Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 3…Ethics Fireworks (and Duds)!

1. Gaslighting! Seth Abramson is an American professor, attorney, author, and political columnist whom I have been mercifully unaware of previously. In response to last night’s inspiring speech by the President (inspiring unless you’re in favor of gutting U.S. culture and rights), he tweeted,

Someone please explain to Seth that if you don’t pay better attention than that to what’s going on, you are ethically obligated to shut the hell up.

2. I have to mention this because it’s embarrasses Harvard. Claira Janover, who graduated in May from the once-respectable university with a degree in government and psychology, saw a  short clip she posted on Tik Tok where she threatened to stab anyone who had  “the nerve, the sheer entitled caucasity to say ‘all lives matter'” go viral.

“I’ma stab you,” the Connecticut native says on the clip, zooming in close on her face. “I’ma stab you, and while you’re struggling and bleeding out, I’ma show you my paper cut and say, ‘My cut matters too,’” she added.

Oh, I get it! She’s making an analogy between someone saying “All Lives Matter” as a retort to “Black Lives Matter,” saying killing non-black people isn’t an issue because black people being killed is to white people being killed  like a stabbing is to a paper cut! Or something like that. It’s not a very good analogy. No, it wasn’t a “a true threat,” either. It was just an ugly and obnoxious video that signaled that she is irresponsible and intolerant of other points of view. This impugned the judgment of her new employers, the international accounting and consulting firm Deloitte, and they canned her. Of course they did. She should have known that would happen.

I would have fired her just for saying “Ima stab you.” Corporations don’t tend to pay huge fees to people who say, “Ima” anything.

Rather than being accountable, Janover has decided to play the victim, claiming Trump supporters are at fault for her fate, and attacking her ex-employer.

“I’m sorry, Deloitte, that you can’t see, ” she said, “that you were cowardice [sic] enough to fight somebody who’s going to make an indelible change in the world and is going to have an impact.” If she keeps this up, she may successfully ensure that nobody hires her, and though she will no doubt claim otherwise, it will have nothing to do with racism.

Good job, Harvard! Continue reading

Washington Post Editor Karen Attiah, The Human Smoking Gun

The above tweet was posted two days ago by Karen Attiah, the Washington Post  global opinions editor. After it was immediately and legitimately attacked for what it was—yes, this is res ipsa loquitur— she took it down, but not before her position had been captured in hundreds of screenshots like the one above. Later she tweeted, “Non, je ne regrette rien,” French for “No, I do not regret anything.” (Apparently Attiah believes the foes of unethical journalism are too primitive and uneducated to understand French, or too dim to use an online translator.)

The Washington Post should have given her reason to regret, but it hasn’t, and unless its readers and media critics force the paper to act, it won’t. Since the deleted tweet, the Post has refused to comment on its editor’s outburst, and other than her snotty Gallic tweet of defiance, so has Attiah. Continue reading

The New McCarthyism Of The Left And The Destruction Of Hartley Sawyer

Hartley Sawyer is, or was, a Hollywood actor. 35 years old with many credits, he had hit the big time, and big money, with a regular role on the CW series “The Flash.” He played the superhero “The Elongated Man.” Today he’s unemployed, and likely to remain so. He was fired from the series yesterday.

Was he hard to work with? No. Did he harass cast members? No.  Did he come to the set drunk, or masturbate in front of  female crew members, or attack a writer, like Thomas Gibson did on “Criminal Minds”?  No, no and no. Sawyer wasn’t fired for doing anything illegal, disruptive or even recent. He was fired because someone searched his social media record, and released tweets he made between 2009 and 2014. All the stories about his firing reference “racist tweets,” but the only ones published have been…

  •  “The only thing keeping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me.”
  • “Enjoyed a secret boob viewing at an audition today.”
  • “Date rape myself so I don’t have to masturbate.”

The first isn’t racist, or even legitimately offensive. To claim the second would be taboo in Hollywood is so ridiculous it boggles the mind. The third, described in various accounts as being about sexual assault, is an obvious joke. Saying you “date rape” yourself is not advocating sexual assault.

