Ethics Dunce: Fox News

Fox News’ reaction to the segment above was to ban…The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles from future broadcasts. Not the fact-free, name calling climate change shill who called Knowles “skinny boy” and who took the ridiculous, but familiar, position that children who place themselves in the middle of serious policy controversies cannot be held to the same standards as any other advocate, and judged on the basis of their credibility and credentials. Knowles’ terms may have been harsher than necessary, but they were nonetheless true and accurate. She is definitely being exploited. She is even less credible than a normal 16-year-old because of her multiple behavioral maladies. And she is Swedish.

Chris Hahn,  a Democratic Party activist whom Fox News uses as a contributor because he makes progressives look like thugs, was obnoxious, abrasive, insulting and factually wrong. It may not have been nice (or necessary) to refer to Greta Thunberg as “mentally ill,” and it’s certainly politically incorrect, but it is not horrific calumny as Hahn would have us think. The National Alliance on Mental Illness includes autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among its topics, which is prima facie evidence that “mentally ill” is not a false description of Thunberg’s state. It is described as “a developmental condition that affect a person’s ability to socialize and communicate with others. People with ASD can also present with restricted and/or repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. The term “spectrum” refers to the degree in which the symptoms, behaviors and severity vary within and between individuals. Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled.”

“Illness” is not a unfair description of such a problem. Would Hahn have flipped out if Knwoles said, “mentally disabled”? Is there any doubt? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/17/19: Abusers, British Morons, O.J., And A Commie

Good morning.

1. Update! The teachers and the principal responsible for the cruel “award” for the autistic boy (discussed here) are in the process of being fired.

Good.

2. This is what happens when a country doesn’t have a First AmendmentA law goes into effect in Great Britain making it illegal  for advertisements to include “gender stereotypes which are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offense.” Complaints will be assessed by the Advertising Standards Authority. British broadcasters are bound by the terms of their licenses to comply with its rulings.

The aim, we are told,  is not to ban all gender stereotypes, just the harmful ones, because, said a spokesman,  “put simply, we found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people’s potential.”

Right.

Observations:

  • This also shows why progressives in the U.S. see the First Amendment as an impediment to their objectives.
  • Writes Jazz Shaw,

These guidelines don’t provide much to go on. They make reference to images that might suggest women do most of the housework and men being clueless about similar tasks. So I guess you’re no longer allowed to hire a female actress for any advertisements involving vacuuming, filling the dishwasher or operating the washing machine? This should indeed provide new employment opportunities for male actors, but somehow I don’t think that’s what they were going for here. Besides, won’t you just raise a new generation of kids who grow up thinking only men do chores around the house?

Oh, the unintended consequences of controlling what ideas and norms the pop culture can put into people’s heads are marvelous to behold.

  • The best part, you see, is that “authorities” get to decide which portrayals of stereotypes are “harmful.” In the U.S., such a law would be void for vagueness.

I like to keep these kinds of stories within reach when someone arguing for nationalized health care or a death penalty ban uses the “the U.S. is the only first world country that…” tactic. Yes, the U.S. is different.

3. Signature significance for a sociopath. Alternate title: “One more reason to stay away from Twitter.” O.J. Simpson has joined Twitter, saying in a video link,

“Hey Twitter world, this is yours truly. Coming soon to Twitter you’ll get to read all my thoughts and opinions on just about everything. Now, there’s a lot of fake O.J. accounts out there, so this one @TheRealOJ32, is the only official one. So, it should be a lot of fun — I’ve got a little getting even to do.”

And you know what O’J’ does when he decides to get even…

This is signature significance. A normal person in O.J.’s circumstances just doesn’t act like this. Then again, no normal person murders his ex-wife and her boyfriend with a hunting knife.

I don’t understand how O.J. can be active on Twitter and still hunt down the real killer, though…

4. Unethical Quote Of The Month That Doesn’t Deserve The Prominence Of A Stand-Alone Post: Newly Elected Denver City Council member Candi CdeBaca.

“I don’t believe our current economic system actually works. Um, capitalism by design is extractive and in order to generate profit in a capitalist system, something has to be exploited, that’s land, labor or resources. And I think that we’re in late phase capitalism and we know it doesn’t work and we have to move into something new, and I believe in community ownership of land, labor, resources and distribution of those resources. And whatever that morphs into is I think what will serve community the best and I’m excited to usher it in by any means necessary.”

“By any means necessary.”

Yes, she’s a communist. Imagine: Nearly all the communist nations ended up with their economies in ruins, with the larger ones  engaging in murder and political oppression on an epic scale, and this woman proclaims that system superior to capitalism while calling the failed ideology “new.” What kind of American votes for someone like this?

 

 

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/7/2019: The Duke’s Revenge, Biden’s Integrity, The VA’s Incompetence, And A Teacher’s Cruelty [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

Last night we managed to watch both “The Longest Day” and “Saving Private Ryan,” which especially amused me as I recalled the places my father shouted at the screen. Especially after “The Longest Day,” the complete absence of any sense of what the D-Day invasion was about or why we were fighting at all is particularly irritating, but then that’s Spielberg all over.

