Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/8/2019, As Tumbleweeds Roll Through The Deserted Streets Of Ethics Alarms…

Is anybody out there?

1. What’s going on here? The AP deleted a tweet on September 5 tweet attributing the murders of Israeli athletes  to undefined “guerrillas.” Someone complained: it then tweeted, “The AP has deleted a tweet about the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics because it was unclear about who was responsible for the killings and referred to the attackers as guerrillas. A new tweet will be sent shortly.” Finally, this was the tweet decided upon:

“On Sept. 5, 1972, the Palestinian group Black September attacked the Israeli Olympic delegation at the Munich Games, killing 11 Israelis and a police officer. German forces killed five of the gunmen.”

2. Wait: ARE there really “AI ethicists,” or just unethical ethicists grabbing a new niche by claiming that they are any more qualified for this topic than anyone else?

From the Defense Systems website:

After a rash of tech employee protests, the Defense Department wants to hire an artificial intelligence ethicist. “We are going to bring on someone who has a deep background in ethics,” tag-teaming with DOD lawyers to make sure AI can be “baked in,” Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, who leads the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, told reporters during an Aug. 30 media briefing.

The AI ethical advisor would sit under the JAIC, the Pentagon’s strategic nexus for AI projects and plans, to help shape the organization’s approach to incorporating AI capabilities in the future. The announcement follows protests by Google and Microsoft employees concerned about how the technology would be used — particularly in lethal systems — and questioning whether major tech companies should do business with DOD.

I’m hoping that the Defense Department isn’t doing this, as the article implies, because some pacifist, anti-national defense techies at Microsoft complained. [Pointer: Tom Fuller]

3. Campus totalitarians gonna totalitary!  University of Michigan students and alumni aare demanding that the University to sever ties with real estate developer Stephen M. Ross , who is the largest donor in the University’s history. This would presumably include removing his name from  Ross School of Business, which he substantially funded. (His name is on other buildings as well) Did Ross rape women willy-nilly? Has he been shown to be racist? No, he held  a re-election fundraiser for the President of the United States. Continue reading

Amnesty International Forfeits The Right To Be Taken Seriously Thanks To It’s Anti-American Hackery

I swear, I thought this was the Babylon Bee:

Not that it is the first time this organization has allowed its political agenda to distort its stated mission, but this is especially outrageous.  Here’s another highlight:

“Depending on the traveler’s gender identity, race, country of origin, ethnic background, or sexual orientation, they may be at higher risk of being targeted with gun violence, and should plan accordingly.”

Read the whole thing: Amnesty International doesn’t like the Second Amendment.

Now we can firmly deposit another once-respectable  organization in the dark box containing teh sullied reputations of once beneficial non-profits that have disgraced themselves by being co-opted by partisan politics and/or anti-American agendas. Keeping Amnesty International company will be the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Nobel Peace Prize, the American Bar Association,  the NAACP, and the United Nations, among other lesser lights.

It is increasingly clear to me that under the category of trust, the most crucial ethical value is integrity. Tragically, that appears to be the single value organizations today seem most incapable of maintaining.

Saturday Ethics Review, 7/13/2019: The Uncomfortable Truth About “The Lion King,” The Green New Deal, Children At the Border, Blackface, And Harvey Weinstein

Hi!

Is it unethical for an ethics speaker to drop trow during a program? I think so. It was a situation I narrowly avoided this morning. I am a rather animated speaker, and after I slammed the D.C. ethics rules into the floor to illustrate a point, my effort to retrieve the volume resulted in the rear snap of my galluses pulling loose from the back of my pants. With an unpantsing imminent (and about to be streamed live to hundreds), I asked my moderator to come down from his platform and rescue me by reclipping the devices on, which he did.

Hilarity ensued.

1. “Asshole” ethics. In another episode today, I referred to Harvey Weinstein as an “asshole,” in the context of discussing the multiple David Bois ethics problems in handling the Hollywood mogul’s representation. The exact statement was “Even assholes deserve competent representation.” This came closely after I had mentioned that lawyer incivility was an ethics problem whether there were explicit rules against it or not. One of the attendees in cyber-space texted a query as to whether it was uncivil for me to use the term “asshole.”

I answered that I was reminded of the moment in  “1776” when one of the members of the Continental Congress challenges Thomas Jefferson’s use of the term “tyrant” to describe King George. Is it really necessary, Jefferson is asked, to use such a harsh word? Why resort to an insult? “Because the King is a tyrant,” Tom replies.

