Tag Archives: hate speech

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/2/2018: Bigotry In, “Jeopardy” Out

Good Morning.

I always play that clip when I need cheering up. It works, too.

1. How did we get to this sick, unethical and un-American place? The New York Times had an interview with America Ferrera in its book section. “Ugly Betty” was a long time ago, and I have no idea why Ferrera, a completely ordinary talent at best, has a career or is deemed important enough to warrant a profile, except that she is a professional Hispanic-American. The very fact that there are such celebrities and activists whose source of income is group advocacy is troubling, and she flagged an unethical quote that “inspires her” that is more unsettling still. She says,

“Brittney Cooper’s “Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower.” It’s razor sharp and hilarious. There is so much about her analysis that I relate to and grapple with on a daily basis as a Latina feminist, particularly this point she makes: “When I talk about owning eloquent rage as your superpower, it comes with the clear caveat that Everyone is not worth your time or your rage. Black feminism taught me that. My job as a black feminist is to love black women and girls. Period.” I say hear, hear!”

“Hear, hear” WHAT? Cooper is essentially saying that only her tribes—women, race, nation of origin—are worth her time or care. This is an unethical point of view that feeds division, distrust and hate. Caring is a core ethical value that includes sympathy, empathy and beneficence. “I only care about people like me” is a selfish, ugly sentiment, and Ferrera is extolling it.

Until people like Ferrera and Cooper stop proclaiming sentiments that would be properly regarded as racist or sexist with a change of color or gender, the nation’s society will continue to be roiled by division.

2. From the “What were they thinking?” files: Now this sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit: Somebody had the brilliant idea of hiring Alex Trebek, the “Jeopardy!” host (after Art Fleming), to moderate the televised debate between Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and his Republican challenger, Scott Wagner. Trebek is a smart guy and quick on his feet, but the problem is one of appearances rather than competence. Reducing a political debate to the status of a game show is the kind of foolish dumbing down and public misinformation that leads to distortions like a Senate confirmation hearing being called a “job interview.” The theory was that more people would watch the debate with a slick MC involved. Heck, why not go all the way? Use the cast of “Modern Family” or zombies from “The Walking Dead” to ask questions. Better yet, how about Kanye West?

To make things worse, Trebek seemed to think the debate was now about him, which isn’t too much of a leap, since the organizers didn’t hire him to do a Martha Raddatz impression presumably. After joking that the only thing with a lower approval rating than the Pennsylvania legislature was the Catholic Church, he decided to inform the audience about his own views, saying,  “I was born and raised in the Catholic Church and I’m just as ticked off as everybody else is over what has happened with the church.When I was a young teenager I attended a Catholic boarding school run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Two-hundred and fifty students, other boys and I, spent three years sharing the same accommodations 24/7 with 44 priests and not once in those three years was there any sexual misbehavior. Now boys are pretty sharp, we talk, we would have known. So I believe that there are Catholic priests out there who are able to minister to their congregations without preying — that’s P-R-E-Y — on the young people.”

Who cares what you think, Alex? The debate is supposed to inform us about the candidates. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “The Jehovah Paradox Strikes Again!”

I confess, I’m stalling.  I’m really sick of writing about the oozing unethical pustule that is the assault on Brett Kavanaugh, and I’m just as sick of reading wildly irrational justifications for it from once-intelligent and fair people who once were capable of better. It is times like these where I regret my relative insignificance in the nation and the culture. It’s like seeing a crime being committed right in front of me, and knowing that no matter how much I jump up and down, point, yell, and call for assistance, nothing will happen. I know lotsof American feel this way.

I felt like that through all of 2016, now that I think about it.

Luckily,  Ethics Alarms has a backlog of excellent Comments of the Day, including this effort from Steve-O-in NJ, who was writing about  the cnstriction of language and thought in an era where verbal and conceptual taboos are proliferating.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, The Jehovah Paradox Strikes Again!:

When sports mascots are considered insulting, and seeing a statue is considered harmful, the idea that even speaking a word is an unforgivable sin is the next logical, or illogical step. Presumably all who are enlightened know which words are considered taboo, and, even when discussing them, know appropriate alternatives. If you know them, you need to use them, or risk being labeled someone who is unenlightened. “Nigger” is simply a word that’s not permitted under any circumstances.

The ancient Greeks referred to the mythical god of the dead as Plouton (the rich one) or Clymenus (the notorious one) because they feared that if they actually spoke his given name of Hades they might attract his attention and he might send for them. In one city the fire department’s engine companies are odd numbered by battalion, so in the Second Battalion you have Engine 21, 23, etc. up to 27, but in the First it goes Engine 11, Engine 15, etc., because 13 is considered bad luck. Growing up I bet many of us begged off the dare to light a candle before a mirror and say “Bloody Mary” three times, because the thought of the consequences was just too awful.

