The Breathtaking Hypocrisy of #MeToo

If Joe Biden actually retains sufficient marbles to acquire the democratic nomination for President, a proposition appearing increasingly dicey, we can be sure that the #MeToo movement, feminists and the refrain “believe all women” will pass through even more hypocrisy than the self-righteous trio has already, which is, when you think about it, astounding.  One would have thought that the longest-running of the alliance, the feminists, had already, as Will Parker sang in “Oklahoma!,” “gone about as fer as they can go” when they continued to cheer Bill Clinton after (and during) Monica Madness, and go on to anoint his enabler, Hillary Clinton, as the Coming Thing.

As I tried to point out on NPR in 2018, getting me blackballed for daring to explain a real phenomenon that could be used to benefit a President my hostess hates, whether or not sexual harassment or sexual assault is “unwelcome” and whether a particular woman should be believed often—let’s make that too often—depends on whether the man being accused is someone the Left doesn’t like or not. Unfortunately, this pervasive hypocrisy has undermined the credibility of such accusations, allowing the real predators who #Me Too should be squeezing out from under their rocks into the daylight to benefit from public cynicism.

This brings us back to Joe Biden, and his outspoken and none-too bright fan girl feminist, Alyssa Milano. She’s the washed-up  TV star on the left above, not letting men regard her as a sex object. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Ann Althouse

Ann Althouse cited this item from the Capital Times:

“Several Madison alders are sponsoring the resolution creating the LGBTQ+ Rainbow Murals and Crossings Art Pilot Program, which would install LGBTQ+ inclusive rainbow flag markings… at pedestrian crossings on the Capital City Trail and near the Capitol Square…. ‘…It would be a reminder to residents who see it that the LGBTQ community is an important part of the fabric of Madison, especially given that we have a lesbian mayor and many other queer people in positions of power’.”

This prompted her Ethical Quote of the Month:

“Why should the street be painted to remind us of who’s in a position of power? I would not paint anything political on the street. Let the street be a street. It doesn’t need to talk to us, especially not to nudge us about what we should believe or value.”

Why indeed.

This is why the Carly Simon song came to mind, but with slightly altered lyrics:

We can never know about the days to come
But the right side of history
Is clear.. wondering if you’re on board with me
Or just going through the motions now

Indoctrination, indoctrination
Is making me woke
I’m in the right crowd now

And I tell you how easy it feels to be so good
How right to have the mob around
But I, I rehearsed these words just late last night
When I was thinking about how washed your brain could be.

Indoctrination, indoctrination
Is keeping me safe,
Safe from the antifa..

And tomorrow we might not be agreeing
That would mean that we cannot associate
So let us program your brain for good
Repeat this phrase, ‘cause we’ll tell you what to think
We’ll tell you what to think
And stay right here, ‘cause we’ll tell you what to think.

We’ll tell you what to think.
We’ll tell you what to think.
We’ll tell you what to think.
We’ll tell you what to think…

Ethics Quote Of The Week: John Hinderaker

“It is almost unbelievable how ignorant and ill-educated America’s college students are. They are well below average in every material way. For all my life I have been an advocate for higher education, but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that college is generally a mistake, as young people are mostly misinformed there, rather than educated. There are a few technical fields–medicine, engineering, possibly law–where such education is actually useful. Otherwise, we and our young people would be better off if they eschewed institutions like Colgate in favor of trade and technical schools, or immediate entry into the labor market. They couldn’t possibly do worse than to pursue the typical four-year liberal arts degree.”

—-Attorney-blogger John Hinderaker, in a Powerline post about the  hostile treatment conservative  author Heather McDonald received from Colgate students when she was invited to speak there.

The reason this seems almost unbelievable to Hinderaker, and the reason I chose this as an ethics quote, is that his painful conclusion that nobody wants to admit is true. I don’t want to admit it, and I was becoming convinced of this decades ago, when I  was part of the administration of Georgetown Law Center and discovered that we had Yale graduates who couldn’t write a coherent sentence, and later, when I had Stanford interns who thought Jane Fonda was an aerobics instructor and who looked at me blankly when I mentioned the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and still later, when a smart young woman who had graduated from Hofsta didn’t know who Jackie Robinson was, and when a Skadden Arps attorney with a Cornell degree guessed that the Civil War was fought sometime in the 1930s.

This is why I was not disappointed when my son, scion of a family with three Harvard graduates and a career Harvard employee, announced that he saw no point in going to college. Continue reading

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

Six Ethics Lessons As Bill James Falls Into His Own Research Trap

Baseball philosopher, iconoclast and analyst Bill James is one of my heroes for his amazing ability to look past conventional wisdom with an open mind. Beginning as essentially a self-published pamphleteer writing out of his basement, James’ counter-traditional explorations of baseball statistics eventually changed how baseball was watched, assessed, scouted and played, simply on the strength of Bill’s  ideas and his facility in explaining them.

