Anatomy Of An Ethics Train Wreck: The Amazon Warehouse “Nooses”

Amazon noose

Warning: reading this story is likely to make you feel hopeless. For this is what the hyper-racialization and resulting division of American society breeds, and it can only go in one direction from here. Hint: it will not be a direction that will lead anywhere good.

A brief summary:

  • In Windsor, Connecticut—I once spent a summer there!—Amazon contracted to have a warehouse built, with the promise of jobs and economic revitalization.
  • Over the past three months, workers building the Amazon warehouse claimed to have found nooses, or ropes that looked like nooses, or “noose-like” ropes at the construction site.
  • Protests have been organized by activists who have never seen the alleged nooses. Demands are being made for police to find and charge the noosemakers. The presence of the nooses, if they are nooses, is being called a “hate crime” by the local NAACP.
  • Local community activists have organized several demonstrations to demand that Amazon take stronger action to ensure the safety of Black construction workers. One such demonstration included members from the Huey P. Newton Gun Club and the New Black Panthers, who showed up at the construction site carrying guns. The armed activists said they were there to defend the Black workers and make them feel empowered to speak their mind.
  • Amazon and the other companies involved claim they have done everything they can. They have delayed construction twice, adding security (to protect workers from the nooses, apparently) and cameras at the site and putting up $100,000 in award money for anyone who can provide information about the nooses.
  • The police say their investigation has determined that there were only two nooses, with six others being  ropes with the kind of loop often used in construction projects.

Observations:

Continue reading

Rainy Monday Ethics, 11/30/2020: Statues, Dogs And Lies

Also getting me down, Karen Carpenter songs. As with great movies with O.J. Simpson or Gig Young in them, these are hard to enjoy now, at least for me. One of the most lovely natural voices in pop music history was silenced by the pernicious disease of anorexia, exacerbated by, among others, her brother, her family, and music industry executives, who made Carpenter so self-conscious about her weight and appearance that she slowly starved herself to death before her 33rd birthday. I wish I could hear her sing—and I will do that a lot in the days approaching Christmas—without thinking about that, but I can’t.

1. Proposition: any nation’s historical figures who had the impact on those nations that Margaret Thatcher did in Great Britain over a significant period of time deserve to be memorialized with statues, absent some cataclysmic disqualifying act, like Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Even in Nixon’s case, I would support a public memorial to such a historically influential figure.

In the English town of Grantham, where Thatcher grew up, an 11-foot pedestal awaits the arrival next year of a large statue of “the Iron Lady.” Apparently many in Britain, and a large proportion of Gratham’s working class residents, disapprove of Thatcher’s conservative politics and policies, and thus oppose the statue, which will be in immediate danger of toppling the minute it is erected.

Morons. One doesn’t have to personally agree with a historical figure’s position or even admire her to appreciate the impact that figure had. The criteria for memorializing prominent citizens should center on whether future generations need to know who they were and what they did, not whether their achievements and conduct are approved of according to often fleeting political, social and cultural values. Charles Moore, who wrote an authorized biography of Mrs. Thatcher, says, “It’s obvious there should be statues to Britain’s first woman prime minister. But…but…George Floyd! The New York Times’ article on the controversy says that statue toppling has become a world-wide phenomenon since the death of George Floyd. Now that makes sense: one of Great Britain’s most successful and important leaders should be robbed of her legitimate honors because a rogue cop accidentally contributed to the death of a black criminal in Minnesota.

Continue reading

Facebook, Meet The Slippery Slope. Slippery Slope, Facebook. Public, PAY ATTENTION!

censorship

This issue doesn’t need a lot of exposition—I hope, at least not among this enlightened and educated readership— but it is important.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday that his platform will now block posts and inks that argue that the Holocaust didn’t happen or has been exaggerated. , Facebook  is increasingly a taking action to undermine what it considers  conspiracy theories and misinformation, using the approaching U.S. presidential election as justification.

It isn’t. Facebook is too powerful a platform for public discourse and communication to engage in picking and choosing which opinions and assertions are worthy of being read and heard. In addition, Facebook is not objective, unbiased or trustworthy…or competent. I know this for a fact.

It bans Ethics Alarms. Case closed.

Holocaust survivors around the world have pushed Zuckerberg this summer to remove Holocaust denial posts from the social media site. The effort was coordinated by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which used Facebook itself to promote its suppression efforts, posting one video per day urging him to remove Holocaust-denying groups, pages and posts as “hate speech.”

Once again, and this also is a fact, what is labelled “hate speech” is too often a matter of bias on the part of the hate speech accusers.

