Is It Too Late To Call It “The Wuhan Virus” Or Better Yet, “The China Virus”?

Coronavirus_H

I believe this issue should be settled in the context of the immortal words of Chinese dissident Paladin Cheng, who said, “Don’t trust China. China is asshole.”

There is no longer any serious dispute over where the pandemic came from, or why it spread so far and did so much damage before the world was able to respond in a timely fashion. Either the virus arose from the unsanitary, disease breeding Wuhan wet markets, or escaped from a Wuhan lab. Then China, we also now know, covered up the rampaging contagion, allowing it to travel via plane and other means to all corners of the globe.

Conclusion: China is accountable. China is liable. China is asshole.

Of course, we knew the latter even before the pandemic, but China is also profitable, which is why everyone from the NBA to Hollywood to Disney to Hunter Biden still want to avoid making certain that the public knows just how bad—evil, even—the Chinese government and culture is. I presume that after multiple mutations and other distractions, in five years or less most of the public won’t know or remember where the virus that we allowed to wreck the economy, society and culture came from. Where is “Covid,” anyway?

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Friday Ethics Distractions, 10/22/21: Foot In Mouth Edition

foot in mouth Xray

Wow! People sure are saying some stupid things lately!

1. A David Manning Lie of the Month from Joe Biden! The David Manning Liar of the Month was a feature of the old Ethics Scoreboard honoring public figures or corporations that made obviously dishonest statements that they had to assume were harmless because nobody could possibly believe them. Thus Joe Biden really told reporters that he hasn’t gotten around to visiting the illegal immigrant mobs at the southern border because he’s just been too darn busy. All year. And, he added, it’s OK because Dr. Biden has been there. He also implied that he didn’t need to go to the border to see the utter mess his immigration policies have wrought because he’s seen the border

Let’s unpack this, shall we?

  • Joe has had time to go back to Delaware and Camp David, but not where there’s a border crisis of his making because he’s too busy. Does anyone believe that?
  • Let’s be fair: the President shouldn’t have to go to the border if he has competent subordinates to do it and accurately explain what’s going on. However, when President Bush chose not to personally visit the Katrina carnage, he was accused by Biden’s party and its news media of not caring, not doing his job, and, by Kanye West, of being a racist. What’s the standard? Bush felt that all he could do was get in the way. No, said Democrats, he had to go there, see what was happening with his own eyes. If that’s the standard, and I don’t think it needs to be, then why isn’t it also the standard for Biden and the border mess?
  • Talk about the cover-up being worse than the crime: Jen Psaki managed to top herself for mendacity and deflection when Fox’s Peter Doocy asked her why the President felt he had seen enough of the border. Why, she said, because he had been to the border in 2008! She really said that! “And nothing has changed since 2008?” Doocy reasonably asked. No! the President’s paid liar huffed. There’s been no immigration reform since then! And Biden knows President Trump has made everything worse by “separating children from parents” and building a “feckless wall” (whatever that means). So he doesn’t have to re-visit the border to know that, and again, he went there in 2008!

2. Shut up, or start a blog. The dim-bulb royals in exile decided that we need to hear their opinions on two issues. Prince Harry pronounced the First Amendment “bonkers”—yes, Harry, that attitude on the part of your relatives is why England doesn’t govern us any more—and his wife, Meghan Markle, received publicity for advocating paid leave for parents. Neither of these two people famous for being famous have done or said anything that should endow their opinions with any more persuasiveness or newsworthiness than the typical dogwalker’s. Harry was born well; Meghan married someone who was born well. It doesn’t matter what they think, or what they say. It’s not news. Continue reading

Ridiculously Unethical Quote Of The Month: LinkedIn

LinkedIn

“While we strongly support freedom of expression, we recognized when we launched that we would need to adhere to the requirements of the Chinese government in order to operate in China.”

LinkedIn, explaining to American journalists in China why their accounts had been blocked by the social media company for having “prohibited content” in their profiles.

It is rapidly becoming evident that if I am going to be consistent about quitting unethical social media platforms, I will quickly be unable to participate in social media. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft, whose founder, Bill Gates, periodically lectures us all about right and wrong. These are all toxic hypocrites.

