Afternoon Ethics Woolgathering, 7/20/2022: Conspiracies And Condign Justice

July 20 should be permanently recognized as Conspiracy Theory Day. It’s the anniversary of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon in 1969, and the event spawned one of the most hilarious of all conspiracy theories, that the whole thing was faked by NASA. Many believe it still. This one is an anti-government conspiracy theory, so perhaps the “Truthers” fantasy that George W. Bush bombed the Pentagon and Twin Towers on 9/11 has passed it. Or maybe the theory that a Kennedy assassination conspiracy involving President Johnson and the CIA is at the top of the list. My 8th grade history professor told our class that it was a fact that FDR conspired to let the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor so the U.S. would enter the war.

A friend from childhood, smart to the point of brilliance, who once commented here often, sincerely believes that Barack Obama’s natural born citizenship is a hoax.

These conspiracy theories that cause people to believe their own government is a malign force are very harmful. More harmful yet is the current environment, where both political parties are vigorously pursuing conspiracy theories against the other.

It does not help the situation that some conspiracy theories, like the one that long held that the government was withholding evidence of unidentified flying objects, turn out to be true.

1. Condign justice dept. “Condign justice” was a term I never heard or read before George Will started using it. Then I stopped reading George Will, whose NeverTrumpism revealed him to be a classist hypocrite, requiring me to use it. Today’s example is the mayors of New York City and Washington D.C. complaining bitterly about being inundated with illegal immigrants. New York is suffering in great part because of its proud position as a “sanctuary city,” thus encouraging illegals to violate our laws. NYC Mayor Eric Adams demanded yesterday that the federal government help pay for what he said was a wave of illegal immigrants pouring into the city, as he whined about the city’s “safety net” being strained by busloads of people coming from border states and elsewhere. (CBS News helpfully apes Adams in calling the border-breachers “asylum-seekers,” hoping to cover-up what they really are.)  Awww. Well gee, Mayor, if you didn’t openly invite them and say they would be welcomed and protected from our mean old laws, maybe there wouldn’t be so darn many.

Some old saw about making beds seems to be appropriate here. Idiot. Continue reading

Ethics Breezes And Gales, 4/14/2022: The End Of A Conspiracy And The Beginning Of Conspiracy Theories [Corrected]

April 14 will always be the date that I associate above all else with Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, which occurred 157 years ago.  Lincoln and the audience at Ford’s Theater laughed uproariously, as John Wilkes Booth knew they would, at the line “Why you sockdologizing old man-trap!” in the play the Lincolns and their guests were watching, “Our American Cousin.” Booth fired a single-shot derringer into the back of Lincoln’s skull, dreew a dagger and stabbed Major Rathbone, also in Lincoln’s box along with Mrs. Lincoln and Rathbone’s fiancee, in the arm, and dramatically leaped down onto the stage, shouting Virginia’s motto,“Sic semper tyrannis! (Thus ever to tyrants!) The South is avenged!”  Booth caught his spur on a draped flag on the way down and broke his leg, but limped across the stage and out to waiting horse through a back stage exit. Lincoln never regained consciousness.

Not only was it the first and still most spectacular of the four Presidential assassinations [Notice of Correction: I originally wrote “five,” not because I can’t count, which is what usually happens, but because I was counting Reagan, because he was actually shot. Moron. Thanks to Steve-O-in NJ for alerting me, or I’d have to ban myself from the blog for passing on “misinformation”], Booth’s act and subsequent events, oddities and coincidences launched perhaps the first widespread political conspiracy theory. I wrote in 2010,

[A]s a teenager, I became fascinated by the Lincoln assassination conspiracy. A best-seller at the time was “Web of Conspiracy,” an over-heated brief for the theory that Lincoln’s War Secretary, Edwin Stanton, and others in the military were in league with John Wilkes Booth. The author, a mystery writer named Theodore Roscoe, was constantly suggesting sinister motives by asking questions like “The sealed records of the official assassination investigation were destroyed in a mysterious fire. Was the War Department afraid of what the documents would prove? Would they have implicated Stanton? We will never know.”  This tactic is on view regularly today, used generously by the purveyors of modern conspiracies…

