Assorted Ethics Thoughts In The Throes Of Insomnia, 8/17/2019: The Foot-In-Mouth Edition

Started as a Morning Warm-Up, then it was a Mid-Day Update, then a Late Night something or other.

1. From the “Steve King is an idiot” files: Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa whose avocation is sticking his foot in his mouth, told the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa that the unborn who result from rape are no less lives that other fetuses, and should not be subject to any “exception” to principled exception to abortion. “It’s not the baby’s fault,” he said.

So far, so good: King is right. Then he had to go and say this:

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that? Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that’s taken place, and whatever happened to culture after society, I know that I can’t certify that I’m not a product of that. And I’d like to think every one of the lives of us are as precious as any other life.”

So when you really think about it, rape and incest are a good things, right, Steve?

That’s certainly how Democrats and progressives took his comments, and to be fair, his infuriatingly ham-handed rhetoric made it easy.  The position that unborn children are just as deserving of life regardless of how they were conceived is a powerful and greatly misunderstood ethical argument. It is not necessary to rationalize rape to make it; in fact, King’s dumb argument just muddles the issue. It’s also bad history and anthropology.

NBC has an article up claiming that King’s words show the “misogyny” at the heart of white supremacy. No, they just show that King is a moron, and we already knew that.

2. Nice. Here’s the title of a Gail Collins op-ed in yesterday’s Times: “How to torture Trump.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/10/19: Insomnia Edition

Jeez, what time is it?

This stuff  kept me awake, gave me nightmares, or made me wish I was dreaming. Started this post before 5 am…

1. Idiotic meme of the week:

A lawyer friend whom I can vouch for having a brain actually posted this thing, apparently approvingly. In zombie movies, the equivalent is when a previously normal friend suddenly bites off your nose. Jules Suzdaltsev is hard left progressive journalist whose background is in film and psychology, and would be a fine example for teaching purposes of what someone sounds like who is so far on one side of the ideological spectrum that he is incapable of finding the center. He’s an ideologue and a Leftist incapable of objective analysis or non-compliant thought, who was steeped for seven years in the  rarefied politics of San Francisco, and who tweets deliberate misrepresentations like “There have been more MASS SHOOTINGS in 2019 than there have been DAYS in 2019” and such cliched “resistance” bile like “Hey do you guys remember when the generation that grew up breathing lead fumes ended up voting for this guy as President?”

The scary thing is not Suzdaltsev—he’s a professional left-wing echo chamber provocateur, and good luck to him, glad he has a career. The scary thing is that lawyers, trained in critical thought, can reach the point where they find extremist agitprop persuasive. Society relies on educated, trained professionals to steer us clear of such rot, not to embrace it. The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck has seen one professional group after another abandon this duty for mob-pleasing expediency.

And how can someone post a statement that Bernie and Warren are barely left-of-center as anything but satire?

2. Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide, hanging himself in his cell. This was gross incompetence by the New York City jail, as well as federal authorities. If there ever was a prisoner who was a candidate for suicide (or murder), Epstein was it. He needed to be on a round-the-clock suicide watch. Epstein was allowed to cheat the justice system and his victims. He is now officially innocent of the crimes he was charged with.

Aside from all that, good. The world is better place without him in it. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-up, 7/18/2019: Heading Toward An Ameriac Where “America” Is Banned, Where It’s Illegal To Call An Illegal Illegal, Where Judge’s Say “Good Work!” To Felons, And Where Illiterate Celebrities Are “Influencers”

Aiiii!

Everything is seemingly spinning out of control!

1. For example, this stupid controversy, and surprisingly, it involves the Kardashian family. Kylie Jenner, Kim’s half-sister, is, as you may know, a “social media influencer,” which means companies pay her millions to use Instagram to promote their brands or products to the mouth-breathing idiots who follow this fatuous and useless celebrity.

