Tag Archives: threats

Monday Ethics Afternoon Warm-Up, 8/6/18: Relatively Trivial Edition

1.  Facebook Conduct I Could Do Without Dept. A friend who happens also to be on Facebook just posted his opinion about a matter and added, “If you don’t agree,  don’t respond, just unfriend me.” I’m tempted to unfriend him for that. What a cowardly, lazy, arrogant stunt.

2. He’s also dead wrong in his opinion, which has to do with this “good illegal immigrant” news item. My friend thinks that the wife of a Marine should get a pass  despite being in violation of immigration laws because her husband served his country. I don’t disagree with the principle he’s espousing, but it’s not the law. If there should be law that gives some kind of leniency to the spouses of military personnel, then draft it, debate it, and pass it. The Marine fought for a nation of laws, not a nation where law enforcement makes up the laws as it goes along. This was the Obama approach: we just won’t enforce the laws against this particular group of law-breaker that we like.

3. How dumb can “cultural appropriation” complaints get? This dumb:

In women’s mag “Marie Claire,” Krystyna Chávez argues that deciding to pluck your eyebrows so that they are very thin is “cultural appropriation.” writing that she was was horrified when she saw a photo of Rihanna with her new, skinny eyebrows. Chávez writes in a piece titled “I’m Latina, and I Find Rihanna’s Skinny Brows Problematic.”  Unfortunately, as Katherine Timpf points out, a Louisiana State University student named Lynn Bunch wrote an op-ed last year declaring that  thick eyebrows that cultural appropriation:

“Current American eyebrow culture also shows a prime example of the cultural appropriation in the country. The trend right now is thick brows, and although a lot of ethnic women have always had bushy, harder-to-maintain eyebrows, it has only become trendy now that white women have started to do it.”

Boy, the outbreak of such serious statements of idiotic opinions makes me feel unsafe…because I’m afraid that I am surrounded by lunatics, in a culture that is encouraging warped values and reasoning to such an extent that for a disturbing number of Americans, no idea sets off the Stupid Alarms.

I may have to start a sister blog…

4. And you thought Trump Derangement Syndrome was silly.New York-based UMA Health, an online mental health marketplace, is providing free, confidential therapy sessions to Mets fans who are in emotional turmoil as a result of the team’s disappointing season, which cratered  is last week’s 25-4 loss to the Washington Nationals, the worst loss in Mets history—yes, even worse than any of the embarrassing drubbing the team received in its first, horrible season in 1962, when “the Amazin’ Mets” lost a record 120 games.

UMA says its tongue in cheek promotion is meant to bring attention to the important role of therapy, and to eliminate the stigma of going to a therapist.

That’s odd: I think the promotion does the opposite, suggesting that therapy is self-indulgent, useless, useless bunk, which it too often is. I have an amusing  personal story that explains my bias here, which I will leave for another time. If something is important your profession is to enlighten the world about its benefits, however, is it competent to promote it like this? Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Animals, Character, Environment, Facebook, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, language, Marketing and Advertising, Sports

An Urgent Message From Your Host

I appreciate that there are strong personalities with strong opinions in the colloquy here, and I like it that way. I also appreciate those of you with an acid pen. I do not want to censor Ethics Alarms. Established participants here get great leeway with language, because they have credit in the bank, and have earned the privilege of an occasional lapse. I also realize that harsh language has its uses.

However, direct attacks, including threats, against other commenters isn’t acceptable. It makes my blog look ugly, for one thing, and discourages new readers. It also, obviously, undermines the mission.

I do not want to micro-moderate Ethics Alarms, and I believe that all of the regular participants here are worthy of the trust I place in them.

Don’t disappoint me.

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Filed under Etiquette and manners

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/2/2018: Bad Neighbors And Bad Journalism

Good Morning…

1. Ah, now THAT’S the ol’ Spirit of 1776!  In a subdivision near Sterling Heights in Chesterfield, Michigan,  a resident sent an anonymous letter to other residents, threatening  to take dire measures against them if they set off fireworks after 9 PM  this week. Here’s the letter…

Yikes.

I’m presuming that the real spirit of 1776 still breathes deeply in this nation, and that the reaction of the recipients of that letter will be to make certain that the noisiest fireworks possible are exploding every second during the time they are permitted to be by law, from the start of the week to the end. The neighbor is a coward, a jerk and a bully, and his bluff must be called as a matter of justice and honor. (Pointer: HLN)

2. Nah, the mainstream news media isn’t biased! In an absolutely correct and justified editorial note, Fox News’ Chris Wallace excoriated media outlets on “Fox News Sunday” for attempting to connect President Donald Trump to the newsroom shooting at Capital Gazette in Maryland. (This will, of course, be called an example of Fox News pro-Trump toadying by those same media outlets.) This was indeed one of the most transparent recent episodes of fake news peddling by CNN, Reuters and others in the mainstream media, who worked hard to make the case that the killer of five was motivated by the President’s repeated accusation that the media is “the enemy of the people.” We now know that the shooter swore that he would kill the Capital Gazette writer whom he targeted in the attack years ago, when everyone assumed that Hillary was going to be the next President. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Comment Of The Day (7): “An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods…”

Yes, there are more Comments of the Day emitting from the Holiday Challenge, which asked readers to answer Noah Berlatsky’s  essay on NBC’s website advocating the government censorship of “hate speech.” That’s not hard to do, or shouldn’t be. It is hard to do well, though. Many, many commenters did it remarkably well.

