Follow-Up: Guess Who Is Telling FaceBook Which “Disinformation” To Censor?

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With this post. a follow-up to this one regarding the hypocritical and ominous Presidential attack on vaccine-related “disinformation” on Facebook, Ethics Alarms ends the suspension of George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who writes the generally excellent “Res Ipsa Loguitur” blog and who has distinguished himself during the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck for refusing to follow the unethical lead of his biased and Trump-Deranged colleagues in law and academia, and having the courage to point out many of their worst betrayals of the public trust. I suspended the professor at the beginning of June for carelessly advancing a favorite Democratic party Big Lie on his blog, that a media recount after the 2000 election showed George W. Bush had actually lost the popular vote in Florida, and thus Al Gore was the rightful winner of the Presidency. I wrote, “Ethics Alarms is giving him a month’s suspension, or until he fixes his error and apologizes.” Well, he sort of fixed the error but never apologized, so I made the suspension six weeks. I’m happy to be able to reference his blog again, and as a happy coincidence, one of his recent posts nicely supported what I had just written.

Turley pointed to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitting that the Biden administration is working with Facebook to flag “problematic” posts that “spread disinformation” on the Whan virus vaccine and related matters. She had said that the Administration has created “aggressive” policing systems to spot “misinformation” to be “flagged” for the social media companies. He wrote in part,

Obviously, anyone can object to postings. There is a greater danger when the government has a systemic process for aggressively flagging material to be censored. The real problem however is with the censorship system itself. We have seen how there needs to be little coordination between political figures and the media to maintain controlled narratives in public debates and discussions.”

By “little” the sometimes obsessively cautious professor means “none.” He continues,

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Translation Of White House Message: “When Social Media ‘Disinformation’ Supports Our Policies, It’s Fine; When It Doesn’t, It’s ‘Killing People’.”

shhhh

The first ethics take-away from President Biden’s attack on Facebook for “vaccine disinformation” is that the Left’s totalitarian tendencies and embrace of censorship become more obvious and less hidden every day.

The second ethics take-away is that Joe Biden, of all people, has a lot of gall complaining about social media disinformation when he is in the White House in large part because of it.

The third is that the entire Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck has been dominated by outright propaganda and intentional manipulation of public opinion by the news media, federal agencies, medical organizations and “experts,” and Democrats are particularly ethically estopped from complaining about the same process that they have been employing for more than five years to their advantage.

As he boarded Marine One for a weekend at the ol’ Presidential hide-out at Camp David in Maryland, President Biden was asked what his message was to social media platforms regarding vaccine disinformation.

“They’re killing people,” he said. “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that — and they’re killing people.”

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The “Hello, Friday! I Thought You’d Never Come!” Open Forum

Robinson and Friday

I was looking for Robinson Crusoe and Friday illustrations, and boy, if they thought that Teddy Roosevelt statue that’s they’re taking down in New York City radiated white supremacy, they hadn’t checked out Daniel Defoe’s masterpiece lately. Is that novel ever read in school any more? (It’s a terrific novel, and one of my Dad’s favorites…and he read everything.) With “To Kill A Mockingbird” being banned in some schools, I wonder how much literature will be sacrificed to political correctness and The Great Stupid. And how many pop culture nuggets…I was alternately amused then shocked to hear the 1957 Australian goof “Tie Me Kangaroo Down” played on Sirius XM, for the song is hilarious as well as racially insensitive to the max with this verse (remember that the song purports to quote the last requests of an old Aussie stockman on his deathbed):

Let me Abos go loose, Bruce

Let me Abos go loose

They’re of no further use, Bruce

So let me Abos go loose!

I just checked:one of the lyrics websites excised that verse while claiming that it was printing the whole song.

But I digress. Write about anything you want, as long as it has an ethics theme…

RETRACTED And Revised: “Scared Yet? Twitter Censors A Times Op-Ed Columnist For Calling Anti-White Racism What It Is”

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This is the revised part. The retraction is that despite the headline and what I wrote below, Twitter didn’t suspend New York Times columnist Bret Stephens account for violating Twitter’s rules with his recent op-ed calling anti-white measures showing up in the Biden Administration and elsewhere what they are: racism. The Daily Wire, a conservative website that was founded by right wing gadfly Ben Shapiro, wrote the post based on “a Twitter user” as its source,” and I foolishly assumed that the site would have checked out the claim before posting on it. It turns out the Stephens’ account says it’s “suspended” because he suspended it himself, in 2019.

