White Supremacy Confirmation Bias: How Do You Argue With Someone Who Reasons Like This?

confirmation_bias

A blog that has been out there much longer than mine (and which conveniently leaves the blogger’s identity mysterious) argues that “implementing vaccine passports would be a white supremacist measure.” The Biden administration is encouraging such documentation, and the ultra-woke state of Oregon has announced that these will be required for its citizens to go unmasked in any indoor, public-access gathering. I am not concerned here with the wisdom of the policy. I want to know how anyone can have a rational conversation with someone who is convinced such a measure is evidence of “white supremacy.”

Whoeverthehellheorsheis writes,

“[P]oor people are much less likely to be vaccinated than higher-income persons…According to the long-set standards of Black Lives Matter and other critical-theory advocates, whether racial disparities like this are intended or not is irrelevant. These disparities are the results of racial discrimination and white privilege baked into the social-legal-medical networks for centuries. Therefore, it does not matter that this gap in immunization is not intended. It does not matter that the men and women managing the vaccine program and distribution, or administering it to the public, do not discriminate at the vaccine sites by the race of persons who come for the shots. Lack of deliberate intent does not excuse systemic racism. The fact that matters is this: “Black and Latino people are far more likely to live in poverty than white people, and despite having died at higher rates throughout the pandemic, they are receiving fewer vaccines than white people.” 

The argument is instructive, which is why I am bothering to publish it. If any disparity exists in any area where blacks and other non-white groups have statistically less positive outcomes than whites, it is per se proof of “white supremacy.” The fact of statistical variation is the proof, and reasons don’t matter. This is an especially useful example, because there is no reason at all for poor people or minorities not to be vaccinated. The vaccinations are free and ubiquitous. The greatest cost imaginable would be a cab ride. One doesn’t need online access to get one.

Minorities and poorer populations—they are not the same thing—are lagging behind in getting the shots, and by choice. Now, in the case of African Americans, an argument could be made that systemic flaws in the school system, or systemically rooted inadequacies in nutrition leading to cognitive damage, or pockets of African American culture crippled by paranoia and superstition as an outgrowth of centuries of abuse from slavery, are examples of harm from past white supremacy. However, a policy that only confers a disadvantage on a group because that group chooses to be disadvantaged cannot be condemned as an expression of hostility toward that group, or as a means of keeping that group disadvantaged.

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Comments Of The Day Day Comment Of The Day #2: “Ethics Observations On ‘Prayers Of A Weary Black Woman’”

Steve-O-in-NJ also gets a Comment of the Day for a very different reaction to “Ethics Observations On ‘Prayers Of A Weary Black Woman’”

Steve’s reaction, as you might expect if you are familiar with his commentary, is much harder of nose. It it too callous to be ethical? The ethic of the United States, from it’s origins, has always emphasized personal responsibility and the obligation of society and government to allow individuals to live their own lives, address their own failings, achieve what they can achieve, and advance by their own effort and talent. Community, by it’s own nature, implies a group that strives to help when it can, but the bitter attitude reflected in the hateful “prayer” is something quite different.

Steve answers the query, “Have I been dismissive of your burdens, and perhaps even cast blame upon you?,” by stating, “Like I said, I have my problems, you have yours. Deal with them. The one thing all your problems have in common is you.”

Too harsh?

Ethical?

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Personal Responsibility? What Personal Responsibility? The Washington Post Explains How Aspiring Supreme Court Justice George Floyd Was Destroyed by Systemic Racism

Screen shot of George Floyd mural

You think I’m kidding, don’t you? Sadly, I’m not.

Here’s a silver lining: thanks to the parade of bizarre and illogical demands and assertions during the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck and the concomitant “Great Stupid,” my head appears to be immune from explosions. (Is head immunity anything like herd immunity? A topic for another time…)

It is amazing—I would have once said head exploding—that anyone would attempt to sanctify a long-time criminal and blight on his community like George Floyd, much less get away  with it. Nonetheless, months after Floyd died after a  cruel and incompetent (but not racist) police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck, the news media and Black Lives Matter flacks are successfully selling the tall tale that his life was a tragedy of unfulfilled potential because he had the misfortune to live in the United States of America.

