The Black Lives Matters Effect, Part I: The Tenor And The Blogger

Singing the right lyrics also matters, you boob...

Singing the right lyrics also matters, you boob…

One thing you have to say for Black Lives Matters: it is good at making people make asses of themselves. “Late Night” host Seth Myers was yesterday’s example, but there are oh-so-many-more, and much worse.

For example, in the pre-game ceremonies of the Major League Baseball 2016 All-Star Game in San Diego, a Canadian tenor, apparently driven to distraction by the reverential treatment given to a group that promotes race hatred and a color-based standard for law-enforcement, snapped while performing the Canadian national anthem. Remigio Pereira, a member of  the vocal group The Tenors tapped to sing the anthem, held up a handwritten sign that read “All Lives Matter” altered the lyrics in the line “With glowing hearts we see thee rise. The True North strong and free” to “We’re all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great.”

This doesn’t fit the music, and is even worse than the real lyrics, which is quite a feat. Of course, Remigio was unethical to do this, expropriating an event that had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter, nor race, nor politics to make his own grandstanding statement (come to think of it, baseball does have something to do with grandstands. The stunt was disrespectful of everyone—his hosts, Major League Baseball; San Diego; the captive audience in the stadium, the TV audience, Canada. It was also a breach of trust that directly and perhaps fatally wounded his group, which immediately suspended him (Can we say F-I-R-E-D, Tenors? Sure we can) and issued an abject apology.

The statement was not unduly disrespectful to Black Lives Matter, however, which has shown itself to be unworthy of respect, as all divisive hate groups are.

The Black Lives Matters effect is wide-ranging, however, as this episode shows. It not only makes Canadian tenors irresponsible, but sportswriters too. Over at NBC Sports online, baseball blogger Craig Calcaterra couldn’t perceive the unethical nature of a performer hijacking a paid gig for his own purposes, but lectured his readers on the sin of using the term “All Lives Matter,” writing,

This may not seem terribly controversial to some, but in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement that has risen over the past few years, “All Lives Matter” has come to be seen as a reactionary response which fundamentally misunderstands — often intentionally — the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement. And is used to belittle and marginalize the Black Lives Matter Movement. The phrase “black lives matter” does not mean that “black lives matter more than any other lives.” If it did, sure, maybe “All Lives Matter” would be a reasonable response. But “Black Lives Matter” is a response to a society and, particularly, police, which treat blacks as lesser persons and who do not face repercussions for harming and in some cases killing black people through excessive force. It’s “black lives matter too” — a necessary statement, sadly — not “black lives matter more.”

Sigh. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: RedState’s Moe Lane, Cheap Shot Artist

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Bernie Sanders, or most likely someone on his staff since I doubt that the Bern is a micro-manager, made his campaign look foolish by sending Wikipedia a DMCA take-down notice demanding that Wikipedia remove  images of Sanders campaign logos on its Sanders page, on the dubious grounds that such use was a violation of copyright law. More embarrassing than the specious copyright complaint is the rather obvious fact that a campaign should want Wikipedia to publicize everything about it. The complaint, to be blunt, was dumb. (The take-down notice was retracted in short order.)

Moe Lane is a fairly nasty right wing blogger, and he gleefully reported Sanders’ Shame, which is certainly fair game for critics. He could not, however, resist this cheap shot headline:

Bernie Sanders yells at Wikipedia, cloud over… campaign logos?

If you don’t get the reference, it’s this: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Washington Post Drops Its Resident Op-Ed Socialist. Good.”

Post paper

The honor of the first Comment of the Day in 2016 goes to pennagain, previously penn, who assesses the forces turning our journalistic establishment to ethics mush. It is not a pretty scenario, but well worth thinking about. He was inspired by my article about the Washington Post dropping socialist pundit Harold Meyerson in part because he wasn’t getting enough clicks. Where it stops, nobody knows.

Here’s pennagain:

Twelve [delivered Washington Post daily print editions in another commenter’s apartment building] down to two is about what the trend is for paper subscriptions running out, and free internet use taking over. In the short run, probably, the metro papers will all go behind the paywall while smaller ones hold out for local advertisers, but for now there is a steady drop in print and a rise in online subscriptions, with a (temporary) small increase in access to both. All news media — newspapers, television and radio — are losing ground to the fragmentation of the internet universe as it “narrowcasts” to further and further special interests. The long run is not a pleasant prospect.

In the meantime, the born-to-the-web generation has been raised on free news, as have a majority of the current readers who lost their home-delivered (now less than 400) newspapers.

