My Ethics Conflict: Woodrow Wilson’s Name Should Have Been Removed At Princeton Long Ago, But Erasing It Now Opens The Floodgates, Part I: The Case For Woodrow

Reviewing, I see that the original Black Lives Matter attack on American values, history and culture first broke out in 2015. Then as now, Democrats rushed to embrace the racist group’s anti-white, anti-police and anti-America agenda, seeking, as usual, to enamor itself with its base. That was also the first time Princeton University was urged by student activists to remove honors to Wilson from the campus, though Wilson was not only a President of the United States (and according to Democrats until recently, one of the greatest) but also a lauded president of Princeton. The 2015 calls for his airbrushing out of Princeton’s history coincided with many similar attempts, some successful, to dishonor past historical figures whose legacies or conformity with modern values had been called into question.

College campuses, not city streets, were ground zero in 2015. Yale and the University of Missouri led the madness. At Mizzou, black students manufactured racial outrage out of ambiguous and off-campus incidents, then engaged in what Ethics Alarms then termed  an “I’m mad at the world and somebody has to pay for it” tantrum (Hmmm! Still sounds pretty good!), demanding all sorts of special accommodations and race-based policies and hirings, and demanding the university president’s resignation. Thomas Wolfe did resign, giving us an early precedent for all the capitulation and cowardice we are seeing today. As we’re seeing today, intimidation, race-bullying and attacks on free expression and language were part of the assault:

  • Amherst students demanded a crack-down on any free speech in the form of criticism of Black Lives Matters or the protest goals.
  • Dartmouth’s Black Lives Matters members roamed through the campus library, verbally assaulting white students attempting to study.
  • Smith College held a sit-in, and barred reporters-–the new breed of campus freedom-fighters just don’t like that pesky First Amendment—unless they promised to cover the protest positively. .
  • Occidental College students occupied a three-story administration building, demanding “a series of actions ranging from racist to just unreasonable to oppressive” in the name of “safety” and “diversity”, of course. Predictably, the leftist faculty which helped make the students this way were fully supportive.Refresh your recollections with the list of student demands here; my favorites: demanding an increase in tenured black professors and black doctors; funding for the student group for black men, which is racist and counter-diverse by definition; and “elimination of military and police rhetoric from all documents and daily discourse.”

Why is this so familiar? Continue reading

Statue-Toppling, The Ethics Incompleteness Principle, And Calvin Griffith, Part One.

The Ethics Incompleteness Principle, a core concept on Ethics Alarms, holds that even the most convincing ethics rules, moral codes, laws and principles have exceptions. The inspiration for this observation was the work of Czech-born mathematician Kurt Gödel, whose two Incompleteness Theorems, which relate to mathematical proofs, are his most famous contribution to civilization and science. A linguist as well as a scientist,  Gödel unintentionally delivered an essential blow against the ethics absolutism of Kant and rigid morality when he proved that human language is not sufficiently precise to define rules that will work as designed in every instance. The logical extension of Gödel’s theorems, which he applied only to mathematics and, by extension, physics, tells us that there will always be anomalies on the periphery of every normative system, no matter how sound or well articulated it is. If one responds to an anomaly by trying to amend the rule or system to accommodate it, the integrity of the rule or system is disturbed, and perhaps ruined. Yet if one stubbornly applies the rule or system without amendment to the anomaly anyway, one may reach an absurd conclusion or an unjust result. [ Here is an online discussion of the application of Gödel to ethics, which appeared years after the Ethics Incompleteness Theorem was posited on Ethics Alarms.]

The Ethics Incompleteness Principle suggests that when a system or rule doesn’t seem to work well when applied to an unexpected or unusual situation, the wise response is to abandon the system or rule—in that one anomalous case only— and use  basic ethics principles and analysis to find the best solution. Then return to the system and rules as they were, without altering them to make the treatment of the anomalous situation “consistent.”

Much as we would like it to be otherwise, for life would be so much simpler if it were so, no system or rule is going to work equally well with every possible scenario. This is why is why committing to a single ethical system is folly, and why it is important to keep basic ethical values in mind in case a pre-determined formula for determining what is right breaks down.

When a reader and frequent commenter sent me this announcement from the Minnesota Twins a few days ago, my reflex reaction was as you would expect: Continue reading

The Madness Continues…

I have a feeling I may be using this clip, the final lines from “The Bridge of the River Kwai,” a lot from now on. In fact, I’m going to add it to the Ethics Alarms clips list right now. Back in a minute…I just realized that there’s another clip I left out of that post, so we are now up to eleven.

***

Back. As Lili Von Shtupp  said, “I feel wefweshed!