I also recalled the story about John Wayne’s participation in “The Longest Day.” (The Duke is really good in it, though if there is a star of “The Longest Day”, it is Robert Mitchum as  Brigadier General Norman Cota, Assistant Commander, 29th Infantry Division, the man who was also a primary hero of D-Day itself. )

You who else is surprisingly good? Paul Anka, in his small role. He was only in the movie because he wrote the title song, but the singer shows a genuine talent for projecting his character on screen.

[Correction note: I originally wrote, “As far as I can determine, it was Anka’s only film appearance.” Wrong, Ethics Breath!  Reader VinnyMick points out that Anka has several other, less successful, screen appearances. I regret the error.]

This was a passionate,  emotion-and-patriotism- driven project by Darryl F. Zanuck, and he was betting everything on its success: the studio, his personal finances, his love life (Zanuck’s girlfriend at the time had the only female role in the movie), everything.  The producer realized that he had to have Wayne in the film for credibility, as the Duke had been  the Hollywood face of the American fighting man in World War II.  Wayne knew it too, but was angry with Zanuck, who had mocked Wayne’s equivalent project of the heart, “The Alamo.”

He refused to do the film for scale (then $25,000) like the many other Hollywood stars in the film, and insisted on receiving $250,000 as an expensive crow-eating exercise for Zanuck. (That was what Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger, Red Buttons, Richard Burton, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert,  Jeffrey Hunter, Robert Wagner and Robert Ryan received combined. ) Even though the producer had Charlton Heston lined up to play Wayne’s role if no deal could be struck, he agreed to the punitive fee, as well as giving Wayne special billing in the credits, an out-of-alphabetical order “and John Wayne” at the end.

Yes, that was revenge…but Zanuck didn’t have to agree to it. The lesson is worth remembering: don’t spite anyone gratuitously, or make an enemy casually. You never know when you might need them.

1. Biden flip-flops, but at least he flipped in an ethical  direction. Joe Biden is not modelling a lot of integrity as he desperately tries to appease the radical Left in his party so they might hold their noses and vote for an old, sexual harassing white guy to run against President Trump. His latest reversal was to repudiate the Hyde Amendment, which he had once supported and indeed voted for in the Senate. That’s the law that forbids any taxpayer funds from being spent to fund abortions.

The Hyde Amendment never made any sense. If abortion is a right, and it has been one for decades, then government support for access to that right ought to be no less a requirement than with any other right. The Hyde amendment stands for the proposition that if enough Americans don’t agree with government policy, they should be able to withhold financial support of it. That, of course, wouldn’t work as a universal principle, so the Hyde Amendment is an ethical and legal anomaly. I doubt Joe’s flip-flop is one of principle rather than expediency, but it’s still the right position to have.

2. Nevertheless, Joe’s not going to make it. The New York Times—it wants someone else to get the nomination, so it is reporting negative things about Biden that it might bury with another candidate—revealed once again that Biden repeatedly lied about participating in 1960s civil rights marches,  despite being warned by aides not to do it. Such straight-out falsehoods are debilitating for a candidate who will be claiming to be the champion  to elevate the Presidency beyond the incessant petty lies of Donald Trump; this was one reason Hillary Clinton was unable to exploit candidate Trump’s mendacity. She’s a habitual liar too.

So is Joe. It happens when you will say anything to get elected. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Tales Of The Slippery Slope: Amazon And Censorship”

Autism “cures”, aka “Snake oil.”

Ethics Alarms is blessed with several commenters with specific expertise in areas that arise here often. Alexander Cheezem is our authority on autism and the various misconceptions and unethical practices surrounding it, and he contributed  valuable perspective on why Amazon was under pressure to stop offering two books about the topic. I carelessly assumed that the problem was the further circulation of the dangerous myth that vaccinations cause autism, since that is the autism-related issue we hear about most often from the media. There’s a lot more to autism misinformation than that, and Alexander graciously enlightens us.

As he acknowledges, the thrust of the post is not dependent on why the two books have been pulled The remedy to bad information is good information, not censorship–like the useful information in Alexander Cheezem’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Tales Of The Slippery Slope: Amazon And Censorship”:

Okay. I’m actually quite familiar with one of the books in question — I even spent about five years dealing (over and over and over again) with its author and her brand of bullshit (yes, that’s actually the technical term)… and I have to say that your analysis is flat-out wrong on one major point and significantly off in another respect.

Of course, whether that impacts the rest of the analysis is another matter.

The major problem with your analysis is that what sets those books apart is not that they’re anti-vaccine… but don’t take my word for it. As I write this, I’m paging through my first-edition copy of Rivera’s Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism (my second-edition copy is somewhere), so I’ll use it to illustrate. Let me give you just a small sample of what the book actually contains.

