A “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!”/ IIPTDXTTNMIAFB / “It Isn’t What It Is”/Jumbo Spectacular!

Mediate lie

They aren’t even trying to be credible any more apparently. Wow.

See those words above, in Mediaite’s tweet? Now, if I was doing my best Mediaite imitation, I’d write, “Mediaite didn’t claim Joe Biden didn’t refer to Satchel Paige as a Negro” even while you could read that this is exactly what the media news website did.

In fact, here’s what President Biden, in full bumbling mode, said today at a Veteran’s Day event at Arlington National Cemetery:

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Ethics Agenda, 10/1/2021: Netflix Edition

I am finally ready to set up the first Ethics Alarms Zoom meeting. The topic will be the Netflix series “Clickbait,” which is an ethics cornucopia. I am looking at the period of October 7-21, in the evening, and need to know which days and times are preferred, as well as who and how many visitors here are interested. I’d prefer to facilitate discussion rather than have to dominate it, so I would also like to hear from you if there is a particular ethics issue raised by the story about which you would like to present your views to kick off discussion. I’m envisioning a 90 minute session, but it could be longer. You can respond on this post, or to me via email, jamproethics@verizon.net.

1. Great moments in “It isn’t what it is”…This week, a student attending an event with Vice President Harris opined that Israel was conducting “ethnic genocide” in Palestine. Harris responded, “Your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard.” For some strange reason, Israel’s press had a problem with this, and so did many American Jews and supporters of Israel. “VP Harris to student who accused Israel of ‘genocide’: Your truth must be heard,” was the headline in The Jerusalem Post. The Times of Israel said: “Kamala Harris doesn’t reject US student’s ‘ethnic genocide’ claim against Israel.” Harris’s flacks represented the episode as one big misunderstanding. Her office assured critics that the Veep’s “commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering” and that she “strongly disagrees with the George Mason student’s characterization of Israel.”

Of course she does! I know I always describe statements that I strongly disagree with as “the truth.”

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Having To Argue The Obvious On Gender Identity: “Trans”

lienear constant

it’s not as catchy as “Bias makes you stupid, ” but “Ideology makes you unethical” is just as true. However, just as bias is unavoidable, ideologies of some kind are necessary. The trick is to find one that doesn’t do more harm than good.

The diagram above was explained to me by a friend, fan and boss, the late Richard Halpern. He was a devotee of Chaos Theory, which he called his “religion.’ Life is chaos, he said, and human systems were chaotic. He likened living to a passenger plane’s journey through the endlessly unpredictable air currents and weather phenomenon in the skies. He analogized the plane’s guidance system to a linear constant through chaos, without which, Rich said, the plane would be lost. “No plane follows the charted path the whole trip, because it is constantly knocked off course, but that constant is there for the plane to return to. Ideologies are the same: you have to have that ever-present constant or be lost, with no basis for deciding where to turn, and when you’re navigating through chaos, it really doesn’t matter what it is.

This is why religion is so useful, and all mandated value systems, what Ethics Alarms defines as “morality.” Laws are mandated moral codes, You don’t have to make a million separate decisions, just one: Follow that constant! The constant can be repugnant to others or based on myth and bias, but once someone commits to it, it will do the job. This is where cults come from. This is how Amway became successful. This is why people elevate political and social goals to the point that all of their decisions about who to associate with, what to watch and read and how to align priorities are based on them. Abortion. The environment. “Social justice.”

A new book by Helen Joyce, an Irish journalist who is executive editor for events business of “The Economist,” takes on one of the weirder ideologies that has arisen in recent years, what she calls “gender-identity ideology.” It would be nice if she were a psychiatrist, or a doctor, but then those and most other professional groups in the United States have been so cowed into knee-jerk alliance with the progressive movement that any member of them daring to challenge the cant would face “cancellation.” Her book is titled “Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality.” To be fair, that title could be fairly and accurately adapted to any ideology; remember that neo-conservative icon Irving Kristol (yes, Bill’s dad) famously said that a conservative was “a liberal who has been mugged by reality.” (A cynic is a neo-conservative who was mugged by Iraq.)

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Tales Of The Great Stupid: Yes, San Francisco Really Is Going To Pay Potential Criminals Not To Shoot People

Do I really have to explain again what’s wrong–as in unethical— with policies like this? Paying kids to do their homework, not to skip school, or not to use drugs; paying young women not to get pregnant, paying people to get vaccinated—all of these desperate plans undermine societal ethics, turning what must be taught as basic duties of responsible citizenship and life management into quid pro quo trade-offs. Such formulas reward the refusal to behave ethically by paying social miscreants to conform to ethical norms.

Ethics Alarms has written about these offensive programs many times. This one may be the worst of all. The only argument proponents can come up with is extreme utilitarianism: the ends justify the means. In such cases, however, the means involves rejecting ethics, duty and responsibility as essential motivations for good behavior and adopting habits of virtuous conduct.