Thus I am made an accomplice to this confirmation bias chain reaction, and I resent it. This is the kind of crap I experienced more than once from Breitbart and The Gateway Pundit, both of which are no longer cited as sources on Ethics Alarms, and whose stories I will not believe unless I find a credible source that independently confirmed it. Now I’m adding the Daily Wire to that black list. There are plenty of left-leaning sites on that list as well, but since it is virtually impossible to ensure that a story that reflects poorly on the allies of progressive propaganda hasn’t been obscured or deliberately distorted by the mainstream media, conservative media has to be trustworthy and professional, and far too often, it just isn’t. Situations like this make it easier for the mainstream media to call every report they wish would disappear “conservative disinformation.”

Meanwhile, The Daily Wire just notes (a few minutes after I’ve posted relying on its fabricated story) that the post had been “corrected.” It was originally titled, “Twitter Suspends NY Times’ Columnist’s Account After He Denounces Equity as ‘Racism.” NOW it is headlined “NY Times Columnist Denounces Equity as ‘Racism’” which is both inaccurate and not news, since Stephens’ column is three days old. He also never called “equity”racism. That’s like something they would say on MSNBC to distort what was written. I thought the phrasing was strange and sloppy in the first version, but since the topic was Twitter’s censorship, I didn’t bother with it. Now, the misrepresentation is the subject of the whole post. Then, in the body of the piece, it now says, “On June 30, a Twitter reader erroneously claimed that Twitter had suspended Bret Stephens’ Twitter account.” What it should have said is On June 30, a Twitter reader erroneously claimed that Twitter had suspended Bret Stephens’ Twitter account, and we, because we were looking for another reason to bash Twitter, believed him without checking. We apologize to our readers and any other websites, commentators or blogs who were misled due to our mistake.”

But I DO apologize (and thank to JutGory for the prompt alert). Confirmation bias also played a part in my gullibility: I do not trust Twitter, and what was represented is just a bit beyond what Jack Dorsey’s arrogant cyber-creature has done already. The last line of the post is still valid, though the rest was built on garbage: “Boy, am I glad I quit Twitter. But I’m ashamed that I didn’t do it sooner”

Like Bret Stephens.

The rest of what follows, except for that last part, is retracted.

***

I didn’t see this one coming, because I am an idiot.

Two days ago, I wrote in the morning warm-up, (Item #2),

“Today [The New York Times] allowed Bret Stephens , one of the endangered species in their op-ed stable, a conservative, to write an anti-antiwhite racism piece under the Times’ main editorial gaslighting those who see Critical Race Theory for what it is. (On the opposite page, one of the Times’ usual far-left shills has another op-ed defending the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the schools, so the Times makes sure that Stephens is shouted down by his own paper, 2-1.) Stephens’ op-ed is called “The New Racism Won’t Solve the Old Racism,” which one would think is self-evident, but in the Year of the Great Stupid, it certainly is not. His “money quote” comes at the very end:

“Thoughtful liberals who think this is much ado about nothing should spend some time pondering how perfectly people like [ Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has announced that she won’t be interviewed by white journalists] are now playing into right-wing stereotypes. They should also spend time wondering whether the ideal for which they have long fought — a society that, if not colorblind, can at least see past color — is being jeopardized by progressives who apparently can see only color. Whichever way, it shouldn’t be hard to see that trying to solve the old racism with the new racism will produce only more racism. Justice is never achieved by turning tables.”

Obviously, he’s racist, or so the totalitarianism-enabling censors at Twitter decided. Yesterday, Twitter suspended Stephens’ Twitter account which now just says, “Account suspended.” His opinion, you see, violates Twitter rules, primarily the unwritten one that holds that any statements that in any way undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the Left’s efforts to undermine the Constitution and core American values will be censored so as few citizens get to ponder non-conforming arguments as possible.

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Down The Slippery Slope To Lawyer Censorship: First Giuliani, And Now This

silence

Rudy Giuliani, as discussed here, was just suspended from the practice of law on the basis of out of courts statements that the New York bar disagrees with, while representing a client they hate (Donald Trump), using a standard that has never been applied to a lawyer before.

