Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/23/19: War, Law, Silly Names And Silly Movies

Hi!

1  Every President should be hesitant to go to war.  It is amusing watching Democrats and the news media (B.I.R.M.*) trying to thread the needle and criticize the President for pulling back on the decision to retaliate against Iran with a military response, when the Left virtually always protests military action of any kind. It is particularly amusing since the whole Iran confrontation exposes how irresponsible, dishonest, cynical, and cowardly the “solution” to the Iran problem was that President Obama secretly engineered: the “Let’s give Iran billions of dollars back to cause terrorism and chaos throughout the world in exchange for a promise not to nuke Israel until I’m rich, retired, and can’t be expected to do anything about it” plan.

2. About the Massie case. Nobody took the bait and wrote about the Massie Trial in last week’s open forum, so allow me to explain why it’s relevant.

The legal and academic world is still reeling from Harvard’s punishing law school professor Ronald Sullivan for representing Harvey Weinstein, who, the supposedly educated student citizens of Harvard have apparently been taught to believe, doesn’t have a right to a fair trial and a zealous legal defense. In the Massie case, Clarence Darrow  came out of retirement in 1932 to defend Grace Fortescue, a rich Southern heiress who had traveled to Hawaii in order to seek justice for her wild and unreliable daughter, who accused five Hawaiian men of raping her. The trial resulted in a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury,  ramping  up racial tensions between whites and native Hawaiians. Fortescue paid to have one of the native Hawaiians her daughter accused, Joe Kahahawa , kidnapped and brought to her home in Honolulu, where he was tortured and shot. Grace Fortescue, Thomas Massie, and Edward Lord. Deacon Jones were arrested at the scene and charged with murder. Darrow, 74 and long absent from the courtroom, agreed to defend Grace even though she was obviously guilty, a racist, and the kind of rich, privileged bully that he has spent his career opposing.

L to R: Clarence Darrow, Edward Lord, Deacon Jones, Sheriff Ross, Grace Fortescue, Thalia Massie, Thomas Massie, and George Leisure

Why would he do it? Two reasons, said Darrow: he had been wiped out by the Great Depression and needed the money (he was paid $30,000) and he had always wanted to visit Hawaii. Darrow, you see, knew that every defendant deserved the best possible defense, even rich racist murderers. Continue reading

Memorial Day Ethics Warm-Up, 5/27/19: Gee, Can We Celebrate Those Who Die For Our Nation And Not Be “Nationalist”?

 

This, of course, was my father’s favorite Sousa march; he once mortified my mother by standing and doing a parade ground march routine on the Mall when they played it on the Fourth of July. You knew it has words, right?

1. Nah, there’s no mainstream media confirmation bias! Political scientist Time Magazine columnist and Donald Trump critic Ian Bremmer intentionally tweeted as fact a fake Donald Trump quote:

“Kim Jong Un is smarter and would make a better president than Sleepy Joe Biden.”

Immediately, the quote was picked up on social media by the Trump Deranged, mainstream media pundits, and some elected officials. Here’s ridiculous CNN contributor Ana Navarro, who exists on the network solely to attack the President as a “Republican”:

“Don’t shrug your shoulders. Don’t get used to this insanity. The President of the United States praising a cruel dictator who violates human rights, threatens nuclear attacks, oppresses his people, and kills political opponents, IS NOT FREAKING NORMAL.”

Note she also gets in one of the top anti-Trump Big Lies, that the President is “abnormal.”

Bremer’s quote was retweeted thousands of times, until he admitted that he made it up. This is using the web to spread falsehoods. He should be banned from the pages of Time and dismissed as an analyst and a pundit.

Incredibly, Ann Althouse defended the lie as satire, writing,

“Stupid of journalists and congressmen to retweet it as an actual quote, but there’s nothing wrong with “fabricating” it. Are we so humor deaf that we’re going to start denouncing comedians as liars?”

Ann needs an ethics check-up. There’s nothing funny about lying in a setting where many will believe you, whether the liar is a comedian or not. Nor was the quote humorous. Bremer was doing exactly what the unethical hoax news sites do when they deliberately publish fake news in a style and manner designed to fool people into believing it.

I guess we can’t assume that what Ann states as fact is true either. It might be “satire.” Continue reading

Althouse Ethics

Blogger Ann Althouse, who doesn’t write an ethics blog but does a good job flagging ethics issues and outrages, had an unusually ethics-centered day of blogging. Here are brief comments from me on four of her posts, which you should read. I had two of these in my queue, and I’m grateful to Ann for saving me some time I desperately need,

Ann notes how, in the Post comments to the article, which has nothing to do with Donald Trump, some people cannot help using the topic to attack the President, as she writes, “Trump Derangement Syndrome, symptom #1: When things aren’t at all about Trump, you visualize violence against him and get off on your vision.”

This is, in a nutshell, what Facebook is like, every day. I could spend all my time writing, “Do you listen to yourself? You’re completely consumed by blind hate of the President of the United States. Get help. You’re embarrassing yourself, and making  society divided and ugly. You, and everyone like you. Not him. YOU. “

This is why Democrats are deluding themselves if they think poor Joe is a viable candidate. They can’t possibly attack President Trump for being dumb, inattentive, incompetent, old or mentally unfit with Biden making gaffes like this—or worse—almost daily, and he will make them almost daily, Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

“There’s the Muellermania paradox — a highly emotional reaction to the way Trump seems to have been highly emotional. (Have you heard he said “I’m fucked” when he found out they’d appointed the special counsel?!!! That seems like a perfectly normal reaction to me but a lot of people are hyperventilating about how cahraaazzzeeee it is. Are they hyperventilaters mentally sound enough to be trusted?)”

—Bloggress and law prof Ann Althouse, commenting on the Mueller Report freakout.

