Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/5/2022 (Cont.): Part 2, Rogan, Roker, “Reacher” And “More”

1. There is hope! The new Amazon Prime Jack Reacher series, “Reacher,” has no mixed race couples in it whatsoever. I was amazed, and wonder if this means the thing was made in 2019, before Hollywood decided that the accidental killing in Minnesota of a black perp by a brutal white cop in an incident having nothing to do with race meant that the world film and TV present to America must be one where nearly 100% of all married and unmarried relationships consist of two races. Isn’t it amazing that a casting feature that was once not only routine but accurate seems remarkable by its absence, and it was completely benign then and would still be accurate now?

2. Just for curiosity, I’m going to keep getting these Harvard alerts. The unethical though famous institution I graduated from once is marking this big reunion year with special online events for participants. The first one, not surprisingly, deals with…climate change! You would think that such a university, with all the subjects it covers and all of the departments available, could put together a schedule that didn’t consist of partisan obsessions, wouldn’t you?

But no. I fully expect subsequent programs to include, “Systemic Racism,” “Protecting the Right to Choose,” “The January 6 Insurrection” and “Mainstream Media Conservative Bias.”

I’m getting enough propaganda on climate change, thanks. Today I learned that “Once considered comic relief to anchors, television meteorologists are making it clear to viewers that they are covering a crisis in real time.” The “news story” headline begins, “As Storms Intensify…” Intensify based on what? There is no proof that storms are “intensifying” that justifies stating this as fact.

But you can’t deny that Al Roker is an “expert” on climate science though! After all, he attended the State University of New York at Oswego where he received a BA in communications in 1976….

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “More From The Bulging ‘It Isn’t What It Is’ File! Unethical Quote Of The Week: Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor Ruth Marcus

With today’s Comment of the Day, Jim Hodgson weighs in on bad analogies as well as related matters. Bad analogies are a frequent topic here, and The Great Stupid may represent the zenith of bad analogies in our culture—at least I hope and pray it is.

My father, who, like me, was a lawyer who seldom practiced law, maintained that “everyone” should get a law degree, because the kind of critical thinking that law school teaches is no longer available in most colleges. (Once it was taught in grade school). One concept legal arguments rely on constantly are analogies. This is why I found Ruth Marcus employing such a wretched and irredeemable one in the Washington Post so depressing and infuriating. Striking down a vaccine mandate not supported by the law is inconsistent with the Court running its own operations with requirements that those who come into contact with the mostly high-risk Justices have to take very precaution is hypocritical? How? Why? Marcus is a Harvard Law School grad: she was taught better reasoning than that.

I see terrible analogies everywhere. Comparing Donald Trump to Hitler was ridiculous, but comparing the January 6 riot ( when “our government was almost overthrown last year by a guy wearing a Viking hat and speedos,” as Marco Rubio deftly put it) to Pearl Harbor was more ridiculous still, and the Vice President did that, more than once. Was making that idiotic analogy worse than the President calling limits on mail-in balloting the equivalent of Jim Crow laws? Or worse than claiming that enforcing the nation’s borders is “racism”? Actually, this might be a fun parlor game: “The Worst Analogy.”

Here is Jim Hodgson’s Comment of the Day on the post, “More From The Bulging “It Isn’t What It Is” File! Unethical Quote Of The Week: Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor Ruth Marcus”…

***

Misleading analogies and false equivalencies are among the favored tools of today’s “journalists.” The Progressive Left and the media (but I repeat myself) have a clear agenda and it isn’t good for the republic. Forty years ago, I railed against the (comparatively mild) bias of news anchors; nowadays they look almost Fox News-ish by comparison.