I went on to say that I have found that in certain situations, only certain harsh words are sufficiently accurate.  What should I call Harvey, a miscreant? A jerk? No, the man is an asshole, I said. I’m not using the term as an ad hominem attack, but as the most accurate term I can think of for someone who has done the things he has done to so many women while indicating no remorse at all. I do not use the term indiscriminately, and would not use it in certain forums, such as open court. But I do not believe in word taboos, and when the description, however harsh, fits, it is not uncivil to make a Harvey Weinstein wear it.

2. Now, what’s the right word for THIS? In the Washington Post,  Dan Hassler-Forest reflects on the themes of “The Lion King” and asserts that the lions, hyenas, and gazelles are “stand ins for human societal organizations” and that the themes of the movie “incorporates the white supremacist’s worldview.” Hassler-Forest is an author and public speaker on “media franchises, cultural theory, and political economy” who works as assistant professor in the Media Studies department of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. “No matter how you look at it, this is a film that introduces us to a society where the weak have learned to worship at the feet of the strong,” his article asserts. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/14/19: Tlaib And Kavanaugh.

Good morning,

I hope…

1 Social Q’s ethics. I’m whomping the advice columnist in the Ethics Alarms poll regarding whether complimenting someone on weight loss can be reasonably taken as offensive by the object of praise. Looking at the same column, I have decided that Mr. Gallanes was just having a bad day. Another inquirer complained that he sleeps with her bedroom window open, and is often awakened in the morning when the next door neighbor takes his dog out for a 5 am walk, a ritual, she says, that is always preceded by his “disgusting” coughing. The advice columnist suggested that she ask him to do his disgusting coughing inside. Yeah, THAT will go over well. If you insist on leaving your window open, you have no standing to protest sounds that would not be heard if you kept it closed. Given the choice between waking one’s spouse with the morning hacking that most men of a certain age can identify with, and getting all the morning phlegm up while walking the dog, the latter is the wiser and more ethical choice.

2. Supreme Court ethics and pro-abortion fear-mongering.

a.) Somehow it was reported as news akin to squaring the circle that Justice Kavanaugh joined with the four typically liberal justices in a 5-4 ruling yesterday that left Thomas, Gorsuch, Roberts and Alito licking their wounds. This is non-news. It was a dishonest partisan smear on Kavanaugh to suggest that he would be a mindless puppet in lock-step with conservatives on every issue. Justices consider cases in good faith, and the fact that their judicial philosophies make some decisions predictable doesn’t mean, as non-lawyer, non-judge, political hacks seem to think, that they will not judge a case on its merits rather than which “side” favors a particular result.

b) Kavanaugh did join the conservative justices in a ruling that overturned a 1979 case in which the Court had allowed a citizen of one state to sue another state. This decision, being a reversal of an older case, immediately prompted the publication of fear-mongering op-ed pieces warning that the evil Court conservatives, having re-read and enjoyed “The Handmaiden’s Tale,” were slyly laying the ground for a Roe v. Wade reversal with a case that had nothing whatsoever to do with abortion. Don’t you see? Stare decisus is the SCOTUS tradition that older cases will generally not be overturned by later Courts, lest Constitutional law be seen as unstable and too fluid to rely on. Garbage. Stare decisus has never been an absolute bar to reversing a wrongly decided case, so no new affirmation of that fact is necessary. In addition, the case overturned yesterday was a relatively obscure case that seldom comes into play, exactly the kind of case in which a reversal is minimally disruptive. Roe, on the other hand, has become a foundation of supporting law and social policy. That doesn’t mean it can’t be overturned, but it does mean that the protection of stare decisus is strong. Continue reading

Oh, I Can’t Let THIS Pass! Unethical Quote Of The Week: White House Correspondents’ Association President Olivier Knox

“February 2017 is when the President called us the enemy of the people. A few days later my son asked me, ‘Is Donald Trump going to put you in prison?’”

Olivier Knox at last week’s White House Correspondents Dinner.

At the same dinner, “entertainment” Ron Chernow—will he trade in his historian gig for stand-up? I can see it now—Laugh with the Hysterical Hystorian!—said in one of his funnier lines,

“H.L. Mencken once warned of a political system that would ‘keep the populace alarmed by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.’ We simply cannot allow the press to become an imaginary hobgoblin exploited for political gain.”

Great irony, Ron! The press has just completed nearly three years of trying to frighten the public by claiming that the President stole the election and is a Russian agent, but it’s the President who is alarming the public with “an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.'” HAHAHAHAHAHA! Good one!

Well, as someone who has written some comedy routines, I agree that it’s important to know your audience. In this case, that means knowing your audience is smug, arrogant, lacks self-awareness, and afflicted with permanent delusions of virtue.