His talents could be used in many other fields–James has recently branched out into examining famous unsolved murders—but it is also true that many of the ideas he has developed in relation to baseball have wider applications. For example, James was the source of the concept of “signature significance,” which is a staple here at Ethics Alarms.

His writing also taught me that bias makes us stupid, and about the insidious power of rationalizations.  Many of James’s observations seemed intrinsically obvious once he made and explained them, and the fact that  baseball executives, writers and players could have been so wrong about their own game for so long seemed incomprehensible. But the reasons were what they always are, in all fields. People are biased toward what they have always believed —confirmation bias–and the “It’s always been this way” variation on the most powerful rationalization of them all, “Everybody does it”  breeds blindness and  intellectual laziness. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/7/2020 [Item #2, Climate Change Hype]”

Just to prove that an Ethics Alarms Comment of the Day need not be a magnum opus, here is Humble Talent’s concise, trenchant, tough COTD on the climate change segment of the post, “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/7/2020: Oh, Great, A Red Sox Ethics Scandal”:

It’s not just climate change. Progressives are really bad at defining their terms and holding their own to a reasonable, consistent interpretation. So labels that describe a thing in reality, and might to an extent have a point (see: climate change or corporatism), are almost immediately gobbled up by a population interested in pidgeonholing those theories into personal narratives, no matter how different their narrative is from the actual intent of the label. And then, out of the myriad of misunderstandings of their own damn terms, these labels grow into monolithic, all encompassing, god of the gaps theories that end up being unfalsifiable because you can’t even pin down what it is you’re trying to falsify.

Worse, they have a healthy tradition of labeling things in the most bombastic way possible, almost designed to foster those misunderstandings (see: toxic masculinity, privilege theory). The answer to questions about patriarchy is the patriarchy, the answer to questions about communism is communism, the answers to questions about racial issues is racism, and anyone who disagrees with the current iteration of their catechisms is a heretical racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc. etc. etc.

The very worst part about this, in my opinion, is that these adherents will claim that the people who disagree with them are somehow rejecting science, having wrapped themselves in the armor of disbelief, armed with terms they only tenuously understand, not terribly wanting to be confused by facts.

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Comment Of The Day: “’Side hustle?’ SIDE HUSTLE?”

Let’s begin the new year with a Comment of the Day.

It’s appropriate.

One of the important things I have learned since beginning this blog in 2009—in addition to the apparent fact that trying to elaborate on the topic of blackface and dark make-up in the arts will get one’s blog banned on Facebook and there is literally nothing one can do about it—is that the commenters enrich, define, and advance the mission of the blog beyond anything I could have anticipated.

Pennagain’s comment on the topic of the so-called “gig economy” and California’s efforts to smother it is an excellent example. (One of the joys of any Pennagain COTD is that I know I won’t have to check for typos, since Pennagain regularly checks MY posts for typos…). Behold the Comment of Day on the post, “Side hustle?” SIDE HUSTLE?”:

I hardly know where to start. It’s the so called “gigs” that people learn most from. It’s those with the widest experience who can not only make the most of their job (main gig), whatever it turns out to be, but who will accommodate to change, go with the flow and roll with the punches, get a kick out of learning new things from different people, be comfortable experimenting with ideas and opinions.

Retirement – grandpa M. was 54 when he found, as the British put it so accurately, to be “redundant” to his own business when one of his sons took it over. He’d been good at his job, learning the trade from his father and practicing it in one form or another since he was a child, bringing his expertise (and, necessarily, a wife) to the New World at the turn of the century. He had never done anything else in his life. Building and running his business was his whole world, full of customers, many of whom had become close friends. The job kept him active, on his feet, reaching, stooping, sorting, lifting, dealing with salesmen and stock deliveries. He appraised and bargained, bought and sold. He had fierce competition that excited him, and he enjoyed every minute of it.

On the day he (was) retired, he sat down in a red plush chair in his living room and spent nearly every day for the rest of his life sitting there, having nothing else to do. No interests, no radio—no hobbies, no friends, not even any acquaintances. He’d never bothered to get to know his neighbors or attend any social functions at his house of worship. He had nothing in common with his family (the son who inherited the business never came to visit; too busy at work). The second-generation Americans who came religiously to visit, at least one group each weekend, didn’t speak either his original or his business language, nor he theirs.

He died just after his 55th birthday. In the red chair. Continue reading