Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/17/2019: Georgia On Various Minds, Carson’s Deficiencies, Harris’s Pandering

Good morning, Ethics Lovers!

The solo performer is the immortal Doodles Weaver, Sigourney’s uncle.

1.  This is indefensible, and—I hate to keep using this word, but don’t blame me, blame prevailing political winds—totalitarian. Carl Malamud believes that there should be open access to government records, and he has a group that has been  putting them online for years. When his group  posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, however, the state sued for copyright infringement claiming that giving the public access to the state’s laws and related legal materials without the state’s authorization is the “strategy of terrorism.”

No, having laws that the public has no way to see or understand without paying for them is the strategy of dictators. A federal appeals court has ruled against the state, and now Georgia wants the Supreme Court to step in. So does Public.Resource.Org, Malamud’s group, which also wants SCOTUS to resolve the issue,  since the question of who owns the law is  current in  20 other states that have copyrighted their  annotated codes. The issue is whether citizens can have access to “the raw materials of our democracy.”

I think Georgia is going to lose and lose ugly, though I have given up prediction 9-0 Supreme Court rulings. That’s what this one should be, though.

2. More on “the best people” front. One awful aspect of the Trump Administration that cannot be defended is the President’s irresponsible appointments, which are too numerous to list. In the case of Dr. Ben Carson, whom Ethics Alarms assessed as some kind of idiot savant based on his embarrassing performance in the debates, we knew, or should have known, that Trump appointing him Secretary of HUD was a guaranteed fiasco in the making. Continue reading

I Guess I Shouldn’t Feel Badly About Facebook Banning Ethics Alarms…

…since the social media giants are slowly but surely revealing their true nature as machines of speech and viewpoint censorship, and social control.

Today’s Big Brother avatar: Twitter.

Ray Blanchard, Ph.D., a respected psychologist and adjunct professor at the University of Toronto was blocked on Twitter for expressing his opinion informed by clinical experience. His articulately and civilly presented  position was flagged for “hateful conduct.”

The professor served on the working group for gender dysphoria (the persistent condition of identifying with the gender opposite your biological sex) for the DSM V, which contains the official definitions that assist psychologists diagnose patient disorders. Over the weekend, he  tweeted his professional conclusions on transgender identity.

My beliefs include the following 6 elements: (1) Transsexualism and milder forms of gender dysphoria are types of mental disorder, which may leave the individual with average or even above-average functioning in unrelated areas of life. (2) Sex change surgery is still the best treatment for carefully screened, adult patients, whose gender dysphoria has proven resistant to other forms of treatment. (3) Sex change surgery should not be considered for any patient until that patient has reached the age of 21 years and has lived for at least two years in the desired gender role. (4) Gender dysphoria is not a sexual orientation, but it is virtually always preceded or accompanied by an atypical sexual orientation – in males, either homosexuality (sexual arousal by members of one’s own biological sex) … or autogynephilia (sexual arousal at the thought or image of oneself as a female) (5) There are two main types of gender dysphoria in males, one associated with homosexuality and one associated with autogynephilia. Traditionally, the great bulk of female-to-male transsexuals has been homosexual in erotic object choice. (6) The sex of a postoperative transsexual should be analogous to a legal fiction. This legal fiction would apply to some things (e.g., sex designation on a driver’s license) but not to others (entering a sports competition as one’s adopted sex).

This clinical opinion by a qualified expert was reported by at least one, probably many, Twitter users who, like the growing number of progressives within the Leftward social movement, believe that their power and control of society will arrive more swiftly if dissent and contrary views are marginalized, suppressed, and branded as hate speech. Twitter swiftly complied. The professor was silenced. His position was a thought crime: it would not be permitted in the interests of “the greater good.”

Fortunately, Ray Blanchard is internationally known, and Twitter’s tactic shook some nests with pretty big hornets inside. Helen Joyce, an editor at The Economist, wrote,

“Ray Blanchard served on the gender dysphoria working group and chaired the paraphilia working group for DSM V,” Joyce tweeted. “He is a world expert in the field. Twitter has just suspended his account for a thread setting out his findings from A lifetime of research. Unreal.”

