Comment Of The Day: “Another Early Morning Seminar, Another Ethics Alarms Open Forum!”

As they often do, this morning’s Open Forum has brought forth a Comment Of The Day (and perhaps more than one; it is still rolling, and I haven’t read all entries yet.)  This one, by frequent Comment Of The Day auteur Chris Marschner, was written in rebuttal to an ethics  professor’s newspaper column arguing that “individualism” is  an illness. This is one more form of the general anti-American argument that socialists, communists, and, increasingly, progressives  have advanced against the core culture of this nation, which was founded on individual rights and the power of individual responsibility, accountability, power and aspiration.

I’m glad Chris saw this thing before I did, and did such an excellent, and measured job rebutting it. It might have killed me. The thought of a community college, where students often do not have the critical thinking skills or intellectual breadth of experience to be able to resist this kind of indoctrination, having a professor like the author tinkering with their brains and beliefs is the stuff of horror movies.

Here is Chris’s Comment of the Day  from today’s Open Forum:

“Several days ago an adjunct professor of Philosophy and Ethics at Hagerstown Community College penned an Op-Ed in the Morning Herald newspaper here in Hagerstown, MD., decrying Individualism as a disease of the mind which leads to racism and  mass shootings. I am sharing my rebuttal with the group.

On August 9th, under the headline “Enemies of a Nation,” Don Stevenson penned an Op-Ed telling readers that individualism is a “severing, often arrogant, disease that applauds the free-wheeling person or entity and claims the self-directing power of a sole personality or mind-set with little respect for diversity.” This is pure fiction. There is no reference to individualism as a mental disorder in the DSM-5 manual. Do not equate individualism with sociopathy and psychopathy, both of which, in my opinion, are nurtured through the self-aggrandizing processes of social media. The need for likes and followers is suggestive of a need for love and fame. The perennial lack of likes and followers reinforces a person’s dissociative mindset. This gives rise to aberrations of violence among a minute number of mentally ill people who lack the ability to process information normally.

A discussion of the effects of social media and the increasing incidence of suicide will be left for another day.

Mr. Stevenson’s piece was an ill-informed hit piece suggesting that the El Paso shooter’s motives were based  on nativist hatred of immigrants. It was obvious to me that Mr. Stevenson did not read the manifesto and relied solely on news accounts, for if he had read the text he would have quickly realized the shooter was claiming to focus on the common good for Americans. Mexicans just happened to be the target. The shooter clearly and unequivocally stated that his goal was to reduce the population because, he said, we are destroying the environment with too many people. He explained that he was unable to bring himself to kill those he considered his own countryman. He argued that Americans won’t change their lifestyle, and can’t afford to let others get used to this lifestyle. He claimed automation was going to create massive unemployment and, while universal health care and universal income would help, civil unrest would inevitably occur.  He railed against powerful corporations manipulating policy.

Readers should ask why the parts of the manifesto that did not fit the anti-Trump narrative but instead reflected the exact opposite were not as widely disseminated as the shooter’s beliefs about cultural replacement. Why have we hears almost nothing about the leftist motivations of the Dayton and Gilroy shooters? Nothing is more unethical than to have a teacher of ethics not research the subject matter beforehand, or worse, twist the facts to suit a desired narrative. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/8/2019: Hating Hate By Hating The Hateful Haters

Good morning.

Are you nuts? I’m not. Yet.

1. You want deranged? This is deranged. MSNBC put analyst Frank Figliuzzi on the air to explain the Nazi symbolism at the White House.  Figliuzzi is a former FBI assistant—think about that as you read this—and he has been given media credibility of late because he had  predicted that white supremacist violence was potentially imminent due to President Trump’s rhetoric. Of course, I predicted months ago that the relentless divisive rhetoric from “the resistance” would get someone killed soon, and nobody’s calling me to blather on TV…and I’m not insane, like this guy.

Figliuzzi alerted MSNBC World about the sinister numerical connection between neo-Naziism and the Trump administration’s decision to fly flags at half-mast until August 8 in honor of the victims of the Dayton and El Paso shootings.

“If we don’t understand how they think, we’ll never understand how to counter them,” he said. “The President said that we will fly our flags at half mast, until August 8. That’s 8/8. Now, I’m not going to imply that he did this deliberately, but I am using it as an example of the ignorance of the adversary that’s being demonstrated by the White House. The numbers 88 are very significant in neo-Nazi and white supremacy movement. Why? Because the letter ‘H’ is the eighth letter of the alphabet, and to them the numbers 8-8 together stand for ‘Heil Hitler.’ So we’re going to be raising the flag back up at dusk on 8/8. No one is thinking about this.”