Naturally, the latest pay-the-bad-guys scheme comes from San Francisco, where the District Attorney has solved the shop-lifting problem by making petty theft legal. I was preparing to write about this when I read that Governor Newsom’s test-marketed theme to win his recall election will be “It’s me or Trump.” This parody of a progressive governor has created a state culture where paying thugs not to kill is looked upon as reasonable, and he thinks implying that Trump, who isn’t running for anything in the Golden State, would be worse will attract votes. And he’s probably right!

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And The Race For Most Dishonest NYT Leftist Propagandist Tightens!

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“It’s Charles M. Blow in front as they round the turn, but HERE COMES KRUGMAN MAKING HIS MOVE ON THE RAIL!!!”

It’s so exciting!

I was going to include this as a note in the warm-up, and then I read all of the comments referring to the Democratic Party’s no longer even disguised embrace of totalitarianism, and decided, Jack Point-style, “Oh, I can’t let this pass!” For Krugman proved with his characteristic gaslighting op-ed this morning, hilariously headlined, “Foreign Terrorists Have Never Been Our Biggest Threat,” that if nothing else, he has chutzpah to spare. Who else would choose this moment, in a 9/11-themed column, to assert that Republicans are an existential threat to democracy? It would be satire, if only so many Times readers didn’t believe it. That fact makes it tragedy.

Let me remind you of Rationalization #64, which has increasingly become the operating philosophy of the Axis of Unethical Conduct as Trump-Derangement became an epidemic .Even I had forgotten that the description of the technique cited Krugman as a prime practitioner:

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The American Bar Association Adopts Yoo’s Rationalization or “It Isn’t What It Is”

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To be fair, “It isn’t what it is” is an argument lawyers are trained to make, but this is especially glaring.

The Florida Supreme Court recently voted to prohibit the approval of continuing legal education credits for any CLE program with diversity “quotas.” This was a broadside at the ABA, which in 2017 approved a Diversity & Inclusion CLE Policy that requires all its sponsored or co-sponsored CLE programs with three or more panelists, including the moderator, to have at least one member of a a “diverse group.” Programs with five to eight panelists must have at least two diverse members and programs with nine or more panelists must have at least three diverse members. This will supposedly help accomplish the ABA’s Goal III , which aims to eliminate bias and enhance diversity in the profession.

There is a disconnect here, since the only purpose of continuing legal education is to do as good a job as possible keeping lawyers abreast of the law and developments in their profession. Does the skin color, gender, ethnicity or other characteristics of the CLE instructors and trainers advance that purpose in any way? I don’t see how, and neither did the court, which wrote in part,

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This Is IT! In Charlottesville, Va.’s Schools, The Apotheosis Of The Great Stupid!

Lake Wobegon

This would be funny, if it were not so ominous. In fact, it already was funny, many years ago when monologist/author Garrison Keillor (now cancelled for alleged sexual harassment: he doesn’t exist any more) introduced the fictional Minnesota community where so many of his shaggy dog stories were set, with “Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average!” [Laughter from the NPR audience.] All but the most dim-witted could get the joke in the last part, for it is impossible for everyone in any group to be above average.

Ah, but that was before The Great Stupid spread over the land like one of the Egyptian plagues in the Bible. Neither irony nor logic flickered in the brains of the Charlottesville, Virginia’s school board, which is patting itself on its mass back for the achievement of identifying 86% of its students as “gifted.” This qualifies those brilliant students for the system’s special, theoretically challenging, gifted classes.

The revelation was made during a Charlottesville school board meeting last week, and the members were thrilled. This was, obviously, impressive progress. Of course, one doesn’t have to be gifted to figure out what’s going on here. As in the memorable past cases of Washington D.C.’s rogue mayor Marion Barry telling the media that D.C.’s crime rate was pretty low as long as you didn’t count all the murders, and rogue President of the United States Bill Clinton explaining that he did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky, because oral sex isn’t sex, Charlottesville is adopting the now epidemic Rationalization #64, Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is.”

We had seen many signs that this was coming, notably in the efforts of New York city’s communist mayor, Bill de Blasio, to change the admission standards of the New York City’s elite specialized high schools because not enough minority students (except for Asian-Americans of course) were getting in. It is also an extension—heh, I almost said “logical extension”!—of the woke fundamentalist article of faith that skin color itself should be considered a qualification on par with, indeed above, such characteristics as skill, knowledge, achievements, experience, character and intelligence—thus resulting in Kamala Harris becoming Vice-President of the United States.

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Ethics Dunce: Conservative Website “The American Thinker”

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It’s not just progressives who shut down dissent.

The American Thinker, a conservative website that Ethics Alarms has referenced from time to time, announced that it is shutting down its comments section, a move quite a few political sites have taken in recent years. Then, the next day, it published a jaw-dropping justification (or something) that justified nothing. I’m posting the whole, awful, self-indicting thing, and interjecting my comments as it proceeds:

Yesterday, we announced that we are closing comments at American Thinker.  We immediately received a couple of hundred very unhappy, angry, and sometimes insulting emails about that decision.  Without divulging why we made that decision, here are a few points to ponder.

Without divulging why? What’s the big secret? Why the tease? Why write this whatever it is and not explain the reasoning for cutting off debate and feedback?

