Ethics Dunce: Fox News

Fox News’ reaction to the segment above was to ban…The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles from future broadcasts. Not the fact-free, name calling climate change shill who called Knowles “skinny boy” and who took the ridiculous, but familiar, position that children who place themselves in the middle of serious policy controversies cannot be held to the same standards as any other advocate, and judged on the basis of their credibility and credentials. Knowles’ terms for Greta Thunberg may have been harsher than necessary, but they were nonetheless true and accurate. She is definitely being exploited. She is even less credible than a normal 16-year-old because of her multiple behavioral maladies. And she is Swedish.

Chris Hahn,  a Democratic Party activist whom Fox News uses as a contributor because he makes progressives look like thugs, was obnoxious, abrasive, insulting and factually wrong. It may not have been nice (or necessary) to refer to Greta Thunberg as “mentally ill,” and it’s certainly politically incorrect, but it is not horrific calumny as Hahn would have us think. The National Alliance on Mental Illness includes autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among its topics, which is prima facie evidence that “mentally ill” is not a false description of Thunberg’s state. It is described as “a developmental condition that affect a person’s ability to socialize and communicate with others. People with ASD can also present with restricted and/or repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. The term “spectrum” refers to the degree in which the symptoms, behaviors and severity vary within and between individuals. Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled.”

“Illness” is not a unfair description of such a problem. Would Hahn have flipped out if Knwoles said, “mentally disabled”? Is there any doubt? Continue reading

First Do No Harm? Ethics Observations On “Dragon Lady”

Richard Hernandez, who now goes by Tiamat Legion Medusa, or just “Dragon Lady,” has spent more than $70,000 on a series of plastic surgeries and body modifications, a process triggered when the former bank vice-president was diagnosed with AIDS.

He/She/It/Them (He prefers it, and I won’t use “them”,) has had 18 horn implants, both ears removed, a partial nose removal (so he would look like Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” movies—COOL!), 32 teeth pulled and six of his remaining teeth sharpened to points, the whites of both eyes tinted green, and his tongue split into a fork. Tiamat has also had his chin altered nine times and nine piercings, among other procedures. He also underwent gender modification treatment.

Next up, Tiamat says, is the amputation “Mr. Bojangles,” his penis, along with having rainbow scales tatooed over every inch of skin, more horn implants, and both eyeballs stained  purple. The long term goal is to be transformed into a “genderless reptile” by 2025.

Good plan.

Observations: Continue reading

Now THAT’s Trump Derangement!

A 46-year-old woman in Palmetto, Florida (her name is being withheld, presumably to spare her shame, or perhaps so she won’t be lined up as a speaker at the Democratic National Convention), stabbed herself three times in the stomach with a kitchen knife. She then called the police, and when they arrived to find her covered in blood,  told them  that she did it becauseshe did it because, “I’m tired of living in Trump’s country; I’m tired of Trump being President!”  Evidently she was not so tired that she wouldn’t call the police, or try stabs #4,5 and 6.

We are told that the woman has been involuntarily institutionalized before, and will be again. It would be enlightening to ask her what it is exactly that made her so tired. As far as I can see, substantive conditions in the U.S. are much improved over the past administration. The deficit is a problem: would someone stab herself over the deficit? Obama promised to take a stab at reducing the deficit, but never did.

Perhaps the woman violently objects to Trump’s tariffs.  I remember reading somewhere once that tariff opponents used to hold stab-ins. Maybe I’m confusing this with something else, like the Manson Family. The kitchen knife might have been anti-gun statement, I guess.

Now, me, I’m tired of vulnerable, gullible, emotionally fragile citizens like this poor woman being bombarded by constant fear-mongering, Big Lies, and propaganda from the news media, the “resistance,” Democrats and social media hysterics about how horrible everything is. What is primarily horrible is the oppressive, relentless, three-year partisan siege against an elected President for the purpose of undoing the election, eroding the public’s trust, and undermining his efforts to govern. No wonder people are going nuts, and, like this woman, blaming President Trump because he made everyone else talk, write and act almost as crazy as she is.

I’m really tired or it. Really, really tired.

In fact, I think I need to stab myself.

Right after the Red Sox game.