My concern is that perception of news is probably down about the same (12:2) — the smaller the screen, the poorer the perception. Internet pages are awash with advertisements up and down the sides and through the middles, flashing and flickering, sounding out automatically (this is fairly recent distraction and, I think, a true impingement on privacy), not to mention the seductive invitations between paragraphs to links that frequently cut into the text itself.

In a medium where the whole story could be presented as such on one “page,” it is cut into pieces and continued-on other screens, each of which takes more and more time to load its own load of ads. More incentive for those not desperately hooked to the story to check out one of the links or the next site down the line instead of getting all the information saved for more advertising. Click.

Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Day: Blogger Ed Morrissey

Double standard“So let’s get this straight. When a lunatic shoots up a Family Research Council office, it has nothing to do with its political opposition. When an abortionist [ Kermit Gosnell ] runs loose because public officials are too intimidated to enforce the laws that do exist, it has nothing to do with political support for abortion. But when a lunatic shoots up an abortion clinic, it’s the fault of millions of Americans who oppose abortion, and who argue peacefully for limits on the practice and better oversight of those who operate in the industry?

“Even when “police have not yet identified a clear motive for the shooting”?

“The shootings in a clinic and the deaths of two people are horrific acts that everyone with a lick of sense and humanity abhors. But what the Washington Post and pro-abortion advocates are conducting in its wake is an attack on free speech and the political process, not to mention the unconscionable smearing of millions of Americans. It’s disgusting, manipulative, exploitative, and un-American.”

—–Conservative blogger Ed Morrisey, in his post, WaPo: Let’s hold free speech guilty for the acts of a lunatic, shall we?

Yes, it’s disgusting, manipulative, exploitative, and un-American—see yesterday’s Ethics Alarms post regarding how the manipulative part works—but it is also one of the clearest and most undeniable examples of mainstream media bias and of how journalists actively adopt and advance even the most blatantly dishonest Democratic Party talking points. (To be fair, they are almost all Democrats, and most of them aren’t very bright, so they often believe this stuff).

For “the Washington Post” in Morrissey’s quote, read The New York Times, CNN, “Meet the Press” and almost every major news media source. All I want from progressives and Democrats is an admission that this slanted distortion of journalism is wrong—bad for the democracy, bad for the civic literacy of citizens, bad for society. That’s all! What I get, even from otherwise fair and rational readers of Ethics Alarms, is rationalizations and denial, aping the protests of the journalists themselves. Morrissey is a very restrained and circumspect writer, but he’s obviously angry. So am I. The point is, so should be every American regardless of political bent who cares about the truth.

Other conservative writers have been in grand form on the politicization of Robert Dear’s murder spree. Here’s the always razor-sharp James Taranto, of the Wall Street Journal: Continue reading

World Series Ethics: Another Pine Tar Sighting, As Baseball Ethics Rot Gets A Thumbs Up From Legal Ethics Rot

Sal Perez

Cameras during Game #2 of the 2015 World Series revealed that Kansas City Royals catcher Sal Perez had what appeared to be pine tar on his shin guard during the game. This would presumably be there for the purpose of surreptitiously smearing some of the gunk on the ball, then throwing it back to the pitcher so he could “get a better grip on the ball,” a.k.a “tamper with the baseball so it can do loop-de-loops.” This is illegal. It is cheating. According to Rule 8.02(a)(2), (4) and (5), the pitcher shall not expectorate on the ball, on either hand or his glove; apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball; [or]  deface the ball in any manner. The rule is unambiguous, and if a pitcher or a catcher is caught violating the rule, they are thrown out of the game with a suspension and fine to follow.

None of this happened to Perez or his pitcher that night. According to NBC Sports blogger Craig Calcaterra, a former practicing lawyer who I am officially disgusted with, the reason was that “Nobody cares,” including Calcaterra.

