Sunday Ethics Reflections, 9/13/2020: “Hold On To Your Butts!”

1. Our aspiring leaders:

  • A 31-year-old female deputy and 24-year-old male deputy were shot while sitting in their patrol car at a Metro rail station in Compton, California. Protesters gathered outside the emergency room at the hospital where they were treated. The sheriff’s department found it necessary to tweet:  “To the protesters blocking the entrance & exit of the HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM yelling “We hope they die” referring to 2 LA Sheriff’s ambushed today in #Compton: DO NOT BLOCK EMERGENCY ENTRIES & EXITS TO THE HOSPITAL,. People’s lives are at stake when ambulances can’t get through.” President Trump tweeted in response to the shooting:

Incredible: flat learning curve. After all the uproar about calling people “animals.” And if the shooters are minorities…The only one who can lose this election for President Trump is President Trump.

  • The Times of Israel reports, based on a recording of a virtual fundraiser, that Joe Biden said that the recent development of Arab states normalizing relations with Israel was “something positive” President Trump is doing “accidentally.”

Stay classy, Joe. To be fair, that has been the narrative of the Democratic Party/”resistance”/news media alliance for four years: if something goes wrong, it is the President’s fault; if something goes right, it’s either wrong anyway because Trump is responsible, or it’s just luck or an accident.

2. And now, from the world of sports! Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics, 9/6/2020: Dog Food, A T-Rex, An Astronaut, The Pope…But No 2020 Campaign Items Whatsoever! Let’s Hear A Little Applause!

1 . Boy, the Pope must hate the U.S. media. ‘Did you hear that four people say the President called our soldiers “losers”? It’s true! They really say that!’

Pope Francis called gossiping a “plague worse than COVID” and risks dividing  the Catholic Church. The devil, he says, is the “biggest gossiper.” who is seeking to divide the church with his lies.

Francis was discussing a Gospel passage about the need to correct others privately when they do something wrong. The Catholic hierarchy calls this the “fraternal correction” of priests and bishops to correct them when they err without airing problems in public. You know; like when they sexually abuse children. “Gossip” apparently means “talking about things the Church is trying to cover-up.”

Got it, Your Holiness!

2. Proposition: It’s unethical to buy your dog’s food at the Dollar Store. Sunshine Mills Inc., an Alabama-based pet food company, issued a recall of its dog food this week due to the levels of Aflatoxin, a toxic mold by-product with  the potential of making dogs sick, according to a Food and Drug Administration news release. The products recalled are  FAMILY PET Meaty Cuts, Beef Chicken & Cheese Flavors;  HEARTLAND FARMS Grilled Favorites Beef Chicken & Cheese Flavor; and HAPPY LIFE Butcher’s Choice Dog Food. All are sold exclusively at Dollar General and Family Dollar stores.

I wonder if they sell baby food? Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Food Lion

I suppose the silver lining in our various corporations and businesses groveling to anti-American groups and movements is that their owners and leaders lack any convictions, values, principles or integrity, so they will abandon stupid decisions as  thoughtlessly as they made them. Remember how quickly Cracker Barrel  did a mid-air double backflip when it first condemned “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson, then changed its corporate mind the second it realized its original position would forfeit more profit that the reverse? That’s Food Lion. That’s most of these spineless, weasel-wired organizations.

Yecchh. Continue reading

Now THIS Is Racism…But It’s Joe Biden, So Never Mind.

I admit that I am still using the old, original, can’t-be-adjusted-to-fit-anyone-or anything-you-want-to-smear definition of “racism”: “the belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another.”

That’s one reason that I know that the attacks on President Trump as a racist comprise a Big Lie.  No, criticizing a single Black individual, even nastily or unfairly, isn’t racism. Not favoring policies that confer advantages because of race isn’r racism. Even referring to third world countries with primarily black populations as “shit holes’—just to pick a hypothetical—isn’t racism. However, what Joe Biden said yesterday, during an interview with black and Latino journalists,

“Most people don’t know, unlike the African American community with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community, with incredibly different attitudes about different things.”