[Quick review: Floyd moved to Minneapolis after being released from Texas prison for aggravated robbery. He went to jail 5 times and as a perusal of his record shows, he can be fairly described as a career criminal. Floyd was a habitual lawbreaker, involved in drug abuse, theft, criminal trespassing, and aggravated robbery, who once broke into a woman’s home and pointed a gun at her stomach while looking for drugs and money. He had probably taken an overdose of fentanyl and methamphetamine at the time of arrest, and it is quite likely that this, and not Derek Chauvin’s knee, is what killed him.]

I’m old enough, more’s the pity, to remember the Sixties fad of arguing that all criminals were victims of  their upbringing and a Hobbesian society for those who were not white and rich, and that it was heartless to punish those who were really society’s victims, not its predators. This was a very old progressive trope, notably championed by Clarence Darrow, who argued that there is no free will, and that criminals are doomed from birth, this making it an abuse of power for society to punish them. This logic was the epitome of bleeding heart liberalism, and helped make the word “liberal” a term of derision. I did not expect it to make a comeback.

Yes, I’m an idiot.

Now, however, in no less a legitimate forum than the Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Griff Witte make the argument that if the U.S wasn’t so racist, Floyd, despite all outward appearances, might have been a great American.

Read the thing, take a while to tape your skull back together, and then resume reading here. Watch out;  this is the third paragraph, and it comes up quick:

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End Of The Day Ethics, 4/24/2020: A Curse, A Whorehouse, And The Grim Reaper

Yay.

Another weekend…

1. Nah, there’s no news media narrative coordination! Twitchy has pointed out the remarkable conformity of language regarding the Joe Biden sexual assault accusation. Last week, CNN reported that Democrats are “grappling with questions” about Tara Reade’s allegations. This week:

Politico: “The movement is facing a new challenge: how to grapple with the allegations against Joe Biden without tearing itself apart.”

Jake Tapper on Twitter: “Democrats grapple with questions about Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden…”

Jeremy Scahill at the Intercept: “My aim in writing this piece was to put into words what many principled people are grappling with right now, not to tell anyone what to do. Recognizing and understanding the problem helps us all decide what we believe is right…”

Mother Jones: “Sexual Assault Advocates Are Grappling With the Allegations Against Joe Biden”

All independent, objective journalists, of course…talking points? What talking points?

2. This “sharing a life” concept seems to be beyond you…over at Social Q’s a woman who is living with her boyfriend to ride out the pandemic complains, “He eats significantly more than I do, including some foods I don’t touch. Still, we split the grocery bill, and I am paying significantly more for food than usual. How should I handle this?” Columnist Phillip Gallanes’ advice is impeccably ethical:

Try stepping back and looking at the bigger picture…Sure, he eats more than you, but are you twice as messy (while sharing cleaning duties equally)? Do you watch three times as much Netflix (but split the bill in half)? And I haven’t even touched on emotional labor yet. ..if you want your partnership to survive even after we’re set free again, consider all the contributions each of you makes.

Nice try, Phil, but I’m guessing that question is signature significance, and the relationship is doomed. Continue reading

The War On Dollar Stores

The problem–well, one of them—with trying to control how other people choose to live their lives is that nobody’s smart enough to do it without making things worse. Still,a lot of sociologists and politicians think they are smart enough.

Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Fort Worth, Birmingham, and Georgia’s DeKalb County have passed restrictions on dollar stores, and other communities are debating whether to follow their example, where laws and zoning regulations limit how many of these small stores can open within a particular area. Other laws dictate what they can and can’t sell, most notably fresh food. You see, the antipathy to dollar stores is based on the narrative pushed by activists that they saturate poor neighborhoods with cheap, over-processed food, squeezing out other retailers and lowering the quality of nutrition in poor communities. An analyst for the Center for Science in the Public Interest makes the argument, “When you have so many dollar stores in one neighborhood, there’s no incentive for a full-service grocery store to come in.” Dollar stores, like Dollar Tree and Dollar General, the researchers say, make neighborhoods seem poor, and scare away better stores,  “locking in poverty rather than reducing it,” as one told the Washington Post.