I wrote extensively about Major League Baseball’s unethical attitude toward violations of this particular rule last year, after an absurd sequence in which Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda was caught by TV cameras apparently using pine tar on his pitches without compliant from the opposing Red Sox, followed by Sox manager John Farrell saying that he hoped he would be “more discreet” about his cheating “next time,” and then when Pineda was more obvious about it next time, Farrell complained to the umpires, who threw Pineda out of the game (he was also suspended). I wrote, Continue reading

Aspie Savant’s Amazing Hypocritical Self-Indicting Blog Post

Israel slur

This blog post, an instant candidate for the Ethics Alarms Awards’ most unethical blog post of 2015, initially had me fooled. It announced itself as a list of the “16 Basic Principles of Mass Indoctrination,” and since there has been a lot of that going around lately, especially as the news media clears its collective throat to cover for President Obama’s failures and stump for a Democrat to succeed him, I scrolled through it. Indeed the principles listed were all spot on:

1. Start while they’re young.
2. Create the illusion of political freedom.
3. Use simplistic stereotypes to sway public opinion.
4. Mix facts with lies.
5. A big lie is more convincing than a small lie.
6. Give the masses “bread and circuses” to keep them well-fed and distracted.
7. Simplify complex issues by portraying them as dichotomies. Eliminate nuance.
8. Spread propaganda by all means possible.
9. Ostracize dissident voices through ridicule or defamation.
10. Faith in the correctness of a religion or ideology is more powerful than force.
11. Manipulate history records to support your religion or ideology.
12. Control different sides of the same debate and you control the outcome.
13. The masses are less swayed by reason than by stirring their emotions.
14. Drive the opposition in a corner. When they fight back, act like a victim.
15. Label all non-conforming behavior as pathological and promote “cures” for them.
16. Use rituals and mass events to keep people occupied and strengthen their faith.

Each was also illustrated, often very effectively, by a drawing, chart or cartoon. When I hit #14—“Drive the opposition in a corner. When they fight back, act like a victim”-–the illustration was the cartoon above, a standard issue, anti-Israel, fact-slanting slur coming uncomfortably close to anti-Semitic bigotry. More importantly, given the topic of the post, the cartoon embodied many of the techniques of indoctrination that blogger “Aspie Savant” was supposedly warning against. Continue reading

From The “I Told You So” Files: Judge Kopf Finally Decides To “STFU”

There go de judge!

There go de judge!

Last year, I wrote a post about the intemperate blogging of Judge Richard G. Kopf, a senior district court judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. Actually intemperate doesn’t quite describe it: in his criticism of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case (the Ethics Alarms discussion is here) he wrote, “As the kids say, it is time for the Court to stfu” and linked to the Urban Dictionary so his less cool readers would take his meaning. I wrote:

That he did this on his blog, Hercules and the Umpire, doesn’t matter. It was in print, in public, and he’s a Federal judge. The obscenity came in the context of Judge Kopf’s criticism of the recent Hobby Lobby decision, but the context doesn’t matter either. There is no context in which it would be appropriate, judicial and ethical for a member of the judiciary to tell the Supreme Court of the United States to shut the fuck up. Nor does it matter that he used the texting code stfu rather than spelling out the words.

For a Federal judge to be openly disrespectful, uncivil and abusive to the top of the nation’s judicial branch is an assault on the rule of law, and undermines public respect for our institutions…. If the objective is to speed a complete breakdown in public respect for our institutions, divisive partisans like Kopf  and Wilson are doing a bang-up job. Neither they, nor you, nor I will like where this will lead if our leaders and officials don’t come to their senses.

This post, of all posts (I don’t think my position is rationally assailable, frankly) managed to get three commenters banned from the blog, essentially by 1) arguing that the Roberts Court doesn’t deserve the usual respect due to any court, and 2) telling me to “stfu.”  All were Judge Kopf acolytes who weren’t going to stay here to contribute anything positive, just uncivil, arrogant progressive lawyers who the judge-blogger had trained well.

Last month, a year after his obscene riff on SCOTUS, Kopf slipped again, writing that  “Senator Ted Cruz is not fit to be President.” The post wasn’t obscene; in fact it was  funny: Kopf, who had a year earlier condemned the Supreme Court for bias, argued that Cruz was not fit to be President because…

“Any rational person understands that we must accept decisions we like and decisions we don’t like when we ask the highest Court in the land to decide difficult hot button questions for an entire country. Judicial retention elections are fine for Nebraska and all the other states that have developed unique and parochial histories and traditions. However, we are talking about a federal Constitution–one that protects and covers 320 million people from Maine to Hawaii. Given the fractious divisions in our country that exist now (and many times in the past) and the obvious geographical fissures among the states (Red State/Blue State), judicial retention elections, fueled by whether a majority likes or dislikes particular Supreme Court rulings at a given point in time, is a formula for chaos and for further dividing our country into factions, a well placed fear held by the Founders.”