Then again, sometimes conspiracy theories, even unlikely ones, turn out to be true. There was sure a lot of smoke around Lincoln’s assassination (after all, there really was a conspiracy, as Booth had at least five co-conspirators working on his plot for months), and it didn’t help when Robert Lincoln, Abe’s son, was caught burning his papers and told the man who interrupted him (allegedly) that he was doing so because the contained proof that a member of his father’s own cabinet was involved in his assassination. Yet none of the components of the Lincoln conspiracy narrative have held up to scrutiny, except as tantalizing suspicions.

1. First, the rest of a story...Two weeks ago Ethics Alarms covered the story of Kychelle Del Rosario, a fourth-year medical student at Wake Forest School of Medicine, who appeared to admit in a tweet that she deliberately caused pain and discomfort to a patient because he had mocked her  “preferred pronoun” pin. After her tweet was seen, circulated and attacked on social media, she deleted it in an attempted cover-up. Wake Forest suspended her pending an investigation, which is now complete. It’s conclusion: Del Rosario was grandstanding, implying that she stuck the patient a second time when she had turned the job over to a supervisor. “Our documentation verifies that after the student physician was unsuccessful in obtaining the blood draw, the student appropriately deferred a second attempt to one of our certified professionals. The student did not attempt to draw blood again,” the university stated. 

But had she deliberately missed the vein the first time to punish the “transphobic” patient? Wake Forest believed her statements that she had not, saying, “Our review revealed that the description of the patient encounter on social media does not reflect what actually occurred. We also determined that all of our procedures were followed while caring for this patient.” For her part, Del Rosarion, who expects to be reinstated, said,

“For the event mentioned in the tweet, I was performing a blood draw on a patient and during our conversation they had shown dismay at my pronoun pin,” she said. “I calmly shared my thoughts about pronouns and did not escalate the situation further. When I was doing the blood draw, I missed the first time due to my inexperience as a student, and per our policy, my supervisor performed the successful blood draw the second time….[I] never intended to harm the patient.”

She also wrote an apology to the school for her inflammatory tweet, admitting   to “poorly representing” the school and the healthcare system. [Source: Campus Reform] Continue reading

Another Sunday Afternoon In The Ethics Park With Jack, 2/6/2022: Pence, Parties, Parents, Professors And Petards

I probably don’t pay enough attention to right-wing conspiracy theories, but I mostly find them so silly that it astounds me that anyone takes them seriously. Alex Jones? How could anyone take Alex Jones seriously, especially after he stated in court documents that he didn’t take his own stuff seriously? Long ago, I learned a lot from a fun tome called “Web of Conspiracy” by mystery writer/historian Theodore Roscoe. It was a detailed account of the evidence assembled by many Lincoln assassination conspiracy buffs, and I loved it, racing through its 800 pages or so and thousands of footnotes as fast as I could. But I was 11; my Dad warned me that the author was cheating, and I couldn’t see it. After the book was out of print, I paid a fortune to acquire a used copy and tried to read it again. I couldn’t get through the damn thing, it was so full of innuendo, and dishonest arguments.

I thought about that book when some well-meaning readers sent me a substack essay by Emerald Robinson asserting in Theodore Roscoe prose that Mike Pence was really trying to get Trump kicked out of office so he could take over. Let’s say I’m dubious, and I’m no Pence admirer. VP’s have been accused of that since John Adams; I walked out of “JFK”—and I’ll sit through almost anything—when Oliver Stone started telling audiences that LBJ was behind Kennedy’s assassination. Moreover, Robinson has long been on my “don’t waste time reading” list, as I view the tweet that got her fired from Newsmax as signature significance. She tweeted,

“Dear Christians: the vaccines contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked. Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends.

