Nicki Minaj Madness Continues As Harvard Gives Me Another Reason To Skip My Class Reunion…

Harvard Minaj

Who would have predicted that a nasal-voiced Trinidad rapper’s ridiculous explanation that her cousin’s friend’s swollen testicles were why she was unvaccinated against the Wuhan virus would bind together Joy Reid, the CDC, The White House, Twitter, “The View,” the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and Harvard College in public controversies highlighting the Totalitarian Left’s increasingly ominous enthusiasm for curtailing free speech?

And yet here we are, because the United States of America has lost its collective mind, with progressives and Democrats leading the madness. For the third Ethics Alarms post in three days about a celebrity I would normally ignore, we have this addition to the Nicki Minaj Affair: a Harvard undergrad using the Twitter handle @imjustjuice tweeted two weeks ago that he and his suitemates had been contacted by Harvard authorities and told to remove from their window a flag showing an unusually restrained Minaj saluting in front of Old Glory. (I missed this story at the time because, as noted above, I pay no attention to Minaj. I also pay increasingly little to my alma mater, which regularly disgraces itself.) The latest example of Harvard’s abuse of common sense, civil rights, authority and ethics sat relatively unnoticed until Swollen Testiclegate erupted, but now we learn that Minaj fans have unleashed their fury on America’s oldest, most prestigious and, of late, most obnoxious university.

Good.

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Tuesday Afternoon Ethics Tunes, 6/8/21: The Mean Fundraiser, And More

Quite a while ago—I’m afraid to check—I asked readers to submit nominees for popular songs with an ethics theme or lesson. Lorne Greene’s one hit recording ( his vocal version of the “Bonanza” song did not fly off the shelves) was “Ringo,” a pretty blatant rip-off of Jimmy Dean’s “Big John,” was one of the first on the list. I received quite a few suggested songs but events overtook me, and I never finished the project. It is in a growing list of promised future content that I have yet to deliver, including missing parts to multi-part posts. I apologize to readers for all of them, but I also intend to make good on all of them, though the ethics songs compilation is understandably low priority. I was happy to finally finish the Ethics Guide to “Miracle on 34th Street” after it languished for a year. The top priorities on the catch-up list right now are Part II of Three Ethics Metaphors: The Rise, The Presidency And The Fall Of Donald J. Trump—that will be on the “Animal House” parade plot metaphor for Trump’s election—and, of course, the long-delayed Part III of The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear.

Back to Lorne: I met him once, on a Santa Monica beach. He was in swimming trunks, and with his family, extremely friendly, tanned and wearing his hairpiece, which was fantastic. Like several other stars I have met in person, Greene was so strikingly attractive that he would make anyone turn their heads on a street even if you had no idea who he was. Unlike most of the others, he appeared to be a genuinely nice guy.

1. Proud to be off Twitter, Reason #569: After Twitter received notice of its noncompliance with India’s information technology laws, demanding that the company remove content critical of the government’s handling of the pandemic and about farmers’ protests, including tweets by journalists, activists and politicians, Twitter pulled itself up to its full metaphorical height, puffed itself up like blowfish, and protested in part, “We are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve.”

Twitter actually said that it cares about freedom of expression! Then, last week, after Nigeria blocked Twitter, it had the gall to tweet…

Twitter Nigeria

This, from the platform that censored the Hunter Biden laptop story and banned President Trump. The Hanlon’s Razor question of whether these are bad people or just stupid people now becomes irrelevant. It’s unethical to operate a powerful communications platform when you are so stupid.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: Snap Out Of It!

This morning, instead of the usual grainy 1930’s movies TCM usually shows before noon, it was featuring “Casablanca” for some reason. It’s a good thing, because the recent news had me heading for the bridge. As usual, the legendary singing duel at Ric’s between the Nazis and the French put me in a defiant mood, so I decided it was a good time to bring back the incredible Mirielle Mathiue and one of her signature performances of “La Marseillaise.” I’m a big fan of “The Star Spangled Banner,” but as inspiring national anthems go, this is the gold standard.

Now I feel better, and will at least until I finish this post.

1. You want racial conflict? This is how you get racial conflict. One benefit of the warm-up format is that I can write as little as possible about things that would make me up-chuck if I had to compose full posts about them. Following on the “systemic racism” myth, Oakland, California is launching a guaranteed income experiment called Oakland Resilient Families. 600 families in the city will receive $500-a-month payments over the next 18 months “to eliminate racial wealth inequalities.” Oakland’s guaranteed income program is only for low-income black, indigenous, and people of color, or BIPOC, families.