Jesse Singal, contributing writer at New York magazine, wrote,

“Gender dysphoria is in the DSM-5. Despite endless rumor-mongering and misinformation to the contrary, it *is* considered a mental disorder. Maybe it shouldn’t be! But it’s beyond insane to suspend someone for expressing an opinion which lines up with the DSM. I have less and less faith that, as a journalist who often writes about science, I will be able to continue using Twitter without getting punished for communicating scientifically accurate information.”

There were many more who condemned Twitter’s nakedly political act. Oops! I guess we were a bit aggressive there! Better retrench, or everyone will be on to us!

After 24 hours, Twitter restored the professor’s account, and said it had made “a mistake.” The mistake, I submit, was that it jumped the gun in the Left’s rush to install totalitarian speech suppression. We’re not quite there yet. Facebook can block Ethics Alarms, because Ethics Alarms lacks allies in high places. If the social media platforms just quietly, incrementally pinch-off dissenting voices that challenge the tactics, distortions and actions of those representing “the right side of history,” the frog will be boiled before anyone notices.

If Twitter and Facebook were serious about supporting free speech, they would suspend the accounts of users who abuse the reporting system, and use it to stifle opinions they disagree with.

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Pointer and Source: Tyler O’Neil

Ethics Quiz: Harvard’s Diversity Speaker

As the keynote speaker at its annual diversity conference, Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences selected Tim Wise, an “anti-racism writer, educator and activist.” Here is a Facebook post by Wise from 2015.

This is America…people basing their beliefs on the fable of Noah and Ark, or their interpretation of Sodom and Gomorrah…rather than science or logic…If you are basing your morality on a fairy tale written thousands of years ago, you deserve to be locked up…detained for your utter inability to deal with reality…NO, we are not obligated to indulge your irrationality in the name of your religious freedom…but we will provide you a very comfortable room, against which walls you may hurl yourself hourly if your choose. Knock yourself out….seriously, knock yourself out, completely, for weeks at a time…I’m sorta kidding but not by much…I don’t believe lunatics like this should be locked up, but I do think they have to be politically destroyed, utterly rendered helpless to the cause of pluralism and democracy …the world is not theirs. They have no right to impose their bullshit on others. They can either change, or shut the hell up, or practice their special brand of crazy in their homes…or go away. Their choice. And this argument applies to any fundamentalist religionist of any faith who thinks they have a right to impose their beliefs on a secular, pluralistic society. Go away.

There is no evidence that Wise has moderated these views at all. He didn’t issue a direct attack on Christians at Harvard; he did say  that President Donald Trump is and “always was” racist, and that his election shows that “this country is more sexist and more racist than I realized” (because there was no reason not to want Hillary Clinton as President other than racism and sexism, I guess). He argued that academic institutions like Harvard should embrace the struggle for social justice and solidarity “not just at the level of rhetoric but policy.” This means,  Wise said, “Schools must make mission statements up to date,” and tell potential applicants that “if you’re not down with this mission, then you don’t actually fit in with us as an institution.”

You know: diversity! Continue reading

Arrested For Sexist Tweets

One of the early Ethics Alarms posts about schools disciplining students for their use of social media involved a male student who rated his female classmates in a Facebook post. In 2016, Harvard  cancelled the men’s soccer season as punishment for “the widespread practice of the team’s players rating the school’s female players in sexually explicit terms.” [The Ethics Alarms Quiz about that episode, which I just read, as well as the 156 comments it generated including two Comments of the Day, is a good one, and I’ll offer it here as another Ethics Alarms archives feature worth revisiting: Ethics Quiz: The Harvard Soccer Team’s “Locker Room Talk.”]

At Perrysburg High School in Ohio, however, the reaction of administrators to a similar incident plows new and especially alarming ground.  After many students reported his Twitter account for rating the school’s female students in derogatory terms, the school had him arrested and charged with “telecommunications harassment.”NBC reports that 18-year-old Mehros Nassersharifi has been issued a summons to appear in court, and faces expulsion from the school.His account, @GirlsRanked, purported  to list the “hottest girls” at Perrysburg.

No news yet if the school plans on confining him in an Iron Maiden or branding “SEXIST!” on his face.

There’s no quiz necessary here. What the school has done is far, far worse than a high school kid’s juvenile Twitter account. It is also one more item on my growing list of how the cancerous progressive fervor for installing “woke” attitudes into the culture using force and intimidation continues to metastasize.