Marcus and her ilk aren’t really trying to convince “searchers for the truth,” they are merely reinforcing the beliefs and attitudes of those in the “woke bubble” and reaching out only to the easily swayed. I spend a few hours most days reading a variety of news sources online, trying to get an accurate and more complete view of national and world events and issues than I find from any single source. I know not everyone makes this effort, and I regularly refer friends and family to articles and sources (including E.A.) that I think will improve their understanding of issues and events. Continue reading

More From The Bulging “It Isn’t What It Is” File! Unethical Quote Of The Week: Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor Ruth Marcus

“How nice for the Supreme Court. It can take the precautions it deems necessary to keep its workplace safe…If only the court were willing to extend similar protections to the rest of us, in our workplaces. Or to be more precise, not to interfere with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s effort to provide such protections.”

—-Ruth Marcus, long-time WaPo op-ed writer and deputy editor of the Post editorial page.

Marcus’s opinion piece, Boris Johnson in reverse: The Supreme Court gives itself what it bans for the rest of us” is unforgivable, and the Washington Post should be excoriated for publishing such garbage. Why didn’t the editors…oh. Right. Ruth Marcus is an editor. The essay would be inexcusable if Marcus were just a typical op-ed partisan loud-mouth, because it is one of those punditry pieces that makes readers more ignorant than they were before they read it. The Supreme Court didn’t “ban” institutions or employers from making their own rules about Wuhan virus precautions as the headline says. It banned a vaccine mandate issued by OSHA, an agency, it concluded, that had no legal authority to issue one.

But Marcus isn’t any ordinary incompetent pundit. She’s a lawyer, or at least graduated from Harvard Law School: I can’t determine whether she ever passed the bar examination or is licensed to practice. She never has practiced, since she entered journalism rather than law after getting her Harvard JD. It’s no excuse. She knows what the Supreme Court does; most Americans don’t. Why is she writing op-eds that falsely pretend that the Supreme Court “extends” protections over anyone or anything unless it deems that those protections are already guaranteed by law? Marcus “reasoned”…

The court’s 6-to-3 ruling Thursday blocking the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate is yet another example of the elite playing by one set of rules while applying a different standard to the masses — Boris Johnson-ism, but worse. In that case, the British prime minister partied away in defiance of rules imposed on lesser mortals. In this one, the justices declined to extend the same protections to others that they grant themselves.

Not only are lawyers trained to make better analogies than that, opinion writers are supposed to be able to make better analogies than that no mater what their background and training. If they can’t then they shouldn’t get published. Boris Johnson violated a directive that his government issued for the rest of the population. The Supreme Court hasn’t done anything like that. If has forbidden a government agency from abusing its power by forcing businesses to do what is beyond the agency’s authority to require. No government agency could require participants in a workplace to wear business attire, and SCOTUS would end any attempt to do so, but it wouldn’t be “the elite playing by one set of rules while applying a different standard to the masses” for the Court to continue to enforce its own dress code, by its own choice.

Does Marcus really think it would make any sense at all for the Court to announce, “Since we’ve concluded OSHA shouldn’t be able to fine businesses with 100 workers or more to require employees to be vaccinated, the Court will no longer require lawyers appearing before it, and the reporters in the chamber, to test negative and be masked, except when speaking.” That would be a non-sequitur. Incidentally, those requirements are dumb, since speaking is when the danger of spreading the virus is at its highest. Nor does the Court set any standard for masks, which are mostly for show. Well, never mind: more than half the Court is over 65, meaning that they are at high risk if infected, while the vast, vast majority of workers who would have been effected by the banned mandate are under 65. That’s just another reason Marcus’s analogy is ridiculous.

What is Marcus doing then? She is doing what so many desperate progressives and Democrats are doing now—abandoning honesty, fairness, and responsibility and integrity in a desperate effort to rescue Joe Biden and the unscrupulous Democratic Party from losing power and support, as they so clearly deserve to do. They will do and say almost anything; here, Marcus is attacking the Supreme Court as she attempts to give those spreading the false narrative that the SCOTUS is a “threat to democracy” more ammunition to de-legitimize its authority. She has to know her argument is nonsensical, but she is confident that enough readers are ignorant of law and logic that he op-ed will convince more people than it disgusts.

