Sunday Before Christmas Ethics Ornaments, 12/22/19: Googling Ethics, “Cats,” Goldman Sachs, De Niro, Trump Derangement

Here’s hoping that the the next three days rescue the Spirit of Christmas…

…because the last few weeks have been a downer, man.

1. Googling ethics:  Phillip Galanes, at Social Q’s was consulted by a woman who had bad vibes about her girlfriend’s new love, so she googled him, and found out, as she suspected, that he had some serious red flags in his past. She told her friend, who had discovered the bad news herself, but who was hurt and angry that the inquirer did a background check on her boyfriend. “Was I wrong?” she asked. In his answer, Gallanes implies that she was, although “everybody does it.” I’d like a nice, succinct, substantive explanation of by what ethical theory it can ever be wrong to access publicly available information about anyone. This isn’t an issue of privacy, because the information isn’t private. There was nothing wrong with the inquirer’s motives, because she was concerned about her friend.

I’d call this the Ick Factor at work. It seems unethical because the fact that anyone can check our lives out online is creepy. The research itself, however, is ethically neutral. The ethics comes in with how the information is used.

2. I guess I have to mention “Cats”…since it is getting the most spectacular negative and cruel reviews since “Showgirls,” and maybe before that. “Exorcist II, The Heretic” perhaps. Oddly, the usually hyper-critical New York Times is not one of the worst defilers, but here was what the reviewer really found objectionable :

“It’s too bad that no one seems to have thought through the semiotics of Victoria’s chalky white cat face, given that Hayward is of mixed race and that the heavy is Idris Elba’s predatory Macavity. Elba seems to be having a fine time, but come on!”

Ah! The old “mixed-race actress in whiteface being menaced by a black actor playing a cat” racist imagery!

I can’t wait for them to write down these rules. Continue reading

Sackler, Tufts, Cancel Culture And The 100th Rationalization: The Reverse Ruddigore

I have been waiting to find the ideal 100th Rationalization, officially #70 (there are 30 sub-rationalizations on the EA Rationalizations list. It’s “The Reverse Ruddigore,” the equally valid opposite of Rationalization #21. Ethics Accounting, or “I’ve earned this”/ “I made up for that”:

 You cannot earn the right to act unethically by depositing a lot of ethical deeds in the imaginary ethics bank, nor can unethical conduct be erased by doing good for someone else. The illusion that one can balance the ethics books this way is referred to on the Ethics Alarms blog as “the Ruddigore Fallacy.”  Nobody earns the right to be unethical, not even once, no matter how exemplary their conduct. An unethical act is just as unethical, whether it is performed by a saint, a hero, or a villain.

“Ruddigore,” for those of you sadly unaware of the joys of Gilbert and Sullivan, is the unjustly under-rated work by the Victorian geniuses that involved an ancient curse on a family that required a Baronet of Ruddigore to perform a crime a day or die in agony, courtesy of his re-animated ancestors, who otherwise hang around, literally, as portraits in a haunted gallery. One member of the family who has inherited the curse, Sir Despard, believes that he has found a loophole:

“I get my crime over the first thing in the morning, and then, ha! ha! for the rest of the day I do good – I do good – I do good! Two days since, I stole a child and built an orphan asylum. Yesterday I robbed a bank and endowed a bishopric. To-day I carry off Rose Maybud and atone with a cathedral! This is what it is to be the sport and toy of a Picture Gallery!”

Looking back on past posts, I laid the groundwork for #70 when I condemned the decision of Walt Disney World to remove Bill Cosby’s bust from the its Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame of Fame:

[L]ast I heard Bill Cosby was still recognized as a major trailblazer in stand-up, TV comedy, and television integration (remember “I Spy”?), an important positive cultural force for race relations and black community self esteem, and a spectacularly talented comedian with a unique voice and presence. None of that has changed. Those were the achievements that prompted Cosby’s bust’s inclusion in Disney’s Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza, along with celebrities such as Lucille Ball and Oprah Winfrey who, like the Cos, have been inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. O.J. Simpson is still honored in the College Football Hall of Fame, because he was one of the greatest college stars ever. His post-career hobby as a murderer, like Bill’s extra-curricular activities as a serial rapist, have nothing to do with the honor, just as Cosby earned and still deserves, his honor for what he achieved on stage and screen.

