Tag Archives: commenters

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/7/2017: A Salute, A Disgrace, An Idiot, And An Asshole

Good Morning!

1  I want to take a moment to salute the commenters here for a remarkable performance the past week regarding the re-emergence of the gun control debate following the Vegas Strip massacre. There have been a staggering 664 comments (so far) on the topic in various threads, two Comments of the Day (and another couple soon to be published), and a rare guest post. The level of discourse has been overwhelmingly high, and the sophistication and variety of opinion has been exemplary. Through all of this, there has been little of equal quality from the mainstream media and its pundits, while the quality of opinion and debate on television and from elected officials has been only slightly above the “Do something!” level still flourishing on Facebook. (I’m going to my Facebook feed now to pick a recent example. Let’s see…here’s one! This is a representative segment of the comments on this story on Mediaite, admittedly an especially dumb one, about MSNBC political analyst Steve Schmidt telling Bill Maher , among other simple-minded observations, that only seem relevant to the anti-gun hysterics, that  it is “harder to buy cough medicine than it is to buy an AK-47 or 50 of them”…

This guy is an idiot. Tell him to go buy cough syrup, then go buy an AK and come back in an hour and see what he has. I bet it would only be cough syrup.

is it in a liberal’s nature to murder unborn babies? just askin

It’s a birth control device for them.

Awww, you need attention

And you gave it

I live in your head

Why so many?

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Heroin is against the law, and yet we have a heroin epidemic. Automatic weapons, like the AK-47, are against the law and yet Steve Schmidt says they easier to get then cough syrup with codeine. He doesn’t even see his idiocy.

False equivalencies to justify your need to compensate, boring.

Well, you can get a semi-automatic one, but it’s a far cry from a military-grade automatic.

The left has issues with their vision. The unicorns that roam the landscape crapping skittles and pissing perfume block their view, I guess.

Damn you really are a mental nut case

Ugh.

Thank you, everybody.

You do Ethics Alarms proud..

2. In the category of “This is so obviously incompetent that I should have to write about it  The IRS awarded a sole source $7.25 million contract to Equifax to verify taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud. This was after the credit company negligently allowed the personal data of millions of Americans to be hacked. The excuses being offered by the agency are hilarious. IRS officials claim they were forced by circumstances to issue the no-bid multi-million dollar contract to Equifax. The GAO calls this baloney. The IRS argued, in a letter to Congress, that the IRS  it was unaware of any fraud related to the company’s data breach.  No, it’s just that Equifax was incompetent and negligent to an inexcusable extent that ought to be criminal. Another defense offered by the IRS:  most of the data hacked by Equifax had already been revealed in previous corporate breaches, such as those at Target and Anthem.  WHAT? That’s like saying you are a trustworthy nanny because the child you let get run over by a car was already dying of cancer.

From Politico:

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle blasted the IRS decision.

“In the wake of one of the most massive data breaches in a decade, it’s irresponsible for the IRS to turn over millions in taxpayer dollars to a company that has yet to offer a succinct answer on how at least 145 million Americans had personally identifiable information exposed,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told POLITICO in a statement.

Ya think?

A. Cancel the contract.

B. Fire the head of the IRS and anyone in the chain responsible for this decision. Continue reading

17 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, U.S. Society

A Hopefully Calming Word From Your Host [Updated]

I would not have predicted that the NFL Anthem Protest (Or is it the anti-Trump protest? The “there are still injustices in America protest”?) Ethics Train Wreck would be the topic to cause multiple meltdowns, name-calling bouts and potty-mouth attacks among the veteran commenters here. I’ve given up on predicting which issues will ignite the assembled, however.

I am proud of the passion and intelligence with which the regular participants in this forum attack the varied matters I throw down for consideration. At their best, even the most intense debates usually bring more light than heat, to use the dichotomy poor Howard K. Smith employed when William F. Bucklet snapped, called Gore Vidal a “queer” on live TV and threatened to punch him out.  However at least four veteran commenters here have had Buckley-esque flip-outs of late, and that will not do.

I don’t expect this blog to ever be “safe.” Bad, lazy, poorly reasoned, biased and partisan opinions should always be called out, and in terms that fit the offense. I do not want to police words, but when we move beyond fair or at least supportable assessments of comments into insults and the denigration of commenters, I expect the ethics alarms to ring out. If they don’t sound, I don’t know what the purpose of Ethics Alarms is. Theoretically, we are here to learn from each other, and that means giving each other the benefit of an assumption of good will, and occasionally a damn break.

Those who have contributed positively here for a lengthy period build up credits that will allow them to commit one or more egregious breaches of decorum without any adverse action. Ironically, I also expect the veterans and frequent commenters to be role models, and lead by example.

