Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/5/2020: Words, Spin, And Millard Fillmore

Because “Glibby-glop-gloopy” or whatever the hell Oliver is singing here makes about as much sense as anything else I’m hearing…

1. Today in The Great Stupid’s cancellation orgy:

  • The ABA Journal reports that the Massachusetts Appeals Court  wants the word “grandfathering” to be “canceled.” Ruling in a zoning dispute, the court said a structure built before the enactment of zoning regulations had a certain level of protection, but the court  didn’t have a good word to describe that protection because  it wouldn’t use  “grandfathering.”  “Because we acknowledge that it has racist origins,” the woke and silly judges declared.

Apparently the phrase “grandfather clause” originally referred to laws adopted by some states after the Civil War to create barriers to voting by African Americans, explained Justice James Milkey in footnote 11 to the August 3 opinion. Interesting! And completely irrelevant to how the word is used now. Now, if I were Ann Althouse, who is word-obsessed, I might spend hours looking for other words used routinely today that have unsavory origins. I don’t care what words originally meant or when  they were first used. The objective with all words is communication. “Grandfathered” is a useful word. I used it in my baseball lecture for the Smithsonian to describe how spitball pitchers were allowed to keep throwing the unsanitary pitch after it was banned for everyone else in 1920. The court’s kind of virtue-signalling makes people stupid and communication difficult, and shame on the court for indulging in it.

  • The University of Buffalo will remove any reference to President Millard Fillmore on its campus,though he helped found the school and served as its first chancellor from 1846 until his death in 1874. School officials said in a news release that its decision to erase the memory of an individual the university owes its existence to “aligns with the university’s commitment to fight systemic racism and create a welcoming environment for all.”

No, it aligns with craven cowering to Black Lives Matter intimidation  and statue-toppling mobs.  Millard Fillmore—-great name, crummy President—signed The Compromise of 1850, which included the Fugitive Slave Act. Since it was a compromise, the school’s logic would require “canceling” all the anti-slavery crusaders who were part of it, as everyone at the time was desperately trying to keep the United States from ripping apart. When that effort failed, we got the Civil War, and more American casualties than any war before or since. How dare Fillmore try to stop that?

I think the Fillmore-cancelers should be obligated to explain how they would have handled the growing tensions over slavery and the cultural divide between North and South. I’m sure they have a brilliant answer ready.

As the suddenly “In” Fred Rogers would  say, “Can you say ‘hindsight bias’? Sure you can!” Continue reading

And Fredo Strikes Again! Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN’s Chris Cuomo

And please, show me where it says that protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful.”

CNN’s Village idiot Chris Cuomo, during yet another pro-riot rant from the now completely unhinged news network.

Let’s recall once more that Cuomo graduated from law school, apparently one where the entrance qualifications involved drawing “Skippy.” This isn’t the first time he has displayed the legal acumen of the average Clumber Spaniel. In the past, he has said that “hate speech” wasn’t protected under the Bill of Rights. He once said that it would be illegal for anyone but journalists to read Wikileaks posts.

Now, it’s true that protests are not required to be “polite.” However, protests are required to be peaceful. Where does it say that? Why in the Bill of Rights, Chris! Heard of it? It’s clear you never read it:

The First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Oh, THAT. Continue reading

Sunday Evening Ethics, 5/31/2020: Riot Disinformation And Ethics Lunacy

Hot enough for ya?

1. Let’s see exactly how much disinformation the pubic will follow and tolerate.

  • Yesterday I and everyone else heard Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz claim that most of the rioters were from out of state,  claiming that “the best estimates” were that “outsiders” comprised about 80% of the people arrested. It was nonsense. The arrest statistics showed the opposite was true. As of 11am CST on Saturday, a sample of data from the Hennepin County Jail’s showed that 86% of those arrested provided a Minnesota address to police. Later in the day, St. Paul released arrest information showing that two-thirds of people arrested since Thursday gave police in-state addresses.
  • CNN reporter Reza Aslan actually tweeted that Trump supporters were doing the rioting. Accountability for this ridiculous, straight up lie? None.
  • Cherry-picking isolated episodes from riot scenes around the country, Slate wrote that “Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide,” and that “law enforcement officers escalated the national unrest.”

2.  Let’s see exactly how much disinformation the pubic will follow and tolerate, (cont.) A typical effort: on Thursday, a New York Times front page story announced “Fury in Minneapolis Over The Latest in a Long Line of Police Killings.” What was that “long line”? It was nowhere to be found, at least not in the article. We are told that the Minneapolis police have received “many excessive force complaints, especially by black residents.” Complaints do not equal misconduct. We are told that “Mr. Floyd’s death — and the recent shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia — has also prompted comparisons to previous killings involving the police and black people, including those of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.” Continue reading

OK, “Jane Doe” Was A Lying, Venal, Fick. It Doesn’t Make Abortion Any More Or Less Ethical

In the final 20 minutes of the documentary “AKA Jane Roe,” “Roe,” whose real name was Norma McCorvey, reveals that when she converted to an anti-abortion, born-again ex-gay Christian with the help of leaders of the evangelical Christian right, she was scamming them, us, everybody. Before that stunning reversal, she had been at the center the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, in which the U.S. Supreme court declared that the right to have an abortion was protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“This is my deathbed confession,” she says in the film, sitting in a chair, on oxygen, in her nursing home room , quite evidently pleased with herself. She is asked , “Did [the evangelicals] use you as a trophy?” “Of course,” she replies. “I was the Big Fish.”

