Unethical Website Of The Month: reddit (ProRevenge)

I often have thought that I ought to research reddit more thoroughly for ethics stories. Then I stumble onto something like this, have to take a shower, and decide that I’ll be happier if  don’t. There is also the persistent reddit problem that one can never be sure when what you are reading isn’t completely made up by some aspiring James Frey wannabe. I have been burned in the past.

One of the reddit sub-site communities is devoted to revenge, and participants send in their alleged experiences. Revenge, as we all know, (I hope), is unethical. It’s also frequently entertaining and fun. Revenge has been a staple of drama since the ancient Greeks, and it’s vibrant still, perhaps because there is nothing unethical about revenge fantasies.

One particularly exhilarating (and disgusting) example is the original “I Spit On Your Grave” (yes, there are sequels), an extremely violent and graphic cult film in which a young writer is gang-raped and left for dead by five locals in “Deliverance” territory. She returns, trained, dead-eyed, determined and remarkably creative in a Marquis de Sade way, to pick them off, one by one.

Women seem to especially enjoy the film. I would not be surprised to learn that Hillary is a fan.

But I digress. The following story recently turned up on the reddit ProRevenge section. The disturbing thing was how few of the many commenters were critical of the writer’s alleged conduct, which is, as you will see, appalling.  Here is his account, redacted a bit for length, with periodic comments from your host. Continue reading

From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All

The above cartoon is the work of Michael Leunig, an Australian cartoonist of some note. Apparently the drawing got him into serious trouble with the social media and political correctness mobs Down Under. Color me completely bewildered, mate.

I have always regarded Australia as a having an admirably  rough, honest, brutally independent and common sense-based culture. Apparently I’m missing something; maybe one of Ethics Alarms’ Australian readers can explain what. (There have been about 24,000 views of the blog there so far this year; Australia is the second largest source of Ethics Alarms readers outside the U.S., after Canada.)

Because of the cartoon, Leunig, who has been creating cartoons professionally to express political and social commentary for half a century, is being threatened with cultural “cancellation.” He writes in part that the drawing has “brought so much hostile public reaction that I began to lie awake at night wondering why I had followed such a troubled, painful and precarious career path….

…[To]be so hated, insulted, slandered in the public domain for this – as I was – is indeed a dismal fate for the lone cartoonist. It speaks volumes about the current condition of civil society and tolerance. This is bigotry. The malice has been astounding and so extreme that it has plunged me into a deep contemplation about the nature of angry hatred. Indeed, I am coming to the view that there is an emerging new form of hatred in society which might be more of a mental illness than a passing emotion. Perhaps I would call it “free-floating, obsessive compulsive hatred”.

His son wrote of the effect on the cartoonist’s family: Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/14/2020: Mrs. Jobs, Senator Schumer, Mayor de Blasio, And A Possum

Hi!

I’m working on Part III of the Wuhan virus ethics series, so I’m going to try to keep related matters to a minimum here. A couple links you can check out to relieve me of the necessity of commenting on them: Here’s Ann Althouse writing about her “social distancing” without, apparently, any awareness that the average American is not retired, financially well off, with a spouse, with grown children, who are happy blogging and reading all day. And here’s Ruth Marcus, long one of the more blatantly biased (and dim) members of the Washington Post’s editorial board, authoring an op ed with the head exploding headline,Why Joe Biden is the antidote to this virus.” I intend to keep this utter crap on file for the next time someone argues that degrees from elite institutions are evidence of intellectual ability. Marcus has a Yale and Harvard  Law degree.

1.  Rich people have a right to their wealth; it’s a shame, though, that their riches can’t buy IQ points, or the wisdom to know when to shut up. Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve , told the New York Times,

“It’s not right for individuals to accumulate a massive amount of wealth that’s equivalent to millions and millions of other people combined. There’s nothing fair about that. We saw that at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries with the Rockefellers and Carnegies and Mellons and Fords of the world. That kind of accumulation of wealth is dangerous for a society. It shouldn’t be this way….I inherited my wealth from my husband, who didn’t care about the accumulation of wealth. I am doing this in honor of his work, and I’ve dedicated my life to doing the very best I can to distribute it effectively, in ways that lift up individuals and communities in a sustainable way. I’m not interested in legacy wealth building, and my children know that. Steve wasn’t interested in that. If I live long enough, it ends with me.”

What a stupid, ethics-challenged, smug and selfish person. The tell is offering the non-argument that people being able to make as much money as they can and want isn’t “fair” and that it “shouldn’t be that way.” How articulate and persuasive! Continue reading

There Are Many Ethics Villains In This Story, But The Boys Put In Handcuffs Aren’t Among Them.