That’s racism, flat-out, no doubt about it, no spin possible. Not only that, it’s old school racism, like “them darkies just love their watermelon, and are happy pickin’ cotton in the fields!” In sexist terms, it is like saying that women are too emotional to hold leadership position. In a homophobia context, it is like saying that gay men are potential child molesters. The idea that blacks are monolithic and basically all alike was a Jim Crow staple, and like all racist tropes, is, or should be, nonsense on its face.

What Joe Biden said wasn’t a “gaffe.” His statement was clear and unequivocal; indeed it was one of the most coherent things he has uttered in public for a long time. It wasn’t a “gaffe,” except if you use the cynical Washington, D.C. definition of that word, which is “a politician saying in public what he really thinks.”  Back in 1988, when Ross Perot was scaring both parties with his third party run for the President, the NAACP tarred him as a racist because at one point in his address to the group he referred to them as “you people.” Imagine if he had said, “you people are all the same.” Yet that is exactly what Joe Biden said yesterday. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Gary Garrels

The carnage of the George Floyd Terror, aka George Floyd Freakout, aka George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck, claimed another victim yesterday, and Ethics Alarms is designating him the Ethics Dunce. We really need a new category for people like Gary Gerrels, the now ex-senior curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Placed in a position where he could take a strong  position against unhinged woke bullying, when every element of common sense, integrity, fairness and reality was aligned in his favor, he prostrated himself to the mob. “Ethics Coward,” perhaps? “Ethics Weenie”? “Ethics Fool”? “Useful Ethics Idiot”?

Garrels  triggered the process of his cancellation by concluding a presentation on how to diversify the museum’s holdings by saying, “don’t worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.” In a ZOOM meeting of museum employees, Garrels  voiced a similar position, saying  that the museum could not avoid collecting the work of white men, which he described as “reverse discrimination.” Shortly thereafter employees created and began signing an online petition demanding that he leave the museum.
Continue reading

Facts Don’t Matter: Academic Research Undergoes The Ultimate Integrity Meltdown

Heather MacDonald, whose Congressional testimony Ethics Alarms noted here, writes in the Wall Street Journal,

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is a peer-reviewed journal that claims to publish “only the highest quality scientific research.” Now, the authors of a 2019 PNAS article are disowning their research simply because I cited it.

Psychologists Joseph Cesario of Michigan State and David Johnson of the University of Maryland analyzed 917 fatal police shootings of civilians from 2015 to test whether the race of the officer or the civilian predicted fatal police shootings. Neither did. Once “race specific rates of violent crime” are taken into account, the authors found, there are no disparities among those fatally shot by the police. These findings accord with decades of research showing that civilian behavior is the greatest influence on police behavior.

In September 2019, I cited the article’s finding in congressional testimony. I also referred to it in a City Journal article, in which I noted that two Princeton political scientists, Dean Knox and Jonathan Mummolo, had challenged the study design. Messrs. Cesario and Johnson stood by their findings. Even under the study design proposed by Messrs. Knox and Mummolo, they wrote, there is again “no significant evidence of anti-black disparity in the likelihood of being fatally shot by the police.”

My June 3 Journal op-ed quoted the PNAS article’s conclusion verbatim. It set off a firestorm at Michigan State. The university’s Graduate Employees Union pressured the MSU press office to apologize for the “harm it caused” by mentioning my article in a newsletter. The union targeted physicist Steve Hsu, who had approved funding for Mr. Cesario’s research. MSU sacked Mr. Hsu from his administrative position. PNAS editorialized that Messrs. Cesario and Johnson had “poorly framed” their article—the one that got through the journal’s three levels of editorial and peer review.

Mr. Cesario told this page that Mr. Hsu’s dismissal could narrow the “kinds of topics people can talk about, or what kinds of conclusions people can come to.” Now he and Mr. Johnson have themselves jeopardized the possibility of politically neutral scholarship. On Monday they retracted their paper. They say they stand behind its conclusion and statistical approach but complain about its “misuse,” specifically mentioning my op-eds.

