Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/13/2018: The All-Segue Edition

Good Morning!

(Though any day that begins with the legal gossip scandal-sheet website Above the Law sending me a “media inquiry” as they dig for dirt is not a good day.)

1. In brief. Well I have now received the appellant’s brief in a certain lingering law suit regarding Ethics Alarms. What fun. Anyone who wants to read it is welcome; those who have dealt with pro se submissions will immediately recognize the syndrome, lawyers may be amused, and non-lawyers may be edified. I expect to knock out the reply brief today, which won’t have to be more than a few pages. It’s not like I have better things to do or anything…

2. Speaking of cases that should have been thrown out of court…Reason reports:

In June, an Oakland County sheriff’s deputy pulled Dejuante Franklin over in front of a gas station for a traffic violation. While handing Franklin his ticket, NWA’s “Fuck tha Police” began to play in the background. As it turns out, James Webb, who did not know Franklin, witnessed the stop. He decided on his own accord to turn the song up louder before walking into the gas station store. When he exited, the officer slapped him with a ticket for misdemeanor noise violation, citing that Webb played the song at an “extremely high volume.”

It took 9 minutes of deliberation for a jury to bring in a verdict of  not guilty. This was an obvious attempted end-around the First Amendment by the officer, and the judge shouldn’t have let it get to a jury at all.

3. And speaking of abusing First Amendment rights…as well as “A Nation of Assholes,” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe’s” co-host and wife-to-be (don’t get me started on THAT) Mika Brzezinski,  called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a “butt-boy” during yesterday’s show.  Why not? After all, CBS lets its on-air personalities call the President a “cock-holster.” Mika wouldn’t have had her filters down, of course, if the culture around MSNBC wasn’t rife with such hate, but she realized mid-show that this wasn’t exactly professional or civil news reporting, and babbled an apology. Too late!

An ethical, professional news station would suspend her, but this is MSNBC, and there are no ethical, professional news stations.

4. Meanwhile, speaking of media bias and unprofessional reporting...A New York Times “fact check” on the contentious meeting among Trump, Pence, Pelosi and Schumer had this amusing note:

“Mr. Trump has long charged that Democrats want open borders, slinging accusations at a higher clip in the waning days of the midterm elections campaign in November. Democrats do not want open borders, evidenced in part by border security legislation that Democrats have supported. What Democrats do not want is Mr. Trump’s costly border wall.”

Oh, that’s a fact, is it? No, Democrats, at least a great many of them, DO want open borders, evidenced in part by their wilful refusal to distinguish between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants, their insistence on signalling through their support for “Dreamers” that bringing children across the border illegally is a virtuous act, their position that illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. as longs as they don’t break any more laws, their constant demonization of necessary border enforcement efforts, and their proposals to abolish ICE. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunces: Jeremy Lam And The Cultural Appropriation Police”

Huh! I didn’t know this was traditional Chinese business attire! Imagine: This is what Marco Polo must have seen!

The most amusing reaction to the apotheosis of progressive silliness that was the attacks on Utah high-schooler Keziah Daum for wearing a Chinese-style prom dress came from China, where the South China Post’ s Alex Lo, who authored a column titled, “Go ahead, appropriate my culture.” He wrote in part,

If anyone thinks social media is harmless, this incident should prove otherwise. A person called Jeremy Lam apparently first tweeted about her transgression, which is now being called “cultural appropriation”. “My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress,” he posted…I apologise in advance for contributing to the silliness, but just needed to get it off my chest.  A publication as esteemed as The Independent of London ran a column supportive of the criticism.“The debate her prom pictures have prompted is justified,” the columnist wrote. “Cultural appropriation is about power, and to many she is the embodiment of a system that empowers white people to take whatever they want, go wherever they want and be able to fall back on: ‘Well, I didn’t mean any harm’.”

I would argue those who scream loudest about cultural appropriation are themselves after power…Why does Jeremy Lam think Chinese is his culture? Is his the same as mine? Is it some kind of property like an inheritance? If so, where is the will, written in our DNA, perhaps? And is it taxable or payable, and by whom? Why did Lam write in English? Isn’t he inappropriately appropriating English-speaking culture? …SJWs turn culture into some kind of finite asset, a zero-sum rather than a growing-sum game. They are oblivious or ignorant of how human cultures actually work: culture is cultural appropriation.