But back to Knox. The device he stooped to use is known (here)as the Amy Carter Maneuver, when an adult places words in his child’s mouth for dramatic effect. Surely you recall Jimmy Carter’s infamous gaffe in his debate with Ronald Regan, when he said,  “I had a discussion with my daughter, Amy, the other day, before I came here, to ask her what the most important issue was. She said she thought nuclear weaponry — and the control of nuclear arms.”  Amy was 13, and most viewers found the device nauseating. Continue reading

Unethical, Damning And Revealing: “Can Peer Pressure Defeat Trump?”

That was the title of an essay in the New York Times Review section a couple of weeks ago. I took a while to get around to reading it, because it was authored by Amy Chozick, the Times journalist who wrote “Chasing Hillary,” an extended mea culpa for contributing to Hillary Clinton’s ‘s defeat by actually reporting the news. I don’t really care what someone capable of writing that thinks, but in this case, she is revealing the frightening, fascist, ends-justify-the means and power-at-any-cost mind-set of her colleagues, her party, the “resistance,” and those Facebook friends of mine who gang-attack me any time I point out that their Trump hate has eaten their brains, ethics, and respect for democracy.

“We are intensely social creatures and need to situate ourselves inside the collective,”she quotes  a professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University as telling her. From that Amy—can I call you Amy?—endorses the use of “peer pressure” —gentle, of course!—to make sure the President she and all decent people detest is defeated. Her title is itself a form of peer pressure, since she assumes that defeating Trump is what “everybody” wants, “everybody” meaning the Good People, like her. And Hillary.

I’m sorry, I threw up in my mouth there and had a giggling fit. I’m OK now.

I taught my son to ignore peer pressure, conventional wisdom, going along with the crowd, going along to get along, and caring so much about who likes you that you surrender your mind and soul. I was taught the same lessons by my relentlessly contrary, idealistic father, who drove my mother to distraction by quitting one job after another when he felt he was being asked to take part in activities he believed were wrong. He suffered for this proclivity, as have I on occasion, and as has my son already at the tender age of 24. But none of us were or are inclined to do what someone else wants us to do because of threats, shaming, mobs of advocates, mass news media propaganda, or social media bullying.

For that is what Chozick is advocating, the strategy we have been seeing since that fateful day in November of 2016 when sufficient voters decided electing a true outsider and an obnoxious one at that was the perfect way to send an indelible message to the arrogant Leftist Elite who just assumed that their dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and contempt for democracy and American values didn’t matter to the public any more.

As I wrote at the time, it was a defiant gesture akin to the decision of Delta House to destroy the homecoming parade of the college that had expelled them. Otter says,” I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!” Sometimes the bad guys just can’t be allowed to win, and Americans. thank God, are still ready to say “Fuck you!” to people who think they can order them around. Yes, electing Trump was a surprising, but much deserved, “Fuck you!”

Of the many, many unexpected benefits of Trump’s election (along with many expected deficits) , perhaps the most important has been the crazed Left’s open revelation that it has no principles whatsoever, closely followed by the completely corrupt news media’s self-impeachment. The opposition to the President—how dare he defeat Hillary, when it was time to elect a female President?—has been an escalating series of anti-democratic, indeed totalitarian tactics. The “resistance’s” violent ally, the antifa, began attacking Trump supporters during the inauguration, a fair imitation of Brown Shirts even as the “resistance” was calling the President a Nazi. That Big Lie has persisted, as have many others, most of which are false projections on Trump.of conduct that Democrats and progressives have, shockingly, adopted as their own.

They have made it clear that they do not believe men should have the rights of due process and presumed innocence, but Trump is the gender bigot . (He is, but just personally, not in his policies) With barely a wisp of proof, they state as fact that Trump is a racist, while aggressively promoting anti-white bias in their schools, colleges, and the news media. Their house historians and scholars assemble slanted and deceitful arguments to accuse the President of “breaching Democratic norms” while Democrats and their leaders have trashed one essential system-bolstering tradition and norm after another. They refused to accept the verdict of the election. They have sought to manufacture justifications for impeachment in the absence of any conduct that meets the Constitutional standard. They have, in fact, called for impeachment purely because they don’t think Trump is “fit to be President,” ignoring, and trying to alter the fact that our system makes the people the arbiter of that issue, not the election’s bitter losers.