Whites cannot apply. If Oakland’s whites are poor, they have no excuses. They are just lazy, useless losers, I guess.

Families must apply online in the coming weeks and months in order to enter a pool of potential recipients, from which eligible families will be randomly selected to receive the cash payments.

I don’t have to explain what’s unethical about this, do I? Or what’s stupid about it? Or irresponsible?

In related news, a Kentucky mother is in custody on murder charges after her 2-year-old son overdosed on fentanyl while she slept. She had bought the drug with her stimulus money.

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Sunday Ethics Reflections, 6/28/2020: For The Defense….

Greetings from the Ethics Alarms bunker…

1. I’m current reflecting on a personal and professional ethics conflict. A colleague and long-time professional competitor—I would never call him a friend—has been ousted from his leadership position in the very successful organization he founded as a result of unproven allegations of sexual harassment and assault. It was a “believe all victims” situation, as well as what feels like a successful coordinated effort to “get” someone who had accumulated a lot of enemies, resentment and envy in a notoriously nasty industry once his power was waning.

On one hand, I feel like I should reach out to him and offer my guidance and support (as an ethicist and sexual harassment trainer, not a lawyer, and gratis, of course). On the other, I am pretty certain that he is guilty of at least some of what has been alleged, based on confidential accounts I have recently heard from reliable sources. Ethically, however, his ousting (it appears that he was given the option of “retiring”) lacked due process and fairness, and the organization was guided by public relations motives rather than legal or ethical ones.

Whose side should I be on?

2. Stop making me defend Facebook! As if there wasn’t enough to worry about, the aggressive pandering mode of corporations right now is being exploited by would-be censors of political speech. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced updated election policies and stricter “hate speech” rules in response to employee protests and pressure from activists, whose transparent objective is to silence or constrict any political views antithetical progressive positions and goals. In a message last week, Zuckerberg  outlined plans to police disinformation relating to voting and elections, to flag certain content that risked triggering violence (I wonder what  that standard is like today?) and concluded,

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Researchers Claim That Supporting Free Speech Is A Marker Of Intelligence. Whatever That Means.

I bet a really smart person wrote this. Maybe Chris Cuomo!

A group of studies reported today supposedly demonstrate that  support free speech is strongly  correlated with intelligence and “cognitive ability.”

Observations:

  • If true, there sure are a lot of unintelligent people taking control of society and the culture right now.
  • The study’s definition of intelligence is based on IQ scores, which are blunt measures of intelligence at best. Since it is well-known that the inventor of IQ scores violently objected to the  test being used to measure above average intelligence when the device was designed to measure sub-normal cognitive ability, the fair definition of what the IQ test measures is that it measures what the IQ  test measures. I spend much of every day reading allegedly brilliant people’s astounding opinions and  analysis on every topic imaginable.  They may have high IQ’s, but their reasoning is derailed by ideology, ego, bias and rationalizations. One of the many revelations I have come to accept over the years is that intelligence is an unfathomably complex concept, and I understand it less today than I thought I did  when I was 18.
  • Worse than the dubious non-definition of “cognitive ability” is the vagueness of “free speech.” Is someone  supportive of “free speech” when they support the  punishment for someone daring to utter an opinion that doesn’t conform to mob cant as shunning, firing, and perpetual hostility? What about those cognitively gifted individuals who have decided that “hate speech,” as they define it, of course, isn’t covered by the freedom of speech? The smart people who run the Washington Post decided to doxx a woman who wore a politically incorrect Halloween costume at a private party two years ago . They claim that  “democracy dies in darkness,” which is lip service to free speech. Do we judge them on their stated beliefs , or their actions? How does the study  categorize those intelligent people who want to make it as difficult as possible for those they disagree with to have their opinions read and heard, by persuading social media to ban or block them, for example? How many people, because they are so darn smart, use lawyerly distinctions to justify non-government censorship as not offensive to “free speech” as defined in the Constitution?
  • At least the researchers have the integrity to state their bias up front: “We expected that people with higher cognitive abilities would be more inclined to embrace the open exchange of ideas, wherein viewpoints can be scrutinized and challenged in order to foster informed decision making and knowledge.” This is confirmation bias, and the foe of any reliable research. What a surprise: they expected their research to find that intelligence correlated with belief in “free speech,” and it did! Continue reading

The Attacks On Free Speech From The Left Are More Dangerous Than Any Speech Progressives Want Banned

Another day, another progressive effort to erode pubic support and understanding for the First Amendment. This is at the root of America’s current ethics conflict: a perverse and puckish God has made one of the most unethical and least reflective of public figures  the crucial bulwark against a massed and relentless assault against core national values.