The topic sparked many excellent comments here, including this Comment of the Day by Alexander Cheezem…on the post, Ethics Dunces: Jeremy Lam And The Cultural Appropriation Police:

It’s worth noting the issue of what I can only call — with much irony — aggregation bias here. There _has_ to be a term for it that doesn’t rely on punning off a statistical concept, though…”

In reflection, I suppose that what’s going on is technically a variant of the ecological fallacy — but it’s manifesting as a form of bias (in the non-statistical sense) based on the aggregation of behavior… so the term isn’t quite right, leading me right back to punning off of the statistical concept. I can’t explain the issue without a massive amount of technical language (e.g. “the emergent nature of many features of a complex system”).

And that is a huge problem with modern liberalism. Continue reading

Farewell To The Boy Scouts

I’m leading off the day with this topic. My Dad, who would have turned 98 yesterday had he survived that long, would have wanted me to, I think.

The Boy Scouts, he made clear, taught him much of what he learned about being a man, an American, and an honorable citizen. The organization gave a young, physically unimpressive, lonely kid whose father had abandoned him and whose mother was moving between jobs and apartments during the Depression a place to meet the life-long friends who supported each other for more than 70 years, and most of all, to learn basic ethical values. Dad was certain that he might have ended up in jail without the Scouts: he was suspicious of authority, headstrong, and kept his own counsel. He definitely would not have had a family, as he was bitter about his own father’s betrayal. Thanks in great part to scouting, Jack A. Marshall, Sr. was a war hero, a Harvard grad, a lawyer, but most important of all to himself and to me, a loving, supportive, dedicated father.

So, in a way, I owe my life to the Boy Scouts as well. I joined the organization for a while, but outside of having the Boy Scout Law [“A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.”] engraved on my brain for life, it wasn’t my thing. My son never wanted to get involved at all. Yet through my father, scouting was massively influential on the course of my life, and the development of my character.

As you may have heard by now, the Boy Scouts of America is striking “boys” from the name of its flagship program for 11-to 17-year-olds, and beginning in February 2019, will accept girls into its troops. This was the dropping of the other shoe following last year’s announcement that girls could join the younger Cub Scout units. Now young women will be eligible to reach the Eagle Scout rank, the highest achievement of the organization.

Mike Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive, told the AP, “[W]e’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.” Translation: “We’re trying to survive.” The ethical problem such a strategy involves is that when an organization abandons its mission just to stay in business, it has lost its integrity, and should probably just dissolve.  The mission of the Boy Scouts since it was founded in 1910 has been to prepare boys “to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.” Preparing boys to be men and girls to be women are both worthy missions, but they are not the same mission, much as radical feminists and cultural revolutionaries would have us believe. Where does a young boy like my father go now to find a male peer group and the guidance of responsible male role models? Your guess is as good as mine, but the answer isn’t the Scouts.
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Ethics Dunces: Jeremy Lam And The Cultural Appropriation Police

Utah high school student Keziah Daum posted a picture of herself looking lovely in a prom dress, and thanks to the warped values and cracked ethics of a young social justice warrior tweeter named Jeremy Lam, was set upon by the social media Furies.

Here is the tweet:

The tweet received 179 THOUSAND likes, and was retweeted 60 thousand times. Yes, a young woman going to her high school prom was condemned by all those strangers for liking and wearing an Asian-themed dress.

I don’t know what broken-chromosome mutation of progressive thought creates Americans like Jeremy—who is living in our culture, which is an amalgam of all cultures, but better—but the fact that he could attract such support with his divisive, segregated version of what our society should be is one more sign that the hard-Left is getting more anti-American by the hour. David French nicely puts this episode in perspective:

“Just so we’re clear, the radical progressive position is (1) America’s borders should be flung wide open to people from every culture in the world; (2) when American white people encounter people from those hundreds of different cultures, they need to stay in their lane; and (3) white people staying as white as possible will help our nation totally unify and diversity will be our strength.”

That’s about right. Kaziah Daum is the victim of racism here. Reasonably for someone unfairly thrust into the culture wars without justification or warning, she responded that she wasn’t trying to upset anyone; she just thought it was a pretty dress. The rest of  us, French suggests, need to be more assertive: Continue reading

Lies, Dunces, Fools, Villains, Hypocrites And Big Liars In The Resistance’s Plan E, “The President Is Disabled!” [Part 2]

As their purely, non-partisan, unbiased,professional opinion. of course–just like Prof. Lee today.

[Part I was the Morning Warm-up for 1/7/18, which can be found here.]

4. The Big Lie’s smoking gun. CNN, Politico, MSNBC, Newsweek, The Hill, and many other news sources had headlines this week that were some variation of this one, from CNN:

“Lawmakers consulted psychiatrist about Trump”

The obvious message being conveyed: lawmakers—not just Democrats, but Republicans too!—are worried enough about the President’s mental health that they called in an expert to “brief” them. (“Lawmakers briefed by Yale psychiatrist on Trump’s mental health: report”—The Hill.) This is misleading, dishonest, and factually false—truly fake news. The Weekly Standard, hardly a reflex pro-Trump publication, revealed how false it all was. The story began…

On Wednesday night, before Washington was completely consumed by Michael Wolff’s West Wing tell-all, Politico published a piece feeding into a different frenzy: the notion that Congress was concerned President Trump might be mentally unfit for office. The article, titled “Washington’s growing obsession: The 25th amendment,” claims that more than a dozen lawmakers—all Democrats, with the exception of one nameless Republican senator—attended private briefings in early December with a Yale psychiatry professor to discuss Trump’s mental health. The most interesting detail of the story, of course, was that one rebellious Republican senator had met with Dr. Bandy Lee to discuss her belief that Trump is unfit to serve as commander-in-chief. Politico reported that Lee refused to name the GOP lawmaker she claimed to have had a meeting with.

The reporter, Haley Bird, investigated and…

  • …”was unable to confirm that any Republican Senator actually met with the Yale professor.”
  •  “In an on-the-record phone call with TWS Saturday afternoon, Lee admitted her “meeting” with a Republican senator was not actually scheduled and that it was, in her own words, “accidental.” “The meeting happened—it wasn’t arranged in advance,” she said. “It was accidental. It was incidental, I will say. It was incidental.”

That means that she was not summoned  to “brief” worried Republican lawmakers. It was not a “meeting” is the way the word is routinely used by the news media in political matters. The word is not generally construed to mean “the bumped into each other and had a chat.” Nor is “consulted”  used to describe spontaneous questions in a chance encounter.

The media reporting here was pure hype, blowing an informal. chance meeting—in the hall?–with the unethical psychiatrist who has been unethically diagnosing Trump from afar all year long–into news. That’s propaganda in service of the Big Lie. This was not a bipartisan inquiry into a matter of state. Lee was invited to a partisan meeting of Democrats to determine if she could assist with Plan E, removing the President because of an inability to perform his duties.

5. Let’s meet the primary Ethics Dunce in the Big Lie plot,Yale psychiatry professor Bandy Lee.  She has been claiming for over a year  that Trump is mentally impaired and unfit to serve. Her primary evidence are his tweets. This is because she has never examined him, met him, or had first hand knowledge about any aspect of his conduct or behavior. Because so many Democratic and progressive professionals were moved to violate their ethics codes out of animus to Trump and fealty to the Democratic Party, the head of the American Psychiatric Association handed down this edict in August of 2016:

“Since 1973, the American Psychiatric Association and its members have abided by a principle commonly known as “the Goldwater Rule,” which prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on someone they have not personally evaluated. The rule is so named because of its association with an incident that took place during the 1964 presidential election. During that election, Fact magazine published a survey in which they queried some 12,356 psychiatrists on whether candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater, the GOP nominee, was psychologically fit to be president. A total of 2,417 of those queried responded, with 1,189 saying that Goldwater was unfit to assume the presidency.

While there was no formal policy in place at the time that survey was published, the ethical implications of the Goldwater survey, in which some responding doctors even issued specific diagnoses without ever having examined him personally, became immediately clear. This large, very public ethical misstep by a significant number of psychiatrists violated the spirit of the ethical code that we live by as physicians, and could very well have eroded public confidence in psychiatry… I can understand the desire to get inside the mind of a Presidential candidate. I can also understand how a patient might feel if they saw their doctor offering an uninformed medical opinion on someone they have never examined. A patient who sees that might lose confidence in their doctor, and would likely feel stigmatized by language painting a candidate with a mental disorder (real or perceived) as “unfit” or “unworthy” to assume the Presidency.

Simply put, breaking the Goldwater Rule is irresponsible, potentially stigmatizing, and definitely unethical.”

Got that? Lee just defied her profession’s standards. During the campaign, she continued to diagnose Trump without his consent or an in-person examination. She justified doing so on the grounds that she is “obligated to break them in times of emergency.” Do I really have to recite all of the rationalizations this transparently disingenuous  excuse employs? Oh, all right…

8A. The Dead Horse-Beater’s Dodge, or “This can’t make things any worse”
13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”
24. Juror 3’s Stand (“It’s My Right!”)
25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!”
28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”
30. The Prospective Repeal: “It’s a bad law/stupid rule”
31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now”
40. The Desperation Dodge or “I’ll do anything!”
45. The Abuser’s License: “It’s Complicated”
58. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!”
59. The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do”

She continued to breach professional ethics standards after the election,  earning a book deal that spawned  “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” So much for objective, unconflicted, professional analysis. She saw a niche and an audience, and grabbed it.

Lee herself said in an interview that she was a “pariah” at her department  Lee’s book, which came out October 3, expanded on her rationalizations by arguing that psychiatrists have a “duty to warn” the country about President Trump. In response to the book, the APA issued another statement reaffirming the importance of the Goldwater Rule standard “not to provide professional opinions in the media about the mental health of someone they have not personally examined and without patient consent or other legal authority.” It also debunked Lee’s “duty to warn” argument, saying,

 “The APA would also like to dispel a common misconception about the so-called ‘Duty to Warn.’ The duty to warn is a legal concept which varies from state to state, but which generally requires psychiatrists to breach the confidentiality of the therapeutic session when a risk of danger to others becomes known during treatment of the patient. It does not apply if there is no physician-patient relationship.”

She is an unethical professional by her own profession’s standards.

6. The Ethics Dunce’s Unethical Quotes Of The Month. In a jaw-dropping interview with Vox that is  signature significance for Anti-Trump Derangement, Lee says, among other things:

“It would be hard to find a single psychiatrist, no matter of what political affiliation, who could confidently say Trump is not dangerous.”

Yes, and that would be because they couldn’t confidently or ethically make any assertions without actually examining him. Moreover, “dangerous” is not a term of art, and in a political context, which is how Lee is speaking, it is subjective and ambiguous. The Left thinks Trump is dangerous because he chooses to be tough with North Korea.

“On the other hand, in the book we have as authors Phil Zimbardo, Judith Herman, and Robert Jay Lifton, who are notable not only for their contributions to mental health but for their amazing ethical record. These are living legends who have also stood on the right side of history, even when it was difficult, and they stand as beacons for me. No one matches their moral and professional authority, in my mind.”

She defends her unethical conduct because others have breached the same standards. (#1 Everybody Does it, #32. The Unethical Role Model)!

I’m a fan of Philip Zimbardo’s writings, but to say that the man who engineered the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment has an “amazing ethical record” shows selective attention. Zimbardo himself declared that his experiment was unethical! Then, as a blatant tell,  Lee uses “the right side of history,”  Rationalization 1B:

1B. The Psychic Historian, or “I’m On The Right Side Of History”

This especially arrogant and annoying rationalization is essentially “Everybody’s going to do it.”  It is an intellectually dishonest argument, indeed no argument at all. Every movement, every dictator, Nazis, Communists, ISIS, the Klan, activists for every conceivable policy across the ideological spectrum, think their position will be vindicated eventually. In truth, they have no idea whether it will or not, or if it is, for how long. If history teaches anything, it is that we have no idea what will happen and what ideas and movements will prevail. “I’m on the right side of history is nothing but the secular version of “God is on our side,” and exactly as unprovable.

