My CLE circuit-riding adventure was completed when I returned home last night, and now I have the ethics equivalent of Augean stables facing me. So I’m grabbing my metaphorical shovel, and going to work…
1 Rationalization #22 approach: At least it wasn’t a tweet… During a rally in Missoula, Montana yesterday, President Trump endorsed Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte’s May 2017 attack on Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs (Gianforte eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault), saying, “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy.”
I’m at a loss. This comment comes in the context of a Saudi journalist being vivisected and Democrats diving at the low road by encouraging incivility and harassment of conservatives. How aware does someone have to be—not just a President, but anyone—to figure out that it is no time to be praising thugs like Ginaforte, whom I wrote about (twice) here?
2. Pro tip: If you want to hide your status as a left-biased hack, don’t use PolitiFact as authority for your opinion. Those who can’t quickly discern that PolitiFact is a blatant example of that oxymoron, a biased media factchecker, are too biased themselves to be taken seriously. (Most of Ethics Alarms’ self-exiled progressive shills were addicted to PolitiFact). Here is yet another smoking gun: now that an election is looming, PolitiFact is barely even trying to appear objective.
First, PolitiFact awarded a “ mostly false” rating this week to former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., for a campaign ad that says of her Senate opponent, “While we were in harm’s way in uniform, [ Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.] was protesting us in a pink tutu and denigrating our service.” Even by the service’s own description of the episode, the ad is accurate. Here is PolitiFact’s argument, which is pretty typical of what the news media calls “fact-checking”:
McSally retired from the Air Force in 2010 after 26 years of military service. After 9/11, Sinema led protests against the war in Iraq. At a 2003 rally called “No War! A Celebration of Life and Creativity,” Sinema wore a pink tutu. Media reports of the rallies in 2002 and 2003 quote Sinema as opposing the war and the Bush administration’s policy, but we found no evidence of her disparaging troops. McSally’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.
Disagreeing over whether or not an anti-war protest disparages troops is not disproving a fact. This, however, is even worse:
The GOP’s Senate Leadership Fund released an ad this week, titled “‘Normal’ MO,” focusing on Senator Claire McCaskill’s penchant for traveling by private plane and alleging that Senator is out of touch with her constituents.
“Claire even said this about private planes,” the ad says, cutting to video of McCaskill saying, “That ordinary people can afford it.”
Responded PolitiFact: “Did Claire McCaskill say normal people can afford a private plane? No.”
The video highlighted in the GOP ad shows an August 2017 town hall in which a constituent asked McCaskill, “You know, that’s one thing the United States has that nobody else has, is the freedom to fly around and be affordable where a normal person can afford it.” McCaskill responded, “Will you remind them when they come after me about my husband’s plane that normal people can afford it?”
PolitiFact apparently never reviewed the whole exchange, falsely writing that “the audience member never said anything about private planes in the clip; he appears to be referencing the freedom and low cost of the overall U.S. commercial aviation system.” Finally, Politifact took down its McCaskill story, announcing that it would “re-evaluate” it in light of “ new evidence.” The new evidence is the full video which has been available for months.
“[A]fter publication,” says PolitiFact, “we received more complete video of the question-and-answer session between McCaskill and a constituent that showed she was in fact responding to a question about private planes, as well as a report describing the meeting … We apologize for the error.” But even after getting the full context and confirmation of McCaskill’s remarks, PolitiFact still only gave the GOP ad a “half true” rating, because, it said, the ad “exaggerated” the full context of what the senator was saying. PolitiFact argues that McCaskill’s comments “seem to refer to ‘normal’ users of private planes, not to ‘normal’ Americans more generally.” She said, “Will you remind them when they come after me about my husband’s plane that normal people can afford it?” You tell me: Is PolitiFact clarifying, or desperately spinning for its partisan purposes? [Pointer and Source: Washington Examiner 1,2] Continue reading
Chris Cuomo is spewing anti-democractic, anti-free speech, pro-violence garbage on CNN, and none of his colleagues, assuredly not CNN’s fake media watch-dog Brian Stelter or even its once fair and balanced Jake Tapper have shown the integrity to call him on it. Thus, despite my post on the matter, many more voices need to be raised elsewhere lest this irresponsible media demagogue make millions of trusting American almost as dumb as he is.
