Ethics Potpourri, 4/5/2021, Including, I Blush To Say, An Easter Weekend Lap-Dance for God

I hate potpourri.

1. Amateur poetry ethics. This has annoyed me for a long, long time. Althouse posted a notice from a local restaurant requiring patrons to wear masks. The thing suddenly devolves into verse, and in writing that, I am being generous. Here’s a sample:

I’ve been listening to and reading crap like that since I was ten, and when I was ten, I wrote better light verse by far. Since then, I’ve written song parodies and light verse for fun and profit, and still do. It’s a skill. It takes practice, and it requires care and detail, like most tasks. OK, I know that today’s nearly useless schools don’t teach little things like rhyme, meter and the basics of verse, but if you don’t know how to do something competently, don’t do it. Is this supposed to be a Dr. Seuss parody? I can’t tell, and the first rule of parodies is that they must clearly be parodies. Dr. Seuss has famous style and meter, and this whatever it is doesn’t match it. The problem is that people who author embarrassing junk like this don’t know they are incompetent. They think everyone will think they are clever, but anyone who regard something like this—that presents “forget” and “respect”as rhymes, for example— is clever is illiterate.

2. It takes one to know one. On ABC’s “This Week,” yesterday, former NJ Governor and once-rising GOP star Chris Christie correctly characterized the Democratic attacks on the Georgia voting reform law. “It expands early voting, George, and the president said it ended it. Listen, here’s what Joe Biden’s got to live with when he wakes up this morning on Easter morning. He is doing exactly what he sat around in the campaign and the transition and accused Donald Trump of doing,” Christie said. “He is lying to cause racial divisions in this country. That’s what he accused Donald Trump of doing, and he’s a liar and a hypocrite.”

Yes he is, but who cares what Chris Christie thinks? He’s also a liar and a hypocrite; he has no followers outside of his family, and he sold his integrity to grease Donald Trump’s route to the Republican nomination. This is another example of the unethical media practice of choosing a revolting advocate for the position a news organization wants to discredit. It’s Cognitive Dissonance Scale manipulation 101: make sure the “authority” opposing the dishonest Democratic talking point is widely regarded as toxic jerk.

Continue reading

Today’s Dispatch From “The Great Stupid”: The Chivalry Assignment (Corrected)

Chivalry

At Texas’s Shallowater High School, a “chivalry” assignment given to female students required girls to “dress in a feminine manner,” lower their heads and curtsy to please men, “walk behind men daintily as if their feet were bound,” and “not complain or whine.” The boys were told to dress in jackets and ties, pick up any object dropped by “the ladies” and to hold doors open, among other things.

The alleged purpose of the assignment was to “demonstrate to the school how the code of chivalry and standards set in the medieval concept of courtly love carries over into the modern day.” An assignment sheet included a set of “rules” with a line for an “adult witness signature” next to each:

Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/27/2021: Confusion And Irony

Doomscrolling” is a relatively new term to describe the habit of constantly checking one’s smartphone for bad news. Jeffrey Hall, professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, has spent over 10 years studying technology use in conjunction with relationships. He says that the mass media is intentionally triggering the habit:

“People tend to have what’s called negativity bias when it comes to information. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s related to the idea that we needed to be more alert to threats. If things are not particularly surprising, we can reside in a very low energy state, but as soon as we see something that’s potentially threatening or worrisome, it piques our attention. The algorithms are picking up on what we engage in, and our attentive processes tend to focus on the more negative information….”

The professor recommends filtering social media as a remedy:

“You can also take active steps to recognize if there are people who are a part of your social network that seem to be fueling your sense of doom and gloom. You may want to consider unsubscribing or muting them. People are very loath to actually unfriend or stop following a person altogether. However, there are ways to not get that content. Oftentimes we’re very upset about content we see, but we don’t do anything to change what we see.”

I dunno, professor! The people on Facebook seem to revel in shared, if imaginary, gloom and doom. Most of them “muted” me when I pointed out that the false narratives about the President being some kind of a traitorous Nazi racist monster trying to end American democracy were media-driven, partisan scams. That should have been good news, and it happened to be true. Instead, my Facebook friends crawled back into their comforting imaginary crisis bubble and, from what I can see, virtually no one there reads any EA posts that I put up. Trump Derangement was (in fact, is) a fad, a pastime, and sort of a club that eventually metastasized into a mindless mob.