“Do you think you would say that you used them?” “Well,” says McCorvey, “I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say. That’s what I’d say.” She even gives an example of her scripted anti-abortion lines. “I’m a good actress,” she points out. “Of course, I’m not acting now.”

Of course.

McCorvey isn’t the first litigant in ground-breaking jurisprudence to change her mind. William J. Murray, the atheist son of activist Madeline Murray O’Hair, who used his complaint about being forced to pray in school to launch the litigation that eventually  got all school prayer in public schools banned as unconstitutional, later became an ardent Christian. This always leads opponents of the decision to respond with “See? SEE?” Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: New York Magazine Reporter Olivia Nuzzi

“If more Americans died in the last six weeks than the entirety of the Vietnam War, do you deserve to be re-elected?”

—–Olivia Nuzzi, New York Magazine reporter, at yesterday’s pandemic briefing.

I’m seriously tempted to leave this post with that alone, as a perfect embodiment of the principle of “res ipsa loquitur,” or “the thing speaks for itself.” I’m not sure I care to have someone so dim that that they can’t discern that such a question is moronic, partisan and offensive reading Ethics Alarms. Still, some further comment is appropriate.  But please don’t be insulted that I’m discussing the matter at all: I know you can recognize unprofessional journalism when to see it.

  • This comparison has turned up in other places; apparently the Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream media Axis of Unethical Conduct circulated a memo or something to try it out and see just how stupid the American public is. As the song went, “How low can they go?” the question is a non-sequitur that falsely implies that there is any relationship between war casualties (casualties in the Vietnam war could have been ended by Presidential fiat at any time  over the course of the conflict) and pandemic deaths, which are outside a President’s control.
  • There had been 55,952 reported deaths in the U.S. as of yesterday. Nuzzi might as well have asked,

“If more Americans died in the last six weeks than the number of songs written by Irving Berlin (1500), plus the total number of hits by Pete Rose, Ty Cobb,  Hank Aaron and Stan Musial, (12,216), added to the number of yards Jim Thorpe rushed in college (3, 616), plus the number of words in the Book of Jeremiah (33,002), added to the cost of two inflatable giant Twister games ($4000), for a grand total of 54, 334, do you deserve to be re-elected?”

That would make just as much sense. Continue reading

“Rarrit!” Joe Biden Produces An Epic Example Of Authentic Frontier Gibberish, And It’s Not Funny

Two days ago, Joe Biden did an interview on ABC’s “This Week…”  that produced an  indecipherable utterance that makes “Blazing Saddles'” Gabby Johnson seem like Winston Churchill.  Tanned and rested, which no travel during the week to exhaust him and having not appeared on TV for several days, Joe offered America this bit of wisdom:

“We cannot let this, we’ve never allowed any crisis from the Civil War straight through to the pandemic of 17, all the way around, 16, we have never, never let our democracy sakes second fiddle, way they, we can both have a democracy and … correct the public health.”

You know, his words reminded me of an episode when I was the editorial page editor of my high school’s weekly newspaper. The submissions from my “staff” were particularly terrible one week, and no amount of re-writing by me could produce enough quality opinion to fill the page. I decided to take one particularly incomprehensible screed, cut out each line of text, pull them randomly out of a hat, paste them in their new sequence, then punctuate the mess and capitalize letters so it appeared to be an article. I published the result under the headline, “Discrimination in Portugal” without a byline.

Nobody noticed. One student told me that she found the editorial “Thought-provoking.” This has bothered me ever since. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On A Case Study In Combining Bad Journalism With Bad Science

Yes, it’s the New York Times again. I use that paper for the majority of the Ethics Alarm unethical journalism posts for a few reasons. One is that the paper comes to my door every day, so I read a lot of articles that I might miss on the web.  Another is that the Times is the most successful and influential newspaper in the country,  and its work is more closely followed and more criticized than any other paper, and most news sources generally. The Times also advertises itself as the nation’s “paper of record,” placing itself on a pedestal with standards of integrity and reliability that it is obligated to meet….and does not. Finally, the paper is unacceptably biased in its political coverage and editorial product.