LinkedIn is one of the few American social media companies that comply with Chinese government censorship demands. It blocked the accounts of several American journalists this week, citing “prohibited content” in their profiles while not explaining what that content was or why it was prohibited.   Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, the China reporter for Axios, announced on Twitter that her profile had been blocked in China, although it remains visible outside of the country. Other journalists reported the same action taken against them. “A U.S. company is paying its own employees to censor Americans,”she tweeted. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Booster, 8/7/2021: Looking For A Hero…

I hate to inflict that song on you (the singer/composer was the late Jess Cain, once the most popular disc jockey in Boston) but I have limited options. The 2021 Red Sox, who were sailing all season to what looked like a certain play-off slot , are suddenly in freefall,  with the hitters not hitting and the pitchers not pitching. They face a double-header today, and a double loss would be disastrous. After the 1967 Red Sox “Impossible Dream” season, the best summer of my life, when a team of virtual kids won the closest pennant race in baseball history by a single game after finishing in a tie for last place the year before, WHDH, which then carried Boston’s games, put out the cheesy but wonderful commemorative album above, containing clips from broadcasts of the most memorable games and Cain’s song, tied together by Sox play-by-play announcer Ken Coleman reciting one of the worst pieces of doggerel ever heard by human ears. At one point, Ken recounted a desperate point in the team’s underdog quest, and, having set up the rhyme with “zero,’ intoned, “We have to have a hero.” Cue the Yaz song!

I’ve been thinking about the need for a hero, indeed more than one, quite a bit lately, in matters more consequential than the Red Sox season (well, for normal people anyway.) The Sox sure need one today. If he shows up, maybe it will be an omen…

Incidentally, Yaz deserved the song. Modern metrics show that his Triple Crown, Gold Glove, MVP 1967 season was the second best of all time. (Babe Ruth had #1, naturally.) Anyone who followed that 1967 season knew it before the numbers were crunched.

1. More free speech threats in the Biden Era, but Donald Trump was a threat to democracyThe Baltimore Symphony fired Emily Skala, 59, the orchestra’s principal flutist for more than three decades, because she shared social media posts expressing doubt on the efficacy of vaccines and facemasks. Fellow musicians, audience members and donors complained, so it was bye-bye Emily. Skala, no weenie she, will challenge her dismissal, and accuses the orchestra of creating a hostile environment where she was being attacked for expressing unpopular views. I’d say that is likely. Musicians as a group are about as progressive and open to conservative views as college professors.

Skala angered many of her colleagues for sharing posts questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election—Oooh, can’t have that! She was also criticized for saying that black families needed to do more to support their children’s classical music studies. Wow, this woman is a veritable Nazi! Amusingly, the New York Times cites as among the examples of social media “disinformation” that got her fired were “false theories suggesting that the coronavirus was created in a laboratory in North Carolina” and posts “raising concerns about the safety of vaccines.”

That’s funny: it wasn’t too long ago that suggesting that the virus originated in a Wuhan lab was considered disinformation. And didn’t Joe Biden and other prominent Democrats raise “concerns” about any vaccine produced under the Trump Administration?

I’m just spitballing here, but if only we had some heroic organization that defended free speech, regardless of what side of the political spectrum it came from. It could call itself…let’s see…the National Civil Liberty Protection Alliance, or something like that…

2. Believe it or not, this Russian lawsuit isn’t frivolous, just mind-meltingly stupid. Thanks to Curmie for passing along the saga of Ksenia Ovchinnikova, an Orthodox Christian in Omsk, Russia, who is suing McDonald’s on the theory that its ads made burgers seem so yummy and irresistible that they made her break her fast for Lent in 2019 after years of successfully avoiding meat. She wants 1,000 rubles ($14) as damages for “sustained moral damage.”

The reason this isn’t frivolous (at least not in the US) is because a lawsuit clears the bar if it seeks a new interpretation of existing law, no matter how wacky. Of course, a heroic lawyer would tell the woman, no matter what she offered to pay, “You’re out of your mind, and I’d rather eat my foot than disgrace my profession by taking such a ridiculous case. By the way, would you like this  corndog?” Continue reading

The Eastman Kodak Affair’s Lesson: Corporations Only Signal Their Imaginary Virtue When It Doesn’t Cost Anything

Wack

Eastman Kodak issued an Instagram post featuring images of Xinjiang, a western Chinese region where the government of China has committed horrific human rights violations

The post promoted the work of French photographer Patrick Wack, who made several trips to Xinjiang in recent years and has collected his damning images—all shot on Kodak film— into a book. Kodak shared 10 of his images with its 839,000 Instagram followers. In the Kodak post and on his own Instagram account, Wack described his images as a visual narrative of Xinjiang’s “abrupt descent into an Orwellian dystopia” over the past five years.