First, 90% of the assumptions in the emails were wrong.  This meant that a lot of people were theorizing in advance of their data.  America is currently deeply destabilized, and things are happening that most people can’t imagine.  Sometimes, those things hit close to home.

I don’t know what this is supposed to mean either. What is The American Thinker saying? That its posts are unclear? That its readers are idiots? That those who disagree with its authors are too biased and emotional for their opinions to count? These would be important questions to answer on the site if anyone could ask them…

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Still Employed At The New York Times, Where Facts, Apparently, Don’t Matter

Hannah-Jones

….at least when promoting anti-American and anti-white propaganda is concerned.

New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones has no training in history and has the one-way bias of a typical intractable activist. Nevertheless, she was allowed to lead the Times discredited “1619 Project,” which asserted without evidence that the United States of America was created by slavery, and that the Revolutionary War was begun to protect slavery. This fantasy not only won the Pulitzer Prize for Hannah-Jones and the Times, but was quickly installed in thousands of school systems as part of the history curriculum despite being pure agitprop. After one distinguished historian after another pointed out its multiple falsehoods, the “1619 Project” was edited by the Times, without being retracted in its entirety, which would have been the responsible thing to do.

As for Hannah-Jones, she has adamantly refused to admit that her work was, well, crap. Tweeting under the moniker of “Ida Bae Wells” for some reason (I’m sure there is one, I just don’t care what it is), the reporter got in a revealing back-and-forth with Timothy Sandefur, the Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation who holds the Duncan Chair in Constitutional Government. He corrected Hannah-Jones’ attempted rebuttals to a point made by Reason editor-at-large Nick Gillespie and senior editor Damon Root, who noted that Frederick Douglass had called the Constitution a “glorious liberty document” that guaranteed the rights of all—which indeed it is. Hannah-Jones essentially refused to acknowledge the historical record, and did so in the sarcastic, arrogant, insinuating rhetoric that has characterized all of her defenses of the “1619 Project.”

The real question is why the New York Times continues to employ an openly biased and agenda-driven “reporter” who refuses to correct her false reporting and who believes that her role is to distort facts for political purposes. If that approach to journalism is acceptable in her case, why should we trust any of the Times reporters, or indeed the Times itself?

Here is the Twitter exchange, courtesy of Twitchy: Twitchy’s editorial comments periodically turn up between the tweets; if it were not for the hassle of removing them, I would have. They are unnecessary. The tweets, and Hannah-Jones obstinacy, speak for themselves.

I will point out my favorite part of the debate, where Hannah-Jones, having been definitively schooled regarding the historical fact that Douglass repudiated his earlier criticism of the Constitution, resorts to the desperate argument that he held “both views,” one of which she conveniently neglected to mention when she was pointing to the civil right’s icon’s words as supporting her anti-American thesis. Douglass did not hold both views simultaneously. Unlike the Times reporter, he was capable of growth and learning: when he concluded his previous view was wrong, he abandoned it. Saying Douglass held both views—that the Constitution protected slavery and that it is a pro-liberty document contained the principles essential to ending it—is like arguing that Barack Obama is still opposed to gay marriage, that Donald Trump is a Democrat or that I believe in Santa Claus.

Such are the people who are dismantling U.S. culture now.

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Waning Thursday Ethics Wrap-up, 12/17/2020: Baseball, Football, And The Ripper

Traffic has been sluggish this week. I wonder if the blog is depressing people….I know it’s been depressing me.

1. A confirmation bias classic. I decided to watch the new Netflix documentary about the hunt for “the Yorkshire Ripper,” Peter Sutcliffe, only because Grace and I had been on a Jack the Ripper binge of late, including the well-done (but completely fictional) Johnny Depp film, “From Hell.” I did not expect “The Ripper” to tell one of most instructive tales of how bias makes you stupid as well illustrating as the perils of confirmation bias, but that’s what it does.

Sutcliffe, a Yorkshire truck driver, murdered 13 women and attacked nine others, but police missed him for five years because they convinced themselves that he only killed prostitutes. This, in turn, led the newspapers to name him after Jack the Ripper, the mysterious serial killer in Victorian London who killed and mutilated five prostitutes in 1888. The name, in turn, reinforced the bias that a Jack copycat was whom they were seeking. As a result, women who were not prostitutes and had been attacked by Sutcliffe were ignored when they went to the police.

With their investigation foundering, police officials decided that letters from someone claiming to be the Ripper were genuine—Jack the Ripper also wrote letters to the police, you see—and a tape recording referring to the letters must have had the real killer’s voice on it. So they had a speech expert identify the accent of the speaker, which placed him in a very small area in Yorkshire. Any suspect who didn’t have that accent was eliminated….including Sutcliffe, who was interviewed nine times. By the end of his rampage, Sutcliffe wasn’t killing prostitutes any more.

Sutcliffe was eventually captured by accident. Says one of those interviewed for the project: “No wonder the police couldn’t catch him. They were chasing a mythic Victorian maniac instead of a real man.”

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