Subsequent bad acts no more cancel out past good ones than Sir Despard’s cathedral would make up for kidnapping sweet Rose Maybud. The current “Cancel Culture,” however, holds otherwise. In the latest episode, Tufts University announced today that it will strip the Sackler name from the buildings and programs on its medical campus, after a report censured the school for its relationship with the family whose drug company made OxyContin, the opioid blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths nationwide. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/1/17: Moochie’s Back, And Despicable As Ever! Democratic Race-Baiting Never Went Away! And A Jury Shows Why Kate Steinle’s Shooter Keeps Coming Back To San Francisco…

Good Morning!

(Although it was reportedly a rough morning for the former Eleanor Coulouris 67 years ago_)

Or so I was told.

1. It’s NOT okay to be white? CNN Commentator Angela Rye, formerly executive director of the Congressional  Black Caucus, told CNN audiences that “white, liberal women” were the cause of the pressure on iconic Michigan Representative John Conyers to resign from Congress. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi would have never called for Conyers to resign if it weren’t  the other “white, liberal women” pressuring her to do so.  Rye, who earlier in the week said that a racist double standards was causing Conyers to be pressured to resign while white Democratic Senator Al Franken was not, said,

“I think Nancy Pelosi made a commitment to the members of the Congressional Black Caucus that she would not call for Conyers resignation before due process was allowed to take place. Now she’s being faced with the pressure of white, liberal women for the most part who have told her she needs to say something different.”

Rye echoes the reported sentiment of Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. James Clyburn, who noted that all of Conyers’ accusers were white. Doubtlessly agreeing with her is Mrs, Conyers, who told reporters staking out Conyers’ home yesterday to “Go and stalk white people’s houses.”

Observations:

  • Race-baiting and using racism as an excuse for any criticism of black politicians is still the reflex response of far too many Democrats, in part because they face no consequences for doing so, and because any whites who object are tarred as white supremacists.
  • Until the news media and  progressives have the integrity to treat this tactic for what it is, and as exactly as intolerable as white racism, the nation will continue to split hard along racial lines. I guess that’s what the Left wants.
  • How can CNN justify continuing to employ a “contributor” like Rye—it has some others, too—who is a stone-cold racist?
  • How can anyone who abhors racism in all its forms continue to patronize an intentionally racial division-promoting news source that does employ someone like Rye?
  • Here, for people like Rye—you know, stupid people—are some reasons Al Franken’s situation is distinguishable from that of  Conyers: he is thirty years younger and shouldn’t have retired about a decade ago anyway; he, unlike Conyers, hasn’t flatly denied all of the allegations against him as they keep on coming; a Senator resigning is a bigger deal than a Representative resigning; and Nancy Pelosi doesn’t oversee Senate Democrats.

Also there are no reports of Franken habitually meeting with female staffers without his pants on. It’s small thing—well, not that small—but still…

2. No, really, it isn’t OK...In related news,Texas State University student journalist Rudy Martinez wrote an article entitled “Your DNA Is An Abomination”—referring to white DNA, of course—for The University Star,  the University of Texas student publication. The piece also advocated the death of whites, which is unpleasantly close to calling for them to  be killed. If you think I’m going to point out that any student who wrote this about blacks in a student newspaper would be quickly disciplined, while the newspaper editor responsible for publishing such vile material was hounded of campus, you’re right. If the University of Texas administrators had any integrity, common sense or guts, it would, this is what would happen. At least the president of Texas State, Denise M. Trauth, said that “The column’s central theme was abhorrent and is contrary to the core values of inclusion and unity that our Bobcat students, faculty, and staff hold dear.” That’s nice. Why is Texas State graduating racists? From the column:

“Ontologically speaking, white death will mean liberation for all. Accept this death as the first step toward defining yourself as something other than the oppressor. Until then, remember this: I hate you because you shouldn’t exist. You are both the dominant apparatus on the planet and the void in which all other cultures, upon meeting you, die.”

Denise Cervantes, The University Star’s editor-in-chief, pulled the column and apologized, saying “We acknowledge that the column could have been clearer in its message and that it has caused hurt within our campus community. We apologize and hope that we can move forward to a place of productive dialogue on ways to bring our community together.”

Oh, I think it was very clear in its message. Continue reading