No, you can’t prosecute someone based on the content of a Tweet. Every single student at Perrysburg High School should already know that, and indeed should have known it since the sixth grade at least. Yet apparently the teachers and administrators at the school don’t know it. First Amendment? What First Amendment? 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

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/14/2019: Climate Change, Cuba, Con-Artists And More

Good Morning!

Why can I almost never can find a lot of encouraging ethics stories on a Sunday?

1. Climate change thought. I just watched a PBS round table consisting of non-stop doom-sayng and Trump-bashing on climate change policy. I don’t know if these scientists/pundits/activists are using climate change as a ploy to eliminate democracy and install a Leftist totalitarian (benign, of course) world government, or if they really believe that such a system is the only way to save the Earth. Either way, however, it is impossible to listen to them objectively and not think, “Huh. The only way the draconian [that’s a word named after a despot, you know] solutions that you claim are our sole chance at survival can be implemented is with a massive dictatorship. And after the solution has “worked,” if it works, that totalitarian government will of course dissolve itself and go back to supporting liberty and democracy.  Sure it will. How stupid do you think we are?”

If the only way to save the Earth is to forfeit liberty, I, for one, stand with Patrick Henry. The climate change radicals are good matches to the anti-war and anti-nuke activists in the late Fifties and early Sixties who chanted, “Better Red than dead!”, and who thought “Eve of Destruction” was profound prophesy.

2.  Cuba, Obama, Trump and Baseball. I don’t know what to make of this one.: it’s a fascinating utilitarian question.

President Trump cancelled an agreement negotiated by the Obama administration that allowed Major League Baseball teams to pay the Cuban Baseball Federation for Cuban players who would then join MLB teams. Under the previous system, only players who defected to the United States, often at great peril and sometimes using human traffickers, could ply their baseball talents in the U.S. and be paid accordingly.

The Trump administration saysthat the deal constitutes a violation of trade laws because the Cuban federation is part of the Cuban government. In other words, the Obama deal allowed the Cuban government to sell human beings to U.S. companies—baseball teams. “The U.S. does not support actions that would institutionalize a system by which a Cuban government entity garnishes the wages of hard-working athletes who simply seek to live and compete in a free society,” said Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “The administration looks forward to working with M.L.B. to identify ways for Cuban players to have the individual freedom to benefit from their talents, and not as property of the Cuban state.”

The cancelled deal was always suspect as one of several concessions President Obama gave to Cuba without Cuba instituting any human rights reforms in exchange.  And why were baseball players the only Cuban citizens allowed to escape to freedom this way? Why not doctors, scholars, and scientists? Continue reading

Tell Me The Truth, I Can Handle It: Am I Getting Paranoid?

I’m sitting here, watching the Red Sox-Seattle game and trying to put all stressful matters out of sight and mind (not that Boston is making that easy, since my team has begun the season erratically, to be kind), and I read about how a the account for “Unplanned,” a new pro-life movie, was taken down by Twitter without explanation or notice on the every day it was beginning its first weekend. There was an outcry from conservative commentators, of course ( Dana Loesch:If Twitter doesn’t discriminate against ideology, as they attested to during their hearing, then why seemingly do only conservative accounts continue to be suspended for no TOS violations? What did @UnplannedMovie do to warrant such an action? Where is the consistency? I say this because I have seen so many other accounts of different ideological persuasion that DO violate TOS (sending death threats, doxxing, etc) that are allowed to remain up and active even after reporting….”) and Twitter restored the account, citing a “mistake.”

This comes on a day where I am noting how the  mainstream media is refusing to acknowledge how blatantly  it has hyped, and cheered, and promoted half-baked theories, rumors and misrepresentations to beat into the viewing public’s mind that their President stole his office and is a traitor, a concept that never made any sense no matter how little one thinks of Trump (and I speak from personal experience) and that depends on near hypnotic suggestion-level repetition to be believed, and is in full-Jumbo mode (“Impeachment-hyping? What impeachment-hyping?”). I’ve defended Jake Tapper and have defended Jake Tapper, but no more: he is officially a typical, untrustworthy CNN hack.

“I’m not sure what you’re saying the media got wrong. The media reported the investigation was going on,” Tapper said while interviewing acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney today. “Other than the people in the media on the left, not on this network, I don’t know anybody that got anything wrong. We didn’t say there was a conspiracy. We said Mueller was investigating a conspiracy.” Continue reading