“You’re The Dog”

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto—how I miss his blog!— famously wrote of accusations that something was a “racist dog whistle”:

“The thing we adore about these dog-whistle kerfuffles is that the people who react to the whistle always assume it’s intended for somebody else. The whole point of the metaphor is that if you can hear the whistle, you’re the dog.”

Bingo. In the last week we have seen two particularly vivid examples of this phenomenon. The most recent is peak Great Stupid: the World Health Organization announced  that it will begin referring to monkeypox as “mpox.” Why? Well, there were complaints that its name constituted “racist and stigmatizing language.”  Yes,  all it takes to make WHO jump is complaints from morons, or perhaps power-seeking activists who want to see how easily they can bend organizations to their will, just to prove they can. Continue reading

Tales Of The Great Stupid: Monkey Pox Ethics

I know, I know, that’s a macaque, not a monkey. But I love the photo.

Why can’t the news media and health officials just stick to the facts and stop trying to manipulated public opinion and conduct with word games and deception?

Well, it’s rhetorical question: the answer is inherent in the question. They are unethical, untrustworthy, and abuse their position and power.

Take monkeypox, for example.

Continue reading

The “I’d Say ‘Thank God It’s Friday,’ But In A Home Office During A Pandemic Friday’s Just A Name” Ethics Grab Bag, 7/10/2020

1. Re: Privilege and bit more on the Harper’s letter fiasco. At the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein flags this tweet by New York Times reporter Farnaz Fassihi:

A few thoughts:

  • Why do I subscribe to a paper that would employ someone like this? I forget.
  • She’s a bigot. I just wrote a bit on the “privileged smear” on another thread:

I have to say again that I do not comprehend the “privilege” line of thought at all. In the hands of most who wield it, I find the tactic the equivalent of Butch Cassidy kicking huge Harvey Logan in the balls to start their knife fight….

Continue reading

Third Of July Ethics Concert, 2020, Part 2: The Less Grand And Not Historic, One Hopes

For historical and quirky reasons, “The Egg” is my favorite song from “1776.” The number takes place on July 3, as the Continental Congress debates Jefferson’s handiwork, and Tom, Ben Franklin and John Adams sit outside, hesitant to witness  the rhetorical carnage they know is coming. I played the role of Adams in several musical reviews, a part I would have loved to have tackled on-stage in a full production, but I am about 7 inches too tall.

Some productions cut this number, which is both bad history and bad theater. (The number to cut is “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men,” a cheap shot at conservatives, and a lousy song.)

1. And I will say, “None of your business, officer!” A new Virginia law, the Community Policing Act that took effect this week, requires police officers to ask individuals pulled over during traffic stops for their race, ethnicity, and gender. I very much doubt that the law will withstand a legal challenge. The change is part of the Governor Ralph “Call me Michael Jackson” Northam regime of enacting every oppressive progressive agenda item he can get away with. This one is aimed at eliminating “bias-based profiling,” and requires officers to record the driver’s race, ethnicity, age, and sex while conducting traffic stops.

Like so many other misguided approaches to fixing “systemic racism,” this one attempts to protect the rights of African-Americans by infringing on the rights of everyone else. If I am pressed to answer the question by an officer, I will answer that I identify as Asian and female. I urge my fellow Virginians to do likewise.

2. Wuhan virus ethics train wreck update: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/9/2020: “If” And Silver Linings

Good Morning!

My father’s favorite poem, which I read at his funeral service at Arlington National Cemetery in 2010—-was it really that long ago?—is especially relevant and valuable now. Some of the woke-addled have “canceled” Rudyard Kipling because of his offenses against presentism (and because he ended “If” with female-excluding nouns). This is like cutting off your nose to spite your face, or perhaps lobotomizing yourself to spite your character. However you choose to describe it, not being able to channel “If” when all about you are losing their heads—like now—is a severe and unnecessary handicap.

1. “Forget it, Jake. It’s The Times.” Nobody at the Times protested, as far as we know, when the paper, over the weekend, ran a story titled, “Vote for Trump? These Republican Leaders Aren’t on the Bandwagon” that claimed, “Former President George W. Bush won’t support the re-election of Mr. Trump.”  The article attributed this revelation about George W. Bush’s intentions (and Jeb’s) to unnamed sources “familiar with their thinking.” This is the variety of fake news Ethics Alarms categorizes as Psychic News, based on mind-reading and nothing else. Speaking on behalf of Bush 43, a spokesman  told the Texas Tribune, “This is completely made up. He is retired from presidential politics and has not indicated how he will vote.” Ford reiterated this statement to the Times, indicating that the former president would stay out of the election and speak only on policy issues. Has The Times retracted or corrected its claim? Of course not.