Yet what was just done to South Carolina lawyer David Paul Traywick by the state Supreme Court was even worse, and more ominous. The Court ordered his suspension from the practice of law based on social media posts that were pure opinion, and that had no connection to the practice of law at all. Traywick lost his license for six months. He will also have to complete at least one hour of diversity education, undergo an anger management assessment, submit to an evaluation through the South Carolina Bar program Lawyers Helping Lawyers, and comply for one year with any treatment recommended by “re-education” authorities.

The Court felt justified punishing him after the South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Counsel received complaints from 46 people about Traywick’s Facebook posts. The posts were accessible to the public, and his profile identified himself as a lawyer while mentioning his law firm his law firm.

The Court found twelve posts by Traywick “troubling.”I will interject here that an individual’s statement on social media are none of a court’s business, indeed none of its damn business, unless they are libelous or criminal, or evidence in a case before it. None of the posts fit into those categories. Two of the posts nonetheless triggered the suspension:

  • On April 5, 2020, Traywick posted what the Court calls “an offensive comment regarding tattoos,” apparently so offensive the the opinion won’t even enlighten us to what it was. After whatever it was he was saying about tattoos, which could have only been an opinion, he  challenged his readers, “Prove me wrong. Pro tip: you can’t.” In a subsequent post in response to a comment, he wrote, “The general statement has exceptions, such as for bikers, sailors, convicts or infantry. But these college educated, liberal suburbanites. No, the rule was written for these boring mother fuckers. And they are everywhere. Fuck em. Especially these females, Jesus Christ!”
  • On June 3, 2020, at the peak of the George Floyd Freakout, they lawyer posted, also on Facebook,  “Here’s how much that shitstain’s life actually mattered: Stock futures up. Markets moved higher Monday and Tuesday. Fuck you. Unfriend me.

By no stretch of the imagination or the Rules of Professional Conduct do those statements justify suspending a lawyer’s right to practice law. It is protected speech under the First Amendment. It does not involve the practice of law. The comments are profane, but profanity is not grounds for discipline out of a legal context. They are vulgar, but the same hold with those. They may offend readers, but nobody is forcing readers to follow this jerk. The lawyer appears, based on his comments, to be an asshole, but being an asshole is not a disqualification for practicing law. It is often an asset, some might say. He may have been lying, but not in any way that could be linked to his trustworthiness as a lawyer, and lies are also protected speech unless they constitute fraud or perjury.

Yet the Court wrote,

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Mid-Day Ethics Interruptions, 6/4/2021: After the First Item, You May Not Want To Read Any More…

Screamfest

1. When ethics alarms were never installed...The question here is not whether this was unethical. Of course it was. The question is how such an episode could happen anywhere in this country. Eight high school football coaches at McKinley Senior High School in Canton, Ohio have been placed on paid leave after apparently forcing a 17-year-old player, a Hebrew Israelite whose faith forbids the consumption of pork, to eat a pepperoni pizza in front of the team as punishment for skipping a practice. The family is suing the school district for violating the student’s First Amendment rights.

The head football coach, Marcus Wattley, allegedly told the boy that if he didn’t eat the pizza, his team mates would be punished. I don’t comprehend this. How can someone live in the U.S. and think forcing a child to violate his faith is anything but abuse? How does someone like Wattley get hired by a public school and entrusted with the welfare of children? Why would any high school have eight assistant football coaches?

If the facts are confirmed in an investigation, more than the coaches should be fired and, one hopes, prosecuted. The principal and other administrators should also be canned. [Pointer: JutGory]

2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias…The dozens of ways the mainstream media warps the news and manipulates public opinion becomes oppressive once you are sensitized to it. The headline in the Times two days ago, for example, was “GOP Challenges Teaching of Racism’s Scope.” That headline presumes as fact that “Critical Race Theory” and the “1619 Project” fairly and accurately convey “racism’s scope.” “GOP Challenges What It Calls Anti-White, Anti-America Indoctrination In the Schools” would be a neutral headline. Later in the same article, the news story refers to President Trump’s “racist comments, ” which is just a continuation of a narrative build on a media-fueled Big Lie. President Trump made many insensitive, provocative and politically incorrect comments. None were “racist.”