Oh-oh! As the disgraceful U.S. complicity in China’s Wuhan virus cover-up (also Orwellian) has shown, you don’t dare call China’s brutal regime what it is or demand accountability. Chinese social media users attacked Kodak, but Kodak, staying true to American principles of freedom of expression and refusing to bend a knee to tyranny, held its ground as it continued to support Wack and his work.

KIDDING!

I was just messing with you…of course Kodak deleted the post and grovelled an apology for “any misunderstanding or offense” that it might have caused. China, you see, is a big market.

So while our corporate giants have no hesitation in bombarding the gullible with nostrums during “these difficult times,” and announce their fealty to #MeToo, “antiracism,” and Black Lives Matter to pander to various consumers, never think that they really care about anything but their global profits.

Capitalism confers many benefits on society, but courage, integrity, and ethical values are not among them, and never have been.

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/20/21: Happy Birthday, John Stuart Mill!

Mill

John Stuart Mill (1806–73), was born on May 20, not merely the most important figure in ethics to have a connection to this day, but also the most important human being born on this day in the history of civilization—yes, even more than Cher, who turns 75 today. Mill’s refined the concept of liberty that required the freedom of the individual in opposition to state control. He was the most influential proponent of utilitarianism, the crucial ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham. He helped reform scientific inquiry and research, recognizing the pervasive risks of confirmation bias, by clearly explaining the premises of falsifiability as the key component in the scientific method.

Mill was also a Member of Parliament and a towering figure in liberal political philosophy. You have certainly heard or read his most famous quote: “A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither.”

A thorough biography and analysis of his work is here.

1. Justice Breyer doesn’t care about making sure the Supreme Court doesn’t get more conservative. Good. That’s not his job. Democrats realize that their control of the Senate is hanging by a thread, “thread” defined as a few superannuated Senators who could drop dead any second, giving the GOP a majority. Thus they are increasingly pushing Justice Stephen G. Breyer, 82, to retire now so Joe Biden can name an appropriately liberal replacement (who will also have to be female and black, vastly limiting the pool of possible choices without concern for actual legal competence.) “Breyer’s best chance at protecting his legacy and impact on the law is to resign now, clearing the way for a younger justice who shares his judicial outlook,” wrote Erwin Chemerinsky, the hyper-partisan dean of the law school at the University of California, Berkeley in The Washington Post this month. Got that? The 80+year-old Democratic Senators have to hold on to their jobs like grim death, but Breyer is being lobbied to retire. Hypocrisy, they name is Democrat! But it isn’t Breyer:

The Justice has been particularly vocal about the importance of not allowing politics to influence judges’ work, including their decisions about when to retire. “My experience of more than 30 years as a judge has shown me that, once men and women take the judicial oath, they take the oath to heart,” he said last month in a lecture at Harvard Law School. “They are loyal to the rule of law, not to the political party that helped to secure their appointment….If the public sees judges as politicians in robes, its confidence in the courts, and in the rule of law itself, can only diminish, diminishing the court’s power.”

I wonder if he’s read (or seen) “The Pelican Brief”…Meanwhile, research suggest that retirement tends to kill Supreme Court Justices. A paper in The Journal of Demography studied the effects of retirement by Supreme Court justices on their future longevity, and found that the effect of retirement was about the same as smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. The Democrats don’t care if Breyer dies sooner than later, though, as long as he does it when they can pick his successor, or after he’s quit.

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Mid-Day Ethics Mitigations, 9/8/2020: Flip-Flops, Trust, China, And Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah [Corrected]

1. Stipulated: President Trump contradicts himself, misrepresents facts and exaggerates routinely. But how can Biden supporters use that as their rationalization? Biden and Kamala Harris repeatedly promised to ban fracking during the primaries; now, campaigning in Pennsylvania where fracking means jobs and business, both are suddenly pro-fracking.

On August 13, Biden said that he would call for a nationwide face mask mandate. “Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months, at a minimum,” Biden said . “Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately, and we will save lives.” Kamala Harris, like Biden a lawyer, agreed. “That’s what real leadership looks like,” Harris said. “We just witnessed real leadership. Which is Joe Biden said that as a nation, we should all be wearing a mask for the next three months, because it will save lives.”

Biden reiterated his vow in his acceptance speech on the final night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. “We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask — not as a burden, but to protect each other,” Biden said on August 20. “It’s a patriotic duty.” Of course, any second year law student and probably some astute college freshmen could have told the Democratic ticket that the government can’t require citizens to wear anything, and that the two were talking Constitutional nonsense aimed at the Bill of Rights-challenged members of the Democratic base, which is most of it.

