make you apologize. And even if you think you did nothing wrong, hey just an indiscretion, she wasn’t into it — if a girl runs away you, jumps out of the car, starts crying, etc. then every single alarm bell in YOUR head should go off that maybe you did something wrong and that you need to make amends. Or, even if you think you did nothing wrong, it’s probably safe to check with her because that is what a decent human being does. And if you don’t do that out of fear that you might go to jail, get suspended, or heck — mommy and daddy might ground you for underage drinking or trying to have sex with a younger girl, then no sympathy.”

In a perfect and enlightened world where everyone is self aware and able to view the world through many different lenses, I could agree. But in reality, I don’t think you’ll frequently see this scenario happening in practice, especially with younger people who tend to not be as able to see the long term consequences of their actions.

Also we have the issue of perception. The recent fictional series “13 Reasons Why” was a good example of this. The underlying premise I got from watching it, was how very different each person can perceive and be effected by a single or series of events. For the now grown Professor Ford in this scenario, it may well have been a traumatic and life affecting episode. For the young man who could very well be a self centered, egotistical jackass at the time, just another night out partying and trying to have some fun. No more memorable than that. So both of these people may very well be telling their perception of the truth, and how very different they remember or don’t remember the very same event. Continue reading

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Call Me Cynical, But When A Religious Leader Responds To A Scandal This Way, I Check My Pockets…

The Pope takes a page from Jimmy’s playbook!

Last week the Vatican  began a three-week-long assembly to discuss how to bring young people back into the Catholic Church. As the Synod of Bishops began, Pope Francis said, “This moment has highlighted a church that needs to listen.”

No, the moment  highlights a church that needs to stop letting its priests molest kids.

Protesters have been much in evidence at the gathering,  denouncing what they (and I) see as the Vatican’s refusal to take necessary actions to ensure that sexual predator priests and those who cover up for them be stopped. Said one protester, a victim himself, “They should center the discussions where it hurts most — and this is the outrageous abuse of power, and the thousands and thousands of children and young people hurt by officials of the church in the last decades all over the world. You can’t discuss youth without talking about this point.”

Other victims held up placards demanding, “No More Cover Up”; “Make Zero Tolerance Real”; “Establish an International Inquiry and Justice Commission”  in Italian and English.

So far, the Pope’s approach to the renewed scandal has been to point fingers, or change the subject. He did publish a letter in August that appeared to be a holy, Italian version of “huminahuminahumina,” as Ralph Kramden used to say when words and wit failed him in a crisis. That the Pope’s efforts to either ignore, or duck, or spin his accountability for the fact that children are still not safe around priests almost 20 years after the scandal of high-level cover-ups and the facilitating of serial sexual assaults in the Church across the globe were not going well became clearer than ever last week, when Francis adopted the same tragedy used by Jimmy Swaggert, Jim and Tammy Lee Baker, Ted Haggard and so many other TV evangelist con artists did when they were caught either with a hand up a dress or in the till.

He blamed the Devil. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy