KABOOM! A New York Times Front Page Story Suggests Ethics Is Dead, Logic Is Dead, And That I’m Wasting My Life…

July 7th’s front page story in the New York Times not only made my head explode, it has me considering whether to chuck it all and become a bottle cap collector or something else more useful than trying to promote ethics awareness in a society where its most respected newspaper publishes something like this. Or maybe I should just give up entirely and flush myself down the commode.

The headline online is  “When ‘Black Lives Matter’ Is Invoked in the Abortion Debate.”  It just as well might have been: “TWSXQ@$#7mm.”

I’ll just post and comment on some of the gems in the piece, then you read the whole  thing and meet me at the top of the ROLAIDS tower in Baltimore and we’ll jump together, holding hands and singing the Pina Colada Song.

  • “As a pastor, Clinton Stancil counsels his black congregants that abortion is akin to the taking of innocent life. But as a civil rights activist, Mr. Stancil urges them to understand the social forces that prompt black women to have abortions at disproportionately high rates.”

If the good pastor believes that abortion is the taking of innocent life, the “social forces” don’t excuse the act at all. This is like saying that we should “understand” what makes serial killers kill. Murder—taking of innocent life–is an absolute wrong; nothing can excuse it. This is equivocation.

  • “But to many African-Americans like Mr. Stancil, who is the pastor of Wayman A.M.E. Church in St. Louis, abortion cannot be debated without considering the quality of urban schools. Or the disproportionately high unemployment rate in black communities. Or the significant racial disparities in health care.”

Then many urban schools are graduating African-Americans like Pastor Stancil who have the reasoning ability of household appliances and believe that taking innocent lives can be justified or rationalized by irrelevant matters. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Times Op-ed Of The Week?”

Timothy Egan’s spectacularly dishonest op-ed for the Times, The Founders Would Gag at Today’s Republicans: The cult of Trump has embraced values and beliefs that Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln abhorred,” was one more conservative- and Trump-bashing exercise disguised as a history lesson, albeit for Americans who know little about history and foolishly assume that they can trust pundits like Egan to enlighten them. Of course, all such exercises in time-traveling appeals to authority are inherently dishonest. 18th century minds, even those as sharp and creative as the Founders possessed, would go into shock at most of what they saw today if somehow provided the opportunity, and would take a while to understand why things have evolved as they have.

Frequent commenter JutGory sat down and treated Ethics Alarms readers with an analysis of developments the Founders would have had trouble with without indulging in the sort of cherry-picking and distortion Egan did to pander to the Times’ progressive readership. The result of what Jut called his “retro-prognostications” is a genuinely educational post, and a distinguished Comment of the Day.

Here it is:

If we are doing retro-prognostications, I bet I could do better:

Disclaimer: the Founders would probably be a bit mystified at the technological advances in general.

They would not be surprised by the abolition of slavery. They would be half-surprised that it took a war to do it (“We put in an amendment process for pretty much this reason, people!”)

They would probably be surprised at how much power the Supreme Court (the weakest branch) wields. Of course it only wields that much power because the other branches have gotten more powerful. To wit:

They would be surprised by the 16th Amendment (income tax), as it is a direct tax of the individual by the Federal Government, but okay (“Yay, Amendment process).

Of course, money is power, so, with more tax money comes more power.

They would be completely baffled by the 17th Amendment (direct election of Senators). That opens the Senate up to national influences, instead of influence from a small group of state legislators. That was kind of the whole point of the Senate: to represent the States, not its citizens.

But, you can’t pass a farm subsidy bill if Senators answer to their legislatures.

Can’t get universal healthcare if Senators stand in the way.

But, you change the Senate selection process, you get popular candidates, supported by national appeal and no specific understanding of the needs of the State (Hello, Al Franken!)

The power grab of the Commerce Clause would puzzle them. Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/8/2019: “Well, No More Oreos For Me!” Edition

An ethical new week dawns!

1. Snopes again. Incredibly, there are still people—like Facebook!—who insist that Snopes is a trustworthy, objective factchecking source. Ethics Alarms had its fill of the site’s partisan spinning many moons ago, but just for giggles, here is another example of the site’s shameless bias.