Continue reading

Reddit’s Approach To Addressing “Systemic Racism”: Rig The Rules

I have  a larger post on this topic in the works, but Reddit’s recent actions deserve special exposure.

Yesterday, the platform banned the subreddit devoted to President Donald Trump based on what the company said was the influential subreddit’s repeated policy violations. A Reddit executive told reporters that the huge group allowed people to target and harass other people, and reddit does not believe in hate. “Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people,” Steve Huffman, the company’s chief executive, said. “‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that.”

Hate-hating Reddit also unveiled its new anti-hate policy yesterday, which is, the platform says, intended to protect groups from based on their race or color, religion, national origin, gender, identity, and sexual orientation, among others. Victims of “a major violent event” are also protected, as are their families.

However, “While the rule on hate protects such groups, it does not protect all groups or all forms of identity…For example, the rule does not protect groups of people who are in the majority or who promote such attacks of hate.” Continue reading

High Noon Ethics Showdown, 4/2/2020: Reality Dawns

Yyyyyyup!

Interestingly, the usually busy street bordering on our cul de sac looks just like this right now, except Gary Cooper isn’t anywhere to be seen…

1. What? The U.S. does NOT have more Wuhan virus cases than China? How can that be??? Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), hardly a knee-jerk Trump apologist, who sits on the Senate committee that deals with classified intelligence, said the Chinese Communist Party continues to lie about the death toll from the virus. He has said information he has viewed shows the United States does not surpass China in terms of deaths. This was obvious to anyone not actively trying to use the spread of the illness for partisan advantage, but it’s nice to have confirmation.

“The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false,” Sasse said yesterday. “Without commenting on any classified information, this much is painfully obvious: The Chinese Communist Party has lied, is lying, and will continue to lie about coronavirus to protect the regime. Beijing’s garbage propaganda shouldn’t be taken seriously by the World Health Organization, by independent journalists, or by the American epidemiologists who are going to beat this terrible virus.”

This, of course, further impugns the news media. Stephen Kruiser wrote,

“Every day, they find new ways to reinforce the “Enemy of People” status that they have been earning every day in the Trump era. They’ve routinely scolded anyone who accurately refers to the virus as being of Chinese origin, screaming “RACISM!” as if they were getting paid each time they uttered or typed the word. What has been most insidious has been the parroting of whatever China reports about the virus. Almost everyone in American media has been acting as ChiCom public relations lackeys, taking everything that the Chinese government says and passing it along without questioning any of it.”

Continue reading

KABOOM! How Does Someone This Ignorant Of The Law Rise To This Level Of Law Enforcement?

Oh, fine. I get up, still groggy, from a perfectly lovely nap, my defenses are down, I’m still savoring that dream where Mookie Betts, Chester A. Arthur and Danny Kaye drop by with some macaroons, and what is the first thing I read?

This–and

KA-BOOM!

There goes my head, all over my office and this transcript I have to read in ten minute increments because it’s so boring. Oh, thank you, thank you so much, City of Seattle and your  ridiculous Chief of Police, Carmen Best! Continue reading

Selective Censorship, Manipulation, Spin And Omissions By The News Media And Social Media: You Know It Will Only Get Worse

1.  Twitter has expanded its “hate speech” prohibitions, and not, I assume, for the last time.

Twitter announced that it has expanded its “hate speech’ policies to include tweets that make “dehumanizing remarks,” defined as remarks that treat “others as less than human,” on the basis of age, disability, or disease. These additions further enlarge on the company’s polices made last July that said Twitter would remove tweets that dehumanize religious groups. Before that, in 2018 , Twitter issued a broad ban on “dehumanizing speech” to compliment its existing hate speech policies that cover protected classes like race and gender.

This is the nose of a very dangerous camel entering the metaphorical tent. As always, the problem with “hate speech” prohibitions is that the “hate” is always  matter of subjective judgment. Censorship of any kind constrains expression, and as we head into a political campaign,  Twitter’s creeping policing of words and metaphors is ominous. You cannot trust these people to be even-handed, to make close calls, or to avoid acting on bias.

2. The threat is made worse because social media platforms allow both parties to “work the umpire,” encouraging  them to demand that Twitter, YouTube and Facebook take down tweets and posts that one or the other doesn’t like. Continue reading

Observations On The Washington Post Op-Ed, “Why America Needs A Hate Speech Law”

Richard Stengel, a frequent contributor on MSNBC, a former editor of Time magazine, and the  State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs in the Obama administration from 2013 to 2016 wrote this embarrassing, anti-free speech screed.