Then over the weekend,  Biden admitted that his mask edict would probably be unconstitutional. “Here’s the deal, the federal government…there’s a constitutional issue whether the federal government could issue such a mandate, I don’t think constitutionally they could, so I wouldn’t issue a mandate,” Biden said.

Didn’t he and Harris already know this? If not why not; in fact, why the HELL not? Why wasn’t the news media “factchecking” Biden when he made a manifestly impossible pledge?

There is no advantage or ethical superiority in saying things that are untrue some of the time as opposed to doing it more often. Any politician who shows a lack of integrity, whose words can’t be relied upon and who changes his supposed views depending on what audience is listening to him or her is untrustworthy, and untrustworthy is untrustworthy. You are either worthy, or you’re not. Two instances like the fracking and mask reversals are enough to know Biden and Harris are not candidates who mean what they say. (You should have figured that out already, though.)

And, of course, sometimes if they DO mean what they say, it’s disturbing. Continue reading

Sunday Evening Ethics Nightcap: 5/3/2020: It Isn’t What It Is

Good NIGHT!

Yoo’s Rationalization, or “It isn’t what it is” seems to have become popular in recent weeks, and this collection reflects that hellish development.

1. Some things just aren’t true because you want them to be. In Great Britain, Freddy McConnell gave birth after transitioning (but obviously not completely, correct?), so he is fighting in the courts to be officially listed as his child’s father rather than his mother. His argument has been repeatedly rejected, most recently when he unsuccessfully appealed the court decision that he could be registered only as his son’s mother. He now wants to take his case to Britain’s Supreme Court.

What is it about people who think that the law can and should declare up to be down (because they prefer down) and why do they feel it is reasonable and ethical to take up time and resources to try to force the government  to endorse an eccentric  interpretation of reality? This reminds me of the argument that Bruce Jenner’s victories in the Olympics should be recorded as wins by his future female alter-ego. But women can’t compete in those events, can they? Similarly, the human being that gives birth to another human being is that individual’s mother, by definition. Like Abe Lincoln’s quip about how a dog doesn’t have five legs just because you call its tail a leg, McConnell can call himself anything he likes, and have his child call him what he likes. But he’s still kid’s mother.

Own it, dude, and stop wasting everyone’s time.

2.  Wait, what? The New York Times has a story headlined, “‘Murder Hornets’ in the U.S.: The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet/Sightings of the Asian giant hornet have prompted fears that the vicious insect could establish itself in the United States and devastate bee populations.

Explain, please, why it’s somehow racist to call the virus that came from the Wuhan Province in China “the Wuhan virus,” or the Chinese virus, but the same paper that has championed the cheap Trump-bashing  tactic of condemning the naming of a pandemic after its place of origin refers to a “vicious insect” from Asia the “Asian Giant Hornet’?

Then there is this head-exploder: In China, Wuhan has passed Beijing as the top domestic destination for Chinese tourists. It ranked only eighth before the pandemic.

The hashtag “武汉成为疫情后网民最想去旅游的城市,” roughly translated as “Wuhan is the top city netizens want to visit after the epidemic” has become viral on Chinese social media. Why? Apparently it’s because something momentous happened there. History!

So to sum up: Chinese people regard Wuhan as the origin of the pandemic, and that makes it more attractive to them as a tourist destination, but if Americans identify the same area with the pandemic here, they are racist. Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/20/2020: Phantom Patriots Day Edition

The Battle of Menotomy, April 19, 2020.

“One if by land, and two if by sea
And I on the opposite shore will be
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm
For the country folk to be up and to arm!”

Today, the third Monday in April,  is supposed to be Patriots Day in Massachusetts (and  few other states.) It absolutely should be a national holiday, as it celebrates the battles of Concord and Lexington as well as the rides of Paul Revere and his fellow messengers the night before. I typed the excerpt above from Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride” from memory; I wonder how many students today  have even heard of the poem, or Concord and Lexington, for that matter.

The original holiday was on April 19, the date of both battles, but Arlington, Massachusetts, where I hail from, was actually the site of a bigger battle than either on the same day. On their way back from Concord after being soundly beaten at the bridge, the Redcoats marched through the town of Menotomy (Arlington now), where 5,100 militia men from surrounding towns had gathered after, unfortunately, the British had marched through the Menotomy on the way to Lexington Green with little resistance.  The volunteers, stationed around houses, stone walls, fields and barns, did considerable damage to the already limping British in the fighting that followed, but Arlington residents have always been a bit sheepish about the timing of the fight, and historians regard it as  anti-climactic following the tragedy at Lexington and the surprise victory at Concord.