Kylie recently issued a post featuring this photo of herself nude in a huge straw hat…

 

which rankled another “influencer,” Amanda Ensing—how can someone get paid to influence people when I’ve never heard of them?— who accused Jenner of stealing her pose.  Ensling has more than one million followers on both YouTube and Instagram, where she posts her outfits, makeup looks, travel experiences, and hairstyles, and  had previously appeared on Instagram like this…

She implied that Jenner had engaged inInstagram pose plagiarism, or something. (There’s no such thing.) The ever-articulate half-Kardashian lashed back, in words reminiscent of Dryden or Wilde in high form,

“from the words of Kim K ur not on my mood board but i did get my inspo off Pinterest”

This exchange justified breathless accounts in People, The Daily Beast, Cosmo, E!, Us, and dozens of other websites, as well as celebrity cable shows, spreading the false impression that what these semi-literate narcissists  say or do matters, thus increasing their ability to make our young trivial and even dumber that our schools make them.

Apparently Pierre Auguste Renoir isn’t active on social media, or he might have complained to both “influencers.”

2. From Minnesota, a very different kind of stupid: In an epic example of woke virtue-signaling because Nationalism Bad,  the city council for St. Louis Park in Minnesota decided to end the practice of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings—you know,  to be more “inclusive,” which means to pander to members who don’t care that much for the United Sates of America.  Then they were shocked to discover that a very vocal majority of constituents found the move offensive, so the city council members did a complete 180,  said, “Never mind!” and reversed themselves unanimously,though complaining bitterly and implying that Deplorables made them do it. Integrity! Principle over expediency! Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/9/2019: Then They Came For Mr Peanut…

Good Morning!

1. From what cultural hell in America did this conduct ooze out of? A family got in a brawl in the middle of Disneyland, as on looking children screamed. See?

Nice.

The family was escorted out of the park, and criminal charges are being sought.

This entire family is so devoid of  functioning ethics alarms that it lacked the basic civilized instincts not to a) physically attack each other b) physically attack each other in public c) physically attack each other in a family venue that represents the opposite of what they were doing.

In some kind of record for inappropriate understatement, Disney said that  the company “does not condone this type of behavior.” That’s reassuring.

2. Congratulations to the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, but its captain is still an asshole. I fully endorse—well, 95%— Washington Post columnist Mark Thiessen, who had this to say about Megan Rapinoe, the team captain who has been grandstanding her hatred for President Trump by refusing to respect the National Anthem abroad. He writes in part,

Rapinoe is not playing for the Trump administration; she is playing for the United States. It’s one thing for a professional athlete to protest the national anthem, but quite another for a member of Team USA to do it. Rapinoe is protesting the Stars and Stripes while wearing the Stars and Stripes. That’s not OK. Representing your country is a privilege, not a right. If she really feels she can’t show respect for the U.S. flag and anthem, then she shouldn’t wear the U.S. jersey. Here’s the worst part: What she’s doing is selfish. Her protest comes at a time when the U.S. women’s team has taken an important stand against gender discrimination. They are suing the U.S. Soccer Federation because, despite being more successful on the field than the men’s team, and bringing in more revenue, they are paid significantly less than the men. They have a point, and the World Cup is a chance to rally the country behind their cause. But instead of unifying Americans behind her team’s admirable fight for gender equity, Rapinoe is dividing Americans with her anthem protests. Untold numbers of Americans who might have been inspired to support the team’s cause have been alienated by its leader.

Thiessen is talking about cognitive dissonance here: he’s pointing out, correctly, that people are less like likely to rally with even a just cause when its advocates are assholes.

My 5% objection is that the women’s team will have a strong claim to equal pay when they prove that they can play soccer as well as the men’s team. Continue reading

Instagram Shows Us Once Again That Social Media Is Dedicated To Rigging Public Debate And Discourse To Ensure Progressive Policies

But conservatives are the autocrats and fascists.