Ah! Poor nutrition  is the fault of dollar stores!

Oops! Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Hero: Robert F. Smith”

So much has happened since I designated the African-American mogul an Ethics Hero for spontaneously  announcing that he would pay off an entire graduation class’s college debt that I almost forgot  about Leslie’s provocatively contrary Comment of the Day. Triggered by the backlash against Oprah Smith’s generosity provoked, Leslie launched a critical barrage against Smith, or what his gift symbolizes. She backed down a bit in a later comment on the thread, but her original post is thought-provoking.

In addition, Leslie gets special credit for the Mansa Musa reference. I would include the Mali ruler in the cultural literacy list except for the fact that our culture almost completely ignores major Islamic historical figures.

Here is her Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Hero: Robert F. Smith:

Don’t belittle Oprah– she bought everybody KFC. Robert Smith isn’t even feeding anybody. Robert Smith isn’t even teaching anybody how to fish in order to feed themselves for a lifetime.

I’m sure he means well, but I don’t think that paying off somebody’s college loans is helping that person become independent and self-reliant. They’re getting out of the contracts they signed in order to finance their careers. Maybe they’ll remember that and pass the favor on and the world becomes a better place.

Or maybe the college education market will be thrown into MORE disarray with a flood of copycat donations the way it was thrown into disarray by government subsidies and the cost of education will go up AGAIN because students are not responsible for the cost of their education. When Mansa Musa passed through Cairo, he gave away so much gold that the economy collapsed and the next time he passed through, he had to buy it all back to restore the economy. If he wanted to do some good, he should have just helped some poor people. That’s the nice thing about poor people– giving your money to them is fairly harmless. Continue reading

Your Ethics Alarms Super Bowl Guilt Trip

You know that by watching the Super Bowl, you’re helping to kill and cripple young men, right?

Sure you do.

You and people like you watch the Super Bowl, maybe hold parties around it, allowing the NFL to make millions of dollars selling ads and merchandise off of the most watched sporting event of the year. And, of course, the popularity of the Super Bowl makes it the year’s #1 promotion for the billion dollar mega-industry that is the National Football League, and down the line, for billion dollar corrupt big time college football, and in places like Texas and other regions warped by the “Friday Night Lights” mentality, high school football, and further down the line, youth football, where kids a young as 8 begin getting the blows to the head that will help make them confused and dysfunctional in their fifties or earlier if they play long enough…and maybe even if the don’t.

Hey, these are great nachos! Is this a microbrew? Look at that funny ad!

The film above, “Concussion Protocol,” was released this month, and shows a compilation of every reported concussion this season. Directed by Josh Begley and produced by Laura Poitras,  it is believed to be a nearly complete compilation of the NFL’s reported 281 concussions this season, the most since 2012. The NFL, which is affirmatively evil, is spinning this as a good thing, pointing out that it means that players are self-reporting their head injuries more often.

Sure. That must be it. Bravo! Problem solved. DE-Fence!
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Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/27/2018: ‘If You Want It, Here’s How To Get It’ Edition”

Extradimensional Cephalopod was moved to write his wry Comment of the Day based on this partial post by Harold I. Ziegler ,which I quoted to illustrate the kind of reasoning that drives libertarians crazy…

Recently, videos have circulated on social media showing teens deliberately eating Tide Pods laundry detergent packs. All of this is part of what some call the “Tide Pod Challenge.” These pods contain highly concentrated laundry detergent under pressure and explode when bitten into, releasing their toxic contents and causing rapid ingestion and inhalation of dangerous chemicals. In my capacity as a toxic chemical researcher and consultant, I have investigated and seen several instances of the horrendous consequences that result from laundry pack ingestion: permanent burning of the mouth, throat, digestive tract, and lung tissue, and in some cases even death.Procter & Gamble (P&G), the manufacturer of Tide Pods, as well as other companies selling laundry detergent packs, have acted in the past to stem the misuse of their products. But these safety measures have failed.