These are truly the crazy times. The George Floyd Freakout has emboldened the power-hungry, the self-righteous, the manipulative and the irresponsible, while those who have not abandoned their values and faculties  descend into fear and submissiveness. For example…

When…suppressing speech and conduct based on an individual’s or a group’s sincere claim that such speech or conduct is offensive, however understandable and reasonable this claim may be, creates or threatens to create a powerful precedent that will undermine freedom of speech, expression or political opinion elsewhere, calls to suppress the speech or conduct must be opposed and rejected.”

The City Council of Duluth, Minnesota, is considering stripping the word “chief” from the job titles of top administrators because the mayor thinks the word is offensive to Native Americans. It was reported  that during a press conference yesterday, Mayor Emily Larson “implored City Council members to vote to approve the change next week ‘”so that we have more inclusive leadership and less language that is rooted in hurt and offensive, intentional marginalization.”

Alicia Kozlowski, the city’s community relations officer, told reporters, “I think there are other titles that we have the opportunity to use to steer away from language that may put people down based off their race or culture.”

These women are idiots and ignoramuses, but they are virtue-signaling, and while madness reigns, facts don’t matter. “Chief” is not a Native American word: it’s Middle English: from the Old French chief, or chef, based on the Latin caput ,’ meaning “head’.’

Then we have this item from the University of Florida, where for the last two decades or so “Gator Bait!” has been a popular chant by the football team’s fans in response to a song played by the school’s band… Continue reading

An Update On The Professor Jacobson Controversy At Cornell

Last week Professor William Jacobson, a professor at Cornell Law School who writes a well-respected conservative blog, announced that there was a movement afoot among some faculty and students to get him fired. (Ethics Alarms discussed it here.) Here are Jacobson’s posts since then regarding the ongoing effort to have him dismissed for being critical of Black Lives Matter:

In a related development, the similarly politically incorrect (but so far anonymous) Berkeley history professor I criticized here is now being condemned by the university.

On this development, Professor Turley writes in part, Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-U…OH MY GOD I JUST SAW THE “I TAKE RESPONSIBILITY” VIDEO AND MY BRAIN IS CRAWLING OUT OF MY SKULL!!!!!

1. This thing above. How can anyone take these people, or the entire industry they represent, seriously? Was someone challenged to come up with the most nauseating, self-indicting example of narcissistic grandstanding and virtue-signalling imaginable? Among the more recognizable celebrities are Kristen Bell, Kesha, Aaron Paul, Stanley Tucci, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Debra Messing, though I’m sure I would have recognized more if I hadn’t been retching so violently. This PSA is supposed to launch  a new project by entertainment production company Confluential Content, in partnership with the NAACP. So earnest (and as performed, manifestly phony) that it hurts, the stars—I’m assuming they are all stars—take turns reading a wildly hyperbolic and deceitful script:

“I take responsibility for every unchecked moment, for every time it was easier to ignore than to call it out for what it was. Every not-so-funny joke. Every unfair stereotype. Every blatant injustice no matter how big or small. Every time I remained silent. Every time I explained away police brutality or turned a blind eye. I take responsibility. Black people are being slaughtered in the streets. Killed in their own homes. These are our brothers and sisters. Our friends. Our family. We are done watching them die. We are no longer bystanders; we will not be idle. Enough is enough.”

Who is it who will decide what’s a stereotype, an unfunny joke (what if the joke is funny?), or a blatant injustice? You silly people? Right. Continue reading

The Cronkite School Of Journalism Decides That White Lives Are Too Risky To Be Deans

Arizona State University rescinded its offer to Sonya Forte Duhé be its new dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and CEO of Arizona PBS. Her un-appointment was based on less than two dozen past students’ complaints that she frequently encouraged them to, among other things, dress appropriately, wear conservative hair styles, use makeup while on the air, and use using standard broadcast speech. Duhé, a communications professor at Loyola University New Orleans who was set to take over as dean on July 1, also came under fire last week for tweeting a photo of black and white hands intertwined along with the message “For the family of George Floyd, the good police officers who keep us safe, my students, faculty and staff. Praying for peace on this #BlackOutTuesday.”

Oooh, “good police officers.” Can’t have that. She took down the tweet after it was attacked by a Twitter mob, but to no avail, and it was the catalyst for a petition to have her rejected as dean.

Another letter signed by about two dozen members of the school’s faculty relied on the  Loyola students’ (unverified) claims, saying that Cronkite students are “rightly questioning” their “safety” and whether they would “have a voice” if Duhé became dean. Her alleged behavior “flies in the face” of the school’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, they wrote, and would “cost the students, faculty and staff and reputational damage.”