This thoughtful and provocative cartoon by Adam Ford, the founder of the  conservative satire site, The Babylon Bee, was banned as “hate speech” by Instagram:

Observations:

1. Blaming this on a flawed algorithm won’t wash. Yes, it is difficult to write programs to identify genuine non-substantive speech designed only to insult denigrate or defend, and this means that a fair and competent social media platform must lean toward being over-permissive rather than unjustly and illogically censorious.

2. Obviously, the cartoon doesn’t qualify as hate speech even under the vaguest and most sweeping definition of a term that is too flexible anyway. The comparison between slavery and abortion isn’t new, and it keeps arising because abortion advocates have yet to rebut it. Both issues involve what one side believes is a human rights violation that is defended by denying the humanity of the victims, or arguing that the abuse of the victims is justified by the benefits to those abusing them. The analogy has been raised in films (such as “The Island”) and television (as on a memorable episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The cartoon could be and should be used in classroom discussions on the question of abortion.

3. For that to happen, however, people have to see it, and be allowed to think. Social media, when it censors speech and opinion that offend the sensibilities of the “woke” simply because such speech challenge progressive ideology and cant, isn’t “protecting its users.” It is protecting its allies from having to prevail in policy debates with facts, logic and ethics by bluntly silencing dissent. This is becoming a bad and frightening habit. In his new book “”A Thousand Small Sanities,” liberal commentator David Gropnik writes, “The contemporary left can sometimes seem to have an insufficient respect for the fragility of the very same liberal institutions that allow its views to be broadcast without impediments.” Ya think??

4. Meanwhile, the controversy isn’t being covered by the mainstream media at all, at least not yet. Thus other institutions are enabling social media’s content-based ideological censorship by not publicizing it. All the better to have the metaphorical frog of the American public boiled slowly in progressive censorship before they know what’s going on. (Yes, you pedants out there, I know that you can’t really boil a frog to death slowly, but that’s the old myth.)

5. One overly kind Christian website tried to come up with ways Instagram might have legitimately concluded that the cartoon was hate speech:

There is another possible reason Instagram flagged Ford’s post in question. Throughout the comic, which equivocates old hypothetical pro-slavery arguments with modern pro-choice rhetoric, Ford refers to black people as “blacks” — a term often flagged as offensive, though some style guides do permit “black” to be used as a noun as well as an adjective. While Instagram does not specifically forbid the use of “black” as a noun in their community guidelines, it does require users to only “post photos and videos that are appropriate for a diverse audience.”

Even accepting this theory, the censorship is unethical and ominous. So if “some people” find a term that is generally accepted elsewhere as “offensive,” that justifies banning a substantive message? It is still oppressive speech policing no matter how one looks at it.

Poll: The Racist Comment

Ethics Alarms received another one of its periodic racist comments today. As with most of them, it was generated by this post, about the racist site Chimpmania.

Unlike most of the comments I get of this ilk, this one is reasonably well-written: the writer probably has most of his teeth and would beat the kid who plays the banjo in “Deliverance” handily in Scrabble.

I routinely spam these kinds of comments, even the articulate ones. For a while I would allow the first one in, with a warning, but for more than a year I’ve just refused to publish them. Is that both ethical and wise, though? I am liking all forms of viewpoint censorship less and less of late, especially since Ethics Alarms is a victim of it. If there are substantial numbers of people who think like this bigot, shouldn’t the rest of us know about it, and learn what we can about their reasoning and motivation?

The contrary view is that this comment and the others like it are res ipsa loquitur, inarguable examples of uncivilized discourse that society reasonable and legitimately refuses to tolerate for its own safety The problem with this construct is that there are no clear standards to block the slide on the slippery slope. If it is legitimate to put racism, anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and misogyny in the category of the properly censored, why not, according to another censor’s sensibilities, climate change skepticism or support for President Trump?

I’m interested in how you respond to this poll:

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

Good morning.

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

Good.

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

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

Right.

Observations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“By any means necessary.”

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