End Of Week Ethics Alarms, 10/11/2019: The Liberty Under Attack Edition

Wait…

I’m looking forward to the weekend  even though I’ll be working throughout.

I’m obviously an idiot.

1. My Ethics Alarms doesn’t even “ping!” on this one.  KTVU, the Bay Area’s Fox affiliate, summarized the St. Louis Cardinals’ devastating win over the Braves in Game 5 of the National League Division Series with a chyron reading, “Braves Scalped.” The Horror! Exclaimed the always sensitive Yahoo! Sports, “That’s straight out of the yikes factory. Particularly given the conversation that’s surrounded the Braves recently. A Cardinals pitcher of Native American descent objected to the Braves’ infamous tomahawk chop and the team responded Wednesday by toning down its use of the chop. There’s not any good time to roll out a “scalped” headline, but this was a particularly bad one.” The headline to the story says the headline is “racist.”

OK, why? I want one good reason. If a team is going to call itself something other than “The Baseball Players,” which would be strikingly unoriginal, you have to admit, then metaphors and colorful language relating to that teams’ nickname are automatically appropriate. “Orioles’/Cardinals’/Bluejays’ Wings Clipped!”…”Red Sox/Whie Sox unravel!”…”Tigers/Cubs/ Declawed!”…”Nats Swatted!”…”Giants Dwarfed!”…  “Pirates Walk The Plank!”…”Diamondbacks Rattled!”…”Mariners Sink!” But “Braves (or Indians) Scalped!” is an outrage? The team lost 13-1! The Braves were down 10-0 after the first half-inning; it was an epic slaughter. I could u8nderstand the discomfort if Native Americans never scalped their adversaries, but they did. This isn’t some kind of historical slander. Let’s see…here’s some of a rather scholarly article on the subject of scalping…

…the languages of the eastern Indians contained many words to describe the scalp, the act of scalping, and the victim of scalping. A Catholic priest among the Hurons in 1623 learned that an onontsira was a war trophy consisting of “the skin of the head with its hair.” The five languages of the Iroquois were especially rich in words to describe the act …To the Mohawks and Oneidas, the scalp was onnonra ; the act of taking it, kannonrackwan . Their western brothers at Onondaga spoke of hononksera , a variation of the Huron word. And although they were recorded after initial contact with the Europeans, the vocabularies of the other Iroquois nations and of the Delaware, Algonquin, Malecite, Micmac, and Montagnais all contained words for scalp, scalping, and the scalped that are closely related to the native words for hair, head, skull, and skin. That these words were obviously not borrowed from European languages lends further support to the notion that they were native to America and deeply rooted in Indian life….paintings and drawings reinforce that image. The single most important picture in this regard is Theodore de Bry’s engraving of Le Moyne’s drawing of “How Outina’s Men Treated the Enemy Dead.” Based on Le Moyne’s observations in 1564-65, the 1591 engraving was the first pictorial representation of Indian scalping, one faithful to Le Moyne’s verbal description and to subsequent accounts from other regions of eastern America. The details—sharp reeds to extract the scalp, drying the green skin over a fire, displaying the trophies on long poles, and later celebrating the victory with established rituals by the sorcerer—lend authenticity to De Bry’s rendering and support to the argument for the Indian invention of scalping….[I]n the end, the American stereotype of scalping must stand as historical fact, whether we are comfortable with it or not.”

In summary, the word was obviously not meant literally to refer to a baseball game. Nor was the use of it was in no way libelous to real Native Americans. Yahoo’s pearl-clutching, and that of social media political correctness cops, is more offensive by far than the Fox chryon.

2.  As if you didn’t have to jump through too many hoops to fly already…In 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act, which made the addition of a star to state IDs  and drivers licenses necessary to have access to nuclear power plants and federal facilities. Then some genius decided that access to airplanes should be added to the list. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Jolt, 10/8/2019: Gaslighting, And Other Lousy Things To Do…

HI!

1. Impeachment junk! There is so, so much of this. I am trying to decide if my launching an impeachment information and commentary website is feasible (for me, and any volunteers who step up), but it certainly is necessary.

  • Deja vu…I am again hearing and reading the opinion that the President’s various maneuvers to block testimony and subpoenas are indications of guilt. This is why the Democratic Party’s creeping totalitarianism is ominous—people slip so easily into totalitarian mindsets. “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear!’ is an anti-civil rights position, and yet here are alleged progressives chanting that Orwellian motto again.

