Comment Of The Day: “Bizarro World Ethics: A Vicious Young Jerk’s Unethical Act Is Celebrated …..Part II: The Times And Its Readers

new yorktimes

Arthur in Maine earned the second Comment of the Day to end the year with his observations on the New York times aiding and abetting the savaging of Mimi Groves. Here is his COTD on the post, “Bizarro World Ethics: A Vicious Young Jerk’s Unethical Act Is Celebrated And His Victim Vilified In A Cautionary Tale Of What Happens When Society Allows Its Values To Be Turned Inside Out. Part II: The Times And Its Readers”:

Let me go further into my comment to Part 1, which boiled down to “the NYT acted most unethically of all.”

I chose not to expound then, anticipating this post, but I will now.It’s likely – indeed, even essential – to this story that the pitchfork-and-torches mobs on social media have a larger footprint than the New York Times. But THIS Facebook group, THAT Instagram “Influencer”, THOSE Twitter feeds – tend to be narrow channels of like-minded myrmidons (this is what social media has done to society, more effectively than any propagandist ever could: separated culture into armed camps).

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Bizarro World Ethics: A Vicious Young Jerk’s Unethical Act Is Celebrated And His Victim Vilified In A Cautionary Tale Of What Happens When Society Allows Its Values To Be Turned Inside Out. Part II: The Times And Its Readers

Mimi

In Part I, describing the horrific personal destruction of 18-year-old Mimi Groves (above)–the antiseptic term “unethical” does not adequately convey the pure viciousness and wrongfulness of the act—I attempted to clarify what the entire scenario represents, a near complete distortion of values and ethical norms with ominous implications. I mostly left out the enthusiastic participation of the New York Times in this destructive process, first, because it was not directly involved in Jimmy Galligan’s hateful and pernicious conduct, and second, because of space considerations. Thus we have Part II.

The Times signaled its sentiments and objectives in the headline of its feature, written by reporter Dan Levin: “A Racial Slur, a Viral Video, and a Reckoning.” “Reckoning” means, in this context, a settling of accounts, a judgment, or earned punishment. In the view of the Times writer and the editors who allowed it to be published, Mimi Groves was justly punished by her black classmate, who plotted–plotted is a fair description—to derail her education and future prospects, and did so. What was the conduct that earned the “reckoning”? Groves used a word, in a general context, that the social justice establishment has ruled, on its own authority, can never be uttered for any reason, or published in print—unless the individual responsible is black, in which case it may be rude or less than desirable, but otherwise it’s OK.

At the time the word “nigger” was used by Groves in a three second video on social media, and today, popular songs embraced by her age group and peer group used the same word repeatedly, and made millions of dollars as a result. At the time the word “nigger” was used by Groves in a three second video on social media, popular movies showed black characters calling other black characters that same word in jest, or affectionately, or for shock value.The actors playing those characters, notably Samuel L. Jackson, who has earned a bundle as the spokesperson for a major credit card,while using teh word “nigger” more times on screen that any actor in film history, have not faced any “reckoning.” The screenwriters who put those words in his mouth faced no “reckoning”; the directors who permitted the dialogue to be read and the studios that sent the wave of “niggers” into theaters and streaming services faced no “reckoning.”

Just this month, Netflix premiered an adaptation of August Wilson’s play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” directed by acclaimed social justice warrior director George C. Wolfe, an African American. When a stream of “niggers” was unleashed about ten minutes into the fim, never to stop, I was genuinely confused. How could this be, when I have a file of professors and teachers who faced sanctions, protests, suspensions, and professional destruction, not by referring to any black individual as a nigger, but by using the word in the context of discussing legal, ethical and cultural implications of language.

Yes, I was confused, and I am a lawyer, a writer, an ethicist and a teacher with more than four times as much experience in life as Mimi Groves when, as a child, she mistakenly thought a casual use of the word in a social media message wouldn’t upset anyone, much less put a dedicated life assassin on her trail.The the New York Times holds that Mimi deserved her “reckoning,” and made sure that if anyone inclined to tar her as a racist unfit for human association on this woke culture we are breeding didn’t know that she had to be punished and why, a major feature in the nation’s most read, circulated and quoted newspaper would spread word of her disgrace. The paper’s verdict is clear: Jimmy Galligan struck a blow against “systemic societal racism.” He’s a hero, even though literally nothing he did was ethical, fair, or just:

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Bizarro World Ethics: A Vicious Young Jerk’s Unethical Act Is Celebrated And His Victim Vilified In A Cautionary Tale Of What Happens When Society Allows Its Values To Be Turned Inside Out. Part I: Jimmy Galligan, Ethics Villain

The New York Times published a long and detailed account of what can and will happen if society allows its values and ethical norms to become distorted. It enters the world of Bizarro Ethics, where, like the fictional and allegedly comic planet of Bizarro World in old Superman comics, everything is backwards and inside out. In such a culture, I have explained here many times, being unethical is ethical, and being ethical is wrong. A black student set out to use an old social media post to destroy the reputation of a white classmate after she had been admitted to the college of her dreams. And he succeeded. The Times story is a cautionary tale of what is happening in our culture, but that’s not its objective. Its objective is to rationalize and justify what the black student did.

In 2016, when she was a freshman and 15-years old, Mimi Groves sent a three second video SnapChat message to some friends that said, “I can drive, nigger!” She has explained that she used the dreaded “N-word” because it was common in the music she and her friends had been listening to. It was not intended to be seen by or to upset anyone; it was just a one-off social media message like millions of others that are sent every day, by an immature child lacking common sense, experience and a fully formed brain. As such, it should have been ignored, especially by her peers, who suffered from the same maladies.

But because of the scourge of social media and a culture which increasingly encourages cruelty, vengeance, personal destruction, and the elevation of doing harm to those who “deserve it” to a societal norm, the message became a ticking time bomb in the hands of those who felt they had a right to destroy her.

Somebody send a copy of the message to Jimmy Galligan’s phone last school year. Galligan is black, and Mimi was a fellow classmate whom he knew and had spoken with earlier in their high school days.

Ethics Point 1: Whoever saved the message and set out to make sure that someone would see it who would find it upsetting is the first and the catalytic ethics villain in this story. There was no justifiable reason to send the message to Galligan except to upset and trigger him, which someone who knew him obviously believed it would. A fair, rational and ethical person would know that a years-old message on SnapChat is meaningless, and the Golden Rule would have taught him or her that circulating such a message is something he or she would never want anyone to do with an ill-considered video of their creation.

Here the Times attempts to prejudice the reader in Jimmy’s favor with a trail of irrelevancies:

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