Come on here. Objectively almost nobody believes in the Greek gods anymore, the idea that a fire engine would be in greater danger simply because of the number it bore is pretty silly, and no evil ghost is going to leap out of a mirror no matter what we do. Yet we have to actually think about this, because we learned these superstitions as kids. We got brainwashed, and now its hard to get it out of our systems. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN’s Chris Cuomo”

Chris Cuomo  is spewing anti-democractic, anti-free speech, pro-violence garbage on CNN, and none of his colleagues, assuredly not CNN’s fake media watch-dog Brian Stelter or even its once fair and balanced Jake Tapper have shown the integrity to call him on it. Thus, despite my post on the matter, many more voices need to be raised elsewhere lest this irresponsible media demagogue make millions of trusting American almost as dumb as he is.

Here is Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day on today post, Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN’s Chris Cuomo:

Re: Cuomo
Cuomo is confusing self-defense and lawlessness. By definition, self-defense is a response to a direct threat or attack. Attacking someone with whom you disagree is never, ever self-defense and cannot be the moral equivalent of it.

“But in the eyes of good and evil, here’s the argument: if you’re a punk that comes to start trouble in a mask and hurt people, you’re not about any virtuous cause. You’re just somebody who’s going to be held to the standard of doing something wrong. But when someone comes to call out bigots and it gets hot, even physical, are they equally wrong as the bigot they are fighting? I argue, no.”

Two questions for Chris: Who gets to define good, and evil? Is he saying the totality of the AntiFa position is good, or just that their hatred of racism is good? We don’t know, because Chris doesn’t tell us. AntiFa stands for many things I think are not good, among them are commitment to violence against those with whom they disagree philosophically, an embrace of destructive leftist anarchy, and a rejection of authority. Is Cuomo willing to pronounce all that good? Or is it just “better than the opposition,” who as it turns out, are on the right side of two of those three things?

Second, who throws the first punch? That’s how you figure out who’s wrong and who’s right. Because instantly, the punchee becomes the defender and the puncher becomes the aggressor and lawbreaker. No matter where you assign moral turpitude, it doesn’t and cannot justify violence in response. Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN’s Chris Cuomo

“But drawing a moral equivalency between those espousing hate and those fighting it because they both resort to violence emboldens hate, legitimizes hateful belief and elevates what should be stamped out.”

—CNN’s news anchor turned pundit Chris Cuomo, in the middle of a long justification of the use of violence to suppress speech and political opinion.

CNN cannot be taken seriously as a news organization as long as it continues to employ Chris Cuomo. I have concluded that Cuomo was only admitted to law school because his father was a popular governor of New York. No other explanation makes sense. Even after allegedly completing his three years, he doesn’t comprehend basic law or the Constitution.  He has, for example, advanced public ignorance by stating that “hate speech” is not protested under the First Amendment. On another occasion, he said that it would be illegal for citizens to read leaked classified material available on the web, but that journalists could read it and then tell the public about it.

The man is an idiot. He constantly utters legal and logical nonsense, and with the certitude that only a true idiot can muster. As a journalist he is biased and sloppy; as a pundit he is pompous and unqualified. His latest foray into irresponsible use of the First Amendment was two days ago, when he said, in discussing the often violent counter-protesters to the virtually non-existent white supremacy demonstration in D.C. over the weekend, this, the entire speech from which the Unethical Quote of the Month was extracted:

But I argue to you tonight, all punches are not equal morally. In the eyes of the law, yes. But in the eyes of good and evil, here’s the argument: if you’re a punk that comes to start trouble in a mask and hurt people, you’re not about any virtuous cause. You’re just somebody who’s going to be held to the standard of doing something wrong. But when someone comes to call out bigots and it gets hot, even physical, are they equally wrong as the bigot they are fighting? I argue, no. Fighting against hate matters…Now, how you fight matters too. There’s no question about that. But drawing a moral equivalency between those espousing hate and those fighting it because they both resort to violence emboldens hate, legitimizes hateful belief and elevates what should be stamped out….But fighting hate is right. And in a clash between hate and those who oppose it, those who oppose it are on the side of right. Think about: civil rights activist, were they the same morally as the bigots, as the racist with whom they exchanged blows? Are people who go to war against an evil regime on the same moral ground as those they seek to stop from oppressing the weak?…When you punch me in the nose for being Italian and you say I’m somehow less than, am I in the same moral place when I punch you back for saying that? It’s not about being right in the eyes of the law, but you also have to know what’s right and wrong and immoral, in a good and evil sense.

Continue reading

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Regarding Twitter, Free Expression, Alex Jones, Social Media Censorship, And “Fake News”

zipper on mouth

The journalism ethics site Poynter begins a story today , “Over the past couple of years, Twitter has done the bare minimum to fight fake news, avoiding the kind of negative press that has plagued Facebook in the process.”

Talk about a bad start. No social media platform is qualified to “fight fake news” except to allow participants to make their own cases regarding what is fake news and what isn’t. They can and do indulge in incompetent, biased and often partisan censorship, covering their tracks by employing “factcheckers” that themselves can’t be trusted not to indulge their biases and political agendas, of course. That’s what Facebook has been doing, and, proving that there is justice in the universe, suffering for it.