Patriots Day is a big  deal in Boston, where the Boston Marathon is run annually on that date. The Red Sox also play a unique 11 am game, so spectators can leave the park and watch the finish of the race. All gone this year, of course.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t remember, and honor, the heroes, victims and events of 1775 that made the United States of America possible.

1. This is the kind of thing that will lead to serious back-lash against the pandemic dictators. The city of San Clemente was alarmed that some teens, bored with pplaying video games all day, every day, continued to skateboard in a local skate park despite orders that all parks be closed. Its solution?  Fill the park, at taxpayer expense, with 37 tons of sand. The money to build the park was raised by a nonprofit coalition of local families who wanted a place for their kids to be able to skate safely, and they were not even notified that the park would be filled with sand, according to KCAL-TV. Continue reading

I Have To Defend Bill Maher Again. Life Is Cruel.

Although to be fair, I should have seen this line coming. His old show was called “Politically Incorrect,” after all.

As he does periodically, the generally despicable HBO clown nose on-clown nose off  pseudopundit, whom left-wing pundits and politicians grovel to in order to be cheered by his studio audience of  ex-Occupy Wall Street campers, Bernie bros and you know, morons, bucked a progressive talking-point by saying, essentially, that it was stupid.

This one was particularly low-hanging fruit for Maher, as it should be for anyone: he said, admittedly in the most vulgar and tasteless way  imaginable, that the Virus That Came From China should be called a Chinese virus (or variations thereof, like the Wuhan virus name I use on Ethics Alarms and explained why here) and that saying it is racist to do so is cretinous. In Bill’s words,

“Scientists, who are generally pretty liberal, have been naming diseases after the places they came from for a very long time. Zika is from the Zika Forest, Ebola from the Ebola River, hantavirus the Hantan River.There’s the West Nile virus and Guinea worm and Rocky Mountain spotted fever and, of course, the Spanish flu. MERS stands for Middle East respiratory syndrome. It’s plastered all over airports, and no one blogs about it. So why should China get a pass?”

Then Maher did a nice takedown of a characteristic tweet by Rep. Ted Lieu, who embarrasses the U.S. Congress, his state (California), his party (Democrats) and his district roughly every time he says anything. He had tweeted on this issue,

Calling #COVIDー19 the Wuhan Virus is an example of the myopia that allowed it to spread in the US. The virus is not constrained by country or race. Be just as stupid to call it the Milan Virus.

One would think that one of the few things Lieu could speak authoritatively about is being stupid, but no, not even that. Maher correctly reacted,

No, that would be way stupider because it didn’t come from Milan! And if it did, I guarantee we’d be calling it the Milan virus. Jesus fucking Christ!  Can’t we even have a pandemic without getting offended? When they name Lyme Disease after a town in Connecticut the locals didn’t get all ticked off …It scares me that there are people out there who would rather die of the virus than call it by the wrong name.

It scares me that someone like Ted Lieu is in Congress, or, for that matter, walking the streets without a harness and a keeper. Maher continued on his rant,

This isn’t about vilifying a culture. This is about facts. It’s about life and death. We’re barely four months into this pandemic, and the wet markets in China — the ones where exotic animals are sold and consumed — are already starting to reopen.

Sorry, Americans. We’re going to have to ask you to keep two ideas in your head at the same time: This has nothing to do with Asian Americans, and it has everything to do with China .We can’t afford the luxury anymore of nonjudginess towards a country with habits that kill millions of people everywhere because this isn’t the first time. SARS came from China and the bird flu and the Hong Kong flu, the Asian flu. Viruses come from China just like shortstops come from the Dominican Republic. If they were selling nuclear suitcases at these wet markets, would we be so nonjudgmental?”

Naturally, Maher is now being called a racist. The argument that it is racist to call something from China Chinese is itself a miracle, like one of those bacteria that can survive without oxygen or water. There is nothing supporting this argument, yet people still make it, because crying “Racism!” is supposed to stop free expression like holy water stops vampires. Confront someone with a functioning brain with the fact that, as Maher explains, the claim makes no sense whatsoever, you will be told that the real problem is that it gives actual racists an excuse to beat up Asians. With this they are advocating a thug’s veto, or a moron’s veto, or something like that, that just happens to bolster Chinese Communist propaganda.

Even a knee-jerk anti-American like Maher is too smart for be part of that.