I’m sitting here trying to get the Red Sox out of their slump, and Friday traffic here, as usual, has slowed to a trickle in the afternoon, and I tried to post a link on Facebook, encouraged by a commenter here who said  he had been successful, only to be, once again, told by Our Social Media Masters that I am unworthy, so I’m going to put up uncharacteristically brief posts as they occur to me.  The all-time record for posts here is seven. I should be able to beat that. I’ll read them.

The Red Sox are already losing 2-0.

Ann is essentially apolitical, but frequently annoyed, as I am, at the irresponsible, unfair and biased attacks on the President. Democrats are embarrassing themselves, pundits are embarrassing themselves,  “resistance” celebrities (like Rob Reiner–what made you this way, Rob?) and my Facebook friend bitter-enders are embarrassing themselves. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/7/18: Amazing Facts Edition: Every Marriage Is Bi-Racial, Fat Is Beautiful, Sex With Students Is No Big Deal, And Discrimination Is Good

Good Morning!

1. Are fake media stereotypes ethical if they are benign stereotypes? When my son was a young child, I watched a lot of children’s programming, and immediately noticed that almost every show had a computer nerd, tech genius character, and that character was almost invariably black. I get it: the idea was to fight pernicious stereotypes with opposite stereotypes, but neither stereotype was accurate. (Lots of prime time movies and TV shows for adults also perpetuated the black tech genius  trope, like “Die Hard,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and many others.)

Now Madison Avenue  or their corporate clients apparently want American to believe that inter-racial marriage is the norm. I literally could not care less who people marry, but I just sat through four TV ads in a row featuring black and white couples. I failed at my admittedly limited attempt to find out what current percentage of American married couples are bi-racial, but  the last study, which is nine years old, found that less than 9% of married couples consisted of a white and an African American spouse. That’s great, but the popular culture should be reflecting society, not using its power to manipulate it according to its own agenda.

2. Take this, for example:

This is part of new “woke” Gillette campaign. “Go out there and slay the day!” says the corporate tweet accompanying the photo.

Funny, I’ve been told that obesity has become a serious public health problem in the U.S.  Fat-shaming is wrong—the Woke still constantly insult the President by calling him fat, and that babe in the photo makes him look like Chris Sale—but fat glorification is irresponsible. But hey, what’s consistency when the idea is to virtue-signal like crazy? “[We’re]committed to representing beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, and skin types because ALL types of beautiful skin deserve to be shown. We love Anna because she lives out loud and loves her skin no matter how the “rules” say she should display” says Gillette. Continue reading

No, Ann, The Fact That The Accusation Against Joe Biden Was a “Hit” Doesn’t Mean It Wasn’t Necessary And Right.

Ann Althouse has fallen into the Biden harassment rationalization trap.

How disappointing.

She writes,

“I’m not a Joe Biden fan. I thought he was loathsome in the 2012 VP debate with Paul Ryan (live-blogged here (“Ryan is speaking earnestly about preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and Biden is chuckling toothily, his body shaking like Santa Claus”)). And I’m a longtime opponent of sexual harassment (and kept true to the position even when Bill Clinton, the first person I ever voted for for President who won, got accused of it). But this hit job has made me sympathetic to Joe. I’m surprised how distinct and strong my emotional reaction is.”

So am I.

As regular readers here know, Althouse is one of my most quoted commentators here, because she is objective and usually perceptive.  Her mistake in sympathizing with Biden, however, betrays some kind of ethical blind spot. This is the common confusion of motive with conduct.  If the conduct is objectively ethical, then the fact that there may be less than ethical motives behind it doesn’t change anything about the ethics verdict. No doubt about it, the first of the accusations against Biden for sexual harassment and misconduct (There have been more since ) came from a Bernie devotee, and was, as Ann says, a political hit. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Refresher, 3/24/2019 [PART I]: Bad News And Disenchantment

It will be a

Good morning!

if I stay away from the network talking head shows…

1 Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Ann Althouse has a valid observation (some commenters feel it has been obvious for a long, long time) this morning…she writes in part,

I’m seeing 2 big examples of how the media are reporting good news for Trump this weekend. It’s really embarrassing for them because the 2 stories are very big and very good for Trump and, in both, the same move is made to turn it into something negative and ominous.

1. The Mueller investigation has concluded, and though we can’t read it yet, we know that it means that there will be no charges against Trump or any of his people that have to do with colluding with Russians to affect the election. Though some Russians were charged and some of Trump’s people were charged with lying to investigators, the whole reason for the special investigation seems to have been a phantom. After 2 years of uncertainty and anxiety, this is an immense relief and vindication for Trump. Fantastic, upbeat news. Now, here’s how the NYT is presenting the story on the top, left corner of its front page:

As Mueller Report Lands, Prosecutorial Focus Moves to New York

The work by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, may be done, but prosecutors in Manhattan and elsewhere are pursuing about a dozen other investigations.

It all but ensures that a legal threat will continue to loom over the Trump presidency.

2. Under Trump, the Islamic State has been ousted entirely from the territory it had taken over. This is a distinct, satisfying military victory in what has been a long and difficult war. It is the second story on the NYT front page right now, where it looks like this:

THE ISLAMIC STATE

Its Territory May Be Gone, but the U.S. Fight Against ISIS Is Far From Over

• Thousands of Islamic State fighters are still at large in Iraq and Syria, rearming and regrouping.

• The U.S. and its partners still face significant battles against the group elsewhere, in Afghanistan, West Africa and the Philippines.

So watch for it. The rule is: When something good for Trump happens, find the nearest bad thing and make that the focus of the news report.

No other U.S. President has been treated like this by the news media, and this treatment has been consistent from the beginning of his administration. It’s goal, and effect, is undermine public trust and distort public perception. Continue reading