Ethics Dunces: The District of Columbia Facilities, and Commemorative Expressions Working Group

You can’t fix stupid, as they say.

Or ignorant. Or ungrateful. Or obsessed.

In the document below, the product of The District of Columbia Facilities, and Commemorative Expressions Working Group, appointed I really don’t care when by Mayor Muriel Bowser, an arrogant and juvenile  committee recommends the “cancelling” of, among others, in our nation’s Capital, by removing all mention of their names, as well as their statues and memorials,

  • Christopher Columbus
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Francis Scott Key
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • George Mason
  • President Andrew Jackson
  • President Thomas Jefferson
  • President James Monroe
  • President Woodrow Wilson
  • President William Henry Harrison
  • George Mason
  • President John Tyler
  • President Zachary Taylor, and, of course,

George Washington, after whom the city itself is named, and without whom the nation would not exist. Continue reading

HBO Max Adds A Disclaimer For Morons Onto “Blazing Saddles”

You know: morons.

HBO Max thinks people are so stupid and shallow that they must have  “Blazing Saddles” explained to them, lest someone—one will do–think it’s intended to advance “systemic racism” rather than to ridicule it. I do not believe in hating people, but it takes every bit of principle and energy I can muster not to hate both the political correctness dictators who  believe in “trigger warnings,” and the hoards of dim bulbs and sheep-human hybrids who appreciate them. I’m still looking for the complete text of the introduction HBO Max has slapped on Mel Brooks’ masterpiece, but I know enough.

It is intoned  by University of Chicago professor of cinema studies and TCM host Jacqueline Stewart, who also delivered the disclaimer added to “Gone with the Wind.” I like Stewart, who is smart and knowledgeable, but I would have liked her better if she refused to participate in this insulting exercise.

“This movie is an overt and audacious spoof on classic Westerns,'” Stewart says. This, writes Kyle Smith in the New York Post, is to “set things up for anyone who might be clicking on the Mel Brooks comedy thinking they’re in for Swedish drama about the lingonberry harvest.” “It’s as provocative today as it was when it premiered back in 1974,” she says. No, tragically, it is more provocative. Thanks to the racial politics of censorship and ruthless power-seeking that has metastasized on the Left in the George Floyd Freakout, professors are losing their jobs and being “cancelled” for mentioning the word that Blazing Saddles uses repeatedly as a punchline. Any professor who analyzed the use of racist language in “Blazing Saddles” would risk being called a racist by the student body. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Afterthoughts, 8/14/2020: The Great Stupid, And Other Problems

MAD-ness! MAD-ness!

1. This isn’t stupid, it’s just disturbing. Kevin Clinesmith, a top FBI lawyer who fabricated evidence in the federal  warrant used to spy on the  Trump campaign through Carter Page will plead guilty to federal charges brought by U.S. Attorney John Durham.  His plea will  admit to deliberately fabricating evidence in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant application. 

Clinesmith is the first individual to be charged as part of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the efforts  to spy on the Trump campaign and Trump administration. Both Durham and Attorney General William Barr have stated that they had reason to believe the entire investigation of the President, which allegedly began in late July of 2016, was illicit and unjustified.

Expect the news media, in collaboration with Democrats, to bury, spin, deny and otherwise attempt to mitigate the sinister implications of this development, and those to follow. Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/13/2020: “Hail To The Thingamajiggies!” Edition [Corrected]

How.

1. When late is worse than never. Reports say that the Washington Redskins will officially announce that they are changing their name, to what nobody knows, not even them. The team’s obnoxious owner, Dan Snyder, who has run the once cultishly popular and successful NFL franchise into the ground during his incompetent stewardship, had memorably said that he would never change the controversial team name, unquestionably the most politically incorrect in all of sports. That pledge did not anticipate his league going nuts and supine before the George Floyd Freakout, to the point that there may be mandatory kneeling by the time the 2020 season opens.

The attack on the Redskins name was always about power, as has been the decades-long assault on all team nicknames with ethnic references. Survey after survey has shown that the vast majority of Native Americans don’t care; the idea is to bring corporate interests to heel, and then aim at the next, more substantive objective. The competent way for a team to handle this problem is to quietly retire a problematic name like “Redskins” (or a anachronistically provocative logo like the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo) when the heat is off, making it clear that the change is volitional and not compelled. Then the social justice mob members can’t puff out their little pigeon chests with pride and think “I did this! What’s the next target?”

I don’t care what the D.C. team’s name is. I do care about dishonest and illogical arguments, which is what have been mounted against this name for as long as I can remember. That’s why the Redskins and related matters have so often been a topic here.

I did laugh yesterday when I read a comment predicting that Snyder would announce that the new name would be “the Washington Murderous Savages”… Continue reading

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