In July of 2019, 10-year-old Gavin Carpenter and a friend were playing outside with toy weapons near a Fort Carson, Colorado intersection, acting out a favorite video game scenario. One of the weapons was an an orange Nerf bow that apparently didn’t work.  Gavin had a toy gun with an orange tip. It was also broken. The boys might as well have been using their fingers, or sticks.

As part of the game, they pretended to shoot at passing cars. One driver stopped, and was furious, shouting at the boys, who ran  to a grandparents’ house. The man called the police.  The County Sheriff’s deputies arrived and arrested both Gavin and his friend. They were  handcuffed and taken to the Colorado Springs Police Department for mugshots and fingerprinting.

For pretending to shoot at cars with obvious toys that couldn’t shoot anything. And they were ten.

Gavin was finally released into his parent custody at10:30 p.m. They  hired an attorney to help get the charge expunged from Gavin’s record, but the District Attorney was intent on prosecuting.  The boys were moved into a diversion program requiring community service,writing an essay, and other hoops to jump through. 216 days later, what was charged as Felony Menacing was finally expunged from their records

Now the rogues gallery inhabiting this revolting episode: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Girl Scout Cookie Cheats?

Just yesterday I bought my yearly two boxes of Thin Mints from some incredibly adorable little girls selling the Girl Scout cookies from a card table outside my local CVS. I had planned on buying them from a Girl Scout I have never met, though the agency of her mother, who sold them to me last year. But she never got in touch with me—I think she’s another one who is steamed at me for some post here (over at Windypundit, it’s slam Jack Marshall day by another former commenter) —so the adorable little girls got my 20 bucks this year.

Today I encounter an interesting opinion piece that holds that mothers like my friend are “cheaters.” JM Finster writes:

As with any fund-drive, the idea is to support the cause, but with the cookies, uniquely, customers buy them to give “the awesome girls who sell them,” in the words of the Girl Scouts, “the opportunity to learn essential life skills, soar in confidence, and quickly discover the leader within.” Research has shown that none of that happens when parents sell the cookies at work..So it is that the cookies land on a desk in a skyscraper without a Girl Scout in sight.

The cookie drive should be better than that. Selling is crucial to every endeavor, in that it requires the ability to make a convincing presentation, to answer questions, and to project self-assurance. Everyone needs to do that, in one form or another, but that last attribute, in particular, is sometimes lacking in the best of us, especially shy young ladies.

Since Girl Scout troops keep track of sales by individuals, even offering prizes for the best results, parent-cheaters can hardly resist the chance to prove their own sales skills and boost their girl to the top of the ranking. …If a Scout comes over to the house for a sales call, a parent will undoubtedly come along as an escort. That’s all right, except that the parent will do all the talking, no matter how hard one tries to give the awesome girl standing off to the side the opportunity to learn essential life skills, soar in confidence, and quickly discover the leader within. With the adult recording the sale and later delivering the cookies, their daughter the Girl Scout—all in one stroke!—wins a prize for outstanding sales and loses the chance to learn something about sales…For the sake of the runny-nosed little girl, who keeps poor sales records, lets her boxes get crushed in the back of the car, and exhibits more enthusiasm than smooth-talk, kindly sidestep the parent-cheaters and let her learn. In fact, make her learn and insist she does the talking. 

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz to kick off March:

Are parents who help Girl Scouts sell more cookies cheating?

Continue reading

Hurry-Up Saturday Ethics Round Up, 2/29/2020: “Happy Birthday Frederick!” Edition [Corrected And Updated]

 

Yes, it’s Frederick’s 41st birthday.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should. Frederick is the overly duty-conscious and somewhat dim-witted hero of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” one of the Savoy duo’s so called “Big Three,” the Victorian operettas that have been performed the most over the years. (The other two are “H.M.S Pinafore,” and the currently unfairly besieged—but arguably the best of them all—“The Mikado.”) They aren’t my three favorites, mind you, but like seven of the other G&S masterpieces, they are damned good, and have aged better than most American musicals, especially the Rogers and Hammerstein classics. Poor Frederick was apprenticed to a pirate until his 21st birthday, but due to a cruel twist of fate and legalistic nit-picking, his 21st birthday didn’t arrive until 1940, because he was born on leap year. Today is his 41st birthday, though he is 164 years old.

I apologize for the stupid subtitles in the clip from the movie. Unlike most G&S performers, the diction of Kevin Klein, Rex Smith and Angela Lansbury is excellent.

(I’m hurrying because I’ve learned from cruel experience that traffic on Saturday after 12:30 slows to crawl..)