This is a major betrayal of trust. Deliberate efforts by perceived authorities, experts and professionals to abuse their credibility by deliberately making members of the public ignorant and stupid represents a particularly heinous form of unethical conduct. It is one that Ethics Alarms has flagged frequently, yet I do not have a convenient name for the practice. It is worse than lying, or spreading misinformation. Making the public dumber cripples citizens’ ability to function competently in a democracy, while simultaneously softening them up to be exploited by demagogues. It is a terrible, indeed evil thing to do, and any journalist, politician, elected official, lawyer, scientist or other elite authority who engages in it intentionally is, to quote our previous President in one of his most inspired moments, an “enemy of the people.”

Ruth Marcus, with this disgraceful op-ed, qualifies.

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Joe Biden, Since We’ve Been Talking About His Deflating Brain…

“No, I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test? C’mon man. That’s like saying you, before you got in this program, if you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not, what do you think huh? Are you a junkie?”

Joe Biden, answering CBS News’ Errol Barnett’s question about whether Biden has taken an tests to measure his cognitive ability.

Yikes.

1 Joe said just last month, “I’ve been tested and I’m constantly tested.” Is he lying, or has he forgotten?

2. If Donald Trump asked a black journalist if he was a junkie, what would that be cited as evidence of?

3. Interesting analogy. If Barnett was a junkie, then he wouldn’t want to take a drug test. And Biden doesn’t want to take a cognitive test because….?

Ethics Dunce: Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones, staff writer at The New York Times and lead essayist in The New York Times Magazine’s “1619 Project” tweeted that she finds the common rebuttal of presentism—the popular practice of condemning those of different times and cultures for not magically acquiring the evolved beliefs and values that those who have had the advantage of decades and even centuries of experience, observation and enlightenment—that those criticized were of their time “offensive.”

“I mean, Hitler was a man of his time. Bin Laden was a man of his time,” the Pulitzer Prize winner tweeted. “It’s a justification and unnecessary.”

This is the quality of analysis and thought we now receive from the best of American. journalists, one who has been deemed worthy of the occupation’s highest honor.

First, it is profoundly unrealistic and unfair to expect those raised in a culture with long-established values to determine on their own that such values are flawed or based on faulty assumptions and information. This should be intrinsically obvious to anyone capable of critical thought. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Prelude To ‘The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II’”

I did an unusually long deconstruction of an offensive and thoroughly revolting  New York Times editorial  by Charlie Warzel titled “Open States, Lots of Guns. America Is Paying a Heavy Price for Freedom,” or in my print edition, “Will We Get Used To The Dying?” 

It was so bad—and also so representative of the current media propaganda making the unsustainable case that advocating an end to  the lockdown before the U.S. economy is indistinguishable from that of Togo is selfish and irrational—that the piece was ripe for additional censure. Glenn Logan, as usual, did a superb job in this, his Comment of the Day on the post, “Prelude To ‘The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II’”:

Let me give your fisking a some additional fodder:

“The coronavirus scenario I can’t stop thinking about is the one where we simply get used to all the dying.”

Like with the flu, or with suicide, or with automobile accidents? Yes, I suppose your thinking is correct.

You: “How old is Warzel, 15? We accept the mortality of modern life, just as our ancestors accepted the mortality of their own periods.”

Mortality is a fact of the human condition, although Warzel seems blissfully unaware of that. Being born a human is an absolute guarantee of mortality. Hell, being born an organic organism on planet Earth is a guarantee of mortality. While the current level of excess mortality is unusual in the West for the last half-century or so, it is by no means unprecedented, percentage of the population-wise, in modern history. It certainly isn’t unprecedented in other areas of the world in very recent history.

Yet somehow humanity got through those others, and “got used to it.”

