Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/9/18: The Speech! The Slur! The Secret Laws! The Shameful Dance!

Good Morning!

1 What a shock: A standard, typical, Oval Office speech. The monster! Ann Althouse has nicely covered the expected biased media reaction to President Trump’s speech last night, noting in part…

I’m reading Washington Post columns this morning, drawn or repelled by headlines. I was repelled by “Trump’s nothingburger speech.” That’s Jennifer Rubin, who I guess, was expecting Trump to do something drastic and planning to rage about it, then stuck with normal, and much less to chomp on… “Trump tried to play a normal president on television. The result was very strange.” … also, obviously, aims to make something of normal… It’s Alyssa Rosenberg:

“Given the hype, it was disconcerting to hear a speech that, at least for the opening minutes, could have been delivered by any normal politician….Those very gestures of presidential normalcy revealed how futile it was for anyone to wish that Trump would start talking like that all the time. Trump may have told more blatant falsehoods about immigrants and crime over the course of his speech, but to watch him mouth these platitudes is to witness a more insidious and disorienting kind of lying….Watching Trump’s flat delivery of sentiments that he can’t possibly believe was the inverse of comforting. Instead, the address had the queasy effect of a serial killer’s mask in a horror movie: It was a failed attempt to look normal that concealed something even more terrifying underneath….”

But the WaPo readers probably love this sort of thing…

I’m sure they do. Isn’t that great journalism? “We know he doesn’t believe what he’s saying.” The presumption of dishonesty and racism.

More Althouse:

I’ve now watched the Pelosi/Schumer response. I observed my emotional reaction, and I can tell you for sure that the line that reached me was “The fact is: the women and children at the border are not a security threat, they are a humanitarian challenge – a challenge that President Trump’s own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened” (spoken by Pelosi).

The word with emotional resonance for me was “humanitarian.” So I went back to the text of Trump’s speech, and I see that he used the word in his first sentence:

“My fellow Americans: Tonight, I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.”

And, to skip ahead to the 6th paragraph:

“This is a humanitarian crisis — a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul….”

It is not the job, obligation or responsibility of the United States to solve the humanitarian problems caused by citizens of other nations trying to enter our country illegally while imperiling children in the process. It does have an obligation to make it crystal clear that trying to make the problem ours will be futile.

Pelosi’s argument boils down to “Think of the Children!”

2.  And speaking of rationalizations: This dumb blog attempted to defend US congresswoman Rashida Tlaib uncivil and unprofessional vulgarity (“We’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherfucker!”) by listing celebrities who have used the same insult: rappers, comedians, non-Americans, incorrigible left-wing Hollywood jerks like Spike Lee, and actors like Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson, who in his movies calls everyone and everything a motherfucker, so he really shouldn’t count. this doesn’t even work as an “Everybody Does It” excuse. The issue isn’t the vulgarity, it’s the speaker, a member of Congress, and the ethical standards one accepts when entering that institution. Continue reading

2018 Ethics Retrospective Poll #4: The Ethics Train Wrecks!

Nominations for “Ethics Train Wreck Of The Year”

This one is self-explanatory, I think. Don’t automatically default to the obvious choice.

(Still rolling and still being used illicitly to exert gender-based power while undermining civil rights.

(which encompasses “the resistance,” the “Get Trump” campaign by the news media, and the ongoing effort to concoct a justification for impeachment)

(The Parkland shooting aftermath was nothing but a resuscitated and refueled version, with different demagogues, and the same lies)

(Statues are still falling, universities are still purging their histories, and “The Sound of Music” can’t mention Nazis…)

(An offshoot of the Harvey Weinstein express,  and perhaps the canary dying in the mine…)

(So long-running and constant that I forgot to call it one, with the “Think of the Children! caboose.)

The Big Tech Social Media Ethics Train Wreck, which has pulled out of the station, will have to wait a few months before we can assess it…

The poll:

 

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/28/18: As 2018 Runs Out…

Good Morning!

1. By the way… I want to thank all the stalwarts who have kept the comments lively over this holiday period, when traffic traditionally  all-but-halts at Ethics Alarms, and the 2018 installment has been especially slow, like the whole %^&$#@ year, really. It’s no fun speaking into the winds and shouting into the abyss. The responses and feedback mean a great deal to me, and I am grateful.

2. This sexual harassment concept really shouldn’t be so hard to grasp...but you know how it is when there’s a way to use  legitimately wrongful conduct to  justify exerting power over another—-they’ll streeeeeetch the definition as far as it can go and beyond. This is creative, I must say: A University of Missouri official was questioned regarding a case where a black male Ph.D. candidate asked a white female fitness trainer to go on a date and was eventually suspended from the school for sexual harassment and stalking.  In her deposition in the current appeal, the official suggested that the fact that the male student was larger than the female student gave him “power over her” and violated school policy.

This, of course, would make all instances where a larger male asks a smaller woman out in a school or workplace setting potential harassment, depending on whether she decided later that she was intimidated.  I presume that this would also apply in the rarer circumstances where a larger woman asks out a smaller man…here, for example:

I wonder if the heels count?