I also want to urge some commenters here to make an effort to curtail endless, circular one-on-one debates  in which the objective deteriorates into getting the last word. In the past, Ethics Alarms has seen some epic debates resembling the Hundred Years War. What is remarkable about all of them is that it was clear as glass from the start that neither combatant was going to yield, and indeed was even fairly processing what his or her adversary was saying. I confess: outside of checking in periodically and making sure that the exchange isn’t resembling a Tarantino film, I don’t read these very long. They are boring. And because they are boring, they make Ethics Alarms boring.

Commenters with agendas are also a problem. If you approach every issue here knowing immediately what position you are going to take before you even read the post, I submit that your objective is less helping us nourish an ethical society than something else. You need to think about that, because it makes you a less valuable participant here. It also can make you annoying.

One more thing I need to add (and am adding as I am in a Fairfax, VA hotel after a horrible sleepless night as I prepare for a presentation to local lawyers about legal ethics and technology: occasionally pushing another commenter’s buttons—you know who has them, and what to push—is occasionally justifiable, but becomes sadistic and abusive if engaged in as a regular tactic.

You know, I’ve met a lot of you. There isn’t one commenter that I have met that I don’t like. Every one is a smart, passionate, interesting person. I would recommend that before you start hurling abuse at another empty face in cyberspace, consider that, as Marge Simpson sang in “O Streetcar!,” “A stranger’s just a friend you haven’t met.”

We can get our work done civilly and respectfully. I’ve seen it. If all else fails, consider the advice of Elwood P. Dowd:

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.

I recommend both.

180 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid"

Comment Of The Day:”Comment Of The Day: “Comment of the Day: ‘From The Law vs. Ethics File: The Discriminatory Charlotte Pride Parade’”’

This Comment of the Day is atypical, but I want to highlight it.

It’s doesn’t really matter what the original exchange was that prompted it, or who the other commenter was. What matters to me is that a respected, smart, articulate member of the colloquy here felt denigrated and mistreated, and that her experience as a commenter was diminished as a result. There may even have been a misunderstanding  involved; right now that is not my concern either.

I allow the discourse to get very intense here at times, and I will continue to. Lines are crossed—civility, insults, epithets, outbursts, personal attacks, mockery, blatant contempt–I cross them myself on occasion. Those who thrive here are remarkable, I have found, in taking rhetorical punches to the jaw and the gut and bouncing back without rancor or reduction in passion.

Nonetheless, the Golden Rule should never be too far out of mind on an ethics site. We can all make our points without being gratuitously nasty and mean. Stinging slapdowns can be fun–I enjoy them, though I save my worst for especially annoying visitors who I don’t care to have return—but they need to be kept to a minimum. Sincere, thoughtful, honest and perceptive commenters like Mrs. Q should never feel the way this post indicates that an exchange made her feel. Ethics Alarms is designed to be challenging and contentious, but not hostile. She hasn’t commented since this was filed; I hope that she has just been busy, because Mrs. Q  has been a unique and wonderful asset since she first dropped in a few months ago.

Let’s do better.

Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Comment Of The Day: “Comment of the Day: ‘From The Law vs. Ethics File: The Discriminatory Charlotte Pride Parade’”

The level of disrespect you have shown me, with the snark & unwillingness to do the research yourself, tells anyone reading that there is something inside you that is either terribly unhappy or unhealthy. I cannot in good conscience continue to deal with someone who is so vengeful. You’ve proven you’re incapable of responding in a civil manner towards me when I have not insulted you in any similar way. It’s been a pattern & if you & I were in person I’d simply walk away & pray for you.

My disability makes my time precious & my family comes before internet commenting. That you would make fun of my need to prioritize my family over responding online says so much more about you than me.

I was planning on answering your questions but your last little dig is my last straw. I’m sure you’ll say I’m weak or not answering you b/c I’m scared or stupid or a TERF or whatever disparaging term you can think of & that’s fine. I won’t be goaded into your games. Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners

A Brief Message From Your Host

Before we get into the Memorial Day weekend and I start obsessing about the sharp dip in traffic that always triggers (What’s the matter, too busy for ETHICS???), I want to convey my appreciation, admiration and gratitude to Ethics Alarms commenters, who have shined even more brilliantly than usual in the last couple weeks.

I just trashed a comment under moderation that said,

As soon as I saw what Gianforte did here in kaliforniah I went to his website and donated $50.00. I wish someone would slam Rachel Mad-dike. I was very happy to see him win in spite of the commie collective of main stream news commies.

This is the kind of comment I don’t allow here, and yet it is typical of most of the discourse I read on all but a few websites and blogs. Contrast that with the varied, substantive, perceptive and serious comments that appear here every day, as exemplified, though not exclusively, by the recent flood of Comments of the Day by Extradimensional Cephalopod, Mrs Q, Glenn Logan, Spartan, crella, Humble Talent, texagg04, fattymoon, Zoltar Speaks!, and Steve-O-in-NJ. This was all in 10 days, and some of these contribution prompted over a hundred comments themselves.

