A Brief Ethics Observation: Kudos To The Ethics Alarms Commentariat (Bad Link Fixed!)

hysteria

In my father’s favorite poem, Rudyard Kipling salutes those who can keep their heads when all around them are losing theirs. Yes, he ends his verse with “You’ll be a man, my son,” thus resulting in the 21st Century ignoring Kipling’s wisdom because he expressed these sentiments in the context of his own culture and time rather than ours. (Fortunately, actress Ellen Page just demonstrated that any woman who feels left out can join Kipling’s target audience by just announcing she’s a man, so maybe Rudyard’s return to respectability is imminent.)

I have to peruse a lot of websites and social media to keep Ethics Alarms current, and I can state without hesitation that people are losing their heads with alarming frequency. I just read an alarming series of comments, almost 200 of them, on an Althouse post. I regard Ann’s blog as as close to this one in tone and orientation as any other I have encountered, although as with Ethics Alarms, it appears that most of her left-of-center commentators have fled because she has tried to be fair to President Trump. The thread is scary, as are several others of late. Some commenters are saying that Joe Biden will never take office. Some are openly trying to organize an armed insurrection. With very few exceptions, commenters are resorting to snark and bitterness rather than substance.

Continue reading

Oh-oh: WordPress Deplatforms The Conservative Treehouse Blog

dead canary

I don’t understand this development at all. Perhaps I should say that I hope I don’t understand it. The move feels like another canary dying in the Free Speech mine.

A week after the 2020 Presidential election, The Conservative Treehouse received this from WordPress, which, as you know, hosts Ethics Alarms:

…”given the incompatibility between your site’s content and our terms, you need to find a new hosting provider and must migrate the site by Wednesday, December 2nd.

What’s going on here? This is the blog’s interpretation :

It means CTH is being kicked-off the WordPress website hosting platform because the content of our research and discussion does not align with the ideology of those who define what is acceptable speech and what is not.

What was our violation?  After ten years of brutally honest discussion, opinion, deep research and crowdsourcing work -with undeniable citations on the events we outline- there is no cited violation of any term of service because CTH has never violated one.

The WordPress company is not explaining the reason for deplatforming because there is no justifiable reason for it.  At the same time, they are bold in their position. Perhaps this is the most alarming part; and everyone should pay attention. They don’t care.

Truthful assembly is now the risk.  CTH is now too big; with a site reach of 500,000 to a million unique readers each day; and with well over 200,000 subscribers; our assembly is too large, too influential, and presents a risk… we guard the flickering flame.

The Conservative Treehouse is a professionally operated blog. I don’t visit it often; the tone is too ideologically rigid for me, and the lionizing of the late Andrew Breitbart, who proudly engaged in unethical journalism, signals to me that ethics is not high on the blog’s priority of values.

However, unless there is something more behind this event, it is ominous.

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: What Is The Ethical Response To This…?”

I have been remiss in not including prolific commenter Steve Witherspoon’s blog among the Ethics Alarms links, an error I will remedy today when I wake up sufficiently. You’ll be introduced to his site in his latest Comment of the Day, which sets out to answer a question that increasingly perplexes me, regarding how narcissistic lunatic race-hucksters like Ashleigh Shackelford  (above) became regarded by American corporations  and other organizations as competent  trainers of their members or employees to set their beliefs and attitudes “straight.”

Here it is, on the post, Ethics Quiz: What Is The Ethical Response To This…?

“At what point did elements in our society start being receptive to what she does and says, and why did this happen?”

Here is my answer in part…

“When you have one stupid person ranting in public it’s easy for the public to shrug it off and explain it away to others as “it’s just a wacko”, but what happens when that wacko’s rantings become mainstream and there are hoards of stupid people publicly parroting the same irrational emotionally driven nonsense…”

I wrote that June 17, 2019 in my blog post Apathy Fertilizes A Breeding Ground For Stupidity after watching what has happened and realizing that societal apathy from rational thinking people across our society was wide-spread, and people just hid away under their rocks focusing on their own lives, actively ignoring what’s been going on around them and thinking thoughts like “just ignore the wacko’s, they’ll go away”, “don’t get involved”, “I don’t want to be sued”, “I won’t want to be canceled”. People have forgotten what the word “enable” means. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Alarms, 4/19/2020: Facebook, Harvard, Broadway And You Know, Morons…

Good afternoon!