The New York Times, taking a hand-off from its ideological twin the New Yorker, has published an attack on free speech from New Yorker writer Andrew Marantz. Even though he is a professional writer, he has managed to complete an elite education (Brown, NYU School of Journalism) without managing to grasp the essence of freedom of speech, and why it is the structural load-bearing beam that allows our democracy to exist.

Marantz simply doesn’t get it, or he does get it, but would love to see less liberty and more enforced line-toeing by those lesser intellects and deplorables who cannot accept the inherent rightness of the progressive view of the universe. He writes, for example,

Using “free speech” as a cop-out is just as intellectually dishonest and just as morally bankrupt. For one thing, the First Amendment doesn’t apply to private companies. Even the most creative reader of the Constitution will not find a provision guaranteeing Richard Spencer a Twitter account. But even if you see social media platforms as something more akin to a public utility, not all speech is protected under the First Amendment anyway. Libel, incitement of violence and child pornography are all forms of speech. Yet we censor all of them, and no one calls it the death knell of the Enlightenment.

I guess Brown has no mandatory course in government theory.  The Constitution is the enabling document of the U.S. mission statement—you know, the one that begins by announcing that there are inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That such a governing document that could only limit government restrictions on free speech also stood for a cultural, societal and ethical norm that freedom of speech was central to the Declaration’s summary of human rights would normally be clear to anyone who bothered to study the two documents as well as research the relationship between law, morality and ethics. It’s true that Richard Spencer can’t be assured of a Twitter account, but a society that denies him one is chopping at that load-bearing beam. Continue reading

Ethics Alarms Flashback Post Of The Week: “Ethics Quiz: The Sensitive Cop’s Facebook Confession”

[A  while ago I wrote that I might periodically re-post one of the more than 2000 Ethics Alarms essays that have appeared here since 2009. The criteria? Let’s see:

  • A post that I have completely forgotten about, and don’t remember even after I’ve read it again.
  • A post that may be interesting to consider in light of subsequent developments since it was written (in this case,  social media posts triggering workplace discipline, and police-community relations)
  • A lively discussion in the comments.

I think this post, based on a find by now-retired Ethics Alarms super-scout Fred, qualifies on all counts. It’s from May of 2014.]

“If there was any time I despised wearing a police uniform, it was yesterday at the Capitol during the water rally. A girl I know who frequents the Capitol for environmental concerns looked at me and wanted me to participate with her in the event. I told her I have to remain unbiased while on duty at these events. She responded by saying, ‘You’re a person, aren’t you?’ That comment went straight through my heart!”

Thus did Douglas Day, a police officer at the West Virginia Capitol in Charleston, confess to Facebook friends his mixed emotions while doing his duty.

For this he was fired.

The day Day wrote his Facebook post, Capitol Police Lt. T.M. Johnson told him  that the post “shows no respect to the department, the uniform or the law enforcement community which he represents.”  About a week later, Sgt. A.E. Lanham Jr. wrote to Day that he “found the entire [Facebook] posting to be extremely offensive and shocking … This is just another episode of many incidents which show his bad attitude and lack of enthusiasm toward police work in general and toward our department in particular.”

Day was thunderstruck. “If they believed there was some sort of a violation I made, then why wasn’t it addressed? They never brought me in and never said anything to me,” Day said. “In 2½ years working there, I had no disciplinary action taken against me at any time. Nothing was ever written up and I received no reprimands.” So much for the “many incidents.” Continue reading

Bad Tweets

There are enough unethical, dumb, disturbing and occasionally  illuminating tweets from organizations and public figures every day to devote a whole blog to them; indeed, this is what Twitchy does, albeit with a strong conservative bias. I’m not going to make a habit of it, but these are too ethically provocative to pass up:

1. Here’s a tweet from conservative host and pundit Erick Erickson, a prominent NeverTrumper:

What does this even mean? The Constitution insists on free speech; how is the government enforcing Constitutional principles that ensure freedom, “not free’? The Executive Order he was reacting to only affects government-supported colleges and universities (obviously). Erickson is no idiot: this is Trump Derangement—if President Trump does it, it’s wrong— at its saddest. Combine that with Twitter, and the result is sadly predictable.