It’s clear that laundry pods as they currently exist are too dangerous to be sold to the public. If P&G and other manufacturers can’t figure out a way to reduce the more than 10,000 injuries they cause each year, laundry packs need to be taken off the market.

I used to work for the trial lawyers association; I think product liability law is important, and that manufacturers need to consider consumer safety.  The argument  that anyone but parents are responsible when their toddlers eat Tide Pods, and worse, that anyone but the teens themselves are responsible for what happens when they put the detergent in their mouths knowing that it is detergent, however, is societally corrosive, as toxic as the pods themselves. Parents have the responsibility to keep poisons away from children. Teens have the responsibility to not take stupid dares they see on social media. If you can make Tide shelve its pods because teens are eating them, then you can ban knives with points because there’s a social media fad promoting knife-juggling. EC humorously expresses my feelings about the “if one stupid teen is saved” mindset.

Here is Extradimensional Cephalopod’s Comment of the Day on the Item #1 in the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/27/2018: “If You Want It, Here’s How To Get It” Edition:

At first I was relating the argument for discontinuing detergent pods to the character of Wonko the Sane from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. After seeing instructions printed on a toothpick container, he concluded that the world had gone mad, and put it in an asylum with himself as the warden (he turned his house inside out). After all, if you can discontinue laundry detergent because people old enough to know better are using it for a dangerous unintended purpose and parents can’t keep their cleaning agents in a safe place, then you can use that argument against literally any physical product, because someone can deliberately hurt themselves with it. Making it taste bad just adds to the challenge of self-harm.

However, after reading the article, I got an idea from the part where the author says that the companies have been dragging their feet as far as making their products less tasty-looking is concerned. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/27/2018: “If You Want It, Here’s How To Get It” Edition

Good Morning (and I hope you all feel better than I do).

1 Tide Pod Update: If you want more libertarians, here’s how to get them.  At the Fortune site, Harold I. Ziegler writes,

Recently, videos have circulated on social media showing teens deliberately eating Tide Pods laundry detergent packs. All of this is part of what some call the “Tide Pod Challenge.” These pods contain highly concentrated laundry detergent under pressure and explode when bitten into, releasing their toxic contents and causing rapid ingestion and inhalation of dangerous chemicals. In my capacity as a toxic chemical researcher and consultant, I have investigated and seen several instances of the horrendous consequences that result from laundry pack ingestion: permanent burning of the mouth, throat, digestive tract, and lung tissue, and in some cases even death.Procter & Gamble (P&G), the manufacturer of Tide Pods, as well as other companies selling laundry detergent packs, have acted in the past to stem the misuse of their products. But these safety measures have failed.

It’s clear that laundry pods as they currently exist are too dangerous to be sold to the public. If P&G and other manufacturers can’t figure out a way to reduce the more than 10,000 injuries they cause each year, laundry packs need to be taken off the market.

If there is a better example of the thought processes that create nanny states and push society to eliminate personal responsibility, accountability and autonomy from its values, I can’t think of it. If people persist in the “Hit Yourself In The Head With a Hammer Challenge,” ban hammers.  How do intelligent, educated people end up thinking like this? More amazing still is that a consultant can put out an addled argument like this one for public consumption—Wait! Harold’s opinions make people stupid, and we can’t seem to stop people from reading them! Using Harold’s logic, we better ban freedom of expression! Or Harold!—and still be able to persuade clients to pay for his advice.

2. But if it’s more white nationalism you want, here’s how you get THAT…San Francisco Acting Mayor London Breed, an African-American, was voted out at by her colleagues Board of Supervisors in favor of Mark Farrell, who is white. The Horror.  will replace her as interim mayor until voters select a new mayor in June. As soon as it became apparent that the first African-American woman to lead San Francisco, albeit only because the elected mayor died suddenly, was being replaced by a white male, black citizens in the room erupted with rage, with many leaving in protest, and others shouting, “Shame, shame, shame.” “This is war!” some shouted as the meeting ended.