Observations:

1. In the past I have criticized newspapers and other publications for publishing irresponsible opinion pieces. This time, I want to thank and praise the Washington Post. Either intentionally or inadvertently, it has performed a public service by using its op-ed pages to expose the hypocrisy, intellectual bankruptcy, ethics ignorance and relentless totalitarian rot of their own ideological compatriots.

2. I might say the same about  Stengal, but he really seems to think that he is making a persuasive case. Imagine: a man whom President Obama  and his Democratic administration trusted as a high level State Department official  can make an argument like this…

Why shouldn’t the states experiment with their own version of hate speech statutes to penalize speech that deliberately insults people based on religion, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation?

Why, Richard? Oh, gee, I don’t know…maybe because “insult” is a completely subjective standard? Perhaps because Massachusetts, Vermont,California, and Oregon might decide that arguments against climate change cant is hate speech, like Holocaust denial? Maybe  because the 14th Amendment prohibits states from abridging the Bill of Rights? Continue reading

From The Anti-Freedom of Speech Files: UConn And The Connecticut Hate Speech Law

The University of Connecticut  chapter of the NAACP is circulating a video that  shows two students walking through a parking lot blithely shouting out “nigger.” It also sent out a tweet stating, “If you have any information about this racist recording at UConn, please email naacpuconn1909@gmail.com We will not tolerate racist behavior on this campus.”

To make a relevant point at the outset, this is not “racist conduct,” but racist speech at most. Racist speech is constitutionally protected (that First Amendment thingy), but you wouldn’t know it from the Connecticut  law the two students have been charged with violating. It decrees:

Any person who, by his advertisement, ridicules or holds up to contempt any person or class of persons, on account of the creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race of such person or class of persons, shall be guilty of a class D misdemeanor.

Ridiculing individuals based on gender or sexual orientation is apparently just fine, though: it’s an old law.  The  charge is punishable by a maximum of 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $50, or both.

Jarred Karal and Ryan Mucaj, the two idiots involved, face  possible expulsion from UConn for violating the school’s code of conduct. That’s a separate issue. A school has a right to make reasonable demands on student comportment, and civility, but what is “reasonable” is an ethical gray area. If the students thought they were alone, for example, I am not sure that a state school should be able to punish them. These morons were just shouting the offensive word into the air. Can they be punished for saying “nigger” in their dorm rooms, when they are alone? If the campus NAACP’s circulation of the video is what is disrupting the campus, why isn’t that a punishable offense? The NAACP circulating the video upset and offended more students than the parking lot shouts. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/28/2019: The Search For Inspiration

I need inspiration today…

1. No, this isn’t it…The Idiot Air Traveler. At a certain point, extreme stupidity is unethical. In China, a Xiamen Airlines passenger opened the emergency exit door of the aircraft as the plane was preparing to take off because she  felt the cabin was “too stuffy” and wanted “a breath of fresh air.”  She was arrested, and the incident caused the flight to be delayed an hour. How stupid and ignorant does someone have to be to do this? Wouldn’t you say this is signature significance indicating idiocy? Would you hire someone who did this even once? Allow her to take care of your children? Trust her with sharp objects? Allow her to buy a ticket for another plane trip?

2. Nor this.. New York City intentionally violates the Constitution. It is now against the law in New York City to threaten to call  immigration authorities on someone or refer to them as an “illegal alien” when “motivated by hate.”  A 29-page directive released by City Hall’s Commission on Human Rights announces fines of up to $250,000 per offense for, among other things, “the use of certain language, including ‘illegal alien’ and ‘illegals,’ with the intent to demean, humiliate, or offend a person.”  Mocking people because of their accents or grasp of English is also a crime now in the Big Apple. So is threatening to call ICE.

“In the face of increasingly hostile national rhetoric, we will do everything in our power to make sure our treasured immigrant communities are able to live with dignity and respect, free of harassment and bias,” said Carmelyn Malalis, the agency’s commissioner.

Maybe the whole set of new regulations isn’t unconstitutional, but the ones focused on “hate speech” certainly are. The city is simply declaring its contempt for the First Amendment with this stunt.

3. I guess this is kind of inspiring...When it pays to be trans. The old Saturday Evening Post used to have a feature called “The Perfect Squelch,” regaling its readers with a witty comeback or rejoinder that left an adversary defeated and demoralized. It wouldn’t have printed this one, but I can’t imagine a better example of the genre. This is Faye Kinley… Continue reading