Dinnertime Ethics Appetizer, 8/7/19: Spinning, Tweeting and Joking…[CORRECTED]

…and whatever THIS is…

The jaw-dropping video above has nothing to do with ethics, but after stumbling across this weird and wonderful act late, late last night in a 1944 B-movie musical revue called “Broadway Rhythm,” I’ve decided that the Ross Sisters need to be rescued from obscurity. We will never see the likes of this again. You decide whether that’s a good thing or not….

1. It’s nice to see the Times confessing that it’s a partisan hack news source, don’t you  think? When I posted about the unethical Times headline yesterday (“ASSAILING HATE, BUT NOT GUNS”),  I had no idea that a controversy had already erupted over the previous and subsequently removed headline in an earlier edition (“TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM”), which was attacked as being not negative enough about the President, or that the Times had replaced it in response to an outcry from its main audience, Democrats and Trump-haters.

How can the Times or its defenders pretend to claim that the paper has any integrity at all after such a craven and obviously biased performance?

In a Bizarro World spin job, the Times editor actually described the fiasco this way: “People think we are an important and necessary institution and they hold us to a high standard.”

Oh.

A “high standard” by a news organization is embodied by switching from an objective statement of facts to a partisan and biased one, after anti-Trump readers object! Good is bad, right is wrong, objective reporting is a mistake, the New York Times is the epitome of American journalism.

Nah, there’s no mainstream news media bias!

2. It’s official: nobody knows what racism means any more. Comic Chris Rock concocted a gag meme for Instagram:

Get it? “Betty White” as in “Bet he white!” Ok, it may not be not Oscar Wilde, but it’s clever enough for Instagram. Yet Rock was attacked for being “racist,” not counting the critics who thought he was wishing for the beloved comic actress to be mowed down in a hail of bullets. (Social media is good for causing the idiots among us to self-identify.)

There is nothing racist about the meme. Nothing. NOTHING. Rock’s meme is not suggesting that one race is inferior to another. He is stating a fact—a couple, in fact. The vast, vast majority of mass shooters (and serial killers) are white males. Not all of them, but almost all, which is what make is a bet, and a wise one. The other fact is that when educated, informed people hear about such shootings as we had last week, they assume that either the shooter is a Muslim terrorist, or a crazy white dude.

“If a white person posted this about black people their career would be over but when it’s the other way around nobody gives two shits,” read one social media commenter. “You can’t fight racism with racism, you’re just contributing to the problem. Sad a 17-year-old kid has to say this.”

Yup, it’s sad our 17-year-olds lack the abilities of critical thought and analogy. Rock’s meme wasn’t trying to fight racism, and merely mentioning race doesn’t make observations racist. If a white person posted this about black people, it would be immediately recognized as nonsense. Nobody, even white racists, think that blacks are typical mass shooters.

I’m praying that Rock, who has thus far been adamant about refusing to buckle to political correctness and social media mobs, continues to have the integrity not to apologize.

PLEASE, Chris. You’re my only hope. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/31/2019: Some Ethics Notes As I Run Out The Door…

Hello, I must be going…

I got my prep done faster than expected, so I have time for a shorter than usual warm-up…

1.  “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” It’s going to take a while for me to go through last night’s debate, which the Red Sox saved me from having to watch live. I can say this right now, however: responsible parties should not permit completely unqualified, publicity-seeking wackos like Marianne Williamson (and, as I argued in 2015 and 2016, Donald Trump) to enter primaries and participate in debates. This is how you get “A Face in the Crowd”; this is how you set up democracy to fail. There will always be a critical number of idiots in the electorate, and parties have a duty to fulfill a critical gate-keeper function to prevent the grifters, con artists, cult leaders and amateurs from using them to warp elections and the government.

Williamson was babbling about “dark psychic forces” and “emotional imbalance” last night.  Democrats should ding her right now, and tell her she is welcome to run under the banner of the Crystal Party, or something similar. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Purge, 7/25/2019: Snopes, Maddow, Gratuitous Disrespect For POTUS…Yuck.

Prepping for a colonoscopy, thanks…ethically, of course…

1. Great Moments in Confirmation Bias. Believe it or not, this is what Rachel Maddow said about the Mueller testimony:

“I will tell you, I was not quite sure what to expect from today’s testimony by Robert Mueller. If you had told me that today, we would get from Robert Mueller over the course of these seven hours such a blunt accounting from him… of who in the president’s campaign was compromised by Russia, and how, specifically how they were compromised by Russia, including the President…All in all, just look at today as a whole, it was a remarkable day, not just for this presidency but for the presidency. I know the Trump White House and conservative media are trying to, like, chin up tonight, make it seem like they had a great day today… they did not have a great day today.”