We have heard this rationalization a lot during the escalating culture wars. It is a device to sanctify one’s own beliefs while mocking opposing views, evoking an imaginary future that can neither be proven or relied upon. Nor is there any support for the assertion that where history goes is intrinsically and unequivocally good or desirable. Are millions of aborted babies a year “right”? Is the constantly increasing percentage of children born to unmarried couples “right”?

Those who resort to “I’m on the right side of history” (or “You’re on the wrong side”) are telling us that they have run out of honest arguments.

With this she he also proves that hers is a political position, not an honest, objective professional one.

Those who most require an evaluation are the least likely to submit to one. That is the reason why in all 50 states we have not only the legal authority, but often the legal obligation, to contain someone even against their will when it’s an emergency. So in an emergency, neither consent nor confidentiality requirements hold. Safety comes first. What we do in the case of danger is we contain the person, we remove them from access to weapons, and we do an urgent evaluation. This is what we have been calling for with the president based on basic medical standards of care.

Surprisingly, many lawyer groups have actually volunteered, on their own, to file for a court paper to ensure that the security staff will cooperate with us. But we have declined, since this will really look like a coup, and while we are trying to prevent violence, we don’t wish to incite it through, say, an insurrection.

Gee, you certainly wouldn’t want it to LOOK like a coup….

KABOOM!

That this astoundingly unethical and unprofessional, hyper-partisan academic radical can be the cornerstone of an effort by Democrats and the news media to overthrow a President just exploded my head, and my office looks like an abattoir. I have to take a break. Look for Part 3.

__________________________

Sources: Daily Caller, Vox

KABOOM! Brandeis Cancels A Play About Political Correctness Because Students And Faculty Protested That It Wasn’t Politically Correct

I do want to thank Curmie, our esteemed drop-in commenter who is a drama teacher and chronicler of ethics outrages from the world of education, for ambushing me with this head-exploding story from Brandeis University. And my head had been doing so well.

Playwright Michael Weller had received a Creative Arts Award from Brandeis, and when he wrote a  a play, “Buyer Beware,” that satirized the political climate on U.S. campuses the University scheduled it to make its premiere there. The satire concerns a student who discovers the works of  iconic 50s era comedian Lenny Bruce, and attempts to stage a  production in the spirit of the taboo-challenging comic. The production offends  students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Brandeis-like university, which worries that the controversy will offend a crucial donor. The script, channeling Bruce (think George Carlin but more abrasive, and not as funny) called for a white character to use “nigger” in several instances. The play quotes Bruce’s famous manifesto against strictures against mere words: “Imagine if we just kept saying these words over and over again, sooner or later they’d become meaningless noise.”

Without reading the script, it appears, so many students protested that Brandeis administrators, proving that their spines and principles were noodle-flexible, capitulated and cancelled the production, when the statements of the protesters should have made it obvious that such a play was desperately needed. For example, Andrew Childs is an Undergraduate Department Representative for the Theater Arts Department and a member of the season’s play selection committee, told the student newspaper,

“The issue we all have with it is that [Weller] is an older, straight…, able-bodied and white man. [ Wait! Isn’t it okay to be white?] It isn’t his place to be stirring the pot.”

What are they teaching at Brandeis? Only certain genders and races can “stir the pot”? Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: “The Stickering”

More than a dozen handmade stickers reading “It’s okay to be white” were posted around overnight in Harvard Square earlier as well as around the nearby Harvard Law School campus.

Law School Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells, who is black, wrote an email to law students in the wake of what Stephen King might call “The Stickering”:

“It seems likely that these anonymous postings, made in the middle of the night, were provocations intended to divide us from one another HLS will not let that happen here. We live, work, teach, and learn together in a community that is stronger, better, and deeper because of our diversity and because we encourage open, respectful, and constructive discourse”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Dayand watch your step!—is…

Do you think posting the stickers was unethical? Do you think the Dean’s response was responsible?

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