Ethics Footnotes, 1/17/21:Well, I’M Reading, Anyway…

Boy, only diehards are on Ethics Alarms today, yesterday too. I don’t get it; it’s a long weekend, but so what? It’s not like everyone is traveling on long weekends while American are still trembling in terror over the Wuhan virus. Must ethics take a holiday? Apparently so...

1. How can anyone have sympathy for New Yorkers? The city is falling apart. Crime is up, the wealthy are fleeing, corporations are fleeing, the mayor has eliminated admission tests for much of the public school system and stated that his goal is to redistribute wealth, Times Square has returned to pre-Rudy squalor, and tourism was falling like a rock even before the pandemic. They voted for a confessed socialist as mayor (and for his communist, conflict-of-interest flaunting wife)—perhaps acceptable as a novelty—then re-elected him after a disastrous first term. Now, six months ahead of this year’s Democratic mayoral primary that will decide who the next mayor will be because the city’s minorities wouldn’t vote for a Republican if he was running against Nero, the natives are getting restless. Polls show that New Yorkers regard de Blasio’s pet issues of combating climate change and pollution on the bottom of their priority list, but only 56% of respondents said they hold a “very or somewhat unfavorable” view of the guy that was the architect of the city’s collapse. Why isn’t it more like 90%? I suppose for the same reason they elected him twice. In democracy, you get what you deserve. Civic literacy is the individual’s ethical responsibility, nobody else’s.

2. Now THIS is an incompetent elected official…Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) actually said in a video posted last week—I wouldn’t kid you!-–“This idea that saying that Pennsylvania was ‘rigged’ or that we were ‘trying to steal the election,’ that’s a lie. And you do not have the right, that is not protected speech.” Fetterman goes on to say that Twitter should have immediately removed any tweet from President Donald Trump that questioned the integrity of the election, and, in the immortal mark of someone who doesn’t know the First Amendment from a Yorkshire Terrier, compared Trump’s claims to “yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is none.”

This idiot is reportedly considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2022.

To be fair, Fetterman’s view of the free speech,which is to say “there is none unless progressives approve,” appears to be on the way to becoming the predominant one in the Democratic Party.

Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos…

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Quote Ethics: Rep. Miller’s Hitler Quote

jojo

I’d call this an ethics train wreck if it wasn’t so stupid.

During a rally for the conservative Moms for America, Mary Miller, a freshman Illinois Republican member of the House, said conservatives would lose unless “we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’”

Responding with classic “gotcha!” verve, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said in an interview about Miller, “She’s been on this earth long enough to know that invoking the beliefs of Hitler as being right in any respect is inappropriate and wrong. It’s wrong enough that she should not be in Congress.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) piled on, saying that Miller should resign and be replaced with “someone who better understands the sacrifices our brave service members made during World War II.” Illinois’ Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Miller’s comment at the rally “disgusting.” Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger called the Hitler comments “garbage.” Echoing, I’m sure, many shameless progressive pundits, Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham described Miller in a column as “the first-term representative from Illinois who had quoted Hitler approvingly at a “Save the Republic” rally the day before.

Naturally, Rep. Miller had to grovel a clumsy apology:

Miller apology

What’s going on here? Stupidity, grandstanding, dishonesty, virtue signaling, oh, lots of things.

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The Unethical Abuse Of Great Music

In “A Clockwork Orange,” Alex, the violent anti-hero, is captured and subjected to a brutal re-conditioning process to stop his enjoyment of raping, beating, and killing. Unfortunately, the disturbing images he is shown as part of his treatment are accompanied by the works of his favorite composer, Beethoven. Alex begs his captors to stop the treatment saying “It’s a sin! He did no harm to anyone! Beethoven just wrote music!” At the end of his ordeal, Alex is released, and whenever he tries to commit an act of violence he gets so sick that he wants to die. As an unintended consequence of his treatment, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony has the same sickening effect on him, so Alex can no longer listen to the composer he loves.

The process that ruined Beethoven for Alex is a basic cognitive dissonance scale exercise.