3. More over-hyped harassment: A white paper by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and Urban Institute classifies hard staring as sexual violence. Amy Alkon relates an incident when a victim of such staring called it “rape,” and indeed, “stare rape” is now recognized in some deranged setting as an offense. Continue reading

Mid-day Ethics Warm-Up, 11/28/18: Thanks, Twitter, A Properly Derisive Label Needed, And More Mainstream Media Bias That Is All In My Mind

Having a nice day?

1. A tardy recognition of things to be thankful for. Several of the regular readers here, notably Other Bill, valkygirrl, Pennagain, Michael West, Neil Dorr and Zoltar, but also others, have been flagging ethics stories for possible Ethics Alarms coverage. This has been especially helpful during my recent bronchitis battle, but I can always use tips, especially since my amazingly productive ethics scout of many years, Fred, had to take his talents elsewhere. The best way to send me your links and recommendation is at jamproethics@verizon.net.

2. This explains a lot. Pollster Frank Luntz says that 67% of Democrats believe it is “definitely true” or “probably true” that “Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected.” There is no evidence, none, that Russia tampered with vote tallies. There isn’t even evidence that Russian-planted “fake news” in social media and other meddling had any measurable effect on the election. Never mind: two-thirds of Democrats are convinced that Hillary Clinton couldn’t possibly have lost to a creep/Nazi/ lunatic/ moron/racist  like  Donald Trump without sinister forces making it so.

This delusion does explain a lot. As a foundation for false beliefs, it is strong impetus to confirmation bias, which Democratic officials and the news media have aggressively and cynically—and successfully—courted. I thought Republicans should hide their heads in bags after polls showed that about 40% of them as recently as 2016 believe that Barack Obama probably wasn’t born in the U.S. Two-thirds of Democrats believing Russians hijacked the election is, if possible, worse. Of course, Republicans didn’t force an endless investigation over Obama’s qualifications to be elected President, so that’s in their favor.

We do need a name for the Left’s conspiracy theorists regarding the 2016 election, though, since the group appears to comprise the majority of Democrats. “Truthers”…”Birthers”…and?

Submissions welcome. Here’s the poll data (more here): Continue reading

Look: An Illegal Immigration Ethics Fractal!

This story is the migrant caravan and the “good illegal immigrant” media narrative in miniature, with exactly the same fallacious ethical reasoning!

Here is the misleading lazy, dishonest and fake news version of a recent incident as reported in two New York papers:

White House turns away foreign students on tour with class

A group of seventh-graders from Henry Hudson Regional School in Highlands braved a snowstorm on Nov. 15 for a long-awaited bus trip to Washington DC.

The bad weather and treacherous road conditions added hours to the drive and left no time for anything but their visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Even lunch on the White House lawn was canceled.

But the snafus didn’t stop there. Months in advance, the school had to send the White House visitors office a list of all students and adults expected to take the tour.

After making it through an initial checkpoint, Secret Service agents stopped three Henry Hudson students who didn’t have their passports or other identification required for non-US citizens.

Aww.

Because the students “braved” the bad weather and their teachers screwed up, the White House was being mean, and probably racist, to enforce the security requirements that have been in place for decades for White House visits. Think of the children!

I feel sorry for the students, but the United States should and cannot waive laws because it feels sorry for the would-be law-breakers. I feel sorry for everyone who lives in Mexico and Guatemala, too. Also China, Somalia, France, Russia, Greece, Togo, and Canada, among many other countries, in fact about all of them that are not the United States. I feel sorry for lots of criminals as well. Laws still have to apply the same way to everybody, or there is no law.

_____________________________

Fractal (frac·tal): [Mathematics] noun: fractal; plural noun: fractals:

A curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. Fractals are useful in modeling structures (such as eroded coastlines or snowflakes) in which similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales, and in describing partly random or chaotic phenomena such as crystal growth, fluid turbulence, and galaxy formation.

_____________________________

Pointer: Victory Girls.

The Nauseating Caravan Apologists

As usual regarding illegal immigration, there is no “other side,” only rationalizations, dishonesty and Trump hate and emotionalism. Still, the Left’s…and the media’s but, you know, same thing… rhetoric response to the happenings at the border over the weekend represented a new low. I may just let my deranged Facebook friends stew in their own hateful craziness for a while, so I avoid snapping and telling them exactly how they are acting, which might be ethical but wouldn’t be civil. Here’s international law and human rights expert Alyssa Milano, former witch and Tony Danza’s daughter on Twitter:

“You tear-gassed women and children, asswipe! And on Thanksgiving weekend, you piece of shit, asshole, motherfucking, evil-creature-person!!”

Now, I count at least five ways this is unforgivably moronic (It’s not unforgivable to be a moron, but it is unforgivable to make moronic statements in public), but maybe you can find more that five. It is also, except for its exact choice of words, pretty much the same level of logic as most of my lawyer friends on Facebook: yes, they have been reduced by Trump-hate to the abysmal level of a washed-up celebrity with (I think) a high school education.

