Comment Of The Day : “Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns”

Today’s wet market special: bats! Yum-yum.

Let me introduce the Comment of the Day by once again acknowledging the consistently excellent contributions to Ethics Alarms made every day by the commentariat here. I know a lot of people who don’t read the comment sections of blogs and websites; heck, I usually don’t, and the reason I don’t is that they are almost uniformly horrible and depressing. Horrible, because even in the cases of some superb blogs, they are reliable pits of name-calling and hackneyed talking points I have read elsewhere, full of poor reasoning and biased, lazy opinions lacking support or genuine understanding. Depressing, because I know they are representative of the general public, perhaps even positively so, since the real mouth-breathers don’t read about substantive topics at all, and couldn’t write about them literately if they did.

I know I complain too much about the traffic here. Since what has been called “The Great Exodus,” when those slowly succumbing to Trump Derangement left in a huff because I insisted on refusing to join what is tagged here as the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, and Facebook arbitrarily and mysteriously knocked the pins out of a major source of circulation and growth by banning links to the blog, my hopes of reaching a sufficient audience  to allow some income-producing activities here have been dashed. I don’t do this for profit (obviously), but some income would help–as you might expect, this is especially on my mind now. I was this close to topping the 5000 views a day level that is the minimum required to monetize a blog at the end of 2016, then our angry progressive friends left, and even 4000 a day is usually a faint hope. Still, I can’t complain about the quality of the comments, which, if anything, is stronger than ever, as is the variety of views and topics that arrives through them. I really should be grateful for that, and stop bitching. Together we have a superb product, getting better after a decade.

Humble Talent is one of the reliable stars here, with a unique outlook and a no-nonsense style. Before I started annually failing to deliver The Best and Worst of Ethics Awards (2019 was the third straight flop; maybe next year…), he had been a recipient of Commenter of the Year.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, : “Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns”:

We don’t have any conception under God how many people are actually affected. We don’t know the morbidity rates. We don’t even know the number of people who have died from the Wuhan Flu.

I used to say that we knew the numerator when it came to deaths, and that the percentages that we were hearing were worst case scenarios, because the denominator was always going to be much, much higher, so the rate was almost certainly artificially inflated. That remains true when talking about cases coming out of first world democracies… We know, roughly, how many people died from Flu related complications, but we don’t know how many people have had the Flu. For weeks now, Canadians have been told that if they’re experiencing symptoms, but those symptoms are not serious enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room, they need to stay home. Either they have it and we don’t want it walking around outside, or they don’t have it and we don’t want them bringing exciting new complications into our medical centers. The massaging in the states has been mixed, but there’s a lot of similar sentiment out there. The vast, vast majority of people who think they have the Flu won’t be tested, and there is a large slice of the pie that get the Flu but never develop symptoms.

And then you have third world, tin-pot communist dictatorships like China, Information Black Holes like Russia and places that don’t have sufficient medical facilities like most of Africa. Who knows what the numbers are out of places like this? I’ve seen chilling images and video coming out of China, pictures of of cremation packages stacked up outside of funeral parlors because they ran out of room inside. I don’t know if that’s representative, but I think it’s likely. 40 million cell phone users have been cut off from the rest of the world in the heart of China, and China has not reported a single Flu related death in a week. Continue reading

Having Previously Concentrated Only On Idiotic Reasons Not To Call The Contagion By The Name It Deserves, The Deranged Settle On A Vile And Unethical One

I have managed to post twice about the name game, and the ridiculous effort to find some way to justify not identifying the Wuhan virus by its place of origin, a campaign led by, naturally enough, its place of origin. The first post focused on the idea that calling a Chinese virus a Chinese virus was “racist,” a concept so devoid of reason and logic that it made my brain hurt.

The fact that the concept was enthusiastically embraced by such proven blights on the political scene as Rep. Omar was  one major clue that  dastardly motives were involved. This was a pretty much flat out resort to Big Lie #4 in the “resistance” Big Lie tool box, that one being “Trump is a racist/ white supremacist.” It was a short post, because there was no legitimate argument to rebut. Continue reading

Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns

Good afternoon.