Nice.

In related news, the Congressional Black Caucus announced that it will boycott the State of the Union speech. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/21/17: Dead Ethics Alarms All Over, And This Just In…Ana Navarro Is Still Stupid

Good Morning, all!

1 Dead Ethics Alarms on the Hill. Just as I cannot conceive of what kind of ethics alarm malfunction allows any man to think that parading his reproductive organs before unconsenting women in a work-related setting is anything but gross and wrong (Charlie Rose???), I cannot comprehend by what tortured logic an elected member of Congress reaches the conclusion that I should pay for his sexual harassment hobby. The latter is the height of arrogance and abuse of the public trust. Yet the Washington Post reported that Congress’s Office of Compliance paid out $17 million for 264 settlements with federal employees over the past 20 years for various violations, including sexual harassment, and now we have at least one name and specifics: John Conyers, the ranking member of the House Committee on the Judiciary. Perfect.

From Buzzfeed:

Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”

Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sex acts, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic….The woman who settled with Conyers launched the complaint with the Office of Compliance in 2014, alleging she was fired for refusing his sexual advances, and ended up facing a daunting process that ended with a confidentiality agreement in exchange for a settlement of more than $27,000. Her settlement, however, came from Conyers’ office budget rather than the designated fund for settlements.

Well, this section of the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck is doing some good, by throwing some light on this unethical practice. Congressional sexual harassers need to pay their hush money out of their own pockets. That’s the least they can do.

2.  Live from New York! It’s Double Standards Live! Although Saturday Night Live did have the integrity to mock alum Al Franken following the Senator’s sexual harassment accusations regarding his conduct when he was just an obnoxious comic, 36 SNL staffers, including original cast members Lorraine  Newman and Jane Curtin, felt it was appropriate to release this letter:

SNL Women Offer Solidarity in Support of Al Franken

We feel compelled to stand up for Al Franken, whom we have all had the pleasure of working with over the years on Saturday Night Live (SNL). What Al did was stupid and foolish, and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms Tweeden, and to the public. In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant. That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard.

We send our support and gratitude to Al and his family this Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Ugh. This is blatant Ethics Accounting, as if the fact that Al was fun to work with has anything to do with his misconduct, or mitigates it in any way:

21. Ethics Accounting, or “I’ve earned this”/ “I made up for that”. You cannot earn the right to act unethically by depositing a lot of ethical deeds in the imaginary ethics bank, nor can unethical conduct be erased by doing good for someone else. The illusion that one can balance the ethics books this way is referred to on the Ethics Alarms blog as “the Ruddigore Fallacy.”  Nobody earns the right to be unethical, not even once, no matter how exemplary their conduct. An unethical act is just as unethical, whether it is performed by a saint, a hero, or a villain.

Even more ridiculous is the “he never harassed me!” bit. This is reminiscent of Greta Van Susterin’s embarrassing defense of Roger Ailes, where she “stood up for” her boss and cast skepticism on his accusers because Greta had never been abused. The SNL letter drips with similar skepticism and bias. It is “appropriate” for Al to have apologized—never mind that the apology itself stunk on ice—and Al’s conduct may have been “stupid and foolish,” but come on, it wasn’t the worst thing.

What does standing up “in solidarity” mean, when it is in support of an accused harasser? It means “we don’t believe the victim, and anyway, we like the accused sufficiently that we will give him a pass.” I’m just guessing here, but I bet there are many, many women Harvey Weinstein worked with that he never molested, and that Louis C.K. hasn’t masturbated in front of every women he ever encountered. Those lucky women should sign a letter.

3. ” Gee, you mean I really have to pay it back?” In 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts, while South Dakota suspends driver’s licenses for the same provocation.  The tone of the New York Times article on the topic is disapproving, even though seven of the 19 states don’t use the laws that allow such suspensions, and the others mostly employ them as threats to get deadbeats to take their responsibilities seriously. Nobody in any of the states loses a license who sets up a payment schedule. Continue reading