“The day I read Mr. Nelson’s tweet, 1,723 Americans were reported to have died from the virus. And yet their collective passing was hardly mourned. After all, how to distinguish those souls from the 2,097 who perished the day before or the 1,558 who died the day after?”

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t try to distinguish “souls” from each other. That’s God’s job, not mine. Is Warzel comparing himself to God, or does he imagine it is the job of humanity to mourn every stranger who passes from a natural process like a disease? Continue reading

Prelude To “The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II”

No, I am not satisfied with the current draft of Part II, but I trust it’s obvious what the resolution referred to is. The lock-down has to end, and before vaccines, cures, or adequate medicine are available. One of the components of my research has been reading as many of the pro and con articles as I can stand. It is quite striking: the arguments for continuing the lockdown indefinitely are almost entirely authored by progressives, and are without exception characterized by bad logic, emotionalism, manipulated facts, biased analysis, fearmongering, and suspect motives. The majority of the arguments for opening up the economy soon are markedly more logical, unemotional, and based on sound statistics and analysis. Certainly one cannot choose between two options based on the quality of the advocates for each. Nonetheless, the divide is striking.

Ann Althouse chose such an essay today to critique, “Whose Freedom Counts?/Anti-lockdown protesters are twisting the idea of liberty” by Dahlia Lithwick, who has periodically been discussed here, the first time in 2010. It is e fair to say that her mind and mine run in different metaphorical riverbeds, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Lithwick’s article endorses yet another one of the  same ilk, Ibram X. Kendi’s  current piece in The Atlantic called “We’re Still Living and Dying in the Slaveholders’ Republic/The pandemic has brought the latest battle in the long American war over communal well-being.”

Ann makes short work of both, writing,

Aha! We see what you’re doing! What a distraction! But I suppose that because slavery was invoked, I’m expected to listen without protest while Kendi’s solemn, censorious lecture is promoted by an over-excited Lithwick. I resist. Sorry. I do hear what you’re saying, and I see how well it works to justify depriving us of all freedom. There’s never enough freedom from all the things in the world that might hurt us if we’re not kept in eternal lockdown.

Excellent. Althouse is a liberal, much as she tries to hide it, but she is not an aspiring totalitarian, like such a large swath of the current mutated progressives and Democrats. Her last sentence echoes two of my favorite quotes, “In order to have enough liberty, it is necessary to have too much,”  (Clarence Darrow), and “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” (Benjamin Franklin).

I have another screed to deconstruct: a New York Times editorial  by Charlie Warzel titled “Open States, Lots of Guns. America Is Paying a Heavy Price for Freedom,” or in my print edition, “Will We Get Used To The Dying?” I’ll let you read it first without my comments, here. That’s only fair.

***

Done? Maybe you don’t even need this: eviscerating Warzel ‘s analysis shouldn’t be too hard. Rebutting most of these essays isn’t hard.

Away we go…

The coronavirus scenario I can’t stop thinking about is the one where we simply get used to all the dying. I first saw it on Twitter. “Someone poke holes in this scenario,” a tweet from Eric Nelson, the editorial director of Broadside Books, read. “We keep losing 1,000 to 2,000 a day to coronavirus. People get used to it. We get less vigilant as it very slowly spreads. By December we’re close to normal, but still losing 1,500 a day, and as we tick past 300,000 dead, most people aren’t concerned.”

How old is Warzel, 15? We accept the mortality of modern life, just as our ancestors accepted the mortality of their own periods. That tweet is simply making sinister the adjustments that human beings have to make to get on with civilization. To that, it adds scaremongering, and Warzel joins in the virtue-signalling. Anyone who isn’t willing to keep the lockdown in force indefinitely isn’t concerned.

That’s crap. I’m concerned: both my wife and I are in the high-risk category; so is my sister; so are most of our extended family. I do not advocate the destruction of American society for my own self interest, that’s all. That’s how members of a community and democracy are supposed to feel.