I would personally be shocked if George or Jeb voted for Trump, given how much the Bush family hates him for his personal insults against them, but that doesn’t mean a newspaper can declare as fact that they won’t. Their other big scoops were that Colin Powell wouldn’t vote for Trump, against based on those who have read his mind, though we know he voted for Clinton in 2016 (he said so) and that Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Trump in the impeachment trial just to stick a metaphorical thumb in the President’s eye, would also abstain. Oh…I almost forgot Cindy McCain, who wouldn’t even invite the President to her husband’s funeral. The Times says she’s not supporting him either. Stop the presses!

The silver lining here is that the evidence that the mainstream news media is biased and untrustworthy is becoming so obvious that those who deny it increasingly brand themselves as fools or liars. Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/27/2020: It’s Come To This…

…I have to rely on cute Jack Russell Terrier videos to keep me from heading to the bridge…

1.  No, guys, it’s not unethical to retract a bad law. SCOTUS Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr, Thomas and Gorsuch were annoyed that the Supreme Court refused to consider the Constitutionality of a New York anti-gun law after the state not only repealed the law, but passed a law preventing a similar law from being passed again. The Supreme Court today dismissed a major gun rights case that Second Amendment activists had hoped would clarify the right to bear arms. The decision dismissing the case was unsigned, but the dissent was signed, so we also know who made up the majority.   “By incorrectly dismissing this case as moot, the court permits our docket to be manipulated in a way that should not be countenanced,” Alito et al. hurrumphed. The law’s removal rendered the case moot and denied the Court an opportunity to explore whether there is a right to carry a gun outside the home.

I’d say that when the prospect of being slammed by the Court makes a state back down from an overreaching law, that’s a win. Stop complaining. Continue reading

The WHO Funding Freeze

Tedros Adhanom, director general of WHO, meets with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing on Jan. 28, 2020

President Trump has been a busy bee that last few days, causing heads to explode all over. Most controversial of all was his freezing WHO funds. There should be little doubt that U.S. funding for the World Health Organization—it currently pays for about 15% of WHO’s budget—should be examined and possibly reconsidered.  The U.S. doesn’t (or shouldn’t) need WHO: this is one of many examples of U.S. largess for the benefit of poorer nations. However, especially after the economic carnage and our government’s expenditures of non-existent funds to respond to the pandemic here, there are legitimate reasons to ask whether the U.S. is in any position to be altruistic.

Also, as with most international organizations, WHO does not share the values and ethics alarms of the United States and its culture, making our wholehearted support both unwise and unpalatable to those of us who do not embrace the “one world” ideology of Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and others. For example, WHO wants governments to ban alchoholic beverages during the pandemic: 

Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of catching Covid-19 and make it worse if you do get it, the World Health Organization said, recommending that government leaders around the world limit access to alcohol during coronavirus lockdowns. “Alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes,” the WHO’s regional office for Europe said on its site late Tuesday, citing heavy alcohol use throughout the continent.

Don’t tell the Governor of Michigan about this. You know, drinking alcoholic beverages to excess “increases the risk of adverse health outcomes’ with or without a pandemic. If you want riots over the lockdown in the U.S., this is the way to get the, and fast. Yes, the world organizations we fund and belong to don’t understand our democracy or the importance of personal liberty, as indeed don’t many of our political leaders. Continue reading

The Obligation To Know Something About What You Are Writing About

Believe it or not, this isn't the most ridiculous feature of the Slate essay it comes from.

Believe it or not, this isn’t the most ridiculous feature of the Slate essay it comes from.

I am constantly being reminded of an old Bob and Ray skit (no, I can’t find it online) they did on late night TV where Bob played an interviewer of a longshoreman (Ray) who had just published a thousand page history of the U.S. that was riddled with errors. “Here, for example,” the increasingly perplexed interviewer sputtered, “you say that Abraham Lincoln was born in 1943 in Bailey’s Mistake, Maine!” Because the internet permits anyone to publish authoritative-sounding nonsense and lies without penalty, that skit seems less and less absurd with each passing day.

Even the content of supposedly legitimate, respected on-line sources cannot be relied upon , because 1) the job of “editor” appears to be obsolete, and 2) if there is an editor, he may be an ignoramus too. For example, a day after after the World Health Organization released a stunning report announcing that citizens of Greece were intentionally giving themselves AIDS so they could get health benefits, it retracted the statement, saying, through  a spokesman, “There is no evidence of people in Greece or anywhere else in Europe deliberately infecting themselves.” What happened? It was an editing error. Oh, well then… wait, what? And nobody other than the editor read the ridiculous release before falsely accusing an entire country of breeding idiots?

This brings us to this “correction” that appeared yesterday on Slate….you know, that sophisticated, erudite, eclectic online cultural  commentary magazine:

“Correction, Dec. 10, 2013: This article originally misidentified penguins as mammals. They are birds.” Continue reading