The authors don’t say how I misused their work.

In a move redolent of Soviet-style retroactive censorship, Michigan State University deleted its press release promoting the study, which had said in part, Continue reading

On Progressives, Prof. Tribe, Race-Based Leadership,The Decline Of Integrity, And, Oh, Everything: A Critical Review

This drama,  reported by Campus Reform, exemplifies so much about what’s so wrong about so much and so many, that it boggles the mind. My mind, anyway. You may have a higher boggle threshold.

Act I: Once distinguished Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe, recently crippled by Trump Derangement,  was among the signers of a letter addressed to Biden, urging the ex-Vice President to choose Sen. Elizabeth Warren as his most qualified running mate.

Observations: The letter, signed mostly by aging old-school liberals like Tribe, but also socialist Robert Reich and flat-learning curve activist Jane Fonda among others,  is a depressing commentary 1) on the qualifications of Biden’s likely VP pool and  2) the reasoning ability and absence of integrity among  its signatories, “100+ progressive former public officials, authors, actors, activists,advocates and scholars.” Their theory is that Warren is ready to become President  by virtue of her experience and accomplishments. Nothing in the letter explains why a former academic with literally no leadership experience at all should be  considered for President or Vice President. Nor does the letter acknowledge that at 71, Warren would be the oldest Vice President in history, backing the oldest man to be elected President (and showing it). This is not surprising, I suppose, since the list of signers appears to have an average age of at least 71.

The gang lauds her policy skills, then cites among her brilliant policy nostrums reparations for slavery, and as evidence of her judgment, urging Trump’s impeachment after the release of the Mueller Report, which contained no valid justification for impeachment whatsoever, which Warren, as a legal scholar, undoubtedly knew.

Risibly, the letter says, “As you saw, she ran among the best-organized and well-funded presidential campaigns in history.” If it was so well-funded and well-organized, and Warren is so terrific, why was the canpaign a failure, failing even to win the primary in Warren’s own state, Massachusetts?

“Imagine her on stage debunking Mike Pence or needling ‘President Tweety’,” the letter says. There it is: the tell. It’s one more expression of mass anti-Trump fury. That’s Warren’s big plus for these angry Lefties: she would call the Bad Orange Man a poopy head with brio.

One would think many of the  one-time luminaries would be bothered by Warren’s habitual dishonesty and demagoguery, especially Stephen Gillers, the renowned (77 year-old) legal ethics guru. Nah! What’s most important is to have a quick-witted speaker who can  needle President Tweety’.” Warren’s  years of faking being a “person of color” to advance via affirmative action at Harvard and elsewhere? Her documented venal hypocrisy?

Warren asked a crowd, during the campaign this year, “How could the American people want someone who lies to them?,” thus using rhetoric to try to erase

  • Her decades-long Cherokee charade, her DNA test fiasco,
  • Her false claim that her children only attended public schools,
  • Her lie about being fired from a teaching job because she was pregnant,
  • Her false claim of  to being first woman to take the New Jersey Bar while breastfeeding,
  • Her cruel slander of a dead past employer, saying he “chased her around a desk” who, it turned out when her story was checked, not only had polio, and couldn’t chase anyone, he was also a friend and mentor whom Warren eulogized at his funeral.
  •   Warren’s  endorsment, knowing well it is a lie, of the “Mike Brown was murdered by a racist cop” fantasy,
  • Her claim to have represented women harmed by defective breast transplants when she represented the defendant, Dow Corning, in those cases,
  • …and more.

Thus does bias make you stupid. All these are accomplished and supposedly trustworthy people, and none of them apparently believe that cynical obfuscating at every turn is a disqualification for the Presidency unless the obfuscater is Donald Trump. The letter is one giant, embarrassing, epistolary Jumbo.

Act 2, Scene I:  Asked by the Washington Post if African-Americans would accept a non-black running mate for Biden, Tribe said it would be  “symbolic” to choose an African American running mate, but that “African Americans above all would be the first to say they are more interested in results than cosmetics.”