Once again, this calls for Sidney Wang...

The reason that nobody is thinking about this, you idiot, is that it is deranged. How crazy can “the resistance” get and not start a stampede to the President, in reflex revulsion to the lies, the disrespect, the paranoia, the smears and the hysteria? The Times this week was musing about why Trump’s approval ratings are rising even as the mainstream media has been proclaiming that he’s a Nazi racist and responsible for every shooting in America.

To ask the question is to answer it.

(I just realized my piano is a Nazi…) Continue reading

From The Mouths Of Babes…Cultural Poison

A recent question to Phillip Galanes, the advice columnist whose “Social Q’s” feature for the New York Times has frequently sparked Ethics Alarms essays, was fraught with larger significance.

A mother said that her 12-year-old daughter had a a sticker on her water bottle quoting Dr. Seuss: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” The girl’s friend told her that  systemic racism made that statement false for many Americans, so the sticker was racist. The daughter then peeled off the sticker. “What’s a mother to do?” was the gist of the inquirer’s appeal. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-up, 7/18/2019: Heading Toward An Ameriac Where “America” Is Banned, Where It’s Illegal To Call An Illegal Illegal, Where Judge’s Say “Good Work!” To Felons, And Where Illiterate Celebrities Are “Influencers”

Aiiii!

Everything is seemingly spinning out of control!

1. For example, this stupid controversy, and surprisingly, it involves the Kardashian family. Kylie Jenner, Kim’s half-sister, is, as you may know, a “social media influencer,” which means companies pay her millions to use Instagram to promote their brands or products to the mouth-breathing idiots who follow this fatuous and useless celebrity.

Kylie recently issued a post featuring this photo of herself nude in a huge straw hat…

 

which rankled another “influencer,” Amanda Ensing—how can someone get paid to influence people when I’ve never heard of them?— who accused Jenner of stealing her pose.  Ensling has more than one million followers on both YouTube and Instagram, where she posts her outfits, makeup looks, travel experiences, and hairstyles, and  had previously appeared on Instagram like this…

She implied that Jenner had engaged inInstagram pose plagiarism, or something. (There’s no such thing.) The ever-articulate half-Kardashian lashed back, in words reminiscent of Dryden or Wilde in high form,

“from the words of Kim K ur not on my mood board but i did get my inspo off Pinterest”

This exchange justified breathless accounts in People, The Daily Beast, Cosmo, E!, Us, and dozens of other websites, as well as celebrity cable shows, spreading the false impression that what these semi-literate narcissists  say or do matters, thus increasing their ability to make our young trivial and even dumber that our schools make them.

Apparently Pierre Auguste Renoir isn’t active on social media, or he might have complained to both “influencers.”

2. From Minnesota, a very different kind of stupid: In an epic example of woke virtue-signaling because Nationalism Bad,  the city council for St. Louis Park in Minnesota decided to end the practice of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings—you know,  to be more “inclusive,” which means to pander to members who don’t care that much for the United Sates of America.  Then they were shocked to discover that a very vocal majority of constituents found the move offensive, so the city council members did a complete 180,  said, “Never mind!” and reversed themselves unanimously,though complaining bitterly and implying that Deplorables made them do it. Integrity! Principle over expediency! Continue reading

Oh, I Can’t Let THIS Pass! Unethical Quote Of The Week: White House Correspondents’ Association President Olivier Knox

“February 2017 is when the President called us the enemy of the people. A few days later my son asked me, ‘Is Donald Trump going to put you in prison?’”

Olivier Knox at last week’s White House Correspondents Dinner.

At the same dinner, “entertainment” Ron Chernow—will he trade in his historian gig for stand-up? I can see it now—Laugh with the Hysterical Hystorian!—said in one of his funnier lines,

“H.L. Mencken once warned of a political system that would ‘keep the populace alarmed by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.’ We simply cannot allow the press to become an imaginary hobgoblin exploited for political gain.”

Great irony, Ron! The press has just completed nearly three years of trying to frighten the public by claiming that the President stole the election and is a Russian agent, but it’s the President who is alarming the public with “an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.'” HAHAHAHAHAHA! Good one!

Well, as someone who has written some comedy routines, I agree that it’s important to know your audience. In this case, that means knowing your audience is smug, arrogant, lacks self-awareness, and afflicted with permanent delusions of virtue.