Cognitive Dissonance

Linking music that is high on Alex’s scale to images and experiences he finds repulsive or upsetting, along with pain and discomfort—these are all are low, in negative territory— inevitably brings Beethoven down to the point where he can no longer experience pleasure from his compositions.

Many great and popular works of music have been damaged this way, most recently this Christmas in Nashville, when a strange man named Anthony Quinn Warner blew up a city block and died in the blast.

Moments before it blew up,Warner’s parked RV broadcast Petula Clark’s iconic 1964 hit “Downtown“:

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely

You can always go

Downtown!

When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry

Seems to help, I know,

Downtown!

Then the explosion came, ripping through a downtown Nashville block, injuring at least eight people and damaging more than 40 buildings.

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“Miracle On 34th Street,”An Ethics Companion,Chapter 4: Is Kris Crazy, Or What? [Corrected]

Miracle-on-34th-Street-2

(The Introduction is here.; Chapter I is here.;Chapter 2 is here; Chapter 3 is here.)

When we last saw Kris Kringle, he had become a big hit at Macy’s by sending shoppers to Gimbel’s, and even was making inroads on young Susan’s precocious skepticism after she heard him speak Dutch. The story really begins going off the ethics rails at this point.

Doris decides that it would probably be responsible to have Kris checked out by the company psychologist, Mr. Sawyer, since her Santa is, after all, nuts. Yah think? In truth, it is per se irresponsible for Macy’s to knowingly employ a Santa Claus operating under the delusion that he is really Santa. The first authority a store would consult in real life, yes, even in the 1950s, would be a member of the legal department. If anything happened to a child in Macy’s store while sitting on the lap of a man who openly claimed to be a mythological figure, the lawsuits would write themselves. Thus the story really takes a turn toward an indictment of capitalism and corporate ethics: Macy’s is willing to put children at risk for some extra profit. Luckily, nobody has noticed in the past half-century.

Here we have a famous breach of competence by the screenwriter, George Seaton. While boasting to Doris about all the mental acuity tests he has passed, Kris says,

“I’ve taken dozens of them. Never failed one yet. Know them by heart. “How many days in the week?” Seven! “How many fingers do you see?” “Four!”….No damage to the nervous system! “Who was the first President of the United States?” George Washington! “Who was Vice-President under John Quincy Adams?” Daniel D. Tompkins! I’ll bet your Mr. Sawyer doesn’t know that!”

He doesn’t know that because it isn’t true. Tompkins was Vice-President under James Monroe, the fifth President, not Adams, #6. It drives me crazy when Hollywood allows historical misinformation to pollute the minds of the historically ignorant public, because there’s no excuse for it. Even before the internet, this fake fact could have been checked using any dictionary or encyclopedia. Nobody cared enough to bother. To make the mistake worse, John Quincy Adams’ VP was, unlike Thompkins, an important historical figure, John C. Calhoun.

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Confession: I Wimped Out

Our longest-lasting neighbors, now approaching their 80’s, are as nice a pair as I could imagine. When we moved into the cul de sac 40 years ago, we were the neighborhood’s young blood. Their two children were pre-teens; our son was 15 years from existing at all. Through the years, Red and Beth have helped us in every way imaginable. Red’s old pick-up truck hauled the set of my theater company’s first production. Beth has provided barbecued chicken, home harvested honey and pickles. We’ve dined together and partied in each others’ homes. Now their Husky-German Shepard mix ( a designer breed with the ridiculous name “Gerberian Shepsky”), Peaches, is Spuds’ best playmate.

I was sitting with Red in our neighbor’s back yard watching the two dogs run and frolic, when for no discernible reason, he launched into a diatribe about about his cousin’s wife. “She’s ‘an intelligent, educated woman with 6 grandkids, and yet she just thinks Donald Trump is wonderful. She actually voted for him! This is a woman, and she supports a man who has been charged with all these sexual assaults and even rape, and who cheated on all his wives and paid off mistresses and porn stars. Jack, I just can’t understand it.”