Today’s “Where America Didn’t Stay Home Even as the Virus Spread”  is far from then times at its worst. It is, however, unacceptable and unethical. I’m not even in disagreement with the piece’s main thesis, which is that the regions that have not imposed shelter at home restrictions on the public are at more risk of exploding Wuhan virus cases. That makes sense; that’s even obvious. However, the Times’s main tool in making a case was the map below, which it explained this way:

“Stay-at-home orders have nearly halted travel for most Americans, but people in Florida, the Southeast and other places that waited to enact such orders have continued to travel widely, potentially exposing more people as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates, according to an analysis of cellphone location data by The New York Times. The divide in travel patterns, based on anonymous cellphone data from 15 million people, suggests that Americans in wide swaths of the West, Northeast and Midwest have complied with orders from state and local officials to stay home.”

Continue reading

Is This The Most Unethical Book Review Ever?

It has to be close, because I don’t know how a book review can be more unethical.

The book in question is Ruth Marcus’s unconscionable hit piece on Justice Brett Kavanaugh, “Supreme Ambition.” The forum is the book review section of the New York Times, which has been trying to smear Kavanaugh since he was nominated for the Supreme Court, and even since the contrived attempt to defeat him by ancient and uncorroborated accusations of misconduct when he was a teenagerwhen he was a teenagerwhen he was a teenager (no three times is not enough repitition to emphasize how despicable this was) failed, as it should have. The objective, trustworthy reviewer the Times chose to assess the book was Adam Cohen. He writes speeches for and advises New York’s socialist mayor Bill de Blasio, and authored “Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America,” coming out next month.

Yup, the perfect guy to provide an objective review of an anti-Kavanaugh book.

It is clear by now that progressives and the mainstream media have added the Brett Kavanugh confirmation hearing to the shooting of Mike Brown, the death of Trayvon Martin, and the fake Russian Collusion theory as narratives they will falsely characterize until the stars turn cold. Incredibly,  Cohen writes at the end of his review,

“As important as the Kavanaugh battle was for the court, however, there was something even more profound at stake: whether, on the most important questions, our nation is capable of putting the public interest ahead of partisanship, and whether the truth matters. The forces aligned for partisanship and against truth are stronger than ever.”

Cohen’s review is a prime example of the condition he claims to be condemning. What “truth”? Not a single fact was produced during the hearing that had any relevance to Brett Kavanaugh’s fitness to be a Supreme Court Justice. His record as a judge was impeccable and beyond reproach. Ah, BUT…Marcus and Cohen point to this: Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/12/2020: Broken Ethics Alarms, An Ethics Conflict, And “Who Are You Going To Believe, Me Or Your Own Eyes?”

Well, Hel-LO!

“Seinfeld” fans remember Jerry’s Uncle Leo, whose trademark was an over-enthusiastic, “Hel-LO!” The recurring character was played by the late Len Lesser, an obscure Hollywood bit player until the “Seinfeld” gig made him a familiar face. Well, I was watching “Bells Are Ringing, the 1960 film version of the hit Broadway musical known for the standards “Just in Time” and “The Party’s Over” (one of my Mom’s favorite songs), on TCM. The film is a reminder of just how luminous Judy Holliday was; she had won the Tony for playing the musical’s starring role on Broadway, and attention should be paid. Tragically, his was her last movie—during filming she was fighting the cancer that eventually killed her —-and I don’t know if there has ever been a female musical comedy star of greater range and presence. Anyway, there’s a number in the film where Judy tells Dean Martin that New York’s grim mass of humanity during rush hours will thaw if strangers only say “hello” to each other. Dean is skeptical, but he tries it on a dour-looking man waiting in the mob, whose face instantly breaks into a brilliant smile at the greeting. “Hel-LO!” the man responds to a surprised Dino, and soon everyone is happily saying hello to each other. You guessed it: the dour-looking man was played by “Uncle Leo” himself, Len Lesser. His catch phrase in “Seinfeld” was a deliberate reference to that bit, one of the very few memorable moments in the elderly actor’s career.

This is really a long introduction to a different point: I get a lot of ethics ideas from watching old movies. For example, I watched 1967’s “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, one of schlockmeister Roger Corman’s few films with an A-list cast and a big budget. The film’s solemn narrator is uncredited, but he is obviously meant to make the casual audience member think it’s Orson Welles. It wasn’t Welles, however: it was master vocal artist Paul Frees, who had a great, and often used, Welles impression. I assume he was uncredited so no one would realize that the narrator wasn’t the weighty Welles, but the voice of Boris Badinov from “Rocky and Bullwinkle.”

I don’t know how Corman got away with this.

1. Ah, the accurate, trustworthy news media. Reuters reports, “A South African military plane crash-landed on Thursday at the Goma airport in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a U.N. spokesman said….two sources at the airport, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there did not appear to be major damage to the plane.”

Here’s the plane:

2. Apparently the Democratic Party’s strategy regarding the economy is to just flagrantly lie about it. “The U.S. economy is working just fine for people like me. But it is badly broken for the vast majority of Americans,” Mike Bloomberg said this week. That counter-factual statement echoes Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders…pretty much the Democratic field, and it is demonstrably false.

The Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank’s monthly Wage Growth Tracker shows that Americans in the lower wage brackets are making more money, and at a better rate than they have for a very long time. Here’s a graph: Continue reading