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Waning Wednesday Ethics Wonders, 6/2/2021…

What’s the ethical reaction to this story? Angelia Mia Vargas, 24, has been charged with deadly conduct with a firearm after she accidentally shot her 5-year-old son while trying to shoot an over-enthusiastic 6-month-old boxer puppy that got loose from a neighbor and was running through her yard. Neither the dog nor the boy were seriously injured. My reflex reaction, I confess, was, “HA! That should teach this idiot something about gun safety!” and then I instantly regretted it. The child was innocent: what really would have been condign justice was if her shot hit her car’s gas tank and it blew up. Shooting herself in the foot would have been good. “She could have handled it differently,” said Bruno the puppy’s owner. Ya think? Here’s the terrifying beast that Angelia thought justified deadly force:

Bruno

Should this woman have custody of a child? [Pointer: valkygrrl]

1. The rest of the story….There were a record number of Tulsa Race Massacre demonstrations on Memorial Day, as one might expect with “hate whitey” being the current fad. What was supposed to be the biggest one, in Tulsa of course, was cancelled after three survivors demanded $1 million each to appear. The May 31st Remember & Rise event was also supposed to feature John Legend and Stacey Abrams—boy, if only my sock drawer hadn’t been in such bad shape!– but it was called off because Viola Fletcher, 107, her brother Hughes Van Ellis, 100 and Lessie Benningfield Randle, 106, increased their appearance fee from $100,000 each to $1 million each. Their lawyers also demanded that a reparations fund be increased from the agreed-upon $2 million to $10 million. What does this tell us about how reparations would turn out if the U.S. were ever so unhinged as to agree to them?

I did learn that the young African-American, Dick Rowland, whose arrest after a white woman accused him of rape (or something) during an encounter in an elevator was the fuse for the violence wasn’t prosecuted. He was released, left Tulsa, and never returned.

I wonder why…

2. Here I go, obsessing about group identity again...In New York, the “Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession” program, sponsored by the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Moynihan Scholarship Fund, will introduce 250 “promising underrepresented high school students” to the accounting profession. The program will include virtual sessions about forensic accounting, interviewing skills, public speaking, networking, and an “accounting profession overview” featuring a panel discussion with experts in the profession. What a great idea! Nine institutions, including Ithaca College, Medgar Evers College, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. John’s University, Siena College, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Oswego, the University at Buffalo, and Westchester Community College co-host the program, which is free of charge for students.

Oh—white students may not apply. The online application for the program includes options for Hispanic, Black, Asian, and Native American students, but no option for white students. When confronted about the apparent discrimination involved, SUNY Oswego Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott Furlong huminahumina-ed that “SUNY Oswego participates in supporting the program and sees this as a beneficial service to the profession, but we strongly believe that all disadvantaged students would benefit from the COAP program.While we do not participate in recruiting the student participants in COAP or in the setting of policy for student membership, SUNY Oswego would prefer a more inclusive perspective regarding membership in COAP and the NYSSCPA policy…[which would] “align with SUNY Oswego’s ethos that is rooted in diversity of thought and people, equitable practices and policies, and inclusive experiences.” Furlong said that the matter “merits much future discussion for the purposes of having SUNY Oswego reassess our involvement and reconsider our sponsorship.”

Meanwhile, his institution will continue to participate in a program that discriminates against white students.

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A Deeper Dive Into The Western Washington University “No Exit” Protest

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Guest Post by Rick Jones

[Before I turn the floor over to Rick, also known here as “Curmie,” a couple of comments are in order. I had hoped that the post yesterday about the Western Washington University student protest over the decision to produce “No Exit,” the 1944 existential drama by Jean-Paul Sartre, would generate commentary from Rick, for several reasons. First, he is one of my favorite bloggers on his own, the proprietor of Curmudgeon Central, which has a new post up right now regarding the George Floyd incident one year mark. More relevant to our topic right here and now, Rick is a distinguished college professor, drama teacher and stage director, who has special insight into university students and live theater. As he reveals in the article to come, he also is better qualified to discuss “No Exit” than I; indeed, he has now convinced me to give the work another chance, since it has been decades since I read or saw it.

I also was thrilled to receive this submission from Rick because I feel very strongly that live theater is imperiled in the U.S. I know most readers here do not share my dedication to theater; few Americans do, and fewer all the time. But I have lived a double life (as a character in Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Inspector Hound” adds “At least!”), spending  as much of my passions and energies on theater as any other pursuit from high school until to five years ago, when I ended the 20-year run of my small, maverick, professional theater company. My timing was excellent, because the panic-driven lockdown has killed many of The American Century Theater’s competitors here in the D.C. area, maybe most of them, and a year of using Zoom and streaming services has undoubtedly convinced many one time audience members that live theater isn’t worth the time, inconvenience or expense. In the same period, toxic political correctness, political obsession and woke fanaticism has grown exponentially, and these were existential threats to theater already.