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Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/1/2020: I See Bad People And Penis-Talkers

1. This may not be the most trustworthy advocate for the President’s favorite Wuhan virus medicine…President  Trump’s supporters among the punditry and conservative bloggers briefly celebrated the endorsement of  hydroxychloroquine, despite recent studies questioning its effectiveness and safety, by Dr. Stella Immanuel. Support for her was redoubled after her posts were taken down by both Facebook and Twitter as “misinformation.” That’s censorship, of course, and arguably partisan.  Immanuel has an opinion. However, her response to the censoring of her posts does not enhance her credibility. She tweeted,

2.  I see…he shouldn’t be honored because he was white, right? I have reached the point where I have to conclude that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez just isn’t very bright, and those who support her passionate—but stupid!—pronouncements have a similar basic competence problem. Take this example: AOC complained in a video,

Even when we select figures to tell the stories of colonized places, it is the colonizers and settlers whose stories are told — and virtually no one else. Check out Hawaii’s statue. It’s not Queen Lili’uokalani of Hawaii, the only Queen Regnant of Hawaii, who is immortalized and whose story is told. It is Father Damien. This isn’t to litigate each and every individual statue, but to point out the patterns that have emerged among the totality of them in who we are taught to deify in our nation’s Capitol: virtually all men, all white, and mostly both. This is what patriarchy and white supremacist culture looks like! It’s not radical or crazy to understand the influence white supremacist culture has historically had in our overall culture & how it impacts the present day.

I’ll have to do a full post on the entire “white supremacy” canard, which is basically linguistic game-playing. Culture, everywhere, is primarily determined by the majority.  In a majority white population, white people, their habits, preferences, interests and values, have the strongest effect on the culture. Because there are more of the majority than other groups, they also will tend to have the greatest visibility and participation in that area’s history. Framing this rather obvious and universal situation as something sinister is silly as an argument, and evidence of impaired critical thinking skills if one is persuaded by it. Continue reading

You Have The Floor In Another Open Forum, With Some Preliminary Opening Observations

I’m going to open up the floor to comments on whatever you want to talk about, ethics-wise. This day looks chaotic for me, beginning with an interment of a dear friend at Arlington National Cemetery. I’ll visit mom and dad while I’m there…

Let me append a footnote. Althouse, who lives in Madison, directs readers to this article: “Two women arrested in beating of state Sen. Tim Carpenter during night of protests in Madison.” I remember the incident and the frightening video. From the article,

Police arrested Samantha R. Hamer, 26, and Kerida E. O’Reilly, 33, on suspicion of being parties to the crimes of substantial battery and robbery with use of force. They were both in custody Monday night, according to online records from the Dane County jail.

He fell to the ground after he was punched and about 10 people hit and kicked him, one witness told police. Stunned, Carpenter told them he was an ally and had long fought for the kinds of policies they were seeking.

Paramedics treated him but he declined to go to the hospital that night. A week later, he said he had surgery in St. Francis for injuries he suffered during the attack.

Observations:

  • I have to believe that sooner or later the cognitive dissonance scale will work its silent magic, to the advantage of Republicans and the detriment of Democrats. These are ugly, scary people who are behind the rioting and statue-toppling, and the classic types that have fueled totalitarian take-overs throughout history (Yesterday was the anniversary of the revolutionaries turning on Robespierre.).

Yet Democratic leaders are fearfully giving them their seals of approval.

  • Not for the first time, I’m wondering if it’s fair to publish mug shots. Professor Turley is addicted to them, but they  encourage people to judge others by their appearances, and publicizing an individual’s appearance at a time when they can’t possibly be at their best seems gratuitously cruel. The photos of the two arrested women…

…prompted lots of mockery among Althouse’s commentariat, most of whom resorted to stereotyping

What the President said, in response to a question about the incident, was, “The person they beat up was a Democrat who happened to be gay and he was probably out there rooting them on or something because Democrats think it’s wonderful they’re destroying our country.”

Typical “fact-check.” This kind of dishonesty has been going on for almost four years, but I’m sure that Washington Post will add it to its “lie list.”  The state senator is gay and is a Democrat. Saying what he was “probably” doing is not a “claim” but an opinion, and based on Carpenter’s own protestation, it’s probably an accurate one. By the basic rules of English, there is no way one can fairly say that the President “falsely claimed” that Carpenter was rooting the statue-topplers on.