But back to Knox. The device he stooped to use is known (here)as the Amy Carter Maneuver, when an adult places words in his child’s mouth for dramatic effect. Surely you recall Jimmy Carter’s infamous gaffe in his debate with Ronald Regan, when he said,  “I had a discussion with my daughter, Amy, the other day, before I came here, to ask her what the most important issue was. She said she thought nuclear weaponry — and the control of nuclear arms.”  Amy was 13, and most viewers found the device nauseating. Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics, 4/8/19: Is Ethics Really As Hard As These People Make It Seem?

Good morning!

(That’s Jimmy’s old vaudeville partner Eddie Jackson singing with Jimmy. Eddie was a one-trick pony and never destined for stardom, though he did appear in the Zigfield Follies. After Jimmy became a big star, he still kept Eddie on his payroll, well into Eddie’s old age. Introduced by Durante as his “partner,” Jackson would come strutting out midway through the live or TV show, singing “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey?” in his unremarkable voice. Sometimes Jimmy joined in, sometimes Eddie just strutted off stage to end the number. This courtesy went on for decades, until Eddie was too feeble to perform.)

1. Baseball ethics: showboating. This happened yesterday…

Why? Well, Chris Archer, the Pirates pitcher, was peeved because the Cincinnati Reds’ Derek Dietrich hit a home run, dropped the bat, and stood stock still and stared at it as it left the field. This is known as showboating and showing up the pitcher; it’s a fuck you move. Archer retaliated in Dietrich’s next at bat by throwing a fastball behind Dietrich near his head, widely considered to be taboo as unacceptably dangerous. The fight ensued.

The episode raised questions about MLB’s controversial PR campaign with the slogan “Let the Kids Play!”, endorsing the flamboyant on-field celebrating and styling brought to the game by Latin players,  Archer is one of the prime “playing” players, famous (or infamous) for dancing off the mound after a strikeout, kissing his arms, and other displays of self-admiration. Since that is his act, many, including me, feel that it is the height of hypocrisy for this pitcher to take offense when a batter treats him the same way he treats batters when he wins their duels.

On the other hand, what Dietrich did was the equivalent of taunting.

Exuberance is one thing, bad sportsmanship is another, and that’s what this was. The “kids”can play as long as they remember that real kids are watching and learning. I don’t think Roy Hobbs’ pennant-winning home run in “The Natural” was any less dramatic because he didn’t flip his bat, watch the ball go and pump his fist going around the bases.

2. Who’s the most unethical New York Times op-ed columnist? There are so many to choose from, but Michelle Goldberg is climbing fast. I highlighted her indefensible op-ed on the Mueller report recently, but I just stumbled an older column that was worse. In this one, Goldberg bemoans that Freedom House only give the United States an “86” score in ranking how democratic a nation is, dropping the US behind such places you wouldn’t want to live in like Croatia, Latvia, and Greece (Sorry, Yaya), and it’s all Trump’s fault. The score is down from 94 in 2009, when every international organization was hailing anyone and anything connected to Barack Obama, and using numerical scoring to measure something like democracy is obviously nonsense, unless the score furthers your agenda. This is similar to journalists calling organizations “hate groups” because the Southern Poverty Law center say so. It’s pure appeal to authority with an authority that has no credibility: a  logical fallacy.

Does Goldberg persuasively explain why the U.S. is suddenly less democratic? Oddly, she doesn’t mention the collapse of a responsible, trustworthy press—sure that’s worth subtracting at least 12.38 points. She also doesn’t mention how the American Left has been trying for three years to undermine elections and the elected President , or as Victor Davis Hanson writes,

“Are such efforts in the future to be institutionalized? Will the Left nod and keep still, if Republicans attempt to remove an elected Democratic President before his tenure is up? Are appeals to impeachment, the 25th Amendment, the Emoluments Clause, the Logan Act, and a Special Counsel the now normal cargo of political opposition to any future elected president? Is it now permissible in 2020 for Trump’s FBI director to insert an informant into the campaign of the Democratic presidential nominee?”

What do you think, another—let’s see—18.47 points down? Goldberg doesn’t think so: she focuses on such things as Russiagate, though she nods that there have been some positive developments on that front: “Several of the criminals who helped Trump get elected either have gone to prison or soon will.”

Love it. Later Goldberg says that Trump’s attack on fake news somehow made other nations start censoring the news media there. That statement above is an outright lie. None of the individuals Mueller indicted had any role in “helping Trump get elected,” as we now know. But she writes that the report gives us two reasons to worry:

The first is that it usually takes more than two years for a democracy to collapse. “Elsewhere in the world, in places like Hungary, Venezuela or Turkey, Freedom House has watched as democratic institutions gradually succumbed to sustained pressure from an antidemocratic leadership, often after a halting start,” the report said— an increase in corruption and a decrease in transparency — both hallmarks of this administration — are “often early warning indicators of problems in a democracy,” undermining public faith in the legitimacy of the system.”