Last week Snopes pretended to do a “fact check” on whether the Betsy Ross American flag—the thirteen star version that Nike recently rules was too racist to be on a sneaker— was used under President Barack Obama at his inauguration. The strange thing is that no fact check was necessary, since the photographic record is undeniable. As is often the case, however, Snopes’ purpose wasn’t to clarify facts, but to bolster a progressive narrative. Bethania Palma, the most unsubtle of the site’s propagandists, argues that while Obama’s version of the flag wasn’t racist, any use of the flag in 2019 would be racist, because the existence of Donald Trump makes it so.

During the Trump era, what were once relics of the United States’ fraught history with violent racism have been taken up as causes for some far-right extremists. As white supremacists began rallying around Confederate monuments slated for removal, some tried to attach the Betsy Ross flag to their cause as a symbol…The Anti-Defamation League, a non-profit organization that tracks hate groups, doesn’t include the flag in its database of confirmed hate symbols. But many have viewed the flag as symbolizing a time in U.S. history when slavery was legal. “Historically, these symbols have been used by white supremacists, both to hearken back to a time when black people were enslaved, while also painting themselves as the inheritors of the ‘true’ American tradition,” Keegan Hankes, a researcher for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Rolling Stone.

In other words, now that Trump is President, any symbol or artifact that was used by the United States before the abolishment of slavery is to be regarded as carrying  racist symbolism. That’s a fact! Snopes says so.

2. I won’t link to this because it doesn’t deserve traffic, but the Times just inflicted on its readers a sloppy and incompetent “Guide” to the 80’s cultural references in the third season of the Netflix show “Stranger Things. The popular horror series by “The Duffer Brothers” has always been filled with visual and verbal homages, as well as plot turns, attributable by the culturally aware to  famous 80’s works by better artists–Stephen King, Spielberg, John Carpenter, and more. Sometimes the references are amusing, often they are gratuitous and annoying. The Times piece, including a bold face “Spoilers!” warning, purported to catalogue all such references in the new season.

It doesn’t. It doesn’t come close. It doesn’t come close because the writer is obviously unfamiliar with the works the show references, and didn’t bother to do his research despite representing that he had. What he mainly misses are the lines in the dialogue that are lifted directly out of 80’s movies. For example, at one point, a major character in “Stranger Things 3” says, “I can do anything; I’m the chief of police.”  That’s a direct quote from “Jaws,” as anyone who has seen the film 76 times knows.

If a major newspaper is going to say it has a “Complete Guide” to 80’s pop culture references in a show, then it is obligated to make the effort to ensure that it is, in fact, complete. Continue reading

Unethical Times Op-ed Of The Week?

Incredibly, they were all great believers in same sex marriage, a massive federal bureaucracy, and banning coal…

That’s always a tough call, but reliably biased and dishonest Timothy Egan, one of the New York Times deep bench of shameless left-wing ideologues, has a likely winner with his essay, The Founders Would Gag at Today’s Republicans: The cult of Trump has embraced values and beliefs that Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln abhorred.”

To begin with, the trick of claiming that the Founders’ approval or disapproval of any modern day policy or position is intellectually dishonest on its face, unless one is as historically ignorant as a brick, which is what con-artist pundits like Egan is counting on. It reminds me of when Bill Clinton (speaking of con artists) told a crowd that Thomas Jefferson would be shocked to find that Americans today didn’t have national health care. That was the moment I realize that Bill would say literally anything, no matter how ridiculous, if he thought he could reap short-term gains and get away with it.

Needless to say (except that I do need to say it because of fatuous liars like Egan), the Founders would gag at the values and positions of  both Democrats and Republicans,  because they lived in a largely agrarian society 250 years ago. Washington executed a soldier who was caught engaged in homosexual activity. Same sex marriage? Abortion? Transgender rights? The Founders didn’t believe that women should be able to own property or vote: how does Egan dare play the game of cherry-picking the Republican beliefs that they would consider “un-American”? Continue reading

Unethical Website Of The Month: JoeBiden.info, But Not For The Reasons Cited By The New York Times

We haven’t had an Unethical Website Of The Month here since 2018! Once upon a time, I had at least one desiganted every month, over at the currently-down-but -will-get-back-on-line-as-soon-as-I fight-with-the-cheap-hosts Ethics Scoreboard. This is an area where reader tips would help a great deal.