The faculty letter claims “several key donors” have told faculty members they were “questioning their commitment to the school” because of the concerns raised by students and the publicity around them.

Sounds like “anonymous sources” to me. Are rumors and innuendo as important to journalism and verified facts?

I can’t believe I just wrote that…. Continue reading

Comments Of The Day: Ethics Dispatches From The Sick Ward, 5/26/2020: Arg! Yechh! [#1]

It took a while, but my complaint about the advertising world’s bizarre decision to make pirates the sole politically correct genre for innocent childsplay finally generated the intriguing commentary I hoped it would.

Here are two Comments of the Day on the topic, breached in Item #1 of the post, Ethics Dispatches From The Sick Ward, 5/26/2020: Arg! Yechh!”

First up, Isaac:

Permit me a midnight rant about pirates.

Kids did not play pirates at any time before this Gen-Xer was born. Kids played sailors or soldiers, and the PIRATES WERE THE BAD GUYS. That is because pirates were (and are) indeed very bad guys.

Treasure Island is a realistic story about stuffy British Christian men (and a boy) defeating a gang of vile, godless pirates. Once the story gets going there are exactly zero female characters. I can see why the destroyers of culture who lord it over modern schools would find this “problematic.” But it just might be my all-time favorite book. Pirates are interesting, fascinating, and make for good stories. BUT THEY AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THE HEROES.

Even the least-murderous of real-life pirates still tricked innocent merchant vessels and robbed them by force. They still were known for spending their free time raping, drinking themselves to death, and spreading venereal disease. Within just the last few years, pirates off the coast of Somalia have been murdering entire ships’ crews, so it’s not as if there’s no modern frame of reference for understanding why they generally shouldn’t be cast as heroes, as you mentioned.

There was a funny but sad incident not too long ago told by a mom who had been to Disneyland. She took her son into a boutique in the park that styles up girls into princesses. They offered to do their equivalent service for the young man by making him into a pirate. The small child, who had more common sense and moral awareness than the entire Disney corporation, pointed out that pirates are bad guys, and insisted that he wanted to be a prince instead. There were no prince costumes.

There are now SEVERAL kids’ cartoons in which kids “play pirate,” mostly thanks to the Disney movie. One of them is “Jake and the Neverland pirates” which doesn’t even make any sense in the context of Peter Pan. A character on this show said to his tiny audience, at one point, and I quote, verbatim, “A good pirate never takes anyone else’s property.” And they were serious.

The elephant is there in the room from that very first film. Jack Sparrow proves himself to be “a good man” and the moral (such as it is) is that even a pirate can be good. And so, at the end of the film, “good man” Jack gets his ship and crew back and sails off into the sunset too…do what, exactly? Sail the world looking for beached whales to rescue? Hunt for lost treasure to return it to its rightful owner? The next several movies twist themselves into knots to avoid having to give the obvious answer to this question: the only way to be a pirate is to, you know, commit piracy. It’s right there in the name.

I wonder if 50 years or so would be sufficient time for Disney to train kids to “play terrorist.” Just make a wacky movie about an eccentric jihadist who turns out to have a heart of gold.

Now here’s Pirate Comment of the Day #2, from Jeff: Continue reading

Ethics Dispatches From The Sick Ward, 5/26/2020: Arg! Yechh!

Ugh.

I was supposed to be all better yesterday, and instead I took  a step back.

Sorry.

That photo above is from the last scene in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” after all of the comedians and Spencer Tracy have ended up in the hospital with horrible injuries following  their self-created disaster on an out-of-control fire truck ladder at the supposedly hilarious climax of the Sixties epic chase comedy. The film-makers were very creative in their uses of bandages, casts and traction, but even as a kid, I was struck by how it just isn’t possible to make injuries seem very funny.

1. Since everyone is watching as much TV now as I usually watch routinely, I’ll mention this: have you noticed that several commercials show parents playing pirates with their kids? Did you ever play pirates with your parents? Have you ever seen anyone play at being pirates?

The reason this is being forced on the culture as a thing is that political correctness has robbed kids of almost all fantasy outlets, so someone decided that pirates were safe and inoffensive–especially since Disney had to remove the rapey stuff from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” rides. (Pirates are actually murderous thieves, today as always; what a weird safe haven to choose!)

In “Parasite,” Oscar’s Best Picture last year, the little South Korean son of the wealthy family was obsessed with playing “Indians,” complete with feathered headdress and arrows. I wonder if this feature would have disqualified an American film for cultural insensitivity. American kids can’t be cowboys anymore, since they were genocidal; soldiers are taboo, as are cops and robbers; even space invaders are verboten, since they involve guns. As my friends and I discovered long ago, you can try to play superheroes but they don’t leave you much to work with. Sword and sorcery games, like acting out fairy tales, trip on too many anti-feminist stereotypes.