Wait…who is this guy? Surely he bears no relation to the sneering, potty-mouthed anti-Supreme Court critic I wrote about the last time? Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Theodore Beale, a.k.a. Vox Day

“I find it rather astonishing that anyone would be so naive as to imagine, in this day and Information Age, to think that it is a good idea to simultaneously a) be mentally ill and b) play attack dog on the Internet…if you have a mental illness and you are foolish enough to attack me, then you can be certain that I will exploit your weakness to whatever extent I happen to find useful or amusing…If you are weak, then for the love of God and anything else in which you happen to believe, do not attack the strong!”

This Ted Beale, alias Vox Day. Let us never speak of him again.

This Ted Beale, alias Vox Day. Let us never speak of him again.

Theodore Beale, writing as “Vox Day” on his blog, commenting on Popehat blogger Ken White’s post about his clinical depression, which was highlighted on Ethics Alarms here.

The whole post must be read to get the full flavor of Beale’s ego-soaked viciousness. It is also a good example of signature significance: only a self-professed “cruelty artist” would produce such offal, even once. Yes, being a cruelty artist is unethical.

Ken’s interest in gaming and science fiction has the unfortunate side-effect of making him aware of Vox Day, a science fiction writer who has built a following based on his espousal of misogyny, homophobia, and other vile causes metastasizing on the dark side of the far right. He also, obviously, believes in encouraging the stigma of mental illness, which marks him as ignorant.

My only guess as to why Ken bothered to scratch this human boil is that he was annoyed by Beale/Day’s sexist, racist machinations regarding the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and the.Hugo Awards. It all smelled of Gamergate to me, and like that convoluted mess, my interest in it (and ability to research it sufficiently to comment intelligently on it is best described by reference to George S. Kaufmann’s description of his interest in crooner Eddie Fisher’s love life:

Mr. Fisher, on Mount Wilson there is a telescope that can magnify the most distant stars to twenty-four times the magnification of any previous telescope. This remarkable instrument was unsurpassed in the world of astronomy until the development and construction of the Mount Palomar telescope.The Mount Palomar telescope is an even more remarkable instrument of magnification. Owing to advances and improvements in optical technology, it is capable of magnifying the stars to four times the magnification and resolution of the Mount Wilson telescope.Mr. Fisher, if you could somehow put the Mount Wilson telescope inside the Mount Palomar telescope, you still wouldn’t be able to see my interest in your problem.

Continue reading

The Free Range Mom, Bias, and the Perils Of Blind Loyalty

About  the blind leading the blind---not only is it dangerous, it looks ridiculous to those who can see.

About the blind leading the blind—not only is it dangerous, it looks ridiculous to those who can see.

One of my favorite bloggers just fell into the blind loyalty trap. I’m sympathetic, but this is something that those who accept the responsibility of  teaching us important lessons and clarifying difficult issues must avoid at all costs. Bias makes us stupid, and blind loyalty breeds bias like carrion breeds maggots. It pains me to see Lenore Skenazy, author of the Free Range Kids blog, undermine her credibility like this.

She titled her post Horrible Editorial Chides Mom for Not Predicting Unpredictable Crime. In it, she takes the side of a mother who left her four-year-old son in an unlocked, running van while she picked up her daughter at a northeast school. Someone was drove her van off with her son in it, and subsequently crashed. The boy was unhurt. Under the circumstances, there is nothing horrible about the editorial, which uses the incident—even Skenazy agrees that the mother’s conduct was “dumb”—to caution parents about leaving children in cars. This is the editorial that aroused Skenazy to defend the indefensible:

“A Calgary mom has no doubt learned her lesson. The woman recently left her four-year-old son in her unlocked, running van while she picked up her daughter at a northeast school. The mother said she was gone about six minutes, and when she came out, someone was stealing her van with her son in it.

Fortunately, the incident ended well, with the child unhurt after the thief crashed the van, and the suspect was taken into custody.…charges of child endangerment need to be pressed to set an example, because no matter how often these types of things occur, other parents continue to leave their kids in similar situations. It takes just a few minutes to get your child out of a vehicle and bring him or her along with you on whatever errand needs running. Sure, it’s more convenient just to leave a child in the car and do the errand, unencumbered. However, child safety should trump inconvenience every time. Better a few extra minutes lost bundling a little one in and out of a vehicle than a lifetime of regret and what-ifs.”

