Wednesday Ethics Wind-Down / Thursday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/14-15/2020: The Unmasking Of News Media And Social Media Bias Continues…[UPDATED!]

phantom-of-the-opera

1. Notes from The Great Stupid. Here is a passage from a New York Times book review of “The Tragedy of Heterosexuality”:

In examining the pressure to partner with the opposite gender we find the extortions of capitalism, the misogyny of violence against women, the racist and xenophobic erasure of nonwhite families, and the homophobic hatreds that pervade so much of everyday life.”

Well, that and the biological imperative to continue the species. This brilliance is the work of Haley Mlotek,  a senior editor for SSENSE. Imagine: this is the quality of thought among our intellectual class.

No wonder the political class is so idiotic.

2. So this is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, is it? Nikole  Hannah-Jones, faced with a careful and accurate fisking of her fraudulent “1619 project” by Times columnist Bret Stephens (covered by Ethics Alarms here) did not try to rebut him, or make a civil, reasoned argument. She did what her entire generation of prominent African Americans have been conditioned to do, because it works so well. She accused Stephens and the Times of racism, with a dash of sexism for flavor. Hannah-Jones tweeted,

“In 1894, the NYT called Ida B. Wells a ‘slanderous and nasty-minded mulattress’ for daring to tell the truth about lynching. 100 years later she earned the Pulitzer Prize. These efforts to discredit my work simply put me in a long tradition of [black women] who failed to know their places.”

(It is satisfying to watch the Washington Post pounce on the Times over this fiasco. The rivalry between the papers is one of the few factors that ever pushed one of them into practicing actual journalism these days.)

As for Nikole Hannah-Jones, she is a child. Her tantrum was irresponsible and an embarrassment to the Times, and she should, by rights, be fired. She won’t be, because of black privilege, now enhanced in the wake of the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck. The embarrassment for the Times, however, will linger. This woman was given leave by the paper to create and promote a false historical narrative that was not designed to enlighten but to further a political agenda. In truth, the Times deserves the embarrassment even more than Hannah-Jones deserves to be fired.

Continue reading

Gotcha! Ethics: Senate Democrats’ Obnoxious “Preference” For Political Correctness Over Substance, As Miriam-Webster Reveals Its Integrity Deficit

And they’re coming around the turn in the 2020 Asshole of the Year Derby! Senator Hirono is making her move! Here she comes out of the pack! It’s going to be a photo finish!

At Tuesday’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.) asked Barrett if she would roll back protections for LGBT citizens. Barrett responded that she “never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.” Hawaii’s Senator Mazie Hirono then accused Barrett of using “outdated and offensive” terminology. (Later, so did Senator Cory Booker, who said Barrett was implying by the term that being gay was a choice and not an immutable characteristic.)

“Sexual preference … is used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice,” the Democratic scold intoned.  “It is not. Sexual orientation is a key part of a person’s identity. If it is your view that sexual orientation is merely a preference, as you noted, then the LGTBQ should be rightly concerned whether you would uphold their constitutional right to marry.”

Barrett was forced into apologizing, insisting  that this was not her intention. I say “forced,” because when you are in a confirmation hearing and the vote is going to be a squeaker, you can’t say, as she justifiably could have, “Really Senator? You’re dictating politically correct words and language now? It was quite clear what I meant, and that kind of phrase policing is a cheap shot. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Continue reading

Observations On The Trump Tax Returns Dud

Someone at the IRS finally leaked the President’s taxe returns to the Times. That’s a crime, just as it would be if someone leaked my taxes or yours. Of course, this was inevitable, filled as the government bureacracy is with unethical employees who feel it is their duty to try to undermine their ultimate supervisor. Those who cheer on this per se wrongful conduct are enabers and rationalizers.

Other points:

1. In “An Editor’s Note on the Trump Tax Investigation,” the Times felt it necessary to remind readers, “Some will raise questions about publishing the president’s personal tax information. But the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the First Amendment allows the press to publish newsworthy information that was legally obtained by reporters even when those in power fight to keep it hidden. That powerful principle of the First Amendment applies here.” That’s right, the news media has a right to encourage others to break the law and to publish the results. It’s still unethical, except in the rare circumstances where the public interest is indisputably served by furthering an illegal act, as with (arguably) the Pentagon Papers. Publishing documents protected by law that show no wrongdoing only to encourage partisan attacks in an election year is not such a situation.