2. I don’t see how anyone can argue with Federalist editor Mollie Hemingway here, reacting to a tweet from CNN legal commentator (and Democrat) that is part of a general effort by the mainstream media to cushion the blow for “resistance” members when the Mueller report fails to show that President Trump had a traitorous deal with Russia to steal the election:

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Rainy Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/24/18: Bad Habits Edition

1. A bad habit, like picking your nose in public, but more harmful. At some point, when I’m back to feeling strong,  spiffy, and more or less immune to nausea, I am planning on posting an overview of the 2016 Post-Election Ethics Train Wreck, the major feature of which has been the Angry Left-sparked acceptance of denigrating our nation’s leader in personal terms on a daily basis. As I have found on social media, refusing to participate in this divisive and self-destructive national pastime gets you attacked, and calling attention to how wrong and stupid it is gets you accused of being a racist, a xenophobe, or worse, someone who takes orders from Sean Hannity.

Of late I’ve been randomly calling various social media fools on their bad habit; some are “friends,” some are “friends of friends.”  The news media literally presents a “let’s hate President Trump for this” item every day, and yesterday’s was that the President, indulging his peculiar trolling obsession, said that he was thankful for himself. ( I thought that was pretty funny, myself. If I were President and the news media refused to give me credit for what I was doing right and the policies that appeared to be working, I might make a similar assertion just to show that the barrage of endless, often unfair criticism wasn’t getting to me.) One Facebook friend posted the article, and the predictable pile-on transpired, with one creative soul writing, searching for a wave of “likes” so she would know that she had signaled her virtue sufficiently, wrote, “He is a self-centered boor!” I replied,

Why do you feel it is necessary to spew out ad hominem insults to the President of the United States on a regular basis? Are you just fishing for favor from the large majority of angry Trump-haters on Facebook? Yeah, he’s a self-centered boor, and this was evident, oh, ten years ago at least. The necessary number of your fellow citizens decided to elect him him President anyway, and the process is that those who disagree nonetheless respect the process and their fellow citizens and extend at least a minimal level of respect for the office. I’m not a Trump fan, to say the least, and I am a lifetime student of the Presidency and its occupants: in my assessment, Barack Obama was an utter failure as POTUS and a very damaging one as well. He was (and is) also an arrogant narcissist. This was also obvious early on, but I didn’t go on Facebook repeatedly to call him names.It has no positive effects to do so, and just unnecessarily makes civil discourse difficult.

2. Progressives are trying to do the same thing here through social media. From Bloomberg: Continue reading

“Dear Abby” And The Unusual Name Paradox [Updated]

The famous Hogg sisters, Ura and Ima.

Let’s begin with a related observation: The now widely accepted method of expressing disagreement with a point of view that varies from leftist (now, now, I use the term with love!) cant is to set out to destroy the point of view’s owner: after all, eliminate or intimidate all the dissenters and adversaries, and progressives no longer have to win  arguments on logic and merit. I know of what I speak: I am increasingly the target of social justice warriors (fascist division), who make formal complaints to my clients or administrative bodies when my ethical guidance doesn’t jibe with the world view their professors indoctrinated them with, thus precluding an open mind.

Thus I sympathize with “Dear Abby,” actually Daughter of Dear Abby Jeanne Phillips (also the niece of Ann Landers), who is now facing the progressive Twitter mob because she dared to opine that naming one’s baby Ifeoma, Bodhi or Laszlo might not be in the child’s long-term interests. “Not only can foreign names be difficult to pronounce and spell, but they can also cause a child to be teased unmercifully,” wrote Phillips. “Sometimes the name can be a problematic word in the English language. And one that sounds beautiful in a foreign language can be grating in English.”

The Horror. Now she is being called racist, and if her syndicate has the backbone and integrity of most organizations these days, which is to say none, she will probably be toast in a matter of weeks if not days. Writer Anand Giridharadas was among those interviewed for a Times story about Abby’s Outrage. “The reality is that a lot of this has to do not with names but with whiteness,” he said. “There are a lot of complicated names from Polish and Russian and Italian and German backgrounds that have become second nature to Americans.”

No, the issue is not “whiteness.” The questions in the ethical equation are…

Are you naming a child for your amusement, self-aggrandizement or political agenda, of for the child?

Is conduct consistent with cultural norms wise and respectful, or is it preferable to announce one’s defiance?

If data and experience shows that odd and unusual names create problems later in life, should responsible parents take that into consideration?

Is it fair and ethical to hang an unnecessary handicap on a child without that child’s approval?

What Phillips said is true. It’s that simple. People don’t like that it’s true, so they are condemning her. Continue reading