Never mind. In the crazed grip of George Floyd mania, people with empty lives and cruel dispositions are itching to show their power to destroy others by crying “Witch!,” knowing that most of those in authority, any authority, lack backbone, integrity or a working knowledge of the Golden Rule. Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Week: Prof. Carl Bergstrom

One could also call this an ethical tweet, as it neatly unmasks the hypocrisy of the scientific community as well as the self-serving myth that scientists are squeaky-clean objective and do not bend their pronouncements to partisan and political motives.

Bergstrom is a science star. Atheoretical and evolutionary biologist and a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, he has been a vocal critic of low-quality or misleading scientific research. Now he is proving how we get it.

In another tweet, he writes, “We are having difficult but vital conversations about whether public health professionals can support the #BlackLivesMatter.protests during a pandemic. I’m unhappy to see these defaulting to utilitarian calculus rather than considering deontological or virtue ethics perspectives.”

That one’s pretty funny. The reason policy-makers are told that they must follow in lockstep the pronouncements of “experts” is that scientists et al. are not calibrating facts, recommendation and conclusions based on biases, personal preferences and non-factual considerations. In fact, that is the very reason policy makers must make the trade-offs scientists cannot, or should not. Now, struggling to find a way out of the obvious verdict of hypocrisy, Bergstrom is extolling “virtue ethics.” The problem is that virtue ethics also requires balancing and prioritizing among the virtues. Now we know that Bergstrom, among others, calibrates his recommendations according to his own political and ideological preferences. Go to work to continue earning income and care for one’s family? Not important enough to justify the risk. Gather in church to serve one’s spiritual needs? Nope. Attend a funeral of a loved one to express grief and respect? Not worth the risk. Protest being forced to accept an economic Armageddon and the suspension of civil rights to prevent virus-triggered fatalities that have been tolerated in the past without installing such draconian measures? Selfish and irresponsible.

Mass demonstrations in the streets out of anger and opportunistic political motivations, leading to millions of dollars of property destruction, human misery, deaths of bystanders and police, looting and riots in furtherance of vague objectives and generalities?

Sure! Now that’s worth it! Continue reading

Fortunately, The Ethics Argument Regarding The Riots Is A Slam Dunk. Unfortunately, An Astounding Number Of People Don’t Care Enough About Ethics To Acknowledge This.

Olivia Gatwood, the woman who wrote that provocative tweet, is a Los Angeles feminist poet who, presumably, has never heard of the Golden Rule, nor any other ethical system. Yet her analysis is hardly an outlier. In fact, it is a fair summary of the ethical basis of anyone’s position who accepts, excuses, or “understands” the behavior of the George Floyd insurrectionists. They don’t even have the old, perverted utilitarianism stand-by, “the ends justify the means” to claim as justification. What ends? As I am sure I have noted too many times here already, they have no serious or practical answer to the 13th Question: “What is the “systemic reform regarding race in America” that the George Floyd protests purport to be seeking?” I think it is fair to say that if the enablers of the rioters had a legitimate answer to that question, or indeed if they had even given it serious thought, we would have heard or read it by now. “End racism!” isn’t an answer. Neither is “End white supremacy (as we choose to describe it to bootstrap our political objectives.” Nor is “End over-incarceration without addressing the disproportionate criminal activity that creates it.”

Thus all the injuries, deaths, property damage and social division accomplish nothing, except emotional release. Emotional release is not an ethical objective—not at these prices.

Let’s  look at the just the attacks on police and law enforcement and the injuries they caused; this is the “fuck police” section of Gatwood’s exhortation.  Listing property damage in detail is too complicated. The list below comes from Fox News; you wouldn’t expect any other news source to compile such a list, would you? It’s also two days old, so you can assume a current list would be even worse. Continue reading

OOOH! Does This Guy Win “Biggest Non-Criminal Jerk Of The George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck”?

He’ll be tough to beat.

Former ESPN NBA reporter Chris Palmer for some reason felt qualified to offer his ethical guidance regarding the burning and looting in Minneapolis. As the first full night of riots got underway, Palmer re-tweeted a photo of a burning building with the caption, “Burn that shit down. Burn it all down.” That “shit” was Midtown Corner’s  planned affordable housing  project. Then the riots moved closer to home, so Palmer was indignant. After all, they destroyed A STARBUCKS!!!! Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Twitter

Twitter crossed the digital Rubicon this week, as we had to know it would sooner or later.  It added qualifying links to two of President Trump’s tweets  about mail-in ballots, in which he claimed they would cause the 2020 Presidential election to be “rigged.” The New York Times, typically, wrote that he “falsely” predicted that result, and there you have it: social media now is choosing to use its power to tell the public what opinions are “true.”…just like the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media.