The Times can’t be punished, but whoever leaked the documents can, and should.

2. I guess this is the time to post this tweet by CNN’s Brain Stelter, which proves his stunning ethical deficits as well as anything he has ever said on CNN. He was responding to another tweet pointing out that leaking tax returns is a crime, as I just did.

Oh! So if Stelter knows he has received embezzled funds from a bank employee, Stelter can spend the cash on a hairpiece because the thieving employee had legal access to the cash!

Has any news network simultaneously employed three dolts as mentally deficient as Stelter, Don Lemon, and Chris Cuomo? Continue reading

One More Time: Yes, President Trump Is Qualified To Be President, And The Electorate Decides Who Is FIT To Be President

“OH NO! TAKE IT AWAY! IT’S EVIL!!! EVIL!!!

Ann Althouse does a nice fisking job with a New York Times column by Gail Collins called “Let’s Fret the Night Together/The Biden campaign and the world it’s playing out in are making us all nervous wrecks.”

I saw it in my print Times, and wasn’t going to waste time with it: it’s another smug media bubble scream about how horrible the President is (just like they decided before he was sworn in) and how essential it is to elect a sexual harassing dementia case to replace him and restore honor to the office. Isn’t it amazing how so many people keep saying this as if it isn’t completely hypocritical and actually makes sense? That’s what hate and bias does to you.

A genuine friend on Facebook recently went on a rant about how “unfit”President Trump is. I’m also amazed that people keep saying this as if the fact that the people who didn’t vote for him think he’s unfit should matter at all. So vote against him in November then! The victory of a candidate you thought was “unfit” means you lost the argument, and you don’t get a chance to deal with that supposed lack of fitness until the next election. Democrats never accepted that, despite the fact that it is the way our system has always worked. They, like my friend, convinced themselves that they have a unique right, indeed a mission, to remove an elected President before an election, or, failing that, to make it impossible to govern, because their assessment of what constitutes fitness is the unquestionable right one.

Assholes. This is the beating, rotten heart of the totalitarian impulse that has divided the nation and now threatens our strength as a nation and liberty as a people.I am sick of hearing, reading about and watching it, but it is important to realize what it is. My friend is too marinated in a biased and emotional peer group to see the phenomenon for what it is. Continue reading

Ann Althouse Meets Spuds: On Althouse Saturday, Two Canine Ethics Questions From The Blogger I’ve Been Meaning To Answer

Our rescue dog Spuds is gradually coming into his own now: after being starved by his previous owner, he finally is secure enough to leave some food in his dish and finish it later. He’s also finding his inner puppy at 2 and a half, which is both challenging for us as he gets stronger, and fun. I honestly don’t know how we went so long without a dog in our home after Rugby left us.

Ann Althouse, whose opinions have been unusually visible on Ethics Alarms today,  raised two dog-related ethics issues since we adopted Spuds last month, and since the dog left me panting by running me over hill and dale this morning as I allowed him to run off leash for the first time, addressing them now seems like a timely task.

(As I type this, Spuds is trying to climb onto my desk…)

1. On August 23, Althouse wrote,

Why don’t the people who think you should get a “rescue” dog when you want a dog also think you should get a “rescue” child when you want a child? In fact, isn’t the argument for adopting an older child with special needs even stronger than the argument for adopting an older dog that hasn’t had the advantages of a loving home and careful training? After all, many dogs are euthanized, but we strive to keep all our children alive even when they have terrible behavioral problems. And dogs are kept under the control of owners all their lives, while children become adults and are allowed to move about freely in the world even when they are quite dangerous. It’s therefore especially important to take great care of all of the children who have been born into this world.

People will say that they want their own biological offspring, but what makes you think what you have to give genetically is so wonderful? Dog breeders have much higher standards selecting which dogs to use for breeding. People just decide to use themselves. When you have your own biological children, you’re picking yourself because you are yourself. I’m not saying that’s wrong. In fact, I think it’s quite beautiful, making something out of your own body and the body of a person you love. So I’m beginning to see the answer to my question. When you have your own child, you’re not being a eugenicist, looking for the ideal baby. You’re accepting the randomness of who you happen to be and who you’ve found to love. The baby grows out of that is more like a rescue dog than a breeder’s dog.