Twitter hasn’t been censoring what it calls fake news; it’s just been using double standards to ban conservatives for “hate speech” when parallel leftist rhetoric gets past the gate-keepers. Federalist writer Elizabeth Kantor, for example, was kicked off twitter for this tweet in tongue-in-cheek support for the new racist New York Times editor:

“@sarahjeong This whitey is cheering you on as you fight off the Twitter mob. Down with deplatforming! Plus, it’s clarifying abt. what kind of paper the NYT wants to be . . .”

Twitter told her had engaged in “hateful conduct” that violates Twitter’s terms of service: “Violating our rules against hateful conduct.You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin…”

Jeong, however, who had started the hashtag “#CancelWhitePeople” as well as many other anti-white, anti-male Twitter content, remains a valued Twitter user.

Twitter not only is partisan and biased, it also has no integrity. What upset Poynter is that Twitter didn’t join Apple, Facebook and others in their Sunday Night Purge of right-wing wacko Alex Jones. The fact that it banned Kantor for one innocuous political tweet and not her target for dozens of racist ones doesn’t seem to bother Poynter’s unethical ethicists, just that it hasn’t joined the effort to silence Jones online.  Twitter, its says, is failing its duty to combat “misinformation.”

Here was the message from the Twitter CEO, communicated, naturally, in a series of tweets:

We didn’t suspend Alex Jones or Infowars yesterday. We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules. We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified. Truth is we’ve been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past. We’re fixing that. We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories. If we succumb and simply react to outside pressure, rather than straightforward principles we enforce (and evolve) impartially regardless of political viewpoints, we become a service that’s constructed by our personal views that can swing in any direction. That’s not us.Accounts like Jones’ can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors, so it’s critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions. This is what serves the public conversation best.

In an earlier tweet from another Twitter account, Twitter stated,

“As we have stated publicly, we strongly believe Twitter should not be the arbiter of truth nor do we have scalable solutions to determine and action what’s true or false.”

Bingo. Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: Apple, Or “Stop Making Me Defend Alex Jones!”

“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users. Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

—-A spokesperson for Apple last week, following confirmation that it had removed five out of six podcasts by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones,  including “The Alex Jones Show” and some of his InfoWars audio streams. 

This is a terrifying statement…almost as terrifying as the fact that so many Americans won’t understand why it’s terrifying. Unless one does not understand the First Amendment and why its principles are the beating heart of American democracy, or unless you are an increasingly typical 21st Century progressive, who feels that the Left should have the power to decide what kind of speech is tolerable, Apple is telling us that it is going to use its immense power and influence over the distribution of ideas to suit its preferences regarding what people should see, hear, and think. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/19/2018: The All-Denial Edition

Good Morning!

On this day in ethics, 1918: Washington catcher Eddie Ainsmith claimed that he should be deferred from the draft because he was a major league baseball player. Uh, nice try, Eddie, but no,  Secretary of War Newton D Baker ruled, as he tried to suppress uncontrollable eye-rolling..

1. “California, here I come!…here I come!…here I come!…” Oh. Never mind. The California Supreme Court took a measure off the ballot that would have allowed Californians to vote on whether the state should be divided into three smaller states, like this:

In its opinion, the Court argued that the changes demanded by the ballot measure exceeded California voters’ broad authority to enact laws by initiative, established in 1911. If enacted, the measure would have in effect abolished the state Constitution and all existing laws, which would have to be replaced by lawmakers  in the three new states. The measure would also alter the laws that define California’s boundaries, amending the state Constitution. That cannot be done by initiative, but instead requires approval by two-thirds of both houses of the Legislature to be placed on the ballot.

I know that the splitting up of California was a transparent effort to hijack the Senate by adding four more guaranteed Democrats. It was also doomed, since this plot would need to pass Congress and not be vetoed by the President. Still, wouldn’t something as obvious as violating the state Constitution arise before the wacko measure was placed on the ballot? How incompetent can you get? How much more incompetent can California get?

2. THIS will end well… Facebook claims that it will be removing false information from its pages when it threatens to cause violence, before it will cause violence. Sure, we all trust Facebook as an objective, trustworthy arbiter of speech, don’t we? Don’t we? Especially since they use the ever-reliable Snopes to check. During an interview with ReCode’s Kara Swisher, Mark Zuckerberg cited Holocaust denials as the kind of misinformation Facebook would allow to remain on the platform.  “At the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong,” Zuckerberg told Swisher. “I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”

He doesn’t? I’m not sure Holocaust denial is automatically eligible for Hanlon’s Razor; on the other hand, there are good faith idiots. Speaking of idiots, Zuckerman was surprised when his ignorant shrug sparked angry attacks like that of Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, who said, “Holocaust denial is a willful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by anti-Semites that is incontrovertibly hateful, hurtful, and threatening to Jews.Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow its dissemination.”  Continue reading

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