1. It’s come to this…Commenter Matthew B sent me the link to an article on Facebook, and when I clicked on, it this came up…

Yes, Facebook warned me that Ethics Alarms was a “malicious site.” I especially like the part where Facebook says to contact them if I think they were in error, but also say that they won’t do anything if it is.

2. Meanwhile, regarding my  alma mater whose diploma I already have turned to the wall, here is an illustration in the latest Harvard alumni magazine for an article about how bad home schooling is:

Yes, “Arithmetic” is spelled wrong.

I bet Harvard Magazine tries to claim that this was intentional by the artist, to highlight the inadequacy of a home schooling education. That will be, of course, a lie, but there won’t be any way to prove it. You know, when you are America’s oldest and most prestigious university, you really can’t afford to be that careless, especially to your alums, and particularly when your administration has embarrassed itself repeatedly on the last decade. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Easter Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/12/2020: Missing The Easter Bunny”

In today’s Warm-Up, I expressed my problems with Mark Tapscott’s blog post, titled “He Is Risen! Eight Reasons To Believe.”

To summarize the thrust of my criticism as I reiterated it in my replies to his comment and others, Mark argues persuasively that the authors of the Gospels were, at least in this case, trying to tell the story as they heard it, and were not trying to embellish or distort it in the telling to make it more credible in its time. Good. That does not mean, however, that the story they heard is in fact true. The post was also aimed in part at debunking conspiracy theories about the Resurrection being a hoax. Taking Mark’s argument as that, and that alone, it is also persuasive. However, proving something was not intentionally false does not prove it is true.

I will do this however: at the end of my discussion, I said that I regarded Mark’s argument as a tautology, where a controversial document is cited to prove the accuracy of the document itself, and that I regarded that device as intellectually dishonest. Mark’s response persuades me that my  assessment was unduly harsh and unfair, and I both retract and apologize to him for it.

Moreover, the fact that he chose to respond in person so quickly reaffirms my original favorable assessment of his professionalism and character.

Here is Mark Tapscott’s Comment of the Day on Item #4 in the post, “Easter Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/12/2020: Missing The Easter Bunny”:

First, thank you for your kind words regarding my secular writing. I hope that my work in that area continues to merit your approbation. We are, as I believe Confucius is reputed to have said, “cursed to live in interesting times.”

Unfortunately, my reaction is not nearly so positive regarding your critique of my post on eight reasons to believe Jesus was literally resurrected from the dead three days after His crucifixion, just as He said He would be.

“Intellectually dishonest” and tautological? With all due respect, your readers deserve more candor than that from you. You accuse me of these two errors because: “All of his reasons are based on New Testament text. If one believes that the New Testament text is true and accurate, then you don’t need any more reasons. His is a self-ratifying argument.”

If my post was simply arguing for the credibility and historical accuracy of the New Testament, your statement might well more accurately represent what I wrote. I did indeed assume the accuracy of the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, but the eight reasons I offered concerned characteristics of the scriptural accounts and events that point a reasonable reader to their credibility. 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

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/31/19: Confirmation, Computers, Clinton, Cruz, And Comments

Good morning.

Trying to get used to my new computer, Microsoft 10, files I can’t find and many other things. Everything is going sloooooowly. Be merciful.