1. On the question of canceling artists of bad character…A note that on this date in 1936 Shirley Temple, who was all of seven years old, signed a deal paying her almost a million dollars per picture in today’s currency reminded me of this horrible story: when Shirley was an attractive teen seeking to transition away from child roles, she met with MGM’s legendary movie musical chief, Arthur Freed. He exposed himself at the interview, and Shirley’s mother decreed that she would have no further dealings with MGM.

First, how sick to you have to be to expose yourself to Shirley Temple (the term “scumbag” comes to mind)? Second, would that justify refusing to watch and enjoy all of the classic musicals he was responsible for at the studio, like “Singing in the Rain,” “The Bandwagon,” “Wizard of Oz,” “Gigi,” the Mickey and Judy films, “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and many more? How about all of the songs he wrote, including the ones used in “Singing’ in the Rain”? I love that movie, but it is presented as a celebration of Arthur Freed, as is another favorite, “That’s Entertainment!” And the guy exposed himself to Shirley Temple!!!

Continue reading

A Line That Will Echo Through The Annals Of Legal Ethics And Technological Incompetence: “I’m Not A Cat”

Lawyer cat

I apologize for missing this wonderful story from last week.

In a civil forfeiture case hearing held via Zoom in Texas’ 394th Judicial District Court, Rod Ponton, a county attorney in Presidio County, Texas, couldn’t figure out how to turn off a filter he had somehow turned on. That filter made him appear to be a talking kitten.

“Mr. Ponton, I believe you have a filter turned on in the video settings,” Judge Roy Ferguson, presiding over the case, says with admirable restraint. “Augggh,” says. Ponton. “Can you hear me, Judge? I don’t know how to remove it. I’ve got my assistant here and she’s trying to.”

Then he adds, “I’m prepared to go forward with it. I’m here live” and “I’m not a cat.” “I can see that, ”Judge Ferguson replies.

Here’s the video:

Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: The San Francisco School Board [Corrected]

Rushmore 6

I was going to write an Ethics Dunce post about Jamie L.H. Goodall, a staff historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History who wrote a truly stupid piece for The Washington Post headlined “The Buccaneers embody Tampa’s love of pirates. Is that a problem?” Goodall is triggered by the fact that the NFL’s now champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers carry a nickname that romanticizes pirates, who were bad people.

Of course, everyone knows pirates were (are, since there are more pirates operating now than back in the “Arrrgh!” days) bad, but they were scary and tough, see, and teams are named after scary and tough symbols, sometimes. Only people who have nothing better to do but to try to bend others to their will make the fatuous kinds of arguments Goodall does. ( “There is danger in romanticizing ruthless cutthroats…Why? Because it takes these murderous thieves who did terrible things — like locking women and children in a burning church — and makes them a symbol of freedom and adventure, erasing their wicked deeds from historical memory. These were men (and women) who willingly participated in murder, torture and the brutal enslavement of Africans and Indigenous peoples.” ) Oh yeah, we had to get the racist angle. I wonder how the good people of Pittsburgh managed to have a much-loved baseball team called “The Pirates” for more than a century without anyone, or any of their many, many proud African American and Caribbean players feeling that they were honoring raping and pillaging. Perhaps it’s because the team doesn’t and neither do “Treasure Island” and “The Pirates of Penzance (which I have performed in and directed).

The problem isn’t the Buccaneers; it’s the far too successful ongoing strategy of the oppressive Left, which seeks to keep anyone with normal sensibilities and an appreciation of history, literature, humor, whimsy and proportion constantly apologizing and retreating under a barrage of manufactured indignation and artificial moral superiority. The blunder has been that instead of responding to the power-hungry ideologues and their allies like Goodall who make these claims with the mockery and contempt they deserve, those under assault make the mistake, again and again, of saying, “Well, if it bothers you that much, okay. We’ll give you what you want. After all, it’s only a name.