The thing is essentially a protocol book, dedicated to “teaching” parents a complicated pseudoscientific and ritualistic protocol centered around having the parents feed industrial bleach (chlorine dioxide) to their children, bathe their children in a solution of industrial bleach, and give their children bleach enemas. Continue reading

Tales Of The Slippery Slope: Amazon And Censorship

From the New York Times:

Amazon has removed the online listings for two books that claim to contain cures for autism, a move that follows recent efforts by several social media sites to limit the availability of anti-vaccination and other pseudoscientific material. The books, “Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism” and “Fight Autism and Win,” which had previously been listed for sale in Amazon’s marketplace, were not available on Wednesday. The company confirmed that the listings had been removed, but declined to discuss why or whether similar books would be taken down in the future.

And what does “similar books” mean?

Based on what I’ve seen from our tech giants, “similar books” could soon include a scientist’s arguments against climate change, a hagiography of President Trump, or an expose of the  misconduct of the Obama Administration. Amazon has decided that anti-vax arguments are dangerous and wrong, and though I happen to agree with them, it is not Amazon’s job to decide what ideas, positions, opinions and theories are worthy of public consumption. Amazon dominated the book retail business (and many other businesses as well). Its censorship policies constrain debate, the free expression of ideas, and the expression of dissent from the majority.

Defenders of civil liberties and freedom of speech must express their disapproval of Amazon’s Big Brother act, even if it has the “right” to abuse its power, and even if it isn’t the government choosing which citizens to muzzle. Conduct like this places me squarely on the side of Elizabeth Warren, who is advocating breaking up companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook. When we start allowing speech labeled “dangerous” or “untrue” to be blocked, no matter who is doing the blocking, then we are damaging our democracy and the free circulation of ideas, as well as abetting elite attempts at thought control.

 

Documentary Ethics: Is Pulling An Anti-Vaxx Documentary A Freedom of Expression Breach Or Simply Responsible?

tribeca_film_festival_ny

Until yesterday, “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe” was an entry in the 2016  Tribeca Film Festival. It was directed and co-written by Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced doctor and researcher whose study purporting to show a link between vaccinations and autism was published in the British medical journal “The Lancet” in 2010 and then retracted. Wakefield subsequently lost his medical license because of undisclosed conflicts of interest and misrepresentations in his paper, and has been wandering the earth wearing the metaphorical sackcloth robe of the outcast ever since.

The decision by the festival and its founder Robert De Niro to screen the film was the focus of a furious controversy. Many consider Wakefield a murderer because his work has convinced parents to eschew vaccinations out of irrational fear sown by his false research conclusions. De Niro insisted that the film deserved a screening to provoke dialogue, but has had a change of heart, mind, or self-preservation instinct. He pulled the film yesterday, writing,

“My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.”

Translation: “When it comes to standing up for free expression, Andrew Wakefield and the anti-vaxxer delusion is not a hill worth dying for.” Continue reading

Audience Ethics And Ethics Dunce Kelvin Moon Loh

"I hear child screaming in audience, so audience cannot hear King. Is a puzzlement! But brave..."

“I hear child screaming in audience, so audience cannot hear King. Is a puzzlement! But brave…”

I don’t want to be harsh, because Mr. Loh is obviously a sensitive and compassionate young man who means well. However, he is also receiving plaudits on Facebook and in the media for taking a position that is not ethical, and is in fact just more political correctness guilt-mongering and double standard-peddling. It is also likely to provoke disrespectful and arrogant parents to believe that they have a right to impose their problems on unsuspecting theater audiences.

At  Broadway’s Vivian Beaumont Theater, a screaming child disrupted a matinee performance of “The King and I.”  Some members of the audience agitated for the child to be removed, and the woman with the child indeed left.

One of the understudies in the production, Kelvin Moon Loh, defended the woman who brought the child to the performance in a post on his Facebook page, in which he assumed the kid was autistic and used the incident to argue for compassion and “inclusiveness” in the theater, and compassion.  Loh actually praised the woman as “brave.” Brave she may be; she also was selfish, irresponsible, disrespectful and absolutely wrong.

This is not an issue of tolerance. This is not an issue of compassion. The ethical issue is whether one person has a right, and can be right, to ruin a theatrical performance for the rest of the audience, or to unreasonably risk doing so. It’s an easy call: noNever. It is no more “brave” to take a child who cannot behave properly to a Broadway show (or any show) than it is to take a cranky infant to a movie. This is not like the airplane situation, where the mother has no choice, and the child’s noise doesn’t interfere with the flight’s main purpose, which is to get to the destination. The mother doesn’t have to see “The King and I,” nor does she have to bring her child to potentially disrupt it. Doing so is inconsiderate; defending her conduct, as Loh does, stands for a kind of etiquette affirmative action, in which being the mother of an autistic child relieves one of any obligation to care about anyone else. Continue reading