This hit me like a ton of bricks because of just how plausible it seemed. The day I read Mr. Nelson’s tweet, 1,723 Americans were reported to have died from the virus. And yet their collective passing was hardly mourned. After all, how to distinguish those souls from the 2,097 who perished the day before or the 1,558 who died the day after?

People die every day, and from predictable causes, many of them a direct result of our way of life and societal choices. The Times has been running a feature showing selected photographs of recently succumbed victims of the Wuhan virus with a biographical sketch. I have wondered each time I see it: why are these people more worthy of ostentatious memorials in the Times than anyone who has died in the same period? The answer is, they aren’t. This is part of the news media’s effort to build anxiety and hysteria, which will be weaponized for political purposes. Hardly mourned? Every American is supposed to mourn everyone who dies every day? We mourn our loved ones. I am still mourning Dennis Nollette, a former law school roommate who was among the best human beings I have ever had the honor of knowing.  He was carried off by the epidemic within a few days. That’s plenty for me right now. I’m not becoming callous because the deaths of strangers don’t hit me as hard as the death of a cherished friend.

Furthermore, it is not “plausible” that the pandemic will continue forever; pandemics don’t. And indeed, if they did, it would be an irrefutable reason to open up now.

Such loss of life is hard to comprehend when it’s not happening in front of your own two eyes. Add to it that humans are adaptable creatures, no matter how nightmarish the scenario, and it seems understandable that our outrage would dull over time. Unsure how — or perhaps unable — to process tragedy at scale, we get used to it.

Talk about complaining about an unchangeable feature of human life, sanity,  and reality! But that kind of lament is irresponsible progressiveness in a nutshell.

There’s also a national precedent for Mr. Nelson’s hypothetical: America’s response to gun violence and school shootings.

Here we go, down the rabbit hole.

We often talk here about incompetent analogies. This is a lulu. It is embarrassing that the New York Times would consider such a contrived and illogical argument to be published as an editorial—embarrassing, and signature significance.

You should skim the next part; I know my eyes glazed over. It’s standard CNN/Don Lemon/ David Hogg propaganda and emotionalism.

As a country, we seem resigned to preventable firearm deaths. Each year, 36,000 Americans are killed by guns — roughly 100 per day, most from suicide, according to data from the Giffords Law Center. Similarly, the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund calculates that there have been 583 “incidents of gunfire” on school grounds since 2013. In the first eight months of 2019, there were at least 38 mass shootings, The Times reported. Last August, 53 Americans died in mass shootings — at work, at bars, while shopping with their children. Some of these tragedies make national headlines; many don’t. The bigger school shootings and hate-crime massacres can ignite genuine moral outrage and revive familiar debates: over safe storage practices, gun show loopholes, red flag laws, bump stocks, comprehensive background checks, stringent licensing systems and, of course, the accessibility of endlessly customizable semiautomatic weapons like AR-15s. In every case, the death tolls climb but we fail to act. There are occasional marches and protests but mostly we continue on with our lives.

Yes, we are monsters for understanding the importance of the rights of self-defense and bearing arms to a functioning democracy. In reality, while there are usually, in hindsight, ways that any single abuse of firearms could have been prevented, gun deaths are not preventable as long as there are guns, law abiding citizens have access to them, and a police state doesn’t abuse its power to make us “safe.”

Notice that Warzel’s gun-virus analogy breaks down immediately. There is no societal value to pandemics. There is no right to get fatally ill. There are no Constitutional amendments preventing the government from eliminating a disease. Continue reading

Ann Althouse’s Son Gets 4 Out Of 5 Right, And 4 Out Of 5 Ain’t Bad

Athouse’s son, John Althouse Cohen, has his own eclectic blog, and I check in now and then. He’s intelligent, as I would expect, though his endorsement of the transparently pandering Pete Buttigieg was disappointing. Now and then his mother directs her huge readership over to him, which is what she did with a post called “Things I’m tired of hearing about the coronavirus.”