We talk about freedom of speech a lot here. The concept is not ethics, but it is a convergence of many ethical values—respect, fairness, autonomy, rights, process, empathy, openness, accountability, and citizenship. This is definitely a United States history and culture oriented blog, and no nation or culture elevates free speech to the priotity in its values that this nation does. That is one of its enduring strengths, That this strength has been increasingly under attack recently naturally sets ethics alarms ringing, or should.

After he authored the 2017 Comment of the Day that attracted more commentary, by quite a bit, than any of the thousand plus essays I labored over last year, I couldn’t omit this one by Zoltar Speaks! in response to the Challenge.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay Advocating Limits On Speech…:

The problem is that those that want to define “hate speech” these days don’t know the difference between free speech, hate speech, verbal threats, actively inciting riot/mayhem/chaos, and actual physical violence.

In my opinion…

1. Free speech as in sharing opinions, protesting, print, media, etc. etc. is clearly protected under the United States Constitution whether you agree with it or not. Period!

2. Hate speech in its simplest form is that which implies or states outright that the speaker(s) hate someone or something, this is clearly protected under the United States Constitution. Hate is an opinion/thought not an action and you and I have every right to think whatever the hell we like and hate is part of that.

3. Verbal threats are borderline protected speech, it can depended on the conditions surrounding the threat, the type of threat, the intent to follow through with the threat, and the physical ability to follow through with the threat. If some run-of-the-mill US citizen were to threaten to blow up NYC with a nuclear bomb, that would not likely be an achievable threatening goal because run-of-the-mill US citizens do not have possession of nor have access to nuclear devices, but if the same run-of-the-mill US citizen actually threatens to kill the mayor of NYC, the President of the United States, their spouse, the soccer coach, white people, black people, gays, their boss, or their asshole neighbor, or that drunken prick at the bar, that should be taken very seriously as an achievable threatening goal. If Jill threatens to tell Mom that Jack drank out of the milk container, it’s certainly a verbal threat that’s achievable but it’s certainly not an abusive verbal threat. Get the idea? Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Reluctant And Uncertain Ethics Observations On The U.S., Israel, And United Nations Squabble

International relations is an ethical morass, and the Israel/Palestinian mess is an ethical morass inside an ethical morass. In international relations, gaffes turn out to be masterstrokes, and vice-versa, and my usual rejection of consequentialism doesn’t always fit. It is politics on steroids, and a never ending Ethics Train Wreck. Thus I approach the topic of the events that roiled the U.N. right before Christmas with trepidation. There were obviously ethical principles in play here, but beyond that, my certainty recedes like my hairline in 1976.

The background: On December 18, UN ambassador Nikki Haley vetoed an Arab-proposed Security Council resolution that rebuked President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and start the process of moving the US embassy there. All other 14 Security Council members supported the anti-American resolution, including U.S. allies Great Britain, France, and Japan. Then the UN General Assembly went on to pass a non-binding resolution disapproving of the Trump administration’s decision. Several more U.S. allies failed to vote with the U.S., including Canada and Australia, which abstained.  Before the general assembly vote, Haley announced the US was “taking names” of those voting against the US. and afterward, the U.S. held a party where the only countries invited were Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Togo, all of which voted with the U.S.

Finally, Haley announced that the U.S. had negotiated quarter billion dollar cut to the UN’s annual budget, saying  “We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked.”

1 Was it responsible for the U.S. to condemn the actions of the nations, including its allies, that voted for the resolution in the Security Council and the the General Assembly?

The U.S. should be strong rather than weak, and must stand up for core principles. It is beyond argument that much of the hostility to the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem was based on anti-Israel bigotry, which flourishes in many of the nations that voted against Israel and the U.s., notably France. The Obama policy was to generally allow the U.N. to direct the U.S., with Obama “leading from behind,” an oxymoron that was a euphemism for “not leading at all.” Many of the nations opposing the U.S. are Arab nations, Muslim nations, and nations who are worried about unrest in their large Muslim populations.

The assertion of a false moral equivalency between Israel and the Palestinians among a majority of the world (and a lot of Democrats) should not be enabled. The Palestinians still officially refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, for example, said that “The status of Jerusalem should be determined through a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians} and that that Jerusalem must “ultimately be the shared capital” of Palestine and Israel. Yes, that will work well, with the Palestinians still refusing to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.