I wonder what the next generation will turn out to be like, absent any symbolic fantasy villains and conflict to instruct their play. Pirates are not the answer, and again, I doubt any kids are playing pirates like the imaginary families in Bounty commercials. The iconic pirate novel “Treasure Island,” once a standard assignment in grade school, has been purged from the canon—too male, or something.  (It’s still a terrific book.) The other classic with pirates is “Peter Pan,” and that one is in the process of being scrubbed and gender-twisted beyond recognition. There still are Johnny Depp’s weird pirate movies, I guess, though his drunken, bumbling pirate slob anti-hero seems unlikely to inspire normal kids into flights of fantasy.

Our culture just is not in competent hands, and what the end result will be, nobody knows.

2. I’m not sure if this is unethical, exactly, but something’s definitely wrong… Continue reading

Sexist Broadway Musical Lyric Ethics: Carousel’s “Soliloquy”

“Soliloquy,” also known as “My Boy Bill,” may be my favorite Broadway musical song of all time. (I don’t know, it’s between that and “Losing My Mind” from Sondheim’s “Follies.”) It certainly is among the most ambitious of all the songs from the genre, an emotionally wide-ranging, musical equivalent of a Shakespearean  monologue. Both the song’s lyricist, Oscar Hammerstein, and especially its composer, Richard Rodgers, were at the top of their form when they created it, and the top of their form can match any songwriter who ever lived. It’s also a tour de force for the singer, a seven-and-a-half minute musical mountain that only the very best even dare try to scale

The song comes at a key moment in the plot of “Carousel,” when the brutish and none-too-bright hero, Billy Bigelow, has learned that his wife is pregnant. The arrested-development adolescent muses about the joys and ultimately the responsibilities of his impending fatherhood, and having accepted the fact that his child might be a girl, makes a fateful vow at the song’s climax: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/12/2020: I Admit It—I’m Fighting Hard To Avoid Getting Angry, Because I’m Not Ethical When I’m Angry

As we face these challenging times, we at Ethics Alarms salute the heroes, the indomitable, the resolute and the vibrant, who endure with good will and good cheer for the well-being of the community. We are Americans, and we are in this together, and

IF I HAVE to listen to insincere, calculated, virtue-signaling crap like this many more times, something is going to ‘pop!’ in my head and I’ll be  grabbing the nearest long, sharp implement and leaving the confines of these walls to begin the historic Alexandria Massacre.

Go ahead! Test me!

The rule in our house is that any channel that runs a commercial that begins with “In these..” or that shows someone wearing a facemask or looking at a webcam will be switched to another channel, never to be revisited during that day. If everyone follows this simple rule, and makes their policy known, maybe we’ll be able to halt this torture.

1.  What’s going on here? Is the idea now to proclaim how biased the news media is and the double standards it uses and mock those of us who care by showing there’s not a thing we can do with it? Is that it? Governor Cuomo actually said at a press conference yesterday  that the pandemic virus came from Europe in January and “no one knew” about it. “With all the sophistication, with all the public health organizations, with that whole alphabet soup of agencies, nobody knew the virus was coming from Europe,” the governor said, on the same day he finally retracted his deadly order requiring nursing homes to take in infected, elderly residents. Then he called the virus “The European Virus.” He really did. No, seriously. I’m not making this up.

The mainstream news media just ignored this idiocy yesterday, though President Trump calling the virus the Chinese virus, which except for the obscure papers Cuomo was apparently citing, is consistent with what most researchers have concluded about its origin, was attacked as racist because, you know, Big Lie #4.  Cuomo’s atrocious decision to expose nursing homes has also been barely covered in the left-leaning media.

2. If you are wondering why Ethics Alarms hasn’t covered in any detail the apparent emerging evidence that President Obama was intimately involved in the scheme to frame Michael Flynn, it is because there is literally no news source I can trust. Conservative sources are stating outright that Obama is squarely in “What did the President know and when did he know it” territory, with declassified documents indicating that Obama was aware of the bogus investigation and efforts to railroad Michael Flynn. The mainstream media appears to be doing what it did during Obama’s entire 8 years, which is refusing to probe suspicious activities and events, and maintaining the illusion that our first black President must be seen to be  as pure as the driven snow, because he was the first black President.  Unless a non-right wing source or reporter plays the role of the Watergate era Washington Post and “Woodstein” to get the truth out, we will be kept in the dark…and you know what the Post says happens in darkness. Continue reading