1. More on the Martin Luther King revelations. Yesterday I wrote about King biographer David Garrow’s article revealing the some disturbing and previously unrevealed results of the  FBI’s (illegal) surveillance of Martin Luther King. Predictably, Garrow is under fire for daring to sully an icon’s reputation, and because the source of the material is Hoover’s attempt to undermine King, that is the mode of attack. Garrow won a Pulitzer Prize for “Bearing the Cross,” his 1986 biography of King, and has said in the past  that FBI files should be treated with skepticism. However, he is obviously so disturbed at the new revelations that were inadvertently released that he is performing what he sees as his duty as a historian. He told the Washington Post that the summaries made by FBI agents who were spying on King are accurate, noting that different types of records warrant different levels of trust in their accuracy. The files claiming King was communist, he said,  “are coming literally third- or fourth-hand from a human informant,”so their accuracy is “highly dubious…But with the electronic surveillance records, those are very highly reliable, other than when the FBI can’t understand who’s talking.”

Confirmation bias is the key here. Garrow has none that I can see: his reputation is at risk if he is wrong, and he was an admirer of King, though not blind to his previously known flaws, like his epic infidelity. So far, the reflex deniers of Garrow’s conclusion all appear to be “keepers of the flame,” or at least invested in keeping King’s reputation intact.

It is encouraging to see the Post, which apparently refused to publish Garrow’s article,  covering the story. Most media sources are not, and that is signature significance. Many of the same sources have assumed that Donald Trump engaged in wilful sexual assault based solely on his recorded hyperbolic boasts to Billy Bush. The integrity of journalism in the U.S. could not be at lower tide.

In my case, I know enough about history and the important figures who stroll, dash and charge through it not to be surprised when any of them are revealed to have engaged in objectively horrible conduct at various points in their lives. Given King’s documented sexual appetites and epic infidelities, the likelihood that he was a sexual predator is strong. Again, my position is that King’s personal, even criminal conduct shouldn’t affect the assessment of or national gratitude for his public achievements at all. This isn’t the “personal conduct” dodge that Bill Clinton’s enablers used: his conduct with Lewinski and others was related to his job, his position, and in fact occurred in his office. That’s professional, workplace conduct, not personal.

I assume this will be another story inconvenient to the news media’s favorite causes,  that journalists and editors will attempt to bury, muddy, and minimize. Yes, and anyone who attempts to raise it, analyze it and verify it will be tarred as a racist. Perhaps I am naive and optimistic, but I don’t think that will work here. Just as eventually we had to face the truth about Thomas Jefferson and Bill Cosby, even those who want to deify King will have to deal with his private character, and decide whether they really want his statues and memorials, street signs and holiday, to come down.

Of course, there will be some good people on both sides of the argument. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/15/2019: Fevered Ethics Musings, and More” [Item #2]

Cultural literacy pop quiz: who’s the quote from?

This Comment of the Day by Benjamin, a relatively recent recruit to the discussions here, typifies the thoughtfulness and seriousness that distinguishes the commentariat at Ethics Alarms. Ann Althouse, a blogger (whose work  Facebook doesn’t block) with a much larger readership whose topics often mirror mine, just announced that she is considering changing “the commenting experience”:

I’ll regard the comments submitted to moderation as private messages to me, and I’ll only publish comments I think readers would generally enjoy reading — comments that are interesting, original, well-written, and responsive to the post.

I consider most of the comments here interesting, original, well-written, and responsive to the posts. The kind of comment that Benjamin registered is rare on Althouse, or any blog, really, though not rare here. (The exceptions would be PopeHat, whose progenitor has, at least for now, apparently abandoned for greener pastures, and the original Volokh Conspiracy, before it moved to the Washington Post, and then Reason). Why is that? One reason is the subject matter; another is that commenters who can’t express themselves, issue uninformed opinions or who just aren’t too bright don’t do well on Ethics Alarms. Another reason is that, as I have probably complained about too much, the mass exodus here of the Trump Deranged and knee-jerk progressives has eliminated most of the “You’re an idiot!” “No, you’re an idiot!” exchanges that pollute most blogs, as well as comment sections everywhere.