The “No Exit” controversy is a symptom of a very serious threat to live performance art, which has been a force for uniting societies and enlightening the public for centuries. We need it more than ever now. A lot is at stake. JM]

***

My department has produced “No Exit”(which, by the way, I like a lot more than you do, Jack) twice in the last decade.  The first of these was directed by a talented and intelligent female student (an ardent feminist, by the way) who went on to earn a Master’s from a prestigious university overseas.  And we also did an online-only production last fall, directed by a colleague who’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, with a PhD in Theatre from arguably the best doctoral program in the country.  Oh, did I mention that she’s a lesbian? 

And, of course, the sense of isolation in the play was a major reason the play was chosen: because we all have a greater understanding of that phenomenon now than even the most creative thinkers could have managed a year earlier.  Moreover, please forgive me if I think that perhaps my colleague, who has published and taught courses on Queer Theatre, might have a more sophisticated understanding of the concepts at play in that particular theoretical framework than would a gaggle of pretentiously woke undergrads.

I am apparently lucky not to be at WWU.  When I announced my show for this spring as Jean Genet’s “The Maids”and described the two central characters as “would-be murderers who engage in sado-masochistic lesbian incest,” it generated interest on the part of most of our best actresses; if there was any dissent—from either very liberal students or a very conservative larger community—I never heard about it.  (Side note: although it wasn’t produced until later, “The Maids” was chosen and announced prior to”No Exit” which was a late substitution for a play we were unable to do.  I wouldn’t have chosen to do two existential French dramas from the 1940s in the same season, but that’s what we ended up with.)

But revenons à nos moutons.  When I started this response, I intended to go point by point through the students’ commentary, but that got really long, as virtually everything they say is nonsense.  So: a few general points:

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Ethics Half-Hero: Western Washington University

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When it comes to colleges and universities standing up to political correctness and woke demands for intellectual non-diversity, half-heroes are still better than the norm. The norm is abject cowardice and the ethical integrity of a sea sponge.

At Western Washington University, theater students attempted to cancel the Theater Department’s fall production of “No Exit,” the 1944 existential drama by Jean-Paul Sartre. (Full disclosure: I would rather be cursed to organize a thousand sock drawers than watch or read that play again.)

A letter of protest from students echoed many of the rationalizations for censorship and political cleansing of the arts that have metastasized into serious threats to intellectual freedom and creative liberty across the nation. Not to keep you in unnecessary suspense, the school did not cave to the student demands, nor grovel an apology for daring to arouse their ire, as most colleges (and high schools) would do today. “No Exit” will still be produced in the Fall. The school still only gets a half-hero rating for its verdict of no exit from “No Exit,” however, because it has agreed to provide “trigger warnings” for audience members.

As to the latter: Yecchh. By capitulating to this degree, the school has allowed the camel’s nose of faux ideological trauma into the metaphorical tent of the arts. Art, especially performance art, is intended to provoke strong reactions by introducing new and unexpected experiences and ideas into the unique dynamic of an audience. Someone who is so emotionally (read “politically programmed to be..) fragile that they have to be warned so they can avoid uncomfortable, jarring or, more frightening yet to crypto-totalitarians, non-conforming ideas should avoid the theater, like a tone deaf man who only appreciates commercial jingles should avoid the opera. By pandering to this part of the student demands, the school has abandoned a crucial principle without which theater cannot survive.

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Regarding “Uncle Tim”: Everybody’s Wrong.

Scott response

South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott delivered a rarity, an opposing party “replay” to a Presidential address that was eloquent, powerful, and relevant. However, Scott also fell into the ethics abyss by demanding that Twitter take down tweets that included the hashtag “Uncle Tim.” Scott called the trend “upsetting” and “so disappointing” this morning, saying that it shows the left “are literally attacking the color of my skin.”

Well yes, they are. That shouldn’t be surprise, since they have also been attacking the color of MY skin.

The conservatives, as the mainstream media likes to say when Republican point out hypocrisy, “pounced”:

Tim tweet 1

Tim tweet 2

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