The status of Jerusalem, like the status of Palestine, is what is technically known as “all messed up.” In 1949, Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, proclaimed Jerusalem as Israel’s “eternal” and “sacred” capital, saying that only hostilities against Israel  had “compelled” its  leadership to establish the seat of Government in Tel Aviv.  “For the State of Israel, he said, “there has always been and always will be one capital only – Jerusalem the Eternal. In 1950 all branches of the Israeli government—legislative, judicial, and executive—were moved to Jerusalem, except that the Ministry of Defense, stayed in Tel Aviv. At the time of Ben Gurion’s proclamations Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan and thus only West Jerusalem was proclaimed Israel’s capital. Then, in 1980, Israel passed the  Jerusalem Law, which declared Jerusalem the “complete and united” capital of Israel. In response, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 478 that same year, declaring  the law  “a violation of international law.”  “null and void” and that it “must be rescinded forthwith.” Member states were told to withdraw their diplomatic representation from Jerusalem, and 22 of the 24 countries that previously had their embassy there moved back to Tel Aviv.  In 1995, under President Clinton, the United States Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which required, subject to conditions, that its embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Whether the U.S. tactics will work out well or not is a matter of conjecture, and impossible to know. Are they ethical? Sure they are, compared to the alternative.

2. Was Haley’s Trumpian, tit-for-tat, we take this personally and you’ll regret it rhetoric responsible and ethical? Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics

When Doing The Ethical Thing Is Ugly But Necessary: AG Sessions’ Retracts One Of Those Obama “Dear Colleague Letters”

By the way, “when doing the ethical thing is ugly but necessary” both refers to Sessions’ action and my writing this post…

 In March 2016 , President Obama’s Justice Department sent another one of the administrations patented (well, not really) “Dear Colleague letters” like the one that was used to bully colleges and universities into punishing male students for alleged sexual assault in the absence of sufficient evidence. This one was sent to state and local courts, urging them <cough>to review their procedures regarding fines and other punishments issued to the indigent  to ensure that they were consistent with “due process, equal protection and sound public policy.” The Justice Department’s 2016 release linked the letter to its description of a $2.5 million grant program to help agencies develop strategies that reduce unnecessary confinement of those who can’t pay fines and fees.” The letter said in part,

“Typically, courts do not sentence defendants to incarceration in these cases; monetary fines are the norm. Yet the harm caused by unlawful practices in these jurisdictions can be profound. Individuals may confront escalating debt; face repeated, unnecessary incarceration for nonpayment despite posing no danger to the community; lose their jobs; and become trapped in cycles of poverty that can be nearly impossible to escape.”

The letter also outlined “basic constitutional principles” regarding fee and fine enforcement. They included: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/10/17: A Creep Places A Bounty On Hillary’s Hair, And More….

GOOOD Morning.

1 My weekly assessment of anti-Trump mania based on the New York Times Sunday Review shows mostly petulant complaining. The front page is Trump-less, as is the second. After that respite,this issue is notable for some of the best illustrations yet of a journalistic phenomenon unique to Trump coverage, the “this is so horrible and sinister because it’s taking place under President Trump, even though it is neither unique nor noteworthy, being a condition that has existed for decades or even centuries.” Frank Bruni, for example, gets an entire page to tell us that White House aides who leave the Trump White House cash in, what Bruni calls “the ethos of enrichment.” You will be surprised, or maybe not, to learn that the essay about this new and venal trend under Trump never once mentions the name “Clinton,” the family that made cashing in on White house residency a family business, or do you have another theory why Chelsea Clinton is rich? You see, if Trump/Republicans/Conservatives do it, it’s disgusting because it’s Trump/Republicans/Conservatives doing it. What “it” happens to be doesn’t seem to matter much.

Then there is a “I can’t believe how stupid Trump supporters are” essay by NBC’s Katy Tur that contains this tell: “On election day they trusted his judgment more that they trusted any of us.” Wait: who’s the “us” that is being set up as opposition to a Presidential candidate, Katy? Journalists aren’t supposed to be telling citizens who to vote for, who is trustworthy or who will be a worthy leader. That statement is why so many voters don’t trust you, and also why they shouldn’t.

My favorite, though, a true classic in spin and how to present an issue in distorted terms to mislead the public, is a sob piece by a Yale grad student—yes, if you can write a sufficiently biased and critical essay about the plague that is the Trump administration, you don’t have to be a journalist. Your political biases are enough. In this case, the author is an illegal immigrant, as is every member of her family, so the Times believes that she is the perfect objective commentator on Trump policies regarding illegal immigration. Her theme: “Spreading fear is part of the administration’s plan.”

That plan is called law enforcement and deterrence. The government making life uncomfortable for law-breakers and ensuring that the guilty never feel comfy enough to think, “Well, the heat is off! They’ll never catch me now!” has been an uncontroversial and effective means of ensuring a safe and fair society for centuries. It was the Obama administration that endorsed the novel, bizarre and corrosive policy of telling illegal immigrants, “No problem: just make sure you don’t rape, kill or rob anyone, and you’re golden. Welcome!”

It is the indignation that comes through these essays that is so infuriating. How dare the government demand accountability for our law-breaking! tells us that her family has lived here illegally for 30 years.

If a newspaper is going to publish flagrantly manipulative junk like this, it would be responsible journalism to include a rebuttal along side it. Opinions are one thing; intentional distortions of the principles of civilization come unacceptably close to disinformation. Continue reading

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