Twitter removed the tweet as a violation of safety rules, which is the kind of stupidity that explains why I quit Twitter. Everyone needs to see tweets like that. Highlight them, don’t hide them. Otherwise you might take a nut like Robinson seriously.

Finally, her Pence theory contained arguments like, Continue reading

ARRGGH!!! NAZIS!!!!!

Conspiracy design

Apparently, vaccinations are needed for Trump Derangement Syndrome. It is not going away despite the exit of Donald Trump. There’s also a significant likelihood that this is just one more manifestation of The Great Stupid, and as we all know, you can’t fix stupid. Or at least there’s no vaccination…

That’s the nifty stage at CPAC above, where conservatives are flocking right now to tell tales of the good old days of child labor, women baking pies while barefoot and pregnant, and the coloreds happily singing in the cotton fields. Or something: all Democrats are sure of is that it’s some kind of evil cult. So now a bunch of conspiracy theorists led by unemployed actress Alyssa Milano, with assistance by TMZ and Snopes, are telling social media that the design is an open admission of the fascist sympathies of the Right.

Milano tweet

ARRGGH! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! IT’S TRUE IT’S TRUE!!!

Yes, these are the same people Republicans sat back, snoozed, and allowed to out-maneuver them on voting regulations. The GOP is literally dumber than the people who believe things like this.

Observations:

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The Predictable Fate Of TIME’s Election-Rigging Scoop, And The Comment Of The Day On “You Know Why Real Conspiracies Are Always Discovered, Don’t You? It’s Because Someone Always Talks…Gee, Thanks, TIME!”

Uneven playing field

TIME Magazine’s surprising exposition of how the 2020 Presidential election was “rigged” was both a major media story and an important contribution to the public’s understanding of how their liberties are being extracted from them in stages. Unfortunately, nobody reads TIME any more—for good reason—and the mainstream media, among the conspirators indicted by TIME, had no reason to treat this any differently from the other inconvenient and counter-narrative revelations they buried or failed to report during the campaign and before. Their other tactic, as we saw repeatedly, was to discredit such news as “conservative stories,” meaning that they were contrived and the product of fanatic right-wingers. TIME’s story was a special problem, because TIME has been a dependable source of progressive spin for decades.

The solution wasn’t a problem, however. The mainstream news media just ignored TIME’s story. Problem solved! They didn’t try to rebut it—that would trigger the Streisand Effect. It was so much more helpful to the effort to marginalize Republicans, the ex-President, and conservatives to make the silly conspiracy theory-obsessed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene the center of public attention. It was perfect, really; highlight a conspiracy theory wacko to discredit a genuine conspiracy the mainstream media participated in.

Of course, Fox News covered the TIME story, but you know...Fox. The New York Times took a clever counter-measure, publishing a three part series on “Trump’s efforts to subvert the election.” Whatever online discussion of TIME’s piece there was occurred on blogs like Ethics Alarms (See the PJ Media contribution, and Ann Althouse’s contribution.)

Here is Null Pointer’s Comment of the Day on the post, “You Know Why Real Conspiracies Are Always Discovered, Don’t You? It’s Because Someone Always Talks…Gee, Thanks, TIME!”

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Observations On Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s House Speech In Her Own Defense

Watch the whole speech. It’s only ten minutes long. Do not rely on media characterizations of it. For example, here is the despicable CNBC web headline: “Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene expresses some regret about conspiracy claims ahead of vote to punish her.” Tell me if you think that’s a fair characterization of what she said.

1. It is a well-delivered, seemingly sincere, sympathetic and appealing and effective speech for anyone with any objectivity at all, designed to appeal to strong conservatives, and to send a message to progressives that she is not ashamed of her values and will not be intimidated into backing down from them

Good for her in that respect.

2. Her practical and ethical problem, however, is that she did not make this speech before the prospect of losing her committee assignments began looming. Why didn’t she say than that she was not a believer in the QAnon garbage? Why did she attack the messengers that revealed her other conspiratorial social media posts, rather than admitting what she had advocated and retracting it, with an explanation? This calls into question her honesty now. Yes, we now know she possesses at least one major asset for a politician: the ability to defend herself in a political crisis—like Bill Clinton. The ability to lie under pressure is another talent she might have.