Observations: This  launches the popular game show so often played here: “Dumb or Lying?” Tribe’s answer is an amazing assertion now, of all times.  The George Floyd Freakout is fueled by demands that there be mandatory quotas for African-Americans among faculties, corporate boards, committees, sports team owners. scientific advisory committees, artistic award nominees and winners—pretty much everything, with skin color the primary criteria and not ability, with the only “result” mattering being…more blacks in positions of power and influence.

Act 2, Scene 2: Tribe’s statement to the Post and the pro-Warren letter made Tribe the target of the progressive Twitter mob. Some critics claimed that Tribe was overlooking the accomplishments of other black female candidates like Kamala Harris. Bakari Sellers, former South Carolina state representative, tweeted that Tribe made “snide remarks about the preparedness of the black women being vetted for VP.”  Former Democratic National Committee Chairman and Vermont governorHoward Dean said the letter and Tribe’s comments typify white peoples’ “clueless racism.”

Observation: By any rational standard, Kamala Harris is even less qualified to be President than Warren. Her only asset is that she’s black. She’s an affront to #MeToo and feminists, having literally slept her way to the top; she has boasted of being a tough prosecutor, which spits in the face of the BLM “mass incarceration” grievance. She ran an even worse campaign for the nomination than Warren, having to drop out early despite heavy hype from the media.

And Tribe’s arguments for Warren weren’t “snide” or racist, except in the new race-bullying USA where  anything not  explicitly pro-African American objectives and individuals is evidence of bigotry.

Act 3. Tribe resorted to weasel words and gibberish to avoid being “cancelled”; as a lawyer, he has plenty of facility with both. He tweeted,

“I apologize for my choice of words…I’ve never doubted that racial identity is a significant variable in American governance. It should count heavily in favor of previously excluded groups as part of a person’s full record of background, skills, and values. I’m FOR Warren, not ANTI-excellent others.”

Observations:

Well, Larry used to be better at weasel words and gibberish in his prime.

  • He’s a lawyer: words are his stock in trade. Lawyers don’t get to use the “poor choice of words” excuse.
  • I literally don’t know what “racial identity is a significant variable in American governance” means.
  • The argument is over qualifications, not “variables.”
  • The proposition that race constitutes “skills and values” is  bigotry and an argument for black supremacy in this context.
  • “I’m FOR Warren, not ANTI-excellent others” should condemn Tribe to wearing a paper bag over his head. This is a binary choice, Professor; be definition being for one candidate is being against the others.

Finally, all of the media and blog reports on this fiasco say that Tribe “apologized.” He backtracked, tap-danced, and humina humina-ed, but he did NOT apologize, despite his use of the word “apologize.” He did not apologize for the letter, and he did not retract his opinion.

Washington Post Editor Karen Attiah, The Human Smoking Gun

The above tweet was posted two days ago by Karen Attiah, the Washington Post  global opinions editor. After it was immediately and legitimately attacked for what it was—yes, this is res ipsa loquitur— she took it down, but not before her position had been captured in hundreds of screenshots like the one above. Later she tweeted, “Non, je ne regrette rien,” French for “No, I do not regret anything.” (Apparently Attiah believes the foes of unethical journalism are too primitive and uneducated to understand French, or too dim to use an online translator.)

The Washington Post should have given her reason to regret, but it hasn’t, and unless its readers and media critics force the paper to act, it won’t. Since the deleted tweet, the Post has refused to comment on its editor’s outburst, and other than her snotty Gallic tweet of defiance, so has Attiah. Continue reading

There Are Worse Things Than Racism, Part I: The Tina Fey Dilemma

The Kennedy Center embarrassed itself in 2010, giving an affirmative action (gender division) honor to Tina Fey. She received its Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which the Center has awarded every year since 1998 to individuals who have “had an impact on American society in ways similar to” Twain…you know, like Tina Fey.