The links — which were in blue lettering at the bottom of the posts and punctuated by  exclamation marks — urged people to “get the facts” about voting by mail. Clicking on the links led to a CNN story that said Mr. Trump’s claims were unsubstantiated and to a list of bullet points that Twitter had compiled rebutting the “inaccuracies.”

Because CNN is where reasonable people go who want “the facts.”

Twitter, as a private rather than a government communications platform, can do this if it chooses, and the consequences to the company are likely to be far less serious than the consequences to public discourse. There is no way this kind of policing of speech, from the President or anyone else, can be done fairly, consistently and even-handedly. Already, Twitter has demonstrated hard ideological bias in its choices of which Twitter users to suspend or otherwise censor, and this escalation opens the door wide to more abuse. Will Twitter be similarly vigilant in calling out Democrats, activists, pundits and journalists on their excesses? You know they won’t; they couldn’t if they tried. Twitter’s wan excuse is that Trump’s tweets are special. I suspect the company is setting itself up for some serious federal regulation. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Great Central Park Dog-Walking Controversy

Oh, fine, another one of these.

Isn’t it fun how, thanks to the toxic combination of cell phone cameras and social media, a few minutes of what once would have been an isolated moment of bad judgment and rude behavior is now able to metastasize into a life and career-destroying catastrophe? Do you like that new reality? Awfully brutal and unforgiving, isn’t it?

The episode at hand involved the woman in the video above, Amy Cooper. She was walking her cocker spaniel off leash when  a bird watcher named Christian Cooper—no relation—told her the unleashed dog  violated park rules. When Amy refused to put her dog on a leash, Christian told her he was going to offer her dog a treat because this typically makes owners want to leash their dogs in response. That wasn’t the other Cooper’s response, however. She threatened to call the police and tell them that “an African American man” was threatening her life. She did too, as Christian recorded it all. Later, Christian’s sister, also named Cooper, posted the video, which got 33 million views on Twitter alone, and is now pushing 200 million views on other platforms.

Then, the deluge. Christian appeared on CNN with Don Lemon, where he accused Amy of trying ” to bring death by cop down on [his] head.” She got death threats, which Christian said was wrong, though his accusation would seem to have helped spark them. Amy Cooper, seeing what was coming,  told CNN she regretted calling the police, saying,

“It was unacceptable, and words are just words, but I can’t undo what I did. I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man and his family, I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way.”

Unfortunately for Amy, apologies don’t make a dent in the fervor of social media mobs. Some members of this one, after somehow tracking down her dog-walker,  contacted the Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. where Amy had obtained “Henry” several years ago, and the organization announced on Facebook that she had “voluntarily surrendered” her pet to the organization. “He is safe and in good health,” the group wrote.

Cooper had been a head of insurance portfolio management at Franklin Templeton, but her employer announced that she had been placed on leave while the incident was being investigated. By yesterday afternoon, she had been fired. “Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton,” the company announced.

Now Christian Cooper is having twinges of regret. “It’s a little bit of a frenzy, and I am uncomfortable with that,” he said. “If our goal is to change the underlying factors, I am not sure that this young woman having her life completely torn apart serves that goal.”

He might have considered that before turning the video over to the mob.

Michael Fischer, president of the Central Park Civic Association, decided to pile on—heck, why not?—and issued a statement calling for Amy to be banned from Central Park:

“This disgusting display of intolerance is unacceptable and should never, ever be accepted in the City’s public domain like Central Park.The Central Park Civic Association condemns this behavior and is calling on Mayor de Blasio to impose a lifetime ban on this lady for her deliberate, racial misleading of law enforcement and violating behavioral guidelines set so that all can enjoy our city’s most famous park.”