3. I am troubled by the shadow of possible deceit in her choices of words. She never claimed the 9-11 attacks didn’t happen; she seemed to agree that it was “an inside job.” Saying now that the disaster happened is a non-sequitur..or just rhetorical carelessness. Her comments about school shootings are similarly ambiguous.

4. The fact, if true, that she has not met any of her Democratic colleagues is a terrible reflection on House leadership, and Nancy Pelosi in particular. How can that be defended? Not even a meet and greet for the entire freshman class? That’s rank incompetence.If you want a divided and dysfunctional body, that’s how you get one.

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Rep. Green Has The Right To Her Opinions And the Right To Free Speech. But There Is No Right To Make Laws If You Are An Ignorant, Undisciplined Fool, And Republicans Have A Duty To Treat Her Accordingly

greene

House Democrats moved yesterday to strip GOP Georgia rep Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments if Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy refuses to do so. Mark this moment: House Democrats are right, and their demand is responsible. Greene is on the House education and budget committees, and she has amply demonstrated that she does not possess the judgment to serve om a PTA rummage sale committee.

If House Democrats being reasonable blows your mind, imagine: Mitch McConnell is also making sense. Calling Greene a “cancer for the Republican Party,” the GOP Senate leader said,

“Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality.This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”

Gee, I hadn’t heard about the “Clintons killed John-John” plot! But the Greene theory that came out this week is even better. Eric Hananoki is an investigative reporter at “Media Matters,” which means he’s a partisan hack, but in this case he has found juicy evidence. In a November 17, 2018 Facebook post, since removed, Greene expressed support for the so-called Campfire Conspiracy, which holds that the deadly California wildfires were deliberately set by a cabal seeking to clear land for the high-speed railway, led by PG&E. Here is the whole post that Hananoki unearthed:

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Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)

Pentagon attack

It’s good that Georgia elected Rep. Greene to Congress. The GOP needed some more wackos to balance Rep. Octavio-Cortez and her friends.

Greene, you will recall, is the one who has already filed impeachment charges against President Biden, which is ridiculous. She’s also apparently a believer of the QAnon conspiracy theories, which puts her about on par intellectually with Democrat Rep. Hank Johnson, who believes that Guam is in danger of tipping over. Slimy progressive smear factory Media Matters for America uncovered old Facebook posts from Greene apparently endorsing the theory that the Sandy Hook and Parkland shootings were “false flags,” which doesn’t even make sense. If the kids were shot, they were shot. It doesn’t matter why they were shot, even if they were murdered by gun control activists….a conspiracy theory that nobody sane would allow to sit in their head for more than a second lest it cause their brains to melt out of their ears.

Greene’s response to the Media Matters hit job was as incompetent as some of her conspiracy theories.“Communists bloggers like @mmfa run the same playbook of lies and smears on people they feel threatened by,” Greene wrote. “Produce fake news, spread it all around, then tag all fake news stories about their victim in all future stories. Guess what? Nobody cares about your BS.”

How about explaining the Facebook posts, Congresswoman (she took them down instead)? This is just attacking the messenger.

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Evening Ethics Night-Cap, 1/18/2021: What A Terrible Bunch Of People!

nightcap

1. Wow. Now that’s a sex scandal even in France! Olivier Duhamel, a prominent French political scientist, radio show host and television commentator has quit his media and university posts after being accused of committing incest with his teenage stepson more than 30 years ago. His resignations included the Sciences Po university, where Duhamel, now 70, headed the body overseeing the renowned Paris institution. A book called “La Familia Grande,” just published and written by one of his stepchildren, revealed that Duhamel abused her twin brother beginning when he was 14. The brother told the news media, “I confirm that what my sister has written about the actions of Olivier Duhamel toward me is correct.”