Here is Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day on today post, Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN’s Chris Cuomo:
Cuomo is confusing self-defense and lawlessness. By definition, self-defense is a response to a direct threat or attack. Attacking someone with whom you disagree is never, ever self-defense and cannot be the moral equivalent of it.
“But in the eyes of good and evil, here’s the argument: if you’re a punk that comes to start trouble in a mask and hurt people, you’re not about any virtuous cause. You’re just somebody who’s going to be held to the standard of doing something wrong. But when someone comes to call out bigots and it gets hot, even physical, are they equally wrong as the bigot they are fighting? I argue, no.”
Two questions for Chris: Who gets to define good, and evil? Is he saying the totality of the AntiFa position is good, or just that their hatred of racism is good? We don’t know, because Chris doesn’t tell us. AntiFa stands for many things I think are not good, among them are commitment to violence against those with whom they disagree philosophically, an embrace of destructive leftist anarchy, and a rejection of authority. Is Cuomo willing to pronounce all that good? Or is it just “better than the opposition,” who as it turns out, are on the right side of two of those three things?
Second, who throws the first punch? That’s how you figure out who’s wrong and who’s right. Because instantly, the punchee becomes the defender and the puncher becomes the aggressor and lawbreaker. No matter where you assign moral turpitude, it doesn’t and cannot justify violence in response. Continue reading
“But drawing a moral equivalency between those espousing hate and those fighting it because they both resort to violence emboldens hate, legitimizes hateful belief and elevates what should be stamped out.”
—CNN’s news anchor turned pundit Chris Cuomo, in the middle of a long justification of the use of violence to suppress speech and political opinion.
CNN cannot be taken seriously as a news organization as long as it continues to employ Chris Cuomo. I have concluded that Cuomo was only admitted to law school because his father was a popular governor of New York. No other explanation makes sense. Even after allegedly completing his three years, he doesn’t comprehend basic law or the Constitution. He has, for example, advanced public ignorance by stating that “hate speech” is not protested under the First Amendment. On another occasion, he said that it would be illegal for citizens to read leaked classified material available on the web, but that journalists could read it and then tell the public about it.
The man is an idiot. He constantly utters legal and logical nonsense, and with the certitude that only a true idiot can muster. As a journalist he is biased and sloppy; as a pundit he is pompous and unqualified. His latest foray into irresponsible use of the First Amendment was two days ago, when he said, in discussing the often violent counter-protesters to the virtually non-existent white supremacy demonstration in D.C. over the weekend, this, the entire speech from which the Unethical Quote of the Month was extracted:
But I argue to you tonight, all punches are not equal morally. In the eyes of the law, yes. But in the eyes of good and evil, here’s the argument: if you’re a punk that comes to start trouble in a mask and hurt people, you’re not about any virtuous cause. You’re just somebody who’s going to be held to the standard of doing something wrong. But when someone comes to call out bigots and it gets hot, even physical, are they equally wrong as the bigot they are fighting? I argue, no. Fighting against hate matters…Now, how you fight matters too. There’s no question about that. But drawing a moral equivalency between those espousing hate and those fighting it because they both resort to violence emboldens hate, legitimizes hateful belief and elevates what should be stamped out….But fighting hate is right. And in a clash between hate and those who oppose it, those who oppose it are on the side of right. Think about: civil rights activist, were they the same morally as the bigots, as the racist with whom they exchanged blows? Are people who go to war against an evil regime on the same moral ground as those they seek to stop from oppressing the weak?…When you punch me in the nose for being Italian and you say I’m somehow less than, am I in the same moral place when I punch you back for saying that? It’s not about being right in the eyes of the law, but you also have to know what’s right and wrong and immoral, in a good and evil sense.
An Ethics Alarms commenter with the evocative screen name of Fuck you, who is a bit behind on his surfing, or perhaps a really, really slow reader, was moved to author today’s Comment of the Day on a post from seven years ago regarding the tactics used by Mississippi law enforcement to foil a legal demonstration by Fred Phelps’ merry band of homophobes.
Why is this a Comment of the Day? It perfectly embodies the rudimentary, lizard-brain level of ethical analysis that predominates in the public, in much of the media, and among our elected officials. It is helpful, to me at least, to read such comments, for this is exactly the find of gut-level, emotion-based, legally and ethically ignorant reaction that my work exists to overcome. I’ll have more to say after the Fuck You has his say.