Let’s all applaud the impeccable virtue of Mr. Fischer, since that’s obviously what he’s after.  I’m sure, if we think creatively, we can think of more ways to punish Amy Cooper beyond destroying her reputation, ending her career and taking away her dog. Make her change her name, move out of the country, have plastic surgery, end up pushing a grocery cart full of junk…after all, she was really horrible to a  stranger for about two minutes. What else? Continue reading

Ethics Dispatches From The Sick Ward, 5/26/2020: Arg! Yechh!

Ugh.

I was supposed to be all better yesterday, and instead I took  a step back.

Sorry.

That photo above is from the last scene in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” after all of the comedians and Spencer Tracy have ended up in the hospital with horrible injuries following  their self-created disaster on an out-of-control fire truck ladder at the supposedly hilarious climax of the Sixties epic chase comedy. The film-makers were very creative in their uses of bandages, casts and traction, but even as a kid, I was struck by how it just isn’t possible to make injuries seem very funny.

1. Since everyone is watching as much TV now as I usually watch routinely, I’ll mention this: have you noticed that several commercials show parents playing pirates with their kids? Did you ever play pirates with your parents? Have you ever seen anyone play at being pirates?

The reason this is being forced on the culture as a thing is that political correctness has robbed kids of almost all fantasy outlets, so someone decided that pirates were safe and inoffensive–especially since Disney had to remove the rapey stuff from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” rides. (Pirates are actually murderous thieves, today as always; what a weird safe haven to choose!)

In “Parasite,” Oscar’s Best Picture last year, the little South Korean son of the wealthy family was obsessed with playing “Indians,” complete with feathered headdress and arrows. I wonder if this feature would have disqualified an American film for cultural insensitivity. American kids can’t be cowboys anymore, since they were genocidal; soldiers are taboo, as are cops and robbers; even space invaders are verboten, since they involve guns. As my friends and I discovered long ago, you can try to play superheroes but they don’t leave you much to work with. Sword and sorcery games, like acting out fairy tales, trip on too many anti-feminist stereotypes.

I wonder what the next generation will turn out to be like, absent any symbolic fantasy villains and conflict to instruct their play. Pirates are not the answer, and again, I doubt any kids are playing pirates like the imaginary families in Bounty commercials. The iconic pirate novel “Treasure Island,” once a standard assignment in grade school, has been purged from the canon—too male, or something.  (It’s still a terrific book.) The other classic with pirates is “Peter Pan,” and that one is in the process of being scrubbed and gender-twisted beyond recognition. There still are Johnny Depp’s weird pirate movies, I guess, though his drunken, bumbling pirate slob anti-hero seems unlikely to inspire normal kids into flights of fantasy.

Our culture just is not in competent hands, and what the end result will be, nobody knows.

2. I’m not sure if this is unethical, exactly, but something’s definitely wrong… Continue reading

Now THIS Is Trump Derangement! Also: Ethics Dunce, Unethical Quote Of The Month, Unethical Tweet…[CORRECTED]

Remember Jemele Hill? She was the African American co-host on ESPN who got herself fired because she couldn’t restrain herself from making hysterical anti-Trump declarations and other politically inflammatory social media posts and outbursts despite being warned, even by the left-wing Disney mouthpiece ESPN, to cool it. I wrote a couple of posts about her; since then she has receded into irrelevance, where angry, vile public figures like her belong. Oh, now she works for The Atlantic, a publication almost as much obsessed with Trump-bashing as  Stephen Colbert. The problem is that Hill is irrational, arrogant, and somehow under the impression that her vendettas have any societal use whatsoever.She also is laboring under the delusion that her emotion-soaked, undisciplined brain is a fine-tuned instrument. It’s not. She a classic example of someone what was told she was brilliant her whole life by lazy and incompetent mentors and instructors, and has been permanently handicapped as a result. And as a result, she serves society garbage, thinking it is caviar.

Yesterday the Boston Globe reported that New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft had sent a  team plane to China to pick up 1.7 million  N95 masks to fly to Massachusetts for the use of health care workers as they care for patients ill withe the Wuhan virus.

Search as you might, there is no negative spin you can place on Kraft’s act. It is altruistic. It is compassionate. It is an act of service to his community and the state that supports his team.

Now here is what Jemele Hill tweeted: Continue reading