It seems unfair that John’s post has, as of now, zero comments, and Ann’s post consisting of nothing more than a link to that post has 118 comments as I write this. Why wouldn’t her readers give the author of the post their attention and support instead of his mother?

Be that as it may, John mentioned five things he was sick of hearing during the current pandemic, and four out of five reasons for his fatigue were valid. One is an attempt to excuse the inexcusable, using an intellectually dishonest argument.

Here are John’s four legitimate beefs: Continue reading

Insomnia Ethics Dump, 8/19/2019 (at 3:16 am): What Keeps Me Up At Night

Hi.

So depressing to observe the reactions of the Facebook Borg to my post about Elizabeth Warren’s self-outing as a lying demagogue. They couldn’t process it; they put their metaphorical fingers in their ears and hummed; they attacked the messenger (me); they channeled the generally-derided Politifact whitewashing of the “Mike Brown was murdered” lie. One lawyer friend apparent deep-dived Ethics Alarms to try to  find a post that would contradict my position regarding Warren (and Kamala Harris). She couldn’t, but pretended she had by metaphorically waving an essay in which I applauded a man acquitted of murder by reason of insanity who later admitted to others that he had killed someone when he was younger and insane. (I can’t find the damn thing myself.)  She then called me a liar and a hypocrite, because I had described the man as a murderer when he was innocent in the eyes of the law. A lawyer made this argument, mind you. I explained, not too nicely, that her analogy was idiotic, since there was no murder and no crime in the Brown case, so law prof Warren’s calling it either was dishonest and indefensible, while in the case of the recovered madman, there was a murder, a crime, and a murder victim. Though the acknowledged killer he was fortunate enough to have committed his crime in a state that holds the insane unaccountable, that fact didn’t change the act or the  crime.

I don’t know why I bothered. Warren fans, like Bernie Bros, appear to be completely immune to facts and reality.

1.  Why is there such a compulsion to corrupt the innocent, even the fictional innocent? I was hardly an admirer of those late 60s and 70s Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday Morning TV shows with people dressed in huge, garish thing-costumes and being relentlessly cheery. You know the ones: “H.R. Puffnstuff,” “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour,” “Lidsville”—those. In addition to being assaultive and unfunny, they also inspired Barney, for which the Krofts should never be forgiven.

Still, lots of kids loved the shows and characters, and they should be able to cherish those memories. Hollywood, however, seems determined to debase everything it can, especially fond memories, either by sexualizing them or making them dark, or both. (The re-boot of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Riverdale,” the series based on the “Archie” comics, are cases in point.) Now we have the new in which are re-imagined as murderous psychopaths.

Nice. Continue reading

Why I’ve Changed My Position On Transgender Athletes In Women’s Sports, Or “Ethics Evolve With Wisdom And Experience”

Yesterday I headlined the story about transgender powerlifter Mary Gregory, who just shattered multiple lifting records, Unfair, Obviously Unfair, Scandalously Unfair. Why Are Athletic Organizations Allowing This? Why Are Women Tolerating It?

Possessed of a keener memory than I, reader Luke G. “pounced,” as the news media always says when Republicans object to Democratic words and conduct that absolutely should be objected to. He wrote in part,

What made you change your mind on this issue? Several years ago you were bad-dogging me in the comments for the views you hold now- you claimed back then that there was no reason [male-to-female transgender athlete] Fallon Fox shouldn’t get to fight in Women’s UFC, because she lives as a female and had transition surgery. According to 2013 Jack, “I don’t believe that males have an unfair advantage at all. Many advantages in physical ability can be made up with skill, and that true of most professional sports.”….I’m just wondering what it was that finally pushed you to flip on this one.

I wrote THAT? Yes, I did. Boy, is it ever inconvenient having over 10,000 searchable posts around to prove your inconsistencies. Continue reading