But it’s not only a name. It’s a word, a street, a mascot, a flag, a logo, a book, a song, a movie, a statue, an artist, a leader, a President, a Founder, a culture, and a nation. The strategy and its purpose should have been obvious long ago, and it should have been fought against hard, right at the beginning, with all the fury and determination that goes into any other existential battle. Or a war.

As I said, I was going to write this post about Jamie L.H. Goodall, but her idiocy is already a cliche, and at this point, arguing over team names is a distraction. (Too bad, though, as I had a fun post ready explaining how almost every professional sports team name was vulnerable to woke attack.) But I realized that the recent action by San Francisco’s school board represents the metastasized end game in the totalitarian Left’s cultural bull-dozing plan.

Continue reading

Monday Ethics Overture, 2/8/21: I’m Crankier Than Usual Today

I was going to post a poll asking how many readers had watched the “Concussion Bowl.” Last night, right after the game commenced, I went to the local Harris Teeter was one of three customers in the whole store. I’m pretty sure everyone else wasn’t reading Ethics Alarms. I’m curious how many have the requisite integrity and cultural responsibility to reject the showcase of the NFL and its corporate enablers in light of pro football’s continuing profit from inducing brain damage and its nauseating pandering to Black Lives Matter.

But I couldn’t post the poll. Once again, WordPress had changed the ground rules. Now I was informed that I had exceeded my quota of “signals” in the previous polls posted here, and would have to pay a monthly fee to add any more. I had to explain to a nice WordPress agent I “chatted” with online what a “bait and switch” was. “Polls” used to be right on my “dashboard” like every other WordPress feature. No limits were mentioned, until today, when I was told, in essence, “Glad you like our polls, now you have to pay to keep using them.”

It’s not a lot of money, but the nickels and dimes add up. I wrote WordPress explaining that their conduct was unethical, and got an admission that “we should have been clearer.” That’s what all con artists and swindlers say.

1. If starting your day off with a head explosion is your thing, read this LA Times Op-Ed. I won’t comment on it because once I start, I might never stop. Just discussing the Orwellian use of the term “responsible” might take 5000 words. This is why I barely interact with anyone on Facebook now. When someone speaks like this deranged fool, and many do, revealing a distorted view of reality the equivalent of doing LSD in Oz and a comprehension of the Constitution on par with AOC’s, arguing with them is like debating Caligula or a toddler. Sure, it’s a breeze winning on points, but where does it get you?

Continue reading

Quote Ethics: Rep. Miller’s Hitler Quote

jojo

I’d call this an ethics train wreck if it wasn’t so stupid.

During a rally for the conservative Moms for America, Mary Miller, a freshman Illinois Republican member of the House, said conservatives would lose unless “we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’”

Responding with classic “gotcha!” verve, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said in an interview about Miller, “She’s been on this earth long enough to know that invoking the beliefs of Hitler as being right in any respect is inappropriate and wrong. It’s wrong enough that she should not be in Congress.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) piled on, saying that Miller should resign and be replaced with “someone who better understands the sacrifices our brave service members made during World War II.” Illinois’ Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Miller’s comment at the rally “disgusting.” Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger called the Hitler comments “garbage.” Echoing, I’m sure, many shameless progressive pundits, Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham described Miller in a column as “the first-term representative from Illinois who had quoted Hitler approvingly at a “Save the Republic” rally the day before.

Naturally, Rep. Miller had to grovel a clumsy apology:

Miller apology

What’s going on here? Stupidity, grandstanding, dishonesty, virtue signaling, oh, lots of things.

Continue reading

Art Ethics: The South Carolina Toilet Brush Flag

SC flag design

You would think it’s such an easy principle to understand and execute. In art, as with all products and services, it is the quality of the work that matters, not the artist, creator or provider. But in the era of The Great Stupid, where woke sensibilities routinely turn logic and wisdom on their heads and inside out, something as intrinsically sensible as this suddenly becomes hard to grasp.