I envisioned Ethics Alarms as an ongoing participatory pan-ethics conference or colloquy, never as a monologue. For that ambitious concept to work requires a lot of passion, thought and commitment from more than just the moderator, and recent days have proved that, thanks to all of you, Ethics Alarms has these and more in abundance. Few other online forums are so fortunate.

Thank you.

Bravo.

29 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, The Internet

Brief And Rueful Thoughts Sparked By The Previous Post

This was yet another post on which the reactions of the dear departed Zoe Brain would be fascinating. I have to admit, I take it badly when a long-time commenter throws a snit and announces permanent departure. (The latest was Margie, a commenter here since 2010, who decided that I had become too “snarky.”) You try to nurture a relationship in the comments over time, and yet usually all it takes is a single comment, moderation choice, or issue disagreement to trash it all.  I remember vividly the angry exits of Ablativemeatshield, Liberal Dan, Ampersand, and Luke G. And those are  just the ones who announce their leave.

I really worry about the silently vanished. It’s stupid, but I do. Where’s Michael R,, the eloquent teacher, not seen in these parts since December, 2015? Whither Steven Mark Pilling, whose epic battles with tgt (also gone with the wind, with occasional sightings like the Ivory Billed Woodpecker) were worthy of a separate blog or a mini-series? Aaron Paschal? The nit-picking but mordantly amusing Brit, P.M. Lawrence? How about Karla Marie Robinett, who was gone for half a year, came back to say she was happy to be back, and vanished again? I liked it when The Ethics Sage dropped in for a scholarly chat.  Where did he go, and why? Rick Jones, “Curmie” of  “The Curmies,” is just a fond memory. FinleyOshea has been gone for more than a year: his last post just said, “test.” Ominous.  And its been almost four months since Ethics Alarms heard from Julian Hung, another reader from the blog’s beginning. Julian is an intermittent participant, but a sharp one. I’m officially concerned.

These and so many others are noticed when they go AWOL, and missed. New voices take their places, I know, and change is good, or can be. Still, even though I have never met most of these people, I feel their losses, and regret their departures. And that—I just erased a long list for fear of who I was forgetting—is why those loyal and passionate commenters who stay and ride out the storms and disagreements are so cherished and appreciated, even when I may sometimes not sound that way.

Carry on.

56 Comments

Filed under Romance and Relationships, The Internet

Revised Ethics Alarms Comments Policies

battle-marvel

Ethics Alarms has now been active for seven full years, and there have been more than 160,000 comments on the 7000+ posts here. It is time—past time, really— to revise the Comment Policies based on what I have learned, and based on what the blog has become and what I want it to accomplish.

This site exists to encourage an ongoing, rigorous and engaging inquiry about ethics, from the perspective of events large and small, in the United States and the world. Ethics evolves as societal standards and norms evolve. We accomplish that evolution, usually in enlightened directions, through advocacy, disagreement and debate, using logic, values, principles, systems and facts. The comment section has evolved as moderated colloquy among intelligent, articulate and open-minded readers, and me, as the author/ ethicist/host and moderator. I have learned a great deal from the site’s readers, and hope to continue to do so.

Ethics Alarms offers the following 20 guidelines and rules to advance this mission:

1. Before you comment for the first time, check the terms and concepts page if you can. It will avoid misunderstandings

2. I prefer full names attached to comments.. If you want to use a screen name, I have to know who you are. You can e-mail me your name at jamproethics@verizon.net, and it will not be divulged. You must enter an e-mail address, and it must be real. If you use a fake e-mail address, your comment will be deleted. No comment signed “anonymous” will be posted. Ever. (Well, hardly ever) If you use a URL as your screen name, I will treat the comment as spam no matter how trenchant your observations are.

3. I have to approve every first time commenter, and as with bar associations and Harvard College, the standards used to screen applicants are tougher than the standards applied once you pass. If your initial foray here is gratuitously disrespectful, nasty, snotty, disparaging,  obnoxious, or just plain stupid, your comment won’t make it out of  moderation. Similarly, non-substantive comments expressing approval or disapproval without more are worthless, and I’ll reject them.  Initiating your relationship on Ethics Alarms with snark, sarcasm, nastiness or ridicule is a bad strategy–as I noted above, you have to earn the privilege of talking to me like that. You may not get a second chance.

4. Regular commenters have special privileges. They can engage in tough rhetoric bordering on insult, as well as brief comments that would not pass muster with a first-timer. But always remember that you are a guest here. Guests are obligated to prove their trustworthiness and good will before they are extended special privileges, and even those privileges have their limits.