The rationalizations in Skenazy’s defense begin with the title of her post, which is dishonest and in her own words, “dumb.” She is using moral luck as a defense, arguing that the sequence of events as they unfolded were merely unfortunate, and the mother just as easily could have returned to her van and car with nothing amiss. The odds favor nothing bad happening in six minutes; on the other hand, the odds of nothing bad happening are much better if a child isn’t in an unlocked vehicle with the engine running at all. Continue reading

American Journalism’s Integrity Death Spiral, PART III: The Biased Rationalization for Liberal Media Bias Of Biased Liberal Blogger Josh Marshall, Who Doesn’t Understand the Concept Of “Bias” And Thus Both Excuses, Enables And Embodies It

computer-created_spiral

There wasn’t going to be a Part III to this theme until I stumbled upon a stunning post by popular liberal blogger Josh Marshall (no relation, I think, though my Dad claimed that all Marshalls were related) that 1) defended CNN Carol Costello’s despicable glee at a tape of Sarah Palin’s daughter describing what she said was an assault by a man, and 2) added an explanation for news media bias that blames Fox News, a neat, if stupid, piece of logical pretzel-making.

It’s an amazing post, one which should make any objective reader wonder how deep a rational writer could be sunk into ideological cement to author this and not realize how self-rebutting it is. Marshall shoots himself in the groin at the very beginning, using Costello’s unprofessional attack on Bristol Palin as an example of how paranoid the right is:

“So now, liberals, the media, Democrats, apparently anyone who thinks Palin is a buffoon of almost world historic proportions (which gets you to something like 80% of the country) are all abominable hypocrites for ‘laughing’ at what is now fairly preposterously portrayed as a violent assault against a woman. If you listen to the police interviews, which occurred just as the brawl had barely ended, all the witnesses beside Bristol said she attacked the homeowner. Indeed, even Bristol’s younger sister Willow backed up the these other witnesses’ account. She just said Bristol missed with her punches.”

The buffoon here is Marshall, and he’s misrepresenting what Costello did. She didn’t introduce the tape by pointing out what other witnesses said. She may not even have known about the police reports (which I have read, and they are not at all conclusive, which is why no charges were filed.) She just introduced an emotional recording of a young woman recounting how she was attacked, and said it was so enjoyable that her audience was obligated to thank her. It doesn’t matter what the facts were or turned out to be. What was outrageous was Costello displaying enjoyment at another human being’s distress, because it was Sarah Palin’s daughter. Marshall’s defense is also ignorant of context, not that he cares. Last month, Costello had angrily encouraged ESPN to suspend commentator Stephen A. Smith because he had suggested, in light of the Ray Rice-Janay Rice brawl video, that women who attack men in part bring abuse upon themselves. Now Marshall is saying that Costello’s lack of sympathy for Bristol Palin is justified because she allegedly tried to punch her assailant, but missed. Janay Rice didn’t miss, you know. Then again, she isn’t the daughter of a political figure Marshall and Costello detest.

Thus even before he offered his denial of left-media bias, Marshall had outed himself as a practitioner. Then he wrote this:

“Conservatives in the ’70s and ’80s looked at the mainstream media and saw it as liberal and against them. That was largely bogus but not entirely. The mid-late 20th century elite ‘media’ did generally buy into a series of cosmopolitan assumptions about public and private life. That worldview generally aligns more with liberalism than conservatism, but the two are by no means identical. And this did shape coverage in significant ways. But many conservatives genuinely believed that most people in media were and are little different from Democratic political operatives writing propaganda. So when they went to create “their” media, that’s basically what they created, a propaganda network.”

Marshall’s hallmark is making nonsense sound reasonable, and he outdoes himself here. Do you know what “buying into a series of cosmopolitan assumptions about public and private life” is called? Bias, that’s what. Marshall, true to his liberal-biased soul, frames this as just intelligence, education and sophistication, which is what the liberal elite use “cosmopolitan” to mean. It’s not bias! It’s just the truth, as smart people understand it, and dumb, redneck hicks don’t!

As Marshall appears not to grasp—and who knows? Maybe he doesn’t—bias arises from the acceptance of prior assumptions that prevent objective analysis and fair balancing of objectives, facts and opinions. Conservatives looked at the mainstream media and saw news content, news coverage, punditry and opinion journalism being determined by a profession that was over 80% registered Democrats and otherwise liberal, and dominated by people like Costello and Marshall, who were so far left that everything right of them, including moderate political positions, looked deranged and illegitimate. Conservatives (and objective liberals too)  saw bias, because bias is what there was. Marshall seems to think that bias has to be intentional and malicious to qualify as bias: he doesn’t understand the concept, which may explain why he doesn’t see how biased he is. The reason bias is so insidious is that the sufferer is often completely unaware of the bias, especially when, as in most mainstream journalism organizations, everyone suffers from the same biases. Continue reading