1. Thus ends Black History Month. I do not favor tribal distinctions in our days and months. It is inherently divisive, and Black History Month smacks of honors affirmative action. The history of black Americans is American history, inextricably intertwined with the history of the rest of us. Our entire history ought to be taught and learned without bias and spin, and no race or ethnic groups should hesitate to take pride in the accomplishments of other Americans regardless of their color or ancestry.

NOTICE of CORRECTION! Item #2 below has now been shown to have been based on a hoax. More after…

2. Res ipsa loquitur:

Obviously the  note in Chuck’s tickler file came up: “Today transition from saying Trump was doing too much in response to the Corona virus to saying that he isn’t doing enough.”

What awful, awful hacks these people are.

They are still awful hacks, but I hate being caught by these hoaxes. This one was especially sinister, because the fake tweet is completely consistent with what the Democrats and the news media had been saying about the President’s move to stop travel from China. However, insisting that a faked message is still “true enough” is what Dan Rather did in the scandal that ended his career as a respectable journalist.

We now know that the tweet is a hoax because ProPoblica, a nonprofit journalism organization, maintains a database of tweets deleted by politicians called Politwoops that uses Twitter’s Streaming API to find tweets from politicians that have been deleted.  Schumer’s tweet  is  NOT in the database, thus we know it wasn’t posted.

I apologize for being caught this way, AGAIN.

3.  The rest of the story: Remember Tilli Buchanan, the Utah stepmother who paraded around the house topless in front of the kids? She was arrested and charged under Utah law with three misdemeanor counts of lewdness involving a child. Iwrote that this should be an ethics question, not a legal one:

[T]here are the Tilli Buchanans among us, who want to tear down social norms, not really knowing what the consequences will be over the long term, just for the hell of it. In addition to being irresponsible and disrespectful, they are also lousy citizens.

They are not, however, criminals. She should be able to walk around naked in front of her children, just as we allow parents to engage in all sorts of other dubious practices. That she can doesn’t mean she should, but this is part of a long, long list where we must rely on ethics rather than law.

Facing  being placed on a sex offender registry for 10 years,  Tilli agreed to a plea deal with her pleading guilty one class B misdemeanor lewdness charge and paying a $600 fine while serving probation. The charge will be dismissed if Buchanan can keep her shirt on for a year.

4. More “The rest of the story,” uber-jerk division. In 2018, Saturday Night Live performer Pete Davidson mocked GOP Congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw for his eyepatch, the result of a combat wound. Davidson said that he looked like “a hitman in a porno film” and dismissed the origin of his disfiguring injury as something he got in “war or whatever.” Veterans, their families and others who don’t usually pay attention to SNL anymore since it has become partisan, shrill, and lazy protested loudly, and Davidson apologized while Crenshaw appeared on a later show, where he was funny, gracious, and forgiving

It was obvious to me (and, I’m sure, Crenshaw) that Davidson was forced to apologize, but it takes a special breed of jerk to come back after he has left the scene of his insults and say so.

In Davidson’s new stand-up special, “Alive from New York,” Davidson, says,

“So I made fun of this guy with an eyepatch and then, like, I kind of got forced to apologize. My roommate thought I should apologize so that I didn’t get shot in the face. People were like, ‘You hate America!’ And I’m like, ‘No, I just didn’t want to be incorrect about how he lost his fucking eye. Is that a crime?! The only thing I did do, which I am guilty of — and I apologize for — is I did make that guy famous and a household name for no reason, right? I did what, like, Ariana Grande did for me, right? I sucked his dick at ‘SNL.'”

This is what you lost your eye for, Dan.

5. You could show this to your Bernie Bros friends, but I doubt they could understand it.  At the Foundation for Economic Education, J. Kyle de Vries does an excellent job of explaining the Social Security cheat, and why it has to be reformed. The system no longer makes sense, but the socialist enablers refuse to consider the problem. de Vries writes in part,

Millennials and Generation Z: Do you want to fund my Social Security benefits with higher payroll taxes than I paid in the past? Especially when the likelihood is high that your benefits are not going to be as lucrative as mine?

I am lucky. My Social Security benefits will be funded by you and other workers, and I plan on living to 140. If you are younger, that should concern you. Right now, you and your employer are forced to contribute 12.4 percent of your income into a fund that goes into a black hole, financing some other guy’s retirement. Wouldn’t you rather put that 12.4 percent into a fund you manage?