The home page you see above is that of Joe Biden.info, the most trafficked Biden website on the web. Despite the glowing text and cheery photo, however, it is not a pro-Biden project, but a Biden attack site, concocted by Patrick Mauldin, a Republican political consultant and who makes videos and other digital content for President Trump’s re-election campaign. With his brother Ryan, Mauldin, he runs the Vici Media Group, a conservative consulting firm in Austin, Texas.  (Mauldin has also set up parody campaign websites for at least three other Democratic candidates: “Millionaire Bernie,”  “Elizabeth Warren for Chief,”and “Kamala Harris for Arresting the People.” These, however are different in kind, for nobody except an idiot would confuse them with actual campaign sites.)

Now, I read through the site, and you may well ask, “What’s unethical about it?” The answer is very basic: taking a domain name designed to fool people into thinking the site is something it is not is unethical, that’s all. It is also unethical—though legal—to take another individual’s or organization’s name to make a deceptive URL. In my view, this should be illegal, or treated like a copyright infringement: Joe should be able to send a letter demanding that website using his name in a deceptive fashion be taken down.

Under current law however, the site is legal though unethical. It is  more transparent, in fact, than most parody sites. At the bottom of the first screen, and not buried deep in the site, we can see,

This site is political commentary and parody of Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign website. This is not Joe Biden’s actual website.
It is intended for entertainment and political commentary only and is therefore protected under fair use. It is not paid for by any candidate, committee, organization, or PAC. It is a project BY AN American citizen FOR American citizens. Self-Funded.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, June 5, 2019: Ethics Corrupters In The House, The Senate, The White House, The Times….

The next morning was going to be a crucial one, but not exactly “good”…

Good Morning!

1. How to expose a demagogue. Senator Elizabeth Warren is near the bottom of my ethics rankings of the various Democratic Presidential candidates, and not just because of the way she handled her crisis of color. She’s a pure demagogue, and a particularly dangerous one, as she is a stirring speaker and apparently shameless.

It takes clarity of thought and rhetoric to expose demagogues, especially Warren’s breed, which carry the trappings of authority—after all, she’s a Harvard professor, so she must be smart (or so those who did not attend Harvard seem to think.) The President’s favored tactic of name-calling is of limited value for this purpose, but Rep. Dan Crenshaw, the veteran mocked by Saturday Night Live because of his war wounds,  is providing an ongoing seminar on how to expose Warren’s dishonesty.

When Warren tweeted this high-sounding sentiment…

…Rep. Crenshaw  zeroed in on its deception.

Note also the gently mocking imitation of Warren’s flip use of “thing,” so much more rhetorically effective than calling her “Pocahontas.”

Here is how Crenshaw eviscerated another typical bit  of Warren pandering…

Then there was this expert take-down….when Warren grandstanded with this…

Crenshaw pointed out exactly what was wrong with it…

Why, yes, that’s exactly what it is.

2. Censorship and keeping the truth from the public is not ethical, nor is it a legitimate way to address problems in a democracy. Continue reading

Ruby Tuesday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/21/2019: Of “Bad Charity,” Fake Headlines, Dumb Atticus, And Being Mean To Mr. Ratburn

Tuesday’s child is full of grace.

Tuesday’s ethics, not so much…

1. The other shoe drops...the New York Times yesterday editorialized against the  generous gift to Morehouse students by billionaire and Ethics Hero Robert F. Smith.  It also took a swipe at Smith himself, whose wealth the Times appears to consider suspect. What the mouthpiece of the Left is lobbying for is Bernie Sanders’ free college for all, meaning that not just billionaires but you and I will all have to pay for inflated tuition at institutions that do not so much teach as indoctrinate (or, in the case of Ohio State and who knows what others, molest).

The wonderful thing about Smith’s gift is that it was a complete surprise. The students had a strong financial motivation not to waste their college years taking useless courses on the Patriarchy of Gas Grilling, and instead had every reason to try to prepare themselves for the workplace. Free college education becomes a privilege and a lark, with no accountability or commitment required.

2. Fake Headline Dept. I have seen this in several places: “Ciara Accepted Into Harvard University’s Prestigious Business School.”  (Ciara is a pop diva, if you care.)

Uh, no, she wasn’t. She is going to attend a  Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports program at the B-school that lasts all of three days. She’ll pay for it, too. Ciara doesn’t have a college degree, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I bet she’ll tell people for the rest of her life that she attended the Business School, just like Bill O’Reilly still says he’s a Harvard grad because he attended the Kennedy School of Government on campus.

Not that a Harvard degree is anything to boast about these days… Continue reading