Ethics Hero: Ken White Of Popehat

I haven’t featured Ken White lately, in part because Popehat’s posts are sporadic, unlike those of mad bloggers who habitually post multiple essays a day. However, Ken’s most recent post is the epitome of  ethical blogging at its best. It is long, but absolutely worth the time to read. His subject is the internet pile-on against a mentally ill writer named Kenneth Eng, who, Ken points out, was obviously not well, and yet was mercilessly attacked and mocked. Fox News even exploited his illness for some sensational cable moments—shades of Sam Nunberg!  Ken, who has written frankly and courageously about his own battles with clinical depression, takes a hard ethics inventory, finds himself and the internet community lacking, and does a superb job—as usual—of clarifying a difficult issue.  I have had my differences with Ken, but at his best, White is as ethically astute and clear a writer as there is online, with an almost unfailing ability to point us in the right direction.

He writes in part, Continue reading

What Do You Get When You Add Anti-Gun Bias To Constitutional Ignorance To Anti-Trump Bias To Incompetent Journalism? THIS…

Can’t balance that household budget? No gun rights for you!

I enthusiastically  recommend Reason, both the magazine and the website. I am far from being a libertarian, but their reporting and analysis is consistently fair, balanced and perceptive. If I were teaching high school, I’d assign it regularly.

Here is a recent example. Reason’s Scott Shackford correctly flagged the incompetent and misleading media narrative that President Trump eliminated a wise Obama measure that kept guns out of the hands of dangerous mentally ill individuals. The usual media hacks pushed this narrative on the public, like CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who tweeted to Trump,

“Are you aware that one of the regulations you got rid of made it more difficult for mentally ill to get guns?”

ABC News..

“One of the only major actions that Pres. Trump has taken on gun control is to block an Obama-era rule that made it harder for the mentally ill to have access to guns.”

Trump-deranged Washington Post conservative Jennifer Rubin…

“Almost a year ago Trump signed a bill rolling back Obama measure making it harder for mentally ill to get guns”

The Daily Beast:

“A year ago today, the Senate rolled back an Obama regulation that would have prevented 75,000 severely mentally ill people from buying guns and put them “in the hands of people too mentally unstable to manage their own bank accounts”

The degree of ignorance regarding mental illness and Constitutional rights displayed by these and others is horrifying.

Writes Shackford, Continue reading

Fake History On Stage, Or “Why I Detest Sondheim’s ‘Assassins'”

Here are some of the things audience members unfamiliar with American history and its dark corner containing Presidential assassins will learn as they watch the much-acclaimed Stephen Sondheim/John Weidman musical “Assassins,” a very fine production of which I saw over the weekend:

…Nobody knows why actor John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln. It may have been “bad reviews.”

...Lee Harvey Oswald worked in the Dallas book depository, and and was originally going to shoot himself, not President Kennedy.

…Giuseppe Zangara was attempting to assassinate President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he killed the Mayor of Chicago and wounded five bystanders in 1933, but didn’t really care which, because both of them “controlled the money.”

…Sarah Jane Moore was a quirky, whacky, Lucy Riccardo-like  housewife who just wanted to kill President Ford for no particular reason.

…Moore and Lynnette “Squeaky’ Fromme knew each other and jointly attacked Ford.

…President Garfield “succeeded Grant.”

…Presidential assassins are all cut from the same psychological cloth, desperate Americans living on the margins of a cold-hearted nation that ignores them, who decide to become important by killing a President of the United States.

None of the above is true, and that just scratches the surface of the elaborate, anti-America conceit that is “Assassins.”  It is conceived as a cynical carnival game underlying a time-warping portrait of some of the men and women, far from all, who have tried, successfully or not, to murder a President of the United States.

I have seen the show multiple times, and it has always been (mostly) well-produced, directed, and acted, although if you set out to drive someone like me crazy, having Booth shoot at Lincoln with a revolver and having Oswald fire just one shot at Kennedy are good ways to do it. The show is also infuriating in its deliberate defiance of history to execute what a couple of artists think is a cool concept and a strong political statement that amounts to an evening’s worth of disinformation. The idea about assassins being a callous society’s losers and outcasts just doesn’t work, and should have signaled that it doesn’t work from the start: Booth, the leader of the time-traveling murderers—they all show up in the book depository to persuade Oswald to kill JFK—disproves the thesis in the first 10 minutes. Booth was no outcast or loser. He was a celebrity. He was successful, famous, and relatively wealthy. He was healthy, relatively sane, and in good shape. Booth was a Confederate fanatic, and determined to do what he could to pull victory out of defeat for the South by killing Lincoln, but he was hardly in the same class as, for example, Charles Guiteau, a certifiable loon, or John Hinckley.  Leon Czolgosz , who shot McKinley, was no crazier than Booth. He was a political radical as well, an anarchist like Sacco and Vanzetti, and was convinced that the government had to be brought down in the interests of justice.