Stop blaming my favorite animal, the pangolin, or the so-called “scaly anteater,” for the pandemic!

That’s a tree pangolin above in a defensive posture. Ever since the nexus for the outbreak of COVID-19 was traced back to a wet market in Hubei province, scientists have been looking for the virus’s heritage.  It’s possible that the virus emerged in a colony of horseshoe bats in Yunnan, a province that borders the south-east Asian country of Myanmar. But some fingers are also pointing at the pangolin, which was once believed to have bats in its ancestry. The animal, like others that American wouldn’t recognize, is the most trafficked beast in the world due to the supposed health benefits of its scales, with most of that traffic ending in China. A search for the “missing link” in the chain of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has uncovered two close cousins of the variety of coronavirus that started the pandemic in Wuhan in pangolins smuggled into China. Not THE virus, however.  Here’s a photo of a pangolin unfurled:

1. It is outrageous that a U.S. newspaper would include this sentence…From an article about the joys of Randolph Scott Westerns by Times film critic Ben Kinegsberg: “The depiction of Native Americans as horse-eating, husband-killing savages doesn’t sit well in modern eyes, and the name of Henry Silva’s character in “The Tall T” is so offensive it cannot be printed.”

Well, it has to printed somewhere, or the information itself has been permanently erased! If a newspaper is going to start  purging words, names, history  and facts, where does it stop? I’ve been trying to imagine what name could justify the Times refusing to reveal it, other than “Voldemort.” What could it be? Let’s check the Internet Movie Database (the film is “The Tall T“)… Continue reading

What’s Going On Here? A Hallmark Mystery And A Confederacy of Ethics Dunces

The anti-abortion film “Unplanned” was honored with three nominations for the 28th Annual MovieGuide awards that aired on February 24 on the Hallmark Drama cable channel.  “Unplanned,” written and directed by Chuck Kozelman and Carey Solomon, tells the true story of  Abby Johnson’s transformation  from director of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility to a full-time pro-life advocate.The film’s star Ashley Bratcher was nominated for the Grace Award for Most Inspiring performance; “Unplanned” was up for the Faith & Freedom Award, and had a nomination in the “Best Movies for Mature Audiences” category. Nevertheless, every mention of the movie  was cut from the pre-recorded televised show. The nominees from “Unplanned” were the only nominees eliminated from the broadcast.

Dr. Ted Baehr, the founder and publisher of MovieGuide, which hosted the awards, admitted that it was his organization that edited the movie out of the nominees listing, not Hallmark, which, he said, only broadcast the show. His asinine excuse was that “some” in his organization felt “Unplanned” should not have been nominated for awards. Does that make any sense at all? If the Oscars left an entire film and its nominees out of the awards broadcast, would anyone accept the excuse that it was done because “some people” didn’t agree with the nominations? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/16/2020: Zugswang!

Good morning, inmates!

I’ve been reading that social isolation may be deadly. Zugswang!

Last week “ethics zugswangmade a return to Ethics Alarms, and you can expect to read a lot more of it. The chess term describing the dilemma is which the only safe move is to stay still, and staying still is impossible, seems to be applying to increasing numbers of dire situations recently, especially in the ethical sense, in which all choices are unethical.Upon reflection, several posts involved ethics zugswang even when I didn’t use that term. The woman whose student loan debts topped 900,000 dollars is in zugswang. Progressive feminists who use gender-baiting as a partisan weapon are in self-condemned zugswang when political allies use misogynist terms against conservative women.

It’s really fun saying “zugswang,” but I will try to touch on some matters that don’t involve ethics zugswang….like…

1. “Hogan’s Heroes” ethics. I never thought it would happen, but a cable channel is re-running “Hogan’s Heroes” episodes. The very popular Sixties sitcom about POW prison camp and the wacky and inept Nazis running it has been thoroughly excoriated as outrageously tasteless and politically incorrect. My father loved the show because anything that made the Nazis look ridiculous was aces with him. Is it tasteless and offensive to show “Hogan’s Heroes” today?