Take, for example, the new South Carolina flag design, as fine an example of “bias makes you stupid” as one could imagine. You see, the South Carolina flag has long consisted of a crescent moon and a palmetto tree, but designs varied. Why a palmetto tree? Also known as the Sabal palmetto, cabbage-palm, cabbage palmetto, blue palmetto, Carolina palmetto, common palmetto, swamp cabbage and sabal palm…

Palmetto

…the tree is native to the southern United States, as well as Cuba and the Bahamas. In the Revolutionary War, South Carolina palmettos played a key role in the defeat of the British fleet at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island. The fort was constructed out of palmetto logs, which efficiently absorbed the impact of cannon balls, according to the State Legislature’s website. Col. William Moultrie’s 2nd South Carolina Regiment wore uniforms of deep indigo, so Moultrie used the color as the background for the moon and the tree when he designed the first South Carolina flag. Since 1940, however, South Carolina has had no required design for its state flag, leading to an infinite number of variations on flags, logos, posters, mugs, T-shirts, and other merchandise. See?

Continue reading

Evening Ethics Exorcism, 12/2/2020: Boy, I Hate Thinking About This Stuff Before Bed…

pazuzzu

1. This is too stupid to devote a post to, but too stupid to ignore. Some group of wackos calling itself the We the People Convention is advocating that President Trump invoke “limited martial law” and hold a new election by fiat. The group somehow scraped up the money to call for this in a full page Washington Times ad, not that the Times is a particularly prominent newspaper, but it is a conservative one, which I guess is why they thought it was okay to accept money for such junk. It isn’t.

As for the WTPC’s argument, it is based on bad history, bad law, and bad thinking. The press release “explains”:

The Ad compares the Extraordinary Executive actions implemented by President Abraham Lincoln in his efforts to save the Union during the Civil War and the literal civil war that is dividing our nation today. Without full confidence that our courts or Congress will indeed follow the 12th Amendment of the Constitution and defend our electoral process, the ad calls upon President Trump, like Lincoln, to exercise the Extraordinary Powers of his office and declare limited Martial Law to temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections in order to have the military implement a national re-vote that reflects the true will of the people.

Cue “Murder by Death”:

What the ad and petition are arguing for is wildly unconstitutional. Lincoln’s various excesses were also unconstitutional and among the most serious abuses of Presidential power in our history, but at least he had an actual Civil War to deal with. There is not, obviously, any “literal” civil war today. If something as unprecedented and nationally disrupting as a voided election and a do-over is going to happen (it won’t), it would have to occur through the courts, which is to say, through the rule of law.

The ridiculous, offensive, reckless and foolish suggestion would have probably received the scant attention it deserved had not, if what I have seem reported is correct, recently-pardoned Mike Flynn and pro-Trump lawyer Linn Wood, who looks and sounds more like Michael Avenatti every day, publicly endorsed it. (Wood is not a member of the Trump legal team, incidentally, though I keep seeing that reported.)

Well, shame on them both, but Flynn is a notorious loose cannon, and Wood, well, is Wood. Their approval won’t make the petition any less ridiculous, and their poor judgement reflects badly on nobody but themselves.

Continue reading

Post-Thanksgiving Ethics Indigestion,11/26/2020: A Whole Lot Of Shaky Ethics Performances Going On

1. AstraZeneca! In Jurassic Park’s control center, as the first tour of the park begins having technical glitches, creator John Hammond turns with contempt to tech guru Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight, aka “Newman”) and spits, “Our life is in your hands and you have butterfingers?” That was the first thing that jumped into my head when I read this:

The announcement this week that a cheap, easy-to-make coronavirus vaccine appeared to be up to 90 percent effective was greeted with jubilation. “Get yourself a vaccaccino,” a British tabloid celebrated, noting that the vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, costs less than a cup of coffee.

But since unveiling the preliminary results, AstraZeneca has acknowledged a key mistake in the vaccine dosage received by some study participants, adding to questions about whether the vaccine’s apparently spectacular efficacy will hold up under additional testing.

Scientists and industry experts said the error and a series of other irregularities and omissions in the way AstraZeneca initially disclosed the data have eroded their confidence in the reliability of the results.

Competence. Diligence. Responsibility. The duty of care. Trustworthiness.

2. Butterfingers II: The case of the premature obituaries. Radio France Internationale (RFI) mistakenly published online the obituaries of about 100 public figures who were and are still alive.Among those declared dead were Queen Elizabeth II, Clint Eastwood, Jimmy Carter, Yoko Ono, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot. Google and Yahoo then picked up the fake news, which was, of course, spread on social media.

Continue reading