…Assume a self-employed 25-year-old makes $75,000 this year. Further assume she is required to set aside 12.4 percent of her income into a protected, tax-deferred trust, just as she must do for Social Security. But this is her account, managed by her, just like a 401k plan. If she realizes a 3 percent increase in income each year and can earn 6 percent on a conservative mix of stocks and bonds during her lifetime, her trust will accumulate to over $3,500,000 at age 70. At 8 percent growth, that number will be an astounding $6,142,000.

Would you rather have accumulated these much larger sums to augment your retirement income than get the average $1,500 per month Social Security check issued today? Lesser potential income is just one of the problems with the present system.

…Contrary to popular belief, payroll taxes are not invested in a fund to secure benefits like most other pension plans. Since the beginning, payroll taxes went first to make payments to current retirees with the balance “borrowed” by the feds for spending on things other than Social Security benefits. For most of the program’s history, the amount of payroll taxes the feds received was much higher than the Social Security payments, meaning the feds had a lot of money to spend on other things. Because of demographics, that situation has changed perilously, threatening the future of the Social Security system.

…What all this means is millennials and Gen Zers will see higher taxes for Social Security across the board, perhaps many times. They will also most likely see reductions in promised benefits, especially if they accumulate a lot of money over their working lifetimes.

…Wouldn’t you rather have your own retirement fund you manage yourself instead of the flimsy promise of government IOUs? Increasing payroll taxes today only delays the day of reckoning. The current unfunded liabilities for Social Security are over $34 trillion. Let’s not double down on a failed experiment that will bankrupt our country in the future and leave millions destitute in retirement.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Donald Trump was articulate enough and organized enough to explain this in a debate, or in a national address to the public? Wouldn’t it be nice if young voters would pay attention, and if the news media could report on the issue fairly?

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could fly to Disney World by flapping my arms really hard?

Morning Ethics Warm-Up,2/25/2020: Remembering “Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee” [CORRECTED]

Notice of a correction: in the first version of this post, I mistakenly wrote that the famous photo above was  of the first Liston fight. It was not: this was the dramatic scene that ended the rematch. Thanks to Tim Levier for reminding me.

Good Morning!

1. Cultural literacy thoughts: I wonder…how many Millennial Americans—or among the post-boomer generations—recognize the context of the photo above? On this date in 1964, a brash 22-year-old black boxer named Cassius Clay (1942-2016) pulled off one of the great upsets in sports history, defeating world heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston, an 8-to-1 favorite, in a seventh-round technical knockout. The now iconic photo above captured the dramatic finale of the 1965 rematch, ending the speculation that Clay’s victory over the previously frightening Liston had been a fluke.

Indeed, the 1964 fight was just the beginning of a remarkable story.

After his stunning victory, the sudden celebrity attended a victory to a private party at a Miami hotel. In attendance was Malcolm X, the outspoken leader of the rising African American Muslim group known as the Nation of Islam. Two days later, Cassius Clay announced he was joining the Nation of Islam, and renounced his “slave name”  to adopt  the Muslim name, Muhammad Ali. As Ali, he became one of the most influential social and political figures of his era, affecting civil rights, politics, public attitudes, language and culture…and sports, of course, as  professional boxing’s greatest champion. After successfully defending his title nine times, Ali surrendered it in 1967 after he refused induction into the U.S. Army on the grounds that he was a Muslim minister and thus  a conscientious objector. His stand against the Vietnam War galvanized national opposition to the war, especially among students and the young. In 1971,  the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Ali’s draft evasion conviction, and in 1974, he regained his heavyweight title in a match against George Foreman in Zaire, enshrining his phrase “rope-a-dope” in our lexicon. Eventually Ali became  the first boxer to win the heavyweight title three times. His post-retirement diagnosis  of pugilistic Parkinson’s syndrome and the sad spectacle of the once loquacious and witty athlete’s slow decline into near speechlessness and impaired motor functionscontributed to the collapse of boxing’s popularity. Ali was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan, and lit the Olympic flame at the opening ceremonies of the1996  Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia.

My mother, who like virtually everyone in her first generation Greek family was uncomfortable around blacks, once met Ali, who was seated next to her at a Harvard College function when she was Assistant Dean of Housing. She said later that he was the most charming, charismatic, beautiful man she had ever met in her life.

2. You can lead an idiot to child-proof packaging, but you can’t make him think. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics aimed at figuring out why there has been a steep rise in accidental poisonings of U.S. children according to CDC figures has come to a disturbing conclusion. Researchers analyzed nearly 4,500 calls to five U.S. poison centers in Arizona, Florida and Georgia over an eight month period in 2017. They found more than half of the prescription medicine poisonings occurred because parents and grandparents removed  pills and medicines from child-proof packaging to make them more easily accessible, to help the adults remember to take them, or more convenient for travel. Continue reading