5. Political rants are not welcome.  In addition, efforts to muddle genuine objective ethical analysis by pressing ideological talking points and bombarding me with links are not appreciated, and won’t be tolerated for long, if at all..

6. Keep comments as civil as possible. Ethics Alarms does, at its discretion, permit vulgarity and profanity for style and emphasis. I will show limited tolerance for rude and abusive comments and commenters, depending on the combatants. At my sole discretion, I may extend special dispensation for regular, substantive commenters here who have accumulated good will and trust, even when they cross lines that I would not permit to be crossed by a less-credentialed visitor [See below]. While a verdict of “you are an idiot,” may occasionally be justified, I may ding comments that include gross personal attacks, subject to the exceptions noted above, unless it has an extremely impressive substantive argument accompanying it. In the heat of debate, Ethics Alarms will tolerate the  occasional insult  If commenters become overly nasty and personal in their exchanges with each other or habitually so, I will intervene.

7. Ethics Alarms discourages text jargon and abbreviations. “LOL”,  in particular, is guaranteed to annoy me. Also disfavored are popular slang words designed to denigrate a belief, an individual or political groups, like “Repugs,” or juvenile name-calling like “The New York Slimes” or “The Washington Compost.”

8. I’m very likely to respond to your comments. Don’t try hit-and-run tactics here, and don’t think you can get away with an unsupported, badly-reasoned or purely emotional argument and not get called on it. On the other hand, if I don’t respond, don’t take it personally.

9. Re Links: Relevant links are appreciated. Irrelevant links will cause a comment to be deleted as spam.( Remember that if you include more than one link, your comment gets automatically stalled in moderation.)Links to your related blog posts must be supported by a substantive comment on the topic as well: this isn’t your bulletin board. Similarly, the URL of your blog is not going to make it into the comment, and if you persist in trying to slip it through, I will start marking the comments as spam. I am happy to plug, including a link to  your blog, if you write me first and explain why it is relevant and useful to Ethics Alarms readers, and I concur. Your comment, however, is not a vehicle for spreading your blog information around the web…not here, anyway.

10. Typos: I regret that WordPress has yet to install a good editing function for comments. Please proof yours. I will endeavor to fix obvious typos, and if you e-mail me a request to delete or otherwise repair a mis-typed section of a legitimate comment, I will try to reply. I will respect style choices like eccentric punctuation, capitalization, syntax or spelling, but comments that are careless and difficult to read or understand risk being rejected.

11. Me: I reserve the right to sharply express my annoyance with comments that I regard as careless, poorly argued, based on partisan hackery, stupid, unethical  or ignorant. I am prone to be testy at comments that fall into any of the following categories:

1) Those that say I should be writing about “more important things.” I do. But I don’t have to write every post about the earth-shattering, and trivial incidents can still teach important lessons.

2) Comments that include “lighten up,” “calm down,” “get a life,” or anything similar. Please don’t presume to gauge my emotional state or dictate it.

3) Comments that accuse me of ignoring topics or not making arguments when in fact other posts on the site covered those topics and did make those arguments. I don’t require that you read everything, but do not make allegations when a simple key word search on the site would disprove them.

4) Putting words in my mouth, or ascribing  opinions to me that I have not stated. I hate that.

5) Being snotty about typos. I make mistakes, and appreciate being told about them. Nicely.

6) Mockery without substance.

7) Racist, misogynist and otherwise bigoted rants.

12. On occasion my annoyance may cause my reply to seem excessively severe. In such cases, please point this out, and I may well apologize. I may not, too. If a comment is especially ignorant or dumb, I have been known to bluntly describe it as such. I will continue to do so. This is part of my effort to elevate the discussion through negative reinforcement. This is not a site where you can just dash off a barely considered shot and get away with it. Continue reading

81 Comments

Filed under The Internet

A Brief Message From The Ethics Bunker

soldier_in_bunker

Ethics Alarms was happily bumping along at record-setting pace this year for traffic and comments, and suddenly hit a wall about mid-April. Visitors have been down 10% or more ever since. Ironically, this occurred just as the registers followers of the blog took a large leap forward after being in a rut for almost six months. 2016 is still well ahead of EA’s previous best year, but an unexplained crater like this is troubling. Usually May is the blog’s best month.

At least one heavy contributor has gone AWOL due to Trump/Clinton depression, which I share.  I would not be surprised if EA lost a significant number of  Never Hillary readers because of the official position here, which will not change, that voting for one of the most untrustworthy candidates in U.S. history is the only rational, patriotic and ethical response to the existential danger to the nation posed by the candidacy of Donald Trump. (See: A Nation of Assholes; this, 7 months later, from George Will, and about 8 months later, this, from Robert Kagan.) Continue reading

156 Comments

Filed under Professions