They used high school conduct and an unsubstantiated accusation to try to defeat the President’s SCOTUS nominee; they have used obscene language and vile insults that were previously taboo to diminish him; they have attacked the President while he was representing the nation on foreign soil; they have even made it impossible for him to fulfill the unifying symbolic functions of the office, like presiding over the Kennedy Center Honors, appearing at the White House Correspondent’s dinner,  or throwing out the first pitch in a baseball game. They have weaponized the news media as a partisan force, as demonstrated by the one-way focus of CNN and other news sources.

But it’s the President who is dangerously breaching “norms.” Amazingly, many people believe this, because their peer group is saying it’s so loudly and meanacingly, or because they are not especially attentive, knowledgeable, or bright.

Perhaps the most relentless and despicable of the Big Lies emanating from the hate-filled Left is the constant fear-mongering. Since everything did not go to hell under President Trump as “the resistance” was telling us it would (an otherwise smart Massachusetts lawyer, a single mother, told me in December 2016 that she was “terrified” that her toddler son was doomed.) Every day, every single day, I hear interviews by celebrities and read everything from movie reviews to cooking features in which someone casually throws in a reference to how anxious everyone is and how we are in a crisis of existential proportions.

This week, Nick Kristof, always a hard-left scold but now apparently completely infected by the fact-free anti-Trump madness of New York Times colleagues like David Leonardt, Paul Krugman and Charles M. Blow, actually wrote a disgraceful op-ed headlined, We Will Survive. Probably.: American democracy is too resilient for Trump to destroy.”

This is propaganda, not opinion. The only threats to Democracy posed during the first three years of the Trump administration have been the loss of fair, objective and honest news reporting, and the Democratic Party’s ongoing effort to overthrow the President.

Such unconscionable distortions of reality are the catalyst for the “peer pressure” that Chozick endorses. Almost every day, there is a story of one of Chozick’s compatriots attacking someone, sometimes a child , for wearing a MAGA cap. Here’s a recent sampling:

  • “Martin County bus aide offended by MAGA hat grabs it off head of 14-year-old boy”
  • MAGA-hat wearing teen claims California high school wouldn’t permit her to wear hat

  • High school student charged with assaulting classmate wearing MAGA hat, Trump banner

That’s the kind of “peer pressure” that Chozick is endorsing, the gentle examples in her essay notwithstanding, because she knows that that’s what her fellow progressives are doing and have been doing, and it’s not “gentle”: using threats, fear, shaming, and majority pressure to make people do what the mobs–the “peers”—want them to do, or else. Or else we won’t like you, or else we won’t include you, or else we’ll conclude you’re a racist/sexist/ homophobic person who likes seeing children shot/ mean bastard who doesn’t think starving children in South America should have a better life who’s taking marching orders fro Fox New and Sean Hannity.

The peer pressure she is extolling is intimidation. It is a totalitarian strategy, not a democratic one. The Trump-hating hysterics can’t persuade because their position is built on Big Lies, fear, emotion, bias, and historical ignorance. If they can’t persuade us to agree with them, and we are independent enough to see through the lies, then they will try to force us. Hurt us, if necessary.

You know. “Peer pressure.”

 

Unethical Op-Ed Of The Year: “Time To Panic” By David Wallace-Wells

Just in time to lay a foundation for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s hysterical and hilarious “Green New Deal,” the New York Times’ February 16 Sunday Review section devoted its front page entirely to an essay by David Wallace-Wells called “Time to Panic.” It is, of course, about climate change. The Times presented it on a scary red background, with an illustration of someone peaking through their fingers, as if they were watching a tense moment in a horror movie. (I actually do that, sometimes.)

The article is afear-mongering piece that extols fear-mongering, so it basically disqualifies its own credibility. The author’s credibility? It’s a mystery: I spent about 20 minutes on Google trying to determine what Wallace’s background is, and failed. The Times just says that he is an author, and has a whole book coming out, “The Uninhabitable Earth,” from which this junk is adapted. Various bios I could track downonly say that he is a “non-fiction writer”–I don’t know about that. So I’m going to assume that he is just a journalist who has adopted climate change as his hobby horse, and it seems to be working out for him. Since he’s not trained as a scientist–presumably if he had any actual independent technical understanding of climate science he would be waving that credential—we know that like Al Gore, Ocasio-Cortez and whichever Kennedy it is who want to lock up climate change “deniers,” his understanding of the topic is entirely second hand: he chooses to believe reports and summaries of scientific research that he  doesn’t know enough to critically evaluate. We also know that, like Gore and Ocasio-Cortez, who has floated the theory that the earth has only 12 more years before becoming Hell, he believes in hyping and over-stating in order to motivate the public. He says so outright: Continue reading