That’s enough from me.

“Over to you, Clarence…”

Comment Of The Day: “Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 3…Ethics Fireworks (and Duds)!,” Item #5

Extradimensional Cephalopod lassoed itself a Comment of the Day (I love the image of a cepalopod using a lasso!) with his musings on why races were designated “black” and “white,” since the white/black dichotomy is so frequently used to describe good/evil.

Here is his—its?—Comment of the Day on the fifth item (about Twitter banning such words as “whitelist” and “blacklist”) in the post, “Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 3…Ethics Fireworks (and Duds)!”

I’ll be back at the end with a rather lengthy discourse of my own on this subject, because it’s a favorite of mine.

I actually find it annoying that on the one hand, human races (groups of humans who share some similarities in appearance) have historically been identified by colors associated with their skin, while on the other hand, completely independently and before meeting humans from other continents on a regular basis, Europeans started to use colors to indicate whether things are good or bad.

This etymology likely came about because when things rot they often turn black, and because blackness implies darkness (the absence of light), which most humans use to evoke ignorance, fear, or bad luck because they can’t see in the dark. (I use the metaphor of darkness in a much more neutral/benevolent sense, but that’s quite rare.) Interestingly, the color white is associated with death and mourning in many Asian cultures.

With the exception of finance (black ink marking positive numbers and red ink marking negative numbers), most historical evocations of the color black indicate evil, corruption, morbidity, or otherwise something negative. “Black heart,” “blackguard,” “black magic,” “black hat,” “black market,” “blackball,” “blacklist,” “black mark,” “black day,” “black comedy/humor”… Continue reading

Rating Jimmy Kimmel’s Terrible Blackface Apology

It should surprise no one that ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel’s apology, issued in a statement released today, is wretched, because Kimmel himself lacks character or an ethical compass. Ethics Alarms has pointed this out before.

I will not hold you in unnecessary suspense: his apology is an unequivocal Level 10 on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale. If I ever get around to adding real apology examples to each of the ten levels, his would be a perfect one to place under this description:

10. An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.

Considerately, Kimmel places his apology in the bottom of the barrel in his very first paragraph:

I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us. That delay was a mistake. There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke.

Somebody explain to Jimmy, if he or she can stand being in the same space with such a creep, that you can’t be defiant in an apology. It’s one or the other. He makes it clear, by putting an admission of the error of not apologizing sooner before what he is allegedly apologizing for, that this statement is strategic, as #10 apologies always are. He’s “apologizing,” not because he is genuinely remorseful, but because he wants to be respected. Hilariously, but characteristically, Kimmel doesn’t even know what human beings respect.

Finally, if there was any doubt what this is, he adds the watermark of a fake apology: “I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke.” That takes him to  at least Level #9 right off the bat: Continue reading

OK, “Jane Doe” Was A Lying, Venal, Fick. It Doesn’t Make Abortion Any More Or Less Ethical

In the final 20 minutes of the documentary “AKA Jane Roe,” “Roe,” whose real name was Norma McCorvey, reveals that when she converted to an anti-abortion, born-again ex-gay Christian with the help of leaders of the evangelical Christian right, she was scamming them, us, everybody. Before that stunning reversal, she had been at the center the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, in which the U.S. Supreme court declared that the right to have an abortion was protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“This is my deathbed confession,” she says in the film, sitting in a chair, on oxygen, in her nursing home room , quite evidently pleased with herself. She is asked , “Did [the evangelicals] use you as a trophy?” “Of course,” she replies. “I was the Big Fish.”

“Do you think you would say that you used them?” “Well,” says McCorvey, “I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say. That’s what I’d say.” She even gives an example of her scripted anti-abortion lines. “I’m a good actress,” she points out. “Of course, I’m not acting now.”

Of course.

McCorvey isn’t the first litigant in ground-breaking jurisprudence to change her mind. William J. Murray, the atheist son of activist Madeline Murray O’Hair, who used his complaint about being forced to pray in school to launch the litigation that eventually  got all school prayer in public schools banned as unconstitutional, later became an ardent Christian. This always leads opponents of the decision to respond with “See? SEE?” Continue reading