I do think Althouse answered her own question., at least the human part. Having a child (or many) with someone you love is part of the human experience, helps bind couples and society together, and is a spiritual as well as a natural biological act. Of course, that description assumes a lot: that the child was planned, that the parents love each other, that they are married, and that there are no known toxic hereditary traits to avoid. Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/5/2020: Welcome To The No Nervous Breakdown Zone!

Apropos to this morning’s post: I just read a thread on Facebook entirely populated by people I knew, some of whom have befriended me. They are mostly lawyers, and after reading what was written, I could only comment that their conversation was deranged. I didn’t feel like arguing with people who could really write that if the Democrats didn’t win in November, Americans would lose their civil rights (when it is the ideological compatriots of these individuals who are stripping away the rights of free speech and association, championing race-based policies, and condemning the President for insisting that universities observe due process when a student is accused of sexual misconduct. How can they write that? What happened to them? Then there was the section of the thread in which they discussed that the President was certain to refuse to leave office if he is defeated, and my personal favorite, the assertion that those defending Kyle Rittenhouse are racists.

These are lawyers. They were taught about the requirement that every individual has a right to a fair trial, which means that he or she must not be pronounced guilty in the court of public opinion before all the facts are known, and proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They should know, as I do, D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 (b), which says, “A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social, or moral views or activities.” Moreover, it is very likely that Rittenhouse, if he is ever tried, will be found not guilty. Did these deranged lawyer watch the video? I hope not, or they have really lost it. Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, and appears to be in the process of being railroaded by a racially biased justice system in Wisconsin, driven by the media and uninformed public opinion. I’ve seen the video. I’ve also been a prosecutor. I would not charge him, just as would not charge the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. I’ve also been a defense attorney, and  I would take on Rittenhouse’s defense confident that I had a winning case.

I also was struck by the snide comment about those who object to “Black Lives Matter” signs being obvious racists. I flagged that group as being a racist hate group when it first raised its ugly, divisive head, and damn right I object to seeing signs extolling a group responsible for riots, arson, and terrorizing diners in D.C. by demanding that they raise their fists.

Finally, these formerly rational professionals—who were once even as you or I! —-had the gall to talk about how Republicans and conservatives were promoting violence and a civil war. Yes, the end of the spectrum that includes the antifa, the rioters, and a party that has worked for four years to undermine our democratic processes, is really accusing others of seeking division and violence. This warrants FOUR standard Ethics alarms clips: This one,

…this one, of course,

…I have to use this one, though these people one were not morons…

And finally,

Get well quick, friends. Please. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

“There are way too many people who should know better who are stirring up the forces of chaos. The idea that these people are going to help if there’s new chaos as the vote is tabulated and fought over seems overly optimistic. We are already having a national nervous breakdown and if there are “sober people” who “see reality unblinkered by the lens of partisanship,” where the hell are they? Partisanship clouded the perception of reality quite a while ago, and it’s going to continue and get worse in the next 2 months. Who has the credibility to “preserve the order of our civic structure” so we can get through some creditable tabulation of the vote? Nobody. Nobody even wants it. The fact that the discussion is focused on the idea of big bad Trump refusing to leave makes it all too obvious.”

Blogger/ retired law prof. Ann Althouse, expressing dismay at David Brooks’ most recent outbreak of Stockholm Syndrome, as the pompous former conservative pundit continues his forced evolution into a pompous “resistance” columnist for the New York Times with “What Will You Do if Trump Doesn’t Leave?/Playing out the nightmare scenario” 

I don’t think Ann’s is an ethical quote, but it is an ethics quote, with ethical revelations contained in it. Some points:

1. The “Trump won’t leave office if he’s defeated” refrain is a Big Lie, and pure fearmongering and slander by the AUC. There is no hint of evidence that he is so inclined, except through  accepting the Big Lie that spawns this one, Big Lie #3, “Trump Is A Fascist/Hitler/Dictator/Monster.”

Biden has repeated this despicable claim, as have many of Brooks’ colleagues. I will say again: the only political party that has ever challenged the legitimacy of an election result in 150 years is the Democratic Party, and the only losing candidates who refused to honorably accept defeat were Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

“I saw in a tweet that [Biden] was forefronting the Charlottesville “fine people” hoax… despicable. They have chosen quite deliberately to commit to a lie that is intended to make black people feel hated and they are doing it for political gain… I blogged in April 2019, “If Biden does not come forward and retract [a video relying on the Charlottesville hoax] and apologize and commit himself to making amends, I consider him disqualified. He does not have the character or brain power to be President.” Now, more than a year later, Biden has done the opposite. He’s doubled down on the lie and he’s making it the centerpiece of his campaign!”