How in the world could anyone watching the hearings say that? How can anyone, realizing that this the way she translates reality into her commentary every night, continue to waste their time and brain cells watching her? How could responsible executives at a news network hear that and not take remedial action, if they have any regard for journalism as all? This is literally fiction, or delusion, or the perception of someone from a parallel universe who somehow crossed over (in that universe, Mueller didn’t answer questions almost exclusively with “yes,” “no,” “repeat the question,” “that’s outside my purview” and “bvuh?!”) Wrote Jonathan Turley about Maddow’s rhetoric, ”

“That is like calling the Hindenburg disaster a rough landing. Gone is any notion of informing viewers of what actually occurred and its implications for impeachment calls. Instead, viewers heard what they expect from echo journalists: assurance that Trump remains on the ropes and the Democrats are laying a trap.”

Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/8/2019: “Well, No More Oreos For Me!” Edition

An ethical new week dawns!

1. Snopes again. Incredibly, there are still people—like Facebook!—who insist that Snopes is a trustworthy, objective factchecking source. Ethics Alarms had its fill of the site’s partisan spinning many moons ago, but just for giggles, here is another example of the site’s shameless bias.

Last week Snopes pretended to do a “fact check” on whether the Betsy Ross American flag—the thirteen star version that Nike recently rules was too racist to be on a sneaker— was used under President Barack Obama at his inauguration. The strange thing is that no fact check was necessary, since the photographic record is undeniable. As is often the case, however, Snopes’ purpose wasn’t to clarify facts, but to bolster a progressive narrative. Bethania Palma, the most unsubtle of the site’s propagandists, argues that while Obama’s version of the flag wasn’t racist, any use of the flag in 2019 would be racist, because the existence of Donald Trump makes it so.

During the Trump era, what were once relics of the United States’ fraught history with violent racism have been taken up as causes for some far-right extremists. As white supremacists began rallying around Confederate monuments slated for removal, some tried to attach the Betsy Ross flag to their cause as a symbol…The Anti-Defamation League, a non-profit organization that tracks hate groups, doesn’t include the flag in its database of confirmed hate symbols. But many have viewed the flag as symbolizing a time in U.S. history when slavery was legal. “Historically, these symbols have been used by white supremacists, both to hearken back to a time when black people were enslaved, while also painting themselves as the inheritors of the ‘true’ American tradition,” Keegan Hankes, a researcher for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Rolling Stone.

In other words, now that Trump is President, any symbol or artifact that was used by the United States before the abolishment of slavery is to be regarded as carrying  racist symbolism. That’s a fact! Snopes says so.

2. I won’t link to this because it doesn’t deserve traffic, but the Times just inflicted on its readers a sloppy and incompetent “Guide” to the 80’s cultural references in the third season of the Netflix show “Stranger Things. The popular horror series by “The Duffer Brothers” has always been filled with visual and verbal homages, as well as plot turns, attributable by the culturally aware to  famous 80’s works by better artists–Stephen King, Spielberg, John Carpenter, and more. Sometimes the references are amusing, often they are gratuitous and annoying. The Times piece, including a bold face “Spoilers!” warning, purported to catalogue all such references in the new season.

It doesn’t. It doesn’t come close. It doesn’t come close because the writer is obviously unfamiliar with the works the show references, and didn’t bother to do his research despite representing that he had. What he mainly misses are the lines in the dialogue that are lifted directly out of 80’s movies. For example, at one point, a major character in “Stranger Things 3” says, “I can do anything; I’m the chief of police.”  That’s a direct quote from “Jaws,” as anyone who has seen the film 76 times knows.

If a major newspaper is going to say it has a “Complete Guide” to 80’s pop culture references in a show, then it is obligated to make the effort to ensure that it is, in fact, complete. Continue reading

And This Is Why We Have No Trustworthy News Media: The Phantom Somali Hammer Attack.

A week ago, conservative writer Matt Vespa wrote,

There’s media silence in Minneapolis over an attack executed by a group of Somali teens that reportedly attacked bystanders East Bank Light Rail station last Friday. It looks like it was racially motivated. According to reports, anyone who was white or looked like they had money was targeted. The teens used hammers and bars as weapons. … [T]here’s been literally no media coverage of this attack. The only outlet to even mention or ask about it was the crime watch site “2ndPrecinct  Minneapolis Crime Watch and Information. They posted on their Facebook page to note that this attack did happen and that “We were told that we were the ONLY media to inquire to MPD about it. Further proof of our “incurious” local lamestream media”

Several conservative sites, including the frequently dubious Red State and the Granddaddy of Them All, Instapundit, passed on the story in the same vein, hinting darkly that the news media was burying this story because it evoked Muslim-on-white “hate crime”, and because the Left is circling the wagons around besieged Somali immigrant, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

The episode began with a police call, in  a police dispatcher states:

“[University of Minnesota Police Department] is asking for assistance from Metro Transit [Police] and Minneapolis [Police] for a group of eight to 10 males at the East Bank light rail station chasing people around with hammers. They do have some people injured. They’re sending us more information, but they’re requesting assistance.”

The rest of the story seems to have been based on an alleged eye-witness report posted on Facebook  by“Jay Hall,” who  wrote “… It was a group of Somali young males with hammers and bars. They were attacking anyone who looked like they had money or were white.”