The President has every reason to regard the Democratic fishing expeditions and non-inquiry inquiry into impeachment as an attack on the Separation of Powers and Constitutional government itself. Thus he has every right to make Congress’s abuse of process as difficult as possible, whether he has anything to hide, or not.

Circulating claims of Trump-Russian collusion prior to the 2016 election didn’t work. Using foreign-supplied fake intelligence, from a British spy who utilized Russian sources, to obtain surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition team didn’t work.Intimidating Electoral College Electors to change their votes after the election didn’t work. Having the Director of the FBI lie to, set up and try to entrap the president didn’t work. Having that same FBI Director leak memos to the media to manufacture grounds for a Special Counsel didn’t work.Trying to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare the president unable to perform the job didn’t work.Two years of the Mueller Investigation didn’t work.Three years of a permanent crisis news cycle meant to paralyze the administration didn’t work.

After all these failures to unwind the 2016 election, Democrats and the mainstream media are trying a new tactic: Create a Star Chamber “impeachment” process fueled by anonymous whistleblowers and selective leaks that is not so much designed to remove the president, though they would if they could, but to manipulate the 2020 election…By cloaking witnesses with the protection of whistleblowers, the whistleblower protections are being abused. In response to the announcement of Whistleblower No. 2, we remarked: “Abuse of whistleblower protections. This person is simply a witness to someone else’s complaint who already has been interviewed. Weaponization of whistleblower laws is yet another breach of norms in effort to unwind 2016 election.”…With Whistleblower No. 1 failing to fulfill the mission, there was a leak to the NY Times of a potential Whistleblower No. 2. That’s how this is going to work, there will be leaks to the media to frame the public narrative just like regarding supposed Russian-collusion.”

I think this is probably right.

  • Don’t confuse them with facts, their minds are made up. Ann Althouse passed along Sheryl Attkisson’s tweet:

  • Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Also from Althouse, we learn that the following headline is on the Washington Post’s front page:

“The GOP’s bootlicking cowardice knows no bounds.”

  • Polls, for whatever they’re worth…According to one poll, President Trump is gaining among independent voters in head-to-head matchups with the Democratic presidential front-runners, according to a new IBD-TIPP poll. This would be expected by anyone other than deranged, impeachment obsessed Democrats, since the non-biased could be anticipated to object to a party attempting to circumvent an election through abuse of the system. but who knows. Conservative pundit Matt Margolis writes, “Many on the right have warned Democrats that impeachment fever will only benefit Trump in the long run—and they appear to be proven right by this poll.”

Wrong. How can a poll “prove ” anything? Yet polls are always being offered as “proof.” It isn’t even honest to describe them as evidence. Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: “South Park” Creators Trey Parker And Matt Stone

China’s right: that looks dangerous to me!

Unlike the National Basketball Association, satirists Parker and Stone know that their duties as Americans include representing American values to the world and standing by them even when threatened with negative consequences.

After “South Park’s” latest episode, which mocked China’s influence over Hollywood, the Chinese government banned the series. The Hollywood Reporter revealed that China removed all hints of”South Park” from its Internet, eliminating any social media references as well as episodes and clips from the streaming service Youku.

In response, the “South Park” creators issued a pointed satirical “apology” to China:

“Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?”

Perfect. Now watch the NBA condemn “South Park” as racist, or something.

_______________________________

Pointer: Phlinn

Facts: Fox News

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/2/19: While Basking In The Glow Of Another Life Lesson From Baseball

Go Nats!

The Washington Nationals had never won an elimination game in the National league post-season. They were 0-6 in such games going into last might’s do-or-die single Wild Card play-off at home against the Miracle Milwaukee Brewers. Following the script many Nats fans dreaded, the team’s Hall of Fame-bound ace, Max Scherzer, quickly gave up three runs while the Brew Crew’s storied bullpen kept the offense at bay save a solo homer from National shortstop Trey Turner. Heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Nationals had to face closer Josh Hader (he of the Hader Gotcha), who gives up hits less often than some pitchers give up runs.