Oh, whatever. Details, details. Continue reading

A Facebook Case Study In How People Cripple Their Ability, And Ours, To Make Ethical Distinctions

I inadvertently stumbled over a provocative Facebook post by a friend of a friend of a friend. My friend is a principled and intelligent liberal: apparently I stumbled on to a chain where each link was a little more detached from reality and reason.

The stranger’s post involved the story from two weeks ago, in the aftermath of the collapse of a crucial  highway bridge in Atlanta. Investigators found the the collapse was caused by a fire.There were no deaths or injuries caused by the fire and the explosion it sparked , but i  severed the vital roadway that runs north-south through downtown Atlanta and carries 250,000 vehicles daily, City Fire Department investigators arrested three homeless people on suspicion of involvement in the fire. Eventually only one was charged:  Basil Eleby, a homeless man, was arraigned on charges of first-degree arson and criminal damage to property. He had many previous drug and assault arrests, according to Fulton County jail records.

To this my friend’s friend’s friend—his name doesn’t matter—responded,

Three people are now under arrest for the fire that led to the freeway collapse in Atlanta – 3 homeless people. I predicted this. But rather than seek out revenge on these 3 for the tremendous inconvenience they’ve caused, can we take a moment to realize that no person reading this has ever known the reality of sleeping under a bridge. None of us have been compelled to light a fire under that same bridge in order to keep our bodies warm.

And can we please have a conversation about funding mental health for the homeless? And can we please have a conversation, not based in shame, not based in revenge, about getting homeless people off the street?

Yes, these 3 folks have done something that has inconvenienced many people. Lighting that fire is something they have probably done countless times before. Can we take this as an opportunity to deal with the real problem? It gives me no satisfaction that the person charged with the worst of this situation will have his homelessness solved by a jail sentence.

Now, I’m sure this individual is a really kind, compassionate individual. I’m also sure he’s the kind of person who is always saying things like “Why is anyone going hungry in the richest country in the world?” to the vigorous head-nodding of his friends, and his friends’ friends. (I am willing to bet money that he was a passionate Bernie Sanders supporter; probably Occupy Wall Street too.) This kind of statement, however, is policy and ethics static. It literally makes people stupid, and leads them away from useful, objective, dispassionate analysis, not towards it.  It is an irresponsible Facebook post.

Of course, it is also flagrant virtue-signalling and grandstanding. Now everyone knows that this guy is oh so compassionate and such a good Christian, who rejects revenge, and wants us to apply the Golden Rule to the poor and the weak. Applause, please. Yes, you’re a wonderful human being. Unfortunately, thinking like this impedes policy solutions to problems, by simplifying them and dumbing them down into their most emotionally distracting components, while pretending that hard truths don’t exist. Continue reading

Two Unethical And Unconstitutional Laws On Guns, One From The Right, One From the Left, Bite The Dust. Good.

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I.

As last year’s flat-out demagoguery about banning gun ownership for citizens placed on the FBI’s no-fly list proved, Democrats will never let the Constitution get in the way of an emotion-based attack on gun rights. A rule  implemented by former President Obama after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting (“WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!!!”) would have required the Social Security Administration to report the records of some mentally ill beneficiaries to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Those who have been deemed mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs — roughly 75,000 people — would have then been prevented from owning guns.

The American Civil Liberties Union and advocates for the disabled opposed the restriction, which was so broadly drawn that an Asperger’s sufferer could have his Second amendment rights taken away. And what, exactly, is the link between not being able to handle one’s financial affairs and violence? Hell, I can barely handle my financial affairs.

By a 57-43 margin, the Republican-led Senate voted last week  to repeal the measure, and it now heads to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a leading Republican critic of the rule, said that it was filled with “vague characteristics that do not fit into the federal mentally defective standard” that could legally prohibit someone from buying or owning a gun. “If a specific individual is likely to be violent due to the nature of their mental illness, then the government should have to prove it,” Grassley said

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut where the Sandy Hook massacre occurred, and thus obligated to grandstand regardless of the fact that he’s on shaky 2nd Amendment, 5th  Amendment and also Equal Protection  ground, declaimed on the Senate floor,

“The [Congressional Review Act] we have before us today will make it harder for the federal government to do what we have told them to do for decades, which is to put dangerous people and people who are seriously mentally ill on the list of people who are prohibited from buying a gun….If you can’t manage your own financial affairs, how can we expect that you’re going to be a responsible steward of a dangerous, lethal firearm?”