What corruption is she talking about? The Secretary of State selling influence to foreign power through her fake non-profit? No, it can’t be that. An administration using its Justice Department to illegally try to sabotage an opposing party’s Presidential candidate? What about transparency? Even many liberal commentators say that Trump’s administration is more transparent than Obama’s. And who is undermining faith in the legitimacy of the system more than people like Goldberg, who support baseless Democratic conspiracy theories about a traitorous President and a stolen election?

And reason #2:

“Second, if Americans increasingly ignore Trump’s words, foreign leaders don’t. Authoritarianism is on the rise all over the globe — according to the Freedom House report, this is the 13th consecutive year that global freedom has declined. Trump’s presidency is a consequence of this trend, but it’s also become an accelerant of it.”

It’s the 13th consecutive year according to Goldberg’s dubious source, but Trump’s tweets the past two and a half years are really at fault.

Why is this “fit to print”?

3. If our democracy is failing, here’s one of the real reasons:

In Long Island,  11-year-old Bella Moscato said that she was going to choose the President for a sixth-grade assignment at Samoset Middle School to write about a personal hero. The teacher told her that President Trump was not an appropriate choice, and suggested–guess who!—Barack Obama instead.

Bella’s mother, Valerie Moscato says what the teacher did amounts to intimidation and censorship. Yes, and also indoctrination.

Sachem Central School District Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Graham issued a denial, saying,

It is not accurate that this student was told that they were not allowed to conduct research or report on any individual for a school assignment, including President Trump. To the best of our knowledge, by choice the student is still conducting their project of President Trump.

The school board is supposedly looking into the matter. The Moscatos want an apology, and if he is smart, the Superintendent will grab the chance to get off easy.  That teacher, however, should be fired.

 

 

Ethics Hero: Richard Schwartz, Responsible Citizen, And How His Experience Explains Donald Trump

Want to know why people are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it any more, so they decide to vote for anyone who appears to be outside the elite cabal that pretends to deliver “democracy?” Here’s a striking example.

During a public comment period during a Seattle city council meeting, Richard Schwartz came to the podium to make his case. He was troubled, as he should have been, that most of the council members were not looking at him, or appeared to be listening. Most were looking at their computer screens or smart phones, scrolling and apparently doing other tasks, or looking at porn, for all he knew. So instead of meekly accepting the disrespect and rudeness of his elected municipal representatives, he called them on it.

“It’s real discouraging to come up here and see all the heads down…,” he began, but Councilwoman Debora Juarez, who was presiding,  interrupted , saying “You’re on a two minute timer here, so let’s go.”

Schwartz professed puzzlement at the response, and after standing silently for several seconds, he asked,

“So it was unreasonable for me to ask that people look up and give me their attention?” Juarez answered by telling him that he only had only a minute and 30 seconds left, and lying, saying that he had their attention, when he obviously did not.

Discarding his prepared statement, since it was obvious that the City Council would only observe its obligation to take public comments in form rather than in good faith, Schwartz said that this was why he came to comment: “the state of our democracy.”  He pointed out that when State Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle) spoke in a public comment session the previous week,  she was four or fine minutes and the council was attentive, while everyone else at that session was limited to a single minute.

“It reminded me of George Orwell’s famous line from ‘Animal Farm’ about how all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” Schwartz continued. And that’s how I feel like I’m being treated now, just because I was kind of asking for your attention, like I noticed you all were very attentive to Ms. Jaypal last week. And I immediately got a hostile response back from you. I don’t understand that.”

With no response, he asked the council members if they ever responded to constituents.  Juarez told him his time was nearly up, as her colleagues either tended to their phones or looked bored.

“Well, it’s all on tape and I think it’s a pretty sad commentary that you think that asking for you guys to look up off of your computers and give attention during the short period of time was an unreasonable thing,”  Schwartz  said. “I really feel bad about that.”

He should feel bad about that. We all should. Democracy doesn’t work when elected officials treat the public this way; it can’t. This is democracy in name only. The stunning thing is that Seattle’s city council is so corrupted by their own sense of entitlement, wisdom and certitude that no ethics alarms pinged when an engaged voter begged them to pay attention to him for a couple of minutes.

For a second straight post, let me reference this November 9 whine-fest by feminist Jessica Valenti called, “How do I tell my daughter that America elected a racist, sexist bully?” Continue reading