Then, as they say, fate took a hand. With one out, uninspiring Nats pinch-hitter Michael Taylor reached first illicitly. A 3-2 pitch from Hader hit the knob of Taylor’s bat and immediately ricocheted onto his hand. It should have been called a foul, but the umpires ruled it a hit-by-pitch, sending Taylor to first base. Hader struck out the next Nats batter, then aging Nats slugger Ryan Zimmerman was called upon as another pinch-hitter. He barely connected with a pitch out of the strike zone, breaking his bat, but his weak “dying quail” bloop dropped in just over the head of the Milwaukee second baseman for a cheap and fortunate single. (On TV, Zimmerman could be seen smiling and shrugging sheepishly.) That meant the tying runs were on base for the Nats best hitter, MVP candidate Anthony Rendon. Hader gave him what is known as an intentional unintentional base on balls in order to face 20-year-old Juan Soto, a left-handed batter. Lefty Hader allowed left-handed batters to hit .143 this season. But young Soto lined a pitch into right center, and Brewers right fielder Trent Grisham, one of the heroes of the late-season Brewers play-off drive, did a Bill Buckner. The single got past him (he was charging the ball in what would have been a futile effort to throw out the tying run at the plate) , and all three runners scored. Incredibly, the Nats now led 4-3. After the Brewers went down in the top of the 9th without scoring, they, and not Milwaukee, moved on to the next round of the play-offs.

Lesson: In baseball, as in life, it is as important to be lucky as to be good. Chaos lurks in every second, and the illusion of control is just that, an illusion. A bad call, a fluke hit, and a horribly-timed fielding botch that the same outfielder avoids 99 times out of a hundred, and so much changed for two cities, two fan bases, and the 2019 post-season, affecting jobs, careers, reputations and commerce.

This is why we should never give up, never despair, and never get cocky. It is also why we should strive to live as ethically as possible. We can’t control whether we win or lose, but we can control how.

1. Again we must ask: when did the Democratic Party decide to abandon freedom of speech?  Yesterday, we learned that Joe Biden’s campaign wants the news media to censor adversary commentary from Rudy Giuliani, while claiming that no one who isn’t a public official is qualified to opine on TV regarding public policy.  Now Senator Kamala Harris, who also aspires to be President, says President Trump should be banned from using Twitter because he  uses the platform in an “irresponsible” way. Harris, in an interview with CNN host Anderson Cooper, also called for “other mechanisms” to make sure Trump’s words “do not in fact harm anyone”—you know, like harming her party’s election prospects by exposing its Big Lies and open coup attempts.

I wonder if the public sees how ominous the repeated Democratic calls for censorship are. Maybe the President will tweet about that.

Of course, the President’s use of Twitter is often irresponsible, but also a necessary end-around media propaganda aimed at unseating him and undermining democracy. It is remarkable that Harris, a Senator and a lawyer, somehow missed  that the First Amendment proclaims the importance of free speech to our society. It doesn’t only endorse the right to engage in responsible speech. I think, for example, that advocating censoring the speech of the President of the United States is irresponsible, but I’ll defend Harris’s right to do it—and my right to conclude that because she does it, she is an ignorant, dangerous fool. Continue reading

KABOOM! “Human Sacrifice, Dogs And Cats Living Together, Mass Hysteria!”… If I Hadn’t Seen This, I Wouldn’t Have Believed It, And My Head Wouldn’t Have Exploded

Remember, Donald Trump is the fascist who is trying to crush democracy. Just repeat that to yourself as you consider this, and maybe…no, it still will still make your head explode.

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, in the persons of  Biden’s top aides Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield, sent a letter  to the heads of the major news and cable networks, as well as top news anchors, demanding that they refuse to book Presidential advisor Rudy Giuliani. It read in part,

“We are writing today with grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump. While you often fact check his statements in real time during your discussions, that is no longer enough. By giving him your air time, you are allowing him to introduce increasingly unhinged, unfounded and desperate lies into the national conversation, We write to demand that in service to the facts, you no longer book Rudy Giuliani, a surrogate for Donald Trump who has demonstrated that he will knowingly and willingly lie in order to advance his own narrative…Giuliani is not a public official, and holds no public office that would entitle him to opine on the nation’s airwaves.”

Then the letter demands that if the former mayor is put on the airwaves, “an equivalent amount of time” be given “to a surrogate for the Biden campaign.”