As an aside, it was nostalgic reading the names of the commenters on the original post. There, for example, fighting as usual, were liberal logic-cop tgt and uber-conservative Stephen Mark Pilling. Ah, those were the days…
Here is Fuck You’s Comment of the Day on the post, Don’t Cheer Mississippi’s Westboro Baptist Tactics Too Loudly: You Never Know Who Might Hear You—I’ll be back at the end:
Fuck you for this comparison. I know I’m coming in years later with this and I hope that others have already expressed a similar sentiment. I also understand the point you are trying to make. But still FUCK YOU. I sincerely hope that if you ever lose someone dear to you, these fucking hatemongers show up and protest that person’s funeral. FUCK YOU. Yes they have a right to protest but this type of shit should definitely qualify as a reasonable restriction, like yelling fire in a crowed theater.
FUCK YOU. This comparison is not only an insult to the Marine in question but also to the civil rights activists from decades ago that you just compared to the fucking WBC. FUCK YOU.
Once again Fuck you, you goddamn scum ass mother fucker. Oh, and FUCK YOU.
Video games and their effect on societal violence have been mentioned in the comment threads of several recent posts of late, so Michael West’s essay on the topic is especially timely (even if my posting of it is tardy). I am dubious about claims that forms of entertainment warp healthy minds, as I am old enough to have seen a series of modes and genres be condemned from various sides of the political spectrum as turning children into violence-prone monsters. Even the Three Stooges once were fingered as making kids unfeeling sociopaths. I’m also historically astute enough to know dime-novels about bloody Wild Bill Hickock shootouts, pulp novels with half-naked blondes on the cover and EC comics about shambling, face-eating corpses were similarly accused. My son played “The Godfather” video game, and five earlier versions of the “10 Violent Video Games” the Parenting website says to avoid, all with my blessing.
When my son was 18, he bought a gun, too. I’m not worried. He has many friends, a strong peer group, he has strong ethical values and character, and is kind and thoughtful. That is not to say that every new social influence is different, and that attention must be paid.
Here is Michael West’s Comment of the Day on the post, When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: Snapchat Approves A Domestic Abuse Game Ad
Video games have been out nationally for quite a while. Even video games that have abstract versions of violence…like Mario Brothers or Donkey Kong…and I mean old school versions of those games like I used to play on Apple IIe. But for us to seriously contemplate capital V, capital G, capital V Video Game Violence as a force affecting the acculturation of our youths, we ought to fast forward in time specifically to “realistic” video game violence. An estimate that will be off plus or minus a few years, the *mid* 1990s is when our culture saw First Person Shooters enter the market, with early favorites like “Doom” and “Wolfenstein 3D” for desktop computers and ultimately entering the console market. In other words, Video Game Violence is still a young force in our society. This makes measuring its effects a bit problematic.
As we raise our young, they are acculturated through several INPUTS…all of which communicate to some level or another the values that the culture espouses OR worse, inadvertently communicates values the culture notionally DOES NOT espouse, but accidentally promote. In a manner of speaking, “we are what we eat”. My personal take up front is that YES, video game violence, as a subset of ALL informational inputs DOES affect each individual’s acculturation. The real questions are, “how much” and “are it’s effects mitigated by other inputs”?
I would think that for video game violence to start acculturating the young towards violence, they would need to be inundated by it and have few effective counter-acculturating forces in their lives teaching them that wanton and purposeless violence is bad. For the first 20 years of video game violence, my gut tells me we can explain away its effects as having been minimally noticeable without deeply searching each individual or practically non-existent. Children of the early years of video games had plenty of other inputs in their lives as well as outlets for their minds at a vastly greater ratio than the violence int he games…first and foremost active and attentive parents.
That leaves us really with only about 15 years of any generation that could be said to be inundated by truly graphic depictions of limitless violence…most of those age cohorts are still too young to see how they turn out as adults. Again, my gut says that you’d see actual correlations, if they exist, in about another decade. And even then, I don’t think we’ll find a direct causal effect between video game violence and individuals acting on violent tendencies *except in marginal cases*. Continue reading
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