However, by the time the episode had played out, police were describing it like this in the  report on the incident,:

Around 9.45 p.m. on Saturday 17 May, UMN police officers were dispatched to the East Bank train station on Washington Avenue Southeast, next to the University of Minnesota, after receiving reports of a group of Somali youths with weapons.

Officer Amanda Carlson:

“Upon arrival to the East Bank LRT I saw a group of Somali juveniles running away from officers traveling westbound on Washington Ave SE and turn southbound between Moos Tower and [the] Molecular and Cellular Biology building. I ran after them and heard officers yelling at the juveniles to stop. I turned onto Delaware St SE where officers had several Somali juveniles lying prone with their arms spread out. I placed a male….in handcuffs and performed a search incident to arrest. All other parties were placed in handcuffs and detained by other officers that had arrived on scene…Through further investigation, it was found that …[they were] the two individuals brandishing metal pipes towards others on the light rail platform. Dispatch sent recorded images of the incident on the East Bank LTR which showed [them] holding a metal pipe and handing it to [each other] [They] were placed in the rear of a squad car and transported to UMPD by Officer Brackett….All other parties that had fled on foot and were detained were ultimately released from police custody at the scene. I issued a citation … for disorderly conduct as he engaged in offensive, abusive, boisterous and noisy conduct tending to arouse alarm, flee police as he attempted to evade or elude peace officers, who were acting in the lawful discharge of official duty, by means of running, and false information to police as he provided a fictitious name and false date of birth.”

Carlson further wrote that two metal pipes were taken from the two young men who received the citations. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/18/19: Redacted Mueller Report Freak-Out Edition

Good morning!

1. Mueller report ethics!

  • Note the names and employers of the pundits and reporters who opine on the 400 page report (to be released today around 11:00 am) before they could possibly read it. [Althouse this morning: “What can they do, once 11 rolls around, to avoid continuing to analyze the Barr presentation (which will include denouncing his decision to do a press conference and dominate the news in advance of the release of the text)? You can be cynical and say the text won’t affect the media, and everyone will keep saying what they were already saying, and that is, in fact, my baseline assumption. The TV news is awful.” Yes, it certainly is.]
  • The New York Times and others are incensed that the Justice Department briefed the President on the report before it was released to the public. This is Trump Derangement, pure and unadulterated. The President has a right to see the report, and the Justice Department is part of the executive branch, which the President oversees.I’d want to be briefed ahead of the release if I were President, especially with a biased news media and a crazed “resistance” preparing to make it look as bad as possible no matter what it says. The complaint is one more entry in “Journalist making the public dumber.”
  • Ken Starr, also indulging in “future news,” says that he is concerned that the report will read like an anti-Trump manifesto. I will be surprised. It is true that the Mueller had some questionably aggressive prosecutors on the team, but the report has Mueller’s name on it and it is his historical legacy. He is regarded in D.C. and in legal circles as professional and fair. I would expect him to keep the report as factual and non-political as possible.
  • In Attorney General Bill Barr’s (completely appropriate) press conference this morning, he said in  part,

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: Last Day Before The Start Of The Baseball Season Changes Everything Edition

Good Morning!

1. The best explanation ever composed to explain why baseball helps keep us ethical, by preserving our ability to give a damn—-for in the end, the most important of the virtues, the one that makes all the others matter—is caring.

Roger Angell, from his 1975 essay “Agincourt and After,” about the ’75 World Series and Carlton Fisk’s iconic homerun in Game #6 (yes, I was there):

It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look—I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring—caring deeply and passionately, really caring—which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté—the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball—seems a small price to pay for such a gift.

2.  Some Democrats are displaying integrity and patriotism...This morning’s Ethics Hero: Rep. Jim  Himes ( D-Ct), who disappointed MSNBC’s hack-fest Morning Joe by deploring his colleagues who are sorry the Special Counsel did not find collusion with Russia by the President. They  need to think, he told Joe and Mika, pointing out that he fact that a sitting President is not found to have traitorously conspires with a foreign power to pervert an election is cause for celebration, not regret.  Hey, do you think he reads Ethics Alarms? [Pointer: VinnyMick]

3. But most are not, especially this guy: Martha MacCallum  had Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) on her Fox News show last night. Along with Adam Schiff, he has been one of the worst offenders in asserting as fact, without evidence, that the President committed impeachable acts .  True to form, Swalwell told his host that nothing in the salacious and unverified dossier had been proven “not factual.” I am also hearing this Bizarro World legal standard being endorsed by some commenters and, naturally, the  Facebook Borg. In this country, people don’t have to prove themselves innocent, even people like Donald Trump, who seem especially ethics-impaired. Allegation,s rumors and accusations are not enough; in fact, they aren’t anything until they have been confirmed. The Steele Dossier is literally not anything, although it was used deceptively and probably illegally to justify spying on the Trump campaign. Continue reading