Well, I guess nobody in Congress should own a gun either, right, Senator? Continue reading

More Ethics Observations On The Chicago “Fuck White People” Torture Video

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1. Is the mainstream media reporting on this incident a tipping point in which the public finally sees and recoils from the dishonesty and the manipulation it is routinely subjected to?  Coming on the heels of the election, the biased reporting on the Chicago attack as well the take of many pundits and on-air personalities have been especially shameless. It has pulled other themes and events along with it, such as Meryl Streep’s grandstanding at the Golden Globe Awards. I hope it’s a tipping point. It is for me, I think.

2. Rod Dreher has a superb essay about the media’s spin on this story and its implications—spin or outright lies—and his analysis is excellent. I recommend reading it, and also the comments, which are erudite and probing as well. As an aside: what a pity it is the ideologies in this country have become so hostile that no liberal or progressive would ever venture onto a site called “American Conservative,” and even citing a post from such a site automatically opens someone like me to the accusation of pushing a partisan agenda. As I have written and will continue to (The recent Ethic Alarms posts covering the attack and the news media’s distortion of it are here and here), the fact that even now, after its coverage of the campaign was scandalously biased and many organizations have emitted loud mea culpas, this refusal to report facts and continued partisan team play is proof that what once was annoying is now an existential crisis. Democracy will not work if facts have no meaning, and the truth is parceled out according to a political agenda. What follows is totalitarianism. Unless liberals and progressives see the threat and join in demands for reform, the likely future is bleak.

3. From Dreher:

“Earlier today in New Orleans, I had been having lunch with some friends, both liberals and conservatives. The issue of how so many Americans now don’t have much interest in truth (as distinct from believing what they want to believe) came up. Of course there was the matter of Trump’s dishonesty, but also the matter of the media’s ethics. I said that I read and subscribe to the Times mostly for the same reason Soviets used to read Pravda back in the day: to know what the Official Story the ruling class wishes to tell itself is. That’s not to say that the Times doesn’t feature excellent reporting and good writing; it does. But I don’t trust it to tell me the truth. I trust it to reveal to me the narrative that the greater part of the ruling class (minus the Republican elites) tells itself. That’s a useful thing to know, as long as you know that you’re only getting a take.”

4.  A lot came together for me after learning from Dreher that both  the Times and  Salon  attempted to bypass the anti-white, anti-Trump aspect of the attack and represent it as an anti-handicapped hate crime. Dreher cites Steve Sailer, who wrote,

So, you have your marching orders, right? The video of blacks abusing a white kid has nothing to do with virulent prejudice against whites or Trump, it has to do with Society’s prejudice against the intellectually disabled minority.

Do you understand your mission?

As you know, it is a priori impossible for Victim-Americans to abuse American-Americans. So, the victim must have been a Victim-American.

5.  Is it possible that this was what actress Meryl Streep was doing when she picked an old but horrible example of Trump at his worst during the campaign,  his mockery of a handicapped reporter, to launch her Golden Globes attack on the election results, average Americans, football, immigration laws and the MMA?  Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Dr. Phil, Shelley Duvall, And Exploitation

shelley-duvall

A 30-second promotional clip for today’s episode of “Dr. Phil” is disturbing, beyond question. It shows Shelley Duvall, from “The Shining,” “Popeye,” “Nashville” and other well-known films talking to the fake doctor about her mental illness.The syndicated advice show’s promo shows Duvall, almost unrecognizable, talking about how her “Popeye” co-star, the late Robin Williams, is alive and “shape-shifting.” She says she is being threatened by Robin Hood’s Sheriff of Nottingham, and that a “whirring disc” is inside her.

The ad ends with Duvall, 67, telling Phil McGraw, “I’m very sick. I need help.”

She certainly sounded like it, and looked like it too.

Now Dr. Phil is being criticized for exploiting a vulnerable mentally ill woman for her audience drawing powers. The daughter of Stanley Kubrick, who directed Duvall in her most famous role as Jack Nicholson’s terrorized wife in “The Shining,” is leading the charge. Vivian Kubrick called for a boycott of the popular daytime program, tweeting, “You are putting Shelley Duvall ‘on show’ while she is suffering from a pitiable state of ill health. Unquestionably, this is purely a form of lurid and exploitative entertainment — it’s appallingly cruel.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is it unethical for “Dr. Phil” to feature Shelley Duvall this way?

Continue reading