—-Retired law professor/blogger Ann Althouse this morning, reacting to “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Speech Transcript August 12: First Campaign Event as Running Mates.” 

Here’s the tweet:

Ann could be best described as an  old school  moderate Democrat, which in today’s environment means she is a conservative, a racist, and a traitor. She is shocked—shocked!—that the Democratic nominee for President would advance a false narrative based on Big Lie #3, arguably the foundational lie of the “resistance” that has been repeated by activists, pundits, reporters and Democratic leaders and elected officials for nearly four years. That Big Lie is “Trump Is A Racist/White Supremacist.”

The Charlottesville canard has become the go-to “proof” of the President’s racism by the Trump Deranged, either through ignorance (from believing the news media) or malice. To refresh your memory (and give you a quick reference to cut and paste into social media posts to shake on your “friends'” cyber-faces, here is the relevant section from the “Big Lies” compendium: Continue reading

Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 1… Ethics Quote Of The Month: President Donald Trump

“It is time for our politicians to summon the bravery and determination of our American ancestors. It is time. It is time to plant our flag and to protect the greatest of this nation for citizens of every race in every city in every part of this glorious land. For the sake of our honor, for the sake of our children, for the sake of our union, we must protect and preserve our history, our heritage, and our great heroes. Here tonight before the eyes of our forefathers, Americans declare again, as we did 244 years ago, that we will not be tyrannized, we will not be demeaned, and we will not be intimidated by bad, evil people. It will not happen.”

President Donald J Trump, speaking at Mt. Rushmore last night, and aggressively defending the United States of America, its Founders, its history and culture.

Bravo.

Last night’s speech, a ringing assertion of American greatness and a defiant condemnation of those who would topple it, despite the inevitable Trump flourishes of exaggeration, hyperbole, and deliberate provocation, was exactly what was needed, called for, and had to be said. It was inspiring, or should have been: I wonder about anyone who could read the transcript and not be stirred. I would ask, “What happened to you?” We also now know why it was appropriate to give that speech by Mt. Rushmore. The President extolled and defended our heroes, and devoted a section of the speech to each of the Presidents on the mountain, including, as CNN said last night to its damnation, “two slaveholders.”

There are about ten passages in the speech that I could have highlighted. I picked that one because it reminded me of this speech by a fictional President in a movie I detest, “Independence Day.” I would not be surprised to learn the speechwriter had that model in mind:

“President Whitmore” is talking about space aliens trying to destroys us. The mobs of America-haters who are attacking our core values and culture remind me of the aliens in “Invasion of the Body-Snatchers,” taking over the minds and bodies of one rational citizens, and terrorizing those who won’t submit to their “conversion.” Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Reflections, 6/28/2020: For The Defense….

Greetings from the Ethics Alarms bunker…

1. I’m current reflecting on a personal and professional ethics conflict. A colleague and long-time professional competitor—I would never call him a friend—has been ousted from his leadership position in the very successful organization he founded as a result of unproven allegations of sexual harassment and assault. It was a “believe all victims” situation, as well as what feels like a successful coordinated effort to “get” someone who had accumulated a lot of enemies, resentment and envy in a notoriously nasty industry once his power was waning.

On one hand, I feel like I should reach out to him and offer my guidance and support (as an ethicist and sexual harassment trainer, not a lawyer, and gratis, of course). On the other, I am pretty certain that he is guilty of at least some of what has been alleged, based on confidential accounts I have recently heard from reliable sources. Ethically, however, his ousting (it appears that he was given the option of “retiring”) lacked due process and fairness, and the organization was guided by public relations motives rather than legal or ethical ones.

Whose side should I be on?

2. Stop making me defend Facebook! As if there wasn’t enough to worry about, the aggressive pandering mode of corporations right now is being exploited by would-be censors of political speech. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced updated election policies and stricter “hate speech” rules in response to employee protests and pressure from activists, whose transparent objective is to silence or constrict any political views antithetical progressive positions and goals. In a message last week, Zuckerberg  outlined plans to police disinformation relating to voting and elections, to flag certain content that risked triggering violence (I wonder what  that standard is like today?) and concluded,

Continue reading