It was clearly satire, in the same spirit as Larry, Moe and Curly playing Hitler and cronies, or Charley Chaplin in “The Great Dictator”—or, to pick a recent example, the child’s view of Hitler as an imaginary friend in “Jo-Jo Rabbit.” The show obviously took its inspiration from “The Great Escape,” of which it is virtually a parody (without the executions, of course.) WW II vets like my father were accustomed to the Nazis being ridiculed and trivialized in the process. In an age that has seen the Holocaust Museum’s exhibits and widely distributed documentaries about the full barbarity of Nazi Germany, the satire may no longer work.

There are other reasons why “Hogan’s Heroes” is no longer funny, despite the very talented cast. Its laugh track is annoying now, especially when the jokes are old and repetitive: how hard can you keep laughing when Sgt. Schultz (John Banner) says “I know nothing! NOTHING!” for the thousandth time? Perhaps the kiss of death for the series is the ubiquity of series star Bob Crane as Hogan, Crane was always smarmy for my taste, but knowing his fate—Crane was bludgeoned to death by a likely participant in his sick S & M porno ring that involved, among other revolting activities,  secretly videotaping women engaged in sex—make watching the show a painful experience. Continue reading

Selective Censorship, Manipulation, Spin And Omissions By The News Media And Social Media: You Know It Will Only Get Worse

1.  Twitter has expanded its “hate speech” prohibitions, and not, I assume, for the last time.

Twitter announced that it has expanded its “hate speech’ policies to include tweets that make “dehumanizing remarks,” defined as remarks that treat “others as less than human,” on the basis of age, disability, or disease. These additions further enlarge on the company’s polices made last July that said Twitter would remove tweets that dehumanize religious groups. Before that, in 2018 , Twitter issued a broad ban on “dehumanizing speech” to compliment its existing hate speech policies that cover protected classes like race and gender.

This is the nose of a very dangerous camel entering the metaphorical tent. As always, the problem with “hate speech” prohibitions is that the “hate” is always  matter of subjective judgment. Censorship of any kind constrains expression, and as we head into a political campaign,  Twitter’s creeping policing of words and metaphors is ominous. You cannot trust these people to be even-handed, to make close calls, or to avoid acting on bias.

2. The threat is made worse because social media platforms allow both parties to “work the umpire,” encouraging  them to demand that Twitter, YouTube and Facebook take down tweets and posts that one or the other doesn’t like. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Hymnal, 2/23/2020: Bernie Freakouts, And Other Amusing And Unsettling Ethics Phenomenon

It’s a glorious Sunday in Alexandria!

I hope you have the same good fortune wherever you are…

1. What a fun season the Astros are facing...Yesterday, in their first Spring Training game, the Houston Astros were booed by their own “home” fans in West Palm Beach, Florida. They will have an overhwelming amount of pressure on them this year in addition to being  pariahs in every ballpark in te American League. If they don’t win their division again, or approach the 100+ wins the team has amassed ever season since 2017,  the narrative will be that tis proves that it was the team’s cheating, not its superior talent, that had made them champions. Of course that will be a false conclusion, since there are many factors that could diminish the Astros in 2020, such as the loss of their best pitcher, Gerrit Cole, to free agency.

There were other ethically dubious moves by the Astros yesterday. Although teams are required by an MLB directive to include at least some team regulars in Spring Training games, since spectators are paying substantial amounts to attend, manager Dusty Baker had only minor leaguers in the line-up, apparently wanting to delay and minimize the fan abuse heaped on his team. Thus a line-up of players who had absolutly nothing to do with the sign-stealing that marred the Astros’ 2017 season and World Series victory absorbed the anger of the fans intended for the no-shows.

Meanwhile, ball park personnel confiscated signs brought by some fans to express their disapproval. The signs weren’t obscene or vulgar, just critical, like “Houston” with an asterisk,  implying that the Astros’ 2017 World Series title would be forever blemished by the team’s cheating. That sign is telling the undeniable truth.

Can’t have that.

2. Now here’s an old tradition that does not need to be revived...

Continue reading