Frankly, I still can’t believe Biden approved this, but of course, he must have. What’s going on here?  Incredibly, this: A former Vice President and current (though doomed) Presidential hopeful is asking the news media to actively censor a political critic. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/22/2019: Five Ugly Ethics Stories (Sorry!) [Corrected]

A pleasant Sunday…

as long as I don’t read the newspaper or watch the Talking Heads…

1. Before I finish a long post about the most recent contrived Brett Kanavaugh smear by the New York Times, ponder this quote from the Times review of “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh”: “[The authors] come to a generous but also damning conclusion, which is that Blasey Ford and Ramirez are believable and were in fact mistreated by Kavanaugh as teenagers, but that over the next 35 years he became a better person.”

Ugh. The conclusion is “damning” because it relies almost entirely on confirmation bias: Blasey Ford’s own lawyer revealed that her motive in using her “recovered memory” against Kavanaugh was to discredit any future anti-abortion opinions he participated in as a member of the court. The accusation by Ramirez isn’t, apparently, even believable to Ramirez herself, since she says she isn’t certain that the Mad Penis-Dangler was Bret Kavanaugh. Why then, do the authors find the claims “believable”? Oh, because they want to believe them, of course; they work for the New York Times, and they certainly weren’t going to get their book promoted by their employer and snatched up by its readers if they concluded, as objective reporters would, that there is no more reason to believe Justice Kavanaugh did these things than there is reason to believe he didn’t.

The real ugh is this, however: if even these biased analysts conclude that the accusations, even if true, do not have any relevance on the grown man who was nominated to the Supreme Court because they relate to a minor who existed 35 years ago—and who has, as most children do, grown up—then the episodes that their book focuses upon literally don’t matter, shouldn’t have been brought into Kavanaugh’s hearing,  and should not be used now to denigrate and discredit him.

2. From “Social Q’s,” a glimpse of what a malfunctioning ethics alarm is like. Prompting the frequently appearing question in my mind, “How does someone get like this?” was the query into Phillip Gallane’s advice column from a woman who threw herself a birthday party, directed guests not to bring gifts but to make a donation to a charity she supports instead, and was annoyed that some brought gifts anyway. She asked if it would be inappropriate to send the gifts back with a disapproving note so they “would listen” to her “next time.”

I know what I would do “next time”…

3. Hey, sounds great, Facebook! Why wouldn’t everyone trust your judgment? Facebook announced  a series of changes last week to squelch hate speech and extremism—meaning what Facebook and its allies consider such— on its platform in a letter to the chairman of a House panel. Facebook said it would prevent links from the fringe sites 8chan and 4chan from being posted on its platform—you, know like it blocks links to Ethics Alarms!  Then it explained how it would develop an oversight board of at least 11 members to review and oversee content decisions—like the decision that a wide-ranging ethics blog that has no political affiliation or agenda, written by a professional ethicist of some note, doesn’t meet the Facebook “community standards.”

In other, unrelated news regarding the obstacles being thrown in my path, the Appeals Court in Massachusetts finally alerted me that it was taking “under advisement” the request for an appeal of the rejected frivolous defamation suit filed about two years ago by a banned commenter here whose boo-boo I wounded.

(I am not concerned.) Continue reading

The Novelist Is Scared By Red Caps. What’s The Ethical Response To That?

“AAAAAAAIIIIIII!!!! Take it away! TAKE IT AWAY!!!”

Rebecca Makkai, an American novelist of moderate success, tweeted,

Fascinating!  And her tweet raises some trenchant ethics questions:

1. How should good Americans regard someone who suggests that it isn’t normal to support the elected President of the United States?

Answer: As a bad American, as well as stunningly arrogant. The impulse is fascist: those who don’t agree with the political positions of Makkai and her ilk are not merely wrong, mistaken or misguided, but abnormal. It is particularly subversive to pronounce those who are behaving exactly as U.S. citizens have behaved and have been expected to behave since 1789 as not being normal, while Makkai, one of the divisive and destructive members of the “resistance” attempting to undermine the nation’s unity and institutions, pose as respectable.

2. Does an individual’s aversion to red caps because one variety carries a slogan deemed objectionable to the Trump Deranged qualify as a sensitivity anyone is obligated to observe in their choice of headgear? Continue reading