Here is Benjamin’s Comment of the Day on Item #2 in the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/15/2019: Fevered Ethics Musings, and More:

My efforts at suppressing the sin of schadenfreude are becoming futile. The things festering behind fiercely-reinforced masks are starting to spill putrid materials out of the eye and nose holes nearly everywhere and all at once. I believe I’m addicted to two “drugs”: watching good men hoisting the black flag and destroying evil with relish in the name of a good end, e.g. Liam Neeson’s Taken is dangerous for me to watch – I start getting ideas – so I’ve placed an embargo for myself on such plotlines; and watching evil destroy itself. I don’t think I’ll need to embargo the latter, though. There’s nothing more instructive of the fact that difficult-but-correct choices ought to always be chosen over immediately convenient wrong ones than watching the effects of a century or so of those wrong choices. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/27/2018: Petards, Conflicts, And Bullshit Edition

Good Morning!

1. Oh no! Hoisted by my own petard! I’m pretty certain that Clinton fixer Lanny Davis has an unwaivable conflict of interest in his representation of Trump fixer Michael Cohen. The legal ethics establishment is soft-peddling the issue because most legal ethicists apparently hate President Trump more than they like ethical lawyering, but I’ve been wrestling over whether to file a disciplinary complaint. The problem is that any complaint that has even a tinge of political motivation won’t be touched by the Bar (if prior performance is any indicator), so a complaint by me would be the proverbial lonely tree falling in the forest. The remedy would be to issue a publicity release about the complaint, but I’ve criticized that tactic as unethical right here, on more than one occasion. Rats.

It might be just as well. After the mere hint that I was defending Donald Trump (I was not) on NPR appears to have gotten me blackballed there after many years as an ethics commentator, I probably should not criticize the lawyer for the most popular sleaze in D.C. these days.

2. Neil Simon Ethics. In an alternate universe, my still operating professional theater company, dedicated to keeping unfairly buried, forgotten or unfashionable American theater works of the past in front of audiences who deserve a chance to see them, is looking at a lot of Neil Simon productions. The works of the —by far—most successful writer of comedies in Broadway history are already sneered at as sexist and “outdated,” and I can vouch for the fact that all it takes is one militant female board member with a checkbook and a chip on her shoulder to kill a production. Remember S.N Behrman? Seen any Philip Barry plays lately? How about Kaufman and Hart? Simon just died, and he’s already heading to obscurity along with those guys, and most of their plays are still funny too.

3. Here’s another topic it’s dangerous to get intoFrom CBS:

A pregnant Washington state woman said she was fired via text message from a sub shop where worked, with a store manager telling her “it’s not a good time to have somebody who is leaving for maternity leave in several months anyway.” Kameisha Denton told CBS Seattle affiliate KIRO-TV that she had told the manager she was pregnant and due in December, asking for maternity leave.

Denton said she realized that she hadn’t been assigned shifts at Jersey Mike’s sub shop in Marysville, Washington, so she sent a text to her manager inquiring about the hours. The response she says she received was shocking.

When Denton asked for her “updated schedule” she received something a bit different. The store manager named only as “Marcos” in Denton’s phone responded, “I am sorry to inform you but it’s not going to work out with Jersey Mikes. It’s not a good time to have somebody who is leaving for maternity leave in several months anyways. You also failed to tell me this during your interview.”

Denton posted the exchange on Facebook in a post that had garnered over 1,000 shares in just two days.  

Denton told KIRO-TV,  “I was just like in shock, it took me a minute to face reality — I was like this is really happening.”

Continue reading

More On “Media Bias Report 3.1”

It is amazing how many desperate liberals  circulate or defend  the absurd, misleading and incompetent chart purporting to measure the bias of various news sources as if the thing had any integrity at all. First of all, they could not (I hope) have read the creator’s nonsensical criteria for her assessments. Second, it should be obvious that no single individual could possibly examine and compare over 40 news sources with anything approaching thoroughness and accuracy. How would this be possible, even as a full-time endeavor, which it most certainly was not in this case? A research group like Pew might be able to pull such a study off with a large budget, lots of time, and a substantial staff, and even then I’m very dubious.

The chart is a classic example of making fake research—garbage in, garbage out— look impressive through packaging. This is, of course, unethical.

For the record, here are some of the factors someone who was seriously interested in measuring bias objectively (and not primarily determined to show that mainstream media bias is a right-wing myth): Continue reading