The Center realized that it was short on female honorees (because humor, historically and now, is a field dominated by men), and because it can only give the award to the living, so it settled on Fey as a weaker than weak addition to the pantheon. I compared the award at the time to Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize and added,

If she vanished tomorrow, Tina Fey would at best be a footnote in the history of American comedy. Her qualifications for the Mark Twain Prize in 2010 appear to be 1) she is a woman, and there aren’t many women in comedy 2) she is a comedian, though not an especially funny one, 3) she is a writer, though neither of the screenplays she has authored would be called deathless classics, unless you think “Mean Girls” is on par with “Adam’s Rib,” and 4) she looks like Sarah Palin, which allowed her to do a popular impression mocking Palin during the 2008 campaign, and the people who give out the award really, really dislike Sarah Palin.

In short, she didn’t deserve the award in the first place, and the Mark Twain Prize lost its integrity and credibility by her receiving it. Thus there is some condign justice in that decision coming back to bite the Kennedy Center now, along with a second bad decision eight years later.

That year, the Kennedy Center decided to rescind Bill Cosby’s Mark Twain Prize, which the Cos had more than earned in 2009. Cosby did have impact on culture and humor comparable to Twain, and his achievements dwarf those of Fey like “War and Peace” dwarfs “Valley of the Dolls.” Again virtue-signaling to feminists, the Kennedy Center revoked Cosby’s honor after his conviction for sexual assault (which was just accepted for appeal this week).

I didn’t write about it at the time, I guess because there was nothing new to say that I hadn’t said in this post, where I observed,

[L]ast I heard Bill Cosby was still recognized as a major trailblazer in stand-up, TV comedy, and television integration (remember “I Spy”?), an important positive cultural force for race relations and black community self esteem, and a spectacularly talented comedian with a unique voice and presence. None of that has changed. Those were the achievements that prompted Cosby’s bust’s inclusion in Disney’s Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza, along with celebrities such as Lucille Ball and Oprah Winfrey who, like the Cos, have been inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. O.J. Simpson is still honored in the College Football Hall of Fame, because he was one of the greatest college stars ever. His post-career hobby as a murderer, like Bill’s extra-curricular activities as a serial rapist, have nothing to do with the honor, just as Cosby earned and still deserves, his honor for what he achieved on stage and screen.

That still applied in 2018, and it is true today.

But Bill was deemed unworthy nonetheless. Now, in the midst of the George Floyd Freakout, the frenzied statue-toppling, cancelling-happy, race-offense vengeance-obsessed mob has targeted Tina Fey. During her acclaimed NBC show “30 Rock,” which she created, often wrote, and appeared in, blackface was used for comic effect four times. This week, always seeking to follow the crowd, Fey said her mea culpas and had Hulu pull the shows from circulation, thus putting herself in the cross hairs. (I must note that this censorship, like all censorship, impedes knowledge and reflection, since it is impossible to assess what the use of blackface was. I never watched the show because mega-ass Alec Baldwin was a regular, and I would prefer chewing off my fingers than supporting anything he’s involved in.) Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethical Quote, Fair Quote, Unethical Quote, Share Quote…”

Humble Talent was moved by the ongoing disgrace of the Washington Post’s handling of the two-year old “scandal” involving an ill-designed  Megyn Kelly costume to consider the The Society for Professional Journalism’s (SPJ) Code of Ethics, which you can (and ought to) read here.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethical Quote, Fair Quote, Unethical Quote, Share Quote…”:

The Society for Professional Journalism’s (SPJ) Code of Ethics. Believe it or not, it’s actually a pretty good document. If journalists actually even pretended to give it lip service, I think we’d all be better off. A couple of choice snippets (although, really, read the whole thing);

Principle 1: SEEK TRUTH AND REPORT IT (If only).

  • Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.
  • Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
  • Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
  • Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant

Principle 2: MINIMIZE HARM (This seems counter-intuitive given the weaponisation of journalism, but que sera sera)

  • Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
  • Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.

Principle 3: ACT INDEPENDENTLY

  • Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility

Principle 4: BE ACCOUNTABLE AND TRANSPARENT (HAHAHAHAHahahahahahahaha!)

  • Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.
  • Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations. Continue reading