One: women who break the law and participate in violent attacks on law enforcement officials are as legitimate targets of non-lethal response as men. Funny how feminism evaporates when it is convenient to the feminist.

Two: Using children as human shields is child abuse, and essentially what sops like Millan are arguing is that an adult with a child should be subjected to different law enforcement standards and more lenient ones than anyone else. Wrong. Also unworkable. Also stupid. There were pictures coming out of yesterday’s chaos of men holding up toddlers as literal shields. Nice. By all means, Alyssa, let’s make that an effective tactic.

Three: Democrats, reporters and Facebook sillies were using “gassed” to describe tear-gassing as if the U.S. was breaking the Geneva convention with chemical weapons. Tear gas and pepper spray are legal, useful, necessary alternatives to deadly force in riot situations. My college classmates were subjected to tear gas twice while I was in college, and deserved it.

Four: Wait, did I miss the new law that says that violent illegal immigrants get a pass on a holiday they don’t acknowledge? Or the one that says that other laws are suspended on Thanksgiving? Or the one that says that besieged law enforcement officials are supposed to throw stuffing and cranberry sauce at their attackers?

As for Five, I offer this to Alyssa and any other hypocrite who had no complaints when this was going on, but who now excoriate Trump in vulgar terms: this link, where we find, Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/18: Talking Rabbits, Giant Ants, And California Progressives

Good Morning!

1. I may start banning commenters who keep saying this. A new, articulate and agenda-driven commenter, Ross Grazier, writes, “But your writing on this blog seems to be all about politics and much less about ethics.” I don’t want to drive Ross off, since the position of Ethics Alarms Knee-jerk Progressive Ratioanalizer And Denier of Mainstream Media Bias seems to be vacant at the moment, but I’m really, really sick of this common smear of my work (Ross’s comment also reminded me that I need to add the “s0 called ethicist” and “self-anointed ethicist” to the magic phrases that can get a commenter banned). Not for the first time, I decided to categorize every topic I wrote about here in the past week as political, non-political, or “mixed,” meaning that the article included substantive relevance to political figures or controversies but that the ethical issues involved were not solely political in scope or relevance. There were 42 distinct topics discussed (I did not include the Comments of the Day). Of these, 26 were non-political. Ten were “mixed.” Exactly six were  “about politics.”

I was surprised, frankly. I expected a bit more emphasis on politics.

I regard Ross’s accusation and others like it as an either an effort to undermine my credibility and the reputation of Ethics Alarms, or as an example of confirmation bias at work. Easily debunked claims that are asserted anyway in print are unethical.

2. Movie Ethics Potpourri! A. I finally saw “Peter Rabbit,” which was the subject of a (Non political, Ross!) post here. You may recall that Sony was pressured into grovelling an apology for a scene in which the animated rabbits shot blackberries into Mr. McGregor’s mouth using sling-shots, provoking an allergic reaction. Seeking its 15 minutes of cheap publicity and social media outrage mongering, Kenneth Mendez, president and chief executive of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, said, “Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger.” Naturally, there was a Change.org petition demanding that the offending sequence be removed. Now that I’ve seen the film—which is pretty good, not quite “Babe” good, but well-done and fun—I can appreciate the full insanity of the complaints.  B. The British film “Calibre,” now playing on Netflix, is a “Deliverance” style ethics movie, in which two reasonable good guys go on a hunting trip in Scotland and are hurled by bad luck and panic into a series of ethical dilemmas, managing to make exactly the wrong decision at every turn. In the end, three people are dead, multiple crimes have been committed, and the lessons are murky. This is an excellent “what would you do?” film for group discussion, though the ultimate answer is “Don’t go hunting, in Scotland or anywhere else.” C. Finally, in the rarified category of giant ant movie ethics, there is “Them!” It is a justly admired 50’s Sci-Fi flick about an alien invasion of giant ants, featuring a surprisingly accomplished and diverse cast including pre-“Gunsmoke” Jim Arness, James Whitmore, ol’ Santa Clause himself, Edmund Gwenn, ubiquitous Western character actor Dub Taylor, and Sigourney Weaver’s wacky uncle, Doodles Weaver. I hadn’t seen it for a while, and forgot that it included one of the most blatant examples of Rationalization #58. The Universal Trump, or “Think of the children!” on film.

Scientists and the military have determined that the giant ants—We’re talking THIS big:

—have invaded California (from outer space, in ant-shaped space ships!), that they pose a threat to LA, the state, and entire country, and that there may be hundreds of thousands of them. California has declared martial law. A military commander announces that the best strategy is to gas underground passages where the ants are presumably gathering, and then kill the ones who escape to the surface. No, says Big Jim. It seems that there are two small children missing that were taken by the ants from their now thoroughly masticated and dead father. As long as there’s a chance they may still be alive,  Jim says, we can’t take the chance of harming them. The man is gob-smacked. “You mean you’d risk all of Los Angeles for two kids who are probably already dead?” he asks, in a fair framing of the issue. “Why don’t you ask their mother?” says Arness. “She’s right over there.”

Well all righty then! How can you argue with that? Continue reading