Addressing her step-father directly in the book, Camille Kouchner wrote: “I am going to explain to you who sound off on the radio, you who offer the gift of your analysis to students, and strut about on TV stages. I am going to explain that you could, at least, have said sorry.”

Now there is a #MeToo-style incest movement in France, #Metooinceste, with over 20,000 tweets so far posted on accounts of people who say they had been sexually abused as children by adult family members.

2. This would be pretty embarrassing, if only the news media had the integrity to point it out. DC AG Karl Racine pronounced himself outraged that anyone would compare the Black Lives Matter riots to the Capitol riot. Last week, Racine called comparisons (accompanied by accusations of double standards and hypocrisy), “shocking and outrageous.”

Right. The BLM riots resulted in at least 8 dead, hundreds of wounded officers, and over $2 billion in damages. The D.C. installment of the riots attacked the White House and injured 150 officers. 60 members of the Secret Service’s Uniformed Division were injured holding off the mob while President Trump and his family were taken to a bunker. 65 Park Police officers were wounded and 11 had to be hospitalized, as compared to the January 6 toll of 60 Capitol Police and 58 D.C. cops injured.

One difference is that Democrats and the media accused police of violently assaulting “peaceful protesters” instead of condemning the BLM mob whose members threw bricks, bottles, fireworks, and bodily fluids at law enforcement officers. The BLM rioters set the White House gatehouse and the Church of the Presidents on fire. D.C. Democrats responded by demanding law enforcement leave and naming a plaza “Black Lives Matter.”

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Ethics Dispatches From The Sick Ward, 5/26/2020: Arg! Yechh!

Ugh.

I was supposed to be all better yesterday, and instead I took  a step back.

Sorry.

That photo above is from the last scene in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” after all of the comedians and Spencer Tracy have ended up in the hospital with horrible injuries following  their self-created disaster on an out-of-control fire truck ladder at the supposedly hilarious climax of the Sixties epic chase comedy. The film-makers were very creative in their uses of bandages, casts and traction, but even as a kid, I was struck by how it just isn’t possible to make injuries seem very funny.

1. Since everyone is watching as much TV now as I usually watch routinely, I’ll mention this: have you noticed that several commercials show parents playing pirates with their kids? Did you ever play pirates with your parents? Have you ever seen anyone play at being pirates?

The reason this is being forced on the culture as a thing is that political correctness has robbed kids of almost all fantasy outlets, so someone decided that pirates were safe and inoffensive–especially since Disney had to remove the rapey stuff from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” rides. (Pirates are actually murderous thieves, today as always; what a weird safe haven to choose!)

In “Parasite,” Oscar’s Best Picture last year, the little South Korean son of the wealthy family was obsessed with playing “Indians,” complete with feathered headdress and arrows. I wonder if this feature would have disqualified an American film for cultural insensitivity. American kids can’t be cowboys anymore, since they were genocidal; soldiers are taboo, as are cops and robbers; even space invaders are verboten, since they involve guns. As my friends and I discovered long ago, you can try to play superheroes but they don’t leave you much to work with. Sword and sorcery games, like acting out fairy tales, trip on too many anti-feminist stereotypes.

I wonder what the next generation will turn out to be like, absent any symbolic fantasy villains and conflict to instruct their play. Pirates are not the answer, and again, I doubt any kids are playing pirates like the imaginary families in Bounty commercials. The iconic pirate novel “Treasure Island,” once a standard assignment in grade school, has been purged from the canon—too male, or something.  (It’s still a terrific book.) The other classic with pirates is “Peter Pan,” and that one is in the process of being scrubbed and gender-twisted beyond recognition. There still are Johnny Depp’s weird pirate movies, I guess, though his drunken, bumbling pirate slob anti-hero seems unlikely to inspire normal kids into flights of fantasy.

Our culture just is not in competent hands, and what the end result will be, nobody knows.

2. I’m not sure if this is unethical, exactly, but something’s definitely wrong… Continue reading